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Title: A Twofold Life
Author: Hillern, Wilhelmine von, 1836-1916
Language: English
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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 "A Twofold Life" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://books.google.com/books?id=OBstAAAAYAAJ&dq

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



                      BY THE AUTHOR OF THIS VOLUME

                           *   *   *   *   *

                         TWO POWERFUL ROMANCES
                       BY WILHELMINE VON HILLERN.

                                   I.

                              ONLY A GIRL.
                 FROM THE GERMAN, BY MRS. A. L. WISTER.
                        _12mo. Fine Cloth. $2_.

"This is a charming work, charmingly written, and no one who reads it
can lay it down without feeling impressed with the superior talent of
its gifted author."


                                  II.
                           BY HIS OWN MIGHT.
                        FROM THE GERMAN, BY M.S.
                        _12mo. Fine Cloth. $2_.

"A story of intense interest, well wrought."--_Boston Commonwealth_.

                               *   *   *

For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent by mail, postpaid, on
receipt of the price by

                  J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., Publishers,
                           _715 and 717 Market St., Philadelphia_.



[Illustration: WILHELMINE VON HILLERN.]



                            A TWOFOLD LIFE.



                                   BY
                        WILHELMINE VON HILLERN,
           AUTHOR OF "ONLY A GIRL," "BY HIS OWN MIGHT," ETC.



                               *   *   *

It is not what the world is to _us_, but what we are to the world, that
is the measure of our happiness.

                               *   *   *



                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
                               By M. S.,
                   TRANSLATOR OF "BY HIS OWN MIGHT."



                               *   *   *



                             PHILADELPHIA:
                         J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.
                                 1873.



                           *   *   *   *   *
       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
                        J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
       In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
                           *   *   *   *   *



                                   TO

                     MY HONORED AND BELOVED MOTHER,

                       CHARLOTTE BIRCH-PFEIFFER.

  TO YOU, DEAR MOTHER BELONGS THIS FIRST PRODUCT OF AN ASPIRATION YOU
      AWOKE, AND, IN LOYAL UNION WITH MY BELOVED FATHER, AIDED BY
           YOUR POWERFUL EXAMPLE TO DEVELOP. RECEIVE IT AS A
               FAINT TOKEN OF GRATITUDE FOR A LOVE WHICH
                       A WHOLE LIFE WOULD NOT BE
                          SUFFICIENT TO REPAY.

                                              THE AUTHORESS.



                               CONTENTS.

      I.--Mental Strife.
     II.--Dual Apparitions.
    III.--From Falsehood to Falsehood.
     IV.--A Guardian Angel.
      V.--Master and Pupil.
     VI.--The Prison Fairy.
    VII.--An Aristocrat.
   VIII.--In the Prison.
     IX.--Fraulein Veronica von Albin.
      X.--Progress.
     XI.--A New Life.
    XII.--The Search for a Wife.
   XIII.--A Sacrifice.
    XIV.--Churchyard Blossoms.
     XV.--A Royal Marriage.
    XVI.--The Two Betrothed Brides.
   XVII.--Insnared.
  XVIII.--Cornelia and Ottilie.
    XIX.--The Catastrophe.
     XX.--Thither.
    XXI.--Spring Storm.
   XXII.--Light and Shadow.
  XXIII.--Between Heaven and Earth.
   XXIV.--Regeneration.



                            A TWOFOLD LIFE.

                                   I.

                             MENTAL STRIFE.


In an elegant apartment which luxury and wealth had adorned with
everything that the fantastic industry of our times affords, two
stately figures were pacing rapidly up and down: a lady no longer young
but still magnificently beautiful, a true Parisienne and _lionne_ of
society, and a young man with an aristocratic, though somewhat stern,
bearing, dark hair, and strongly marked features. At times they eagerly
approached each other with flashing eyes, then turned away to resume
their restless pacing to and fro.

"It is useless, we must part!" cried the youth, after a pause. "My
passion for you is destroying my whole life: my studies are neglected,
nothing has any charm for me unless connected with you; my fancy is
unceasingly busied with your image. I can no longer work, no longer
think, no longer create anything, and unless I can break loose from
this conflict I shall become a dishonored wretch, or consume my
strength in endless torture and go to destruction! We must part
forever!"

There was no answer. The lady had thrown herself upon a causeuse which
stood just under a niche overgrown with ivy and lighted with lamps that
gleamed through crimson shades, and was gazing steadily into the soft
gloom, while a tear rolled slowly down her cheek. Our hero turned,
after vainly waiting for a reply, and looked ardently at the beautiful
picture.

The deepest silence pervaded the elegant apartment, only interrupted by
the low plashing of a tiny fountain which fell into a marble basin
filled with goldfish. Countless hyacinths exhaled their fragrance amid
tall exotic plants, and between the heavy silken curtains and portières
gleamed marble statues, which in the dim purple light seemed instinct
with life. Everything breathed love and secret bliss. Allured by some
magnetic attraction our hero knelt before the silent figure, and
kissing the hand that hung by her side, whispered: "Great Heaven, if
you weep how shall I find strength to conquer this moment? Oh, do not
condemn me to suffer all the torments which only a fiend can devise for
feeble human beings! If you have a heart that can weep, in mercy soften
this farewell. If you really loved me, you would not by every alluring
art seek to place me in a relation where your better self must renounce
and despise me."

"What do I desire?" was the reply. "I wish to keep you, you who are the
sole happiness of my life. I will not, cannot, see you leave me so
coldly, cannot loose you from these arms, which in your person hold my
very life. What will my husband lose if through you he receives what he
does not know how to win himself: a happy wife? what will he lose if
the smile I _feign_ for him becomes _real_? What has he made me? A doll
to amuse society, a puppet to minister to his empty vanity. What does
he lose if the doll receives life? He has never asked for my heart,--do
I rob him if I give that which he neither knows nor prizes to another
who longs for it, and whom it can make happy?" She paused and pressed a
light kiss on the listening ear of her friend. Bewildered by her
musical whisper and warm breath, he leaned his burning cheek upon her
breast and could find no reply.

She clasped him in a closer embrace and continued, in a tone of
reproachful tenderness, "Now that our relation must be decided, you are
so stern, so coldly conscientious, and yet--who woke this love in my
frozen heart? Who implored me to prolong my stay in Germany? Who
increased my passion by a thousand sweet nothings? Was it not you, who
now reject me?"

"Alas! my wretched frivolity, it punishes me heavily," he murmured,
with a deep sigh; "but as it has brought me to this pass, it shall at
least lead me no further."

He tried to rise, but she still clung to him. "Do you no longer love
me?" she cried, bursting into tears.

"Yes, my heart is glowing with love for you!" he exclaimed, clasping
her in his arms. "But shall I become unprincipled because I have been
thoughtless? Because I have taken peace from your heart, shall I rob
you of a quiet conscience? Because ennui and ignoble desires have led
me to form an unworthy friendship with D'Anneaud, your mindless,
heartless husband, shall I now become traitor to his honor and my own?"

"Go, then," murmured the beautiful woman, removing her arms,--"go, if
you have the strength to do so."

"You give me the power yourself, for you do not understand me. The more
firmly you cling to me, the more surely my nobler being finds the
strength to escape you. I am aware that I have two natures within me:
one longs for you, but the other turns resolutely away, and at this
moment solemnizes its greatest, most agonizing victory, since it
compels me to resign you. Yes, its most _agonizing_ victory," he
repeated, clasping the angry woman to his heart with passionate love.
"You weep, but my very heart is bleeding, beautiful, lovely woman; no
tongue can express what I suffer."

For a moment they stood with their lips clinging together; at last with
a violent effort he tore himself from her embrace and rushed out of the
room without another word.

"Henri!" she cried, faintly.

In vain: Henri ran down the staircase, sprang into his carriage, and
shouted to the coachman, "To Ottmarsfeld!"

Ottmarsfeld, Heinrich von Ottmar's family estate, where he lived alone
with his servants, was a two hours' drive from the capital. While
within the limits of the city Heinrich looked incessantly back towards
the tempting house, but when the carriage rolled through the gate he
wrapped himself in his cloak and sank into a profound reverie.

The keen night air blew sharply upon him, and he shrank back into one
corner of the carriage with a shiver. The trees along the highway
towered stiff and bare in the darkness. Now and then one of the horses
shied at the sight of some strange shadow. A muttered oath and the
crack of the whip followed, then all was silent again except the
regular beat of the hoofs as the horses trotted forward. _Heinrich's_
heated fancy compared this cold, ghostly drive with the hour he had
spent in the elegant perfumed boudoir, by the side of the fair,
frivolous Parisienne. He closed his eyes to shut out the surrounding
gloom, and conjured up the statues, flowers, and the moment when the
graceful, weeping woman reclined before him on the silken causeuse.

"I am a fool," he said to himself; "to what phantom am I sacrificing
myself? What object, what reward, can I hope for in return for my
superhuman self-denial? None, save curses from the lips which offered
me blissful happiness, and tears of sorrow in my own eyes. Yes, she was
right. Who will lose anything if we are happy? Shall the fairest hours
of my youth pass away in consuming, unsatisfied longing?--shall I allow
my studies to suffer from this secret struggle, and draw upon myself
the disgrace of failing in the examination? Are all these things
outweighed by the imaginary duty imposed upon me by the title of
friend, with which I have honored her fool of a husband, and whose
violation he will notice as little as the most conscientious
fulfillment of it? Will they be outweighed by the preservation of one's
self-respect, and is not this, after all, a matter of opinion?--is it
not a sort of coquetting with one's self? What will all my self-esteem
avail, if the world calls me a simpleton because, under the ban of my
passion, I neglected my studies and social interests? If I am pointed
at as an incapable man, shall I not sink in my own eyes?" His blood
grew more and more fevered as his reason coldly analyzed what a short
time before had seemed to him an inviolable duty. The moral stand which
he had taken in his conversation with Madame d'Anneaud was not
sufficiently powerful to protect, him from the relapse which had now
come. "I shall never rest," he thought, "until the beautiful woman is
_mine_, then only I shall be myself again! My father always said that
we could find no better way of defending ourselves against the power a
woman obtains over our hearts than by degrading her. How the cold,
shrewd man of the world would laugh if he were alive, and could see how
I am toiling to keep this woman in a position from which she herself
wishes to descend!--if he could see how my love hallows one who does
not desire to be held sacred! And her husband! Well, if he discovers it
I would give him satisfaction by a few ounces of blood, and none of my
acquaintances would despise me for the scandal half as much as I might
perhaps despise myself."

He drew out his watch: he would turn back if there was still time. It
was too late: it was already past the hour when he could see Madame
d'Anneaud alone. He clinched his teeth and hid his face in his cloak,
as if shivering from a feverish chill. The carriage entered a thick
wood, and at last stopped before a large iron gate.

"You are ill, Herr Baron," said the old valet de chambre as Heinrich
entered the castle, trembling violently.

"Yes, yes, I feel very ill," he replied, passing an to his
sleeping-room to wait with burning impatience for the following day,
which would afford him an opportunity to atone for his previous reserve
in the arms of the beautiful Madame d'Anneaud. But the next morning
brought a farewell letter from the lovely Parisienne, who informed him
that she should return at once to her home in France. It was written
with all the pride and anger of a woman who has experienced the deepest
possible humiliation; who, having offered more than was desired or
accepted, now wishes to make amends for her too great willingness to
yield by a double measure of coldness and harshness. The youth of
twenty was still too great a novice in a woman's words to perceive that
this cold reserve had as little real foundation as the pride from which
it sprung, and which with such ladies too often supplies the place of
true honor. Heinrich was hopelessly crushed, and as everything that is
denied us doubly excites our desires, the indignant woman who had cast
him off was far more charming in his eyes than when she had pleaded for
his love. Remorse and passion strove in his heart with all the fury of
the hot blood of twenty. It was the first connection of such a nature
that Heinrich had ever formed, the first great feeling of his life.
Such periods, with their secret resolutions, are those in which the
elements of the inner life are analyzed, separated from each other, or
harmoniously blended. They are the standard for the guidance of the
whole life.

Heinrich von Ottmar had been educated entirely without love. His
mother died before he reached his fifth year; his father, a heartless
aristocrat, was Grand Steward of the Court of the Principality of
H----, where Heinrich was now to commence his career, and all the
efforts of the haughty, ambitious noble were directed solely to the one
object of inoculating his son with the ideas which, as he believed, had
made him great, and might prepare a similar destiny for Heinrich. He
was one of those tyrannical persons who make even those they wish to
benefit unhappy, because they take no account of individuality, and
compel the victim of their anxiety to be happy, not in _his own_, but
_their_ way. He brought only discord into _Heinrich's_ young soul,
which was already sympathetically attracted by the development of the
times, for while he succeeded on one hand in rousing and directing it
entirely towards one object,--that of obtaining power and position on
the loftiest heights of society,--he could not suppress his leaning
towards the struggles for freedom peculiar to the times, which were an
abomination to the man whose inclinations tended towards
ultramontanism. Here also, influenced by the illusion that everything
could be done by force, there were many violent scenes, in which he
threatened the young defenseless boy with expulsion from his home, a
father's curse, and disinheritance. But no opinions are changed, no
convictions uprooted, by menaces and blows; they are at most forced to
conceal themselves where it is impossible to struggle with them.
Heinrich accustomed himself _to be silent_ and to _dissimulate_ at an
age when he was incapable of understanding the moral wrong and evil of
these qualities. Thus, under this father's tyrannical sway, every
budding germ of manly truth was suffocated, and shot forth
unavailingly. There are two results from such a course of training.
When the parental authority asserts itself also in the petty details
and interests of life, a most independent and rugged character is often
developed, firmly determined to exchange a hated, tyrannical present
for a free future, however dark it may be. This was not the case with
Heinrich von Ottmar; on the contrary, his worldly-wise father allowed
him full liberty in all the trifles on which youth sets so high a
value,--greater liberty than a more conscientious man would have done.
He knew how to make his home-life pleasant enough to him, induce him to
fear expulsion from it as the greatest misfortune; thus he always
retained his influence, and the youth, spoiled by the glitter and
pleasures of life, bore the intellectual tyranny of his father because
it allowed the most unlimited personal freedom, and learned to yield
and submit. He was naturally generous and warmhearted, capable of
enthusiasm for everything good and beautiful; but under these
circumstances only his intellectual, not his moral, powers could
develop, and his affections were forced to pine for the lack of food.
But his hot blood asserted its rights, and as it found in his soul no
lofty ideal against which its strong, youthful waves might dash, it
lost itself in the broad, shallow stream of sensuality. His father held
the opinion that there could be nothing more disadvantageous, more
injurious to the thinker, as well as to the man of the world, than a
deep feeling; and as he desired to make his son both, if possible, he
wished to save him from the evil. He also knew that there is no better
protection from it than the habit of frivolous, careless intercourse
with insignificant natures, and therefore cheerfully endured this phase
of _Heinrich's_ character. He had no esteem for women himself, and it
seemed to him a matter of indifference if the impulsive youth turned
where favors were granted most speedily, and where he unconsciously
lost his reverence for the sex. Thus the blinded father, with his
inexorable sternness on the one side, converted a noble, many-sided
nature into an ambiguous, varying character, and, by his unprincipled
indulgence on the other hand, transformed a heart-craving love into a
disposition of unbridled license; and when, in _Heinrich's_ nineteenth
year, he closed his eyes, he left his son entangled in a confusion of
inextricable contradictions, with an incomprehensible impulse towards
goodness and beauty in his breast, and without any compass to enable
him to obtain them, _desiring_ the right with the yet undestroyed power
of a noble nature, but defrauded of the power of _doing_ it; in spite
of his father's influence a philanthropist, and through it an egotist.
Thus he was a mystery to himself, whose solution he expected to find in
life, not suspecting with what sacrifice he should be compelled to
purchase it. Tortured by this secret conflict, he sought refuge and
support in science, and devoted himself to the study of political law.
He was too deeply imbued with the spirit of the times to find
satisfaction for his ambition solely in the prerogatives of the
nobility and a mere court office. True, he desired a position near the
throne, but it must be one which should have some political importance,
and deal not only with the organization of the court, but of the state.
This was the highest aim which appeared before him, and he labored with
honest zeal to reach it. Then he made the acquaintance of Madame
d'Anneaud, who was visiting a married relative in H----. She was the
first highly cultured woman he had ever known, and the impression made
by her beauty, united to the polished manners and dainty coquetry of an
aristocratic Parisienne, exerted an intoxicating influence over the
mind and imagination of the young man. Her sudden departure inflamed
his passion to the highest pitch; but in order to approach the
beautiful woman he had formed a friendship with her husband, and the
very bond which had brought the lovers together now formed a wall of
separation between them. To mislead the wife of a confiding,
unsuspicious friend was an act of dishonor from which his skeptical
reason recoiled. In this conflict month after month elapsed in
idleness. It was the year in which he was preparing for his
examination; he felt that he should fail if he did not conquer his
inertness and return to his studies. He had been too long accustomed to
receive all the favors of love to be able to endure a hopeless wish and
longing for any length of time. He must either possess Madame d'Anneaud
or avoid her. He had chosen the latter ere he knew how difficult it
would be to deny himself anything he ardently desired. He wished to do
right; but when he felt the bitterness of such self-denial his strength
to carry out the impulse failed, for he was already far too great an
egotist to make any sacrifice, and without sacrifice there is no
virtue.

Thus his first victory over himself was transformed into a defeat when
Madame d'Anneaud's implacable letter robbed him of the ground on which
he expected to enjoy with her the fruits of a shameful peace. Now, as
he fancied, he had lost all, committed a wrong both against his beloved
and himself, for which he must strive to atone with all the energy of
passion. He drove into the city to see Madame d'Anneaud, but she
refused to admit him. He wrote a despairing note and sent it to her by
a confidential waiting-maid, but it was returned with the seal
unbroken.

He spent three days in the most terrible excitement. The blood coursed
madly through his veins; his brain burned and whirled with plans to
regain the lost one and prevent her return to Paris. On the third
Monsieur d'Anneaud called to bid him farewell, complaining bitterly of
the caprices of his wife, who had suddenly dismissed her whole
household, would see no one, and wished to set off at once for Paris.
Everything around him grew dim as he heard these words; his heart
throbbed as if it would burst, and when his friend had taken leave he
turned deadly pale and sank exhausted upon the sofa. Now for the first
time he felt what, in the suspense of the last few days, he had not
heeded, that he was ill; but he dared not yield to it. Madame d'Anneaud
was to set out that very evening. The thought drove him back to the
city, that he might at least watch her window and witness her
departure. She saw him, and as she entered her carriage cast a long
and, as it appeared to him, sorrowful glance at him.

He returned to the castle wild with despair. What was he to do now,
follow her, perhaps to be again repulsed? sacrifice his scientific
studies at the decisive time of the examination to rush around Paris
imploring love, perchance in vain? It seemed too useless and degrading
for him to resolve upon it without further reflection. He strove with
superhuman exertion to busy himself in his work; in vain, his thoughts
refused to obey his will. Day and night he sat over his books, gazing
with burning eyes and bewildered brain at the letters, to him so
unmeaning and disconnected, while the maddest longing raged in his
panting breast. In this torturing, mental struggle his bodily health
failed more and more; the illness which he had felt ever since his
first great emotion made itself the more apparent the less he spared
himself. At last he yielded, and became the prey of a most violent
feverish attack. The physician who was summoned shrugged his shoulders
thoughtfully, for the young man's condition afforded every symptom that
nervous fever was to be apprehended.



                                  II.

                           DUAL APPARITIONS.


The fever increased day by day. Heinrich became very delirious and
required incessant watching. On one of his worst nights the nurse,
overpowered by fatigue, fell asleep. The patient seemed to become more
quiet for a few minutes, and gazed with half-closed eyes at the dull
glimmer of the night-lamp. For a time in his stupefaction followed a
fixed train of ideas,--it was the conflict between duty and inclination
which had made him so ill. His imagination incessantly painted pictures
which his conscience destroyed. He lamented that he did not possess
that thoughtless frivolity which receives every enjoyment as a gift
from the loving Father, without doubt, struggle, or conflict with what
we term conscience, duty, honor. "Oh, God! Thou who hast given me
life," he murmured, "what didst thou bestow in putting me under the
dominion of a power which feeds upon the blood of my murdered joys, and
absorbs the sweetest marrow of this existence! The only happy natures
are those which can so divide intellect and feeling that they can no
longer bias each other. Oh, would that I might also!"

Amid such thoughts be fell into that feverish, half slumber in which
dreams and reality are often so strangely blended. We know that we are
in bed, know that we are dreaming, and yet cannot prevent the creations
of our fancy from appearing before us, surrounding us like substantial
forms, and arbitrarily forcing their existence upon us. Such was the
case with Heinrich. His mind was busily weaving the torn threads of his
thoughts into fairy-like figures, at first quaint like arabesques, but
by degrees revealing a strange secret connection. The faces became more
and more distinct as his consciousness of the outside world grew dim.
He still felt vaguely that egotism and ideality were waging a fierce
battle in his heart, and by degrees the ideal he could no longer think
of in the abstract assumed a bodily form. There seemed to be something
in the room which terrified him,--something that crawled and glided
over the floor. "Do not fear," it whispered hypocritically. "I do not
come to destroy but to aid. I am the impulse of self-preservation, and
when in aristocratic society I cultivate my mind and call myself
Egotism." The shape writhed and glided nearer, while over _Heinrich's_
head sounded a melodious yet powerful rustling of wings, and a voice
from above rang like the low notes of an organ, "Fear not, I am the
Genius of the Ideal, and will save you."

Heinrich gasped for breath, he feared the whispering, ghostly
apparitions that surrounded him, his breast and neck seemed bound with
heavy cords, he strove to cry out but his voice refused to obey him, he
tried to open his eyes but in vain; he only felt the overmastering
presence of the two original elements of humanity, and his ear thrilled
at their words. "See what cowardly monsters you men are!" laughed the
fiend on the floor. "You carry hideous forms within you and think you
imperiously rule them, but recoil in horror when you have conjured them
from the secret depths of your hearts. I was nearer to you when in your
own breast than I am now, yet you fostered and cherished me; now that I
appear before you, you fear me."

The voice above murmured: "Compose yourself, we are only the powers you
have felt struggling within your soul, but now we have united in the
common object of gratifying your wishes, for your folly will never be
satisfied until you perceive the vanity of your desires. Your wishes
shall be fulfilled, that you may learn to perceive in what the end of
life and true happiness consist."

"Oh, mighty beings!" groaned Heinrich, "we are so proud of what we
accomplish by your aid, and yet it is we who serve you while you do
everything. What sustains us, that in our weakness we do not fall
helpless victims to one or the other of you?"

"The Hand which rules over all things and appoints to each its bounds,"
answered the Genius of the Ideal. "It has so wisely apportioned the
powers of evil that we exert an equal influence over the human race. As
the law of attraction holds worlds in their courses, our opposing
strength maintains the right balance in your minds if all the elements
are properly blended; but sometimes that is not the case, then your
lives take their direction from the strongest, for spirit strives
towards spiritual things, outweighs the earthly nature, releases itself
from the world, and follows my guidance above."

"But the earthly nature tends towards the earth," grinned Egotism, "and
more frequently you sink down."

"Thus," said both, "you human beings preserve the equilibrium between
mind and matter,--therefore you can neither withdraw from the world,"
cried Egotism,--"nor be dragged down by it," said the Genius of the
Ideal.

"Oh, you are right!" murmured Heinrich; "but I have lost this
equilibrium."

"You have not lost it," replied the Genius of the Ideal, "the divine
and earthly natures are striving in you with equal power: that you may
not arbitrarily crush either, we wish to _separate_. You shall lead a
twofold life. Passion shall not disturb intellect, and intellect shall
not destroy pleasure."

"Yes, yes," cried Heinrich, eagerly, "has the dear God sent you to me
to bestow the whole precious substance of life? How has such favor
fallen to my lot?"

"You will learn some day that God has reserved greater mercies than
these," was the reply.

"And now, you crawling creature, what do you want here while this
divine being is holding converse with me?" said Heinrich, proudly.

"You will henceforth have little use for _him_," replied Egotism; "it
is _my_ service you need first, and _I_ must gratify your wishes. I am
a merry companion: you need not shun me. I appear in constantly varying
forms: now a usurer paying like a hardened miser, now an elegant
spendthrift throwing money away with lavish hands; now secretly
murdering a helpless enemy, now wrapping myself in the shining armor of
duty and slaying thousands; now with an honest, enthusiastic manner
gliding through the darkness to the innocent young maiden, ruling over
hearts and nations, kneeling before thrones and altars,--who knows all
the myriad forms I assume? If the spirit above your head did not work
against me, the world would be filled with my masks. Where the heart
and intellect are equal I prosper least, for then man is a harmonious
creature, as his Maker intended. Still, I often succeed in separating
them, and then my power is strengthened. It shall be so with you. Soul,
divide into two portions! Part, mind and feeling, move asunder and form
two wholes! Heinrich, have your wish, possess a double nature with a
mind destitute of sensibility, and a soulless heart."

Heinrich's breast heaved violently, his heart throbbed with redoubled
speed, every vein swelled to bursting. Pleasure and pain thrilled his
frame; by degrees something within him seemed to be tearing itself
away, inexpressible grief overwhelmed him. A voice in his heart
murmured, "Farewell." "Farewell," answered every nerve; the chasm in
his soul yawned wider, as if a burning wound had passed through his
nature. Tears of inexplicable sorrow gushed from his eyes, and a cry of
agony at last burst from his lips as he felt that he was leaving his
body. He now stood face to face with _himself_, exchanging glances of
astonishment. All anguish was over, and he felt free and careless. "I
have been born again!" he cried, in delight.

But the Genius of the Ideal answered,--"You have only divided your
nature. Your desire is accomplished, and will last until you no longer
wish it. Woe betide you if you remain in this condition and no longer
call upon me for aid! Egotism has produced this separation, he will
henceforth be your companion; cold reason and coarse sensuality will
make you their prey. But if from beautiful eyes the pure ray of a noble
soul falls upon you, let it enter your heart, it is I who command it to
shine upon you. If an earnest voice strikes upon your ear in tones of
warning, heed it, it is I who speak to you; and if you are at last
convinced that everything done and enjoyed without me is empty, turn to
me and I will guide you back to the source of happiness." Then turning
to the divided natures, the vision cried "Be friends; you are now two
forms, but you possess but one life, therefore remain at peace, and
take my blessing," exclaimed Egotism. "Enjoy," he cried, turning to
sensuality. "Attain," he said to intellect. "But remember," said the
Genius of the Ideal, "that the end of life is neither to enjoy nor
obtain, but to be useful and accomplish good works." With these words
the apparitions disappeared.

The two shapes were alone. The first at last broke the silence. "I
shall dub myself _Henri_, that is what Madame d'Anneaud used to call
me, and French names give one better luck with women."

"I will remain _Heinrich_," said the other.

"Give me your hand!" exclaimed _Henri_. "I will enjoy for you, you
shall labor for me, and when I am about to commit an act of folly you
can warn me." So saying be merrily compared himself with his image. "I
don't doubt that we shall make our fortune. To be useful and accomplish
good works the object of life! Bah the object of life is to be happy,
and only success and pleasure can give happiness. 'For _myself_,' is
henceforth my motto!"

"And mine," cried Heinrich: "it is the only sound philosophy."

Just then the nurse awoke, and sprang from his chair in terror, for his
patient was not in bed, but standing before his long dressing-glass,
looking into it and talking to his reflected image in the greatest
excitement. It was with the utmost difficulty that he would allow
himself to be led away from the mirror and put to bed. His delirium had
reached its height, and showed him the true state of his own soul in
the form of an allegory. That which his reason had never been able to
solve was depicted before him in bodily form, by the divining power of
the instincts of feverish hallucinations; and thus this vision was the
true picture of his life, and the separation he had witnessed only the
symbol of his own secret struggles.

                               *   *   *

After three months of great suffering, Ottmar at last recovered, but so
slowly that the physician forbade him to resume his studies, and
advised him to seek health and diversion for his thoughts in travel.

As he heard that Madame d'Anneaud was still living in Paris, he
hastened thither to resume his former relations with her. But here, for
the first time, the signs of his twofold nature became apparent. The
glittering, alluring form in which materialism clothes itself on the
one hand, intellectual suggestions on the other hand, and French
frivolity, did not fail to produce their effect. The man of reason and
sensuality developed such rude contrasts of character that he became
what he had beheld in his dream, "_Heinrich_" the cold thinker, and
"_Henri_" the careless _bon vivant_ in one person, changing as often
and as suddenly as if they were two separate individuals forced to
inhabit the same body. He was proud of this transformation, for he
could now enjoy and obtain everything: but happy he was not. The same
thing befell Ottmar that has happened to so many others in whom the
strange wonder of a secret rupture has taken place. Where intellect
reigned it required only cold knowledge and understanding; where
feeling ruled it degenerated into a burning fire, which, when the
moment of extinction arrived, left nothing but emptiness and
indifference. Thus by turns both extremes took possession of the pliant
body, and his beautiful features, gradually moulding themselves
according to the division in the soul, now bore the impress of the
astute thinker, and anon the winning charm of the lover. He possessed
one of those temperaments at which one gazes as a "marvel of genius,"
which exert an alluring charm over women, who perceive in them a
"demoniac spell," a tempting enigma which irresistibly occupies their
thoughts, but in whose solution many a woman's heart has slowly bled to
death.

At the same time he was what the world calls a man of honor. As social
integrity may be a result of cleverness, he never allowed himself to be
in fault in his civil or social position, for there the intellectual
_Heinrich_ ruled. The errors which the sensual, elegant _Henri_
secretly committed, if detected, were not ascribed to him. There were
and are too many such natures for society not to stretch its very
relative standard of morality for the sake of their good qualities.

Everywhere he was the centre of interest,--sought, petted, and honored.
His many-sided character attracted the most opposite temperaments; yet
he was unhappy, life was shallow and wearisome.

There is an invisible something, on which human happiness depends. We
have soul organs, by means of which we receive and impart the inner
world of sensuous feeling,--organs which we call organs of the heart;
and those of _Henri_ were very active when passion was once aroused. We
have also organs to unite us with the spiritual world,--organs of
thought,--and _Heinrich_ possessed them in the highest perfection. But
we have besides these an organ that forms the bond between the other
two, like a connecting vein, through which the streams of thought and
feeling flow into each other, and which carries the mingled tide
through the entire being. This is the emotional nature. Where the heart
and intellect are not peculiarly disunited, the emotional nature must
exert an influence; it is the organ by means of which we make our
simple every-day life pleasant, endurable, if possible poetical. This
tie between the heart and intellect was of course torn asunder by the
division that had taken place in Ottmar, and thus he not only felt
painfully the eternal dissatisfaction of both natures, but quiet
every-day life lost all charm and value, and found him cold and
unsympathizing. He desired great contrasts, great passions, or great
problems. It was only when these occupied his thoughts that the two
extremes of his nature could assert themselves. Then only he felt at
ease.

_Henri_ sought the material pleasures, which are always the same, and
always result in emptiness. _Heinrich_ unceasingly pursued the course
of ambition, which is ever renewed just as we believe we have reached
the goal. Between the two Ottmar found nothing but satiety. He now had
what he had so eagerly desired,--two lives, two natures, in one person.
True, he could no longer suffer, but neither could he enjoy; he could
neither love nor hate. _Henri's_ feelings were only instincts, and his
thoughts the refinement of sensuality; to which _Heinrich_ sometimes
lent a loftier language when in the presence of noble women, in whom
his shallow frivolity would have excited only repugnance. Ottmar, as on
the night of his delirium, fancied, with vain satisfaction, that he had
been born again; but he had, in truth, only divided himself. It seemed
to him as if he possessed a twofold nature, and must now enjoy life
doubly. But the law of true humanity cannot be denied without rebuke.
He had erred. Instead of two natures there were only two disjointed
halves; instead of enjoying a double share, he enjoyed but half, for
what pleased _Henri_ _Heinrich_ did not feel, and what _Heinrich_
obtained was useless to _Henri_.

This was not yet clear to Ottmar. He only knew that the apparitions had
given what he desired, and did not understand why he was not happy. He
had not comprehended their sneers, like all who, in the impetuous whirl
of life, hear the prophetic voices of their own breasts, and first
understand them when their predictions begin to be fulfilled.

In Paris, Ottmar gave free course to his inclinations, and for some
time lived in intimate relations with Madame d'Anneaud. But the
beautiful woman soon became wearisome to him, and he deserted her for a
fairer face, for faith, as a matter of course, had become an
impossibility to this nature.

Then he hurried from face to face, exhausting one empty pleasure after
another, until at last, after a year of idle dissipation, ambition
obtained the upper hand, and intellect asserted its claims. He would,
as he said, try philosophy for a time, and returned to Germany. Another
life now began. "Quick! You must do something,--accomplish something,"
he said to himself. "But how? of what nature?" In the whirl of empty
pleasures he had become too superficial and frivolous to recommence his
neglected scientific studies with the redoubled industry which, after
so long an interruption, they required; he could no longer adopt any
regular profession. By means of his great ability, favored by his
position, he did and learned what and where he pleased. As he began too
much at the same time, he acquired nothing thoroughly, and obtained
that so-called cosmopolitan education which dabbles in all colors, is
skilled in all branches, whose variety often excites admiration, but
cannot be of any practical value. For five years he visited
universities, heard lectures from the most distinguished professors,
and passed in review the various sciences. None satisfied him, for none
aided him to reach the goal of his ambition with sufficient rapidity.

At last the years of his early youth passed away, and he had as yet
obtained nothing. Insignificant fellow-students went out into the world
to enter upon the honorable career of government service, while he did
not even know to what branch it would be best to devote himself in
order to become a man of mark.

He wrote several semi-scientific, semi-poetical works. The critics
acknowledged their merit, but they were not read. The scientific
portion was too commonplace for learned men, the poetry too dry for
ordinary people; for, in spite of his genius, _Heinrich_ was no poet.
His nature lacked that which alone can carry away the masses, and which
no thought can supply,--heart impulse; and he did not succeed in
becoming popular. An earnest, uninterrupted course of study would, in a
very short time, have made him competent to enter upon some settled
career; but too frequently _Heinrich's_ assiduous industry yielded to
_Henri's_ pursuit of pleasure, and the wearied frame threatened to give
way under this constant change from one extreme to the other.

When he had at last exhausted all the intellectual and material
treasures of his native land without the slightest profit to himself,
some secret power again drove him forth to seek in a foreign country
the happiness he could not find at home. He went to Italy.



                                  III.

                      FROM FALSEHOOD TO FALSEHOOD.


On the way to Rome he met a gentleman whose striking appearance
attracted his attention. _Heinrich_ thought he had never seen a
handsomer and at the same time more intellectual countenance, and a
conversation arose between them which greatly interested _Heinrich_,
and very soon led him to make disclosures about himself and his course
of life, to which the stranger listened with an attention extremely
flattering to Ottmar's self-love, and entered, with affable
condescension, into every subject introduced by the latter. He appeared
to be so familiar with every sphere of life, all the relations of
European courts, that _Heinrich_ took him for a diplomat, and eagerly
gathered up all the information he communicated, because it always bore
the stamp of accurate, positive knowledge. But the stranger had so much
noble enthusiasm, his language was often so eloquent, that _Heinrich_
frequently felt tempted to think him an artist, and his curiosity
increased more and more when he baffled, with consummate skill, every
effort to turn the conversation upon himself. The hours flew by
_Heinrich_ like the scenes through which he was passing, but he noticed
nothing to which the stranger did not call his attention. He had eyes
and ears only for him. He knew not which he most admired,--the
comprehensive knowledge of society, the elegant modes of expression, or
the aristocratic, yet winning, manners of this mysterious man. The
latter himself felt an increasing interest in his young companion, and
when the gigantic dome of Saint Peter's rose before them _Heinrich_
eagerly expressed his regret that the delightful journey was over.

"Will you seek me out in Rome?" asked the stranger.

"Most gladly!" cried _Heinrich_, with delight.

"Very well; then promise me to come to-morrow after early mass."

"Certainly; but how shall I find you?"

"Ask for Father Severinus, the Prefect of the Collegium Germanicum."

_Heinrich_ gazed at him in unconcealed amazement.

"You are----"

"A Jesuit," said the priest, laughing; and left _Heinrich_ to his
speechless astonishment.

The short disenchantment the latter experienced very soon yielded to
redoubled admiration for the remarkable things this man had
accomplished in spite of the narrow sphere to which he was limited by
his position as a priest. His father's predilection for the Jesuits
recurred to his mind, and many tales of the wondrous labors and
successes of this order no longer seemed so incredible and exaggerated
as before. He felt a desire to know more of the institution which
cultivated such remarkable charms of mind and person, and did not fail
to go to the Casa al Gesu the following day. The reception he met with
far surpassed all his anticipations.

Father Severinus introduced him to the other chiefs of the order, and
when at last the General himself requested him to pay him a visit there
was not a single point in which _Heinrich's_ vanity was not flattered
and his curiosity excited to the utmost.

The visit to the General ended with an invitation to dinner, and during
the meal the latter appointed a certain day upon which _Heinrich_
should be his guest every week.

Ottmar had never before been so well entertained among men, and soon
found himself nowhere so agreeably situated as when with Father
Severinus and his companions. The holy fathers procured for him every
pleasure that a stranger can enjoy in a new place. They showed him an
admirable selection of the glories of Rome, afforded him an opportunity
to see many curiosities which are usually inaccessible to strangers,
were always at hand when he needed them, and did not appear to be in
the world when he did not require their services. Under their guidance
he obtained a sight of the treasures in the library of the Vatican, and
they also afforded him a glimpse of their own archives; but as soon as
his desire for knowledge was excited, and he wished to penetrate
farther, the interesting matter was withdrawn because it was allowed
only to the actual adherents of Jesuitism. Yet the fathers imparted
much confidential and extremely useful information, by means of which
they gave him to understand that they were in possession of still more
important secrets, into which, however, only actual students of the
institution, whose loyalty to the order had been severely tested, could
be initiated.

_Heinrich_ at last could not resist inquiring into the conditions upon
which he might be considered a tried servant of the order and be
permitted to share these favors. For their agents in the world, these
consisted of a novitiate of one year for the trial and practice of
obedience, and another year of voluntary residence and study in the
college. As he already knew more than was taught in the Germanicum and
Propaganda, he, of course, did not think of going through a school
course; but the thought entered his mind that at the cost of a
novitiate, which he already perceived would not be too strict, he could
obtain information which might be of the greatest use to him in his
career. He did not doubt that no one knew the world and mankind better
than the all-observant, inquiring Jesuits; and they did not neglect to
represent the principal European states and courts as a department of
their restless and manifold branches of labor. He was assured that he
could graduate from no better school of diplomacy than the quiet Jesuit
convent, and it seemed to him well worth the trouble of shutting
himself up here for a year, to emerge such a brilliant personage as his
admired Severinus. The priests gave him plainly to understand that his
novitiate would be only a name, for they had too much knowledge of
human nature to repel a young man of the world, like Ottmar, by the
prospect of monastic austerities. This promised indulgence was by no
means contrary to the rules of the order, since Ottmar was not to be
trained for priesthood, but the world, and therefore must be considered
as a guest rather than a pupil of the Germanicum. He possessed the
entire confidence of the fathers, for first from courtesy to his
hospitable hosts, and afterwards from prudence, he had been silent in
regard to his differences of opinion, but showed a sincere appreciation
of some of their institutions, which they naturally mistook for
devotion to the order. The principal reason was that his father was
known to have been a devout Catholic, a circumstance which so
completely deceived the holy fathers, that _Heinrich_ had no occasion
to do anything but keep silence and submit patiently to the rules of
the order to enjoy all the advantages of this rare confidence. The
temptation was too great, he had been too long accustomed to yield to
every caprice, every fancy, to be punctilious about the concessions of
his own convictions he would be compelled to make, and decided to enter
the Casa al Gesu. The Jesuits were extremely delighted with their new
conquest; for they hoped to make the unusually gifted young man an
agent for Germany, particularly the Protestant court of H----, which
had hitherto been closed against their influence. They willingly
acceded to _Heinrich's_ desire to enter the college under another name;
for it was of importance to them that his stay should remain unknown,
that he might afterwards act in their cause with fewer impediments.

Thus the first step was taken on the path of deceit which his blind
egotism considered the speediest road to the goal, and upon which a man
always enters when he lacks the self-denial to make his opinions his
rule of conduct. Many a favorite of fortune is a miserable egotist, and
passes for a man of honor only because his fate has never chanced to
bring him in conflict with his selfishness; had such been the case he
would quickly have lost his cheaply-won fame. Thus it fared with
_Heinrich_ at a time when his acts and conduct were not yet burdened
with any responsibility or visible result. His proceeding had no
objective importance because he had not as yet gained any influence as
a public character, or formed any political relations. In his view he
committed no treason against the party to which in his own mind, though
not formally, he belonged, by depriving it for another year of the man
who was nothing to it. The point in question did not concern an actual
change of opinion,--for when he once entered the world he would be
faithful to his long-chosen colors,--but the attainment of a purely
personal advantage. It did not occur to his inexperienced mind that, as
a member of the party, he would be responsible to his followers not
only for his future but the past. He did not shrink from abusing the
confidence of the holy fathers, because he thought himself morally
justified in using for his own advantage men who merely wished to make
him a source of profit to themselves. It was doubtless repugnant to him
to feign a faith he did not possess, but he was filled with admiration
for various different individuals of the order, always felt happy with
them, and in truth was indifferent to what religion they belonged, for
he had, as previously mentioned, the toleration of carelessness. To him
all confession was a mere phenomenon of historical culture. The pious
exercises were empty pantomimes, on whose performance nothing depended
except the approval of the fathers, and they were all the easier
because he had grown up among Catholic ceremonies. The political and
social influence of the Jesuits he considered too feeble for him to
fear that he should ever be placed in a situation where he would be
compelled to oppose it. But he was to learn too late how terribly he
had erred.

Thus his novitiate began, and what he had once undertaken he carried
into execution most persistently. He appeared to be a most obedient,
zealous pupil, and succeeded in blinding the good fathers so completely
that, to serve their own ends, they gave him instruction in everything
that could win him esteem at courts,--the most accurate information
about all personal and diplomatic relations, the royal families,
reports made by the emissaries of the Jesuits in every country, a
quantity of secrets whose judicious use must procure him a great
influence, and, in short, impressed their whole sophistical moral
teachings upon his mind. But with these things, so important to him, he
learned something which was to destroy the anticipated result of their
efforts,--to undervalue the order more and more. The more equivocal and
selfish these motives seemed to him, the more he thought himself
justified in deceiving them and casting aside the claims of gratitude.
He perceived with terror what an influence the Jesuits exerted over
everything; how relentlessly, with a thousand weapons, they subdued
everything that he numbered among the greatest intellectual blessings
in the world. The farther he penetrated into their mysteries the
greater his repugnance became, and the more distinctly he saw the wide
gulf which lay between him and Jesuitism.

When the first year of study was drawing to a close, he formed the
resolution to seize upon the first good pretext to release himself from
the distasteful bonds into which, with youthful carelessness, he had
entered. He did not wish to burden himself with any further
obligations, which he now knew he should never discharge. But he was
too familiar with the power to which he had committed himself, not to
be aware that an open breach with the Jesuits might make his career
impossible, perhaps destroy his whole future. Therefore it seemed to
him unavoidable to keep friends with them for the present, and under
his father's authority he had already learned to submit to such
"necessities."

Thus he must find a pretext which would apparently compel him to
sacrifice the second year of study and leave the Casa al Gesu before
its commencement. The moment was favorable to him. It happened that the
government of H---- took certain decisive steps against the Jesuits'
intended settlement in that principality, which aroused the greatest
excitement among the whole order. _Heinrich_ took advantage of this
opportunity. With remarkable address he induced the fathers to send him
to H---- in order to ascertain the actual state of affairs, and in
their interests begin as quickly as possible the career for which they
considered him sufficiently mature. The expectations which the priests
placed upon him justified this step; for he had increased and
strengthened them by an act which usually requires the greatest
readiness for self-sacrifice, he had at the expiration of his novitiate
presented to the order a sum of ten thousand thalers. The holy fathers
did not suspect that it was the payment by which he wished to relieve
his conscience from every burden of gratitude, that with it he paid for
his residence and instruction as he would have defrayed the expenses of
his studies at a university, because, as a man of aristocratic
disposition, he wished to be in debt for nothing. So they took for an
act of devotion what was really an effort to obtain moral freedom, and
their confidence in the man who had made such a sacrifice for them
became as great as is possible for the cautious, circumspect Jesuits.
So they allowed him to set out.

"Become a diplomat and act for us; practice the arts of the world to
serve the cause of Heaven," they said, when they bade him farewell. And
he thought, with a sarcastic smile, "I will become a diplomat not to
serve Heaven, but myself." On returning to his home, his rank and
striking character made it easy for him to begin a diplomatic career.

The government of H---- was Protestant and liberal. He therefore
carefully concealed the fact of his stay in the Jesuit college, and,
with his large means, succeeded in a few years in raising himself to a
lofty position. He became councillor of the legation, a friend of the
minister, a favorite at court, and now stood upon the height from which
he could begin to discharge his debt to the order, and the admonition
was not delayed. The point in question, of course, related to procuring
admittance into the country for, and also extending the privileges of,
the ubiquitous Jesuits.

Ottmar was to introduce these claims--and did not. The moment had
arrived when he must break with the order openly and forever. Now, for
the first time, he perceived the danger resulting from the step. Ought
he to become the representative of a faith which he denied, and during
his stay in Rome had found utterly irreconcilable with his opinions?
Was it to become the shibboleth, which would betray the earlier
associations he had so carefully concealed, perhaps forever crush his
aspirations to obtain a portfolio in the government of H----? At this
price the year of study in the college had been too dearly bought.
Should he, on the other hand, forfeit the powerful assistance of the
Jesuits, and make unrelenting enemies where he had formerly possessed
trusting friends?

The outward advantages of the two courses to be chosen seemed tolerably
equal; his convictions of right must turn the scale, and did so. In
vain were the more and more vehement warnings that followed. He wished
to make the unfettered tendency of his intellect the guide of his life,
and deserted the teachings and struggles of the order; for there still
remained in him a remnant of that feeling of duty which commands men to
oppose what they consider false and pernicious.

But vengeance was not delayed.

_Heinrich_ soon felt that his position in the government and at court
was no longer the same. While hitherto, from the prince down to his
humblest subject, the greatest respect, even admiration, had been paid
him, he now suddenly found himself eyed distrustfully, and even
avoided, without being able to discover a reason. Formerly no important
measure had been taken upon which the minister had not privately
requested his counsel, now the latter enveloped himself in a cloak of
cold reserve. Thus days and weeks elapsed, leaving him in a most
distasteful position.

But one person at the court remained the same towards him: his
patroness, the niece of the widowed prince, Princess Ottilie, an
ethereal vision, who combined the haughty grace of a born aristocrat
with the charms of a feeling soul. In her he possessed a true friend,
whom he honored as a higher being; nay, he was often inclined to
believe he loved her, although not even the faintest wish to possess
her had ever arisen in his mind. All real merit was attracted to the
princess, and she won every one by her poetic mind and clear intellect,
as well as the charms of her maidenly character, although she had
already passed her first youth. She had distinguished Ottmar beyond all
others at the court, but for some time she had been unable to receive
him. It was reported that Ottilie was ill, and in his very
uncomfortable situation he was totally bereft of counsel and
consolation.



                                  IV.

                           A GUARDIAN ANGEL.


At last a court ball was given, and _Henri_,--for it was _Henri_ who
went to balls,--who was always the star that dazzled all eyes, found
himself as much neglected as ever. Only the members of the court who
were suspected of ultramontanism approached him with mysterious
cordiality; and whenever a number of observers were present, some
persons whom he knew to belong to the ranks of his worst enemies cast
strange glances at him which could scarcely fail to be noticed.
Infuriated by this irritating and to him incomprehensible conduct, he
turned to the young girls to pass away a few moments in their society;
but the first whom he approached, a distant relative, drew back with
mingled sorrow and alarm. He laughingly seized the little finger of her
outstretched hand and drew her into a window corner. "Why do you avoid
me, little Elsie? What have I done to harm you?" he asked.

"Oh, go away, you are a Jesuit!" whispered the girl, half timidly, half
sullenly.

"Ah!" A flush slowly mounted into _Henri's_ face, but without the
slightest change of countenance he pushed a gold bracelet which had
slipped down to the young girl's wrist so far up the rounded limb that
for the first time in her life she shrank from the sight of her bare
arm.

"Do you know that a Jesuit is something so very bad?"

"No," was the embarrassed reply. "I only know it is--must be--something
you ought not to be; or else you would not do it so secretly." The
young girl paused.

"Well, and who told you this?" asked _Henri_, in the greatest suspense,
gazing so steadily and firmly into the large childlike eyes, that she
continued in the greatest bewilderment.

"Why, Herr von Neuenburg told my mother so, and she was very unhappy
about it, and they both said you could not be trusted any more. Now you
know, let me go. Oh, dear, I ought not to have said anything about it!"

With these words she ran away, and his smiles fled with her. It was no
longer the careless, jesting _Henri_, but _Heinrich_ who stood
haughtily erect in the alcove surveying the assembly with cold,
contemptuous glances.

"These people wish to be diplomats, and discuss such important matters
before children! Fortunately, I know you well enough to perceive that
this rumor proceeds from you Jesuits. Oh, to be chained to such a life!
to be forced to sacrifice all one's power for an honor the miserable
breath of a liar's lips can blow away like dust! Is this life worth the
trouble?"

"Not this life," murmured the fiend who was to help him "obtain." "You
must enter a wider field, and mount higher and higher to a sphere where
these petty intrigues can have no power over you; then only will you
find rest."

These reflections, which were not by any means the first of the kind,
were disturbed by the rustle of a dress, and when he looked up Princess
Ottilie was standing before him. She gazed at him for a long time in
silence, while he bowed low, murmuring a few words of apology for his
absence of mind.

"Not so, Herr von Ottmar," she interrupted; "we already know that even
when surrounded by the bustle of a crowd, you sometimes hold
intercourse with your own thoughts; in any case, a much greater source
of entertainment than society could offer you."

"Ah, your Highness, if society consisted of the elements united in my
gracious princess, it would be the highest enjoyment to devote to it
every power; but when people are compelled, like me, to wander
perpetually, held aloof and misunderstood, through this labyrinth of
pretensions, disappointments, and prejudices, they are sometimes glad
to take refuge in the unsubstantial world of thought."

"But why do you not release yourself from surroundings so distasteful?"
asked the princess. "Why do you not find strength to withdraw, if not
to the world of spirits, at least to that of the intellect?"

"Your Highness," replied Ottmar, after a slight pause, "if I could take
with me to that realm what has hitherto chained me to the court, how
gladly would I resign this whirl of society! But so long as the object
of my holiest longing is still clasped in the arms of the world, so
long I will at least maintain a place near her, and fill it as well as
I am able."

With these words he cast upon the princess one of the glances whose
power he had so often tried. She involuntarily turned her head to see
if any one could hear her.

"Herr von Ottmar," said she, and her voice became lower, her expression
more sympathetic, "may I speak to you frankly?"

"Oh, my most gracious, benevolent friend!" murmured _Heinrich_, in a
tone whose submissive devotion produced an irresistible influence upon
the impressionable soul of the princess.

"Do not imagine that I have not perceived your design of winning me by
flattery; I have read that, as well as your whole character. I am
gracious enough to forgive you for placing the same estimate upon me as
upon every other woman whom you may have misled by similar speeches. I
forgive you, because I believe you to be greater than such arts would
make you appear; you possess no false nature, and if you deceive it is
only in cases which have no connection with your secret life, and no
reality for you. Where you have to answer for yourself, your own
established convictions, you will be true. I have this confidence in
you, and therefore can calmly look on and see you make sport of the men
and circumstances which, from your lofty stand-point, must appear so
small; nay, I can even see you test your superiority over myself; and
while I know all you say is false, am unable, I frankly confess, to
resist the charm which your masterly acting exerts over me, and feel
attracted towards you as the ignorant man is drawn to the artist whose
skill he admires. Do not deny the truth of my assertion. Be noble; or,
better still, show yourself to me as you really are, and confess I am
right."

"Princess," cried Ottmar, "you are right. I grant that you have
understood me; but I must oppose you in one thing, that I have been
hypocritical to you. Ten minutes ago you might perhaps have termed me a
flatterer, but now everything I said has become simple truth, and I
should have far more to say to you if time and opportunity favored me."
"I fear this is the last opportunity I shall have of speaking to you
undisturbed, and therefore I speak now. I know you will not remain here
under existing circumstances, and was not willing to have you go
without taking with you on your weary way a word of conciliation,
perhaps of warning; for you do not deserve the sentence passed upon
you, and it grieves me deeply to see a noble, great-hearted man so
misunderstood through his own fault."

"Has it already gone so far?" asked Ottmar, in surprise.

"Unfortunately, yes, my friend. You are considered a very dangerous
man. Your enemies have decried you as a secret agent of the Jesuits,
and at last placed before the prince proofs that you spent a year as a
student in the Jesuit college at Rome. Your whole secret is betrayed."
"And do they not suppose," replied Ottmar, "that the Jesuits would know
how to guard such a secret better, unless it suited their interests to
reveal it?"

"You must consider that you are at a _Protestant_ court. You have
hitherto passed for a free-thinker, now you are discovered to be a
pupil of the Jesuits. Thus one or the other must be false; people find
themselves mistaken in you, and are so blindly enraged that they will
believe your enemies rather than you. They consider everything you have
done and are doing against the Jesuits to be merely a mask. The
cordiality which several gentlemen, who are known to be adherents of
the order, showed you this evening confirmed the prince still more in
his opinion. You know his passionate temper; I have just heard a
conversation between him and the minister which I have neither time nor
inclination to repeat; but my conscience urged me to warn you, and--"

"And your heart, princess; it tells you that, spite of the equivocal
part you see me play, I am a man of honor, who at any moment can cast
aside hypocrisy and deceit as contemptible tools, and whom you can
trust."

"I know not whether I may venture to do so. You were sincere with none,
and I can only entreat you always to remember that falsehood is as
dangerous as a poisonous dye, by means of which men often color things
of trifling value, but which by constant use so pervades the atmosphere
that they at last can no longer breathe in it themselves."

"Your Highness," whispered _Heinrich_, "let me at least know why, in
spite of my faults, you can still feel so much sympathy for me."

"Because I have recognized your great talents, the conflict, the want
of peace, in your soul; because I know that the contradictions which
make you suspected by the world at large are rooted in the contrasts of
your own nature; and because I cannot help feeling the deepest
compassion for you," she said, at last, with an outburst of feeling,
laying her hand carelessly upon his. Her voice rang upon _Heinrich's_
ear in tones of strange warning, and tears were glittering in her deep
blue eyes as she continued: "Oh, there is something so noble, so
godlike, in a true human soul, that when I see one struggling and
battling in the prison of this earthly body, ensnared and tortured, my
heart bleeds and I would fain extend my hands protectingly over the
wildly fluttering wings, until the hour when it can free itself and
soar away unfettered! We are observed. God be with you! Farewell!" She
glided away and disappeared among the crowd.

"My Ideal spoke from her lips," said Ottmar, gazing after her.

A strange conflict now ensued between the opposing elements in his
breast.

"She loves me; she, this noble creature, so full of intellect and
feeling," said _Heinrich_. "She could not speak more distinctly, and
what she concealed I read in her eyes, which absorbed my image in their
blue depths and reflected it again, as the sun paints a Fata Morgana
upon the clouds."

"And I," _Henri_ rejoined, "I feel ashamed and miserable when in her
presence, for I can give her nothing in return for the treasures she
brings me. I do not love her."

"And why not?" asked _Heinrich_. "Can she not make a man happy for his
whole life? Does she not hold a lofty position, is she not as noble as
she is intellectual, and has she not sufficient strength of mind to
accept my hand, if I offer it, in spite of all intrigues?"

"True," replied _Henri_; "but she is neither young nor blooming, and is
an invalid. How can I bind myself forever to one who has not the
slightest personal charm for me? A beautiful soul and noble mind are
phantoms, but a sickly body is the most comfortless reality, and a
burden which I must drag about with me during my whole life. No: so
long as I am still young I wish to enjoy this miserable life; when I am
old and decrepit I shall have enough to do to bear my own ailments
without the addition of an invalid wife."

"Ah, I could love her!" said _Heinrich_. "You should not extend your
arms to me vain, beautiful soul; I would foster and cherish you as my
most sacred possession; but it is impossible. Even if I should give her
this man, what would she possess? A cold intellect and a sensuality
which this poor ethereal nature would be unable to attract, and by
which she would sooner or later be betrayed." Absorbed in these
thoughts, he walked through the rooms to take his leave. He wished to
go home, for he had lost all inclination for the entertainment. When he
reached the last apartment a new dance had just commenced and drawn
every one into the large salons. The room was silent and empty, only
the lights in the candelabra burned with a low crackle; fans and
withered bouquets lay scattered over the tables, and cloaks that had
been carelessly cast aside were thrown upon the sofas. Everything bore
witness to the bright and joyous life that had reigned here a few
minutes before, and now the deserted chamber with its marble columns
and gilded arches seemed like a mausoleum, where the soul might take a
last farewell. He paused an instant. "Ottilie!" he murmured, half
unconsciously, and the solemn mood he had felt a short time before
again overmastered him. It seemed as if beneficent spirits were
floating in the waves of light that surrounded him and trying to
whisper something, but he could no longer understand them. Just then he
suddenly heard a low rustle: some living creature was near. He looked
around him and saw the princess standing in the doorway gazing at him
with deep earnestness.

"Ottilie," cried _Heinrich_, "God has sent you here! The angel of my
life called me, but I could no longer understand his words; for in the
tumult of the world I have grown deaf to his  spirit voice. He dwells
in you; become his oracle, let him speak to me through your lips."

"Herr von Ottmar, my heart is filled with the thought of your welfare,
but bow to help you I know not. I will pray your good angel to show me
some means of fathoming the trouble in your soul. I know of no way
unless"--she hesitated, less from embarrassment than to seek the right
word,--"unless you can find a nature which will understand and have for
you the patience of true love. Only the anxiety of a heart entirely
devoted to you will discover the means of restoring your lost peace.
That you may win such a being is the hope and desire of my soul."

"Princess," cried _Heinrich_, whom Ottilie's lovely enthusiasm had
deeply charmed, "if I now say that I find such a being in you, that
there is no woman to whom I will intrust my life except you--"

"No, my friend," said Ottilie calmly, though she turned pale. "You are
deceived in yourself at this moment. You do not love it is the longing
for the right which, thank God, always lives in you, which attracts you
to my--I may be allowed to say it--pure soul. This is not love; I know
it, and would never strengthen you in an error which would defraud you
of the best portion of your life. Yet I thank you for your confession.
It makes you appear still more lovable in my eyes; not because you have
made it to me, but to the ideal to which I would so gladly see you
rise."

"Ottilie, let me thank you on my knees for the light you have poured
into my darkened soul, and let me swear I will do everything good and
great of which I may be capable in your name, your spirit!" _Heinrich_
impulsively threw himself at her feet and clasped her hands. "Oh, my
soul loves you, Ottilie, with a love which--"

"Which is not of this world," interrupted Ottilie, bending over him.
"Another love will enter your heart, and you will bless me for having
had strength to refuse what does not belong to me! And now I entreat
you to rise and leave me to myself."

_Heinrich_ rose and started back as he looked at Ottilie. She was
standing proudly erect, struggling for breath, as her tears flowed
more and more violently; her eyes were closed, her delicate lips
firmly compressed, she was a most touching picture of agonizing
self-sacrifice.

"Poor heart! you love me, and yet are noble enough to reject me?" asked
_Heinrich_.

"Yes, my friend," murmured Ottilie, "so truly as God will sustain me in
my last hour, so truly I desire your happiness more than my own, so
truly I resign you. You must be free, and choose freely. God grant you
may find the right!"

"After this vow I have nothing more to hope," said _Heinrich_.
"Farewell, my friend! One who has power to exercise such self-restraint
has also strength to conquer her sorrow." He kissed her cold, pale
brow, and hastily left the room.

"Thank God it has turned out so!" whispered _Henri_; and _Heinrich_
also uttered a sigh of relief: he felt that he had escaped a great
danger. He had been hurried on by a momentary impulse and Ottilie's
unconcealed love to a step which he would have bitterly repented; for
he was equally convinced that no one would ever understand him like
Ottilie, and also that her appreciation alone would not satisfy him. As
_Henri_ desired more sensual, _Heinrich_ demanded greater intellectual,
charms. He wished to be excited, kept in a state of suspense,
enlivened, amused: Ottilie's uniform, quiet earnestness would not have
afforded him this, and he thanked her for having rightly understood his
hasty enthusiasm and been generous enough to reject him.

Meantime, the queenly Ottilie stood motionless in the glittering
apartment, her hand pressed to her heart and her eyes raised towards
heaven. "Which of us is most to be pitied, he or I?"



                                   V.

                           MASTER AND PUPIL.


On his way home, Ottmar remembered that he had appointed this very hour
for a tender meeting, and gradually the solemn impression made by the
last few moments faded before the charming picture which now obtained
the mastery over his soul. When he returned home his old valet, who had
served him from childhood, met him with a pale, sleepy face, and slowly
lighted the candles.

"Has not the little girl come yet?" asked _Henri_.

"Who?"

"Who should it be? Röschen," he added.

"Röschen, Marten the beadle's daughter, do you expect her?"

"Of course I do; I persuaded her to meet me in the garden. Keep watch
at the window, and when she comes take her into the pavilion," he said,
absently, throwing himself into a chair.

"Permit me to warn you, Herr Baron," said the old man with sorrowful
earnestness. "Röschen is an innocent maiden, the only daughter of an
honest, poor man, whose sole joy is in this child. Have you considered
this?"

"Don't bore me with your reproaches, man!" cried _Henri_. "Don't grudge
me this little pleasure; life with these frivolous, coquettish women is
already gradually becoming so shallow that it is no longer endurable. I
must have something pure and simple, which can refresh my mind and
interrupt the everlasting sameness; and she is really a charming
creature!" he murmured, admiringly.

"Herr Baron," said the old man, with deep emotion, "I promised your
dying mother to watch over you as far and as long as it was in my
power. In former days my influence often prevailed; but since your
severe illness and residence in France you have become a different
person; still, I did all that was possible in my limited sphere to keep
you from evil of every kind. Of late I have feared more for the safety
of your soul than your bodily welfare. I have had occasion to perform
services of which I have been ashamed. To carry letters and attend
light-minded ladies home is not the business of a respectable man; yet
I did it out of affection for you, and because no innocent person
suffered. You gave me no thanks for my obedience, but took it as a
proof that I shared your views, and probably secretly despised me for
it. I bore all patiently and did my duty. But today, Herr Baron, it is
time to hold you back from the path on which you have entered. To ruin
an innocent girl is a crime of which I would not have believed you
capable, and to which I will lend no aid."

"Old fool!" muttered _Henri_, looking at the clock, "if you were not so
useful I would have dismissed you to some quiet place long ago. Don't
pretend to be more silly than you are, Anton. I've already heard so
much morality to-day that I was on the point of doing a very foolish
thing. Do you suppose I shall begin again with my valet? Go, and let me
alone!"

"Herr Baron," replied Anton, firmly, "I am sorry to be obliged to tell
you that I must leave your service if you insist upon seeing the girl,
and beg you to discharge me to-night."

"Anton," cried _Henri_, in a furious passion, "I have borne with you
for a long time! You were faithful to me, even resisted the temptations
of the Jesuits, and always attended to my welfare. All this I have
recognized and rewarded; but I can no longer keep a servant who wishes
to set himself up as a judge of my conduct, were he ever so
indispensable to me; so remember your place better, or go!"

At that moment the door-bell rang gently. "Ah, she is coming!"
exclaimed _Henri_, exultantly; and forgetting everything else, he
turned to Anton, calling, "Lights!"

The old servant did not move, but stood with clasped hands praying,
under his breath, "Dear God, save this young soul!"

_Henri_ rushed down the staircase on which the moonlight lay in broad
bars; his hands trembled with joyful impatience. "Wait, my Röschen! my
little pink rose! I will admit you, my darling!" he whispered, as he
turned the key and threw open the heavy door, half bending forward to
embrace his angel; but a tall figure, on which the moon cast a ghostly
light, entered and fixed a pair of dark, searching eyes upon the
astonished _Henri_.

"Oh, Christ! what is this?" he exclaimed, staggering back as if
overwhelmed with terror and disappointed expectation against the door,
which he closed again.

"It is not Christ, but one who comes in his name," replied the
stranger's deep voice in the purest Italian.

"By all good angels, Father Severinus!" murmured _Henri_, recoiling a
step. A low knock sounded from without; the young man's blood mounted
to his brow, and he hesitated a moment in the greatest embarrassment.

"Here are my companions," said the Italian. "Allow me to open the
door." He threw it back, and two figures, clad in the same dress as his
own, entered, accompanied by one of the Jesuits who had spoken to
_Henri_ that night at the ball. They greeted him respectfully, and he
was man of the world enough to instantly accommodate himself to his
painful situation as well as the torturing disappointment of the
moment.

"You are welcome, reverend sirs," he said, smiling, and led the way
up-stairs.

Old Anton stood upon the landing with a light, and one of the priests
saluted him with his "Praised be Jesus Christ."

"Forever, amen!" replied the old man, with a deep sigh, as he placed
chairs for the strangers and left the room, casting a sorrowful glance
at his master.

"We have been looking for you at the ball, my son," Father Severinus
began; "because I only arrived from Rome this evening, and must set out
again early tomorrow morning. I am taking a journey through Germany,
and thought it my duty to see you, my favorite pupil, and look after
the welfare of your soul. But, unfortunately, I was compelled to learn
that the soil which so readily received our lessons was a mere
sand-heap, whose best harvest is blown away by the wind."

_Heinrich_, who had taken _Henri's_ place, quietly listened to the
priest's words with his usual satirical smile. "Reverend sir, I must
first observe that I am no longer in the mood to allow myself to be
treated like a schoolboy. There are times when a peculiar fatality
seems to pursue us; to-day appears to have been set apart for giving me
moral lectures, and I assure you the more of them I hear the less
successful they are; so you perceive you will not be able to accomplish
much in this way, especially with a man who has returned at one o'clock
in the morning, weary and heated, from a ball."

"Perhaps Princess Ottilie also belongs to the number of those whose
'moral lectures' have been so unsuccessful," sneeringly remarked
Ottmar's ball-room companion, Geheimrath Schwelling.

"What do you know about that?" exclaimed _Heinrich_.

"Enough, I should think; the noble lady did not speak so low that any
one in the adjoining window corner could not hear everything, and it is
really a duty to inform her how useless her admonitions are, that she
may not trouble herself vainly in future."

_Heinrich_ cast a glance of inexpressible contempt at the sleek, fat
face and restless eyes of the speaker. "Princess Ottilie is the noblest
woman I know," he exclaimed, with deep emotion, "and is too lofty to
lend her ear to such vulgar insinuations. If, however, you succeed in
betraying me to her, remember that you will do me no harm, but only
inflict useless pain upon a noble heart."

"Or heal it," replied the Geheimrath, contemptuously.

"Cease this aimless conversation, gentlemen," said Severinus. "I am
astonished, Herr Geheimrath, to hear what language you employ towards a
man whose great talents, even as an enemy, should command your respect.
Surely these are not the means worthy of so great an end; and if our
affairs in Germany are managed thus, I can understand why the word
'Jesuit' is here used as a bugbear to frighten children. _In majorem
Dei gloriam_, never forget that. Unfortunately, I see you men of the
world must be reminded of it more frequently than our dead General has
done. It was time a more powerful hand should seize the reins; I
perceive that more and more at every step I take upon this soil."

He had risen from his seat as he uttered these words, and there was
something so menacing and imperious in his bearing that the Geheimrath
exclaimed, with mingled fear and anger, "By what authority do you use
this language towards me, Father Severinus?"

"By the authority the General, who sends me, gave me over every worldly
coadjutor who enjoys the advantages of our alliance without showing
himself worthy of them."

The word General and Severinus's majestic bearing utterly crushed the
Geheimrath, who sank into a chair in silence, passing his hand over a
brow bedewed with cold perspiration.

"Take me to a room where I can speak to you in private, my son," said
the priest in a very different tone, turning to Ottmar. "We alone have
understood each other, and we shall come to an understanding again."

"As you please," said _Heinrich_, hesitatingly, and was about to take
one of the candlesticks from the table.

"Nay," observed Severinus, checking him. "You know my habits; do not
refuse me the favor of being allowed to speak to you in darkness as in
former days. The soul can collect its powers better when external
objects are concealed."

"As you please," Ottmar repeated, while a faint smile played around his
lips.

He led the priest into the adjoining library; then left the room a
moment and said to Anton, in low tone, "Examine my study, remove the
papers lying around, and bolt the door leading into the dining-room. If
Röschen comes, I also rely upon your faithfulness to take her into the
garden and shut her up in the pavilion."

Then he quietly returned to his guest. The library was dimly lighted by
the moonbeams. The books towered aloft in immense cases, and from the
most exhaustive works of the _intellect_, bound in these lifeless cases
to arise again in spirit, the eye wandered to the most perfect works of
_nature_ imperishably imprisoned in stone and colors to refresh the
weary thinker, and gently win him back from his dizzy heights to this
world and its lovely forms. Statues and pictures of every kind stood
and hung around.

If a moonbeam shone upon the gilt letters of the names of the greatest
poets and learned men, it also revealed the mute embrace of Cupid and
Psyche, and brought out in strong relief the marble shoulder of the
Venus de Medici. In a niche filled with palms and climbing plants, it
cast flickering shadows upon Schwanthaler's nymph, which seemed to be
lamenting that she was stone, and glittered upon a marble basin at her
feet. Then its pale gleam struggled with the vivid hues of the
exquisite copy of a Titian, or glided over a table filled with charts,
sketches, and plans, whose half-rolled sheets fluttered gently. The
room revealed a strange, mysterious life and nature. Ghosts seemed to
be gliding to and fro,--the tall, chastely-veiled ghosts of philosophy
and poetry,--the nude, caressing genii of love and pleasure. Now all
appeared to have gathered curiously around the dark, tall form of the
priest, who stood leaning thoughtfully against the pedestal of a Hebe.

"This study, or library, is characteristic of you, my son," began
Severinus, when Ottmar returned. "I see everywhere the results of the
two dominant powers of your nature,--intellect and sensuality,--but no
piety; a worship of the mind, a worship of nature: but where, where are
the traces of religion? Have you, then, utterly cast aside what you
adopted when with us?"

"Father Severinus," said _Heinrich_, advancing until he stood face to
face with him, "we are alone. Be frank; do you ask, _you_, that I shall
become a devotee?"

Severinus gazed at him bong and earnestly. "That you should become a
devotee? No! What I ask of you is consistency! When with us you
apparently became deeply imbued with religious feeling, and openly
displayed it an all occasions. Now you deny it; therefore you have
either _lost_--in which case you are to be pitied, or never _possessed_
it, when you deserve great blame for the deception you have practiced
in relation to the most sacred things and towards us."

_Heinrich_ was silent. He felt the justice of the priest's reproof, and
found no reply; at the same time he was stupefied by the dim,
flickering light and the excitement of the last hour, and could not
suppress a slight yawn. Father Severinus was also silent, and waited
patiently for a reply. At last _Heinrich_ said, impatiently: "Most
reverend father, you might spare a great deal of your pathos. I do not
deny the truth of your reproach; the only doubt is whether it specially
concerns me, for I must confess to you that it is a matter of
comparative indifference whether you have cause to be indignant or not.
I have released myself from your authority, and belong to another
party, so I have nothing more to expect or endure from you. True, you
have succeeded in making me suspected at this court; but I shall find
means to justify myself, and then we will see which of us has most
occasion to fear the other."

