Part 8 out of 9
In Spain, on the contrary, the condemned remains exposed during three days
in a "_chapelle ardente_;" his coffin is continually before his eyes;
the priests say the prayers for the dying; the bells of the church night
and day ring a funeral knell.
It will be conceived that this kind of initiation to death may alarm the
most hardened criminals, and inspire with salutary terror the crowd which
surrounds the "_chapelle mortuaire_."
Then the day of the execution is a day of public mourning; the bells of all
the churches toll; the condemned is slowly conducted to the scaffold, with
mournful and imposing pomp; his coffin is carried before him; the priests,
walking at his side, chant the prayers for the dead; then comes the
religious brotherhood; and, finally, the mendicant friars, asking from the
crowd money for prayers for the repose of the culprit's soul. The crowd
never remains deaf to this appeal. Without doubt, all this is frightful,
but it is logical and imposing. It shows that they do not cut off from this
world a creature of God, full of life and strength, as they would slaughter
an ox. It causes the multitude to reflect (who always judge of the crime by
the magnitude of the punishment) that homicide is a fearful offense, since
its punishment disturbs, afflicts, and sets in commotion a whole city.
Again, this dreadful spectacle may cause serious reflections, inspire
salutary alarms; and that which is barbarous in this human sacrifice, is at
least hidden by the awful majesty of its execution. But, we ask, the events
taking place exactly as we have described them (and sometimes even _less
seriously_), what kind of an example can it afford? Early in the
morning, the condemned is bound and thrown into a closed carriage; the
postilion whips up his horses, reaches the scaffold; the ax descends, and a
head falls into a basket, in the midst of the most atrocious jeerings of
the vilest of a vile populace! Finally, in a hasty and secret execution,
where is the example? where is the terror? And then, as the execution takes
place, as we may say, privately, in a byplace, with great precipitation,
the whole town is ignorant of this bloody and solemn act; nothing announces
that, on this day, they are _killing a man_; they laugh and sing at
the theaters; the multitudes pass on, careless and indifferent. As it
regards society, religion, and humanity, this judicial homicide, committed
in the name of the _interests of all_, is, however, something which
ought to be of importance to _all_. In fine, let us say it again, say
it always, here is the sword, but where is the crown? Beside the punishment
show the recompense; then only will the lesson be complete and fruitful.
If, on the day following this morn of sorrow and of death, the people, who
have seen the blood of a great criminal redden the scaffold, should see the
truly virtuous man honored and rewarded, they would dread as much the
punishment of the first, as they would ambitiously covet the triumphs of
the last; terror hardly prevents crime, never does it inspire virtue. Does
any one consider the effect of capital punishment on the criminals
themselves? Either they brave it with reckless impudence; or, inanimate,
they suffer it, half dead with terror; or they offer their heads with
profound and sincere repentance.
Now the punishment is insufficient for those who defy it; useless for those
who are already morally dead; excessive for those who repent with
sincerity. Let us repeat it: society does not kill the murderer to cause
him suffering, or to inflict the _lex talionis_; it kills him to prevent
him from doing harm; it kills him that the example of his punishment may
serve as a warning to murderers _to come._ We think that the punishment is
barbarous, and that it does not sufficiently terrify. If this assertion is
doubted, we will recall many proved facts of the deep horror expressed by
hardened criminals for solitary confinement. Is it not known that some have
committed murders in order to be condemned to death, preferring this
punishment to a cell? What, then, would be their horror, when _blindness_,
joined to solitary confinement, would deprive them of the hope of escape--a
hope which he preserves, and which he sometimes realizes, even in a dungeon
and loaded with irons. And touching this matter, we also think that the
abolishment of capital punishment will be one of the forced consequences of
solitary confinement; the alarm which this punishment inspires the
generation who at this moment people the prisons and the galleys, being
such, that many among these incorrigibles prefer to incur the highest
penalty known to the law, than imprisonment in a cell; then, doubtless, the
punishment of death ought to be suppressed, in order to sweep away this
last and frightful alternative.
MARTIAL AND THE SLASHER.
Before we pursue our narrative, let us say a few words touching the
recently established connection between the Slasher and Martial. As soon as
Germain had left the prison, the Slasher, who easily proved that he had
robbed himself, confessed to the judge the reason of this singular deceit,
and was set at liberty after receiving a severe and just reproof from the
magistrate. Not having then recovered Fleur-de-Marie, and wishing to
recompense the Slasher (to whom he had already owed his life) for this new
act of devotion, Rudolph, to crown the happiness of his rude _protégée_,
had lodged him in the mansion of the Rue Plumet, promising him to take
him in his train when he returned to Germany. We have already said that
the Slasher felt for Rudolph the instinctive, faithful attachment of a
dog for his master. To live under the same roof with the prince; to see
him sometimes; to await with impatience a new opportunity of sacrificing
himself for his interests, were the limits of the ambition and happiness
of the Slasher, who preferred a thousand times this situation, to money
and the possession of the farm at Algiers which Rudolph had placed at
his disposal. But when the prince had discovered his daughter, all was
changed: notwithstanding his lively gratitude toward the man to whom he
owed his life, he could not resolve to take with him to Germany this
witness of Fleur-de-Marie's first shame. Determined in any other manner
to satisfy the wishes of the Slasher, he sent for him for the last time,
and told him that he expected a new service from his attachment. At
these words, the Slasher's face brightened, but it soon became clouded
when he learned that not; only must he not follow the prince to Germany,
but that it was necessary for him to leave the hotel that very day. It
is useless to speak of the brilliant compensations that Rudolph offered
to the Slasher: the money that was designed for him--the deed for the
farm in Algiers--anything more that he wished; all was at his disposal.
The Slasher, cut to the heart, refused all; and, for the first time in
his life, perhaps, this man shed tears. It had needed all the persuasion
of Rudolph to induce him to accept his previous gifts. The next day the
prince sent for La Louve and Martial; and, without informing them that
Fleur-de-Marie was his daughter, he asked them what he could do for
them; all their wishes should be accomplished. Perceiving their
hesitation, and remembering what Fleur-de-Marie had told him about the
slightly uncivilized tastes of La Louve and her husband, he offered them
either a considerable amount of money, or the half of this amount, and
lands in the vicinity of the farm which he had bought for the Slasher.
Both of them rugged, energetic, both endowed with good natural impulses,
sympathized the better with each other, since they each had reasons to
seek solitude--the one for her past life, the other for the crimes of
his family. He was not deceived; Martial and La Louve accepted his offer
with transport; then, having, through the intervention of Murphy, made
the acquaintance of the Slasher, they mutually congratulated each other
on the agreeable prospects before them in Algiers. Notwithstanding the
deep sadness into which he was plunged; or, rather, in consequence of
this sadness the Slasher, affected by the cordial advances of Martial
and his wife, responded to them with warmth. In a short time a sincere
friendship united the future colonists; persons of their temperament
form very sudden attachments. La Louve and Martial, being unable, in
spite of their kind attentions, to divert the melancholy of their new
friend discontinued their efforts, trusting that the voyage, and the
active employment of their future life, would change his thoughts; for,
once in Algiers they would be obliged to turn their attention to the
cultivation of the lands which had been bestowed upon them. These facts
established, it will be understood that, informed of the painful
interview that Martial was obliged to undergo in obedience to the last
wishes of his mother, the Slasher had wished to accompany his new friend
to the gate of Bicetre, where he awaited him in the coach which had
brought them, and which took them back to Paris, after Martial, deeply
agitated, had left the dungeon, where the terrible preparations for the
execution of mother and sister were being made. The physiognomy of the
Slasher was completely altered; the expression of boldness and of
happiness which ordinarily characterized his manly face was replaced
with sorrowful dejection: his voice, also had lost somewhat of its
roughness. Grief, until now a stranger to him, had broken, prostrated
his energetic nature. He looked at Martial with compassion.
