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Title: The Chief Justice - A Novel
Author: Franzos, Karl Emil
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.

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Transcriber's Notes:
   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/chiefjusticenove00franiala

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



Heinemann's International Library.



                             EDITOR'S NOTE.


There is nothing in which the Anglo-Saxon world differs more from the
world of the Continent of Europe than in its fiction. English readers
are accustomed to satisfy their curiosity with English novels, and it
is rarely indeed that we turn aside to learn something of the interior
life of those other countries the exterior scenery of which is often so
familiar to us. We climb the Alps, but are content to know nothing of
the pastoral romances of Switzerland. We steam in and out of the
picturesque fjords of Norway, but never guess what deep speculation
into life and morals is made by the novelists of that sparsely peopled
but richly endowed nation. We stroll across the courts of the Alhambra,
we are listlessly rowed upon Venetian canals and Lombard lakes, we
hasten by night through the roaring factories of Belgium; but we never
pause to inquire whether there is now flourishing a Spanish, an
Italian, a Flemish school of fiction. Of Russian novels we have lately
been taught to become partly aware, but we do not ask ourselves whether
Poland may not possess a Dostoieffsky and Portugal a Tolstoi.

Yet, as a matter of fact, there is no European country that has
not, within the last half-century, felt the dew of revival on the
threshing-floor of its worn-out schools of romance. Everywhere there
has been shown by young men, endowed with a talent for narrative, a
vigorous determination to devote themselves to a vivid and sympathetic
interpretation of nature and of man. In almost every language, too,
this movement has tended to display itself more and more in the
direction of what is reported and less of what is created. Fancy has
seemed to these young novelists a poorer thing than observation; the
world of dreams fainter than the world of men. They have not been
occupied mainly with what might be or what should be, but with what is,
and, in spite of all their shortcomings, they have combined to produce
a series of pictures of existing society in each of their several
countries such as cannot fail to form an archive of documents
invaluable to futurity.

But to us they should be still more valuable. To travel in a foreign
country is but to touch its surface. Under the guidance of a novelist
of genius we penetrate to the secrets of a nation, and talk the very
language of its citizens. We may go to Normandy summer after summer and
know less of the manner of life that proceeds under those gnarled
orchards of apple-blossom than we learn from one tale of Guy de
Maupassant's. The present series is intended to be a guide to the inner
geography of Europe. It presents to our readers a series of spiritual
Baedekers and Murrays. It will endeavour to keep pace with every truly
characteristic and vigorous expression of the novelist's art in each of
the principal European countries, presenting what is quite new if it is
also good, side by side with what is old, if it has not hitherto been
presented to our public. That will be selected which gives with most
freshness and variety the different aspects of continental feeling, the
only limits of selection being that a book shall be, on the one hand,
amusing, and, on the other, wholesome.

One difficulty which must be frankly faced is that of subject. Life is
now treated in fiction by every race but our own with singular candour.
The novelists of the Lutheran North are not more fully emancipated from
prejudice in this respect than the novelists of the Catholic South.
Everywhere in Europe a novel is looked upon now as an impersonal work,
from which the writer, as a mere observer, stands aloof, neither
blaming nor applauding. Continental fiction has learned to exclude, in
the main, from among the subjects of its attention, all but those facts
which are of common experience, and thus the novelists have determined
to disdain nothing and to repudiate nothing which is common to
humanity; much is freely discussed, even in the novels of Holland and
of Denmark, which our race is apt to treat with a much more gingerly
discretion. It is not difficult, however, we believe--it is certainly
not impossible--to discard all which may justly give offence, and yet
to offer to an English public as many of the masterpieces of European
fiction as we can ever hope to see included in this library. It will be
the endeavour of the editor to search on all hands and in all languages
for such books as combine the greatest literary value with the most
curious and amusing qualities of manner and matter.

                                                     EDMUND GOSSE.



                           THE CHIEF JUSTICE



                                  THE

                             Chief Justice

                                A NOVEL



                                   BY

                              EMIL FRANZOS



                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN

                                   BY

                              MILES CORBET



                                 LONDON

                           WILLIAM HEINEMANN

                                  1890

                        [_All rights reserved_]



                             INTRODUCTION.


The remote Austrian province of Galicia has, in our generation,
produced two of the most original of modern novelists, Leopold von
Sacher-Masoch and Karl Emil Franzos. The latter, who is the author of
the volume here presented to English readers, was born on the 25th of
October 1848, just over the frontier, in a ranger's house in the midst
of one of the vast forests of Russian Podolia. His father, a Polish
Jew, was the district doctor of the town of Czorskow, in Galicia, where
the boy received his first lessons in literature from his German
mother. In 1858 Franzos was sent, on the death of his father, to the
German College at Czernowitz; at the age of fourteen, according to the
published accounts of his life, he was left entirely to his own
resources, and gained a precarious livelihood by teaching. After
various attempts at making a path for himself in science and in law,
and finding that his being a Jew stood in the way of a professional
career, he turned, as so many German Israelites have done before and
since, to journalism, first in Vienna, then at Pesth, then in Vienna
again, where he still continues to reside.

In 1876 Franzos published his first book, two volumes entitled _Aus
Halb-Asia_ ("From Semi-Asia"), a series of ethnological studies on the
peoples of Galicia, Bukowina, South Russia, and Roumania, whom he
described as in a twilight of semi-barbaric darkness, not wholly in the
sunshine of Europe. This was followed in 1878 by _Vom Don zur Donau_
("From the Don to the Danube"), a similar series of studies in
ethnography. Meanwhile, in _Die Juden von Barnow_ ("The Jews of
Barnow"), 1877, he had published his first collection of tales drawn
from his early experience. He followed it in 1879 by _Junge Liebe_
("Young Love"), two short stories, "Brown Rosa" and "Brandenegg's
Cousins," extremely romantic in character, and written in an elaborate
and somewhat extravagant style. These volumes achieved a great and
instant success.

The succeeding novels of Franzos have been numerous, and unequal in
value. _Moschko von Parma_, 1880, was a pathetic study of the
vicissitudes of a young Jewish soldier in the wars. In the same year
Franzos published _Die Hexe_ ("The Witch"). The best known of his
writings in this country is _Ein Kampf um's Recht_ ("A Battle for the
Right"), 1882, which was published in English, with an Introduction by
Mr. George MacDonald, and attracted the favourable, and even
enthusiastic, notice of Mr. Gladstone. _Der Präsident_, which is here
translated, appeared in Germany in 1884.

                                                     EDMUND GOSSE.



                           THE CHIEF JUSTICE.



                               CHAPTER I.


In the Higher Court of Bolosch, an important Germano-Slavonic town of
northern Austria, there sat as Chief Justice some thirty years ago, one
of the bravest and best of those men on whom true justice might
hopefully rely in that sorely tried land.

Charles Victor, Baron von Sendlingen, as he may be called in this
record of his fate, was the last descendant of a very ancient and
meritorious race which could trace its origin to a collateral branch of
the Franconian Emperors, and which had once upon a time possessed rich
lands and mines on the shores of the Wörther See: now indeed by reason
of an adverse fate and the love of splendour of some of its scions,
there had gradually come to be nothing left of all this save a series
of high sounding titles. But the decline of fame and influence had not
kept pace with the loss of lands and wealth; the Sendlingens had
entered the service of the Hapsburgs and in the last two hundred years
had given the Austrian Hereditary Dominions not only several brave
generals, but an almost unbroken line of administrators and guardians
of Justice. And so, although they were entirely dependent on their
slender official salaries, they were reckoned with good reason among
the first families of the Empire, and a Sendlingen might from his
cradle count upon the office of Chief Justice of one of the Higher
Courts. Even unkind envy, to say nothing of honest report, was obliged
to admit that these hereditary patricians of Justice had always shown
themselves worthy of their sacred office, and just as they regularly
inherited certain physical characteristics--great stature, bright eyes
and coal-black curly hair--so also gifted intellects, iron industry and
a sense of duty which often enough bordered on self-denial, were always
theirs. "The majesty of the Law is the most sacred majesty on earth."
Thus spake the first of this family who had entered the service of the
Imperial Courts of Justice, the Baron Victor Amadeus, Chief Judge of
the Vienna Senate, in answer to an irregular demand of Ferdinand the
Catholic, and his descendants held fast to the maxim in good days and
evil, even in those worst days when Themis threatened, in this country
also, to sink to the level of the venal mistress of Princes. The
greatest of the Hapsburgs, Joseph II., knew how to value this at its
right worth, and although he much disliked hereditary offices, he on
this account appointed the Baron Charles Victor, in spite of his youth,
as his father's successor in one of the most important offices of the
State.

This was the grandfather of that Sendlingen whose story is to be told
here, a powerful man of unusual strength of will who had again raised
the reputation of the family to a most flourishing condition. But
although everything went so well with him, the dearest wish of his
heart was not to be realized: he was not to transmit office and
reputation to his son. This son, Franz Victor, our hero's father, had
to pass his life wretchedly in an insignificant position, the only one
among the Sendlingens who went to his grave in mature years, unrenowned
and indeed despised.

This fate had not overtaken him through lack of ability or industry. He
too proved himself a true son of this admirable race; gifted,
persevering, thorough, devoted heart and soul to his studies and his
official duties. But a youthful escapade had embroiled him in the
beginning of his career with father and relations: a girl of the lower
orders, the daughter of the concierge at the Courts where his father
presided, had become dear to him and in a moment of passion he had
betrayed her. When the girl could no longer conceal the consequences of
her fault, she went and threw herself at the feet of the Chief Justice
imploring him to protect her from her parent's wrath. The old man could
hardly contain his agony of indignation, but he summoned his son and
having heard from his lips the truth of the accusation, he resolved the
matter by saying: "The wedding will take place next Sunday. A
Sendlingen may be thoughtless, he must never be a scoundrel." They were
married without show and in complete secresy, and at once started for a
little spot in the Tyrolean mountains whither Baron von Sendlingen had
caused his son and heir to be transferred.

This event made a tremendous sensation. For the first time a Sendlingen
had married out of his rank, the daughter of a menial too, and
constrained to it by his father! People hardly knew how to decide which
of the two, father or son, had sinned most against the dignity of the
family; similar affairs were usually settled by the nobles of the land
in all secresy and without leaving a stain on their genealogical tree.
Even Kaiser Franz, although his opinions about morality were so rigid,
once signified something of the kind to the honourable old judge, but
he received the same answer as was given to his son. The embittered old
man was indeed equally steadfast in maintaining a complete severance of
the bonds between him and his only son; the letters which every mail
from the Tyrol brought, were left unopened, and even in his last
illness he would not suffer the outcast to be recalled.

After the death of the Judge, his son came to be completely forgotten:
only occasionally his aristocratic relations used to recount with a
shrug of the shoulders, that they had again been obliged to return a
letter of this insolent fellow to the place where it came from.
Nevertheless they learnt the contents of these letters from a
good-natured old aunt: they told of the death of his first child, then
of the birth of a boy whom he had called after his grandfather, and
while he obstinately kept silence about the happiness or unhappiness of
his marriage, he more and more urgently begged for deliverance from the
God-forsaken corner of the globe in which he languished and for
promotion to a worthier post.

Although the only person who read these letters was, with all her pity,
unable to help him, he never grew weary of writing. The tone of his
letters became year by year more bitter and despairing, and whereas he
had at first asked for special favours, he now fiercely demanded the
cessation of these hostile intrigues. Perhaps the embittered man was
unjust to his relations in making this reproach,--they seemed in no
way to concern themselves about him whether to his interest or his
injury--, but he really was badly treated, and leaving out the
influence of his name, he was not even able to obtain what he might
have expected according to the regulations of the service. An excellent
judge of exemplary industry, he was forced to continue for years in
this Tyrolean wilderness until at length, one day, he was promoted to a
judgeship on the Klagenfurth Circuit. But he was not long able to enjoy
his improved position: bitter repentance and the struggle with
wretchedness had prematurely undermined his strength. He died, soon
after his wife, and his last concern on earth was an imploring prayer
to his relations to adopt his boy.

This prayer would perhaps not have been necessary to secure the orphan
that sympathy which his much-to-be-pitied father had in vain sought to
obtain for himself. Charles Victor, now fourteen years of age, was
carried off in a sort of triumph and brought to Vienna: even the
Emperor gratefully remembered the faithful services which this noble
house had for centuries rendered to his throne, and he caused its last
surviving male to be educated at his expense in the Academy of Maria
Theresa.

The beautiful, slender boy won the sympathies of his natural guardians
by his mere appearance, the serious expression peculiar to his family
and his surprising resemblance to his grandfather; excellent gifts, a
quiet, steady love of work and a self-contained, manly sweetness of
disposition, made him dear to both his masters and his comrades. He was
the best scholar at the Academy, and he justified the hopes which he
had aroused by the brilliant success of his legal studies. But his
eagerness to obtain a knowledge of the world and to see foreign
countries was equally great, and the modest fortune left him by his
grandfather made the fulfilment of these desires possible. When, being
of age, he returned to Austria and entered on his legal duties, it
needed no particular insight to prophesy a rapid advancement in his
career.

In fact after a brief term of office as judge-advocate in the Eastern
provinces, he was transferred to Bohemia, and shortly afterwards
married a beautiful, proud girl who had been much sought after, a
daughter of one of the most important Counts of the Empire. Nobody was
surprised that the lucky man had also this good luck, but the marriage
remained childless. This only served to unite the stately pair more
closely to one another, and this wedded love and the judge's triumphs
on the Bench and in the world of letters, sufficed to fully occupy his
life. His treatises on criminal law were among the best of the kind,
and the practical nature of his judgments obtained for him the
reputation of one of the most thorough and sagacious judges of Austria.
And so it was more owing to his services than to the influence attached
to the name and associations of this remarkable man, that he succeeded
in scaling by leaps and bounds that ladder of advancement on the lowest
rung of which, his unfortunate father had remained in life-long
torture. As early as in his fortieth year he had obtained the important
and honourable position of Chief Justice of Bolosch.

The stormy times in which he lived served as a good test of his
character and abilities. The fierce flames of 1848 had been
extinguished and from the ruins rose the exhalation of countless
political trials. Those were sad days, making the strongest demands on
the independence of a Judge, and many an honest but weak man became the
compliant servant of the Authorities. The Chief Justice von Sendlingen,
a member of the oldest nobility, bound to the Imperial House by ties of
personal gratitude, related by marriage to the leaders of the reaction,
was nevertheless not one of the weak and cowardly judges; just as in
that stormy year he had boldly confessed his loyalty to the Emperor, so
now he showed that Justice was not to be abased to an instrument of
political revenge. This boldness was indeed not without danger; his
brother-in-law stormed, his wife was in tears; first warnings, then
threats, rained in upon him, but he kept his course unmoved, acting as
his sense of justice bade him. If those in authority did not actually
interfere with him, he owed this entirely to his past services, which
had made him almost indispensable. The methods of administering justice
were constantly changed, juries were empanelled and then dismissed, the
regulations of the Courts were repeatedly altered: everywhere there
were cases in arrear, and confusion and uncertainty.

The Bolosch Circuit was one of the few exceptions. The Chief Justice
remained unmolested by the ministry, and the citizens honoured him as
the embodiment of Justice, and lawyers as the ornament of their
profession.

Respected throughout the whole Empire, he was in his immediate circle
the object of almost idolatrous love. And certainly the personal
characteristics of this stately and serious man with his almost
youthful beauty, were enough to justify this feeling. He was gentle but
determined; dignified but affectionate: faithful in the extreme to
duty, and yet no stickler for forms.

When his wife died suddenly in 1850, the sympathetic love and
veneration of all were manifested in the most touching manner. He felt
the loss keenly, but only his best friend, Dr. George Berger, learnt
how deep was the wound. This Dr. Berger was one of the most respected
barristers of the town, and in spite of the difference of their
political convictions--Berger was a Radical--he enjoyed an almost
fraternal intimacy with Sendlingen. This faithful friend did what he
could for the lonely Judge; and his best helper in the work of sympathy
was his sense of duty which forbade a weak surrender to sorrow. He
gradually became quiet and composed again, and some premature grey
hairs at the temples alone showed how exceedingly he had suffered.

In the midst of the regular work of his profession--it was in May,
1850--he was surprised by a laconic command from the Minister of
Justice ordering him forthwith to surrender the conduct of his Court to
the Judge next him in position, von Werner, and to be in Vienna within
three days. This news caused general amazement; the reactionary party
was growing stronger, and it was thought that this sudden call might
mean the commencement of an inquiry into the conduct of this true but
independent Judge. He himself was prepared for the worst, but his
friend Berger took a more hopeful view; rudeness, he said, had become
the fashion again in Vienna, and perhaps something good was in store
for him.

This supposition proved correct; the Minister wished the assistance of
the learned specialist in drawing up a new Statute for the
administration of Justice. The Commission of Inquiry, originally called
for two months, continued its deliberations till the autumn. It was not
till the beginning of November that Sendlingen started for home, having
received as a mark of the Minister's gratitude the nomination as Chief
Justice of the Higher Court at Pfalicz, a post which he was to enter
upon in four months.

This was a brilliant and unexampled appointment for one of his years,
but the thought of leaving the much-loved circle of his labours made
him sorrowful. And this feeling was increased when the citizens
testified by a public reception at the station, how greatly they were
rejoiced at his return. His lonely dwelling too had been decorated by a
friendly hand, as also the Courts of Justice. He found it difficult to
announce his departure in answer to the speech of welcome delivered by
his Deputy. And indeed his announcement was received with exclamations
of regret and amazement, and it was only by degrees that his auditors
sufficiently recovered themselves to congratulate their beloved chief.

Only one of them did so with a really happy heart, his Deputy, von
Werner, an old, industrious if not very gifted official, who now
likewise saw a certain hope of promotion. With a pleased smile, the
little weazened man followed Sendlingen into his chambers in order to
give him an account of the judicial proceedings of the last six months.
Herr von Werner was a sworn enemy of all oral reports, and had
therefore not only prepared two beautifully drawn-up lists of the civil
and criminal trials, but had written a memorial which he now read out
by way of introduction.

Sendlingen listened patiently to this lengthy document. But when Werner
was going to take up the lists with the same intention, the Chief
Justice with a pleasant smile anticipated him.

"We will look through them together," he said, and began with the
criminal list. It contained the name, age and calling of the accused,
the date of their gaol-delivery, their crime, as well as the present
position of the trial.

"There are more arrears than I expected," he said with some surprise.

"But the number of crimes has unfortunately greatly increased,"
objected Herr von Werner, zealously. "Especially the cases of
child-murder."

"You are right." Sendlingen glanced through the columns specifying the
crimes and then remained plunged in deep thought.

"The number is nearly double," he resumed. "And it is not only here,
but in the whole Empire, that this horrible phenomenon is evident! The
Minister of Justice complained of it to me with much concern."

"But what else could one expect?" cried old Werner. "This accursed
Revolution has undermined all discipline, morals and religion! And then
the leniency with which these inhuman women are treated--why it is
years since the death-sentence has been carried out in a case of
child-murder."

"That will unfortunately soon be changed," answered Sendlingen in a
troubled tone. "The Minister of Justice thinks as you do, and would
like an immediate example to be made. It is unfortunate, I repeat, and
not only because, from principle, I am an opponent of the theory of
deterring by fear. Of all social evils this can least of all be cured
by the hangman. And if it is so rank nowadays, I do not think the
reason is to be found where you and His Excellency seek it, but in the
sudden impoverishment, the uncertainty of circumstances and the
brutality which, everywhere and always, follow upon a great war. The
true physicians are the political economist, the priest and the
schoolmaster!... Or have you ever perhaps known of a case among
educated people?"

"Oh certainly!" answered Herr von Werner importantly. "I have, as it
happens, to preside to-morrow,--that is to say unless you will take the
case--at the conclusion of a trial against a criminal of that class; at
least she must be well-educated as she was governess in the house of a
Countess. See here--Case No. 19 on the list." He pointed with his
finger to the place.

Then a dreadful thing happened. Hardly had Sendlingen glanced at the
name which Werner indicated, than he uttered a hollow choking cry, a
cry of deadly anguish. His face was livid, his features were distorted
by an expression of unutterable terror, his eyes started out of their
sockets and stared in a sort of fascination at the list before him.

"Great Heavens!" cried Werner, himself much alarmed, as he seized his
chief's hand. "What is the matter with you? Do you know this girl?"

Sendlingen made no reply. He closed his eyes, rested both arms on the
table and tried to rise. But his limbs refused to support him, and he
sank down in his chair like one in a faint.

"Water! Help!" cried Werner, making for the bell.

A movement of Sendlingen's stopped him. "It is nothing," he gasped with
white lips and parched throat. "An attack of my heart disease. It has
lately--become--much worse."

"Oh!" cried Werner with genuine sympathy. "I never even suspected this
before. Everybody thought you were in the best of health. What do the
doctors say?"

Again there was no answer. Breathing with difficulty, livid, his head
sunk on his breast, his eyes closed, Sendlingen lay back in his chair.
And when he raised his eyelids Werner met such a hopeless, despairing
look, that the old gentleman involuntarily started back.

"May I," he began timidly, "call a doctor----"

"No!" Sendlingen's refusal was almost angry. Again he attempted to rise
and this time he succeeded.

"Thank you," he said feebly. "I must have frightened you. I am better
now and shall soon be quite well."

"But you are going home?"
"Why should I? I will rest in this comfortable chair for half an hour
and then, my dear colleague, I shall be quite at your service again."

The old gentleman departed but not without hesitation: even he was
really attached to Sendlingen. The other officials also received the
news of this attack with genuine regret, especially as Werner several
times repeated in his important manner:

"Any external cause is quite out of the question, gentlemen, quite out
of the question. We were just quietly talking about judicial matters.
Ah, heart disease is treacherous, gentlemen, very treacherous."

Hardly had the door closed, when Sendlingen sank down in his chair,
drew the lists towards him and again stared at that particular spot
with a look on his face as if his sentence of death was written there.

The entry read thus: "Victorine Lippert. Born 25th January 1834 at
Radautz in the Bukowina. Governess. Child-murder. Transferred here from
the District Court at Gölotz on the 17th June 1852. Confessed. Trial to
be concluded 8th November 1852."

The column headed "sentence" was still empty.

"Death!" he muttered. "Death!" he repeated, loud and shrill, and a
shudder ran through his every fibre.

He sank back and hid his face which had suddenly become wasted.

"O my God!" he groaned. "I dare not let her die--her blood would cry
out against me, against me only."

And he drew the paper towards him again and stared at the entry,
piteously and beseechingly, as though he expected a miracle from
Heaven, as though the letters must change beneath the intensity of his
gaze.

The mid-day bells of the neighbouring cathedral aroused him from his
gloomy brooding. He rose, smoothed his disarranged hair, forced on his
accustomed look of quiet, and betook himself to Werner's room.

"You see," he said. "I have kept my word and am all right again. Are
there any pressing matters to be rid of?"

"Only one," answered Werner. "The Committee of Discipline has waited
your return, as it did not wish to decide an important case without
you."

"Good, summon the Committee for five o'clock today."

He now went the round of the other offices, answered the anxious
inquiries with the assurance that he was quite well again, and then
went down a long corridor to his own quarters which were in another
wing of the large building.

His step was still elastic, his face pale but almost cheerful. Not
until he had given his servant orders to admit nobody, not even his
friend Berger, and until he had bolted his study-door, did he sink down
and then give himself up, without restraint, to the fury of a wild,
despairing agony.



                              CHAPTER II.


For an hour or more the unhappy man lay groaning, and writhing like a
worm under the intensity of his wretchedness. Then he rose and with
unsteady gait went to his secretaire, and began to rummage in the
secret drawers of the old-fashioned piece of furniture.

"I no longer remember where it is," he muttered to himself. "It is long
since I thought of the old story--but God has not forgotten it."

At length he discovered what he was looking for: a small packet of
letters grown yellow with time. As he unloosed the string which tied
them, a small watercolour portrait in a narrow silver frame fell out:
it depicted the gentle, sweet features of a young, fair, grey-eyed
girl. His eyes grew moist as he looked at it, and bitter tears suddenly
coursed down his cheeks.

He then unfolded the papers and began to read: they were long letters,
except the last but one which filled no more than two small sheets.
This he read with the greatest attention of all, read and re-read it
with ever-increasing emotion. "And I could resist such words!" he
murmured. "Oh wretched man that I am."

Then he opened the last of the letters. "You evidently did not yourself
expect that I would take your gift," he read out in an undertone. And
then: "I do not curse you; on the contrary, I ardently hope that you
may at least not have given me up in vain."

He folded the letters and tied them up. Then he undid them again and
buried himself once more in their melancholy contents.

A knock at the door interrupted him: his housekeeper announced that
dinner was ready. This housekeeper was an honest, elderly spinster,
Fräulein Brigitta, whom he usually treated with the greatest
consideration. To-day he only answered her with a curt, impatient,
"Presently!" and he vouchsafed no lengthier reply to her question how
he was.

But then he remembered some one else. "I must not fall ill," he said.
"I must keep up my strength. I shall need it all!" And after he had
locked up the letters, he went to the dining-room.

He forced himself to take two or three spoonfuls of soup, and hastily
emptied a glass of old Rhine-wine. His man-servant, Franz, likewise a
faithful old soul, replenished it, but hesitatingly and with averted
countenance.

"Where is Fräulein Brigitta?" asked Sendlingen.

"Crying!" growled the old man. "Hasn't got used to the new state of
things! Nor have I! Nice conduct, my lord! We arrive in the morning
ill, we say nothing to an old and faithful servant, we go straight into
the Courts. There we fall down several times; we send for no doctor,
but writhe alone in pain like a wounded stag." The faithful old
fellow's eyes were wet.

"I am quite well again, Franz," said Sendlingen re-assuringly.

"We were groaning!" said the old man in a tone of the bitterest
reproach. "And since when have we declined to admit Herr Berger?"

"Has he been here?"

"Yes, on most important business, and would not believe that we
ourselves had ordered him to be turned away.... And now we are eating
nothing," he continued vehemently, as Sendlingen pushed his plate from
him and rose. "My Lord, what does this mean! We look as if we had seen
a ghost!"

"No, only an old grumbler!" He intended this for an airy pleasantry but
its success was poor. "Do not be too angry with me."

Then he returned to his chambers. "The old fellow is right," he
thought. "It was a ghost, a very ancient ghost, and its name is
Nemesis!" His eyes fell on the large calendar on the door: "7th
November 1852" he read aloud. "A day like every other--and yet ..."

Then he passed his hand over his brow as if trying to recall who he
was, and rang the bell.

"Get me," he said to the clerk who entered, "the documents relating to
the next three criminal trials."

He stepped to the window and awaited the clerk's return with apparent
calm. He had not long to wait; the clerk entered and laid two goodly
bundles of papers on the table.

"I have to inform you, my lord," said the clerk standing at attention
(he had been a soldier), "that only the papers relating to the trials
of the 9th and 10th November are in the Court-house. Those for
tomorrow's trial of Victorine Lippert for child-murder are still in the
hands of Counsel for the accused, Dr. George Berger."

Sendlingen started. "Did the accused choose her Counsel?"

"No, my lord, she refused any defence because she is, so to speak, a
poor despairing creature who would prefer to die. Herr von Werner
therefore, ex-officio, allotted her Dr. Kraushoffer as Counsel, and,
when he became ill, Dr. Berger. Dr. Kraushoffer was only taken ill the
day before yesterday and therefore Dr. Berger has been allowed to keep
the papers till tomorrow morning early. Does your Lordship desire that
I should ask him for them?"

"No. That will do."

He went back to the niche by the window. "A poor creature who would
prefer to die!" he said slowly and gloomily. Frightful images thronged
into his mind, but the poor worn brain could no longer grasp any clear
idea. He began to pace up and down his room rapidly, almost staggering
as he went.

"Night! night!" he groaned: he felt as if he were wandering aimlessly
in pitchy darkness, while every pulsation of lost time might involve
the sacrifice of a human life. Then his face brightened again, it
seemed a good omen that Berger was defending the girl: he knew his
friend to be the most conscientious barrister on the circuit. "And if I
were to tell him fully what she is to me--" But he left the sentence
unfinished and shook his head.

"I could not get the words out," he murmured looking round quite
scared, "not even to him!"

"And why should I?" he then thought. "Berger will in any case, from his
own love of justice, do all that is in his power."

But what result was to be expected? The old judges, unaccustomed to
speeches, regarded the concluding proceedings rather as a formality,
and decided on their verdict from the documents, whatever Counsel might
say. It depended entirely on their opinion and what Werner thought of
the crime he had explained a few hours ago! And even if before that he
had been of another opinion, now that he knew the opinion of the
Minister of Justice.... "Fool that I am," said Sendlingen between his
teeth, "it was I who told him!" Again he looked half-maddened by his
anguish and wandered about the room wringing his hands.

Suddenly he stopped. His face grew more livid, his brows contracted in
a dark frown, his lips were tightly pressed together. A new idea had
apparently occurred to him, a dark uncanny inspiration, against which
he was struggling but which returned again and again, and took
possession of him. "That would be salvation," he muttered. "If
to-morrow's sentence is only for a short term of imprisonment, the
higher Court would never increase it to a sentence of death!"

He paced slowly to the window, his head bowed as if the weight of that
thought lay upon his neck like a material burden, and stared out into
the street. The early shades of the autumn evening were falling; on the
other side of a window in a building opposite, a young woman entered
with a lamp for her husband. She placed it on his work-table, and
lightly touched his hair with her lips. Sendlingen saw it plainly, he
could distinguish every piece of furniture in the room and also the
features of the couple, and as he knew them, he involuntarily whispered
their names. But his brain unceasingly continued to spin that dark web,
and at times his thoughts escaped him in a low whisper.

"What is there to prevent me? Nobody knows my relationship to her and
she herself has no suspicion. I am entitled to it, and it would arouse
no suspicion. Certainly it would be difficult, it would be a horrible
time, but how much depends on me!"

"Wretch!" he suddenly cried, in a hard, hoarse voice. "The world does
not know your relationship, but you know it! What you intend is a
crime, it is against justice and law!"

"Oh my God!" he groaned: "Help me! Enlighten my poor brain! Would it
not be the lesser crime if I were to save her by dishonourable means,
than if I were to stand by with folded arms and see her delivered to
the hangman! Can this be against Thy will, Thou who art a God of love
and mercy? Can my honour be more sacred than her life?"

He sank back and buried his face in his hands. "But it does not concern
my honour alone," he said. "It would be a crime against Justice,
against the most sacred thing on earth! O my God, have mercy upon me!"

While he lay there in the dark irresolute, his body a prey to fever,
his soul torn by worse paroxysms, he heard first of all a gentle, then
a louder knocking at the door. At length it was opened.

"My Lord!" said a loud voice: it was Herr von Werner.

"Here I am," quickly answered Sendlingen rising.

"In the dark?" asked old Werner with astonishment. "I thought perhaps
you had forgotten the appointment--it is five o'clock and the members
of the Committee of Discipline are waiting for us. Has your
indisposition perhaps returned?"

"No! I was merely sitting in deep thought and forgot to light the
candles. Come, I am quite ready."

"Will you allow me a question?" asked Werner, stepping forward as far
as the light which streamed in from the corridor. "In fact it is a
request. The clerk told me that you had been asking to see the
documents relating to to-morrow's trial. Would you perhaps like to
preside at it?"

Sendlingen did not answer at once. "I am not posted up in the matter,"
he at length said with uncertain voice.

"The case is very simple and a glance at the deed of accusation would
sufficiently inform you. In fact I took the liberty of asking this
question in order to have the documents fetched at once from Herr
Berger. I myself--hm, my daughter, the wife of the finance counsellor,
is in fact expecting, as I just learn, tomorrow for the first
time--hm,--a happy event. It is natural that I should none the less be
at the disposal of the Court, but--hm,--trusting to your official
goodnature----"

Sendlingen had supported himself firmly against the back of the chair.
His pulses leapt and his voice trembled as he answered:

"I will take the case."

Then both the men started for the Court. When they came out into the
full light of the corridor, Werner looked anxiously at his chief. "But
indeed you are still very white!" he cried. "And your face has quite a
strange expression. You appear to be seriously unwell, and I have just
asked you----"

"It is nothing!" interrupted Sendlingen impatiently. "Whom does our
present transaction relate to?"

"You will be sorry to hear of it," was the answer, "I know that you too
had the best opinion of the young man. It relates to Herbich, an
assistant at the Board of Trade office: he has unfortunately been
guilty of a gross misuse of his official position."

"Oh--in what way?"

"Money matters," answered Werner cursorily, and he beckoned to a
messenger and sent him to Berger's.

They then entered the Court where the three eldest Judges were already
waiting for them. The Chief Justice opened the sitting and called for a
report of the case to be read.

It was different from what one would have expected from Werner's
intimation: Herbich had not become a criminal through greed of gain.
His mother, an old widow, had, on his advice, lent her slender fortune
which was to have served as her only daughter's dowry, to a friend of
his, a young merchant of excellent reputation. Without any one
suspecting it, this honourable man had through necessity gradually
become bankrupt, and when Herbich one morning entered his office at the
Board of Trade, he found the manager of a factory there who, to his
alarm, demanded a decree summoning a meeting of his friend's creditors.
Instead of fulfilling this in accordance with the duties of his office,
he hurried to the merchant and induced him by piteous prayers to return
the loan on the spot. Not till then did he go back to the office and
draw up the necessary document. By the inquiries of other creditors
whose fractional share had been diminished by this, the matter came to
light. Herbich was suspended, though left at liberty. There was no
permanent loss to the creditors, as the sister had in the meantime
returned the whole of the amount to the administrator of the estate.
The report recommended that the full severity of the law should take
effect, and that the young man should not only be deprived of his
position, but should forthwith be handed over to justice.

Sendlingen had listened to the lengthy report motionless. Only once had
he risen, to arrange the lampshade so that his face remained in
complete shadow. Then he asked whether the committee would examine the
accused. It was in no way bound to do so, though entitled to, and
therefore Herbich had been instructed to hold himself in waiting at the
Court at the hour of the inquiry.

The conductor of the inquiry was opposed to any examination. Not so
Baron Dernegg, one of the Judges, a comfortable looking man with a
broad, kindly face. It seemed to him, he explained, that the
examination was a necessity, as in this way alone could the motives of
the act be brought fully to light. The Committee was equally divided on
the subject: the casting vote therefore lay with Sendlingen. He
hesitated a long while, but at length said with a choking voice: "It
seems to me, too, that it would be humane and just to hear the
unfortunate man."

Herbich entered. His white, grief-worn face flushed crimson as he saw
the Judges, and his gait was so unsteady that Baron Dernegg
compassionately motioned him to sit down. The trembling wretch
supported himself on the back of a chair as he began laboriously, and
almost stutteringly, to reply to the Chief Justice's question as to
what he had to say in his defence.

He told of his intimate friendship with the merchant and how it was
entirely his own doing that the loan had been made. When he came to
speak of his offence his voice failed him until at length he blurted
out almost sobbing: "No words can express how I felt then!... My sister
had recently been betrothed to an officer. The money was to have served
as the guarantee required by the war-office; if it was lost the wedding
could not take place and the life's happiness of the poor girl would
have been destroyed. I did not think of the criminality of what I was
doing. I only followed the voice of my heart which cried out: 'Your
sister must not be made unhappy through your fault!' My friend's
resistance first made me conscious of what I had begun to do! I sought
to reassure him and myself by sophisms, pointing out how insignificant
the sum was compared with his other debts, and that any other creditor
would have taken advantage of making the discovery at the last moment.
I seemed to have convinced him, but, as for myself, I went away with
the consciousness of being a criminal."

He stopped, but as he continued his voice grew stronger and more
composed.

"A criminal certainly! But my conscience tells me that of two crimes I
chose the lesser. But to no purpose: the thing came out; my sister
sacrificed her money and her happiness. I look upon my act now as I did
then. Happy is the man who is spared a conflict between two duties,
whose heart is not rent, whose honour destroyed, as mine has been; but
if he were visited as I was, he would act as I acted if he were a man
at all! And now I await your verdict, for what I have left to say,
namely what I once was, you know as well as I do!"

A deep silence followed these words. It was for Sendlingen to break it
either by another question or by dismissing the accused. He, however,
was staring silently into space like one lost to his surroundings. At
length he murmured: "You may go."

The discussion among the Judges then began and was hotly carried on, as
two opposite views were sharply outlined. Baron Dernegg and the fourth
Judge were in favour of simple dismissal without any further
punishment, while the promoter, supported by Werner, was in favour of
his original proposition. The matter had become generally known, he
contended, and therefore the dignity of Justice demanded a conspicuous
satisfaction for the outraged law.

The decision again rested with Sendlingen, but it seemed difficult for
him to pronounce it. "It is desirable, gentlemen," he said, "that your
verdict should be unanimous. Perhaps you will agree more easily in an
informal discussion. I raise the formal sitting for a few minutes."

But he himself took no part in their discussion, but stepped to the
window. He pressed his burning forehead against the cool glass: his
face again wore that expression of torturing uncertainty. But gradually
his features grew composed and assumed a look of quiet resolve. When
Werner approached and informed him that both parties still adhered
obstinately to their own opinion, he stepped back to the table and said
in a loud, calm voice:

"I cast my vote for the opinion of Baron Dernegg. The dignity of
Justice does not, in my opinion, require to be vindicated only by
excessive severity; dismissal from office and ruin for life are surely
sufficient punishment for a fatal _error_."

Werner in spite of his boundless respect for superiors, could not
suppress a movement of surprise.

Sendlingen noticed it. "An error!" he repeated emphatically. "Whoever
can put himself in the place of this unfortunate man, whoever can
comprehend the struggles of his soul, must see that, according to his
own ideas, he had indeed to choose between two crimes. His error was to
consider that the lesser crime which in reality was the greater. I have
never been a blind partisan of the maxim: 'Fiat justitia et pereat
mundus,'--but I certainly do consider it a sacred matter that every
Judge should act according to law and duty, even if he should break his
heart in doing so! However, I repeat, it was an error, and therefore it
seems to me that the milder of the two opinions enforces sufficient
atonement."

Then he went up to Werner. "Forgive me," he said, "if I withdraw my
promise in regard to tomorrow's trial. I am really not well enough to
preside."

"Oh! please--hm!--well if it must be so."

"It must be so," said Sendlingen, kindly but resolutely. "Good evening,
gentlemen."



                             CHAPTER III.


Sendlingen went to his own quarters; his old manservant let him in and
followed him with anxious looks into his study.