"I am deeply grieved to hear this language, which, by my faith in
Christ, I have not deserved," replied Severinus. "I am guiltless of the
measures the hasty, newly-appointed agent for Germany induced the
Father General to employ against you. Will you believe me?"

_Heinrich_ bowed. "I am well aware that you are too proud to adopt such
a course."

"Well then, for what wrong can you upbraid me, which justifies this
inconsiderate, heartless language?" He paused and looked at _Heinrich_,
who bit his lips and drummed on the arm of his chair. "What wrong has
the order done you that you take upon yourself the task of entering
upon a contest with it?" repeated Severinus. Another pause ensued.
"What could induce you to commit such a breach of faith?"

"I have committed no breach of faith!" exclaimed _Heinrich_, "for I
never belonged to you; I am and was a free-thinker. For a long time I
admitted your great and manifest excellences, but the longer I remained
among you the more I learned to hate you and the principles of your
order, whose sole aim is the subjection of the mind to your dogmas, or
rather your authority, an object to attain which you know how to employ
every conceivable means, good as well as bad. Do you really ask a man
of my nature to submit to become the tool of such plans? If you could
expect it, it was your fault, not mine, if you now find yourselves
deceived."

"To that, my son, I have two answers," replied Severinus, after a short
pause of reflection. "If the principles of our order, which the hand of
God has hitherto wonderfully protected, seem to you so worthy of blame
that you consider it a duty to oppose them and prepare a better fate
for your nation by your own ideas, I can say nothing against it in my
own person, except that I pity your error, while I can pay a certain
respect to the man who has at heart the welfare of his people, even
though his views may be mistaken. But you, _Heinrich_, do not oppose us
from the necessity of preserving your country from a supposed evil, nor
from the sanctity of a firm though erroneous conviction, but merely out
of vanity, that thereby you may play a prominent part before your
revolutionary party. You know nothing more sublime and imperishable
than the worldly admiration bestowed upon you, because the reward and
recognition of Christ, promised by his vicars throughout eternity, are
incredulously scorned by your narrow soul. Vanity and egotism are
answerable for your actions towards us, and even destroy the paltry
merit of having sacrificed yourself for your convictions."

"Oh, Ottilie," _Heinrich_ suddenly exclaimed, in bitter wrath, "gentle,
innocent angel! How much better you understood me!"

"That is not all I have to say in reply," continued Severinus, without
permitting himself to be at all disturbed by the interruption. "If, as
I have just seen, the reproach of acting from selfish impulses wounds
you so deeply, tell me what noble motive induced you to remain a year
with men whom you abhor, receive every possible proof of friendship
from them, and feign enthusiastic interest in a faith which seems to
you pernicious and criminal? Pray answer this, if you can."

"I can," replied _Heinrich_, quietly. "Chance and ennui threw me into
your hands. You took me to the college. The genius of your system
attracted me; I wished to penetrate the mysterious nimbus which
surrounded you, to investigate you and your nature, as people desire to
examine every curiosity. You interested me, and I very soon perceived
that it would only cost me a little hypocrisy to acquire knowledge
which would be useful all my life. I looked upon it as a necessary
entrance-fee, and paid you with it. Why did you not see that the coin
was false? You trained me for diplomacy, and drilled me in the arts of
dissimulation, to which you gave the noble name of 'self-command.' As I
learned them I tested them on you, and thus you see that my diplomatic
career began by making you the first victims of your own teachings, and
by deceiving you. Truth will pardon my year of faithlessness for the
sake of a lifetime of repentance."

"That sounds very strange," said Severinus. "Did we teach you
hypocrisy? To _conceal_ the truth without _telling a lie_ is the art we
communicated to aid you in your diplomatic career. But granted that it
was so, granted that we taught you dissimulation to obtain certain
necessary ends, should not common human gratitude have withheld you
from betraying in such a despicable manner the men who trusted you?"

"Gratitude," laughed _Heinrich_, "for what? Did you receive me
cordially and bestow your instruction upon me for my own sake?
Certainly not. Why did you expel poor Albert Preheim, who was miserably
poor, dependent, and sincerely devoted to you? Because he had not
sufficient ability to serve you, because he was a man of limited
intellect. You did not keep me for my good but your own, because you
expected to find in me a useful tool, because a skillful agent for this
country was necessary. Tell me yourself, would you have done all this
for me if the matter had only concerned my welfare?"

"No," said Severinus; "our mission is to serve God alone. This claims
us so entirely that the interests of individuals must be excluded. We
cannot trouble ourselves about any one who is not in some manner useful
to this end; he must apply to those orders whose sole vocation is the
practice of Christian charity. If he cannot find among them the
benefits he seeks, he would not be worthy of ours."

"Well, for what do I owe you gratitude?" asked _Heinrich_.

"Because you were afforded an opportunity to advance the holiest cause,
to become a fellow-laborer in the service of the Highest Being. What
are we men, what is our feeble influence? Only when we belong to a
great band, unite our strength, direct our manifold powers towards
_one_ lofty aim, do we feel strong and have real weight. And the more
we enter into the struggle of the whole, the more petty cares for
ourselves disappear, then only do we obtain true contentment."

"My noble Severinus," exclaimed _Heinrich_, "do you not suppose that I
too belong to such a band, like all who are imbued with one great aim?
Do you not suppose that there are sacred interests in the world and
among nations, whose representatives are united by an invisible bond of
common activity? Are you not sure that in our world also there are such
associations which, without compulsion or vows, without being bound by
time and space, or ruled by statutes, have an eternal existence?"

"What you say sounds very noble; I know these are your philosophical
catch-words, but it is untenable," said Severinus. "Your union,
supposing that such an one might exist in fancy, is too diffuse to
produce the consciousness of mutual dependence, which can alone
suppress selfishness in individuals; you gentlemen, who desire to
promote the happiness of the world, always have room enough within the
limits of your imaginary union to cherish your individual cares and
interests, and make war upon yourselves. Even though your object may
perhaps be the same, you are always at variance about the means of
attaining it; nay, you are often, from purely personal motives, most
bitter enemies. You may have an association, but you have no unity, and
your efforts are unsuccessful in consequence of your want of harmony.
You lack positive legal consolidation, which is the secret of our
power; and while you win at tea-tables men of superior minds to join
your confederacy, we deprive you of the masses. You can undoubtedly
belong to such a band without injury to your egotism," he added,
smiling; "but you will always feel discontented and solitary." He
paused and gazed at _Heinrich_, then continued: "How differently you
would labor with us! My son, is there no way of bringing you back? Is
there no feeling of devotion which binds you to me? You say you are
free from every obligation to the order; are you also free from all
obligations to me? I think I have done more for you than even our
purpose would have rendered necessary. As prefect of the college, all
manner of claims were made upon me; yet when my days were occupied I
sacrificed my nights to initiate you into secrets which the order
confides only to a chosen few. I have borne with your thousand
caprices, smothered your passions with inexhaustible indulgence, and
unweariedly labored to develop your great talents. I wished to obtain
you for our cause, not only because we needed remarkable powers, but
also because I knew of no greater happiness for yourself. In you I
learned to love men once more; for your sake, I have become tolerant,
for your sake I have come from Rome. My chilled heart warmed towards
you as towards a son. Does this deserve no love,--not even
forbearance?"

"Love!" said _Heinrich_, impatiently. "What do you desire? Men do not
love each other. I honor you, for you are the best and noblest of all
in the college, and if we had a common interest I would gladly join
you; but I do not deal in useless feelings, and frankly confess that I
don't understand how people can have them, except towards women."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed Severinus. "So you believe you love only
what you desire to possess. You love nothing at all, _Heinrich_, and I
resign all hope of moving you by gentleness and kindness." So saying,
he started up and again leaned against the pedestal of the marble Hebe,
who vainly held her goblet of joy above his head. His delicately cut
features were slightly flushed, and his dark eyes flashed an imperious
glance at _Heinrich_. "Here stands a man who has devoted his whole life
to the service of a divine idea. Educated in a Jesuit college, sent
into the would as an ecclesiastical coadjutor, and finally promoted to
the rank of assistant, I learned to share all the joys and sorrows of
our order, and have become a Jesuit from the crown of my head to the
sole of my foot. I have felt every passion struggle within me and
subdued them all: for the honor of God was the object unchangeably
before my eyes; I used my life only as a preparation for eternity, and
therefore proudly approach death without blanching. Will you meet the
annihilation in which you believe as calmly?"

"I hope so," said _Heinrich_, coldly.

"And if, instead of your deities of sensuality which beckon to you
here, a bleeding Christ should appear before you in his chaste mother's
lap, pleading, 'Turn back to those who will guide you in my ways--'"

"I would say to him, 'Lord, guide me in thy ways _thyself_!'" exclaimed
_Heinrich_, with a forced laugh.

"And if we threatened you with the curse of the church?"

"I would become a Protestant."

"Misguided, accursed son of the flesh, with which you defile the vessel
of divinity, your joys shall one day be shivered by the hand of the
Lord like this idol!" cried Severinus in an outburst of fury, seizing
the Hebe and dashing it so violently at the feet of the startled
_Heinrich_ that the room shook and the graceful head rolled a long
distance. The dust rose from the floor in clouds.

For a moment _Heinrich_ stood petrified with astonishment, gazing
regretfully at the beautiful broken limbs. "So you intend to close our
conversation with this resounding crash, father?" he asked at last,
when he had recovered his former sarcastic mood.

"Close? Oh, no; we have not done with each other yet," said Severinus,
as he paced up and down the apartment several times, and then suddenly
paused with quiet dignity before _Heinrich_. "This is the most
disgraceful trick my impetuous temper has ever played me. Fortunately,
I can replace your broken property. It would be far more difficult to
repair the moral loss you have sustained in this hour. We will come to
an understanding quietly. My recent violence was the last outbreak of
my sorrow for your loss, but your cold derision has chilled my
affection forever. Ascribe it to your own conduct if my dealings with
you are henceforth destitute of all consideration. The _man_ is dead to
me, you are now simply the enemy of my church, whom at any cost I must
disarm."

_Heinrich_ looked at him in astonishment. "Indeed, I am curious to
learn in what way you will propose to effect this."

"You shall know at once. We must first determine the relations in which
you will in future stand towards our order."

"That would be useless labor, father, since for a long time no
relations have existed between us, and none will ever be formed again!"

"They will, they must exist! The tie was formerly a voluntary one on
your part, now it will be compulsory: that is the only difference. You
have proved to me that you have secretly deserted us, my care will be
to prevent your making it public; and since persuasion is unavailing,
this must be done by force."

"Force?" cried _Heinrich_, starting up. "What do you mean?"

"Simply that I possess means to compel you to that which you will not
do of your own free will."

"Father Severinus, we intimidate children in this way, but not men!"

Severinus looked him steadily in the face. "Have you ever seen me
employ empty threats?"

"No," replied _Heinrich_, with visible anxiety.

"Very well; then let us come to the point without further
circumlocution. You must first of all be fully informed of your present
situation. That you are pointed out as our agent, and consequently in
disfavor here, you know, and also that you must take leave as soon as
possible, if you prefer an honorable voluntary resignation to a
disgraceful dismissal."

"And why must I do this? Who can dismiss me on the ground of such vague
accusations?"

"These accusations will be proved."

"They cannot be, for I shall find means to justify myself. Although I
cannot deny having been for some time connected with you, it does not
follow that this is still the case."

"That too is provided for. We possess the most irrefutable proofs that
you still maintain an intercourse with us by letter." He drew out a
small portfolio. "Now I will ask you for a lamp." _Heinrich_ lighted
the candles, and saw two envelopes, which Severinus held out to him,
addressed in his own hand. "You see,--these envelopes contained the
replies to the General's requests concerning the erection of a private
institution in H----. We shall know how to conceal the fact that these
answers were refusals. It is enough that the postmarks on envelopes
addressed by your own hand will afford proofs of the recent existence
of a secret correspondence."

"And of what use will they be if you are forced to conceal their
contents? Suppose you are asked why you do not produce the letters
themselves?"

"It will be sufficient reason to say that they contained important
secrets which we cannot reveal on any account."

_Heinrich_ passionately struck his brow. "Oh, could I suspect that I
had to deal with men to whom no measures are too petty, and who are not
ashamed to collect pitiful envelopes and use them to aid their
designs!"

"Nothing is so trivial that it is not worth the trouble of keeping, if
it can serve the honest cause. Our Lord Jesus Christ was not ashamed to
pick up a piece of old iron; why should not we, his servants, make even
the most trifling things useful for his designs?"

"I hope, father, that you yourself feel the humorousness, not to say
absurdity, of such logic at this moment."

"Let us not digress. I am aware that our proceedings can in no case
meet with your approval, and bear you no ill will for it; therefore I
have not submitted them to your judgment. Every word which does not
directly concern the matter in hand is a mere waste of time."

"Well, then, father, we will use very few. Tell me exactly what you
require."

"That you should bind yourself to contend with us no longer."

_Heinrich_ burst into a loud laugh. "And by these untenable threats you
wish to induce me to take such a step! No, father, we have not yet gone
so far. Although I have no proofs that our correspondence was a hostile
one, you are equally unable to show that it was confidential and
friendly; far less, that I have failed in my duty towards my own
government. Our risks are equal."

"If they are, I need only throw in these papers and your scale will
sink!" held aloft a roll of manuscript. "Here are the proofs of the
offenses you committed against your government and court during your
stay in Rome. Whoever sees them will no longer doubt that you are a
traitor now as well as then!"

"Severinus!" cried _Heinrich_, fairly beside himself with fury.

"Be calm, my friend; we are only weighing our comparative advantages
and disadvantages. If you compel me to make these papers public, your
honor and all your ambitious plans are destroyed!"

"If you rob me of my future career as a statesman, woe betide you! Do
you see what an enemy you will find in me? I, too, am in possession of
secrets which you would not desire to have revealed!"

"As we know this, my friend, we do you the honor of treating with you.
Towards any one else we should have adopted a shorter course. The only
point in question now is which of us has most to lose, and it is you!"

"What do those papers contain?" asked _Heinrich_, in a hollow tone.

"In the first place an article in your own hand, which you prepared at
the rector's command, containing the characteristics of this court and
those of the most influential persons who surround the prince."

"That can only compromise me personally," said _Heinrich_, with forced
composure.

"It can be displayed by a malevolent person as an act of treachery to
your court in favor of the Jesuits' designs,--and in fact it was
intended to aid us in our first steps here."

"It failed, however, for the characteristics were not correct. Any one
who is familiar with the relations existing here will instantly
perceive that they are intentionally falsified, to mislead any one who
might wish to use them."

"This may have proceeded from want of judgment quite as much as
design."

_Heinrich_ suppressed a smile. "Oh, father, pardon my lack of modesty
if I doubt that any would impute want of judgment to _me_!"

Severinus bit his lips. "You were a very young man, whose penetration
could not have been so well disciplined as now. Meantime, where many
proofs are brought together the number turns the scale, and I possess
one which will weigh heavier than all the rest." He drew a printed
document from his breast and pointed to the title. "Who is the author
of this pamphlet written in favor of the Jesuits and against your
government?"

"I," said _Heinrich_, coldly. "But, fortunately, you can create no
proofs of the fact."

"We can procure them."

"_No_, father; there was but one, the manuscript written by my own
band; and this no longer exists, for I threw it into the fire myself,
and saw it burn with my own eyes. I knew you crafty gentlemen too well
to allow such a dangerous document to fall into your possession."

"You burned the manuscript, but not the proof-sheets," said Severinus.
"When you asked for them you were told that they had already been
destroyed. Here are the corrections written in your own hand! You
wondered at the time that we should have such miserable compositors in
our secret printing-establishments, because you found whole words
wrong. You were unsuspicious enough not to perceive that the errors
were only made in order to obtain as many corrections as possible in
your handwriting; no one who knows its peculiar characteristics will
doubt the authenticity of this document." _Heinrich_ turned very pale.
He cast a glance of deadly hatred at Severinus, who was quietly
watching him. "Moreover, here is also the letter you sent to Father K.
with the pamphlets he had ordered; and although you took the precaution
not to name the title, no one will believe that you submitted to the
judgment of the General of the Jesuits any other manuscript than one
written in the interests of the order." expression of bitter irony
played around the priest's delicate lips. "It seems to me that you were
not aware how 'crafty' we are! You can now proceed to make public all
these 'contemptible coercive measures,' as you call them; you may
perhaps thereby injure us a little, but you will not justify yourself.
As soon as this secret is revealed you are lost. Suppose you hold
psychological discussions with your court and government concerning the
transformation which has taken place in you, and the causes that
induced you to deny your convictions for an entire year,--you will be
laughed at, and your name will be handed before all parties."

_Heinrich_ trembled with rage. The painful dilemma into which he found
himself hurried without the slightest warning, the incomprehensibility
of his situation, the priest's crushing dialectics, and his own
physical exhaustion--all these combined causes so bewildered him that
he lost all control over himself, and following only the blind impulses
of his instinct, he vigorously rushed upon Severinus, who had just
replaced the document in his breast. "Hold!" he cried, seizing his arm.
"Do you really suppose I will voluntarily leave these papers, which
decide the destiny of my whole life, in your hands?"

Severinus remained perfectly calm, and measured him with a contemptuous
glance. "Ottmar, I could defend myself if I did not have sufficient
confidence in your good sense to know that I am safe from violence."

After a long pause, Severinus approached him; his expression became
more gentle, his harsh tone softened, and it seemed as if sorrow was
mirrored in his eyes as he laid his hand gently upon the young man's
shoulder and in a low tone murmured his name. The latter looked up
sullenly.

"Ottmar, I do not act for myself, but for my church."

"It is a matter of indifference to me for when you act if you destroy
my career. Oh, it is despicable! I have robbed you of the labors of a
year, but you are defrauding me of a whole life! Woe to him who rashly
ventures within your charmed circle! He can never break through it
without being crushed."

"Ottmar, I do not understand how you could ever have imagined we would
send such an invaluable power into the world without holding in our
hands the leading-strings by which we could draw you back at any
moment. Let us come to some conclusion. I have the most positive orders
not to leave here without the security I have already mentioned. If you
do not promise to-night that you will voluntarily send in your
resignation, to-morrow I must commence proceedings which will make you
a dishonored man."

"And I am to allow my hands to be tied, I am to mount to this height,
and in the zenith of my success to be hurled back to every-day
obscurity, laughed at and dishonored! No, I will not and cannot be
ruined by you! You recognize only the fanaticism with which you
incessantly pursue your own aims. I too am a fanatic; but it is in the
cause of ambition, and to this everything must yield, good and bad. You
shall perceive that I have not been your pupil in vain. You have
impressed upon me the stamp of your society to brand me in the eyes of
my party; but what will injure me at _Protestant_ courts will aid me in
_Catholic_ ones. If I am reported to be a Jesuit, I will make the rumor
profitable. I will enter the service of a Catholic country under the
guise of being in accord with you. You cannot contradict yourselves so
far as to decry me here as an ultramontanist and there as a liberal. I
will go to N----, where you are sure that I am powerless against you.
If this is not sufficient security, let the battle begin,--I can do no
more!"

"It is the only expedient that you still have, if you seek your
happiness solely in the brilliancy of a diplomatic career; and it is
not our intention to exclude you from it, for we do not wish to drive
you to extremities unnecessarily. N---- is at least the only place
where you cannot injure us. On this condition we will mutually spare
each other and keep the peace; but if you succeed in obtaining
influence in N----, and should ever attempt to use it against us, we
have the power there to crush you at once: not by stratagem, but by our
firmly-established might. Do not forget this."

"Ottilie," thought _Heinrich_, "you spoke the truth. I have so poisoned
the air with my falsehoods that I breathe nothing but corruption, and
am rightly served." "Well, then," he said to Severinus, "your holy
object is attained by the noblest means. You thrust a man, who has
hitherto made only a short digression from the path of right, into a
course of wrong and hypocrisy, careless whether a soul is destroyed, so
that appearances are preserved."

Severinus cast down his eyes. "The cause must be saved; the individual
must be sacrificed to the cause. May God have mercy upon his soul, if
that which should lead him to good turns him to evil! Come, we will
repeat our agreement before witnesses." Severinus opened the door, and
they entered the drawing-room, where the others were waiting with
anxious faces.

_Heinrich's_ offer was discussed in detail and confirmed by his word of
honor, after which he took a formal leave of the gentlemen.

Severinus turned in the doorway and clasped his hand. "I do not know
what mysterious impulse of affection binds me to you, that, while
treating you as my worst enemy, tears of sorrow dim my eyes, although I
have only faithfully obeyed my orders. For Christ's sake forgive me, as
I pardon you, and if ever you need me call upon me!" He gazed at
_Heinrich_ with all the strange meaning of his wonderful eyes. It
seemed as if their brilliancy was shadowed by tears as he asked, "Shall
I not see you again when I return to H---- in a few weeks?"

"No," said _Heinrich_. "I shall send in my resignation to-morrow, and
depart as soon as possible."

Severinus suddenly clasped him passionately to his breast. "Farewell,
my lost son! From this hour I will love nothing but God!" Then he went
down the staircase with a steady step, without casting another glance
behind. Old Anton lighted the way, and then returned, pale but calm.

"Where is Röschen?" exclaimed _Henri_, who was longing to forget the
tortures of the past hour in the arms of love.

"She is not here," said the old man.

"Not here?" asked _Henri_, in amazement. "Where is she?"

"Forgive me, Herr Baron! I could do nothing else,--I took her home to
her father."

"What! what!" cried _Henri_, fairly beside himself with rage. "Did you
dare to oppose your master? Leave this house early to-morrow morning
before I am up! I will never see you again!"

He threw a heavy purse at his feet. The old man burst into tears, and
his knees trembled under him.

"Herr Baron," he said, in a choking voice, "may you never regret having
driven such a faithful servant from you! Farewell! may God preserve
you!"

With these words he tottered out of the room, while Ottmar threw
himself upon his couch in a mood of sullen discontent; for the first
time consciousness of his marred existence came over him with crushing
distinctness.

The second step was taken; he had fallen one degree lower. The warning
voice had not failed him, but Egotism must complete his work at the
cost of everything else.

The first act _Heinrich_ had committed against his conscience, under
the influence of this terrible demon, was the game he had played for a
year with the Jesuits, in order to obtain knowledge which would be
useful in his career. When he afterwards came to the decision, where he
had an equal amount to lose or gain, he chose the path of truth; but
now he again encountered the necessity of sacrificing his ambition or
his convictions, and principle was compelled to yield to egotism. He
would henceforth choose the path of falsehood, of worldly advantage,
instead of the only one which could lead him to higher things.

He had bound himself to appear in N---- as an enemy of progress,--to
aid in oppressing an impoverished nation. He must persuade his
conscience that all his ideas of right and freedom were dead, and not
worth the sacrifice of a whole life of honor and influence,--that the
philanthropy which, in the guise of an earnest sense of duty, had lived
his cold intellect, was an eccentricity of his youth, and must yield to
his own advantage; in truth, it could not be otherwise. Only the
emotional nature makes all ideas so living that we weep, suffer, and
bleed for them as if they were real sentient beings, and gives us, for
men whom we cannot draw within the circle visible to our senses, that
warm feeling of sympathy which we call philanthropy. But he had lost
this power, and with it a true sense of honor, yet to-night he found no
repose. He was formed by nature for noble ends, and although he no
longer felt as he had done in former days, he knew what his emotions
were once. He knew the difference between right and wrong, and that he
was choosing the latter, and looked back with shame upon the preceding
day.

Both _Heinrich_ and _Henri_ had fallen equally low. If _Heinrich_ had
crushed his sense of right and yielded to ambition, _Henri_ had gone so
far in his pursuit of pleasure that he had sought to destroy a young,
trusting heart, and angrily driven away the old man who had opposed his
design. _Egotism had completed his victory over both natures_. Haunted
by these and similar thoughts, he at last fell asleep just before dawn.

It was late in the forenoon when he awoke. The rays of the winter sun
were shining upon the bright, blooming landscapes on his window
curtains; a few freezing, starving birds were twittering loudly;
everything bore a delusive semblance of spring, which had as little
existence in the outside world as in his own breast. He opened his
eyes, looked around him, and with a deep sigh murmured those words of
painful disappointment: "Thank God, you have only been dreaming!" He
sank back upon his pillows for a moment; it seemed as if his soul had
not yet opened its eyes and was still slumbering, while he watched the
bright colors upon his curtains. It seemed to him as if the door would
open and old Anton come in to wake him. "Yes!" he called aloud, and
started up. But he found himself alone. He rubbed his eyes and
remembered that for the first time in his life Anton had failed to
rouse him at the right hour. He had sent him away that very night! It
was no dream: he had really done and experienced everything! "What has
been begun must be finished," he said, with gloomy resolution, and rose
to enter upon his sinful new career.



                                  VI.

                           THE PRISON FAIRY.


Six years afterwards, on a cold, dreary November day, a grumbling,
discontented crowd was waiting before the building in which the weal
and woe of the country of N---- were decided. An important conference
had just been concluded,--a consultation concerning increasing the
severity of the punishments inflicted upon political criminals.
Carriages drove up, and ministers and councilors entered them. At last
a brilliant equipage, drawn by two snorting, spirited gray horses,
dashed up so quickly that the crowd shrank back in terror, and looked
at the door in eager expectation. Two servants hastily let down the
steps. A slender man appeared who had not yet reached middle life, but
on whose pallid face sharp lines were already visible. He did not
vouchsafe to cast a glance at the throng, but as he entered the
carriage he heard those near him whisper, "That is Ottmar; he is one of
the worst of them." The door was closed, the footmen sprang back to
their places, and the impatient steeds dashed through the crowd like
griffins.

"Do you hate me at last?" murmured the cold man in the carriage. "It is
well; if I once see I am hated I shall be able to shake off this
remnant of conscientiousness that still tortures me, and henceforth
live only for myself and my own aims."

The carriage stopped before a castle-like building, the state prison.
Ottmar had for some time been commissioner of one of the revolutionary
provinces of the country, where of late a new uprising was feared, and
had therefore received orders to try to draw from the political
prisoners, who were natives of that region, disclosures which might
place some clue to the conspiracy in the hands of the government. The
prince had selected him for this office because his cold watchfulness,
smoothness, and skill in dealing with different natures seemed to make
him peculiarly fitted for it. During the short time that Ottmar had
been in the employ of the N---- government he had risen to the rank of
privy councilor and member of the council of state, and displayed his
talents in the widest spheres. He was the trusted friend of the young
prince, over whom he exerted an inexplicable power, executor of the
most secret measures, not unfrequently employed to deal with the agents
of foreign courts, and his enemies began to fear him more and more when
they perceived too late that his influence had already pervaded the
whole court.

What it had cost him to submit and cringe to a system which his inmost
soul abhorred, though with the longing to be or strive for something
better he had violently crushed down every other feeling, as egotism
and ambition had always suppressed the better emotions of unbiased
convictions, was stamped in terrible characters upon the haggard,
pallid, but still handsome face, the frail but haughtily erect figure.

He walked in gloomy silence behind the guide, who was taking him to the
worst criminals in the lower story. A cold breeze blew over him,
chilling his breast, and he involuntarily said to himself, "Yet men are
compelled to live here!" It seemed as if the sound of despairing sobs
reached his ear through one of the iron doors. He paused and listened.
A low, soft voice appeared to be speaking words of solemn warning.

"Open this cell," he said to his guide; but the latter did not move.

"Oh, Herr Baron!" he said, imploringly, "shall we not go to the others
first?--the man in there is very violent."

"Open the door!" said _Heinrich_, imperiously.

"Have mercy; we are all ruined men if you do not have mercy upon us!"
stammered the guide, in the greatest confusion.

"What is the matter with you?" asked _Heinrich_, extremely perplexed.
"I will be merciful if I can, but open the door at once."

The man hesitatingly unlocked the low door, and _Heinrich_ stood in the
entrance as if spell-bound. A young girl, thoughtful and beautiful as
artists paint the Muse of History, was sitting on a stool holding in
her lap a book, from which she had apparently just been reading aloud.
She was bending over the prisoner, who had thrown himself weeping on
the ground at her feet, and speaking to him consolingly. _Heinrich_
motioned to the guide to be silent, and hastily retreated behind the
door that he might not be seen.

"You have come too early, surely. I have not yet spent half an hour
with Sebastian," said the young girl. A pale sunbeam fell upon her as
she raised her head and shook back from her face a mass of luxuriant
curls. Her full lips pouted a little as she asked the jailer, "What is
the matter with you to-day? why do you look at me so?"

"You must come out now," said he.

She rose slowly.

"Stand up, Sebastian; be reasonable."

She bent over the despairing man and tried to help him rise; but he
pressed his face still more closely to the damp ground.

"Stand up!" she suddenly commanded. "Behave like a man, not like a
child, if you wish me ever to come here again."

The prisoner rose. He was an old man, decrepit and thin, with the
staring eyes peculiar to those who for years have vainly endeavored to
pierce with their glances the dungeon walls that surround them.

"Oh, do not be angry!" he pleaded. "I am calm now."

"Farewell for to-day, my poor Sebastian!" she said, returning to her
former wonderfully gentle tone, and walked quickly along the passage to
the next door. As she looked round to see if the warden was going to
open it for her she perceived _Heinrich_, who could now no longer
conceal himself. He advanced towards her, and she watched his approach
with surprise, but very calmly. Her gaze had only been fixed upon his
breast, which glittered with orders; but as he stood silently before
her in his manly dignity she raised her dark eyes to his, and their
glances met like electric sparks. A flush slowly suffused the young
girl's clearly cut face, and she involuntarily cast down her eyes as if
she had received a shock.

"I am very much surprised to find such charming society in these
inhospitable apartments, Fräulein," _Heinrich_ began.

"I do not think it so very astonishing if the jailer's daughter seeks
to aid her father in his arduous duties."

"Pardon me, Fräulein, if I take the liberty of doubting the accuracy of
that statement," said _Heinrich_. "A jailer's daughter does not use
such language; besides, the alarm displayed just now when I wished to
enter the cell was far too great for me not to attribute more
importance to your incognito. I am, unfortunately, compelled to look at
your romantic appearance here through the extremely prosaic spectacles
of an official, whose duty it is to obtain information in regard to
every unusual event; therefore, by virtue of my office, I must inquire
your name as well as request an explanation of your object."

The young girl looked at him with a long, steady gaze, while an
expression played around her lips which _Heinrich_ had never before
seen on a woman's face,--a slight shade of irony.

"Very well, sir; if these people have already betrayed me I need use no
further deception. I did not employ it for my own sake, but on account
of these poor employees whom I have estranged from their duty. My name
I hope I may be permitted to conceal; but I owe you an explanation
about my object: it is only to do good. As others go to hospitals to
heal diseased bodies, the majority of which can no longer be saved, I
come hither to aid sick souls, where often the best and highest results
may be effected. Do you think that so romantic? I have surely done no
wrong in bribing the officials here, partly by money, partly by kind
words, to allow me to make a daily round through the cells. In
charitable institutions the doors and gates stand open to all who wish
to bring aid and consolation to the sufferers. The thrice wretched
unfortunates in our prisons are refused all means of cheering and
ennobling them. No account is taken of individuality here, where
individuality is the sole standard of measurement. A chaplain is sent
to admonish criminals to repent, who is to convert them all in a lump
according to his own theories; but people trouble themselves very
little about the result of this manufacturing method of conversion, and
when at the expiration of their imprisonment the criminals are sent
back into the world, they begin again just where they stopped years
before."

"Oh, Fräulein, you go too far! The punishment itself does most, for it
terrifies them," replied _Heinrich_.

"Some, but certainly by far the smallest number. Many in the course
of years become so hardened to it by custom that it loses its terrors,
and the only moral the majority draw from imprisonment is--to manage
more cautiously in future. There is only one guarantee for the
permanent harmlessness of the criminal who cannot be imprisoned for
life--amendment; but this principal object of punishment is always made
subservient to the principle of avenging the insulted law."

"Well, and can you tell me also how this amendment is to be effected?"
asked _Heinrich_, with increasing interest.

"I think by the admitting of judicious, trustworthy persons who can
understand these different characters, and influence by advice and
instruction, where the latter is needed."

"I admire your sanguine, philanthropic ideas," replied _Heinrich_; "but
tell me yourself, my honored Fräulein, would not the state have too
much to do if it was compelled to take into account the peculiarities
of each individual criminal, and establish and pay a whole corporation
of amendment officials?"

This jeer wounded the young girl, and a deep flush crimsoned her noble,
intellectual brow for a moment; but after a pause she continued,
undaunted: "Such a task would perhaps be too visionary and
comprehensive for the government; but the citizens would come to its
aid in this as well as in benevolent institutions, and from the hearts
of the populace a corps of volunteer amendment officials would arise,
in which our noblest patriots would undoubtedly be associated. But I
have no intention of discussing a subject upon which folios have been
already written, and which you understand better than I. I only wished
to give the motive for my actions; and your recent sneer," she added,
in a slightly defiant tone, "has fully convinced me that you will at
least consider these 'sanguine philanthropic ideas' in the mind of a
fanciful young girl too harmless to put them on official record, so my
examination is doubtless over."

"Not yet," said _Heinrich_, firmly. "Your ideas and language do not
seem to me quite so harmless as you suppose. I cannot help desiring to
obtain more exact information concerning the motives of your acts and
the bearing of your influence. I must and shall find means to do so.
You stand too proudly and firmly before me for me to be able to believe
so implicitly in the purposelessness of your enthusiasm. I am a servant
of the government; as such it is both a duty and a right to ask, 'Who
are you? in what relations do you stand towards the prisoners? what is
your object?'"

"Who I am I shall not tell you; in what relations I stand towards the
prisoners and what influence I exert you can learn from themselves; as
for my object, can you not understand it? I am making myself useful. Do
you think it requires another and more important purpose to act as I
have done?"

"Making yourself useful?" repeated _Heinrich_, thoughtfully. "Do you
really imagine you are of much use here?"

"_How much_ is not for me to measure, I make myself as useful as I can.
If every one only did this the world would be happier. It is not the
success, but the will, that determines the value of an act. Vanity asks
only about the result, honest purpose is satisfied with the doing."

"Indeed!" said _Heinrich_. "Are you so totally free from vanity?"

"Oh, no!" She suddenly burst into a merry laugh, and a ray of bright
healthful enjoyment sparkled in her eyes. "I will not say that. God
forbid that I should surround myself with a false halo. I am as vain as
every other young girl; it is only where the sphere of my earnest labor
is concerned that I am humble and modest, then my own person retires
completely into the background, and I live solely to accomplish my
purpose. But in the outside world, where I am least useful, I am vain,
assuming, and selfish. I have often thought of this contradiction."

"I understand that," said _Heinrich_; "you feel small in comparison to
your ideas and wishes, because like all gifted human beings you always
desire more than you can accomplish. But when, outside of this sphere,
you meet with commonplace, petty natures, you feel great, because you
desire and accomplish so much more than they. Am I not right?"

The girl raised her eyes in astonishment, and looked at him earnestly.
"You are right, and must have studied psychology more than one would
have expected from a 'servant of the government.'"

"There is a singular blending of jest and earnest in your disposition,"
said _Heinrich_. "I have never before witnessed such rapid transitions
from gay to grave and grave to gay in any one. Yes, I might really
believe you followed only your own impulses without motive or purpose."

"Indeed, indeed you can! Believe me, I am doing nothing and want
nothing, except to prove my love for mankind in every possible way. You
seem to give me credit for political intrigues and dangerous
connections. Oh, go to the prisoners, and convince yourself whether the
spirit I instill is a revolutionary one or one of humility and
repentance! By the manner in which I have taught these people to bear
their misfortunes you will see whether my intentions are good and pure;
and then you will give no information, but permit me to continue my
office here, will you not?"

_Heinrich_ made no reply; he was gazing earnestly into the sparkling
eyes of the suppliant. Suddenly he pointed to the nearest door. "Go in
to the prisoner there,--unobserved; I will watch how you discharge the
duties of your office and then decide."

The warder opened the door, and the young girl quietly entered. A
shrill cry of joy greeted her. "Oh, Prison Fairy! dear Prison Fairy!
have you come at last?" exclaimed a young man.

"Why does he call her that?" _Heinrich_ asked the turnkey, in a low
tone.

"One of the prisoners gave her the name, and since then we have all
called her by it, because we know no other, and this suits her so
well."

"Oh, dear Fairy, I have passed another terrible night! So long as you
are here I am as good as a child," continued the prisoner; "but when
you go away, the old sorrow bursts forth again in all its fury. Oh, if
I could go out into the world and satisfy the impulses of my own heart!
Something might be made of me now, but after five years it will perhaps
be too late. I felt that last night. True, the power to do evil may
perhaps be broken in a ten years' imprisonment, but so is the strength
to do well; and when I am sent out of this place, crippled in body and
soul, an outcast from society, robbed of all civil honors and ability,
it will get the dominion over me again. Then I shall be a mere idiot,
who can no longer think of or feel anything except the greatness of his
own misery; and for the assault I committed in a moment of passion, a
twofold murder will have been practiced upon my body and soul during
these ten years!"

"Albert, why are you in such a horrible mood to-day?" asked the young
girl, in alarm. "You have not been so for a long time."

"Because I have been obliged to wait for you during so many painful
hours; because I thought you were not coming again, and felt that in
you alone is rooted the power which has upheld me for the last three
years, that I should be lost if you remained away. No, I have not
deserved this punishment."

"Albert, shall I repeat what I have always told you? Repeat it
yourself."

"You said I was aware of the punishment, and voluntarily drew it upon
myself by my crime, that I must bear what was the result of my own
guilt; but I assure you again and again that if that terrible moment I
had been sufficiently master of myself to be able to think, I should
never have committed the crime; not from fear of the punishment, but of
the sin."

"That excuses you in my eyes, but not in those of the law. Will you
never be able to perceive that a man of such blind passions must be
made harmless? Who will guarantee that the next instant, spite of all
good resolutions, he may not be attacked by the same madness and commit
a second murder?"

"Harmless! Yes, yes, I have been made harmless!" he groaned. "Why do
you conjure up all the stings of conscience when I so greatly need
consolation?"

"Because I see more clearly than ever that only the memory of your
guilt makes your misery endurable; because you complain of the
injustice of your punishment, and always become calmer when forced to
acknowledge that, if not deserved, it was at least necessary and
unfailing. And has not God sent a comfort to you in your sorrow,--a
soul which understands you, which brings news of your beloved into your
dungeon, and keeps the heart of your betrothed bride faithful to you?
Is not this a divine mercy which can cheer you?"

"Yes, yes, I acknowledge the blessing, and for the sake of this mercy
will strive and hope that I may procure for you the only reward you can
receive, noble, wonderful creature!--the consciousness of having saved
a soul!"

"Yes, my friend, give me that reward; it is the noblest gift which can
be bestowed upon me for my efforts; and if I live to see the day when,
purified and ennobled, you return to the world, I shall thank God more
fervently than ever for having given me a heart to suffer with others,
and also make them rejoice."

"And some day I will tell my children of the 'Prison Fairy!'" cried the
young man, transported with hope.

Just at that moment _Heinrich_ appeared in the doorway. "Well, sir,"
said the young girl, "is any other motive needed for my conduct? Do you
now believe that such a moment would outweigh years of fruitless toil?"

"I understand and believe you, for you are a perfect enthusiast," said
_Heinrich_, seizing her hand.

"Do you call this enthusiasm?" she said. "If so, every great act of
love, from Christ's down to our own times, has been enthusiasm, and
nothing is true and real except enthusiasm and its results. I confess,
sir, that if all mankind shared your views, I would rather live with my
prisoners in this dungeon than in the outside world!"

_Heinrich_ gazed in astonishment at the proud, girlish figure, with the
natural dignity of a pure, unshaken self-appreciation on the undaunted
brow, and the alluring grace of true womanhood in the soft, undulating
outlines of the whole frame; and an admiring reverence overwhelmed him,
such as, for many a long year, no woman had inspired in his breast.

"Do not misunderstand me, Fräulein. You take the word in a different
sense from the one intended. Where enthusiasm is united to such energy
as you possess, it has always accomplished the noblest deeds the world
has ever known; but we usually give that name----"

"To what we have no power to feel ourselves," involuntarily interrupted
the excited girl; and it seemed as if her glance rested sorrowfully
upon _Heinrich's_ beautiful, expressive features.

_Heinrich_ stood speechless. He felt as if a burning brand had suddenly
been cast into the dark recesses of his soul, and his spiritual eyes
were following the light as it penetrated deeper and deeper.

Just at that moment the prisoner's voice interrupted his reverie.

"Pardon me, sir," he began, timidly, "have I not the honor of seeing
Herr von Ottmar?"

"Albert!" exclaimed _Heinrich_, "is it really you? I thought I
recognized you, but doubted it, because I should have expected to find
you in a monastery rather than a dungeon, and besides, you are very
much altered. How did you, of all the world, happen to be placed in
such close confinement?"

"Oh, Herr von Ottmar, you were so kind to me at college, may I tell you
the story of my misfortune?" said Albert, the person who had been at
the Jesuit college with _Heinrich_, and of whom he had spoken in his
interview with Severinus.

"Will you allow it, Fräulein?" asked _Heinrich_.

"Certainly," replied the young girl, joyfully. "Perhaps the tragical
history may for once arouse even in you the enthusiasm of compassion."

With these words she glanced at _Heinrich_ with a pleading,
inexpressibly charming smile. The latter could not turn his eyes away
from the wonderfully changeful face, but murmured, as if in assent,
"Prison Fairy!"

Meantime Albert had commenced his story. At first _Heinrich_ gave it
very little attention; gradually, however, he became attracted and
listened eagerly, even anxiously. Albert related how, after being
expelled from the order in the second year of his novitiate, he had for
some time earned a scanty support, and at last lived several years as a
tutor in the family of a wealthy German merchant. Six years before,
this family removed from Italy to Germany, and in fact to the very
capital where Ottmar had lived before his departure for N----. "There,"
said he, "I became acquainted with a young girl,--a girl who was really
as pure and blooming as a rose. I had never loved a woman before,--the
dark, ardent Italians were repulsive to my quiet nature,--but when I
found the thoughtful, golden-haired German maiden, I clung to her with
fervent affection. She loved me; and I, who had been tossed about the
world from a child, was intoxicated by her tenderness, as if it were
the aroma of some costly wine. I gradually neglected my pupils, my
duty, and several times received censure; but in vain. Passion, so long
repressed, was aroused, and locked me, the novice, completely within
its magic circle.

"But now I became the sport of other feelings, which were more
dangerous to me,--I grew jealous. My beloved suddenly seemed changed.
She became timid, absent-minded, embarrassed, and day by day colder. I
spoke to her father. The old man asked me whether I doubted the virtue
of his child. The fever of jealousy and suspicion increased. I had no
thoughts for anything else, and no longer knew what I was doing. Then
one day my employers dismissed me. They had grown weary of my indolence
and absence of mind, and I was penniless. With an agonized soul I
hurried through the gathering twilight to seek my betrothed. I wished
to find her heart once more,--the heart for which I had sacrificed and
lost all. She was deeply moved when I told her of my misfortune and the
tortures I had suffered for her sake; and as in decisive moments a
long-concealed truth is often revealed, her innocent breast in this
agitation could no longer hide its secret. She confessed, amid tears of
agony and remorse, that she was on the point of being lost to me
forever; that an aristocratic, handsome, brilliant gentleman had
tempted her, and she was too weak to withstand him; that he had loaded
her and her father with favors of all kinds, and she had thought
gratitude made it her duty to obey him; nay, he had even persuaded her
to come to his garden, but there, heaven be praised! she had been saved
from disgrace by his old valet. The gentleman must have gone away an a
journey, for she had heard nothing more from him.

"So I had sacrificed everything, and this was my reward. I stood
silent, trembling from head to foot, as I leaned against the window in
the little dark room on the ground-floor. I was not accustomed to say
much, but I felt all the more. A cold perspiration trickled down my
forehead; my clammy hands clinched the sill; the lights out-of-doors
cast strange, unsteady shadows into the room, and dim, restless shadows
settled upon my brain. At last I asked with difficulty, 'Who is the
scoundrel?' The young girl had been standing beside me pale and
trembling, with her eyes fixed intently upon the street. Suddenly she
screamed and retreated from the window alarm. There he comes! so he
hasn't gone yet! It is he! he is coming!' I saw a tall, slight figure,
closely wrapped in a cloak approach the house; heard that it was he!
The blood rushed to my brain! I seized an axe that was lying near the
stove, dashed out, and felled the approaching figure to the ground! The
young girl ran after me terror, saw the wounded man, and screamed,
Jesus Maria! it is not he! You have killed an innocent person!' I felt
bewildered and unable to move. Just then the man opened his eyes,
looked at me, and gasped my name. My heart seemed to stop beating! I
had killed Father Severinus!"

A long pause ensued. The prisoner was living over these scenes again,
and needed a moment to collect his thoughts.

_Heinrich_ gazed fixedly at the floor in silence. The Prison Fairy, in
her dark dress, leaned calmly against the wall, her eyes resting on
_Heinrich's_ agitated face.

"What is the young girl's name?" asked _Heinrich_.

"Röschen, the daughter of Martin the beadle," replied Albert.

"And you do not know the name of your rival?"

"I have never learned it," continued Albert "I said no more to Röschen
that terrible evening. She was the first to regain composure, and made
me understand I must go home. Her father returned immediately after,
and procured assistance for the wounded man, who did not again recover
his consciousness while in his house. The old man stated that he had
found him in the street. He could swear to this deposition, for he did
not suspect the true state of affairs. So no one thought of me except
Röschen. She thought he would never open his eyes again to betray me,
and before the police came to Martin's house, to avoid a possible
cross-examination, went to one of Princess Ottilie's maids. The latter
instantly took her to the princess--"

"What, to Ottilie?" eagerly interrupted _Heinrich_.

"Certainly," replied Albert; "the princess has known her for a long
time through the maid, who was well disposed towards Röschen, and often
gave her work. The princess, gracious and benevolent as she always is,
had once told her if she had anything to ask to come to her. So on this
terrible day Röschen told the noble lady all her troubles, and the
princess induced her to take an oath never to reveal to me nor any one
else who her tempter was."

"Did Röschen mention his name to her?" asked _Heinrich_.

"Yes; and the princess must have been very kindly disposed towards the
gentleman,--she insisted so earnestly that it should remain concealed.
Then she gave Röschen money to aid me to escape and enable me to
support myself for a long time, and promised to take her under her
protection. In the firm conviction that Severinus could not survive the
blow, I was mad enough to fly to N----, my native country. But although
the doctors gave him up, he recovered his senses sufficiently to
denounce me as the criminal. He expressed the most positive suspicion
that I had made the murderous assault solely from revenge towards him
because he had been the first in the college to declare me useless. A
warrant was issued, and I was arrested and brought up for trial."

"But how did you happen to receive so severe a punishment, when
Severinus escaped with his life and you had no premeditated design?"
asked _Heinrich_.

"But I had no means of proving the fact!" cried Albert, despairingly.
"I could do nothing but protest that I did not wish to punish
Severinus, but the man who had tempted my betrothed bride. I could not
tell who this tempter was, for I did not know; and I wished to conceal
the name of my betrothed, for I would have died rather than bring the
hitherto blameless girl into a disgraceful trial and brand her for
life. Thus I could not prove the circumstances which might have placed
my act in a more favorable light, and consequently my whole defense was
rejected as a mere subterfuge. The statements of the angry Severinus
were far more clear and positive than mine, so I was sentenced to ten
years' imprisonment in irons, and would gladly bear my misery, nay,
even death," he added, gnashing his teeth, "if I had only struck down
that scoundrel of a seducer instead of the innocent Severinus, or at
least could ever discover who he is!"

"Who he is? Look at me, Albert!" cried _Heinrich_. "I am that
_scoundrel_!"

"Sir, you only tell me so because I stand before you in chains," cried
Albert, starting like a wounded animal. His veins swelled, his fingers
tore at his fetters, his breast heaved convulsively.

"Do you think so, unhappy man?" cried _Heinrich_. "Now let us see
whether you will venture to lay hands upon me."

With these words he led the young girl out of the cell, and ordered the
jailer to remove the irons at once.

"I command it, and will be responsible," he said, imperiously, as they
hesitated, "and then lock us both in from the outside." The fetters
were taken off, and the turnkeys withdrew, locking the door behind
them.

"Now summon up your courage; you see that I am unarmed and your chains
are removed," said _Heinrich_, standing directly before him, and gazing
at him with an unwavering glance.

The unhappy roan stood motionless for a moment, engaged in a most
violent struggle with his emotions. At last his whole frame trembled,
his hands fell as if weighed down by fetters of double weight, and he
sank at _Heinrich's_ feet, unable to utter a word.

The latter gazed at him a moment in silence, and then knocked on the
door. The turnkeys came in anxiously and raised Albert, but his knees
still trembled so violently that he was obliged to sit down on his bed.
The Prison Fairy, with a sublime expression of sympathy, stroked his
burning brow, and gazed at _Heinrich_ with imploring expectation.

The latter quietly approached the group. "Albert, I have convinced
myself that you can subdue your passions. You are worthy of the freedom
I shall now help you secure. You shall no longer suffer for my
frivolity, and both you and this lady shall be convinced that I am no
scoundrel. Farewell for to-day."

Albert suddenly clasped his hands over his brow, and a flood of tears
relieved his oppressed heart. _Heinrich_ looked for a long time at the
young girl, who, with pallid face, was gazing silently at the floor,
then begged her to follow him, and left the cell.

When they were outside, he asked, "What do you think of me now?"

"If you go on and give yourself up to the law, as the best proof of
Albert's deposition, I shall think well of you."

"I have determined to do something of the kind," said _Heinrich_, "and
I hope you will then be convinced that I am not so entirely destitute
of all enthusiasm."

"I shall be very glad, for the sake of my prisoners."

"Only for your prisoners? Why not for your own sake too?"

"Because it will principally concern the welfare of the unfortunate men
who are now apparently dependent upon your compassion. I, thank God,
have nothing to hope from you."

"Indeed!" said _Heinrich_, in an irritated tone. "But if, after those
words, I refuse you permission to go to your _protégés_ again?"

"You will not do that," replied the young girl, firmly. "If you really
feel compassion, you will not, merely from an irritable whim, deprive
the prisoners of the only comfort that can be afforded them in their
cheerless situation."

"Fräulein," said _Heinrich_, with his usual winning courtesy, "you
certainly do very little to bribe the government official; yet this
very course wins me still more, and I do not merely permit, I entreat
you to return and accept me as your assistant."

"So long as you are with the prisoners, sir, they will not need me.
Permit me to come here at a time when you are absent."

"You have become suspicious of me; we are farther apart now than at the
first moment of meeting. My candor in your presence was over-hasty.
Forgive me, and mingle a little of your kindness of heart with the
austerity of your youthful ideas of virtue, that you may not utterly
condemn. Will you? You forgive, and try to reform even criminals:
reform me too. Why are you so intolerant to me alone?"

She gazed at him with gentle earnestness, and slowly shook her head.
"When I enter a prison, I know I shall find a criminal, and am prepared
for arguments about sin which are not too difficult to disprove. But
with you I am disappointed and embarrassed, for your face promised
something better, and I cannot enter into your delicate sophistry. I am
an 'enthusiast'; you a 'servant of the government': the two characters
are not easily harmonized. Farewell. Allow me to choose the time of my
visits here, and forgive the poor jailers whom I have outwitted." With
these words she hastily ran up the stone staircase.

_Heinrich_ stamped his foot angrily on the floor. "Willful, haughty
witch!" he murmured, as he hurried after her.

She paused on the upper step and nodded to him with all the winning
charm of heartfelt emotion. "Be kind to my prisoners, Herr von Ottmar,
and I will be kind to you!" Then, turning a corner, she disappeared
before _Heinrich_ could follow her. He gazed into vacancy, as if he
wished to trace in the air the shadow into which she seemed to have
dissolved before his eyes.

The jailers timidly approached him with their petition for pardon. "You
shall be forgiven for the sake of this lady's eloquence, which is
difficult to resist. But on pain of losing your places let no one hear
of what has taken place to-day, or may occur in future," said
_Heinrich_, sternly, and left the building.

The two turnkeys looked at each other a long time in silence; at last
one said, as the result of his meditations, "It's the Prison Fairy!"

_Heinrich's_ astonishment was raised to the highest pitch by the
appearance of this young girl. Even the thought of the strange fatality
which had made Severinus the innocent victim of the sensuality he had
denounced so bitterly, a few weeks before, could not long fix his
attention. He was convinced that Severinus had discovered to what
"rose" he had wished to open his doors, and had gone to Martin's house
with the intention of obtaining his daughter's confidence, and using it
against him. "Poor Severinus!" said he. "You were compelled to pay
dearly for your efforts to save souls. The ghost of the artist whose
Hebe you so mercilessly shattered has revenged itself upon you; but the
innocent tool of this vengeance was the very person whom you had most
deeply injured, the poor, rejected Albert! Oh, the wonderful justice of
fate!"

Then he returned again to the remarkable apparition of the young girl,
which unceasingly occupied his thoughts. She had such a peculiar,
changeful temperament that she had pleasantly affected every chord of
his being. A deep earnestness gleamed through the naïve coquetry by
which she had sought to bribe him to favor her _protégés_. He perceived
that hers was a kindred spirit, that she too, like himself, was under
the influence of supernatural powers, but in her childlike soul had
unconsciously united these forces in harmonious, changeful action,
instead of, like him, being their sport.

This perception awed him. He felt that he would be understood by this
nature if he showed himself openly to her, and rejected a thousand
plans to discover who she was. "What strength is it that, in a feeble
woman, rules powers which have crushed and conquered me--a man? Would
not this strength exert a blissful influence over me also? With what
joyous pride she said, 'I am making myself useful.' She is happy in the
thought, and wants nothing more. Is it possible? Yet it must be. In her
character lies concealed that spirit of martyrdom which dies smiling
for its idea.

"There is something strange in a philanthropy which rejoices in making
others happy. Hitherto I have not desired to give joy to any one except
myself! Perhaps she will teach me her art.

"She joyously collects the tears of her dirty criminals as if they were
the most precious pearls. I wear on my breast the jewels of various
orders,--and yet all have never given me so much pleasure as a single
tear causes her.

"Who knows, perhaps I have not yet done as much to earn my orders as
she was compelled to do to win her pearls from the secret depths of
those hardened souls. Oh, she is a glorious creature! She has the
cleverness of a man, and yet is so thoroughly womanly. She proves
conclusively that woman can really rise above her narrow sphere of
ideas without becoming unwomanly, and that the true emancipation of the
mind has nothing in common with that emancipation from principles and
forms which so often repels us in those termed women of genius. Yes,
such a woman would be capable of obtaining an influence over me.

"But what shall I do to find her again? First of all, I will do what
she desired, I will confess the truth to the prince and obtain Albert's
pardon. Noble as she is in thought and feeling, she will be touched and
conciliated,--will believe in me. So, when occasion offers, I am doing
a good deed once more. The prince is a sensible man. He will see the
affair in its true light and not refuse me the little favor."



                                  VII.

                             AN ARISTOCRAT.


_Heinrich_ went to the palace that very day and requested a private
audience. The prince, a young man with stern features and aristocratic
bearing, received him in his study. He had just risen from his
writing-table, which was covered with a pile of papers, and upon his
lofty brow still rested the shadows of thought, which began slowly to
disappear at the sight of Ottmar. The large blue eyes seemed wearied
with toil, and gazed earnestly into vacancy, as if in search of some
ideal country that could be better governed than his own. Long, fair
whiskers framed his delicate face. His youthful, earnest character
confined itself rigidly to the strict forms of unapproachable dignity.
Words flowed from his lips as purely, readily, and smoothly as a cool
breeze, and any one who saw him for the first time would be chilled by
the frigid reserve which pervaded his whole appearance. He was the very
type of the aristocrat by birth and education, who had polished his
manners into an impalpable shield against the common herd. The
foundation of all aristocratic deportment is economy of time. The
aristocrat husbands all personal exertion as far as possible. He
chooses the shortest, most indispensable forms of speech, limits his
voice to the lowest tone that can be heard, and his gestures to those
absolutely unavoidable. He considers this a duty towards himself and
others; he speaks curtly and rapidly, because he is always in a hurry
himself and is not sure that others may not be also; uses a low tone,
because he does not know whether it will be agreeable to others to hear
more of his voice than may be necessary to comprehend his meaning;
makes few or no gestures, because he does not wish to compel the eyes
of others to follow aimless courses and bendings. In intercourse with
his superiors or equals, modesty forbids him to intrude more of his
personal character than is indispensably connected with the affair, and
pride withholds him from revealing to his inferiors anything more than
is unavoidable. Thus alone the aristocrat acquires the self-control and
delicacy that distinguish him. Only by this silent accommodation to
forms, limited to the lowest minimum of personal exertion, does he when
a courtier regain the time of which the necessary ceremonials rob him,
and only this extreme indulgence and careful use of his physical
strength gives him the endurance demanded by the exactions of
court-life.

The young prince was a perfect type of these precepts. Whether a warm
or cold heart throbbed beneath that smooth exterior, even _Heinrich_,
his confidant, did not venture to decide.

"You have come at a very opportune moment, my dear Ottmar," said he. "I
was about to send for you."

_Heinrich_ bowed low, in answer to this greeting.

"See, here are a pile of papers and letters which I wish to share with
you. So much has come at the same time."

"You know, my prince, that you have no more devoted servant than I. Let
me bear a part of your burden," said _Heinrich_, in his most persuasive
tones, for his power of imitating the expression of what he did not
possess was most masterly.

"I know that you have often proved it. If I can find truth anywhere it
is in you. You alone are impartial, and see clearly, while the circle
of vision in most men is limited by personal interests and prejudices."

"I have the good fortune to have my prosperity secured by perfectly
independent circumstances, and therefore can follow my convictions; but
this falls to the lot of very few. Do not judge them too harshly, your
Highness, for the majority of mankind are fettered by anxieties
concerning their means of livelihood."

"It may be so, but they lack the essential thing,--genius,--the clean,
far-seeing gaze which no lessons in state-craft can supply; besides,
those who do understand anything rarely possess the art of telling the
truth without wounding others or becoming brutal. One cannot well have
any dealings with such people.

"There is the new press-law again. Good Minister B---- once took it
into his head to carry it through. You know his blunt manner of urging
a decision. I must confess that this preliminary, which almost entirely
abolishes the right of censorship, is contrary to my feelings and
conscience. Shall I permit every revolutionary wretch to scatter poison
among my thoughtless, credulous people? Ought I to do so, as a prince,
whose duty it is to watch over the nation intrusted to his care as a
father watches his children?"

"This question presents only two different points of view, your
Highness. Do you prefer to win, by this act of clemency, a transient
gratitude? or, by persistently following your better convictions,
obtain lasting satisfaction? If the former, make the desired
concessions; yet consider that this first favor will draw an
immeasurable number of consequences in its train. From the moment this
new freedom of the press is fairly established, you will regret having
undertaken obligations which you cannot execute without inaugurating a
totally different _régime_. Your Highness knows that the intoxication
of freedom, caused by the victorious revolution, has penetrated here
also, and the fire now and then still glimmers beneath the ashes. Will
you, by means of the press, permit air to reach the scarcely suffocated
flames?"

"May God have mercy upon my poor country!" murmured the prince, under
his breath.

"Must not a moment come when your Highness's duty will compel you to
check the progress of this seditious literature? and will you not then
have broken your promise and forfeited the transient gratitude which
would be paid you?"

"Very true."

"Well, what withholds your Highness from following your convictions,
which you have already so often tested, that your own feelings were
always the best guides?"

"The doubt whether I can silence and conciliate the discontented masses
in a way that will be beneficial to them,--the doubt regarding the
means I ought to employ," said the prince, thoughtfully, rubbing his
brow.

"But surely this is not the right expedient, your Highness. By granting
the freedom of the press you only afford discontented people an
opportunity of making their useless complaints and wishes public, and
thus making them still more persuaded of hardships, while you neither
can, nor desire to, remove their causes. Will not this bring you into a
thousand conflicts between your heart and your most sacred convictions
in regard to popular education?"

"Certainly."

"If I might venture to give your Highness my humble counsel, I should
say that the freedom of the press is the last thing that ought to be
granted to a nation. The people must first be contented; then they may
be allowed to speak. Pardon my frankness, your Highness; you know I am
always truthful."

"That is the very quality I prize in you; but since you are now in the
mood to express your opinions even more sincerely than usual, I should
also like to hear by what means you propose to content the country."

_Heinrich_ was astonished by this question. He perceived that he had
gone incautiously near the verge of truth, and felt he must return, for
to-day he had more cause than ever to desire to win the prince's favor,
while strangely enough he had never taken less pleasure in deceit.

"Your Highness," he said, at last, "do not ask me whether your subjects
are contented, for you must yourself answer the question with a 'no,'
without being able to alter the state of affairs. If you ask whether
they are prosperous, I may be permitted to reply 'yes.' To make a
nation prosperous is within the power of princes; to keep them
contented depends upon the power of time. Your country, your Highness,
is prospering admirably under your august sceptre. The causes of
discord do not come from within, but from without. They do not result
from your government, but from the tempest of freedom which roars from
foreign frontiers. When this tempest subsides the nation will once more
perceive its prosperity. To await this time quietly and indulgently
seems to me the only counsel a conscientious man is permitted to lay at
the feet of your Highness."

"You are right, Ottmar. I have already said the same thing to myself.
If every prince had a friend like you ('Who apparently contradicts him
while telling him the very thing he wants to hear,' _Heinrich_ mentally
interposed), matters would not proceed so far," said the sovereign,
extending three fingers of his slender hand to _Heinrich_. "I shall not
sign the press-law. I hope my throne, which has outlasted the storms of
so many centuries, will also be strong enough to withstand the pressure
of these times. If I perceived that these innovations would produce
happiness, I certainly would not withhold them from my country. But I
cannot. Other nations possibly may be ripe for freedom; my people are
not. The men called 'patriots' may say what they like; their intentions
are doubtless good, but they wish to raise the masses to a position of
which they are not and never will be worthy. No one can see into this
matter more clearly than the priests. We must ask them, if we wish to
learn to know the people, and the ideal we have imagined will soon
vanish. If freedom can be given to these rough natures, it is
emancipation from evil by the perception of good, and this only
religion and her representatives can bestow. Therefore, my dear Ottmar,
I will scorn to purchase a cheap popularity by frivolous concessions,
and content myself with fulfilling the duties God imposed upon me with
the holy oil. I do not desire to hold the highest place, I only wish to
be the protector and guide of the nation intrusted to my care: so, as
you have very justly observed, away with all inconsequent and aimless
innovations!"

The prince carelessly pushed away the papers and drew out several
letters. "Here is this marriage business again. You must do me a favor
which no one else can bestow. I have the privilege of choosing between
two charming princesses, neither of whom I know, as one has just
entered society and the other resides at a court I have never visited.
You are prudent and skillful,--a connoisseur in female beauty and
character; you must take a private pleasure trip, and make the
acquaintance of one of the ladies, that you may be able to give me
exact information concerning her, and thus perhaps save me the trouble
of a useless journey in search of a wife. But more of this hereafter. I
see you wish to tell me something, and have been indiscreet in delaying
you so long."

"I have nothing to say which could be more important than listening to
you, my prince. However, as you command, I must obey; besides, the
matter does not concern me, but an unfortunate man, who is suffering
unjustly for my fault, and whom I feel it my duty to aid. Will your
Highness graciously condescend to permit me to appeal from the prince
to the man, to make a confession which not the prince, but the man,
should hear?"

"Speak frankly."

"Five years ago a certain Albert Preheim was sentenced to ten years'
imprisonment in irons for having committed a murderous assault upon the
present assistant and former prefect of the Collegium Germanicum, who
was spending a few days in H----."

"Oh, yes; I remember," interrupted the prince. "The man defended
himself by the incredible statement that he had mistaken him for a
rival, but could prove nothing and was sentenced."

"Well, your Highness, the man is too severely punished. He is no
murderer, and his statements are true. He acted without premeditation,
when almost unaccountable for his deeds and under the impulse of the
blindest jealousy. The act he committed concerns me, since he had
reason to believe me the seducer of his betrothed bride."

The prince drew his breath through his shut teeth like a person whose
sensitive feelings have been rudely jarred, and made no reply.
_Heinrich_ noticed it and possessed sufficient tact to represent the
whole affair as if he had himself been the victim of accident. The
nocturnal visit he had induced the young girl to make he prudently
omitted, and ascribed everything else to the simplicity of an
inexperienced maiden, who, in the agony roused by the stings of
conscience, had represented the matter to her deceived lover in a very
vague and exaggerated manner. In this case, as usual, he succeeded in
convincing the prince.

"Make no further apologies about so natural an indiscretion," said he.
"True, I confess that, for my own part, I cannot understand how the
most tempting opportunity can ever obtain the mastery over the will. As
a prince, everything is at my command, but my wishes have never led me
to the pleasures of mere sensuality; still, I judge no man who thinks
and feels differently in regard to these matters,--you least of all;
therefore do not consider it any token of disfavor if I am compelled to
request you to make amends for your error, for such it is, yourself.
Unfortunately, I am unable to be of any assistance to you."

"Your Highness!" exclaimed _Heinrich_, in astonishment, "will you not
pardon the unfortunate man?"

"You ask a pardon for Severinus's would-be murderer. I cannot believe
that you have maturely considered this matter. Severinus still suffers
from the effects of that dangerous wound, and ought I to release the
man who dealt it? Severinus is the soul of the whole reverend order of
Jesuits. He has relations with the leading ecclesiastics in my domains.
The order, nay, even the whole church, was greatly agitated by this
unprecedented crime, whose punishment my confessor thought far too
light, and now, after five years, I am to perform a most unusual act of
clemency. Tell me yourself, how would it be received? how would it be
looked upon by the whole priesthood, which was then deeply offended
because I would not make the criminal a terrible example? If you so
firmly believe the man's deposition, leave the matter to the regular
course of the law; then he will not need my pardon."

"I thought, your Highness, in consideration of the certainty that the
unhappy man did not wish to kill Severinus----"

"That is all very fine, my dear fellow," interrupted the prince, with
somewhat more animation than usual; "but who knows it? And if I should
bring it forward as the cause of my clemency, who will believe it? Can
I prove that my private opinion is the correct one, and a sufficient
cause for remitting a punishment universally considered to be well
merited? My individual opinion ought not voluntarily to take sides with
Severinus's assailant, and decide a matter so complicated. Only the
calm, unanimous judgment of a court of justice can determine the true
meaning of the act, and free him by the power of the law. If you are
convinced of the truth of your assertion, you will certainly succeed in
persuading the court to believe it, and you doubtless feel that the
duty of bearing the punishment for your error rests with you rather
than me."

The prince said all this in a low, rapid tone, with a most friendly
smile, yet every word fell upon _Heinrich's_ soul like a blow. He
clinched his teeth even while he smiled, mentally called the prince a
smooth, cold egotist, and was convinced that he was a martyr of
self-sacrifice in comparison with this man. When two egotists meet,
each, with mournful self-satisfaction, considers himself the victim of
the other. This was the case with the prince, who also reflected upon
the selfishness of _Heinrich's_ expectations, and thought himself very
noble because he forgave him.

"Your Highness," said _Heinrich_, with the frankness which was his most
dangerous mask, "if I avoided adopting the means you mentioned, it was
because as a member of the court and council of state I dared not
venture to compromise myself by any public transactions in regard to
this delicate matter. I thought I was obliged to honor your Highness's
servant in myself as well as in any one else. I did not suppose that a
powerful prince like my most gracious ruler need fear the anger of the
priesthood for performing such a truly Christian deed, and therefore
most humbly beg pardon for my indiscreet petition."

"You know you are indispensable to me, Ottmar, and can ask a great
deal; but, even though you may feel angered, I cannot grant this
request. Even if, as you apparently wished to intimate just now, I need
not fear the anger of the priests, I will not rouse it uselessly. If I
am the head, the priesthood is the heart of my body politic; shall I
wound it if it can be avoided? Of course, something must be done for
the poor man; but if one of us is to make a sacrifice for him, it is
surely better and more natural for you to do it than for me. Give the
information therefore, and after his release I will grant him every
favor you may ask."

"So your Highness really commands the affair to be made public?"

"Say yourself. Will it not become so under any circumstances? You know
that I could only pardon Albert Preheim by convincing all as well as
myself that he was not guilty of the murderous assault upon Severinus.
To attain this object should I not be compelled to reveal your acts,
first to the priests, and afterwards, for their satisfaction, to the
public? You would then be quite as much exposed as if you appeared
before a court of justice, and much more harshly judged than if you
atoned for your indiscretion by a frank confession in favor of
Preheim."

"Of course," said _Heinrich_, bitterly.

"Although the affair will then attract attention, which will be as
disagreeable to me as to you, it will in any event be forgotten in the
course of a few months. You must take the journey which I just
mentioned to you at once,--and when you return no one will give it
another thought."

"So, your Highness, it is your wish that a man whom you openly honor
with your confidence, who has a voice in the council, and with whom you
deign to share your cares concerning the weal and woe of the state,
should appear before a court of justice and a curious public to make
confession of his youthful errors?"

"Oh," said the prince, "I leave it entirely to your conscience to
decide whether you do not consider a man whom you thought worthy of my
protection sufficiently deserving for you to perform an act of
magnanimity in his behalf. If you are perfectly satisfied that he is
too severely punished, I know your sense of honor well enough to be
sure that you will act for him. If you are not, you need not expose
yourself for him any more than you will ask me to grant his pardon.
Give this matter careful consideration; I hope you will not force upon
me the alternative of making an innocent man suffer unjustly, or
offending those members of my state whom I esteem most highly." He
looked at his watch. "It is eight o'clock: I must dress. Shall I see
you this evening at the princess mother's?"

"I am at your service, your Highness."

"A pity that it is so small a company. I can have no further
conversation with you about that affair of the marriage to-day."

"I deeply regret that I have not better employed the precious moments
your Highness condescended to bestow."

"Well, _au revoir_," said the prince, rising, and dismissing _Heinrich_
with a gracious wave of the hand.

_Heinrich_ had required all his self-control to avoid making several
subtle rejoinders that hovered on his tongue. He was furiously enraged
by the failure of his plan and the prince's terror of the priesthood,
as he called it. He perceived that the young, strictly religious man
was right from his point of view, but rejected his whole standard of
measurement with indescribably bitter irony. For the first time since
he had lived in N---- this trait in the prince's character had become
personally detrimental, and he felt anew the full severity of the fate
which had forced him to bend to this hated system.

His longing to win the Prison Fairy and his sense of right struggled
violently with his pride. Should he give up the whole affair now? Could
he rest satisfied with a single, useless effort, without being ashamed
of himself, lowered in the eyes of the prince, and, above all, in the
opinion of the Prison Fairy? Must not her pure, noble soul withdraw
from him forever, after she had obtained this glimpse of his nature?
Was she not the only joy for which he hoped in his cheerless life, and
was he to lose it just as he had found it?

Then he asked himself whether she was really what she seemed, whether
she deserved the sacrifice he was making for her sake. With deep
loathing he saw himself standing before the court, in the presence of
the malicious public; his pride struggled against the thought with all
its power, and amid these painful considerations _Henri_ even allowed
himself to be influenced by the fear that, after the confession of his
error, the ladies of the court would be implacably lost to him. Would
the Prison Fairy outweigh all this to _Heinrich_ as well as _Henri_?
Would a smile from her have power to compensate _Heinrich_ for the
sneering laugh on the faces which had hitherto shown only fawning
affability? Was her esteem more than the admiration of the court, which
would now have nothing for him save the scornful shrug of the
shoulders?