"Cheer up," said the Slasher to him "you have done all that a brave fellow
could do--it is all over, think of your wife, of those children whom you
have prevented from following the bad example of their parents; and then,
besides, this evening we shall have quitted Paris, never to return; and you
will never again hear of that which afflicts you."
"It is a11 the same, do you see, Slasher. After all, it is my mother and my
"But what would you--this has happened; and it's no use crying over spilled
milk," said the Slasher, suppressing a sigh.
After a moment's silence, Martial said to him, cordially, "I, also, ought
to console you, my poor fellow--always this melancholy."
"Well, my wife and I confidently hope that, once away from Paris, it will
"Yes," said the Slasher, at the expiration of a few seconds, and hardly
restraining a shudder, "if I leave Paris--"
"But we set out this evening."
"That is to say, _you_--you go this evening."
"And you, then, have you changed your intention recently?"
"Well, what then?"
The Slasher again remained silent; then he replied, struggling to preserve
his calmness, "Hold, Martial; I know that you will laugh at me; but I wish
to tell you all, so that, if anything should happen to me, this at least
will prove that I was not deceived."
"What is it, then?"
"When M. Rudolph asked if it should be agreeable for us to go together to
Algiers, and to be neighbors there, I did not wish to deceive either you or
your wife. I told you what I had been."
"Let us speak no more about that. You have undergone your punishment--you
are as good as the best of us. But I can conceive that, like me, you would
prefer to live abroad, thanks to our generous protector, than to remain
here, where, no matter how honest, and how easy in our circumstances we may
be, we shall always be reproached, you for the crime which you have
expiated, and which you still regret, and I for the crimes of my parents,
for which I am not responsible. But, between us, the past is gone, and gone
forever. Be tranquilized; we rely upon you, as you may rely upon us."
"Between us, perhaps, the past will be forgotten; but, as I said to M.
Rudolph, Martial, there is a Providence above, and I have killed a man."
"It is a great misfortune; but at the time you did not know what you were
doing--you were not yourself; and, besides, you have saved the lives of
others, and that ought to count in your favor."
"Listen, Martial, I have now spoken to you of my unhappiness, because,
formerly, I often had a dream, in which I saw the sergeant, whom I killed;
for a long time I have not had this dream, and last night I dreamed it"
"It was chance."
"No, this forebodes that some misfortune will happen to me this day."
"You are unreasonable, my good comrade."
"I have a presentiment that I shall never quit Paris."
"Once more, you have not common sense. Your sorrow at the thought of
quitting our benefactor, the knowledge that you were to accompany me to
Bicetre, where so painful an interview awaited me; all this agitated you
last night; hence naturally, your dream returned to you."
The Slasher sadly shook his head.
"It has returned to me on the night before the departure of M. Rudolph, for
it is today that he goes."
"Yes; yesterday I sent a messenger to his hotel, not daring to go there
myself; he has forbidden it. They told him that the prince would set out
this morning, at eleven o'clock, by the Barrière Charenton. Thus, when we
shall have arrived in Paris, I will post myself there, to endeavor to see
him for this last time! the last!"
"He appears so good that I comprehend how well you must love him."
"Love him!" said the Slasher, with deep and passionate emotion; oh, yes! Do
you understand, Martial! to sleep on the ground--to eat black bread--to be
his dog; but to be where he is, I ask nothing more--that was too much--he
did not wish it."
"He has been so generous to you!"
"It is not that which makes me love him so much--it is because he said to
me that I had a heart and honor! yes, and at a time when I was as ferocious
as a wild beast, when I despised myself as the vilest of the vile, he made
me comprehend that there was still some good in me, since, my punishment
inflicted, I had repented, and after having suffered the utmost extremity
of want without being guilty of theft, I had industriously labored to gain
an honest livelihood: wishing to injure no one, although every one looked
upon me as a finished scoundrel, which was not very encouraging. It is
true, in most instances, all that is necessary to keep one in the right
path are words of encouragement and kindness. Is it not so, Martial? So
when M. Rudolph said these words to me, my heart beat high and proudly.
Since then I would go through fire to do a good action. Oh! that the
opportunity might offer! you would see--and to whom the thanks? the thanks
to M. Rudolph."
"Truly, since you are a thousand times better than you used to be, you
should not have such evil presentiments. Your dream signifies nothing."
"Well, we shall see. I do not purposely search for a misfortune; there can
be for me no greater one than that which has already happened; never to see
him more. M. Rudolph! I who thought never more to quit him. In my sphere, I
would have been at his service, body and soul, always ready. Well, perhaps
he is wrong. You know, Martial, that I am but an earth-worm in comparison
with him; well, sometimes it happens that the most insignificant can be
useful to the most powerful. If that should be the case, I would never
pardon him for depriving himself of my services."
"Who knows? one day, perhaps, he will recall you."
"Oh, no! he said to me, 'My good fellow, you must promise me that you will
never endeavor to see me again; by so doing, you will render me a service.'
You understand, Martial, I have promised; on the honor of a man, I will
keep my word; but it is hard."
"Once at our destination, you will forget, by degrees, your sorrow. We will
work, we will live retired and tranquil, like good farmers, except
occasionally trying our skill, as marksmen, on the Arabs. Ah! there La
Louve will help us."
"If it should come to blows, I am at home there, Martial," said the
Slasher, slightly animated. I am unmarried, and I have been a trooper."
"And I a poacher!"
"But you--you have a wife, and these two children whom you have adopted. As
for me, I have nothing but my hide, and since it can no longer serve as a
screen for M. Rudolph, I have no regard for it. So, if we should be obliged
to give them their change, it's my affair."
"Ah! we'll both have something to do with it."
"No; I alone--thunder! leave the Bedouins to me."
"Good; I would rather hear you speak thus than you did a short time since.
Come, Slasher, we will be true brothers, and you can converse with me of
your sorrow, if it endures, for I have my own. The recollection of this day
will last all my life. One cannot see his mother, his sister, as I have
seen mine, without forever bearing it in remembrance. Our situations are so
similar that it is good for us to be together. We will not fear to look
danger in the face; well, we will be half farmers, half soldiers. If we can
start any game, we will hunt. If you wish to live alone, you can do so, and
we will be near neighbors: if otherwise, we will all live together. We will
bring up the children like honest people, and you shall be, almost, their
uncle, while we will be brothers. How does it suit you?" said Martial,
offering his hand to the Slasher.
"It suits me well, my good Martial; and then, sorrow shall kill me or I
will kill it, as the saying is."
"It will not kill you--we shall grow old in our wilderness, and every night
we will say, brother, _thanks_ to M. Rudolph--that shall be our prayer
"Martial, you put balsam on my wound."
"Good; this foolish dream, you will think no more of it, I hope?"
"I will endeavor."
"Ah! well, you will call for us at four o'clock? the diligence starts at
"It is agreed upon. But here we are in Paris; I will stop the coach, and go
on foot to the Barrière Charenton; I will await M. Rudolph, to see him
The carriage stopped, and the Slasher got out.
"Don't forget, at four o'clock, my good comrade," said Martial: "at four
The Slasher had forgotten that it was the morning after Mid-Lent. So he was
much surprised at the spectacle, at the same time fantastic and hideous,
which was presented to his view when he walked through a part of the
exterior boulevard which he crossed on his way to the Barridre Charenton.
THE HAND OF HEAVEN.
