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assembled, and all return in procession to the arbour, which by this time has been cleared for dancing. An orchestra of twenty or thirty violins, horns, and flutes, plays the favourite waltzes of the country, and the pleasures of the festival are seldom closed until the first rays of the next day's sun begin to dim the lustre of the torches.
It was near the close of day, during the progress of one of these rustic cele. brations, and not far from the abbey of which mention is made, that a young man of, perhaps, nineteen or twenty years, mounted upon a superb Arabian, and followed by a servant without livery, endured, without listening to, the conversation of an elderly personage, whose sober nag walked leisurely by the side of his own fiery steed. Both were dressed simply in black, and there was nothing to indicate them as any thing more than two gentlemen in easy circumstances, returning from a ride; a father and son, perhaps, or it might be, a tutor and his pupil, unless, indeed, it might have been perceived, that a father would have shewn more interest in the melancholy abstraction of his son, or that, in the second case, the pupil would have exhibited a more contemptuous impatience of his tutor's lecture. In the present instance might be noticed, on the one hand, the obsequious tyranny of one who plays the spy upon the mind as well as of the actions, and persecutes the spirit with his wearisome attentions, even in the silence to which it flies for refuge; on the other, a determined inattention, against which the monotonous garrulity of the speaker wasted itself in
On a sudden, the spirited Arabian as he slowly pranced along, champing the bit, and tossing aloft his beautiful head, pricked up his ears, and uttered a long, loud neigh; and his rider, warned by the sure instinct of the noble creature, that some object was near to which he ought to give attention, raised his eyes, and beheld at a distance one of those crowned trees which have been described as giving token of the vintage fète; and he had ridden but little farther, when his ear caught the distant sound of the flutes and horns. Although he appeared to reject the efforts of his companion to arouse him from his melancholy, still there evidently was not in his breast a hopelessness so fixed as to prevent him from accepting the chance of relief, thus falling accidentally in his way, and exclaiming, with a sad,
but gentle smile, “A fete; let us join the party:" he put spurs to his steed, and set off at a gallop through the close standing trees, heedless of the branches that swept him as he passed, and taking no thought, either in ridicule or compassion, of the terrors of his companion, who toiled painfully after him in his rapid course. Upon reaching the scene of the festivity, he beheld a picture of singular interest and beauty. In the centre of the rustic pavilion numbers of smiling young men and maidens, their eyes sparkling with delight, and their cheeks glowing with health and excitement, were gaily moving in the dance, while all around, the elders of the village, seated, with silver tankards in their hands, followed, with approving smiles, the winding movements of the waltzers. In a corner was seated an old noble of the vicinity, whose daughter, in honour of the day, had opened the ball with the handsomest of the vintagers; here and there were scattered some monks from the abbey, who discoursed sagely with the farmers, touching the abundance of the crops; while others, whose heavy eyes and drowsy attitudes gave suspicion of a deep acquaintance with the wine-cup, were, perhaps, muttering their monastic chants to the sound of the lively music. For a moment the eyes of the young man rested with an expression of interest and delight, upon this scene of general and simple joy: like one in a burning fever, who plunges his arms into the cool waters of a shaded spring, it seemed as if he delighted to bathe his soul in the pure, fresh atmosphere of thoughtless happiness by which he was surrounded. fatal voice soon recalled him from his dream of forgetfulness. Undoubtedly it was not by premeditated and ignoble spite that he was actuated who tore him from his pleasant thoughts; he was governed simply by the reckless pedantry of a heavy moralist, who goes on his way with head erect, never looking where he plants his foot, or knowing what minute, but beautiful existence may be crushed in its solemn fall. The old man, seeing the pleasure his companion took in looking upon the scene that has been described, could not lose so fine an opportunity of pressing home his lesson; he drew near, and with the self-contented smile of one who knows that what he is going to say cannot be controverted, "You see," he observed, "that happiness is every where, if men would but find it where it is;" and, having thus spoken, he betook himself again to watching the