"You may go, Franz!" he said shortly and sharply. "I am not at home to
anybody."

"And should Dr. Berger?"

"Berger?" He shook his head decidedly. Then he seemed to remember some
one else. "I will see him," he said, drawing a deep breath.

The old man went out hesitatingly: Sendlingen was alone. But after a
few minutes the voice of his friend was audible in the lobby, and
Berger entered with a formidable bundle of documents under his arm.

"Well, how goes it now?" cried the portly man, still standing in the
doorway. "Better, certainly, as you are going to preside to-morrow.
Here are the papers."

He laid the bundle on the table and grasped Sendlingen's outstretched
hand. "A mill-stone was rolled from my neck when the messenger came. In
the first place, I knew you were better again, and secondly the chief
object of my visit at noon to-day was attained without my own
intervention."

"Did you come on that account?"

"Yes, Victor,--and not merely to greet you." The advocate's broad, open
face grew very serious. "I wanted to draw your attention to to-morrow's
trial, not only from motives of pity for the unfortunate girl, but also
in the interests of Justice. Old Werner, who gets more and more
impressed with the idea that he is combating the Revolution in every
case of child-murder, is not the right Judge for this girl. 'There are
cases,' once wrote an authority on criminal law, 'where a sentence of
death accords with the letter of the law, but almost amounts to
judicial murder.' I hope you will let this authority weigh with you,
though you yourself are he. Now then, if Werner is put in a position
to-morrow to carry out the practice to which he has accustomed himself
in the last few weeks, we shall have one of these frightful cases."

Sendlingen made no reply. His limbs seemed to grow rigid and the
beating of his heart threatened to stop. "How--how does the case
stand?" he at length blurted out hoarsely and with great effort.

"Your voice is hoarse," remarked Berger innocently. "You must have
caught cold on the journey. Well, as to the case." He settled himself
comfortably in his chair. "It is only one of the usual, sad stories,
but it moved me profoundly after I had seen and spoken to the poor
wretch. Victorine Lippert is herself an illegitimate child and has
never found out who her father was; even after her mother's death no
hint of it was found among her possessions. As she was born in Radautz,
a small town in the Bukowina, and as her mother was governess in the
house of a Boyar, it is probable that she was seduced by one of these
half-savages or perhaps even a victim to violence. I incline to the
latter belief, because Hermine Lippert's subsequent mode of life and
touching care for her child, are against the surmise that she was of
thoughtless disposition. She settled in a small town in Styria and made
a scanty living by music lessons. Forced by necessity, she hazarded the
pious fraud of passing as a widow,--otherwise she and her child must
have starved. After eight years a mere chance disclosed the deception
and put an end to her life in the town. She was obliged to leave, but
obtained a situation as companion to a kind-hearted lady in Buda-Pesth,
and being now no longer able to keep her little daughter with her, she
had her brought up at a school in Gratz. Mother and child saw one
another only once a year, but kept up a most affectionate
correspondence. Victorine was diligent in her studies, grave and
accomplished beyond her years, and justified the hope that she would
one day earn a livelihood by her abilities. This sad necessity came
soon enough. She lost her mother when she was barely fifteen: the
Hungarian lady paid her school fees for a short time, and then the
orphan had to help herself. Her excellent testimonials procured
her the post of governess in the family of the widowed Countess
Riesner-Graskowitz at Graskowitz near Golotz. She had the charge of two
small nieces of the Countess and was patient in her duties, in spite of
the hardness of a harsh and utterly avaricious woman. In June of last
year, her only son, Count Henry, came home for a lengthy visit."

Sendlingen sighed deeply and raised his hand.

"You divine the rest?" asked Berger. "And indeed it is not difficult to
do so! The young man had just concluded his initiation into the
diplomatic service at our Embassy in Paris, and was to have gone
on to Munich in September as attaché. Naturally he felt bored in the
lonely castle, and just as naturally he sought to banish his boredom
by trying to seduce the wondrously beautiful, girlish governess.
He heaped upon her letters full of glowing protestations--I mean to
read some specimens to-morrow, and amongst them a valid promise of
marriage--and the girl of seventeen was easily fooled. She liked the
handsome, well-dressed fellow, believed in his love as a divine
revelation and trusted in his oaths. You will spare me details, I
fancy; this sort of thing has often happened."

"Often happened!" repeated Sendlingen mechanically, passing his hand
over his eyes and forehead.

"Well to be brief! When the noble Count Henry saw that the girl was
going to become a mother before she herself had any suspicion of it, he
determined to entirely avoid any unpleasantness with his formidable
mother, and had himself sent to St. Petersburg. Meantime a good-natured
servant girl had explained her condition to the poor wretch and had
faithfully comforted her in her boundless anguish of mind, and helped
her to avoid discovery. Her piteous prayers to her lover remained
unanswered. At length there came a letter--and this, too, I shall read
to-morrow--in which the scoundrel forbade any further molestation and
even threatened the law. And now picture the girl's despair when,
almost at the same time, the countess discovered her secret,--whether
by chance or by a letter of the brave count, is still uncertain.
Certainly less from moral indignation than from fear of the expense,
this noble lady was now guilty of the shocking brutality of having the
poor creature driven out into the night by the men-servants of the
house! It was a dark, cold, wet night in April: shaken with fever and
weary to death, the poor wretch dragged herself towards the nearest
village. She did not reach it; halfway, in a wood, some peasants from
Graskowitz found her the next morning, unconscious. Beside her lay her
dead, her murdered child."

Sendlingen groaned and buried his face in his hands.

"Her fate moves you?" asked Berger. "It is certainly piteous enough!
The men brought her to the village and informed the police at Golotz.
The preliminary examination took place the next day. It could only
establish that the child had been strangled; it was impossible to take
the depositions of the murderess: she was in the wildest delirium, and
the prison-doctor expected her to die. But Fate," Berger rose and his
voice trembled--"Fate was not so merciful. She recovered, and was sent
first to Golotz and then brought here. She admitted that in the
solitude of that dreadful night, overcome by her pains, forsaken of God
and man, she formed the resolve to kill herself and the child--when and
how she did the deed she could not say. I am persuaded that this is no
lie, and I believe her affirmation that it was only unconsciousness
that prevented her suicide. Doesn't that appear probable to you too?"

Sendlingen did not answer. "Probable," he at length muttered, "highly
probable!"

Berger nodded. "Thus much," he continued, "is recorded in the judicial
documents, and as all this is certainly enough to arouse sympathy, I
went to see her as soon as the defence was allotted to me. Since that I
have learnt more. I have learnt that a true and noble nature has been
wrecked by the baseness of man. She must have been not only
fascinatingly beautiful, but a character of unusual depth and purity.
One can still see it, just as fragments of china enable us to guess the
former beauty of a work of art. For this vessel is broken in pieces,
and her one prayer to me was: not to hinder the sentence of death!...
But I cannot grant this prayer," he concluded. "She must not die, were
it only for Justice's sake! And a load is taken off my heart to think
that a human being is to preside at the trial to-morrow, and not a
rhetoric machine!"

He had spoken with increasing warmth, and with a conviction of spirit
which this quiet, and indeed temperate man, seldom evinced.

His own emotion prevented him from noticing how peculiar was his
friend's demeanour. Sendlingen sat there for a while motionless, his
face still covered with his hands, and when he at length let them fall,
he bowed his head so low that his forehead rested on the edge of the
writing-table. In this position he at last blurted forth:

"I cannot preside to-morrow."

"Why not?" asked Berger in astonishment. "Are you really ill?" And as
he gently raised his friend's head and looked into his worn face he
cried out anxiously: "Why of course--you are in a fever."

Sendlingen shook his head. "I am quite well, George! But even if it
cost me my life, I would not hand over this girl to the tender mercies
of others, if only I dared. But I dare not!"

"You _dare_ not!"

"The law forbids it!"

"The law? You are raving!"

"No! no!" cried the unhappy man springing up. "I would that I were
either mad or dead, but such is not my good fortune! The law forbids
it, for a father----"

"Victor!"

"Everything tallies, everything! The mother's name--the place--the year
of birth--and her name is Victorine."

"Oh my God! She is your----"

"My daughter," cried the unfortunate wretch in piercing tones and then
quite broke down.

Berger stood still for an instant as if paralysed by pity and
amazement! Then he hurried to his friend, raised him and placed him in
his arm-chair. "Keep calm!" he murmured. "Oh! it is frightful!... Take
courage!... The poor child!" He was himself as if crushed by the weight
of this terrible discovery.

Breathing heavily, Sendlingen lay there, his breast heaving
convulsively; then he began to sob gently; far more piteously than
words or tears, did these despairing, painfully subdued groans betray
how exceedingly he suffered. Berger stood before him helplessly; he
could think of no fitting words of comfort, and he knew that whatever
he could say would be said in vain.

The door was suddenly opened loudly and noisily; old Franz had heard
the bitter lamenting and could no longer rest in the lobby. "My Lord!"
he screamed, darting to the sufferer. "My dear good master."

"Begone!" Sendlingen raised himself hastily. "Go, Franz--I beg!" he
repeated, more gently.

But Franz did not budge. "We are in pain," he muttered, "and Fräulein
Brigitta may not come in and I am sent away! What else is Franz in the
world for?" He did not go until Berger by entreaties and gentle force
pushed him out of the door.

Sendlingen nodded gratefully to his friend.

"Sit here," he said, pointing to a chair near his own. "Closer
still--so! You must know all, if only for her sake! You shall have no
shred of doubt as to whom you are defending to-morrow, and perhaps you
may discover the expedient for which I have racked my brain in vain.
And indeed I desire it on my own account. Since the moment I discovered
it I feel as if I had lost everything. Everything--even myself! You are
one of the most upright men I know; you shall judge me, George, and in
the same way that you will defend this poor girl, with your noble heart
and clear head. Perhaps you will decide that some other course is
opened to me beside----"

He stopped and cast a timid glance at a small neat case that lay on his
writing-table. Berger knew that it contained a revolver.

"Victor!" he cried angrily and almost revolted.

"Oh, if you knew what I suffer! But you are right, it would be
contemptible. I dare not think of myself. I dare not slink out of the
world. I have a duty to my child. I have neglected it long enough,--I
must hold on now and pay my debt. Ah! how I felt only this morning, and
now everything lies around me shivered to atoms. Forgive me, my poor
brain can still form no clear thought! But--I will--I must. Listen, I
will tell you, as if you were the Eternal Judge Himself, how everything
came about."



                              CHAPTER IV.


After a pause he began: "I must first of all speak of myself and what I
was like in those days. You have only known me for ten years: of my
parents, of my childhood, you know scarcely anything. Mine was a
frightful childhood, more full of venom and misery than a man can often
have been condemned to endure. My parents' marriage--it was hell upon
earth, George! In our profession we get to know many fearful things,
but I have hardly since come across anything like it. How they came to
be married, you know,--all the world knows. I am convinced that they
never loved one another; her beauty pleased his senses, and his
condescension may have flattered her. No matter! from the moment that
they were indissolubly bound, they hated one another. It is difficult
to decide with whom the fault began; perhaps it lay first of all at my
father's door. Perhaps the common, low-born woman would have been
grateful to him for having made her a Baroness and raised her to a
higher rank in life, if only he had vouchsafed her a little patience
and love. But he could not do that, he hated her as the cause of his
misfortune, and she repaid him ten-fold in insult and abuse, and in
holding him up, humbled enough already, to the derision and gossip of
the little town.

"Betwixt these two people I grew up. I should have soon got to know the
terms they were on even if they had striven anxiously to conceal them,
but that they did not do. Or rather: he attempted to do so, and that
was quite sufficient reason for her to drag me designedly into their
quarrels, for she knew that this was a weapon wherewith to wound him
deeply. And when she saw that he idolized me as any poor wretch does
the last hope and joy that fate has left him, she hated me. On that
account and on that account alone, she knew that every scolding, every
blow, she gave me, cut him to the quick. No wonder that I hated and
feared her, as much as I loved and honoured my father.

"What he had done I already accurately knew by the time I was a boy of
six: he had married out of his rank and a Sendlingen might not do that!
For doing so his father had disowned him, for doing so he had to go
through life in trouble and misery, in a paltry hole and corner where
the people mocked at his misfortune. My mother was our curse!--Oh, how
I hated her for this, how by every fresh ill-usage at her hands, my
heart was more and more filled with bitter rancour.

"You shudder, George?" he said stopping in his story. "This glimpse
into a child's soul makes you tremble? Well--it is the truth, and you
shall hear everything that happened.

"If I did not become wicked, I have to thank my father for it. I was
diligent because it gave him pleasure. I was kind and attentive to
people because he commanded it. He was often ill; what would have
become of me if I had lost him then and grown up under my mother's
scourge, I dare not think. I was spared this greatest evil: his
protecting hand continued to be stretched out over me, and when we
moved to Klagenfurth he began to live again. The intercourse with
educated people revived him and he was once more full of hope and
endeavour. My mother now began to be ill and a few months after our
arrival she died. We neither of us rejoiced at her death, but what we
felt as we stood by her open coffin was a sort of silent horror.

"And now came more happy days, but they did not last long. Mental
torture had destroyed my father's vitality, and the rough
mountain-climate had injured his lungs. The mild air of the plain
seemed to restore him for a time, but then the treacherous disease
broke out in all its virulence. He did not deceive himself about his
condition, but he tried to confirm me in hope and succeeded in doing
so. When, after a melancholy winter, in the first days of spring, his
cough was easier and his cheeks took colour, I, like a thoughtless boy,
shouted for joy,--he however knew that it was the bloom of death.

"And he acted accordingly. One May morning--I had just completed my
fourteenth year--he came to my bed-side very early and told me to dress
myself with all speed. 'We are going for an excursion,' he said. There
was a carriage at the door. We drove through the slumbering town and
towards the Wörther-see. It was a lovely morning, and my father was so
affectionate--it seemed to me the happiest hour I had ever had! When we
got to Maria Wörth, the carriage turned off from the lake-side and we
proceeded towards the Tauer Mountains through a rocky valley, until we
stopped at the foot of a hill crowned with a ruin. Slowly we climbed up
the weed-grown path; every step cost the poor invalid effort and pain,
but when I tried to dissuade him he only shook his head. 'It must be
so!' he said, with a peculiarly earnest look. At length we reached the
top. Of the old building, little remained standing except the outer
walls and an arched gateway. 'Look up yonder,' he said, solemnly. 'Do
you recognize that coat of arms?' It consisted of two swords and a St.
Andrew's cross with stars in the field."

"Your arms?" asked Berger.

Sendlingen nodded. "They were the ruins of Sendlingen Castle, once our
chief possession on Austrian soil. My father told me this, and began to
recount old stories, how our ancestor was a cousin of Kaiser Conrad and
had been a potentate of the Empire, holding lands in Franconia and
Suabia, and how his grandson, a friend of one of the Hapsburgs, had
come to Carinthia and there won fresh glory for the old arms. It was a
beautiful and affecting moment,--at our feet the wild, lonely
landscape, dreamily beautiful in the blue atmosphere of a spring day,
no sound around us save the gentle murmur of the wind in the wild
elder-trees, and with all this the tones of his earnest, enthusiastic
voice. My father had never before spoken as he did then, and while he
spoke, there rose before my eyes with palpable clearness the long line
of honourable nobles who had all gloriously borne first the sword and
then the ermine, and the more familiar their age and their names
became, the higher beat my heart, the prouder were my thoughts and
every thought was a vow to follow in their footsteps.

"My father may have guessed what was passing in my heart, he drew me
tenderly to him, and as he told me of his own father, the first judge
and nobleman of the land, tears started from his eyes. 'He was the last
Sendlingen worthy of the name,' he concluded, 'the last!'

"'Father,' I sobbed, 'whatever I can and may do will be done, but you
too will now have a better fate.'

"'I!' he broke in, 'I have lived miserably and shall die miserably! But
I will not complain of my fate, if it serves as a warning to you.
Listen to me, Victor, my life may be reckoned by weeks, perhaps by
days, but if I know my cousins aright, they will not let you stand
alone after my death. They will not forget that you are a Sendlingen,
so long as you don't forget it yourself. And in order that you may
continue mindful of it, I have brought you hither before I die! Unhappy
children mature early; you have been in spite of all my love, a very
unhappy child, Victor, and you have long since known exactly why my
life went to pieces. Swear to me to keep this in mind and that you will
be strict and honourable in your conduct, as a Sendlingen is in duty
bound to be.'

"'I swear it!' I exclaimed amid my tears.

"'One thing more!' he continued, 'I must tell you, although you are
still a boy, but I have short time to stay and better now than not at
all! It is with regard to women. You will resist my temptations, I am
sure. But if you meet a woman who is noble and good but yet not of your
own rank, and if your heart is drawn to her, imperiously, irresistibly,
so that it seems as if it would burst and break within your breast
unless you win her, then fly from her, for no blessing can come of it
but only curses for you both. Curses and remorse, Victor--believe your
father who knows the world as it is.... Swear to me that you will never
marry out of your rank!'

"'I swear it!' I repeated.

"'Well and good,' he said solemnly. 'Now I have fulfilled my duty and
am ready ... let us go, Victor.'

"He was going to rise, but he had taxed his wasted lungs beyond their
strength: he sank back and a stream of blood gushed from his lips. It
was a frightful moment. There I stood, paralysed with fear, helpless,
senseless, beside the bleeding man--and when I called for help, there
was not a soul to hear me in that deep solitude. I had to look on while
the blood gushed forth until my father utterly broke down. I thought he
was dead but he had only fainted. A shepherd heard the cry with which I
threw myself down beside him, he fetched the driver, they got us into
the carriage and then to Klagenfurth. Two days later my poor father
died."

He stopped and closed his eyes, then drew a deep breath and continued:

"You know what became of me afterwards. My dying father was not
deceived in his confidence: the innocent boy, the last of the
Sendlingens, was suddenly overwhelmed with favours and kindness. It was
strange how this affected me, neither moving me, nor exalting, nor
humbling me. Whatever kindness was done me, I received as my just due;
it was not done to me, but to my race in requital for their services,
and I had to make a return by showing myself worthy of that race. All
my actions were rooted in this pride of family: seldom surely has a
descendant of princes been more mightily possessed of it. If I strove
with almost superhuman effort to fulfil all the hopes that were set on
me at school, if I pitilessly suppressed every evil or low stirring of
the heart, I owe it to this pride in my family: the Sendlingen had
always been strong in knowledge, strict to themselves, just and good to
others,--_must_ I not be the same? And if duty at times seemed too
hard, my father's bitter fate rose before me like a terrifying
spectre, and his white face of suffering was there as a pathetic
admonition--both spurring me onward. But the same instinct too
preserved me from all exultation now that praise and honour were
flowing in upon me; it might be a merit for ordinary men to distinguish
themselves, with a Sendlingen it was a duty!

"And so I continued all those years, first at school, then at the
University, moderate, but a good companion, serious but not averse to
innocent pleasures. I had a liking for the arts, I was foremost in the
ball-room and in the Students' Réunions,--in one thing only I kept out
of the run of pleasure: I had never had a love-affair. My father's
warning terrified me, and so did that old saying: 'A Sendlingen can
never be a scoundrel!' And however much travelling changed my views in
the next few years, in this one thing I continued true to myself.
Certainly this cost me no great struggle. Many a girl whom I had met in
the society I frequented appeared lovable enough, but I had not fallen
in love with any, much less with a girl not of my own rank, of whom I
hardly knew even one.

"So I passed in this respect as an exemplary young man, too exemplary,
some thought, and perhaps not without reason. But whoever had taken me
at the time I entered upon my legal career, for an unfeeling calculator
with a list of the competitors to be outstripped at all costs, in the
place where other people carry a palpitating heart, would have done me
a great injustice. I was ambitious, I strove for special promotion, not
by shifts and wiles, but by special merit. And as to my heart,--oh!
George, how soon I was to know what heart-ache was, and bliss and
intoxication, and love and damnation!"

He rose, opened his writing-table, and felt for the secret drawer. But
he did not open it; he shook his head and withdrew his hand. "It would
be of no use," he murmured, and remained for awhile silently brooding.

"That was in the beginning of your career?" said Berger, to recall him.

"Yes," he answered. "It was more than twenty years ago, in the winter
of 1832. I had just finished my year of probation at Lemburg under the
eyes of the nearest and most affectionate of my relations, Count
Warnberg, who was second in position among the judges there. He was an
uncle, husband of my father's only sister. He had evinced the most
cruel hardness to his brother-in-law, to me he became a second father.
At his suggestion and in accordance with my own wish, I was promoted to
be criminal Judge in the district of Suczawa. The post was considered
one of the worst in the circuit, both my uncle and I thought it the
best thing for me, because it was possible here within a very short
time, to give conclusive proof of my ability. Such opportunities,
however, were more abundant than the most zealous could desire: in
those days there prevailed in the southern border-lands of the
Bukowina, such a state of things as now exists only in the Balkan
Provinces or in Albania. It was perhaps the most wretched post in the
whole Empire, and in all other respects exceptionally difficult. The
ancient town, once the capital of the Moldavian Princes, was at
that time a mere confusion of crumbling ruins and poverty-stricken
mud-cabins crowded with dirty, half-brutalized Roumanians, Jews and
Armenians. Moreover my only colleague in the place was the civil judge,
a ruined man, whom I had never seen sober. My only alternative
therefore was either to live like an anchorite, or to go about among
the aristocracy of the neighborhood.

"When I got to know these noble Boyars, the most educated of them ten
times more ignorant, the most refined ten times more coarse, the most
civilized ten times more unbridled than the most ignorant, the coarsest
and the most unbridled squireen of the West, I had no difficulty in
choosing: I buried myself in my books and papers. But man is a
gregarious animal--and I was so young and spoiled, and so much in need
of distraction from the comfortless impressions of the day, that I grew
weary after a few weeks and began to accept invitations. The
entertainments were always the same: first there was inordinate eating,
then inordinate drinking, and then they played hazard till all hours.
As I remained sober and never touched a card, I was soon voted a
wearisome, insupportable bore. Even the ladies were of this opinion,
for I neither made pretty speeches, nor would I understand the looks
with which they sometimes favoured me. That I none the less received
daily invitations was not to be wondered at; a real live Baron of the
Empire was, whatever he might be, a rare ornament for their 'salons,'
and to many of these worthy noblemen it seemed desirable in any case to
be on a good footing with the Criminal Judge.

"One of them had particular reason for this, Alexander von Mirescul, a
Roumanianised Greek; his property lay close to the Moldavian frontier
and passed for the head-quarters of the trade in tobacco smuggling. He
was not to be found out, and when I saw him for the first time, I
realized that that would be a difficult business; the little man with
his yellow, unctuous face seemed as if he consisted not of flesh and
bone, but of condensed oil. It was in his voice and manner. He was
manifestly much better educated and better mannered than the rest, as
he was also much more cunning and contemptible. I did not get rid of
this first impression for a long while, but at length he managed to get
me into his house; I gradually became more favourable to him as he was,
in one respect at least, an agreeable exception; he was a tolerably
educated man, his daughters were being brought up by a German governess
and he had a library of German books which he really read. I had such a
longing for the atmosphere of an educated household that one evening I
went to see him.

"This evening influenced years of my life, or rather, as I have learnt
to-day, my whole life. I am no liar, George, and no fanciful dreamer,
it is the literal truth: I loved this girl from the first instant that
I beheld her."

Berger looked up in astonishment.

"From the first instant," Sendlingen repeated, and he struggled with
all speed through his next words.

"I entered, Mirescul welcomed me: my eye swept over black and grey
heads, over well-known, sharp-featured, olive-faces. Only one was
unknown to me: the face of an exquisitely beautiful girl encircled by
heavy, silver-blond, plaited hair. Her slender, supple figure was
turned away from me, I could only see her profile; it was not quite
regular, the forehead was too high, the chin too peculiarly prominent;
I saw all that, and yet I seemed as if I had never seen a girl more
beautiful and my heart began to beat passionately. I had to tear my
looks away, and talk to the lady of the house, but then I stared again,
as if possessed, at the beautiful, white unknown who stood shyly in a
corner gazing out into the night. 'Our governess, Fräulein Lippert,'
said Frau von Mirescul, quietly smiling as she followed the direction
of my looks.

"'I know,' I answered nervously, almost impatiently; I had guessed that
at once. Frau von Mirescul looked at me with astonishment, but I had
risen and hurried over to the lonely girl: one of the most insolent of
the company, the little bald Popowicz, had approached her. I was,
afraid that he might wound her by some insulting speech. How should
this poor, pale, timorous child defend herself alone against such a
man? He had leant over her and was whispering something with his
insolent smile, but the next instant he started back as if hurled
against the wall by an invisible hand, and yet it was only a look of
those gentle, veiled, grey eyes, now fixed in such a cold, hard stare
that I trembled as they rested on me. But they remained fixed upon me
and suddenly became again so pathetically anxious and helpless.

"At length I was beside her: I no longer required to defend her from
the elderly scamp, he had disappeared. I could only offer her my hand
and ask: 'Did that brute insult you?' But she took my hand and held it
tight as if she must otherwise have fallen, her eyelids closed in an
effort to keep back her tears. 'Thank you,' she stammered. 'You are a
German, are you not Baron Sendlingen? I guessed as much when you came
in! Oh if you knew!'

"But I do know all, I know what she suffers in this 'salon,' and now we
begin to talk of our life among these people and our conversation flows
on as if it had been interrupted yesterday. We hardly need words: I
understand every sigh that comes from those small lips at other times
so tightly closed, she, every glance that I cast upon the assembly. But
my glances are only fugitive for I prefer looking straight into that
beautiful face so sweetly and gently attractive, although the mouth and
chin speak of such firm determination. She often changes colour, but it
is more wonderful that I am at times suddenly crippled by the same
embarrassment, while at the next moment I feel as if my heart has at
length reached home after years and years,--perhaps a life-time's
sojourn in a chill strange land.

"An hour or more passed thus. We did not notice it; we did not suspect
how much our demeanour surprised the others until Mirescul approached
and asked me to take his wife in to supper. We went in; Hermine was not
there. 'Fräulein Hermine usually retires even earlier,' remarked Frau
von Mirescul with the same smile as before. I understood her, and with
difficulty suppressed a bitter reply: naturally this girl of inferior
rank, whose father had only been a schoolmaster, was unworthy of the
society of cattle-merchants, horse-dealers and slave-drivers whose
fathers had been ennobled by Kaiser Franz!

"After supper I took my leave. Mirescul hoped to see me soon again and
I eagerly promised: 'As soon as possible.' And while I drove home
through the snow-lit winter's night, I kept repeating these words, for
how was I henceforth to live without seeing her?"

"After the first evening?" said Berger, shaking his head. "That was
like a disease!"

"It was like a fatality!" cried Sendlingen. "And how is it to be
explained? I do not know! I wanted at first to show you her likeness,
but I have not done so, for however beautiful she may have been, her
beauty does not unsolve the riddle. I had met girls equally beautiful,
equally full of character before, without taking fire. Was it because I
met her in surroundings which threw into sharpest relief all that was
most charming in her, because I was lonelier than I had ever been
before, because I at once knew that she shared my feelings? Then
besides, I had not as a young fellow lived at high pressure. I had not
squandered my heart's power of loving; the later the passion of love
entered my life, the stronger, the deeper would be its hold upon me.

"Reasons like these may perhaps satisfy you; me they do not. He who has
himself not experienced a miracle, but learns of it on the report of
another, will gladly enough accept a natural explanation; but to him
whose senses it has blinded, whose heart it has convulsed, to him it
remains a miracle, because it is the only possible conception of the
strange, overmastering feelings of such a moment. When I think of those
days and how she and I felt--no words can tell, no subtlest speculation
explain it. Look at it as you may, I will content myself by simply
narrating the facts.

"And it is a fact that from that evening I was completely
metamorphosed. For two days I forced myself to do my regular duties, on
the third I went to Oronesti, to Mirescul's. The fellow was too cunning
to betray his astonishment, he brimmed over with pleasure and suggested
a drive in sleighs, and as the big sleigh was broken we had to go in
couples in small ones, I with Hermine. This arrangement was evident
enough, but how could I show surprise at what made me so blessed? Even
Hermine was only startled for a moment and then, like me, gave herself
up unreservedly to her feelings.

"And so it was in all our intercourse in the next two weeks. We talked
a great deal and between whiles there were long silences; perhaps these
blissful moments of speechlessness were precisely the most beautiful.
During those days I scarcely touched her hand: we did not kiss one
another, we did not speak of our hearts: the simple consciousness of
our love was enough. It was not the presence of others that kept us
within these bounds; we were much alone; Mirescul took care of that."

"And did that never occur to you?" asked Berger.

"Yes, at times, but in a way that may be highly significant of the
spell under which my soul and senses laboured at the time. A man in a
mesmeric trance distinctly feels the prick of a needle in his arm; he
knows that he is being hurt; but he has lost his sense of pain. In some
such way I looked upon Mirescul's friendliness as an insult and a
danger, but my whole being was so filled with fantastic, feverish bliss
that no sensation of pain could have penetrated my consciousness."

"And did you never think what would come of this?"

"No, I could swear to it, never! I speculated as little about my love,
as the first man about his life: he was on the earth to breathe and to
be happy; of death he knew nothing. And she was just the same; I know
it from her letters later, at that time we did not write. And so we
lived on, in a dream, in exaltation, without a thought of the morrow."

"It must have been a cruel awakening," said Berger.

"Frightful, it was frightful!" He spoke with difficulty, and his looks
were veiled. "Immediately, in the twinkling of an eye, happiness was
succeeded by misery, the most intoxicating happiness by the most
lamentable, hideous misery.... One stormy night in March I had had to
stay at Mirescul's because my horses were taken ill, very likely
through the food which Mirescul had given them.... I was given a room
next to Hermine's.

"On the next day but one--I was in my office at the time--the customs
superintendent of the neighbouring border district entered the room. He
was a sturdy, honourable greybeard, who had once been a Captain in the
army. 'We have caught the rascal at last,' he announced. 'He has
suddenly forgotten his usual caution. We took him to-night in the act
of unloading 100 bales of tobacco at his warehouses. Here he is!'

"Mirescul entered, ushered in by two of the frontier guards.

"'My dear friend!' he cried. 'I have come to complain of an unheard-of
act of violence!'

"I stared at him, speechless; had he not the right to call me his
friend,--how often had I not called him friend in the last few weeks.

"'Send these men away.' I was dumb. The superintendent looked at me in
amazement. I nodded silently, he shrugged his shoulders and left the
room with his officials. 'The long and the short of it is,' said
Mirescul, 'that my arrest was a misunderstanding: the officials can be
let off with a caution!'

"'The matter must first be inquired into,' I answered at length.

"'Among friends one's word is enough.'

"'Duty comes before friendship.'

"'Then you take a different view of it from what I do,' he answered
coming still closer to me. 'It would have been my duty to protect the
honour of a respectable girl living in my house as a member of the
family. It would now be my duty to drive your mistress in disgrace and
dishonour from my doors. I sacrifice this duty to my friendship!'

"Ah, how the words cut me! I can feel it yet, but I cannot yet describe
it. He went, and I was alone with my wild remorse and helpless misery."

Sendlingen rose and walked up and down excitedly. Then he stood still
in front of his friend.

"That was the heaviest hour of my life, George--excepting the present.
A man may perhaps feel as helpless who is suddenly struck blind. The
worst torture of all was doubt in my beloved; the hideous suspicion
that she might have been a conscious tool in the hands of this villain.
And even when I stifled this thought, what abominations there were
besides! I should act disgracefully if for her sake I neglected my
duty, disgracefully if I heartlessly abandoned her to the vengeance of
this man! She had a claim upon me--could I make her my wife? My
oath to my dying father bound me, and still more, even though I did
not like to admit it, my ambition, my whole existence as it had been
until I knew her. My father's fate--my future ruined--may a man fight
against himself in this way? Still--'A Sendlingen can never be a
scoundrel'--and how altogether differently this saying affected me
compared to my father! He had only an offence to expiate, I had a
sacred duty to fulfil: he perhaps had only to reproach himself with
thoughtlessness--but I with dishonour.

"And did I really love her? It is incomprehensible to me now how I
could ever have questioned it, how I could ever have had those hideous
doubts: perhaps my nature was unconsciously revenging herself for the
strange, overpowering compulsion laid on her in the last few weeks,
perhaps since everything, even the ugliest things, had appeared
beautiful and harmonious in my dream, perhaps it was natural, now that
my heart had been so rudely shaken, that even the most beautiful things
should appear ugly. Perhaps--for who knows himself and his own heart?

"Enough! this is how I felt on that day and on the night of that day.
Oh! how I writhed and suffered! But when at last the faint red light of
early morning peeped in at my window, I was resolved. I would do my
duty as a judge and a man of honour: I would have Mirescul imprisoned,
I would make Hermine my wife. I no longer had doubts about her or my
love, but even if it had not been so, my conscience compelled me to act
thus and not otherwise, without regard to the hopes of my life.

"I went to my chambers almost before it was day, had the clerk roused
from bed and dictated the record of the superintendent's information
and a citation to the latter. Then I wrote a few lines to Hermine,
begging her to leave Mirescul's house at once and to come to me. 'Trust
in God and me,' I concluded. This letter I sent with my carriage to
Oronesti; two hours later I myself intended to set out to the place
with gendarmes to search the house and arrest Mirescul. But a few
minutes after my coachman had left the court, the Jewish waiter from
the hotel of the little town brought me a letter from my dear one. 'I
have been here since midnight and am expecting you.' The lady looked
very unwell, added the messenger compassionately, and was no doubt ill.

"I hastened to her. When she came towards me in the little room with
tottering steps, my heart stood still from pity and fear; shame,
remorse and despair--what ravages in her fresh beauty had they not
caused in this short space? I opened my arms and with a cry she sank on
my breast. 'God is merciful,' she sobbed. 'You do not despise me
because I have loved you more than myself: so I will not complain.'

"Then she told me how Mirescul--she had kept her room for the two last
days for it seemed to her as if she could never look anyone in the face
again--had compelled her to grant him an interview yesterday evening.
He requested her to write begging me to take no steps against him,
otherwise he would expose and ruin us both. 'Oh, how hateful it was!'
she cried out, with a shudder. 'It seemed to me as if I should never
survive the ignominy of that hour. But I composed myself; whatever was
to become of me, you should not break your oath as Judge. I told him
that I would not write the letter, that I would leave his house at
once, and when he showed signs of detaining me by force, I threatened
to kill myself that night. Then he let me go,--and now do you decide my
fate: is it to be life or death!'

"'You shall live, my wife,' I swore, 'you shall live for me.'

"'I believe you,' said she, 'but it is difficult. Oh! can perfect
happiness ever come from what has been so hideously disfigured!'

"I comforted her as well as I could, for my heart gave utterance to the
same piteous question.

"Then we took counsel about the future; she could not remain in
Suczawa: we could see what vulgar gossip there would be even without
this. So we resolved that she should go to the nearest large town, to
Czernowitz, and wait there till our speedy marriage. With that we
parted: it was to have been a separation for weeks and it proved to be
for a lifetime: I never saw the unhappy girl again.

"How did it come about that I broke my oath? There is no justification
for it, at best but an explanation. I do not want to defend myself
before you any more than I have done: I am only confessing to you as I
would to a priest if I were a believer in the Church.

"A stroke of fate struck me in that hour of my growth, I might have
overcome it but now came its pricks and stabs. When I left Hermine to
return to my chambers, I met the customs superintendent. I greeted him.
'Have you received my citation?' I asked. He looked at me
contemptuously and passed on without answering. 'What does this mean?'
cried I angrily, catching hold of his arm.

"'It means,' he replied, shaking himself loose, 'that in future I shall
only speak to you, even on official matters, when my duty obliges me.
That, for a time, is no longer necessary. You released Mirescul
yesterday, you did not record my depositions. Both were contrary to
your duty: I have advised my superiors in the matter and await their
commands.'

"He passed on; I remained rooted to the spot a long while like one
struck down; the honourable man was quite right!

"But I roused myself; now at least I would neglect my duty no longer.
Scarcely, however, had I got back to my chambers, when my colleague,
the Civil-Judge entered; he was as usual not quite sober, but it was
early in the day and he had sufficient control of his tongue to insult
me roundly. 'So you are really going to Oronesti,' he began. 'I should
advise you not, the man[oe]uvre is too patent. After twenty-four hours
nothing will be found, as we set about searching the house just to show
our good intentions--eh?'

"'I don't require to be taught by you,' I cried flaring up.

"'Oh, but, perhaps you do, though!' he replied. 'I might for instance
teach you something about the danger of little German blondes. But--as
you like--I wish you every success!'

"Smarting under these sensations, I drove to Oronesti. Mirescul met me
in the most brazen-faced way; he protested against such inroads
undertaken from motives of personal revenge. And he added this further
protest to his formal deposition; he would submit to examination at the
hands of any Judge but me who had yesterday testified that the
accusation was a mistake and promised to punish the customs officials,
and to-day suddenly appeared on the scene with gendarmes. Between
yesterday and to-day nothing had happened except that he had turned my
mistress out of his house, and surely this act of domestic propriety
could not establish his guilt as a smuggler. You know, George, that I
was obliged to take down his protest--but with what sensations!

"The search brought to light nothing suspicious; the servants, carters,
and peasants whom I examined had all been evidently well-drilled
beforehand. I had to have Mirescul arrested: were there not the bales
of tobacco which the superintendent had seized? Not having the ordinary
means of transit at night, he had had them temporarily stored in one of
the parish buildings at Oronesti under the care of two officials. I now
had them brought at once to the town.

"When I got back to my chambers in the evening and thought over the
events of this accursed day, and read over the depositions in which my
honour and my bride's honour were dragged in the mire, I had not a
single consolation left except perhaps this solitary one, that my
neglect would not hinder the course of justice, for the smuggled wares
would clearly prove the wretch's guilt.

"But even this comfort was to be denied me. The next morning Mirescul's
solicitor called on me and demanded an immediate examination of the
bales: his client, he said, maintained that they did not contain
smuggled tobacco from Moldavia, but leaf tobacco of the country grown
by himself and other planters, and which he was about to prepare for
the state factories. The request was quite legitimate; I at once
summoned the customs superintendent as being an expert; the old man
appeared, gruffly made over the documents to my keeping and accompanied
us to the cellars of the Court house where the confiscated goods had
been stored. When his eye fell on them he started back indignantly,
pale with anger: 'Scandalous!' he cried, 'unheard of! These bales are
much smaller--they have been changed!'