The Slasher in a few moments was carried along, in spite of himself, by a
dense crowd, a popular torrent, which, descending from the taverns of the
Faubourg de la Glacière, collected around the approaches to the Barrière,
to pour out afterward on the Boulevard Saint Jacques, where the execution
was to take place. Although it was broad daylight, yet still could be heard
at a distance the resounding music of the orchestras of the drinking dens,
where, above all, could be distinguished the sonorous vibrations of the
It needs the pencil of Callot, or Rembrandt, or of Goya to portray the
bizarre, hideous, almost fantastical appearance of this multitude. Almost
all, men, women, children, were dressed in old masquerading costumes; those
who had not been able to obtain this luxury had fastened on their clothes
old rags, of flaunting colors; some young men were attired in women's
apparel, torn and soiled with mud; all these faces, haggard from debauch
and vice, bloated by intoxication, sparkled with savage joy, in thinking
that, after a night of drunken orgies, they were going to see the two women
put to death, for whom the scaffold was raised. The scum of the population
of Paris, an immense mob, was composed of bandits and abandoned women, who
demand each day from crime their daily bread, and who each night return
well filled to their dens. The exterior boulevard being very contracted at
this place, the closely-packed crowd entirely blocked up the passageway. In
spite of his athletic strength, the Slasher was obliged to remain almost
immovable in the midst of this compact mass; he submitted. The prince,
leaving the Rue Plumet at ten o'clock, as they had told him, would not
leave the Barrière Charenton until about eleven, and it was not yet seven.
Although formerly he had associated with the degraded classes to which this
mob belonged, the Slasher, on again finding himself among them, felt
invincible disgust. Crowded, by the reflux of the mob, against the wall of
one of the wine shops, which swarm on these boulevards, through the open
window from whence escaped the deafening sound of a brass band, the Slasher
saw, against his will, a strange spectacle. In a long low room (one end of
which was occupied by the musicians), surrounded by benches and tables
covered with the remains of a repast, broken plates, and overturned
bottles, a dozen men and women disguised, half drunk, were dancing _La
Chahut_ a dance which was never performed except at the end of the _ball_,
when the municipal guards had retired. Among the depraved couples who
figured in the revel, the Slasher remarked two who won applause above all
by the disgusting immodesty of their postures, gestures, and words. The
first couple were composed of a man nearly disguised as a bear, by means of
a waistcoat and trousers of black sheepskin. The head of the animal,
doubtless too heavy to carry, had been replaced by a kind of hood of long
hair, which entirely covered the face; two holes near the eyes, and a large
slit over the mouth, allowed him to see, speak, and breathe. This masked
man, one of the prisoners who had escaped from La Force (among whom were
also Barbillon and the two murderers arrested at the _tapisfranc_ at the
comencement of this story), was Nicholas Martial, the son and brother of
the women for whom the scaffold was erected close at hand. Dragged into
this act of inhuman insensibility by one of his companions, a formidable
ruffian, this wretch dared, with the aid of his disguise, to yield himself
to the last joys of the carnival. The woman with whom he danced was dressed
as a sutler, with a leathern cap rather the worse for wear, the ribbons
torn, a kind of jacket of faded red cloth, ornamented with three rows of
brass buttons, hussar-fashion; a green petticoat and pantaloons of white
calico; her black hair fell in disorder on her face; her ghastly and livid
features expressed impudence and effrontery. The _vis-à-vis_ of these
dancers were not less vile. The man of very tall stature, disguised as
Robert Macaire, had daubed his bony face with soot in such a manner that he
was not recognizable; besides a large band covered his left eye, and the
dead white of the right one, standing out in relief with the black face,
made it still more hideous. The lower part of the visage of Skeleton
(doubtless he has been recognized) disappeared entirely in a high cravat
made of an old red shawl. He wore, according to the tradition, a gray hat,
rasped, flattened, dirty, and without a crown; a green coat in tatters;
madder-colored pantaloons, patched in a thousand places, and tied around
the ankles with twine; this assassin, overdoing the most grotesque and most
impudent positions of the _Chahut_, now to the right, now to the left,
backward and forward, with his long limbs hard as iron, folded and unfolded
them with so much vigor and elasticity, that one would have said they were
hung on springs. Worthy corypheus of this Saturnalian, his partner, a tall,
brazen creature dressed as a _débardeur_ wearing a cap stuck on a powdered
wig with a long tail, had on a vest and trousers of green velvet, fastened
around her waist by an orange scarf, whose long ends floated behind. A fat,
masculine-looking woman, the Ogress of the _tapis-franc_, seated on one of
the benches, held on her lap the plaid cloaks of this creature and the
sutler, while they danced with their worthy companions. Among the other
dancers was remarked a little cripple dressed as a devil with the aid of a
black knit guernsey, much too large for him, red drawers, and a horrible
grinning green mask. Notwithstanding his infirmity, this little monster was
of surprising agility; his precocious depravity reached, if it did not
surpass, that of his frightful companions, and he gamboled away with equal
effrontery opposite his partner, a fat woman disguised as a shepherdess,
who excited still more the impudence of her partner by her shouts of
No charge being brought against Tortillard, and Bras-Rouge having been
provisionally left in prison, the child, on the demand of his father, had
been reclaimed by Micou the receiver.
As secondary figures of the picture which we have endeavored to paint, let
the reader imagine all that is lowest, most shameless, and most monstrous
in this idle, reckless, rapacious, sanguinary debauch, which shows itself
more hostile to social order, and to which we have wished to call the
attention of reflecting persons on terminating this recital. May this last
horrible scene symbolize the imminent peril which continually menaces
society! Yes, let one reflect that the cohesion, the dreaded increase of
this race of robbers and murderers is a kind of living protest against the
defects of restraining laws, and, above all, against the absence of
preventive measures, of provident legislation, of preservative
institutions, destined to overlook and guard from infancy this crowd of
unfortunates, abandoned or perverted by frightful examples. Once more,
these disinherited beings, made neither better nor worse than other
creatures, do not become thus incurably corrupted but in the filth of
misery, ignorance, and brutality, where they crawl into existence. Still
more excited by the laughter, by the bravos of the crowd collected at the
windows, the actors of the abominable orgies which we now relate shouted to
the orchestra to play a last _galop_. The musicians, delighted at the
prospect of a termination to their labors, yielded to the general wish, and
played with energy a lively tune. At the vibrating sounds of the brazen
instruments, the excitement increased, the dancers appeared to be seized
with a sort of frenzy, and, following Skeleton, and his partner, commenced
a _ronde infernale_, uttering savage shouts. A thick dust, raised by
these furious shufflings, arose from the floor, and cast a kind of red
cloud around this whirlwind of men and women, who turned with giddy
rapidity. Soon--for these heads excited by wine, by the rapid motion, by
their own cries, it was no longer inebriety--it was delirium, it was
frenzy; room was wanting.
Skeleton cried with a breathless voice, "Clear the door! We are going
out--up on the boulevard."
"Yes, yes!" cried the dense crowd at the windows, "a _galop_ to the
Barrière Saint Jacques!"
"It will soon be time for them to shorten the two motts!"
"The executioner throws a double ace; it is _low!_"
"Accompanied by the French horn!"
"We will dance the cotillon by the guillotine!"
"Go ahead of the women without any head!" cried Tortillard.
"It will enliven the condemned."
"I invite the widow."
"I invite the daughter."
"That will make Jack Ketch gay."
"He will dance La Chahut in his shop with customers."
"Death to the nobs. Long live the leary coves and nailers!" cried Skeleton,
in a roar.
These jests, and cannibal threats, accompanied by vulgar songs, cries,
whistlings, shouts, were augmented still more when the band had made, by
its impetuous violence, a large opening through the middle of this compact
crowd. Then it was a frightful pell-mell; then were heard howlings,
imprecations, and bursts of mad laughter, which no longer appeared human.
The tumult was suddenly carried to its height by two new incidents.
The vehicle containing the condemned, accompanied by its escort of cavalry,
appeared in the distance at the corner of the boulevard; then all the mob
rushed in this direction, uttering a howl of ferocious satisfaction.
