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Memorials and Other Papers by Thomas de Quincey

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the German Diet as the possessor _de facto_ of Klosterheim and her
territorial dependences, and with some imperfect possession _de
jure_; still more, if he could plead the merit of having brought
over this state, so important from local situation, as a willing ally
to the Swedish interest. But to this a free vote of the city was an
essential preliminary; and from that, through the machinations of The
Masque, he was now further than ever.

The temper of the prince began to give way under these accumulated
provocations. An enemy forever aiming his blows with the deadliest
effect; forever stabbing in the dark, yet charmed and consecrated from
all retaliation; always met with, never to be found! The Landgrave
ground his teeth, clenched his fists, with spasms of fury. lie
quarrelled with his ministers; swore at the officers; cursed the
sentinels; and the story went through Klosterheim that he had kicked

Certain it was, under whatever stimulus, that Adorni put forth much
more zeal at last for the apprehension of The Masque. Come what would,
he publicly avowed that six days more should not elapse without the
arrest of this "ruler of Klosterheim by night." He had a scheme for the
purpose, a plot baited for snaring him; and he pledged his reputation
as a minister and an intriguer upon its entire success.

On the following day, invitations were issued by Adorni, in his
highness' name, to a masqued ball on that day week. The fashion of
masqued entertainments had been recently introduced from Italy into
this sequestered nook of Germany; and here, as there, it had been
abused to purposes of criminal intrigue.

Spite of the extreme unpopularity of the Landgrave with the low and
middle classes of the city, among the highest his little court still
continued to furnish a central resort to the rank and high blood
converged in such unusual proportion within the walls of Klosterheim.
The _schloss_ was still looked to as the standard and final court
of appeal in all matters of taste, elegance, and high breeding. Hence
it naturally happened that everybody with any claims to such an honor
was anxious to receive a ticket of admission;--it became the test for
ascertaining a person's pretensions to mix in the first circles of
society; and with this extraordinary zeal for obtaining an admission
naturally increased the minister's rigor and fastidiousness in pressing
the usual investigation of the claimant's qualifications. Much offence
was given on both sides, and many sneers hazarded at the minister
himself, whose pretensions were supposed to be of the lowest
description. But the result was, that exactly twelve hundred cards were
issued; these were regularly numbered, and below the device, engraved
upon the card, was impressed a seal, bearing the arms and motto of the
Landgraves of X.

Every precaution was taken for carrying into effect the scheme, with
all its details, as concerted by Adorni; and the third day of the
following week was announced as the day of the expected _fête_.


The morning of the important day at length arrived, and all Klosterheim
was filled with expectation. Even those who were not amongst the
invited shared in the anxiety; for a great scene was looked for, and
perhaps some tragical explosion. The undertaking of Adorni was known;
it had been published abroad that he was solemnly pledged to effect the
arrest of The Masque; and by many it was believed that he would so far
succeed, at the least, as to bring on a public collision with that
extraordinary personage. As to the issue most people were doubtful, The
Masque having hitherto so uniformly defeated the best-laid schemes for
his apprehension. But it was hardly questioned that the public
challenge offered to him by Adorni would succeed in bringing him before
the public eye. This challenge had taken the shape of a public notice,
posted up in the places where The Masque had usually affixed his own;
and it was to the following effect: "That the noble strangers now in
Klosterheim, and others invited to the Landgrave's _fête_, who might
otherwise feel anxiety in presenting themselves at the _schloss_, from
an apprehension of meeting with the criminal disturber of the public
peace, known by the appellation of The Masque, were requested by
authority to lay aside all apprehensions of that nature, as the most
energetic measures had been adopted to prevent or chastise upon the
spot any such insufferable intrusion; and for The Masque himself, if he
presumed to disturb the company by his presence, he would be seized
where he stood, and, without further inquiry, committed to the provost-
marshal for instant execution;--on which account, all persons were
warned carefully to forbear from intrusions of simple curiosity, since
in the hurry of the moment it might be difficult to make the requisite

It was anticipated that this insulting notice would not long go without
an answer from The Masque. Accordingly, on the following morning, a
placard, equally conspicuous, was posted up in the same public places,
side by side with that to which it replied. It was couched in the
following terms: "That he who ruled by night in Klosterheim could not
suppose himself to be excluded from a nocturnal _fete_ given by
any person in that city. That he must be allowed to believe himself
invited by the prince, and would certainly have the honor to accept his
highness' obliging summons. With regard to the low personalities
addressed to himself, that he could not descend to notice anything of
that nature, coming from a man so abject as Adorni, until he should
first have cleared himself from the imputation of having been a tailor
in Venice at the time of the Spanish conspiracy in 1618, and banished
from that city, not for any suspicions that could have settled upon him
and his eight journeymen as making up one conspirator, but on account
of some professional tricks in making a doublet for the Doge. For the
rest, he repeated that he would not fail to meet the Landgrave and his
honorable company."

All Klosterheim laughed at this public mortification offered to
Adorni's pride; for that minister had incurred the public dislike as a
foreigner, and their hatred on the score of private character. Adorni
himself foamed at the mouth with rage, impotent for the present, but
which he prepared to give deadly effect to at the proper time. But,
whilst it laughed, Klosterheim also trembled. Some persons, indeed,
were of opinion that the answer of The Masque was a mere sportive
effusion of malice or pleasantry from the students, who had suffered so
much by his annoyances. But the majority, amongst whom was Adorni
himself, thought otherwise. Apart even from the reply, or the insult
which had provoked it, the general impression was, that The Masque
would not have failed in attending a festival, which, by the very
costume which it imposed, offered so favorable a cloak to his own
mysterious purposes. In this persuasion, Adorni took all the
precautions which personal vengeance and Venetian subtlety could
suggest, for availing himself of the single opportunity that would,
perhaps, ever be allowed him for entrapping this public enemy, who had
now become a private one to himself.

These various incidents had furnished abundant matter for conversation
in Klosterheim, and had carried the public expectation to the highest
pitch of anxiety, some time before the great evening arrived. Leisure
had been allowed for fear, and every possible anticipation of the
wildest character, to unfold themselves. Hope, even, amongst many, was
a predominant sensation. Ladies were preparing for hysterics.
Cavaliers, besides the swords which they wore as regular articles of
dress, were providing themselves with stilettoes against any sudden
rencontre hand to hand, or any unexpected surprise. Armorers and
furbishers of weapons were as much in request as the more appropriate
artists who minister to such festal occasions. These again were
summoned to give their professional aid and attendance to an extent so
much out of proportion to their numbers and their natural power of
exertion, that they were harassed beyond all physical capacity of
endurance, and found their ingenuity more heavily taxed to find
personal substitutes amongst the trades most closely connected with
their own, than in any of the contrivances which more properly fell
within the business of their own art. Tailors, horse-milliners,
shoemakers, friseurs, drapers, mercers, tradesmen of every description,
and servants of every class and denomination, were summoned to a
sleepless activity--each in his several vocation, or in some which he
undertook by proxy. Artificers who had escaped on political motives
from Nuremburg and other imperial cities, or from the sack of
Magdeburg, now showed their ingenuity, and their readiness to earn the
bread of industry; and if Klosterheim resembled a hive in the close-
packed condition of its inhabitants, it was now seen that the
resemblance held good hardly less in the industry which, upon a
sufficient excitement, it was able to develop. But, in the midst of all
this stir, din, and unprecedented activity, whatever occupation each
man found for his thoughts or for his hands in his separate
employments, all hearts were mastered by one domineering interest--the
approaching collision of the Landgrave, before his assembled court,
with the mysterious agent who had so long troubled his repose.


The day at length arrived; the guards were posted in unusual strength;
the pages of honor, and servants in their state-dresses, were drawn up
in long and gorgeous files along the sides of the vast Gothic halls,
which ran in continued succession from the front of the _schloss_
to the more modern saloons in the rear; bands of military music,
collected from amongst the foreign prisoners of various nations at
Vienna, were stationed in their national costume--Italian, Hungarian,
Turkish, or Croatian--in the lofty galleries or corridors which ran
round the halls; and the deep thunders of the kettle-drums, relieved by
cymbals and wind-instruments, began to fill the mazes of the palace as
early as seven o'clock in the evening; for at that hour, according to
the custom then established in Germany, such entertainments commenced.
Repeated volleys from long lines of musketeers, drawn up in the square,
and at the other entrances of the palace, with the deep roar of
artillery, announced the arrival of the more distinguished visitors;
amongst whom it was rumored that several officers in supreme command
from the Swedish camp, already collected in the neighborhood, were this
night coming _incognito_--availing themselves of their masques to
visit the Landgrave, and improve the terms of their alliance, whilst
they declined the risk which they might have brought on themselves by
too open a visit, in their own avowed characters and persons, to a town
so unsettled in its state of feeling, and so friendly to the emperor,
as Klosterheim had notoriously become.

From seven to nine o'clock, in one unbroken line of succession,
gorgeous parties streamed along through the halls, a distance of full
half a quarter of a mile, until they were checked by the barriers
erected at the entrance to the first of the entertaining rooms, as the
station for examining the tickets of admission. This duty was fulfilled
in a way which, though really rigorous in the extreme, gave no
inhospitable annoyance to the visitors; the barriers themselves
concealed their jealous purpose of hostility, and in a manner disavowed
the secret awe and mysterious terror which brooded over the evening, by
the beauty of their external appearance. They presented a triple line
of gilt lattice-work, rising to a great altitude, and connected with
the fretted roof by pendent draperies of the most magnificent velvet,
intermingled with banners and heraldic trophies suspended from the
ceiling, and at intervals slowly agitated in the currents which now and
then swept these aerial heights. In the centre of the lattice opened a
single gate, on each side of which were stationed a couple of sentinels
armed to the teeth; and this arrangement was repeated three times, so
rigorous was the vigilance employed. At the second of the gates, where
the bearer of a forged ticket would have found himself in a sort of
trap, with absolutely no possibility of escape, every individual of
each successive party presented his card of admission, and, fortunately
for the convenience of the company, in consequence of the particular
precaution used, one moment's inspection sufficed. The cards had been
issued to the parties invited not very long before the time of
assembling; consequently, as each was sealed with a private seal of the
Landgrave's, sculptured elaborately with his armorial bearings, forgery
would have been next to impossible.

These arrangements, however, were made rather to relieve the company
from the too powerful terrors which haunted them, and to possess them
from the first with a sense of security, than for the satisfaction of
the Landgrave or his minister. They were sensible that The Masque had
it in his power to command an access from the interior--and this it
seemed next to impossible altogether to prevent; nor was _that_
indeed the wish of Adorni, but rather to facilitate his admission, and
afterwards, when satisfied of his actual presence, to bar up all
possibility of retreat. Accordingly, the interior arrangements, though
perfectly prepared, and ready to close up at the word of command, were
for the present but negligently enforced.

Thus stood matters at nine o'clock, by which time upwards of a thousand
persons had assembled; and in ten minutes more an officer reported that
the whole twelve hundred were present, without one defaulter.

The Landgrave had not yet appeared, his minister having received the
company; nor was he expected to appear for an hour--in reality, he was
occupied in political discussion with some of the illustrious
_incognitos_. But this did not interfere with the progress of the
festival; and at this moment nothing could be more impressive than the
far-stretching splendors of the spectacle.