"'How is it possible?'

"'You know that better than I do,' he answered grimly.

"The bales were opened; they really contained tobacco in the leaf. My
brain whirled. After I had with difficulty composed myself, I examined
the two officials who had watched the goods at Oronesti; the exchange
could only have been effected there; the men protested their innocence;
they had done their duty to the best of their ability; certainly this
was the third night which they had kept watch although the
Superintendent, before hurrying to the town, had promised to release
them within a few hours. This too I had to take down; the proof namely
that my hesitation in doing my duty had not been without harm. And now
my conscience forbade me to arrest Mirescul, although by not doing so,
I only made my case worse.

"So things stood when two days later an official from Czernowitz
circuit arrived in Suczawa to inquire into the case. You know him
George; he was a relation of yours, Matthias Berger, an honest,
conscientious man. 'Grave accusations have been made against you,' he
explained, 'by Mirescul's solicitor, by the Civil Judge and by the
Customs Superintendent, But they contradict each other: I still firmly
believe in your innocence: tell me the whole truth.'

"But that I could not do: I could not be the means of dragging my
bride's name into legal documents, even if I were otherwise to be
utterly ruined. So in answer to the questions why I had delayed
twenty-four hours, I could only answer that an overwhelming private
matter had deprived me of the physical strength to attend to my duties.
With regard to Hermine, I refused to answer any questions. Berger shook
his head sadly; he was sorry for me, but he could not help me. He must
suspend me from my functions while the inquiry lasted and appoint a
substitute from Czernowitz: moreover he exacted an oath from me not to
leave the place without permission of the Court. Mirescul was let out
on bail.

"A fortnight went by. It clings to my memory like an eternity of grief
and misery. I have told you what I strove for and hoped for, you will
be able to judge how I suffered. Four weeks before I was one of the
most rising officers of the State: now I was a prisoner on parole,
oppressed by the scorn and spite of men, held up to the ignominy of all
eyes. I dared hope nothing from my relations, least of all from my
uncle, Count Warnberg: I knew that he would not save me so that I might
marry a governess about whom--Mirescul and his friends took care of
that--there were the ugliest reports in circulation. And you will
consider it human, conceivable, that every letter of Hermine's was a
stab in my heart.

"She wrote daily. When she spoke of her feelings during our brief span
of joy, it seemed to me as if she depicted my own innermost
experiences. This at least gave me the consolation of knowing that I
was not tied to an unworthy woman: but the bonds were none the less
galling and cut into the heart of my life. Only rarely, very gently,
and therefore with a twofold pathos, did she complain of her fate; but
her grief on my account was wild and passionate; she had heard of my
plight but not through me. I sought to comfort her as well as I might;
but ah me! there was no word of release or deliverance: how could I
have broached it, how have claimed it from her?

"One day there came her usual letter; it was written with a visibly
trembling hand. My uncle had been to see her; he was hurrying from
Lemberg in great anxiety to see me, and had stopped at Czernowitz to
treat with her of the price for which she would release me. In every
line there was the deepest pathos; she had shown him the door.

"'He will implore you to leave me,' she concluded; 'act as your
conscience bids you. And I will tell you something that I refused to
tell Count Warnberg; he asked me whether I had another, a more sacred
claim upon you. I don't know, Victor, but as I understand our bond in
which I live and suffer, that does not affect it; if you will not make
me your wife for my own sake, neither could regard for the mother of
your child be binding on you!'

"Two hours after I received this letter, my uncle arrived. I was
terrified at the sight of him, his face was so dark, and hard, and
strange. My father had once said to me shortly before his death: 'Take
care never to turn that iron hand against you; it would crush you as it
has crushed me.' I had never before understood these words, indeed I
had completely forgotten them, but now they came back to me and I
understood them before my uncle opened his mouth.

"'Tell your story,' he began, and his voice sounded to me as if I had
never heard it before. 'Tell the whole truth. This at least I expect of
you. You surely don't wish to sink lower than--than another member of
your family. A Sendlingen has at all events never lied! Now tell your
story.'

"I obeyed: he was told what you have just been told, though no doubt it
sounded different; confused, passionate and scarcely intelligible. But
he understood it; he had no single question to ask after I had
finished.

"'The same story as before,' he said, 'but uglier, much uglier. The
father only sullied his coat of arms, the son his judge's honour as
well.'

"I fired up. I tried to defend myself, he would not allow it. 'Tirades
serve no good purpose,' he said, coldly. 'You wish to convince me that
you were not in criminal collusion with Mirescul? I have never thought
so. That he is really guilty and can be convicted in spite of your
neglect of duty? I have been through the papers and have just
cross-examined the customs superintendent. The police are already on
the way to re-arrest him; he will be put in prison. But your fault will
be none the less in consequence; if there is no lasting stigma on the
administration of justice, there is upon your honour. Your conduct in
this man's house, your hesitation,--it would be bad for you if you had
to suffer what you have merited! According to justice and the laws,
your fate is sealed; it is only a question whether you will prove
yourself worthy of pardon and pity!'

"'In anything that you may ask,' I answered, 'except only in one thing:
Hermine is to be my wife. A Sendlingen can never be a scoundrel.'

"He drew himself up to his full height and stepped close up to me. 'Now
listen to me, Victor, I will be brief and explicit. Whether you stain
your honour by marrying this girl, or whether you do so by not marrying
her, the all-just God above us knows. We, His creatures, can only judge
according to our knowledge and conscience, and in my judgment, the girl
is unworthy of you. In this matter there is your conviction against my
conviction. But what I do know better than you is, that this marriage
would load you with ignominy before the whole world! You will perhaps
answer: better the contempt of others than self-contempt, but that is
not the question. If you marry this girl, I am as sure as I am of my
existence, that you will soon be ashamed of it, not only before others
but in your own heart. For pure happiness could not come of such a
beginning--it is impossible. The gossip of the world, the ruin of your
hopes, would poison your mind and hers,--you would be wretched yourself
and make her wretched, and would at length become bad and miserable.
The man who forgets his duty to himself and to the world for a matter
of weeks and then recovers himself, is worthy of commiseration and
help; but he who is guilty of a moral suicide deserves no pity. And
therefore listen to me and choose. If you marry this girl your
subsequent fate is indifferent to me; you will very likely be stripped
of your office; or in the most favourable event, transferred, by way of
punishment, to some out of the way place where your father's fate may
be repeated in you. If you give her up you may still be saved, for
yourself, for our family and for the State: then I will do for you,
what my conscience would allow me to do for any subordinate of whose
sincere repentance I was convinced, and I will intercede for the
Emperor's pardon as if you were my own son. To-morrow I return to
Lemberg, whether alone or with you--you must decide by to-morrow.' He
went."

Sendlingen paused. "How I struggled with myself," he began again, but
his voice failed him, until at length he gasped forth with hollow voice
and trembling lips: "Oh! what a night it was! The next morning I wrote
a farewell letter to Hermine, and started with Count Warnberg to
Lemberg."

Then there followed a long silence. At length Berger asked: "You did
not know that she bore your child in her bosom?"

"No, I know it to-day for the first time. In that last letter of mine I
had offered her a maintenance: she declined it at once. Then I left
that part of the country. A few months later I inquired after her; I
could only learn that she had disappeared without leaving a trace. And
then I forgot her, I considered that all was blotted out and washed
away like writing from a slate, and rarely, very rarely, in the dusk,
or in a sleepless night, did the strange reminiscence recur to me. But
Fate keeps a good reckoning--O George! I would I were dead!"

"No, no!" said Berger with gentle reproof. He was deeply moved, his
eyes glistened with tears, but he constrained himself to be composed.
"Thank God, you are alive and willing, and I trust able to pay your
debt. How great this debt may be--or how slight--I will not determine.
Only one thing I do know: you are, in spite of all, worthy of the love
and esteem of men, even of the best men, of better men than I am. When
I think of it all; your life up to that event and what it has been
since, what you have made of your life for yourself and others, then
indeed it overcomes me and I feel as if I had never known a fate among
the children of men more worthy of the purest pity. This is no mere sad
fate, it is a tragic one. Against the burden of such a fate, no parade
of sophistry, no petty concealments or prevarications will be of avail.
You say it is against your feelings to preside at to-morrow's trial?"

"Yes," replied Sendlingen. "It seems to me both cowardly and
dishonourable; cowardly, to sacrifice the law instead of myself,
dishonourable to break my Judge's oath! But I shrink from doing so for
another reason; an offence should not be expiated by an injustice; I
dread the all-just Fates."

"I cannot gainsay you," said Berger rising. "But in this one thing we
are agreed. Let us wait for the verdict, and then we will consider what
your duty is. It is long past midnight, the trial will begin in seven
hours. I will try and get some sleep. I shall need all my strength
to-morrow. Follow my example, Victor, perhaps sleep may be merciful to
you."

He seized his friend's hands and held them affectionately in his; his
feelings again threatened to overcome him and he hastily left the room
with a choking farewell on his lips.

Sendlingen was alone. After brooding awhile, he again went to the
secret drawer of his writing-table. At this moment the old servant
entered. "We will go to bed now," he said. "We will do it out of pity
for ourselves, and Fräulein Brigitta, and me!"

His look and tone were so beseeching that Sendlingen could not refuse
him. He suffered himself to be undressed, put out the lamp, and closed
his eyes. But sleep refused to visit his burning lids.



                               CHAPTER V.


When the grey morning appeared, he could no longer endure to lie
quietly in his bed while his soul was tormented with unrest, he got up,
dressed himself, left his room and went out of doors.

It was a damp, cold, horrid autumn morning: the fog clung to the houses
and to the uneven pavement of the old town: a heavy, yellow vapor, the
smoke of a factory chimney kept sinking down lower and lower. The
lonely wanderer met few people, those who recognized him greeted him
respectfully, he did not often acknowledge the greeting and when he
did, it was unconsciously. Most of them looked after him in utter
astonishment; what could have brought the Chief Justice so early out of
doors? It seemed at times as if he were looking for something he had
lost; he would walk along slowly for a stretch with his looks fixed on
the ground, then he would stop and go back the same way. And how broken
down, how weary he looked today!--as if he had suddenly become an old
man, the people thought.

Freezing with cold, while his pulses beat at fever-speed, he thus
wandered for a long while aimlessly through the desolate streets, first
this way, then that, until the morning bells of the Cathedral sounded
in his ears. He stood still and listened as if he had never heard their
mighty sound before; they appeared to vibrate in his heart; his
features changed and grew gentler as he listened; a ray of tender
longing gleamed in his white face, and, as if drawn by invisible cords,
he hurried faster and faster towards the Cathedral. But when he stood
before its open door and looked into the dark space, lit only by a dim
light, the sanctuary lamp before the high-altar, he hesitated; he shook
his head and sighed deeply, and his features again resumed their
gloomy, painful look.

He looked up at the Cathedral clock, the hands were pointing to seven.
"An hour more," he murmured and went over towards the Court-House. It
was a huge, straggling, rectangular building, standing on its own
ground. In front were the Chief Justice's residence and the offices; at
the back the criminal prison.

He turned towards his own quarters. He had just set his foot on the
steps, when a new idea seemed to occur to him. He hesitated. "I must,"
he hissed between his teeth and he clenched his hands till the nails
ran painfully into the flesh; "I must, if only for a minute."

He stepped back into the street, went around the building and up to the
door at the back. It was locked; there was a sentinel in front of it.
He rang the bell, a warder opened the door and seeing the Chief Justice
respectfully pulled off his hat.

"Fetch the Governor," muttered Sendlingen, so indistinctly that the man
hardly understood him. But he hurried away and the Governor of the
prison appeared. He was visibly much astonished. "Does your Lordship
wish to make an inspection?" he asked.

"No, only in one or two particular cases."

"Which are they, my lord?"

But the unhappy man felt that his strength was leaving him. "Later on,"
he muttered, groping for the handle of the door so as to support
himself. "Another time."

The Governor hastened towards him. "Your Lordship is ill again--just as
you were yesterday--we are all much concerned! May I accompany you back
to your residence? The nearest way is through the prison-yard, if you
choose."

He opened a door and they stepped out into the prison-yard; it was
separated by a wall from the front building; the only means of
communication was an unostentatious little door in the bare, high,
slippery wall. It seemed to be seldom used; the Governor was a long
time finding the key on his bunch and when at length it opened, the
lock and hinges creaked loudly.

"Thank you," said Sendlingen. "I have never observed this means of
communication before."

"Your predecessor had it made," answered the Governor, "so that he
might inspect the prison without being announced. The key must be in
your possession."

"Very likely," answered Sendlingen, and he went back to his residence.

Franz placed his breakfast before him. "There'll be a nice ending to
this," he growled. "We are dangerously ill and yet we trapse about the
streets in all weathers. Dr. Berger, too, is surprised at our new
ways."

"Has he been here already?"

"He was here a few minutes ago, but will be back at eight.... But now
we have got to drink our tea." He did not budge till the cup had been
emptied.

With growing impatience Sendlingen looked at the clock. "He can have
nothing fresh to say," he thought. "He must guess my intention and want
to hinder me. He will not succeed."

But he did succeed. As he entered, Sendlingen had just taken up his hat
and stick.

"You are going to the trial?" began his faithful friend almost roughly,
"You must not, Victor, I implore you. I forbid you. What will the
judges think if you are too ill to preside, and yet well enough to be
present with no apparent object. But the main thing is not to torment
yourself, it is unmanly. Do not lessen your strength, you may require
it."

He wrested his hat from him and forced him into an armchair.

"My restlessness will kill me if I stay here," muttered Sendlingen.

"You would not be better in there, but worse. I shall come back to you
at once; I think, I fear, it will not last long. Don't buoy yourself up
with any hopes, Victor. Before a jury, I could get her acquitted, with
other judges, at a different time, we might have expected a short term
of imprisonment ... but now----"

"Death!" Like a shriek the words escaped from his stifled breast.

"But she may not, she will not die!" continued Berger. "I will set my
face against it as long as there is breath in my body, nay, I would
have done so even if she had not been your daughter. God bless you,
Victor."

Berger gathered up his bundle of papers and proceeded along the
corridor and up some stairs, until he found himself outside the court
where the trial was to take place. Even here a hum of noise reached
him, for the court was densely crowded with spectators. As far as he
could see by the glimmer of grey morning light that broke its difficult
way in by the round windows, it was a well-dressed audience in which
ladies preponderated. "Naturally," he muttered contemptuously.

For a few seconds eye-glasses and opera-glasses were directed upon him,
to be then again immediately turned on the accused. But her face could
not be seen; she was cowering in a state of collapse on her wooden
seat, her forehead resting on the ledge of the dock; her left arm was
spread out in front of her, her right hung listlessly by her side.
Public curiosity had nothing to sate itself on but the shudders
that at times convulsed her poor body; one of the long plaits of her
coal-black, wavy hair had escaped from beneath the kerchief on her head
and hung down low, almost to the ground, touching the muddy boots of
the soldier who did duty as sentinel close beside her.

Berger stepped to his place behind her; she did not notice him until he
gently touched her icy cold hand. "Be brave, my poor child," he
whispered.

She started up in terror. "Ah!" went from every mouth in Court: now at
length they could see her face. Berger drew himself up to his full
height; his eyes blazed with anger as he stepped between her and the
crowd.

"Oh, what crowds of people!" murmured the poor girl. Her cheeks and
forehead glowed in a fever-heat of shame: but the colour soon went and
her grief-worn face was white again; the look of her eyes was weary and
faint. "To think that one should have to suffer so much before dying."

"You will not die!" He spoke slowly, distinctly, as one speaks to a
deaf person. "You will live, and after you have satisfied the justice
of men, you will begin life over again. And when you do friendship and
love will not be wanting to you." While he was saying this, and at the
same time looking her full in the face, her resemblance to his friend
almost overpowered him. She was like her father in the colour of her
hair and eyes, in her mouth and her forehead.

"Love and care are waiting for you!" he continued with growing warmth.
"This I can swear. Do you hear? I swear that it is so! As regards the
trial, I can only give you this advice: tell, as you have hitherto
done, the whole truth. Bear up as well as you can; oppose every lie,
every unjust accusation."

She had heard him without stirring, without a sign of agreement or
dissent. It was doubtful whether she had understood him. But he had not
time to repeat his admonition; the Crown-advocate and the five Judges
had entered with Werner at their head. If Berger had hitherto cherished
any hope, it must have vanished now; two of the other Judges were among
the sternest on the bench; the fourth never listened and then always
chimed in with the majority; it was but a slender consolation to Berger
when he finally saw the wise and humane Baron Dernegg take his place
beside the judges.

Werner opened the proceedings and the deed of accusation was then read
out by the Secretary of the Court. Its compiler--a young, fashionably
dressed junior Crown-advocate of an old aristocratic family, who had
only been in the profession a short time,--listened to the recital of
his composition with visible satisfaction. And indeed his
representation of the matter was very effective.

According to him the Countess Riesner-Graskowitz was one of the noblest
women who ever lived, the Accused one of the most abandoned. A helpless
orphan, called by unexampled generosity to fill a post which neither
her years nor abilities had fitted her for, she had requited this
kindness by entangling the young Count Henry in her wiles in order to
force him into a marriage. After he had disentangled himself from these
unworthy bonds, and after Victorine Lippert knew her condition, instead
of repentantly confiding in her noble protectress, she had exhausted
all the arts of crafty dissembling in order not to be found out. And
when at length she was, as a most just punishment, suddenly dismissed
from the castle, she in cold blood murdered her child so as to be free
from the consequences of her fault. In his opinion, the Accused's
pretended unconsciousness was a manifest fable, and the crime a
premeditated one, as her conduct at the castle sufficiently proved. Her
character was not against the assumption, she was plainly corrupted at
an early age, being the daughter of a woman of loose character.

"It is a lie! a scandalous lie!"

Like a cry from the deepest recesses of the heart, these words suddenly
vibrated through the Court with piercing clearness.

It was the Accused who had spoken. She had listened to the greatest
part of the document without a sound, without the slightest change of
countenance, as if she were deaf. Only once at the place where it spoke
of "manifest fable" she had gently and imperceptibly shaken her head;
it was the first intimation Berger had that she was listening and
understood the accusation. But now, hardly had the libel on her dead
mother been read, when she rose to her feet and uttered those words so
suddenly that Berger was not less motionless and dumfounded than the
rest.

And then broke forth the hubbub; such an interruption, and in such
language, had never before occurred in Court. The spectators had risen
and were talking excitedly; the crown-advocate stood there helplessly;
even Herr von Werner had to clear his throat repeatedly before he could
ejaculate "Silence!"

But the command was superfluous for hardly had the poor girl uttered
the words, when she fell back upon her seat, from thence to the ground,
and was now lying in a faint on the boards.

She was carried out; it was noticed by many and caused much scandal,
that the counsel for the Accused lifted the lifeless body and helped
carry it, instead of leaving this to the warders.

The proceedings had to be interrupted. It was another half hour before
the Accused appeared in Court again, leaning on Berger's arm, her
features set like those of an animated corpse. There was a satirical
murmur in the crowd, and Werner, too, reflected whether he should not,
there and then, reprove the Counsel for unseemly behaviour. And this
determined him to be all the severer in the reprimand which he
addressed to the Accused on account of her unheard of impertinence. She
should not escape her just punishment, the nature and extent of which
he would determine by the opinion of the prison-doctor.

Then the reading of the deed of accusation was finished; the
examination began. There was a murmur of eager expectation among the
spectators; their curiosity was briefly but abundantly satisfied. To
the question whether she pleaded guilty, Victorine Lippert answered
quietly but with a steadier voice than one would have supposed her
capable of:

"Yes!... What I know about my deed, I have already told in evidence. I
deserve death, I wish to die. It is a matter of indifference to one
about to die what men may think of her; God knows the truth. He knows
that much, yes most, of what has just been read here, is incorrect. I
do not contest it, but one thing I swear in the face of death, and may
God have no mercy on me in my last hour if I lie; my mother was noble
and good; no mother can ever have been better and no wife more pure.
She trusted an unworthy wretch, and he must have been worse than ever
any man was, if he could forsake her--but she was good. I implore you,
read her testimonials, her letters to me--I beseech you, I conjure you,
just a few of these letters.-For myself I have nothing to ask--"

Her voice broke, her strength again seemed to forsake her and she sank
down on her seat.

There was a deep silence after she had ended: in her words, in her
voice, there must have been something that the hearts of those present
could not shut out; even the crown-advocate looked embarrassed. Herr
von Werner alone was so resolutely armed to meet the Hydra of the
social Revolution, which he was bent on combating in this forlorn
creature, as to be above all pity. He would certainly have begun a
wearisome examination and have spared the poor creature no single
detail, but his daughter was expecting a happy event to-day, and Baron
Sendlingen had, notwithstanding, not had sufficient professional
consideration to take over the conduct of this trial, and the half
hour's faint of the Accused had already unduly prolonged the
proceedings--so he determined to cut the matter as short as was
compatible with his position. The accused had just again unreservedly
repeated her confession; further questions, he explained, would be
superfluous.

The examination of the witnesses could be proceeded with at once. This
also was quickly got through. There were the peasants, who had found
Victorine and her lifeless child on the morrow of the deed, and the
prison doctor, none of whom could advance any fresh or material fact.

The only witness of importance to the Accused was the servant-girl who
had helped her in her last few months at the castle. The girl had been
shortly after dismissed from the Countess' service, and in the
preliminary inquiry, she had confirmed all Victorine's statements; if
she to-day remained firm to her previous declarations, the accusation
of premeditated murder would be severely shaken. To Berger's alarm she
now evasively answered that her memory was weak,--she had in the
meantime gone into service at Graskowitz again. In spite of this and of
the protest of the defence, she was sworn: Berger announced his
intention of appealing for a nullification of the trial.

Then the depositions of the Countess and her son were read; the Court
had declined to subp[oe]na them. The Countess had not spared time or
trouble in depicting the murderess in all her abandonment; but the
depositions which Count Henry had made at his embassy, were brief
enough: as far as he recollected he had made the girl no promise of
marriage, and indeed there was no reason for doing so. Berger demanded,
as proof to the contrary, that the letters which had been taken from
the Accused and put with the other papers, should he read aloud; this
the Court also declined because they did not affect the question of her
guilt.

Then followed the speeches for and against. The Crown-Advocate was
brief enough: the trial, he contended, had established the correctness
of the charge. If ever at all, then in the present case, should the
full rigour of the law be enforced. By her protestation that she had
received a most careful bringing up from a most excellent mother, she
had herself cut from under her feet the only ground for mitigation. All
the more energetically and fully did Berger plead for the utmost
possible leniency; his knowledge of law, his intellect and his
oratorical gifts had perhaps never before been so brilliantly
displayed. When he had finished, the people in Court broke out into
tumultuous applause.

The Judges retired to consider their verdict. They were not long
absent; in twenty minutes they again appeared in Court. Werner
pronounced sentence: death by hanging. The qualification of "unanimous"
was wanting. Baron Dernegg had been opposed to it.

There was much excitement among the spectators. Berger, although not
unprepared for the sentence, could with difficulty calm himself
sufficiently to announce that every form of appeal would be resorted
to. The Accused had closed her eyes for a moment and her limbs trembled
like aspen-leaves, but she was able to rise by herself to follow the
warders.

"Thank you," she said pressing Berger's hands. "But the appeal----"

"Will be lodged by me," he said hastily interrupting her. "I shall come
and see you about it to-day."

He hurried away down the stairs. But when he got into the long corridor
that led to Sendlingen's quarters, he relaxed his pace and at length
stood still. "This is a difficult business," he murmured and he stepped
to a window, opened it and eagerly drank in the cool autumn air as if
to strengthen himself.

When a few minutes after he found himself in Sendlingen's lobby, he met
Baron Dernegg coming out of his friend's study.

"Too late!" he thought with alarm. "And he has had to hear it from some
one else."

The usually comfortable-looking Judge was much excited. "You are no
doubt coming on the same errand, Dr. Berger," he began. "I felt myself
in duty bound to let the Chief Justice know about this sentence without
delay. The way in which he received it showed me once more what a
splendid man he is, the pattern of a Judge, the embodiment of Justice!
I assure you, he almost fainted, this--hm!--questionable sentence
affected him like a personal misfortune. Please do not excite him any
more about it and talk of something else first."

"Certainly," muttered Berger as he walked into the study.

Sendlingen lay back in his arm-chair, both hands pressed to his face.
His friend approached him without a word; it was a long, sad silence.
"Victor," he said at last, gently touching his shoulder, "we knew it
would be so!"

Sendlingen let his hands fall. "And does that comfort me?" he cried
wildly. And then he bowed his head still lower. "Tell me all!" he
murmured.

Berger then began to narrate everything. One thing only he omitted: how
Victorine had spoken of her mother's betrayer. "This very day," he
concluded, "I shall lodge a nullity appeal with the Supreme Court.
Perhaps it will consider the reasons weighty enough to order a new
trial; in any case when it examines the question, it will alter the
sentence."

"In any case?" cried Sendlingen bitterly.

"We cannot but expect as much from the sense of justice of our highest
Judges. Perhaps the chief witness's suspicious weakness of memory may
prove a lucky thing for us. If she had stuck by her former depositions,
or if the Court had not put her on her oath, then a simple appeal to
the Supreme Court would alone have been possible. Now, the case is more
striking and more sensational."

"And therefore all the worse!" interrupted Sendlingen. "Woe to him for
whom in these days the voice of the people makes itself heard; to the
gentry in Vienna it is worse than the voice of the devil. Besides, just
now, according to the opinion of the Minister of Justice, the world is
to be rid of child-murder by the offices of the hangman! And this is
the first case in educated circles, a much talked of case,--what a
magnificent opportunity of striking terror!"

"You take too black a view of the matter, Victor."

"Perhaps!--and therefore an unjust view! But how can a man in my
position be just and reasonable. Oh, George, I am so desolate and
perplexed! What shall I do; merciful Heaven, what shall I do?"

"First of all--wait!" answered Berger. "The decision of the Supreme
Court will be known in a comparatively short time, at latest in two
months!"

"Wait--only two months!" Sendlingen wrung his hands. "Though what do I
care for myself! But she--two months in the fear of death! To sit thus
in a lonely cell without light or air, or consolation,--behind her
unutterable misery, before her death----. Oh, she must either go mad or
die!"

"I shall often be with her, and Father Rohn, too, I hope. And then,
too," he added, half-heartedly, "one or other of the ladies of the
Women's Society for Befriending Female Criminals. Certainly these
comforters are not worth much."

"They are worth nothing," cried Sendlingen vehemently. "Oh, how
they will torture the poor girl with their unctuous virtue and
self-satisfied piety! I have to tolerate these tormentors, the Minister
of Justice insists on it, but at least they shall not enter this cell,
I will not allow it--or at least, only the single one among them who is
any good, my old Brigitta----"

"Your housekeeper?" asked Berger, in perplexity and consternation.
"That must not be! She might guess the truth. The girl!" he hesitated
again--"is like you, very like you Victor--and anyone who sees you so
often and knows you so well as Brigitta----"

"What does that matter?" Sendlingen rose. "She is discreet, and if she
were not--what does it matter, I repeat. Do you suppose that I never
mean to enter that cell?"

"You! Impossible!"

"I shall and I must! I will humour you in everything except in this one
thing!"

"But under what pretext? Have you ever visited and repeatedly visited
other condemned criminals?"

"What does that matter to me? A father must stand by his child!"

"And will you tell other people so?"

"Not until I am obliged; but then without a moment's hesitation. She,
however, must be told at once, in fact this very day."

"You must not do that, Victor. Spare the poor girl this sudden
revelation."

"Then prepare her beforehand! But to-morrow it must be!"

Berger was helpless; he knew what Victorine would say to her father if
she suddenly encountered him.

"Give her a little more time!" he begged, "Out of pity for her
shattered nerves and agitated mind, which will not bear any immediate
shock."

This was a request that Sendlingen could not refuse.

"Very well, I will wait," he promised. "But you will not wish to
prevent me from seeing her to-morrow. I have in any case to inspect the
prison. But I promise you: I will not betray myself and the governor of
the jail shall accompany me."



                              CHAPTER VI.


Weighed down by sorrow, Berger proceeded homewards. To the solitary
bachelor Sendlingen was more than a friend, he was a dearly loved
brother. He was struck to the heart, as by a personal affliction, with
compassion for this fate, this terrible fate, so suddenly and
destructively breaking in upon a beneficent life, like a desolating
flood.

Would this flood ever subside again and the soil bring forth flowers
and fruit? The strong man's looks darkened as he thought of the future:
worse than the evil itself seemed to him the manner in which it
affected his friend. Alas! how changed and desolated was this splendid
soul, how hopeless and helpless this brave heart! And it was just their
last interview, that sudden flight from the most melancholy
helplessness to the heights of an almost heroic resolve, that gave
Berger the greatest uneasiness.

"And it will not last!" he reflected with much concern. "Most certainly
it will not! Perhaps even now, five minutes after, he is again lying
back in his arm chair, broken down, without another thought, another
feeling, save that of his misery! And could anything else be expected?
That was not the energetic resolve of a clear, courageous soul, but the
diseased, visionary effort of feverishly excited nerves! Again he does
not know whether he will see her or what he ought to do.... And do I
know, would any one know in the presence of such a fate?"

Had he deserved this fate?

"No!" cried Berger to himself. "No!" he passionately repeated as he
paced up and down his study, trying to frame the wording of the appeal.
Clumsy and uncouth, blind and cruel, seemed to him the power that had
ordered things as they had come about. It seemed no better than some
rude elemental force. "He can no more help it," he muttered, "than the
fields can help a flood breaking in upon them."

But he could not long maintain this view, comforting as it was to him,
much as he strove to harbour it. "He has done wrong," he thought, "and
retribution is only the severer because delayed." Other cases in his
experience occurred to him: long concealed wrongs and sins that had
afterwards come into the light of day, doubly frightful. "And such
offences increase by the interest accruing until they are paid," he was
obliged to think. From the moment that he heard his friend's story, all
the facts it brought to light seemed to him like the diabolical sport
of chance; but now he no longer thought it chance but in everything saw
necessity, and he was overcome by the same idea to which he had given
voice at the conclusion of his friend's narration, namely that this was
no mere sad fate, but a tragic one.

It was a singular idea, compounded of fear and reverence. When Berger
reflected how one act dovetailed into another, how link fitted into
link in the chain of cause and effect, how all these people could not
have acted otherwise than they were obliged to act, how guilt had of
necessity supervened, and now retribution, the strong man shuddered
from head to foot: he had to bow his head before that pitiless,
all-just power for which he knew no name ... But was it really
all-just? If all these people, if Sendlingen and Victorine had not
acted otherwise than their nature and circumstances commanded, why had
they to suffer for it so frightfully? And why was there no end to this
suffering, a great, a liberating, a redeeming end?

"No!" cried an inward voice of his deeply agitated soul, "there must be
such a glorious solution. It cannot be our destiny to be dragged into
sin by blind powers which we cannot in any way control, like puppets by
the cords in a showman's hands, and then again, when it pleases those
powers, into still greater sins, or into an atonement a thousand times
greater than the sin itself, and so, on and on, until death snaps the
cords. No! that cannot be our destiny, and if it were, then we should
be greater than this Fate, greater, juster, more reasonable! There must
be in Sendlingen's case also, a solution bringing freedom, there
_must_--and in his case precisely most of all! It would have been an
extraordinary fate, no matter whom it had overtaken, but had it
befallen a commonplace man, it would never have grown to such a
crushing tragedy. A scoundrel would have lied to himself: 'She is not
my daughter, her mother was a woman of loose character,' and he would
have repeated this so often that he would have come to believe it. And
if remorse had eventually supervened, he would have buried it in the
confessional or in the bottle.

"Another man, no scoundrel,--on the contrary! a man of honour of the
sort whose name is Legion,--would not have hesitated for a moment to
preside in Court in order to obtain by his authority as Chief Justice,
the mildest possible sentence. Then he would have been assiduous in
ameliorating the lot of the prisoner by special privileges, and after
she had been set at liberty, he would have bought her, somewhere at a
distance, a little millinery business or a husband, and every time he
thought of the matter, he would have said with emotion: 'What a good
fellow you are!' This has only become a tragic fate because it has
struck one of the most upright, most sensitive and noble of men, and
because this is so, there must come from that most noble and upright
heart a solution, an act of liberation bursting these iron bonds! There
must be a means of escape by which he and his poor child and Justice
herself will have their due! There _must_ be--simply because he is what
he is!"

There was a gleam of light in Berger's usually placid, contented face,
the reflection of the thought that filled his soul and raised him above
the misery of the moment. Notwithstanding, his looks became serious and
gloomy again.

"But what is this solution?" he asked, continuing his over-wrought
reflections. "And how shall this broken-down, sick man, weary with his
tortures, find it? And I--I know of none, perhaps no one save himself
can find it. 'Against the burden of such a fate, no parade of sophistry
will be of any avail,' I said to him yesterday. But can small
expedients be of any use? Will it be a solution if I succeed with my
appeal, if the sentence of death is commuted to penal servitude for
life or for twenty years? Can this lessen the burden of the fate?--for
her, for him?"

"What to do?" he suddenly exclaimed aloud. He wrung his hands and
stared before him.

Suddenly there was a curious twitching about his mouth, and his eyes
gleamed with an almost weird light. "No, no!" he muttered vehemently,
"how can such a thought even occur to me. I feel it, I am myself
becoming ill and unstrung!"

He bounded up with a heavy stamp and hastily passed his hand over his
forehead, as though the thought which had just passed through his brain
stood written there and must be swiftly wiped away. But that thought
returned again and again and would not be scared away, that enticing
but fearful thought; how she might be forcibly liberated from prison
and carried off to new life and happiness in a distant country?

"Madness!" he muttered and added in thought: "He would rather die and
let her die, than give his consent to this or set his hand to such a
deed! He whose conscience would not allow him to preside at the trial!
And if in his perplexity and despair he were to go so far, I should
have to bar the way and stop him even if it cost me my life.... What
was it he said yesterday: 'An offence should not be expiated by an
injustice!' and will he attempt it by another offence. 'Cowardly and
dishonourable!' yes, that it would be, and not that great deed of which
I dream; greater and more just than Fate itself."

He seized the notes which he had made from the papers connected with
the trial, and forced himself to read them through deliberately, to
weigh them again point by point. This expedient helped him: that
horrible thought did not return, but a new thought rose, bringing
comfort in its train and took shape: "When a great act cannot be
achieved, we should not on that account omit even the smallest thing
that can possibly be done. I will set my energies against the sentence
of death, because it is the most frightful thing that could happen!"

And now he recovered courage and eagerness for work.

He sat at his writing table hour after hour, marshalling his reasons
and objections into a solid phalanx which in the fervour of the moment
seemed to him as if they must sweep away every obstacle, even
prejudice, even ill-will. He had bolted himself in, nobody was to
disturb him, he only interrupted himself for a few minutes to snatch a
hasty meal. Then he worked away until the last sentence stood on the
paper.

For the first time he now looked at the clock; it was pointing to ten.
It was too late to visit the poor prisoner, and he was grieved that he
had not kept his promise. If she was perhaps secretly nourishing the
hope of being saved, she would now be doubly despairing. But it could
not now be helped and he resolved to make good his remissness early the
next morning. Sendlingen, however, he would go and see. "Perhaps he is
in want of me," he thought. "I should be much surprised if he were not
now more helpless than ever."

He made his way through the wet, cold, foggy autumn night; things he
had never dreamt of were in store for him.

When he pulled the bell, the door was at once opened: Fräulein Brigitta
stood before him. The candlestick in her hand trembled: the plump,
well-nourished face of the worthy lady was so full of anguish that
Berger started. "What has happened?" he cried.

"Nothing!" she answered. "Nothing at all! It is only that I am so
silly." But her hand was trembling so much that she had to put down her
candle and the tears streamed down her cheeks as she continued with an
effort: "He went out--and has not come back--and so I thought--but I am
so silly."

"So it seems," Berger roughly exclaimed, trying to encourage both her
and himself, but a sudden anguish so choked his utterance that what he
next said sounded almost unintelligible. "May he not pay a visit to a
friend and stay to supper there? Is he so much under your thumb that he
must give you previous notice of his intention? He is at Baron
Dernegg's I suppose."

"No," she sobbed. "He is not there, and Franz has already looked for
him in vain in all the places where he might be. He was twice at your
house, but your servant would not admit him. And now the old man is
scouring the streets. He will not find him!" she suddenly screamed,
burying her face in her hands.

"Nonsense!" cried Berger almost angrily. He forced the trembling woman
into a chair, sat down beside her and took her hand. "Let us talk like
reasonable beings," he said, "like men, Fräulein Brigitta. When did he
go out?"

"Seven hours ago, just after his dinner, which he hardly touched; it
must have been about four o'clock. And how he has been behaving ... and
especially since mid-day yesterday.... Dr. Berger," she cried
imploringly, clasping her hands, "what happened yesterday in Chambers?
When he came back from Vienna he was still calm and cheerful. It must
be here and yesterday that some misfortune struck him. I thought at
first that it was illness, but I know better now: it is a misfortune, a
great misfortune! Dr. Berger, for Christ's sake, tell me what it is!"

She would have sunk down at his feet, if he had not hastily prevented
her. "Be reasonable!" he urged, "It is an illness, Fräulein
Brigitta,--the heart, the nerves."

She shook her head vigorously. "I guess what it is." She pointed in the
direction of the jail. "Something has happened in the prison over there
that is a matter of life and death to him."

He started. "Why do you suppose that?"

"Because he behaved so strangely--just listen to this." But she had
first the difficult task of calming herself before she could proceed.
"Well, when I went into his room to-day to tell him dinner was ready,
he was standing in front of his writing-table rummaging in all the
drawers. 'What are you looking for, my Lord?' I asked. 'Nothing,' he
muttered and he sent me away, saying he was just coming. Twenty minutes
later I ventured to go back again; he was still searching. 'Have you
ever,' he now himself asked, 'heard of any keys that my predecessor is
said to have handed over?' 'Yes,' I replied, 'the keys of the
residence.' 'No, others, and among them the key of the door which----'
He checked himself suddenly and turned away as though he had already
said too much. 'What door?' I asked in utter astonishment. He muttered
something unintelligible and then roughly told me the soup could wait.
It cuts me to the heart. Dear Heaven, how wretched he looks, and I am
not accustomed to be spoken to by him in that way; but what does that
matter? I went and spoke to Franz. 'Perhaps,' he said, 'he means the
keys that are in the top drawer of his business table.' So we went and
looked and there, sure enough, was a bunch of keys--quite rusty, Dr.
Berger."