dancers, without perceiving that the youth looked at them no longer; that his head was once more sunk upon his breast, and that his eyes, fixed upon the ground, beheld nothing but himself and his own surpassing wretchedness. Silence would long have remained unbroken, if the elder personage had not felt curious to discover the salutary effect of his words in the countenance of his companion; and it would be difficult to describe the extent of his foolish surprise, and equally foolish anger, on perceiving a result so different from his expectatious; but it seemed as if his authority over the young man were limited to petty teasings, and unwelcome assiduities; for he gave, no utterance to his feelings of dissatisfaction, and only said, with an air of peculiar deference, Why not join the dance? it would serve, perhaps, to dissipate- -;" his speech was cut short by a profound sigh from the melancholy youth, who turned away without replying; but, at the moment when the elder was expecting an ungracious refusal, he saw him leap quickly from his horse, and, while he descended more slowly from his own, the youth stepped behind a large tree, and, almost instantly reappearing, said, with an air of calm but simple dignity, "You see that I am not ungrateful, and I hope you will announce, that I accept, with proper acknowledgment, the pleasures which are granted to me." There was in his manner of uttering these words the resolution of a man who knows that he must die, yet submits patiently to all the means of cure that are proposed to him, useless though he knows them, that he may, at least, escape the charge of having sought his own destruction; and, having thus spoken, he advanced toward to the dancers. Before he had made a dozen steps it was apparent that his presence created a sensation; numbers of persons, the monks, the farmers, suddenly stood up, the musicians played out of time, and the dancers hesitated in their movement. This general attention was acknowledged by a gentle smile, and an inclination of the head; but in a moment it was arrested by a gesture of prohibition from the elderly companion. His motion, and the expression of his countenance indicated to the assembly, that no especial notice must be taken of the young man's presence, and such is the habit of obedience with the Austrians, that in a moment all things resumed their course; the dance, the music, and the mirth were at once renewed, and no one ventured to indulge his curiosity even by
a look. This blow struck not less keenly upon the morbid feelings of the youth than that which had preceded it, but his pride forbade all manifestation of his chagrin; he continued to promenade the rustic ball-room, and, to complete his conquest over his own heart, resolved to take a part in the festivity; and advancing to one of the most beautiful of the dancers, he asked her hand for a waltz. "I cannot," she replied frankly, and without the least shew of embarrassment; "here is my partner for the whole evening," pointing, as she spoke, to a tall, well-made vintager, who was standing at her side. The peasant coloured, and casting a hasty and somewhat fearful look around him, he said, in a low and hesitating voice, "No, no; dance with his--with the gentleman; I resign you to him very willingly."
The girl looked at her partner with surprise, and then sought for a confirmation of his request in the eyes of an old woman, who stood near, and who, in like manner, casting a furtive glance around, to note if she were observed, gave an assenting gesture. The young man gathered from the surprise of the girl, and the embarrassment of the other two, that he was known to them, but not to her; he felt grateful to them for thus displaying, so far as they dared, their kindly and considerate feelings; and he began at once, in the intervals of the dance, to speak of them to his blooming partner, that they might know from her that their courtesy was not unacknowledged.
"That good old lady is your mother, I presume?"
"Alas no," she replied; "she is the mother of my partner; my mother came from France.'
At these words the young man started with a keen emotion, and the girl, delighted with her new partner, so much more graceful and attentive than her first, perceived, with surprise, that he lost the time; but he rallied in a moment, and fixing upon her his eagle eyes, he resumed, in a lower tone," And are you, too, a Frenchwoman?"
"Oh, no," she answered; my father is a Hungarian, and I was born in that country also."
"But your mother is here, I suppose? shew me which is she."
"Alas! sir, she is dead," replied the girl; and she, too, in her turn, seemed troubled and confused.
The look of the young man immediately lost its keenness, and was with
drawn from the face of his charming partner, upon which it had been fixed with an expression of the deepest interest and curiosity; he became once more sad and gentle, but she deceived herself when she imagined that it was for her his sympathy was awakened. She could not imagine that her last words had extinguished a hope; a vain hope indeed, that of beholding eyes that had looked on France.
long silence, raised his head, and with an air of deep melancholy, exclaimed, addressing that one whom the reader already knows:
"Indeed, baron, I do not know what to do; you tell me that he appeared delighted with his ride, and you, doctor, assure me that to-day he is more depressed and miserable than ever."
"It is," replied the doctor, "because my instructions have not been followed." "And yet," returned the old man, he is free—he goes where and when he will."
"Yes," she continued, "it is nearly two years since we lost her; my father" could not bear to remain longer where she had lived, and therefore we left Presburgh more than a month ago, and came to live here, in the environs of Vienna."