In one immense saloon, twelve hundred cavaliers and ladies, attired in
the unrivalled pomp of that age, were arranging themselves for one of
the magnificent Hungarian dances, which the emperor's court at Vienna
had transplanted to the camp of Wallenstein, and thence to all the
great houses of Germany. Bevies of noble women, in every variety of
fanciful costume, but in each considerable group presenting deep masses
of black or purple velvet, on which, with the most striking advantage
of radiant relief, lay the costly pearl ornaments, or the sumptuous
jewels, so generally significant in those times of high ancestral
pretensions, intermingled with the drooping plumes of martial
cavaliers, who presented almost universally the soldierly air of
frankness which belongs to active service, mixed with the Castilian
_grandezza_ that still breathed through the camps of Germany,
emanating originally from the magnificent courts of Brussels, of
Madrid, and of Vienna, and propagated to this age by the links of
Tilly, the Bavarian commander, and Wallenstein, the more than princely
commander for the emperor. Figures and habiliments so commanding were
of themselves enough to fill the eye and occupy the imagination; but,
beyond all this, feelings of awe and mystery, under more shapes than
one, brooded over the whole scene, and diffused a tone of suspense and
intense excitement throughout the vast assembly. It was known that
illustrious strangers were present _incognito_. There now began to
be some reason for anticipating a great battle in the neighborhood. The
men were now present, perhaps, the very hands were now visibly
displayed for the coming dance, which in a few days, or even hours (so
rapid were the movements at this period), were to wield the truncheon
that might lay the Catholic empire prostrate, or might mould the
destiny of Europe for centuries. Even this feeling gave way to one
still more enveloped in shades--The Masque! Would he keep his promise,
and appear? might he not be there already? might he not even now be
moving amongst them? may he not, even at this very moment, thought each
person, secretly be near me--or even touching myself--or haunting my
own steps?

Yet again thought most people (for at that time hardly anybody affected
to be incredulous in matters allied to the supernatural), was this
mysterious being liable to touch? Was he not of some impassive nature,
inaudible, invisible, impalpable? Many of his escapes, if truly
reported, seemed to argue as much. If, then, connected with the
spiritual world, was it with the good or the evil in that inscrutable
region? But, then, the bloodshed, the torn dresses, the marks of deadly
struggle, which remained behind in some of those cases where mysterious
disappearances had occurred,--these seemed undeniable arguments of
murder, foul and treacherous murder. Every attempt, in short, to
penetrate the mystery of this being's nature, proved as abortive as the
attempts to intercept his person; and all efforts at applying a
solution to the difficulties of the case made the mystery even more

These thoughts, however, generally as they pervaded the company, would
have given way, for a time at least, to the excitement of the scene;
for a sudden clapping of hands from some officers of the household, to
enforce attention, and as a signal to the orchestra in one of the
galleries, at this moment proclaimed that the dances were on the point
of commencing in another half-minute, when suddenly a shriek from a
female, and then a loud, tumultuous cry from a multitude of voices,
announced some fearful catastrophe; and in the next moment a shout of
"Murder!" froze the blood of the timid amongst the company.


So vast was the saloon, that it had been impossible, through the maze
of figures, the confusion of colors, and the mingling of a thousand
voices, that anything should be perceived distinctly at the lower end
of all that was now passing at the upper. Still, so awful is the
mystery of life, and so hideous and accursed in man's imagination is
every secret extinction of toat consecrated lamp, that no news thrills
so deeply, or travels so rapidly. Hardly could it be seen in what
direction, or through whose communication, yet in less than a minute a
movement of sympathizing horror, and uplifted hands, announced that the
dreadful news had reached them. A murder, it was said, had been
committed in the palace. Ladies began to faint; others hastened away in
search of friends; others to learn the news more accurately; and some
of the gentlemen, who thought themselves sufficiently privileged by
rank, hurried off with a stream of agitated inquirers to the interior
of the castle, in search of the scene itself. A few only passed the
guard in the first moments of confusion, and penetrated, with the
agitated Adorni, through the long and winding passages, into the very
scene of the murder. A rumor had prevailed for a moment that the
Landgrave was himself the victim; and as the road by which the agitated
household conducted them took a direction towards his highness' suite
of rooms, at first Adorni had feared that result. Recovering his self-
possession, however, at length, he learned that it was the poor old
seneschal upon whom the blow had fallen. And he pressed on with more
coolness to the dreadful spectacle.

The poor old man was stretched at his length on the floor. It did not
seem that he had struggled with the murderer. Indeed, from some
appearances, it seemed probable that he had been attacked whilst
sleeping; and though he had received three wounds, it was pronounced by
a surgeon that one of them (and _that_, from circumstances, the
first) had been sufficient to extinguish life. He was discovered by his
daughter, a woman who held some respectable place amongst the servants
of the castle; and every presumption concurred in fixing the time of
the dreadful scene to about one hour before.

"Such, gentlemen, are the acts of this atrocious monster, this Masque,
who has so long been the scourge of Klosterheim," said Adorni to the
strangers who had accompanied him, as they turned away on their return
to the company; "but this very night, I trust, will put a bridle in his

"God grant it may be so!" said some. But others thought the whole case
too mysterious for conjectures, and too solemn to be decided by
presumptions. And in the midst of agitated discussions on the scene
they had just witnessed, as well as the whole history of The Masque,
the party returned to the saloon.

Under ordinary circumstances, this dreadful event would have damped the
spirits of the company; as it was, it did but deepen the gloomy
excitement which already had possession of all present, and raise a
more intense expectation of the visit so publicly announced by The
Masque. It seemed as though he had perpetrated this recent murder
merely by way of reviving the impression of his own dreadful character
in Klosterheim, which might have decayed a little of late, in all its
original strength and freshness of novelty; or, as though he wished to
send immediately before him an act of atrocity that should form an
appropriate herald or harbinger of his own entrance upon the scene.

Dreadful, however, as this deed of darkness was, it seemed of too
domestic a nature to exercise any continued influence upon so
distinguished an assembly, so numerous, so splendid, and brought
together at so distinguished a summons. Again, therefore, the masques
prepared to mingle in the dance; again the signal was given; again the
obedient orchestra preluded to the coming strains. In a moment more,
the full tide of harmony swept along. The vast saloon, and its echoing
roof, rang with the storm of music. The masques, with their floating
plumes and jewelled caps, glided through the fine mazes of the
Hungarian dances. All was one magnificent and tempestuous confusion,
overflowing with the luxury of sound and sight, when suddenly, about
midnight, a trumpet sounded, the Landgrave entered, and all was hushed.
The glittering crowd arranged themselves in a half-circle at the upper
end of the room; his highness went rapidly round, saluting the company,
and receiving their homage in return. A signal was again made; the
music and the dancing were resumed; and such was the animation and the
turbulent delight amongst the gayer part of the company, from the
commingling of youthful blood with wine, lights, music, and festal
conversation, that, with many, all thoughts of the dreadful Masque, who
"reigned by night in Klosterheim," had faded before the exhilaration of
the moment. Midnight had come; the dreadful apparition had not yet
entered; young ladies began timidly to jest upon the subject, though as
yet but faintly, and in a tone somewhat serious for a jest; and young
cavaliers, who, to do them justice, had derived most part of their
terrors from the superstitious view of the case, protested to their
partners that if The Masque, on making his appearance, should conduct
himself in a manner unbecoming a cavalier, or offensive to the ladies
present, they should feel it their duty to chastise him; "though," said
they, "with respect to old Adorni, should The Masque think proper to
teach him better manners, or even to cane him, we shall not find it
necessary to interfere."

Several of the very young ladies protested that, of all things, they
should like to see a battle between old Adorni and The Masque, "such a
love of a quiz that old Adorni is!" whilst others debated whether The
Masque would turn out a young man or an old one; and a few elderly
maidens mooted the point whether he were likely to be a "single"
gentleman, or burdened with a "wife and family." These and similar
discussions were increasing in vivacity, and kindling more and more
gayety of repartee, when suddenly, with the effect of a funeral knell
upon their mirth, a whisper began to circulate that _there was one
Masque too many in company_. Persons had been stationed by Adorni in
different galleries, with instructions to note accurately the dress of
every person in the company; to watch the motions of every one who gave
the slightest cause for suspicion, by standing aloof from the rest of
the assembly, or by any other peculiarity of manner; but, above all, to
count the numbers of the total assembly. This last injunction was more
easily obeyed than at first sight seemed possible. At this time the
Hungarian dances, which required a certain number of partners to
execute the movements of the figure, were of themselves a sufficient
register of the precise amount of persons engaged in them. And, as
these dances continued for a long time undisturbed, this calculation
once made, left no further computation necessary, than simply to take
the account of all who stood otherwise engaged. This list, being much
the smaller one, was soon made; and the reports of several different
observers, stationed in different galleries, and checked by each other,
all tallied in reporting a total of just _twelve hundred and one
persons_, after every allowance was made for the known members of
the Landgrave's suite, who were all unmasqued.

This report was announced with considerable trepidation, in a very
audible whisper, to Adorni and the Landgrave. The buzz of agitation
attracted instant attention; the whisper was loud enough to catch the
ears of several; the news went rapidly kindling through the room that
the company was too many by one: all the ladies trembled, their knees
shook, their voices failed, they stopped in the very middle of
questions, answers halted for their conclusion, and were never more
remembered by either party; the very music began to falter, the lights
seemed to wane and sicken; for the fact was new too evident that The
Masque had kept his appointment, and was at this moment in the room "to
meet the Landgrave and his honorable company."

Adorni and the Landgrave now walked apart from the rest of the
household, and were obviously consulting together on the next step to
be taken, or on the proper moment for executing one which had already
been decided on. Some crisis seemed approaching, and the knees of many
ladies knocked together, as they anticipated some cruel or bloody act
of vengeance. "O poor Masque!" sighed a young lady, in her tender-
hearted concern for one who seemed now at the mercy of his enemies: "do
you think, sir," addressing her partner, "they will cut him to
pieces?"--"O, that wicked old Adorni!" exclaimed another; "I know he
will stick the poor Masque on one side and somebody else will stick him
on the other; I know he will, because The Masque called him a tailor;
do you think he _was_ a tailor sir?"--"Why, really, madam, he
walks like a tailor; but, then he must be a very bad one, considering
how ill his own clothes are made; and _that_, you know, is next
door to being none at all. But, see, his highness is going to stop the

In fact, at that moment the Landgrave made a signal to the orchestra:
the music ceased abruptly; and his highness, advancing to the company,
who stood eagerly awaiting his words, said: "Illustrious and noble
friends! for a very urgent and special cause I will request of you all
to take your seats."

The company obeyed, every one sought the chair next to him, or, if a
lady, accepted that which was offered by the cavalier at her side. The
standers continually diminished. Two hundred were left, one hundred and
fifty, eighty, sixty, twenty, till at last they were reduced to two,--
both gentlemen, who had been attending upon ladies. They were suddenly
aware of their own situation. One chair only remained out of twelve
hundred. Eager to exonerate himself from suspicion, each sprang
furiously to this seat; each attained it at the same moment, and each
possessed himself of part at the same instant. As they happened to be
two elderly, corpulent men, the younger cavaliers, under all the
restraints of the moment, the panic of the company, and the Landgraves
presence, could not forbear laughing; and the more spirited amongst the
young ladies caught the infection.

His highness was little in a temper to brook this levity, and hastened
to relieve the joint occupants of the chair from the ridicule of their
situation. "Enough!" he exclaimed, "enough! All my friends are
requested to resume the situation most agreeable to them; my purpose is
answered." The prince was himself standing with all his household, and,
as a point of respect, all the company rose. ("_As you were_,"
whispered the young soldiers to their fair companions.)

Adorni now came forward. "It is known," said he, "by trials more than
sufficient, that some intruder, with the worst intentions, has crept
into this honorable company. The ladies present will therefore have the
goodness to retire apart to the lower end of the saloon, whilst the
noble cavaliers will present themselves in succession to six officers
of his highness' household, to whom they will privately communicate
their names and quality."