"Go on, to the point," said Berger impatiently.

"Well, I took them to him; as I said, a whole bunch with a written
label on each. He looked through them with trembling hands. Dr. Berger,
and at last his face lit up. 'That's the one!' he muttered and took the
key off the bunch and put it in his breast pocket. Then he turned round
and when he saw me--great Heaven! what eyes he had--wicked, frightened
eyes. 'Are you still here?' he said flaring up into a rage. 'What do
you want playing the spy here?' Yes, Dr. Berger, he said 'playing the
spy'--and he has known me for fifteen years."

"He is ill you see!" said Berger soothingly. "But go on!"

"Then he sat down to dinner and there he behaved very strangely. God
forgive me ... Usually he only drinks one glass of Rhine-wine--you know
the sort--to-day he gulped down three glasses one after another, took a
few spoonfuls of soup and then went back to his room. And then I said:
Franz, I said--but you won't want to hear that. Dr. Berger. But what
follows you must hear; it's very strange--God help us! only too
strange."

"Well?"

"After about ten minutes or so, I heard his step in the lobby; the door
slammed; well, he had gone out. 'By all that's sacred!' thinks I in
great trouble of mind. Then Franz came in quite upset. 'Fräulein!' he
whispered, 'he's going up and down in the court outside!' 'Impossible!'
said I, 'what does he want there?' We went to the bedroom window that
looks down into the court and there, sure enough, is his Lordship! He
was going--or rather he was creeping along by the wall that separates
our court from the prison yard. It was drizzling at the time and it was
no longer quite light, but I could see his face plainly: it was the
face of a man who doesn't know what to do--ah me! worse still--the face
of a man who doesn't know what he's doing. And he behaved like it, Dr.
Berger! He stopped in front of the little door in the wall, looked
anxiously up at the windows to see if anyone was watching him--but the
clerks and officials had all gone, we were the only people who saw
him--he pulled out that key from his breast pocket and tried to unlock
the door. For a long time he couldn't succeed, but at last the door
opened. However, he only shut it again quickly and locked it. Then he
began anxiously to pace up and down again. It was just as if he had
only wanted to try whether the key would open the door. What do you
think of that?"

"The door through which one can get from here into the prison?" Berger
spoke slowly, in a muffled tone, as if he were speaking to himself.
Then he continued in the same tone: "Oh, how frightful that would be!
This soul in the mire, this splendid soul!--Go on!" he then muttered as
he saw that the housekeeper was looking at him in amazement.

"Well, then he went quickly back through the hall into the street and
on towards the square. Franz crept after him at a distance. He seemed
at first as if he wanted to go to your house, then he came back here,
but to the other door, on the prison side. There he stood, close up to
it, for a long time, a quarter of an hour Franz says, and then went to
the left down Cross Street and then--what do you think, Dr. Berger?"

"Back the same way," said Berger slowly, "and again stood for a long
time in front of the prison."

"How can you know that?" asked the old lady in astonishment.

Berger's answer was a strange one. "I can see it!" he said. And indeed,
with the eyes of his soul, Berger could see his unhappy friend
wandering about in the misty darkness, dragged hither and thither, by
whirling, conflicting thoughts. "Perhaps he is at this moment standing
there again!" He had not meant to say this, but the thought had
involuntarily given itself voice.

"What now!" Fräulein Brigitta crossed herself. "We will go and see at
once! Come! Oh, that would be a good thing! I will just go and fetch my
shawl. But you see I was right. This trouble is connected with the
prison; some injustice has been done, and he feels it nearly because he
is such a just judge."

"Because he is such a just judge," repeated Berger, mechanically,
without thinking of what he was saying, for while he spoke those words
he was saying to himself: "He has gone mad!"

Then, however, he shook off the spell of this horror that threatened to
cripple both soul and body. "You stay at home," he said in a tone of
command. "I will find him and bring him back, you may rely upon that.
One thing more, where did Franz leave him?"

"Ah, he was too simple! When his Lordship came into the square for the
third time, Franz went up to him and begged him to come home. Upon that
he became very angry and sent Franz off with the strongest language.
But he called after him that he was going to Baron Dernegg's, only as I
said, he has not been there, and----"

"Keep up your spirits, Fräulein Brigitta! I shall be back soon." He
went down the steps, "Keep up your spirits!" he called back to her once
more; she was standing at the top of the steps holding the candle at
arm's length before her.

Berger stepped into the street and walked swiftly round the building to
the prison door. He himself was in need of the exhortation he had
given: he felt as if in the next moment he might see something
frightful.

But there was nothing to be seen when he at length reached the place
and approached the door, nothing save the muddy slippery ground, the
trickling, mouldy walls, the iron-work of the door shining in the
wet--nothing else, so far as the red, smoky light of the two lanterns
above the door could show through the fog and rain. And there was
nothing to be heard save the low pattering of the rain-drops on the
soft earth or, when a sudden gust of the east-wind blew, the creaking
of some loosened rafter and a whirring, long-drawn, complaining sound
that came from the bare trees on the ramparts when they writhed and
bent beneath its icy breath.

"Victor!"

There was a movement in the sentry box by the door; the poor, frozen
Venetian soldier of the Dom Miguel regiment who had sheltered himself
inside as well as he could from the rain and cold, poked out his heavy
sleepy head so that the shine of his wet leather shako was visible for
an instant. He muttered an oath and wrapped himself the closer in his
damp overcoat.

Berger sighed deeply. A minute before he was sure he had seen the poor
madman standing motionless in the desolate night, his eyes rigidly
fixed upon the door that separated him from his daughter, and now that
he was spared the sight, he could take no comfort, for a far worse
foreboding convulsed his brain.

Hesitatingly he returned to the front part of the building and,
increasing his pace, he went down the street towards the market-place,
aimlessly, but always swifter, as if he had to go where chance led him,
so as to arrive in time to stop some frightful deed.

The streets were deserted, nothing but the wind roamed through the
drenching solitude, nothing but the voices of the night greeted his
ear; that ceaseless murmur and rustle and stir, which, drowned by the
noise of the day, moves in the dark stillness, as though dead and dumb
things had now first found a voice to reach the sense of men.

He often had to stop; it seemed to him as if he heard the piteous
groaning of a sick man, or the half stifled cry for help of one
wounded. But it was nothing; the wind had shaken some rotting roof, or
somewhere in the far distance a watch-dog had given a short, sharp
bark. The lonely wanderer held his breath in order to hear better,
looked also perhaps into some dark corner and then hurried on.

He reached the market place. Here he came upon human beings again, the
sentries before the principal guard-house, and as he passed the column
commemorative of the cholera in the middle of the square, there was the
night-watchman who had pitched upon a dry sleeping place in one of the
niches of the irregular monument. Berger stopped irresolutely; should
he wake him up and question him?

Another form at this moment emerged from a neighbouring street; a man
who with bowed head and halting pace glided along by the houses: was
this not Franz? Berger could not yet, by the light of the meagre lamps,
accurately distinguish him in the all-pervading fog. But the man came
nearer and nearer; he was behaving peculiarly; he was looking into
every door-way, and when he came to the "Sign of the Arbour," a very
ancient shop full of recesses, he went into each of these recesses, so
that a spectator saw him alternately appearing and disappearing. When
he at length reappeared just under a lamp Berger recognised him; it was
really the old servant. "Like a faithful dog seeking his master," he
said to himself as he hurried towards him.

Franz rushed to meet him. "You know nothing of him?"

"Be quiet, man. We will look for him together."

"No, separately!" He seized Berger's arm and grasped it convulsively.
"You by the river-side and I up here. There is not a moment to lose."

Berger asked no more questions but hurried down the broad, inclined
street that led to the river. Here, in Cross Street, where most of the
pleasure-resorts were, there were still signs of life; he had
repeatedly to get out of the way of drunken men who passed along
bawling; poor forlorn looking girls brushed past him. In one of the
quieter streets he noticed a moving light coming nearer and nearer: it
was a large lantern in the hand of a servant who was carefully lighting
the gentleman who followed him.

Berger recognised the features of the little, wizened creature who, in
spite of the awful weather was contentedly tripping along, with
satisfaction in every lineament, under the shelter of a mighty
umbrella; it was the Deputy Chief-Justice, Herr von Werner. He would
have passed by without a word, but Werner recognised him and called to
him.

"Eh! eh! it's Dr. Berger!" he snickered. "Out so late! Hee, hee! I seem
to be meeting all the important people! First--hee! hee! the Lord Chief
Justice and now----"

"Have you seen him?"

"Why yes. You are surprised? So was I! Just as I stepped out of my
son-in-law's house, he passed by. I called after him because I wanted
to tell him the news. For you may congratulate me, Dr. Berger.
Certainly, you annoyed me this morning, you annoyed me very much I but
in my joy I will forgive you! My first grandson, a splendid boy, and
how he can cry!"

"Where did you see him? When?"

"Eh! goodness me, what is the matter with you? It was scarcely five
minutes ago, he was going--only fancy--towards Wurst Street. You seem
upset! And he wouldn't listen to me! Why, what is the matter?"

Berger made no reply. Without a word of farewell, he rushed
precipitately down the street out of which Werner had come and turned
to the right into a narrow, dirty slum which led by a steep incline to
the river.

This was Wurst Street, the poorest district of the town, the haunt of
porters, boatmen and raftsmen; alongside the narrow quay in which the
street ended, lay their craft; the corner building next the river was
the public house which they frequented. A light still glimmered behind
its small window-panes and, as Berger hurried by, the sound of rough
song and laughter greeted his ears.

He did not stop till he came right up to the river's edge. Its waters
were swollen by the autumn rains; swift and tumultuous they coursed
along its broad bed, perceptible to the ear only, not to the eye, so
fearfully dark was the night. Berger could not even distinguish the
wooden foot-bridge that here crossed the river, until he was close up
to it.

Hesitatingly he stepped upon the shaky structure. The bridge was
scarcely two foot broad, its balustrade was rotten and the footway
slippery. Over on the other side a solitary light, a lantern, was
struggling against wind and fog; its reflection swayed uncertainly on
the soaking bridge; when it suddenly flared up in the wind, its
flickering, red light revealed for a moment the angry, swollen flood.

Berger stood still irresolutely; the place was so desolate, so uncanny;
should he stay any longer? Then suddenly a low cry escaped him and he
darted forward a step. The lantern opposite had just flared up and by
its reflection he had seen a man approach the bridge and step upon it.
It seemed to Berger as if this were Sendlingen, but he did not know for
certain, as the lantern was again giving only the faintest glimmer.

The man approached nearer, slowly, and with uncertain step, groping for
the balustrade as he came. Once more the lantern flared up--there was
the long Inverness, the gray hat--Berger doubted no longer.

"Victor!"

He would have shouted at the top of his voice, but the word passed over
his lips huskily, almost inaudibly: he would have darted forward ...
but could only take one solitary step more, so greatly had the
weirdness of the situation overpowered him.

Sendlingen did not perceive him: he stopped scarcely ten paces from his
friend and bent over the balustrade. Resting on both arms, there he
stood, staring at the wild and turbulent water.

Thus passed a few seconds.

Again the lantern flickered up, for a moment only it gave a clear
light. Sendlingen had suddenly raised himself and Berger saw, or
thought he saw, that the unfortunate man was now only resting with one
hand on the railing, that his body was lifted up....

"Victor!"

In two bounds, in two seconds, he was beside him, had seized him,
clasped him in his arms.

"George!"

Awful, thrilling was the cry--a cry for help?--or a cry of baffled
rage?

Then Berger felt this convulsive body suddenly grow stiff and heavy--he
was holding an unconscious burden in his arms.



                               CHAPTER VII.


Shortly after there was such vigorous knocking at the windows of the
little river-side inn that the panes were broken. The landlord and his
customers rushed out into the street, cursing. But they ceased when
they saw the scared looking figure with its singular burden; silently
they helped to bring the prostrate form into the house. The landlord
had recognized the features; he whispered the news to the others, and
so great was the love and reverence that attached to this name, that
the rough, half-drunken fellows stood about in the bare inn-parlor, as
orderly and reverent as if they were in Church.

The body lay motionless on the bench which they had fetched; a feather,
held to the lips, scarcely moved, so feebly did the breath come and go.
The one remedy in the poor place, the brandy with which his breast and
pulses were moistened, proved useless; not till the parish doctor, whom
a raftsman hurriedly fetched, had applied his essences, did the
unconscious man begin to breathe more deeply and at length open his
eyes. But his look was fixed and weird; the white lips muttered
confused words. Then the deep red eyelids closed again; they showed, as
did the tear-stains on his cheeks, how bitterly the poor wretch had
been weeping in his aimless wanderings.

"We must get him home at once," said the Doctor. "There is brain fever
coming on."

Berger sent to the hospital for a litter; it was soon on the spot;
the sick man was carefully laid on it. The bearers stepped away
rapidly; the doctor and Berger walked alongside. When they reached the
market-place they came across Franz. "Dead?" he screamed; but when he
heard the contrary, he said not another word, but hurried on ahead.

In this way Fräulein Brigitta was informed; she behaved more calmly
than Berger could have believed. The bed was all ready; the Doctor
attached to the Courts was soon on the spot. He was of the same opinion
as his colleague. "A mortal sickness," he told Berger, "the fever is
increasing, his consciousness is entirely clouded. Perhaps it is owing
to overwork at the Inquiry in Vienna?" he added. "He may have caught a
severe cold on the top of it."

The parish doctor departed, Franz was obliged to go to the chemist's;
Berger and the resident doctor remained alone with the invalid. The
barrister had a severe struggle with himself; should he tell the
doctor the whole truth? To any unsuspecting person, Sendlingen's
demeanor must have seemed like the paroxysm of a fever, but he knew
better! Certainly the sufferer was physically ailing, but it was not
under the weight of empty fancies that he was gently sobbing, or
burying his anguish-stricken face in the pillow; the excess of his
suffering, the terror of his lonely wanderings had completely broken
down his strength; all mastery of self had vanished; he showed himself
as he was; in a torment of helplessness. And that which seemed to the
doctor the most convincing proof of a mind unhinged Berger understood
only too well; as for instance when Sendlingen beckoned to him, and
beseechingly whispered, as if filled with the deepest shame: "Go,
George, can't you understand that I can no longer bear your looks?"

After this Berger went out and sank into a chair in the lobby, and the
gruesome scene rose before him again; the lonely bridge lit by the
flickering lantern; the roaring current beneath him ... "Oh, what
misery!" he groaned, and for the first time for many years, for the
first time perhaps, since his boyhood, he broke out into sobs, even
though his eyes remained dry.

A rapid footstep disturbed him. It was Franz returning with the
medicine. Berger told him to send the doctor to him at once.

"Doctor," he said, "you shall know the truth as far as I am at liberty
to tell it." A misfortune, he told him, had befallen Sendlingen, a
misfortune great enough to crush the strongest man. "Your art," he
concluded, "cannot heal the soul, I know. But you can give my poor
friend what he most of all needs; sleep! Otherwise his torture will
wear out both body and soul."

The doctor asked no questions; for a long while he looked silently on
the ground. Then he said, briefly: "Good! Fortunately I have the
necessary means with me."

He went back to the sick-room. Ten minutes later, he opened the door
and made Berger come in. Sendlingen was in a deep sleep; and it must
have been dreamless, for his features had smoothed themselves again.

"How long will this sleep last?" asked Berger.

"Perhaps till mid-day to-morrow," replied the doctor, "perhaps longer,
since the body is so exhausted. At least, we shall know to-morrow
whether there is a serious illness in store. But even if there is not,
if it is only the torture of the mind that returns, it will be bad
enough. Very bad, in fact. Do you know no remedy for it?"

"None!" answered the honest lawyer, feebly. They parted without a word
in the deepest distress.

By earliest dawn, when the bells of the Cathedral rang forth for the
first time, Berger was back again in his friend's lobby. "Thank God, he
is still sleeping," whispered Fräulein Brigitta. "The worse has past,
hasn't it?"

"We will hope so," he replied, constrainedly. For a long time he stood
at the window and stared out into the court-yard; involuntarily his
gaze fixed itself on the little door in the wall which was so small and
low that he had never noticed it before; now he observed it for the
first time.

Then he roused himself and went to the other part of the building to
see his unfortunate client. "How is Victorine Lippert?" he asked of the
Governor who happened to be at the door.

"Poor thing!" he said, with a shrug of the shoulders. "It will soon be
all over with her, and that will be the best thing for her."

"Has she been suddenly taken ill?"

"No, Dr. Berger, she is just the same as before, but the doctor does
not think she will last much longer. 'Snuffed out like a candle,' he
says. If she had any sort of hope to which her poor soul might cling;
but as it is ... Herr von Werner had sent him to her to see what
punishment she could bear for yesterday's scene in Court, but the
doctor said to him afterward: 'It would be sheer barbarity! Let her die
in peace!' But Herr von Werner was of opinion that he could not pass
over the offence without some punishment, and that she would survive
one day of the dark cell; he only relented when Father Rohn interceded
for her. The priest was with her yesterday at two o'clock, and has made
her peace with God. Do you still intend to appeal? Well, as you think
best. But it will be labor in vain, Dr. Berger! She will die before you
receive the decision."

"God forbid!" cried Berger.

The Governor shook his head. "She would be free in that case," he said.
"Why should you wish her to live? What do you hope to attain?
Commutation to penal servitude for life, or imprisonment for twenty
years! Does that strike you as being better? I don't think so; in my
profession it is impossible to believe it, Dr. Berger. Well, as you
think best! If you want to speak to Victorine Lippert, the warder shall
take you round."

The Governor departed; Berger stood looking after him a long while.
Then he stepped out into the prison yard and paced up and down; he felt
the need of quieting himself before going into her cell. "That would be
frightful," he thought. "And yet, perhaps, the man is right, perhaps it
would really be best for her--and for him!" He tried to shake off the
thought, but it returned. "And it would mean the end of this fearful
complication, a sad, a pitiable end--but still an end!" But then he
checked himself. "No, it would be no end, because it would be no
solution. In misery he would drag out his whole existence; in remorse;
in despair! No, on the contrary, her death might be the worst blow that
could befal him! But what is to be done to prevent it? It would be
possible to get her ordered better food, a lighter cell, and more
exercise in the open. But all that would be no use if she is really as
bad as the doctor thinks! She will die--O God! she will die before the
decision of the Supreme Court arrives."

More perplexed and despairing than before, he now repaired to her cell.
The warder unlocked it and he entered.

Victorine was reclining on her couch, her head pressed against the
wall. At his entrance, she tried to rise, but he prevented her. "How
are you?" he asked. "Better, I hope?"

"Yes," she answered softly, "and all will soon be well with me."

He knew what she meant and alas! it was only too plainly visible that
this hope at least was not fallacious. Paler than she had latterly been
it was almost impossible that she should become, but more haggard
Berger certainly thought her; her whole bearing was more broken down
and feeble. "She is right," he thought, but he forced himself and made
every endeavour to appear more confident than he really was.

"I am glad of that!" He tried to say it in the most unconstrained
manner in the world, but could only blurt it out in a suppressed tone
of voice. "I hope----"

She looked at him, and, in the face of this look of immeasurable grief,
of longing for death, the like of which he had never seen in any human
eyes, the words died on his lips. It seemed to him unworthy any longer
to keep up the pretence of not understanding her. "My poor child," he
murmured, taking her hand, "I know. I know. But you are still young,
why will you cease to hope? I have drawn up the appeal, I shall lodge
it to-day--I am sure you will be pardoned."

"That would be frightful!" she said in a low tone. "I begged you so
earnestly to leave it alone. But I am not angry with you. You have done
it because your pity constrained you, perhaps, too, your conscience and
sense of justice--and to me it is all one! My life at all events, is
only a matter of weeks: I shall never leave this cell alive! Thank
Heaven! since yesterday afternoon this has become a certainty!"

"The doctor told you? Oh, that was not right of him."

"Do not blame him!" she begged. "It was an act of humanity. If he had
only told me to relieve me of the fear of the hangman, he should be
commended, not reproved. But it happened differently; at first he did
not want to tell me the truth, it was evident from what he was saying,
and when the truth had once slipped out, he could no longer deny it. He
was exhorting me to hope, to cling to life, he spoke to me as you do,
'for otherwise' he said, 'you are lost! My medicines cannot give you
vital energy!' His pity moved him to dwell on this more and more
pointedly and decidedly. 'If you do not rouse yourself,' he said at
last, 'you will be your own executioner.' He was frightened at what he
had said almost before he had finished, and still more when I thanked
him as for the greatest kindness he could have done me. He only left me
to send Father Rohn. He came too, but----"

She sighed deeply and stopped.

"He surely didn't torture you with bigoted speeches?" asked Berger. "I
know him. Father Rohn is a worthy man who knows life; he is a human
being ..."

"Of course! But just because he is no hypocrite he could say nothing
that would really comfort me for this life. At most for that other
life, which perhaps--no certainly!" she said hurriedly. "So many people
believe in it, good earnest men who have seen and suffered much
misfortune, how should a simple girl dare to doubt it? Certainly, Dr.
Berger, when I think of my own life and my mother's life, it is not
easy to believe in an all-just, all-merciful God. But I do believe in
Him--yes! though so good a man as Father Rohn could only say: amends
will be made up there. Only the way he said it fully convinced me! But,
after all, he could only give me hope in death, not hope for life."

"Certainly against his will," cried Berger. "You did not want to
understand him."

"Yes, Dr. Berger, I did want to understand him and understood him--in
everything--excepting only one thing," she added hesitatingly. "But
that was not in my power--I could not! And whatever trouble he took it
was in vain."

"And what was this one thing?"

"He asked me if there was no one I was attached to, who loved me, to
whom my life or death mattered? No, I answered, nobody--and then he
asked--but why touch upon the hateful subject! let us leave it alone,
Dr. Berger."

"No," cried Berger, white with emotion, "I implore you, let us talk
about it. He asked you whether you did not know your father."

She nodded; a faint red overspread her pale cheeks.

"And you answered?"

"What I have told you: that I did not know him, that if he were living
I should not love and reverence him as my father, but hate and despise
him as the wretch who ruined my mother!" She had half raised herself,
and had spoken with a strength and energy that Berger had not believed
possible. Now she sank back on her couch.

He sighed deeply. "And you adhered to that," he began again, "whatever
Father Rohn might say? He told you that on the threshold of--that in
your situation one should not hate, but forgive, that whoever hopes for
God's mercy must not himself condemn unmercifully!"

"Yes," she replied, "he said so, if perhaps in gentler words. For he
seemed to feel that I did not require to depend on God's mercy, but
only on His justice."

"Forgive me!" muttered Berger. "For I know your fate and know you.
But just because I know your affectionate nature and your need of
affection----" He stopped. "Gently," he thought, "I must be cautious."
"Don't consider me unfeeling," he then continued, "if I dwell upon this
matter, however painful it may be to you. Just this one thing: does it
follow that this man must be a wretch? Were there not perhaps fatal
circumstances that bound him against his will and prevented him doing
his duty to your poor mother?"

"No," she answered. "I know there were not!"

"You know there were not?" murmured Berger in the greatest
consternation. "But do you know him?"

"Yes. I know his heart, his character, and that is enough. What does it
matter to me what his name is, or his station? Whether he is living or
dead? To me he has never lived! I know him from my mother's judgment,
and that she, the gentlest of women, could not judge otherwise, proves
his unworthiness. Only one single time did she speak to me of him, when
I was old enough to ask and to be told why people sometimes spoke of us
with a shrug of the shoulders. 'If he had been thoughtless and weak,'
she said to me, 'I could have forgiven him. But I have never known a
man who viewed life more earnestly and intelligently: none who was so
strong and brave and resolute as he. It was only from boundless
selfishness, after mature, cold-blooded calculation that he delivered
me to dishonor, because I was an obstacle in his career.' You see he
was more pitiless than the man whom I trusted."

"No," cried Berger in the greatest excitement. "You do him injustice!"

"Injustice! How do you know that? Do you know him?"

He turned away and was silent. "No," he then murmured, "how should I
know him?"

"Then why do you dissent from me with such conviction? Oh, I
understand," she went on bitterly, "you, even you, don't think my
mother's words trustworthy, and simply because she allowed herself to
be deluded by a wretch!"

"No, indeed!" returned Berger, trying to compose himself, "for I know
how noble, how true and good your mother was, I know it from her
letters. The remark escaped me unawares. But you are right. Let us drop
this subject."

Then he asked her if she would like to have some books. She answered in
the negative and he left the cell.

"Sendlingen must never see her!" he thought when he was back in the
street. "If he were to enter her cell he would betray himself and then
learn what she thinks of him! It would utterly crush him. That, at
least, he shall be spared."

But the next few minutes were to show him that he had been planning
impossibilities. As he passed the Chief Justice's residence, an
upstairs window opened; he heard his name called loud and anxiously. It
was Fräulein Brigitta. "Quickly," cried she, beckoning him to come up.

He hurried up the stairs, she rushed to meet him. "Heaven has sent you
to us," she cried, weeping and wringing her hands. "How fortunate that
I accidentally saw you passing. We were at our wits' end? He insists on
going out. Franz is to dress him. We do not know what has excited him
so. Father Rohn has been to see him, but he talked so quietly with him
that we breathed again indeed. It is manifestly a sudden attack of
fever, but we cannot use force to him."

Berger hurried to the bedroom. Sendlingen was reclining in an
arm-chair, Franz was attending to him. At his friend's entrance he
coloured, and held up his hand deprecatingly. "They have fetched you,"
he cried impatiently. "It is useless! I am not going to be prevented!"

Berger signed to Franz to leave the room. Not until the door was closed
behind him did he approach the sick man, and take his hand, and look
searchingly into his face. It reassured him to see that, though his
eyes were dim, they no longer looked wild and restless as they did a
few hours ago.

"You are going to her?" he asked. "That must not be."

"I must!" cried Sendlingen despairingly. "It is the one thought to
which I cling to avoid madness. When I awoke--I was so perplexed and
desolate, I felt my misery returning--then I heard Rohn's voice in the
next room. They were going to send him away: I was still asleep, they
said,--but I made him come in, because I wanted to hear some other
voice than that of my conscience, and because I was afraid of myself. I
did not dream that he was bringing me a staff by which I could raise
myself again."

"You asked him about her?"

"No, by the merest chance he began to tell me of his talk with her
yesterday, and how she was wasting away because there was no one on
earth for whose sake she could or would rouse herself. Oh, what I felt!
Despair shook my heart more deeply than ever, and yet I could have
thanked him on my knees for these good tidings. Now my life has an
object again, and I know why Fate has allowed me to survive this day."

Berger was silent--should he, dared he, tell the truth? "Think it
over a while," he begged. "If you were to betray yourself to the
officials----"

"I shall not do so. And if I did, how could that trouble me? Don't you
see that a man in my situation cannot think of himself or any such
secondary consideration?"

"That would be no secondary consideration. And could you save her by
such a step? The situation remains as it was!"

"Are you cruel enough to remind me of that?" cried Sendlingen. "But,
thank God! I am clear enough to give you the right answer instead of
allowing myself to be oppressed by misery. Now listen; I shall do what
I can! From the hangman, from the prison, I may not be able to save my
child, but perhaps I can save her from despair, from wasting away. I
shall say to her: live for your father, as your father lives for you!
Perhaps this thought will affect her as it has affected me; it has
saved me from the worst. Another night like last night, George!" He
stopped and a shudder ran through his body. "Such a night shall not
come again! I do not know what is to be done later on, but my immediate
duty is clear. I have been fighting against the instinct that drew me
to her, as against a suggestion of madness; I now see that it was
leading me aright."

He laid his hand on the bell to summon Franz. Berger prevented him,
"Wait another hour," he implored. "I will not try to hinder you any
more; I see that it would be useless, perhaps unjust. But let me speak
to her first. Humour me in this one thing only. You agreed to do so
yesterday."

"So be it!" said Sendlingen. "But you must promise not to keep me
waiting a minute longer than is absolutely necessary."

Berger promised and took his leave. He was not a religious man in the
popular sense of the word, and yet as he again rang the prison bell, he
felt as if he must pray that his words would be of effect as a man only
can pray for a favour for himself.

The warder was astonished when he again asked admission to the cell,
and Victorine looked at him with surprise.

He went up to her. "Listen to me," he begged. "I have hitherto wished
to conceal the truth from you, with the best intentions, but still it
was not right. For falsehood kills and truth saves, always and
everywhere--I ought to have remembered that. Well then; I know your
father; he is my best friend, a man so noble and good, so upright and
full of heart, as are few men on this poor earth."

She rose. "If that were so my mother would have lied," she cried. "Can
I believe you rather than my mother? Can you expect that of me?"

"No," he replied. "Your mother judged him quite correctly. He did not
betray her through thoughtlessness, nor forsake her through weakness.
But much less still from cold-blooded calculation. No external
constraint weighed upon him but an internal,--the constraint of
education, of his convictions, of his views of the world and men, in
short, of his whole being, so that he could hardly have acted
differently. With all this there was such a fatal, peculiar
concatenation of external circumstances, that it would have needed a
giant soul not to have succumbed. We are all of us but men. I would not
trust anyone I know, not even myself, to have been stronger than he
was! Not one, Victorine! Will you believe me?"

"My mother judged otherwise!" she replied. "And will you perhaps also
attempt to justify the fact that he never concerned himself about his
child?"

"He knew nothing of you," cried Berger. "He did not dream that he had a
child in the world! And one thing I can assure you: if he had
accidentally heard that you were alive, he would not have rested until
he had drawn you to his heart, he would have sheltered you in his arms,
in his house, from the battle with misery and the wickedness of men.
Not only his heart would have dictated this, but the absence of
children by his marriage, and his sense of justice: so as to make good
through you what he could no longer make good to your poor mother. If
you could only imagine how he suffers!--You must surely be able to feel
for him: a noble man, who suddenly learns that his offence is ten times
greater than he had thought or dreamt; that he has a child in the world
against whom also he has transgressed, and who learns all this at a
moment when he can make no reparation--in such a moment--can you grasp
this, Victorine?"

Her face remained unmoved. "What shall I say?" she exclaimed gloomily.
"If he really suffers, the punishment is only just. What did my mother
not suffer on his account! And I!"

"But can we ascribe all the blame to him?" he cried. "All, Victorine?"

"Perhaps," she answered. "But if not all, then the most, so much that I
will certainly believe you in one thing; if he is a human being at all,
then he should now be suffering all the tortures of remorse. Still, as
great as my sorrow, his cannot be! And is my guilt greater than his?
And has he, too, to expiate it with honour and life?"

"Quite possibly!" he cried. "Perhaps with his life, seeing that he
cannot, situated as he now is, expiate it with his honour. Oh, if you
knew all! If you knew what an unprecedented combination of
circumstances has heightened the sense of his guilt, has increased his
sorrow to infinite proportions. And you shall know all."

"I will not hear it," she cried with a swift movement of repulsion, "I
do not care, I may not care about it. I will not be robbed of my
feelings against this man. I will not! His punishment is just--let us
drop the subject."

"Just! still this talk about just! You are young but you have
experienced enough of life, you have suffered enough, to know how far
this justice will bring us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth--shall this pitiless web of guilt and expiation continue to spin
itself everlastingly from generation to generation? Can't you
understand that this life would be unendurable if a high-minded deed, a
noble victory over self, did not at times rend the web? You should
understand this, poor child, you more than anyone. Do such a deed,
forgive this unhappy man!"

"Did he send you to me on this mission?"

"No. I will be truthful in the smallest detail: I myself wrested from
him permission to prepare you for his coming. I wished to spare you and
him the emotions of a melancholy contest. For he does not even suspect
what you think of him."

"He does not suspect it?" she cried. "He thinks that the balance is
struck, if he graces a fallen, a condemned creature with a visit! Oh,
and this man is noble and sensitive!"

"You are unjust to him in that, too," protested Berger. "And in that
most of all. That he who can usually read the hearts of men like a
book, has not thought of this most obvious and natural thing, shows
best of all how greatly his misery has distracted and desolated him. He
only wants one thing: to come to you, to console you, to console
himself in you."

"I will not see him, you must prevent it."

"I cannot. I have tried in vain. He will come; his reason, perhaps his
life, depend upon the way you may receive him."

"Do not burden me with such responsibilities," she sobbed despairingly.
"I cannot forgive him. But I desire nobody's death, I do not wish him
to die. Tell him what you like, even that I forgive him, but keep him
away, I implore you."

She would have thrown herself at his feet but he prevented her. "No,
not that," he murmured. "I will not urge any more. As God wills."

A few minutes later he was again with Sendlingen. "She knows all," he
told him, "except your name and station. She does not desire your
visit--she--dreads the excitement."

He stopped short and looked anxiously at his friend; he feared another
sudden outburst of despair.

But it did not come. Sendlingen certainly started as in pain, but then
he drew himself up to his full height. "You are concealing the truth
from me," he said. "She does not wish to see her mother's betrayer. I
did not think of it before, but I read it at once in your looks of
alarm. That is bad, very bad--but stop me, it cannot. Where the
stranger has tried in vain the father will succeed. My heart tells me
so."

He called for his hat and stick and leaning on Berger's arm, went down
the steps. In the street he loosed his hold: the energy of his soul had
given his body new strength. With a firm step he walked to the prison
door, and the quiver in his voice was scarcely perceptible as he gave
the warder the order to open Victorine Lippert's cell.

The official obeyed. The prisoner hardly looked up when she heard the
bolts rattle yet another time. The warder felt himself in duty bound to
call her attention to the importance of the visit she was about to
receive. "His Lordship, the Chief Justice, Baron Sendlingen!" he
whispered to her. "Inspection of the Cells. Stand up." He stepped back
respectfully to admit Sendlingen and locked the door after him.

The two were alone. Victorine had risen as she had been told: once only
did she cast a transient and nonchalant look at the tall figure before
her, then she remained standing with bowed head. Similar inspections
had frequently taken place before; in each case the functionary had
briefly asked whether the prisoner wished anything or had any complaint
to make. This question she was waiting for now in order to reply as
briefly in the negative; she wanted nothing more.

But he was silent, and as she looked up surprised--"Merciful God!" she
cried, and reeled back on to her couch, covering her face with her
trembling hands.

She knew who this man was at once, at the first glance. How she had
recognised him with such lightning speed, she could not determine, even
later when she thought the matter over. It was half dark in the cell,
she had not properly seen his features and expression. Perhaps it was
his attitude which betrayed him. With bowed head, his hands listlessly
hanging by his sides, he stood there like a criminal before his judge.

At her exclamation, he looked up and came nearer. "Victorine," he
murmured. She did not understand him, so low was his stifled
articulation. "My child!" he then cried aloud and darted towards her.
She rose to her feet and stretched out her hands as if to repel him,
gazing at him all the while with widely opened eyes. And again she did
not know what it was that suddenly penetrated and moved her heart. Was
it because his face seemed familiar to her, mysteriously familiar, as
if she had seen it ever since she could think?... Yes, it was so! For
what unknown to herself, had overpowered her, was the likeness to her
own face. Or was it perhaps the silent misery of his face, the
beseeching look of his eyes? She felt the bitter animosity to which she
had despairingly clung, the one feeling of which she would not be
robbed, suddenly melt away.

"I cannot," she still faltered, but in the same breath she lifted up
her arms. "Father!" she cried and threw herself on his breast.

He caught her in his arms and covered her head and face with tears and
kisses. Then he drew her upon his knees and laid her head on his
breast. Thus they sat and neither spoke a word; only their tears flowed
on and on.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Half an hour might have passed since Sendlingen entered his daughter's
cell: to Berger, who was pacing up and down outside as sentry, it
seemed an eternity. The warder, too, was struck by the proceeding. This
zealous, but very loquacious official, whom Berger had known for many
years, approached him with a confidential smile. "There must--naturally
enough--be something strange going on in there," he said as he pointed
with a smirk towards the cell. "Something very strange."

Berger at first stared at the man as much disconcerted as if he had
said that he knew the secret. "What do you mean by that," he then said
roughly. "Your opinions are not wanted."

The warder looked at him amazed. "Well, such as we--naturally
enough--are at least entitled to our thoughts," he replied. "There has
been a run upon this cell since yesterday as if it contained a
princess! First the doctor. Father Rohn and you, Herr Berger--and now
his Lordship the Chief Justice, and all in little more than an hour's
time. That doesn't occur every day, and I know the reason for it."

Berger forced himself to smile. "Of course you do, because you're such
a smart fellow, Höbinger! What is the reason of it?"

"Well with you, Dr. Berger, I can--naturally enough--talk about the
matter," replied the warder flattered, "although you are the prisoner's
counsel and a friend of the Chief Justice. But in 1848 you made great
speeches and were always on the side of the people; you will not betray
me, Dr. Berger. Well--naturally enough--it is the old story: there is
no such thing as equality in this world! If she, in there, were a
servant-girl who had been led astray by a servant-man, not a soul would
trouble their heads about her! But she is an educated person, and what
is the principal thing--her seducer is a Count--that alters matters. Of
course she had to be condemned--naturally enough--because the law
requires it, but afterwards every care is taken of her, and if she were
to get off with a slight punishment I, for one, shouldn't be surprised.
Of course the Governor says that that's nonsense; if it were a case of
favouritism he says, Herr von Werner would have behaved differently to
her; the Vice Chief Justice, he says, has a very keen scent for
favouritism; you, Höbinger, he says--naturally enough--are an ass! But
I know what I know, and since his Lordship has taken the trouble to
come, not in a general inspection, but on a special visit that is
lasting longer than anything that has ever been heard or dreamt of, I
am quite convinced that it is not I, but on the contrary, the
Governor...."

But the crafty fellow did not allow this disrespect to his superior to
pass his lips, but contented himself by triumphantly concluding:
"Naturally enough--is it not, Dr. Berger?"

Berger thought it best to give no definite answer. If this chatter-box
were to confide his suspicions to the other prison officials, it would
at least be the most harmless interpretation and therefore he only
said: "You think too much, Höbinger. That has often proved dangerous to
many men."

Another half hour had gone by and Berger's anxiety and impatience
reached the highest pitch. He was uncertain whether to put a favourable
or an unfavourable interpretation upon this long stay of Sendlingen's,
and even if he had succeeded in touching his child's heart, yet any
further talk in this place and under these conditions was a danger. How
great a danger, Berger was soon to see plainly enough.