At this moment, also, the crowd was met by a courier coming from the
Boulevard des Invalides, and galloping toward the Barrière de Charenton. He
was dressed in a light blue jacket, with a yellow collar, laced with silver
on all the seams; but as a sign of deep mourning, he wore black breeches,
with heavy boots; his cap, also, bordered with silver was surrounded with a
crape. In fine, on the horses blinkers were, in relief, the sovereign arms
The courier walked his horse; but, his progress becoming more and more
embarrassed, was almost obliged to stop when he found himself in the midst
of the crowd of which we have spoken. Although he cried "Take care!" and
guided his horse with the greatest precaution, cries, threats, abuses, soon
arose against him.
"Does he want to get on our backs with his camel, this fellow?"
"A silver door-plate on his body!" cried Tortillard, under his green mask
with its red tongue.
"If he gives us any cheek, we'll put him on his feet."
"And we'll cut off the jingles of his jacket to melt them," said Nicholas.
"And we'll rip you open if you are not satisfied, dirty footman," added
Skeleton, addressing the courier, and seizing the bridle of his horse, for
the crowd had become so dense that the bandit had relinquished his project
of dancing to the barrier.
The courier, a vigorous and resolute man, said to Skeleton, raising the
handle of his whip, "If you do not let go the bridle of my horse, I will
cut you across the face."
"You, you pitiful scoundrel?"
"Yes; I am walking my horse; I cry 'Take care!' you have no right to stop
me. The carriage of my lord follows me. I already hear the cracking of the
whips. Let me pass."
"Your lord?" said Skeleton. "What is your lord to me? I will knock him down
if it pleases me. I never have stabbed a lord: this gives me a desire to do
"There are no more lords--Hooraw for the Revolution!" cried Tortillard, and
humming the lines of the _Parisienne_:
"Onward! on! upon their cannon!"
he caught hold of one of the courier's boots, and bearing with all his
weight, made him shake in his seat. A blow with the butt of his whip on the
head of Tortillard paid him for his audacity. But immediately the enraged
mob threw themselves upon the courier; he dashed the spurs into the sides
of his horse, and endeavored to disengage himself, but could not succeed;
neither was he able to draw his hunting-knife. Dismounted, thrown backward,
amid their cries and enraged shouts, he would have been killed, had it not
been for the arrival of Rudolph's carriage, which diverted the attention of
For some time the prince's coupé, drawn by four post-horses, went only at a
walk, and one of the two footmen, in mourning (on account of the Countess
M'Gregor's death) seated behind, had prudently descended, and stood near
one of the doors, the carriage being a very low one. The postilions cried,
"Look out!" and advanced with caution. Rudolph, as well as his daughter,
was dressed in deep mourning; holding one of her hands, he looked at her
with unspeakable happiness; the sweet, charming face of Fleur-de-Marie
appeared to advantage in her little black crape bonnet, which set off her
fair complexion and the brilliant tints of her beautiful flaxen hair; one
would have said that the azure of this fine day was reflected in her large
eyes, which never had been of a softer and more transparent blue. Although
her sweet smiling face expressed calmness and happiness, yet, when she
looked at her father, a shade of melancholy, sometimes even of indefinable
sadness, cast this shadow on the features of Fleur-de-Marie, when the eyes
of her father were turned away.
"You are displeased at my calling you so early this morning, and for having
advanced the moment of departure?" said Rudolph, smiling.
"Oh, no! father dear--the morning is so beautiful!"
"That was my thought; and our day's journey will be better divided by
leaving early, and you will be less fatigued. Murphy, my aids-de-camp, and
the carriage with your women, will join us at our first stopping-place,
where you will repose."
"Dear father, it is I only of whom you are always thinking."
"Yes, darling, it is impossible for me to have any other thought," said the
prince, smiling; then he added, with a burst of tenderness, "Oh! I love you
so much--I love you so much--your forehead--quick."
Fleur-de-Marie leaned toward her father, and Rudolph kissed her beautiful
It was at this moment that the carriage, approaching the crowd, had
lessened its speed. Rudolph, much astonished let down the window, and said
in German to the foot-man who stood near the door, "Well, Franz, what is
the matter? what is this tumult?"
"There is such a crowd that the horses cannot your highness."
"And what is the reason of the crowd?"
"I have just heard that there is an execution about to take place, your
"Oh! this is frightful!" cried Rudolph, throwing himself back in the
"What is the matter, father?" said Fleur-de-Marie, with anxiety.
"Nothing--nothing, my child."
"But these threatening cries--do you hear? they approach. What is that?"
"Franz, order the postilions to turn and go to Charenton by another road,
whatever it may be," said Rudolph.
"It is too late, your highness! we are in the crowd. They have stopped the
horses. Some ill-looking people--" The footman could not say another word.
The crowd, exasperated by the sanguinary shouts of Skeleton and Nicholas,
suddenly surrounded the carriage. In spite of the efforts and threats of
the postilions, the horses were stopped, and Rudolph saw himself surrounded
on all sides by horrible, threatening, and furious faces: pre-eminent among
all, from his great height, was Skeleton, who advanced to the carriage
"Father, take care!" cried Fleur-de-Marie, throwing her arms around
"Is it you, then, who are the lord?" said the Skeleton, thrusting his
hideous head into the carriage.
At this insolence, Rudolph would have given way to the natural violence of
his charcter, had it not been for the presence of his daughter; but he
restrained himself, and answered cooly, "What do you want? Why do you stop
"Because it pleases us," said Skeleton, placing his bony hands on the door.
"Every one in his turn; yesterday you trampled on the poor man; today the
poor man will trample on you, if you stir."
"Father, we are lost!" murmured Fleur-de-Marie in a low voice.
"Compose yourself--I comprehend," said the prince; "it is the last day of
the carnival. These people are drunk. I will soon get rid of them."
"We must make him get out, and his mott also," cried Nicholas. "Why should
they trample on poor folks?"
"You appear to be drunk, and doubtless have a desire to drink more," said
Rudolph, taking a purse from his pocket. "Here, this is for you; do not
detain my carriage any longer." And he threw out his purse. Tortillard
"Exactly; you are going a journey; your pockets must be well lined, so hand
out some more money or I will kill you. I have nothing to risk. I ask you
for your money or your life in broad daylight. It is a rare old game!" said
Skeleton, completely intoxicated with wine and rage; and he roughly opened
the door. The patience of Rudolph was exhausted; uneasy for Fleur-de-Marie,
whose alarm increased at each moment, and thinking that a decided stand
would overawe this wretch, whom he thought intoxicated, he sprung from his
carriage to seize Skeleton by the throat. At first the latter drew back
quickly, taking from his pocket a long knife; then he threw himself upon
Rudolph. Fleur-de-Marie, seeing the poniard of the villain raised against
her father, uttered a piercing scream, sprung out of the carriage, and
clasped her arms around him. Without the aid of the Slasher, they would
have perished. He, at the commencement of the affray, having recognized the
livery of the prince, had succeeded, after superhuman efforts, in
approaching the Skeleton. At the moment that he threatened the prince with
his knife, the Slasher with one hand grasped the arm of the villain, and
with the other seized him by the throat, and gave him the trip backward.
Although taken by surprise, Skeleton turned, recognized the Slasher, and
cried, "Blue Cap of La Force! this time I kill you;" and throwing himself
furiously on the Slasher, he plunged the knife into his breast.
The Slasher staggered, but did not fall; the crowd supported him.
"The guard! here is the guard!" cried several voices.
At these words, at sight of the assassination of the Slasher, the dense
crowd, fearing to be compromised in the murder, dispersed as by
enchantment, and fled in all directions. When the guard arrived, guided by
the courier, who had succeeded in making his escape when the mob had
abandoned him to surround the carriage, there only remained on the mournful
scene Rudolph, his daughter, and the Slasher covered with blood. The two
footmen had seated him on the ground, with his back against a tree. All
this had passed a thousand times more rapidly than it is possible to write
it, at some steps from the wine shop whence had issued Skeleton and his
band. The prince, pale and agitated, supported the fainting Fleur-de-Marie
in his arms, while the postilions readjusted the traces, which had been
"Quick!" said the prince to his people, who were occupied in assisting the
Slasher. "Carry this unfortunate man into this tavern. And you," added he,
addressing his courier, "get on the box, and drive with all speed to the
hotel for Dr. David. He was not to leave before eleven o'clock: you will
find him there."