This arrangement was complied with,--not, however, without the exchange
of a few flying jests on the part of the younger cavaliers and their
fair partners, as they separated for the purpose. The cavaliers, who
were rather more than five hundred in number, went up as they were
summoned by the number marked upon their cards of admission, and,
privately communicating with some one of the officers appointed, were
soon told off, and filed away to the right of the Landgrave, waiting
for the signal which should give them permission to rejoin their

All had been now told off, within a score. These were clustered
together in a group; and in that group undoubtedly was The Masque.
Every eye was converged upon this small knot of cavaliers; each of the
spectators, according to his fancy, selected the one who came nearest
in dress, or in personal appearance, to his preconceptions of that
mysterious agent. Not a word was uttered, not a whisper; hardly a robe
was heard to rustle, or a feather to wave.

The twenty were rapidly reduced to twelve, these to six, the six to
four--three--two; the tale of the invited was complete, and one man
remained behind. That was, past doubting, The Masque!


"There stands he that governs Klosterheim by night!" thought every
cavalier, as he endeavored to pierce the gloomy being's concealment
with penetrating eyes, or, by scrutiny ten times repeated, to unmasque
the dismal secrets which lurked beneath his disguise. "There stands the
gloomy murderer!" thought another. "There stands the poor detected
criminal," thought the pitying young ladies, "who in the next moment
must lay bare his breast to the Landgrave's musketeers."

The figure, meantime, stood tranquil and collected, apparently not in
the least disturbed by the consciousness of his situation, or the
breathless suspense of more than a thousand spectators of rank and
eminent station, all bending their looks upon himself. He had been
leaning against a marble column, as if wrapped up in revery, and
careless of everything about him. But when the dead silence announced
that the ceremony was closed, that he only remained to answer for
himself, and upon palpable proof--evidence not to be gainsayed--
incapable of answering satisfactorily; when, in fact, it was beyond
dispute that here was at length revealed, in bodily presence, before
the eyes of those whom he had so long haunted with terrors, The Masque
of Klosterheim,--it was naturally expected that now, at least, he would
show alarm and trepidation; that he would prepare for defence, or
address himself to instant flight.

Far otherwise! Cooler than any one person beside in the saloon, he
stood, like the marble column against which he had been reclining,
upright, massy, and imperturbable. He was enveloped in a voluminous
mantle, which, at this moment, with a leisurely motion, he suffered to
fall at his feet, and displayed a figure in which the grace of an
Antinous met with the columnar strength of a Grecian Hercules,--
presenting, in its _tout ensemble_, the majestic proportions of a
Jupiter. He stood--a breathing statue of gladiatorial beauty, towering
above all who were near him, and eclipsing the noblest specimens of the
human form which the martial assembly presented. A buzz of admiration
arose, which in the following moment was suspended by the dubious
recollections investing his past appearances, and the terror which
waited even on his present movements. He was armed to the teeth; and he
was obviously preparing to move.

Not a word had yet been spoken; so tumultuous was the succession of
surprises, so mixed and conflicting the feelings, so intense the
anxiety. The arrangement of the groups was this: At the lower half of
the room, but starting forward in attitudes of admiration or suspense,
were the ladies of Klosterheim. At the upper end, in the centre, one
hand raised to bespeak attention, was The Masque of Klosterheim. To his
left, and a little behind him, with a subtle Venetian countenance, one
hand waving back a half file of musketeers, and the other raised as if
to arrest the arm of The Masque, was the wily minister Adorni, creeping
nearer and nearer with a stealthy stride. To his right was the great
body of Klosterheim cavaliers, a score of students and young officers
pressing forward to the front; but in advance of the whole, the
Landgrave of X----, haughty, lowering, and throwing out looks of
defiance. These were the positions and attitudes in which the first
discovery of The Masque had surprised them; and these they still
retained. Less dignified spectators were looking downwards from the

"Surrender!" was the first word by which silence was broken; it came
from the Landgrave.

"Or die!" exclaimed Adorni.

"He dies in any case," rejoined the prince.

The Masque still raised his hand with the action of one who bespeaks
attention. Adorni he deigned not to notice. Slightly inclining his head
to the Landgrave, in a tone to which it might be the headdress of
elaborate steel work that gave a sepulchral tone, he replied:

"The Masque, who rules in Klosterheim by night, surrenders not. He can
die. But first he will complete the ceremony of the night; he will
reveal himself."

"That is superfluous," exclaimed Adorni; "we need no further
revelations. Seize him, and lead him out to death!"

"Dog of an Italian!" replied The Masque, drawing a dag [Footnote:
_Dag_, a sort of pistol or carbine.] from his belt, "die first
yourself!" And so saying, he slowly turned and levelled the barrel at
Adorni, who fled with two bounds to the soldiers in the rear. Then,
withdrawing the weapon hastily, he added, in a tone of cool contempt,
"Or bridle that coward's tongue."

But this was not the minister's intention. "Seize him!" he cried again
impetuously to the soldiers, laying his hand on the arm of the
foremost, and pointing them forward to their prey.

"No!" said the Landgrave, with a commanding voice; "halt! I bid you."
Something there was in the tone, or it might be that there was
something in his private recollections, or something in the general
mystery, which promised a discovery that he feared to lose by the too
precipitate vengeance of the Italian. "What is it, mysterious being,
that you would reveal? Or who is it that you now believe interested in
your revelations?"

"Yourself.--Prince, it would seem that you have me at your mercy:
wherefore, then, the coward haste of this Venetian hound? I am one; you
are many. Lead me, then, out; shoot me. But no: freely I entered this
hall; freely I will leave it. If I must die, I will die as a soldier.
Such I am; and neither runagate from a foreign land, nor "--turning to
Adorni-"a base mechanic."

"But a murderer!" shrieked Adorni: "but a murderer; and with hands yet
reeking from innocent blood!"

"Blood, Adorni, that I will yet avenge.--Prince, you demand the nature
of my revelations. I will reveal my name, my quality, and my mission."

"And to whom?"

"To yourself, and none beside. And, as a pledge for the sincerity of my
discoveries, I will first of all communicate a dreadful secret, known,
as you fondly believe, to none but your highness. Prince, dare you
receive my revelations?"

Speaking thus, The Masque took one step to the rear, turning his back
upon the room, and by a gesture signified his wish that the Landgrave
should accompany him. But at this motion ten or a dozen of the foremost
among the young cavaliers started forward in advance of the Landgrave,
in part forming a half-circle about his person, and in part commanding
the open doorway.

"He is armed!" they exclaimed; "and trebly armed: will your highness
approach him too nearly?"

"I fear him not," said the Landgrave, with something of a contemptuous

"Wherefore should you fear me?" retorted The Masque, with a manner so
tranquil and serene as involuntarily to disarm suspicion. "Were it
possible that I should seek the life of any man here in particular, in
that case (pointing to the fire-arms in his belt), why should I need to
come nearer? Were it possible that any should find in my conduct here a
motive to a personal vengeance upon myself, which of you is not near
enough? Has your highness the courage to trample on such terrors?"

Thus challenged, as it were, to a trial of his courage before the
assembled rank of Klosterheim, the Landgrave waved off all who would
have stepped forward officiously to his support. If he felt any
tremors, he was now sensible that pride and princely honor called upon
him to dissemble them. And, probably, that sort of tremors which he
felt in reality did not point in a direction to which physical support,
such as was now tendered, could have been available. He hesitated no
longer, but strode forward to meet The Masque. His highness and The
Masque met near the archway of the door, in the very centre of the

With a thrilling tone, deep, piercing, full of alarm, The Masque began

"To win your confidence, forever to establish credit with your
highness, I will first of all reveal the name of that murderer who this
night dared to pollute your palace with an old man's blood. Prince,
bend your ear a little this way."

With a shudder, and a visible effort of self-command, the Landgrave
inclined his ear to The Masque, who added,--

"Your highness will be shocked to hear it:" then, in a lower tone, "Who
could have believed it?--It was----." All was pronounced clearly and
strongly, except the last word--the name of the murderer; _that_ was
made audible only to the Landgrave's ear.

Sudden and tremendous was the effect upon the prince: he reeled a few
paces off; put his hand to the hilt of his sword; smote his forehead;
threw frenzied looks upon The Masque,--now half imploring, now dark
with vindictive wrath. Then succeeded a pause of profoundest silence,
during which all the twelve hundred visitors, whom he had himself
assembled as if expressly to make them witnesses of this extraordinary
scene, and of the power with which a stranger could shake him to and
fro in a tempestuous strife of passions, were looking and hearkening
with senses on the stretch to pierce the veil of silence and of
distance. At last the Landgrave mastered his emotion sufficiently to
say, "Well, sir, what next?"

"Next comes a revelation of another kind; and I warn you, sir, that it
will not be less trying to the nerves. For this first I needed your
ear; now I shall need your eyes. Think again, prince, whether you will
stand the trial."

"Pshaw! sir, you trifle with me; again I tell you--" But here the
Landgrave spoke with an affectation of composure, and with an effort
that did not escape notice;--"again I tell you that I fear you not. Go

"Then come forward a little, please your highness, to the light of this
lamp." So saying, with a step or two in advance, he drew the prince
under the powerful glare of a lamp suspended near the great archway of
entrance from the interior of the palace. Both were now standing with
their faces entirely averted from the spectators. Still more
effectually, however, to screen himself from any of those groups on the
left, whose advanced position gave them somewhat more the advantage of
an oblique aspect, The Masque, at this moment, suddenly drew up, with
his left hand, a short Spanish mantle which depended from his
shoulders, and now gave him the benefit of a lateral screen. Then, so
far as the company behind them could guess at his act, unlocking with
his right hand and raising the masque which shrouded his mysterious
features, he shouted aloud, in a voice that rang clear through every
corner of the vast saloon, "Landgrave, for crimes yet unrevealed, I
summon you, in twenty days, before a tribunal where there is no shield
but innocence" and at that moment turned his countenance full upon the

With a yell, rather than a human expression of terror, the Landgrave
fell, as if shot by a thunderbolt, stretched at his full length upon
the ground, lifeless apparently, and bereft of consciousness or
sensation. A sympathetic cry of horror arose from the spectators. All
rushed towards The Masque. The young cavaliers, who had first stepped
forward as volunteers in the Landgrave's defence, were foremost, and
interposed between The Masque and the outstretched arms of Adorni, as
if eager to seize him first. In an instant a sudden and dense cloud of
smoke arose, nobody knew whence. Repeated discharges of fire-arms were
heard resounding from the doorway and the passages; these increased the
smoke and the confusion. Trumpets sounded through the corridors. The
whole archway, under which The Masque and the Landgrave had been
standing, became choked up with soldiery, summoned by the furious
alarms that echoed through the palace. All was one uproar and chaos of
masques, plumes, helmets, halberds, trumpets, gleaming sabres, and the
fierce faces of soldiery forcing themselves through the floating
drapery of smoke that now filled the whole upper end of the saloon.
Adorni was seen in the midst, raving fruitlessly. Nobody heard, nobody
listened. Universal panic had seized the household, the soldiery, and
the company. Nobody understood exactly for what purpose the tumult had
commenced--in what direction it tended. Some tragic catastrophe was
reported from mouth to mouth: nobody knew what. Some said the Landgrave
had been assassinated; some, The Masque; some asserted that both had
perished under reciprocal assaults. More believed that The Masque had
proved to be of that supernatural order of beings, with which the
prevailing opinions of Klosterheim had long classed him; and that, upon
raising his disguise, he had revealed to the Landgrave the fleshless
skull of some forgotten tenant of the grave. This indeed seemed to many
the only solution that, whilst it fell in with the prejudices and
superstitions of the age, was of a nature to account for that
tremendous effect which the discovery had produced upon the Landgrave.
But it was one that naturally could be little calculated to calm the
agitations of the public prevailing at this moment. This spread
contagiously. The succession of alarming events,--the murder, the
appearance of The Masque, his subsequent extraordinary behavior, the
overwhelming impression upon the Landgrave, which had formed the
catastrophe of this scenical exhibition,--the consternation of the
great Swedish officers, who were spending the night in Klosterheim, and
reasonably suspected that the tumult might be owing to the sudden
detection of their own _incognito_, and that, in consequence, the
populace of this imperial city were suddenly rising to arms; the
endless distraction and counter-action of so many thousand persons--
visitors, servants, soldiery, household--all hurrying to the same
point, and bringing assistance to a danger of which nobody knew the
origin, nobody the nature, nobody the issue; multitudes commanding
where all obedience was forgotten, all subordination had gone to
wreck;--these circumstances of distraction united to sustain a scene of
absolute frenzy in the castle, which, for more than half an hour, the
dense columns of smoke aggravated alarmingly, by raising, in many
quarters, additional terrors of fire. And when, at last, after infinite
exertions, the soldiery had deployed into the ball-room and the
adjacent apartments of state, and had succeeded, at the point of the
pike, in establishing a safe egress for the twelve hundred visitors, it
was then first ascertained that all traces of The Masque had been lost
in the smoke and subsequent confusion; and that, with his usual good
fortune, he had succeeded in baffling his pursuers.