While _Henri_ was charming the ladies at the court _soirée_ by his
shallow gallantries, these considerations ceaselessly occupied
_Heinrich's_ thoughts, and he resolved, cost what it might, to see the
Prison Fairy again on the following day.



                                 VIII.

                             IN THE PRISON.


_Heinrich_ excused himself from the evening gathering on the plea of
illness, and went to the prison. Here be ordered Albert to be removed
to another, as he asserted, healthier cell, and remained in his stead
in the narrow, gloomy dungeon, which, according to his opinion, the
young girl would doubtless visit first. He also gave the most positive
orders that nothing should be said to her about his presence or the
change that had been made in Albert's cell, and thus hoped that she
could not escape him. At eight o'clock in the morning he was listening
in the greatest suspense to every step that approached his door. All
passed by. His expectation increased to impatience,--his impatience to
longing. He, who was accustomed to command, to whom all hastened, sat
in a lonely cell like a poor criminal, and was forced to wait patiently
until the moment of deliverance approached. He, who had so often been
ardently expected behind silken curtains and flowers, now gazed through
the iron bars of a little grated window at a the patch of sky, as if
imploring that he might be granted what he desired. He had not even
thought of taking a book with him, and the most terrible ennui was
added to the monotony of the one thought that occupied his mind. The
clocks in the various steeples struck the quarter and half hours; to
count the near and distant strokes was the sole interruption of his
dull reverie. And he had submitted to all this for the sake of a coy
young girl, a stranger to him, though he did not even know who and what
she was, or what she could ever be to him! He voluntarily put himself
in the place of the prisoners, especially that of Albert, who had
probably listened with a beating heart for days to hear if she were
coming,--she, the only thing he still possessed in the eternal monotony
of his imprisonment. His excited fancy pictured more and more vividly
how the prisoner must live, year after year, exposed to the most
terrible ennui, with only the sight of his four bare walls and his
gnawing thoughts; how the only signs of human life that could reach him
were a dull roar and the sound of the bells, and the only change in his
slowly dragging days the transition from light to darkness. "I can open
this door when I choose,--can go out when I please; only the necessity
of gratifying an idle whim detains me; and yet the thought of being
compelled to spend twenty-four hours here chills my breast, to say
nothing of three hundred and sixty-five days and nights, and _five_
times,--_ten_ times as many!" He drew a long breath, and, merely to
employ his thoughts, began to calculate with nervous eagerness how many
hours this would be. How often Albert must already have reckoned it!
What does such a man _think_ during the long years? The soul needs
nourishment as well as the body. Albert would doubtless have become
imbecile had it not been for the Prison Fairy. She is the one thought
that keeps his soul awake. The clock struck eleven. "I have been
waiting three hours already. Suppose she should not come? What must it
be to the prisoner, when she remains away all day, and he has waited
through the twenty-four hours in vain!"

Worn out by involuntary idleness, he sinks upon his couch at night,
looks up to the little window, and watches for the thousandth time the
motions of the clouds and the gathering darkness; perhaps even greets a
twinkling star as a joyful event, compares it to the eyes of the
Prison Fairy, and wonders why she did not come to-day, and whether she
will come to-morrow, until he falls into his feverish slumber. He
wakes early in the morning longing for her, would gladly hasten the
hours with his panting breath, urge on the strokes of the clocks
by the pulsations of his heart, and yet he has no resource but
patience,--continual patience. His soul rises and falls between fear
and hope, his head burns, his limbs ache under the pressure of his
chains. The sun sends its wandering rays into the cell and shines upon
the door; suddenly it springs open, and, as if allured by the rays,
bathed in the splendor, the beautiful figure stands in the entrance in
all the brightness of her living, loving presence, greeted by a cry of
joy as piercing as I heard yesterday from Albert's lips. "Prison
Fairy!" She approaches him; she touches the fetters with her
flower-white hands, and they become light; her breath cools his
feverish brow; she speaks to him a tone thrilling with the melody of
enthusiastic feeling; she looks at him with her mysterious eyes, and on
her brow is throned that dignity which no bold desire, no injustice,
dare approach.

Oh, how longingly he must await such consolation! how he must----

The door opened: a female figure was about to enter; he turned, and the
painful suspense escaped in a shrill exclamation,--"Prison Fairy!" The
door was closed, and light footsteps rapidly retreated. As in a dream
we often vainly strive to reach something with trembling haste, the
width of the little space he must pass to pursue the fugitive seemed
far too great for Ottmar. His hands trembled so violently in his hurry
that he opened the heavy old lock with difficulty, and when he emerged
she had disappeared.

"Where is she?" he asked of a jailer who was just coming up the
passage.

"Does your lordship mean the Prison Fairy? I have not seen her to-day."

"That is a lie! She was here just now."

"Yes, your lordship, it may be so; she always bids the Herr Inspector
good-morning before she goes to the prisoners."

"Call the inspector here," said _Heinrich_, returning to the cell.

The official, an elderly man, with honest features, obeyed the summons.

"Herr Inspector," said _Heinrich_, sternly, "you have for several years
allowed a lady secret access to the prisoners."

"Yes, Herr Geheimrath," said the man, with dignified composure.

"Have you ever received permission to do so from any higher authority?"

"No, Herr Geheimrath."

"And yet you have exceeded the limits of your instructions?"

"I must bear the punishment patiently."

"Are you so courageous?"

"Herr Geheimrath," said the old man, modestly, "I have done what my own
heart dictated, and was aware that in following my convictions of
Christian duty I was violating only the letter, not the spirit, of my
office."

"A prison official, and possessed of a heart! The two do not harmonize,
Herr Inspector."

"Pardon me, I did not know it. I cherish the belief that our wise
government desires to have the criminal justly not cruelly treated; and
to serve the arm of justice is an office which a man who has a heart
can hold, although it sometimes falls heavily upon it."

"These are the subtle reasonings of the Prison Fairy, as she is called
here. Yet I am disposed to pass over the affair if you will instantly
tell me the lady's name, social position, and residence."

"Herr Geheimrath," said the inspector, smiling, "I think if my offense
deserves pardon you will be sufficiently just to grant it without
conditions, for I cannot possibly fulfill those you have just
mentioned."

"Herr Inspector!"

"Herr Geheimrath, I give you my word of honor that I do not know who
the lady is, nor where she lives."

"I must believe you; but in that case your course is all the more
inexplicable."

"I see, Herr Geheimrath, that I owe you a detailed account of the
matter, and am ready to confirm each of my statements upon oath."

"Well?" said _Heinrich_, with ill-repressed curiosity.

"When, five years ago, the jail was filled with political prisoners, a
young man named Reinhold was brought in who excited my compassion in
the highest degree. He had taken part in the conflicts in the Province
of B----, but seemed so feeble and gentle that I could not understand
how he had been concerned in such deeds. He was sentenced to death, but
the prince commuted the decree to an imprisonment of twenty years. His
winning, lovable character aroused the sympathy of all who saw him. Day
by day the unfortunate man grew paler and more feeble; but he said
nothing. No one heard a word of complaint from his lips, and he always
had the same gentle smile for all who entered his cell. Even the
jailers pitied this quietly endured, silent suffering, and remarked to
each other that the prisoner seemed ill. I went to him, and urgently
pressed him to tell me what was the matter. He thanked me and protested
that he was quite well; his heart was heavy, but no one could help him
there except the one whose coldness had made him rush into his crime
and misfortune, and whom he must love till the day of his death. I did
not wish to press him with any further questions, because the
recollection seemed to exhaust him. One day the young lady of whom we
are speaking came to me and implored me through her tears to procure
her an interview with the prisoner, Reinhold. I refused. The next day
she came again, as she said, to inquire after the prisoner's health,
and begged me to allow her to do so daily. This, of course, I could not
deny her. She appeared in my little room regularly every afternoon at a
certain hour, and I must confess that the young girl soon became as
dear to me as if she had been my own child. She did not tell me who she
was, but her whole conduct showed that she must belong to a good
family, and be perfectly pure in heart; besides, I was too modest to
ask what she did not tell me of her own free will. One day I could give
her no good news about the prisoner's health. His weakness had greatly
increased. She received my communication with so much sorrow that I
could no longer doubt some close tie bound her to Reinhold, and that
she was the very person for whom he was grieving so bitterly. She
clasped my hands in agony and implored me only to let her look at him a
moment through the open door of his cell. I could not refuse the poor
child this. I led her to the spot, went to the prisoner, and left the
door slightly ajar, that she, concealed behind it, might look in. But
who can depend upon the unruly heart of seventeen? Scarcely had I
addressed two words to Reinhold when she rushed in, and, with a cry of
agony, threw herself upon his breast. Neither could speak, and my own
tears flowed freely. The unhappy man was so weak that he could not
endure this tempest of joy, but fell from her arms pale and lifeless.
She sank on the floor beside him and silently took his head in her lap.
There she sat as if the Virgin had appeared in bodily form with the
dead Christ. Herr Geheimrath, no one worthy of the name of man could
have separated them; it would have seemed to me like sacrilege!"

"Go on," said _Heinrich_, in the greatest suspense.

"When Reinhold had partially recovered, a touching scene ensued,--a
scene which may be felt but not described. They had never spoken to
each other before; she did not even seem to have returned his
affection, and implored his forgiveness for her want of love which had
driven him out into the world to his ruin. But she would make amends.
She called me to witness that she solemnly betrothed herself to him,
and implored me in the name of the God before whom I should one day
have to stand in the great and final account, to give her once for all
free admittance to her betrothed husband's cell. I perceived how she
had outwitted me by so completely captivating me during her daily
visits, that I could no longer refuse her anything. I was convinced
that the prisoner had in her one who would faithfully care for his
soul, for she is pure and gentle as a child, wise and firm as a man. So
I granted her desire, and up to this moment have never repented it; she
has brought a better spirit into the institution, and exerts a
remarkable power over the prisoners."

"And the betrothed bridegroom 2" asked _Heinrich_.

"She thought she could still save him by her affection, and nursed him
with admirable tenderness. He was happy; but even as grief had once
threatened to destroy him, so it was now with love,--he slowly
languished.

"After a time she perceived it and attributed it to prison life. She
found that the greatest suffering a man can feel is loss of freedom,
bore in her heart the deepest compassion, not only for him but his
companions in misfortune, and several times assured me that if she did
not need all her time for Reinhold she would gladly visit the other
prisoners, but she did not wish to deprive him of a moment."

"Just then a political criminal who had been sentenced to fifteen
years' imprisonment was brought in, so infuriated by his fate that he
tore at his chains with his teeth, and tried to dash out his brains
against the heavy irons like Caius C[oe]lius, as he said; in short, he
behaved like a madman. No one could obtain any influence over him; he
cursed all who approached him and scoffed at the priests. Then I
thought I would ask the Prison Fairy--her lover had jestingly called
her so because she forbade him to mention her real name--if she would
not try to bring the lunatic to reason. She went to him with the utmost
readiness, and the man was so charmed by her beauty and courage that he
yielded to her and obeyed her with the greatest devotion. If he ever
regain freedom, he will owe it to that girl that he is not lunatic or a
reprobate.

"Six months had elapsed, when we heard a cry of despair from Reinhold's
cell; and when we hurried to it, found her in the same attitude as on
their first meeting,--kneeling on the floor supporting her lover's head
in her arms. But this time he was not to wake again,--he was dead. The
Prison Fairy wept over the pallid face so bitterly that the jailers
crept noiselessly out of the cell, that they might not see her grief.
The physician attached to the prison was summoned; said that he had had
heart disease, and perhaps would have lived no longer under any
circumstances. We talked to her as well as we could; and when she saw
how deeply her sorrow grieved us, she composed herself and consoled
_us_. But when the prison door opened and the corpse was borne out, she
broke down, and shrieked, Poor Reinhold, now you are _free_!' The tone
still rings in my ears; I shall never forget it as long as I live.

"When we were alone she thanked me with touching affection, and
entreated me henceforth to grant her admittance to all the prisoners,
to alleviate the mental tortures, which often far exceeded the crime
and the purpose of the punishment. After witnessing her success with
the furious Sebastian, I could not refuse the noble and benevolent wish
in which her soul sought consolation; and you must permit me to
believe, Herr Geheimrath, that a blessing follows her wherever she
goes."

"But does she seem to be entirely consoled now?" asked _Heinrich_.

"For two years she mourned deeply; nay, I often watched her with real
anxiety; but at last time and her healthful nature asserted their
rights. She grew stronger, gradually became calmer, even gay, and for
the last year has been the same vivacious child she was five years ago.
Now you know all, honored sir, and can judge for yourself."

_Heinrich_ gazed into vacancy long and thoughtfully. At last he said,
kindly, "Under such extraordinary circumstances people must of course
make exceptions. You are an honest man, Herr Inspector!"

"I thank you, Herr Geheimrath!"

"But now, tell me, has it never occurred to you to send some one after
this strange girl, to see what direction she takes?"

"She always went to the stand of hackney-coaches and drove away in one
of them. There is a consistency in everything she does, which would
sometimes terrify one if he had not learned to know her kind heart."

"I thank you for your report. Farewell, Herr Inspector." _Heinrich_
took his hat and went out.

"Albert must be free! the Prison Fairy must become mine!" said he, as
he left the prison.



                                  IX.

                      FRAULEIN VERONICA VON ALBIN.


Thus his resolution was at last formed. He perceived that Albert's
liberation was the only price with which he could again purchase the
confidence of the obstinate girl. The impressions he had received
during his voluntary confinement in the cell convinced him of the
unwarrantable cruelty he should commit if he allowed poor Albert to
suffer unjustly any longer. The useless hours of waiting for the Prison
Fairy had increased his interest in her to a longing, and the
inspector's story gave him the assurance that she was worthy of a
sacrifice. The simple experience of this afternoon had destroyed the
web of doubt that overpowered him. He intended to treat the whole
affair with the ease of a man of the world, and disarm the malicious
public by a display of amiable qualities which no one could resist, and
which must of course win the heart of the Prison Fairy. He was
conscious of the power of his personal attractions, and, after he
became accustomed to the thought of a public examination, took pleasure
in the idea of making all his advantages sparkle in the light of her
delighted glances. Since there was no other way of gaining possession
of her, he ordered the investigation of Albert Preheim's murderous
assault to be once more taken up by the courts.

A week passed away before the matter was publicly discussed, and during
this time _Heinrich_ and _Henri_ pursued but one object: to find the
Prison Fairy. But all plans were set at naught by the cunning obstinacy
with which she eluded him. Ottmar went daily to the jail and showed the
prisoners every conceivable kindness, but none of them could tell him
anything more than that she had not come of late. The poor men were
almost in despair,--it was the first time for five years that she had
remained away so long. No one could explain the cause. _Heinrich_ knew
it and wondered at her firmness,--it could not be indifference that
made her avoid him so anxiously; and this thought goaded his impatience
to its height.

The day of the examination came. Upon this all his hopes were fixed.
The galleries of the hall were crowded. Ottmar, the haughty, dreaded
aristocrat, enters the lists to defend a poor, persecuted plebeian, and
confesses his own error to prove the innocence of his _protégé_. This
was the rumor that ran through the whole city. Every one wanted to see
it for himself before he believed it; and instead of the malicious
public he had expected, appeared a joyful throng, already half
conciliated. A crowd of ladies of all ranks and ages had also assembled
to see the famous Ottmar in the rôle of a penitent sinner. It is
characteristic that women in general will not pardon the smallest error
if it is concealed, while, on the contrary, they will forgive the
greatest sin if an appeal is made to their generosity by a frank
confession. _Heinrich_ hoped to find this experience confirmed by the
Prison Fairy, and was persuaded that his conduct on this occasion would
completely subdue her defiance. The examination began. All eyes were
fixed compassionately upon the pallid Albert, broken down in the flower
of his years, as entered the court-room with tottering steps, supported
between two gendarmes.

The presiding officer opened the proceedings by a short history of the
case, the statements of the absent Severinus were read aloud, and
passed on for the assent of the accused and the witnesses. At first no
one paid much attention to the course of affairs. They had learned five
years ago that the charge against Albert was a heavy one, so they were
now only curious about the examination of the witnesses, and that
strange, familiar murmur of impatience became distinctly audible after
the presiding officer had finished his speech. But, eagerly as the
public awaited Ottmar's entrance, he still remained behind the door of
the witness-box. At last the presiding officer commanded Baron von
Ottmar to be summoned.

A satisfied "ah!" ran through the crowd, as a gust of wind rustles
through withered leaves, when _Heinrich_ appeared. With all the power
of his natural and acquired charm of manner he revealed the
psychological causes of the event, and with convincing legal acuteness
represented them in their relations to the law. He forbearingly
concealed the name of Albert's betrothed, and confessed his fault with
the dignity of a man who, on the ground of great and noble qualities,
feels entitled to rise above the errors of his youth, and has no
timidity in acknowledging a wrong if by so doing he can avoid a greater
one. While _Heinrich_ was speaking he scanned the galleries, and
_Henri_ gazed into many a beautiful, joy-beaming face, but the one both
sought was absent.

All hearts yearned towards Ottmar; only she for whom all had been done
unsympathizingly avoided the sole opportunity which might show him in a
more favorable light. And yet he could not believe it; she _must_ be
there, and had probably only concealed herself from his gaze.

This doubt aroused the greatest agitation. Almost mechanically he
continued to play his part as a noble man. He had spoken so admirably
that there was very little left for Albert's lawyer to say; but his
thoughts were not fixed upon Albert, but the gallery; and the more
firmly he was convinced that the Prison Fairy was not there, the more
his joy in his good deed disappeared; he no longer dared hope to gain
access to the obstinate fairy by any such means.

The court had summoned old Anton from his home to give his testimony;
but he had not yet arrived, so another session must be called. If she
did not appear then, he had lost the game.

Just at that moment a thought entered his mind which might place him on
the right track. She could have obtained her remarkable education only
in scientific circles, and had probably been reared in a very
intellectual family. Ottmar proposed to make a round of visits to all
the prominent literary and scientific people in N----. "She is not a
native of this capital, her German is too correct for that, so I will
begin with the strangers," he thought. He had hitherto confined himself
exclusively to the court circle, and was entirely unknown in the
society he now proposed to seek.

Sunday intervened between the first and second session of the court,
and Ottmar availed himself of it. He drove around the city in his
elegant carriage all the morning, and was everywhere cordially
received. Many, beautiful and ugly, forward and retiring, simple and
highly educated young ladies were introduced to him. She was nowhere to
be found.

When he paid the last visit on his list, and there also met only
unfamiliar, commonplace faces, he asked the friendly head of the
household, in an under-tone, whether he could mention any particularly
interesting people whom a stranger in N---- ought to know.

The old gentleman reflected a short time, and finally inquired whether
he had yet heard nothing of old Fräulein Veronica von Albin.

"Oh, you must seek her out!" he exclaimed when _Heinrich_ answered his
question in the negative. "She is a perfect original, a petrifaction of
the period of sentimentality, and withal a really intellectual person,
in whose salon you will find every one who has any pretensions to fame,
and is enrolled under the banner of poetry and sensibility."

Wearied by his minute explanation, _Heinrich_ expressed his thanks,
inquired the way to her dwelling, and drove thither. He had made it a
duty to follow every suggestion of destiny, but knew in advance that he
should not find what he sought in the home of a sentimental old maid.

The carriage stopped before a massive stone house. Two colossal figures
on the right and left of the door held lanterns adorned with intricate
iron scroll-work in the fashion of the last century. The lower windows
were grated with thick wrought-iron bars, and the heavy oaken door did
not lack the shining brass lion's head, with the ring in its mouth.
Above the door was a somewhat weather-beaten coat-of-arms, carved in
stone, overshadowed by a tiny balcony provided with manifold sculptured
ornaments and iron scrolls. _Heinrich_ pulled the bell. The door was
opened, and when he entered a statue placed in a niche in the staircase
extended its arms as if in welcome.

A pleasant subdued light fell upon the stone stairs through a tall
pointed window, and _Heinrich_, most agreeably impressed by this
old-fashioned but massive luxury, mounted the broad stone steps.

A precise, respectable servant was standing on the landing, and
silently ushered him into a little antechamber. Ottmar gave him his
card, and he went forward on tip-toe to announce him. For a few moments
_Heinrich_ had time to admire the few but costly articles of furniture,
rich carpet, and Chinese vases in the anteroom. His hopes began to
sink. The quiet, pedantic spirit which breathed from these carefully
preserved relics of a former century could not have trained the
original, modern, enthusiastic nature of the Prison Fairy.

At last a pair of richly-carved folding-doors were thrown open. The old
servant, with a low bow, silently motioned to him to approach, and
_Heinrich_ entered a large apartment, furnished in the ancient French
style, with silken curtains, and a polished, inlaid floor. The sofas
and chairs were of richly inlaid walnut, covered with faded but heavy
yellow damask. An old-fashioned screen, ornamented with an embroidered
coat-of-arms, stood before a huge stove adorned with Chinese designs.
On the clumsy carved tables lay magnificent velvet, covered albums,
faded and time-worn, as well as small new books of every description. A
gilt eagle extended its wings over an immense mirror, and a pair of
sphinxes supported a marble pier-table, bearing a clock. Family
portraits, centuries old, stared solemnly from the walls, and fresh
roses breathed their rich fragrance over this peaceful image of bygone
days.

Almost at the same moment Ottmar entered, the lady of the house,
Fräulein Veronica von Albin, advanced through a pair of folding-doors
directly opposite to him. She had a slight ethereal figure, whose
movements still retained the elasticity of youth, and a pair of
beautiful blue eyes sparkled in a wrinkled face, over which at least
seventy years had passed. Thin white curls were carefully arranged
around the kindly old forehead, and an old-fashioned but dazzlingly
white morning dress rustled softly around her. She advanced, or rather
floated, towards Ottmar, and held out both hands.

"You are most welcome, Herr von Ottmar," she said, with so cordial an
expression that the latter bowed low in astonishment. "You wonder at my
affectionate address, do you not?" she continued, offering him a chair.
"It is because we always think those whom we know so well must know us.
Since the public legal investigation you have become common property,
and indeed such property as every one would most gladly appropriate to
himself."

"Have you been present at the examination, Fräulein?" asked Ottmar.

"Certainly; and I can assure you that I became very mach attached to
you in the few hours I saw and heard you. Nothing could have afforded
me greater pleasure than to receive this visit. Thank God, I am old
enough to be able to tell you so without embarrassment," she continued,
smiling.

_Heinrich_ found the youthful old Lady possessed very good taste, and
involuntarily thought "women are really attractive only at the
beginning and end of life."

"My dear Fräulein," he began, "you do not know how happy your kindness
makes me. I am a stranger here, and seek those who will understand me.
The empty life of the court no longer satisfies me. I long for
something else, and come to you because I was told that I should here
find what I sought; and indeed I hope if I meet with it anywhere it
will be here."

"I think you may be right," said she, looking at him with winning
affection. Old age, by relaxing the lids, had drawn a veil over the
bright blue eyes, but a glance so full of soul, and pure youthful
emotion, beamed from them that _Heinrich_ gazed at her with increasing
admiration. "Not that I imagine you could find amusement in an old
woman like me, but I have the pleasure of drawing young and brilliant
people around me, in whom you will surely find something to please
you."

"You certainly have some relations?" asked _Heinrich_, expectantly.

"Not exactly relations," she said, shortly; "but it is a great mercy
that God gave me the faculty of living with young persons, and that
there is at least nothing repulsive in my old age. The young people
cling to me, and daily bring new joys into my quiet house."

"Permit me to ask you one question, Fräulein," said _Heinrich_,--then
hesitated a moment, and continued in a very different tone: "How is it
possible that time has passed you by without leaving more traces?"

"Yes, it is singular. I have really remained twenty years behind my
true age. The machinery continued to move, but the hands were stopped
by a great shock, and never overtook the time. It is a strange,
sorrowful story, and some day when we are sitting by my cozy, singing
tea-urn I will tell you about it."

"A sorrowful story?" asked _Heinrich_. "I should have thought you were
very happy and contented."

"Yes, I am now. Time effaces everything, and I seem to myself like a
transfigured spirit. I have no longer anxieties or wishes, look upon
life calmly and impartially, and love all men. My body, as you see, is
no very heavy burden, and thus, thank God, I am not so widely separated
from the angels."

There was such a depth of earnestness concealed under these jesting
words that _Heinrich_, strangely moved, passed his hand over his brow.
It seemed as if a good genius with a gentle smile had raised him to a
height from whence he could view at a single glance all the
perishableness and emptiness of life. "Oh, who could bring heaven so
near as you?" he said, at last.

"Dear friend," she replied, with a winning glance, "there is also a
heaven upon earth in our own breasts. Do not seek it without, but
within your heart; then you will not _come_ into heaven for the first
time when you die, but _remain_ in it always."

"My dear Fräulein'," pleaded _Heinrich_, "permit me now and then to
linger a short time in yours until I have created one of my own. Will
you?"

"Certainly; with the greatest pleasure. It does you honor that, without
any other design, you can take pleasure in spending a few hours with an
old lady like myself; and I assure you that your good intention will be
rewarded,--rely upon it."

"I do not doubt it," said _Heinrich_; "but I ask no other reward than
your favor and counsel in many things that oppress my heart."

"I will tell you,"--Veronica cast a hasty glance at the great clock.
"Come and take tea with me to-morrow evening. Some of my chosen friends
will be here, and I am curious to see how they will please you. One
thing I can positively assure you beforehand: you will find only _good_
men with me. Old and independent as I am, I need not receive any except
those whom I love; and only such as have preserved a childlike,
unassuming character (now, unfortunately, so rarely found) take
pleasure in my simple nature."

"Who could be so unfeeling as to find no charm in you?" said
_Heinrich_.

"Who? Alas! unfortunately there are many. Believe me, our young people
are now very old. When I think how it used to be in my time! There are
no longer any illusions,--any enthusiasms. I have often talked to young
people who seemed so old that I have asked myself with shame, 'Oh, God!
am I really so childlike, or already so childish, that the young people
of the present day are so much wiser and more steady?' And that is not
the worst. I have always seen that the childlike or childish old woman
is much happier in her simple existence than all these hopeful young
persons, upon whom life still smiles with rosy hues; and it makes me
feel sad."

"She might have educated the Prison Fairy;" thought _Heinrich_, and at
last determined to ask her; but Veronica, without allowing herself to
be interrupted, continued, with the loquacity of age: "I know they call
me the Sensitive Plant, because I have preserved my quick feelings and
ready tears; but I do not think they are mocking me, for they know I
play no sentimental comedy, but rejoice with those who rejoice, and
even follow with sincere interest the struggles of the age, although
they do not please me. To me the only true voices are those that speak
from sentiment and in its behalf; therefore I must confess that I
prefer them to the modern spirit of speculation, piquant as it is, and
shall listen to them devoutly until death some day solves for me the
mystery of life." She again glanced at the clock and made _Heinrich_ a
confused apology for having chattered so long.

_Heinrich_ could do nothing but take leave, and was compelled to defer
receiving the ardently desired assurance until the morrow; he bowed as
low and as frequently as possible, and withdrew from the apartment as
slowly as he could. The lock of the door stuck in his hand as if it
were bewitched, and he was so absentminded that he was obliged to pause
some time in the ante-chamber to remember which was the way out; he did
not know where he was or what he was doing. Meantime bitter reflections
upon his hasty dismissal, his own strange embarrassment, which had made
the harmless question falter on his lips more and more the longer he
delayed it, until at last he could no longer utter it; upon the old
lady's loquacity, which had not allowed him to speak: in short, the
striking of a large cuckoo-clock, which also seemed to jeer at him,
first made him aware that he must at last leave the house. With a
despairing glance at the different doors he went away, and on reaching
the carriage could not help laughing at himself. _Heinrich_ scoffed at
_Henri_, and _Henri_ derided _Heinrich_. An impulse of rejoicing over
something, he knew not what, overpowered him.



                                   X.

                               PROGRESS.


Early the following day there was a fresh crowd and bustle in the hall
where the court held its session. The pressure was so violent that it
was already necessary to have police stationed before the building to
preserve order. At last all became quiet, for the judges entered.
Ottmar, with his eyes fixed intently upon the gallery, looked handsomer
than ever. His stern bearing seemed more gentle, his slight figure more
elastic, the harsh, rigid outline youthfully soft, and around the
delicately modeled lips played an irresistible smile. His dark hair was
brushed back, and the peace of a quiet conscience seemed to rest upon
his noble brow. His eyes were fixed constantly on the same spot with a
remarkably friendly glance, until at last all eagerly followed the
direction of the look, but to their great surprise saw no one except
old Fräulein von Albin, with several elderly ladies and gentlemen.

"What has he to do with her?" they asked each other.

The examination lasted only a short time. Old Anton arrived and
confirmed his master's deposition. The court withdrew to deliberate
upon the sentence. An expectant stillness greeted its reappearance. All
eyes were fixed upon Albert, who awaited the announcement of the
sentence with feverish suspense.

It found him guilty of the attempt to murder while in a passion, and
deserving of three years' imprisonment; but, as the accused had already
endured a longer and more severe punishment, ordered his immediate
release.

Albert seemed confused and did not appear to understand anything.

"You are free!" cried _Heinrich_. But Albert with a deep sigh sank
senseless into the arms of the bystanders like a somnambulist suddenly
aroused from a heavy slumber. Ere long, however, he opened his eyes and
threw himself at _Heinrich's_ feet, murmuring, "Forgive me!"

"We have both forgiven each other long ago," replied _Heinrich_,
raising him kindly from the ground.

The presiding officer approached him, saying, "Herr von Ottmar, allow
me in the name of the whole court to thank you for having given us an
opportunity to rescind an undeserved sentence, and changed the sad duty
of condemnation to the joy of pronouncing a decree of liberation;
permit me to give you the assurance that I have become your sincere
friend."

_Heinrich_ took a cordial farewell of the worthy man, whose eyes beamed
with heartfelt esteem. But when he came out of the building to enter
his carriage the multitude had assembled before it, and for the first
time in his life a loud cheer of universal approbation greeted him.
_Heinrich_ felt every nerve thrill pleasantly at the unwonted sound,
and as he raised his hat in acknowledgment murmured, with joyful
emotion, "Prison Fairy, I thank you!"

He had intended to play a part; but the seriousness of the matter had
laid hold upon him and converted acting to reality. He perceived this
fact with a throb of strange elation; and if the joy he felt sprang
more from the result than the act itself, the pleasure was so pure, the
vanity so legitimate, that even he could scarcely distinguish it from
the emotions of an unselfish, satisfied conscience. Enough: he had done
a noble deed, felt the happier for it, and formed the resolution to
take advantage of every opportunity of procuring this delight again.
But of course he thought only of those occasions which would secure him
a similar popular recognition; he did not think of the unfortunates he
might aid, but of the gratitude he should receive from them and the
public. To his heartless egotism no other course of reflection was
possible, yet even this was a great advance towards better things.

There are natures which, incited by the love of applause, first do good
merely from vanity; but the more frequently this occurs, the more they
become accustomed to it, and at last do it, with or without success,
from habit. But inasmuch as every habit gradually becomes a necessity,
so it is with this, until at last they do right from a secret need.

Ottmar was such a man. Amid all his great faults and errors, it was not
the opposition between right and wrong that was the point of
controversy in his nature, but that between the heart and intellect.
The cause of all the dissensions about right and wrong into which
_Heinrich_, as well as _Henri_, had fallen, was that his heart and
intellect opposed each other, instead of harmonizing. All _Heinrich's_
errors were rooted solely in the selfishness of his cold intellect, as
_Henri's_ were founded upon the egotism of his material nature. If any
great influence could succeed in uniting the two extremes he would
become the most noble and estimable of men. Society, therefore, is not
so far wrong when it allows itself to be dazzled by the ideal nimbus
which such persons understand how to diffuse around them; for beneath
it there is always an instinct of good by means of which they may
really become what they seem.

There are also noble, sensitive souls which understand such men, and
wish to aid them in reaching the right path. The extent of their
success of course depends upon their own capacity.

Ottilie was one of these souls, but Ottmar knew that the Prison Fairy
would become more, infinitely more, to him if he could succeed in
approaching her. That which in the fading, suffering Ottilie had failed
to make any deeper impression upon him, because it had appeared in a
form too sentimental, too little akin to his own nature, kindled an
ardent enthusiasm in him when he encountered it in the energetic,
vivacious Prison Fairy. Ottilie seemed to him a distant, glorified
ideal; her self-denial, her capacity for self-sacrifice, appeared
superhuman, and only rooted in the indifference of a spirit striving to
cast off its earthly nature; it never entered his mind to try to
imitate, greatly as he admired it. The Prison Fairy, while possessing
Ottilie's ideal character, was also in every respect congenial to him,
and thus he _could_ follow her. He had seen the former suffer from her
ideas, which repelled him; but the latter was happy, and attracted him.
In a word, the princess gave him the _theory_, the Prison Fairy the
_practice_.

He owed Ottilie nothing save a fruitless knowledge of himself; but to
the impression the unknown girl had made upon him he was already
indebted for this first hour of happiness, and all his hopes were fixed
upon this noble, womanly apparition.

Albert, whom he had taken home with him, as he had no friends in the
city, gave all the information he could bestow, which was only that she
came to his cell very early in the morning of the day before the court
held its session and took leave of him, as she was sure he would be
liberated. She gave him several louis-d'or to supply his immediate
wants, and told him to write a letter containing news of himself every
week, addressed to the initial B., _poste restante_. He was obliged to
repeat the simple story to _Heinrich_ every half-hour. Thus the
afternoon passed away, and Ottmar went to dress,--the time appointed
for the tea-party had almost arrived. Will she be there?--or will she
not?--was the axis around which all his thoughts revolved.


A merry company engaged in eager conversation about Ottmar had
assembled in Fräulein von Albin's salon. Veronica was unusually bright.
She wore a tight dress of light yellow satin, richly trimmed with old
lace, kid mitts, and a cap with a light yellow ribbon. When she sat
down she could scarcely be distinguished from the sofa, which had a
covering of the same hue; and when she walked she looked like one of
the oblique rays of light that fall through old church windows.

"Come, pray do me the favor to stop talking about Ottmar," she said,
uneasily. "Can't you speak of something else?"

"Ah! what subject could we have that would be more interesting?"
murmured the young girls.

Veronica sent them into an adjoining room, and the ladies and gentlemen
discussed a wider range of topics. Just then the folding-doors were
thrown wide open, and with his usual haughty bearing the much-talked-of
Ottmar entered. A murmur of pleasure ran through the astonished
company, but as yet the young girls in the adjoining room noticed
nothing.

Veronica received her visitor with the pride with which one sees an
agreeable surprise prepared for one's guests safely enter upon the
scene. After the first introductions and remarks, _Heinrich's_ eyes
wandered hastily around the room. She was not there.

"Will you not present me to your young friends also?" he said, at last,
turning beseechingly to Veronica.

The latter led him triumphantly into the "second salon," where,
unobserved, he paused a few moments in the doorway and scanned the
company.

The young girls were playing "Guess by the dancing." One of them was
obliged to stand in the centre of the circle, dance blindfolded with a
gentleman, and guess his name by his dancing. A young girl whose
wonderful figure aroused _Henri's_ astonishment was now within the
ring. She wore a thin white dress embroidered with crimson flowers, her
rich curling hair was arranged in two heavy braids, and a spray of
crimson blossoms fell upon her beautiful neck.

_Henri_ would gladly have seen the face concealed under the broad
handkerchief. A gentleman was to be led up to her: Veronica took
Ottmar's hand, motioned to the company to say nothing, and drew him
forward to the young girl. _Henri_ threw his arm around her, and they
swept round the room in rapid circles. Delighted with the grace and
ease of her dancing, he drew the soft, pliant figure more closely to
him; her breath fanned his cheek, and his gently stirred the hair upon
her brow. The narrow space visible under the bandage became suffused
with a deep blush; a magnetic bond was being woven between them. She
paused and released herself from his clasp.

"Well, who is it?" cried Veronica.

"I don't know," replied the young girl, panting for breath. "It is none
of the gentlemen who were here before."

_Henri_ stood as if spell-bound; surely he ought to know that soft,
rich voice, and he removed the bandage himself. "Prison Fairy," he
murmured, as a pair of large, dark eyes gazed at him as if in a dream.

She was so much startled that she turned pale and tottered. _Henri_
supported her, and the others rushed forward. "Oh, it is nothing," said
she; "dancing with my eyes bandaged makes me dizzy." Then thanking
_Henri_ with a slight bow, she begged to be excused till she had
recovered her breath, and went into an adjoining room, where it was
cool and quiet.

_Henri_ sought Veronica to request her to introduce him to the charming
young girl. "Certainly," said she; "I have anticipated this moment with
great pleasure."

They found the Prison Fairy in the tea-room leaning against an open
window. She was gazing thoughtfully into the darkness, and did not feel
the cold night air that blew over her white shoulders.

"Cornelia," cried Veronica, "you will take cold. How can people be so
careless?" The young girl closed the window and turned towards the
approaching pair.

"Herr von Ottmar," said Veronica, presenting him. "This is the child of
my dead adopted daughter, and therefore my adopted granddaughter,
Fräulein Cornelia Erwing. The one sole treasure I still possess in this
world!"

Both bowed in silence.

"See, my child," said the old lady, joyously; "this is the surprise I
told you about yesterday."

"It is certainly very unexpected," replied the girl.

"Allow me to hope, Fräulein, that at least it was not _undesired_?"

"Oh, no," said Veronica, laughing, as Cornelia made no answer. "You may
be sure that she belongs to the ranks of your greatest adorers; but she
is an obstinate little thing, and never pays any one a compliment
willingly." A glance of earnest entreaty from the Prison Fairy silenced
her enthusiastic kindliness.

"Fräulein," said _Henri_, firmly, "you have hitherto eluded me in so
remarkable a manner that you will not be angry if I now implore you to
grant me a few words of explanation? You will not refuse this
satisfaction to the man who rejoices in the favor of your honored
foster-mother?"

"Do you permit it?" asked Cornelia.

"What would I not permit to you, my dear child?" replied Veronica.
"Speak on; I shall not disturb you, for I must go back to my guests."

The two were left alone. A violent struggle now arose in Ottmar as to
_which_ of his two individualities should rule this scene. It urged
_Henri_ irresistibly towards the sofa upon which the beautiful figure
had sank, while _Heinrich_ was unwilling to lose any of the precious
moments he had longed for during the last weeks. The two natures had
never struggled with each other so obstinately before. At last _Henri_
drew back that _Heinrich_ might, so to speak, do him credit with the
talented girl. _Heinrich_ seated himself in an arm-chair near the sofa,
and tried to collect his thoughts after _Henri's_ fierce revolt.

"So I have found you at last, wonderful, wilful creature!" he began.
"Speak, why have you made it so difficult for me to do so?"

"I would tell you if I did not fear offending you."

"You cannot offend me, for I intend to learn from you how to become a
different person; of course the change must begin with my faults."

"Well, then," she said, firmly, "some years ago there was a great deal
said here about a certain Herr von Ottmar, whose rapid rise in a
foreign country excited general astonishment. People were delighted
with his talents, but hated him for the use he made of them, and feared
him as the most zealous instrument of the despotic system of our
government. They admired his personal qualities, but blamed the want of
principle with which he sought to make them win the hearts of women. I
never wished to see this gentleman; for, after all I had heard, I felt
a deep repugnance towards him. Suddenly a man appears before me in the
prison, whose manner and language stir my inmost soul with sympathetic
emotion. Without the slightest restraint I yield to this impression as
I do to everything good and beautiful,--and learn that this man, with
the lofty, noble brow, the earnest, expressive glance, is the notorious
Ottmar; learn it at the moment when, voluntarily, in mere arrogance, he
confesses one of the crimes so often imputed to him. It wounded me all
the more because I thought I had discovered at the first glance
something rare, ideal, in your character. I had therefore in your case
lost the balance which usually aids my intercourse with men. I became
deceived, bewildered, almost irresolute, and wavered between my
previous conviction and the impression produced by your personal
attributes. The former had its sure foundations; the latter I believed
to be treacherous, and therefore avoided you so anxiously. I would not
allow myself to be bribed by your manners to excuse and forget what my
better judgment must condemn."

"And the step towards the right path which you afterwards saw me take?"
asked _Heinrich_.

"Increased my sympathy for you, and at the same time my doubts. A
secret power urged me to defend you when you were attacked, and yet I
did not believe what I said myself. This is why my adopted mother
classed me among your adorers, and thought to give me pleasure by
inviting you here; but I do not at all approve of such a step. You are
the petted hero of the day; every one is crowding around you. It is
bitter to me to be compelled to think that you could charge us with
obtrusiveness."

"I understand you, Fräulein," said _Heinrich_; "but you seem to be in
error. Fräulein von Albin had an excellent reason for inviting me, for
I called upon her yesterday."

"What! did you do that?" exclaimed Cornelia, an expression of joy
flashing over her face.

"Did you not know it?"

"No! I suppose Veronica said nothing about it on purpose to surprise
me. She certainly desires nothing but to give pleasure, and her simple
nature chooses every conceivable means of doing so. But how did you
happen to come to this quiet home?"

"Because I was seeking _you_."

"And why?"

"Because I am superstitious enough to see in our meeting the hand of
fate, and had an irresistible impulse to follow the hint; because I
expect to receive from you the only salvation I can still obtain;
because--ah, let me speak frankly!--because you please me infinitely."

"You have probably said that to a great many persons," replied
Cornelia, coldly.

_Heinrich_ looked her steadily and frankly in the face. "Certainly I
have. Why should I not? I did not say that you _alone_ please me."

Cornelia blushed. "That is at least sincere."

"As we always will be towards each other," said _Heinrich_, firmly. "In
your youthfully hasty judgment you have placed me in the position of a
criminal. I will not justify myself, but afford you the possibility of
doing so. To deny my faults would help you very little, but I will
teach you to understand them. First of all, let us be perfectly clear
in regard to the relation in which we wish to stand towards each other,
then you will trust me more. I perceive, by your last remark, that you
consider me a universal gallant. You are mistaken, Fräulein; I do not
love you, and I desire no such feeling from you. Do not fear that you
will be compelled to listen to tender declarations from me; I should
not venture to offer you a heart which you know has already loved so
often! But I offer you a feeling that hitherto has slumbered in my
soul, pure and unprofaned; I offer you the truest, most devoted
friendship. If you will neither accept nor respond even to _this_, I
ask of you a portion of that philanthropy whose missionary you are,--I
ask and demand from you that Christianity which vouchsafes to all the
same blessing, and excludes none who truly desire it."

Cornelia sat in silence, with her eyes fixed upon the floor.

"You are silent! you have no answer for me! Prison Fairy, Prison Fairy,
must I remind you of your mission? Oh, girl! do not let me be perplexed
by you; do not let me think that those eyes,--that the mighty
pulsations of a breast animated by a lofty idea,--have deceived me;
that you are less noble than they seem: it would be the last, the most
terrible disappointment of my life."

Cornelia gazed at the ardent speaker with a searching glance. Her
breath came more quickly, her lips parted several times before she
could utter the words, "We will be friends, Herr von Ottmar."

_Heinrich_ bent over her with a winning smile. "You are forcing back
something that hovers on your tongue, Fräulein! Do you know that on
that first meeting you promised to be good to me if I would be good to
the prisoners! I have redeemed my promise; but _you_?"

"That is not sufficient; you must abide by it still longer. Keep your
word, and I will keep mine."

"Dear Fairy," said _Heinrich_, "cast aside this cold formality, which
is ill-suited to you and not at all in place towards me. Be the warm,
earnest creature, loving both God and mankind, whom I found in the
dungeon, and who, by her rich soul, could transform the prisoner's
punishment to reward. Be gentle; you know not how necessary you are to
this wounded heart, burdened by heavy chains. We are nearly akin to
each other, and you will perceive it some day. I see it in the flashing
of those mysterious eyes; in you also slumbers a secret before whose
revelation you would recoil in terror did not the faithful arm of an
experienced friend guard you from the horrors in your own breast. Come,
give me your hands,--so,--now you look kindly at me; that haughty brow
grows smooth,--does that mild, thoughtful glance rest willingly upon my
features? Say nothing, our souls are talking together, and confiding
things of which neither of us has any knowledge. Oh, dear one our souls
already understand each other better than we."

"We and our souls are one," murmured Cornelia; "if they understand each
other, so do we. Let me confess that I believe I have done you a great
wrong; if that is the case, forgive me, for the sake of this moment."

"There is no wrong, Cornelia, for which a single moment of true love
could not make amends."

Cornelia pressed his hand with the half-grave, half-friendly smile
which had so great a charm for _Heinrich_.

"So I have found you at last, you dear, beautiful child!" he exclaimed.
"Cling to me faithfully; you shall not be mistaken in me."

She rose to return to the guests. "Surely you will not deceive me?" she
asked, half doubtfully and half firmly, but with charming sincerity.

"Prison Fairy, do you need any other assurances? Only try yourself, and
you will refute your doubt better than modesty allows me to do."

"Are you so sure of that?" she asked, smiling; "now I think your
modesty does not weigh very heavily upon you." An expression of the
most charming petulance gleamed over her face as she glided away.

"You are caught, wild, changeful soul; yet not to cause you pain, only
to do me good, I impose upon you this chain, whose weight you shall
never feel," said _Heinrich_. "You soar towards the sun; let us see
whether you will have the strength to draw me up with you!"

"You can be borne towards the sun on the wings of her aspiring spirit!"
cried _Henri_, "if only the lovely form which enthrals me as no other
ever did before remains upon the earth. Guide her _soul_ whither you
please, and leave me alone with its _earthly husk_. Then we can both
possess a happiness we have never yet known."

"So long as I can be with her I shall maintain my place," said
_Heinrich_; "and this time I do not think you will obtain the victory
over me!"

"Indeed! Well, let us see who will first conquer the other," said the
aroused spirit of sensuality. "Will you all at once meet me in a
hostile encounter, after letting me have my own way so long? What will
come of it if the gulf between us should be so greatly enlarged?"

"What will come of it?" asked _Heinrich_. "I do not know; probably
merely what has always happened,--a loss of peace; and, although I have
hitherto indulged you, it has only been because I could share your
pleasures as little as you could find joy in mine. Here, for the first
time, we unite in a common desire; our mutual interest is captivated by
one and the same object, but it is our curse that the very thing which
ought _unite_ us _severs_ us most violently. Her noble mind attracts me
as greatly as her beautiful person charms you, and I will not
voluntarily resign to you a single hour I can spend conversation with
her. Therefore, we must struggle."

"Yes, we will," said _Henri_.

"Herr von Ottmar," cried Veronica from the door, "will you join the
young people's games, or do you prefer the salon?"

"Don't grudge me the privilege of mingling with the young people for a
time," he answered, and entered the room where Cornelia, radiant with
mirth and mischievousness, was bantering the young girls who were
standing around her.

"Veronica," she cried, "the ladies have been industrious; we sha'n't
play games any longer. There are poems and essays to be read aloud.
Come in, Messrs. Critics; collect your thoughts; we have a severe judge
to-day."

"Will you take part in our little college, Herr von Ottmar?"

"I am very anxious to do so," he replied.

"You must have patience and be indulgent to this kind of
entertainment," laughed Cornelia. "It is the personal friendship that
unites our little circle which makes it interesting to us, and of
course that is a thing you cannot yet share."

"You must know," said Veronica, in a low tone, "that my darling child
has established among her friends a sort of nursery, in which she
wishes to rear clearness of intellect and feeling, noble principles,
and independent judgment; and the gentlemen eagerly assist her; they
are all more or less in love with her. Every week Cornelia gives the
young girls a subject for prose or poetic treatment, or a work to be
critically examined. Whoever receives the greatest praise from the
majority obtains the prize,--a picture by some one of the artists
present, or the dedication of a song by one of our musicians. The young
poets criticise the essays and read their own productions aloud.
Finally, the older gentlemen pronounce their ultimatum. You will
probably belong to this last and highest court to-day, though less
entitled to do so by age than intellect."

"That is a charming idea," said _Heinrich_, "and is in harmony with you
both. You thus give society an intellectual seasoning which it usually
lacks. Have you poets in your circle?"

"Oh, certainly!" replied Veronica. "Don't you know our young
celebrities? See, that one yonder is the tender lyric poet, D----, a
sensitive, foreboding soul; the stout, broad-shouldered man is the
bold, patriotic bard, B----; and the pale aristocrat, with the bent
head, is the poet T----, a very talented person. You have surely heard
of the enthusiastic reception of his first tragedy. I only fear his
intellect is developing too rapidly. Sooner or later this premature
growth will make it sickly, and that would be a pity. There is splendid
material in him, which, by the forcing system of our times, would be
made to shoot upwards too quickly to form a stout, healthy trunk, from
whence the productive power is always freshly supplied. The young man
is only twenty-four years old, and his work is already much more
massive than Schiller's first attempts; but he accomplishes a
remarkable amount in his department, and is a noble, estimable man.
These are the poor victims of our times, where the utmost is extorted
from every one."

"You are right," replied _Heinrich_. "I am familiar with young T--'s
work, and, like you, think it unnaturally mature for his years.
Schiller and Goethe themselves won their way by degrees to what is
recognized as the highest stand-point. But our young people want to be
born upon this height and begin where they ended. It is perfectly
comprehensible that they don't wish to remain where they begin, but
struggle on and test the powers of their young intellects, as Lessing,
Goethe, and Schiller did when they gradually raised themselves above
the inferior performances and requirements of their times."

"That is just what I always say," cried Veronica; "and this runs
through all circles of society. Our young people no longer have any
_simplicity_, and I think this is the glass case beneath which the
young plants of the soul should grow, with all their faults and
excrescences, until they are strong enough to bear without injury the
storms of life and the shears of negation. Without simplicity there are
no illusions, and without illusions there is no youth! You will perhaps
find here a circle which answers to my demand in this respect. True,
there are only a few poets of importance among them, but these
compensate me for all the famous, keen, analytical minds which pluck
the fragrant rose to find faults its calyx would have concealed, and
give us only the purified but empty branch of thorns. You see I am not
called the Sensitive Plant without reason."

"Yes, yes," said _Heinrich_, with a kindly smile, "we must learn from
you how to keep young!"

Meantime a reading-table had been placed in the centre of the room.
With cheeks glowing with embarrassment, a young girl seated herself at
it, cast a hasty glance at Ottmar, and read aloud from a manuscript an
essay whose subject and title were the justification of sympathy in
opposition to the judgments of reason. It was simple, but written in a
style free from faults; some of the ideas were not devoid of talent;
and it revealed a more thorough culture than is usually to be found in
young girls. _Heinrich_ perceived Cornelia's influence. His eyes rested
steadily upon her; she was standing behind the reader's chair, and
often looked thoughtfully at him. It was evident that she had given
this subject from a recollection of him.

The following essays, which were read aloud in turn by the young girls,
all treated the same idea with more or less talent, and three poems
reproduced it in rhyme.

_Heinrich_ perceived with increasing admiration the activity of the
Prison Fairy, whose strong, earnest will effected good results, even
under the garb of jest, and gave purpose to the most useless things.

The reading ended, and the gentlemen, in mingled jest and earnest, gave
a stern criticism. Each sought the lady whose essay had made the most
impression upon him,--discussed and opposed the separate points. The
authoresses were obliged to defend themselves, and thus the argument
continued till Cornelia, who had previously been inclosed in the
circle, suddenly started up, exclaiming: "Say what you please against
sympathy, it is the only true oracle among us! If our reason enjoined
upon us ever so strictly to keep together as we are now, should we not
rush apart to all quarters of the globe if it were not for sympathy?
And if reason causes a person to appear ever so wicked, and sympathy
attracts us to him, we follow the latter, and often convince ourselves
that reason, which judges only by deceptive facts, misled us. Reason
disjoints and severs, sympathy conciliates. Reason calculates, sympathy
discovers; and, what is after all the principal thing, reason does not
make people happy,--sympathy does."

"Cornelia," cried the poet T--, "I have never heard you talk so before!
What has become of the logic, the clearness of perception, with which
you gave these young ladies the guiding threads for their essays upon
this subject?"

"If we were permitted to refer to this enthusiasm, we should be greatly
delighted, my dear T----; but I fear it is one of her whims," said
H----, the novelist.

The gentle poet D---- whispered, softly, "I know what you mean,
Cornelia, but I no longer understand you."

"I understand you," a voice which thrilled all the chords in her nature
suddenly murmured in her ear. "I thank you, Prison Fairy!" She turned
towards _Heinrich_ and looked up into his face. She was bewilderingly
beautiful at that moment, with the bold, noble profile half turned
towards him, the slender neck thrown back, the full lips curved in a
smile which made the small, white teeth glitter in the light, and the
hair combed up to form a natural diadem above the thoughtful brow. The
floating folds of her dress, the drooping crimson flowers, which
trembled at every motion, gave her an ideal, fairylike aspect, which
was increased by her dark eyes. Those eyes belonged to the class which,
the ancient myth tells us, had power to turn to stone any one on whom
their gaze rested. The large, sparkling pupils allowed very little of
the white of the eye to be seen. They often gleamed like two suns when
the long lashes were raised; and softly and sweetly as they rested upon
the object of their observation, their expression must be terrible in
anger. Ottmar gazed at her with increasing rapture. "Yes, yes," he
said, under his breath, "that is the Medusa from whose blood Pegasus
sprang."

"How little she knows herself, that she thinks I could see her without
coveting her!" thought _Henri_, making a fresh effort to dislodge
_Heinrich_; _Heinrich_ resisted his attack with unaccustomed strength.
He gazed into the depths of those mysterious eyes; and the secrets
which, unconsciously to herself, slumbered within them, irresistibly
allured him.

"Cornelia," said the young girl who had read the first essay,--and a
tear trembled on her lashes,--"they are looking for you."

Cornelia looked up as if aroused from a dream, threw her arm around her
friend's neck, and embraced her warmly. "I thank you, Hedwig!" Then she
entered the noisy circle and summoned the gentlemen to select the essay
most worthy of the prize.

The company voted, and the majority decided in favor of the first one
read.

"Oh, I am glad, dear Hedwig!" said Cornelia, hastily, taking the
garland of fresh flowers she had woven for the victor and placing it
upon her brow.

It was a beautiful sight as the loveliest maiden in the throng adorned
the diffident young girl and led her triumphantly into the middle of
the room. The gentlemen came forward, bringing the prize upon a
cushion. Poor Hedwig, who, in her embarrassment, had by no means the
air of a conqueror, received the gift from the hands of the young
artist A----, who whispered, gently, "I beg you all not to show it to
the original, if it can be avoided. I did not know he would be here."

The young girl did not understand him, and hastily raised the cover,
but dropped it again in terror when she saw the sketch, while a burning
blush overspread her face.

"Why, what is the matter?" asked Cornelia, taking out the picture. "A
study of a head! Herr von Ottmar,--a perfect likeness!" she exclaimed,
undisturbed by the young artist's embarrassment.

_Heinrich_ stepped forward and gazed in astonishment at the successful
portrait.

"I must crave your pardon for presuming to steal your features, Herr
Geheimrath," stammered the artist. "I know you are very highly esteemed
in this circle, and could not refrain from robbing my portfolio of the
picture, in order to give pleasure to those who assemble here;
otherwise this bold attempt of my talent would have remained entirely
concealed."

_Heinrich_ smilingly listened to the long apology, and watched, with
silent amusement, an old gentleman standing at some distance from the
artist, who was accompanying his speech with numerous bows. This
gentleman was a certain Archivrath Linderer, an old friend of
Veronica's. The worthy man possessed such a wonderful impulse of
courtesy that he could not see any one make a bow without mechanically
imitating him, and never heard any sort of speech without mentally
making one also.

_Heinrich's_ inclination to laugh was so greatly aroused by this sight
that he could scarcely utter a few reassuring words in reply to the
embarrassed artist. He was about to go in search of Veronica, to
question her about this comical man, when he saw Cornelia, who had been
gazing at the picture in silence, go to a table and take up a pencil.
He went up and glanced over her shoulder at the portrait. She cast a
hasty look at him and then fixed her eyes upon the sketch. She felt his
beard touch her hair, and shrank back.

"Look, my dear A----!" she exclaimed. "Here are only two false strokes!
When these are altered the picture will be masterly! The lines just
over the eyebrows, expressing penetration, are very strongly marked in
Herr von Ottmar, and you have not brought them out sufficiently. The
upper portion of the brow is also remarkably expressive; there must be
a shadow here, and here."

"You may be right," said A----, looking at Ottmar's forehead; "make the
strokes."

Cornelia rapidly deepened the shadows, and all the bystanders
exclaimed, in astonishment, "Ah, that's it exactly! One would think you
had studied the head!"

Cornelia quietly compared the picture with the original. "It is a noble
work! You have really been carried away by your subject! The eyes and
mouth seem as if they were about to speak!"

"Your praise makes me very proud," said the young man.

"And me!" whispered _Heinrich_, almost inaudibly.

"May I ask you to come in to tea?" cried Veronica, from the doorway.
"If any one of the gentlemen has anything to read aloud, he must be
kind enough to defer it until after supper. It is already somewhat
late."

_Heinrich_ was in the act of offering Cornelia his arm when Veronica
requested him to take her to the table. He patiently submitted to this
duty, and the ill-assorted pair moved on into the tea-room followed by
the others.

Cornelia and Hedwig stood together a moment alone. Hedwig threw herself
on her friend's breast, and exclaimed, in a low, rapid tone,--

"I will give you the picture, Cornelia. I don't want it."

"You don't want it?" asked the latter, in astonishment.

"What should I do with it? I think you would value it more, and take
more pleasure in it than I," replied Hedwig.

"But, Hedwig, you were always so enthusiastic about him."

"Even if I were, it was all in joke. But you know and value him in
earnest: I saw that to-day; and if _he_ had given the picture, he would
have bestowed it on no one but you; so how could I take a thing to
which I have no right? Keep it, I beg of you. It is of no value to me."

"But ought I to accept it from you?" asked Cornelia. "Shall I not be
robbing you?"

"Robbing me? I owe you so much, and am so poor in comparison with you,
that it will make me rich if I can offer anything that will please you.
I would give you more, far more, if I had it to bestow."

She pressed Cornelia lovingly to her heart, and the young girls were
holding each other in a close embrace when T---- came in search of
them, and Heinrich appeared behind him in the doorway.

"Good heavens! Here they stand, kissing each other, while we have been
waiting for them so impatiently!" cried T----.

"We humbly beg pardon for having had no one to escort us to the table,"
laughed Cornelia. "We were consoling each other for the misfortune."

"How malicious you are again! We were so sure that you would be
escorted to the table by your lucky Herr von Ottmar that we did not
even look for you," said T----, apologetically.

"And you were not mistaken in your belief, sir," said _Heinrich's_
voice.

He went up to Cornelia and offered her his arm. T---- stood petrified
with astonishment. There was nothing left for him to do except to turn
to Hedwig. _Heinrich_ led Cornelia to her place, and then went back to
Veronica. Cornelia sat opposite to him, and on his right and left hand
were the fairest and brightest young girls in the whole circle. Many
mothers and fathers looked towards them with almost imperceptible
hopes, but everything fell into the lap of the one who neither hoped
nor desired anything. _Heinrich's_ interest was centred in Cornelia
alone.

"You see, my dear Herr von Ottmar," Veronica began, "I have tried to
make amends to you for being obliged to take an old lady to the table.
My most charming young ladies are around you."

"You would give me far greater pleasure if you would permit me to spend
my evenings with you and your adopted daughter, for I must confess that
I prefer you to all other ladies, be they ever so charming," he
whispered.

"Oh, that you shall certainly do!" exclaimed Veronica, in delight.
"Come as often as you please. You will be a welcome guest."

"I thank you," replied _Heinrich_.

Meantime, Cornelia had been conversing with the extremely polite old
gentleman, and _Heinrich_ now asked who this eccentric person was.

With gay humor she described his peculiarities, and in a low tone
related how, on festival occasions and during public speeches, he often
disturbed the bystanders by repeating the words half under his breath,
and supplying the bows omitted by the orator; how he always most
dutifully repeated the last words said to him; how he invariably
removed his hat when he saw two persons salute each other in the
street, etc. etc.

"Do you know," she said, at last, "I think this proceeds from an excess
of benevolence and sympathy! It must be the same feeling that prompts
the mother who hears her daughter say a pretty thing to put on
precisely the same expression. The mother enters into her child's
situation so earnestly that she involuntarily imitates all her looks
and gestures; nay, I once saw an actress, starring with her daughter,
so carried away by the latter's playing that she unconsciously imitated
her darling, and almost merged her own part in her child's. What is
this except an excess of sympathy for the beloved being?"

She then, in a most masterly manner, imitated the different mothers and
the tragic scene of the two ladies upon the stage, so that those around
burst into shouts of laughter.

Yet the gayer the others became the more serious _Heinrich_ looked: and
she asked, with mingled surprise and anxiety, why they all had so
little success in amusing him.

"Oh, you do not know how happy I am!" he replied; "but I am reflecting
about something. I see you develop so many different traits and talents
that I am bewildered. When I have at last succeeded in harmonizing one
of your changeful moods with your whole character, before I am aware of
it a new picture appears before me, which I must again incorporate with
the whole. You keep me in a perpetual mental excitement, and it
seems as if I were compelled to sketch the different waves upon the
sea-shore. Scarcely have I fixed my eyes upon one ere it is already
swallowed up in another, and I am constantly raising my eyes again to
sketch the whole as it spreads before me in its infinite majesty."

He gazed at her with so strange an expression that she looked down as
if dazzled.

"Oh, what are you making me?" she said, in confusion. "I am a very
simple person, who am merry with the mirthful and serious with the
grave. If I am different from others in any way it is because I am
always natural. Thousands feel as keenly, change their moods as
frequently, as I; but it is not noticed in them, because they have
accustomed themselves to a uniform etiquette, an unvarying manner. I
have often envied such persons, for they know how to give themselves
the stamp of a finished individuality far better than natures like
mine, which are sometimes thought gay, sometimes melancholy, now good
and then bad, or not at all what they seem, which are sometimes too
little, sometimes too much, trusted, and rarely or never understood."

"Oh, Cornelia!" cried one of the guests, the famous actor N----, across
the table. "Do you mean to say that we don't understand you?"

"No, certainly not," replied Cornelia. "I had principally in view those
whom I consider different from myself. You understand me because you
resemble me, and are all, more or less, artist natures!"

"Do you mean that all artist natures are as truthful as yourself?"
asked _Heinrich_, doubtfully.

"Certainly; when I trust a man it is the artist, especially those who
represent things."

"I am curious to know upon what you found that idea," murmured
_Heinrich_, in a low tone. "The actor certainly practices dissimulation
as his profession."

"Oh, do not say that! You will surely admit that in every man there is
an impulse towards truth and falsehood, as well as good and evil,"
began Cornelia. "With almost all persons this impulse, like their other
good and bad qualities, exerts an influence upon their lives; they lie
and deceive in personal intercourse. But there are exceptions, among
those in whom this propensity to deceive is decomposed by Heaven knows
what process of intellectual chemistry, and becomes objective; that is,
forms a power of acting entirely apart from the subject. This power
seeks an independent form, and finds it in art, wherein it develops the
highest, most artistic structure, and those in whom such a process has
been completed are artists, especially actors. Then if the commonplace
man can satisfy that strange and undeniable propensity towards
falsehood only in real life, in the actor it is to a certain extent
_guided_ into a higher, loftier region, and he becomes in reality truer
and more natural than many who are only considered honest because they
are too awkward to feign."

"Your explanation is logical," replied _Heinrich_, "but you cannot
carry it into practical execution. Opportunity makes thieves, a
capability for falsehood tempts to falsehood. Even the actor will not
disdain to obtain an advantage at the expense of truth, and the
temptation is all the greater the more he is convinced that the
deception will be successful. Nay, I can even imagine that there must
be a charm to him in making use of his histrionic skill, not only upon
the stage, but off the boards, and I have seen celebrated actors who
could not help perpetually performing a part."

Cornelia reflected a moment, and then said, calmly: "There are such
instances, of course, but I do not call such people artists; there are
two distinct classes of men who bear that name. If this talent we have
just mentioned is coupled with more or less mental capacity, the union
produces more or less brilliant _performers_; if, however, there is a
counterpoise of the great qualities of the soul and heart, it produces
_artists_. The performer, it is true, employs the talents at his
command in life as well as in art; he knows no higher object than
effect. He deceives in life as well as in art when it will make an
effect, and in both is true to the same purpose. As he has neither
character nor heart, he is neither good nor bad upon principle; he
simply turns his talents to his own profit where and as he can. It is
this class of people who have in many respects degraded the position of
artists. The artist, on the contrary, perceives and seeks something far
higher than effect! Like all men of noble aims, he, too, has an ideal
towards which he unselfishly struggles--truth. If he seeks this in his
art, often even at the expense of the applause so indispensable to the
actor, if he is so conscientious in the realm of illusion, why should
he not be equally so in the domain of reality? The power of
transforming his whole nature at will he considers as a gift bestowed
to serve the holy purpose of art, and would no more turn it to his own
advantage than the honorable citizen would obtain an illegal profit
from an accidental or fairly won supremacy over others. A keener, more
active, sensitive faculty, and the habit of an elevated manner of
expression, may give him a peculiar, 'exaggerated,' perhaps 'affected'
appearance,--words with which the commonplace man so eagerly points out
what he does not understand; but you will acknowledge that a person may
be affected and yet possess true, genuine feelings; as, on the other
hand, the falsest and most designing men often appear the most
artless."

"Certainly," said _Heinrich_.

"You see," continued Cornelia, "that as from the worst and most
different materials the brightest, purest flame can be produced, so art
transfigures deception with the highest manifestations. Thus in real
artists falsehood aspires towards truth! The highest object of his
performance is the union of both, and the triumph of falsehood becomes
in him a triumph of truth!"

Cornelia glanced gayly upwards towards the jets of gas in the
chandelier. In her enthusiastic defense she had involuntarily raised
her voice, and did not notice that every one was looking at her. When
she paused, all shouted a hearty bravo. _Heinrich_ sat motionless, with
his head resting on his hand, gazing earnestly at her; he could not
smile and applaud with the others,--he was asking himself, "Do I
deserve this woman?"

The supper was over; he started up and approached her as the company
prepared to take leave. "Cornelia, Prison Fairy, you have opened a new
world to me. My mind is so full of all I have heard from you that I
cannot speak. Only tell me whether I may come again tomorrow?"

"Certainly, Herr Baron."

"Oh, do not be so formal, Prison Fairy! Let me hear my name from your
lips as you bid me farewell, that I may hold it dearer; or my baptismal
name. Ah, Cornelia, I should like to hear how it sounded if you would
say Good-night, _Heinrich_.'"

"No, Herr von Ottmar, I cannot; you are still too great a stranger."

_Heinrich_ bit his lips as if deeply abashed, and said, with a low bow,
"Pardon me, Fräulein, I was indiscreet."

Cornelia held out her hand and looked at him with all her winning charm
of manner. "No, no, Herr von Ottmar, I did not wish to cause you pain.
I promise you that ere I sleep I will say in thought, 'Good-night,
_Heinrich_!' Does that satisfy you?"

_Heinrich_ kissed her hand in a transport of delight. "Thanks, lovely
creature! And now good-night, my fairy; send me a pleasant dream."

Veronica approached: he took leave of her; the departing guests pressed
him back, and, waving a farewell to Cornelia, he left the house. When
he reached the street he raised his hat from his head to allow the
night wind to cool his burning brow; and now he was _Henri_ again, for
he knew he was expected by a beautiful woman who had followed him home
from his last journey, and hitherto held his senses in her chains. He
mechanically obeyed the force of old habit and turned his steps towards
her residence. But when he stood before the house behind whose lighted
windows the glittering daughter of sin awaited him in dreams heavy with
forebodings, a strange, incomprehensible feeling overpowered him.
Cornelia's pure, wonderful charms appeared so vividly before his soul
that he turned with repugnance from the desecrated image that allured
him. He perceived that no one had any power of attraction except
Cornelia, and that nothing could satisfy his longing for her. He went
home, and that very night wrote a farewell letter to his purchased
love, and freed himself from his unworthy chains.


A ray of light fell through the heavy silken curtains of Veronica's
bed, and waked the sleeper. She looked around and saw Cornelia, who,
with a lamp in her hand, was noiselessly gliding through the chamber
towards the door of the salon. "What do you want there, child?" asked
Veronica; "why are you still dressed? I had already fallen asleep."

Cornelia started. "I forgot something," she replied, and slipped out of
the room. When she returned through Veronica's chamber she carried a
portfolio in her hand.

"What have you there?" asked Veronica.

"Don't be angry with me for waking you, dear," said Cornelia, kissing
the white, aged brow, "I only wanted to read Hedwig's essay again; it
was left in the parlor."

When she had closed the door of her pleasant bedroom behind her, she
took Ottmar's portrait from the portfolio, placed it on a reading-desk,
sat down before it, and, shielding her eyes with both hands, rested her
arms on the table, and became absorbed in studying the mysterious head.
The more she looked at it the more beautiful she found it. "How simple
those lines are, and yet how rich, how infinitely expressive! Oh, who
could decipher the mute language of that ardent mouth, whose kiss still
burns upon my hand? How can people kiss so with such delicate lips? It
is not the lips that kiss, it is his heart, which lies between them;
that is why his caress is so soft, so warm; that is why it penetrates
to the inmost soul. And when he speaks they are again only the
beautiful, slender banks over which the flood of feeling streams! And
those eyes,--oh, they reveal all the wonders of the soul! He might err,
nay, he might even be shattered by life, but the look that shines in
his eyes is divine; it will raise him above his lower nature, and
everything else. And I,--I will aid him; I will join the good genius
that floats above the darkness of his soul like the Spirit of God over
chaos, and teach him to perceive his own greatness, his ideal
strength."

She sat long, absorbed in thought; but, by degrees, it seemed as if the
pictured head moved to and fro, the eyes turned, the lips parted and
closed again. She gazed and made the light burn brighter; in vain.
Nature asserted her rights, sleep was casting her deceptive veil over
her weary head. She rose, removed the flowers from her hair, and
released her lovely form from its clinging drapery. Again and again her
eyes rested upon the drawing. She paused. "How you look at me, as if
you were alive! as if I ought to be confused! Stop, wait! You shall not
see me undress." So saying, she hastily placed the picture in the
writing-table, went to bed, extinguished the light, and nestled
comfortably among the pillows. "Good-night, _Heinrich_."



                                  XI.

                              A NEW LIFE.


After _Henri_ had written his letter, the exhausted body imperiously
demanded rest, and while it slept _Heinrich_ hastened to Cornelia and
hovered round her slumbering soul as if it were the petals of a folded
rosebud. She did not know, but she suspected it; the magic of the soul
revealed his presence, and she felt his spiritual kiss.

When Ottmar awoke the following morning he thought he had not slept
well, and had been dreaming a great deal of the Prison Fairy. Yet
neither had been dreaming; although their bodies slept, their souls
were together. _Heinrich_ remained in bed some time. He was in the best
of humors, and compared this awakening with the one six years before,
when he had resolved to yield to the power of the Jesuits. At that time
he was in the act of beginning a new but worse life, as to-day he had
awakened to a new and better one. He thought of Cornelia with grateful
reverence. Through her he obtained a peace of which he had long been
deprived; for, while in himself there was naught save opposition and
contrast, in her he found the complement of his nature and the full
satisfaction of homogeneousness. Thus _Heinrich_ already preferred to
dwell upon her harmonious character rather than the struggles in his
own breast, and this was one step, though scarcely perceptible, towards
liberation from the egotism that was constantly throwing him back upon
himself. Even _Henri_, the night before, had rejected the pleasure of
the moment, and yielded to an ardent love for an object he could never
expect to obtain his way. Even in this hopeless submission there was a
slight contest with his usual selfish pursuit of pleasure. It was with
a certain feeling of abhorrence that he compared the base passions of
the past with his longing for Cornelia's intellectual charms, and fell
into this temporary self-sacrifice. Thus egotism sooner or later
defeats itself. The true egotist ends with a feeling of loathing and
disgust, not only towards the world, but himself. Unmistakable tokens
of this state were already visible both in _Heinrich_ and _Henri_; but,
fortunately for him, he was at an age when fresh buds can shoot forth
and supply the places of those that are dead. These germs now began to
stir with life. Intellect and feeling, with equal power, drew
_Heinrich_ and _Henri_ towards a being whose bodily and mental gifts
were equal. In this the two extremes already began to approach; but
they did not yet understand each other, and their meeting must still
produce conflict instead of reconciliation.

