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The troops repeated the last words with three melancholy acclamations. A howitzer then fired; and three volleys over the grave, and the planting of a bower of pine branches over the spot, concluded the touching cere
The troops returned down the hill; but the three peasants remained. There was silence among them, and their eyes continued fixed on the spot where the sun threw his farewell Ilustre on the bed of one who was to awake to earthly glory no more. At length the old man spoke.
"He sleeps happy. The Frenchman served his country to the last. No stain darkens the reputation of years. Why could I not have found such a grave?"
The female by his side clasped his feeble hand. "My dearest uncle, my more than father," said she, in accents of singular sweetness, "You must not think of those things. You did your duty; you suffered only by treachery. No one on earth can charge you with dishonour. And who can be answerable for fortune?" Her young com panion's looks were fixed on the fair consoler with an expression of intense delight, which made her cheek glow "Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue."
"Carolina," replied the old man, your affection is my single reason for enduring existence. knowledge the noble spirit in which our generous friend here persevered, notwithstanding all the malice of his fortunes, to save us both. I thank him with all the feelings that now remain to me, for having saved you, my child, from the hands of the villains who have destroyed your uncle; but, if my last wish were to be granted, it would have been that I had died on the bastion where I fell, and where his unhappy courage dragged me from among my dead friends and soldiers. I can never appear among soldiers again."
The old man's voice sank away, and he stood with his eyes turned in honourable envy to the grave of the gallant Marceau. All was silence for a while. At last their companion, with an evident effort to master some strong feeling, said, in a tone of sudden cheerfulness,
"We must talk no more in this manner, general; at least not to-night.
The sun forbids our lingering here, or at least mine; for the woodman, who allows me the honour of an apartment under his thatch, keeps early hours, and shuts up his doors at twilight. I have a couple of leagues to go through the forest before that time, or I must bivouac like one of its wild bears. Farewell, till to morrow."
He took a few paces forward, then returned, and said in a low voice to the lady,—“ If I should not return tomorrow, rely upon me for returning at the first moment in my power.' There was a change in his tone and look which alarmed the quick suspicions of the heart. Carolina took him aside.
"Carlo," was the fair creature's answer, "what can you mean by this? You are thinking of some dark attempt that may be your ruin. Remember, that we wholly depend upon you
Be candid with me; we have claims, if misfortune can give them. My high-spirited and unhappy_relative must die if you leave us. What may become of me is of less consideration. But you have saved my life, and it is only gratitude to say that it is at your service for ever! Now, tell me of what it is that you are thinking?"
"Thinking! Of nothing on earth,” exclaimed the enraptured hearer, "but of that lovely being whose heart is as noble as her beauty, and whose hand would be worth the world. Carolina, listen to me, and now listen in faith, for I speak in sincerity. The thought was sudden; it came from the grave of Marceau. Looking on that spot, I felt, with a stronger conviction than ever, that to a soldier honour is essential. The tribute paid to that brave man even by enemies made me determine more solemnly than ever, that my Carolina's relative shall be saved from the stings of calumny. As brave as any man living or dead, and suffering only under the ill fortune which has often happened to the brave, he can require nothing but an opportunity to face accusation, and be cleared. My intention was, to go to the headquarters of the army, and explain the capture of the fortress."
Carolina almost uttered a scream. Tears burst from her eyes. "You go to the army-you throw yourself on the mercy of the Archduke! Expect justice from the very circle of calumniators who have poisoned his
mind against you! Carlo, you will have the fate of those on whom the malice of the world turns; you will be overwhelmed by the crowd; you will disdain to defend yourself; you will perish, and I-what then will become of me?" Carlo took her passive hand; and, as if to escape her fascination, turned away his eyes.
"Rely upon my caution," said he; "I will be prudent. But then, is it possible for me to see that brave and generous old man breaking down, day by day, under bitterness of heart? I have not the slightest doubt that my story will be heard, and will be effectual. The general has still powerful friends at Vienna. The Archduke is fully acquainted with his services in the Prussian and Turkish campaigns. He is looked upon as dead, and no sentence has been passed upon him; the knowledge of his gallantry in the defence of Erlach, unfortunate as its result was, will vindicate him at once; and I shall have the happiness-the unspeakable triumph-of restoring his honour to the uncle of her, without whom life would now be a burden to me. Farewell, then, and remember me!"