Meantime the Lady Paulina had spent her time in secret grief,
inconsolable for the supposed tragical fate of Maximilian. It was
believed that he had perished. This opinion had prevailed equally
amongst his friends, and the few enemies whom circumstances had made
him. Supposing even that he had escaped with life from the action, it
seemed inevitable that he should have fallen into the hands of the
bloody Holkerstein; and under circumstances which would point him out
to the vengeance of that cruel ruffian as having been the leader in the
powerful resistance which had robbed him of his prey.

Stung with the sense of her irreparable loss, and the premature grief
which had blighted her early hopes, Paulina sought her refuge in
solitude, and her consolations in religion. In the convent where she
had found a home, the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic service were
maintained with the strictness and the pomp suitable to its ample
endowments. The emperor had himself, as well as several of his
progenitors, been a liberal benefactor to this establishment. And a
lady of his house, therefore, recommended by a special introduction
from the emperor to the attentions of the lady abbess, was sure of
meeting kindness and courtesy in every possible shape which could avail
to mitigate her sorrow. The abbess, though a bigot, was a human being,
with strong human sensibilities; and in both characters she was greatly
pleased with the Lady Paulina. On the one hand, her pride, as the head
of a religious establishment, was flattered by the extreme regularity
of the Lady Paulina in conforming to the ritual of her house; this
example of spiritual obedience and duty seemed peculiarly edifying in a
person of such distinguished rank. On the other hand, her womanly
sensibilities were touched by the spectacle of early and unmerited
sorrow in one so eminent for her personal merits, for her extreme
beauty, and the winning sweetness of her manners. Hence she readily
offered to the young countess all the attentions and marks of sympathy
which her retiring habits permitted, and every species of indulgence
compatible with the spirit of the institution.

The whole convent, nuns as well as strangers, taking their tone from
the abbess, vied with each other in attentions to Paulina. But, whilst
acknowledging their kindness, she continued to shrink from all general
intercourse with the society about her. Her attendance was constant at
the matins and at vespers; not unfrequently even at the midnight
service; but dejection was too rooted in her heart, to allow her any
disposition to enter into the amusements or mixed society which the
convent at that time offered.

Many noble strangers had been allowed to take up their quarters in the
convent. With some of these the abbess was connected by blood; with
others, by ties of ancient friendship. Most of this party composed a
little society apart from the rest, and continued to pursue those
amusements or occupations which properly belonged to their stations and
quality, but by their too worldly nature were calculated to exclude the
religious members of the institution from partaking in them. To this
society Paulina received frequent invitations; which, however, she
declined so uniformly, that at length all efforts ceased to draw her
from the retirement which she so manifestly adhered to from choice. The
motives of her dejection became known throughout the convent, and were
respected; and it was now reported amongst them, from her aversion to
society as well as her increasing devotion, that the Lady Paulina would
soon take the veil.

Amongst the strangers was one, a lady of mature age, with beauty still
powerful enough to fascinate all beholders, who seemed to survey
Paulina with an interest far beyond that of curiosity or simple
admiration. Sorrow might be supposed the common bond which connected
them; for there were rumors amongst the sisterhood of St. Agnes that
this lady had suffered afflictions heavier than fell to an ordinary lot
in the course of the war which now desolated Germany. Her husband (it
was said), of whom no more was known than that he was some officer of
high rank, had perished by the hand of violence; a young daughter, the
only child of two or three who remained to her, had been carried off in
infancy, and no traces remained of her subsequent fate. To these
misfortunes was added the loss of her estates and rank, which, in some
mysterious way, were supposed to be withheld from her by one of those
great oppressors whom war and the policy of great allies had
aggrandized. It was supposed even that for the means of subsistence to
herself, and a few faithful attendants, she was indebted to the
kindness of the lady abbess, with whom she was closely connected by
ancient friendship.

In this tale there were many inaccuracies mixed up with the truth. It
was true that, in some one of the many dire convulsions which had
passed from land to land since the first outbreak of the Bohemian
troubles, in 1618, and which had covered with a veil of political
pretexts so many local acts of private family feud and murderous
treason, this lady had been deprived of her husband by a violent death
under circumstances which still seemed mysterious. But the fate of her
children, if any had survived the calamity which took off her husband,
was unknown to everybody except her confidential protectress, the lady
abbess. By permission of this powerful friend, who had known her from
infancy, and through the whole course of her misfortunes, she was
permitted to take up her abode in the convent, under special
privileges, and was there known by the name of Sister Madeline.

The intercourse of the Sister Madeline with the lady abbess was free
and unreserved. At all hours they entered each other's rooms with the
familiarity of sisters; and it might have been thought that in every
respect they stood upon the equal footing of near relatives, except
that occasionally in the manners of the abbess was traced, or imagined,
a secret air of deference towards the desolate Sister Madeline, which,
as it was not countenanced at all by their present relations to each
other, left people at liberty to build upon it a large superstructure
of romantic conjectures.

Sister Madeline was as regular in her attendance upon prayers as
Paulina. There, if nowhere else, they were sure of meeting; and in no
long time it became evident that the younger lady was an object of
particular interest to the elder. When the sublime fugues of the old
composers for the organ swelled upon the air, and filled the vast
aisles of the chapel with their floating labyrinths of sound, attention
to the offices of the church service being suspended for the time, the
Sister Madeline spent the interval in watching the countenance of
Paulina. Invariably at this period her eyes settled upon the young
countess, and appeared to court some return of attention, by the tender
sympathy which her own features expressed with the grief too legibly
inscribed upon Paulina's. For some time Paulina, absorbed by her own
thoughts, failed to notice this very particular expression of attention
and interest. Accustomed to the gaze of crowds, as well on account of
her beauty as her connection with the imperial house, she found nothing
new or distressing in this attention to herself. After some time,
however, observing herself still haunted by the sister's furtive
glances, she found her own curiosity somewhat awakened in return. The
manners of Sister Madeline were too dignified, and her face expressed
too much of profound feeling, and traces too inextinguishable of the
trials through which she had passed, to allow room for any belief that
she was under the influence of an ordinary curiosity. Paulina was
struck with a confused feeling, that she looked upon features which had
already been familiar to her heart, though disguised in Sister Madeline
by age, by sex, and by the ravages of grief. She had the appearance of
having passed her fiftieth year; but it was probable that, spite of a
brilliant complexion, secret sorrow had worked a natural effect in
giving to her the appearance of age more advanced by seven or eight
years than she had really attained. Time, at all events, if it had
carried off forever her youthful graces, neither had nor seemed likely
to destroy the impression of majestic beauty under eclipse and wane. No
one could fail to read the signs by which the finger of nature
announces a great destiny, and a mind born to command.

Insensibly the two ladies had established a sort of intercourse by
looks; and at length, upon finding that the Sister Madeline mixed no
more than herself in the general society of Klosterheim, Paulina had
resolved to seek the acquaintance of a lady whose deportment announced
that she would prove an interesting acquaintance, whilst her melancholy
story and the expression of her looks were a sort of pledges that she
would be found a sympathizing friend.

She had already taken some steps towards the attainment of her wishes,
when, unexpectedly, on coming out from the vesper service, the Sister
Madeline placed herself by the side of Paulina, and they walked down
one of the long side-aisles together. The saintly memorials about them,
the records of everlasting peace which lay sculptured at their feet,
and the strains which still ascended to heaven from the organ and the
white-robed choir,--all speaking of a rest from trouble so little to be
found on earth, and so powerfully contrasting with the desolations of
poor, harassed Germany,--affected them deeply, and both burst into
tears. At length the elder lady spoke.

"Daughter, you keep your faith piously with him whom you suppose dead."

Paulina started. The other continued--

"Honor to young hearts that are knit together by ties so firm that even
death has no power to dissolve them! Honor to the love which can breed
so deep a sorrow! Yet, even in this world, the good are not
_always_ the unhappy. I doubt not that, even now at vespers, you
forgot not to pray for him that would willingly have died for you."

"0, gracious lady! when--when have I forgot that? What other prayer,
what other image, is ever at my heart?"

"Daughter, I could not doubt it; and Heaven sometimes sends answers to
prayers when they are least expected; and to yours it sends this
through me."

With these words she stretched out a letter to Paulina, who fainted
with sudden surprise and delight, on recognizing the hand of


It was, indeed, the handwriting of her lover; and the first words of
the letter, which bore a recent date, announced his safety and his
recovered health. A rapid sketch of all which had befallen him since
they had last parted informed her that he had been severely wounded in
the action with Holkerstein's people, and probably to that misfortune
had been indebted for his life; since the difficulty of transporting
him on horseback, when unable to sit upright, had compelled the party
charged with his care to leave him for the night at Waldenhausen. From
that place he had been carried off in the night-time to a small
imperial garrison in the neighborhood by the care of two faithful
servants, who had found little difficulty in first intoxicating, and
then overpowering, the small guard judged sufficient for a prisoner so
completely disabled by his wounds. In this garrison he had recovered;
had corresponded with Vienna; had concerted measures with the emperor;
and was now on the point of giving full effect to their plans, at the
moment when certain circumstances should arise to favor the scheme.
What these were, he forbore designedly to say in a letter which ran
some risk of falling into the enemy's hands; but he bade Paulina
speedily to expect a great change for the better, which would put it in
their power to meet without restraint or fear; and concluded by giving
utterance in the fondest terms to a lover's hopes and tenderest

Paulina had scarcely recovered from the tumultuous sensations of
pleasure, and sudden restoration to hope, when she received a shock in
the opposite direction, from a summons to attend the Landgrave. The
language of the message was imperative, and more peremptory than had
ever before been addressed to herself, a lady of the imperial family.
She knew the Landgrave's character and his present position; both these
alarmed her, when connected with the style and language of his summons.
For _that_ announced distinctly enough that his resolution had
been now taken to commit himself to a bold course; no longer to hang
doubtfully between two policies, but openly to throw himself into the
arms of the emperor's enemies. In one view, Paulina found a benefit to
her spirits from this haughtiness of the Landgrave's message. She was
neither proud, nor apt to take offence. On the contrary, she was gentle
and meek; for the impulses of youth and elevated birth had in her been
chastened by her early acquaintance with great national calamities, and
the enlarged sympathy which that had bred with her fellow-creatures of
every rank. But she felt that, in this superfluous expression of
authority, the Landgrave was at the same time infringing the rights of
hospitality, and her own privileges of sex. Indignation at his unmanly
conduct gave her spirits to face him, though she apprehended a scene of
violence, and had the more reason to feel the trepidations of
uncertainty, because she very imperfectly comprehended his purposes as
respected herself.