Ottmar lay for a long time absorbed in meditations upon his strange
twofold nature. A servant entered to wake him. He remembered how he had
expected old Anton to come in that morning, and, for the first time, a
strange face appeared instead. "Good old Anton, no doubt he was right,"
thought _Heinrich_; "and how shamefully he was treated! Now he would
certainly have no occasion to be angry about such faults. He was the
best servant I ever had. I will take him back again." He rose, ordered
a message to be sent to the inn for old Anton, and sat down to write to
Cornelia.

"Her name is Erwing," said he; "that is the name of the famous
democrat. Can she be his daughter? If so, she can scarcely have known
her father, for Erwing must have fled from North Germany to America at
least twenty years ago. It must be so. That is why she concealed her
name in the prison; she probably knew it would be no letter of
recommendation. That accounts for her relations with Reinhold, too. It
is decidedly unpleasant! I shall not get much honor at court by the
acquaintance. But it need never be known there. It is winter, night
shuts in at four o'clock; I shall only go to her house in the evening,
so the whole affair can be concealed from the eyes of the jeering
aristocracy. My occasional appearance in literary circles will not be
misconstrued, as I have the reputation of unusual erudition." He began
to write: "Cornelia!" He paused. "Cornelia! It was a lofty spirit that
gave her this proud name; is she a true child of this spirit? I almost
believe it. That she glides into the cells of the lowest criminals does
not spring from humility,--it is the defiance of compassion against the
harshness of force, and the consciousness of the joy-giving power of
her own individuality. Woe to him who ventured to wound her pride! He
would have lost her."

Just at that moment Anton was announced. He threw aside his pen and
went forward to meet him. It seemed, as he rejoiced over the return of
the old servant, as if some kind of companionship was now a necessity.

"Welcome, faithful companion of my past!" he cried. "Will you share my
future?"

"I don't come to force myself upon you as a servant, Herr Baron," said
Anton, whose voice trembled with emotion, "but I must give you one
parting hint before my return,--it seems to be intended that I am to
keep watch for you."

"Well?"

"Your beautiful estates at H----, Herr Baron, really need your
oversight again. The steward and inspector are both in league to let
everything go to ruin and fill their own pockets."

"What, what! How do you know that? Do you know that during the last few
years my income from the estates has lessened so materially that it has
caused me serious anxiety, and were it not for my salary I should find
it difficult to live?"

"A proof that I speak the truth. On my way here I passed by
Ottmarsfeld, and a secret impulse led me into the old castle and the
gardens where I saw you, Herr Baron, grow to manhood. But it caused me
real sorrow to see how everything had changed for the worse. The
stately castle is out of repair in many places, the gardens have run
wild, and the cattle are miserable beasts. There are only fifteen
day-laborers on the estate, and they are lazy and carelessly watched."

"That is certainly shameful!" cried _Heinrich_. "The inspector has put
down thirty day-laborers to my account every year, and charged me many
hundreds for repairs on the buildings."

"You will convince yourself that you have been deceived, and your
splendid property must soon be ruined if matters go on in this way,"
said Anton.

_Heinrich_ paced thoughtfully up and down the room, then turned to
Anton and held out his hand. "You are the most faithful soul that I
have in the world. Anton, you must enter my service again; surely you
cannot yet live without me."

"You know why I left you, Herr Baron," he answered.

"I know," cried _Heinrich_, laughing; "but I don't think you will have
any further occasion to fear similar cases. I am not quite so bad as
you think, and have become much more steady of late."

"Oh, I can never think my own dear master wicked!" said Anton, deeply
touched. "But what suits you--is not quite so proper for me. It may be
perfectly natural for an aristocratic young gentleman to follow the
inclinations of his heart, while it would be wrong for a sedate old man
to lend his assistance to things which went against his conscience. So
I might be placed in a position where I should be compelled to disobey
you, and then you would only send me away again. Let me go home,--I
cannot promise unconditional obedience."

"And you need not, Anton," said _Heinrich_, gravely. "I do not wish to
make a mere machine of you; I will compel you to do nothing that is
against your principles, and you shall even tell me your opinion as
much as you please, if it should ever prove necessary. It is tiresome
for a man to have no one to quarrel with except himself. I have blessed
you a thousand times during the last few weeks for having had the
boldness to baffle my wishes, and therefore in atonement I will assure
you an inalienable asylum with me as long as you live. Can I do more?"

"Oh, my dear, kind master!" cried Anton, kissing _Heinrich's_ hands
with a flood of joyful tears. "After such, generosity it is surely my
duty to devote all the rest of my life to you, and serve you in all
honesty as long as I can. Ah, I really believe you are going to be the
dear little master I had thirty years ago!"

He was interrupted by the entrance of Albert, who looked paler and
graver than Ottmar had expected.

"Well," asked _Heinrich_, "have you slept off your first intoxication
of joy, and do you now feel somewhat depressed?"

"Yes, dear Herr Baron," replied Albert. "It is strange; yesterday I
felt nothing, thought of nothing, except that I was free; to-day I
already perceive the necessity for me to act, and as the prison was
formerly too narrow, the world is now too wide for me. I totter and
know not where I can obtain support. Yesterday I only felt that the
dungeon had cast me out; to-day I feel that life has not yet received
me, and seem so helpless that I could weep like a lost child."

"I understand that, Albert. You cannot yet feel at ease in your new
position.  Your strength of will has been asleep during your five
years' imprisonment, and now, when you need it, refuses to obey your
bidding. This, as a matter of course, makes you anxious; but it is
ungrateful to consider yourself deserted. Can a man receive more
abundant assistance than you have had from me?"

"Oh, my noble, generous patron, my whole life belongs to you! How can
you believe me ungrateful? I bless you with every breath of God's free
air I take. But ought I to eat the bread of charity in your house, even
if you wished it? Must I not go out into the world and earn something,
that I may at last make a home for the unhappy girl who has suffered
and atoned so truly? But what am I to do? I can accomplish so little,
my superficial knowledge makes me so dependent. Who will trust the
murderer?"

"Any one who knows you, Albert," said _Heinrich_, kindly.

Albert's frank brown eyes gazed at him doubtfully. "Do you think so?
Ah, when I was in prison, among the criminals whose fate I unjustly
shared, I seemed like a saint; but now I am free and in the society of
irreproachable men, I feel for the first time like a criminal, and
scarcely venture to raise my shame-dyed face."

"Albert, in spite of your error, you are a man of more delicate and
noble feelings than millions of the irreproachable citizens who pride
themselves upon their phlegmatic honesty. That is why there are so few
who understand you well enough to disregard your past as I do. I will
take you henceforth into my employment. Will you undertake to become my
steward?"

"The steward of your estates?" asked Albert, in joyful astonishment.

"Yes; I know you studied agriculture with a landowner in V---- before
you turned to the career of a priest, and came to the college. However,
if you did not learn enough there, I will send you to the agricultural
school at C---- for six months to perfect your education; and then I
think you will become a faithful manager of my property. You can marry
your Röschen; and the steward's house is so large that in the course of
a few years you can tell a number of children the story of the Prison
Fairy."

A deep blush suffused Albert's face, and he clasped his hands with an
involuntary sigh. "Oh, the Prison Fairy, Herr Baron! You and the Prison
Fairy are the noblest human beings the Lord ever made! What shall I say
to you? I can give you no better thanks than the wish that destiny may
unite you!" With these words he hurried from the room.

_Heinrich_ gazed after him for a long time in silence. "So that is the
greatest blessing you can desire for me? Poor fellow! You too, without
knowing it, love the Prison Fairy. It is because you must be deprived
of her that freedom itself seems cold and barren; and yet she is so far
above you that you do not venture to raise your eyes towards her. To me
alone you will not grudge her, whom you consider the essence of
everything admirable. And I? Does not the blood mount into my cheeks
when I think how little I deserve what you wish me; and how, like a
thief, I steal the semblance of virtues I do not possess!"


Veronica and Cornelia were sitting in their little tea-room, engaged in
needle-work. "Cornelia, you sew very little, and talk still less," said
Veronica to the young girl, who was sitting silent and motionless,
gazing at the green shade that covered the lamp.

"I can neither sew nor talk: I am thinking of Ottmar," she answered,
frankly. "Is not such a soul, which approaches ours for the first time
and opens a new world to us, worthy of being received with quiet
solemnity? Are we to rest on that day which commemorates a miracle that
happened long ago and has never been fully proved? and when the Deity
reveals one of its greatest wonders to our eyes, ought we to grudge our
souls a time of sabbath repose in which to receive this lofty guest?
You must not reproach me if, under this impression, I spend a few days
longer in idle dreams. It is my nature!"

"You are just what I wish to see you, my Cornelia. God grant that you
may remain so! Give yourself up to your own thoughts undisturbed. Put
aside your work and remain silent. People do not hold communion with
each other only when they talk."

Another pause followed, and nothing was to be heard except the clicking
of Veronica's knitting-needles. But the old lady was not silent long.
"You have a deep mind, Cornelia: I could not reflect so long upon any
subject; and in spite of my years I enjoy life more unquestioningly
than you. What approaches me lovingly I believe in, and when I trust I
enter into no subtle inquiries."

Cornelia smiled but made no reply, for these words showed her that
Veronica only partially understood her mood; and she did not feel
disposed to disclose her feelings any further, though she could not
have given a reason for it even to herself. Her large eyes rested
affectionately upon the old lady, and she merely asked, "Dear Veronica,
are people investigating a subject when they are silently enjoying it?"

"Make the tea, my little angel," said Veronica; "the organ will suit
your solemn mood."

Cornelia arranged the tea-table, lighted the wick under an
old-fashioned silver tea-kettle, and then sat down to listen to the
charming music that instantly became audible. At first one could only
distinguish the different tones of boiling water, but by degrees they
became more melodious, and blended together not into a confused
bubbling, but the notes of the choral song, "Blick hin nach Golgotha!"
It was a wonderfully artistic plaything, concealed in the lid, and set
in motion by a glass roller, by the pressure of steam. The tones of
course were louder or fainter as the water boiled more or less
violently, and thus the whole sounded like the singing of a tea kettle,
transformed into melody by some invisible fairy.

This tender, mysterious music did indeed harmonize with Cornelia's
mood, and she looked up as if roused from a dream when the stiff,
precise old servant entered, and, with a doubtful mien, said that Herr
von Ottmar wished to see the ladies.

"He is very welcome," said Veronica, joyfully; and the old man, casting
a sullen glance at Cornelia's blushing face, opened the door.

_Heinrich_ entered. He apologized for the late hour of his visit by
saying that he had received a note from the prince, directing him to
prepare for a journey, and expect further orders the following day.
Thus it might happen that he would be compelled to set out at once
without having any time for farewells.

Veronica assured him that no apology was necessary, and begged him to
take tea with them. The old servant, to his great disgust, was ordered
to bring another plate, and sternly placed a chair for _Heinrich_
beside Veronica, pressing it violently on the floor, as if he would
like to make it grow there; but _Heinrich_ involuntarily pushed it
towards Cornelia, and the old man withdrew, shaking his head.

Cornelia said nothing, and _Heinrich_ looked at her inquiringly. In the
silence that followed he noticed the singing of the tea-kettle.

"What strange little organ have you there?" he asked, in surprise.

"It is a relic of my sentimental youth," replied Veronica, "and is
really closely connected with a portion of my life."

"Why, that is very interesting! What air is it playing?"

"A choral I often sang in my young clays. Tell Herr von Ottmar the
words, Cornelia, or he will think you have forgotten how to speak."

Cornelia repeated the well-known strophe:


                 "Schau hin nach Golgotha!
                  Dort schwebt am Kreuzes-stamm'
                  Im Todeskampf dein Jesus,
                  Mit deiner Schuld beladen.
                  Schau hin nach Golgotha!
                  Er neigt sein sterbend Haupt,
                  Es bricht sein Herz,
                  Selbst Engel weinen:
                  Der Welterlöser todt!"


"It is a beautiful choral, but it does not suit a gay social circle,"
said Cornelia, evidently deeply moved. She had felt that her voice grew
tremulous during the recital, and thought herself obliged to apologize.
"The profound melancholy of that sublime death overwhelms me in those
few lines. They conjure up the whole picture of the saddest hour earth
has ever known, and I cannot refrain from tears."

"While you spoke I saw only the angels who were weeping there,"
whispered _Heinrich_, gazing at her with delight, "and yet your
trembling voice touched me strangely. Who gave you this prophetic
inspiration, which, after the lapse of centuries, feels agonies perhaps
never endured? All the sufferings of Christ were mirrored in your
eyes."

"Oh, who could help feeling them?" replied Cornelia. "Who that truly
entered into them could help being thrilled with the deepest grief?
What a sacrifice, to make himself the bleeding example of his
teachings! What a love, which devotes itself to secure the happiness of
a world! When I read the history of the passion, it seems as if I had a
thousand hearts, so keenly, so painfully, do I feel the death-agony of
the One Heart that bore in itself the sorrows of all, suffered for all,
bled for all, loved all,--even those who betrayed it,--and was
understood and valued by so few. I see him turn pale, and feel how Mary
counts his last sighs and dies ten deaths with him. The breezes pause
in their course and are silent: the clouded sky bends heavily towards
the earth; all creation is frozen with terror, and listens for the
fearful moment when the God-man shall die,--when the monstrous murder
of the Guiltless One shall be completed. And now he bends his head, and
all is over. It is done, and the long-repressed woe breaks forth. The
storm rages over the earth, rends the veil, bursts the false temple.
The world groans; and the Lord himself, touched even in his
unapproachable divinity, extends his arms to his beloved Son to receive
him to his heart. Oh, my friend, who can read or hear this story
without being moved to the very depths of his soul? Even if you deny
this great event and prove that it never existed, and even reveal who
invented it,--who subjected a world to the might of this thought,--he
too was inspired by a higher power,--he too came from God and has
performed a miracle; a miracle that no one can deny, for it uplifts
itself in gigantic structures of stone in every land; it stamps its
impress upon every grave; it receives the new-born infant with a holy
ordinance; it is the last consolation of the dying; nay, at this very
moment it fills your own breast with silent veneration: I can see it in
you."

_Heinrich_ could scarcely breathe; he did not know what had befallen
him. Was it a supernatural creature who was speaking to him? He was
obliged to start up and go to the window, so strangely did his thoughts
pulse through his brain. Was it the artistic impression of her
powerful, eloquent words, her animated play of expression, the capacity
for suffering in her nature bodingly revealed in this description, or
the effect of the words themselves? He knew not, but he felt as much
agitated as if Christianity had just been revealed to him for the first
time.

"You could do more good than many preachers," he said, at last,
returning to his seat. "You understand how to obtain a hold upon the
soul, and I am amazed at your religious enthusiasm. I should have
supposed you to have more tendency towards rationalism. Are you a
Protestant?"

"Oh, do not ask whether I am Catholic or Protestant! I am a
Christian,--that is the principal thing. By faith and education I
am a Protestant; but I belong to no creed, for I have no faith in
miracles,--at least the miracles the church teaches. I recognize too
entirely the divinity of the laws of the universe to believe that God
must remove Nature from her usual course to reveal himself. Every
deviation from natural laws is an abnormal condition, and therefore
unlovely, for all beauty consists in the harmony of each individual
part with the whole; but I can accept and reverence nothing that is not
beautiful,--far less consider God, the soul of the system of the world,
as the author of an anomaly. Herein I am a rationalist. I hate those
who bar the progress of science, because they fear the natural
explanation of things may destroy the dogma of revelation; but I also
hate those who think that by the natural explanation of things they can
deny the existence of a higher power. God reveals himself indirectly in
the laws of nature, and directly in the soul. The noblest man is to me
the greatest wonder of creation; and if I believe Christ to be the son
of Joseph, I adore him none the less as the true Son of God, spirit of
his Spirit, proceeding from and returning to him. Thus I am a Christian
with my whole soul, and, with ardent love, bear my Saviour in my heart
as my highest model. What would all my acts be if I had not this
fundamental principle of Christianity? if I did not perform my
charitable deeds in the spirit of self-sacrifice Christ taught us, what
should I be? A sentimental adventuress, a heroine of romance, who has
one eccentric caprice today and another to-morrow; is always playing a
part, and constantly unhappy because she has no object, no purpose, in
life; for selfishness leaves us always empty and unsatisfied, while
Christianity is its most powerful opponent."

_Heinrich_ sat for some time in silence, with his eyes fixed upon the
floor; when he looked up Cornelia was gazing into his grave countenance
with an expression of affectionate inquiry,--she felt that her last
words had touched some sensitive point. _Heinrich_ passed his hand
through his hair as if he wished to banish the obtrusive thoughts that
crowded upon him.

"The poetry of Christianity has excited and enchained your fancy. It
would be useless to convince you by scientific proofs, since you have
formed a religion which is not dependent upon them."

"Certainly," laughed Cornelia.

"You _wish_ to believe, and therefore you do. You are fortunate! You
have produced a wonderful harmony between your skeptical reason and
enthusiastic heart. I admire you; for this theory of spiritual
revelation by natural means, which can go hand in hand with science, is
the best that a talented woman can appropriate. Who taught you all
this?"

"Her own harmonious soul," said Veronica. "She has a keen intellect,
and a soft, feeling heart; therefore she does not believe
unconditionally, as we are obliged to do, and yet is full of religious
devotion. Thus she found that harmony, as you call it, and restored
peace to her mind. When you know her better, you will be astonished at
the wonderful symmetry of her nature."

"I am already!" exclaimed _Heinrich_; "I never had any intellectual
pleasure which could be compared to my intercourse with you. I could
listen forever in rapturous delight to the thousand turns her thoughts
take. Tell me, Cornelia, from what noble union of wondrous hearts did
you spring, to be mentally and bodily so beautiful,--so beautiful?"

Cornelia looked at Veronica. The latter passed _Heinrich_ a cup. "Take
some tea, and I will tell you the story of my musical urn, which
interested you so much just now. You will thereby learn our whole
history, if you care to know it."

"Oh. pray tell me whatever I may be permitted to hear. You do not know
how eagerly I desire it."

"I have already told you," began Veronica, "that Cornelia is the child
of my adopted daughter. This adopted daughter, the wife of the
political martyr Erwing, was thrown upon my hands by a singular
destiny, and I thank God, that, through her and afterwards through
Cornelia, he gave my life a purpose and meaning. I enjoyed a mother's
pleasures without being compelled to suffer her pains; for when God
took my dear adopted daughter from me, my grief would have been
infinitely greater if the lost one had been mine by birth. But Cornelia
has, as yet, given me nothing but joy. She was difficult to educate,
but even the toil of reducing these chaotic talents to order was a
pleasure. That I have succeeded in doing so is a wonder to myself, for
I never had an opportunity to study these powerful characters. My
mother, to the day of her death, had a childlike heart. She was only
sixteen years older than I, and seemed like a friend and playmate
rather than a mother. The governess my father procured for me really
educated the mamma at the same time with the little daughter! This gay,
innocent youth has been the foundation of my character. My grandfather
was a Danish nobleman, who became a widower at my mother's birth, and
lived a solitary life upon his estates at Soröe, though he opened his
house to all the nobility in the neighborhood. It chanced that an
acquaintance one day introduced a friend named Albin, a native of
Holstein, who was traveling through the country. Herr von Albin, a
handsome, attractive man of fifty, was seated at dinner next to my
mother, who at that time was not quite fifteen, and she particularly
remembered that when some magnificent strawberries were served at
dessert, the gentleman assured her that much larger and finer ones grew
on his estate. This greatly astonished my mother, for she had always
believed the strawberries in her garden the best in the world.

"A few weeks after a servant summoned her to her father's room, and the
latter informed her that she would soon be married. She said, 'As you
please, dear father,' and went sorrowfully back to her governess. When,
however, on the following day Herr von Albin was presented to her as
her future bridegroom, she was greatly delighted, for she thought of
the wonderful strawberries that grew on the kind gentleman's estate.

"This Herr von Albin was my father. He loved my mother with touching
tenderness, and did everything in his power to prevent her from feeling
the great difference in their ages. He took journeys with her, and as
German society pleased her far better than the formal Danish etiquette
of those days, lived by turns upon his Holstein estates in summer, and
the North German City of B---- in winter. Thus it happens that my whole
nature is thoroughly North German, and I have also inculcated some of
it into Cornelia's mind. When I was in my fourteenth year I lost my
father, and my mother, then scarcely thirty, was still very girlish in
her appearance, and equally so in character. The death of the kind
husband whom she had loved with childlike reverence was the first
sorrow of her life.

"With the same obedience with which she had formerly married Herr von
Albin she now, at her father's command, wedded a second husband; but
this time she did not rejoice over beautiful strawberries.

"My stepfather, an attaché of the Danish Embassy in N----, was very
rich; and as my father's estates were entailed an male heirs, and my
mother had also inherited little or nothing, my grandfather, whose
property likewise reverted to the crown at his death, wished by this
marriage to secure his daughter a future free from care. But whether my
mother was happy with this man I will leave you to decide. He was a
cold aristocrat, chose society which was distasteful to us, and left us
much alone at a retired country seat, where we led a life devoted to
books and belles-lettres.

"Chance made me acquainted with a young officer, who, despite his
youth, was already a widower, and the father of a little two-year-old
daughter. We loved each other, and he asked for my hand; but my
stepfather refused his consent, because the marriage did not suit his
plans for me, and perhaps, also, because he had no inclination to give
me a dowry. What a nature that young man possessed! Alas! he bore the
doom of an early death. During our stay at our country seat my mother
sometimes permitted him to visit us. She became constantly sadder and
paler, and the only hours that she seemed more animated and joyous were
those we all spent together. I sang and played upon the piano passably
well, and the choral we have just mentioned, which was peculiarly in
harmony with my Edmund's religious feelings, I sang for him again and
again. We spent many such evenings as this together, and were never
happier than when assembled around the steaming tea-urn in North German
fashion. My friend often said it would be charming if its confused
humming could be transformed into a distinct melody, for he found all
the charm of northern sentimentality in its mysterious music.

"Just at this time my stepfather suddenly died, leaving my mother a
large fortune, and there was now no further impediment to our marriage.
We wished to have my betrothed husband resign from the army at once;
but he would not consent. He wished to take part in the last great
campaign against Napoleon before he resigned himself to the happiness
of private life. We parted as betrothed lovers; I took his little
daughter from her boarding-school to my own home, to be a mother to
her, for I loved the child; but my mother clung to the little one with
peculiar affection. After the departure of my affianced husband, she
was often confined to her bed, but her still youthful and beautiful
features beamed with almost superhuman love when she clasped the
little girl in her arms. She was then thirty-eight years old, and I
two-and-twenty. Alas! it was only later that I first suspected the true
cause of my mother's quiet illness. Her poor heart had never known
love,--let me be silent." The speaker's bright eyes suddenly grew dim,
and tears ran down her pale cheeks.

"Oh, God!" murmured _Heinrich_, involuntarily.

"She was constantly thinking of what we could do to surprise Edmund on
his return," continued Veronica. "One day she said she would like to
have him find on our table an urn constructed exactly as he had
desired, and that the toy, whose idea she suggested to me, should play
his favorite choral, 'Schau hin nach Golgotha!' As I saw how greatly
she had set her heart upon it, I instantly gave the order to the
celebrated mechanician, Gebhardt, and in the course of a few months the
work was completed. Alas! it afforded her the last pleasure she ever
knew. It played for the first time one dreary autumn evening. She sat
up in bed with her arm around the little girl, and listened with
childlike devotion. 'May you solemnize a beautiful service of love with
this organ!' said she. 'Make his home-life bright and pleasant, that he
may always be glad to stay with you; believe me, a solitary wife is a
most wretched creature. Make him happy, my Veronica; he deserves it.'
'Grandmamma,' lisped the child, throwing her little arms lovingly
around the neck of the fair, youthful 'grandmother.' Her cheeks flushed
feverishly, and she concealed her tears upon the neck of the 'little
angel.' Do you know, Veronica, that I have begun to write poetry in my
old age!' she said, suddenly, with a mournful smile. Yesterday I
composed these verses:


                 "Thank thy God, oh, happy mortal!
                    Love's thy portion here below,
                  And, glorified in death by love,
                    Thy immortal part shall glow.

                 "Love suffered for thee on the cross,
                    Upon Golgotha died for thee;
                  Is ever near, though far away
                    He whom thou lov'st may be.

                 "Cheer thee, my heart, though here on earth
                    Thou seekest love in vain;
                  Feel that there is no lack with God;
                    Cry blessings on his name.


"'Oh, mother!' I exclaimed, deeply touched, 'why is this? Do you lack
love? Do we not all love you most tenderly?' Weeping bitterly, I
pressed her to my heart. Just at that moment a letter was brought in.
From him she exclaimed, broke the seal, and sank back senseless upon
the pillows. I tore the letter from her rigid hands,--it was the notice
of my lover's death. I rushed into the next room to conceal the
outbreak of my anguish from my mother, and, throwing myself upon my
knees, prayed for strength. Suddenly I heard strange sounds, which made
me start up, and, at the same time, the child screamed aloud. In mortal
terror I hurried back to find my mother in her death-agony. 'Mother,
mother,' I shrieked, despairingly, 'do not leave me alone in my
misery!' With a look of inexpressible love, she placed the little one
in my arms; I clasped them both in a wild embrace; felt the last breath
of her pure lips, and then sank back senseless, dimly hearing, as if
from another world, the air 'Schau hin nach Golgotha!' Spare me the
description of my sufferings. For a year I struggled with a disease of
the lungs, but my strong, youthful constitution obtained the victory.
Yet one tiny flower of happiness bloomed for me upon my lover's grave:
his little daughter,--his own flesh and blood,--a part of himself. I
had not wholly lost him,--was not entirely alone. Nay, the child
resembled him so much that with silent delight I saw his living image
always before me, but the double blow had so crushed my soul that I
needed and sought seclusion. I purchased a small estate in the province
of R----, where I devoted myself entirely to the sorrowful pleasure of
educating my Antonie and cherishing memories of my lover,--let people
say what they chose,--and shut myself up in my little world of feeling.
I read everything new that appeared in the kingdom of literature, and
in all found myself and my own grief. By degrees I became not only calm
but happy; the lonely life I led caused all the pictures of my memory
to assume so tangible a form that my lover and my dear mother appeared
before me,--I was surrounded by all whom I loved. Thus the dead became
alive to me, and the living, with the exception of my child, dead. The
happier I felt in these dreams the more anxiously I avoided all contact
with reality, that the delicate webs of my fancy might not be torn
asunder by its rude touch. Nor was this difficult, for no one troubled
themselves about the stranger. Beautiful scenes of nature entranced me
with their ever-varying charms; an excellent servant managed my little
household; and thus for fourteen years I lived entirely apart from the
world with my adopted daughter, my books, and my dead. This is the
reason why I seem too young for my age,--I stood still for many years
of my life. But when Antonie grew up, I perceived that I ought not to
make the bright, blooming young girl a hermit. My parents' house in
N---- was empty, and I resolved to move here and introduce my adopted
child to society; but how was I astonished to find it so entirely
different from what I had left it! Since peace had once more smiled
upon the country,--since no universal sorrow impressed its deep seal
upon every soul,--men seemed to me more selfish, more material. They
doubtless still coquetted with a certain sentimentality, but it seemed
to me that with true sorrow true feeling had also vanished. Time had
advanced, while during my long seclusion I had remained standing still;
I felt that I did not understand this world, and was even allowed to
perceive that I no longer suited it. As through my extensive course of
reading Antonie and I had obtained knowledge, and also, probably,
formed some opinions, several literary people became interested
in us, and thus, with Antonie's full consent, I again withdrew from
society, to collect around me a circle of men and women who possessed
similar tastes. The unfortunate republican, Erwing, then a quiet,
much-respected man and a distinguished author, was also introduced to
me. He loved and married Antonie; Cornelia was born the following year.
At that time Erwing was already developing his dangerous political
tendencies. He was a noble man, and sacrificed himself to his
principles, and, alas! his wife also, who died of grief for him. God
took her from the world; her death broke down all the barriers that had
hitherto restrained Erwing, and his sorrow for her increased his
political wrath to its height. Soon after, the unhappy man was obliged
to fly to America, where he died, leaving the orphan, to whom, since
her father's flight, I have filled a mother's place, as I did to her
mother. In so doing I have fulfilled a sweet and sacred duty to my dead
love, who lives and hovers around me in eternal youth, and blesses my
efforts in behalf of his granddaughter!"

The old maid paused, with cheeks crimsoned with blushes; she had folded
her hands over her knitting, and seemed wholly absorbed in memories of
the past. Cornelia sat lost in thought, with her head resting on her
hand.

"What a face, so victorious in its calm pride!" said _Heinrich_ to
himself; "what hair, what a neck, what an arm! What movements, and
lines! What grace! Yes, it is the _soul_ that animates this frame, and
warm blood that gleams through it so rosily!"

He laid his open palm before her on the table; she placed her hand in
it. There was nothing very singular in the action, but her cheeks
glowed; it seemed as if he was drawing her head towards him, as if she
must bend forward yet he held her hand calmly in his. Veronica,
absorbed in her memories, rose to get _Heinrich_ a picture of her
lover. They were alone! A new expression flashed over Ottmar's
face,--_Heinrich_ and _Henri_ had changed places! the moment had
tempted the latter irresistibly. He slowly drew Cornelia's hand towards
him, and bent his handsome head to hers; his eyes beamed with
inexpressible love, and his voice trembled with fervor as he whispered:

"Poor heart, how mach you must have suffered, must still suffer, in the
memory of your unhappy father! Oh, if you could but look into the
depths of this soul and know how I feel for you!--oh, love!" He pressed
his lips gently upon her hand, and let them rest there, without kissing
it.

Cornelia scarcely breathed; the touch thrilled through her whole frame
like an electric shock. She felt that a new happiness, never known
before, was entering her heart, and yielded to it without the slightest
movement. Then the organ slowly played the strophe, "Selbst Engel
weinen," and died away. _Henri_ raised his head, and asked, gently,
"What do you think of me now?"

She could not speak, but looked into his eyes with an expression so
dreamy and ardent that _Henri_ needed no words. His quick ear heard
Veronica's approach, and he leaned back in his chair and attracted the
attention of Cornelia, who was completely absorbed in her own feelings.
The old lady showed _Henri_ her lover's miniature, and found it
perfectly natural that after these reminiscences Cornelia should burst
into tears. Cornelia herself did not know their cause, for she really
had no sorrowful memories; the things we hear in early childhood do not
make so vivid an impression; and her youth, under Veronica's care, had
been a happy one. Far less was it the recollection of her first love,
for this now seemed to her like a dream. What was it, then? What had
happened? He had told her that he pitied her; that was very natural:
she had given him her hand and he had kissed it,--no, not even kissed
it, he had only allowed his lips to rest upon it; but it was perhaps
that very thing,--how strange!

_Henri's_ accustomed eyes read all these thoughts in Cornelia's face,
and with exultant satisfaction saw the net resting upon the wings of
her soul. "Cornelia," he said, softly, while Veronica was counting her
stitches, "you are reflecting upon the nature of sympathy again, but
you will not fathom it yet!"

"You are right," she answered.

She had been playing mechanically with one of her rings, and it now
fell from her-hand. _Henri_ picked it up, and, with a smile, replaced
it on her finger. Again she blushed. "Why?" she asked unconsciously.

"Our child is sad," he said to Veronica, with the winning expression
which had always prevailed upon women to devote their lives to him.
"What can we do to cheer her?"

Cornelia, as if spell-bound by the magic of these tones, made no reply.

"How kind you are!" said Veronica.

"Are you angry because I call you 'our child'?" asked _Henri_, with
admirably assumed simplicity. "I am becoming intimate too rapidly, am I
not? Be kind, and attribute it to my warm, truthful nature. Sooner or
later we shall meet more familiarly, I am sure; so why delay and so
lose the precious moments for the sake of troublesome forms. I would
gladly take you to my heart as carefully and protectingly as--a father.
Fräulein Veronica will allow me to do so, I am sure. Be our dear child,
and let me take some small share in your education."

He arose and stood before her in all his gentlemanly dignity, bent down
and kindly took her hands; but the quick pulsations of his heart, which
Cornelia heard close beside her ear, accorded strangely with these
paternal words. This was the well-calculated charm he had for her: the
manly, noble superiority which expressed itself in this fatherly
authority, and involuntarily extorted a childlike reverence; and the
enthusiastic, almost boyish, tenderness which bowed before her to raise
her to giddy heights.

"Teach me, then but permit me to do the same by you," she said, with an
embarrassed smile, rising from her chair.

"Certainly," replied _Henri_; "I need it more than you. Oh, I will
follow you blindly; the words of those pure lips shall be my oracle!"
His eyes-rested upon the young girl's fresh, beautiful mouth with
ardent longing. He felt that it would be better to go, and allow the
impression he had made to produce its effect upon her in silence. With
a violent effort he released Cornelia's hands and hastily took his
leave. As he opened the door he heard his name called gently: he
turned; Cornelia had followed him a step and asked, with the most
lovable frankness,--

"When will you come again?"

"Cornelia!" cried _Henri_, and was about to rush back to her; but
_Heinrich_, with a tremendous effort, checked the excited feelings,
made her a low bow, said, in a fatherly tone, "I will come as soon as I
can; I cannot fix any positive time now," and left the room without
looking back.

"What was that?" asked Cornelia, covering her eyes with her hand. "Did
it not seem as if another person was speaking from his lips? Did he not
call my name so eagerly, and the next moment take leave of me so
distantly, so coldly? Can a man's mood change so suddenly? Whims can
alter in an instant, I know that by myself; but what we feel,
what is deeply and firmly rooted our hearts, we cannot so suddenly
deny,--it cannot yield to a caprice. Which is true, his warmth or his
coldness?--or is it possible that they can both exist? Ah, do not
question, incredulous heart! What he has given you to-day is true: let
that satisfy you; and where you cannot understand him, trust him." With
a heavy sigh she threw herself on her knees before Veronica and laid
her head on her lap. "Ah, Veronica, how could I live without the man
you loved!"


"What a submission!" thought _Henri_, as he walked towards home in the
proud conviction of a certain victory.

"Take care!" said _Heinrich_: "this submission is no amorous weakness,
but the implicit confidence every innocent, loving girl places in the
man she adores. If you ever abuse this faith, you will perceive with
terror her power of resistance."



                                  XII.

                         THE SEARCH FOR A WIFE.


"My dear Herr von Ottmar," said the prince, holding out his hand to
_Heinrich_, "you came out of the vexatious affair, which unfortunately
I could not spare you, like a hero. Am I to do anything for your
_protégé_? Tell me how I can assist the young man."

_Heinrich_ had intended to affect reserve, and to-day was just in the
right humor for it. He bowed low with the air of a deeply offended man.

"I thank you most humbly, your Highness. I have already provided for
Albert Preheim. I am happy to have proved to your Highness that I have
given my protection to no unworthy person, and am always ready to
answer for my acts like a man. I have made Albert Preheim the steward
of my estates, which have greatly depreciated in value during my long
absence. I will also venture to request your Highness to grant me leave
of absence for an indefinite time, that I may be able to instruct him
in his duties there."

"You wish to leave me now, when I need you most?"

"If I could hope that your Highness still needed me, I should feel
happier than is the case at present."

"Do you believe, Ottmar, that a time will ever come when we shall be
unnecessary to each other? I rely more upon your friendship for my
person, even if, as an independent man, you can do without the prince."

"Your Highness, let me be frank with you. How faithfully I have served
you, the sleepless nights during which I have shared your Highness's
arduous labors and heavy cares for your country, my deserted home, my
ruined estates, may prove. Compelled to leave my own court because I
was an adherent of the priesthood, I found with you a sphere of
activity in harmony with my political convictions, an only too generous
recognition of my humble services, and the highest possible reward in
your personal friendship. But now, your Highness, I stand here as a
compromised man, a hero of comedy, who played the martyr for his own
sins for the amusement of the rabble. This, your Highness, I cannot
endure. Society has a morbidly sensitive feeling for indecorum far more
than crime; it can ignore a secret sin, but not a public impropriety.
It is not for my guilt but its open acknowledgment that men will turn
their backs upon me, and I must go into retirement, for I cannot bear
to have the finger of scorn pointed at me."

The prince smiled. "Oh, if that is all that drives you away, Ottmar,
you can be perfectly at ease: I will become your security. Do you
suppose I would have asked my friend to expose himself if I had not
possessed the means to make amends for his humiliation at any moment? I
am astonished at your simplicity, Ottmar. Should you not have known
society better? Why, even if I would allow you to fall, you would still
be esteemed; but if I uphold you, people will treat you with the utmost
consideration. What advantage would it be to be ruler if I could not
even manage the handful of puppets around my throne? You must take a
journey, it is true, but on my business; if you wish to visit your
estates on the way, I have no objection; but I beg you to remain there,
no longer than is absolutely necessary. Do you consent?"

"My time has only the value it possesses for your Highness. If I can be
of more use in any other place than here, command me."

"You will be at ease here again when you have forgotten this
disagreeable affair. In the first place we will seal people's mouths by
a striking proof of my continued favor. This very night I shall present
you to my mother as Count von Ottmar."

"Your Highness! I do not know how to thank you for so much kindness."

"As one friend always does another: by honest counsel and assistance
when I need them!"

The prince fixed his large, blue eyes upon Ottmar with so kindly an
expression that the latter was surprised.

"I am well aware that the title of Count does not make amends for the
mortification I imposed upon you; but perhaps the consciousness that,
by this act of self-sacrifice, you have won a still larger share of my
esteem and confidence, may be some slight recompense. Therefore, my
friend, you shall advise me to-day in the most important event of my
life. I have summoned you to discuss my marriage."

"Do I know the princesses?" asked _Heinrich_.

"One of them, certainly; and you shall make the acquaintance of the
other. One is Princess Ottilie of H----."

"What!" exclaimed _Heinrich_, almost losing his self-command. "Princess
Ottilie!"

"Hist! _Pas si haut, mon ami_, the walls have ears. Remember that this
is still a profound secret; you are to be the first to mature the
affair. I have the privilege of choosing between Princess Ottilie and
Princess Marie of D----. The latter is still a mere child; but the
former has lost the first bloom of youth. I do not wish to select the
lady who will please me best, but the one who will most satisfactorily
fill the position of mistress of my realm; it is not permitted me to
marry according to the choice of my heart. My love, as you know, is
given to the beautiful Hellbach; but I can neither raise her to the
rank of my wife, nor degrade her to that of my mistress, and have
learned to conquer my wishes. The private happiness my wife can bestow
is merely to make no claims upon my love, which has been effaced from
my breast with this one image, and not press upon me an affection which
is valueless to me. A sincere friendship, and a pure conscience, are
all that I shall give and demand."

_Heinrich_ had been reflecting in silence. "What your Highness asks in
a wife is little, and yet the most difficult requirement that can be
made upon a woman. She is to offer her wedded husband no feeling,
desire none from him, save what might be accorded to the merest
stranger. She is to give your country the heir to the throne, and yet
be permitted to adopt no other manner towards the father of her child
than that prescribed by the laws of the coldest etiquette. But she must
bestow upon no other the love that her husband disdains; must enjoy
through no other the happiness he denies her; and yet is always to feel
a calm affection for the man who has thus destroyed the joys of married
life. Pardon me, your Highness, I know women well; this is a task which
only a princess can perform,--a princess in the true sense of the word;
not a young immature creature, who only wears the mask of her position,
and in whose mind natural rights far outweigh the claims of her high
station. A princess such as your Highness requires, one who has subdued
the first eager longings of her heart and resigned herself to consider
the duties of her lofty rank as the first necessity, is the Princess
Ottilie. Moreover, she is intellectual, lovable as a young girl, truly
royal in her bearing, and although no longer in the first bloom of
youth, extremely attractive."

"If you, who are so exacting, think her all this, she must really be
somewhat remarkable in every respect," said the prince. "You are right
in saying I could hardly expect so much self-sacrifice from a young
creature like the Princess Marie. Besides, the priests favor the
alliance with Ottilie because they rest great hopes upon her influence
over her Protestant uncle, the Prince of H----. There is only the
consideration that Ottilie is said to be delicate, and thereby the hope
of an heir to the throne might be endangered."

"Ob, I do not think so, your Highness. She is nervous, like all lofty,
intellectual natures; but such women are usually benefited by marriage.
Doctors chatter a great deal of exaggerated nonsense; and besides, it
is not for their advantage that the generous princess should be married
and leave the country. I have watched her for a long time, and can
assure your Highness that she has no more serious illness than all
ladies of her rank and age."

The prince paced up and down the room several times, and then paused
before Ottmar. "Are you giving me conscientious advice, Ottmar?
Remember that the sole object of the heavy sacrifice I am making is to
obtain an heir to the throne."

"Egotist!" thought _Heinrich_.

"Your Highness," he replied, "I am no physician. I can only say how I
judge of her as an unprofessional person, and that I have never thought
her ill."

The prince again walked up and down the room. "Shall I venture?"

"Yes, your Highness."

The prince turned towards his writing-table and showed _Heinrich_ a
picture. "Is this a good likeness?"

"Yes, your Highness; but she is more beautiful," said the latter, who
could not gaze at Ottilie's gentle, noble features without emotion.

"Now look at Marie's portrait."

_Heinrich_ knit his brow as he looked at the picture. "I should not
have the courage to choose this Lady. Those eyebrows, that pouting,
scornful mouth."

"Yes, Ottilie's pleases me far better," said the prince.

"And besides, I see no object in this marriage. What is an alliance
with the little country of D---- to a prince like your Highness?
Princess Ottilie, on the contrary, is immensely rich; more friendly
relations with the court of H---- would be desirable in every respect,
and Ottilie is a Catholic; she might--that is----"

A clock struck ten. The prince started up.

"The council must begin. Ottmar, you are my ambassador; set out on your
journey to-morrow morning, and negotiate the matter for me at the court
of H----. Consult the physicians, and if you think it advisable, in
God's name win Ottilie for my wife! From all you say she will be best
suited to me. The sacrifice must be made at once. Farewell till we meet
in the council of state, dear count."

Thus was the weal or woe of a noble, precious life decided, and again
_Heinrich's_ egotism demanded a victim. Accident had thrown one into
his hands in the person of Ottilie. _Heinrich's_ resolution was firm.
He knew that if Ottilie became his protectress at the court of N----
his power would be unbounded and immovable; for he did not doubt that
with her intellect she must succeed in ruling the prince as well as the
country. In any case, his influence over her was more assured than it
could be over a princess who was a stranger to him; so a marriage with
the latter must be prevented at any cost: it might baffle all his
hopes. When he passed through the antechamber, his plan was already
formed, and around his lips played the triumphant smile which was
always visible when he guided men like puppets. Every preparation was
immediately made for the journey:

"Anton," said _Heinrich_, during the packing, "didn't you see anything
of Princess Ottilie on your way through H----?"

"No, Herr Baron. She seldom drives out, for she is much worse than she
used to be."

"Anton, for Heaven's sake, do me the favor not to tell any one that! Do
you hear? Finish the packing, and then go this very night to the
Hohmeier'sche Restaurant; there you will find the valet of the prince's
confessor, Ehrhardt,--they will point him out to you if you ask for
him; join him as if by chance. Tell him about H----, and turn the
conversation upon the Princess Ottilie. Then say what you know of her
beauty, her piety, etc. See that you have as many listeners as
possible,--the more the better. Speak of her hair, her eyes, but
especially her generosity; in short, make their mouths water, but do
not allow any design to be perceived."

"I understand, Herr Baron," said Anton, smiling. "I'll manage as
carefully as possible, and to-morrow the whole city shall be full of
the princess's praises."

"That is right, my old friend. I don't think you forgot anything in the
village," said _Heinrich_, well pleased.

He wanted to see Cornelia again, but the evening was spent in making
various preparations for his journey, and his plan of obtaining Ottilie
for the prince required thought and time for consideration. He would
compensate himself for the sacrifice after his return, and meantime
devote himself entirely to his mission. "How am I to appear before
her?--how am I to woo her for another without offending her, when I
know that she has loved me, perhaps does still?" This question
engrossed his mind, and its difficulties had a peculiar charm for him.

In the course of the evening a court official brought a bill of
exchange for five thousand florins for "Count Ottmar's steward, Albert
Preheim." The prince had given him this sum from his own private purse
as a sort of compensation for his sufferings. He would not allow
himself to be humbled by _Heinrich's_ proud reserve, and thus made
amends for the injustice which had thrown Albert entirely upon
_Heinrich_ for assistance.

Albert's joy knew no bounds, but his gratitude to _Heinrich_, whom he
considered the indirect cause of this favor, was even greater. Thus
they set out on their journey, Albert and Anton as happy men, while he
to whom both owed their good fortune, whom both loved and honored, knew
no happiness, no peace, destitute of support in himself, and
unsympathizing even towards those to whom he showed kindness. Already
the city lay behind him. He looked back towards Cornelia's house, from
thence the dawn would crimson the horizon, from thence his sun would
rise to pour light and warmth upon him, and with foreboding longing he
gazed over the snow-covered fields towards the golden streaks in the
east. The morning air blew icily over his brow; here and there under
the snow lay dry branches of frozen weeds; not a bird, not an insect,
was stirring far or near: frozen nature was silently awaiting the
spring. It was even so with him. His mission, his petty intrigues,
everything at that moment retreated into the background, and covered
itself with the icy mantle of eternal indifference. From that strip of
light life must come to rescue him and lure fresh germs from the frozen
clods. The rising sun threw its rosy glimmer into his eyes till they
filled with tears; it seemed as if they flowed from his own breast, as
if his own feelings and not the light had called them forth, and he
might shed more. But he was mistaken, for when he turned his eyes from
the dazzling rays the treacherous fountain dried. The unfeeling man
could not weep: the blessing of tears was denied him; and the vanished
spell left the egotist cold and unsatisfied.



                                 XIII.

                              A SACRIFICE.


Directly after his arrival, _Heinrich_ went to Ottilie's physician to
make inquiries about the state of her health. It was of importance to
himself to be correctly informed in this respect; for it would have
been very useless to base his ambitious plans upon one doomed to an
early death. With her, these, and perhaps even the favor of the prince,
might sink into the grave; since he had described her as healthy, the
responsibility would fall upon him if she died. The physician, it is
true, said that she was delicate, but, according to the principles of
the old school, declared that her illness was a nervous one; and
_Heinrich_ boldly requested a private audience with Ottilie to obtain
her consent before he presented himself to the Prince of H---- as an
ambassador.

As he passed through the antechamber, a fair-haired little waiting-maid
issued from Ottilie's room, glided by, starting violently as she caught
sight of him, and disappeared through a side door. _Heinrich_ perceived
with astonishment that it was Röschen. The servant ushered him into the
reception-room. The uniform, unvarying stream of hot air from a Russian
stove vibrated around him with suffocating sultriness, increased by the
fragrance of numberless flowers grouped in hot-house fashion in the
lofty windows of stained glass. The heavy carpets and portières exhaled
warmth; it seemed to _Heinrich_ as if his lungs were bursting with the
longing for a breath of fresh air. He dreaded this first meeting, for
in Ottilie's presence his insolent frivolity deserted him, and he stood
before her as if she were his conscience. The fervent heat and
deathlike stillness that surrounded him increased his embarrassment.
There is something strange in the official silence of royal apartments,
which rouses the greatest excitement and impatience in any one who is
anxiously awaiting an important audience. This was the case with
_Heinrich_. He wished to repeat what he was to say to Ottilie, but
could no longer remember it. "How shall I appear before her?" was his
only thought; and the polished courtier feared this great soul whose
prophetic vision had penetrated his inmost heart, and which he now
approached like a thief, to try to steal it for his own plans.

A clock struck twelve, and was answered from every side by a multitude
of larger and smaller ones, whose buzzing and humming lasted several
minutes; then all was silent as before. _Heinrich_ uttered a deep sigh.
Why did she linger so long? Was she, too, obliged to collect her
thoughts, and could she not obtain the composure needed to receive him?
"Oh, God! if she should love me still!" he thought, wiping the cold
perspiration from his brow.

Just then a door opened noiselessly,--he did not notice it,--and
Ottilie floated across the room as lightly as if her feet did not touch
the carpet.

_Heinrich_ started as if roused from a dream, when, beautiful as a
glorified spirit, she stood before him. Both looked at each other a
moment in silence neither could find words; their souls were too full
for the narrow forms of speech.

At last Ottilie held out her hand to him, and there was deep sadness in
her expression as she said, "Is it really you?"

"I understand the reproof in your question, princess," replied
_Heinrich_. "I was prepared for it; and yet accompanied with that voice
and glance, it now pierces deep into my breast. As the ambassador of my
princely master, I had courage to appear before you--as your friend. My
heart trembles, for I well know I shall not bear your sublime, angelic
judgment."

Ottilie motioned to him to be seated. "Yes," she began, after a pause,
"I had wished to see you a different man, and I do not even know
whether I still have the right to tell you so."

"Speak! heap upon my head the whole burden of your accusation,
princess."

"Do not fear reproaches from me. All that there is to be said I
represented to you, if I remember rightly, long ago. You did not obey
my warning voice; what was useless then will also be vain now."

_Heinrich_ covered his eyes with his hand, as if obliged to conceal his
tears; and yet it was not all hypocrisy, for it really seemed to him as
if a pang of remorse shot through his breast.

Ottilie remained silent for a long time.

"Be merciful, princess," pleaded _Heinrich_; "you reproach me with my
change of opinions, but you do not know what may exert an influence
over a life, how even the most independent man may be forced into a
course contrary to his wishes, and where he must be untrue to himself;
therefore be charitable, princess; do not give me up!"

"Ah, how could I!" exclaimed Ottilie, in an outburst of feeling. "Do
you not see that I grieve for you, pity you, deeply and sincerely? I do
not accuse you; but let me lament that you have defrauded yourself of
all true happiness. Do not tell me the career you have adopted
satisfies you; in it you can neither follow your own convictions nor
develop your talents. I speak now as a woman who has done with self,
who is bound to life by no wish, no hope. What have you made of
yourself, Ottmar? How have you used the gifts God so richly, so
abundantly, bestowed? I have carefully watched your political activity;
alas that I must say it you have fallen lower in my eyes the higher you
rose in the world. Forgive the harshness," she pleaded, extending her
hand to him, "it is the most heartfelt anxiety that speaks from my
lips. Do you not see the double danger to which you are exposed? You
are robbing yourself of your moral freedom as well as the nation of its
political rights; you are servilely bending your noble soul to the
dominion of principles in which you do not believe, making yourself the
slavish supporter of an impotent reaction. Thus you are losing your
intrinsic dignity, and sooner or later your influence as a statesman;
for a new and invincible spirit, purer than that of the revolution, is
pervading the nations,--the spirit of a profound political knowledge.
We cannot subdue this with cannon, nor shut it into prisons; where we
believe it to be shattered, it unites again above our heads. It is the
child of the age, and unceasingly advances, demanding its rights. And
you, instead of throwing yourself into the free current and allowing
your breast to expand with the universal impulse, prop yourself with
narrow-hearted blindness against the crumbling steps of a throne, to
withstand the weight of the approaching shock. You will fall, and as an
enemy of ideas which you cherish with every drop of your blood, fall a
victim to your hypocrisy, not your convictions. Then you will seek to
find compensation in yourself, and perceive with despair that by your
perpetual untruthfulness you have destroyed yourself."

"It is very possible," murmured _Heinrich_.

"Oh, believe me; through many a sleepless night I have stretched out my
hand to you to draw you out of the gulf into which I saw you sinking.
Yet I still trust you; what you did could not estrange me. I still
hope, still pray for you; I can say no more than I have already done;
but I know that although you have not yet listened to me, quiet hours
will come, hours of repentance, when my long silent words will unite
with the voice of your conscience,--then, perhaps, you will obey me."

_Heinrich_ seized Ottilie's hands and gazed into her sparkling eyes. A
deep blush was glowing upon her cheeks. "Ah, the old magic! Ottilie,
Ottilie," he cried, "I fear I am too deeply entangled in hypocrisy! If
you could read my soul you would reject me."

"This is one of the moments of depression which utterly subdue such
natures. To-morrow, in another mood, you will smile at it. But it is
true that you think yourself worse than you really are, that you have
less faith in yourself than I in you. Every power needs to be used,
even that of the soul. Exert your strength in doing right, then you
will first ascertain your own capabilities."

"Ah, princess, how am I to help myself? I know not; I have gone astray
into this path, and cannot find strength to retrace my steps. I am well
aware that my political career is not in accordance with the spirit of
the age; when I entered upon it I really had no other thought than to
save myself from a momentary humiliation by the Jesuits, and therefore
considered my position in N---- a mere episode. But by degrees my
success, and the magnificent means at my command for the advancement of
my apparent purposes, charmed me. My influence over the prince tempted
me irresistibly. The power he placed in my hands roused all the
ambition of my nature. Power, Ottilie, has often transformed a hero
into a despot. This being the history of my political development,
everything else follows as a matter of course. As everything was
at the command of the feared and admired favorite, I felt myself
justified in enjoying all. That, in so doing, I formed many a sacred
tie only to break it again, and profaned many a bond that already
existed,--everything was considered allowable, because everything was
granted to me,--you will of course suppose. But I will confess to you,
to you alone of all human beings, that this haughty, envied Ottmar
became a crushed, wearied, joyless man, an egotist,--who does not even
love himself. I can no longer distinguish between truth and falsehood;
for everything has two sides, and, as no voice within my breast pleads
for either, I decide in favor of the one which will bring me the most
immediate advantage. There is no philanthropy in my nature, and thus I
make men happy or miserable according as it will be profitable or
injurious to myself. I perceive that all this is reprehensible; I envy
those who act from principle; I would fain be virtuous, yet cannot
discover what virtue is; for my blasé feelings make me perceive, in all
the dogmas of religion, morality, and philosophy, only arbitrary
beliefs without any eternal foundation, which change at every advance
of the nations in civilization, are now wrested here, now there, nay,
even dependent upon the fashion of the day; and thus I have formed the
despairing conclusion, that there is no virtue, believe the loathing of
my own deeds which sometimes seizes upon me to be a relic of old school
prejudices, and despise myself. Therefore I have no rule of conduct for
my acts except advantage; and when this is obtained, it does not make
me happy. I scorn it, as well as the men by whose weakness I won it!"

Ottilie had hung upon his words in breathless suspense. This frank
self-accusation had borne her along with it, and she was obliged to
collect her thoughts before she could reply.

"Then you are even more unhappy, more worthy of commiseration, than I
feared. All lofty, independent natures yield unwillingly to the human
law of right and wrong; for the same power which instilled the theories
of goodness lives also in them and justifies them in giving its law to
themselves. But in you, my friend, this power was only sufficient to
dissolve existing beliefs, not to make them unnecessary to you, for you
are now wandering, unsupported, without any clear standard of
measurement, amid the ruins of your shattered world of ideas. You are
seeking for a higher divine law, and because it does not reveal itself
to you you despair of virtue. It would be useless to refer you to
religion, for you do not believe it; but even without religion a man of
lofty character feels a moral want, which, without regard to reward or
punishment, impels him toward the right. Though such a man is never
quite happy, for only faith can give the highest joy, he will yet
experience that peace which a pure conscience bestows. But you have
destroyed even this. Your heart is desolate, your soul flutters wearily
upon the ground. I no longer see deliverance, blessing, or hope for
you. So I must behold the fairest work God and nature ever made, the
noble image in which I joy with reverent admiration, sink into the
dust, and stand powerless, unable to stretch out a hand to save for God
a soul which he has favored beyond all others. Alas, Ottmar! By the
sorrow in my own heart, I feel how your Creator mourns over you!" She
leaned back upon the sofa and wept aloud.

_Heinrich_ could not resist the contagion of her emotion. For the first
time the request he was about to make seemed like sacrilege, and yet he
could not give up all his carefully matured plans for the sake of a
"fit of sentimentality," as he mentally called it. He perceived that
she clung to him with unchanging affection, and that no political
considerations whatever would induce her to wed with such a nature as
that of the prince. If he won her, it would only be by means of his
influence over the heart so susceptible to his power. Years before she
had taken an oath that she would never become his wife, so she must
either part with him or marry his ruler. The more she loved him the
greater was his power over her, the more surely he would succeed in
convincing her that she could not live without him. Thus he was
compelled to throw the whole weight of his own personal attractions
into the scale, and there was a strange blending of honesty and
hypocrisy in his plan of persuasion. He really felt what he wished to
say, but his manner of turning it to account was artfully calculated,
and converted truth into falsehood. "Your Highness," he exclaimed, at
last, "I have come to bring you a crown; but at this moment I see a
halo shining around your head, and can scarcely venture to offer the
pitiful diadem of royalty. Princess, it is of great importance to my
interests to bind you to the country in which I play a part; I came
here to obtain your hand for the prince, to cunningly win your consent,
even at the cost of your happiness. But before your noble nature all
the arts of diplomacy dissolve into nothing. Therefore, my friend, I
will leave you free to choose, will not steal the decision of your
destiny, but tell you frankly that it is from selfishness I press my
master's offer, for I wish, I long, to have you near me. Your character
is formed, your opinions are matured, you will advise me when God is
silent in my own breast. You will aid me to give a new direction to our
politics, one more in harmony with the spirit of the age; supported by
you, I will venture it, without you I cannot. Look, Ottilie, the crafty
diplomatist is prostrate in the dust before your victorious
truthfulness, and prattles out his whole programme like a school-boy. I
do not plead for the country whose salvation you would be, nor in the
name of a philanthropy I have never known, but by which I might win
your gentle heart; I do not implore you to aid a nation I helped to
crush: I renounce all this acting, and plead simply and openly for
myself; for in this hour I perceive more clearly than ever what you are
to me. If I have hitherto thought I needed you for the attainment of
certain advantages, I now know that you will do more for me by teaching
me to despise as well as dispense with them."

Ottilie gazed silently into vacancy; her breath came more quickly, and
her hands were burning as though with fever.

"I know," continued _Heinrich_, "that it is the sacrifice of your whole
life; but you have yourself given me the courage to ask it, for you
give me the belief that you will make it."

"Oh, God I what do you ask?" Ottilie began. "You wish me to marry,--to
destroy my life! Is it possible? Have I deserved this from you? You
wish to lure me from my home to a desolate career of grandeur, to chain
me to a man whom I know to be a cold-hearted weakling, and scorn as a
mere tool in the hands of the oppressors of his people. And by the
painful act I am to perform I do not even make one person happy."

"Ottilie, how can you say so? Thousands will lavish blessings upon you,
the gratitude of thousands will recompense you, if the happiness of one
whom your presence can transform into another man does not reward you,"
cried _Heinrich_, reproachfully.

"Ottmar, if I knew that I should be permitted to exert a good influence
over you, no sacrifice would seem too great. But you are deceiving
yourself now, as usual. You are easily moved, easily excited: the
moment carries you away with it; the present person is in the right
with you, and when you turn your back upon this room the emotions you
have experienced will be effaced with all their impressions. What
influence did I exert over you while you lived in H----? It would be
precisely the same thing again, and then I should not even be allowed
the one consolation of mourning for you unheeded, in quiet solitude."

"Do you think me so unstable?"

"Confess, my friend, that you have given me proofs of it. Besides, you
are mistaken if you hope to obtain goodness from any influence
whatever. The true man is everything to himself; what he does not
become by his own strength, no other can make him. A character that
depends upon influences is unmanly; the acts and developments of such a
temperament are decided solely by ever-changing accidents. Prosperity
has spoiled you; you have measured your powers only against those
weaker than yourself; they have thereby become relaxed; and, if destiny
does not compel you to put forth your strength in a contact with more
powerful elements, all is vain, you will remain----" She paused.

"Pray go on," said _Heinrich_, bitterly; "I shall remain a
characterless weakling, who balances to and fro like a juggler on the
narrow line between right and wrong! Is not that what you meant to
say?"

Ottilie gazed into his beautiful, restless eyes with an expression of
deep sorrow. "Forgive me if I have caused you pain; I only wished to
convince you that the use which I might be to you is too little for the
sacrifice you demand."

_Heinrich_ felt the moment for persuading her had now arrived; for he
knew by experience that a woman can never be more easily won than at
the moment she believes she has been too harsh.

"You feel you have caused me pain, Ottilie. Oh, make amends for it, and
follow me to my country as my protectress, my guardian angel! You
reproach me with being unmanly. Well, if I am so, and depend upon
influences, the one you exert over me will be my salvation, and that of
all with whom I am connected by any ties. What do I ask of you that is
so very terrible? I wish to make you mistress of a beautiful and
wealthy land, to give you a position in which alone your superior
qualities can make themselves valuable, wed you to a prince whom you
greatly undervalue, and who will understand and love you as you
deserve."

"I want no love," interrupted Ottilie, "I am weary of suffering; do not
grudge my repose; I have, by a violent struggle obtained the peace of
the grave. Oh, do not drag me back to life! for life is conflict. Ah,
Ottmar, have pity upon me! Your glance sinks into my soul, and the
spark that flashes from it kindles anew the vital flame which was
buried beneath the ashes of my dead hopes. You seize my hand, and by
some magnetic attraction I am compelled to follow you. I know not by
what invisible threads you hold me: loose them and I sink peacefully
towards the grave; draw them firmly and I am forced to yield to your
wishes. Oh, the victory you obtain is an easy one! Renounce it, leave
me, Ottmar! You can test your power everywhere; why must you try it an
one who has no longer any defense save the resignation of a dying
woman?"

"Good heavens, princess, what a strange mood you are in! See, this is
the result of your seclusion. Whence come these thoughts of the grave?
You are healthy, in the very prime of life, beloved by all, regarded by
the nation with the warmest affection. How could you resign yourself to
such melancholy fancies? Nay, I will rouse you now. You must learn to
use your vital powers, as well as I my moral strength. Why should you
wither here, useless and lonely, without having fulfilled the eternal
vocation of a woman? Even if you have no feeling for the man to whom I
wish to unite you, you do not know that he may not become dear to you."

Ottilie sadly shook her head.

"But granted that you can never love him as a husband, you will some
day as the father of your children. Fate has granted no desire of your
heart, and with royal dignity you have learned to crush it; but,
because the first joy of love was denied you, must you now also
renounce the maternal happiness this marriage can bestow,--the only one
which is a wellspring of lasting joy to a woman? I cannot believe,
Ottilie, that with your pure, womanly feelings, the thought of being a
mother would have no charm for you."

"Oh, God! have often dreamed of such bliss; but I am not born for it. I
shall perish without object or joy in life."

"Do not believe it," said _Heinrich_, with melting tenderness. "Rise
again in the strength of hope; a prosperous future is still before you.
You will find the prince a man full of delicacy of feeling and dignity,
a man formed to understand you. He, too, bears a secret sorrow in his
heart, and needs a wife who will know and pity the wound."

"Alas, poor prince!" murmured Ottilie. "That would rouse my sympathy
for him."

_Heinrich_ suppressed a smile. "Do you perceive the true state of the
case? You will become attached to him, for he is noble and wishes to do
good to all. His despotic principles are rooted in his education; to
him despotism is an absolute dogma, like religion. He now depends upon
his confessor and upon me,--errors which are the result of his youth.
When you are his wife, he will, like all of us, rely on you. But even
if you could never produce any change in his maxims of government, you
will, perhaps, have the satisfaction of inculcating into the mind of a
son what you have vainly tried to obtain from the father, and through
the former obtain for your people the fulfillment of their dearest
hopes. Then, Ottilie, your name will be blessed by thousands and
recorded in history; then you may bend to death your royal brow, armed
with the noble words, 'I have not lived in vain!' Oh, I know you will
some day smile at the thought of the time when you were consuming away
in fruitless dreams, and could find strength neither to live nor die!
Then I shall perhaps stand as your most faithful servant at the steps
of the throne to which you gave new splendor, and a friendly glance,
radiant with the pleasure of ruling and giving happiness, will be my
highest reward, my greatest satisfaction. Take courage, Ottilie, and
gain new strength to live, to rule, to make others happy."

Ottilie's breath came more and more quickly, as, following _Heinrich's_
movements, she rose from her seat. Her sparkling eyes were fixed upon
his lips, and a ray of melancholy pride flashed over her face. "Ottmar,
you have conquered. Happy I can never be, so let us try whether I can
still accomplish some good."

"Then I have your promise, princess? You think me right?"

"You are right; yet it is not that conviction, but a secret necessity,
which impels me to obey you, although I feel it will be my death. In
you, I am well aware, my destiny is fulfilled; you have made me the
prince's wife, you overmaster me by your powerful will, and call from
my lips the 'yes' that you ask, and I am forced to utter it, no matter
for whom. I must utter it because you ask it."

_Heinrich_ was perplexed by this outburst of long-repressed feeling.
The seriousness of his relations with Cornelia had already taken so
deep a root in his nature that none of that frivolous delight which
overwhelms vain men at the sight of their conquests stirred within him.
On the contrary, a holy awe seized upon him at the sight of the frank
truthfulness of an omnipotent feeling. But he did not understand that
this very feeling no longer needed to disguise itself; because, by
self-renunciation, it had become purified and transfigured. He
therefore thought himself obliged to lead Ottilie's feelings, as far as
possible, back to their former moderation, and yet dared not wound this
sore heart by coldness. "Ottilie," he said, at last, after a long
pause, with an air of sorrowful resignation, "princess, do not make it
too difficult for me to perform my duty as suitor in my princes's
place. I might forget that I now stand before you as your subject, who
no longer dares desire what belongs to his master!"

Ottilie looked at him earnestly. "Ottmar, that recollection would shame
me if I could suppose you did not remember the oath I took in your
presence years ago, and doubted the firmness of my resolution. But that
you cannot do; you will not inflict upon me the humiliation of seeing
myself misunderstood by you. I belong to your prince,--my heart to the
past."

"Then let me offer you the first homage as my princess, my saint!"
exclaimed _Heinrich_, and sank an one knee to kiss her hand.

"The saints are above," whispered Ottilie, waving him back. "May they
take us under their protection!"

_Heinrich_ did not notice that it was difficult for her to stand erect
while she dismissed him, and armed with Ottilie's consent, pressed
forward as unyielding as fate. With this promise, he held in
imagination the portfolio which was to be the price of his years of
self-deception. That he would rule where Ottilie reigned was to him a
matter of course; to secure her influence over the prince should be his
care, and to rule appeared to him the only really valuable gift in
life. To assert his power everywhere, to use the terrible will which
had divided his own nature according to his pleasure, to let it weigh
upon a whole country bending before him, to promise joy or sorrow by
his smile or frown,--this alone seemed divine, and could make him
resemble God. He confidently expected to be appointed ambassador
extraordinary to conduct the affair of the marriage; the prince had no
one more suitable, no one with whom his relations were so intimate. He
reported Ottilie's consent, and requested further instructions, then
arranged his own and Albert's business in regard to the estate, which
was very badly managed.

Albert sought Röschen at her father's house, and learned that since the
death of Ottilie's head waiting-maid, which had occurred two years
before, she had filled her place. _Heinrich_ smiled when he heard this;
he readily perceived that love for him had induced Ottilie to keep near
her person the young girl he had tried to win; for true love embraces
not only its object but everything connected with it. He had already
often observed how noble womanly natures did not hate those of whom
they were jealous, but treated them with sorrowful tenderness, how they
kissed them as if seeking on their cheeks and lips traces of their
lover's caresses. As we keep a flower or a handkerchief because the
absent one has touched it, Ottilie had taken Röschen into her service
to inhale from her presence the lingering breath of his love.

Poor Ottilie!

The prince kept him waiting a long time for his instructions, and
Ottmar began to grow weary of his incognito. "Albert," said he one day,
"you don't seem to have any great desire to see your Röschen. Try to
arrange a meeting with her, and let me be a secret witness of it; I
should like, for a change, to be present at such a touching scene."

"I have settled it with her father that I am to have an interview next
Sunday, Herr Count," replied Albert. "Röschen cannot leave the palace
whenever she chooses, so I must wait. But, if you are tired,--excuse
the boldness of my question,--why don't you write to the Prison Fairy?"

"To the Prison Fairy? Why, my good fellow, you don't understand such
matters. I neglect it because I wish her to love me."

"No, I don't understand it," cried Albert. "If that is what you want, I
should think you would be obliged to write to her at once."

_Heinrich_ smilingly shook his head. "Blessed simplicity! Ten letters
would not have the success obtained by the weeks of anxiety in which
she has brooded over my silence."

Albert looked at _Heinrich_ almost sorrowfully. "But you have caused
her pain. How can any one wish to grieve a creature he loves?"

"She will be all the happier in my affection afterwards."

Albert was painfully agitated, but kept silence; and in a few moments
turned to leave the room, murmuring, "poor Prison Fairy!"

On the same day a letter arrived from the prince, containing
instructions to make an official request for the hand of Ottilie, and
appointing him ambassador extraordinary. _Heinrich's_ duties now began.
It was a great satisfaction to him to play a distinguished part at the
very court from which he had been so ignominiously dismissed; and when,
in a private audience with the Prince of H----, he presented his
credentials, and the request for an alliance with Ottilie, written by
his master's own hand, he was delighted at the sight of his
embarrassment, and felt fully conscious of his own importance. The
prince, pleased with the proposal made to his niece, overwhelmed him
with marks of honor, which he accepted very condescendingly, almost
patronizingly.

"Herr Count," said the old man, "you have shamed us deeply; for I know
it is to you we owe this great piece of good fortune, and do not
deserve it at your hands."

"Your Highness," replied _Heinrich_, "I joyfully seized upon this
opportunity of proving that my loyalty to your royal house is greater
than the sense of the mortification I suffered."

"You are a noble man, count," said the prince, pressing his hand; "our
political opinions are dissimilar, but I have the highest respect for
your character."

_Heinrich_ bowed low and smiled as he thought: "If I do not soon
believe myself a noble man, modesty will be my greatest fault."

The solemn betrothal at last took place, and Ottilie remained firm. In
the presence of what was now unalterable, and before the eyes of her
man, she was every inch a princess. Pale, and almost as inanimate as a
marble statue, she went through the usual ceremonies; but not the
slightest change of countenance betrayed the conflict within. A weary
smile sometimes curved her delicate lips; but even this was
conventional; her eyes did not join in it: the same shadow lingered in
their depths; and when she had coldly and firmly signed the deed, it
seemed to _Heinrich_ as if her manner conveyed a gentle reproach. Her
glance rested upon him as if to say, "You have conquered, cruel man,
and I am your victim." The look haunted him incessantly, and long after
the ceremony was over he felt as if there was a weight upon his heart,
as if the deed he was to take to his master was stolen property, from
which the mute reproach in Ottilie's glance constantly warned him. He
had no compassion for the sufferings of this noble nature, deceived by
all; but he perceived that there was a fiendish mockery in adorning
such misery with the colors of joy. We have pity upon a sick animal,
and let it die in peace; but he dragged a writhing, dying heart to a
bridal mummery. It was devil's work, he confessed it to himself; and
yet--the deed could not now be undone. Why did she allow herself to be
so easily persuaded?