The artful Höbinger was slinking about near the cell more and more
restlessly. Only Berger's presence kept him from listening at the
key-hole, or from opening the little peep-hole at the door, through
which, unobserved by the prisoner, he could see the inside of every
cell.

The desire was getting stronger and stronger; his fingers itched to
press the spring that would open it. At last, just as Berger had turned
his back, he succumbed to his curiosity; the little wooden door flew
open noiselessly--he was going to fix his eyes in the opening....

At that moment Berger happened to turn round. "What are you doing
there?" he cried in such a way that the man started and stepped back.
In a second Berger was beside him, had seized his arms and flung him
aside. "What impertinence!" he cried.

The warder was trembling in every limb. "For God's sake," he begged,
"don't ruin me. I only wanted to see whether--whether his Lordship was
all right."

"That's a lie!" cried Berger with intentional loudness. "You have
dared----"

He did not require to finish the sentence; his object was attained:
Sendlingen opened the door and came out of the cell. His face bore once
more its wonted expression of kindly repose; he seemed to have
recovered complete mastery of himself.

"You can lock up again," he said to the warder. He seemed to understand
what had just passed for he asked no questions.

Still Höbinger thought it necessary to excuse himself. "My Lord,"
he stammered, "I only wanted to do my duty. It sometimes happens
that--that criminals become infuriated and attack the visitors."

"Does that poor creature in here strike you as being dangerous?" asked
Sendlingen. It seemed to Berger almost unnatural that he could put
forth the effort to say this, nay more, that he could at the same time
force a smile.

"My Lord----"

"Never mind, Höbinger! You were perhaps a little inquisitive, but that
shall be overlooked in consideration of your former good conduct.
Besides, prisoners are allowed no secrets, at all events after their
sentence." Turning to Berger he continued: "She must be taken to the
Infirmary this afternoon, it is a necessity. Have you anything else to
do here? No? Well, come back with me."

It all sounded so calm, so business-like--Berger could hardly contain
his astonishment. He would never have believed his friend capable of
such strength and especially after such a night--after such an
interview! "I admire your strength of nerve," cried he when they got
out into the street. "That was a fearful moment."

"Indeed it was!" agreed Sendlingen, his voice trembling for the first
time. "If the fellow had cast one single look through the peep-hole, we
should have both been lost! Fancy Höbinger, the warder, seeing the
Chief Justice with a criminal in his arms!"

"Ah then, it came to that?"

"Should I otherwise be so calm? I am calm because I have now an object
again, because I see a way of doing my duty. Oh, George, how right you
were: happy indeed am I that I live and can pay my debt."

"What do you think of doing?"

"First of all the most important thing: to preserve her life, to
prepare her for life. As I just said, she shall be allotted a cell in
the Infirmary and have a patient's diet. I may do this without
dereliction of duty: I should have to take such measures with anyone
else if I knew the circumstances as accurately as I do in this case."

"But you will not be able to visit her too often in the Infirmary,"
objected Berger.

"Certainly not," replied Sendlingen. "I see that the danger is too
great, and I told her so. Yes, you were right in that too: it is no
secondary consideration whether our relationship remains undiscovered
or not. I cannot understand how it was that I did not see this before:
why, as I now see, _everything_ depends upon that. And I see things
clearly now; this interview has worked a miracle in me, George--it has
rent the veil before my eyes, it has dispelled the mist in my brain. I
know I can see Victorine but seldom. On the other hand Brigitta will be
with her daily: for she is a member of the 'Women's Society,' and it
will strike nobody if she specially devotes herself to my poor child."

"It will not strike others, but will she not herself guess the truth?"

"Why, she shall know all! I will tell her this very day. She is
entirely devoted to me, brave and sterling, the best of women. Besides
I have no choice. Intercourse with a good, sensible woman is of the
most urgent necessity to my poor dear. But I have not resolved on this
step simply for that reason. I shall need this faithful soul later on
as well."

"I understand--after the term of imprisonment is at an end."

Sendlingen stood still and looked at his friend; it was the old look
full of wretchedness and despair. "Yes!" he said unsteadily.
"Certainly, I had hardly thought of that. I do not indulge any
extravagant hopes: I am prepared for anything, even for the worst. And
just in this event Brigitta's help would be more than ever
indispensable to me."

"If the worst were to happen?" asked Bergen "How am I to understand
that?"

Sendlingen made no reply. Not until Berger repeated the question did he
say, slowly and feebly: "Such things should not be talked about, not
with anyone, not even with a best friend, not even with one's self.
Such a thing is not even dwelt upon in thought; it is done when it has
to be done."

His look was fixed as he spoke, like a man gazing into a far distance
or down into a deep abyss. Then his face became calm and resolved
again. "One thing more," he said. "You have finished drawing up the
appeal? May I read it? Forgive me, of course I have every confidence in
you. But see! so much depends upon it for me, perhaps something might
occur to me that would be of importance!"

"What need of asking?" interrupted Berger. "It would be doing me a
service. We will go through the document together this very day."

When he called on his friend in the evening with this object, Fräulein
Brigitta came out to see him. The old lady's eyes were red with crying,
but her face was, as it were, lit up with a strong and noble emotion.

"I have already visited her," she whispered to Berger. "Oh believe me,
she is an angel, a thousand times purer than are many who plume
themselves or their virtue. I bade her be of good cheer, and then I
told her much about his Lordship--who knows better how, who knows him
better? She listened to me peacefully, crying quietly all the time and
I had to cry too--. But all will come right; I am quite sure of it. If
the God above us were to let these two creatures perish, _these_
two----"

Her voice broke with deep emotion. Berger silently pressed her hand and
entered the study.

He found his friend calm and collected. Sendlingen no longer
complained; no word, no look, betrayed the burden that oppressed his
soul. He dispatched his business with Berger conscientiously and
thoroughly, and as dispassionately as if it were a Law examination
paper. More than that--when he came to a place where Berger, in the
exaltation of the moment, had chosen too strong an expression, he
always stopped him: "That won't do: we must find calmer and more
temperate words!" And usually it was he too who found these calmer and
more temperate words.

Down to the last word he maintained this clearness, this almost
unnatural calm. Not until Berger had folded his paper and was putting
it in his pocket did the consciousness of his misery seem to return.
Involuntarily he stretched forth his hand towards the paper.

"You want to refer to something again?" asked Berger.

"No!" His hand dropped listlessly. "Besides it is all labour in vain.
My lot is cast."

"Your lot?" cried Berger. "However much you may be bound up with the
fate of your child, you must not say that!"

"_My_ lot, _only_ my lot!"

Berger observed the same peculiar look and tone he had before noticed
when Sendlingen said that such things should not be spoken of even to
one's self.... But this time Berger wanted to force him to an
explanation. "You talk in riddles," he began; but he got no further,
for, with a decision that made any further questions impossible,
Sendlingen interrupted him:

"May I be spared the hour when you learn to know this riddle! Even you
can have no better wish than this for me! Why vainly sound the lowest
depths? Good night, George, and thanks a thousand, thousand times!"



                              CHAPTER IX.


Six weeks had elapsed since the dispatch of the appeal: Christmas was
at the door. The days had come and gone quickly without bringing any
fresh storm, any fresh danger, but certainly without dispelling even
one of the clouds that hung threateningly over the heads of these two
much-to-be-commiserated beings.

Berger was with Sendlingen daily, and daily his questioning look
received the same answer; a mute shake of the head--the decision had
not yet arrived. The Supreme Court had had the papers connected with
the trial brought under its notice; beyond the announcement of this
self-evident fact, not a line had come from Vienna. This silence was
certainly no good sign, but it did not necessarily follow that it was a
bad one. To be sure the lawyer examining the case, unless, from the
first, he attributed no importance whatever to Berger's statements,
should have demanded more detailed information from the Court at
Bolosch, and all the more because Baron Dernegg's dissentient vote was
recorded in the papers. Still, perhaps this silence was simply to be
explained by the fact that he had not had an opportunity of going into
the case.

Berger held fast to this consoling explanation, or at least pretended
to do so, when the subject came up in conversation, which was seldom
enough; he did not like to begin it, and Sendlingen equally avoided it.
It almost seemed to Berger as if his unhappy friend welcomed the delay
in the decision, as if he gladly dragged on in a torture of uncertainty
from day to day--anything so as not to look the dread horror in the
face. And indeed Sendlingen every morning sighed with relief, when the
moment of horrid suspense had gone by, when he had looked through the
Vienna mail and found nothing. But this did not arise from the motive
which Berger supposed, but from a better feeling. Sendlingen rejoiced
in every hour of respite that gave his poor child more time to gather
strength of soul and body.

The shattered health of Victorine mended visibly, day by day. The
deathly pallor disappeared, her weakness lessened, the look of her eyes
was clearer and steadier. The doctor observed it with glad astonishment
and no little pride; he ascribed the improvement to his remedies, to
the better nourishment and care which on his representations had been
allotted her. When he boasted of it to his friend, Father Rohn, the
good priest met him with as bantering a smile as his kind heart would
allow; he knew better. If this poor child was blossoming again, the
merit was entirely his. Had not the doctor himself said that she could
only be saved by a change in her frame of mind? And had not this change
really set in even more visibly than her physical improvement?

A new spirit had entered into Victorine. She no longer sat gazing in
melancholy brooding, she no longer yearned for death, and when the
priest sought to nourish in her the hope of pardon--in the sincerest
conviction, for he looked upon the confirmation of the death-sentence
as an impossibility--she nodded to him, touched and grateful. She
seemed, now, to understand him when he told her that the repentance of
a sinner and his after life of good works, were more pleasing to the
good God above than his death. And when he once more led the
conversation to the man who, in spite of everything, was her father and
perhaps at this moment was suffering the bitterest anguish on her
account, when he begged her not to harden her heart against the
unknown, he had the happiness of hearing her say with fervour in her
looks and voice: "I have forgiven him from the bottom of my heart. The
thought of him has completely restored me! Perhaps God will grant me to
be a good daughter to him some day!" So the words of comfort and the
exhortations of the good priest had really not been in vain.

The true state of the case nobody even suspected; the secret was
stringently kept. No doubt it struck many people and gave occasion to a
variety of gossip, that Fräulein Brigitta visited the condemned
prisoner almost daily, and the Chief Justice almost weekly, but a
sufficient explanation was sought and found. Good-natured and
inoffensive people thought that Victorine Lippert was a creature so
much to be pitied, that these two noble characters were only following
their natural instincts in according her a special pity; the malevolent
adopted the crafty Höbinger's view, and talked of "favouritism"; the
aristocratic betrayer and his mother the Countess, they said, had after
all an uneasy conscience as to whether they had not behaved too harshly
to the poor creature, and the representations they had made to their
fellow-aristocrat, Baron von Sendlingen, had not been in vain.
Certainly this report could only be maintained in uninitiated circles;
anyone who was intimately acquainted with the aristocratic society of
the province knew well enough, that the Countess Riesner-Graskowitz was
assuredly the last person in the world to experience a single movement
of pity for the condemned girl.

Be that as it might, Sendlingen behaved in this case as he had all his
life behaved in any professional matter: humanely and kindly, but
strictly according to the law and without over-stepping his duty by a
hair's breadth. The better attention, the separate cell in the
Infirmary, would certainly have been allotted to any one else about
whom the doctor had made the same representations. When Father Rohn,
moved by his sense of compassion, sought to obtain some insignificant
favour that went beyond these lines--it had reference to some
absolutely trifling regulation of the house--the Governor of the gaol
was ready to grant it, but the Chief Justice rigidly set his face
against the demand.

When Berger heard of this trivial incident, a heavy burden which he had
been silently carrying for weeks, without daring to seek for certainty
in a conversation on the subject, was rolled from his heart. He had put
an interpretation on the mysterious words that Sendlingen had uttered
the day after the trial, which had filled him with the profoundest
sorrow,--more than that with terror. Now he saw his mistake: a man who
so strictly obeyed his conscience in small matters where there was no
fear of discovery, would assuredly in any greater conflict between
inclination and duty, hold fast unrelentingly to justice and honour.

He was soon to be strengthened in this view.

It was three days before Christmas-day when he once more entered his
friend's chambers. He found him buried in the perusal of letters which,
however, he now pushed from him.

"The mail from Vienna is not in yet," he said, "the train must have got
blocked in the snow. But I have letters from Pfalicz. The Chief Justice
of the Higher Court there, to whose position I am to succeed, asks
whether it would not be possible for me to release him soon after the
New Year, instead of at the end of February, as the Minister of Justice
arranged. He is unwell, and ought to go South as soon as possible."

"Great Heavens!" cried Berger. "Why, we have forgotten all about that."
And indeed those stormy days and the succeeding weeks of silent,
anxious suffering had hardly allowed him to think of Sendlingen's
impending promotion and departure.

"I have not," replied Sendlingen, gloomily. "The thought that I had to
go, has often enough weighed me down more heavily than all my other
burdens. How gladly I would stay here now, even if they degraded me
to--to the post of Governor of the prison! But I have now no option. I
have definitely accepted the position at Pfalicz and I must enter upon
it."

"And do you really think of departing at the New Year?"

"No, that would be beyond my duty. I should be glad to oblige the
invalid, but as you know, I cannot. I shall stay till the end of
February; the decision must have come by that time."

He again bent over a document that lay before him. Berger too, was
silent, he went to the window and stared out into the grey dusk; it
seemed as if the snow-storm would never cease.

There was a knock at the door; a clerk of the Court of Record entered.
"From the Supreme Court," he announced, laying a packet with a large
seal on the table. "It has just arrived. Personally addressed to your
lordship."

The clerk departed; Berger approached the table. When he saw how
excited Sendlingen was, how long he remained gazing at the letter, he
shook his head. "That cannot be the decision," he said. "It would
not be addressed to you. It is some indifferent matter, a question of
discipline, a pension."

Sendlingen nodded and broke the seal. But at the first glance a deathly
pallor overspread his face, and the paper in his hands trembled so
violently that he had to lay it on the table in order to read it to the
end. "Read for yourself," he then muttered.

Berger glanced through the paper; he too felt his heart beat
impetuously as he did so. It was certainly not the decision, only a
brief charge, but its contents were almost equivalent to it.

The lawyers examining the appeal had, as Berger hoped, been struck by
Baron Dernegg's dissentient vote and the motives for this. Dernegg was
not of the opinion of his brother judges that this was a case of
premeditated murder, maliciously planned months beforehand, but a deed
done suddenly, in a paroxysm of despair, nay, most probably in a moment
when the girl was not accountable for her actions. Against this more
clement view, there certainly were the depositions of the Countess, and
Victorine's attempts to conceal her condition. But on the other hand,
her only _confidante_, the servant-girl, had deposed at the preliminary
inquiry that Victorine had only made these attempts by her advice and
with her help, and, moreover, with the sole object of staying in the
house until the young Count should come to her aid. This testimony,
however, she had withdrawn at the trial. Berger had chiefly based his
appeal to nullify the trial, on the fact that the witness, in spite of
this contradiction, had been put on her oath, and to the examining
lawyer, also, this seemed a point of decisive importance. The Chief
Justice was, therefore, commissioned to completely elucidate it by a
fresh examination of the witness. Probably the charge had been directed
to him personally because, as it stated, neither Herr von Werner nor
any of the other judges who had been in favour of putting her on oath,
could very well be entrusted with the inquiry. But if Sendlingen were
actually too busy with other matters to conduct the examination, he
might hand it over to the third Judge, Herr von Hoche.

"What will you do?" asked Berger. "The matter is of the gravest
importance. That the girl gave false evidence at the trial, that this
was her return for being taken back into the Countess' service, we know
for a certainty. The only question is whether we can convict her of it.
An energetic Judge could without doubt do so, but will old Hoche, now
over seventy, succeed? He is a good man, but his years weigh heavily
upon him, he is dragging himself through his duties till the date of
his retirement--four weeks hence--I fancy as best he can. And therefore
once again--what will you do, Victor?"

"I don't know," he murmured. "Leave me alone. I must think it out by
myself. Forgive me! my conscience alone can decide in such a matter.
Good-bye till this evening, George."

Berger departed; his heart was as heavy as ever it had been. In the
first ebullition of feeling, moved by his pity for these two beings, he
had wished to compel his friend to undertake the inquiry, but now he
had scruples. Was not the position the same as on the day of the trial?
And if he then approved of his friend's resolution not to preside,
could he now urge him to undertake a similar task? Certainly the
conflict was now more acute, more painfully accentuated, but was
Sendlingen's duty as a Judge any the less on that account? Again the
thought rose in Berger's mind which a few weeks ago had comforted him
and lifted him above the misery of the moment: that there was a
solution of these complications, a great, a liberating solution--there
must be, just because this man was what he was! But even now he did not
know how to find this solution; one thing only was clear to him: if
Sendlingen undertook the inquiry and thus saved his child, it would be
an act for which there would be all manner of excuses but it would
assuredly not be that great, saving act of which he dreamt! And yet if
Hoche in his weakness ruined the case and did not bring the truth to
light, if she perhaps had to die now that she had begun to hope again,
now that she had waked to a new life ... Berger closed his eyes as if
to shut out the terrible picture that obtruded itself upon him, and yet
it rose again and again.

At dusk, just as he was starting to his friend's, Fräulein Brigitta
called to see him.

"I am to tell you," she began, "that his Lordship wants you to postpone
your visit until to-morrow. But it is not on that account that I have
come, but because I am oppressed with anxiety. Has the decision
arrived? He is as much upset again as he was on the day of the trial."

Berger comforted her as well as he could. "It is only a momentary
excitement," he assured her, "and will soon pass."

"I only thought so because he is behaving just as he did then. It
is a singular thing; he has been rummaging for those keys again. You
know,--the one that opens the little door in the court-yard wall. I
came in just in the nick of time to see him take it out of his
writing-table drawer. And just as before, it seemed to annoy him to be
surprised in the act.--Isn't that strange?"

"Very strange!" he replied. But he added hastily: "It must have been a
mere chance."

"Certainly, it can only have been a coincidence," he thought after
Brigitta had gone, "it would be madness to impute such a thing to him,
to him who was horrified at the idea of conducting the trial and
equally at the thought of conducting this examination. And yet when he
first seized upon that key, the idea must certainly have taken a
momentary possession of him, and that it should have returned to him
to-day, to-day of all days."

As he was the next day walking along the corridor that led to
Sendlingen's chambers, he met Mr. Justice Hoche. The hoary old man,
supporting himself with difficulty by the aid of a stick, was looking
very testy.

"Only think," he grumbled, "what an odious task the Chief Justice has
just laid upon me. It will interest you, you were Counsel for the
defence in the case." And he told him of the charge at great length.
"Well, what do you say to that? Isn't it odious?"

"It is a very serious undertaking!" said Berger. "The matter is one of
the greatest importance."

"Yes, and just for that reason," grumbled the old man, almost
whimpering. "I do not want to undertake any such responsibility, now,
when merely thinking gives me a head-ache. I suffer a great deal from
head-aches, Dr. Berger. And it is such a ticklish undertaking! For you
see either the maid-servant told the truth at the trial, in which case
this fresh examination is superfluous, or she lied and _ergo_ was
guilty of perjury and _ergo_ is a very tricky female! And how am I ever
to get to the bottom of a tricky female, Dr. Berger?"

"Did you tell the Chief Justice this?" asked Berger.

"Oh, of course! For half an hour I was telling him about my condition
and how I always get a head-ache now if I have to think. But he stuck
to his point, 'you will have to undertake the matter: you must exert
yourself!' Good Heavens! what power of exertion has one left at
seventy years of age! Well, good morning, dear Dr. Berger! But it's
odious--most odious!"

Berger looked after the old man as he painfully hobbled along: "And in
such hands," he thought, "rests the fate of my two friends."

Under the weight of this thought, he had not the courage to face
Sendlingen. He turned and went home in a melancholy mood.

When the next day towards noon, he was turning homewards after a trial
at which he had been the defending barrister, he again met Mr. Justice
Hoche, who was just leaving the building, in the portico of the Courts.
The old gentleman was manifestly in a high state of contentment.

"Well," asked Berger, "is the witness here already? Have you begun the
examination?"

"Begun? I have ended it!" chuckled the old man.

"And _re bene gesta_ one is entitled to rest. I shall let the law take
care of itself to-day and go home. I haven't even got a head-ache over
it; certainly it didn't require any great effort of thought--I soon got
at the truth."

"Indeed?--and what is the truth?"

"H'm! I don't suppose it will be particularly agreeable to you,"
laughed the old Judge, leaning confidentially on Berger's arm. "Though
for the matter of that you may be quite indifferent about it: you have
done your duty, your appeal was certainly splendidly drawn up, but what
further interest can you have in this person? For she is a thoroughly
good-for-nothing person, and that's why she is dying so young! What
stories that servant-girl has told me about her, stories, my dear
doctor, that an old barrack-wall would have blushed to hear. She was
hardly seventeen years old when she came to the Countess', but already
had a dozen intrigues on her record, and what things she told her
_confidante_ about them, and which were repeated to me to-day--why, it
is a regular Decameron, my dear doctor, or more properly speaking:
Boccaccio in comparison is a chaste Carthusian."

Berger violently drew his arm out of the old man's. "That's a lie!" he
said between his teeth. "A scandalous calumny!"

The old Judge looked at him, quite put out of countenance. "Why, what
an idea," he cried. "If it were not so, this servant-girl would be a
tricky female."

"So she is."

"She is not! Oh, I know human nature. On the contrary, she is
good-natured and stupid. No one could tell lies with such assurance,
after having just been solemnly admonished to speak the truth. It is
all incontestably true; all her adventures: and how from the first she
had hatched a regular plot to corrupt the young Count. The crafty young
person calculated in this way: if our _liaison_ has consequences, I
shall perhaps inveigle the young man into a marriage, and if I don't
succeed I shall kill the child and look out for another place!"

"But just consider this one fact," cried Berger. "If this had actually
been Victorine Lippert's plan she would certainly have reflected: if I
can't force a marriage, I shall at least get a handsome maintenance!
and in that case she would not have killed her child, but carefully
have preserved its life."

The old Judge meditatively laid his finger on his nose. "Look here, Dr.
Berger," he said importantly, "that is a very reasonable objection. But
it has been adduced already, not by me, to tell the truth, but by my
assistant, a very wise young man. But the witness was able to give a
perfectly satisfactory explanation on the subject. To be sure, she only
did so after repeated questions and in a hesitating and uncertain
manner--the good, kind-hearted girl could with difficulty bring herself
to add still more to the criminal's load, but at length she had to
speak out. Thus we almost accidentally extracted a very important
detail that proved to be of great importance in determining the case.
It is a truly frightful story. Only fancy, this mere girl, this
Victorine Lippert, has always had a sort of thirst for the murder of
little children. She repeatedly said to the girl long before the deed,
before the young Count came to the Castle at all: 'Strange! but
whenever I see a little child, I always feel my hands twitching to
strangle it.' Frightful--isn't it. Dr. Berger?"

"Frightful indeed!" cried Berger, "if you have believed this
poorly-contrived story of the wretched, perjured woman--poorly-contrived,
and invented in the necessity of the moment so as to meet the objection
of your assistant, so as not to be caught in her net of lies, so as to
render the Countess another considerable service."

"Really, you will not listen to reason," said the old man, now
seriously annoyed. "I feel my head-ache coming on again. Do you mean to
say that you accuse the Countess of conniving at perjury! A lady of the
highest aristocracy! Excuse me, Dr. Berger--that is going too far! You
are a liberal, a radical, I know, but that doesn't make every Countess
a criminal. But if this is really your opinion of the witness, take out
a summons for perjury at once!"

"It may come to that," replied Berger.

The old man shook his head. "Spare yourself the trouble," he said
good-naturedly, "it will prove ineffectual, but you may certainly get
yourself into great difficulties. Why expose yourself, for the sake of
such an abandoned creature, to an action for libel on the part of the
Countess and her servant? How abandoned she is, you have no suspicion!
I have, thank Heaven, concealed the worst of all from you, and you
shall not learn it at my hands. You may read for yourself in the
minutes. I do not wish to make a scene in the street. I was so enjoying
this fine afternoon, and you have quite spoilt my good humour. Well,
good-bye. Dr. Berger, I will forgive you. You have allowed yourself to
be carried away by your pity, but you are bestowing it upon an unworthy
creature! The witness gave me the impression of being absolutely
trustworthy, and I have stated so in the minutes! I considered myself
bound in conscience to do so."

"Then you have a human life on your conscience!" Berger blurted out. He
had not meant to say anything so harsh, but the words escaped him
involuntarily.

The old man started and clasped his hands. His face twitched, and
bright tears stood in his eyes.

"What have I done to you?" he moaned. "Why do you say such a horrible
thing? Why do you upset me? I have always considered you a good man,
and now you behave like this to me!"

Berger stepped up to him and offered his hand. "Forgive me," he said,
"your intention is good and pure, I know. And just for that reason I
implore you to reflect well before you let the minutes go out of your
hands."

"That is already done. I have just handed them to the Chief Justice."

"And what did he say?"

"Nothing, what should he say? Certainly he too seemed to be put out
about something, for when I was about to enter on a brief discourse, he
dismissed me a little abruptly."

"But it is open to you to demand the minutes back, and examine the
witness again. Keep a sterner eye upon her, and the contradictions in
which she gets involved will certainly become evident to you. At her
first examination she could only say the best things of Victorine
Lippert, at the trial she had lost her memory, and now of a sudden
nothing is too bad."

"Oh, you barristers!" cried the Judge. "How you twist everything! The
kind-hearted creature wanted to save Victorine Lippert and pity moved
her to lie at first: she has just openly and repentantly confessed that
she did. But at the trial, before the Crucifix, before the Judges, her
courage left her. She was silent, because like a good and chaste girl,
she could not bring herself to speak before a crowd of people of all
those repulsive details. You see, everything is explained. You are
talking in vain."

"In vain!" Berger sighed profoundly. "Good-bye," he said turning to go.

But after he had gone a few steps, Hoche called after him. The old
man's eyes were full of tears. "You are angry with me?" he said.

"No."

"Well, you have no reason to be angry, though I have--but I forgive
you. By what you said you might easily have made me unhappy if the case
had not been so clear. Certainly I am upset now. To-morrow is Christmas
Eve; my children and grand-children will come and bring me presents,
and I shall give them presents, and I shall think all the time: Hoche,
what a frightful thing if you were a murderer! You will take back your
words, won't you? I am no murderer, am I?"

Berger looked at the childish old man. "O tragicomedy of life!" he
thought, but added aloud:

"No, Herr Hoche, you are no murderer."

In the evening he went to see Sendlingen and look over the minutes
which he too had the right of disputing. He would have been
disconsolate enough if he had not already known their contents; as it
was the extraordinary tone of the document cheered him a little. The
'wise young man' was perhaps himself an author, or at least had
certainly read a great many cheap novels; the style in which he had
reproduced the servant girl's imaginations was, in the worst sense of
the word "fine!" How this lessened the danger of the contents was shown
especially, by that worst fact of all which Hoche could not bring
himself to pronounce, and which was of such monstrous baseness that the
faith of even the most vapid of judges must have been shaken in all the
rest.

"That is quite harmless," said Berger. "More than that, these monstrous
lies are just the one bit of luck in all our misfortunes."

"Certainly!" Sendlingen agreed. "But we must not count too much upon
them. The examining judge may not believe everything, but he will
certainly not discredit everything. It could not be expected after
Hoche's enthusiastic advocacy of the witness' credibility."

"And yet these minutes must be sent off. Would it not be possible to
hand over the inquiry to some one else?"

"Impossible, or I would have done so yesterday. Either I or Hoche--the
charge of the Supreme Court is clear enough! And _I_ could not do it!
It seemed to me mean and cowardly, treacherous and paltry, to break my
Judge's oath, trusting to the silence of the three people who beside me
know the secret, trusting moreover never to have to undergo punishment
for my offence. To this consideration it seemed to me that every other
must give way."

Berger was silent. "Would it not be possible to take out a summons for
perjury?" he resumed.

"No," cried Sendlingen, "it would be an utterly useless delay! Success
in the present position of things is not to be hoped for."

Berger bowed his head.

"Then Justice will suffer once again," he said in deep distress. "I
will not reproach you. When I put myself in your place--I cannot trust
myself to say that I should have done the same. I only presume I
should, but this one thing I do know, that in accordance with your
whole nature you have acted rightly. Still, ever since the moment that
I spoke to Hoche, I cannot silence a tormenting question. Ought
fidelity to the Law be stronger than fidelity to Justice? You would not
undertake the inquiry because a father may not take part in an
examination conducted against his child, but were you justified in
handing it over to a man who was no longer in a condition to find out
the truth, to fulfil his duty? Has not justice suffered at your hands
by your respect for the law, that justice, I mean, which speaks aloud
in the heart of every man?"

Sendlingen was staring gloomily at the floor. Then he raised his eyes
and looked his friend full in the face. The expression of his
countenance, the tone of his voice became almost solemn.

"I have fought out for myself an answer to this question. I may not
tell you what it is; but one thing I can solemnly swear: this outraged
justice to which you refer will receive the expiation which is its
due."



                               CHAPTER X.


Christmas was past, New Year had come, the year 1853, one of the most
melancholy that the Austrian Empire had ever known. The atmosphere was
more charged than ever, coercion more and more severe, the confederacy
between the authorities of Church and State closer and closer.
Melancholy reports alarmed the minds of peaceful citizens: the Italian
Provinces were in a state of ferment, a conspiracy was discovered in
Hungary, and a secret league of the Slavs at Prague. How strong or how
weak these occult endeavours against the authority and peace of the
state might be, no one knew. One thing only was manifest: the severity
with which they were treated; and perhaps in this severity lay the
greatest danger of all. It was the old sad story that so often repeats
itself in the life of nations, and was then appearing in a new shape;
tyranny had called forth a counter-tyranny and this, in its turn, a
fresh tyranny. The police had much to do everywhere, and in some
districts the Courts of Justice too.

One of the greatest of the political investigations had, since
Christmas 1852, devolved upon the Court at Bolosch. The middle
classes of this manufacturing town were exclusively Germans, the
working-classes principally Slavs. It was among these latter that the
police believed they had discovered the traces of a highly treasonable
movement. About thirty workmen were arrested and handed over to
Justice. Sendlingen, assisted by Dernegg, personally conducted the
investigation. He had made the same selection in all the political
arrangements of the last few years, although he knew that any other
would have been more acceptable to the authorities. Certainly neither
he nor Dernegg were Liberals--much less Radicals--who sympathised with
Revolution and Revolutionaries. On the contrary both these aristocrats
had thoroughly conservative inclinations, at all events in that good
sense of the word which was then and is now so little understood in
Austria, and is so seldom given practical effect. They were, moreover,
entirely honourable and independent judges. But there was a prejudice
in those days against men of unyielding character, especially in the
case of political trials. There was an opinion that "pedantry" was out
of place where the interests of the state were at stake. Sendlingen, on
the other hand, was convinced that a political investigation should not
be conducted differently from any other, and it was precisely in this
inquisition into the conduct of the workmen that he manifested the
greatest zeal, but at the same time the most complete impartiality.

Divers reasons had determined him to devote all his energy to the case.
The diversion of his thoughts from his own misery did him good: the
ceaseless work deadened the painful suspense in which he was awaiting
the decision from Vienna. Moreover his knowledge of men and things had
predisposed him to believe that these poor rough fellows had not so
much deserved punishment as pity, and after a few days he was convinced
of the justice of this supposition.

These raftsmen and weavers and smiths who were all utterly ignorant,
who had never been inside a school, who scarcely knew a prayer save the
Lord's Prayer, who dragged on existence in cheerless wretchedness, were
perhaps more justified in their mute impeachment of the body politic,
than deserving of the accusations brought against them. They did not go
to confession, they often sang songs that had stuck in their minds
since 1848, and some of them had, in public houses and factories,
delivered speeches on the injustice of the economy of the world and
state as it was reflected in their unhappy brains. This was all; and
this did not make them enemies of the State or of the Emperor. On the
contrary, the record of their examination nearly always testified the
opinion: "the only misfortune was that the young Emperor knew nothing
of their condition, otherwise he would help them." Sendlingen's noble
heart was contracted with pity, whenever he heard such utterances. And
these men he was to convict of high treason! No! not an instant longer
than was absolutely necessary should they remain away from their
families and trades.

On the Feast of the Epiphany Sendlingen was sitting in his Chambers
examining a raftsman, an elderly man of herculean build with a heavy,
sullen face, covered with long straggling, iron-grey hair; Johannes
Novyrok was his name. The police had indicated him as particularly
dangerous, but he did not prove to be worse than the rest.

"Why don't you go to confession?" asked Sendlingen finally when all the
other grounds of suspicion had been discussed.

"Excuse me, my Lord," respectfully answered the man in Czech. "But do
you go?"

Sendlingen looked embarrassed and was about to sharply reprove him for
his impertinent question, but a look at the man's face disarmed him.
There was neither impertinence nor insolence written there, but rather
a painful look of anxiety and yearning that strangely affected
Sendlingen. "Why?" he asked.

"Because I might be able to regulate my conduct by yours," replied the
raftsman. "You see, my Lord, I differ from my brethren. People such as
we, they think, have no time to sin, much less to confess. The God
there used to be, must surely be dead, they say, otherwise there would
be more justice in the world; and if he is still alive, he knows well
enough that anyhow we have got hell on this earth and will not suffer
us to be racked and roasted by devils in the next world. But I have
never agreed with such sentiments; they strike me as being silly and
when my mates say: rich people have a good time of it, let them go to
confession,--why, its arrant nonsense. For I don't believe that any one
on earth has a good time of it, not even the rich, but that everybody
has their trouble and torment. And therefore I should very much like to
hear what a wise and good man, who must understand these things much
better than I do, has to say to it all. It might meet my case. And I
happen to have particular confidence in you. In the first place because
you're better and wiser than most men, so at least says every one in
the town, and this can't be either hypocrisy or flattery, because they
say so behind your back. But I further want to hear your opinion,
because I know for certain that you have an aching heart and plenty of
trouble."

"How do you know that?"

Novyrok glanced at the short-hand clerk sitting near Sendlingen and who
was manifestly highly tickled at the simplicity of this ignorant
workman. "I could only tell you," he said shyly, "if you were to send
that young man out of the room. It is no secret, but such fledglings
don't understand life yet."

The young clerk was much astonished when Sendlingen actually made a
sign to him to withdraw.

"Thank you," said the raftsman after the door was shut "Well, how I
know of your trouble? In the first place one can read it in your
face, and secondly I saw you one stormy night--it may be eight weeks
ago--wandering about the streets by yourself. You went down to the
river; I was watchman on a raft at the time and I saw you plainly.
There were tears running down your cheeks, but even if your eyes had
been dry--well no one goes roaming alone and at random on such a night,
unless he is in great trouble."

Sendlingen bowed his head lower over the papers before him. Novyrok
continued:

"An hour later, your friend brought you into our inn whither I had come
in the meanwhile after my mate had relieved me of the watch. You were
unconscious. I helped to carry you and take you home.... I don't tell
you this in the hope that you may punish me less than I deserve, but
just that I may say to you: you too, my Lord, know what suffering
is--do you find the thought of God comforting, and what do you think of
confession?"

Sendlingen made no reply; the recollection of that most fatal night of
his existence and the solemn question of the poor fellow, had deeply
moved him. "You must have experienced something, Novyrok," he said at
length, "that has shaken your Faith."

"Something, my Lord? Alas, everything!--Alas, my whole life! I don't
believe there are many people to whom the world is a happy place, but
such men as I should never have been born at all. I have never known
father or mother, I came into the world in a foundling hospital on a
Sylvester's Eve some fifty years ago--the exact date I don't know--and
that's why they called me 'Novyrok' (New-Year). I had to suffer a great
deal because of my birth; it is beyond all belief how I was knocked
about as a boy and youth among strangers--even a dog knows its mother
but I did not. And therefore one thing very soon became clear to me:
many disgraceful things happen on this earth, but the most disgraceful
thing of all is to bring children into the world in this way. Don't you
think so, my Lord?"

Sendlingen did not answer.

"And I acted accordingly," continued Novyrok, "and had no love-affair,
though I had to put great restraint upon myself. I don't know whether
virtue is easy to rich people; to the poor it is very bitter. It was
not until I became steersman of a raft and was earning four gulden a
week that I married an honest girl, a laundress, and she bore me a
daughter. That was a bright time, my Lord, but it didn't last long. My
wife began to get sickly and couldn't any longer earn any thing; we got
into want, although I honestly did my utmost and often, after the raft
was brought to, I chopped wood or stacked coal all night through when I
got the chance. Well, however poorly we had to live, we did manage to
live; things didn't get really bad till she died. My mates advised me
then to give the care of my child to other people--and go as a raftsman
to foreign parts, on a big river, the Elbe or the Danube: 'Wages,' they
said, 'are twice as much there and you, as an able raftsman, can't help
getting on.' But I hadn't got it in my heart to leave my little
daughter. Besides I was anxious about her; to be sure she was only
just thirteen, and a good, honest child, but she promised to be very
nice-looking. If you go away, I said to myself, you may perhaps stay
away for many years, and there are plenty of men in this world without
a conscience, and temptation is great! So I stayed, and so as not to be
separated from her even for a week, I gave up being a raftsman and
became a workman at a foundry. But I was awkward at the work, the wages
were pitiful, and though my daughter, poor darling, stitched her eyes
out of her head, we were more often hungry than full. I frequently
complained, not to her, but to others, and cursed my wretched
existence--I was a fool! for I was happy in those days; I did my duty
to my child."

Novyrok paused. Sendlingen sighed deeply. "And then?" he asked.

"Then, my Lord," continued the raftsman, "then came the dark hour, when
I yielded to my folly and selfishness. Maybe I am too hard on myself in
saying this, for I thought more of my child's welfare than my own, and
many people thought what I did reasonable. But otherwise I must accuse
Him above, and before I do that I would rather accuse myself. But I
will tell you what happened in a few words. A former mate of mine who
was working at the salt shipping trade on the Traun, persuaded me to go
with him, just for one summer, and the high wages tempted me. My girl
was sixteen at that time; she was like a rose, my Lord, to look at. But
before I went I told her my story, where I was born and who my mother
very likely was, and I said to her: 'Live honestly, my girl, or when I
come back in the autumn I will strike you dead, and then jump into the
deepest part of the river.' She cried and swore to me she'd be good.
But when I came back in the autumn----"

He sobbed. It was some time before he added in a hollow voice: "Hanka
was my daughter's name. Perhaps you remember the case, my Lord. It took
place in this house. Certainly it's a long while ago; it will be seven
years next spring."