This fact accounted to the young unknown for her ignorance of his person; but he made no reply, and the waltz was ended in silence. When he had led her to her seat, he saw his elderly companion whispering to the old woman, who bade the young girl sit down by her side, but never turned her eyes upon him, and he removed to a little distance, easily divining the orders his officious companion had imparted, but returned almost immediately, as if with a desperate resolution to know the full extent of his subjection and misery; he saw by the gestures of his lovely partner, that she was asking concerning him, and he could readily perceive too, that her inquiries were evaded and forbidden.
proscribe my name," was his bitter reflection, "from the innocent curiosity of this peasant girl, because a drop of French blood mingles in her veins !" But he made no comment upon what was passing before him, not even by a look of anger, and vaulting upon his proud Arabian, he darted from the spot like an arrow, crying to the groom. "To the palace to Vienna," but with the accent of one who exclaims, "to prison, to the torture, the dungeon, and the tomb."
The next day four persons were assembled in one of the vast gothic saloons of an ancient palace. He who seemed to be the first in rank, was seated in a large and magnificent fauteail, with his elbow resting upon a table, and his head supported by the hand; another sat before a desk covered with papers, in the perusal of which he appeared to be absorbed, and the remaining two were standing before the first; one of these was the elderly companion of the sad young man in his adventure of the preceding day. The old man seated at the table (for he was an old man), after a
"It is true," answered the physician, "that his chain is lengthened; but he sees and feels it still. If it cannot be removed, it must at least be hidden."
"What can I do more ?" said the old man.
"Much," was the reply; "he can be left alone, and above all, in his rides."
"That would never do," exclaimed the baron, with the desperation of a courtier who sees his post in danger.
"Would it be prudent?" said the old man, turning his eyes upon the silent personage, who seemed attentive to nothing but his papers; "would it be prudent?" he repeated with a sigh.
"I do not know," said the physician, firmly, "whether or not it would be prudent, but humanity requires it; he must have liberty of mind as well as of body, or he must die."
"No, sir," exclaimed the old man, with sudden and startling energy, rising from his seat, and striding rapidly across the chamber, " no sir, he must not die; he, too, die of prison and captivity! It must not, shall not be. Let them say what they will-reproach me; make war upon me, if they choose, but he shall not die; it is enough to have killed
And here he broke off abruptly, perhaps at the awful name that rose to his lips, or it might be at the quick glance of him who seemed to read the despatches of the day. This man, after a moment of silence, and another glance at the sad expression of the old man's face, said with a low voice, and a look of regulated sympathy, "All can be arranged as the doctor would have it: since he thinks freedom essential to the health of his patient, let him go free; the baron shall attend him no longer; he shall ride out alone, and as it pleases him."
"Do you think this possible?" the old man eagerly exclaimed.
Certainly," replied the other, with a smile in which one more acute and ob
serving, would have detected a commentary upon the word.
"I thank you," cried the old man, joyfully; "this is but another service to be added to the long list of what I already owe you; once more I thank you, heartily:" then, turning to the physician, he added, "this will content you, I hope, doctor; you will convey this good news to him at once, will you not?" and so saying, he withdrew, smiling graciously upon him who had relieved his anxieties, and not remarking either the consternation of the baron, or the abstraction of him he had last addressed.
As soon as the door closed upon him, the man with the papers said drily, "Well, sir, you can go and do as the emperor has commanded you."
The physician fixed his eyes upon him for a moment, and exclaimed with energy, "My lord, in pity do not destroy your gift;"--but the other cut him short with a haughty look and gesture, and in another moment he was alone with the baron.
"And I, my lord,"-cried this functionary, with a pitiable aspect of despair. "You," replied the minister, "you will have the goodness to go and inform the first officer of the police (chief de la police) that I wish to see him instantly." What passed at this interview has perhaps never been disclosed; but the result of it was, that a few days afterward the sad and handsome young man was riding unattended in the environs of Kleusterneubourg, with nothing to indicate that he was the subject of a moment's consideration to the ever active and suspicious police of Austria. He was now mounted upon a beautiful and perfectly trained Andalusian, and he rode freely forth, giving himself up, body and soul, to the liberty of solitude, having no part to play, a spectacle to no one, and free to indulge in mirth or sadness at his own good pleasure, to cast his eyes upon the ground in melancholy reverie, or to raise them to the sun in lofty aspirations, as if to demand from him freedom, life, and hope. Such was the tenor of his actions and emotions, and already he experienced from his ride an accession of health and vigour, to which his frame had been long a stranger, so little does youth require to convert sadness into joy. Upon a sudden, as he pushed at full gallop along a thickly shaded avenue that pierced the forest, he heard a loud cry from the opening of an alley by which the avenue was intersected, and looking to the spot, saw a
young girl starting back just in time to
There was in this little speech a dash of rustic coquetry, which, with the freedom and simplicity of the reproach it conveyed of his ingratitude in forgetting her so soon, won from him a smile, and he replied in the same spirit, "It is true that I am guilty of not knowing who you are, but not of forgetting that I have before seen that charming face."