Meantime Albert's interview with Röschen had taken place, but led to no
union. Röschen declared she would gladly become his wife and atone for
the wrong she had done him, if she did not know that the poor princess
needed her more than any one else in the world. She was very unhappy,
and there was no one to whom she could betray her feelings. Only a
short time before, when she found Ottilie half fainting and in tears,
the princess said, "You will stay with me, Röschen, if I go to a
foreign country, will you not? you will stay with me as long as I live,
that I may have one true, faithful soul near me?" Then Röschen had
promised never to leave her, and she would keep her word.

Albert asked why the princess was unhappy, but Röschen said she did not
know; and even if she did she would never betray what was not her
secret. When Albert repeated this to _Heinrich_, the latter exclaimed,
with a laugh: "A rare instance of discretion; really Röschen might be a
worthy companion of John of Nepomuk. Were you equally prudent, Albert?
Did you confide as little of my affairs?"

Albert reddened with embarrassment. "Herr Count, I only spoke of things
which I supposed were no secrets: your kindness to me, your friendship
for the Prison Fairy--"

"But, for Heaven's sake!" interrupted _Heinrich_, vehemently, "how
could you tell her that, of all people?--her!" Albert looked at him in
alarm. "If she should tell the pr---- Oh, Albert, it was very
imprudent!"

_Heinrich_ now watched Ottilie closely at all the entertainments given
by the court, but observed nothing except her immovable calmness and
apparent coldness; this, however, might be the result of her royal
pride. But when, after the betrothal ceremony, he requested a private
audience and was refused, he bit his lips and muttered, "Albert's
prating has already produced its effect; she is aware of my relations
with Cornelia!"

Yet he had again misjudged Ottilie. At the official farewell audience,
in the presence of the ladies of the court, although very dignified and
evidently exhausted, she was so gracious, and the prescribed forms of
etiquette were pervaded with such an atmosphere of true feeling, that
_Heinrich_ could not doubt that he still retained her favor. When she
dismissed him she whispered, "Take all my future subjects my kind
wishes and blessing." The words were simple, but they were accompanied
by a significant, tearful glance which told _Heinrich_ all.

He again assumed the air of struggling to repress emotion, which he
could so skillfully adopt. "Will your Highness deign to accept my
heartfelt gratitude for the message, and the assurance that the
blessing cannot be fully received until your Highness appears in the
home of your subjects in person."

Thus the audience ended, and Ottmar was obliged to confess that Ottilie
was a mystery to him. This was because the comprehension of true
womanhood was still denied him. The power of virtue, the strength of
self-sacrifice, which woman, spite of her many weaknesses, possesses,
were unknown to him; fate still reserved this great lesson. He was to
buy it dearly enough.



                                  XIV.

                          CHURCHYARD BLOSSOMS.


_Heinrich_ departed to take his master the betrothal documents, and
Albert cheerfully remained behind as steward of the estates of
Ottmarsfeld. He did not make himself unhappy about Röschen's refusal.
He had wished to keep his word, and asked her to be his wife, but he
could not help secretly acknowledging that, after all that had passed,
he now loved her only with a brother's affection. Both were in the same
situation, for both had formed ideals of beauty and perfection. They
dared not even raise their eyes longingly towards them, but they could
not bear their mutual comparisons with them, and in their
insignificance no longer satisfied each other. These glittering images
must be obliterated by time before the old calm affection could revive
in their hearts.

When Ottmar once more saw the steeples of the city where Cornelia
lived, his long-repressed desire to see her seized upon him with such
power that he thought his impatience must hasten the locomotive. After
all these days and weeks of constraint, and of deprivation of all
pleasure, he was at last to taste once more rich, infinite joy. _Henri_
longed to clasp the beautiful, love-breathing woman in his arms, and in
one burning kiss relieve his oppressed heart of its secret. _Heinrich_
wished for the fresh, full tide of her intellect, and with astonishment
felt a world of new ideas spring to life at the thought of her. When
the train arrived he hurried home, changed his dress, and went to the
palace to deliver the papers he had brought. While the prince was
reading the documents, the ground seemed fairly to burn under his feet;
but his alarm was indescribable when the latter informed him that he
had a second mission for him. _Heinrich_ must set out immediately as
envoy extraordinary to the court of R----, ostensibly to announce the
betrothal, but at the same time to secretly ascertain how the
government of R---- was disposed towards the commercial treaty which
had long been a favorite project with the prince.

The journey to R---- would occupy several days, for at that time
railways had not yet penetrated the country; so that _Heinrich_ foresaw
he must spend weeks in settling the business, and be deprived of
Cornelia's society still longer. But he was obliged to submit and thank
the prince for this new proof of his confidence.

When the audience was over he hurried to Cornelia, but she and Veronica
had gone to spend a few days with a friend at her country seat, and
thus the hopes he had fixed upon this interview were blasted. In the
worst possible humor, he set out upon his journey that very evening. On
arriving in R----, he was loaded with honors. As usual, the most
distinguished ladies coquetted with him, and displayed all the
magnificence and all the charms which the luxury of a great and
brilliant court can bestow upon women. Now and then a dazzling beauty
or a bold, exuberant intellect surprised, but nothing captivated, him;
he had long been familiar with the blending of social qualities in all
their shades and variations, and every comparison only served to
increase his longing for Cornelia. At last his mission was performed.
In return for the announcement of the betrothal he received a diamond
cross, and his secret diplomatic commission was rewarded with the best
possible success. He induced the government of R---- to favor the ideas
of the prince, arranged the preliminaries of the commercial treaty as
far as his office permitted, and set out on his return, followed by
many angry and many tearful glances, for the ladies of R---- would not
believe that a man of so much intellect and personal beauty could
reserve his advantages for a "simple German."

After a long and toilsome journey he reached N----. Once more his first
visit was to the prince, and he now received instructions to go to
H---- to arrange the marriage ceremonies. But this time he was more
fortunate, when, after the audience, he hurried to Cornelia. The old
servant with the sulky face opened the door, and without waiting to be
announced Ottmar entered the salon. It was very silent and lonely; the
setting sun shone upon the yellow damask furniture, and the roses in
the flower-stands exhaled their fragrance as usual. _Henri's_ heart
beat almost audibly; he gasped for breath, for the opposite door
opened,--and Veronica in her light robes floated into the room. _Henri_
stood before her completely disenchanted; he had so confidently
expected to have a moment alone with Cornelia that it cost him an
effort to maintain his usual winning courtesy.

"My dear count!" cried Veronica, holding out her thin hand in its white
net glove. "I am glad you still remember us. You have been traveling
about the world so much without giving us any news of you that we
supposed ourselves entirely forgotten."

"I do not deserve this reproach, my dear Fräulein," said _Heinrich_,
apologetically, for in Veronica's presence he was again _Heinrich_. "I
could not suspect that I might venture to give you written news of me;
how and upon what pretext could I have done so?"

"My dear count," said Veronica, with her simple frankness, "that is not
truthfully and sincerely spoken; for our great interest in you could
not have escaped your notice. You would have needed no other pretext
for sending a letter than the consciousness that by doing so you would
give us pleasure. Yet Heaven forbid that this should seem like a
reproach; we have not the smallest right to make one. We must even be
grateful that when here you bestow many an hour upon us. I, at least,
make no claim to occupy a place in your memory."

"_You_ do not? But, Fräulein, Cornelia?" asked _Heinrich_, watchfully.

"Nor does Cornelia; yet she took your silence less calmly than I. In
such matters youth is more unreasonable than age."

_Heinrich_ no longer controlled himself. "Tell me, where is she?"

"Who? Cornelia? She has gone out."

"Gone out!" exclaimed _Heinrich_. "Gone out, and I set out again at ten
o'clock to-night to remain absent for weeks! For months I have longed
for her society, and now shall not see her! I hear she is angry with
me, and shall not be able to defend myself! I have caused her pain, and
cannot make amends! Oh, tell me where she is, the sweet, lovely
creature!"

"Alas, my dear count, I cannot," replied Veronica, while a shadow stole
over her face.

"Why not? Do you not know?"

"I know, but----"

"Then tell me, my dear, kind, motherly friend. You are weeping: what is
the matter with Cornelia? I must know!"

"You are completely beside yourself," exclaimed Veronica. "Well, I
cannot help it; I must tell you. She is in the churchyard."

"In the churchyard?" asked _Heinrich_, in amazement.

"Cornelia goes there every day and mourns over the grave of a friend.
Go, my dear count, go to her; I see you feel more affection for her
than we supposed. Ah, I hope your presence may exert a favorable
influence upon the poor child."

"What is the matter with her?" asked _Heinrich_. "She was once
betrothed----"

"I know it," he interrupted.

"But her lover died under very painful circumstances."

"That I know also."

"She seemed to have long since ceased to grieve over the unfortunate
affair; but some time ago the old affection and sorrow broke forth
afresh. She has become silent and sad; goes to his grave every day, and
at night it often seems to me as if she were weeping gently."

_Heinrich_ heard all this with strange emotion.

"You have an influence over Cornelia," continued Veronica, amid her
tears; "if you could cheer my child, remove the black shadow from our
once sunny life, under what infinite obligations you would place me!"

"I will!" cried _Heinrich_, pressing Veronica's hand to his lips. "Is
she in St. Stephen's churchyard, where the revolutionists are buried?"

"Yes," replied Veronica.

"Farewell till we meet again." And he hurried out of the house.

For the first time in many years _Heinrich_ entered a churchyard alone;
he had formerly only visited them as a part of the throng which
attended some aristocratic funeral; and in spite of the haste with
which he moved along the paths, the holiness of the spot, the silence
of the dead, unconsciously allayed the excitement of his soul, and made
his mood grave and gentle. With downcast eyes he wandered through the
long rows of graves adorned with headstones and flowers; he was well
aware that it was useless to seek Cornelia here, and hastened on by the
churchyard wall to where the lonely, simple crosses of the criminals
rose above the mounds. In one corner he at last perceived among the
neglected graves a group of trees and bushes, surrounded by a hedge of
wild roses. The cool breath of the spring evening rustled through the
leaves, and amid the branches the nightingales softly trilled their
songs. _Heinrich_ paused and gazed through the shrubbery. Upon a
hillock, overgrown with lilies of the valley and ivy, sat Cornelia her
head rested on her hand, and her bosom rose and fell slowly, as if
burdened with the weight of sorrowful thought.

Just at that moment _Heinrich_ emerged from the shrubbery. She sprang
up with a startled cry and gazed at him as if in a dream; then a deep
flush overspread her face, her limbs refused to support her, and,
without a word, she sank fainting upon the mound.

"Cornelia!" exclaimed _Heinrich_, and there was the promise of
inexpressible happiness in the tone, as he threw himself at her feet
and laid his clasped hands in her lap. They gazed at each other long
and silently. "At last! ah, at last!" he murmured, in delight.

"At last!" repeated Cornelia, with a heavy sigh; then she gently
clasped his hands in hers, held them more and more firmly, and asked,
with an expression of unspeakable delight, "Ottmar, is it you?" Tears
dimmed her eyes, her voice trembled, and she averted her face to
conceal her emotion.

"Cornelia, my life, my soul!" exclaimed _Henri_, who, after a violent
struggle, supplanted _Heinrich_. "Grieve no more; love has arisen. You
wished to conjure up the shade of the dead man to be an ally against my
image in your heart, and instead he sends me to you. Your place is not
by this grave, but here, here, on my warm breast! here throbs the heart
in which your life is rooted; here breathes the love you vainly sought
under moss and stones. Rise, come away; do not press your beautiful
face upon the damp grass. He who sleeps below does not feel; but I do,
and long for you so ardently, so inexpressibly! You do not answer; what
is the cause of your struggle? Do you find it so difficult to choose
between this tomb and me? Come, come, be truthful. I know you love me;
say so, say so, Cornelia!"

She rose and bent towards him; he clasped her in his arms, and the two
noble figures clung to each other in an ardent, silent embrace. At that
moment it seemed to Ottmar as if his two natures also embraced, as if
their opposing qualities were blended by the enthusiasm that pervaded
both his intellectual and sensuous existence, and all the powers of the
harmonious man expanded to exhaust the intellect and physical delight
of the moment. He closed his eyes and clasped Cornelia more and more
closely to his heart; he thought and felt nothing except, "She is
mine!" And blissful peace descended upon him. Just then a funeral-bell
tolled, and roused the lovers to a consciousness of what place they had
selected for the cradle of their happiness.

"Come away from this ghostly spot, Cornelia."

"Oh, stay! the scene is a dear and familiar one to me."

"Strange child, who must be sought in dungeons or graveyards! How does
it happen that you always choose so gloomy a background for the radiant
picture of your life? Does a churchyard suit our mood? have not the
flowers which garland our first embrace sprung from corruption? Why
think of death when we are just crossing the threshold of a new life?"

"Why not? Death has no terrors for me. Is it not pleasant to see how
life rises anew from corruption? Look the bodily form of a friend is
springing up around me in spring flowers; his nature was as pure,
delicate, and fragrant as a lily of the valley, and perhaps in these
evening breezes his gentle spirit hovers around me in benediction. Why
should I not rejoice here, where I have so long mourned you? How often
the rustling of this shrubbery has deceived me when I thought I had
summoned you hither by my ardent longing! how often these birds have
sung of hope and consolation when I believed myself lonely and
forgotten, and came here to atone to the dead man for having forsaken
him for the sake of one who loved me not! I have never left here
without being aided, and am I now to carelessly turn away from the spot
because I no longer need its modest consolation? Should I avoid the
grave of my young friend,--the grave which, in the perfume of these
flowers, has so often poured forth blissful promises of love?"

"Cornelia, how happy you are even when grave, and how profoundly
earnest! I have never known a nature upon which all the delicate and
noble instincts of the soul were so clearly impressed. Come, let me
clasp you to my heart again, that I may convince myself you are really
flesh and blood, and no glorified spirit, which may some day soar
upward from whence it came."

"Even if I were a spirit, I would not fly from you," said Cornelia,
gazing up at him with a face radiant with joy. "I would gladly submit
to all the sorrows of this earthly life, in order to be able to taste
its joys in your heart, you noble man."

"Girl!" cried _Henri_, his eyes blazing with a sudden light, "what a
world of love your tender breast conceals! Yes, you will know how to
love as I desire,--warmly, nobly, overpoweringly. Come, kiss me once
more; it is so lonely here: no one is watching us. You cannot kiss yet,
Cornelia. When I return I will teach you."

"When you return? Are you going away again?"

"This very day; but it is for the last time, then I will stay with
you."

"Where are you going?"

"To attend the marriage ceremonies between Princess Ottilie and our
prince. Only a few weeks more, and I shall be wholly yours."

"But you will write to me now?"

"Every day. My sweet one, did my long silence grieve you?"

"Oh, deeply!" sighed Cornelia, and her eyes filled with tears. "How I
have wept for you!"

"Poor angel! If I had known how you love me, I would never have
tortured you so; but I will make amends for it. Do you believe I can?"

"A thousandfold!" laughed Cornelia, amid her tears.

"And now come, Cornelia; I will accompany you home, for I must prepare
for my journey."

"No, _Heinrich_; I cannot appear before others with you now. Go alone,
and leave me here a half-hour longer, until I have collected my
thoughts; such sweet sounds must echo through the stillness."

"You are right. Oh, if I could only stay with you! Farewell. Do not
look at me with that earnest gaze, or I cannot turn away. I feel as if
I were a banished man, let me press you to my heart once more. Now send
me away, or I cannot leave you!"

There was a rustling in the branches. "Hark! What was that? Has any one
been watching us?"

"It was the evening breeze that warns you to go if you must set out on
your journey to-day. Go, my beloved; think of our meeting, not of our
farewell. I will shut my eyes, that they may not detain you."

"Then, farewell, until I have discharged my duty to the prince. Do not
fly away to heaven, my angel!"

When Cornelia again raised her eyes, _Henri_ had departed. She watched
him striding rapidly along, then clasped her hands upon her breast, as
if to conceal the overwhelming burden of her happiness. A deep
stillness surrounded her; the sun had set, the birds were silent.
Suddenly a dark figure appeared as if it had started from the earth, a
tall, handsome man with a broad scar upon his brow, clad in the long
coat of a priest. He fixed his dark eyes upon Cornelia for a moment,
and then walked silently on.

"Who was that?" she murmured, in terror. "Why did he look at me so
strangely? What had the gloomy apparition to do with this bright hour?"
She now felt the chill of the night air for the first time, shivered,
and overwhelmed by a haunting dread, hurried swiftly between the graves
towards home.



                                  XV.

                           A ROYAL MARRIAGE.


                                                   "H--, May 15th.

"You ask me, my Cornelia, whether our love is to remain a secret. Yes,
I entreat you to keep it so. Let no one, no matter who it may be, touch
the tender plant which is budding in our hearts. So young an affection
needs concealment until it is strong enough to withstand all storms;
and believe me, my angel, they will not be spared you. I am far too
well known, have too often had occasion to thrust others aside, not to
have obtained the ill-will of persons who will take pleasure in casting
poison into your heart merely out of malice towards me. That I have
given them sufficient cause, I will frankly confess; for until a
character like mine is complete within itself, it must fall into a
thousand errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies. No man of real
ability escapes this crisis of development. The more variously and
richly he is endowed by nature, the more severe a process of
purification he must endure; and this cannot be accomplished without
expelling, by a violent fermentation, the dross which indelibly sullies
his outward life, if, like me, he has been exposed to the eyes of the
public. The private citizen experiences such epochs in silence; he is
not watched, and therefore his errors are not observed; the false step
taken in a position as lofty as mine is visible to the whole world, it
is imprinted not only upon the personal _chronique scandaleuse_ but
upon the history of the times, and receives an official character.
Therefore beware, Cornelia, of wishing to become acquainted with my
nature through any other person than myself; beware of exposing the
chaste secret of your heart to curiosity, malice, perhaps even envy. Do
not think that foolish vanity makes me use this word, for the present
inordinate thirst for marriage it is only natural that envy should be
excited in all circles, when a young girl is loved by so prominent a
man. Keep aloof from all these profaning influences. Believe me, I know
woman's nature, with its thousand delicate threads of feeling and
consequent excitability and sensitiveness, and I warn you to conceal my
image in your inmost soul. We do not at first perceive the injury such
a tie sustains by a rude touch; but as a fruit beaten by the hail
continues to grow and shows the blemish and bitterness only when eaten,
so the sore spot our hearts disturbs our happiness, and at last
develops a bitterness all our love cannot soften. I make the greatest
sacrifice because I can only see you clandestinely; but the time will
come when our love will dare to show itself openly before the world,
when we can no longer lose each other, and then you will perceive that
I was right and thank me for my present self-sacrifice.

"Say nothing, even to Veronica; age is garrulous; I sincerely respect
her, but I cannot acquit her of this peculiarity of her years; you have
already made her so accustomed to your independent habits, you dear
little piece of obstinacy, that she will not think it strange if you
keep this letter from her as well as the others. It will be the last I
shall write from here, for Prince Edward, who is to marry Ottilie as a
proxy, arrived day before yesterday; the ceremony will be performed day
after tomorrow, and then we shall set out at once. As the princess's
health is somewhat delicate, and a journey by rail exhausts her more
than to travel by ship, I shall bring her from B---- by water. We shall
arrive on the 21st. Be sure to be at the harbor; the papers will give
you all the particulars. Then, Cornelia, I will lay my weary head upon
your breast, and rest peacefully after the thousand miserable anxieties
of diplomacy and etiquette, which torture a poor ambassador
extraordinary. Yes, you may be right when you say I was born for
something higher than to be the servant of a prince. When I read such
words, something stirs within me like an awakening power, which only
needs the impulse to cast off its chains, to shake itself free by one
mighty effort. Whether and from whence this will come to me, from
without or from within, I know not; but this I do know, that only you
can rouse the ideal powers which a misdirected life has lulled to
sleep.

"Farewell till we meet, my angel.

                                   "Your own _Heinrich_."


It was late at night when _Heinrich_ finished this letter, and while he
went calmly to rest and fell asleep with Cornelia's name upon his lips,
the princess was wandering up and down her chamber like a restless
ghost. The lamps were burning brightly in their ground-glass shades
beside her bed, whose silken curtains waved slowly to and fro as
Ottilie passed them.

"It is impossible; I cannot do it," she said, as she leaned for a
moment against the window. "If it were only day! The night makes all
anxieties rise before us like impassable mountains! Or, if sleep would
overpower me! But now it has been wholly put to flight by the thought
that I have but one more day of freedom,--freedom to love and suffer;
and then--then I must tear my heart from all to which it clings so
fondly,--forget, cease to feel: and woe betide me if I do not wholly
succeed in doing so! To see him daily, to be obliged to distinguish him
from among the nobles of my country as my husband's favorite, and yet
force back what my own heart feels; to feign an indifference which
makes the forms of courtesy--the true expression of my opinions--a lie!
And you could undertake such a task, unhappy one? You could allow
yourself to be so confused and persuaded that you did not shrink
from the tortures your consent would impose? If it were only
suffering!--alas! I am accustomed to that. It is the fear of guilt that
terrifies me. It is not only in act that we can sin, but in thought.
Each thought that steals back to that time of quiet, patient longing is
a robbery of what I owe my husband,--a crime against my vow. Woe betide
me if those ardent dark eyes, which beam only with love, even upon
those for whom he does not feel it, should ever rest in all their power
on mine! Shall I be able to prevent absorbing death from them with
ardent longing? And if at such a moment my husband should approach,
secure in my affection----"

She threw herself on her knees and hid her blushing face in her hands.
"Oh, God! my God! thou who knowest better than I whether I am right in
thy sight, have mercy upon me and deliver me from this night of doubt
and anguish! Thou hast placed me in this lofty station! Give me the
strength, the coldness, the dignity,--not only the outward, but the
inward dignity,--which raises the reigning princess above ordinary
women. Let me not be compelled to expiate it so terribly, because I
willfully cherished an affection for a man whom thou didst not destine
for me. Have mercy, have mercy, oh, Father, thou who hast been the only
one to extend thine arms lovingly in answer to my search!--thou to whom
alone I could fly when, like a lost child, I despaired in this cold
world! I have brought thee my tears, complained to thee of the sorrows
other children weep out on their mothers' breasts, and to-day--to-day
for the first time--thou wilt not permit thyself to be found."

She rose and saw that a bar of light was bordering the horizon.
Her glance fell upon the mirror and showed her a face so pale, so
tear-stained, that she was almost startled at the sight of her own
image. She gasped for breath, and, utterly exhausted, at last threw
herself upon her bed and fell asleep. When she awoke the sun was
already high in the heavens. The deep slumber had strengthened her, and
she rose with a feeling of new life. With the light of day more
calmness and clearness of judgment had returned. She collected the last
remnant of her strength, and felt ashamed of her weakness.

"Be a princess, be proud, Ottilie! Worthily fill the place for which
God has appointed you. Pay the debt you owe him for the gifts he has
bestowed, and which you have held at so cheap a rate because they were
valueless to one. Perceive that it is the call of God that rouses you
from this selfish melancholy. Obey it, fulfill your destiny like all
other created beings; and if your strength fails, what can befall you
worse than the death for which you are always longing? Life will never
be so dear to you that you cannot hail it as a last blessing. My Lord
and God, I lay my broken heart, my hopes, my wishes at thy feet, and
make but one prayer,--grant that, in return for all my sacrifices, I
may not be denied the joy of fulfilling my task and making others truly
happy."

She stood erect, as if surrounded by a halo of self-abnegation, when
Röschen suddenly begged permission to enter. "I most humbly pray your
Highness's pardon for having come without being summoned," said the
young girl, "but the chamberlain has just brought your Highness the
news that Prince Edward was thrown from his horse this morning and so
dangerously injured that he cannot appear at the wedding as proxy."

"What? Oh, God! is it possible?" exclaimed Ottilie.

"Will your Highness deign to receive the chamberlain's news in person?"

"No, no! But ask him whether the marriage will be deferred, or if some
one else will take the place of the prince."

Röschen withdrew, and came back with the reply that the wedding would,
in all probability, be deferred. Count Ottmar had already sent a
telegram to N----, and they were now awaiting an answer.

Ottilie seemed to be animated with new life. A delay,--a
respite,--although only a short one, enabled her to breathe more
freely. "Dress me, Röschen, and then send for Countess Carlstein. I
will drive for an hour; I need the sun and air. Ah, Röschen," she
continued, as the young girl was arranging her toilet, "how will you
feel in a foreign country?"

"Oh, I shall be contented anywhere, if I am with your Highness;
especially as you have graciously given my father a place in your
train. We shall still be able to see each other when I have any spare
time."

"Good, contented little one," smiled Ottilie. "Tell me frankly,
Röschen, has your heart no need of love? Do you not regret that you
have rejected Albert, and must go through life alone?"

"No, your Highness," exclaimed Röschen, cheerily; and two charming
little dimples appeared in her plump, rosy cheeks. "Life in your
service is so pleasant, and I love you and my father so dearly, that I
haven't the slightest wish for the constant restlessness and feverish
excitement of a betrothal."

Ottilie stood thoughtfully before her. "Tell me, my child, how did you
succeed in forgetting Herr von Ottmar so easily, since you love no one
else?"

"Oh, your Highness, I did not forget him easily," said Röschen, raising
her large, childlike, blue eyes frankly to Ottilie's face. "I cried a
great deal at first, and thought I should die; but by degrees I saw
that it is a sin to covet anything we know the dear God does not intend
for us; besides, my confessor, Herr Lorenz, represented how hard it
would be for my old father if he was compelled to see his daughter
waste away thus. Then I felt ashamed of myself, went busily to work
again, and broke myself of my useless longing and sighing. Ah, work is
good for everything: it leaves one no time to weep, and at night one is
so tired that sleep conquers all grief. So I soon began to take
pleasure in living again, and thanked God that he had punished my sin
so mildly. Anxiety about poor Albert was the only thing that troubled
me, and now I am relieved even from this. He is a happy man."

The princess felt the reproof contained in the young girl's artlessly
prattled philosophy. Her glance fell upon the mirror, and, as if
reflecting the reproach in Röschen's words, it showed cheeks paled by
her long-nourished sorrow, in the sharpest contrast to the bright,
blooming face of the waiting-maid.

"Yes, yes, you are right," she murmured, at last, gazing at Röschen's
image in the mirror. After a long pause she began, in an almost
expressionless tone, "Have you learned no particulars from Albert as to
whether an acknowledged love exists between the count and the young
girl called the Prison Fairy?"

"Albert does not know it positively, your Highness, but he is almost
sure of it; for ever since the count came back from N---- he has
written to her very often, and seems entirely different from what he
used to be,--much more cheerful and happy."

Ottilie compressed her lips, and involuntarily laid her hand upon her
heart, as if she felt a sudden pang.

"Does anything hurt you, your Highness? Does the pin I put in there
prick you?" asked Röschen, anxiously.

"Yes, take it out; it hurts me," said Ottilie, and thought, "Ah, if you
only could!"

"Your Highness, your heart is beating violently! Your Highness is
certainly suffering from that pain in the breast again! If you would
only tell the doctor about it!"

"My good girl, he can do me no good." A short cough interrupted her,
and she glanced smilingly at Röschen's troubled face. "Be calm, my
child, people do not die of such things; and if I should, I shall leave
you a legacy which will support you all your life."

"Your Highness!" exclaimed Röschen, with a deep blush, while the
tears rushed into her eyes. "If your Highness thinks it is only for
that,"--she could say no more.

"My dear Röschen, have I hurt your feelings? Indeed, I did not intend
to do so. Then there is one heart that loves me for myself. God will
reward you for it far better than I. Do not cry: give me my dress."

Röschen smiled through her tears, threw the dress over Ottilie's
shoulders, knelt down, and pulled the folds straight. Then she gazed
with childish admiration at her mistress's tall, stately figure. "Ah,
how beautiful your Highness looks now! I cannot imagine that any one
can be handsomer or more noble. Your Highness is so--what shall I call
it?--such a holy apparition."

Ottilie smiled involuntarily. "Oh, how delighted your Highness's proud
husband will be when he sees he has obtained such a beautiful wife!"

"Do you think so?"

"Of course; he must be pleased. He has chosen your Highness without
knowing you. Even if you were ugly, he would still be compelled to keep
you; but if you are beautiful, it is a real piece of good fortune,--a
true gain to him. He will undoubtedly rejoice."

For the first time in many days, Ottilie felt tempted to laugh. "You
are a perfect child," said she. "May God preserve your innocence! You
are like a fresh spring day to my soul, and that is of great value to
me. But do you know we have spent two hours in curling hair and
dressing?"

"Yes, your Highness; but I can't help it," replied Röschen,
apologetically.

"No, no; I know it. Tell me, Röschen, how would you feel if you were
obliged to meet a stranger and greet him as your husband?" asked
Ottilie, with as much apparent unconcern as possible.

"Oh, dear me! It must be strange, I think. No doubt it is very hard for
a royal lady that she cannot have her own free choice and take the one
she wants; but she must bear something in return for the many
advantages over others which she enjoys, or she would have everything
quite too pleasant; and every human being must have one sorrow, or he
will not deserve heaven."

"Very true; but what would you do if you were in my place?"

"Why, your Highness, if matters had gone so far that I couldn't change
anything, then I would in God's name reconcile myself to them, and make
every effort to become as fond of my betrothed as I could, that I might
have some pleasure in him myself, for it must be terrible to belong to
a man whom one doesn't love."

"But if you cannot love him?" asked Ottilie, with interest.

"Why should one not love the husband to whom one is wedded in the sight
of God? One can become fond of any worthy man, if one has a kind heart,
like your Highness: and the prince is said to be both handsome and
good. It is better for any one who can choose freely not to betroth
herself to a man whom she doesn't love, or to a stranger; but if one
must take him, and can't get rid of it, one ought to meet him
trustfully and lovingly, that it may be not only outwardly but inwardly
a true Christian marriage."

"Yes, we must question the oracle of a simple heart, if in our
over-refinement we wish to find the way to truth and nature," murmured
Ottilie. Her toilet was now complete, and she thought that she looked
better than usual. "If the Lord so wills, he can speak from the lips of
a child!" she thought to herself, for she had received unexpected
consolation from the simple girl who was so greatly her inferior.

Just at that moment the chamberlain announced the ambassador
extraordinary, Count Ottmar, who requested a private audience to
communicate the wishes of his prince.

Ottilie started at the sound of his name, but moved on with a firm step
to the reception-room where _Heinrich_ awaited her.

"Pardon me, princess, for having ventured to request permission to
speak to you once more alone."

"My future husband's messenger must always be welcome to me," said
Ottilie, with stately courtesy.

_Heinrich_ looked at her in astonishment. It was difficult for him to
find the precise tone that would harmonize with this address. He was
unaccustomed to such coldness from Ottilie, and felt confused. This did
not escape her delicate feelings, and to fill up the little pause of
embarrassment she motioned him to be seated.

Meantime _Heinrich_ had regained his composure, and began, in a firm,
grave tone: "Your Highness, permit me to speak to you once more in the
language in which I formerly had the happiness of making myself
understood; for the point in question does not merely concern a
commission from the prince, but private relations of a delicate nature
with which it is connected, and which I can only discuss with your
Highness if you will permit me once more, and for the last time, to
approach you as your friend."

"Count Ottmar," replied Ottilie, in a low but firm voice, "you may be
assured that I am not contemptible enough to seek to deny the existence
of 'relations of a delicate nature' between you and myself, but I must
also expect that you will be considerate enough to say no more about
them than is absolutely necessary."

"You may be sure of that, princess. I regret that my introduction to
this conversation should have given you cause to fear the reverse."

"Tell me my bridegroom's message. What can he ask to which I would not
consent in advance?"

"Then I will discharge my duty. The reason I have used so much
circumlocution you will perceive without any further explanation. You
are aware of the misfortune that has befallen Prince Edward. I
telegraphed at once to N----, as my office required, and have just
received from the prince the dispatch I now have the honor to deliver
to you."

Ottilie took the paper, went to the window, and read: "Impossible to
defer the marriage. All the preparations are completed. The whole
country in readiness to give a brilliant reception. Unadvisable to
disappoint the expectations of the nation. If agreeable to the
princess, I appoint Count Ottmar proxy on Prince Edward's place. Count
Ottmar will inform the court at once, etc." Ottilie could read no more:
the remainder concerned only matters of etiquette; the words lost their
meaning, the letters swam before her eyes. She stood motionless as if
struck by a thunderbolt. Every tinge of color faded from her cheeks,
she seemed frozen into a marble statue. She must exchange rings with
Ottmar, be wedded to the man for whom she longed, only to belong to
another; she must vow to be faithful to her husband, and she loved his
proxy. The forms which would have sealed her life-long happiness, had
they been true, now only served to sanction the lie at the thought of
which her heart bled. And yet ought she, as the betrothed bride of
another, to make the humiliating confession to _Heinrich_ that she felt
too weak to bear his presence at the altar?--ought she to give way to
such weakness herself?

_Heinrich_ read these thoughts reflected upon her brow. "I knew this
news must affect you unpleasantly, princess, and therefore preferred to
give you the information privately, that you might be able to tell me
frankly whether it would be agreeable to you to stand before the altar
with me or not. I hope you will understand my 'consideration' now; for
if the inquiry had been made officially, you would not have been able
to offer before the eyes of the world the insult of refusing to accept
me as a substitute. But here, alone, you can tell me if it will be
painful to you to have me beside you; and I will not take the
acknowledgment as a humiliation, but receive it as a sacred confidence,
and find means to delay the progress of affairs without mentioning your
name."

Ottilie struggled with her feelings for a moment, and then held out her
hand to him. "I thank you, my friend. Your forbearance is kind and
noble, but it is unnecessary. How could I meet the prince, my husband,
if I had not done with--everything?--if I shrank from this last drop in
the bitter cup? What has been begun must be finished. If I have the
courage to accomplish the great falsehood of my life, it ought not to
fail me in this short, painful comedy. Ought I to rob an expectant
country of its festival of joy, leave its garlands to wither, suffer
its good-will to be transformed into anger, on account of the cowardice
of a sore heart? Ought I not, as the mother of the country, to
understand my duties better? No, no, Ottmar; I am stronger than you
thought. I will go with you to the marriage ceremony; I will think only
of my people, pray for them alone,--my kind people, who are hopefully
expecting me: that will give me strength to bear the mockery of fate
which places my hand in yours,--to part me from you forever." Here
emotion suffocated her voice: she motioned to Ottmar to withdraw, and
turned away.

"Oh, princess," he cried, "if you knew what grief I feel at the sight
of your silent suffering, at the thought that I am its author, and can
now do nothing, nothing to lessen it! I am an unhappy man, who always
acts solely from egotism, and yet is not bad enough to be able to
witness the result of his deeds coldly and without remorse. No, God is
my witness that I am now speaking the truth, and not acting a part!" He
threw himself on his knees before her. "Forgive me, princess; I have
committed a terrible crime against you!"

She laid her band gently on his head. "I forgive you all, Ottmar. May
God bless and guide you in the right path!"

"I thank you!" cried _Heinrich_, springing up. "Then I am to give the
court notice that the marriage will take place?"

"I have already said so."

When _Heinrich_ had closed the door behind him, Ottilie gave free
course to her tears. "Oh, God! oh, God! how much can a heart bear
without breaking?"


She had told the truth: hers was not one of those natures in which
grief, by a violent assault, swells the veins to bursting, strains the
nerves to their utmost tension, and excites a wild conflict in the
heart; she belonged to those deep, silent characters, which do not have
the strength to offer the resistance which increases it to despair, or
conquers it, but patiently suffer it to obtain complete possession of
them, and conceal it in the deepest recesses of their souls, where it
gently and gradually gnaws away the roots of life. This proceeds from
no lack of strength or courage. They use all their moral power in the
conscientiousness and capacity for self-sacrifice peculiar to them, in
order to accomplish the tasks of superhuman difficulty which fate most
frequently imposes upon these very natures.

Ottilie performed such a task when on the following day she went to the
altar with _Heinrich_, and succeeded in stifling the thought of his
close proximity by fervent prayer. She did not cast a single glance at
his face, but stood as pale and calm as a corpse adorned for the grave.
All were weeping around her, although they could have given no reason
for it, even to themselves. Her manner after the wedding exerted a
sorrowful influence: it seemed to each person who offered her his
congratulations as if he were uttering a lie, and a thrill of
melancholy ran through his whole frame as she bowed her beautiful head
in acknowledgment. With the firmness to which all royal personages are
trained, she went through all the customary ceremonies; but in saying
farewell she could not restrain her tears, and held her uncle's hand
closely clasped in hers as she thanked him for all his kindness.

The old prince was deeply moved. "Ah, Ottilie," said he, "I fear that
in you my country is losing its good angel. True, I ought not to
complain, since it will obtain great advantages by your marriage; but
they will be no compensation to my heart for you. Farewell! May God
give you happiness!"

The journey was the greatest martyrdom to Ottilie's weakened nerves;
for she now had not a moment in which she was unwatched. She must guard
every word, every look; she dared not yield to any feelings of
exhaustion or depression. Thus passed a day of torture. Fortunately,
when night came, her bodily fatigue was so great that sleep relieved
her for a few hours from her excitement and anxiety.

The following day they reached the frontiers of Ottilie's second home.
Here she received a portion of her new court, and dismissed her former
train, with the exception of those who were appointed to a place among
the ranks of her future attendants. The exchange between the old and
new courtiers was a matter of comparative indifference to her, for she
had never expected to find these men anything more than mere
conventional machines. She welcomed one party with the same affability
that she displayed in bidding farewell to the other, without any
special feeling. The cordial reception given her by the country people
in the first little town on the frontier was a joyful surprise, and
when she at last reached the prince's yacht which lay awaiting her and
gave her a royal salute, when she had entered it with her train, and on
a most lovely day floated down the broad stream, past shores adorned
with tokens of welcome, her heart began to swell with the thought, "You
are the mistress of this country. It belongs to you, and its happiness,
its freedom, will perhaps be in your hands." And this ray of hope
cheered her soul for a moment.

_Heinrich_ watched her with alternate dread and joy, according to the
mood expressed upon her features. It was a great source of anxiety to
him how Ottilie would bear all these exertions. If her strength failed,
if she met the prince as a sickly, feeble woman, all the blame would
fall upon him who had made this match. She still seemed outwardly firm;
but in spite of her faultless bearing it did not escape him that her
breast rose and fell more and more rapidly the nearer she approached
her destination. He would gladly have sustained and animated her spirit
as one seeks to save and protect en expiring light, but the
unapproachable dignity of manner which she had adopted towards him
since her marriage made it impossible, and caused him the greatest
perplexity. The last stage of the journey was reached: he saw her grow
still paler; and she received deputations from the city at which they
had arrived, and some of the highest staff-officers who had come out in
two yachts to meet her, in a voice so faint that the words were
scarcely audible. It was with great anxiety that _Heinrich_ saw the
moment of the meeting between her and the prince approach. And he was
not wrong.

When the three steamers left the last stopping-place and glided, calmly
and majestically, side by side down the broad stream, countless boats
adorned with gay streamers put off from both shores and accompanied the
large vessels; on the right and left, before and behind, they assembled
hundreds; as far as the eye could reach there was nothing to be seen
but a moving stream of fluttering pennons. The mistress of ceremonies
signified to Ottilie that she ought to go on deck and show herself to
the people. Scarcely had she done so when a loud cheer rang from
thousands of throats: a greeting from the students, the most promising
young men in the country. And now music rose from the foremost boats,
like an eagle extending its wings above the confused, brilliant throng.
The echo repeated the strains majestically from the rocky shores; a
fresh breeze ruffled the water, and as if borne along by the sound the
boats dashed on.

Ottilie clung dizzily to the railing of the deck. It seemed as if her
soul must escape from its tenement and soar into eternity upon those
tones, and she gazed with a strange, unearthly expression at the
magnificent spectacle and the sunny air thrilling with the notes of the
music. The sweet sounds blended into a threatening roar, a volley of
artillery! Masts, flags, and steeples appeared in the distance.

"The harbor is close at hand, your Highness," said _Heinrich_. Ottilie
turned pale: the shadow of death rested upon her face. "Take courage;
compose yourself, or all is lost," he whispered.

She still stood erect, and he watched her in painful suspense. The
distant steeples became still more distinct; there was a second roar of
artillery from the accompanying yachts,--a third,--the harbor opened
before Ottilie's eyes, and now began the thunder of a hundred guns,
while the ringing of bells floated athwart them in majestic waves of
sound. The boats fell back with a repeated cheer, and the steamers
slowly entered the harbor. The rigging of the ships that lay at anchor
was filled with sailors, who waved their hats and shouted a wild
"hurrah!" A countless throng of people on the edge of the harbor, at
the windows, and on the roofs of the houses, which were gayly adorned
with flowers and tapestry, sent forth their shouts of welcome to
Ottilie, amid the thunder of cannon and the ringing of bells.
Everything swam before her eyes. The impression was too powerful; all
this produced too violent an emotion in her oppressed heart. Yonder
stood a group of gentlemen, the foremost must be the prince just ready
to enter the boat which was to bear him to the ship; a mist gathered
before her eyes, her heart stopped beating, the blood flowed coldly
through her veins: she laid her damp, icy hand upon the shoulder of the
mistress of ceremonies, and tottered. _Heinrich_ caught her by the arm,
and both carried her down into the cabin, where she sank back utterly
unconscious.

"I thought so," muttered _Heinrich_, and went up to receive the prince,
and if possible detain him.

The mistress of ceremonies knew not what to do, and called the lady's
maid. Röschen appeared and applied the usual restoratives. Ottilie
breathed faintly, but was unable to raise her head.

"The prince is on board," said a chamberlain.

"Oh, God!" moaned Ottilie; and again she trembled violently.

"Will not your Highness try to rise?" pleaded the mistress of
ceremonies, in the greatest anxiety; for the prince might now enter at
any moment. Röschen caught her in her arms, the door was thrown open,
and "his Highness" was announced. One last violent effort, and Ottilie
stood erect. The mistress of ceremonies withdrew with Röschen. The
prince entered. Ottilie bowed with her usual stately grace. The
prince's eyes rested with surprise and pleasure upon the beautiful,
although pallid, face. The aroma of aristocracy which surrounded her
was wonderfully pleasing to the man of forms.

"Allow me to express to your Highness my most heartfelt gratitude for
the confidence with which you intrust your future to me, a stranger;
and receive the assurance that I shall hold so precious a gift as
sacred, and know how to guard it."

Twice Ottilie essayed to speak, and twice her voice failed. At last her
tongue obeyed her will, and she began: "Your Highness, the confidence
for which you compliment me so highly is only a fitting tribute that
every noble-minded person must pay to a prince whose political as well
as private life lies open and blameless before the gaze of all. It is
far different with me. My existence has flowed on in silent seclusion.
You know me only from descriptions and from my letters; the latter
might be dictated, the former invented. I myself, my own character, can
alone win for me your esteem, your friendship. Your Highness will
perceive it is only natural that this consciousness should disturb me,
and pardon my embarrassment. Moreover, the kind and magnificent
reception your Highness and the people of the country have bestowed
upon me has moved and confused me deeply. I am not accustomed to such
things. I am well aware that it is not given to my person, but my
position; but I have so identified myself with my new dignity and its
duties that I cannot help taking these festivities to myself, and
allowing their overmastering impression to influence me."

The prince had listened admiringly to the melody and grace of her
language. "Your Highness is in error if you suppose this reception is
given solely to your position. Certain forms of course are
indispensable on such occasions; but a rumor has preceded you, which
not only secured my esteem, but excited the greatest enthusiasm for you
among the people, and this you must have felt. The reception was a
sincere one, and if you had been known the tokens would have become
still more enthusiastic, for I freely confess that your appearance has
surpassed all our expectations, and must win the heart of every one who
sees you."

"This praise from your lips, your Highness, makes me very proud; for I
believe you far too noble to expect insincere flattery from you in so
solemn an hour."

"You are perfectly right, princess; the hour in which two human beings,
who are united for life, see each other for the first time, is a very
solemn one, for it holds the key of our whole future. I am therefore
the more joyfully surprised to find in you a nature which opens to me
the hope of a happy marriage. Permit me to believe that at least you do
not feel the contrary to be the case?"

Ottilie tried to speak.

"Do not answer me," interrupted the prince. "How could I be so
ungallant as to seek to call forth complimentary assurances from a
lady? No, you shall not tell me so; you shall only allow me to feel it.
I shall eagerly await the moment when your eyes will tell me that your
heart has confirmed the choice which destiny imposed."

"Your Highness," replied Ottilie, "receive the assurance that I have no
other wish than that of making you and your people happy. I will be an
obedient, and faithful wife, and never ask anything of you except
indulgence. Be assured that I shall never claim any tokens of love from
you. No feeling of affection has united us who are total strangers to
each other; we both yielded to the commands of political necessity. It
depends upon ourselves to lend value to such a tie, to form a more or
less cordial bond of friendship, but not to conjure up emotions which
the heart receives only as revelations. I tell you this, your Highness,
that in your noble chivalrousness you may not think it necessary to
delude yourself and me by the expression of such feelings. I shall have
attained the highest goal of my hopes if you will some day bear witness
that I have not entered your life as a disturbing element, but to bring
a blessing."

"I understand your Highness's delicacy of feeling. Your every word
affords me a fresh proof of the treasure I possess in you, and I hope a
bond will be developed between us higher and firmer than one founded on
mere chance sympathy,--a bond of mutual comprehension and unchanging
esteem. Shall it not be so, my Ottilie?"

"May God grant it, your Highness!"

"Etiquette commands that I should now leave your Highness. To-morrow at
the cathedral I shall take pride in presenting you to the nation as its
princess,--as a true princess. Yes, I am proud of my noble wife," he
added, emphasizing the words, while a cold smile gleamed over his
smooth features. He pressed his lips lightly to Ottilie's hand and
withdrew. She stood motionless and exhausted; tears no longer dimmed
her eyes: her destiny was fixed. She now knew the man to whom she
belonged, and what she had to expect from him.

The mistress of ceremonies entered, and again she was forced to add
another link to the chain of self-denial which already rested so
heavily upon her weary shoulders. _Heinrich_ breathed more freely when
the prince's own lips expressed his satisfaction with his choice;
although he regretted his deed, he must still desire it to be crowned
with complete success, since his whole destiny depended upon it.
Moreover, his remorse was not so sincere as he had made Ottilie believe
in their last interview, or even as he had believed himself. It had
unconsciously been heightened by the selfish fear that he had
sacrificed Ottilie uselessly,--uselessly for himself, for he could no
longer doubt that he had been mistaken in her character. She was wholly
changed from what she had been in former days; with the same greatness
of soul which had led her to show her love for him when free, she
concealed it now that she was bound. He perceived that she possessed
one of those deep natures which seize upon all that they believe to be
their appointed destiny with silent, unassuming tenacity of purpose,
and hold it steadfastly to the end. So had she clung to him when she
believed herself marked out for no other fate than to love and suffer;
and now she seemed to cleave with the same self-denial, if not to her
husband, to the duties of her new vocation. Here was the solution of
his false reckoning; and he now quickly came to the conclusion that he
had nothing more to hope from her for the furtherance of his ambition
than any other; that she would even consider it a needful victory
over herself not to favor him. Thus he had now accomplished an act
which he must despise as one of the most horrible results of his
selfishness,--robbed himself of a friend to whom he might have fled in
every vicissitude of life; he had solved so many difficult problems in
politics and love, ruled the most reserved and haughtiest women,
struggled victoriously with the first intellects of his court, but by
the simple greatness of her character his plan was baffled,--because he
knew only the strength of her love, not the power of her virtue.
Ottilie was a complete contrast to himself; with all his intellect he
could not understand a character destitute of all, even the most
necessary selfishness; and thus he was at last compelled to confess
himself vanquished by the power of a goodness in which he had never
believed. He pitied Ottilie as the martyr of exaggerated ideas, and
felt that across the barriers of this loyal "prejudice" no sympathizing
intercourse could ever take place between them. He was now thrown
entirely upon himself and Cornelia; he did not possess even one friend,
for he lacked the only foundations of friendship,--unselfishness and
confidence. Cornelia alone now captivated his sensual as well as his
intellectual nature. She was the last and only thing left him, and the
secretly lonely and dissatisfied man clung to her with all the strength
of his life. The hours during which he was compelled to attend the
marriage festivities dragged slowly and painfully.



                                  XVI.

                       THE TWO BETROTHED BRIDES.


Meantime Cornelia awaited him in her quiet salon, where the roses
always bloomed like eternal lamps of love. She was alone. Veronica's
health had become somewhat delicate of late, and she was taking an
afternoon nap in her room. Cornelia hoped to receive _Heinrich's_ first
glance unobserved. She had spent the three days since Ottilie's arrival
in idle dreams, longings, and expectations, and had sought solitude
that Veronica might not perceive her indolence. It was impossible for
her to fix her attention upon anything except the one thought,--"He
will soon arrive." She had never believed that any one could spend
three whole days in such complete inaction. She did not go out, even to
visit the prison, lest she should miss him, and thanked God when any
one rang the bell, because she had the pleasure of fancying for a
moment that it was he. To-day this satisfaction had fallen to her lot
very rarely; the street and house were silent, and she walked
impatiently up and down the smooth inlaid floor, played with the roses,
made an old mandarin nod his head, incessantly looked into the glass to
see whether she would please her lover, threw herself on the yellow
sofa, and fancied he was beside her; thought of a thousand things she
wanted to tell him, took up one of the faded velvet-covered albums,
turned the leaves without reading a word, and at last started up in
joyful surprise, for the bell was now really pulled, and so violently,
so impatiently,--it must be he. She hurried into the antechamber.

"I'll tell you if any one comes," said the old servant, as sulkily as
if he knew whom Cornelia expected, and walked slowly on to open the
door.

Cornelia retired in great embarrassment, and waited behind the
folding-doors. Yes, it was the well-known step upon the stairs, along
the corridor; he was approaching. The blissful certainty overwhelmed
her with suffocating violence, and now she could see nothing, for two
eager arms had clasped her and pressed her closely to a throbbing
heart.

There was a moment of silence, a moment when the world seemed to be
hushed, and divinity itself listened in delight to the sweetest
language given to the human heart,--the mute language of love. Then
_Henri's_ lips sought her own, and softly, softly she whispered a
thousand sweet names; but every word died in a kiss; and thus words and
caresses struggled long in a secret conflict for the mastery.

"Let me look at you," said Cornelia, at last; and drawing back, took
his head between her hands and raised it. "You have grown handsomer;
you look milder, graver, and yet happier."

"It is my love for you, Cornelia. If the features take the impress of
the soul, I must become more and more like you. You are so perfect,
Cornelia, that your Creator in his delight over his work wished to make
a copy of you; and see, he chose me! My soul is nothing more than the
background upon which the finger of God has engraved your image."

"Ob, noble spirit, you always give the fairest expression of every
feeling,--earth and heaven are open to your flight! Will you now linger
with me? Do I hold this dear head clasped in my hands? Dare I call you
mine, and kiss the brow on which you are enthroned?" asked Cornelia, in
dreamy delight.

"Yes, yes, Cornelia, the spirit is yours, for you have been the first
to awaken it. Lay the head that contains it on your breast, let your
hand rest lovingly upon it, and it will disdain heaven and earth, and
linger here, here on this one sweet spot forever, forever!"

He stooped and pressed a kiss upon Cornelia's heart. Blushing deeply,
she laid her clasped hands upon his dark hair and raised her eyes in an
ecstasy of love. "Oh, God, one who had denied thee throughout a whole
lifetime must acknowledge thee in such an hour!"

"You pious priestess, priestess of a religion whose blessings I
gratefully feel at this moment, shall I tell you how I pray to
you,--yes, pray fervently and devoutly? I know that in you I possess
the greatest blessing earth can offer, and that I do not deserve it. If
I had not found it I should have gone to destruction; but you will lead
me back from the exhausted pleasures of the world to pure nature, to
truth and simplicity of heart. A new day breaks upon me through
you,--an Easter-day,--for in you my better self celebrates its
resurrection. Your breath is the fresh air of morning, the dawn glows
upon your cheeks, and in your eyes beams the sunrise of a happiness
never known before. Come, let me inhale your breath. Ah, youth, purity,
and strength emanate from you to revive and cheer!" He again pressed
his lips to hers for a moment. "Now," he continued, "the whole man is
exclusively and entirely yours, yours forever; do with him whatever you
choose, for he has no longer any claim to a life which you alone
preserved to him, and which without you would have been lost."

"What shall, what can, I say to you in return for such words? Not I,
but you yourself took the new flight which has made you so dear to me.
What could I be to you? What influence could the few moments we have
spent together exert?"

"And if I should ask you the same question, and inquire how you could
love me in so short a time, what would you reply?"

"Why, that love and mutual understanding do not depend upon time."

"The case is precisely the same with me, my child. Years of study and
intercourse are not necessary to understand a superior nature. A few
traits enable it to be characterized, single extremes allow its full
compass to be measured, and as one accord contains the elements of
music, so it can easily reveal to the observer the keynotes of its
soul; and you did this. Wherever I struck, it echoed. I know the whole
scale of your nature, although a thousand sweet harmonies which may be
formed from it are still concealed from me."

"Tell me, _Heinrich_, how long have you loved me?"

"Since, since--permit me to answer you with the most common of all
forms of speech,--since the first time I saw you."

"Since our meeting in the prison?"

"Yes; I cannot tell you what a powerful impression I received from you.
I was astonished! Your boldness, your disregard of my dignity, your
philanthropic enthusiasm, so entirely devoid of all affectation and
sentimentality, aroused the greatest admiration, and your beauty
excited my love. Had you been merely beautiful, I should only have
desired you; but since you showed an equal intellect, I love you, and
loved you from the beginning as I never did any other."

"As you never loved any other?" asked Cornelia. She had seated herself
upon the sofa, and he took a chair beside her. She folded her arms upon
the little barrier the broad side of the divan formed between them, and
they gazed lovingly into each other's eyes.

"As I never loved any other," repeated _Henri_. "If you fully realized
your own value, you would not look at me so incredulously. You would
know that you must be loved differently from the commonplace girls with
whom people can only trifle, whose insignificance renders all serious
conversation impossible. There is nothing which continues to keep a
woman interesting to a man except _originality_; and before I knew you
I almost despaired of finding it. The female mind cannot reach the
perception of things by the established, endlessly long path marked out
for it; it has not sufficient perseverance, cannot keep pace with man.
Most women pause half-way, with the goal before their eyes, but unable
to reach it; they then become weary, disgusted with the world, and
consume themselves in idle longings, which they at last permit some
friend to heal. Others turn into by-paths of fruitless scholarship, and
wonder aimlessly to and fro; such persons become utterly disagreeable,
a terror to every man, for they enter into a sort of intellectual
competition with him, which is charmless and a mere waste of time,
because there is no true honorable victory to be obtained in such an
unequal struggle. The true womanly nature knows the extent of her
powers; she does not strive for things too far beyond her, for she
cheerfully makes out her own object and builds her own path to it. This
unthinking exercise of natural instincts, this radiance of free, pure
thought, beaming from a youthful brow, is extremely refreshing, and
while I am with you I regret every moment that I cannot philosophize
with you about everything in earth or heaven. But the mouth which
speaks so wisely is far too sweet, and so my senses are constantly
battling with my intellect. I cannot kiss you without wishing you were
talking, and I cannot hear you speak without wanting to kiss you. Is
not this an unfortunate contradiction?"

"Ought it not to be harmonized? Cannot people be both sensible and
affectionate?" asked Cornelia.

"No, my angel! In your presence I have not the necessary calmness,"
said _Henri_, involuntarily casting down his eyes. "Clearness of
thought requires cool blood; and when I am so near you, when your sweet
breath floats over me, and your warm hand rests in mine, my heart
throbs violently, and sends the blood so quickly through my veins, that
I can think of nothing but you and my ardent love!"

"Oh, do not look at me so fiercely! Your kindling eyes pierce my soul
until I cannot help blushing. You do not know how terribly your glances
flash. I do not fear you, but a strange horror overwhelms me when I see
you thus. I feel myself a match for the spirit that darts menacing
looks from those eyes, and a shudder thrills my soul as the wind
rustles gently through the banners before a battle."

"So you are belligerently disposed towards me, Cornelia?"

"No, indeed; except when you are in your present mood then, I know, I
shall often be compelled to uphold my standard against you."

"And what standard might that be?"

"That of gentleness, truth: in one word, virtue," she said, simply and
firmly.

"Do you think me destitute of them?"

"Yes. Understand me correctly. You have a multitude of great and
lovable qualities which distinguish you from the million,--a multitude
of _virtues_, but not the _virtue_ which we designate by one word, and
in an indivisible sense. A person may not possess nearly as many noble
traits, and yet be far more virtuous than you. Virtue is the pure,
conscious will which unites the scattered capacities for good, and
matures them to moral actions; and this quality you lack."

Ottmar had become very grave. _Henri_ was present no longer: _Heinrich_
had taken his place. Cornelia laid her head upon his hands, and said,
in a tone of the fondest affection: "Now you are so quiet and cold,
have I vexed you?"

"No, my child; but you have given me something to think about, which
makes me grave. You women have a wonderful talent for moralizing. Your
conscience wishes to make up for the too great indulgence of your
hearts, and therefore you are the sternest censors of the man you
love."

"We women? Have you said the same thing to other women?"

"Only one except yourself; but her theories were repellent. She gave me
no proof in her own person that she possessed a cheering power in her
own nature. She was a sad, pale, melancholy vision, so her influence
over me also faded; yet, I shall always hold her memory sacred."

"Who was she? Heinrich, a shadow has fallen upon your mood: who was it
you mourn for as a departed spirit?"

"A poor creature, whose suffering constantly pervades all my joys,
whose misery always appears greater to me the more my own happiness
increases, the more I learn to believe in the might of true feeling.
Yes, yes, Cornelia, you are right; I may have virtues, but they
principally exist in the fact that I can still regret the virtue I
lack. Oh, if I could but cast aside my past with all its errors and
reproaches, like the cocoon of a butterfly, and soar forth in freedom
as a new, winged, purified creature!"

"I will tell you the name of the unhappy woman about whom remorse
is now torturing you," began Cornelia, after a pause of earnest
thought,--"it is Princess Ottilie."

_Heinrich_ started up. "Girl! How did such an idea enter your head?"

Cornelia looked at him intently. "It is so."

"Who told you?"

"I thought of it myself. Ottilie imposed inviolable secrecy upon
Röschen; what motive induced her to do so if she did not love you? What
duty led Princess Ottilie to spare Herr von Ottmar except a tender
obligation of the heart? All this, however, might be explained; but I
was at the harbor when you arrived, I saw the princess turn pale, saw
you approach anxiously and whisper a few words, perceived how, with a
glance at you, she composed herself, how earnestly you watched her, and
at last sprang to her assistance as if the whole responsibility of
caring for her devolved upon you alone. I saw this lady was
experiencing some great inward conflict; and your anxiety showed that
you were aware of it. I felt there was some silent, mutual bond between
you,--in what it exists I know not, but it does exist; and if I make it
agree with what you have just said, then, _Heinrich_, I fear you have
great cause for self-reproach."

"You have watched me with the eyes of love, and formed a tolerably
clear idea of the true state of affairs. It would be useless to deny
your guess, you would still believe it. In such matters one can deceive
the world, but not the instinct of a clever woman. What shall I say to
you?--spare me further particulars concerning things which are not my
secret. I will freely confess that, with the exception of yourself, she
was my only friend,--that I owe her much and shall always pity her."

"Poor lady!" said Cornelia, softly. "If she loves you, she is greatly
to be pitied, for she can never forget you,--never be happy again!"

"Does your own heart tell you that, Cornelia?"

"Yes. Whoever has once felt the magic of your nature can never love
another, and is bound to you for life; the whole world contains nothing
nobler than yourself."

_Heinrich_ took her hands and pressed them to his breast. "Dearest, you
are my happiness and my salvation! Cornelia, I love you. I would fain
breathe forth my life in those few words: 'I love you!" Cornelia felt
that tears were dimming her eyes, and tried to conceal them. "Oh, do
not be ashamed of these tears! Happy is the human being who can weep.
Teach me the lesson too, and you will have accomplished what not even
God could do!"

"And if I should succeed, _Heinrich_, it would still be only by the
help of God, who blessed my efforts. He will let me find means to do
so, if he wishes to raise you by my hand. Do not smile. I cannot help
calling the power to which you give a thousand titles by the name of
God; cannot intentionally fail in my duty to him. I cannot live without
this God,--may not deny him. When I was a child he stood beside my bed
and I could talk to him. I associated with him all my thoughts of my
father; my mother appeared to me beautiful and radiant in his heavenly
majesty, I have so often folded my little hands reverently and thought
he heard me; and am I now to believe the soulless air wafted my fervent
prayer away,--that so much love, so much devotion, was lavished an a
phantom? Oh, my childish faith has increased with my growth!--it has
somewhere become part of my nature; for if I try to separate from it, a
pang passes through my soul, and I feel that some spiritual nerve, the
connecting link between God and myself, is wounded."

"You are a woman, Cornelia, and it would be wicked to cast a word of
doubt into the sanctuary of your pious heart. We have already spoken of
this matter once, and you almost made me an enthusiast."

"Is it really so?" interrupted Cornelia. "Oh, if you confess that, much
is gained, and I shall henceforth work upon your 'enthusiasm'! You
know, _Heinrich_, that natures like ours are always set apart from the
rest of mankind. Life often becomes unendurable; reverses of fortune
may occur which even philosophy can no longer help us to bear, and we
can nowhere find a home. Then it is fortunate if we can flee from earth
to that wonderland of fancy, our inalienable home. There are sorrows,
too, _Heinrich_, which cannot endure the classical training of an empty
doctrine, and which, destroying everything in their course, dash wildly
over us. Then the soul grasps for some support, and in its agony
shrieks for a God; and if there were none, it would create him for
itself, that its cry for help might not echo back from an empty void.
But such a self-created God gives no comfort, but jeers at you
mockingly, like the spectre of your own agony, and melts away before
your eyes, while the true God cannot approach to comfort you, for you
do not believe in him, and only by faith does he work his miracles."
Cornelia paused; for _Heinrich_ was on his knees before her with his
face buried in her lap.

"If in such an hour I still have you, I need no God!" he exclaimed,
fairly beside himself.

"Do not blaspheme!" pleaded Cornelia "And suppose you did not have
me? Suppose it should be God's will to separate us, and you were
alone,--entirely alone?"

"Cornelia, how can you think of such a thing while you clasp me in your
arms? If we should lose each other, what should I become? An embodied
negation, separated from all connection with mankind, withered in mind
and body,--a living corpse, to which the world is only a grave."

"_Heinrich_, dear, dear _Heinrich_! you inspire me with both compassion
and horror! Oh, banish these gloomy spirits from your mind, and become
light-hearted and gentle! Fate is not subdued by threats and
blasphemies; the ground on which happiness willingly builds its nest
must be firm and peaceful, not trembling with volcanic shocks and
rumbling with peals of thunder. Come, be gentle; such wicked words suit
your delicate mouth. Smile again; Veronica will soon wake up, and then
we can no longer express our love in fond caresses."

"Yes, that is true!" cried _Heinrich_; "let us enjoy the moment while
we may." And it was _Henri_ who now threw himself upon the sofa beside
Cornelia and drew her closely to him.

Cornelia looked at him in astonishment. His eyes were beaming with
ardent feeling; a warmer color tinged his cheeks; his mouth,
half-pouted for a kiss was irresistibly alluring. "It often seems as if
you changed places with some one, and in an instant became an entirely
different man. I never saw such sudden alterations of mood."

"Ah, do not speak! kiss me!" pleaded _Henri_. "Darling, how I have
longed for those lips! Many a night have I tossed as if in a fever,
thirsting, yearning for you. Did you think of me when you went to
rest?"

"Yes, a thousand times. I have never fallen asleep without calling
'Good-night, _Heinrich_!' and the words became my nightly prayer. I
shall never forget it."

"How beautiful! What time do you say it?"

"At eleven: when I am in bed."

"In future I shall always say, 'Pleasant dreams, Cornelia!' You will
remember it, won't you, my darling?"

"Of course I shall," she whispered, pressing her cheek close to his.

Light, scarcely audible footsteps approached. Cornelia started up.
"Veronica is coming!"

The door slowly opened, and she entered, kindly as ever, but pale, as
if there was not a drop of blood in her sunken features. Her slender
figure seemed still more shrunken, and there was not a tinge of color
about the ghostly apparition except the light-blue ribbon upon her
white cap. The lovely eyes were more hollow, more lustreless, than in
former days; the silvery curls drooped more negligently about her face.
_Henri_ perceived a change in her, and as it soon became evident that
there was no alteration in her intellectual powers it must be a bodily
one. In such delicate equable natures all secret changes give very
faint external tokens of their existence, and it requires a watchful,
practiced eye to detect them. Cornelia was too mach preoccupied with
her own feelings, the slight, gradual alterations in Veronica's
appearance did not attract her attention; but _Henri_, who had not seen
her for a long time, noticed them at once.

"My dear count, I did not know you were here, or I should not have
yielded to the heavy slumber which always overpowers me now. I must beg
you to excuse me, but I have no doubt Cornelia has entertained you so
well that you have not missed me. Besides, age no longer harmonizes
with youth. It is too dull for the sympathy and susceptibility required
to enter into the rapidly changing details of a conversation."

"Oh, do not say that!" pleaded _Henri_. "With your fresh intellect one
can accommodate one's self to every form of change; but it would be
uncourteous to Fräulein Cornelia, if I did not say that I am indebted
to her for a most delightful hour." He smilingly took her hand and
pressed it warmly.

Veronica looked earnestly at them both, and _Henri_ noticed it.

"Are you satisfied with my influence over your Cornelia? Is she not
once more as blooming as a rose?"

"Oh, I am very grateful to you for your friendship, my dear count! But,
Cornelia, you are not only blooming, you are fairly glowing to-day. You
must have been talking very earnestly."

Cornelia's blushes grew still deeper at this remark. She glanced at
_Henri_; he was apparently gazing irresolutely into vacancy.

"What is the matter, my child? Does your head ache? You really make me
uneasy."

Cornelia started up and threw herself at Veronica's feet. "No, I cannot
bear it; I could keep silent, but I cannot lie. Veronica, forgive my
past reserve,--it was painful enough to me but now you question me, I
will tell you the truth. Veronica, must I speak plainly? Yes, yes, it
is as you think."

_Henri_ was in a state of painful embarrassment, and thought to
himself, "Who can teach a woman to be silent?"

Veronica sat speechless and clasped her trembling hands. After a pause
_Henri_ approached and touched Cornelia's head. "Here is all the
happiness that earth contains. You will not refuse it to me, my
motherly friend?"

"I have wished and thought that this might be, but now it has happened
I am so greatly startled that I can scarcely speak!" Overpowered by her
emotion, she clasped Cornelia in her arms. "My child, my only one, my
all, whom I have so faithfully cherished, I confide you to the
protection of this noble man, and am perfectly assured that he will
make you happy. Come, my son, and receive my blessing." She laid her
clasped hands upon his brow. "May God be merciful unto you and bless
you, and show you the light of his countenance and be merciful unto
you!"

The last words died upon her lips; the emotion was too great. She sank
back, while _Henri_ and Cornelia affectionately supported her. The
latter was deeply agitated. She now perceived, for the first time, in
what a frail shell this beloved life was contained, by what feeble
threads it was still bound to earth, and hot tears rolled down her
cheeks. _Henri_ himself was not wholly destitute of sympathy. He
esteemed Veronica, and understood Cornelia's feeling. At last she
regained her consciousness, and gazed at them with her loving eyes.
"Have I alarmed you? I most sincerely regret it; but my life has long
flowed an so calmly and equably that I am unaccustomed to all emotion.
But, dear Cornelia, you must remember the possibility of my leaving
you. Do not weep; let the consciousness that you have never cost me a
single sorrowful hour console you. You have developed a lofty, free,
and noble nature, and yet always given me the submissive heart of a
child; have spared my weaknesses, and never permitted me to feel how
far you had risen above me. God will reward you for it. And now that my
last wish is fulfilled, and I know you are safe in the arms of your
betrothed, I can cheerfully depart to my sainted lover."

"Oh, do not talk so, Veronica!" pleaded Cornelia. "You are strewing
wormwood over this blissful hour."

"Why, my child? You do not grudge me the peace contained in the thought
of death, and I feel that the time which separates me from my betrothed
is drawing to a close. If you only knew how I rejoice over it! We have
been obliged to wait for long years,--he there and I here; but a human
life is but a short span compared to eternity. We shall meet again, and
our temporary separation will only be an interruption, not the
destruction of our intercourse."

Cornelia gazed silently into vacancy. The grave conversation had
brought _Heinrich_ into _Henri's_ place. "It is a beautiful and
enviable faith," said he.

"Which you do not share, because you are a man, and still young; but, I
assure you, the older we grow the thinner becomes the partition our
earthly bodies form between our immortal souls and eternity, and single
rays from the other shore often fall through. This gives to us old
people the religious trust at which you young philosophers smile."

"I do not laugh at it, Veronica," said _Heinrich_; "but I think you
have yet many years to enjoy life and our happiness."

"Well, it is as God wills. I will gladly live and gladly die,--both are
welcome to me."

_Heinrich_ looked at her in astonishment. "Fortunate is the person who
can say that, and contemplate with equal serenity the day and night of
existence."

"Enough of this grave subject; tell me, my son, how soon you wish to
take Cornelia away? I shall miss her so terribly that I dread the
thought of losing her, and really do not know how I am to live without
her."

_Heinrich_ bit his lips. "Calm yourself; unfortunately, I cannot call
her mine as soon as I would gladly do, and must even request you to
keep our engagement a secret for the present. My position at the court
is just now in a very important crisis. This must first be decided
before I can establish a home here. There are a thousand things to be
considered, a thousand little difficulties to remove, and six months
may elapse before my affairs are settled. So you will have Cornelia
longer than I like, for if it depended only upon myself I would take
her in my arms to-morrow, and show her to the envious world as my
dearest possession."

"I understand, dear Ottmar," said Veronica; "but I only wonder that
you, who have stood so firmly in your office, should suddenly find
yourself in a crisis."

"Unfortunately it is so. The ministry is now engaged upon new laws,
which, if unapproved, will lead to a change of ministers, and perhaps I
may also fall a victim. This is an important time in my life, which
claims all my activity and attention."

"Thank God that I am permitted to keep my angel so long! You are very
sensible, my son, to wish to wait until after this epoch. Besides, a
marriage made outside the limits of the most aristocratic circles will
not be very favorably received at court, and it is, therefore, best to
keep the matter secret until your position has been confirmed anew."

The conversation was beginning to be painful to _Heinrich_, and the
striking of the great clock afforded him a welcome pretext for rising
and pleading the necessity of attending a court soirée. He bade
Veronica farewell, and begged Cornelia to accompany him to the door.
The young girl was grave and quiet.

"Do not grieve about Veronica, my child," he said, in the antechamber;
"it is the way of all old people, to talk continually about dying,--she
may live a long time still."

"I think so too," replied Cornelia; "but I feel oppressed. It is like
the plants whose leaves droop after being exposed to too much sunlight.
I was too happy just now,--there must be a reaction."

"But what troubles you, my angel?"

"Oh, it is nothing that can be changed. The thought of being so much
your inferior that such strict secrecy is needful grieves me. To
conceal from the world the beautiful emotion that fills my breast,
perhaps even often be compelled to profane it by a falsehood, is
painful; but do not let it grieve you,--I shall soon conquer this
mood."