These were not easily explained. She found the Landgrave pacing the
room with violence. His back was turned towards her as she entered;
but, as the usher announced loudly, on her entrance, "The Countess
Paulina of Hohenhelder," he turned impetuously, and advanced to meet
her. With the Landgrave, however irritated, the first impulse was to
comply with the ceremonious observances that belonged to his rank. He
made a cold obeisance, whilst an attendant placed a seat; and then
motioning to all present to withdraw, began to unfold the causes which
had called for Lady Paulina's presence.

So much art was mingled with so much violence, that for some time
Paulina gathered nothing of his real purposes. Resolved, however, to do
justice to her own insulted dignity, she took the first opening which
offered, to remonstrate with the Landgrave on the needless violence of
his summons. His serene highness wielded the sword in Klosterheim, and
could have no reason for anticipating resistance to his commands.

"The Lady Paulina, then, distinguishes between the power and the right?
I expected as much."

"By no means; she knew nothing of the claimants to either. She was a
stranger, seeking only hospitality in Klosterheim, which apparently was
violated by unprovoked exertions of authority."

"But the laws of hospitality," replied the Landgrave, "press equally on
the guest and the host. Each has his separate duties. And the Lady
Paulina, in the character of guest, violated hers from the moment when
she formed cabals in Klosterheim, and ministered to the fury of

"Your ear, sir, is abused; I have not so much as stepped beyond the
precincts of the convent in which I reside, until this day in paying
obedience to your highness' mandate."

"That may be; and that may argue only the more caution and subtlety.
The personal presence of a lady, so distinguished in her appearance as
the Lady Paulina, at any resort of conspirators or intriguers, would
have published too much the suspicions to which such a countenance
would be liable. But in writing have you dispersed nothing calculated
to alienate the attachment of my subjects?"

The Lady Paulina shook her head; she knew not even in what direction
the Landgrave's suspicions pointed.

"As, for example, this--does the Lady Paulina recognize this particular

Saying this, he drew forth from a portfolio a letter or paper of
instructions, consisting of several sheets, to which a large official
seal was attached. The countess glanced her eye over it attentively; in
one or two places the words _Maximilian_ and _Klosterheim_ attracted
her attention; but she felt satisfied at once that she now saw it for
the first time.

"Of this paper," she said, at length, in a determined tone, "I know
nothing. The handwriting I believe I may have seen before. It resembles
that of one of the emperor's secretaries. Beyond that, I have no means
of even conjecturing its origin."

"Beware, madam, beware how far you commit yourself. Suppose now this
paper were actually brought in one of your ladyship's mails, amongst
your own private property."

"That may very well be," said Lady Paulina, "and yet imply no falsehood
on my part. Falsehood! I disdain such an insinuation; your highness has
been the first person who ever dared to make it." At that moment she
called to mind the robbery of her carriage at Waldenhausen. Coloring
deeply with indignation, she added, "Even in the case, sir, which you
have supposed, as unconscious bearer of this or any other paper, I am
still innocent of the intentions which such an act might argue in some
people. I am as incapable of offending in that way, as I shall always
be of disavowing any of my own acts, according to your ungenerous
insinuation. But now, sir, tell me how far those may be innocent who
have possessed themselves of a paper carried, as your highness alleges,
among my private baggage. Was it for a prince to countenance a robbery
of that nature, or to appropriate its spoils?"

The blood rushed to the Landgrave's temples. "In these times, young
lady, petty rights of individuals give way to state necessities.
Neither are there any such rights of individuals in bar of such an
inquisition. They are forfeited, as I told you before, when the guest
forgets his duties. But (and here he frowned), it seems to me,
countess, that you are now forgetting your situation; not I, remember,
but yourself, are now placed on trial."

"Indeed!" said the countess, "of that I was certainly not aware. Who,
then, is my accuser, who my judge? Or is it in your serene highness
that I see both?"

"Your accuser, Lady Paulina, is the paper I have shown you, a
treasonable paper. Perhaps I have others to bring forward of the same
bearing. Perhaps this is sufficient."

The Lady Paulina grew suddenly sad and thoughtful. Here was a tyrant,
with matter against her, which, even to an unprejudiced judge, might
really wear some face of plausibility. The paper had perhaps really
been one of those plundered from her carriage. It might really contain
matter fitted to excite disaffection against the Landgrave's
government. Her own innocence of all participation in the designs which
it purposed to abet might find no credit; or might avail her not at all
in a situation so far removed from the imperial protection. She had in
fact unadvisedly entered a city, which, at the time of her entrance,
might be looked upon as neutral, but since then had been forced into
the ranks of the emperor's enemies, too abruptly to allow of warning or
retreat. This was her exact situation. She saw her danger; and again
apprehended that, at the very moment of recovering her lover from the
midst of perils besetting _his_ situation, she might lose him by
the perils of her own.

The Landgrave watched the changes of her countenance, and read her

"Yes," he said, at length, "your situation is one of peril. But take
courage. Confess freely, and you have everything to hope for from my

"Such clemency," said a deep voice, from some remote quarter of the
room, "as the wolf shows to the lamb."

Paulina started, and the Landgrave looked angry and perplexed. "Within,
there!" he cried loudly to the attendants in the next room. "I will no
more endure these insults," he exclaimed. "Go instantly, take a file of
soldiers; place them at all the outlets, and search the rooms
adjoining--above, and below. Such mummery is insufferable."

The voice replied again, "Landgrave, you search in vain. Look to
yourself! young Max is upon you!"

"This babbler," said the Landgrave, making an effort to recover his
coolness, "reminds me well; that adventurer, young Maximilian--who is
he? whence comes he? by whom authorized?"

Paulina blushed; but, roused by the Landgrave's contumelious
expressions applied to her lover, she replied, "He is no adventurer;
nor was ever in that class; the emperor's favor is not bestowed upon

"Then, what brings him to Klosterheim? For what is it that he would
trouble the repose of this city?"

Before Paulina could speak in rejoinder, the voice, from a little
further distance, replied, audibly, "For his rights! See that you,
Landgrave, make no resistance."

The prince arose in fury; his eyes flashed fire, he clenched his hands
in impotent determination. The same voice had annoyed him on former
occasions, but never under circumstances which mortified him so deeply.
Ashamed that the youthful countess should be a witness of the insults
put upon him, and seeing that it was in vain to pursue his conversation
with her further in a situation which exposed him to the sarcasms of a
third person, under no restraint of fear or partiality, he adjourned
the further prosecution of his inquiry to another opportunity, and for
the present gave her leave to depart; a license which she gladly
availed herself of, and retired in fear and perplexity.


It was dark as Paulina returned to her convent. Two servants of the
Landgrave's preceded her with torches to the great gates of St. Agnes,
which was at a very short distance. At that point she entered within
the shelter of the convent gates, and the prince's servants left her at
her own request. No person was now within call but a little page of her
own, and perhaps the porter at the convent. But after the first turn in
the garden of St. Agnes, she might almost consider herself as left to
her own guardianship; for the little boy, who followed her, was too
young to afford her any effectual help. She felt sorry, as she surveyed
the long avenue of ancient trees, which was yet to be traversed before
she entered upon the cloisters, that she should have dismissed the
servants of the Landgrave. These gardens were easily scaled from the
outside, and a ready communication existed between the remotest parts
of this very avenue and some of the least reputable parts of
Klosterheim. The city now overflowed with people of every rank; and
amongst them were continually recognized, and occasionally challenged,
some of the vilest deserters from the imperial camps. Wallenstein
himself, and other imperial commanders, but, above all, Holk, had
attracted to their standards the very refuse of the German jails; and,
allowing an unlimited license of plunder during some periods of their
career, had themselves evoked a fiendish spirit of lawless aggression
and spoliation, which afterwards they had found it impossible to
exorcise within its former limits. People were everywhere obliged to be
on their guard, not alone (as heretofore) against the military tyrant
or freebooter, but also against the private servants whom they hired
into their service. For some time back, suspicious persons had been
seen strolling at dusk in the gardens of St. Agnes, or even intruding
into the cloisters. Then the recollection of The Masque, now in the
very height of his mysterious career, flashed upon Paulina's thoughts.
Who knew his motives, or the principle of his mysterious warfare--
which, at any rate, in its mode had latterly been marked by bloodshed?
As these things came rapidly into her mind, she trembled more from fear
than from the wintry wind, which now blew keenly and gustily through
the avenue.

The gardens of St. Agnes were extensive, and Paulina yet wanted two
hundred yards of reaching the cloisters, when she observed a dusky
object stealing along the margin of a little pool, which in parts lay
open to the walk, whilst in others, where the walk receded from the
water, the banks were studded with thickets of tall shrubs. Paulina
stopped and observed the figure, which she was soon satisfied must be
that of a man. At times he rose to his full height; at times he cowered
downwards amongst the bushes. That he was not merely seeking a retreat
became evident from this, that the best road for such a purpose lay
open to him in the opposite direction; that he was watching herself,
also, became probable from the way in which he seemed to regulate his
own motions by hers. At length, whilst Paulina hesitated, in some
perplexity whether to go forward or to retreat towards the porter's
lodge, he suddenly plunged into the thickest belt of shrubs, and left
the road clear. Paulina seized the moment, and, with a palpitating
heart, quickened her steps towards the cloister.

She had cleared about one half of the way without obstruction, when
suddenly a powerful grasp seized her by the shoulder.

"Stop, lady!" said a deep, coarse voice; "stop! I mean no harm. Perhaps
I bring your ladyship what will be welcome news."

"But why here?" exclaimed Paulina; "wherefore do you alarm me thus? 0,
heavens! your eyes are wild and fierce; say, is it money that you

"Perhaps I do. To the like of me, lady, you may be sure that money
never comes amiss; but that is not my errand. Here is what will make
all clear;" and, as he spoke, he thrust his hand into the huge pocket
within the horseman's cloak which enveloped him. Instead of the pistol
or dag, which Paulina anticipated, he drew forth a large packet,
carefully sealed. Paulina felt so much relieved at beholding this
pledge of the man's pacific intentions, that she eagerly pressed her
purse into his hand, and was hastening to leave him, when the man
stopped her to deliver a verbal message from his master, requesting
earnestly that, if she concluded to keep the appointment arranged in
the letter, she would not be a minute later than the time fixed.

"And who," said Paulina, "is your master?"

"Surely, the general, madam--the young General Maximilian. Many a time
and oft have I waited on him when visiting your ladyship at the
Wartebrunn. But here I dare not show my face. Der Henker! if the
Landgrave knew that Michael Klotz was in Klosterheim, I reckon that all
the ladies in St. Agnes could not beg him a reprieve till to-morrow

"Then, villain!" said the foremost of two men, who rushed hastily from
the adjoining shrubs, "be assured that the Landgrave does know it. Let
this be your warrant!" With these words he fired, and, immediately
after, his comrade. Whether the fugitive were wounded could not be
known; for he instantly plunged into the water, and, after two or three
moments, was heard upon the opposite margin. His pursuers seemed to
shrink from this attempt, for they divided and took the opposite
extremities of the pool, from the other bank of which they were soon
heard animating and directing each other through the darkness.

Paulina, confused and agitated, and anxious above all to examine her
letters, took the opportunity of a clear road, and fled in trepidation
to the convent.