Some minutes afterward, the carriage was rapidly driven off, and the two
domestics carried the Slasher into the saloon where the orgies had taken
place, and where still remained some of the women who had figured in it.
"My poor child," said Rudolph to his daughter, "I will lead you to a
chamber in this house, and you will await me there; for I cannot abandon
solely to the care of my people this courageous man, who has once more
saved my life."
"Oh! father, I entreat you, do not leave me!" cried Fleur-de-Marie with
alarm, clinging to the arm of Rudolph. "Do not leave me alone. I would die
with fear. I will go where you go--"
"But this is a frightful sight!"
"But, thanks to this man, you live for me, father; at least, permit me to
unite with you in thanking and consoling him."
The perplexity of the prince was great; his daughter seemed so much alarmed
at remaining alone, that he was obliged to allow her to accompany him to
the room where the Slasher had been carried. The master of the tavern,
assisted by several of the women who had remained (among whom was the
Ogress of the White Rabbit), had in haste laid the wounded man upon a
mattress, and then stanched his wound with napkins. The Slasher had just
opened his eyes, when Rudolph entered. At the sight of the prince, his
countenance of deathlike paleness, brightened up a little; he smiled
painfully, and said to him, in a feeble voice:
"Ah! M. Rudolph! how fortunate it was that I was at hand."
"Brave and devoted--as always," said the prince to him in a mournful voice;
"you save me again!"
"I was going to the Barrière de Charenton--to see you depart--happily--I
was stopped here by the crowd--besides, this was to happen to me--I said so
to Martial--I had a presentiment."
"Yes, M. Rudolph--the dream of the sergeant--last night I had it---"
"Forget these ideas. Hope; your wound will not be mortal."
"Oh! yes--Bones has struck home. Never mind, I was right--to say to
Martial--that an earthworm like me could sometimes be--useful--to a great
lord like you---"
"But it is life--life!--that I owe you again."
"We are quits, M. Rudolph. You told me that I had a heart and honor. These
words--Oh! I suffocate, without you--command--do me the honor--of--your
hand!--I feel that I am going---"
"No, it is impossible!" cried the prince, bending over the Slasher, and
pressing in his hands the icy fingers of the dying man. "No; you will
live--you will live!"
"M. Rudolph--do you see that there is something-up there!--I killed--with a
_slash_ myself!" said the Slasher, in a voice more and more feeble and
At this moment his eyes were fixed on Fleur-de-Marie, whom he had not yet
perceived. Astonishment was painted on his dying face, he started, and
said, "Oh! La Goualeuse."
"Yes, she is my daughter. She blesses you for having preserved her father."
"She--your daughter! here--that reminds me of our acquaintance--M.
Rudolph--and the--blows with the fists--at the end--but--this--blow with
the knife--will be also--the blow--of the end. I have _slashed_--I am
_slashed_--it is fair play!"
Then he uttered a deep sigh, his head falling backward--he was dead!
The noise of horses resounded without; the carriage of Rudolph had met that
of Murphy and David, who, in their eagerness to rejoin the prince, had
hastened their departure. David and the squire entered.
"David," said Rudolph, wiping away his tears, and pointing to the Slasher,
"is there no hope?"
"None, your highness," said the doctor, after a minute's examination.
During this minute, a mute but frightful scene passed between
Fleur-de-Marie and the Ogress, which Rudolph had not noticed. When the
Slasher pronounced in a low tone the name of La Goualeuse, the Ogress
raising her head, had quickly seen Fleur-de-Marie. Already the horrible
woman had recognized Rudolph in the person whom they called his highness.
He called La Goualeuse his daughter. Such a transformation stupefied the
Ogress, who kept her staring eyes obstinately fixed on her former victim.
Fleur-de-Marie, pale and alarmed, seemed fascinated by this look. The death
of the Slasher, the unexpected appearance of the Ogress, who had just
awakened more grievously than ever the remembrance of her former
degradation, seemed to her of mournful presage. From this moment,
Fleur-de-Marie was struck with one of those presentiments which often have,
on characters like hers, an irresistible influence.
* * * * *
A short time after these sad events, Rudolph and his daughter had left
PRINCE HENRY D'HERKAUSEN-OLDENZAAL TO COUNT MAXIMILIAN KAMINETN.
"OLDENZAAL, August 23d, 1841.
I have just returned from Gerolstein, where I passed three months with the
grand duke and his family. I expected to have found a letter announcing
your arrival at Oldenzaal, my dear Maximilian. Imagine my grief and
surprise, when I understood that you would be detained in Hungary several
weeks longer. I have not been able to write to you for four months, not
knowing how to direct my letters to you, thanks to your original and
adventurous manner of traveling; and yet you had, nevertheless, seriously
promised me at Vienna, at the moment of our separation, that you would be
at Oldenzaal the first of August. I must, then, renounce the pleasure of
seeing you; and never had I more desire to pour out my heart into yours, my
good Maximilian, my oldest friend; for though we are both still young, our
friendship is old--it dates from our infancy. What shall I say to you?
Within three months a great revolution has taken place in me. I have
reached one of those moments which decide a man's fate. Judge if I do not
want your presence, your advice. But you will not fail me much longer;
whatever concerns detain you in Hungary, you will come, Maximilian; you
must come, I conjure, for I shall, indeed, need the most earnest
consolation, and I cannot go to you. My father, whose health becomes more
and more feeble, has recalled me from Gerolstein. He grows weaker every
day. It is impossible for me to leave him. I have so much to tell you, that
I shall be prolix, for I have to recount to you the most painful, the most
romantic incident of my life. Strange and sad chance! during this period we
are fatally distant from each other; we inseparables, we brothers, both of
us the most fervent apostles of thrice holy friendship, we, who were so
proud of proving that the Cazlas and Posa of our Schiller are not
idealities, and that, like those divine creations of the great poet, we
know how to taste the sweet delights of a tender and mutual attachment! Oh,
my friend, why were you not there, why were you not there! For three months
my heart has been overflowing with emotions at the same time inexpressibly
sweet and sad. And I was alone; I am alone now. Pity me; you, who know my
sensibility, at times so fancifully expansive; you, who have often seen my
eyes moistened with tears at the simple recital of a generous action, at
the simple view of a beautiful sunset, or in a quiet and starry summer
night. You remember the past year, during our excursion to the Ruins of
Oppenfeld--the borders of the great lake--our silent reveries during that
magnificent evening, so calm, so poetical, so serene. Strange contrast! it
was three days before that bloody duel, in which I would not take you for
my second, for I should have suffered too much for you if I had been
wounded under your eyes--that duel, for a quarrel at play, in which my
second unfortunately killed that young Frenchman, the Viscount St. Rémy.