_Heinrich_ drew her to his breast, and stroked her luxuriant hair. "My
own sweet love, I understand you. But consider that this burdensome
constraint is only imposed upon us for a _short_ time, and that it also
has its good side. I can say no more than I wrote in my letter. As
regards making the affair public, you see, by what Veronica says, the
necessity of the precautions I am compelled to take. Come, love, smile
upon me again; do not let me go with the knowledge that you are
sorrowful." He took her hand and placed it on his heart. "Do you feel
that its every throb is yours?"

Cornelia threw her arm around his neck, and gazed intently into his
face; but he closed her eyes with kisses, and left the house. She went
to the window and watched her lover's tall figure as he strode away. No
one could bear himself more proudly, no one could hold his head more
haughtily erect. Now he met an acquaintance, removed his hat slowly and
condescendingly, and continued his way without glancing up, for he
seemed to have noticed that the gentleman was looking after him. It
wounded Cornelia, and when the latter raised his eyes to the window she
blushed with a strange feeling of shame and retreated. She would not go
to Veronica; something in her mood demanded solitude, so she leaned
back on one of the ancient carved chairs and gazed thoughtfully at the
dark oak wainscoting on the walls. Twilight spread its shadows over
her,--twilight also brooded over her soul, and she knew not whether it
would change into night or day. Why should she feel ashamed because
that stranger looked after Ottmar and then glanced at her? why should
it cause her pain because Ottmar passed on without looking? Secrecy
made this caution necessary. It required that he should deny her in the
presence of the first chance-comer, that she should steal a glance at
her lover like a thief in the night, and blush if surprised in the act,
as if she were doing wrong. How painful! how humiliating! But was this
secrecy really needful? Were the reasons he alleged sufficient and
strong enough not to be vanquished by the strength of a genuine, manly
love? Ought he not to sacrifice everything to spare her such a
humiliation? How far would his marriage with her, with their mutual
fortunes, be dependent upon a crisis in office? What induced the ardent
lover to consent to this patient waiting? Could his private relations
exert a disturbing influence upon his position as a servant of the
government? What made him so timid, if it was not the fear of
forfeiting his place at court by a mesalliance with a plebeian, the
daughter of a republican? But what would the delay of a few months
avail?--would not the marriage be precisely the same at whatever time
it occurred? If he feared that, he would _never_ dare to wed her. She
fell into a deep reverie. Suddenly her eyes flashed, and she held
her breath as if the very air was poisoned. Suppose he should be
false?--suppose the dread of prejudicing himself should be stronger
than his integrity? She could not doubt his love, for his ardor had
already made her tremble. Suppose he wished to plunge her into the same
abyss that had engulfed so many others? suppose the reports concerning
him were true, and he should prove false, terribly, fiendishly false?
Yet scarcely was the suspicion born ere her whole nature rose against
it in all its strength. What a monster you are to have the thought of
such baseness arise in your young brain! Is your imagination so corrupt
that the most sacred thing is not too holy to be thus sullied? Her
horror was now not of him, but of herself. He was not the traitor, but
she,--she who could cherish so disgraceful a doubt, whose love was not
strong enough to crush it in the bud; she had betrayed him in her own
heart.

She started up, rushed into her room, and lighted a lamp; then in the
anguish of her soul threw herself on the floor before his picture,--the
same one she had received from Fräulein Hedwig. Her eyes wandered over
the sketch and strove to animate the mute features and unravel their
mystery; in vain, the solution was concealed in her own breast, and
everything there was confused and gloomy. Thus, tortured by doubts of
him and of herself, she was at last attracted towards the pure,
faithful heart of her foster-mother. She entered the tea-room and found
Veronica sitting with her clasped hands resting in her lap, absorbed in
sorrowful thought.

"Are you come at last, my darling? You have left your old Veronica
alone a long time. But I understand it. In this solemn hour you must
first be at peace with yourself. You happy, fortunate child!"

Cornelia threw herself upon a stool at Veronica's feet, and asked,
cautiously, for she did not wish this unprejudiced mind to catch a
glimpse of her troubled soul, "Do you believe in _Heinrich_ as firmly
as I do?"

"Certainly," replied Veronica. "I think he has given us sufficient
proof that he is a man of honor."

The old servant brought a lamp and the musical urn into the room;
Veronica took out her knitting-work, and as they sat so quietly
together with the sweet melodies circling round them with the rising
steam, the memory of the evening of their first unseen meeting rose
gently before Cornelia's mind with all its magic and blessedness. Her
excited nerves grew calm, her mood dissolved in tears. She remembered
so many lofty words, so many glances full of true nobility of feeling.
All those fair moments passed before her. With what joyful affection he
had met her that day! Can one who has any evil design be so frank, so
confident? Oh, if he should suspect how she had doubted him!

"Do you think it necessary to keep our love a secret?" she asked, at
last.

"Oh, yes, my child," said Veronica, calmly.

"To me it is only very painful," murmured Cornelia.

"That may be; but it is something that happens a thousand times. You
must be reasonable. We cannot know that he is not in the act of
obtaining a higher position, and in that case his engagement with you
would be an obstacle in his way. Therefore he must deny it until the
expected promotion is secured; then only he can venture to defy all the
prejudices of his circle and take you for his wife."

"I do not see what his private relations should have to do with it."

"Why, Cornelia, you speak as if you knew nothing of the world! Are you
not yet aware how much personal matters are taken into consideration in
these circles? Besides, we cannot conceal from ourselves that you bear
a name with which the most unfortunate political associations are
connected. Perhaps he also hopes that in the course of time our noble
princess may exert a softening influence upon our strict aristocracy,
and wishes to await this favorable opportunity. There are a thousand
things to be considered, and it is very delicate in him to conceal them
from us. You are a young, enthusiastic hot-head, and always want to
fight your way through to your ideal; he a steady, experienced man who
takes things as they are, and yields to them with prudent self-control.
I would far rather trust you to such a character than a fanatical
reformer, like your unhappy father."

Cornelia listened with delight to this argument in favor of what she
herself most ardently desired. Veronica was so calm, so confident, and
she was not blinded by love; should not this restore all the peace of
confidence? Oh, if her deeply injured lover were only here, that she
might implore his pardon for the wrong she had done him! How she would
embrace him if he came to-morrow! how happy she would be with him!

Veronica's voice roused her from these thoughts and dreams. "Let us
take tea, Cornelia; I am very tired and would like to get up early
to-morrow morning to go to church. I long to raise my heart to God."

Cornelia silently obeyed. When tea was over Veronica went to bed, and
Cornelia, who had helped her undress, knelt before her. "I thank you,
dear Veronica, for having been so kind to me and _Heinrich_; I thank
you also, at this turning-point of my life, for all the love with which
you have treated me as a daughter, and made me a good and happy
creature. I can never repay you for it, but your clear eyes look into
my heart and see what no words can express." Overpowered by her
emotion, she pressed Veronica's hand to her lips.

"Oh, my child! my dear, dear child! God knows how fully, how richly,
this hour repays me for all I have done! What better things can one
purchase than a hand to close one's eyes, and a warm tear to fall upon
one's grave? This is a happiness which comprehends the joys of a whole
life,--and for this I thank you. Good-night, my child."

Cornelia embraced her and went to her own room with tearful eyes. As
she reached it she heard Veronica call, and went back. The latter held
out her arms. "Let me press you to my heart once more. God bless you,
joy of my old age! Good-night. Wake me to-morrow."

Cornelia remained awake for a long time. Veronica's manner had roused a
feeling of subdued melancholy. Besides, the wonderful day must be lived
over anew, its discords harmonized, its joys and sorrows interwoven
with her inner nature, ere dreams could be permitted to lead her into
another kingdom.

It was broad daylight when, after a short slumber, she rose and went to
wake Veronica.

The little dusky sleeping-room was cosy and silent. Single shafts of
sunlight stole through the closely-drawn green curtains and flickered
over the hangings of Veronica's bed. No sound of breathing, no motion,
disturbed the stillness of this sanctuary of slumber. Cornelia softly
entered and stood for a long time before the bed; she was loth to
disturb the peaceful silence in which Veronica reposed. But she had
requested it, and it must be done. She drew the curtains slowly aside.
There she lay, apparently lost in pleasant dreams, but--was it the
green light?--pallid as a corpse! Cornelia took her hand. Oh, God, how
chill! "Veronica, dear Veronica, wake!" In vain; in her slumber she had
passed into another life. The pale face seemed in death to wear a
smile, to greet the loved one for whom she had always lived and so
confidently expected to meet again. Her death was as peaceful as her
life.

"Wake me to-morrow," were her last words. "Oh, if I could only do so!"
sobbed Cornelia, sinking upon her knees as if utterly crushed.



                                 XVII.

                               INSNARED.


Anton was fastening a new order upon Ottmar's court dress, when the
latter violently pulled his bell.

"It's unbearable!" grumbled the old servant as he took the last stitch
and hurried in with the uniform.

_Heinrich_ was striding impatiently up and down the room. "Are you
ready at last? Give it to me; make haste, and let me get off. I have no
time to lose."

The dressing was quickly finished. "The new star is magnificent," said
Anton.

_Heinrich_ looked at his image in the mirror with the satisfaction of a
man who knows he is handsome, and reckons his beauty among his own
merits, as if he had compelled nature to give him the form he desired.

"I must go to Cornelia after dinner and show myself to her. She
understands and values my beauty better than any one else," he thought,
pushing the order straight. "Besides, it will do no harm to let her see
some of my importance as a courtier; old Veronica takes the matter too
easily. It is not I, but she, who lulls the dear creature into dreams
for which I am not responsible. It is not I who deceive her, but
Veronica, when she assumes as a matter of course assurances I never
gave; and yet I cannot, by a premature contradiction, destroy my whole
happiness. I would far rather resolve to verify them, if there could be
no other arrangement." A ray of sunlight fell upon the diamonds in his
order and made them glitter. "Do you wish to warn me, you star of
honor, that you sparkle so? No, I will not forget you. Let others yearn
for the stars of you unattainable distance; my earthly wishes depend
upon you, that you may not pale before the sun, but with your rays make
your chosen one shine forth from the darkness of obscurity, and
distinguish him from the masses. With you on my heart, and Cornelia's
love within it, what do I need more?"

A servant announced that the carriage was waiting.

_Heinrich_ took his gold-embroidered hat, and smiling, threw himself
upon the soft cushions. The beautiful white horses tossed their heads,
and dashed away through sunlit avenues and crowds of gayly-dressed
foot-passengers.

The dinner, the first which had been given since the marriage, was
magnificent. The court displayed its greatest splendor. Ottilie herself
was one of the most stately personages who ever graced a throne.
Although no smile rested upon her lips, she did the honors in a most
winning manner, and was gracious even to _Heinrich_, although no more
so than to all others. The prince, however, treated him with marked
distinction, and once whispered, casting a well-pleased glance at
Ottilie, "You were right; she is a real princess." The princes,
princesses, and courtiers who were present followed their master's
example and loaded Ottmar with civilities; had never been so attractive
or so much admired. He stood at the zenith of his favor at court; and
when, after the dinner was over, he drove to Cornelia, he scarcely saw
that it was already dusk, so brightly did the lights, the white necks,
the sparkling glances, the diamonds, and the gold-embroidered uniforms
still gleam before his eyes; glittering silken robes rustled around
him; smiling faces looked forth longingly from behind costly bouquets.
The material comfort of the moment was too great not to rouse the other
half of his nature. _Henri_ alighted when the carriage stopped. He
pulled the bell, and the door of the silent house slowly opened. The
staircase was dark. The black form of a servant glided by and ushered
him into the anteroom. The salon stood open; he entered. It, too, was
dark and empty; everything was in disorder: the furniture was pushed
back, and there were no roses blooming on the flower-stand. _Henri_
felt strangely oppressed. The gloomy silence ill suited his mood. A
glimmer of light and a dull murmur of voices penetrated through a door
which was partly ajar. He opened it, and stood as if rooted to the
spot. Several women were engaged in dressing a corpse. _Henri_ pressed
his hand to his brow; was he awake, or did some dream torture him with
its sudden changes, in order to show him in a single hour the splendor
of the world and the end of all lives? Just at that moment Cornelia,
who had been completely absorbed in her mournful occupation, suddenly
perceived him, came forward in her mourning robes, looking very pale
and languid, and drew him aside.

"My dear Cornelia," said _Henri_, kissing her tearful eyes, "what has
happened since yesterday? I can scarcely trust my senses. What a
contrast!"

"Ah, _Heinrich_ thank God, you have come at last! Ever since early this
morning I have borne this terrible sorrow alone, longing in vain for
your warm heart. Alas, how heavily such an unexpected blow falls!"

"My poor, sweet love, you are trembling as if in an ague-fit! Who would
have thought of this? Kind Veronica dead!"

She nestled timidly in his arms. "_Heinrich_, my heart aches terribly,
and besides I feel this horror of death. You do not know what it is to
dress a cold body which is no longer the dear one it personates."

"Then leave the others to finish the task, and stay with me, my angel."

"We have finished it, and they want to bring her in here. You must go
into the tea-room, or they will see you."

"Willingly. But now leave everything to these women and come with me.
You are completely worn out."

"Yes, I will stay with you. I can no longer be a witness," said
Cornelia; then gave the necessary orders to the servants, and went into
the tea-room with _Henri_. They had scarcely entered it when they heard
pieces of furniture pushed aside, and the creaking of the coffin,
which, when once heard, is never forgotten. Cornelia trembled
violently, sank down beside _Henri_, and bursting into tears, hid her
face upon his breast until the noise was over. Then she looked up. "You
think me very weak, do you not? I have kept up all day, but now my
strength is exhausted; terror has overpowered me."

_Henri_ gently raised her and drew her on his knee. She made no
resistance, but threw her arms around his neck; her head sank wearily
upon his shoulder, and joy and sorrow, deadly horror and sweet content,
began to mingle strangely.

"Oh, do not give way!" said _Henri_ to himself, while his throbbing
heart seemed ready to burst. He cradled her in his arms as if she had
been a child, and breathed upon her cold hands.

Gradually her tears ceased, and warmth returned to her cheeks and
hands. Never is a woman more grateful or more susceptible to love than
when a great sorrow has broken her strength, and she gropes helplessly
for some support. At this moment Cornelia could have worshiped her
lover as some superior being; all suspicion was forgotten, she clung to
him as if he were some consoling angel.

"Cornelia, are you happy now that you are clasped to my heart?"
whispered _Henri_.

"Oh, infinitely happy!" she murmured. "What should I be without you, my
life? Now I am cast wholly upon you, you will never forsake your
orphaned love?"

_Henri_ strained her to his breast with almost suffocating violence,
and exclaimed from his inmost heart, with the utmost sincerity, "If I
ever forsake you, accursed be the hour when I was born, the couch on
which I rest, the air I breathe, the lips with which I kiss! I raise my
hand and call upon all the powers of evil to witness against me if I
break my oath."

Cornelia laid her finger on his lips. "Do not be so violent; that is no
oath, but a curse."

"Is it not equally binding?"

"Certainly; but it makes me anxious: as if there would be no blessing
upon it; as if you felt the possibility of becoming faithless, and your
better self was threatening you with punishment."

"You angel! Look me in the eyes; do you no longer believe in your
_Heinrich_, and yet love him still?"

"Ah, _Heinrich_, forgive my distrust! I feared to lose you, because
you are the dearest thing in the would to me. I cannot think clearly
to-day, I am so bewildered and worn out by grief. How contemptible I
must seem to you!"

"If you knew how lovely you are in your weakness! You are not
contemptible, you are only a true, tender woman, and therein lies your
charm. Do you suppose firm muscles, large bones, and nerves of steel
are attractive to men? It is your very helplessness that rouses our
magnanimity; your delicacy demands our indulgence. To support a
beautiful, trembling woman on his strong arm, and defend her from real
or fancied terrors, is a sweet joy to a man,--sweeter than admiration
of an abnormal strength, which woman attains only at the cost of her
charms."

Cornelia listened to his words with increasing delight.

"Do you suppose," he continued, "that you were ever dearer to me than
at this hour, when I am permitted to cradle your weary form upon my
knees and fondly caress you? when your strong mind succumbs to the laws
of womanly nature and you fly to me in your horror of death? You have
trusted yourself to me more than ever before, and in your sorrow are
sacred. You have nestled confidingly to this heart, and it shall never
deceive you."

"_Heinrich_! _Heinrich_ What a magic you exert! You banish all griefs
with a single glance of love, and your words fill my soul with peace.
Ah, it is beautiful to love in happiness! But we only know what we
are to each other when we need each other. No language can express what
you have been to me in this hour. A dark, starry sky arches over me in
your eyes and invites me to repose; it extends over my whole soul and
seems as if it enthroned the God to whom I bewail my sorrows, in
whom I trust, to whom I shall send up my nightly prayer, and then
rest--sleep!" She closed her eyes as if exhausted, and laid her head
upon his breast.

_Henri_ clasped her closely in his arms. "Oh, bear this happiness! bear
it firmly!" he murmured to himself.

She sat upright again. "I cannot lean upon you; your hard orders hurt
me."

"Then rest on the other side," he pleaded.

She pushed her hair back from her brow, looked sadly at the flashing
decorations, and rose. "It is late, Heinrich; you must leave me now."

_Henri_ cursed the diamond stars with sincere vexation. What had they
availed him? They had destroyed the happiest moment of his life; and
the magic night of love, with all its sweet dreams and illusions, which
Cornelia's weary soul had spread around herself and him, had melted in
their rays.

He rose and extended his hands imploringly to Cornelia. "My darling,
you shall never again be parted from the place where you belong. I
promise you. I shall never wear them in your presence."

"Ah, yes, put them away; they have hurt my cheek, but wounded my heart
still more."

"Cornelia, are you angry with me?"

"I angry with you? Ah, Heinrich, I love you only too well! Tell me,
where is this to end? If I am away from your side a moment, I feel as
if the cold breath of the grave floated over me, and a throb of pain
thrills my frame as if I had torn away a part of my own nature.
Heinrich,--beloved, terrible Heinrich,--where is this to end?"

"In a happy, ardent love," cried _Henri_, radiant with joy. "You shall
not miss me often. I will spend every leisure hour with you. But say,
my angel, shall you still be accessible to me? Does Veronica's death
make no change in your situation?"

"Oh, I had entirely forgotten that. Old Herr Linderer is my guardian,
and the executor of Veronica's will. He proposed that I should reside
in his family for the future."

"What! would you do that?" cried _Henri_.

"It would be very painful to me, and I might remain, for through
Veronica's generosity the house and everything she possessed is mine;
but a young girl ought not to live so entirely alone, without
protection."

"And have you not a moral protection in yourself, and a personal one in
your servants?"

"Certainly."

"That I cannot visit you when you are living with Herr Linderer is a
matter of course. Our intercourse must be broken off, for it cannot
exist under the watchful eyes of that family; so you have but one
choice, my darling,--either to remain here and be the happiest of
betrothed brides, or dispense with my society for the sake of a world
that will not thank you for the sacrifice."

Cornelia clung closely to him. "Do without you? Oh, _Heinrich_, how
could I?"

"Well, promise me you will take courage and refuse Linderer's proposal;
then, Cornelia, I shall first believe in the strength of your love."

"But the world,--how would it judge of such a plan?"

"Cornelia, I should have thought you philosopher enough to despise the
world and its judgments."

"Perhaps,--but custom--"

"You may offend against custom, but not morality. Our love bears the
highest consecration in itself. If you are thoroughly pervaded with its
influence, you may trust yourself to it without fear. But what am I
talking about? Ask your own heart whether you will make me of less
importance than consideration for the opinion of the world,--whether
you can inflict this sorrow upon yourself and your _Heinrich_."

"And do you not take the same precautions, _Heinrich_? Do you not deny
me before society for the sake of 'its despicable prejudices'?"

_Henri_ was embarrassed for a moment; then he said, calmly, "If I now
make confessions to the influential circles which have the decision of
my fate, it will be done while I am not compelled to be deprived of
you. If I had only the choice of leaving you or giving up my plans, I
should not hesitate a moment to do the latter. If you go to Herr
Linderer's, you will place me in this alternative. I must either give
you up for a long time, or prematurely acknowledge our relations and
destroy my hopes for the future. Speak, my angel! If you demand the
latter, be proud to prove that I love you better than you do me, and
can make greater sacrifices."

"No, no, my dearest! You shall not think me so selfish; I should be
ashamed to accept such an one from you. I will stay in this house and
refuse Herr Linderer's offer. People may say what they please; better
they should suspect me than that you should doubt my love."

"Those words were worthy of you, Cornelia!" cried _Henri_. "What
gratitude can reward you as you deserve?"

Cornelia gazed into his eyes long and earnestly. "Justify my
confidence, _Heinrich_, and you will give me the highest, the only
reward I ask. And now farewell for to-day."

"Must I leave you? Ah, one moment more!"

Cornelia shook her head sadly. "No, it cannot be; it is late, and I
must rest; but you can go through the room with me,--will you?"

"Yes, my angel, I will go with you to the threshold of your room; and
then turn away from the door of heaven like a condemned spirit."

"Come," said Cornelia; and slowly entered the room leaning on his arm.

There lay the corpse in the coffin, a wreath of blossoming myrtle on
the head, and Cornelia's red roses on the heart. Her tears flowed
again, her grief burst forth anew, as she looked down on the silent,
pale, old bride.

"Oh, faithful guardian of my childhood!" she sobbed, "will you leave
your Cornelia alone? Open your lips once more and tell me, oh! tell
whether I am doing right in what I have just promised my beloved one!
Ah, speak to me once, only once more, true, pure heart, which has been
my refuge in joy and sorrow!"

"Have you forgotten that I am by your side, Cornelia?" said _Henri_,
reproachfully.

She turned from the body, pressed a fervent kiss upon his lips, and
allowed him to lead her through the apartment to her own room. Here she
paused. "Thanks, dearest Heinrich! farewell!"

"Must I leave you alone with your tears?"

"Oh, the would gush forth again whenever you went, no matter how long
you might remain!"

"Do you not fear your own thoughts while you are in this excited mood?"

"Not in this cheerful chamber. It is protected by all the thousand
dreams of love I have had here. There is your picture; where that is
the icy breath of death cannot enter. Farewell!"

"Ah, if I might only sleep on the threshold before your door, I would
never seek soft pillows!" Again he clasped her in his arms; then, with
an effort, tore himself away. "Good-night!"

"Good-night, Heinrich!" she cried in a tone which revealed all the
wealth of ardent feeling she had repressed with so much difficulty;
then disappeared in her own room and locked the door.

_Henri_ averted his face as he passed the corpse. He had once more
received a solemn lesson, and it was only when his agitated feelings
began to grow calm that he was able to justly comprehend the importance
of the last hour.

He returned home absorbed in thought, and the first thing he did was to
cast aside the star-bedecked uniform. Then he paced up and down his
room, while the most conflicting thoughts whirled through his brain.
Cornelia's sacrifice had shamed him deeply. Was he to misuse it, and
abuse her confidence? Must he not reward her better?

Again he paced up and down the room.

But he would requite her with a thousand joys. Free love was spared the
heavy cares of the married state. He could easily teach her to despise
the social "prejudices of morality," and as soon as she disregarded
them, of what would she be deprived if their relations lacked the legal
stamp? He would never desert her,--he had sworn it; so their union
would contain the fundamental principle of marriage. He would never wed
another. What did she want more? He believed her unconventional enough
to regard the claims of custom lightly. She had already done so to a
certain extent by the promise she had given that day. The first--most
difficult--step was taken. But if he misjudged her, if his plan failed,
and she could not endure the disgrace. If he should lose her! He was
obliged to confess that he could no longer live without her. Did she
not outweigh his triumphs and his prospects at the court? But suppose
the new law did not pass? could not fall a victim to it, as he had made
Veronica suppose, for he was one of its opponents. To whom could the
prince turn, in forming a new ministry, except himself? Suppose, by his
marriage with Cornelia, he should lose the prince's favor, and with it
the portfolio? This turned the scale. This period must be awaited.

The magnanimity of love! How many an innocent, womanly heart has
already been led astray by this will-o'-the-wisp of tender sophistry!
Deeds like Cornelia's sacrifice of a public betrothal, and her promise
to live alone, veil themselves beneath a semblance of such nobility
that an unsuspecting nature does not hesitate to perform them,
believing itself to be yielding to an impulse of generosity, and not
suspecting that it is merely following the guidance of its own passion.
Cornelia was too innocent and inexperienced to penetrate _Henri's_
unprincipled tactics. If doubts again arose they could not give
sufficient proofs of their justice, and were always crushed as "idle
fancies" by the power of her love.

Veronica's funeral took place, and it touched Cornelia deeply that
Heinrich was present; she considered it a fresh proof of his
uprightness.

Old Archivrath Linderer heard with actual tears her refusal to become
one of his family. He ventured a few timid remonstrances, but was far
too courteous to use his right as guardian and compel her to yield to
his views. He could not force himself to be uncivil to any one, and
according to his ideas he would have been so had he attempted to impose
any restraint upon Cornelia. Therefore, when he saw that his timidly
uttered, kindly meant representations were wholly disregarded, he could
only wipe the sweat of anxiety from his brow and take leave of her with
a deeply saddened heart. Even the sulky servant took his leave, to live
upon the legacy Veronica had left him, as soon as he learned that
Cornelia intended to keep up an independent establishment.

Several weeks now quietly elapsed in a gentle alternation of joy and
sorrow, until the image of the beloved dead receded into the background
more and more, and love took exclusive possession of Cornelia's whole
existence. At first she did not notice that the number of her
acquaintances lessened; and when she at last became aware of it,
_Henri's_ influence had already taught her to disregard it. She
despised the pitiful souls which only judged from appearances, and
clung to the few faithful friends that remained to her. But it was
unavoidable that one or another of them should meet Ottmar during his
frequent visits. It would not do,--people must not always find him with
her; so, if he was present, other visitors were refused. When this
happened too frequently, and Cornelia perceived that it must lead to
misunderstandings with her best friends, she at last consented that
Ottmar should spend the evening hours with her. Thus the meetings with
others were prevented; but as his presence had been noticed, his
absence was now the cause of comment. Had their interviews ceased, or
been deferred until another hour? This must be ascertained. A few
zealous friends watched her, and saw him come and go. They sorrowfully
confided this incredible thing to each other under the seal of silence,
warned her, half openly and half by hints, that her fair fame was
endangered, and mourned for her as one dead. Yet she still stood erect
and stainless, her girlish brow loftily upraised against the
humiliations she endured, and pitied the world for being too corrupt to
believe in the purity of anything; her last consolation was her good
conscience. She trusted to herself and to her lover, and awaited the
day which would solve the mystery before the eyes of men and restore
her their lost esteem. This gave her strength to endure the "trial."

Ottmar did everything in his power to employ her time and occupy her
thoughts. He was well aware that he could only win this noble woman
gradually, and by noble means. He read with her, gave her the most
beautiful classical works, explained the thoughts of the ancient and
modern philosophers, and perused with her the best of modern
literature. Thus she learned to associate with him the impressions made
by the noblest productions of the intellect, from which he obtained a
certain halo that made him worthy of worship in her eyes. He understood
all these grand works, and made them comprehensible to her,--it seemed
as great a deed as if he had created them himself. She looked up to him
as a superior being, and at last could really neither think, feel, nor
live without him. He, in his turn, was delighted with her
susceptibility and active mind, and became accustomed to impart
everything good and beautiful which came in his way to Cornelia, and
enjoy it doubly with her. Thus he unconsciously entangled himself in
the net he was weaving for the young girl; she became as great a
necessity to him as he to her, and he had never been so happy before.
Yet this life was not wholly without discord. His twofold nature often
wounded Cornelia; he was either passionately excited, or brilliant and
cold. She could not be at ease; one she was forced to repel, the other
repelled her. Both prevented the calm happiness of loving intercourse
which woman's platonic nature so fully understands and needs. She often
took for want of love what was merely lack of sensuous feeling, and the
glowing ardor which alternated with the coldness could not supply the
place of the uniform warmth of deep affection. Ottmar at last
understood what she lacked. He perceived that there was a middle path,
that he must be at once less cold and less warm, to obtain entire
control over her. During the time that his intellect was in the
ascendant, he endeavored to assume a more affectionate tone, and the
oftener this happened the better it pleased _Heinrich_ to press his
lips to the brow which contained the thoughts that delighted him, and
stroke the hair that veiled it, while it afforded him still higher
enjoyment to study in her classic form and features the idea of the
beautiful. She became a living work of art to him, and as art is the
first mediator between mind and matter, he began to rejoice in her
physical charms from an artistic stand-point. _Henri_, on the contrary,
ennobled the expression of his love and appropriated more and more of
the impulses of Cornelia's soul. Thus intellect began to grow warmer,
sensuality to be spiritualized. The separation between them had been
lessened by struggling for a common object; if his moral consciousness
had ripened in the same proportion as the two extremes approached a
normal union, he would have adopted a different course of action. But
the individual conflict was not yet entirely settled, and the moral one
could not be decided. His mistakes and transgressions had proceeded
solely from the gulf in his nature; only when the parts were united in
one harmonious whole could they be expelled, for right and truth can
only thrive in a soul at peace with itself.

Months elapsed, and the political event which was to decide his own
fate and Cornelia's drew near. Ottmar awaited it with eager suspense.
He longed to have this uncertain condition of affairs ended. He
perceived more and more clearly that to possess Cornelia would outweigh
his present position, and made himself familiar with the thought of
sacrificing it, if driven to extremities. But the appointment of
minister cast a weight into the scale of his ambition which outbalanced
the feeble efforts of his conscience; as minister he could not inflict
upon himself and the court the disgrace of a politically suspicious
mesalliance,--then he would induce Cornelia to make the sacrifice, and
he did not doubt that she would do so.



                                 XVIII.

                         CORNELIA AND OTTILIE.


Cornelia did not suspect what a sword was hanging over her head, did
not question the near or distant future, but lived wholly in the
present moment. One thing alone she did not forget,--her visits to the
prisoners. She devoted the usual time to them; the place where she
first saw Ottmar had become sacred to her, and by her mournful labors
for the unfortunate men, her patience with their sufferings and
obstinacy, she believed that she was paying fate a tribute for the
happiness enjoyed in her love. She rarely appeared in public, for she
could not bear the glances that accused her of guilt of which she knew
herself to be innocent. She therefore no longer entered a church or
theatre; her church was her love, her God in Heinrich's breast, and her
studies with him conjured up a world of beauty. She wanted nothing,
needed nothing, but him. She made no subtle inquiries and no longer
doubted him; he was everything to her, and she knew that with him she
should lose all.

Thus it sounded like a voice from another world when one day a
"stranger lady" was announced. Who could visit her still? The lady
entered, and fixed a half-timid, half-questioning, glance upon
Cornelia.

"You are Fräulein Erwing?"

"That is my name. With whom have I the honor of speaking?"

"I have come on an errand from her Highness the princess."

Cornelia gazed dreamily into eyes whose blue vied with the ribbons on
the stranger's hat.

"Her Highness wishes to make your acquaintance, and begs you to pay her
a visit to-morrow afternoon at four o'clock."

The young girl's voice trembled slightly, and she looked expectantly at
Cornelia. The latter stood motionless with amazement, almost terror.
What did Ottilie want of her? Röschen--for she alone could execute this
confidential commission--was unable to turn her eyes from the noble
figure its sweeping black robes.

"Can you not at least tell what has procured me the great happiness of
being permitted to wait upon the princess?" asked Cornelia.

"No, Fräulein; I only know you will be received with the greatest
kindness, and that only sincere interest induced the princess to see
you."

"Say to her Highness that I am truly grateful to her, and that I will
wait upon her to-morrow at the time appointed."

"Her Highness will be very glad. Farewell."

"Excuse me, Fräulein; one question more: is your name Röschen?"

A deep blush suffused the lovely face. "Yes."

Cornelia, deeply moved, went up to her, took her hands, and pressed a
kiss upon her fresh lips. "We have known each other a long time, have
we not?"

Röschen was surprised and greatly agitated. "Yes, yes!" she exclaimed,
pressing Cornelia's hand to her lips. "Let me thank you for all you
have done for Albert. We can never repay you for it; but the dear God
will know how to reward you."

Cornelia gazed into her eyes for a long time with ever-increasing
interest. "You ought to have become Albert's wife: the poor fellow has
suffered so much for your sake."

"I cannot leave the princess, and besides,"--Röschen hesitated a
little,--"besides, he did not wish it so very much. Ah, I understand it
now: he who has once seen you can never love another."

"Oh, my dear girl, what are you saying? You will be reconciled to each
other again, or I shall regret what I did for Albert." She glanced
anxiously at the clock; for it was almost the hour when Ottmar might be
expected.

This did not escape Röschen's natural delicacy of feeling. "I am
detaining you, dear Fräulein, and the princess is waiting. Farewell!
your kindness has made me very happy."

"Will you not come again, that we may continue our talk?"

"With the greatest pleasure. But there is one thing more I had almost
forgotten: the princess begs you to tell no one that you have been
requested to come to her. She will refuse all visitors to-morrow on the
plea of indisposition, and fears people might take it amiss if she----"

"I understand," interrupted Cornelia, "and will say nothing."

After Röschen had gone she stood for a long time absorbed in thought.
The solution of this enigma could not be guessed. She rejoiced over the
strange event, for she had loved Ottilie ever since she knew her
relations with Ottmar; yet it grieved her to think that she would
perceive at every breath a happiness denied the princess. Suppose her
eyes should rest upon Cornelia with sorrowful jealousy as her fortunate
rival.

The following day and the appointed hour came. In great agitation, and
not without a little timidity at the idea of the grandeur that
surrounded Ottilie, Cornelia entered the magnificent apartments of the
princess. The groom of the chambers conducted her through a long
succession of rooms. At last he paused, pointed to a half-open glass
door, and disappeared. The silken portières were drawn aside, and
Ottilie stood before Cornelia!

A long pause followed. Both looked at each other in breathless
suspense. Ottilie was paler than ever; Cornelia deeply flushed. At last
Ottilie gently took her hand and murmured almost inaudibly, with a sort
of sorrowful satisfaction, "Yes; so my fancy pictured you! So you must
be."

"Your Highness bestows upon me so great a favor that I seek in vain for
words to express my joyful surprise and gratitude."

"There can be no question of gratitude here; but no doubt you were
surprised that I should request you to visit me." Ottilie seated
herself, and drew Cornelia down upon the sofa beside her. "I have a
great and important matter to intrust to you, Fräulein, and believe I
can read in your eyes, an your lofty brow, the certainty that I have
applied to the right person." Cornelia looked at Ottilie in eager
expectation. After a short pause, the latter continued: "Accident,
Fräulein, or rather destiny, made me acquainted with your labors among
the prisoners. I perceived with admiration how you had aimed at results
which the wisest provisions of the law could not attain; how you were
the first to strew over the lifeless forms of punishment the living
germs from which sprang new life, remorse, and amendment. You will
believe me when I say that no mere idle curiosity, but heartfelt
sympathy, impelled me to make the acquaintance of so remarkable a
character. I will even confess that I trembled lest I should find your
person did not harmonize with the ideal I had formed." She paused, and
once more gazed long and earnestly into Cornelia's eyes; then bent
towards her and pressed a kiss upon her brow. "Thank God that I now
dare love you in reality, as I have already done in fancy!"

"Your Highness," began Cornelia, deeply moved as she sought for words,
while her bosom rose and fell more rapidly, "I know I do not deserve
what you say; and yet a blissful content, for which I can find no
expression, overflows my whole nature. You see me in the light that
streams from yourself; but its rays fall upon my soul also, and wake
their concealed powers of good, which fill me with pride,--not for what
I have done, but for what I shall accomplish. God knows I performed
these works of mercy without any desire or hope of recognition. I have
long supposed I labored wholly unobserved; but there is so great a
recompense in this moment that it would crown the toil of a whole life;
and I will struggle all my life to deserve it."

"You are enthusiastic, my child; but this very enthusiasm makes you
what you are; so I will accept the flattery contained in your words as
the tribute every noble soul offers to the ideal towards which we all
strive."

"Oh, not as that alone, your Highness! Deign to accept the childlike,
humble reverence of a heart which has long looked up to you as the
noblest of women. I know not whether I ought to express in words what
has been hovering upon my lips ever since the first moment of our
meeting. It might, perhaps, be a great offense against etiquette, but I
hope your Highness will regard the essence rather than the form."

"I hope you will do me the honor to be assured of it," interposed
Ottilie, with a smile.

"Well, then, permit me to tell your Highness that I have long loved you
with my whole heart."

"If that is true, my child, I rejoice to hear it. Love is a voluntary
gift, which, whether deserved or not, we are always permitted to
receive. I thank you for it; yes, I thank you from the inmost depths of
a lonely heart."

"Ah, if you were not a princess!" murmured Cornelia, involuntarily.

"My dear child, how often I have said that myself! God has placed me in
this position only to test my strength; for that which compensates
others in a similar station for their secret lack of happiness--delight
in splendor and grandeur, sovereignty and renown--is denied me. Nothing
has any charm for me; my joys are rooted solely in the heart; and even
these are sparingly meted out. The gulf which severs the princess from
her subjects does not exist in my soul, and cannot separate my
affection from them. I love men, respect their rights, admire their
works, and thus stand ever alone upon my lofty height, consumed with
vain longings, and stretching out my arms across the abyss which yawns
between me and the warm hearts of humanity."

"Poor princess!" said Cornelia, earnestly.

"Yes, poor princess," replied Ottilie, her eyes resting dreamily upon
Cornelia's beautiful features.

"But your Highness can taste great joys, and satisfy your benevolence
by your power of benefiting so many thousands."

"Do you think so, my dear child?" asked Ottilie, with a sorrowful
smile.

"That was the one thing for which I always envied princes," continued
Cornelia, "which always made sovereignty appear so beautiful, so
alluring."

"And the thought tempted me, too," said Ottilie, lowering her voice to
a scarcely audible whisper, "when I allowed myself to be wedded to the
prince; but I was disappointed, as I have been in so many other things.
Believe me, my child, it is sad to be compelled to look an helplessly,
while the right way of making a nation happy is earnestly sought, but
always missed. The prince's views are so immovable, and so entirely
opposed to my own, that I have given up the effort to exert any
influence whatever for the welfare of my country, although my heart
bleeds for it. I know that no good can come for either party; I see a
time approaching when the dissension will increase to such a degree
that one or the other must fall a victim. I shall not live to see it;
if I am anxious, it is only for my subjects, my husband, and--perhaps
my children," she paused. "God grant that I may not be denied the
opportunity of teaching them a better understanding of their times!"

"But cannot the joyful blessings of the many to whom your Highness
gives special aid offer you some compensation?"

"Even this is limited. Every one who makes his narrow circle happy in
his own way receives more pleasure from his efforts than I: the
princess lacks the power of immediate bestowal and reception; but this
directness is the source of all the joys of the soul. If you, my child,
do good according to your circumstances, you will be rewarded a
thousandfold more than I, though I should give a thousand times more.
The poor man, whose sufferings you instantly relieve, can show you his
joy; it is not only the alms, but your manner of bestowing them, that
console him, and the tears sparkling in his eyes certainly reward you
far more than I am recompensed by the official addresses of thanks and
humble bows of delegates from whole parishes I have saved from misery.
I am well aware that we should not perform charitable works for the
sake of gratitude, nor do I; but it is so natural to be cheered by the
success of a good deed, the same sympathy which induces us to alleviate
the sorrows of others makes us long to spare the joys we have prepared.
This is denied me; etiquette always stands between me and the hearts of
my subjects, and with its icy breath transforms every voluntary show of
feeling into the unvarying mien of reverence. You see, my child, the
halo your imagination spread around sovereignty is vanishing more and
more." She paused, and her large, tearful eyes gazed sorrowfully at
Cornelia. "I shall depend upon your well-known greatness of soul to
communicate the purport of this conversation to no one."

"I thank you for your confidence, your Highness, and will justify it."

"I believe you," said Ottilie. "And now let me proceed to the principal
matter. I do so with a heavy heart, for fondly as I have become
attached to you, I must now make a proposal whose acceptance will
deprive me of your society, because it depends upon your leaving the
city. But I have learned to sacrifice my own wishes for the welfare of
others, and will not be so selfish as to claim your presence here when
it may prove the salvation of so many unfortunates."

Cornelia gazed at Ottilie in speechless expectation. She felt afraid,
for she had gathered nothing from the princess's words except an
intention to send her out of the city.

Ottilie clasped Cornelia's hand with evident emotion, and continued: "I
have founded in T----, whose lovely scenery seemed peculiarly adapted
for it, an institution for the reformation of female criminals, who, on
being discharged from the custody of the law, perhaps wholly destitute
of means, and alone in the world, would be led to enter the path of
wrong anew in order to escape hunger and despair. The idea is not new;
it has already been attempted in Germany many times, usually with very
indifferent success. All such undertakings require not only money,
skillful and conscientious management, and carefully watched exercises,
but a genial spirit and loving heart to breathe life into the empty
forms, and rouse in the penitents themselves an impulse of repentance,
for whose development the peace prevailing in the institution, the
pious exercises, and useful occupations will afford a suitable soil.
But how many women are there who unite to the highest qualities of the
heart a sound understanding, and are noble enough to devote them to
such a purpose? You, Cornelia, are such a being; you possess the
requisite grandeur of soul and self-denial, and your heart beats warmly
for the moral sufferings and infirmities of mankind: you have already
proved it. Do you now understand what I wish to ask of you? You shall
secure blessings and prosperity for my subjects, you shall receive the
position of directress of the institution at T----, and I am sure that
this sphere of influence among the poor wanderers of your own sex will
suit you far better than to associate with the rude, degraded men in
the prison."

Cornelia looked down. "I see with painful confusion," she began, at
last, "how greatly your Highness has over-rated me, and how little I
deserve the favor you have permitted to fall to my lot in consequence
of these expectations. Will your Highness most graciously permit me to
correct the last opinion you expressed, that I must prefer to associate
with female criminals rather than with men. I feel far less sympathy
and interest for a guilty woman; for she has much less excuse than a
man. He is created stronger and more ungovernable by nature, therefore
his passions must be more violent, his desires fiercer, his acts and
thoughts ruder, more energetic, while the moral support given him is
not proportionally greater than that of the woman. On the contrary, the
moral instincts are more vivid in the latter, and her moral horizon
more contracted. How much worse, then, must she be, to sink into crimes
which often have no foundation in her nature! No doubt, woman is also
the cause of many crimes,--or rather womanly weaknesses; yet these are
as repulsive to me as the crimes committed at the expense of all
womanly feeling."

"That is a very harsh judgment," Ottilie interposed.

"I am not harsh, your Highness; I condemn such feeble creatures less,
but I have not sufficient sympathy, even for them, to be able to devote
myself to them with the necessary self-sacrifice. Besides, I should be
unable to believe that my efforts in their behalf would be attended
with sufficient success, for the same weakness that permitted them to
fall into sin would, it true, make them easily susceptible to
repentance, but expose them just as readily to any evil influence as
soon as they were left to themselves."

"That may unfortunately be true in many cases. But are you not
attracted towards the poor creatures who have fallen victims to the
highest earthly power,--who have erred through love?"

Cornelia started, and a deep blush suffused her face; she knew not why.
Her conscience was pure, and yet she could not bear the clear,
penetrating glance of the princess. Why did she feel so startled by
that word? Why did the look that accompanied it weigh upon her brow
like a secret sentence? Surely she had not erred through love, but she
had not been heedful of appearances. Suppose Ottilie judged by
appearances, and had spoken with a meaning? Oh, that she could banish
this treacherous blush! Must it not seem to Ottilie the token of a bad
conscience? She could not bear that. She raised her head and looked the
princess steadily in the face.

"Your Highness, the law does not punish the errors of love; but if a
woman falls so low that she commits from love crimes which make her
amenable to the law, she becomes as detestable to me as all others. You
see I lack the first requisite for the vocation your Highness did me
the honor to propose,--the true Christian charity which does not judge
but pardons."

"But which has already been so touchingly proved by your care for the
prisoners of state," replied Ottilie. "I will not be indiscreet, but I
cannot help remarking that the reason you have just given cannot be the
only one which withholds you from a vocation of Christian charity you
have hitherto voluntarily chosen, under circumstances far more
favorable to you; for your labors in my institution would not only
secure you every pecuniary advantage you could ask,--not only win
gratifying success with those intrusted to your care,--but make you
famous in the eyes of the would. Your ambition, if you possess any,
would also obtain the most brilliant satisfaction abroad the name and
spirit of Cornelia Erwing could soar away from the pleasant work- and
prayer-rooms of the institution far more easily than through the
gloomy, impenetrable dungeon-walls of the prison."

"Oh, your Highness, pardon the freedom of my words!" said Cornelia,
with noble pride; "but you now undervalue as much as you lately
overrated me. Does your Highness really suppose that these prospects
could induce me to prefer laboring in the institution at T---- to my
present sphere of influence in the prison? Do you imagine a pecuniary
advantage I do not even need, or ambition for the cheaply-bought fame
of being a Good Samaritan, which every hypocrite can obtain, would
induce me to do anything to which my own feelings did not urge me? No,
your Highness, you cannot think so meanly of one to whom, a few moments
ago, you condescended to show the greatest favor. I have no other
motive for my actions than my heart. In this alone is rooted my
strength or my weakness, as you may choose to term it,--perhaps my
selfishness. But all selfishness that arises solely from calculating
reason is foreign to my nature; therefore, when I tell you that my
heart does not draw me to the Christian work in T----, your Highness
may be assured that no worldly advantage would lead me to it; yet, if
the contrary were the case, I would joyfully renounce every material
reward."

"I believe you," said Ottilie; "but may I ask what has so strongly
attracted you towards the prisoners?"

"Here, also, I only followed the impulse of my own feelings. Love for
one of them led me accidentally to the scene of his misery. Love for
the individual taught me to understand and pity the sorrows of his
companions. Ordinary crimes would have terrified me and filled me with
horror. I should have been as little inclined to aid in reforming a
debased man as a base woman, but at that time the prisoners were
principally political criminals. The idea for which most of them had
struggled and erred, to which my father and my dead lover were martyrs,
was necessarily sacred to my heart; and although I admit that it may
have been erroneous,--even pernicious in the extremes and manner in
which they strove to establish it,--I could neither condemn nor abhor
those who had suffered for the same conviction to which my father had
sacrificed himself. At first I employed my efforts only in behalf of
the political prisoners. An accident, however, made me acquainted with
a--as people usually say--'common murderer'; and I found in him a
weak-minded, but thoroughly noble man, who had been driven by the force
of circumstances to do what is recognized among all nations, not only
as a right, but a duty; he punished the tempter of his betrothed
bride!" She paused a moment, while again a deep blush suffused her
face.

Ottilie, too, blushed slightly, and murmured, "I know the particulars
of the occurrence."

"That convinced me," continued Cornelia, "how many good and evil powers
can exist in the broad breast of a man at the same time,--how mighty
the impulses often are to commit crimes which arise in his life; and
from that moment I went into the cells of all who justified this view."

"And were there many of them?" asked Ottilie.

"No, your Highness. With the exception of the political prisoners, at
the utmost only or five among a hundred and twelve; but these few were
sufficient to confirm my assertion."

"And among a hundred female convicts, would you not perhaps find four
or five deserving of your sympathy?"

"Very possibly, your Highness; but I could not devote myself only to
these: I should be compelled to care for the many wicked creatures who
could only arouse my loathing and abhorrence. I have always considered
my labors in the prison as an episode, and only employed a few hours of
the day in them; but here I should be compelled to devote my whole
time--nay, my life--to a vocation which could not satisfy me. I am not
one of those persons who do anything systematically, who make the work
of mercy a trade,--a mechanical, daily occupation,--in which, through
habit, they become so dull that they scarcely feel the blessing of
their labors. I wish to perform it freely and earnestly, whenever and
wherever I find an opportunity: and whose destiny does not afford one?
I do not even want you to be obliged to make it for me,--it must come
as a revelation from the inmost heart of life; and when I seize upon
it, it must be a quick, joyful deed, gushing full and warm from the
depths of a loving breast. Thus alone can it make me and others happy;
thus alone can I practice charity."

Ottilie clasped Cornelia's hand, and gazed into her eyes with
increasing delight.

"This may be selfish," the latter continued, "but it is natural,
and I cannot make myself different from what I am. I want events,
emotions, and--love. I want art pleasures. I feel the pulsations of an
ever-advancing civilization throbbing within me, and am ennobled by my
enthusiasm for everything beautiful which it has created. With this
tide of life swelling in my breast, I cannot bury myself behind the
walls of an institution for penitents,--cannot turn my delighted eyes
from the loftiest model of human greatness to fix them forever upon the
lowest caricatures of depravity. In the monotony of such a life I
should die of longing for the warm human love which has hitherto
streamed forth from the noble hearts that surrounded me. I see no moral
obligation to do so, for I am proud enough, your Highness, to believe
that God has destined me to make a good and noble being happy. Does it
not seem to your Highness far more beautiful to devote a life to this
purpose, rather than allow it to wither away in an institution for the
reformation of degraded creatures?"

Cornelia had scarcely ended when she found herself clasped in Ottilie's
arms.

"Forgive me," said the princess, with deep emotion. "I have esteemed
you highly, but not known you; now I understand you. You shall hear no
more from me of an expectation so ill suited to your character. You are
born for higher things; you belong to the great band of those who are
appointed to restore the ideal balance of the world. You are right.
Fate allots to each his sphere of labor, and you are to make the
happiness of an equally gifted nature. To seek to withdraw you from
this object would be committing a wrong against him for whom God
created you; and, in truth, he must love the man to whom he has given
you for a companion." Again a short pause followed. "Let those for whom
life has no longer any hopes, whom it has robbed of all the heart of
woman needs, devote themselves to the vocation I have mentioned. For
you many great joys and duties are still reserved,--but do not deceive
yourself, perhaps many sorrows also."

"Oh, I have never blinded myself to that!" replied Cornelia. "I do not
fear them. No one is spared, and what all suffer will not be too heavy
for me."

"It is easy for us to say so. God grant you may be spared the hours
when we doubt our own strength! Shall I be frank?" she asked, with
sudden resolution; and then continued, without waiting for a reply, "I
thought I could guard you from such sorrows when I selected you for the
position at T----. I believed you to be under dangerous influences, and
as I had become deeply interested in you from the descriptions I had
heard, thought it any duty to constitute myself your protectress. But I
now feel ashamed in your presence, for I am convinced that you are too
noble to need my protection; you have the best support in yourself. It
depends upon you to make the power that will be exerted over you
beneficial or otherwise, and I know now it will be the former."

"Oh, your Highness," cried Cornelia, her eyes dim with tears, "I thank
you for those words! But I beseech you not to overvalue me at the
expense of another whose influence I have thus far felt as one rich in
blessing. I should despise myself if I did not gratefully remember all
the beauty and goodness I have received through the very intercourse
you feared for me. Least of all, your Highness, could I bear to see the
heart which is the dearest thing on earth to me misunderstood by you."
She was silent in alarm. Ottilie coughed and pressed her handkerchief
to her lips, then removed it and looked at Cornelia with a smile.
Cornelia could not speak: she was gasping for breath; she had seen
blood on the transparent folds.

"Do you suppose," Ottilie began, as quietly as if nothing had
happened,--"do you really suppose I misunderstand this heart? Ah, no!
But I see its faults, and wished to warn you of them. God knows whether
he has a truer friend than I. As long as he lived at my court in H----
I devoted the most kindly care to him; but my influence was too weak.
Perhaps the blissful task of ennobling him is assigned to her whom he
loves. May God bless and strengthen you for this work! And of whatever
nature the faults you will discover in the course of time may be,
beware of them; but do not let yourself be discouraged, they are only
the goblin shapes of his twofold nature, which will melt into nothing
as soon as your pure, noble spirit is united to his better self. Bear
with him faithfully, for he will love you as he never did any one, and
must be utterly wretched without you!"

She rose. Her cheeks glowed, and her eyes again beamed with the
unearthly expression of a spirit about to take its flight from the
earth.

Cornelia kissed her hand with deep emotion. "Your Highness, I stand
before you as if in the presence of the guardian angel of my betrothed,
and take a solemn vow that nothing shall part me from him except
himself! I knew his faults before his good qualities, and they were so
great they made me forget the latter. I began by despising, and ended
by loving him; and if I should lose faith in him again I should die!"

"Oh, my child, we outlive a great deal! May God protect you and him!
Farewell. Remember me kindly until I can see you again." She dismissed
Cornelia with a warm embrace. "He will not corrupt her; she will save
him," she murmured. "My God, I thank thee!"

"Are you come at last?" cried a well-known voice, as Cornelia entered
the room. "Where have you been? I have been waiting for you an hour."

"And you are so much accustomed to have me devote myself entirely to
you," said Cornelia, as she laid her hat and shawl aside, "that you are
angry because I have given even a few hours to some one else." She sat
down beside him, drew back his head, and gazed with winning tenderness
into his clouded face. "Must I ask whether you have come to-day as a
schoolmaster or a lover? The book lying beside you, and your stern
manner, predict the former; but I must confess that I have no mind to
give to anything except the wonderful event of this day."

"Well, what has happened to you?" asked _Heinrich_, resting his head
upon her shoulder. "Tell me."

"I have just come from the princess."

_Heinrich_ started up in astonishment.

"She offered me the position of directress at T----."

"Ah, she wanted to get you out of the City! She is jealous," he
murmured.

"Oh, how meanly you think of that noble soul! She had other reasons
which I cannot discuss more particularly and indeed, Heinrich, she is
an angel!"

"What answer did you make to her proposal?"

"I rejected it."

"There I see my own Cornelia."

"Oh, is this the first time you understand me? I think you ought to
have done so before."

"You are right; you have already made greater sacrifices,--if it is a
sacrifice you are making for me."

"Of course it is. I do not know whether I might not have accepted
Ottilie's proposal if, after Veronica's death, I had been left alone
with my heart full of philanthropic enthusiasm and without your love."

"In any case, you would have been committing a great piece of folly."

"According to your ideas, but not mine. You will never believe how much
happiness the good we do to others can bestow; and yet you are not
happy, although all your life you have lived only for yourself."

_Heinrich_ sat with his eyes fixed upon the floor.

"Believe me, dearest, the benefits we confer upon others recoil upon
ourselves, as well as the wrongs we inflict upon them; and as often as,
mindful only of our own advantage, we are compelled to injure others,
so often we shall reap a curse instead of a blessing."

_Heinrich's_ eyes were still more gloomy.

"He who wishes to grasp and keep happiness solely for himself will find
it quickly fade, as we cannot make a flower our own by plucking it and
placing it in the breast; it will only gladden us a few minutes, and
then wither uselessly. Only when you plant happiness in the soil of
other hearts, and share their joys, will it bear flowers and fruits for
you. The law of multiplication does not merely extend through the
material, but the spiritual world. All the elements of our being are
united in us, and in this unity they collect their strength, but are
intended to be scattered abroad when they develop, so luxuriantly that
we can no longer seek the limits of our being within the narrow bounds
of our own hearts, but in the wide sphere of our beneficent influence.
The egotist never knows the satisfaction found in the execution of
every great or insignificant law of the universe, for he shuts himself
mentally within himself, and draws the juices from the soil which he is
rooted without ever enriching it. He believes it well to receive
without giving, and yet feels withered within. He does not understand
himself, bitterly accuses the world and destiny which have thus
insulated and placed him in a false position, and does not perceive
that the blessing he vainly expected from others ought to have emanated
from himself!"

_Heinrich_ started up. "Yes, my Cornelia, in many instances you have
hit the mark wonderfully. But, believe me, my child, the sphere in
which I live is not adapted to that beneficent expansion of self. It
is, in reality, a sphere of egotism, in which one must greedily cling
to his own advantage if he would not have it torn from him. There is no
individual connection between us diplomats, we are only united by our
functions as constituent parts of the great mechanism which drives the
machinery of the government; and neither can the heart develop warm
benevolence when one has accustomed himself to look upon nations
merely as the material to be manufactured by this machinery into a
well-regulated whole. Imagine the feelings of a man, a statesman. You
speak of diffusing his own character abroad: I know what you understand
by it; it is all very noble and beautiful for the philanthropic members
of the masses, but it is the duty of statesmen to guide and govern the
populace, and we must not mingle among those we rule. We, too, devote
our strength to them, but we associate a more abstract idea with the
word than you sanguine philanthropists. You understand it to mean only
the people, but we the government, the law, the extension of the
interests of trade, the protection of the highest interests in foreign
countries,--in short, everything upon which the prosperity of a country
depends. To you the nation has a personal, to us only a political,
individuality; you are incessantly caring for its position towards the
throne, but we for its position towards the world!" He looked at
Cornelia, who was hanging upon his words in breathless expectation.
"Well, my Cornelia, do we not both live for the whole,--each in our own
way?"

"There are your sophisms again, against which my natural intuition
strives with so much difficulty. I confess that none of your words have
made any other impression than the sorrowful one of self-deception.
Heinrich! Heinrich! what will become of you if you accustom yourself to
make sport of truth? You have described how a statesman thinks and
feels, but not how you think and feel. Of course, there are statesmen
who have the welfare of the people at heart; but such men cannot live
in a country like this, or they must be short-sighted enough to see
happiness in despotism. But you are not so blind. Heinrich, you
understand the conditions of a higher national development, and know
you are working against it; you are sinning against the most sacred
rights of humanity, yet say you are laboring for the whole. What do you
understand by this word? To you it is merely an empty sound; for that
which gives it life and meaning to us, anxiety for the common welfare,
is unknown to you. Do not say you live for the state, if not for the
people! Is there a state without a nation? Establish one with ideas
instead of men; govern these, and you will have the same reason to
boast of your labors for 'the whole.'"

"You are becoming violent and unjust, my Cornelia."

"It always makes me indignant when I see you palliating such faults as
these. I can forgive the worst offense if frankly confessed and
recognized, but to a palliated error I am unrelenting. Forgive me, if I
was violent," she pleaded, clinging fondly to him. "Come, kiss me; you
are so cold to-day." She drew him nearer her as they sat on the sofa.
"Let us talk quietly; I feel more anxious to discuss this subject fully
to-day than ever before. You love power. The impulse of asserting
itself is associated with every important endowment; it is a stimulus
for it to develop and become of value to the world. Nothing is more
just and natural than that you should feel it also. But in you it has
taken a false direction; you perceive power only in your present
position. But what power? It was voluntarily placed in your hands from
above, and arbitrarily endured by the nation; so it is a purely
external one, without change of action or spiritual echo. You are
conscious of it yourself only by the possibility of having your will
executed by means of a few strokes of the pen on a sheet of paper, and
extending it further than is permitted to the private citizen. Accident
has given you this power, accident may deprive you of it again;
therefore it neither makes you happy nor satisfies you. There is only
one real pleasure of that nature,--mastery over minds; this can neither
be given to us nor taken away, we must win and retain it by our own
strength. And what pride can be more noble than that we take in the
result of our own merits? Cease to be a machine among machines, and
become conscious of the privileges of independent effort; be at least a
man among men. Leave your present residence and return to your former
home; go into the Chambers, there your intellect and personal magnetism
will produce a great effect upon the multitude; there you will first
learn to know the manifold charms to be found in such a direct
subjugation of minds! Descend from your false height, and let yourself
be borne by the hands of the people to the summit of a powerfully
increasing development of civilization. You have hitherto served a
prince, while you gave laws to the nation; you can henceforth give
orders to a prince, while you are a king in the hearts of the people."
She rested her cheek against his, and asked, with loving emotion, "Does
not this prospect charm you?"

"If all this could be done in reality as easily as in your vivid fancy,
my glorious Cornelia, it might well charm me. But I am a practical man;
I shall not resign a secure and brilliant position to, perhaps, obtain
nothing except the favor of miserable proletarians, or cast aside the
moral and political credit I possess, with the probability of losing,
by another change of opinion, all trust here and elsewhere! You cannot
ask that of me. Let him who has nothing at stake make the desperate
venture, but I have not only the advantage but the honor of an
established career to lose."

"Honor and advantage,--but happiness? Oh, Heinrich! you have no
happiness to lose, for you have never possessed any; and you will only
save your honor before yourself and God when you begin a new life. So
what do you risk? I do not ask you to proclaim your change of opinion
at once to all the world. Leave the service of the government, withdraw
to your estates, and live there as a private citizen; win the
sympathies of the whole neighborhood, and come forth from your
seclusion as a deputy. How can you be threatened with any loss of
honor? Be assured the world is not so degenerate as to refuse its
esteem for an honest action. You will not fall here, you will
voluntarily resign your brilliant position for the sake of your
convictions: a manly deed which demands and will receive recognition.
Your former party will hail you with joy, and trust you on account of
the sacrifice you made to return to it; and in a short time you will
have obtained all you now think one of my fantastic ideas. Oh, believe
me, I see clearly the path you must choose,--the only one that will
lead to happiness!"

_Heinrich_ released himself from Cornelia's encircling arms, and,
starting up, went to the window and leaned his brow thoughtfully
against the panes. Cornelia watched him in silence. She left him
entirely to himself, for she knew he was inaccessible to tenderness
when anything occupied his mind. This was the mood to which she had
found it so difficult to accustom herself, and now it appeared
especially harsh. Suddenly he turned, took up his hat, and kissed
Cornelia on the forehead. "Farewell!"

"Heinrich!" she exclaimed, "are you going already? Have I offended you
so deeply?"

"Not offended, but you have given me much food for thought; roused a
new conflict within me. Leave me to myself to-day."

"Why especially to-day? What does that mean?"

"You will learn when the time comes."

"Another secret! Oh, Heinrich! You never share anything with me except
your tenderness and the poetic effusions of your vivid imagination. I
am shut out from your intellectual life, and know nothing of it except
what my own penetration enables me to guess."

"Do not be angry, my child; sooner or later a time will come when there
will no longer be anything between us, when you will obtain possession
of my whole existence." With these words he kissed her again, and left
the room without looking back.

"Sooner or later a time must come, when--" Cornelia repeated the words.
A roseate flush of joy suffused the grave face. Was not the end of her
humiliation approaching? Was--she scarcely ventured to confess what
sweet, proud hopes these words aroused. Why had her conversation made
so strange an impression upon him? Her heart throbbed expectantly:
would her fate perhaps be decided that day?

It was decided. _Heinrich's_ inmost soul had been stirred by Cornelia's
ideas. The thought of playing a great part in the Chamber, of joining
the new and undeniably strong movement, charmed him. He could find
more change, more excitement, in this path than in the worn-out
interests of his court life, and possibly even attain the object of his
ambition,--the portfolio. He could marry Cornelia, noble, beautiful
girl, without injury to his plans; nay, she would even be necessary to
him in this career. Perhaps he might yet be a happy man. If the prince
did not take him into the ministry, there was nothing better for him to
do than to exchange the worn-out old life for a new one; and by the
time he reached home he almost wished it. As he entered his room,
absorbed in thought, Anton handed him a paper. He started as he read
it,--it was his nomination as minister of foreign affairs. The die was
cast.



                                  XIX.

                            THE CATASTROPHE.


The following day Cornelia awoke with the first glimmer of dawn. The
vague expectation excited by _Heinrich's_ ambiguous words had kept her
long awake, and now drove her from her couch earlier than usual. She
made a hasty toilet and hurried out into the autumn morning. It was
damp and gloomy; a thick fog made earth and sky vanish in a gray cloud;
the withered leaves fell from the wet bushes with a low rustle as her
garments brushed against them. She did not heed it. Spring was in her
heart, and the warm life in her breast seemed to glow through the
chilling scene around her. Mechanically she entered the path she was
most accustomed to follow. It led to the churchyard. She walked through
the long rows of graves, apparently the only living creature in the
broad place of death; but as she approached the well she suddenly saw,
at a few paces' distance, two grave-diggers lowering a little coffin
into the earth. She approached and asked, "Whose child is this you are
burying so entirely alone?"

"It is illegitimate," said one of the men, dryly.

Cornelia shuddered. "Oh, how terrible!"

"Yes, it's a pity for silly girls to allow themselves to be so blinded.
If they thought more of their honor, they wouldn't meet with
misfortune. And the poor children always have to suffer for it. This
one was put out to board with strangers, who neglected it so that it
fell sick and died. The girl to whom it belonged was obliged to go out
to service again because her lover deserted her before the child was
born, so she couldn't trouble herself about it, and was obliged to
leave it to die."

"Poor, poor child!" thought Cornelia, looking at the grave with tearful
eyes. "Usually when a child is born it is received with joy and love;
but shame stood beside your cradle, shame hovers over your lonely
grave. No happy father took you in his arms, no gladsome mother's eyes
answered your first trusting smile; nobody wanted you, and the only one
who loved you was obliged to deny you until God had compassion upon you
and took you to himself. Now your forsaken mother may perhaps be
stretching out her arms despairingly to grasp the empty air, and must
conceal her anguish as deeply as her darling has just been buried in
the earth. Terrible fate! May God protect every loving woman from it!"
Tears flowed more and more quickly down her cheeks; she turned away and
wept out the emotion that had seized upon her on the graves of Veronica
and Reinhold. As she went home she noticed for the first time that it
was misty and dreary, and entered the house in a graver mood than she
had left it.

"Marie," she said to her chambermaid, "while I was at the churchyard it
occurred to me that this is Veronica's birthday. Order some wreaths for
her grave; I wish to have it adorned on such anniversaries."

The hours dragged slowly away. Ottmar did not appear at the usual time;
but instead the evening paper announced his appointment as minister.
That was why he had been so absent-minded yesterday, why his words had
contained a vague promise of a speedy decision of her fate; so this was
the secret. Surely the turning-point in her life must now be reached;
he had obtained what he desired, and might dare to marry. Her heart
beat more and more violently. Quarter of an hour after quarter of an
hour passed away. He could not come today: he probably had too much to
do; and yet she longed so anxiously to see him.

Her servants asked whether they should carry the wreaths the gardener
had just skillfully arranged to the grave. "Yes, go," said Cornelia,
absently; "no one will come to-day now." But scarcely had the maids
left the house when the bell was impatiently pulled. Cornelia opened
the door with trembling expectation, and sank upon Ottmar's breast.

_Henri_ had just met the two servants in the street. Had Cornelia
ventured to send them away when she knew he was coming? or was she
preparing to leave the house? He could form no conclusion, but
explained the incident in his own favor; knew himself to be alone with
Cornelia, and gave himself up entirely to his own excited feelings.

"You are a minister," she began. "You have now obtained that for which
you struggled. It will afford you no greater happiness than your
present position; but I perceive this throws too heavy a weight into
the scale not to outbalance my counsels."

"Come here, my Cornelia do not let us discuss such matters now," said
_Henri_, drawing her upon his knee. "I can do nothing to-day but look
at and caress you. Do not grudge me the sweet refreshment after long
hours of burdensome ceremonies and fatiguing business. My mind is so
wearied that I can no longer think of anything, only feel that I clasp
you to my heart, that you are mine, wholly mine! Is it not so?"

Cornelia leant silently upon his breast. "At last, at last he will
utter the word I have so longed to hear!" she thought, clinging to him
in a fond embrace. He pressed his lips to her ear, and whispered so low
that she could not understand him, but felt he must be making promises
of eternal love and tenderness, while his hot breath bewildered her
like the fumes of opium. Then a word fell upon her ear more distinctly,
causing a thrill never felt before. He had called her his "wife."
Overwhelmed with happiness she closed her eyes, her head sank upon his
shoulder, and tears of unspeakable delight stole from beneath her long
lashes. In this name, for which she knew but one meaning, he had
expressed the fulfillment of her fairest hopes. She remained in this
blissful confidence a moment longer. _Henri's_ voice grew still more
persuasive, fell still more distinctly upon Cornelia's ear. Suddenly
the veil which had surrounded her soul was torn away; she was forced to
hear, forced to understand, what she had never been willing to believe.
Springing up, she stood before _Henri_ as if frozen into a statue;
there was neither life nor color in the face blanched to the pallor of
marble, save in the eyes, which rested with increasing firmness and
brilliancy upon his startled countenance.

_Henri_ had prepared himself for an outburst of indignation or grief;
this speechless amazement, this frozen horror, first revealed to him
how deep her trust had been, and how he had ascribed many things to
levity, or believed them a triumph of love, which had been rooted
wholly in the security of this unshaken confidence. He perceived he had
prepared Cornelia badly for his plans; but it was too late: he could
not unsay what had been said. At last her lips moved, and word after
word began to struggle through them.

"So this is the meaning you give to the sacred words 'my wife,'--in
this way I shall not be denied the privilege of becoming yours? This
relation does not dishonor--the--minister!"

"Cornelia," cried _Henri_, with a slight shudder, "not this scorn! I
cannot bear it. Do you not understand that I have inviolable duties
towards my position and the dignity with which my prince trustfully
invested me? that there are barriers far more difficult for a man to
overleap than for a woman to pass the bounds prescribed by what we call
morality? Speak, Cornelia: could you expect me, the representative of
the highest aristocracy in the country, the supporter of the most rigid
despotic principles of government, to suddenly present to the
astonished world as my wife the daughter of a fugitive traitor, who has
herself hitherto moved exclusively in plebeian and democratic circles?
Would not your pure brow flush beneath the contemptuous glances which
would see only your origin, not yourself? I could not present you at
court; and would it not be far more humiliating if, as my lawful wife,
you were excluded from the circles to which I belong, if you were
always compelled to conceal yourself in the darkness of obscurity, like
one proscribed, while feeling that the lofty name you bore was a
burning-glass to draw upon you the fiery rays of public curiosity?"

Cornelia pressed her hand upon her heart as if she felt the stroke of a
dagger.

"Could you bear this ignominy?--could you suffer your husband to bear
it with you? You know that to me you are a queen; but the world in
which I live would never weary of preparing humiliations for you that
even I, as your husband, could not always prevent, and which would
perhaps lower my proud, noble love in my own eyes. All this you can
avoid if you will remain outside the sphere into which our marriage
would bring you, if you will live in seclusion as the sweet wife of my
heart, unknown and unnoticed, but surrounded by the glory with which a
great self-sacrificing love invests a woman. That I would be a faithful
husband to you, my Cornelia, I swear by every solemn oath. No other
shall ever stand at my side; no one shall bear the name which, before
God, belongs to you, and which I dare not give you before the world. I
will open a heaven of bliss to you, and at the end of our days you
shall tell me whether, in the true, real sense of the word, you have
not been my wife, whether I have not deserved the sublime confidence
with which, without the customary guarantees, you placed the happiness
of your life in my hands. Come, Cornelia, come to my heart." And, as he
uttered the words, he threw himself on his knees before her, extending
his arms imploringly.

Cornelia still stood motionless. She saw him at her feet, looking so
noble with that mute entreaty on his lips, gazed at him for a second,
then, like a despairing cry of agony, the words burst forth,--

"Oh, Heinrich, why, why must it come to this?"

"Why? How can it be otherwise?" cried _Henri_, starting up. "Cornelia,
be more merciful than the fate that denies you to me. Could I reject my
prince's call to the aid of the throne, withdraw my powers from the
service of the state at the moment they were most needed? Ought I to
have made such a sacrifice to my love when I was sure you would
joyfully offer the lesser one, which is necessary to our happiness?
What have you to fear? You are living in exceptional circumstances,
have no one's permission to ask, have told me a hundred times that you
despised the judgment of the world, that you felt within your own heart
a higher power, which justified you in taking your own course. If I had
believed any woman capable of a love which had sufficient morality in
self to be able to cast aside all laws without degenerating, it would
have been yourself; and you are such a woman, you alone. In your lofty
breast human nature has developed free and unfettered, as it came from
the hand of the Creator; it does not judge according to the ordinances
of the church-police, or so-called moral tradition, but, pure and
undefiled, unquestioningly follows the guidance of the love which
pervades all creation, and which mankind first disfigured and chained
by arbitrary laws."

"Indeed!" said Cornelia. "And our ideas of virtue, of the sacredness of
marriage, they would lack all firm foundation had not God placed a
guard upon our passions in our own breasts."