The countess had brought home with her a double subject of anxiety. She
knew not to what result the Landgrave's purposes were tending; she
feared, also, from this sudden and new method of communication opened
with herself so soon after his previous letter, that some unexpected
bad fortune might now be threatening her lover. Hastily she tore open
the packet, which manifestly contained something larger than letters.
The first article which presented itself was a nun's veil, exactly on
the pattern of those worn by the nuns of St. Agnes. The accompanying
letter sufficiently explained its purpose.

It was in the handwriting, and bore the signature, of Maximilian. In a
few words he told her that a sudden communication, but from a quarter
entirely to be depended on, had reached him of a great danger impending
over her from the Landgrave; that, in the present submission of
Klosterheim to that prince's will, instant flight presented the sole
means of delivering her; for which purpose he would himself meet her in
disguise on the following morning, as early as four o'clock; or, if
that should prove impossible under the circumstances of the case, would
send a faithful servant; that one or other of them would attend at a
particular station, easily recognized by the description added, in a
ruinous part of the boundary wall, in the rear of the convent garden. A
large travelling cloak would be brought, to draw over the rest of her
dress; but meanwhile, as a means of passing unobserved through the
convent grounds, where the Landgrave's agents were continually watching
her motions, the nun's veil was almost indispensable. The other
circumstances of the journey would be communicated to her upon meeting.
In conclusion, the writer implored Paulina to suffer no scruples of
false delicacy to withhold her from a step which had so suddenly become
necessary to her preservation; and cautioned her particularly against
communicating her intentions to the lady abbess, whose sense of decorum
might lead her to urge advice at this moment inconsistent with her

Again and again did Paulina read this agitating letter; again and again
did she scrutinize the handwriting, apprehensive that she might be
making herself a dupe to some hidden enemy. The handwriting,
undoubtedly, had not all the natural freedom which characterized that
of Maximilian; it was somewhat stiff in its movement, but not more so
than that of his previous letter, in which he had accounted for the
slight change from a wound not perfectly healed in his right hand. In
other respects the letter seemed liable to no just suspicion. The
danger apprehended from the Landgrave tallied with her own knowledge.
The convent grounds were certainly haunted, as the letter alleged, by
the Landgrave's people; of that she had just received a convincing
proof; for, though the two strangers had turned off in pursuit of the
messenger who bore Maximilian's letter, yet doubtless their original
object of attention had been herself; they were then posted to watch
her motions, and they had avowed themselves in effect the Landgrave's
people. That part of the advice, again, which respected the lady
abbess, seemed judicious, on considering the character of that lady,
however much at first sight it might warrant some jealousy of the
writer's purposes to find him warning her against her best friends.
After all, what most disturbed the confidence of Paulina was the
countenance of the man who presented the letter. If this man were to be
the representative of Maximilian on the following morning, she felt,
and was persuaded that she would continue to feel, an invincible
repugnance to commit her safety to any such keeping. Upon the whole,
she resolved to keep the appointment, but to be guided in her further
conduct by circumstances as they should arise at the moment.

That night Paulina's favorite female attendant employed herself in
putting into as small a compass as possible the slender wardrobe which
they would be able to carry with them. The young countess herself spent
the hours in writing to the lady abbess and Sister Madeline,
acquainting them with all the circumstances of her interview with the
Landgrave, the certain grounds she had for apprehending some great
danger in that quarter, and the proposals so unexpectedly made to her
on the part of Maximilian for evading it. To ask that they should feel
no anxiety on her account, in times which made even a successful escape
from danger so very hazardous, she acknowledged would be vain; but, in
judging of the degree of prudence which she had exhibited on this
occasion, she begged them to reflect on the certain dangers which
awaited her from the Landgrave; and finally, in excuse for not having
sought the advice of so dear a friend as the lady abbess, she enclosed
the letter upon which she had acted.

These preparations were completed by midnight, after which Paulina
sought an hour or two of repose. At three o'clock were celebrated the
early matins, attended by the devouter part of the sisterhood, in the
chapel. Paulina and her maid took this opportunity for leaving their
chamber, and slipping unobserved amongst the crowd who were hurrying on
that summons into the cloisters. The organ was pealing solemnly through
the labyrinth of passages which led from the interior of the convent;
and Paulina's eyes were suffused with tears, as the gentler
recollections of her earlier days, and the peace which belongs to those
who have abjured this world and its treacherous promises, arose to her
mind, under the influence of the sublime music, in powerful contrast
with the tempestuous troubles of Germany--now become so comprehensive,
in their desolating sweep, as to involve even herself, and others of
station as elevated.


The convent clock, chiming the quarters, at length announced that they
had reached the appointed hour. Trembling with fear and cold, though
muffled up in furs, Paulina and her attendant, with their nuns' veils
drawn over their head-dress, sallied forth into the garden. All was
profoundly dark, and overspread with the stillness of the grave. The
lights within the chapel threw a rich glow through the painted windows;
and here and there, from a few scattered casements in the vast pile of
St. Agnes, streamed a few weak rays from a taper or a lamp, indicating
the trouble of a sick bed, or the peace of prayer. But these rare
lights did but deepen the massy darkness of all beside; and Paulina,
with her attendant, had much difficulty in making her way to the
appointed station. Having reached the wall, however, they pursued its
windings, certain of meeting no important obstacles, until they
attained a part where their progress was impeded by frequent
dilapidations. Here they halted, and in low tones communicated their
doubts about the precise locality of the station indicated in the
letter, when suddenly a man started up from the ground, and greeted
them with the words "St. Agnes! all is right," which had been
preconcerted as the signal in the letter. This man was courteous and
respectful in his manner of speaking, and had nothing of the ruffian
voice which belonged to the bearer of the letter. In rapid terms he
assured Paulina that "the young general" had not found circumstances
favorable for venturing within the walls, but that he would meet her a
few miles beyond the city gates; and that at present they had no time
to lose. Saying this, he unshaded a dark lantern, which showed them a
ladder of ropes, attached to the summit of a wall, which at this point
was too low to occasion them much uneasiness or difficulty in
ascending. But Paulina insisted previously on hearing something more
circumstantial of the manner and style of their escape from the city
walls, and in what company their journey would be performed. The man
had already done something to conciliate Paulina's confidence by the
propriety of his address, which indicated a superior education, and
habits of intercourse with people of rank. He explained as much of the
plan as seemed necessary for the immediate occasion. A convoy of arms
and military stores was leaving the city for the post at Falkenstein.
Several carriages, containing privileged persons, to whom the Landgrave
or his minister had granted a license, were taking the benefit of an
escort over the forest; and a bribe in the proper quarter had easily
obtained permission, from the officer on duty at the gates, to suffer
an additional carriage to pass as one in a great lady's suite, on the
simple condition that it should contain none but females; as persons of
that sex were liable to no suspicion of being fugitives from the wrath
which was now supposed ready to descend upon the conspirators against
the Landgrave.

This explanation reconciled Paulina to the scheme. She felt cheered by
the prospect of having other ladies to countenance the mode of her
nocturnal journey; and at the worst, hearing this renewed mention of
conspirators and punishment, which easily connected itself with all
that had passed in her interview with the Landgrave, she felt assured,
at any rate, that the dangers she fled from transcended any which she
was likely to incur on her route. Her determination was immediately
taken. She passed over the wall with her attendant; and they found
themselves in a narrow lane, close to the city walls, with none but a
few ruinous outhouses on either side. A low whistle from the man was
soon answered by the rumbling of wheels; and from some distance, as it
seemed, a sort of caleche advanced, drawn by a pair of horses. Paulina
and her attendant stepped hastily in, for at the very moment when the
carriage drew up a signal-gun was heard; which, as their guide assured
them, proclaimed that the escort and the whole train of carriages were
at that moment defiling from the city gate. The driver, obeying the
directions of the other man, drove off as rapidly as the narrow road
and the darkness would allow. A few turns brought them into the great
square in front of the _schloss_; from which a few more open
streets, traversed at full gallop, soon brought them into the rear of
the convoy, which had been unexpectedly embarrassed in its progress to
the gate. From the rear, by dexterous management, they gradually
insinuated themselves into the centre; and, contrary to their
expectations, amongst the press of baggage-wagons, artillery, and
travelling equipages, all tumultuously clamoring to push on, as the
best chance of evading Holkerstein in the forest, their own
unpretending vehicle passed without other notice than a curse from the
officer on duty; which, however, they could not presume to appropriate,
as it might be supposed equitably distributed amongst all who stopped
the road at the moment.

Paulina shuddered as she looked out upon the line of fierce faces,
illuminated by the glare of torches, and mingling with horses' heads,
and the gleam of sabres; all around her, the roar of artillery wheels;
above her head the vast arch of the gates, its broad massy shadows
resting below; and in the vista beyond, which the archway defined, a
mass of blackness, in which she rather imagined than saw the
interminable solitudes of the forest. Soon the gate was closed; their
own carriage passed the tardier parts of the convoy; and, with a dozen
or two of others, surrounded by a squadron of dragoons, headed the
train. Happy beyond measure at the certainty that she had now cleared
the gates of Klosterheim, that she was in the wide, open forest, free
from a detested tyrant, and on the same side of the gates as her lover,
who was doubtless advancing to meet her, she threw herself back in her
carriage, and resigned herself to a slumber, which the anxieties and
watchings of the night had made more than usually welcome. The city
clocks were now heard in the forest, solemnly knelling out the hour of
four. Hardly, however, had Paulina slept an hour, when she was gently
awaked by her attendant, who had felt it to be her duty to apprise her
lady of the change which had occurred in their situation. They had
stopped, it seemed, to attach a pair of leaders to their wheel-horses,
and were now advancing at a thundering pace, separated from the rest of
the convoy, and surrounded by a small escort of cavalry. The darkness
was still intense; and the lights of Klosterheim, which the frequent
windings of the road brought often into view, were at this moment
conspicuously seen. The castle, from its commanding position, and the
Convent of St. Agnes, were both easily traced out by means of the
lights gleaming from their long ranges of upper windows. A particular
turret, which sprung to an almost aerial altitude above the rest of the
building, in which it was generally reported that the Landgrave slept,
was more distinguishable than any other part of Klosterheim, from one
brilliant lustre which shot its rays through a large oriel window.
There at this moment was sleeping that unhappy prince, tyrannical and
self-tormenting, whose unmanly fears had menaced her own innocence with
so much indefinite danger; whom, in escaping, she knew not if she
_had_ escaped; and whose snares, as a rueful misgiving began to
suggest, were perhaps gathering faster about her, with every echo which
the startled forest returned to the resounding tread of their flying
cavalcade. She leaned back again in the carriage; again she fell
asleep; again she dreamed. But her sleep was un-refreshing; her dreams
were agitated, confused, and haunted by terrific images. And she awoke
repeatedly with her cheerful anticipation continually decaying of
speedily (perhaps ever again) rejoining her gallant Maximilian. There
was indeed yet a possibility that she might be under the superintending
care of her lover. But she secretly felt that she was betrayed. And she
wept when she reflected that her own precipitance had facilitated the
accomplishment of the plot which had perhaps forever ruined her


Meantime, Paulina awoke from the troubled slumbers into which her
fatigues had thrown her, to find herself still flying along as rapidly
as four powerful horses could draw their light burden, and still
escorted by a considerable body of the Landgrave's dragoons. She was
undoubtedly separated from all the rest of the convoy with whom she had
left Klosterheim. It was now apparent, even to her humble attendant,
that they were betrayed; and Paulina reproached herself with having
voluntarily cooperated with her enemy's stratagems. Certainly the
dangers from which she fled were great and imminent; yet still, in
Klosterheim, she derived some protection from the favor of the lady
abbess. That lady had great powers of a legal nature throughout the
city, and still greater influence with a Roman Catholic populace at
this particular period, when their prince had laid himself open to
suspicions of favoring Protestant allies; and Paulina bitterly bewailed
the imprudence which, in removing her from the Convent of St. Agnes,
had removed her from her only friends.