"Hanka Novyrok," Sendlingen laid his hand on his forehead. "I
remember!" he then said. "That was the name of the girl who--who died
in her cell during her imprisonment upon trial."

"She hanged herself," said Novyrok, sepulchrally. "It happened in the
night; the next morning she was to have come before the Judges. She had
murdered her child."

There was a very long silence after this. Novyrok then resumed:

"You didn't examine me about the case, you would have understood me.
The other Judge before whom I was taken didn't understand me when I
said: 'This is a controversy between me and Him up above, for either He
is at fault or I am.' The Judge at first thought that grief had turned
my head, but when he understood what I said, he abused me roundly and
called me a blasphemer. But I am not that. I believe in Him. I do not
blaspheme Him, only I want to know how I stand with Him. It would be
the greatest kindness to me, my Lord, if you could decide for me."

"Poor fellow," said Sendlingen, "don't torment yourself any more about
it; such things nobody can decide."

Novyrok shook his head with a sigh. "A man like you ought to be able to
make it out," he said, "although I can see that it is not easy. For
look here--how does the case stand? A wretched blackguard, a
linendraper for whom she used to sew, seduced her in my absence. If I
had stayed here, it would not have happened. When I came back I learnt
nothing about it, she hid it from me out of fear of what I had said to
her at parting, and that was the reason why she killed her child, yes,
and herself too in the end. For I am convinced that it was not the fear
of punishment that drove her to death, but the fear of seeing me again,
and no doubt, she also wished to spare me the disgrace of that hour.
Now, my Lord, all this----"

They were interrupted. A messenger brought in a letter which had
just arrived. Sendlingen recognised the writing of the count, his
brother-in-law, who was a Judge of the Supreme Court. He laid the
letter unopened on the table; very likely belated New-year's wishes, he
thought. "Go on!" he said to the Accused.

"Well, my Lord, all this seems to tell against me, but it might be
turned against Him too. I might say to Him: 'Wasn't I obliged to try
and keep her from sin by using the strongest words? And why didst Thou
not watch over her when I was far away; Hanka was Thy child too, and
not only mine! And if Thou wouldst not do this, why didst Thou suffer
us two to be born? Thou wilt make reparation, sayst Thou, in Thy
Heaven? Well, no doubt it is very beautiful, but perhaps it is not so
beautiful that we shall think ourselves sufficiently compensated.' You
see, my Lord, I might talk like this--But if I were to begin. He too
would not be silent, and with a single question He could crush me. 'Why
did you go away?' He might ask me. 'Why did you not do your duty to
your child? I, O fool, have untold children; you had only this one to
whom you were nearest. You say in your defence that you did not act
altogether selfishly, that you wanted to better her condition as well.
May be, but you did think of _your own_ condition, _of yourself_ as
well, and that a father may not do! I warned you by your own life, and
by causing your conscience and presentiments to speak to you--why did
you not obey Me? Besides you would not have starved here?' You see, my
Lord, He might talk to me in this way and He would be right, for a
father may not think of himself for one instant where his child's
welfare is concerned. Isn't that so?

"Yes, that is so!" answered Sendlingen solemnly.

"Well, that is why I sometimes think: you should certainly go to
confession! What do you advise, my Lord?"

This time, too, Sendlingen could find no relevant answer, much as he
tried to seek the right words of consolation for this troubled heart.
He strove to lessen his sense of guilt, that sensitive feeling which
had so deeply moved him, and finally assured him also of a speedy
release. But Novyrok's face remained clouded; the one thing which he
had wished to hear, a decision of his singular "controversy" with
"Him," he had to do without, and when Sendlingen rang for the turnkey
to remove the prisoner, the latter expressed his gratitude for "his
Lordship's friendliness" but not for any comfort received.

Not until he had departed did Sendlingen take up his brother-in-law's
letter, which he meant hastily to run through. But after a few lines he
grew more attentive and his looks became overcast. "And this too," he
muttered, after he had read to the end, and his head sank heavily on
his breast.

The Count informed him, after a few introductory lines, of the purport
of a conversation he had just had with the Minister of Justice. "You
know his opinion," said the letter, "he honestly desires your welfare,
and a better proof of this than your appointment to Pfalicz he could
not have given you. All the more pained, nay angered, is he at your
obstinate disregard of his wishes. He told you in plain language that
he did not desire you and Dernegg to take part in any political
investigations. You have none the less observed the same arrangement in
the present investigation against the workmen. I warn you, Victor, not
for the first time, but for the last. You are trifling with your
future; far more important people than Chief Judges, however able, are
now being sent to the right-about in Austria. The anger of the minister
is all the greater, because your defiance this time is notorious.
Scarcely a fortnight ago, the Supreme Court instructed you to undertake
the brief examination of a witness; you handed the matter over to Hoche
and excused yourself on the plea of the pressure of your regular work;
and yet this work now suddenly allows you personally to conduct a
complicated inquiry against some three dozen workmen." The letter
continued in this strain at great length and concluded thus: "I implore
you to assign the inquiry to Werner and to telegraph me to this effect
to-day. If this is not done, you will tomorrow receive a telegram from
the Minister commanding you to do so. And if you don't obey then, the
consequences will be at once fatal to you. You know that I am no lover
of the melodramatic, and you will therefore weigh well what I have
said."

His brother-in-law--and Sendlingen knew it--certainly never affected a
melodramatic tone, and often as he had warned him, he had never before
written in such a key. What should he do? It was against his conscience
to submit and leave these poor fellows to their fate; but might he
concern himself more about men who were strangers to him, than about
the wellbeing of his own child? If he did not yield, would he not
perhaps be suddenly removed from his office, and just at the moment
when his unhappy daughter most of all required his help?

He went to his residence in a state of grievous interior conflict,
impotently drawn from one resolve to another. He sighed with relief
when Berger entered; his shrewd, discreet friend could not have come at
a more opportune moment.

But he, too, found it difficult to hit upon the right counsel, or at
least, to put it into words. "Don't let us confuse ourselves, Victor,"
he said at length. "First of all, you know as well as I do, that the
Minister has no right to put such a command upon you. You are
responsible to him that every trial in your Court shall be conducted
with the proper formalities; the power to arrange for this is in your
hands. And therefore they dare not seriously punish your insistence on
your manifest right. Dismissal on such a pretext is improbable and
almost inconceivable, especially when it is a question of a man of your
name and services."

"But it is possible."

"Anything is possible in these days," Berger was obliged to admit. "But
ought this remote possibility to mislead you? You would certainly not
hesitate a moment, if consideration for your child did not fetter you.
Should this consideration be more authoritative than every other? In my
opinion, no!"

"Because you cannot understand my feelings!" Sendlingen vehemently
interposed. "A father may not think of himself when his child's welfare
is concerned. The voice of nature speaks thus in the breast of every
man, even the roughest, and should it be silent in me?"

"My poor friend," said Berger, "in your heart, too, it has surely
spoken loud enough. And yet, so far, you have not hesitated for a
moment to fulfil your duty as a judge when it came into conflict with
your inclination. You would not preside at the trial, you would not
conduct the examination. The struggle is entering on a new phase, you
cannot act differently now."

"I must! I cannot help these poor people--besides Werner himself will
hardly be able to find them guilty. And the cases are not parallel; I
should have broken my oath if I had presided at the trial: I do not
break it if I obey the Minister's command."

"That is true," retorted Berger. "But I can only say: Seek some other
consolation, Victor,--this is unworthy of you! For you have always
been, like me, of the opinion that it is every man's duty to protect
the right, and prevent wrong, so long as there is breath in his body!
If I admonish you, it is not from any fanatical love of Justice, but
from friendship for you, and because I know you as well as one man can
ever know another. Your mind could endure anything, even the most
grievous suffering, anything save one thing: the consciousness of
having done an injustice however slight. If you submit, and if these
men are condemned even to a few years' imprisonment, their fate would
prey upon your mind as murder would on any one else. This I know, and I
would warn you against it as strongly as I can.... Let us look at the
worst that could happen, the scarcely conceivable prospect of your
dismissal. What serious effect could this have upon the fate of your
child? You perhaps cling to the hope of yourself imparting to her the
result of the appeal; that is no light matter, but it is not so grave
as the quiet of your conscience. It can have no other effect. If the
purport of the decision is a brief imprisonment, you could have no
further influence upon her destiny, whether you were in office or not;
she would be taken to some criminal prison, and you would have to wait
till her term of imprisonment was over before you could care for her.
If the terms of the decision are imprisonment for life, or death (you
see, I will not be so cowardly as not to face the worst), the only
course left open to you is, to discover all to the Emperor and implore
his pardon for your child. Is there anything else to be done?"

Sendlingen was silent.

"There is no other means of escape. And if it comes to this, if you
have to sue for her pardon, it will assuredly be granted you, whether
you are in office or not. It will be granted you on the score of
humanity, of your services and of your family. It is inconceivable that
this act of grace should be affected by the fact that you had just
previously had a dispute with the Minister of Justice. It is against
reason, still more against sentiment. The young Prince is of a
chivalrous disposition."

"That he is!" replied Sendlingen. "And it is not this consideration
that makes me hesitate, I had hardly thought of it. It was quite
another idea.... Thank you, George," he added. "Let us decide tomorrow,
let us sleep upon it." He said this with such a bitter, despairing
smile, that his friend was cut to the heart.

The next morning when Berger was sitting in his Chambers engaged upon
some pressing work, the door was suddenly flung open and Sendlingen's
servant Franz entered. Berger started to his feet and could scarcely
bring himself to ask whether any calamity had occurred.

"Very likely it is a calamity," replied the old man, continuing in his
peculiar fashion of speech which had become so much a habit with him,
that he could never get out of it. "We were taken ill again in
Chambers, very likely we fell down several times as before, we came
home deadly pale but did not send in for the Doctor, but for you, sir."

Berger started at once, Franz following behind him. As they went along,
Berger fancied he heard a sob. He looked round: there were tears in the
old servant's eyes. When they got into the residence, Berger turned to
him and said: "Be a man, Franz."

Then the old fellow could contain himself no longer; bright tears
coursed down his cheeks. "Dr. Berger," he stammered. He had bent over
his hand and kissed it before Berger could prevent him. "Have pity on
me! Tell me what has been going on the last two months! We often speak
to Brigitta about it--I am told nothing! Why? We know that this silence
is killing me. I could long ago have learned it by listening and
spying, but Franz doesn't do that sort of thing. If you cannot tell me,
at least put in a word for me. Surely we do not want to kill me!"

Berger laid his hand on his shoulder. "Be calm, Franz, we have all
heavy burdens to bear."

He then went into Sendlingen's room. "The minister's telegram?" he
asked.

"Worse!"

"The decision? What is the result?" The question was superfluous; the
result was plainly enough written in Sendlingen's livid, distorted
features. Berger, trembling in every limb, seized the fatal paper that
lay on the table.

"Horrible!" he groaned--it was a sentence of death.

He forced himself to read the motives given; they were briefly enough
put. The Supreme Court had rejected the appeal to nullify the trial,
although the credibility of the servant-girl had appeared doubtful
enough to it, too. At the same time, the decision continued, there was
no reason for ordering a new trial, as the guilt of the accused was
manifest without any of the evidence of this witness. The Supreme Court
had gone through this without noticing either her recent statement
incriminating the Accused, nor her first favorable evidence. The
Countess' depositions alone, therefore, must determine Victorine's
conduct before the deed, and her motives for the deed. These seemed
sufficient to the Supreme Court, not to alter the sentence of death.

For a long time Berger held the paper in his hands as if stunned; at
length he went over to his unhappy friend, laid his arms around his
neck and gently lifted his face up towards him. But when he looked into
that face, the courage to say a word of consolation left him.

He stepped to the window and stood there for, perhaps, half an hour.
Then he said softly, "I will come back this evening," and left the
room.

Towards evening he received a few lines from his friend. Sendlingen
asked him not to come till to-morrow; by that time he hoped to have
recovered sufficient composure to discuss quietly the next steps to be
taken. He was of opinion that Berger should address a petition for
pardon to the Emperor, and asked him to draw up a sketch of it.

Berger read of this request with astonishment. He would certainly have
lodged a petition for pardon, even if Victorine Lippert had been simply
his client and not Sendlingen's daughter. But he would have done it
more from a sense of duty than in the hope of success. That this hope
was slight, he well knew. The petition would have to take its course
through the Supreme Court, and it was in the nature of the case that
the recommendation of the highest tribunal would be authoritative with
the Emperor; exceptions had occurred, but their number was assuredly
not sufficient to justify any confident hopes. All this Sendlingen must
know as well as himself. Why, therefore, did he wish that the attempt
should be made? In this desperate state of things, there was but one
course that promised salvation; a personal audience with the Emperor.
Why did Sendlingen hesitate to choose this course?

Berger made up his mind to lay all this strongly before him, and when
on the next day he rang the bell of the residence, he was determined
not to leave him until he had induced him to take this step.

"We are still in Chambers," announced Franz. "We want you to wait here
a little. We have been examining workmen again since this morning
early, and have hardly allowed ourselves ten minutes for food."

"So he has none the less resolved to go on with that?" said Berger.
Perhaps, he thought to himself, the telegram has not arrived yet.

"None the less resolved?" cried Franz. "We have perhaps seldom worked
away with such resolution and Baron Dernegg, too, was dictating
to-day--I say it with all respect--like one possessed."

Berger turned to go. It occurred to him that he had not seen Victorine
for a week, and he thought he would use the interval by visiting her.
"I shall be back in an hour," he said to Franz. "In the meanwhile I
have something to do in the prison."

"In the prison?" The old man's face twitched, he seized Berger's arm
and drew him back into the lobby, shutting the door. "Forgive me, Dr.
Berger. My heart is so full.... You are going to her--are you not? To
our poor young lady, to Victorine?"

"What? Since when?" ...

"Do I know it?" interrupted Franz. "Since yesterday evening!" And with
a strange mixture of pride and despair he went on: "We told me
everything!... Oh, it is terrible. But we know what I am worth! My poor
master! ah! I couldn't sleep all night for sorrow.... But we shall see
that we are not deceived in me.... I have a favour to ask, Dr. Berger.
Brigitta has the privilege naturally, because she is a woman and a
member of the 'Women's Society.' But I, what can I appeal to? Certainly
I have in a way, been in the law for twenty-five years, and understand
more of these things than many a young fledgling who struts about in
legal toggery, but--a lawyer I certainly am not--so, I suppose, Dr.
Berger, it is unfortunately impossible?"

"What? That you should pay her a visit? Certainly it is impossible, and
if you play any pranks of that kind----"

"Oh! Dr. Berger," said the old man imploringly. "I did but ask your
advice because my heart is literally bursting. Well, if this is
impossible, I have another favour, and this you will do me! Greet our
poor young lady from me! Thus, with these words: 'Old Franz sends
Fräulein Victorine his best wishes from all his heart--and begs her not
to despair.... and--and wants to remind her that the God above is still
living.'"

Berger could scarcely understand his last words for the tears that
choked, the old man's voice. He himself was moved; as yesterday, so
to-day, Franz's tears strongly affected him, for the old servant was
not particularly soft by nature. "Yes, yes, Franz," he promised, and
then betook himself to the prison. He resolved to continue to be quite
candid with Victorine, but not to mention the result of the appeal by a
single word.

But when he entered her cell, she came joyfully to meet him, her eyes
glistening with tears. "How shall I thank you?" she cried much moved
trying to take his hand.

He fell back a step. "Thank me?--What for?"

"Oh, I know," she said softly with a look at the door as if an
eavesdropper might have been there. "My father told me that it was not
official yet. He hurried to me this morning as soon as he had received
the news, but it is still only private information, and for the present
I must tell nobody! Whom else have I to thank but you?"

"What?" he asked. And he added with an unsteady voice: "I have not seen
him for the last few days. Has he had news from Vienna?"

"To be sure! The Supreme Court has pardoned me. My imprisonment during
trial is to be considered as punishment. In a few weeks I shall be
quite free."

Berger felt all the blood rush to his heart. "Quite free!" he repeated
faintly. "In a few weeks!" And at the same time he was tortured by the
importunate question: "Great God! he has surely gone mad? How could he
do this? What is his object?"

"Merciful Heaven!" she cried. "How pale you have turned. How sombre you
look! Merciful Heaven! you have not received other news? He has surely
not been deceived? Oh, if I had to die after all!--now--now----"

She staggered. Berger took her hand and made her sink down on to the
nearest chair. "I have no other news," he said as firmly as possible.
"It came upon me with such a shock! I am surprised that he has not yet
told me anything. But then, of course, he did not hear of it till
to-day. If he has told you, you can, of course, look upon it as
certain."

"May I not?" She sighed with relief. "I need not tremble any more? Oh,
how you frightened me!"

"Forgive me--calm yourself!"

He took up his hat again.

"Are you going already? And I have not yet half thanked you!"

"Don't mention it!" he said curtly, parrying her remark. "Au revoir,"
he added with more friendliness, and leaving the cell, hurried to
Sendlingen's residence.

He had just come in; Berger approached him in great excitement. "I have
just been to see Victorine," he began. "How could you tell this
untruth? How _could_ you?"

Sendlingen cast down his eyes. "I had to do it. I was afraid that
otherwise the news of her condemnation might reach her."

"No," cried Berger. "Forgive my vehemence," he then continued. "I have
reason for it. Such empty pretexts are unworthy of you and me. You
yourself see to the regulation of the Courts and the prison. The
Accused never hear their sentence until they are officially informed."

"You do me an injustice," replied Sendlingen, his voice still
trembling, and it was not till he went on that he recovered himself: "I
have no particular reasons that I ought or want to hide from you.
I told her in an ebullition of feeling that I can hardly account
for to myself. When I saw her to-day she was much sadder, much more
hopeless, than has been usual with her lately. She certainly had a
presentiment--and I, in my flurry at this, feared that some report
might already have reached her. Such a thing, in spite of all
regulations, is not inconceivable; chance often plays strange pranks.
In my eager desire to comfort her, those words escaped me. The
exultation with which she received them, robbed me of the courage to
lessen their favourable import afterwards! That is all!"

Berger looked down silently for a while. "I will not reproach you," he
then resumed. "How fatal this imprudence may prove, you can see as well
as I. She was prepared for the worst and therefore anything not so bad,
might perhaps have seemed like a favour of Heaven. Now she is expecting
the best, and whatever may be obtained for her by way of grace, it will
certainly dishearten and dispirit her. But there is no help for it now!
Let us talk of what we can help! You want me to lodge a petition for
pardon? It would be labour in vain!"

"Well," said Sendlingen hesitatingly, "in some cases the Emperor has
revoked the sentence of death in spite of the decision of the Supreme
Court."

"Yes, but we dared not build on this hope if we had no other.
Fortunately this is the case. You must go to Vienna; only on your
personal intercession is the pardon a _certainty_. And my petition
could at best only get the sentence commuted to imprisonment for life,
whereas your prayer would obtain a shorter imprisonment and, after a
few years, remission of the remainder. You must go to-morrow,
Victor--there is no time to lose."

Sendlingen turned away without a word.

"How am I to understand this?" cried Berger, anxiously approaching him.
"You _will_ not?"

The poor wretch groaned aloud, "I will----" he exclaimed. "But later
on--later on----. As soon as your petition has been dispatched."

"But why?" cried Berger. "I have hitherto appreciated and sympathised
with your every sentiment and act, but this delay strikes me as being
unreasonable, unpardonable. I would spare you if less depended on the
cast, but as it is, I will speak out. It is unmanly, it is----" He
paused. "Spare me having to say this to you, to you who were always so
brave and resolute. There is no time to lose, I repeat. Who will vouch
that it may not then be too late? If my petition is rejected, the Court
will at the same time order the sentence to be carried out. Do you know
so certainly that you will still be here then, that you will still have
time then to hurry to Vienna? Think! Think!"

Berger had been talking excitedly and paused out of breath. But he was
resolved not to yield and was about to begin again when Sendlingen
said: "You have convinced me; I will go to Vienna sooner, even before
the dispatch of your petition."

"Then you still insist that I shall proceed with it?"

"Please; it can do no harm; it may do good. And at least we shall gain
time by it. I cannot undertake the journey to Vienna until the inquiry
against the working men is ended. In this, too, there is not a day to
be lost; neither Dernegg nor I know whether there is not an order on
the road that may in some way make us harmless. I trust we shall by
that time have succeeded in proving that no punishable offence has been
committed. I have received the Minister's telegram to-day, and at once
replied that the inquiry was so complicated, and had already proceeded
so far, that a change in the examining Judges would be impracticable."

"I am glad that you have followed my advice," said Berger. "And in
spite of these aggravated conditions! You hesitated as long as the
decision was not known to you, as long as you simply feared it, and
when your fears were confirmed, you were brave again and did not
hesitate for an instant in doing your duty as an honourable man!
Victor, few people would have done the like!" He reached out his hand
to say good-bye. "You have now taken old Franz into your confidence?"
he asked, "another participator in the secret--it would have been well
to consider it first! But I will not begin to scold again. Adieu!"



                              CHAPTER XI.


More than two weeks had passed since this last interview. January of
1853 was drawing to a close and still there seemed no likelihood of an
end to the investigations against the workmen.

Berger observed this with great anxiety. He had long since presented
the petition for pardon: the time was drawing near when it would be
laid before the Emperor, and yet, whenever the subject of the journey
to Vienna arose, Sendlingen had some reason or motive for urging that
he could not leave and that there was still time. When he made such a
remark Berger looked at him searchingly, as if he were trying to read
his inmost soul and then departed sadly, shaking his head. Every day
Sendlingen's conduct seemed to him more enigmatical and unnatural. For
this was the one means of saving Victorine's life! If he still
hesitated it could only proceed from fear of the agony of the moment,
from cowardice!

But as often as Berger might and did say this to himself, he did not
succeed in convincing himself. For did not Sendlingen at the same time
evince in another matter and where the welfare and sufferings of
strangers to him were concerned, a moral courage rarely found in this
country and under this government.

The conflict between Sendlingen and the Minister of Justice had
gradually assumed a very singular character; it had become a
"thoroughly Austrian business," as Berger sometimes thought with the
bitter smile of a patriot. To Sendlingen's respectful but decided
answer, the Minister had replied as rudely and laconically as possible,
commanding him to hand over the investigation forthwith to Werner. No
one could now doubt any longer that a further refusal would prove
dangerous, and Sendlingen sent his rejoinder,--a brief dignified
protest against this unjustifiable encroachment--with the feeling that
he had at the same time undersigned his own dismissal. And indeed in
any other country a violent solution would have been the only one
conceivable; but here it was different. Certainly a severe censure from
the Minister followed and he talked of "further steps" to be taken, but
the lightning that one might have expected after this thunder, did not
follow. The same result, was, however, sought by circuitous means,
attempts were made to weary the two Judges and to put them out of
conceit with the case. When they proposed to the Court that the case
against one of the Accused might be discontinued, the Crown-Advocate
promptly opposed it and called the Supreme Court to his assistance.
With all that, the police were feverishly busy and overwhelmed the two
Judges by repeatedly bringing forward new grounds of suspicion against
the prisoners, and these had to be gone through however evidently
worthless they might be at the first glance.

There was not a single person attached to the Law-Courts with all their
diversity of character, who did not follow the struggle of Sendlingen
for the independence of the Judge's position, with sympathy, and the
townspeople were unanimous in their enthusiastic admiration. This
courageous steadfastness was all the more highly reckoned as it was
visibly undermining his strength. His hair grew gray, his bearing less
erect, and his face now almost always bore an expression of melancholy
disquiet. People were not surprised at this; it must naturally deeply
afflict this man who was so manifestly designed to attain the highest
places in his profession, perhaps even to become the Chief Judge of the
Empire--to be daily and hourly threatened with dismissal.

Only the three participators in the secret, and Berger in particular,
knew that the unhappy man could scarcely endure any longer the torture
of uncertainty about his child's fate. All the more energetic,
therefore, were Berger's attempts to put an end at least to this
unnecessary torment but again and again he spoke in vain.

This occurred too on the last day in January. Sendlingen stood by his
answer: "There is still time, the petition has not yet come into the
Emperor's hands," and Berger was sorrowfully about to leave his
Chambers, when the door was suddenly flung open and Herr von Werner
rushed in.

"My Lord," cried the old gentleman almost beside himself with joy and
waving a large open letter in his hand like a flag, "I have just
received this; this has just been handed to me. It means that I am
appointed your successor, it is the decree."

Sendlingen turned pale. "I congratulate you," he said with difficulty.
"When are you to take over the conduct of the Courts?"

"On the 22nd February," was the answer. "Oh, how happy I am! And you I
am sure will excuse me! Why should the news distress you? You will in
any case be leaving here at the end of February to----" he, stopped in
embarrassment. "To go to Pfalicz as Chief Justice of the Higher Court
there," he continued hastily. "We will continue to believe so, to
suppose the contrary would be nonsensical. You have annoyed the
Minister and he is taking a slight revenge--that is all! Good-bye,
gentlemen, I must hurry to my wife!" The old gentleman tripped away
smiling contentedly.

"That is plain enough," said Sendlingen, after a pause, turning to his
friend. "My successor is appointed without my being consulted: the
decree is sent direct to him and not through me; more than that, I am
not even informed at the same time, when I am to hand over the conduct
of the Courts to him. To the minister I am already a dead man! But what
can it matter to me in my position? Werner's communication only
frightened me for a moment, while I feared that I had to surrender to
him forthwith. But the 22nd February--that is three weeks hence. By
that time _everything_ will be decided."

Two days later, on Candlemas Day, on which in some parts of Catholic
Austria people still observe the custom of paying one another little
attentions, Sendlingen also received a present from the minister. The
letter read thus: "You are to surrender the conduct of the Courts on
the 22nd February to the newly appointed Chief Justice, Herr von
Werner. Further instructions regarding yourself will be forwarded you
in due course."

The tone of this letter spoke plainly enough. For "further
instructions" were unnecessary if the previous arrangement--his
appointment to Pfalicz--was adhered to. His dismissal was manifestly
decreed.

All the functionaries of the Courts fell into the greatest state of
excitement: who was safe if Sendlingen fell? And wherever the news
penetrated, it aroused sorrow and indignation. On the evening of the
same day the most prominent men of the town met so as to arrange a fête
to their Chief Justice before his departure. It was determined to
present him with an address and to have a farewell banquet.

Berger, who had been at the meeting, left as soon as the resolution was
arrived at, and hurried to Sendlingen for he knew that his friend would
need his consolation to-day most of all. But Sendlingen was so calm
that it struck Berger as almost peculiar. "I have had time to get
accustomed to these thoughts," he said.

"How do you think of living now?" asked Berger.

"I shall move to Gratz," replied Sendlingen quickly; he had manifestly
given utterance to a long-cherished resolve.

"Won't you be too lonely there?" objected Berger. "Why won't you go to
Vienna? By the inheritance from your wife, you are a rich man who does
not require to select the Pensionopolis on the Mur on account of its
cheapness. In Vienna you have many friends, there you will have the
greatest incitement to literary work, besides you may not altogether
disappear from the surface. Your career is only forcibly interrupted
but not nearly ended. A change of system, or even a change in the
members of the Ministry, would bring you back into the service of the
State, and, perhaps, to a higher position than the one you are now
losing."

"My mind is made up. Brigitta is going to Gratz in a few days to take a
house and make all arrangements."

They talked about other things, about the fête that had been arranged
to-day. "I will accept the address," Sendlingen explained, "but not the
banquet. I have not the heart for it." Berger vehemently opposed this
resolution; he must force himself to put in an appearance at least for
an hour; the fête had reference not only to himself personally, but to
a sacred cause, the independence of Judges. All this he unfolded with
such warmth, that Sendlingen at length promised that he would consider
it.

The next morning the Vienna papers published the news of the measures
taken with regard to Sendlingen, which they had learnt by private
telegrams. A severe censorship hampered the Austrian press in those
days; the papers had been obliged to accustom the public to read more
between the lines than the lines themselves: and this time, too, they
hit upon a safe method of criticism. As if by a preconcerted agreement,
all the papers pronounced the news highly incredible; and that it was,
moreover, wicked to attribute such conduct to the strict but just
government which Austria enjoyed. A severer condemnation than this
defence of the government against "manifestly malicious reports" could
not easily be imagined, and the public understood it as it was
intended.

In a moment, Sendlingen's name was in every mouth, and the
investigation against the workmen the talk of the day, first in the
capital, soon throughout the whole country.

A flood of telegrams and letters, inquiries and enthusiastic
commendations, suddenly burst upon Sendlingen. Had there been room in
his poor heart, in his weary tormented brain, for any lucid thought or
feeling, he would now have been able, in the days of his disgrace, to
have held up his head more proudly than ever. It was not saying too
much when Berger told him that a whole nation was now showing how
highly it valued him. But he scarcely noticed it and continued, dark
and hopeless, to do his duty and to drag on the Sisyphus-task of his
investigation in combat with both the police and the Crown lawyers.

Suddenly those hindrances ceased. When Sendlingen one morning entered
his Chambers soon after the news of his deposal had appeared in the
papers, he for the first time, for weeks, found no information of the
police on the table. That might be an accident, but when there was none
the second day, he breathed again. The Superintendent of Police at
Bolosch was, the zealous servant of his masters; if he in twice
twenty-four hours did not discover the slightest trace of high treason,
there must be good reason for it. In the same way nothing more was
heard from the Crown-Advocate.

"They have almost lost courage in the face of the general indignation!"
cried Berger triumphantly. "Franz has just told me that Brigitta is to
start the day after to-morrow for Gratz. Let her wait a few days, and
so spare the old lady having to make the journey to Pfalicz by the very
round about way of Gratz."

"You cannot seriously hope that," said Sendlingen turning away, and so
Berger went into Brigitta's room later on to bid her good-bye.

The old lady was eagerly reading a book which she hastily put on one
side as he entered. "I am disturbing you," he said. "What are you
studying so diligently?"

"Oh, a novel," she replied quickly. Her eyes were red and she must have
been crying a great deal lately.

"I thought perhaps it was a description of Gratz," said he jokingly.
"It seems to me that you have a genuine fear of this weird city where
life surges and swells so mightily!" And he attempted to remove her
fears by telling her much of the quiet, narrow life of the town on the
Mur.

While he was speaking, the book, which she had laid on her workbox,
slid to the ground and he picked it up before she had time to bend down
for it. It was a French grammar. "Great heavens!" he cried in
astonishment. "You are taking up the studies of your youth again,
Fräulein Brigitta?"

The old lady stood there speechless, her face crimson, as if she had
been caught in a crime. "I have been told," she stammered, "that--that
one can hardly get along there with only German."

"In Gratz?" Berger could not help laughing heartily. "Who has been
playing this joke upon you? Reassure yourself. You will get along with
the French in Gratz without any grammar." Still laughing, he said
good-bye and promised to visit her in Gratz.

Meanwhile the excitement into which the press and the public were
thrown by the "Sendlingen incident" grew daily. In Bolosch new
proposals were constantly being made, to have the fête on a magnificent
and uncommon scale. It did not satisfy the popular enthusiasm that the
address to be presented was covered with thousands of signatures. A
proposal was made in the town-council to call the principal street
after Sendlingen: some of the prominent men of the town wanted to
collect subscriptions for a "Sendlingen Fund" whose revenue should be
devoted to such officers of the State as, like Sendlingen, had become
the victims of their faithfulness to conviction; the gymnastic
societies resolved upon a torch-light procession. The chairman of the
Committee arranging the festivities--he was the head of the first
Banking house of the town--was in genuine perplexity; he still did not
know which acts of homage Sendlingen would accept and he sought
Berger's interposition.

"Save me," implored the active banker. "People are pressing me and the
Chief Justice is dumb. Yesterday I hoped to get a definite answer from
him but he broke off and talked of our business."

"Business? What business?" asked Berger.

"I am just doing a rather complicated piece of business for him,"
answered the Banker. "I thought that you, his best friend, would have
known about it. He is converting the Austrian Stock in which his
property was hitherto invested, into French, English and Dutch stock,
and a small portion of it into ready money."

"Why?" asked Berger in surprise. "He is going to stay in Austria?"

"So I asked," replied the Banker, "and received an answer which I had,
willy nilly, to take as pertinent. For he is hardly to be blamed, if
after his experiences, his belief in the credit of the State has become
a little shaky."

Berger could not help agreeing with this, and therefore did not refer
to it in his talk with Sendlingen. With regard to the fête he received
a satisfactory answer. Sendlingen without any further hesitation,
accepted the banquet and even the torch-light procession. Both were to
take place on the 21st February, the last day of his term of office.

All this was telegraphed to Vienna and was bravely used by the papers.
Even in Bolosch, they said, these melancholy reports, so humiliating to
every Austrian, were not seriously believed; how long would the
government hesitate to contradict them? The demand was so universal,
the excitement so great, that an official notice of a reassuring
character was actually issued. The government, announced an official
organ, had in no way interfered with the investigation; that this was
evident, the present position of the inquiry, now without doubt near a
close, sufficiently proved. With regard, however, to Sendlingen's
dismissal there was some "misunderstanding" in question.

As so often before, in the case of the like oracular utterances from a
similar source, everybody was now asking what this really meant. Berger
thought he had hit the mark and exultingly said to his friend: "Hurrah!
they have now entirely lost their courage! They are only temporising so
as not to have to admit that public opinion has made an impression upon
them."

Sendlingen shrugged his shoulders. "It is all one to me, George," he
said.

"Now--that I can understand," replied Berger warmly. "In a few months
you will speak differently! When do you go to Vienna?"

Sendlingen reflected. "On the seventeenth I should say," he at length
replied hesitatingly. "That is to say if Dernegg and I can really
dismiss the workmen on the sixteenth as we hope to do."

This hope was realised; on the 16th February 1852, the workmen were
released from prison. Their first step related to Sendlingen: in the
name of all, Johannes Novyrok made a speech of thanks of which this was
the peroration:

"We know well what we ought to wish you in return for all you have done
for us: good-luck and happiness for you and for all whom you love! But
mere good wishes won't help you, and we can do nothing for you,
although every man of us would willingly shed his blood for your sake,
and as to praying, my Lord, it is much the same thing--you may
remember, perhaps, what I have already said to you on the subject. And
so we can only say: think of us when you are in affliction of mind and
you will certainly be cheered! You can say to yourself: 'I have lifted
these people out of their misfortune and lessened their burden as much
as I could,'--and you will breathe again. For I believe this is the
best consolation that any man can have on this poor earth. God bless
you! for you are noble and good, and what you do is well done, and sin
and evil are far from you. A thousand thanks, my Lord. Farewell!"

"Farewell!" murmured Sendlingen, his voice choking as he turned away.

... On the next day, the 17th February, Sendlingen should have started
by the morning train to Vienna; he had solemnly promised Berger to do
so the evening before. The latter, therefore, was much alarmed when he
accidentally heard, in the course of the afternoon, that Sendlingen was
still in Chambers.

He hastened to him. "Why have you again put off going?" he asked
impetuously.

Sendlingen had turned pale. "I have not been able to bring myself to
it," he answered softly.

"And you know what is at stake!" cried Berger in great excitement,
wiping the cold sweat from his forehead. "Victor, this is cowardice!"

"It is not," he replied as gently as before, but with the greatest
determination. "If I had been a coward, I would long since have had the
audience."

Berger looked at him in astonishment. "I do not understand you," he
said. "It may be a sophism by which you are trying to lull your
conscience, but it is my duty to rouse you. O Victor!" he continued
with passionate grief, "you can yourself imagine what it costs me to
speak to you in this way. But I have no option."

Sendlingen was silent. "I will talk about it later," he said. "Let me
first tell you a piece of news that will interest you. I have received
a letter from the Minister this morning.... You were right about their
'courage.'" He handed the letter to his friend. "The Minister reminds
me that it is my duty, in consequence of the appointment made last
November, to be in Pfalicz on the morning of the 1st March to take over
the conduct of the Higher Court there."

"After all!" cried Berger. "And how polite! Do you see now that we
liberals and our newspapers are some good? The Minister has no other
motive for beating a retreat."

"Perhaps this letter, which came at the same time, may throw some light
on it," observed Sendlingen taking up a letter as yet unopened. "It is
from my brother-in-law. Count Karolberg!" He opened it and glanced at
the first few lines. "True!" he exclaimed. "Just listen."

"You do not deserve your good fortune," he read, "and I myself was
fully persuaded that you were lost. But it seems that the Minister
talked to us more sharply than he thought, and that from the first he
meant nothing serious. That he kept you rather long in suspense, proved
to be only a slight revenge which was perhaps permissible. He meant no
harm; I feel myself in duty bound to say this to his credit."

"And your brother-in-law is a clever man," cried Berger, "and himself a
Judge! Does he not understand that this very explanation tells most of
all against the Minister? Oh, I always said that it was another
thoroughly Austrian----"

A cry of pain interrupted him. "What is this?" cried Sendlingen
horror-struck and gazing in deadly pallor at the letter.

Berger took the letter out of his trembling hands, in the next instant
he too changed colour. His eyes had lit upon the following passage.

"When do you leave Bolosch? I hope that the last duty that you have to
do in your office, will not affect your soft heart too much. Certainly
it is always painful to order the execution of a woman, and especially
such a young one, and perhaps you can leave the arrangements for the
execution to your successor who fortunately is made of sterner stuff."

The letter fell from Berger's hands. "O Victor----" he murmured.

"Don't say a word," Sendlingen groaned; his voice sounded like a
drowning man's. "No reproaches!--Do you want to drive me mad."

Then he made a great effort over himself. "The warrant must have come
already," he said, and he rang for the clerk and told him to bring all
the papers that had arrived that day. The fatal document was really
among them; it was a brief information to the Court at Bolosch stating
that the Emperor had rejected the petition for pardon lodged by Counsel
for the defence, and that he had confirmed the sentence of death. The
execution, according to the custom then prevailing, was to be carried
out in eight days.

"I will not reproach you," said Berger after he had glanced through the
few lines. "But now you must act. You must telegraph at once to the
Imperial Chancellery and ask for an audience for the day after
tomorrow, the nineteenth, and to-morrow you must start for Vienna!"

"I will do so," said Sendlingen softly.

"You _must_ do it!" cried Berger, "and I will see that you do. I will
be back in the evening."