"Cornelia, can _you_ ask such questions? They are a protection to the
weak, of course. Marriage, as a sacrament, is a great institution,
which the infirmities of human nature rendered necessary; but for those
strong exceptional natures that feel themselves nearer the deity it is
an empty form."

"So would be morality, honor, family happiness,--all would be mere
illusions, and our most immediate aim nothing more than to become
thinking animals. This would bring us nearest to our divine origin."

"Do not scorn me thus, Cornelia; I do not deserve it, for I am in
solemn earnest. Is marriage, then, merely a civil union formed under
the eyes of the church-police? Is it not rooted in those who truly love
each other? Cannot they, without marriage-certificate or altar, found a
true, peaceful family life apart from society, and therefore the more
untroubled? If they have become truly one in spirit, do they need the
compulsion of the world and the church to remain faithful to each
other? Is not marriage a mere superfluous ceremony to such beings? and
is not a relation that depends upon the most profound mental and
physical sympathy, and endures through its own power, more moral than a
so-called legal marriage, which exists only in form where two persons
are united that are repulsive to each other,--two souls that do not
understand each other,--where people seek refuge from despair in crime,
and, after committing infidelities, play the old falsehood to
themselves and the world until loathing and constraint stupefy their
souls and the individual sinks into a mere animal? Is this more moral,
Cornelia? Could the church consecrate what was commonplace, disunited,
separated? Is not such an alliance a greater blasphemy than if two
beings, with the loftiest feelings, give themselves to each other for a
life of free love and voluntary faithfulness?"

"And would it be blasphemy if two such beings sanctioned their alliance
before the world by a marriage, if they made that which is hallowed in
itself saved in the eyes of society?" asked Cornelia.

_Henri's_ eyes fell before her glance. "It would not be blasphemy; and
any one whom circumstances permitted to do so would be very wrong not
to avail himself of the beautiful form, with its many benefits. But
where it would disturb a whole life, natures like ours have a right to
dispense with it."

"And wherein does this disturbance of the whole life consist? In the
possible loss of the portfolio! This is the lofty object to which
everything else must yield, even the feeling whose 'divine power,'
according to your views, might dispense with the sanction of the law."

"Oh, no, my angel! Shall I love you less if you are mine of your own
free choice? On the contrary, I shall but hold you the more tenderly in
my heart. You are too noble, too unselfish, to compel me to sacrifice
either the proud goal of my efforts, or the happiness of my love, when
it is in your power to afford me both."

"But if I do not possess this unselfishness,--if I asked your hand as a
proof of your integrity,--then I must yield to the interests of your
ambition, and the statesman would conquer the lover."

"Cornelia, I no longer know you. Is this the self-sacrificing woman who
has always cared only for others, never for herself? and could you now
suddenly transform yourself into a calculating egotist, who bargains
and higgles for a price, and demands the sacrifice of a whole career in
return for her love? Cornelia, an unconditional sacrifice, a complete
forgetfulness of self, might have won me to anything, but this is not
the way to obtain my hand."

He looked up and recoiled a step in horror, for before him stood the
gorgon he had once imagined in those eyes. The disheveled hair seemed
to move; her gaze rested upon _Henri_ with petrifying power. At last
the tension of the nerves relaxed, the blood surged into her face, and
her noble indignation flushed her cheek with as deep a crimson as it
had before been pale. "Heinrich!" she cried, "I have borne your
fiendish dialectics long enough! I wished to know you thoroughly, and
therefore forced myself to be calm. Now this must cease; the measure is
full! Do you really believe I would so far humiliate myself as to
bargain and beg for your hand? Do you really suppose the sacrifice you
ask would be too great for me, if I could justify it before God and my
own conscience,--if you were worthy of it? That you are not you have
now shown me. I was obliged to hear the answer you gave me with my own
ears, or I should not have believed it; therefore I asked the question.
I was forced to learn your falsehood from your own lips, to be able to
offer you the only thing you deserve, my scorn. Yes, my nature is so
healthful that I have strength to thrust evil from me, though my very
life should cleave to it. Oh, Heinrich, that it must come to this! You
have stripped the bloom from my existence, stolen the most sacred
emotions of a young, trusting heart, wished to take from me honor,
faith, all that affords support and protection to a woman, torn the
wings from my soul to chain me, and then, when you wished to disown me,
to say 'fly away.' Oh, treacherous soul-murderer, beautiful and winning
as no other can ever be, for whose creation an angel must have mated
with a fiend, I love and hate you with equal fervor! I would gladly
ennoble you, yet feel already how you have corrupted me. Yes, I
understand that no one resisted you,--that you conquered wherever you
went; but here, proud man, is the limit of your victory. The shame you
destined for me does not humiliate me, for I am conscious I have not
deserved it. See, it rouses every hostile power within me. I feel, with
a shudder, how they are taking possession of my heart, calling
mockingly in my ears, 'Count Ottmar's mistress,' and painting
scenes,--scenes which might well drive me to madness. And there stands
the man who loves me, and from pure affection dooms me to such
tortures; who will not suffer me to stand by his side before the world;
will not give me his name in return for the life he demands: and all
this is from pure love; and I,--why do I not from pure love thrust a
knife into his false breast to avenge the law he derides?"

"So that is it? Because I will not make you Countess Ottmar! That is
what causes you such bitter grief? Oh, Cornelia, you are far more
haughty than virtuous!"

"Oh, my God, how have I deserved this?" cried Cornelia. "Heinrich,
Heinrich, vengeance will come upon you! You will some day be compelled
to answer before God for the heart you have crushed! You wish by your
sophisms to drive me to sacrifice my virtue, merely to prove that I am
noble and unselfish, that I love the man and not the count. Oh, it is a
clever calculation, and may already have led many a gentle heart
astray! But it recoils from my firm reason, for the supposition is
false, Heinrich. If your love and esteem are only to be obtained by
sin, you are so evil that you are not worth the trouble of winning.
Believe that I am more haughty than virtuous; believe that my anger is
only roused because I am not to become Countess Ottmar; I cannot
convince you to the contrary, for God and his commands are higher than
you, and God sees my heart and knows how it bleeds and quivers!"

"Do not be so violent, Cornelia; you cannot leave me. You are mine; own
that you are. You have inhaled the sweet poison from my lips, and your
soul absorbed in full draughts the fiery language of my passion. You
have foreseen all the joys of love; womanhood has unfolded its perfect
flower. You cannot go back. Come, my dove, you are fluttering timidly,
and yet feel that you are bound. Come, my angel, demand my vows; I will
give them all to you as if before the altar. Does not Christ himself,
to whom you pray, say, 'Where two are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them'?"

"Hold, blasphemer, to whom nothing is sacred!" cried Cornelia,
releasing herself from his arms in mortal terror; and with sudden
resolution she rushed to the door, along the passage, down the
staircase,--heard him following her, and hurried through the dark
streets. She did not know herself what she wanted, or where she was
going; "away, away from him" was her only thought. A door stood ajar,
and a faint light streamed through the opening. It was the church of
the Jesuits. She fled into it. The house of God was empty, only
a priest was praying at the altar beneath the red glow of the
ever-burning lamp. _Henri's_ steps echoed behind her. She rushed up to
the dark figure, and sank senseless before him.

"Heaven has apparently chosen me to be your good spirit, Count Ottmar,
since I always stand in your way when you are in the act of doing
things you might afterwards regret," said the Jesuit, bending over
Cornelia.

In the haste of the pursuit _Henri_ had recognized Father Severinus too
late. Now he stood before him in amazement, and beheld his precious
treasure lying senseless in the arms of his mortal enemy. _Henri_ was
painfully embarrassed. "Severinus," said he, "I assure you this whole
scene is the result of the folly of an innocent, enthusiastic girl, and
that you may safely trust me to escort her home."

Severinus gazed with increasing admiration at Cornelia's pure, pale
features, as he aided her to rise. "It depends on the decision of the
lady herself whether she will go with you, or place herself under my
protection."

"Cornelia!" cried _Henri_, in tones so loud, so full of agony, that she
opened her heavy eyes. "Cornelia, angel of my life, do not abandon me!
Come with me, and forgive me for having alarmed you. Give me your dear
hand, and let me take you home. Cornelia, have you no longer a single
glance for your Heinrich?"

She stood trembling before him with downcast eyes, and did not move.
"If this reverend gentleman will take me, I will ask him to accompany
me. With you, Heinrich, I shall go no more."

"Come, my daughter," said Severinus, with inexpressible gentleness.

Deep grief, such as he had never felt before, overmastered _Henri_. He
tried to kiss her hand, but she withdrew it. "Will you act in
opposition to the dictates of your own heart, Cornelia?" he exclaimed.
"My love, do not cause yourself so much pain. See, you are pitying me
almost more than I pity myself. Be more womanly, Cornelia; you cannot
treat the man in whom your life is rooted thus. This is not the place
for such discussions. I will forgive your want of confidence and your
having exposed me to this gentleman in such a manner. To-morrow, my
Cornelia, I shall hope to find you more reasonable."

"More reasonable? You will never find me again."

"Cornelia!"

"I think you will feel yourself that between us no reconciliation is
possible. We are parted!"

"Cornelia! and you have loved me!"

"Because I have loved, still love--I fear you," she breathed almost
inaudibly. "Should I need to fly from you if I hated you as I ought?"

She fixed her eyes once more on the wondrously beautiful features, now
ennobled by pain; tear after tear rolled slowly down her cheeks; she
shivered violently, and sank sobbing at the feet of a life-size figure
of Christ, resting her burning head against the cold stone.

"Oh, Cornelia," whispered _Henri_, his voice trembling with emotion;
"unhappy child, why do you lacerate your own heart and mine so cruelly?
Tell me, wherefore do you now suffer all this? wherefore do you
renounce me, do you bear this anguish?"

"Wherefore?" she said, looking up to the Christ to which she still
clung. "Ask Him. He will teach you."

Severinus had stood a little apart, watching Cornelia as if in a dream;
he was deeply moved. With a manner more tender than _Henri_ had ever
seen in him, he now approached and offered her his arm. She obeyed him
almost unconsciously, and passed slowly by Ottmar. The latter threw
himself before her, and pressed her dress to his lips.

"Girl, girl, I will not leave you! It is not possible that you can cast
me off,--it is unnatural! Cornelia, am I to lose you? can it be? will
you take all the joy and happiness from my life?"

Cornelia stood with her hands pressed upon her bosom, struggling for
breath.

"Have you no longer a word, a glance, for me? can you see the head you
have so often cradled an your bosom at your feet, and not bend and
raise it forgivingly to your heart? will you not look smilingly into my
eyes, and say, 'Enough of punishment, I am appeased'? Draw your arm
from that stranger's and place it around my neck, and I will bear you
through the world as lovingly, as watchfully, as a god. See, I kiss the
spot where your heart is beating, and it does not burst; its blood does
not gush forth upon my breast with infinite sorrow at the thought of a
separation. You do not stir; you let me plead, let me extend my arms
despairingly to you, and will not throw yourself into them,--say no
word of compassion to the man whom you have called a thousand times by
every fond name love could utter."

"Heinrich! Heinrich!" cried Cornelia, throwing her arms around him and
pressing her lips to his, "this is more than human nature can bear!"

"Oh, my Cornelia! Do you then feel you are mine?--that all your
purposes are false?--that nothing is true and eternal except our love?"

"My daughter," said Severinus, gently, "be steadfast as you were just
now."

Cornelia looked up and brushed the tears from her face. "I thank you; I
am steadfast," she replied, with firm resolution. "Good-night,
Heinrich, _for the last time_."

She turned to leave the church with Severinus.

_Henri_ started up like a wounded tiger; all tenderness was transformed
into fury. "Go, then!" he shouted, trembling with rage; "you are no
woman,--you are a fiend! You have deserted _me_, not I _you_; now we
are quits."

The young girl tottered out of the church with Severinus without
casting another glance behind.

Both reached Cornelia's house in silence. Severinus paused. "Command
me, Fräulein. Shall I leave you alone, or can I be of any further
service to you? A young girl doubtless needs protection against such a
man as Ottmar."

"Do you know him?" asked Cornelia.

"I do."

"May I ask you to come in with me?"

"Most joyfully."

The servants, on their return, had found the house open, and were in
the greatest anxiety about Cornelia. Her maid came to meet her, crying,
"Oh, heavens, how you look!"

They entered the drawing-room, the apartment so short a time ago the
scene of peace and joy; whose atmosphere was still pervaded with
_Henri's_ glowing breath. There lay the gloves he had forgotten in his
haste. Her tears burst forth afresh. It seemed as if she had just come
from his funeral, and could not part from these last sad tokens of
his life. She mutely motioned Severinus to be seated; she could not
speak,--could not express her emotions in words. Severinus understood
her thoroughly, and watched her in silence. She sat with bowed bead,
speechless and pale; her hands resting on her lap; her loosened tresses
falling around her, wet with tears. She still saw the impression made
on the soft carpet where he had knelt before her; there lay a velvet
ribbon he had torn from her arm; with a deep blush she looked up at the
priest, as if he could read her thoughts. Now, for the first time, she
noticed his delicate features, the melancholy expression of his large
dark eyes, and gazed at him more earnestly. With an involuntary motion
he pushed the hair from his brow, and a broad scar became visible.

"You are Severinus!" she exclaimed, starting up and seizing both his
hands.

"Did you not know it?" he asked, in astonishment.

"No, I did not hear your name just now; but I think I once saw you in a
brighter hour than this."

"In the churchyard a few months ago."

"Yes. Ah, it was a fleeting happiness!" she murmured. "It is strange
that we should meet. Oh, I salute you: the only person of whom Heinrich
always spoke with reverence, whom God has sent to be my preserver!"

"May the Almighty grant that I shall prove so! But what can I do for
you? Will you raise me to the rank of your friend, that as such I may
console you, since I am not permitted to bestow the blessings of my
ecclesiastical office upon a Protestant?"

"How do you know I am of the Lutheran faith?"

"Because I have long known you, long watched your quiet labors in the
prison; and of late, since the report of your relations with Ottmar
went abroad, prayed that the Almighty might save the honor of a being
whom he had created or his glory, if at any time she was in danger."

"A report? Oh, God! had matters already gone so far with me? Ah, this
despicable world!"

"Calm yourself, my daughter. Do not accuse the world: you yourself are
not wholly blameless. Had you submitted more to the laws of womanly
custom, everything might now be very different."

Cornelia covered her face. "Alas, I believed all men as pure as
myself!"

"You are right. If you had been less innocent, you would have paid more
attention to appearances. Yet you now see yourself where it leads when
a woman breaks down the barriers that protect her. If you had belonged
to our church, and had a confessor whom you trusted, he would have
called your attention betimes to the dangers that threatened you, and
spared you many a bitter pang."

"Alas, many faithful friends warned me, but I would not listen: I had
no thought for anything except this man. I was bound by a magic spell,
which permitted me only to breathe with his breath, live in his life. I
had forgotten God and the world for him; and therefore I am now
punished."

"You recognize the hand of God, my child. Ah, yes! I know it rests
heavily upon those he loves. You had suffered yourself to become
absorbed too thoughtlessly in the passions of earth, and therefore he
tore you away to the purer sphere of self-sacrifice and sorrow. Many an
earthly happiness can still bloom for you, but you will be purified and
enjoy it with grateful consciousness. This is the blessing of your
sorrow."

"Oh, how nobly you speak! Go on," pleaded Cornelia, clasping her hands
and kneeling like a little child beside the arm-chair which Severinus
was seated.

"You have conquered, my daughter, and your heart bleeds from honorable
wounds; yet do not imagine that the contest is ended with this one
victory: it will not save you. In the languor into which the soul falls
after great moral efforts, it is all the more defenseless against a
fresh assault. You must leave here, must withdraw into solitude, where,
as your days form the links of a continuous chain of self-sacrifice,
you will obtain a quiet, unassuming victory over your passions. In the
stillness of a magnificent, lonely region, you will once more hear the
gentle voices in which God speaks to mankind. Beneath shady trees, and
beside cool brooks, the tumult of the blood will be allayed, the life
and labors of millions of innocent creatures will employ your fancy,
lead you back to simplicity and childlike faith, and with devout
reverence you will receive the duty that takes up its abode in every
purified soul."

"Yes, reverend sir, you are right: I need repentance and rest; and balm
for all sorrows can be found only in beautiful nature. I must leave
here; but where shall I go? I have traveled very little; know not
whither to turn; and since my engagement to Ottmar have become so much
estranged from all my friends that I could not now ask any one to
accompany me; besides, I know of no one whom I would suffer to look
into my heart. You are the only person whom a strange accident has made
my confidant, you understand, and in these few moments have become so
necessary to me that it would be very difficult for me to part with
you. Help, counsel me."

"You still have a faithful maid?"

"Certainly."

"Well, then, promote her to be a 'companion,' and take me for your
fatherly guide, if you believe I know how to judge and treat you in the
present state of your soul."

"What! would you devote your precious time to me?"

"If you need me, yes."

"If I need you? Oh, reverend sir, how can I thank you, how can I reward
you for a sympathy of which I am so unworthy?"

"To save your immortal soul, to reconcile you with God, is the only
reward and gratitude I ask. I am only doing my duty if I aid your
erring spirit to find its home again."

"Oh, my friend, you arouse an emotion never felt before! I never knew
my parents. Let me find in you that of which I have so long been
deprived: a father on whose heart I can weep out my sorrows. Alas, I
have never enjoyed this blessing I know not what it is when a child,
overwhelmed with remorse, falls at its father's feet, and the latter,
kindly absolving it from its guilt, says, 'Come, you are forgiven!' I
have sinned deeply; yet if I had had my parents, everything would have
been different. Father Severinus, can you enter into an orphan's
feelings? Ah, one who, clasped in the arms of his family, has never
lacked love, cannot know what it is to grow up alone, without that warm
affection, that blissful interchange of parental and filial love, and,
with an overflowing heart, which in its ardor could contain a world,
find only sober friendship and partial understanding! My dear Veronica
was an angel! I owe her all the good qualities I possess: she reared me
lovingly, and treated me like a mother; but she had not a mother's
affection, that rich, gushing tenderness which a warm, childish heart
demands. I did not need an angel, but a noble, mature human being, and
strict discipline. My powers soon carried me beyond her narrow
intellectual sphere; she became more and more beneath me mentally, and
indulged me wonderfully. I remained an obedient child, and loved her
devotedly; but she could not give me what I required. An unfortunate
youthful fancy passed over me like a dream. My aspiring mind knew no
bounds; my thirst for love vainly sought satisfaction, in society, in
toiling for the poor and miserable. Then I met Heinrich, with his
ardor, his winning charm; and all the affection a child has for its
father and mother, all the passion a woman can feel, I had for him. Now
came the result of my education. Always habituated to do as I pleased,
I despised the commands of custom, the warnings of friends. After being
so long deprived of love, it burst over me like a flood: I gave myself
up to it blindly. Perhaps I thereby forfeited my lover's respect, and
apparently justified him in inflicting upon me the humiliation from
which I fled to your protection, sir." She sighed heavily. "Ah, thank
God that I could pour out my heart to you! For the first time in my
life I feel the happiness of confessing a fault with remorseful sorrow,
divesting my soul of its pride, and placing myself in the hands of a
merciful judge! Impose the punishment, and I will bear it; tell me the
penance, and I will perform it; but then, then bend down to me and tell
me as my father would have done, 'Come; you are forgiven'!"

She laid her clasped hands upon the arm of the chair, and looked at
Severinus imploringly. The latter sat absorbed in thought, gazing into
her face.

"My dear child, you give me the right to punish and pardon; I can only
make use of the latter privilege. Your intellectual development, as you
have described it to me, excuses your relations with Ottmar, and your
pathetic submission to this unprincipled man. I, too, was orphaned; I,
too, have wandered through the world with a loving heart, and never
found what I sought. To me also men have seemed cold and empty; they
did not respond either to my ideas or feelings. But what drew you down
raised me; the overmastering impulse led me to a purer sphere. In our
church, Cornelia, reigns the man-born God. I could seize upon him,
throw myself into his arms, and there find the love, the condescension,
I needed. Our church alone is the bridge which unites the Deity with
the earth. The symbols, Cornelia, are the steps by which the clumsy
human mind, so long as it is fettered by temporal ideas, climbs upward
to the supernatural. Even the most sinful man can reach God, if he
makes the symbols his own. While your church requires a purified
spiritual stand-point in order to give consolation and edification,
ours bends down to the man imprisoned in sensuality and leads him
upward, step by step, gradually removing him from his sinful
condition." He paused and looked at Cornelia, then continued: "These
blessings fell to my lot. My heart also bled when it tore itself away
from all the human ties entwined about it; I, too, Cornelia, have
struggled until I resisted the false allurements, and so spiritualized
myself that the world became dead, and the kingdom of God a living
thing to me."

"Oh," exclaimed Cornelia, "I shall never bring myself to that! The
world dead! No longer love this beautiful earth, the master-piece of
God! No, I cannot; it would be ungrateful to him who created it."

"I do not ask that, my child; I am not one of those bigoted priests who
believe that men were made only to pray, that the pious and chaste
alone are the elect, and the others the mere wretched laborers of
creation, destined to propagate the race. Such a thought is far from
me. Whomsoever. God destines to be his servant he calls; and let those
whom he does not rejoice in the world for which they were born, and
serve God by doing good in their own sphere. I will only warn you not
to forget the Giver in the gifts; to remember the Dispenser while you
enjoy his alms, is a duty you children of the world so easily neglect.
This I will teach you to fulfill, and show you that it does not detract
from happiness, but hallows and strengthens it. If you had thought more
of God when he gave you Ottmar's love, you would have been more
discreet, and perhaps matters would never have gone so far."

"Ah, that is terribly true!" sobbed Cornelia.

"Calm yourself, my child; I do not wish to burden your poor heart still
more heavily. You were innocent, and Ottmar's influence was injurious
to you. No mortal has a right to decide whether you would have been
able to avoid this; I least of all, for I know Ottmar's personal power.
I, too, trusted him, and was betrayed, for he is no man's friend, not
even his own!"

"Unhappy man! Created in the image of God, so handsome, so noble, so
capable of giving happiness, and yet a living lie, a deceitful phantom,
which irresistibly allures us, and, as soon as we wish to hold it;
melts into thin air. Do you understand, Severinus, that one may love
him with all the strength of one's life, and when parted from him be
but a broken bough which can do nothing but wither?"

"I understand it, for no other was ever so dear to me. I hoped to make
him an instrument for the advancement of the good cause, thought God
had given me in him a being to whom the heart might still be permitted
to pay the tribute of human feelings, aided with admiration in the
development of his great talents, and nursed him with tender anxiety. I
listened to his breathing while he slept, watched him like a brother,
and saw with delight that his health gradually improved. When he came
up to me with beaming eyes, and said, 'My dear Severinus, how shall I
thank you?' my heart swelled with proud delight, and I clasped him in
my arms." He paused, covered his eyes with his hand, and continued, in
a trembling voice: "And when I was compelled to lose him, such sorrow
seized upon me that I struggled as if the foul fiend had possession of
him and I must wrest Heinrich's soul from his grasp. It was the
punishment that befell me because my love did not still belong
exclusively to Heaven, as it ought. I endeavored to disarm his malice
against the order as much as possible; I had nurtured the serpent, so
it was my duty to deprive it of its venom, and thus I was forced to
pursue as an enemy one who had been the dearest person on earth to me.
Believe me, my daughter, your tears are not the only ones which have
been shed for him."

Cornelia seized Severinus's hand with deep emotion; he rose. "I will
now leave you alone: you need rest. Compose yourself, and pray. I hope
to find you ready to travel early to-morrow morning, and will consider
tonight whither I will guide you."

As Severinus went out into the street he met a brother-priest, who was
just coming from the Jesuit church.

"Father Severinus!" he said, in astonishment. "How did you come here?
what are you doing in Fräulein Erwing's house?"

"I am gaining a soul for the church!" he answered, proudly, and passed
on.



                                  XX.

                                THITHER.


The minister of foreign affairs sat in his office alone. Stray, feeble
rays from the winter sun fell through the window and gleamed upon a
heap of documents and papers with huge seals; but the minister's eyes
did not rest upon them, they were fixed absently on vacancy. From time
to time he dipped his pen in the ink, only to let it fall again unused,
upon a diplomatic dispatch which had just been commenced. At last he
started up and went to the door. His figure was not so elegant, nor his
bearing so haughty, as in former days: his hair and beard were
neglected, his eyes and cheeks sunken. Was it work or sorrow that had
thus shaken this noble frame? He seemed aged, even ill. Anton brought
in some letters, which he hastily seized, then threw them all but one
upon the table.

"God grant it may be some good news!" said Anton, casting a troubled
glance at his master's haggard features as he left the room.

"God grant it!" repeated _Heinrich_; and his breath came quickly and
anxiously as he read:


"Your Excellency,--In reply to your highly esteemed favor of the 15th,
I have the honor to say that I must positively reject the denunciation
it contains against our reverend brother in Christ, Father Severinus:
namely, that without my knowledge he had secretly fled with a young and
beautiful lady, and kept her concealed for several months against her
will. Father Severinus is a pattern to the whole order for humble
obedience and the strictest devotion to all. No false appearances can
render his blameless and immovable purity suspicions in our eyes. His
relation to that lady is one well pleasing to God and the order, and
his course has my entire approval. This I must permit myself to say in
correction of your Excellency's erroneous suspicion.

"I have no right to inform your Excellency of the residence of Father
Severinus and the lady in question until your Excellency has given us
the most satisfactory proofs of your right to the possession of the
young lady's person.

"With all due respect to your Excellency, etc.,

                                         "Father R----

"_General of the Holy Congregation of the Fathers of Jesus_.

"Rome, -- 20, 18--."


_Heinrich_ sank upon the sofa with the paper in his hand. "This failed
too! All, all in vain!" he murmured, crushing the letter convulsively
in his clinched fingers. "What is to be done now? Shall I give notice
to the embassies of every country? Shall I add to this consuming
anguish the disgrace that I am pursuing an adventuress, who is rambling
about with a Jesuit? Cornelia! Cornelia! Have these pious fathers or
have you obtained so much mastery over yourself that you can inflict
this upon me? It is not possible that they have subdued your free
will. You are not one of these natures which allow themselves to
be ruled. You have done the most difficult, the most unprecedented
thing,--conquered me and yourself in a moment when passion was most
aroused. You would not suffer the arts of these men to obtain dominion
over you! Noble, wonderful woman! By what cords do you hold me that I
will go to utter ruin rather than forget you?"

He rested his head wearily upon his hand. His whole life passed before
him. He thought of all the unhappy creatures who had clung to him with
the same ardor he now felt for Cornelia, and been repulsed as he was
now by her. Again Ottilie's image rose before him. The sorrow gnawing
at his heart made him for the first time understand the tortures she so
silently, so patiently, bore for him, and for the first time he
experienced the true human sympathy he had never felt while grief was
unknown to him. "Poor Ottilie! We are now companions in suffering!"

A low knocking roused him from his gloomy thoughts. It was his private
secretary, to ask whether Ottmar had prepared the dispatch for the
court of R----. "Oh! good heavens, no!" he exclaimed, in great
impatience, and sat down to finish it. Thrice he began, erased the
words, and then flung the pen aside with a sigh of the bitterest
despondency. "I am not in the mood," he said, at last. "My head aches
too violently. I cannot give myself up to work now."

"Allow me to remind your Excellency that you will be expected at the
council of ministers at twelve o'clock," said the young man, timidly.

"You are right: thanks! Remind me of it again at eleven."

With the most painful effort of self-control he applied himself to the
preparation of the document, and then hurried away to dress.

"Your Excellency ought to get a long leave of absence," said Anton, as
he assisted him to make his toilet. "You cannot live on so."

"Very likely, Anton. It is an existence which is becoming more and more
unendurable to me. But I cannot take a leave now. I must either
disappear from the scene entirely or remain at my post."

He left the room with a slow step and drooping head. Anton looked after
him sadly. "Poor master! It must have been bad news again. No doubt the
young lady has good cause for her acts; but I pity him, for he never
loved so before."

A few hours afterward the prince entered his wife's apartments. "My
dear Ottilie, I must entreat you to grant me a favor. You did not wish
to see any one on account of your indisposition, but I beseech you to
make one exception."

"It shall be as you wish, Alfred," said Ottilie, in a faint voice.

She was reclining upon a couch under an arbor of dense exotic plants,
which made one forget the cold, wintry landscape without. The prince
took a chair and sat down beside her. "The matter concerns Ottmar," he
began, breaking a withered leaf from a gum-tree, and thus not observing
how Ottilie started. "I do not know what I am to do with the man.
Something is wrong with him; I cannot discover what. He seems entirely
changed. The youngest attaché could not make so many diplomatic
blunders as he. He brought to the council to-day the rough sketch of a
dispatch to R----, which was totally useless. He, our most talented
statesman! It is incomprehensible! He is apathetic and reserved; nay,
he even permits himself to fail in the personal respect which, as his
prince, I am entitled to demand, and whose punctilious observance has
hitherto endeared him to me. I do not think this proceeds from any
diminution in his loyalty,--he has so often assured me that I was his
only friend,--but is the result of some secret disturbance, some
physical or mental suffering. All my efforts to obtain his confidence
are fruitless, so I thought of applying to my charming wife and calling
her to my aid in this, to me, very important affair."

"But how can I be of any assistance?" asked Ottilie, in astonishment.

"You shall speak to him, my dear. You are mistress of the art of
assuming a condescending manner which induces people to give their
confidence freely without forgetting in whose presence they stand. I
confess that in this respect you far surpass me. You remove my
subjects' awe of the grandeur of your position, and substitute
reverence for your person. Thus you succeed in being affable without
forfeiting any portion of your dignity, and people, open their hearts
to you without overstepping the bounds prescribed by etiquette. It is a
great art, for which not only intellect and heart, but the unusual
queenliness of air that distinguishes you, are requisite."

"But it is an 'art' which, at all events, I practice very
unconsciously," interposed Ottilie, smiling. "Yet I thank you, Alfred,
for this praise; it makes me very proud. And now I shall try to earn it
by attempting to prove my skill upon Ottmar."

"There is no praise you have not already fully earned. But I will beg
you to subdue this reserved diplomat with your--if I may so call
it--diplomacy of the heart, and discover what is really the matter with
him."

"But have we a right to interfere, my prince?"

"It is not only a right, but a duty. If he merely neglected me, I would
ignore it; but he neglects the obligations of his high position, and
thereby injures the interests he ought to defend. This cannot continue,
so we must discover the cause of Ottmar's trouble and try to remove it.
If this does not succeed, then----" The prince rose with the shrug of
the shoulders he always used to express what was not yet sufficiently
decided to put into words. "At the present critical moment, when
everything is crowding upon us, we need men who are thoroughly in
earnest, and will hold the reins with a firm hand," said he, continuing
his interrupted chain of ideas. "It is no time for personal
considerations and indulgent delays. Every moment brings and demands
important decisions, which should not be permitted to suffer from the
absence of mind of any individual. There must be a change soon. I
cannot lecture him like a school-boy, but you can say many things as a
proof of friendly sympathy, which, from my lips, would sound like an
implied reproach."

"I will try; although I do not expect much from the interview. I can
scarcely flatter myself that I shall be able to win from him what he
withholds from you, and perhaps the secret may be of such a nature that
he cannot confide it to us. Perhaps--he has some love-sorrow."

"Oh, my dear! Would a polished man of the world, a thorough diplomat,
give himself up to such sentimentality?"

The glance that Ottilie cast at the prince had a shade of compassionate
contempt. "You call it sentimentality because you have never felt the
power of a passionate emotion. You must consider that the moderation
inculcated into the minds of royal personages, that they may be able to
rule themselves and others, is an almost exclusive prerogative of their
rank, which no one else shares----"

"Except the priests," interposed the prince.

"You are right. But Ottmar does not belong to that class, but to one of
great privileges and few duties, who are accustomed to drop the reins
of self-control; and these men often lack all support against their
passions. I have already told you that I do not consider Ottmar a
genuine diplomat. He has talent, and will therefore for a time
skillfully accomplish whatever he undertakes, but he is far too great
an enthusiast to be a good statesman. For this he lacks calmness,
firmness of conviction, perseverance in labor, and sooner or later the
contradiction between his nature and his profession must appear."

"Lord C---- made the same remark about him several years ago. Your
knowledge of human nature shows itself more and more, and I daily
perceive with gratitude what wise counsels I am always sure of
receiving from you. Then you will make the sacrifice for me, and speak
to Ottmar?"

"I should be deserving of great blame if I refused my husband's
request. Under what pretext do you wish the interview to take place?"

"I think we will give a family dinner to-morrow, and invite him to it.
Do you feel well enough for such an effort? In my opinion, it would be
the most fitting opportunity."

"I agree with you, and think my strength will enable me to do the
honors."

"I thank you in advance, my dearest, and hope I have not imposed any
very disagreeable task upon you."

"On the contrary, I so rarely have the happiness of being permitted to
do you a favor, that I----"

"Oh, do not say so; your whole life is a succession of kindnesses and
self-sacrificing amiability towards me. How ignoble it would be for me
to require more than you voluntarily bestow! Pray take care of
yourself; the anxiety you feel is felt for me. Au revoir." He pressed a
hasty kiss upon Ottilie's small white hand and left the room.

Ottilie looked after him quietly. Not a feature in her pale face
altered. She gratefully perceived that the prince tried to give her at
least civility, even deference; instead of love. She had never asked
more; and now it was easier than ever to resign it. She was no longer
solitary, the life that stirred under her heart filled her with
blissful promises of an infinite love never known before. This new and
cheering emotion aided her to bear more resolutely than before even the
thought of being again thrown into Ottmar's society. The outward world
passed by her like a dream: there was but one reality to her,--the
approaching fulfillment of her mission as a woman; all her powers were
exerted for this great end, and peace brooded over her soul.

Thus, on the following day, she met Ottmar. The strength of her soul
conquered her physical weakness; and when the dinner was over and the
prince was conversing with the other guests, she calmly approached
Ottmar with an air of quiet dignity.

"The prince has commissioned me to speak to you, count," she whispered,
almost inaudibly.

"His Highness?" asked _Heinrich_, in astonishment.

"Yes; but I do not do so in his name, but my own. We are anxious about
you, for we both see that you are suffering. Your manner reveals it to
me, while he notices the change by the decreasing interest you take in
your business."

"I know it!" exclaimed _Heinrich_.

"He now wishes to obtain some explanation through me; he hopes you will
be more open than with him; but fear nothing, I shall not degrade
myself to become a spy upon you; nor should I need to do so, for I know
the cause of your anguish, and shall guard it as a sacred secret. Yet I
consented to the conversation the prince desired because I believed the
wish to be a sign from God. Besides, I wanted to speak to you once more
about some of the last events in your life; perhaps I may finally
produce some good result."

_Heinrich_ gazed at her in the greatest astonishment.

"Will you permit a friend of many years' standing to meddle with your
secrets? Will you trust me?" she asked, with all her former winning
grace.

"Oh, my princess!" cried _Heinrich_, in delight. "How long it is since
you have bestowed any such words upon me! how your returning favor
soothes and cheers me!"

"God is my witness that my favor was never withdrawn from you, count."
She raised her sparkling blue eyes, and her lips parted to say more;
then she recollected herself: her lids drooped again, and she was
silent. After a pause she began, in an altered tone, "The prince wishes
through me to learn the cause of the change in you, that he may help
you; but I can aid you without telling him your secret, and thus save
both, and betray no one. Is that right?"

"Perfectly! But, my beloved, noble princess, how can you help me?"

"You have been deserted by the young girl you loved. Is it not so?"

"Yes, yes; but how do you know?"

"The unhappy fate that has come between you is a secret to me, and one
I do not wish to fathom. The fault, my friend,--pardon my usual
frankness,--must be with you; for I know her, and will answer for it
that you were loved with a rare, pure, and fervent affection."

"Oh, your Highness, you cut me to the heart!"

"I must do so, count, if I am to be of use to you; and this is the only
occasion upon which I can. That you love Cornelia Erwing with the first
real passion of your life I see by the deep sorrow expressed in your
outward appearance, as well as your acts and conduct; and I hail this
mood with joy, count, as the gloomy twilight which precedes the dawn of
a new day."

"Princess, you do not know what I suffer. If I ever sinned against a
noble heart, I am now making bitter atonement. Pity me; do not triumph
in my anguish."

"Oh, how greatly you misunderstand me, count I triumph in your anguish!
May God keep me from such a thought! I rejoice because your sorrows are
a proof of a salutary change in your heart! I rejoice that you love
deeply, truly, sadly; because I hope to be able to restore that to
which your heart clings so loyally!"

"Could you do so, your Highness?" whispered _Heinrich_, his eyes
sparkling with new life.

"Cornelia Erwing conceals her residence from you. Have you searched for
her?"

"I have summoned the police of the whole country to my aid, left no
means untried, but all in vain."

"Why did you do that?"

"Why?" asked Ottmar, in astonishment. "Because I wished to win her, to
have her again."

"And will you permit me to ask one more bold question? If you did
succeed in winning her again, what would be her fate?"

Ottmar drew back a step in astonishment and looked doubtfully at
Ottilie. Should he tell her? was she strong enough to hear it? should
he confess the resolution which, during months of agony and exhausting
struggle, had obtained such a powerful influence over him that it
governed his whole character and conduct?

"Would you make Cornelia Erwing your wife?"

"Your Highness!"

"If this is the case, I am ready, on my own responsibility, to tell you
her present residence."

"Noble, royal soul!" murmured Ottmar, involuntarily. "Well, then, yes.
Learn what no one else respects, that I, whom you have so often
reproached for my heartlessness, am subdued by a passion stronger than
my selfishness, stronger than everything, for I feel I could give up my
life rather than this girl, who has become so great a necessity to my
mind and heart. For weeks a letter imploring her hand has been lying in
my portfolio, but I can find no means of sending it to her, and am
almost in despair. Have compassion upon me. If you--ever"--he
hesitated--"ever felt for any one what I now feel for this cruel girl,
you will know how heavily I am punished."

Ottilie would gladly have extended her hand to him; but etiquette must
not be offended in the prince's presence. She turned, so that the rest
of the company could not see her face, and looked at Heinrich with an
inexpressibly loving expression. The old melancholy, yet happy, smile
played around her lips, while tear after tear rolled down her pale
cheeks.

"You see, my dear, dear friend, I can really do something for you.
Cornelia is now living Rome, and as soon as the company have been
dismissed I will send you her address."

"Oh, God, how do I deserve the favor of such a woman? Your Highness,
how shall I thank you?"

"Make Cornelia Erwing happy; this is the best gratitude I can ask, for
it will be the warrant of your own welfare."

"Ah, if I might fall at your feet and kiss the hem of your garments!
No, you are no creature of earth!"

Ottilie involuntarily pressed her hand upon her heart, and thought,
"Who knows how soon he may be right!"

"Do you believe I can succeed in moving the heart of this wonderful,
resolute girl?" asked _Heinrich_.

"Certainly, for I am sure Cornelia still loves you."

"Did she tell you so in her letter?"

"No; but I know how you were beloved, and therefore cannot be
forgotten. Besides, she only wrote to me once that I might know what
had become of her, if I should send for her and hear she had gone away.
She lamented that an unfortunate misunderstanding compelled her to part
from you, and begged me to preserve the strictest silence in regard to
her residence that you might not be able to take any steps to shake
this resolution, which was necessary for the sake of both. I gave the
promise and said nothing; but now I should think it wrong if I did not
contribute, as far as I am able, to reunite two such hearts. I had long
doubted whether any such woman as you need existed; but I recognized
Cornelia as the person whom, in imagination, I had destined for you;
therefore she must belong to you. Do you remember the evening I
predicted that you would feel a new, great love? It has now entered
your heart, and, by the goodness of God, I am permitted to show you the
way to the woman in whom the happiness of your life will bloom. My
prophecy is fulfilled, my mission to watch over your salvation
completed." Tears again glittered in her eyes as she uttered the words,
"May blessing and peace be with you both! Farewell."

As soon as the prince saw Ottilie's farewell bow, he approached
_Heinrich_, and, after doing the honors to the company a short time
longer, the noble pair withdrew. The prince supported his wife with a
strong arm, for she tottered as she left the room.

Ottmar had scarcely reached home when Ottilie's groom of the chambers
brought him a sealed envelope. It contained Cornelia's address, written
with an unsteady hand.


_Heinrich_ immediately sent a proposal of marriage to Cornelia,
overflowing with the ardor of unrestrained passion and the most
sincere, humble repentance. Great as was his sense of what he had lost
in her, it was equaled by his self-accusation, his impetuous pleading
for her pardon, her hand; and the whole letter bore the impress of
spiritual purification and bitter, heart-felt remorse. A few days after
Cornelia's answer arrived.


                                            "Rome, February, 18--.

"You ask for my hand, Heinrich. I have read the words with tears of
grateful surprise. You bear a beautiful and noble testimony, both to
yourself and me; and in spirit I fall upon my knees before you, and
implore your pardon for the reproaches and upbraidings hurled at your
dear head on that terrible evening of our parting. Your letter reveals
all the wealth of your deep heart, and shows me that you undervalued
yourself when you wished to commit a deed so unworthy of you. Forgive
me that I too then believed you worse than you are. I thank God for the
merciful kindness with which he restored my only treasure, esteem for
you; for nothing humiliates a woman more deeply than to feel affection
for a man she must despise. I frankly confess, Heinrich, that I could
not cease to love you, even for a moment, that I was torn by the most
torturing struggle between heart and my consciousness of right. Now,
since I have, received your letter and know you deserve my love, I am
once more at peace with myself. I write this that you may not think me
prompted by anger or bitterness when I refuse your hand. My eyes grow
dim at the sight of these cruel words, the fingers that guide the pen
are paralyzed; I must pause a moment and collect my thoughts.

"I cannot become your wife after what has passed between us,--I dare
not. You have wounded my womanly honor too deeply, shown with too
little consideration what a great sacrifice you would make if you
raised me to the position of your wife, for me to be able to reconcile
my conscience or my pride to its acceptance. I cannot belong to a man
who found me in a station so far below him that he thought he could
degrade me to the lowest ignominy; although a nobler emotion or an
unconquerable affection afterwards leads him to atone for the wrong. I
should always fear that, according to the opinions you have often
declared, you would consider your marriage with me a mesalliance.
Besides, you have described my position as the plebeian wife of Count
Ottmar too clearly and distinctly for me not to shrink from the picture
with dread and horror; while even if I could myself suffer the
humiliations the pride of your aristocratic circle would prepare, I
could not bear that you, as my husband, should be compelled to share
them with me; for even if your love at first helped you to endure them,
they would only too soon stifle it. There would be a perpetual conflict
between your heart and the prejudices the world in which you live has
stamped upon you. This must banish peace from your breast, and sooner
or later make you as miserable as before. Love would yield, and
prejudice conquer, for society would neglect no opportunity of bringing
new and painful proofs of the justice of its views before your eyes,
and then what would be left me in return for all the humiliations I had
suffered? Your scorn! Oh, I was foolish ever to permit myself to be so
blinded as to believe that happiness for yourself or me could ever be
expected to result from a marriage with Count Ottmar! The extent of my
folly you first taught me to know in that hour of agony. Do not rebuke
the application I have made of your lessons as exaggerated. It might,
perhaps, be so in regard to a man who stood further above the views and
demands of a narrow-minded circle than you. But with you, Heinrich, it
is the direct result of your whole character. You are far too much
fettered by the ideas of those who surround you, cling too closely to
the false lustre of brilliant positions, accidental aristocratic
prerogatives, and personal distinction, to long retain your love for a
woman who would constantly inflict the most painful wounds upon your
aristocratic vanity. Believe me, love has no worse enemy than doubt of
the equality of its chosen object; and even if you thought me worthy of
you in intellect, the inferiority of my birth, and the want of esteem
shown by society, would weigh heavily against me. You must become
another man for me to accept your hand; and--forgive me if I am
harsh--your letter gave me no proof of this, although it revealed a
depth of feeling for which, since our separation, I had not given you
credit. But you are and will remain the minister, Count Ottmar, the
court favorite; I can only make him unhappy, as he would me. If you
were once more yourself, Heinrich von Ottmar, my Heinrich, who has
nothing in common with that unprincipled aristocracy,--if you openly
acknowledged what I taught you, what I believe requisite to true manly
dignity and greatness,--then, then you should learn how I love you.
Count Ottmar, who wished to inflict such disgrace upon me, I do not
love, and have sworn never to marry. Farewell! For your happiness and
my own I must avoid you, and leave it to God whether and how he dispose
your heart towards me. If your love is more than the obstinacy of a
passion irritated by resistance, it will unite with your better self
and make you a new man, will remove from our path the obstacles that
separate us, and upon the open way will find me once more; of that you
may be assured. But if it has not the strength to do all this, it would
in the end only make both you and myself miserable,--thrice as
miserable as we are now.

"When you receive this letter, I shall have left Rome for another place
of residence. Do not try to seek me: you will not find me. Do not call
me 'cruel'; in these lines you see only the victory I have obtained
over myself, but not my anguish, my tears. Beloved, I extend my arms to
you, and would fain press you to my aching heart, but only the cold
phantom of womanly duty and honor bends toward me, and breathes an icy
kiss on my burning lips. Oh, it is hard to be cast off by one you love,
and compelled to renounce your most ardent desire! But, Heinrich, it is
still harder to reject him yourself, and voluntarily resign that for
which you long. These, Heinrich, are superhuman victories, and they
strip all blossoms of youth from the heart; but it is better to lose
them than reap the envenomed fruit of eternal remorse. May God keep his
gentle, fatherly hand over you! He can still lead you to happiness, and
he alone.

                                          "Cornelia Erwing."


It was morning when _Heinrich_ read and re-read this letter, until a
sorrow never imagined before made the words swim before his eyes, and
lay like a weight upon his chest, until, with a half-stifled cry of
agony, he bent his head upon the sheet lying before him. He started as
if bewildered, when Anton suddenly appeared, and informed him that a
message had come, summoning him to go to the palace as soon as
possible.

A few hours after, the bells rang, the cannon thundered, and the
populace shouted with joy, for in the palace a new-born child, a
prince, lay in a golden cradle. The hope of the country, whose
fulfillment slumbered in that little heart, stood by its side uttering
a benediction, and the promise of a great future encircled the baby
brow with an invisible crown.

But beside him a precious life was struggling silently and
uncomplainingly with death. Ottilie had fulfilled her last and highest
task, but it had exhausted the remnant of her strength. She felt that
her pulse had but a few more throbs, her breast would rise and fall
only a few more times, and, gazing gently and submissively around the
circle, Said, "Give me my son,"--took him from the arms of the prince
and pressed him closely to her heart. "Oh, God! what do I need more
than the happiness of this moment?" Yet a tear fell from her glazing
eyes as she kissed the little one and softly whispered, "You are so
sweet, so dear! Oh, it must be an immeasurable delight to cradle such a
child in one's arms, protect, foster, and watch the awakening of its
slumbering powers! It is not allotted to me. I must leave you and give
you up to your father. May his soul open itself to _you_! may you
become the innocent mediator between him and his poor people!" She
pressed the boy more and more feebly to her breast. "Farewell! it
grieves me to leave you,--grieves me deeply. Yours was the only heart
an which I relied. But I will not complain. I have _borne_ you,--this,
too, is a mercy from God, and with a kiss upon your rosy lips it is
sweet to die." The child fell from her arm, and her head sank back.

"She is asleep," said the prince, dismissing the bystanders, that he
might not be compelled to show any grief.

That evening the bells rang out another peal, and thousands wept aloud
under the brilliantly-lighted windows of the palace, for behind them,
on a black-draped bed of state, lay the beautiful corpse of the
princess, and her people's love stretched its arms towards her in vain.
With her the last bond that bound the sympathies of the masses to the
throne was sundered, and in the child-like ideas of the nation,
Ottilie's glorified spirit rose from her death-bed as that of a saint,
a martyr, who had vainly struggled and suffered to the end. She hovered
above the mourning country in a halo of glory and grief, and despair
transformed the angel of peace into a goddess of freedom, who with a
mighty power revealed to their oppressed hearts the consciousness of
their crushed rights.



                                  XXI.

                             SPRING STORM.


The political atmosphere constantly grew darker and more threatening.
Throngs of people had streamed from all the provinces to attend
Ottilie's funeral, all with the same sorrow, the same rancor; and,
after the obsequies were over, they assembled for consultations of the
most serious nature, and these consultations resulted in resolutions.
Unions were formed and dissolved, deputations sent and dismissed, the
press rose and was suppressed. The evidences of the advancing movement
became more and more decided, the measures of the government yet more
stringent.

Suddenly a shout rang through the whole country.

"Count Ottmar has formed an opposition in the ministry! Count Ottmar
has declared for the constitution!" The news ran like wildfire. Ottmar,
who had been so long hated as the enemy of all progress, the powerful
favorite of the prince, suddenly threw influence, position, and
authority into the wavering scale, and acknowledged before the world
the cause against which he had so long battled. No one took time to
question the motive of this sudden change; enough that it was so, it
was help in the hour of the utmost need; and new courage animated the
elastic minds of the people. Ottmar was now the centre of universal
attention; the last hope was bound up in him. This consciousness gave
him a dignity which pervaded his whole character. He was once more the
old Ottmar, who strode on haughtily erect, in triumph; but another and
a nobler triumph was now depicted in his sparkling eyes, his lofty
bearing; it was not the victory of subtle arts over the hearts of
feeble women, credulous princes, and less gifted diplomats; but the
conquest of a manly action upon minds, and the pride of an honest
purpose in lieu of treacherous fascinations.

He was animated with new life. The conflict between his principles and
his course of action, as well as that between his love and his career,
which Cornelia so greatly feared, had arisen; and although the first
impulse to his new deeds, as in the case of Albert's liberation, had
been merely the selfish desire to enter the path upon which he might
hope to find Cornelia, he again felt with great satisfaction the
blessing of his good action.

There is scarcely any soil more favorable for the efforts of man than
to represent a nation, be it in whatever form it may, none in which the
noblest and purest philanthropy can be better developed; but there is
also none from which personal vanity reaps a more abundant harvest.
Cornelia knew this, and therefore had sought to lead Ottmar into this
career. Vanity was the tie by which she endeavored to unite the egotist
to a great cause, until its own nature could enter into him and raise
him above himself. The moment had now arrived when her expectation
began to prove itself correct. _Heinrich_ found himself obtaining an
importance in the eyes of the whole country, which he had hitherto
possessed only within the narrow circle of the court; saw himself
beloved where he had formerly been hated; surrounded with shouts of
joy, instead of having men shrink from him in fear, and he would have
been unnatural if it had not both flattered him and stirred the silent
chords of benevolence within him. Thus the way was opened which he must
follow if his opposition in the ministry succumbed, and he sacrificed
the portfolio to his new confession of faith.

"Cornelia, wonderful woman, what have you made me?" he said to himself
a hundred times, while his breast heaved with a sigh of longing. He
pressed his hand upon his heart, which he felt more and more to be the
centre of gravity of his nature; where the head whose lofty ideas had
given him new life had so often rested and thought. "When shall I hide
you here again? When, after all these tumultuous conflicts, shall I
hold quiet, blissful intercourse with you? When will your sparkling
eyes rest lovingly upon me, and say, I am satisfied with you,
Heinrich'?"

Weeks elapsed, and the people still hoped, while Ottmar saw the
catastrophe he expected approach nearer and nearer,--for he knew the
situation of affairs too well to believe for a moment that his
opposition would effect anything more than to give him the confidence
he needed for his new career, and make his change of opinion easier. He
was not mistaken. From the moment he acknowledged his real views he was
excluded from all personal intercourse with the prince, and the
majority in the ministry was against him. The prince, calm and
immovable in his convictions, did not suspect that in Ottmar alone lay
the pledge of his security; his eyes, which were constantly gazing into
the obscurity of a long-buried past, did not perceive the feeling of
the nation which had assembled menacingly about the liberal minister.
But Ottmar felt this invisible power hovering around his brow with
whispers of promise, and knew that he was the real ruler of the moment;
for with him fell the last barrier that withheld the rising flood from
the steps of the throne, and with a proud smile he at last hailed his
overthrow in the ministry as the first real triumph of his life.

"May you never be compelled by force, your Highness, to acknowledge the
spirit you now deny!" were his last words, as he left the council of
ministers. He did not suspect how soon, for the first time, he was to
know and estimate at its full power the spirit that, with scornful
menace, he had held up as a ghost before the eyes of the prince.

On the evening of the same day the rumor that Ottmar had sent in his
resignation spread through the city, so that undoubtedly the question
of the constitution had been unfavorably decided. The streets were
deserted, but the public-houses were filled to overflowing;
conversations were carried on a low tone, and several arrests were
made.

The next morning the newspapers confirmed the report that Count
Ottmar's resignation had been sent in and accepted; and further
remarked that the government, spite of its eagerness to accede to all
just and reasonable demands, could not suffer itself to be borne on by
the extreme views of this man, etc.

This was too hard a blow for the newly-excited hopes of the nation.

Ottmar himself, by his previous conduct, had unconsciously increased
its expectations to such an extent that they could only be crushed by a
terrible rebuff, but not subside peacefully.

A nation which has long pleaded and had its most reasonable demands
rejected, its highest expectations disappointed, is a terrible power
when, with its last hope, its last fear is cast aside. Scarcely had the
news of Ottmar's withdrawal from the ministry spread abroad, when all
the machines stood still, all the looms stopped. A strange bustle began
to make itself heard in the streets. Workmen ran busily to and fro,
groups formed and separated. Crowds of men, engaged in earnest
conversation, surged up and down. Towards evening the strange
mysterious rabble, the vermin which always crawl forth when the soil of
popular order is disturbed, began to mingle with the throng. The
questions and interference of the police were answered with contempt or
a slap in the face. At last, with the gathering darkness, the aimless
tumult assumed purpose and direction; Ottmar's house was the point
towards which the pulsing life of the whole City streamed. A cheer was
raised for the discharged minister, the fallen representative of the
people. A few hasty charges from the patrol dispersed the scarcely
organized, defenceless crowd; but the result was that the following day
it assembled again, and the scene was repeated; this time with a cheer
for Ottmar and a hiss for the government. The advancing soldiers found
a part of the crowd armed, and a struggle ensued. When the first
wounded man fell a furious yell burst forth, and the resistance became
desperate, until a second detachment of mounted gendarmes dashed upon
the combatants with drawn sabres and forced them asunder.

The first blow dealt upon such occasions opens the artery of a whole
nation, and the wild blood streams forth until strength is utterly
exhausted, and the arm yields feebly to the bandage which often only
conceals a new fetter.

On the third day the City looked as if some public festival were being
celebrated. An inexplicable concourse of strangers thronged the
streets; the trains arrived crowded with the inhabitants of the
provinces; new bands constantly flocked to the City; the soldiers were
consigned to the barracks, the places of business closed.

Still the demon of insurrection, imprisoned in every throbbing heart,
waited until the scattered masses obtained a definite form, and
then burst forth with all his long-repressed power; one mind in a
many-limbed, gigantic body. Roaring and shouting he rushed forward with
the wings of the storm, ever swelling and increasing, destroying all
peaceful life as he dashed along. The breezes fled before and around
him, the earth shook and whirled its stones upward to the glittering
palaces; while shattering and crashing, groaning and roaring, was the
accompanying harmony to the terrible, howling, and shouting song of
fury of the unchained revolution.

Pale terror stared hollow-eyed at the passing desolation, while the
Nemesis of the insulted law dashed after on snorting steeds. But the
ghost of fratricide rested with paralyzing power upon the pursuers, and
unreached, unchecked, a part of the mighty crowd rushed on to the
arsenal. The guard stationed for its defense fell at the first
tremendous assault; the huge doors yielded, and with an exultant roar
of "Arms!" the combatants rushed in over the treasured emblems of
battle-traditions centuries old, to prepare for the most important
conflict--the victory of the new over the old time.

Vengeance hastened after with lightning and thunder; and the infuriated
forces, crashing and shrieking, rushed upon each other and struggled in
the most terrible of all conflicts--the narrow, crowded battle of the
streets. Repeated volleys of artillery and new bands of soldiers at
last forced a way through the throng before the arsenal was plundered.
But, as a wave which the tempest lashes asunder always rushes together
with redoubled violence, the crowd divided and grew denser here and
there before the regular weapons of the troops. Hotter and more deadly
grew the struggle. Darkness was gradually added to the thick smoke of
the powder, which enveloped the noisy city and absorbed every ray of
light. Barricades, those terrible fortifications of the populace,
had risen, and around them the conflict raged, so that the walls
of the houses groaned and trembled, and with the last gleam of day the
last appearance of definite purpose vanished, darkness shrouded the
heated brains, and both within and without all outline of form
and plan vanished. Murder was no longer committed for the sake
of a certain object, but became the object itself. Nature asserted
her rights, not in a peaceful, normal manner, but with horrible
degeneracy,--stupefaction in the place of sleep, the delirium of fury
instead of dreams. The animal developed itself in forms of hideous
distortion, and the most dangerous madness took possession of the soul:
joy in cruelty, pleasure in destruction. Hour after hour elapsed in a
wild tumult of excesses and crimes; anarchy writhed and twisted
horribly beneath the superior force of fresh bodies of troops, clung
giddily to her bulwarks, and defended them with convulsive energy as
her last support. The struggle now became monotonous. Signals, volleys
of artillery, and fierce howls, like those of wild beasts, alternated
at regular intervals, while above them rose the notes of the
alarm-bells, and only the crash of falling barricades, the glare of
burning houses, interrupted the terrible rhythm with which the yielding
revolution was uttering its last sighs. Limb after limb began to die,
street after street became quiet.

At last, towards morning, the over-taxed strength was exhausted, the
thirst for blood slaked. Death was gleaning in the houses where battle
had cast its mangled victims, and trembling hands were busied in
binding up wounds, while compassion and horror struggled for the
mastery. The last shot died away, the insurrection was quelled. Silence
spread over the scene the lassitude of death. Slowly the ever-patient
heavens flushed with the rosy hues of dawn, and the still reeking city
lay purple in its blood.

Ottmar stood at the window gazing silently, now at the glowing sky and
now at the blood-stained earth. Horror had stupefied him. In the angles
of the streets soldiers, who had fallen asleep while standing in the
ranks, leaned against each other, shoulder to shoulder. Now and then a
body covered with straw was borne past; pallid women stepped
noiselessly over the barricades, urged on by the courage of despair,
and crept along the streets to seek their husbands and sons; invisible
angels of death floated through the air, guided them into the right
path, and hovered around them when, in some lifeless body, they were
forced to recognize a relative.

_Heinrich_ gazed motionless at these changing scenes of misery; but his
inmost heart was strangely stirred. The spirit of murdered freedom
celebrated in him its resurrection, built a temple in his soul, raised
its arches heavenward, and led him away from this sorrowful scene of
his former unhallowed labors to his own home, where the lists stood
open to the missionaries of national happiness, where he could obey the
call which had appealed to his conscience in the death-cry of an
ill-used country. All the frivolity and brilliancy that had formerly
charmed him was swallowed up in the streams of blood he had seen
flow,--all striving and struggling to assert his own merits vanished in
the newly-awakened consciousness of the duties devolving upon every
talented man for the development and culture of the masses. The
solemnity of the moment had seized upon him and stripped off all that
was false and superficial. He could not answer with sophisms the great
question propounded by the times; he must at last be himself again,
must acknowledge the truth, and from amidst all the horrors of
vengeance, the rushing streams of blood, once more arose in its pure
beauty the thought of the eternal rights of man he had so grievously
profaned.



                                 XXII.

                           LIGHT AND SHADOW.


A radiant morning sky arched over a green island which lay in the midst
of a broad, ruffled lake. Blue mountain-peaks, veiled in mist, bounded
the almost-immeasurable surface of water. Who can describe all the
changeful lights upon the tide when the young rays of the morning sun
play upon the dancing wavelets--the rising and falling, the sparkling
and flashing, the confused blending of the reflections? A fresh breeze
swept over the lake to the island and rustled the leaves of the lofty
trees; with that exception, a deep silence, a sabbath-like peace,
brooded over the scene.

A girlish figure stood upon the shore, gazing, in a trance of delight,
at the starry shimmer of the waves, and inhaling with parted lips the
cool breath of the water; dewy leaves and blossoms kissed her floating
robes, and dragon-flies sported upon the tide at her feet. Her eyes
followed with a longing look a bird of prey which soared in a majestic
flight towards the pure, vaulted firmament. Just then the sound of the
matin-bell rang out upon the silence, and at the same moment a tall
man, in long, dark robe, appeared in the doorway of a peasant's house
near by, and, standing motionless, gazed at the slender figure, whose
marvelous proportions were sharply outlined against the sparkling lake!
"Cornelia!" he called at last.

She turned and hurried towards him. "My dear Severinus! Oh, how happy I
am! Here the free German air blows once more; here I again hear the
rustling of German oaks and pines. Home surrounds me in this fresh,
simple nature, speaks in the familiar language, looks from the kindly
blue eyes. I live once more,--I am awake,--and what surrounds me is
charming, bright reality."

"Have you only been dreaming while in our glorious Italy?" asked
Severinus, gravely.

"Yes, Severinus; a beautiful, wonderful dream, but a dream after all. I
was torn from my native soil; my heart could not take root anywhere; no
dear relations with my past existed; no new ones were formed with the
present. What I saw and experienced only enriched my intellect, not my
heart; it afforded me pleasure without making me happy; occupied my
mind without obtaining any hold upon my nature. I gazed, admired,
learned, and reveled in a wealth of beauty; but I was not myself,--my
individual life had no connection with my surroundings. What is this
except a dream into which we bring nothing, and from which we take only
a memory?"

"I had hoped you would not return so empty from a country of the
loftiest revelations. I expected your great soul would there find its
only true home, and the sorrow of finding myself mistaken shall be the
last the world can prepare for me."

"Oh, do not talk so, Severinus, dear, pious father! Do not Look at me
so sadly; do not be so stern and bitter, but enjoy with me the blessing
of this peaceful morning. Let holy nature be the church in which our
souls can unite in adoration of our common God. See, my friend,
clearness of vision is as unavoidable a necessity to me as light and
air; in clearness of vision God shows himself to me, while you only
perceive him in mysteries. In order to see him I open my spiritual
eyes; you close yours. I receive his manifestations with sharpened, you
with artificially deadened, senses. I see him in each of these light
clouds floating over the sunny sky; you darken your churches, and
shroud yourselves in clouds of incense, that in the mysterious,
rich-hued twilight you may paint a vague, fanciful picture. His natural
and moral laws everywhere announce themselves to me in shining
characters, and I serve him by cheerful obedience to them; you collect
from the ambiguous writings of the Bible a book of church regulations,
to which you slavishly submit, and exhaust your hearts and minds the
superhuman effort of satisfying all your self-created duties."

"I hope this is not the only result of your observation of our sublime
worship. It must be the short residence on this dull German soil which
has loosened the strings that resounded so clearly in Rome."

"Do not cherish such a fancy, Severinus," said Cornelia, as she walked
up and down the shore with him. "The forms of your worship, as I saw
them in Rome, delighted me; nay, their grandeur and poesy aroused a
wild enthusiasm. But it was the revelation of art, not that of the
Deity, at which I gazed. All your miracles, all your lofty precepts,
proved nothing except the grandeur of the human intellect, and in this
the existence and influence of a God, which I never doubted, and which
had been just as clearly revealed to me in every creation of genius. My
God, to whom I pray in childish adoration, has remained the same; he
has come from Rome with me the same as he went. You neither
strengthened nor shook my belief; I cherish the deepest reverence for
your worship of God; it is more beautiful, more sublime, than ours; my
heart has opened to much that revealed a character of sincere piety,
but I still see in it only a transitory _form_, liable to alter with
the changes of centuries; while I bear within me the imperishable
essence, ever the same through the lapse of ages."

"Oh, Cornelia, how I pity you!" said Severinus, as he leaned against an
oak, covering his dark eyes with his hand, while his breast rose and
fell as if he were struggling for breath. "Cornelia," he suddenly
exclaimed, encircling her forehead with both hands, "free your mind,
your godlike mind, from the clutches of this prejudice; cast aside the
arrogance of independent judgment; bend your haughty brow in obedience
to our church. Oh, if I could give you the blessing to be found in
unconditional submission,--blind faith,--I would willingly sacrifice my
life to save for the church this soul, which has no peer in human form!
Cornelia, a fiend has taken possession of you; that of pride, doubt,
indifference. He has concealed himself under the false lustre of an
abstract reverence for God, to lull your conscience to sleep, in order
that you may the more surely fall into unbelief and destruction." He
suddenly threw himself at her feet, and gazed despairingly into her
eyes. "Here I lie before you in the dust, and I plead in infinite
anguish for the precious imperiled property of Christ. The next moment
of time may perhaps decide your fate, and part us forever. Cornelia,
join our church; believe me, she alone can save you."

"Oh, God, how hardly you try me! You wrong me, Severinus. No evil
spirit, no prejudice, guides me. Have you ever seen me arrogant? If I
were, should I not go over to you? for you have opened the most
tempting prospects to my pride; you would halt my conversion with joy,
and receive me with every kind of pomp and distinction. My self-love
would be so greatly flattered that it would far, far outweigh the
self-denial of an outward subordination to the church, while in my own
congregation no one asks about Cornelia Erwing. But I cannot thus belie
myself. Do not sadden my heart with entreaties and lamentations:
convince me, Severinus; for so long as you do not succeed in that I can
do nothing but weep, because I must grieve my best friend so deeply."

"Convince you!" cried Severinus, starting up. "If the whole gigantic
structure of our religion, whose foundations certainly do not rest upon
air, the marvels of our worship, the words of the fathers of the
church, the historical proofs of our traditions which reach beck to the
time of the establishment of Catholicism by Peter himself, could not
convince you, there is nothing left for me to say."

"All that, my friend, even granting that they were proofs, could not
make me forget the causes of the Reformation. The Reformation is the
mother of my faith."

"Ah, do not utter these words in the same breath! What had your
Reformation in common with faith? Were your dry, philosophical
Melanchthon, your rough, sensual Luther, your chiding, physically
and morally starving Hutten, representatives of a religious
transformation?"

"They were men who had the courage to appear before the hypocrisy of
your degenerate priesthood as they really were; who did not seek the
halo of sanctity in the denial of human nature, but honored God and his
wisdom in his laws. Besides, we too do not lack sainted martyrs, and
the flames that consumed a Huss branded an eternal stigma upon your
church."

"I cannot argue with you about the means the church was permitted to
use against such apostates. I will only tell you, my child, that the
Reformation of the sixteenth century was nothing more than a secular
insurrection against abuses in the church, which unfortunately cannot
be denied. But a secular revolution can never create a religion, and
therefore Protestantism lacks the positive character the human heart
needs, and where it strives to appropriate it, becomes a monster, for
it is and remains nothing more than a--protest against Catholicism."

"Our Reformation was not to create a religion; its purpose was merely
to free one already existing from abuse and error. Its task was to
restore Christianity to its original purity, and if it did not wholly
succeed, if in Protestantism it has only produced a transitory,
imperfect form, we still thank it for the highest blessings of
civilization, and most precious of all, that freedom of conscience
which permits the dissatisfied mind to choose its own religion."

"And this much-praised 'freedom of conscience' leads directly to want
of principle, and becomes the destruction of all virtue, all religion!"
cried Severinus, indignantly. "The human race cannot dispense with a
positive church discipline without falling into anarchy. And in you,
Cornelia, unhappily, I have already had an opportunity to learn the
effects of this emancipation."

"You have learned, Severinus," interrupted Cornelia, with noble pride,
"that I resisted evil with the same power with which I now repel the
flattering allurements of a church adorned with all the magic of fancy
and attraction of rites, because it is at variance with my own
convictions. Is this a want of moral discipline?"

Severinus walked on beside Cornelia in silence. The sun had risen
higher in the heavens, and the bell for mass rang from the neighboring
convent. Severinus paused and gazed long and earnestly into Cornelia's
eyes. "Girl, does not that innocent voice fall upon your ear in tones
of touching warning, like the pleading of a mother calling to her lost
child?"

"Do not be such a bigoted Catholic to-day, Severinus," said Cornelia,
gazing at him beseechingly. "All the joy of this earthly life is
stirring in my heart, and must I constantly argue with you about the
best means of reaching heaven? Oh, let me enjoy with a thankful soul
the rich abundance of happiness my Creator has poured out for me! Do
not cast the black shadow of your religious harshness over the sunny
picture of this day. Severinus, my dear, gloomy friend, be mild and
gentle. Look at me as kindly as you used to do. See, see, there is the
glimmer of a smile upon your face! Ah, it has already vanished again!
What a pity! Ever since the news of Ottmar's going over to the liberal
party brought me back to Germany, and filled me with the blissful
certainty of being reunited to him, you have become a different person.
When I lost him, I gained you; and now that I am to gain him once more,
I lose you. When I felt miserable and lonely, you were as loving and
patient as a father; but since I have been animated with new hope, you
have retired coldly into yourself, and you have hidden yourself behind
the walls of your work of conversion."

"My task, Cornelia, is only to aid the afflicted; the happy do not need
me." Severinus looked silently up towards heaven. His eyes were
bloodshot; his wasted face, bronzed by the Italian sun, glowed with
fervor.

Cornelia laid her clasped hands compassionately and beseechingly upon
his breast. "Severinus, you are suffering; I see it."

For a moment he pressed her hands closely to his throbbing heart, then
hurled them away, with an expression of horror, and hurried off.

Cornelia looked after him in astonishment, but did not try to follow,
for she felt that the emotion which moved him was a secret she ought
not to fathom. She turned towards the rural inn where she lodged, and
now observed for the first time that one of the artists who came to the
island to sketch was seated an a little hillock not far from the spot
where she had been pacing with Severinus, and recognized him as the
very person to whose talent she owed her first picture of Ottmar. She
approached, and he hastily concealed in his portfolio the paper upon
which he had been working.

"You only arrived yesterday evening, and are already sketching the
scenery, Herr A----. Is it not a little hasty?"

"I have already made myself familiar with all its details," said A----,
with evident embarrassment. "I am very much hurried, because I would
like to finish the picture in time for the exhibition at H----."

"Then I will not detain you, but wish you all possible success. Au
revoir, Herr A----."

"I will do myself the honor of waiting upon you at a later hour,
Fräulein Erwing," said A----, bowing respectfully; and, as Cornelia
turned away, he drew out his sketch, and eagerly continued his work.

Cornelia entered the public room, to ask if the newspapers had arrived.
It was full of active life. Some twenty young artists were standing
together consulting about a trip they were to take; most of them
handsome young fellows, with large beards, boldly-curved Calabrian
hats, open shirt-collars, and the general adventurous negligence of
apparel with which the young representatives of the laws of beauty seek
to remove the pedantic stiffness of modern costume.

A general "ah!" echoed through the room at Cornelia's entrance, and a
movement took place which made the dense clouds of tobacco-smoke that
filled the low apartment whirl as if driven by the wind. The hats were
removed; the beer-glasses noiselessly set aside. All crowded around
Cornelia.

"Fräulein Erwing!" cried one, to whom a waving red mane and
widely-dilated nostrils gave the appearance of a lion, "we have at last
caught you without your black guardian! You must yield to superior
force, and let us steal your face. We are a terrible band of robbers,
and a person for whom we once lay snares does not escape us so easily."

"Yes, but we must first have a fight, to decide which of us she will
allow to paint her," said another, waving a staff in the air.

"Fräulein Erwing," cried a little black-bearded Pole, with a shrill
accent, "I will shoot the first man to whom you sit!"

"That is not necessary," growled he of the lion's mane; "we will all
paint her at once!"