Apropos, do you know what has become of that dangerous siren St. Rémy
brought to Oppenfeld, and whose name was, I think, Cecily David? You will
smile with pity, my friend, to see me wander thus among these vague
remembrances of the past, instead of proceeding to the grave confessions
which I have announced to you; it is because, in spite of myself, I recoil
from these confessions. I know your severity; I am afraid of being scolded,
yes, scolded, because, instead of having acted with reflection, with wisdom
(alas for the wisdom of one-and-twenty!), I have acted foolishly, or,
rather, I have not acted at all; I have suffered myself to be borne along
blindly on the current which carried me forward. It is only since my return
from Gerolstein that I have, so to speak, awakened from the enchanting
vision in which I have been cradled for the last three months, and this
waking is sad. Come then, my friend, good Maximilian, I assume my best
courage. Hear me with indulgence. I begin by casting down my eyes; I dare
not look at you, for as you read these lines your features will become so
grave, so severe. Stoical man! Having obtained leave of absence for six
months, I left Vienna, and remained here some time with my father; his
health was then good, and he advised me to go and visit my excellent aunt,
Princess Juliana, the superior of the Abbey of Gerolstein. I have told you,
I believe, my friend, that my grandmother was cousin-german of the
grandfather of the present grand duke; and that the latter, Gustavus
Rudolph, on account of this relationship, has always treated my father and
myself very kindly, very affectionately, as cousins. You know also, I
believe, that during a very long journey which the prince recently made
into France he gave to my father the charge of the government of the grand
You will believe that it is not from any pride, my friend, that I mention
these circumstances to you; it is only by way of explanation of the causes
of the extreme intimacy in which I live with the grand duke and his family
during my stay at Gerolstein. You recollect that last year, during our
journey on the banks of the Rhine, we were informed that the prince had
found in France, and had married _in extremis_, the Countess M'Gregor,
in order to legitimatize the birth of a daughter, whom he had by her in
consequence of an early secret marriage, which was afterward broken, from
some illegality in the ceremony, and because it had been contracted against
the will of the reigning grand duke. This young daughter, so solemnly
acknowledged, is that charming Princess Amelia, [Footnote: As the name of
Marie recalled to Rudolph and his daughter such sad recollections, he had
given her the name of Amelia, after his mother.] of whom Lord Dudley, who
saw her at Gerolstein about a year since, spoke to us so often at Vienna
last winter. You recollect we accused him of exaggeration. Strange chance!
If any one had then told me--But though you have undoubtedly now almost
divined my secret, let me follow the march of events without interruption.
The Convent of Saint Hermangilda, of which my aunt is the abbess, is hardly
a quarter of a league distant from Gerolstein, for the abbey gardens border
on the suburbs of the city. A charming house, completely isolated from the
cloister, had been placed at my disposition by my aunt, who loves me, as
you know, with a maternal tenderness. The day of my arrival she informed me
that there was the next day to be a solemn reception and court ceremony;
the grand duke on that day was to make the official announcement of his
approaching marriage with the Marchioness d'Harville, who had recently
arrived at Gerolstein, accompanied by her father, Count Orbigny. [Footnote:
The reader is reminded, in order to maintain the probability of this
narrative, that the last Princess of Courtland, a lady as remarkable for
the singular superiority of her mind as for the charm of her character, and
the admirable goodness of her heart, was Mademoiselle de Medeur.] Some
blame the prince for not having sought a sovereign alliance in his marriage
(the grand duchess, the former wife of the prince, belonged to the house of
Bavaria): others, on the contrary, and my aunt is of the number of these,
congratulate him for having preferred an amiable young lady, whom he
adores, and who belongs to the highest nobility of France, to
considerations of ambition. You know, moreover, my friend, that my aunt
having always entertained for the Grand Duke Rudolph the most profound
attachment, she can appreciate, better than any one else, the eminent
qualities of the prince.
"My dear child," said she to me, on occasion of this solemn reception,
which I was to attend the day after my arrival, "my dear child, the most
remarkable part of this _fête_ the _Pearl of Gerolstein_."
"What do you mean, my dear aunt?"
"The Princess Amelia."
"The daughter of the grand-duke? Lord Dudley told us about her at Vienna.
He spoke of her with an enthusiasm which we called poetical exaggeration."
"At my age, with my character, and in my position," replied my aunt, "one
is not easily excited; and you will believe my judgment to be impartial, my
dear child. Indeed, I assure you, that in my whole life I never knew
anything so enchanting as the Princess Amelia. I might speak to you of her
angelic beauty, if she were not endowed with an inexpressible charm which
is superior even to her beauty. Figure to yourself candor with dignity, and
grace in modesty. From the first day in which the grand-duke presented me
to her, I felt for this young princess an involuntary sympathy. Nor am I
alone in this opinion. The Archduchess Sophia has been at Gerolstein some
days; she is the proudest and most haughty princess whom I know."
"Very true, my aunt, her irony is terrible; few persons escape her biting
pleasantries. At Vienna she was dreaded like the fire. Can the Princess
Amelia have found favor with her?"
"The other day she came here, after having visited the House of Refuge,
which is placed under the superintendence of the young princess. 'Do you
know one thing,' said this dreaded archduchess to me, with her abrupt
frankness, 'I have a mind singularly disposed to satire, have I not? Well,
if I were to live long with the daughter of the grand duke, I should
become, I am sure, inoffensive; her goodness is so penetrating, so
"But is my cousin, then, an enchantress?" said I to my aunt, smiling.
"Her most powerful attraction, in my eyes at least," replied my aunt, "is
that mingling of gentleness, modesty, and dignity, of which I have spoken
to you, and which gives the most touching expression to her angelic face."
"Modesty is certainly a rare quality in a princess so young, so beautiful,
"Remember, too, my dear child, how much better it is for the Princess
Amelia to enjoy without vain ostentation the high position which is
incontestably acquired for her; her elevation is recent." [ Footnote: On
arriving in Germany, Rudolph had given out that Fleur-de-Marie, whom he had
long supposed dead, had never quitted her mother, the Countess M'Gregor.]
"In her conversations with you, dear aunt, has the princess ever made any
allusions to her past fortunes?"
"No; but when, notwithstanding my advanced age, I have spoken to her with
the respect which is due to her, since her royal highness is the daughter
of our sovereign, her ingenuous distress, mingled with gratitude and
veneration for me, have deeply moved me; for her reserve, at the same time
noble and affable, proved to me that the present did not intoxicate her so
much as to make her forget the past, and that she rendered to my age what I
granted to her rank."
"You must have an exquisite tact, my dear aunt, to observe such delicate
[Illustration: A PAGE OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY]
"Thus, my dear child, the more I have seen of the Princess Amelia, the more
I have felt my first impression confirmed. Since she has been here, the
good works she has accomplished are incredible, and she has done it all
with a reflection, a maturity of judgment, which amazes me in a person of
her age. Judge of them: at her request, the grand duke has founded at
Gerolstein an establishment for little orphan girls of five or six years
old, and for young girls, also orphans or abandoned by their parents, who
have reached the age of sixteen, an age so fatal for the unfortunate who
have no one to defend them from the seductions of vice or the pressure of
want. The noble nuns of my abbey teach and direct the daughters of this
house. In going to visit it, I have often occasion to observe the adoration
which these poor disinherited creatures entertain toward the Princess
Amelia. Every day she goes to pass several hours in this establishment,
which is placed under her especial protection; and I repeat to you, my
child, it is not only respect, gratitude, that these poor girls and the
nuns feel for her highness, it is almost fanaticism."
"The Princess Amelia must be an angel," replied I to my aunt.
"An angel--yes, an angel," replied she, "for you cannot imagine with what
melting goodness she treats her favorites, and with what pious solicitude
she watches over them--I have never seen the susceptibility of misfortune
more delicately treated; it seems as if an irresistible sympathy especially
attracts the princess toward this class of the abandoned poor. Finally,
would you believe it, she, the daughter of a sovereign, never calls these
young girls anything but _sisters_."
At these last words of my aunt, I confess to you, Maximilian, the tears
came into my eyes. Do you not find something beautiful and holy in this
conduct of the princess? You know my sincerity, I protest to you that I
report to you, as I will always report to you, the conversation of my aunt,
almost word for word.
"Since the princess," said I to her, "is so marvelously endowed, I shall
feel great embarrassment when I am presented to her to-morrow; you know my
insurmountable timidity, you know that elevation of character overpowers me
more even than that of rank, I am sure I shall appear to the princess as
stupid as embarrassed; I know this well enough beforehand."