The young girl blushed even through her smile; and approaching the now quiet animal on which he rode, she placed her hand upon his neck, and looking up with bewitching simplicity into the face of the young man, she said, “I was your partner in the dance at Kleusterneubourg."
Under the impulse of an involuntary movement on the part of his rider, the horse started a little to one side, and a shade passed over the brow of the young
The poor girl stood motionless, looking terrified and unhappy, and when he said, in a grave and severe tone, "I remember; you are the daughter of a Frenchwoman, are you not?" She could scarcely answer from trembling, "Yes, monsieur." "You are a Hungarian ?" "Yes, monsieur."
But this exact remembrance of their former conversation, pleasing as it might have been to her a moment before, had not the effect to call back the smile to her downcast eyes, so deeply was she affected by his tone and manner. The young man noticed her depression, and wishing to atone for his momentary harshness, he said, playfully, "And do
you come to walk often in this forest?" "I pass through it every day," she said, with a little air of pique, "but I never come to walk in it; I pass through it every day on my way to the abbey, for medicine for my poor father, who is very ill."
This reply was simple enough, and conveyed information of the most ordinary character; but there are beings in whose hearts a single word suffices to call up an echo of despair, and such was he to whom the answer of the young girl was addressed. It brought a deeper shade to his brow; and he repeated, bitterly, and speaking rather to himself than to his companion, "You go to seek medicines for your sick father-for your father, whom you are permitted to see every day, for your father, who will soon be well."
"I hope so," she exclaimed, raising her eyes to heaven.
"And I-go, and forgive me for having detained you a moment from the performance of a duty so sacred."
Thus speaking, he gave his horse the spur and darted away at full speed, leaving the poor girl so astounded at his abrupt departure, that when he turned into the first alley that crossed the avenue through which he rode, he saw her standing motionless upon the spot where he had left her, with her eyes fixed upon his receding form.
It is probable that the adventure thus concluded left no trace, or, at least, no emotion in the heart of the singular being whom it befell; for, during many subsequent days, he rode in other directions, remote enough to prevent him from coming to the spot again, yet not so far as to give room for the suspicion that he avoided it of purpose. Some weeks afterward, however, the solitude of the forest attracted him there once more, and the regularity with which his time was divided, made his arrival to take place at almost the same moment as before. As he cantered down the avenue, he heard, at the intersection of the alley, the quick breathing and footsteps of a woman, and he drew up to let her pass; but the runner stopped, as she came close to him, and exclaimed, with the naive frankness of sixteen, "I was certain it was you, although you have a gray horse now, instead of that beautiful black on which you rode when you were here before."
"You saw me, then, at some distance." "Yes, through the trees; but I was
not quite sure it was you, and that made
"To see me!" said the young man, amused, and not displeased, by her charming simplicity.
The poor girl blushed, and a tear trembled upon her long and downcast eyelashes; she made no answer, and he, taking pity of her confusion, and striving to overcome his habitual taciturnity, continued:
"And your father; is he better?"
"Oh, much better," said the young girl, with a grateful look; "it is not sickness, it is an old wound that gives him so much trouble."
"Your father, then, has been a soldier?" "Yes, monsieur, until 1815."
It would seem that every word spoken by this simple child had a peculiar and affecting signification for the young unknown. This 1815 struck sadly upon his heart, and he added, with a severe and disdainful look,
"And your father is a Hungarian ?" "You know I told you so before," she answered, approaching nearer to him.
"Adieu, adieu," he cried hastily, "your father is waiting for you;" and he rode away as quickly as before, without even turning his head to see whether the poor peasant girl watched him in his flight.
That day he certainly did bear with him the memory of his rencontre with the peasant girl; but, without doubt, it was only that vague impression with which any incident may be invested by repetition. Nevertheless, when, two days afterward, he met her again at the same hour and place, his mind was struck with the coincidence; and when she hastened to join him, exclaiming, with an air of anxious curiosity, "You did not come yesterday;" he became aware that a deep and powerful interest had sprung up in the heart of this young girl, of which he was the object. Perhaps she had hoped, perhaps awaited his coming, and, for the first time, he was not displeased with the idea that his movements had been watched. Was it because he felt convinced that she knew not who he was? Or was it that the natural and open frankness of her curiosity delighted him, contrasting, as it did, with the world of system and constraint by which he was surrounded? It would be difficult to explain the cause, so imperceptible are the modes in which the heart receives the first approaches of that mysterious passion, by which its very nature is at length subdued and changed. Nevertheless his feelings were