The lovely girl looked at him with increasing tenderness, and with thanks which were not to be told in words. But a sudden recollection started to her mind, and clouded her sunny brow.
"And who will defend you?" she exclaimed, with the energy of ardent passion. "You have been constantly pursued by a fortune which amounts to a fate. I shall hear of your arrival at the Archduke's camp, only to hear of your suffering the untimely death of those whom the united cruelty and injustice of the world determine to destroy. Be obstinate no longer there are more lives than your own in the balance. The hour of your death will be mine-I feel it. This old man too will perish with us; for, excepting ourselves, who will think of his old age? Promise me, then, that you will abandon this desperate attempt; and thank Heaven that we are left to live -and to love each other." She stood gazing on him, as if she could read his soul.
"But, Carolina, how can I endure degradation, and, worse than all, to live degraded in your eyes?" was the struggling answer. "You make honour too dear, by your generous affection,
to suffer me to bring to your alliance a being unworthy of your hand. I must think of the world, even for you. Shall I see the woman whom I love above all things on earth-the one who has confided her noble heart to my charge, and without whom it would even be impossible for me to liveshall I see the daughter of an illustrious line thrown into obscurity-into worse than obscurity, into shame-by joining her fate with one stigmatized by the common voice of his country? Let me, then, make this single effort. I must first vindicate your relationthat task I shall find an easy oneI must then vindicate myself; and, whether that task be easy or difficult, I shall succeed at least in one objectI shall satisfy myself that I have done all that it was in my power to do—I shall convince my enemies, if I have them, that I have been ready to face all enquiry; and with the conviction that I have acted as became a soldier and a man, the son of a brave man, and, by a still dearer name, the friend of Carolina Cobentzel, I shall be content to live or die."
The calm energy with which he spoke, and the expression of his fine countenance, which had recovered all its ardour, made the listener feel that his determination was fixed; and even that it was the wisest which, under the circumstances, could be adopted. After a pause, in which she wiped away many a tear, she turned her magnificent eyes upon him, and pointing to the sun, lying in golden rest on the ridge of the Frendenberg mountains
"Carlo," said she, "I must no longer dispute the will of him whom I have so long learned to honour and obey. I am not wholly convinced, but I comply. You shall go to Vienna; but that sun is the last that shall set upon me here. General von Sharlheim and I will go with you. I still have friends in Austria. We shall be able to give you some assistance: and I shall be saved from the infinite miseries which every hour would bring while you were away.'
The darkening hue of Sebastiani's brow showed his alarm at her attempting this new peril. The country was covered with troops, and travelling had became a matter of extreme difficulty. She caught the meaning instantly, and combated it.
"Why, then," asked she, “should the journey be undertaken at all? Can you not remain where you are? Carlo, Carlo," she added, with increas. ing tenderness, "I have abandoned the world. From the night when chance, or perhaps destiny, brought us together in this forest, I felt that with no other human being could I be happy from that moment I felt a distaste for the world. The fêtes of Vienna had no longer charms for me. I thirsted for solitude. My mind had undergone a total change in that night; and I saw, as if a new spirit had given me new powers of understanding, the emptiness, monotony, and weariness of all that courts and cities call pleasure and distinction. If I could have put on the wings of a dove, I would have sought peace in some quiet valley of these mountains, and, with you for my protector and my guide, have forgotten that there were such frivolities as pomp and rank in existence."
"But dishonour, dishonour!" sighed Sebastiani. "I must vindicate your injured relative: I must next try if there is justice for myself. My heart is worn down with shame. I owe my life to you; for, but for your presence here, I should have been in my grave. Generous and high-hearted being, you shall come with me. I can refuse you nothing. I feel your very presence a security for success. Yes, we shall vindicate ourselves we shall clear the stain from names till now unknown to reproach; and then, leaving the tumults and troubles of the world behind, we shall return, and be vine-dressers on the banks of father Rhine." Carolina fell on his neck in silence; but her silence was eloquence-it spoke delight, confidence, and love.
tween two fires, and have had only to choose to which of the French generals it would lay down its arms.