"Come, come," said my aunt, smiling, "she will take pity on you, my dear
child, and the more so as you will not be a new acquaintance to her."
"You recollect that when at the age of sixteen years, you quitted Oldenzaal
to make a journey to Russia and England with your father, I had your
portrait painted in the costume which you wore at the first fancy ball
given by the late grand duchess?"
"Yes, the costume of a German page of the sixteenth century."
"Our excellent painter, Fritz Mokker, while he faithfully reproduced your
features, not only retraced a personage of the sixteenth century, but with
the caprice of an artist, he amused himself with imitating even the manner
and the appearance of age of pictures painted soon after that period. A few
days after her arrival in Germany, the Princess Amelia having come to visit
me with her father, remarked your portrait, and asked me with great
simplicity what this charming picture of the olden time was? Her father
smiled, and making a signal to me, answered her, 'This portrait is that of
one of our cousins, you see by his costume, my dear Amelia, of some three
hundred years date. When he was very young he exhibited a rare courage and
an excellent heart. Does he not, in fact, display bravery in his bearing,
and goodness in his smile?'
(I beg you, Maximilian, do not shrug your shoulders with impatient disdain,
at my writing such things about myself. It is hard for me to do it, you may
suppose, but the sequel of this narrative will prove to you that these
puerile details, of which I feel the bitter ridicule, are unfortunately
indispensable. I close the parenthesis, and go on:)
"The Princess Amelia," continued my aunt, "the dupe of this innocent
pleasantry, agreed in opinion with her father, respecting the gentle and
proud expression of your physiognomy, after having attentively examined the
portrait. Afterward, when I went to see her at Gerolstein, she smilingly
asked me the news of her cousin of the olden time. I then owned to her our
deception, telling her that the fair page of the sixteenth century was
simply my nephew, Prince Henry d'Herkausen Oldenzaal, now twenty-one years
of age, captain of his Majesty the Emperor of Austria's Guards, and in
everything, excepting, the costume, very like his portrait. At these words,
the Princess Amelia," added my aunt, "blushed and became again serious, as
she almost always is. Since then, she has not spoken to me again about the
picture. Nevertheless, you see, my dear child, that you will not be
entirely a stranger and a new face to _your cousin_, as the grand duke
calls you. So take courage and sustain the honor of your portrait," added
my aunt, smiling.
This conversation took place, as I have told you, my dear Maximilian, on
the eve of the day when I was to be presented to the princess, my cousin. I
then left my aunt, and returned to my apartment. I have never hidden from
you my most secret thoughts, good or evil; I am therefore about to confess
to you what absurd and foolish imaginations I allowed myself to indulge in
after the conversation which I have just reported to you.
PRINCE HENRY D'HERKAUSEN-OLDENZAAL TO COUNT MAXIMILIAN KAMINETZ.
You have often told me, my dear Maximilian, that I have no vanity; I
believe that is true, and must believe so, to be able to continue this
account without exposing myself to the charge of presumptuousness in your
eyes. When I was alone at home, in recalling my aunt's conversation, I
could not help dreaming over with a secret satisfaction the fact that the
Princess Amelia having observed the portrait of me, made six or seven years
ago, had asked a few days after, in jest, for news of her cousin of the
olden time. I acknowledge that nothing was more foolish than to found the
least hope upon such an insignificant circumstance; but, as I told you, I
shall always use the most entire frankness with you; this insignificant
circumstance ravished me. Undoubtedly the praises which I had heard
lavished upon the Princess Amelia by a woman as grave and austere as my
aunt, while they raised the princess still higher in my eyes, rendered me
yet more sensible to the distinction which she had deigned to bestow upon
me, or, rather, had granted to my portrait. However, as I tell you, this
distinction awakened in me such foolish hopes, that, now, in throwing back
a calmer glance upon the past, I ask how I could have allowed myself to be
drawn on to those thoughts, which inevitably bordered upon a precipice.
Although a relation of the grand duke, and always kindly welcomed by him,
it was impossible for me to conceive of the least hope of marriage with the
princess, even if she had accepted my love, which was still more
improbable. Our family holds an honorable rank, but it is poor, if we
compare our fortune with the immense domains of the grand duke, the richest
prince of the Germanic Confederation; and then, I was hardly twenty-one
years old; I was a mere captain in the Guards, without renown, without
personal reputation; never, in short, would the grand duke dream of me for
his daughter. All these reflections should have preserved me from a passion
which as yet I did not feel, but of which I had, so to speak, a singular
presentiment. Alas! I gave myself up, on the contrary to new childishness.
I was wearing on my finger a ring which was formerly given me by Theckla
(the good countess, whom you know); although this token of careless and
frivolous love could not trouble me much, I heroically made of it a
sacrifice to ray new-born love, and the poor ring disappeared in the water
which flows rapidly under my window. It is useless to tell you what a night
I passed; you can imagine it I knew that the Princess Amelia was fair, and
of angelic beauty; I endeavored to imagine her features, her stature, her
demeanor, the sound of her voice, the expression of her countenance; then,
remembering my portrait which she had remarked upon, I recollected with
regret that the cursed artist had flattered me; besides, in despair, I
compared the picturesque costume of a page of the fifteenth century with
the severe uniform of His Imperial Majesty's captain of the Guards. Then to
these foolish ideas succeeded now and then, I assure you, my friend, some
generous thoughts, some noble impulses of the soul; I felt myself
moved--yes! deeply moved at the remembrances, of what my aunt had told me
of that adorable goodness of the Princess Amelia who called the poor
abandoned ones whom she protected--_her sisters._ In fine--odd and
inexplicable contrast--I have, you know, the most humble opinion of
myself--and I was, nevertheless, proud enough to suppose that the sight of
my portrait had struck the princess; I had good sense enough to understand
that an impassable distance separated me from her forever, and yet I asked
myself, with real anxiety, whether she would not find me unworthy of my
portrait. In short, I had never seen her; I was convinced beforehand that
she would hardly look upon me; and, nevertheless, I thought myself right in
sacrificing to her the pledge of my former love. I passed in real suffering
the night of which I speak, and a part of the next day. The hour of
reception arrived. I tried on two or three uniforms, finding each worse
than the other, and set out for the palace of the grand duke, much
displeased with myself.
Although Gerolstein is hardly a quarter of a league from St. Hermangilda's
Abbey, during the short drive a thousand thoughts assailed me: all the
nonsense with which I had busied myself disappeared before a grave, sad,
almost threatening idea; an invincible presentiment forwarned me of one of
those crises which govern the whole life; a sort of revelation told me that
I was about to love, to love passionately, to love as one loves but once;
and, to heighten the fatality, this love, so highly and worthily placed,
was always to be unfortunate to me. These ideas alarmed me so much, that I
suddenly took the wise resolution of stopping my carriage, returning to the
abbey, and going to rejoin my father, leaving to my aunt the duty of
excusing me to the grand duke for my abrupt departure. Unfortunately, one
of those vulgar causes, of which the effects are sometimes so immense,
prevented me from executing this. My carriage having stopped at the
entrance of the avenue leading to the palace, I leaned out at the window to
give orders to my people to return, when the Baron and Baroness Roller,
who, like me, were on their way to court, perceived me, and ordered their
carriage also to stop. The baron, seeing me in uniform, said, "Can I assist
you in anything, my dear prince? what has happened to you? Since you are on
your way to the palace, will you not join us, if anything has happened to
Nothing could have been more easy you may say, my friend, than for me to
have made some excuse for leaving the baron, and to have regained the
abbey. I suppose it would have been; whether it was weakness, or a secret
desire to escape from the salutary resolution I had just formed, I replied
with an embarrassed air, that I was giving orders to my coachman to inquire
at the gate of the palace whether we entered by the new pavilion, or
through the marble court. "The entrance is through the marble court, my
dear prince," replied the baron; "it is a grand gala reception. Tell your
coachman to follow mine; I will show you the way."