"Yes, yes!" cried many voices at the same moment. "That's a good idea!
We will all paint her at once!"

"That is, if I will sit to you," laughed Cornelia, "for I have not yet
resigned all right of ownership in my own face, gentlemen."

"Fräulein Erwing," began the man of the lion's mane, with great pathos,
"we do not know in what branch of Christian duty your reverend father
instructs you, but he has certainly taught you that our advantages are
only bestowed upon us that we may make them available for the profit
and welfare of others; so you will perceive that it is your duty to pay
the debt you owe Providence for your face, by using it to aid the
development of youthful talent."

"Yes!" cried another; "you could not justify yourself before God if you
displayed such a wealth of beauty to idle gazers, and grudgingly
refused the struggling artist permission to use and perpetuate its
lines in an inspired creation."

"You would make me unconscionably vain, gentlemen," said Cornelia, "if
the fame of being the most beautiful on this little island were not so
cheaply purchased."

A general "Oh, oh!" expressed the indignation of the enthusiastic
artists at this modesty, and a torrent of eager protestations
threatened to follow; but Cornelia cut them short by exclaiming, gayly,
"Well, well, if you can make me of any use for a picture, I will give
you a sitting; but one only, and at the utmost two hours long. So,
whoever wants to paint me must take advantage of the opportunity."

"That is excellent!" they all cried, joyously. "It's a very short time,
to be sure, but we'll see about the rest. But when may we draw you?"

"Whenever you choose, gentlemen. Perhaps the best time would be now!"

"Yes, yes; we will take her at her word," said one of the older ones of
the party. "It shall be done now; and when the two hours are over,
Fräulein Erwing shall see the sketches, and decide which of us she
considers worthy the honor of another sitting for the completion of her
picture."

"But our excursion," said a tall lad, whose whole vitality seemed to
have run into an immense length of limb. "Shall we defer our
excursion?"

"Let your chicken legs take you where you like, man," thundered he of
the lion's mane; "but don't say you are an artist, if you talk about
excursions while our eyes are permitted a glimpse into the holy of
holies of beauty."

"Let him go!" cried another. "He can't help it; all his vital functions
are expended in the use of his feet. It will be one the less to take up
the room; there are twenty-three of us without him. The number is still
too large. I scarcely believe that there were ever so many assembled on
the island at one time before."

A long debate now followed concerning the place where they should
sketch Cornelia, while the latter had meantime obtained possession of
the newspaper, and was reading it in breathless suspense. Suddenly she
started. She had found what she sought,--Ottmar's name as a candidate
for the H---- Chambers. Her face was suffused with a rosy flush of joy,
and her eyes sparkled as she laid the sheet aside and turned towards
the artists, who were disputing violently because some thought it too
hot out of doors, and others considered the room too small.

"Gentlemen," she cried gayly, "peace is the first condition I shall
impose if I am to sit for you. We will go out into the open air and
look for some shady spot; if you all want to paint me at the same time,
we shall certainly need more room than there is here."

The proposal was accepted, and the whole party went out with Cornelia.
On a lofty part of the shore, not far from the inn, was a large open
space surrounded with lofty trees, beneath which stood wooden benches
and tables, and where, in spite of the heat, it was cool and pleasant.
The eye could wander undazzled over the rippling lake and the beautiful
island, which rested on the waters like a large green leaf. The light
surges gently rocked the boats fastened near by; in one of them, under
the spreading branches of an ancient linden, a peasant lad was extended
sleeping comfortably, undisturbed by the loud bustle of the approaching
artists. It seemed as if all nature was slumbering in her sunny
noontide brightness.

"Well, gentlemen," exclaimed Cornelia, "is it not delightful here? Have
we not shade, fresh breezes, and comfort?"

"Yes, yes," cried the artists in one breath; "we will stay here. Out
with the portfolios, and let every one take his place and go to work!"

They buzzed about Cornelia like a swarm of bees which are about to
settle and fly from one spot to another, now alighting, now rising
again, now dispersing, and anon collecting at the same point, scuffling
with each other about places, and filling the inexperienced observer
with anxiety lest they should never get established. Such were the
preparations of the artists at the beginning of their work. Here
several were disputing about the profile, yonder a group wished to sit
opposite to her, not unfrequently a slight skirmish decided the matter,
and those who did not succeed in conquering a place climbed up into the
trees and established themselves and their portfolios among the
branches.

"We must form the narrowest possible semicircle," advised he of the
lion's mane, who, as the possessor of the strongest lungs in the
company, undertook the duty of organizing the party, in which, by means
of a great expenditure of voice and unwearied energy, he at last
succeeded; and when, with the aid of the trees, a half-circle was
formed in the shape of an amphitheatre whose extremities could not even
obtain a full profile, but merely a portion of the cheek and ear, the
zealous artist first perceived that he had completely excluded himself.
His nostrils dilated to an unprecedented size as his large eyes
wandered around the circle, while his broad freckled hands were thrust
helplessly through his unkempt mane. A shrill peal of laughter echoed
jeeringly from the circle and the trees, "Richard C[oe]ur de Lion has
no place!"

"Be calm, Richard," cried one; "we will get you into the exhibition
after all. We'll paint Fräulein Erwing as the lion's bride, and you as
the monster!"

"Jeer away, you mocking-birds!" he thundered. "Because I am an artist,
I thought more of the subject than myself, and I'll show you what an
artist can do. I'll paint a neck and heir such as the world never yet
saw!" and with these words he strode majestically on, seated himself
behind Cornelia, and began to work with the must grotesque movements.

Silence now reigned while the three-and-twenty artists struggled in the
greatest possible haste to perpetuate her features.

Cornelia had watched the tumult absently; her thoughts were wandering
far away, and the stillness that ensued was most welcome. She could
give herself up to her dreams undisturbed. "She is marvelously
beautiful!" suddenly cried one of the younger artists from his perch in
the tree. Universal applause answered this naïve expression of delight.
"The birds in the trees are singing your praises, Fräulein Erwing!"
cried another. "Doesn't that flatter you?"

"Oh, certainly," she answered, smiling as indifferently as if she had
not understood the compliment paid her.

"The best likeness will flatter her most," growled Richard C[oe]ur de
Lion from behind Cornelia. "Express your admiration by work instead of
words, and she will value it more."

"Well growled, lion!" said the young enthusiast in the tree.

"Go on the stage and declaim verses; you are more fit for an actor than
an artist," exclaimed Richard, without having the slightest suspicion
that he was himself in his appearance the most theatrical of all; for
naturalness, when carried too far, becomes as great a caricature as
affectation, and the stage is certainly the home of caricatured forms.

"Come, gentlemen," cried Cornelia, laughing; "the time you spend in
disputing you will lose in work; for I must tell you that I will not
sit a moment longer than the two hours agreed upon! It is altogether
too uncomfortable to endure the gaze of three-and-twenty pairs of
eyes."

This threat re-established peace; for the artists once more devoted all
their energy to their work, and henceforth nothing was heard but the
wondering exclamations of several country people who stationed
themselves here and there on the outskirts of the shaded spot to gaze
at a proceeding utterly incomprehensible to them. The time agreed upon
passed away, and Cornelia rose. Neither grumbling nor entreaties
availed; she kept resolutely to her determination. The sketches were
laid before her, and as she looked at them in succession she burst into
a merry laugh. She saw her own face taken from some twenty different
stand-points. "Dear me, can I be like all these?" she exclaimed,
clasping her hands in astonishment. "If I ever knew how I looked, I
should not from this day! Who can decide which of these many faces is
mine? If this is, of course that can't be; and if this profile taken
from the right is a good likeness, how can the one sketched from the
left resemble me? The right side of my face must be entirely different
from the left,--and that would be horribly abnormal. According to these
profile views I should have two kinds of eyes, eyebrows, cheeks; nay,
even my nose would consist of two dissimilar halves. Now, can you
dispute this, gentlemen?"

The artists themselves could not help laughing as they looked at their
pictures.

"Now you will get an idea of the variety and abundance of beauty your
features possess, Fräulein Erwing," said one of the oldest of the
group. "When compared with you the majority of the sketches seem
passable likenesses, although so different from each other that one
would almost doubt whether they all represented the same face."

"A very pretty compliment to me--and an admirable defense of your
colleagues," said Cornelia, courteously.

"But, Fräulein Erwing," cried another; "you have not yet noticed a
picture which is at all events unique in its way; and our C[oe]ur de
Lion, with unusual modesty, has already been waiting a long time for
your opinion."

He handed Richard's drawing to Cornelia, and all gazed at it in
astonishment, for it was a master-piece. A woman's upraised head,
adorned with a wealth of hair so boldly drawn that one felt tempted to
pass it through the fingers. A few curls which had escaped from the
braids fell upon a most beautiful neck. Cornelia looked at the sheet in
amazement. "You are indeed an artist," said she, fixing her large eyes
with winning kindness upon Richard's rugged face. He blushed to the
roots of his tawny hair with delight. "Fräulein Erwing," he exclaimed,
"no praise ever made me so proud!"

"Yes, yes, C[oe]ur de Lion, Fräulein Erwing is right," said several of
the group; "this hair and neck irresistibly tempt the beholder to turn
the head and see the face, which is concealed from us. You have
produced a master-piece."

"If you go on so much longer, he'll get so vain that he will comb his
hair to-morrow. Just see! he is running his fingers through his mane!"
said others, laughing.

"Well," exclaimed the rest, "we will hope that at the exhibition
Fräulein Erwing's features will yet win the victory over the beauty of
her hair."

Thus each was cheered by the conviction that he alone would obtain the
prize.

"So you will not sit longer to any of us?" asked Richard, as he placed
his sketch in his portfolio.

"No, gentlemen. I was in the mood to enter into your jest; but if you
ask me in earnest, I must tell you that it would not be at all
agreeable to me to expose my face to the eyes of the whole public. I am
both too proud and too modest."

"Is this your final decision?"

"It is irrevocable," said Cornelia, with courteous resolution.

"Well, we will not be ungrateful. In these two hours we have at least
fixed the outlines of your features," said one of the quieter members
of the party.

But the others would not yield at once, and began to plead again.

"If you understood the spirit that animates these features, you would
beg no longer, for you would know it to be vain," cried Richard, with
his usual artless pathos. Then he held out his hand to Cornelia and
continued: "I should probably have the best right to entreat you for
another sitting, since I was so great a loser; but I will not ask it
after what you have just said."

"I thank you for your delicacy of feeling, Herr Richard," replied
Cornelia, with unconcealed admiration. "You may be assured that if I
sat to any of these gentlemen it would be to you; yet if you understand
the reason of my refusal, you will not be angry if I make no exception,
even in your favor."

Richard buried Cornelia's hand in his prickly beard to press a kiss
upon it. "Angry with you? Who that had the heart of a true artist could
be? For, although we are not permitted to make portraits of you, we
still owe you thanks for a type of beauty which will be of service to
us all."

"Yes, yes; he is right," they all assented. "You have not only enriched
our eyes, but our imaginations! Long live Cornelia Erwing! Hurrah!"

At that moment the sound of the dinner-hell echoed from the inn, and at
the same instant Severinus's black-robed figure appeared, coming from
the neighboring convent. The artists wiped the perspiration from their
brows, for the noonday sun and their zeal had made them very bot.

"There comes your pious father!" declaimed the young enthusiast, who
always spoke in quotations. "Now, brothers, let us fly!"

And partly fear of the "black coat," partly hunger, drove the noisy
group to the table. They departed waving their hats, nodding, and
singing; and Cornelia was still looking after them with a smile, when
Severinus approached with a pale, gloomy face.

"Such ovations certainly do not prepare one for the church," he
murmured, somewhat bitterly.

"Ah, Severinus! I am so happy!" cried Cornelia, frankly. "What
open-hearted, gay, magnificent men they are! How I laughed! It
is a pity you were not here! Tell me, Father Severinus,--you are
sincere,--am I really as beautiful as they all say?" she asked, with
mischievous naïveté.

Severinus looked timidly away from her, and with a deep flush fixed his
eyes upon the ground. "I do not know."

"You don't know?"

"I think only your soul beautiful, but not your body. Physical beauty
is something so perishable that it is unheeded by one who perceives,
and knows how to value, that of the soul."

Cornelia became embarrassed. She was ashamed of the want of reserve
which had induced her to ask Severinus so inappropriate a question, and
did not see the strange glance with which he gazed at her blooming
cheeks and lips, and then clinched his teeth.

"Forgive me for disturbing your grave mood with such jests, my reverend
friend; but I cannot help it. The gayety natural to my youth will
sometimes assert its rights. I was very glad they thought me beautiful.
The sight of a lovely face is always a pleasure to me, and the idea
that my appearance could also rejoice the eyes and hearts of others
pleased me. If this is vanity, is, at least, very innocent."

"Certainly, my child," said Severinus, and his tone gradually lost its
assumed harshness. "I will not embitter the harmless little pleasures
of your youth. I am sure they will not smother the earnestness of your
nature."

"Severinus," said Cornelia, smiling, "isn't it a fact that you do not
know what hunger is?"

"No, certainly not. But you seem to know; so come,--let us go to
dinner."

Cornelia was glad to have put an end to the uncomfortable conversation,
and hastened lightly on before him. Since her joy in life was once more
awakened, and hope and cheerfulness again stirred within her, she felt
Severinus's gloomy mood as a heavy burden. As long as she was at
variance with her own heart and the world, the character of the ascetic
priest suited her better than aught else; but now it began to form
a disagreeable contrast with her mood, and cast a shadow over the
newly-risen sun of her love. Yet she was too grateful to forget for a
moment what consolation his assistance had afforded her in the time of
her heavy visitation; so she maintained an unaltered, frank cordiality
towards him, although he now began to torture her with a thousand
contradictions and absurdities.

The scene with the artists, innocent as it was in itself, seemed to
have made Severinus very thoughtful, in consequence of the pleasure
Cornelia derived from it. Such impressions must be kept from her at any
cost, for they were not adapted to aid his work of conversion. Even if
he should remove her from the neighborhood, he could not prevent these
young enthusiasts from traveling after her. He therefore went to the
superior of the convent on the island, and, when he returned, brought
an invitation from her to Cornelia to take up her residence in the
cloister, "as it was not proper for a young girl, with an equally young
companion, to remain in a country inn with a party of gay young men."
Cornelia, who did not care where she lodged, easily allowed herself to
be persuaded to fulfill Severinus's wish, and accept the friendly
superior's offer. Her removal to the cloister took place immediately,
and the astonished hostess told the artists, on their return from an
excursion, that the beautiful Fräulein Erwing had just entered a
convent. They were beside themselves at the news, for who could doubt
that the poor victim of the black coat had been brought here to
commence her novitiate? Thus Severinus's design of spreading a halo of
inaccessibility around Cornelia, and cutting off any intrusive pursuit,
was effectually attained; but that neither she nor her companion should
betray the truth in their unavoidable walks, it was necessary that they
should be taken away with all secrecy. On that very evening Severinus
excited Cornelia's interest in the B---- Oberland to such a degree that
she herself expressed a wish to continue her journey as soon as
possible, and he was merely fulfilling her own desire when he proposed
that they should leave the Island at daybreak, not to return. As no one
saw or heard anything of this departure, Cornelia was, and remained, in
the convent, whose strict seclusion made any inquiries impossible, and
the young artists grieved deeply that the world was robbed of so much
beauty.

Meantime Severinus took the supposed victim farther and farther away,
and several months passed so quickly in the constant change from one
beautiful scene to another, and in grave but intellectually exciting
conversation with Severinus, that she was not conscious how skillfully
he managed to cut her off from all society. Priests and nuns were the
only persons with whom she held occasional intercourse; and she passed
them by with friendly indifference, which rendered any advances
impossible. Severinus's hopes of a conversion drooped more and more; he
could not conceal from himself that a sorrow was gnawing at his soul
which exhausted his best powers, and felt, with increasing despair,
that he should succumb himself before he could conquer Cornelia's
resolute temper.



                                 XXIII.

                       BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH.


Severinus entered Cornelia's room one evening when they were to spend
the night in a peasant's house in the B---- forest. She was standing at
the window, gazing out into the sultry night. The sky arched over the
earth like a leaden-hued canopy; not a breath of air was stirring, not
a leaf moved on the trees; here and there a star gleamed forth where
the dense masses of clouds parted for a moment, and now and then a
distant flash of lightning glittered in the horizon, revealing the dim
outlines of the forest-crowned heights. "Severinus," she said, drawing
a long breath, as she turned toward him, "let us go out into the open
air before the storm breaks: the air is so oppressive here; perhaps it
is cooler outside."

"I have come to speak to you about very serious subjects: it will be
better for us to stay here," said Severinus. And now for the first time
Cornelia noticed his gloomy expression, and looked with anxious
expectation into his face.

"Cornelia, the time when your fate must be decided has arrived. The day
of election is approaching. I must not allow Ottmar to move forward
unrestrained upon the road in which he can only bring ruin upon our
church. If he is elected to the parliament, a powerful enemy will arise
against us. I have already told you what papers the order has in its
hands: they must be used now, if they are not to become useless. Let
Ottmar be a deputy; let him speak, and--as is to be foreseen--win the
masses, and everything we undertake against him will be in vain. The
last point of time is reached, when I must decide what is to be done."

"And that is a publication of his relations with Jesuitism, the
destruction of the toilsomely obtained confidence of his party, in
order to prevent his election. Am I not right?"

"Certainly."

"And do you not know that you will not convert a man like Ottmar by
such means, but simply render him miserable?"

"We wish to make him harmless,--nothing more."

"But you do far worse," cried Cornelia, indignantly. "You bar the path
upon which he might become a better man; hurt him back to the cheerless
void of a life without a purpose: perhaps even entangle him in fresh
snares of falsehood and hypocrisy; and thus destroy a nature which, in
its own way, might accomplish great things for the world. Who gives you
the right thus violently to interfere with an independent existence?"

"The same right which the government has to punish secular crimes, we,
as the representatives of the kingdom of God, possess against him who
sins against God and his servants."

"Severinus, when the government chastises, it represents the insulted
law, and uses honest means; but you avenge only your own boundless
pride, and your weapons are hypocrisy and deceit! Are you better than
he whom you punish?"

"Cornelia!" cried Severinus, with flashing eyes, "do you dare say that
to me?"

"I have never spoken anything but the truth all my life. You could not
expect me to call wrong right; and if God should descend to the earth
once more he would judge the zeal of those who commit sin for his
honor, and misuse his name for selfish purposes, far more harshly than
the errors of the men who have deserted him in form, but not in
reality."

"It is only natural that the child of the world should speak in her
lover's favor; and I will be patient now, as I have often been before.
I cannot ask you to perceive the sublimity of a subordination to the
will of a chief, as our order practices it. Our General alone bears the
responsibility; God will call him only to an account; and he can lay it
aside: for God is higher than the law, and whoever represents him on
earth cannot have his acts measured by the standard of earthly
justice!"

Cornelia gazed at Severinus long and silently. "You told me a short
time ago that you pitied me. Now I must answer you in the same words:
Severinus, I pity you! I am not angry; but you will perceive that from
this hour our paths must lie apart. If you deal a blow which will
destroy Ottmar's honest efforts, it is my duty to be at his side."

"Cornelia, it is in your power to avert this dangerous blow."

"How?"

"The order has determined to give up the papers to you at the price of
your conversion to Catholicism. The order feels itself justified in
resigning the pursuit of this faithless man; if it can thereby win for
the good cause another soul, which will be pleasing to God."

"Indeed!" cried Cornelia, fixing a piercing glance upon Severinus. "Is
it thus you advance your work of conversion?"

"We leave you the choice between the only church which can save souls
and your lover's prosperity, or his destruction and our hostility. Can
you hesitate?"

Cornelia stood before him with noble dignity. "And do you believe you
can win me over to a religion which sanctions such means? Do you think
to bribe me by any advantage--even the welfare of the man I love--to
deny that which is highest and most sacred to me: the knowledge of the
truth? No, Severinus; I feel I possess the power to make the man of my
heart happy without being compelled to save him from your persecution
by abjuring my own faith!"

"May you not trust to yourself too much? He whom we wish to ruin is not
so easily saved by any one, even the bold spirit of Cornelia Erwing!"

"Severinus, you frighten me! I never saw you in this mood before. I
feel as if in my sleep I had wandered into a tiger's den, and on
awakening found myself shut up alone with the terrible enemy!" She
paused and looked at Severinus; then growing calmer, shook her head:
"No, no, Severinus; that is a bad comparison; forgive me for it! Those
pure eyes give the lie to your threats; the dignity enthroned upon your
brow cannot suffer you to become the tool of a base revenge."

"Cornelia, you will never learn to understand the nature of Jesuitism.
I am no blind tool who mechanically performs what is imposed upon him,
but a living part of the whole, who abhors what injures the order, and
labors for its advantage. Our obedience is no mere form which we can
outwardly satisfy without real sympathy: it is an allegiance in spirit
and in truth, which makes the will it serves its own. Thus I hate
Ottmar, since he became faithless to his obligations towards us, as the
order hates him, and will destroy him as the order commands, if you do
not comply with the condition upon which we will spare him."

He watched Cornelia for a moment, then drew out some papers and spread
them upon the table before her. "Here are the documents which are to
serve us as weapons against Ottmar; read them, and convince yourself
whether they will be destructive enough to him to outweigh the
sacrifice you must make to secure his safety."

Cornelia looked over the papers, the very ones with which years before
Severinus had succeeded in intimidating Ottmar, and binding upon him
the chains he now wished to strip off. When she had finished, she gazed
sorrowfully into vacancy.

"This is certainly material enough to devise a snare for him. Oh,
Severinus, throw these papers into the fire, and I will revere you as a
saint!"

"It will only cost you a few words, Cornelia. Say, 'I will become a
Catholic,' and these papers are _yours_!"

Cornelia drew herself up proudly. "I have already told you that I would
drive no bargain with my convictions. This is my final resolution!"

"Noble woman!" thought Severinus, gazing at her in astonishment.

Cornelia gathered up the documents, restored them to the priest, then
clasped her hands, and gazed into his face with her irresistible charm.
"Severinus, give me these papers."

A long pause ensued. The priest was absorbed in watching the beautiful
face, and made no reply.

Cornelia took his hand; he started back.

"Severinus, for once, be more obedient to the law of love and
forbearance God has written in our hearts, than the stern commands of
your order; destroy these proofs of Heinrich's, and also your,
dishonor,--or give them to me that I may do so. You do not answer! Oh,
let my entreaties move you, dear, honored friend!"

Severinus covered his eyes with his hand, and exclaimed, almost
imploringly: "Cease, Cornelia; you know not what you are doing."

"I am well aware of it,--I am torturing you; for I am bringing you into
a conflict with what you believe to be your duty. I see the struggle
between your Jesuit's conscience and your heart. True, genuine manhood
will conquer; it will burst the fetters in which your whole life is
bound."

She rushed to the table, took up a light, and held it towards
Severinus, that he might set the papers on fire. A gust of air that
blew through the open window made the flame flicker to and fro,
and her light dress float around her like a cloud. As she stood thus
with the arm that held the candle raised high above her head, bathed in
the red gleam of the flickering light, in the earnestness of her
enthusiasm,--half pleading, half commanding,--she seemed like an angel;
and without knowing what he was doing he threw the papers towards her,
bent down, and pressed the hem of her dress to his lips.

"I thank you!" cried Cornelia. But ere she could gather up the
scattered papers Severinus recollected himself, and caught her hand.

"Stop! these papers are not yours nor mine; they belong to the order
which intrusted them to my care, and only an evil spirit could have so
bewildered my mind that I wavered in my duty." He made the sign of the
cross, pressed his hands tightly upon his heart, and softly murmured
the "_Anima Christi, sanctifica me_,"[1] then collected the papers and
went to the window. The rain was pouring in torrents; he leaned out and
let the cool water drench his head. "Extinguish, oh, extinguish the
fire!" he prayed, looking up with a deep sigh at the dark watery masses
of clouds.

Cornelia watched him with mingled surprise and grief. "Severinus, you
are playing a part with yourself, like all who hold ideas founded on
sophisms and principles contrary to nature; you must do so, at a moment
when your illusion forms so striking a contrast with the truth. I can
only pity you; but may God let those who made you a Jesuit,--who robbed
you of the world and the world of you,--reap the fruits of their deed!"

"Do not blame them," replied Severinus, turning calmly away from the
window. "They were my parents, and both are dead. I, too, have often
cursed them for giving me life; but since I became a Jesuit, I bless
them."

"Unhappy man, what secret weighs upon the past which you have hitherto
so closely concealed?"

"Disgrace, girl! To you alone I will confess it, that some day you may
think of me more kindly when we are parted. I have no name save that
the church gave me; no father save God; no home save the Casa al Gesu;
no human dignity save that of my holy office. If I had belonged to the
world, I should have been an outcast. But my parents turned the curse
into a blessing when they dedicated to Heaven the life they denied on
earth; and for the sake of that deed may God pardon the sin which gave
me birth!" He raised his head, while his face kindled with enthusiastic
feeling. "But I, Cornelia, will devote my strength, to my latest
breath, to that Jesuitism which accomplished the miracle of making the
child of sin the supporter of the highest and holiest cause, which
produces everything great and noble that can be done for the honor of
God, and desires nothing except by all means, both mild and gentle, to
lead men to heaven."

Cornelia gazed thoughtfully into vacancy, then suddenly looked
earnestly at the regular features of the handsome man before her.

"Severinus," she said, with strange eagerness, "who was your father?"

"I do not know; I never saw him."

"Did your mother tell you nothing about him? or did you not know her
either?"

"She could tell me nothing except how she loved him, and how he had
deceived her. His accent betrayed that he was a German, but he
concealed his name and residence. When I was scarcely a year old he
disappeared, and no longer gave my mother any signs of existence except
the remittance, through some unknown hand, of money for my education
upon the condition that I should become a priest."

"And your mother; what was her name?"

"Girl, why do you ask me all these questions?"

"You shall learn the reason after you have told me who your mother
was."

"I have no right to expose the name of the unhappy woman, and have
never mentioned it to any one."

"Not even to Heinrich?"

"I never disclosed the secret of my past to him."

Cornelia approached him; her breath came more quickly. "Was your
mother's name Angelina, Severinus?" said she, her voice tremulous with
some secret emotion.

Severinus gazed at her in astonishment. "Yes, yes; how did you know?"

"Was she the sister of a Carmelite monk in Compatri?"

"Where did you learn this?" exclaimed Severinus, greatly agitated.
"What connection have you with my past? Speak; of what are you
thinking? Your eyes sparkle, your cheeks glow; do not torture me."

"Are you your mother's only child?"

"So truly as she expiated all her remaining days in a cloister, the one
error of her life."

"Then God has sent me to you to warn you at the right time not to
commit a most grievous wrong. Do you know who the man is whom you thus
inexorably pursue?"

A suspicion began to arise in Severinus's mind; he recoiled and
extended his hands repellently, as if he feared the words that hovered
upon Cornelia's lips.

"He is your brother!" she cried, tears gushing from her eyes.

Severinus involuntarily pressed his hand upon his brow, his fingers
quivered slightly as they touched the broad scar upon it, and he gazed
absently before him as if in a dream.

"Oh, do not crush the feeling that stirs in your heart! Give me your
hand, and let me tell you how warmly I greet the brother of my beloved!
Oh, God, to see the two men dearest to me on earth united, the souls
which always struggled with each other, and yet could never resist the
impulse of sympathy, reconciled in brotherly love! And it is I, I who
am permitted to bring you together, to give you to each other! Ah, my
friend, this is inexpressible joy!"

"And are you so sure you are not deceiving yourself?" asked Severinus,
gloomily.

"Deceiving? Oh, you incredulous man! Heinrich's father is yours also.
Ten years before his marriage in Germany he traveled in Italy. In wild,
romantic Compatri he was attracted by the beauty of your mother,
Angelina, who was living in the greatest poverty upon the products of
her vines and the scanty gifts of the Carmelite convent in that place,
then falling to decay. He took her to Rome, and remained there two
years,--until his duties compelled him to return to Germany and desert
Angelina, with her eleven-months-old boy. What afterwards became of her
and her child, Heinrich did not know."

"And how did Heinrich happen to tell you this?"

"He told me a great many things about his father's life."

"And where did he learn this sad history?"

"From Anton, who, as valet, accompanied old Herr von Ottmar on his
travels, and whose statements were confirmed by the dead man's papers.
Heinrich did not then foresee how important this discovery might some
day become. But if all this is not sufficient proof for you, question
your own heart; remember what an inexplicable affection still bound you
to Heinrich, even after you believed him lost to the church. Does not
this impulse of the heart harmonize with all that has been so strangely
revealed to you? Oh, you feel it yourself at this moment! I see it by
the tears that will steal out from beneath your lashes; you feel, you
believe, that he is your brother!"

Severinus covered his face. "He is! he is! Oh, God, and I must ruin my
brother!"

"Thank God," cried Cornelia, joyously, "you are moved, touched! The
voice of blood is again stirring within you; you will be reconciled to
him, will spare him! Oh, say you will!"

Severinus raised his head and leaned against the window-sill; the tears
that Cornelia had seen in his eyes were dried. "Do you believe that a
pupil of Loyola will listen to the voice of blood? Do you know what the
saint, who is our protector and pattern, did? He burned, unread, the
letters from his own family, that he might break off all ties with the
world; and I, should I spare the enemy of my church because he is
related to me? Should I allow my zeal in God's cause to grow cold
because my heart warms with a mere animal instinct? No, Cornelia, my
brothers are in Christ; he who does not belong to him is no brother of
mine."

"Cruel, hard-hearted man!" cried Cornelia, in horror. "I do not know
whether it is compassion or terror that seizes upon me, but my soul
trembles at the power of an illusion which can thus petrify the noblest
heart."

"Petrify!" cried Severinus. "Oh, do not speak so, child that you are!
Have you ever cast a glance into this 'petrified heart'? Have you a
suspicion of the strength of the love I must tear away from earth and
consecrate to God? Have you ever heard the outcry of the tortured man
when he is obliged to accomplish his regeneration from earthly to
heavenly things? Do you know how mighty nature writhes and struggles
and groans under the prickly iron ring of the cilicium?[2] You are
spared these agonies, because God requires only the easiest sacrifices
from you; but we, who are appointed to be the imitators of Christ upon
earth, are compelled taste them to the dregs. We must fulfill our great
task, and no human eye is permitted to see that the sacrifice it
admires trickles from the warm heart's blood."

"My poor Severinus!"

"Do not pity me; I want no one's compassion. I only want you to
understand me; the more difficult the victory, the greater the fame. I
shall one day be proud of my tortures. But I must labor without rest or
sleep, and watch over myself at every hour, for the enemy is cunning,
and if he chooses can clothe himself in the garb of an angel." His
large eyes rested ardently upon Cornelia.

"Severinus," she answered, sadly, "do you take me for this false
angel--me, who preach nothing to you except the first and simplest laws
of Christianity? Do you think the 'foul fiend' is in me, because I
oppose a belief which rejects the purest impulse of nature as a mere
animal instinct, if it is not of use to its plans,--denies the tie God
himself has hallowed, if it bars its progress; and acknowledges nothing
which does not----"

"Redound to the greater honor of God," interrupted Severinus. "Yes, we
do all for the honor of God. That is the word which permits no false
meaning; the path from which we cannot deviate an inch; the object from
which we dare not turn our eyes, even though we trample underfoot the
bodies of our dearest friends. He who opposes us must fall, for we
cannot allow ourselves to be stopped. For the honor of God we live, and
are ready to die."

"And are you sure that in this you act only for the honor of God? Are
you sure you do not abuse this great word as a pretext for an act of
selfishness?"

Severinus looked at her inquiringly.

She struggled with her Feelings, and then began, gently: "Tell me, my
friend, if in the execution of a punishment commanded by the order a
Jesuit should also find the gratification of a personal desire for
revenge, would he not profane the cause of God by making it his own?"

"Certainly," replied Severinus, in a hollow tone, fixing his eyes upon
the floor.

"There are many kinds of passions, of which the man who ardently
desires only what is right is scarcely conscious, because he does not
even allow them to take the form of a thought; yet they are there, and
the so-called foul fiend undermines in them the more securely, because
concealed, the toilsomely-erected structure of virtue. Let me quote an
example. Suppose a Jesuit hated an enemy of his order, not only because
the order hates him, but because he is loved by a girl who is dear to
the Jesuit himself?"

Severinus started; a deep flush suffused his face.

Cornelia continued: "Suppose he used against him the weapons the order
placed his hands, not for the sake of the church, but to serve the
instincts of his own jealousy, and should suddenly perceive what he had
not confessed, even to himself, what would be his duty then?"

Severinus was now as pale as he had before been red. He stood like a
marble statue, not a breath stirred his breast; but at last his
delicate lips opened to utter the words, "Then it would be his duty to
resign the work he would profane to another, who could perform it with
pure hands, solely for the sake of God and the order."

"Well, then, Severinus, do what you believe to be your duty. I have
nothing more to say."

A deep silence followed. Severinus still stood motionless, and Cornelia
did not venture to look at him; she did not wish to read the pale face.
She was terrified at what, for Heinrich's sake, she had done to this
noble man, and involuntarily feared the results.

Severinus slowly approached her, laid his hand upon her head, and said,
"Let us bid each other farewell."

Cornelia looked up. The pure features expressed no bitterness, no
anger, only the repose of an immovable resolution. "Farewell?" she
asked, in surprise.

"For life!"

Remorse suddenly seized upon her. She had overstepped the bounds of
womanly delicacy, and pitilessly assailed the heart which, in spite of
its errors, she had always seen rise superior to every weakness. She
now felt for the first time how much she should lose in him, and, with
sincere shame, bent down, and before he could prevent it, pressed her
lips to his hands. "Severinus, can you forgive me?"

"I have nothing to forgive," he replied, gently drawing back.

"Where are you going?"

"To Rome."

"And what takes you to Rome so suddenly?"

"I had already resolved to return there some weeks ago; only the hope
of still winning you for the church, and the hostile mission against
Heinrich, detained me. This hour is the destruction of all my plans.
Nothing is left for me to do except to place the papers intrusted to me
in the General's hands, and explain to him that I am unworthy of his
confidence,--that I am not fit for the business of the world."

"And then,--what will happen then?"

"Then the General will commit the office I held to another, and, if God
wills, sanction the penance I shall impose upon myself of voluntary
seclusion in the monastery during the remainder of my life."

"Will you retire from the world,--bury yourself within the walls of a
cloister?"

"That I may the more surely rise again in God."

"And is such a resolution compatible with your zeal for the order?
Suppose your office falls into the hands of a man who will not act with
the wisdom and dignity you have shown,--who will perhaps injure the
interests and authority of your association,--would you not reproach
yourself for having been to blame for this injury by resigning the
'holy cause' into unworthy hands?"

"There are many among our ranks who are perfectly competent to fill my
place; the General's keen eye will discover the right man. I can
perform my duties to the order. Even in the silence of a convent-cell,
I can write the words with which I should cheer souls and strengthen
them in the faith, and, in undisturbed intercourse with the Highest
One, they will gain more sanctity and power than in the profane society
of the world. Nay, my writings may perhaps influence future generations
long after spoken words have died away. Is not such an expectation
edifying to true faith?--such a resolution the highest victory over our
earthly nature?"

"A victory! Oh, Severinus, do not deceive yourself! A spark of the warm
life you wish to deny still glows in your breast. Suppose, Severinus,
you should perceive too late that you had formed your resolution too
early? Suppose you should long despairingly for a breath of freedom,
and in the suffocating agony of being walled up alive in the wild
struggle of its contending elements, your soul should forget itself and
God, and fall into the apparently liberating hand of Satan?"

Severinus recoiled a step in horror. "Stop, I implore you!"

But Cornelia's unfettered stream of eloquence would not allow itself to
be repressed. "You go into the cloister, not because you have
conquered, but because you fear to yield; you go there to fly from the
battle, not to rest after the victory; but that which would have caused
the conflict here will go with you, will disturb the peace of your
devout solitude; and you must conquer it with anguish there as well as
here, can succumb to it in the narrow convent-cell as well as in God's
wide world."

Severinus's broad breast heaved painfully. "Oh, God! my God! let me
withstand this last trial!" he prayed, fervently. "Cornelia, I do not
retreat to the cloister on account of the danger, but to fly from the
evil I abhor; that I may no longer see the world that stands between me
and heaven, which I hate----"

"The world to you is mankind; if you detest the former it is for the
sake of the latter. But why? What have men done to you? You are a
servant of Christ. Does this humanity, which Christ so loved that he
suffered and bled for it, deserve your love less than the Master's? Why
do you scorn the race whose form a God did not hesitate to assume,--for
which a God bore the tortures of life and death? Has it injured you
more than him? It has not pressed upon your brow the crown of thorns;
it has not nailed you to the cross; and yet he could forgive, while you
cannot!"

"A God might do this,--but I am a man!"

"And do you know why you hate mankind? Because you dare not love like a
human being. You curse your own earthly nature, because it always
opposes your task. You are a man, and would fain be a god; you have
human passions, and desire to practice a divine self-sacrifice. This is
the fatality of your position, this the foul fiend you fear! Oh, I know
my words fall upon you as the surges dash against a rock, but it seems
as if a higher power urged me on to struggle again and again against
the unhappy errors of your church!"

"Cornelia," cried Severinus, starting up, "my church does not err,--she
is infallible!"

"But, I tell you, it is an error that Christ has required of his
priests what the church demands from you. If Christ was God, it is
presumption for you mortals to imitate his divine person, and attempt
to give the world an example of what you do not attain yourselves. You
are merely to announce it and show it in all its beauty in yourselves.
But how can you do this,--shut off from life behind convent walls? Only
when, like our ministers, in real life, before the eyes of a whole
parish, oppressed by the same anxieties, pursued by the same enemies,
assailed by the same temptations as all, you can practice the virtues
you preach, will you become a true representative of the Christian
religion, will you have a right to require of others what was not too
difficult for yourself, and be what Christ desires, a true, perfect
man!"

Severinus hastily approached the door: his whole manner betrayed tokens
of violent emotion. "I dare not listen to you longer, terrible,
dangerous woman! God sees my anguish that I cannot save your soul, make
your noble powers useful to the good cause. In you all the hostile
powers of the world assume a bodily form; in you I have convinced
myself that I am no match for them, and only the repentance of a whole
life can atone for the weakness!"

"Must I, then, lose you forever?"

"Forever! But my prayers will be with you,--implore the protection of
the Holy Virgin for you." His voice trembled. "God cannot let such a
soul go to destruction!" He turned and, with averted face, opened the
door.

Then Cornelia's sincere affection burst forth in all its fervor; she
rushed up to him, threw her arms around his neck, and with childlike
contrition laid her head upon his breast. "Will you go without a
farewell?" she cried, sobbing. "Ah, Severinus, a deep, inexpressible
pity for you overwhelms me! Poor, noble man, I loved you so dearly!"

Severinus stood as if a thunderbolt had struck him; he did not move a
finger, did not clasp Cornelia to his heart or push her from him. But
suddenly a cry of anguish burst from his compressed lips, so full of
torture that Cornelia's very soul was filled with terror, and she no
longer ventured to detain him when, as if driven by some mortal dread,
he hurried away.

Late at night, before she went to rest, she saw him wandering about in
the storm and rain, and before dawn he entered the carriage which bore
him away from Cornelia forever. He traveled without pausing until he
reached Rome, where he delivered the papers to the General; confessed,
resigned his office, and entered the Casa al Gesu as a monk, to atone
by the strictest seclusion for the crime of being a man.



                                 XXIV.

                             REGENERATION.


While Cornelia was confidently looking forward to a meeting with
Ottmar, proud in the consciousness of having repelled all the attacks
of his enemies, _Heinrich_ was tortured by uncertainty in regard to her
fate. Ever since his return home, he had lived exclusively on his
estates, engaged in making preparations for his new calling. In this
complete seclusion from the would, whose influence had been so hostile
to Cornelia, engrossed by the ideas of which she was the charming
representative, he fed his longing for her more and more. At every step
in his new career he had expected some sign of life from her, but in
vain. His hope began to waver. He knew that she was in the hands of the
Jesuits, and trembled lest her young, susceptible soul, her easily
excited fancy, should not remain closed to their influences, for then
she would be irrecoverably torn from him. He had fulfilled every
condition mentioned in her letter. It was not possible that she still
loved him if, after all this, she still persisted in her obstinate
silence. A deep melancholy began to overpower him once more; his
prospects lay before him like a region destitute of sunlight; his whole
career would lack purpose if Cornelia was not won again. As yet no
success had crowned his efforts. He had no anticipation of the
happiness he would feel if he could some day consider himself as the
true benefactor of a whole nation. The quiet labor for his new vocation
did not yet satisfy him, and he therefore founded all his hopes upon
his entrance into parliament, and longed for the day of election as the
last limit Cornelia had perhaps allowed herself. One day, in his
restlessness, he drove into the city to divert his thoughts. He wished
to visit the Exhibition, and as he went up the broad staircase of the
museum he noticed with secret pleasure that people whispered to each
other, "That is Ottmar!" and looked at him with interest and approval.
He entered the large hall where reigned the solemn silence with which
men receive into their souls the wonders of art. The first and second
rooms were empty of spectators. The dead and yet lifelike forms upon
the walls looked down upon him with their eternal laughing, weeping, or
anger. An exhibition is a mute world of a brilliant-hued medley of
times, customs, and passions, petrified as if by some magic, and
imprisoned in frames, condemned to remain motionless in the attitude
assumed at the moment when the spell began to work. There a Magdalen
repents with inexhaustible tears; yonder a Roman maiden allures, ever
unsuccessfully, with her motionless, half-opened lips; and here an Alva
rages in implacable fury, while close by a Huss burns in never-dying
flames; below a wolf snaps in unappeasable hunger at a child, which,
fortunately, he will never reach; a mother seeks to tear it away, and
cannot draw it to her protecting breast; the poor woman is condemned to
perpetual dread, and the spectator with her. Not far away is--and will
forever remain--a pair of lovers in the act of exchanging a kiss.
Upon the other side ships struggle with waves, nations contend in a
never-decided battle, a vanquished man awaits the death-stroke of the
conqueror, and high up, an a golden background, flooded by the light
that streams through the glass dome, is enthroned the Virgin, in her
calm peace, surrounded by her heavenly glory.

All the passions, joys, griefs, and hopes of humanity, fixed and
beautified by the power of genius, displayed themselves to _Heinrich's_
wandering gaze, but his thoughts dwelt only with Cornelia; nay, it even
seemed as if here and there he found some resemblance to her. One
picture had her eyes, another her profile or her mouth,--her brow. He
fancied he saw her everywhere; it was doubtless a trick of his excited
imagination, or the likeness all regular beauties bear to each other.
He passed on into the third hall, which was crowded. Two oil-paintings
attracted the especial attention of the public, and the universal
verdict pronounced them to be the best in the Exhibition. It was
difficult for him to make his way in, but he could scarcely trust his
eyes when he saw one of them,--for it was Cornelia again; the likeness
was so speaking that no doubt was possible, and the figure of Severinus
beside her was equally unmistakable. Both were really only minor
accessories to a beautiful landscape, but painted in a most masterly
manner. They were standing under lofty trees which formed the
foreground, by the shore of a lake, which, surrounded by beautiful
mountain-peaks, stretched out into the background. Severinus had one
arm extended, pointing to a church-tower almost shrouded in mist.
Cornelia, with clasped hands, was looking up into his face. In
the catalogue, the work was merely named "View of the Ch---- See,
by A----."

_Heinrich_ could not understand it; and when an acquaintance came up
and called his attention to the other famous painting, he turned
carelessly towards it; but his astonishment was inexpressible, as here
also he found Cornelia. The figures were life-size. The picture
represented the moment before a novice assumes the garb of a nun. She
was leaning upon the window-sill of a gloomy convent-room, gazing up
towards heaven, whose brilliant blue gleamed through the bars, while a
green branch, swayed by the wind, tossed against the rusty iron
gratings. The artist, by a singular fancy, had drawn his principal
figure with her back towards the spectators, probably to show in all
its magnificence the beautiful brown hair which was so soon to fall
under the scissors. But the bright panes of the window, which opened
inwards, revealed the face, upraised in fervent prayer. This face was
Cornelia's, as well as the hair he had so often stroked; the youthful
neck, which the thin undergarment she was soon to cover with the nun's
dress, lying close by, clearly revealed, and which he had so often
admired. He rubbed his eyes; he looked again and again; it was still
Cornelia. A gloomy, haggard prioress was in the act of advancing with
the scissors, and a sweet-faced young nun was gazing with evident
compassion at the beautiful, devout novice.

"Is it not a true work of genius?" said _Heinrich's_ companion. "The
expression of enthusiastic devotion in the face reflected in the
window, and the wonderfully painted hair! One really dreads the moment
when that stern, unfeeling prioress will cut it off!"

"By whom was the picture painted?" asked _Heinrich_.

"By a B---- artist of the name of Richard."

"Does any one know whom he had for a model?"

"No; he keeps it a profound secret. I could almost believe he
has--Heaven knows how!--witnessed such a scene. People don't create
such things purely from imagination."

_Heinrich_ made no reply, and his acquaintance, perceiving his strange
emotion, withdrew.

Ottmar went from one picture to another; but reflect and consider as he
would, one thing only was clear to him, that Cornelia must have sat to
these artists herself, for such a resemblance could not be accidental;
and although the window-panes in one picture reflected her face but
dimly, it was all the more unmistakable in the other,--and Severinus
too. So in this way she had consented to make known to the world her
connection with Jesuitism! She must consider these relations an honor
of which she publicly boasted, and this she could not do unless she had
been converted to Catholicism,--unless they had impressed upon her mind
the dogma of the supremacy and infallibility of the one saving church.
There was a mysterious connection of ideas between the two pictures;
and although he would not give way to it, it oppressed his heart with a
torturing dread. The words "people don't create such things purely from
imagination" still rang in his ears. Suppose the artist had really
taken the idea of his work from the fact that Cornelia, whom he perhaps
painted a short time before, had entered a convent? In conditions of
the soul like that into which he had cast Cornelia, where the whole
existence is pervaded with pain, and every foundation is shaken, the
seeds of the Jesuits thrive best; in such moods they most easily obtain
a mastery over man. Now, for the first time, it occurred to him that
her letter had been redolent of that pride of self-sacrifice, which,
after great conflicts, chills so many a young heart, and drives it into
the nursery of such virtues, the convent. Suppose Cornelia had gone so
far? It was not impossible! Her enthusiasm in everything, especially
her zealous desire to be of use, the inclination to sacrifice herself
for great ideas which she had so often shown, her susceptibility to the
poesy of religion,--all this seemed to him material enough to form an
agent of the church; and as the psychological fathers would not have
ventured to send such a fiery genius into the world, they had perhaps
taken advantage of some moment of weakness to imprison her in one of
the convents which lead young girls "to the heart of Jesus." The more
_Heinrich_ thought of this, the more probable and clear it appeared.
Urged on by his agony, he hastened to ascertain the residences of the
two artists. He wished to buy the pictures spite of their extremely
high price,--wished to learn some particulars about Cornelia. He would
and must have some certainty; he could not bear this terrible doubt. He
wrote to Richard and A----, but at the same time to Cornelia,
addressing the letter to the Ch---- See. Perhaps the people there knew
her present residence and could send it to her.

The reply of the artist A---- was extremely unsatisfactory. He would
give no account of the manner in which he had succeeded in obtaining
the portrait, for he had stolen her features on that first morning by
the lake, when Cornelia, thinking herself unobserved, had walked upon
the shore with Severinus. Richard wrote: "The lady had been painted
from memory, and he had really taken the subject of his picture from
the fact that she had entered a convent, where she had been kept
rigidly secluded, since no information concerning her had been
obtained."

So she had really entered a convent, and there was no possibility of
learning any further particulars! _Heinrich's_ condition was pitiable.
To wait--to do nothing but wait--with this burning longing and
uncertainty in his breast, for an event which perhaps might never
occur, to hope for a fortunate dispensation that perhaps was already
baffled,--such was his fate! He lived in a feverish dream, but forced
himself to enter with all his powers into what would promote the
decision of his fate, his election to the parliament. The newspapers
mentioned his name connection with those of the most honored patriots;
and if Cornelia still had free control over herself, she must at least
be touched by the loyalty with which he struggled to reach the
prescribed goal; if she were silent, then there could be no doubt that
she was lost to him. Just at that time the blow Cornelia had vainly
sought to avert suddenly fell upon him. The Jesuits executed their
threats, but this time in a different way from that Severinus had
adopted years before. The organ of ultramontanism in H---- printed an
article headed, "Contributions to the Traits of Character of a New
Candidate." This essay contained a biography of Ottmar, from the time
of his entrance into the Jesuit college to that of his present change
of opinions, which, animosity, distortion of facts, and compromising
indiscretions, surpassed everything for which Ottmar had given them
credit. The style was in the so-called interests of the nation, so
often merely the cloak beneath which partisan writers strive to win the
applause of the masses; but the worst part of all was that the author,
Geheimrath Schwelling, who years before had played so contemptible a
part as Severinus's companion in the interview with _Heinrich_, offered
to exhibit to any one who might desire it written proofs of most of his
accusations. There was no lack of credulous and doubtful persons who
wished to convince themselves with their own eyes. The Geheimrath's
house became the rendezvous of the curious of all parties, and the
papers Severinus had returned to the General for a more worthy use
passed from hand to hand. The matter made all the greater excitement an
account of the great expectations which had been fixed upon Ottmar. The
sheet containing the scandalous article had an immense circulation; and
although the cultivated portion of the community turned with disgust
from its coarse tone, the facts were not to be denied, and people
shrugged their shoulders doubtfully. But the lower classes even gave
credence to the charges, in consequence of the amusement the
commonplace wit of the style afforded them. In vain Ottmar's friends
printed articles in his defense; in vain his banker proved that he had
spent the greater portion of his property in purchasing expensive
agricultural implements, which he allowed all the country people in the
neighborhood to use gratis, and for other national purposes; it was now
an easy matter for his enemies to convince the suspicious masses that a
man who had gone from rationalism to Jesuitism, then back again to the
former, next to despotism, and finally to liberalism once more, was not
to be trusted in any relation. "Hold psychological discussions about
the motives which forced you to deny your convictions, you will be
laughed at, and your name will be branded before all parties,"
Severinus had said contemptuously years before, and now the result
proved how completely he had been in the right. The facts spoke against
him, and he could not succeed in giving the people a correct
understanding of them, because he had only words,--no contradictory
proofs at his command. Even the sincerity with which in N---- he had
stood forth in behalf of the constitution was no longer acknowledged,
for the scandalous article rendered even this deed suspected as a mere
prudential measure. He had perceived that he could no longer hold his
ground against the progressive party, and therefore took sides with
them in time. This belief appeared only too probable in the case of a
man whose life had been so full of contradictions. The confidence which
had just been obtained was shaken; the voters began to hesitate. Many
forgot what they owed him since his return; others made all the
acknowledgments of his services as a public benefactor which were his
due; but even they did not wish to elect, as the representative of the
most important interests, one whose politics were doubtful. The day of
decision came and crowned his enemies' labors with success. Ottmar was
defeated by a large majority. He saw himself scorned, insulted; all his
hopes crushed, his honor lost; and she for whom he suffered such
intolerable torments, who alone could repay him for what he had
lost,--Cornelia,--was silent! For love of her he had sacrificed
everything; for love of her entered the path which was to lead him to
find an abundant reward for ignominy in her arms; and day by day
elapsed without bringing any tidings, convincing him more and more that
she was torn from him,--that he had gained nothing save the fruits of
his sins.

Every morning he went to meet the postman, who brought the letters to
his estate, and always in vain. Fourteen times since the election he
had borne the tortures of renewed and disappointed hope, had rushed
towards the postman in breathless haste only to return with empty
hands. He had lain awake on his couch all through the long nights, and
welcomed the first ray of light as a preserver from his feverish,
agonizing impatience. One morning this restlessness drove him out even
earlier than usual, for it was the anniversary of the day on which
Cornelia had left him. Perhaps she would give herself to him again on
this day; perhaps she had waited for it intentionally. One who has
hoped and expected so long at last clings to every conceivable
possibility. Thus Ottmar's feet were winged with double speed as he
hurried through pleasure-grounds and woodlands, to obtain that for
which he longed a half-hour earlier. Wearied with his haste, he emerged
from the thicket upon the highway. A fresh autumn breeze was rustling
through the tops of the poplars, bending their stiff boughs asunder
like the fingers of menacing giant hands. The broad, level road, with
its dazzling white sand, stretched before him, endless and empty,--the
storm had swept it clean; nothing was to be seen on the wide plain, and
Ottmar hurried restlessly onward. Just at that moment the dark figure
of the postman appeared in the distance, and with a beating heart
_Heinrich_ quickened his pace. At last he reached the man, who was
already holding out his bag; but again he was disappointed,--it
contained nothing but unimportant business letters. The last
possibility of hope had now disappeared; now he could no longer doubt
that Richard had written the truth, that Cornelia was in a convent.

His measure was full. The Nemesis he had so long seemed to escape had
overtaken him, and he must patiently endure her fury with fettered
hands. Fortune, love, honor, all were lost, irrevocably lost, and every
accusation he wished to heap upon others recoiled upon himself. He was
the cause of his own misery, he alone. Fate had given him everything he
desired; but he had only demanded that which contained the germ of his
ruin. No disaster had befallen him which was not the punishment of a
crime. Absorbed in these reflections, the deeply-humbled man slowly
returned and reached the wood. The bright rays of the autumn sunlight
fell through the branches and made the yellow leaves glitter like gold;
the farther he went the more quiet and pleasant it became. The withered
foliage, alternated with the dark-green hue of a dense grove of firs;
the forest murmured and whispered to him in a soothing tone,--he did
not hear it, did not remember that the enchanted ground be entered was
his own property; his heart remained closed, no source of comfort could
force an entrance. In silent agony the man was collecting his thoughts
to pass a stern, hopeless judgment upon himself.

A bench stood beside a beautiful forest stream; he involuntarily turned
towards it, and sat down with his face turned towards the rushing
water. He did not think of going home: he had one no longer; the house
in which he lived contained nothing dear to him; the whole world had no
spot where love and joy awaited him, where he would be missed; if he
remained away, society had no place for him to fill, no interests which
it would confide to him. What was he better than an outcast, a homeless
man? Could he endure the disgrace of such a life? Was it not more
honorable to extinguish it in the pure current of this stream? Who
would lose, from whom would he take anything, if he cast off the burden
of a hated, purposeless existence? And yet God had so endowed him that
his death must have made a void in the world, if he had been to it what
he ought. He gazed down into the murmuring water, which incessantly
glided by him pursued by the wind; his soul allowed itself be carried
on by the waves like a loosened vine. The eternally changing movement
before his eyes made him giddy; he looked away, and now, for the first
time, became aware to what thoughts he had involuntarily yielded. Did
no power then live in him except that of despising and destroying
himself? Could he atone for his faults by committing a crime against
himself? Should he steal away like an unfaithful steward who allowed
the property intrusted to his care to go to ruin? Should he add to the
dishonor which had fallen upon his name the eternal disgrace of
suicide, incur Cornelia's contempt, because he could not bear the loss
of her love? No, he had not fallen so low as not to repel such a
thought with a blush.

But what could, what ought he to do now, since the only profession for
which his education and studies fitted him--that of politics--was
closed to him in every direction? A quiet, inactive, private life,
which but a few hours before, in the hope of a marriage with Cornelia,
had appeared endurable, now seemed to him a moral death. He did not
understand nature, the occupations of an agriculturist had no charms
for him. Should he turn his estates into money, and invest it in some
other way? But in what? All the pleasures that can be purchased he had
already enjoyed to the dregs; life could afford him nothing more. The
egotist had reached the end of his career, and could neither advance
nor recede. Crushed and helpless, he looked back upon his past life,
and now the point at which he had turned from the right path revealed
itself to his searching gaze. The hours stood forth before his soul
when he had struggled in his first conflict between inclination and
duty, and inclination had conquered. All the strange, feverish fancies
once more rose before his memory, and he perceived that they were the
voices of his own heart which had spoken to him in the forms of
delirium. Now he understood--now, after it was fulfilled--what they had
said. With the first false step to which egotism urged him, he  was
lost. The frivolity with which he had degraded the first woman he
loved, to be the prey of his passion, robbed him of his best
possession, respect for the sex. Thus every base materialism, which
only sought the enjoyment of the senses and thereby often formed the
sharpest contrast with the demands of his intellectual nature,
developed itself. The more frequently this conflict occurred, the
greater it became, the further the two extremes became separated from
each other, and the more distinctly their characteristics were stamped.
The more the feelings were severed from the intellect, the lower they
sank into sensuality, the stronger the passions became, and the more
peremptorily they demanded their victim; while, on the other hand, the
more exclusively the intellect withdrew into its own sphere, the
further it banished the feelings, the colder and more obstinate it
became, the more dull to everything which did not concern its own
advantage, and therefore the more unprincipled. From this sprang the
crimes which _Henri_ on the one hand, and _Heinrich_ on the other, had
committed, whose consequences now drove him to despair, and had even
terrified and driven from him forever the only woman for whom both
extremes longed with equal ardor. Thus the cause of all the evil in his
whole mistaken life was the separation between the mind and heart; the
pleasure-seeking of the one, the immoderate ambition of the other, was
the curse which had sprung from this division, the form under which
egotism had taken possession of both portions of his nature. And of
what he had enjoyed and obtained--nothing was left! His life had been
fruitless to himself as well as to others. He had deceived and
sacrificed confiding natures, and brought a nation to ruin for the sake
of tasting the delights of ruling; the pleasure was over, and the
curses of the unhappy accompanied him. Everything life could offer was
exhausted, drained, and worn out! All the threads by which the heart
draws its nourishment from the world were cut off and withered.

He now felt the deep truth of what Cornelia had wished to teach him,
what he had once in a dream bodingly anticipated: "Remember that the
end of life is neither to enjoy nor to obtain, but to be useful and
accomplish good works." But now, when this great knowledge seized upon
him,--when he perceived the fruitlessness of all selfish efforts,--now
when a powerful impulse urged him to do what mankind, and accomplish
what God, could ask of him,--now it was too late; every path was
closed, and the woman who alone could restore harmony to his nature,
lost! The guilt of the past had destroyed the hope of the future.

He rested his forehead upon his hand and closed his eyes; he could form
no plans for the future, while repentance and anguish stirred his heart
so violently--the first true repentance, the first great sorrow, of his
life. True, his powers rose and expanded in the struggle with the
unknown enemy as they had never done before, and the mighty assault of
the contending elements widened and swelled his breast, as if now for
the first time he became a man, now for the first time there was room
in his heart for lofty feelings, resolutions, and efforts; true, the
consciousness of the strength ennobled and increased by sorrow
conquered for a moment: but as if with this, the longing for the nature
that had always guided him towards the right path strengthened, the
thoughts of Cornelia's loss once more gathered in the depths of his
soul to break over him with renewed violence. What could life still
offer him? There was no longer any love like Cornelia's, any mind like
hers, any woman who could compare with her. He felt that this sorrow
would never die; that he might perhaps obtain honor, but never
happiness again. He threw himself despairingly upon the bench, face
downward. The stream hurried along at his feet, plashing and
glittering; the birds looked down from the branches at the tall, quiet
man, turned their heads inquisitively, and softly twittered a timid
question. Far above his head the summits of the ancient firs rustled
and told the azure sky of the sorrow concealed beneath their shade.

Softly and slowly the bushes near him parted,--he did not hear it,--and
a slender girlish form glided over the soft moss with a light step;
cautiously approached, and as she stood beside him, bent down, holding
her breath. Her glances beamed through tears, and she trembled like a
wild rose under the morning dew. _Heinrich_ heard a heart beating close
beside his ear, felt his head raised and pressed to a heaving bosom;
looked into a pair of eyes like two shining worlds. It was no dream,
and yet he could not utter a sound; all that he thought and felt
blended together in an unspeakable something, which swelled his heart
with glowing warmth, rose higher and higher till it reached his eyes,
overflowed as if his whole soul was gushing forth with it: he had wept
his first tears upon Cornelia's breast, and holding her in a mute
embrace reveled in this unspeakable bliss!


The noonday sun shone brightly and glowed through the ripe clusters of
grapes which hung from a trellis that surrounded the steward's pretty
little house not far from Ottmar's castle. A charming young woman stood
in the doorway, looking with eager expectation towards the forest; the
steward was working busily in the garden, but he, too, often glanced
into the distance.

"I don't understand where they could stay so long, if they met each
other," said the little woman, at last. "It would be a pity if she
missed him. I grieve over every hour the poor master is obliged to
spend in his sorrow."

"Yes," gasped the man, wiping his brow, "it was time for her to show
herself; the master's melancholy manner and wretched looks were
becoming the talk of the whole neighborhood and, after all, she
couldn't have been kept concealed much longer: we were always in a
fright." He threw his tools aside, went up to his wife, and put his arm
around her neck. "You would not have borne seeing me suffer so long,
would you, my Röschen?"

She nestled fondly to his side and nodded. "No, indeed, my dear Albert!
But these great people are very different from us. Cornelia has a
grand, noble soul, which we must not judge by our own."

"You are right; it would not be proper for us to apply our standard to
them. Let us thank God we are made as is needful for our situation and
welfare."

"Yes, thank God for it!" cried Röschen, joyously. "Oh, Albert! how
unhappy these aristocratic people often make themselves with their
over-refinement and their lofty requirements! I saw that in my poor
dead princess. Heaven knows what sorrow was gnawing at her heart!
According to my ideas, she might have been very happy; but it often
seemed as if she did not wish to be. At any rate, it was a very
aristocratic sorrow. If she had been in our condition in life, and had
not had so much time to give way to her thoughts, she would undoubtedly
be alive now."

"Well, those two at least are not making themselves wretched," laughed
Albert, pointing to Cornelia and _Heinrich_, who were rapidly
approaching.

The married pair modestly withdrew, and Cornelia and _Heinrich_,
absorbed in delightful conversation, reached the house, and entered a
pleasant little room on the ground floor.

"See, Heinrich, here is the hiding-place where I waited for three
weeks. From behind the curtains of that window I saw you pass, day
after day, and watched your face with a throbbing heart. Will you
forgive me for becoming a spy upon you? I wished, I was obliged, first
to discover whether you were at last a man to whom I might dare to
intrust my fate, whether you still loved me, and whether in my
affection I should offer you a welcome gift. I was obliged to give you
time to collect your thoughts after the blow that had fallen upon you,
and to raise yourself by your own might. If you had shown yourself to
my secretly watchful gaze otherwise than I hoped, otherwise than I
might dare to love you, I should have gone away as I came, unobserved
by you; perhaps with a broken heart, but silently and forever."

"Yon would have gone as already many a happiness has fled from the
threshold of him who did not deserve it," said _Heinrich_, clasping her
closely in his arms. "Oh, God, my salvation and my ruin were both so
near! Your eyes watched me like those of God, and if I had not stood
the test you would have left me for the second time, and been
irrevocably lost to me."

"Ah, I did not doubt that you would stand the test! A man has rarely
made greater sacrifices for a woman than you for me in the course of
this last year; for I clearly perceived that you would never have acted
as you have done if it had not been for my sake. But for your love for
me you would in a few years have conquered your longing for a higher
satisfaction, and remained till the end of your days in the cold
splendor of your position at the court of N----. Love for me--I may be
allowed to say so, since it is no merit of mine--was the impulse that
led you to take the first steps in another path. It guided you hither,
and I did not fear that it would desert you now, when it was apparently
leading you into misery. But a noble woman asks more than love from the
man of her choice: she demands character, firmness in misfortune as
well as prosperity, the power which is to be her support and
protection, the greatness to which she can cheerfully submit,
admiringly look up. It is a necessity of our natures to honor what we
love; in this humility lies our pride. If we cannot truly consider the
man to whom we belong far superior to us, we feel humiliated in
acknowledging him as our master. That is why I remained concealed so
long; I wished to investigate your whole life and conduct here, to see
what influence you exerted, whether you did good and made those around
you happy, what pleasures and employments you choose, how you would
bear the misfortune that had fallen upon you. And what I saw and heard
convinced me that you had entered upon your new calling not only in
appearance, but reality; that you had become a man to whom I might
confidently give myself. Yet the tears you have just shed told me more
than all. With these tears a new and better man was born in you; they
have atoned for every wrong, washed away every spot. Ah, if the bigoted
priests who believe you a lost soul had witnessed that one moment, they
would have understood that there is something holy outside their
church!"

"Cornelia," cried _Heinrich_, "dear, precious girl, say no more to me
about the Jesuits! Although I bear no towards the unhappy Severinus,
whom you have taught me to know as my brother, although I forgive the
intrigues they plotted against me, I will never pardon them for having
torn you from me and attempted to make you a proselyte, for having
intrusted you for so long a time to that handsome, dangerous Severinus,
whose perhaps unintentional conquests over women's hearts are well
known to the order. I can only consider it as a miracle that you
remained faithful to me."

Cornelia smilingly shook the hair back from her brow. "The miracle is
nothing more than that I have a faithful heart and a firm head."

"Those are the highest gifts a woman can possess. And this jewel has
fallen to my lot, mine of all others; this loyal, sorely wounded heart
clung to me; this proud firm brow, no power has ever humiliated, bent
to me. Oh, Cornelia, strong, gentle, forgiving woman, no man ever yet
repented more deeply, or was more truly grateful, than I repent my
crimes and thank you for your love! A thousand others in your place
would either have been dragged down by me, or cast me off forever; but
you would not permit yourself to be misled by all my faults and sins,
you believed a noble germ within me. Instead of punishing, you reformed
me, have been faithful to me; and now give yourself to me as trustfully
and freely as in the first moment of our love. Oh, girl, there is no
word for this bliss my thoughts are whelmed in a sea of emotions!" He
paused and laid his head upon hers, as if he wished to rest from his
overmastering emotion.

"Heinrich," said Cornelia, with deep, loving, earnestness, "let the
past rest; the Heinrich to whom I always belonged, and shall as long as
I live, never wronged me; he suffered with me when that other came
between and tore us from each other. That Count Ottmar, whose wife I
never wished to become, has atoned for his fault; he is dead. Never
conjure up his gloomy shade before me, even to arraign him, I beseech
you."

"Yes, my angel, you are right. Never was it so clear to me as to-day
that I bore my worst enemy in myself, and in the last few hours I have
buried him forever. One complete in himself, Cornelia, receives you in
his arms; it shall be his one task to live for you and your happiness;
he no longer seeks or hopes for anything but you and a quiet family
happiness, unnoticed, but rich in blessing."

Cornelia looked at him in astonishment. "Would you renounce politics
and every manly profession?"

"How can I help it? What can I begin after this failure? My political
credit is ruined here as well as elsewhere. What can it avail to
convince myself more and more that I cannot make amends for my
errors in this province? But here,"--he laid his band an Cornelia's
shoulder,--"here, thank God, I can atone for the wrongs I have
committed; here I can and will prove that I have become a different
man!"

"No, Heinrich," cried Cornelia, deeply touched. "I thank you for these
words, and for the cheerfulness with which you hope to find in me a
compensation for all; but I think too highly of you to be able to share
this hope. No wife, not even the most beloved, can make that
superfluous for which her husband was born: to work in a lofty
vocation. What you now feel, in the first ebullition of joy, you cannot
always experience. The storm that now fills your heart now will subside
in time, and the calm which will then follow would at last make you
find a void in yourself. You are no 'shepherd,' Heinrich. An idyllic,
private life would not long satisfy you; a quiet withdrawal into your
own family circle, a limiting of yourself to that which is personally
dear to you, would be again an egotistical, and therefore only a
partial, happiness. You possess the power of solving comprehensive
problems. Every power imperiously demands its right to assert itself;
if the opportunity is denied, it turns destructively against the
barriers imposed upon it, and that which is also within them. Thus it
would be with you and our peace. Woe betide the wife who believes that
she can and must be the whole world to her husband! She does not
understand his larger nature, and will only make herself or him
unhappy. I do not belong to that class. I pride myself in taking into
account all the just demands of your character, thus only can I make
you happy. I will not regret you in the hours your profession claims,
for I shall take possession of you doubly in spirit, when I know you to
be toiling for that for which I myself would fain strive with all my
powers, and must not because I am a woman. I will not bewail the
time you take from me to give to mankind, for I love all men far too
much to grudge them what you can do for their welfare. And then,
Heinrich,"--she laid her head on his breast, and gazed into his face
with a bride's ardent love,--"then when you return home to your wife
weary but joyous in the consciousness of duty then you shall rest in my
arms, in my faithful love, and let me have the proud belief that my
heart is the soil from which the roots of your life draw nourishment
for the glorious fruits that you permit the world to reap!"

"Cornelia, glorious creature! What a picture you conjure up before the
soul! These are divine revelations, and I will follow them
unquestioningly. Yes, I will begin anew; guide me with your inspired,
prophetic glance, lead me to the path upon which my first step
faltered; you alone know what is for my welfare." He gazed long and
earnestly into her eyes. "Oh, do not reproach me as unmanly because I
give myself up entirely to you, since through you I first became what I
am, through you alone I first learned to perceive in laboring for
others a duty, an object, in life! The representatives of these noble
ideas are principally women; for to labor and care for others is
woman's mission, to sacrifice herself for others' interests her
greatest power. The man who allows himself to be guided by a woman need
not become womanish, nor the woman masculine. If, like you, Cornelia,
she rises above her narrow subjective world to ideas which comprehend
all humanity, she confers the qualities inherent in her upon them, and
then doubtless becomes capable of guiding the more egotistical man to
honest efforts for the race, self-sacrifice, and true philanthropy!
Thus the strength of your love and virtue, in one word, your lofty
womanhood, draws me upward." He threw his arms around her and pressed
her ardently to his heart. "Cornelia, my betrothed bride, oh, tell me
again and again that I can never lose you, that you are mine!"

She clasped her hands. "Forever! forever! and may God's blessing be
with us!"

"Amen!" said _Heinrich_.

Thus the power of a genuine love had healed the secret conflict in
Ottmar. Intellect and sensuous feelings, both equally attracted,
equally satisfied, united in the same object, and in the soft
atmosphere of a true happiness his shattered nature healed into a
symmetrical whole.

The ghostly apparitions of his dual existence disappeared before the
reality of an all-reconciling feeling which seized upon the inmost
kernel of life, and from this brought forth the source of never-failing
joy.

When the whole man was in harmony with himself, his long-scattered and
dispersed powers concentrated in the depths of his soul, and now for
the first time showed unity of purpose and noble, honest action: for
the first time he became a man. And when he thus once more appeared
before the world with head erect, he conquered; for real ability and
honest convictions always find allies in the natural instincts of the
people, and against these even the hostility of the Jesuits was
powerless. The web they had entwined around him was only that of
his own cowardice and duplicity. His manly conduct at last tore it
asunder. He was now free, and his purified character afforded no
opening for a new snare. After a few years he saw the noblest ambition
gratified,--that of being useful and accomplishing some good result. He
was the main support of the Party in favor of the constitution, averted
a threatening reaction by his ready dialectics, felt the mighty breath
of an applauding nation hovering like a vivifying spring-storm about
his head, and everywhere, far and wide, saw the seeds springing up
which his reawakened philanthropy had sown.

And with inexpressible joy he clasped his blooming wife in his arms,
compared the lifeless splendor of the former minister with the warm,
evermore richly developing activity of the simple deputy, and his full
heart gratefully overflowed in the proud words, "Yes, my wife, you were
right; it is not what the world is to us, but what we are to the world,
that is the measure of our happiness."



                               FOOTNOTE:

[Footnote 1: A Jesuit prayer.]

[Footnote 2: An instrument used by the Jesuits for penance and
punishment.]



                                THE END.





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