When Berger returned at nightfall, Franz said to him in the lobby:
"Thank God, we are going to Vienna after all!" and Sendlingen himself
corroborated this. "I have already received an answer; the audience is
granted for the nineteenth. I have struggled severely with myself," he
then added, and continued half aloud, in an unsteady voice, as if he
were talking to himself; "I am a greater coward than I thought. However
fixed my resolve was, my courage failed me--and so I must go to
Vienna."

Berger asked no further questions, he was content with the promise.



                              CHAPTER XII.


The 18th February 1853, was a clear, sunny day. At midday the snow
melted, the air was mild; there seemed a breath of spring on the
country through which the train sped along, bearing the unhappy man to
Vienna. But there was night in his heart, night before his eyes; he sat
in the corner of his carriage with closed lids, and only when the train
stopped, did he start up as from sleep, look out at the name of the
station, and deeply sighing, fall back again into his melancholy
brooding.

Was the train too slow for him?

There were moments when he wished for the wings of a storm to carry him
to his destination, and that the time which separated him from the
decisive moment might have the speed of a storm. And in the next
breath, he again dreaded this moment, so that every second of the day
which separated him from it, seemed like a refreshing gift of grace.
Alas! he hardly knew himself what he should desire, what he should
entreat, and one feeling only remained in his change of mood, despair
remained and spread her dark shadow over his heart and brain.

The train stopped again, this time at a larger station. There were many
people on the platform, something extraordinary must have happened;
they were crowding round the station-master who held a paper in his
hand and appeared to be talking in the greatest excitement. The crowd
only dispersed slowly as the train came in; lingeringly and in eager
talk, the travellers approached the carriages.

Sendlingen looked out; the guard went up to the station-master who
offered him the paper; it must have been a telegram. The man read it,
fell back a step turning pale and cried out: "Impossible!" upon which
those standing around shrugged their shoulders.

Sendlingen saw and heard all this; but it did not penetrate his
consciousness. "Heldenberg," he said, murmuring the name of the
station. "Two hours more."

The train steamed off, up a hilly country and therefore with diminished
speed. But to the unhappy man it was again going too swiftly--for each
turn of the wheels was dragging him further away from his child, for a
sight of whose white face of suffering, he was suddenly seized with a
feverish longing, his poor child, that now needed him most of all.

"Frightful!" he groaned aloud. His over-wrought imagination pictured
how she had perhaps just received the news that she was to fall into
the hangman's hands! It was possible that the sentence had passed
through the Court of Records and been added to the rolls; some of the
lawyers attached to the Courts might have read it, or some of the
clerks--if one of them should tell the Governor, or the warders, if
Victorine should accidentally hear or it!

"Back!" he hissed, springing up. "I must go back." Fortunately he was
alone, otherwise his fellow travellers would have thought him mad. And
there was something of madness in his eyes as he seized his portmanteau
from the rack, and grasped the handle of the door as if to open it and
spring from the train.

The guard was just going along the foot-board of the carriages, the
engine whistled, the train slackened, and in the distance the roofs of
a station were visible. The guard looked in astonishment at the livid,
distorted features of the traveller; this look restored Sendlingen to
his senses, and he sank back into his seat. "It is useless," he
reflected. "I must go on to Vienna."

The train pulled up, "Reichendorf! One minute's wait!" cried the guard.

It was a small station, no one either got in or out; only an official
in his red cap stood before the building. Nevertheless, the wait
extended somewhat beyond the allotted time. The guards were engaged in
eager conversation with the official.

Sendlingen could at first hear every word. "There is no doubt about
it!" said the official. "I arranged my apparatus so that I could hear
it being telegraphed to Pfalicz and Bolosch. What a catastrophe."

"And is the wound serious?" asked one of the guards. He was evidently a
retired soldier, the old man's voice trembled as he put the question.

"The accounts differ about that," was the answer. "Great Heavens! who
would have thought such a thing possible in Austria!"

"Oh! it can only have been an Italian!" cried the old soldier. "I was
ten years there and know the treacherous brood!"

Thus much Sendlingen heard, but without rightly understanding, without
asking himself what it might mean. More than that, the sound of the
voices was painful to him as it disturbed his train of thought; he drew
up the window so as to hear no more.

And now another picture presented itself to him as the train sped on,
but it was no brighter or more consoling. He was standing before his
Prince who had said to him: "It is frightful, I pity you, poor father,
but I cannot help you! It is my duty to protect Justice without respect
of persons; I confirmed the sentence of death not because I knew
nothing of her father, and supposed him a man of poor origin, but
because she was guilty, by her own confession and the Judges' verdict.
Shall I pardon her now because she is the daughter of an influential
man of rank, because she is your daughter? Is her guilt any the less
for this, will this bring her child to life again? Can you expect this
of me, you, who are yourself a Judge, bound by oath to judge both high
and low with the same measure?" Thus had the Emperor spoken, and he had
found no word to say against it--alas! no syllable of a word--and had
gone home again. And it was a dark night--dark enough to conceal
thieving and robbery or the blackest crime ever done by man--and he was
creeping across the Court-yard at home; creeping towards the little
door that opened into the prison.

"Oh!" he groaned stretching out his hands as if to repel this vision,
"not that!--not that!--And I am too cowardly to do it. I know--too
cowardly! too cowardly!"

Once more the train stopped, this time at a larger station. Sendlingen
did not look out, otherwise he must have noticed that this was some
extraordinary news that was flying through the land and filling all who
heard it with horror. Pale and excited the crowd was thronging in the
greatest confusion; all seemed to look upon what had happened as a
common misfortune. Some were shouting, others staring as if paralyzed
by fear, others again, the majority, were impatiently asking one
another for fresh details.

"It was a shot!" screamed an old gray-headed man in a trembling voice,
above the rest, before he got into the train. "So the telegram to the
prefect says."

"A shot!" the word passed from mouth to mouth and some wept aloud.'

"No!" cried another, "it was a stab from a dagger, the General himself
told me so."

Confused and unintelligible, the cries reached Sendlingen's ears till
they were drowned by the rush of the wheels, and again nothing was to
be heard save the noise of the rolling train.

And again his over-wrought imagination presented another picture. The
Emperor had heard his prayer and said: "I grant her her life, I will
commute the punishment to imprisonment for life, for twenty years. More
than this I dare not do; she would have died had she not been your
daughter, but I dare not remit the punishment altogether, nor so far
lessen it that she, a murderess, should suffer the same punishment as
the daughter of a common man had she committed a serious theft." And to
this too he had known of no answer, and had come home and had to tell
his poor daughter that he had deceived her by lies. She had broken down
under the blow, and had been taken with death in her heart to a
criminal prison, and a few months later as he sat in his office and
dignity at Pfalicz, the news was brought him that she had died.

"Would this be justice?" cried a voice in his tortured breast. "Can I
suffer this? No, no! it would be my most grievous crime, more grievous
than any other."

The train had reached the last station before Vienna, a suburb of the
capital. Here the throng was so dense, the turmoil so great, that
Sendlingen, in spite of his depression, started up and looked out.
"Some great misfortune or other must have happened," he thought, as he
saw the pale faces and excited gestures around him. But so great was
the constraining force of the spell in which his own misery held his
thoughts, that it never penetrated his consciousness so as to ask what
had happened. He leant back in his corner, and of the Babel of voices
outside only isolated, unintelligible sounds reached his ears.

Here the people were no longer disputing with what weapon that deed had
been done which filled them with such deep horror. "It was a stab from
a dagger," they all said, "driven with full force into the neck." Their
only dispute was as to the nationality of the malefactor.

"It was a Hungarian!" cried some. "A Count. He did it out of revenge
because his cousin was hanged."

"That is a lie!" cried a man in Hungarian costume. "A Hungarian
wouldn't do it--the Hungarians are brave--the Austrians are
cowards--the blackguard was an Austrian, a Viennese!"

"Oho!" cried the excited crowd, and in the same instant twenty fists
were clenched at the speaker so that he began to retire. "A Lie! It was
no Viennese! on the contrary, a Viennese came to the rescue!"

"Yes, a Vienna citizen!" shouted others, "a butcher!"

"Was not the assassin an Italian?" asked the guard of the train,
and this was enough for ten others to yell: "It was a
Milanese--naturally!--they are the worst of the lot!" while from
another corner of the platform there was a general cry: "It was a Pole!
a student! He belonged to a secret society and was chosen by lot!"

Two Poles protested, the Hungarian and an Italian joined them; bad
language flew all over the place; fists and sticks were raised; the
police in vain tried to keep the peace. Then a smart little shoemaker's
apprentice hit upon the magic word that quieted all.

"It was a Bohemian!" he screeched, "a journeyman tailor from
Pardubitz!"

In a moment a hundred voices were re-echoing this.

This cry alone penetrated the gloomy reflections in which Sendlingen
was enshrouded, but he only thought for an instant: "Probably some
particularly atrocious murder," and then continued the dark train of
his thoughts.--Now he tried to rouse himself, to cheer himself by new
hopes, and he strove hard to think the solution of which Berger had
spoken, credible.

He clung to it, he pictured the whole scene--it was the one comfort
left to his unhappy mind. He chose the words by which he would
move his Prince's heart, and as the unutterable misery of the last
few months, the immeasurable torment of his present position once more
rose before him, he was seized with pity for himself and his eyes
moistened--assuredly! the Emperor, too, could not fail to be touched,
he would hear him and grant him the life of his child. Not altogether,
he could not possibly do that, but perhaps he would believe living
words rather than dead documentary evidence and would see that the poor
creature was deserving of a milder punishment. And when her term of
punishment was over--oh! how gladly he would cast from him all the pomp
and dignity of the world and journey with her into a foreign land where
her past was not known--how he would sacrifice everything to establish
her in a new life, in new happiness.... A consoling picture rose before
him: a quiet, country seat, apart from the stream of the world, far,
far away, in France or in Holland. Shady trees clustered around a small
house and on the veranda there sat a young woman, still pale and with
an expression of deep seriousness in her face, but her eyes were
brighter already, and there was a look about her mouth as if it could
learn to smile again.

"Vienna."

The train stopped; on the platform there was the same swaying, surging
crowd as at the suburb, but it was much quieter for the police
prevented all shouting and forming into groups. Sendlingen did not
notice how very strongly the station was guarded. The consoling picture
he had conjured up was still before his mind; like a somnambulist he
pushed through the crowd and got into a cab. "To the Savage," he called
to the driver; he gave the order mechanically, from force of habit, for
he always stayed at this hotel.

The shadows of the dusk had fallen upon the streets as the cab drove
out of the station, the lamps' red glimmer was visible through the damp
evening mist that had followed upon the sunny day. Sendlingen leant
back in the cushions and closed his eyes to continue his dream; he did
not notice what an unusual stir there was in the streets. It was as if
the whole population was making its way to the heart of the city; the
vehicles moved in long rows, the pedestrians streamed along in dense
masses. There was no shouting, no loud word, but the murmur of the
thousands, excitedly tramping along, was joined to a strange hollow
buzz that floated unceasingly in the air, and grew stronger and
stronger as the carriage neared the centre of the town. More and more
police were visible, and at the Glacis there was even a battalion at
attention, ready for attack at a moment's notice.

Even this Sendlingen did not notice, it hardly entered his mind
that the cab was driving much more slowly than usual. That picture
of his brain was still before him and hope had visited his heart
again. "Courage!" he whispered to himself. "One night more of this
torment--and then she is saved! He is the only human being who can help
us, and he will help us."

His cab had at length made way through the crowd that poured in an ever
denser throng across the Stefansplatz and up the Graben towards the
Imperial Palace--and it was able to turn into the Kärtnerstrasse. It
drew up before the hotel. The hall-porters darted out and helped
Sendlingen to alight, the proprietor himself hurried forward and bowed
low when he recognised him.

"His Lordship, the Chief Justice!" he cried. "Rooms 7 and 8. What does
your Lordship say to this calamity? It has quite dazed me!"

"What has happened?" asked Sendlingen.

"Your Lordship does not know?" cried the landlord in amazement. "That
is almost impossible! A journey-man tailor from Hungary, Johann
Libényi, attempted His Majesty's life to-day at the Glacis. The dagger
of the miscreant struck the Emperor in the neck. His Majesty is
severely wounded, if it had not been for the presence of mind of the
butcher, Ettenreich----"

He stopped abruptly, "What is the matter?" he cried darting towards
Sendlingen.

Sendlingen tottered, and but for his help would have fallen to the
ground.



                             CHAPTER XIII.


On the evening of the next day Count Karolberg, Sendlingen's
brother-in-law, entered his room at the hotel. "Well, here you are at
last!" he cried, still in the door-way. "Is this the way to go on after
a bad attack of the heart on the evening before? Three times to-day
have I tried to get hold of you, the first time at nine in the morning
and you had already gone out."

"Thank you very much!" replied Sendlingen. "My anxiety for authentic
news about the Emperor's condition, drove me out of doors betimes, and
so I went to the Imperial Chancellery as early as was seemly. But I
only learnt what is in all the papers: that there was no danger of his
life, but that he would need quite three weeks of absolute rest to
bring about his complete recovery. Meanwhile the Cabinet is to see to
all current affairs: the sovereign authority of the Emperor is
suspended, and none of the princes of the blood are to act as Regent
during the illness."

"But you surely did not inquire about that?" cried Count Karolberg in
astonishment. "That goes without saying."

"Goes without saying!" muttered Sendlingen, and for a moment his
self-command left him and his features became so listless and gloomy
that his brother-in-law looked at him much concerned.

"Victor!" he said, "you are really ill! You must see Oppolzer
to-morrow."

"I cannot. I must go back to Bolosch to-night. I require two days at
least, to arrange the surrender of matters to my successor. But then I
shall come back here at once."

"Good! You are going to spend the week before entering on your new
position here; the Minister of Justice has just told me. It was very
prudent of you to visit him at once."

"It was only fitting that I should," said Sendlingen. Alas! not from
any motives of fitness or prudence had he gone to the Minister of
Justice; it was despair that drove him there after the information he
got at the Chancellery, a remnant of a hope that by his help, he might
at least attain the postponement of the execution till the Emperor was
better again.

Not until he was in the Minister's ante-room, and had already been
announced, did he recover his senses and recognise that the Minister
could as little command a postponement as he himself, and so he kept
silence. "He was very friendly to me!" he added aloud.

"He is completely reconciled to you," Count Karolberg eagerly
corroborated. "He spoke to me of your ill-health with the sincerest
sympathy, and told me that you had hinted at not accepting the post at
Pfalicz but contemplated retiring. I hope that is far from being your
resolve! If you require a lengthy cure somewhere in the South, leave of
absence would be sufficient. How could you have the heart to renounce a
career that smiles upon you as yours does?"

"Of, course," replied Sendlingen, "I shall consider the subject
thoroughly." He then asked to be excused for a minute in order to write
a telegram to Bolosch.

He sat down at the writing-table. He found the few words needed hard to
choose. He crossed them out and altered them again and again--it was
the first lie that that hand had ever set down.

At length he had finished. The telegram read as follows:

"George Berger, Bolosch. End desired as good as attained. Have procured
postponement till recovery of decisive arbiter. Return to-morrow
comforted. Victor."

He then drove with Count Karolberg to his house and spent the evening
there in the circle of his relations. He was quiet and cheerful at he
used to be, and when he took his leave of the lady of the house to go
to the station, he jokingly invited himself to dinner on the 22d of
February.

The weather had completely changed, since the morning heavy snow had
fallen: the Bolosch train had to wait a long time at the next station
till the snow-ploughs had cleared the line, and it was not till late
next morning that it reached its destination. Sendlingen was deeply
moved that, notwithstanding, the first face he saw on getting out of
the train, was that of his faithful friend. And at the same time it
frightened him: for how could he look him in the face?

But in his impetuous joy, Berger did not observe how Sendlingen shrank
at his gaze. "At last!" he cried, embracing him, and with moistened
eyes, he pressed his hand, incapable of uttering a word.

"Thank you!" said Sendlingen in an uncertain voice. "It--it came upon
you as a surprise?"

"You may imagine that!" cried Berger. "Soon after your departure, I
heard the news of the attempt on the Emperor's life. I thought all was
lost and was about to hurry to you when your telegram came. And then,
picture my delight! I sent for Franz--the old man was mad with joy!"

They had come out to the front of the station and had got into Berger's
sleigh. "To my house!" he called to the driver!

"What are you thinking of?" asked Sendlingen.

"You forget that you have no longer a habitable home!" cried Berger.
"There is such a veritable hurly-burly at the residence, that even
Franz hardly knows his way about--where do you mean to stay?"

"At the Hofmann Hotel," replied Sendlingen. "I have already
commissioned Franz to take rooms there. It is impossible for me to stay
with you, George. Please do not press me. I cannot do it."

Berger looked at him astonished. "But why not? And how tragically it
affects you? To the Hofmann Hotel!" he now ordered the driver. "But now
tell me everything," he begged, when the sleigh had altered its
direction. "Who granted you the postponement?"

"The Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian," replied Sendlingen quickly, "the
Emperor's eldest brother. I had an interview with him yesterday. The
order to Werner to postpone the execution, should be here by the day
after to-morrow. For my own part, I shall stay in Vienna until the
Emperor has recovered. The Archduke himself could not give a final
decision."

"Once more my heartiest congratulations!" cried Berger. "I will
faithfully watch over Victorine till you return. And now as to other
things. Do you know whom this concerns?" He pointed to some bundles of
fir-branches that were being unloaded at several houses. Here and
there, too, some black and yellow, or black, red and yellow flags were
being hung out. "You, Victor. The whole of Bolosch is preparing itself
for to-morrow, it will be such a fête as the town has not seen for a
long time. The Committee has done nothing either about the decorations
or the illuminations. Both are spontaneous, and done without any
preconcerted arrangement."

"This must not take place!" cried Sendlingen impatiently. "I cannot
allow it! It would rend my heart!"

"I understand you," said Berger. "But in for a penny etc. Besides your
heart may be easier now, than at the time you agreed to accept the
torch-light procession and the banquet. Do not spoil these good
people's pleasure, they have honorably earned your countenance. Every
third man in Bolosch is inconsolable to-day because there are no more
tickets left for the banquet, although we have hired the biggest room
in the place, the one in the town-hall. The only compensation that we
could offer them, was the modest pleasure of carrying a torch in your
honour and at the same time burning a few holes in their Sunday
clothes. Notwithstanding, torches have since yesterday become the
subject of some very swindling jobbery."

In this manner he gossiped away cheerfully until the sleigh drew up at
the hotel. Herr Hofmann, the landlord, was almost speechless with
pleasure. "What an honour," stammered the fat man, his broad features
colouring a sort of purple-red. "Your Lordship is going to receive the
procession on my balcony?"

"Yes indeed," sighed Berger, "and it is I who got you this honour!" He
drove away, promising to send Franz who was waiting at his house.

After a short interval Franz appeared at the hotel; his face beamed as
he entered his master's room, and a few minutes later, when he came out
again, it was pale and distorted and his eyes seemed blinded; the old
man was reeling like a drunkard as he went back to Berger's house to
fetch the trunks to the hotel.

Without making good his lost night's rest, Sendlingen betook himself to
his Chambers. Herr von Werner was already waiting for him; they at once
went to their task and began with the business of the Civil Court. It
was not difficult work, but it consumed much time, especially as Werner
in accordance with his usual custom would not dispatch the most
insignificant thing by word of mouth. Seldom can any mortal have
written his signature with the same pleasure as he to-day signed: "von
Werner, Chief Justice."

Sendlingen held out patiently, without a sign of discomposure, "like a
lamb for the sacrifice" thought Baron Dernegg who was assisting with
the transfer. They only interrupted their work to take a scanty meal in
Chambers; twice, moreover, Franz sent for his master to make a brief
communication. At length, about ten at night, the work was done. For
the next day, when the affairs of the Criminal Court were to be
disposed of, Werner promised to be more brief. "You had better, if you
value your life," cried Dernegg laughing. "The Citizens of Bolosch
won't be made fools of. Woe to you if you don't release the hero of
to-morrow's fête in good time!"

Sendlingen went to Berger who had now been waiting for him several
hours with increasing impatience. "I shall never forgive Herr von
Werner this!" he swore as they sat down to their belated meal. "And it
is the last evening in which I shall have you to myself! Franz told me
that you were going to Vienna by the express at four in the morning,
Why will you not take a proper rest after the excitement of the fête?
You had better go the day after to-morrow by the midday train."

"I cannot," replied Sendlingen. "The Minister of Justice has asked me
to attend an important conference the day after to-morrow, and
therefore I am even thinking of going by the mail-train to-morrow. It
starts shortly after midnight and----"

"That is quite impossible!" interrupted Berger. "Just consider, the
procession takes place between eight and nine, the banquet begins at
ten, it will be eleven before the first speeches are made--then you are
to reply in all speed, rush out, hurry to the hotel, change your
clothes, fly to the station----Why, it is quite impossible, and the
people would be justly offended if you fled from the feast in an hour's
time as if it were a torment!"

"And so it is!" cried Sendlingen. "When you consider what my feelings
are likely to be at leaving Bolosch, then you will certainly not try to
stop me, but will rather help me, so that the torment be not too long
drawn out."

Berger shrugged his shoulders. "You always get your own way!" he said.
"But it is not right to offend the people and then victimise yourself
all night in a train that stops at even the smallest stations."

Then they talked of the political bearings, of the consequences, which
the crime of the 18th February, the act of a half-witted creature,
might have on the freedom of Austria. Victorine's name was not
mentioned by either of them this time.

Sendlingen never closed his eyes all that night, although Herr Hofmann
had personally selected for him the best pillows in the hotel. It was a
dark, wild night; the snow alone gave a faint glimmer. An icy
northeast wind whistled its wild song through the streets, fit
accompaniment to the thoughts of the sleepless man.

Towards eight in the morning--it had just become daylight--he heard the
sound of military music; the band was playing a buoyant march. At the
same time there was a knock at his door and Franz entered. The old man
was completely broken down. "We must dress," he said. "The band of the
Jägers and the choral society are about to serenade. Besides I suppose
we have not slept!"

"Nor you either, Franz?"

"What does that matter! But we will not survive it!" he groaned. "Oh!
that this day, that this night, were already past."

"It must be, Franz."

"Yes, it must be!"

The band came nearer and nearer. At the same time the footsteps, the
laughter and shouts of a large crowd were audible. The old man
listened. "That's the Radetzky March!" he said. "Ah! how merrily they
are piping to our sorrow."

The procession had reached the hotel.

"Three cheers for Sendlingen!" cried a stentorian voice. The band
struck up a flourish and from hundreds and hundreds of throats came the
resounding shout: "Hip, hip, Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" Then the band
played a short overture and the fingers followed with a chorus.
Meanwhile Sendlingen had finished dressing; he went into the adjoining
room, and, after the song was finished and the cheering had begun
again, he opened a window and bowed his thanks.

At his appearance the shouts were louder and louder; like the voice of
a storm they rose again and again: "Hurrah for Sendlingen! Hurrah!
Hurrah!" and mingling with them was the cry of the Czech workmen:
"Slava--Na zdar!" All the windows in the street were open; the women
waved their handkerchiefs, the men their hats; as far as the eye could
see, bright flags were floating before the snow-covered houses, and
decorations of fir were conspicuous in all the windows and balconies.
The unhappy man stared in stupefaction at the scene beneath him, then a
burning crimson flushed his pale face and he raised his hand as if to
expostulate.

The crowd put another interpretation on the sign and thought that he
wanted to make a speech. "Silence," shouted a hundred voices together
and there was a general hush. But Sendlingen quickly withdrew, while
the cheering broke forth afresh.

"My hat!" he cried to Franz. He wanted to escape to the Courts by the
back door of the hotel. But it was too late; the door of the room
opened, and the Committee entered and presented the address of the
inhabitants of Bolosch. Then the mayor and town-council appeared
bringing the greatest distinction that had ever been conferred on a
citizen of Bolosch--not only the freedom of the city, but the
resolution of the town-council to change the name of Cross Street
forthwith into Sendlingen Street. Various other deputations followed:
the last was that of the workmen. Their leader was Johannes Novyrok; he
presented as a gift, according to a Slavonic custom, a loaf of bread
and a plated salt-cellar, adding:

"Look at that salt-cellar, my Lord! If you imagine that it is silver
you will be much mistaken, it is only very thinly plated and cost no
more than four gulden, forty kreutzer, and I must candidly say that the
dealer has very likely swindled us out of a few groschen in the
transaction; for what do we understand of such baubles? Well, four
gulden and forty kreutzer, besides fifteen kreutzer for the bread and
five kreutzer for the salt, make altogether five gulden of the realm.
Now you will perhaps think to yourself, my Lord: Are these men mad that
they dare offer _me_ such a trifling gift--but to that I answer: Five
gulden are three hundred kreutzer of the realm, and these three hundred
kreutzer were collected in this way: three hundred workmen of this town
after receiving their wages last Saturday, each subscribed one kreutzer
to give you a bit of pleasure. And now that you know this, you will
certainly honour their trifling gift. We beg you to keep this
salt-cellar on your table, so that your heart may be always rejoiced by
the gift of poor men whose benefactor you have been."

In the Law Courts, too, a solemn ovation was awaiting him. Two Judges
received him at the entrance and conducted him to the hall of the
Senate, where all the members of the Court were gathered. Werner handed
him their parting-gift: a water-colour painting of the Courts of
Justice, and an album with the photographs of all connected with them.
"To the model of every judicial virtue," was stamped on it in gold
letters. Then Dernegg stepped forward. A number of the Court officials
had clubbed together to adorn the walls with Sendlingen's portrait.
Dernegg made a sign and the curtain was withdrawn from the picture.

"Not only to honour you," he continued turning to Sendlingen, "have we
placed this picture here, but because we desire that your portrait
should look down upon us to admonish and encourage us, whenever we are
assembled here in solemn deliberation. It was here that four months ago
you gave utterance to a sentiment that, to me, will always be more
significant of your character than anything I ever heard you say. We
were discussing the condemnation of an unfortunate government clerk. 'I
have never been,' you said on that occasion, 'a blind adherent of the
maxim Fiat justitia et pereat mundum--but at least it must so far be
considered sacred, as binding each of us Judges to act according to law
and duty, even if our hearts should break in doing so.' Such things are
easily said, but hard to do. Fate, however, had decreed that you were,
since then, to give a proof that this conviction had indeed been the
loadstar of your life. Who should know that better than I, your
colleague in those sorrowful days. You never hesitated, even when all
that the heart of man may cling to, was at stake in your life."

He had intended to go into this at greater length, but he came to a
speedy conclusion when he saw how pale Sendlingen had turned. "Very
likely his heart is troubling him again," he thought. But the attack
seemed to pass quickly. Certainly Sendlingen only replied in a very few
words, but he went to work again with Werner zealously.

The three men--Dernegg was assisting to-day as well--betook themselves
to the prison. In the Governor's office, the register of prisoners was
gone through. Werner started when he saw the list of the sick.

"So many?" he cried. "Our doctor would be more suited to a
philanthropic institute than here. Here, for instance, I read:
'Victorine Lippert. Since the 9th November, 1852.' Why that must be the
child-murderess, that impertinent person who made such a scene at the
trial. And here it says further: 'Convalescent since the middle of
December, but must remain in the infirmary till her complete recovery
on account of grave general debility.' This person has been well for
two months, and is still treated as if she were ill! Isn't that
unjustifiable?"

Sendlingen made no reply; he was holding one of the lists close to his
eyes, so that his face was not visible. Dernegg, however, answered:
"Perhaps the contrary would be unjustifiable. The doctor knows the
case, we don't. He is a conscientious man."

"Certainly," agreed Werner, "of course he is--but much too
soft-hearted. Let us keep to this particular case. Well, this person
has been tended as an invalid for more than two months. That adds an
increase of more than twenty kreutzer daily to the public expenditure,
altogether, since the middle of December, fourteen gulden of the realm.
We should calculate, gentlemen, calculate. And is such a person worth
so much money? Well, we can soon see for ourselves whether she is ill!"

They began to go the rounds of the prison. That was soon done with, but
in the first room of the Infirmary, Werner began a formal examination
of the patients.

Sendlingen went up to him. "Finish that tomorrow," he said sharply, in
an undertone. "You are my successor, not my supervisor."

Werner almost doubled up. "Excuse me--" he muttered in the greatest
embarrassment. "You are right,--but I did not dream of offending
you--you whom I honour so highly. Let us go."

They went through the remainder of the rooms without stopping, until
they came to the separate cells for female patients. Here, only two
female warders kept guard. Werner looked through the list of the
patients' names. "Why, Victorine Lippert is here," he said. "Actually
in a separate cell. My Lord Chief Justice," he continued in an
almost beseeching tone of voice, turning to Sendlingen, "this one case
I should like at once to--I beg--it really consumes me with
indignation--otherwise I must come over this afternoon."

Sendlingen had turned away. "As you wish," he then muttered, and they
entered her cell.

Victorine had just sat down at her table and was reading the Bible. She
looked up, a crimson flush overspread her face, trembling with a glad
excitement she rose--the pardon must at length have arrived from
Vienna, and the Judges were coming to announce it.

The danger increased Sendlingen's strength. He had not been able to
endure Dernegg's words of praise, but now that the questioning look of
his child rested on him, now that his heart threatened to stand still
from compassion and from terror of what the next moment might bring
forth, not a muscle of his face moved.

Perhaps it decisively affected his and Victorine's fate, that this
unspeakable torture only lasted a few moments. "There we are!" Werner
broke forth. "Rosy and healthy and out of bed. A nice sort of illness.
But this shall be put a stop to to-day."

With a low cry, her face turning white, Victorine staggered back.
Werner did not hear her, he had already left the cell, the other two
followed him. "It was on account of your request that I was so brief,"
said Werner in the corridor turning to Sendlingen. "Besides one glance
is sufficient! Tell me yourself, my Lord, does she look as if she were
ill?"

"You must take the Doctor's opinion about that," said Dernegg.

"That would be superfluous," said Sendlingen, his voice scarcely
trembling. "The sentence of death is confirmed; she must be executed in
a few days; the 25th February at the latest, as the sentence reached
here on the seventeenth. I can only share your view," he continued
turning to Werner, "she really looks healthy enough to be removed into
the common prison. But what would be the good? We have not got any
special 'black hole' in which condemned criminals spend the day before
their execution, and one of these cells in the Infirmary is always used
for the purpose."

"You are right as usual," Werner warmly agreed.

"She can remain in the cell for the two days: that will be the most
practical thing to do. On the twenty-third, I will announce the
sentence, on the twenty-fourth, the execution can take place."

Sendlingen gave a deep sigh. "We have finished with the prisons now,"
he said, "let us go back to Chambers. Allow me to show you the nearest
way."

He beckoned to the Governor of the Prison to follow them. The
cells of the Infirmary were in a short corridor that opened into the
prison-yard. The Governor opened the door and they stepped out into the
yard. "I have a key to this door," said Sendlingen to Werner, "as well
as to that over there." He pointed to the little door in the wall which
separated the prison-yard from the front part of the building. "I will
hand both these keys over to you presently. My predecessor had this
door made, so as to convince himself, from time to time, that the
prison officials were doing their duty. But he forgot to tell me
about this, and so the keys have been rusting unused in my official
writing-table. I first heard of this accidentally a few months ago."

"Certainly this means of access requires some consideration," observed
Dernegg. "An attempt at escape would meet with very slight obstacles
here. Anyone once in the Infirmary Corridor, would only need to break
through two weak doors, the one in the yard and this one in the wall,
and then get away scot free by the principal entrance which leads to
the offices and private residence of the Chief Justice!"

"What an idea!" laughed Werner. "In the first place: how would the
fellow get out of the sick-room or out of his cell into the corridor of
the female patients? He would first have to break through two or three
doors. And if he should succeed in getting out into the yard, he would
perhaps never notice the door, it is so hidden away; and if, groping
about in the dark, he were to find it, he would not know where it led
to, or whether there might not be a sentry on the other side with a
loaded rifle. No, no, I think this arrangement is very ingenious, very
ingenious, gentlemen, and I purpose often to make use of it."

Sendlingen took no part in this talk; he had altogether become very
taciturn and remained so, as they set to work again in Chambers. But
the evening had long set in, the illumination of the town had begun,
and the lights were burning in the windows of the room where they were
working, before they had completed all the formalities. When all was
finished, Sendlingen handed his successor the keys of which he had
spoken.

Franz was waiting outside with a carriage from the hotel. It was a
nasty night; an icy wind was driving the snow-flakes before it.
Notwithstanding Sendlingen wanted to proceed on foot. "My forehead
burns," he complained. But Franz urged: "I have brought it on account
of the crowds of people about. If we are recognised, we should never
get along or escape from the cheering." So Sendlingen got in.

This precaution proved to be well-founded. In spite of the stormy
weather, the streets were densely packed with people slowly streaming
hither and thither, and admiring the unwonted spectacle of the
illuminations. The carriage could only proceed at a walking pace:
Sendlingen buried himself deeper in its cushions so as not to be
recognised.

"The good people!" said old Franz who was sitting opposite him. "I have
always known who it was I was serving, but how much we are loved and
honoured in this town, was not manifest till to-night. But we are not
looking at the illuminations, they are very beautiful."

"And who is it they are there for!" cried Sendlingen burying his face
in his hands.

The carriage which had been going slower and slower, was now obliged to
stop; it had come to the beginning of Cross Street which since the
morning bore the superscription: "Sendlingen Street!" The inhabitants
of this street in order to show themselves worthy of the honour, had
illuminated more lavishly than anyone else, and as the Hofmann Hotel
was situated here, the crowd had formed into such a dense mass at this
point, that a passage through it was not to be thought of. Sendlingen
had to quit the carriage and, half deafened with the cheers, he hurried
through the ranks and breathed again when he reached the shelter of the
hotel.

There Berger, who had been impatiently awaiting him, met him. "Now
quick into your dress clothes," he cried, "in ten minutes the
procession will be here." Sendlingen had hardly finished dressing, when
the sound of music and the shouts of the crowd, announced the approach
of the procession. He was obliged to yield to his friend's pressure and
go out on the balcony. There was a red glimmer from the direction of
the river, and like a giant fire-serpent, the procession wound its way
through the crowd. It stopped before the hotel, the torch-bearers
formed themselves in line in the broad street. Unceasingly, endlessly,
like the roar of wild waves, resounded the cheers.

Berger's eyes sparkled. "This is a moment which few men live to see,"
he said. "Know this, and be glad of it! He who has won such love is, in
spite of anything that could happen, one of the favoured of this
earth!"

Then they drove to the banquet at the town-hall. The large room was
full to overflowing, and all agreed that this was the most brilliant
assembly that had ever been gathered together within its walls, "But he
deserves it," all said. "What has this man not suffered in the last
few weeks through his fidelity to conviction! One can see it in his
face--this agitation has broken his strength for years!" People
therefore did not take it ill that his replies to the two toasts, "Our
last honorary citizen" proposed by the Mayor, and the "Rock of Justice"
proposed by the chairman of the committee, were very briefly put. He
thanked them for the unmerited honour that had been done him, assured
them that he would never forget their kindness, and, to be brief, made
only the most commonplace remarks, without fulfilling either by his
style or his thoughts, the expectation with which this speech had been
looked forward to. Nevertheless, after he had finished, he was greeted
with wild cheering, and the same thundering applause followed him as he
left the hall towards eleven o'clock.

Berger and Dernegg accompanied him to the hotel, then to the station.
The first bell had already rung when they got there; so their farewell
had to be brief. Silently, with moistened eyes, Sendlingen embraced his
friend before he got into the train; Franz took his place in a
second-class compartment of the same carriage. Both waved from the
windows after the train had moved off and was gliding away, swifter and
swifter, into the stormy night.

                           *   *   *   *   *

Next morning about nine o'clock, when Berger had just sat down at his
writing-table, there was a violent knock at his door and a clerk of the
Law Courts rushed in. "Dr. Berger!" he cried, breathlessly, "Herr von
Werner urgently begs you to go to him at once. Victorine Lippert has
escaped from the prison in the night."

Berger turned deadly pale. "Escaped?"

"Or been taken out!" continued the clerk. "Herr von Werner hopes you
may be able to give some hint as to who could have interested
themselves in the person."

"Very well," muttered Berger. "I know little enough about the matter,
but I will come at once."

The clerk departed; Berger sat at his table a long time, staring before
him, his head heavily sunk on his breast. "Unhappy wretch!" he thought.
"Now I understand all!"

Now he understood all: why Sendlingen had hesitated so long in taking
the journey to Vienna, why he had taken Franz and Brigitta into his
confidence, why he had spent the last two days at the hotel where he
and his servant could make all preparations undisturbed, and why he had
chosen the mail train which stopped at every station. The next station
to Bolosch was not distant more than half an hour's drive by sleigh.
"They must both have left the train there," he thought, "and hurried
back in a sleigh that was waiting for them, then released Victorine and
hastened away with her, perhaps to the first station where the express
stops, perhaps in the opposite direction towards Pfalicz. At this
moment, very likely, she is journeying under Franz's protection to some
foreign country where Brigitta awaits her, somewhere in France, or
England, or Italy, while he is hurrying to Vienna, so as not to miss
his appointment with the Minister of Justice!"

"Monstrous!" he groaned. And surely, the world had never before seen
such a thing: such a crime committed by such a man, and on the very day
when his fellow-citizens had done honour to him as the "Rock of
Justice!" And such he would be for all time, in the eyes of all the
world; it was not to be supposed that the very faintest suspicion would
turn against him: he would go to Pfalicz and there continue to judge
the crimes of others. The honest lawyer boiled over, he could no longer
sit still but began to pace up and down excitedly. Bitter, grievous
indignation filled his heart; the most sacred thing on earth had been
sullied, Justice, and by a man whom of all men he had loved and
honoured.

And then this same love stirred in his heart again. He thought of last
night, of the moment when he had stood by his friend, while the
thousands surged below making the air ring with their cheers. Pity
incontinently possessed his soul again. "What the poor wretch must have
suffered at this moment!" he thought. "It is a marvel that he did not
go mad. And what he must have suffered on his journey to Vienna, and
long weeks before, when the resolve first took shape in him!"

He bowed his head. "Judge not, that ye be not judged," cried a voice of
admonition within him. His bitterness disappeared, and deep sorrow
alone filled his heart: sin had bred other sins, crime, another crime
and fresh remorse and despair. How to judge this deed, what was there
to be said in condemnation, what in vindication of it: that deed of
which he had once dreamed, it certainly was not; it was no great,
liberating solution of these complications, but only an end of them, a
hideous end! Certainly Victorine might have now suffered enough to have
been granted freedom, and the opportunity of new life, and no less
certainly would Sendlingen, honourable and loving justice in the
extreme, carry in his conscience through life, the punishment for his
crime--but Justice had been outraged, and this sacred thing would never
receive the expiation that was its due. "A wrong should not be expiated
by a crime!" Sendlingen had once said to him--but now he had done it
himself. "Re-assure yourself," he had once exclaimed at a later date,
"outraged Justice shall receive the expiation that is its due!" This
would not, could not be--never--never!