But the temptation of menacing the hereditary states, and perhaps of mastering Vienna itself, glittered too strongly before the Frenchman's eye, to suffer him to see that every step of the pursuit only led him further from victory. Though the ablest tactician of France, and one of the most successful officers of a nation whose triumphs seemed almost supernatural, Moreau thus found himself in exactly the same peril in which he might have placed his adversary. The superior manoeuvres of the Archduke had placed the French army between two fires. That great and heroic commander saw where the true battle was to be fought, and answered the remonstrances of the terrified court of Austria and her doubting generals, in language worthy of one of the old Roman deciders of the fates of nations. "I care not," said he, "where Moreau may go. Let him advance to the gates of Vienna, if he will. It is no matter, provided I beat Jourdan in the meantime."
He beat Jourdan in the meantime; wheeled round from the Rhine to the Danube, and astonished Moreau, when two hundred miles within the depths of Germany, with the discovery that his was now the only remaining army of France, that the Archduke was thundering upon his rear, and that nothing but the most rapid retreat, and the most desperate fighting, could bring a remnant of his troops back to their own country again.
Moreau was at last awake to his perils, and then the genius of the great tactician broke out. He instantly commenced that memorable movement, which is celebrated to this day as the Retreat of the Black Forest. On the first movement to the rear, the whole of the detached corps of Austria, animated by the victories of the Archduke and the sight of a retiring enemy, pursued headlong, and in creasing in numbers and daring hour by hour, inflicted dreadful havoc. Still the French marched on, sending their baggage and heavy artillery before them. But, in a war of this kind, when an enemy retreating in a com◄ pact body, is pursued by detached corps, nothing is more hazardous than the slightest failure in combination.
The corps of Nauendorf, moving to the flank, and Latour following full on the rear of the French, at length became separated. Latour found him self instantly attacked by the whole French army. The Austrian general, isolated with a force of less than 30,000 men, in front of one of nearly three times their number, bad no resource but to take up a position, fight till he was reinforced by some of the detached corps, and retreat, if this hope failed. But, after a desperate struggle, numbers carried the day; the heights of Biberach were stormed on both flanks; and the Austrians were driven down, with the loss of cannon, some thousand prisoners, and the dispersion of their army.
During this stubbornly contested action, Carlo and his two companions had come inadvertently into the very scene of peril. The road to Vienna lay between the two Austrian corps, and they soon found the impossibility of pursuing their journey in that direction. They had procured one of the rude stuhl-wagens of the province, but the second day of their progress found them without horses. The French first, and the Austrians after, had stripped the country; and the travellers, at the end of a day of anxiety, were glad to find a roof in one of the half-depopulated villages, where they could rest their heads for the night. They had heard the cannonade heavily rolling round the horizon since noon, and knew that some great battle was fought, from the continual roar of artillery. But they soon had ocular demonstration of its consequences. Night had scarcely fallen, when the village was crowded with troops of all arms, seeking shelter and relief for their wounded. The dispersion of Latour's corps had filled the woods with Austrian fugitives, and the first Iman who was brought to the door of the cottage was Carlo's old captain in the Hulans. He had received a lancewound through the sabre arm, which disqualified him from playing the part of Roland, and sending heads flying from their shoulders at a blow, a feat of which he once boasted, like a Mussulman. Sebastiani bound up the wound, and the care of Carolina-that care which a woman alone knows how to offer-marvellously restored his spirits, and he almost forgot his wound in his sense of relief. His gratitude lent him a
new faculty of speech, and he overflowed with recollections.
"Carlo," said he, as he lay cooling his feverish lips with a draught of Hockeimer, turned into nectar by the skill of the lady, "I little thought that when I fought your battles in the regiment, I should have to thank you and your friends for this night's service.-I must confess that I felt you had taken rather a liberty with my troop, in carrying off yourself, your horse, and three of my best men.- -But I hate calumny; I suffer no talkers under me; and to the last, though I fully believed that you had taken leave of your senses in leaving the regiment, I was sure that you would turn up yet-a genius, if not a field-marshal. Do you guess at last who was your enemy?"
The little circle gathered round the bed, and were all ear. Carlo declared that he was not conscious of ever having made one.