It was about noon when the party halted at a solitary house for rest
and refreshments. Paulina had heard nothing of the route which they had
hitherto taken, nor did she find it easy to collect, from the short and
churlish responses of her escort to the few questions she had yet
ventured to propose, in what direction their future advance would
proceed. A hasty summons bade her alight; and a few steps, under the
guidance of a trooper, brought her into a little gloomy wainscoted
room, where some refreshments had been already spread upon a table.
Adjoining was a small bed-room. And she was desired, with something
more civility than she had yet experienced, to consider both as
allotted for the use of herself and servant during the time of their
stay, which was expected, however, not to exceed the two or three hours
requisite for resting the horses.

But that was an arrangement which depended as much upon others as
themselves. And, in fact, a small party, whom the main body of the
escort had sent on to patrol the roads in advance, soon returned with
the unwelcome news that a formidable corps of imperialists were out
reconnoitring in a direction which might probably lead them across
their own line of march, in the event of their proceeding instantly.
The orders already issued for advance were therefore countermanded; and
a resolution was at length adopted by the leader of the party for
taking up their abode during the night in their present very tolerable

Paulina, wearied and dejected, and recoiling naturally from the
indefinite prospects of danger before her, was not the least rejoiced
at this change in the original plan, by which she benefited at any rate
to the extent of a quiet shelter for one night more,--a blessing which
the next day's adventures might deny her,--and still more by that
postponement of impending evil which is so often welcome to the very
firmest minds, when exhausted by toil and affliction. Having this
certainty, however, of one night's continuance in her present abode,
she requested to have the room made a little more comfortable by the
exhilarating blaze of a fire. For this indulgence there were the
principal requisites in a hearth and spacious chimney. And an aged
crone, probably the sole female servant upon the premises, speedily
presented herself with a plentiful supply of wood, and the two
supporters, or _andirons_ (as they were formerly called), for
raising the billets so as to allow the air to circulate from below.
There was some difficulty at first in kindling the wood; and the old
servant resorted once or twice, after some little apologetic muttering
of doubts with herself, to a closet, containing, as Paulina could
observe, a considerable body of papers.

The fragments which she left remained strewed upon the ground; and
Paulina, taking them up with a careless air, was suddenly transfixed
with astonishment on observing that they were undoubtedly in a
handwriting familiar to her eye--the handwriting of the most
confidential amongst the imperial secretaries. Other recollections now
rapidly associated themselves together, which led her hastily to open
the closet door; and there, as she had already half expected, she saw
the travelling mail stolen from her own carriage, its lock forced, and
the remaining contents (for everything bearing a money value had
probably vanished on its first disappearance) lying in confusion.
Having made this discovery, she hastily closed the door of the closet,
resolved to prosecute her investigations in the night-time; but at
present, when she was liable to continual intrusions, to give no
occasion for those suspicions, which, once aroused, might end in
baffling her design.

Meantime, she occupied herself in conjectures upon the particular
course of accident which could have brought the trunk and papers into
the situation where she had been fortunate enough to find them. And,
with the clue already in her possession, she was not long in making
another discovery. She had previously felt some dim sense of
recognition, as her eyes wandered over the room, but had explained it
away into some resemblance to one or other of the many strange scenes
which she had passed through since leaving Vienna. But now, on
retracing the furniture and aspect of the two rooms, she was struck
with her own inattention, in not having sooner arrived at the discovery
that it was their old quarters of Waldenhausen, the very place in which
the robbery had been effected, where they had again the prospect of
spending the night, and of recovering in part the loss she had

Midnight came, and the Lady Paulina prepared to avail herself of her
opportunities. She drew out the parcel of papers, which was large and
miscellaneous in its contents. By far the greater part, as she was
happy to observe, were mere copies of originals in the chancery at
Vienna; those related to the civic affairs of Klosterheim, and were
probably of a nature not to have been acted upon during the
predominance of the Swedish interest in the counsels and administration
of that city. With the revival of the imperial cause, no doubt these
orders would be repeated, and with the modifications which new
circumstances and the progress of events would then have rendered
expedient. This portion of the papers, therefore, Paulina willingly
restored to their situation in the closet. No evil would arise to any
party from their present detention in a place where they were little
likely to attract notice from anybody but the old lady in her
ministries upon the fire. Suspicion would be also turned aside from
herself in appropriating the few papers which remained. These contained
too frequent mention of a name dear to herself, not to have a
considerable value in her eyes; she was resolved, if possible, to carry
them off by concealing them within her bosom; but, at all events, in
preparation for any misfortune that might ultimately compel her to
resign them, she determined, without loss of time, to make herself
mistress of their contents.

One, and the most important of these documents, was a long and
confidential letter from the emperor to the town council and the chief
heads of conventual houses in Klosterheim. It contained a rapid summary
of the principal events in her lover's life, from his infancy, when
some dreadful domestic tragedy had thrown him upon the emperor's
protection, to his present period of early manhood, when his own sword
and distinguished talents had raised him to a brilliant name and a high
military rank in the imperial service. What were the circumstances of
that tragedy, as a case sufficiently well known to those whom he
addressed, or to be collected from accompanying papers, the emperor did
not say. But he lavished every variety of praise upon Maximilian, with
a liberality that won tears of delight from the solitary young lady, as
she now sat at midnight looking over these gracious testimonies to her
lover's merit. A theme so delightful to Paulina could not be
unseasonable at any time; and never did her thoughts revert to him more
fondly than at this moment, when she so much needed his protecting arm.
Yet the emperor, she was aware, must have some more special motive for
enlarging upon this topic than his general favor to Maximilian. What
this could be, in a case so closely connecting the parties to the
correspondence on both sides with Klosterheim, a little interested her
curiosity. And, on looking more narrowly at the accompanying documents,
in one which had been most pointedly referred to by the emperor she
found some disclosures on the subject of her lover's early misfortunes,
which, whilst they filled her with horror and astonishment, elevated
the natural pretensions of Maximilian in point of birth and descent
more nearly to a level with the splendor of his self-created
distinctions; and thus crowned him, who already lived in her
apprehension as the very model of a hero, with the only advantages that
he had ever been supposed to want--the interest which attaches to
unmerited misfortunes, and the splendor of an illustrious descent.

As she thus sat, absorbed in the story of her lover's early
misfortunes, a murmuring sound of talking attracted her ear, apparently
issuing from the closet. Hastily throwing open the door, she found that
a thin wooden partition, veined with numerous chinks, was the sole
separation between the closet and an adjoining bed-room. The words were
startling, incoherent, and at times raving. Evidently they proceeded
from some patient stretched on a bed of sickness, and dealing with a
sort of horrors in his distempered fancy, worse, it was to be hoped,
than any which the records of his own remembrance could bring before
him. Sometimes he spoke in the character of one who chases a deer in a
forest; sometimes he was close upon the haunches of his game; sometimes
it seemed on the point of escaping him. Then the nature of the game
changed utterly, and became something human; and a companion was
suddenly at his side. With him he quarrelled fiercely about their share
in the pursuit and capture. "O, my lord, you must not deny it. Look,
look! your hands are bloodier than mine. Fie! fie! is there no running
water in the forest?--So young as he is, and so noble!--Stand off! he
will cover us all with his blood!--O, what a groan was that! It will
have broke somebody's heart-strings, I think! It would have broken mine
when I was younger. But these wars make us all cruel. Yet you are worse
than I am."

Then again, after a pause, the patient seemed to start up in bed, and
he cried out, convulsively, "Give me my share, I say. Wherefore must my
share be so small? There he comes past again. Now strike--now, now,
now! Get his head down, my lord.--He's off, by G--! Now, if he gets out
of the forest, two hours will take him to Vienna. And we must go to
Rome: where else could we get absolution? 0, Heavens! the forest is
full of blood; well may our hands be bloody. I see flowers all the way
to Vienna: but there is blood below: 0, what a depth! what a depth!--O!
heart, heart!--See how he starts up from his lair!--O! your highness
has deceived me! There are a thousand upon one man!"

In such terms he continued to rave, until Paulina's mind was so much
harassed with the constant succession of dreadful images and frenzied
ejaculations, all making report of a life passed in scenes of horror,
bloodshed, and violence, that at length, for her own relief, she was
obliged to close the door; through which, however, at intervals,
piercing shrieks or half-stifled curses still continued to find their
way. It struck her as a remarkable coincidence, that something like a
slender thread of connection might be found between the dreadful story
narrated in the imperial document, and the delirious ravings of this
poor, wretched creature, to whom accident had made her a neighbor for a
single night.

Early the next morning Paulina and her servant were summoned to resume
their journey; and three hours more of rapid travelling brought them to
the frowning fortress of Lovenstein. Their escort, with any one of whom
they had found but few opportunities of communicating, had shown
themselves throughout gloomy and obstinately silent. They knew not,
therefore, to what distance their journey extended. But, from the
elaborate ceremonies with which they were here received, and the formal
receipt for their persons, which was drawn up and delivered by the
governor to the officer commanding their escort, Paulina judged that
the castle of Lovenstein would prove to be their final destination.


Two days elapsed without any change in Paulina's situation, as she
found it arranged upon her first arrival at Lovenstein. Her rooms were
not incommodious; but the massy barricades at the doors, the grated
windows, and the sentinels who mounted guard upon all the avenues which
led to her apartments, satisfied her sufficiently that she was a

The third morning after her arrival brought her a still more unwelcome
proof of this melancholy truth, in the summons which she received to
attend a court of criminal justice on the succeeding day, connected
with the tenor of its language. Her heart died within her as she found
herself called upon to answer as a delinquent on a charge of
treasonable conspiracy with various members of the university of
Klosterheim, against the sovereign prince, the Landgrave of X----.
Witnesses in exculpation, whom could she produce? Or how defend herself
before a tribunal where all alike--judge, evidence, accuser---were in
effect one and the same malignant enemy? In what way she could have
come to be connected in the Landgrave's mind with a charge of treason
against his princely rights, she found it difficult to explain, unless
the mere fact of having carried the imperial despatches in the trunks
about her carriages were sufficient to implicate her as a secret
emissary or agent concerned in the imperial diplomacy. But she strongly
suspected that some deep misapprehension existed in the Landgrave's
mind; and its origin, she fancied, might be found in the refined
knavery of their ruffian host at Waldenhausen, in making his market of
the papers which he had purloined. Bringing them forward separately and
by piecemeal, he had probably hoped to receive so many separate
rewards. But, as it would often happen that one paper was necessary in
the way of explanation to another, and the whole, perhaps, were almost
essential to the proper understanding of any one, the result would
inevitably be grievously to mislead the Landgrave. Further
communications, indeed, would have tended to disabuse the prince of any
delusions raised in this way. But it was probable, as Paulina had
recently learned in passing through Waldenhausen, that the ruffian's
illness and delirium had put a stop to any further communication of
papers; and thus the misconceptions which he had caused were
perpetuated in the Landgrave's mind.

It was on the third day after Paulina's arrival that she was first
placed before the court. The presiding officer in this tribunal was the
governor of the fortress, a tried soldier, but a ruffian of low habits
and cruel nature. He had risen under the Landgrave's patronage, as an
adventurer of desperate courage, ready for any service, however
disreputable, careless alike of peril or of infamy. In common with many
partisan officers, who had sprung from the ranks in this adventurous
war, seeing on every side and in the highest quarters, princes as well
as supreme commanders, the uttermost contempt of justice and moral
principle, he had fought his way to distinction and fortune, through
every species of ignoble cruelty. He had passed from service to
service, as he saw an opening for his own peculiar interest or merit,
everywhere valued as a soldier of desperate enterprise, everywhere
abhorred as a man.