Berger roused himself and went forth on his bitter errand. When he
reached the Courts of Justice, old Hoche, who had entered on his
retirement some weeks ago, was just coming out. Berger was going to
pass him with a brief salutation, but the old gentleman button-holed
him.

"What do you say to this?" he cried. "Monstrous, isn't it? I am
heartily glad that the misfortune has not befallen Sendlingen! But do
not imagine that I wish it to Herr von Werner. On the contrary, I have
just given him a piece of advice--ha! ha! ha!--that should relieve him
of his perplexity. You cross-examine Dr. Berger sharply, I said to him;
that is the safest way of getting to know the secret of who took her
out. For the way Dr. Berger interested himself in this person, is not
to be described. Me, a Judge, he called a murderer for her sake, upon
my word, a murderer. Ha! ha! ha! there you have it."

Berger had turned pale. "This is not a subject of jest," he said,
angrily.

"Oh, my dear Dr. Berger!" replied the old man soothingly, "I have only
advised Herr von Werner--and naturally without the slightest suspicion
against you--to formally examine you on oath as a witness. For anyone
connected with the prisoner is likely to know best. And besides: a
record of evidence can never do any harm--_ut aliquid fecisse
videatur_, you know. They will see in Vienna that Werner has taken a
lot of trouble. Well, good-bye, my dear doctor, good-bye."

He went. Berger strode up the steps. His face was troubled and a sudden
terror shook his limbs. He had never thought of that. Supposing he
should now be examined on oath? Could he then say: 'I have no suspicion
who could have helped her?' Could he be guilty of perjury to save them
both? "May God help them then," he hissed, "for I cannot."

He entered the corridor that led to the Chief Justice's Chambers. The
examination of the prison officials had just been concluded, but a few
warders were standing about and attentively listening to the crafty
Höbinger's explanation of this extraordinary case. "Favouritism!"
Berger heard him say as he went by, "her lover, the young Count, has
got her out." The two female warders of the Infirmary cells were there
too, sobbing.

Berger entered the Chief Justice's Chambers. Baron Dernegg and the
Governor of the prison were with Werner. At a side-table sat a clerk; a
crucifix and two unlighted candles were beside him. "At last!"
cried Werner. "I begged you so particularly to come at once. There is
not a moment to be lost. Light the candles!" he called to the clerk.

"But that may be quite useless," cried Dernegg. "Do you know anything
about the matter?" he then asked Berger.

"No!" The sound came hoarsely, almost unintelligibly, from his stifled
breast.

Werner stood irresolute. "But Dr. Berger was her Counsel," he said,
"and the authorities in Vienna----"

"Must see that you have taken trouble," supplemented Dernegg. "They
will hardly see this from documents with nothing in them. We have more
important things to do now: the escape was discovered three hours ago,
and the description of her appearance has not yet been drawn up and
telegraphed to Vienna and the frontier stations."

Werner still looked irresolutely at the lighted candles for a few
seconds: to Berger they seemed an eternity of bitter anguish such as
his conscience had never endured before. "Put out the candles! Come,
the description of her appearance!" He seized the papers relating to
the trial. "Please help me!" he said turning to Dernegg. "My head is
swimming! O God! that I should have lived to see this day!"

While the clerks were writing at the dictation of the two judges,
Berger turned to the Governor and asked him how the escape had been
effected.

"It is like magic!" he replied. "When one of the female warders was
taking her breakfast to her this morning, she found the door merely
latched and the cell empty. The lock must have been opened from the
inside. Her course can be plainly traced: she escaped through the yard;
the locks of all the doors have been forced from inside by a file used
by someone with great strength. This is the first riddle. Such a thing
could hardly be done by the hand of the strongest man; it is quite
impossible that Victorine Lippert had sufficient strength! The doctor
vouches for it, and for the matter of that you knew her yourself, Dr.
Berger."

Berger shrugged his shoulders and the Governor continued: "You see the
theory of external assistance forces itself imperatively upon us, and
yet it is not tenable. The help cannot have come from outside, as all
the locks were forced on the inside. And in the prison she can likewise
have received no assistance. There is not one of the warders capable of
such a crime, besides there is only one door between the general prison
and the corridor of the female patients, and that was locked and
remained locked. Since any external help is not to be thought of, we
are obliged, difficult as it is, to credit Victorine Lippert with
sufficient strength. But there we are confronted with the second
riddle: how did she come by the file? And in the face of such
incomprehensibilities, it is a small thing that she should also have
been aware of an exit that is known to few!"

"Mysterious in every way!" said Berger. "Most extraordinary!" To him
the rationale of the thing was plain enough: Master and servant had by
means of the official keys or of duplicates which they had had made,
penetrated the prison, and on their return had filed the locks. By this
ruse, all suspicion of external help would be removed, and at the same
time, as far as Sendlingen could do so, it would be averted from the
prison officials.

Meanwhile the two Judges had drawn up the description of the fugitive's
appearance, and Dernegg renewed his advice to telegraph it abroad at
once. Werner objected that this was "a new method" that he would not
agree to. "Everything according to rule!" he said. "We will publish the
description in the official paper, distribute it among the police, and
send a copy to Vienna. It is inconceivable that the person has got out
of the country; where would she get the money from? We will therefore
not telegraph, and that is enough!"

But after the old man had roused himself to this judgment of Solomon,
his self-control deserted him altogether. "What a calamity!" he moaned.
"What a beginning to my life as Chief Justice! But I am innocent! Alas!
I shall, none the less, receive a reprimand from the Minister which I
shall carry about me all my life, unless Sendlingen saves me. But my
friend Sendlingen, that best of colleagues, will speak for me and save
me. Excuse me, gentlemen--but I shall have no peace, until I have
written and asked for his help!"

He sat down to his writing-table, the others took their leave.

The next morning Berger received a letter from Vienna, the handwriting
of the address was known to him and, with trembling hands, he opened
the envelope. This was the letter.

"I know that you cannot forgive me and I do not ask you to do so. One
favour only do I implore: do not give up hope that the time will one
day come when I shall again be worthy of your regard. The first step to
this I took yesterday: I have left the service of the State for ever,
and I do not doubt that I shall have courage to take the second step,
the step that will resolve all; when God will grant me the grace to do
this, I know not. Pray with me that I may not have too long to wait.

                       "Farewell, George, farewell for ever!

                                                         "Victor."

Berger stared for a long while at these lines, his lips trembled--he
was very sore at heart.

Then he drew a candle towards him, lit it, and held the letter in its
flame until it had turned to ashes.

"Farewell, thou best and purest of men," he whispered to himself, and a
sudden tear ran down his cheek.



                              CHAPTER XIV.


Three years had passed, it was the summer of 1856. Bright and hot, the
June sun shone upon the Valley of the Rhine ripening the vineyards that
hung upon its rocky declivities. The boat steaming down the Valley from
Mayence to the holy city of Cologne, had its sheltering awning
carefully stretched over the deck, and all went merrily on board,
merrily as ever. More beautiful landscapes there may be in the
world, but none that make the heart more glad. And so thought two
grave-looking men who had come aboard at Mayence that morning. They had
come from Austria, and were going to London; they did not want to miss
the opportunity of seeing the beautiful river, but at the beginning of
the journey they made but a poor use of the favourable day. They sat
there oppressed and scarcely looking up, consulting together about the
weighty business that lay on their shoulders. But an hour later, when
they got into Nassau, they yielded to the charm of the scenery, and as
they glided by Rüdesheim, they began to consider whether, after all,
the Rhine was not the proper place to drink Rhine-wine, and when they
passed the Castle called the Pfalz at Caub, they first saw this
venerable building through their spectacles, and then through the
green-gold light of the brimming glasses they were holding to their
eyes.

These two men were Dr. George Berger of Bolosch and a fellow barrister
from Vienna. They had a difficult task to perform in London. One of the
largest iron-foundries in Austria, that at Bolosch, had got into
difficulties, and an attempt to stave off bankruptcy had failed, less
from the action of the creditors, than from the miserable red-tapism of
the Chief Justice of Bolosch, Herr von Werner. The foundry, which
employed thousands of men, would be utterly ruined if it did not
succeed in obtaining foreign capital. With this object, these two
representatives of the firm were making their way to England.

On the Rhine, everybody forgets their cares and this was their
good-fortune too. And so greatly had the lovely river, which both now
saw for the first time, taken possession of their hearts, that they
could not part company with it even at Cologne, where most people went
ashore. They resolved to continue the journey by the river as far as
Arnhem, and they paced up and down the now empty deck cheerfully
talking in the cool of the evening. No mountains, no castles, were any
longer reflected in the stream, but the look of its shores was still
pleasant, and when they saw the light of dying day spread its rosy net
over the broad and swiftly flowing waters, they did not repent their
resolve, and extolled the day that had ended as beautiful as it had
begun.

The shades of evening fell, the banks of the river grew more and more
flat and bare, factories became more and more plentiful, and behind
Dusseldorf, they saw the red glare of countless blast-furnaces,
brightly glowing in the dark.

This sight reminded them of their task.

"Who knows," sighed Berger's friend Dr. Moldenhauer, "how soon these
fires at home may not be extinguished! And why? Because of the
narrow-mindedness of one single man. Nothing in my life ever roused my
indignation more than our dealings with your Chief Justice! What
pedantry! what shortsightedness! Now his predecessor, Baron Sendlingen,
was a different sort of man!"

Berger sighed deeply. "That he was!" he replied.

"The Werners stay, the Sendlingens go," continued Dr. Moldenhauer. "And
they are allowed to go cheerfully, nay, even forced to go! At least it
was generally said that, when Baron Sendlingen suddenly retired a few
years ago, it was not on account of heart-disease, as officially
reported, but because he had had a difference with the Minister of
Justice. The regret at this was so great that His Excellency had to
hear many a reproach."

"Perhaps unjustly for once," said Berger, heavy at heart.

"I don't think so," cried Moldenhauer. "Sendlingen certainly went away
in deep dudgeon, otherwise he would not have renounced his pension and
then left Austria for ever. Even his brother-in-law, Count Karolberg,
does not know where he has gone. You were very intimate with him, do
you know?"

"No!"

"Count Karolberg thinks he may have died suddenly in some of his
travels abroad."

"That too is possible," answered Berger shortly; he was anxious to drop
the subject.

But Moldenhauer stuck to his theme. "What a thousand pities it is!" he
continued. "How great a lawyer he was, his last work, 'On
Responsibility and Punishment in Child-murder,' which appeared
anonymously some three years ago, most clearly shows--You know the book
of course."

"Yes," said Berger, "but I doubt whether it is by Sendlingen." This was
an untruth, he had never doubted it.

"It is attributed to other writers as well," replied Dr. Moldenhauer,
"but his brother-in-law is convinced that it is by him. He says he
recognised the style and also some of the thoughts, which Sendlingen
explained to him in conversation. Whoever the author may be, he need
not have concealed his identity. The work is the finest ever written on
this subject and has made a great sensation. It is chiefly owing to its
influence, that our new penal code so definitely emphasizes the
question of unsoundness of mind in such crimes, and has so materially
lessened the punishment for them."

He talked for a long time of the excellencies of the work, but Berger
hardly heard him, and was silent and absent-minded for the rest of the
evening. When Moldenhauer retired to his cabin for the night, Berger
still remained on deck; he was fascinated, he said, by this wondrous
spectacle of the night.

And indeed the aspect of the scene was strange enough and not without
its charm. The moon-light lay in a faint glimmer on the stream that
here, having almost poured forth its endless waters, was slowly flowing
with a gentle murmur towards its grave, the vast sandy plain of the
sea. On the level shores, the dim light showed the distant, dusky
outlines of solitary high houses and windmills, and then again came
blast-furnaces, smoking and flaming, denser and denser was the forest
of them the further the boat glided on, and, here and there, where one
stood close to the shore, it threw its blood-red reflex far on to the
waters reaching almost to the boat, so that its lurid light and the
faint lustre of the celestial luminary, seemed to be struggling for the
mastery of it.

The lonely passenger on the deck kept his eyes riveted on the scene,
but his thoughts were far away. His recent conversation had powerfully
stirred up the memory of his unhappy friend.

Since that last letter he had received no line, no sign or token of any
sort from him. Why? he asked himself. From mistrust? Impossible. From
caution? That would be exaggerated; the writing on the envelope would
not betray to any meddlesome person in what corner of the earth he had
buried himself with his child. Besides he had no need to be
apprehensive of any inquiry; no one knew of his child, Victorine
Lippert's escape from prison had never been cleared up, the
investigation had soon after been discontinued without result. The
Governor of the Prison had been reprimanded for want of care in
searching the cell, the little door in the wall had been bricked up, so
that Herr von Werner had never been able to make use of the arrangement
which he had thought so "ingenious"--those were the only consequences.
Among the prison officials as among the lower classes, the opinion was
sometimes expressed that it was Count Riesner-Graskowitz who had
liberated his sweetheart, but this was not believed in higher circles;
against Sendlingen, however, there was never the slightest breath of
suspicion. Sendlingen himself must know this well enough, otherwise he
would not have dared to let his book appear, that curious work in which
every reader might perceive beneath the stiff, solid legal terminology,
the beatings of a deeply-moved heart. He had not put his name to it,
but he must have known that his name would rise to the lips of anyone
who had carefully read his earlier writings.

If he had not feared this, he might well have ventured upon a letter.
If he was none the less silent, it must be because he preferred to be
silent. Had he, perhaps, thought Berger, not had the courage to take
that second step, had he perhaps renounced the intention and was now
ashamed to confess it? That would be superfluous anxiety indeed. Is
there a man in the wide world, who would have the heart to blame him
for this?

Or was he silent because he could speak no more? The thought had never
entered his head before; now in this lonely hour of night it
overmastered him. Of course, his brother-in-law was right, he had died
a sudden death and now slept his last sleep somewhere in a strange land
and under a strange name. And if that were so, would it be cause for
complaint? Would not Death have been a deliverer here?

Softly murmuring, the waters of the river glided on, not a sound came
from its banks; in deep and solemn stillness, night lay upon the land
and waters. The solitary figure on deck alone could find no rest, and
the early dawn was trembling in the East over the distant hills of
Guelderland, ere he at length went in search of sleep.

He had scarcely rested a couple of hours when the steward knocked at
his cabin-door--the passengers were to come on deck, the boat was
approaching Lobith, on the Dutch frontier, where the luggage had to be
examined.

The two travellers answered to the call. The steamer was already
nearing the shore by the landing stage of the village of which the
custom-house seemed the only inhabitable building. The Dutch Customs
officers in their curious uniforms came on deck.

The were speedily finished with the luggage of the two lawyers, as also
with that of the few other passengers. On the other hand four mighty
trunks, which the Captain had with him, gave them much trouble. They
were full throughout of things liable to duty: new clothes, linen, lace
and articles of luxury. They required troublesome measuring, weighing
and calculation. Half an hour had passed, and scarcely the half had
been gone through.

"We shall miss the train at Arnhem," said Berger turning impatiently to
the Captain. "We must be in London to-morrow, you are responsible for
the delay."

"I shall make up the time by putting on steam," he reassuringly said in
his broad Cologne dialect. "Excuse me, Sir, but I did not imagine that
women's finery would take up so much time."

"You are getting a trousseau for a daughter, I suppose."

"God forbid! Thank Heaven, I am unmarried. I have, out of pure
goodnature, brought these things for someone else from Cologne and
undertaken to pay the duty for him. It is the most convenient thing to
him, though certainly not to me. But what would one not do for a
compatriot. He is a Herr von Tessenau."

"Tessenau?" The name seemed familiar to Berger, but he could not
remember where he had heard or read it.

"Yes, that is his name," said the captain. "He comes from Bavaria, and
is said to have been in the diplomatic service. He is now living with
his daughter at Oosterdaal House near Huissen, the station before
Arnhem. I know both of them well, they sometimes use my boat for the
journey to Arnhem, and as they are such nice people, I could not refuse
them this service. The wedding, which is to take place the day after
to-morrow, would otherwise have had to be postponed--ask women and
lovers."

"So Fräulein von Tessenau is the happy bride?"

"The daughter of the old gentleman, yes--but she is a 'Frau,' a young
widow. Her name is von Tessenau, because she was married to a cousin.
It seems that she lost her husband after a brief married life, for she
is still very young, scarcely twenty-two. A beautiful, gentle lady and
still looks quite girlish. But I must hurry up these easy-going
Mynheers."

He turned to the Customs officers and paid them the required duty. They
left the steamer which now began to proceed at a much greater speed.

Notwithstanding this, Moldenhauer was pacing up and down excitedly, now
and then consulting timetables and pulling out his watch every five
minutes. It was another cause that robbed Berger of calm. "If it should
be they?" The thought returned to him however often he might say:
"Nonsense! an old father and a young daughter--the conjunction is
common enough--and I know nothing else about them. That I must often
have heard the name Tessenau tells rather against the supposition--for
Sendlingen would hardly have chosen the name of some Austrian family
for his pseudonym!"

Still his indefinite presentiment gave him no rest, and he at length
went up to the captain! "I once," he began, "knew a family of von
Tessenau, and would be very pleased if I were perhaps unexpectedly to
come across them here. The old gentleman, you say, comes from Bavaria?"

"Yes, you must certainly be a countryman of his?"

"No. I am an Austrian."

"Then the two dialects must be very much alike for you speak just like
him. That he comes from Bavaria I know for certain. Herr Willem van der
Weyden told me so quite recently, and he must surely know, as he is to
become his son-in-law."

"Who is the bridegroom?"

"A capital fellow," replied the captain. "A man of magnificent
build--no longer young, somewhere in the forties I should say, but
stately, brave and capable--all who know him, praise him. He holds a
high position in Batavia, he is manager of the Java Mines. Some ten
months ago he came back to Europe, after a long absence, on a year's
furlough: to find a wife, people say. None seemed to please him
however. Then he came to Arnhem where his brother is settled, and in an
excursion in the country about, he accidentally got to know the young
Frau von Tessenau at Oosterdaal House, and fell in love with her. There
seemed at first to be great obstacles in the way; at all events he was
always very melancholy when he rode on my boat from Arnhem to Huissen.
Well one day he was very happy, the betrothal was solemnized, and now
the wedding is to come off. Yes," added the Captain pleasantly, "when
one is everlastingly taking the same journey, one gets to know people
by degrees and kills time by sharing their joys and sorrows."

"And is Herr van der Weyden going back to Java again?"

"Yes, in a month from now, when his furlough will be up. He is
naturally going to take his young wife with him, and the old gentleman
is going to join them too. He has no other relations. The father and
daughter lived hitherto in great retirement with an old house-keeper
and an equally old man-servant. But if you are interested in the
family, come and look over when we get to Huissen. The old man-servant
at least, will be at the landing-stage to receive the trunks, and
perhaps Herr von Tessenau himself."

"Do you know what the man-servant is called?" Berger's voice trembled
at this question.

"Franz is his name."

The captain did not notice how pale Berger had become, how hastily he
turned away. "No more room for doubt," he thought. But the doubt did
rise again. That some details agreed, might only be a coincidence, and
the name of the man-servant--such a common name--was not sufficient
proof. Besides how much was against the supposition! It was
inconceivable that Sendlingen should have deceived his future
son-in-law and passed off Victorine as a widow! "It would be outrageous
to impute such a thing to him!" he thought.

With growing impatience, he looked out for the landing-stage, the
steamboat had long since left the river and was steaming along the
narrow Pannerden Canal. The monotonous, fruitful, thoroughly Dutch
landscape extended far and wide; rich meadows on which cattle were
pasturing; narrow canals, on which heavily laden boats drawn by horses
on the banks, slowly made their way; on the horizon a few windmills
lazily turned by their large sails. At length a few large, villa-like
buildings came in sight.

"That is Huissen," said the Captain. "We will see who is at the
landing-stage." He produced a telescope. "Right, there is the
man-servant," he said, handing Berger the telescope. "See if you know
the man."

Berger only held the glass to his eye for a second and then handed it
back to the Captain.

"No," he said, "I don't know him, it must be another family of von
Tessenau."

He went down to the cabin and stayed there, till the boat had got well
beyond the landing-stage.

It had been Franz.

Berger had to stay in London a week before his task was done. He left
the completion of the agreement to his colleague, and began his journey
home. At first he intended to go by Dover and Calais. But at the
station in London he was overcome by his feelings; he could not let his
friend depart forever without seeing him again. He went back by
Holland, and the next day was in Arnhem.

Not until he was in the carriage which he had hired to take him to
Oosterdaal, was he visited by scruples, the same sort of feeling which
a week before had kept him from remaining on the deck of the steamer.
Was it not indelicate and selfish to gratify his own longing at the
price of deeply and painfully stirring up his friend's heart?
Sendlingen did not wish to see him again, otherwise he would have
written and told him of his whereabouts. And what would he not feel if
he was so suddenly reminded of the fatality of his life, if his wounds
were suddenly torn open again just as they were beginning to heal? And
when Berger thought of Victorine, he altogether lost courage to
continue the journey. Unfriendly,--nay it would be cruel, inhuman, to
remind the newly-married girl of the misery of the past, and to plunge
her in fatal embarrassment.

The roof of the house was already visible in the distance above the
tops of the trees, when these reflections overmastered Berger. "Stop,
back to Arnhem!" he ordered the driver.

But that could not be done at once; the horses would have to be fed
first, explained the driver. The carriage proceeded still nearer the
house, and stopped at a little friendly-looking inn opposite the
entrance to the avenue of poplars which led up to the door. While the
driver drove into the yard, the landlady suggested to Berger to take
the refreshment he had ordered in front of the house. This, however, he
declined and entered the inn-parlour. His remorse increased every
minute, and he feared to be seen, if by chance one of the occupants of
the house went by.

Sighing deeply, he looked out of the window at the driver leisurely
unharnessing his horses. The landlady, a young, plump, little woman,
tried to console him by telling him he would not have to wait more than
an hour. She spoke in broken German; she had been maid to the young
German lady up at the house, she said, and had learnt the language
there. They were kind, good people at Oosterdaal, the driver had told
her that the gentleman was going to have driven there, why had he given
up the idea? They would certainly be very glad to see a countryman
again, even if he were only a slight acquaintance. No German had ever
come to see them, not even at the wedding. The festivities had
altogether been very quiet, but very nice. Had the gentry no relations
in Germany then?

"How can I tell you," replied Berger impatiently. "I don't know them."

"Indeed?" she asked astonished. "Then I suppose you have come to buy the
house?" Several people had been with that intention, she added, but
Herr von Tessenau had already made it over to his son-in-law, and he to
his brother, Herr Jan van der Weyden. In a fortnight they were all
going to Batavia. The Housekeeper, Fräulein Brigitta, too, and the old
German man-servant. "But won't you go up to the house after all?" she
asked again. Before he could answer, however, she cried out: "There
they come!" and flew to the window.

A carriage went by at a leisurely trot. "Do come here," cried the
landlady. Berger had retired deeper into the room, but he could still
plainly see his friend. Sendlingen was looking fresher and stronger
than when he saw him last; but his hair had the silver-white hue of old
age, although he could hardly have reached the middle of the fifties.
But in the young, blooming, happy woman at his side, Berger would
scarcely have recognized his once unfortunate client, if he had met her
under other circumstances. She was just laughingly bending forward
and straightening the tie of her husband opposite her. The stately,
fair-haired man smilingly submitted to the operation.

"How happy they are!" cried the landlady. "But they deserve it. Why the
carriage is stopping," she cried, bending out of the window. "What an
honour, they are going to come in."

Berger turned pale. But in the next instant he breathed again: the
carriage drove on. "Oh, no!" cried the landlady, "only Franz has got
down! Good day!" she cried to the old man as he went by. "A glass of
wine!"

"No," answered Franz. "I am only to tell you to come up to the house.
But for the matter of that as I _am_ here----"

Then Berger heard his footsteps approaching on the floor outside; the
door was opened. "Well, a glass of----" he began, but the words died on
his lips. Pale as death, he started back and stared at Berger as if he
had seen a ghost.

"It is I, Franz," said Berger, himself very pale. "Don't be afraid--I
only want----"

"You have come to warn us?" he exclaimed, trembling all over as he
approached Berger. "It is all discovered, is it not?"

"No!" replied Berger. "Why, what is there to discover?"

He made a sign to draw Franz's attention to the landlady, who was
inquisitively drinking in the scene.

"I am glad to see you," he said meaningly. "I am going to continue my
journey at once."

"Excuse me, Marie," said Franz, turning to her, "but I have something
to say to this gentleman. He is an old acquaintance."

"After all!" she cried, and left the room shaking her head.

"She will listen," whispered Berger. "Come here, Franz, and sit beside
me."

"Oh, how terrified I am," he replied in the same whisper. "So people
suspect nothing? It would have been frightful if misfortune had come
now, now, when everything is going so well. Certainly my fears were
foolish; how should it be found out? We had arranged everything with
such care: even the duplicate keys were not made at Bolosch, but at
Dresden, where Brigitta was waiting for us."

"Enough!" said Berger, checking him. "I don't wish to know anything
about it. How has Baron Sendlingen been since?"

"Bad enough at first!" replied Franz. "We did not eat, nor sleep, and
we fell into a worse decline than at Bolosch--but it was perhaps less
from the fear of discovery than from remorse. And yet we had only done,
what had to be done--isn't that so, Dr. Berger?"

Berger looked on the ground and was silent. Old Franz sighed deeply.
"If even you--" he began, but he interrupted himself and continued his
story. "Gradually we became calmer again. Fear vanished though remorse
remained, but for this too there was a salve in seeing how the poor
child blossomed again. Then we began to write a book. It deals with the
punishment of--h'm. Dr. Berger----"

"I know the work," said Berger.

"Indeed? We did not put our name to it. Well, while we were working at
the book, we forgot our own sorrow, and later on, after the work had
appeared and all the newspapers were saying that it would have great
influence, there were moments when we seemed happy again. Then came
this business with the Dutchman, and we got as sad and despairing as
ever. But we took courage and told the man everything; our real name,
and that we were only called von Tessenau here----"

"How did he come by this name?" asked Berger. "It sounds so familiar to
me."

"Probably because it is one of the many titles of the family. Tessenau
was the name of an estate in Carinthia, which once belonged to the
family. We were obliged to choose this name, because on settling here
it was necessary to prove our identity to the police. Well, we
confessed this to Herr Willem and also what the young lady's plight
was----"

Berger gave a sigh of relief.

"We said to him: she is not called von Tessenau because she was married
to a cousin, but because we adopted the name here with the proper
formalities. She was never married, she was betrayed by a scoundrel.
That we said no more, nothing of the deed that brought her to prison,
nothing of the way she was released--that, Dr. Berger, is surely
excusable."

"Of course!" assented Berger. "And Herr van der Weyden?"

"Acted bravely and magnanimously, because he is a brave and magnanimous
man, God bless him! He made her happy, her and himself. And now at
length we got peace of heart once more. We are going to Batavia. May it
continue as heretofore!"

"Amen!" said Berger deeply moved. "Farewell, Franz."

"You are not going up to the house?"

"No. Don't tell him of my visit till you are on the sea. And say to him
that I will always think of him with love and respect. With _respect_,
Franz, do not forget that!"

He shook hands with the old servant, got into his carriage, and drove
back to Arnhem.



                              CHAPTER XV.


Three weeks later, on a glowing hot August day, the Austrian Minister
of Justice sat in his office, conferring with one of his subordinates,
when an attendant brought him a card; the gentleman, he said, was
waiting in the ante-room and would not be denied admittance.

"Sendlingen!" read the Minister. "This is a surprise; it has not been
known for years whether he was alive or dead. Excuse me," he said to
his companion, "but I cannot very well keep him waiting."

The official departed, Sendlingen was shown in. He was very pale; the
expression of his features was gloomy, but resolved.

The Minister rose and offered his hand with the friendliest smile.
"Welcome to Vienna," he cried. "I hope that you are completely
recovered, and are coming to me to offer your services to the State
once more."

"No, your Excellency," replied Sendlingen. "Forgive me, if I cannot
take your hand. I will spare you having to regret it in the next
instant. For I do not come to offer you my services as Judge, but to
deliver myself into the hands of Justice. I am a criminal and desire to
undergo the punishment due to me."

The Minister turned pale and drew back: "The man is mad," he thought.
The thought must have been legible in his face, for Sendlingen
continued:

"Do not be afraid, I am in my senses. I have indeed abused my office in
a fashion so monstrous, that perhaps nothing like it has ever happened
before. I released from prison, by means of official keys, a condemned
woman, who was to have been executed the next day, and suggested,
furthered, and carried out her flight to a foreign country. Her name
was Victorine Lippert: the crime was done on the night of 21-22
February, 1853."

"I remember the case," muttered the Minister. "She escaped in the most
mysterious way. But you! Why should you have done this?"

"A father saved his child: Victorine is my natural daughter."

The Minister wiped the sweat from his forehead. "This is a frightful
business." He once more searchingly looked at his uncomfortable
visitor. "He certainly seems to be in his senses," he thought.

"Allow me to tell you how every thing came about?"

The Minister nodded and pointed to a chair.

Sendlingen remained standing. He began to narrate. Clearly and quietly,
in a hollow, monotonous voice, he told of his relations with Herminie
Lippert, then how he had made the discovery in the lists of the
Criminal Court, and of his struggles whether he should preside at the
trial or not.

"I had the strength to refuse," he continued. "My sense of duty
conquered. Sentence of death was pronounced. It was--and perhaps you
will believe me although you hear it at such a moment, from such a
man--it was a judicial murder, such as could have been decreed by a
Court of Justice alone. And therefore my first thought was: against
this wrong, wrong alone can help. I sought out the prison keys, and for
some hours was firmly resolved to release my daughter. But then my
sense of duty--perhaps more strictly speaking my egoism--conquered. For
I said to myself that I, constituted as I was, could not commit this
crime without some day making atonement for it. I knew quite well even
then, that an hour would come in my life, like the present, and I could
not find it in my heart to end as a criminal. But my conscience cried:
'Then your child will die!' and so suicide seemed to me the only thing
left. I was resolved to kill myself; whether I could not bring myself
to it at the last moment, whether a chance saved me--I do not know:
there is a veil cast over that hour that I have never since been able
to pierce. I survived, I saw my daughter, and recovered my clearness of
mind; the voice of nature had conquered. I now knew that it was highly
probable that there was no means that could save us both, that the
question was whether I should perish, or she, and I no longer doubted
that it must be I. I was resolved to liberate her, and then to expiate
my crime; but until extreme necessity compelled, I wanted to act
according to law and justice. That I did so, my conduct proves when the
Supreme Court ordered a fresh examination of the chief witness.
Everything depended upon that; I made over this inquiry also to
another--who assuredly did not bring the truth to light. The Supreme
Court confirmed the sentence of death; it was pronounced upon me, not
upon my child; that extreme necessity had now arrived, I now knew that
I must become a criminal, and only waited for the result of the
Counsel's petition for pardon, because the preparations for the act
required time, and because I first wanted to save some men unjustly
accused of political offences."

"I remember, the workmen," said the Minister. He still seemed dazed, it
cost him an effort to follow the unhappy man's train of thought. "One
thing only I do not understand," he slowly said, passing his hand over
his forehead. "Why did you not discover yourself to me, or why did you
not appeal to the Emperor for pardon?"

"For two reasons," replied Sendlingen. "I have all my life striven to
execute Justice without respect of persons. It was ever a tormenting
thought to me that the Aristocrat, the Plutocrat, often receives where
the law alone should decide, favours that would never fall to the lot
of the poor and humble. And therefore it was painful to me to lay claim
to such a favour for myself."

"You are indeed a man of rare sense of justice," cried the Minister.
"And that such a fate should have, befallen you....."

He paused.

"Is tragic indeed," supplemented Sendlingen, his lips trembling.
"Certainly it is---- But I will not make, myself out better than I am;
there was another reason why I hesitated to appeal to the Emperor. What
would have been the result, your Excellency? Commutation to penal
servitude for life, or for twenty years. The mere announcement of this
punishment would have so profoundly affected this weakly, broken-down
girl, that she would scarcely have survived it, and if she had--a
complete pardon could not have been attained for ten, for eight, in the
most favourable case for five years, and she would not have lived to
see it. I was persuaded of that, quite firmly persuaded, still," his
voice became lower, "I too was only a human being. When I received the
confirmation of the death-sentence by the Emperor, cowardice and
selfishness got the better of me, I journeyed to Vienna--it was the
18th February."

"The date of the attempt!" cried the Minister. "What a frightful
coincidence! Thus does fate sport with the children of men."

"So I thought at first!" replied Sendlingen. "But then I saw that that
coincidence had not decided my fate: it was sealed from the first. By
my whole character and by all that had happened. In this sense there is
a Fate, in this sense what happens in the world _must_ happen, and my
fate is only a proof of what takes place in millions of cases. I
returned to Bolosch and liberated my daughter. How I succeeded, I am
prepared to tell my Judges so far as my own share in the act is
concerned. I had no accomplice among the prison officials. Your
Excellency will believe me, although I can only call to witness my own
word, the word of honour of a criminal!"

"I believe you," said the Minister. "You took the girl abroad?"

"Yes, and sought to make good my neglect. Fate was gracious to me, my
daughter is cared for. And I may now do that which I was from the first
resolved to do, although I did not know when the day would be
vouchsafed me to dare it--I may present myself to you, the supreme
guardian of Justice in this land, and say: 'Deliver me to my Judges!'"

Sendlingen was silent; the Minister, too, at first could find no words.
White as a ghost, he paced up and down the room. "But there can be no
question of such a thing!" he cried at length. "For thousands of
reasons! We are not barbarians!"

"It can be and must be! I claim my right!"

"But just consider!" cried the Minister, wringing his hands. "It would
be the most fearful blow that the dignity of Justice could receive. A
former Chief-Justice as a criminal in the dock! A man like you! Besides
you deserve no punishment! When I consider what you have suffered, how
all this has come about--good God, I should be a monster if I were not
moved, if I did not say: if this man were perhaps really a criminal, he
has already atoned for it a thousand times over."

"Then you refuse me justice?"

"It would be injustice! Go in peace, my Lord, and return to your
daughter."

"I cannot. I could not endure the pangs of my conscience! If you refuse
to punish me, I shall openly accuse myself!"

"Great Heavens! this only was wanting!" The Minister drew nearer to
him. "I beseech you, let these things rest in peace! Do not bring upon
that office of which you were so long an ornament, the worst blemish
that could befal it. And your act would have still worse consequences:
it would undermine the authority of the State. Consider the times in
which we live--the Revolution is smouldering under its ashes."

"I cannot help it, your Excellency. Do your duty voluntarily, and do
not oblige me to compel you to it."

The Minister looked at him: in his face there was the quiet of
immovable resolve. "A fanatic," he thought, "what shall I do with him?"
He walked about the room in a state of irresolution.

"My Lord," he then began, "you would oblige the State to take defensive
measures. Accuse yourself openly by a pamphlet published abroad, and I
would give out that you were mad. I should be believed, you need not
doubt."

"I do doubt it," replied Sendlingen. "I should take care that there was
no room left for any question as to my sanity. Once more, and for the
last time, I ask your Excellency, to what Court am I to surrender
myself?"

Again the Minister for a long while paced helplessly up and down. At
length a saving thought seemed to occur to him.

"Be it so," he said. "Do what you cannot help doing; we, on the other
hand, will do what our duty commands. You naturally want to conceal
where your daughter is now living?"

Sendlingen turned still paler and made no reply.

"But we shall endeavor to find out, even if it should cost thousands,
and if we should have to employ all the police in the world. We shall
find your daughter and demand her extradition. There is no state that
would refuse to deliver a legally condemned murderess! You must decide,
my Lord, whether this is to happen."

Sendlingen's face had grown deadly pale--a fit of shuddering shook his
limbs. There was a long silence in the room, it endured perhaps five
minutes. At length Sendlingen muttered:

"I submit to your Excellency's will. May God forgive you what you have
just done to me."

The Minister gave a sigh of relief. "I will take that on my
conscience," he said. "I restore the father to his child. Farewell, my
Lord."

Sendlingen did not take the proffered hand, he bowed silently and
departed.

                           *   *   *   *   *

Two days later Dr. George Berger received a letter of Sendlingen's,
dated from Trieste. It briefly informed his friend of the purport of
his interview with the Minister of Justice, and concluded as follows:


"It is denied me to expiate my crime: it is impossible to me, a
criminal, to go unpunished through life; so I am going to meet death.
When you read this, all will be over. Break the news to my daughter,
who has already set out on her journey, as gently as possible; hide the
truth from her, I shall help you by the manner in which I am doing the
deed. And do not forget Franz, he is waiting for me at Cologne; I was
only able to get quit of him under a pretext.

"Farewell, thou good and faithful friend, and do not condemn me. You
once said to me: there must be a solution of these complications, a
liberating solution. I do not know if there was any other, any better
than that which has come to pass. For see, my child has received her
just due, and so too has Justice: with a higher price than that of his
life, nobody can atone for a crime. And I--I have seen my child's
happiness, I have honourably paid all my debts, and now I shall find
peace forever--I too have received my due!... And now I may hope for
your respect again!

"Farewell! and thanks a thousand times!

                                          "Victor."


Berger, deeply moved, had just finished reading this letter, when his
clerk entered with the morning paper in his hand.

"Have you read this, Sir?" he asked. "Baron Sendlingen----"

He laid the paper before his chief and this was what was in it:

"A telegram from Vienna brings us the sad news that Baron von
Sendlingen, the retired Chief Justice and one of the most highly
esteemed men in Austria, fell overboard while proceeding by the Lloyd
steamer last night from Trieste to Venice. He was on deck late in the
evening and has not been seen since; very likely, while leaning too far
over the bulwarks, a sudden giddiness may have seized him so that he
fell into the sea and disappeared. The idea of suicide cannot for
personal reasons be entertained for a moment; the last person he spoke
to, the captain of the steamer, testifies to the cheerful demeanour of
the deceased. He leaves no family, but everyone who knew him will mourn
him.

"All honour to his memory!"

"All honour to his memory!" muttered Berger, burying his face in his
hands.



                                THE END.





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