Ay, that shows your folly, my brave boy," said the captain. "You did two or three dashing things, which were enough to have made every sluggard in the army your enemy for life. But, do you remember the little corporal-the fellow who brought the regi ment into that desperate scrape on the Rhine. Think of my astonishment, when, on going to look for you at headquarters, the very man who gave me my answer was the corporal! but no longer the little, meagre, frisking knave that he was with us, but a pompous gentleman on the Archduke's staff, covered with embroidery, and his visage as much disguised as his coat. But I knew him through his double allowance of whisker; and told him so. There I showed my folly too, for his rage was tremendous : he denied every thing; and nothing but a French attack that very night, which gave them something else to do than shooting captains with too long memories, I verily believe, saved your humble servant, Captain Gustoff Nadermann, from the bullets of a platoon in the regular style.
"But by what contrivance could he possibly have got into such a situation?" asked Carlo, doubtingly.
"Was he not a Frenchman?" replied the captain; " and is not that enough any where round the world? Of course, he brought some plausible information, or some forged letter, or
some huge bribe along with him. At all events, I have no more doubt than of my lying on this spot, that he was, is, and will be, a spy of Moreau. But he is now a great man-a Major Holzappel, or Holstetten, or I know not what; and, as his natural chance of being hanged must have been turned into a certainty in case of your remaining at headquarters, I am not much surprised that he preferred risking your neck to tying the string round his own.
"And can this traitor be still in the Archduke's camp?" asked Carolina, with an expressive look at her lover.
"In the camp!" exclaimed the captain; "ay, and in its highest confidence. I am told that the Archduke employs him to carry on the correspondence with the Aulic Council, and that he is as powerful at Vienna as at headquarters.
I think that we owe him already some ill luck. This last unfortunate affair could not have happened, if the French had not received information of the order for detaching twenty thousand of the troops to the Tyrol; to fight, I suppose, against the chamois. This encouraged Moreau to turn back upon Latour, and break up his brave army into fragments as you see; but I shall have the honour of performing an act of justice on him yet, clever as he is."
A clamour outside interrupted the captain's newly acquired fluency. All was tumult. Carlo hurried out to ascertain what new calamity had occurred. A new rush of fugitives had come pouring into the street, with the intelligence that the enemy were in pursuit, and in great force. All was now tenfold confusion; for the army had been so thoroughly dispersed, that the soldiers were left almost wholly destitute of officers. The sound of firing in the outskirts of the village, and the flight of the peasantry from the farm-houses, gave sufficient proof of the French advance; and the usual ravage of the enemy, flushed with success and eager for plunder, filled Carlo with apprehension for his invaluable charge. He returned speedily to the cottage; and, directing that all preparations should be made for flight, remained en vidette at the door, to give the first intelligence of the enemy's skirmishers. now midnight, and the darkness was broken only by the fire of a small
bivouac a few paces off. He suddenly heard his name called, and saw a party of his old regiment driven in before a sharp discharge of tirailleurs. The sight awoke all his slumbering recollections. He sprang into the midst of the disheartened squadron-was received with a hurrah-and was a soldier again.
"Where is the colonel-the major? What is become of your officers?" were his rapid questions.
"We know nothing of them; they have either fallen or been taken," was the universal answer.
"Then, comrades, follow me," he exclaimed; and, vaulting on a charger, put himself at their head. In another moment he had brought their ranks into some kind of order; and, after a few words, directing the troops in the street to stand to their arms, and barricade the village, he galloped to the front to observe the enemy. He had scarcely emerged at the head of his little band of gallant hearts and bold hands, when he fell in with a strong column of French infantry pushing for the village, with the haste of certain capture. He instantly charged them; and the unexpected shock as instantly broke them in all directions. A stand of colours, a couple of field-pieces, and, most welcome of all, an ammunition waggon, handsomely stored with bread and brandy, were the prizes of this brief exploit. He now returned to the village, divided the capture among the famishing soldiery, and only claimed, as his share of the trophies, the use of the waggon to carry off his companions. But, on his entering the house, he found the old general with a sword by his side, and a musket in his hand.
"Sebastiani, my young friend," said he, "you ought to escape if you can. I give you Carolina-you are worthy of each other. I give you with her this writing, which secures to you both whatever I am worth in the world; but, from this spot I am determined not to stir a step further. Say no more. Remonstrance is in vain. Here I finish my career as a soldier ought to do-here I shall show that Von Sharlheim, if he knew not how to be a match for treachery, yet knew how to die for his country.'
Carolina wept on his neck; but the general continued to load his musket.