By birth a Croatian, he had exhibited himself as one of the most savage
leaders of that order of barbarians in the sack of Magdeburgh, where he
served under Tilly; but, latterly, he had taken service again under his
original patron, the Landgrave, who had lured him back to his interest
by the rank of general and the governorship of Lovenstein.

This brutal officer, who had latterly lived in a state of continual
intoxication, was the judge before whom the lovely and innocent Paulina
was now arraigned on a charge affecting her life. In fact, it became
obvious that the process was not designed for any other purpose than to
save appearances, and, if that should seem possible, to extract further
discoveries from the prisoner. The general acted as supreme arbiter in
every question of rights and power that arose to the court in the
administration of their almost unlimited functions. Doubts he allowed
of none; and cut every knot of jurisprudence, whether form or
substance, by his Croatian sabre. Two assessors, however, he willingly
received upon his bench of justice, to relieve him from the fatigue and
difficulty of conducting a perplexed examination.

These assessors were lawyers of a low class, who tempered the exercise
of their official duties with as few scruples of justice, and as little
regard to the restraints of courtesy, as their military principal. The
three judges were almost equally ferocious, and tools equally abject of
the unprincipled sovereign whom they served.

A sovereign, however, he was; and Paulina was well aware that in his
own states he had the power of life and death. She had good reason to
see that her own death was resolved on; still she neglected no means of
honorable self-defence. In a tone of mingled sweetness and dignity she
maintained her innocence of all that was alleged against her; protested
that she was unacquainted with the tenor of any papers which might have
been found in her trunks; and claimed her privilege, as a subject of
the emperor, in bar of all right on the Landgrave's part to call her to
account. These pleas were overruled, and when she further acquainted
the court that she was a near relative of the emperor's, and ventured
to hint at the vengeance with which his imperial majesty would not fail
to visit so bloody a contempt of justice, she was surprised to find
this menace treated with mockery and laughter. In reality, the long
habit of fighting for and against all the princes of Germany had given
to the Croatian general a disregard for any of them, except on the
single consideration of receiving his pay at the moment; and a single
circumstance, unknown to Paulina, in the final determination of the
Landgrave, to earn a merit with his Swedish allies by breaking off all
terms of reserve and compromise with the imperial court, impressed a
savage desperation on the tone of that prince's policy at this
particular time. The Landgrave had resolved to stake his all upon a
single throw. A battle was now expected, which, if favorable to the
Swedes, would lay open the road to Vienna. The Landgrave was prepared
to abide the issue; not, perhaps, wholly uninfluenced to so extreme a
course by the very paper which had been robbed from Paulina. His policy
was known to his agents, and conspicuously influenced their manner of
receiving her menace.

Menaces, they informed her, came with better grace from those who had
the power to enforce them; and, with a brutal scoff, the Croatian bade
her merit their indulgence by frank discoveries and voluntary
confessions. He insisted on knowing the nature of the connection which
the imperial colonel of horse, Maximilian, had maintained with the
students of Klosterheim; and upon other discoveries, with respect to
most of which Paulina was too imperfectly informed herself to be
capable of giving any light. Her earnest declarations to this effect
were treated with disregard. She was dismissed for the present, but
with an intimation that on the morrow she must prepare herself with a
more complying temper, or with a sort of firmness in maintaining her
resolution, which would not, perhaps, long resist those means which the
law had placed at their disposal for dealing with the refractory and


Paulina meditated earnestly upon the import of this parting threat. The
more she considered it, the less could she doubt that these fierce
inquisitors had meant to threaten her with torture. She felt the whole
indignity of such a threat, though she could hardly bring herself to
believe them in earnest.

On the following morning she was summoned early before her judges. They
had not yet assembled; but some of the lower officials were pacing up
and down, exchanging unintelligible jokes, looking sometimes at
herself, sometimes at an iron machine, with a complex arrangement of
wheels and screws. Dark were the suspicions which assaulted Paulina as
this framework or couch of iron first met her eyes; and perhaps some of
the jests circulating amongst the brutal ministers of her brutal judges
would have been intelligible enough, had she condescended to turn her
attention in that direction. Meantime her doubts were otherwise
dispersed. The Croatian officer now entered the room alone, his
assessors having probably declined participation in that part of the
horrid functions which remained under the Landgrave's commission.

This man, presenting a paper with a long list of interrogatories to
Paulina, bade her now rehearse verbally the sum of the answers which
she designed to give. Running rapidly through them, Paulina replied,
with dignity, yet trembling and agitated, that these were questions
which in any sense she could not answer; many of them referring to
points on which she had no knowledge, and none of them being consistent
with the gratitude and friendship so largely due on her side to the
persons implicated in the bearing of these questions.

"Then you refuse?"

"Certainly; there are three questions only which it is in my power to
answer at all--even these imperfectly. Answers such as you expect would
load me with dishonor."

"Then you refuse?"

"For the reasons I have stated, undoubtedly I do."

"Once more--you refuse?"

"I refuse, certainly; but do me the justice to record my reasons."

"Reasons!--ha! ha! they had need to be strong ones if they will hold
out against the arguments of this pretty plaything," laying his hand
upon the machine. "However, the choice is yours, not mine."

So saying, he made a sign to the attendants. One began to move the
machine, and work the screws, or raise the clanking grates and
framework, with a savage din; two others bared their arms. Paulina
looked on motionless with sudden horror, and palpitating with fear.

The Croatian nodded to the men; and then, in a loud, commanding voice,
exclaimed: "The question in the first degree!"

At this moment Paulina recovered her strength, which the first panic
had dispelled. She saw a man approach her with a ferocious grin of
exultation. Another, with the same horrid expression of countenance,
carried a large vase of water.

The whole indignity of the scene flashed full upon her mind. She, a
lady of the imperial house, threatened with torture by the base agent
of a titled ruffian! She, who owed him no duty,--had violated no claim
of hospitality, though in her own person all had been atrociously

Thoughts like these flew rapidly through her brain, when suddenly a
door opened behind her. It was an attendant with some implements for
tightening or relaxing bolts. The bare-armed ruffian at this moment
raised his arm to seize hers. Shrinking from the pollution of his
accursed touch, Paulina turned hastily round, darted through the open
door, and fled, like a dove pursued by vultures, along the passages
which stretched before her. Already she felt their hot breathing upon
her neck, already the foremost had raised his hand to arrest her, when
a sudden turn brought her full upon a band of young women, tending upon
one of superior rank, manifestly their mistress.

"0, madam!" exclaimed Paulina, "save me! save me!" and with these words
fell exhausted at the lady's feet.

This female--young, beautiful, and with a touching pensiveness of
manners--raised her tenderly in her arms, and with a sisterly tone of
affection bade her fear nothing; and the respectful manner in which the
officials retired at her command satisfied Paulina that she stood in
some very near relation to the Landgrave,--in reality, she soon spoke
of him as her father. "Is it possible," thought Paulina to herself,
"that this innocent and lovely child (for she was not more than
seventeen, though with a prematurity of womanly person that raised her
to a level with Paulina's height) should owe the affection of a
daughter to a tyrant so savage as the Landgrave?"

She found, however, that the gentle Princess Adeline owed to her own
childlike simplicity the best gift that one so situated could have
received from the bounty of Heaven. The barbarities exercised by the
Croatian governor she charged entirely upon his own brutal nature; and
so confirmed was she in this view by Paulina's own case, that she now
resolved upon executing a resolution she had long projected. Her
father's confidence was basely abused; this she said, and devoutly
believed. "No part of the truth ever reached him; her own letters
remained disregarded in a way which was irreconcilable with the
testimonies of profound affection to herself, daily showered upon her
by his highness."

In reality, this sole child of the Landgrave was also the one sole
jewel that gave a value in his eyes to his else desolate life.
Everything in and about the castle of Lovenstein was placed under her
absolute control; even the brutal Croatian governor knew that no plea
or extremity of circumstances would atone for one act of disobedience
to her orders; and hence it was that the ministers of this tyrant
retired with so much prompt obedience to her commands.

Experience, however, had taught the princess that, not unfrequently,
orders apparently obeyed were afterwards secretly evaded; and the
disregard paid of late to her letters of complaint satisfied her that
they were stifled and suppressed by the governor. Paulina, therefore,
whom a few hours of unrestrained intercourse had made interesting to
her heart, she would not suffer even to sleep apart from herself. Her
own agitation on the poor prisoner's behalf became greater even than
that of Paulina; and as fresh circumstances of suspicion daily arose in
the savage governor's deportment, she now took in good earnest those
measures for escape to Klosterheim which she had long arranged. In this
purpose she was greatly assisted by the absolute authority which her
father had conceded to her over everything but the mere military
arrangements in the fortress. Under the color of an excursion, such as
she had been daily accustomed to take, she found no difficulty in
placing Paulina, sufficiently disguised, amongst her own servants. At a
proper point of the road, Paulina and a few attendants, with the
princess herself, issued from their coaches, and, bidding them await
their return in half an hour's interval, by that time were far advanced
upon their road to the military post of Falkenberg.


In twenty days the mysterious Masque had summoned the Landgrave "to
answer for crimes unatoned, before a tribunal where no power but that
of innocence could avail him." These days were nearly expired. The
morning of the twentieth had arrived.

There were two interpretations of this summons. By many it was believed
that the tribunal contemplated was that of the emperor; and that, by
some mysterious plot, which could not be more difficult of execution
than others which had actually been accomplished by The Masque, on this
day the Landgrave would be carried off to Vienna. Others, again,
understanding by the tribunal, in the same sense, the imperial chamber
of criminal justice, believed it possible to fulfil the summons in some
way less liable to delay or uncertainty than by a long journey to
Vienna, through a country beset with enemies. But a third party,
differing from both the others, understood by the tribunal where
innocence was the only shield the judgment-seat of heaven; and believed
that on this day justice would be executed on the Landgrave, for crimes
known and unknown, by a public and memorable death. Under any
interpretation, however, nobody amongst the citizens could venture
peremptorily to deny, after the issue of the masqued ball, and of so
many other public denunciations, that The Masque would keep his word to
the letter.

It followed, of necessity, that everybody was on the tiptoe of
suspense, and that the interest hanging upon the issue of this night's
events swallowed up all other anxieties, of whatsoever nature. Even the
battle which was now daily expected between the imperial and Swedish
armies ceased to occupy the hearts and conversation of the citizens.
Domestic and public concerns alike gave way to the coming catastrophe
so solemnly denounced by The Masque.

The Landgrave alone maintained a gloomy reserve, and the expression of
a haughty disdain. He had resolved to meet the summons with the
liveliest expression of defiance, by fixing this evening for a second
masqued ball, upon a greater scale than the first. In doing this he
acted advisedly, and with the counsel of his Swedish allies. They
represented to him that the issue of the approaching battle might be
relied upon as pretty nearly certain; all the indications were indeed
generally thought to promise a decisive turn in their favor; but, in
the worst case, no defeat of the Swedish army in this war had ever been
complete; that the bulk of the retreating army, if the Swedes should be
obliged to retreat, would take the road to Klosterheim, and would
furnish to himself a garrison capable of holding the city for many
months to come (and _that_ would not fail to bring many fresh
chances to all of them), whilst to his new and cordial allies this
course would offer a secure retreat from pursuing enemies, and a
satisfactory proof of his own fidelity. This even in the worst case;
whereas in the better and more probable one, of a victory to the
Swedes, to maintain the city but for a day or two longer against
internal conspirators, and the secret cooperators outside, would be in
effect to ratify any victory which the Swedes might gain by putting
into their hands at a critical moment one of its most splendid trophies
and guarantees.

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