You know, Maximilian, how much of a fatalist I am; I would have returned to
the abbey, to spare myself the vexations which I foresaw; fate opposed it;
I abandoned myself to my star. You do not know the grand ducal palace of
Gerolstein, my friend. According to all those who have visited the capitals
of Europe, there is not, with the exception of Versailles, a royal
residence, of which the whole pile of building, and the avenues to it, have
a more majestic aspect. If I enter into some details on this subject, it is
that, in recalling at this hour these imposing splendors, I ask myself why
they did not all at first call up my nothingness; for the Princess Amelia
was the daughter of the sovereign of this palace, of these guards, of this
great wealth. The court of marble, a vast hemicycle, is so called because,
with the exception of a broad path around it, in which the carriages pass,
it is paved with marble of every color, having magnificent mosaics. In the
center of it is placed an immense basin of antique marble, fed by abundant
springs of water, which fall continually into a large porphyry vase. This
court of honor is surrounded by a row of white marble statues, of the
finest execution, bearing torches of gilded bronze, from whence floods of
dazzling gas are poured out. Alternating with these statues, Medicean
vases, raised on their richly-sculptured pedestals, contain enormous
rose-laurels, real flourishing shrubs, whose lustrous foliage, seen in the
resplendent light, shines with a metallic verdure.
The carriages stopped at the foot of a double row of balustrades, which led
to the peristyle of the palace; at the foot of this staircase, two
cavaliers of the guard of the grand duke, mounted on black horses, stood as
sentries. The soldiers of the guard were chosen from among the
largest-sized non-commissioned officers of the army. You, my friend, who
are so fond of military men, would have been struck with the severe and
martial air of these two colossal figures, whose cuirasses and brazen
casques of an antique form, without ornament or crest, shone in the light.
These cavaliers wore blue coats with yellow collar, pantaloons of white
buckskin, and stout boots, reaching above the knee. Finally, for you, my
friend, who are fond of military details, I will add, that at the top of
the steps, on each side of the door, two grenadiers of the regiment of
infantry of the grand ducal guard were on duty. They resembled, I was told,
in appearance, with the single exception of the color of the dress and its
facings, Napoleon's old guard. After having crossed the vestibule, where,
with their halberts in their hands, stood the Swiss liveried servants of
the prince, I ascended an imposing staircase of white marble, which led to
a portico, ornamented with columns of jasper, surmounted by a cupola,
painted and gilded. There were ranged two long files of foot servants. I
afterward entered into the guard-room, at the door of which were standing a
chamberlain and an aid-de-camp on service, whose duty it was to lead up to
his royal highness such persons as were entitled to be presented to him. My
relationship, though distant, gave me a right to this honor. An aid-de-camp
preceded me into a long gallery filled with men in court-dresses or
uniforms, and ladies in full costume. While I was slowly passing through
this brilliant crowd, I heard words which heightened still more my emotion.
On all sides people were admiring the angelic beauty of the Princess
Amelia, the charming face of the Marchioness d'Harville, and the truly
imperial air of the Archduchess Sophia, who had recently arrived from
Munich, with the Archduke Stanislaus, and was soon to go to Warsaw. But
while all rendered homage to the lofty dignity of the archduchess and to
the distinguished grace of the Marchioness d'Harville, it was acknowledged
that nothing was more ideal than the enchanting form of the Princess
Amelia. As I approached the spot where the grand duke and his daughter were
standing, I felt my heart beating violently. At the moment when I reached
the door of this saloon (I forgot to tell you that there was a ball and
court concert), the illustrious Liszt had just seated himself at the piano,
and the deepest silence succeeded to the slight murmur of conversation.
While awaiting the end of the piece, which the artist played with his
accustomed superiority, I remained standing at the door. Then, my dear
Maximilian, for the first time I saw the Princess Amelia. Allow me to paint
to you the scene, for I feel an inexpressive pleasure in gathering up all
these recollections. Imagine, my friend, a vast saloon, furnished with
royal splendor, dazzling with light, and hung with crimson draperies, about
which ran a border of foliage embroidered in gold. In the first row, in
large gilded chairs, were seated the Archduchess Sophia (to whom the prince
was doing the honors of the palace), on her left the Marchioness
d'Harville, and on her right the Princess Amelia. Standing behind them was
the grand duke, wearing the uniform of colonel of his guards. He seemed to
have renewed his youth by his happiness, and did not look more than thirty
years old. The military dress set off finely the elegance of his height,
and the beauty of his face. Near him stood the Archduke Stanislaus, in the
uniform of a field marshal. Then came the Princess Amelia's ladies of
honor, the wives of the grand dignitaries of the court, and, finally, the
latter themselves. Need I tell you that the Princess Amelia, by her rank,
less than by her grace and beauty, reigned supreme in this dazzling
assemblage? Do not condemn me, my friend, without reading this description.
Though it fall a thousand times below the reality, you may comprehend my
adoration; you will understand that as soon as I saw her, I loved her, and
that the suddenness of this passion can be equaled only by its violence,
and the intensity of its duration. The Princess Amelia, dressed in a simple
robe of white watered silk, wore, like the Archduchess Sophia, the grand
cordon of the Imperial Order of Saint Nepomucene, which had been recently
sent her by the empress. A bandeau of pearls, surrounding her noble and
open forehead, harmonized most exquisitely with the two large braids of
magnificent ashy blond hair which bordered her cheeks, which were lightly
tinged with red; her fair arms, still whiter than the waves of lace from
which they escaped, were half hidden by her gloves, which did not come up
to her dimpled elbow: nothing could be more graceful than her bearing;
nothing prettier than her little foot, with its white satin shoe. At the
moment when I saw her, her large eyes, of the purest azure, were
thoughtful. I do not know whether at this moment she felt the influence of
some serious idea, or whether she was deeply impressed by the grave harmony
of the piece Liszt was playing, but her half smile seemed to me to have a
sweet and inexpressible melancholy: her head was slightly bent over on her
bosom, and she was playing mechanically with a great bouquet of white
violets and roses which she held in her hand. I could never express to you
my feelings at that moment; all that my aunt had said to me of the
ineffable goodness of the Princess Amelia came back to my mind. You may
smile, my friend, but in spite of myself I felt my eyes moistening as I
gazed on this thoughtful, almost sad young girl, so admirably beautiful,
surrounded with honors, with such respect, and so idolized by such a father
as the grand duke.
Maximilian, I have often said it to you, I believe man incapable of tasting
certain kinds of happiness, which are, so to speak, too complete, too
immense for his circumscribed faculties; I think, too, that certain beings
are too divinely endowed not to feel sometimes that they are alone here
below, and that they feel at times vague regrets for their exquisite
delicacy, which exposes them to so many deceptions, to so many chills which
are unknown to less tender natures. It seemed to me that at that time the
Princess Amelia felt the reaction of such a thought. Suddenly, by some
strange chance (there is fatality about everything here), she mechanically
turned her eyes toward the place where I was standing. You know how
scrupulously etiquette and the hierarchy of rank is observed with us.
Thanks to my title and to the ties of relationship which attach me to the
grand duke, the persons in the midst of whom I had at first placed myself
had receded gradually, so that I remained almost alone, and decidedly in
the first row, in the embrasure of the gallery door. It must undoubtedly
have been this circumstance which caused the princess, as she started from
her reverie, to perceive and take notice of me, for she made a slight
movement of surprise, and blushed. She had seen my portrait at the abbey,
in my aunt's apartments, and she recognized me--nothing was more simple.
The princess had scarcely looked at me for a second, but that look made me
feel the most violent, the most profound emotion; I felt my cheeks on fire;
I cast down my eyes, and remained some minutes without daring to raise them
again toward the princess. When I ventured to lift them, she was talking in
a low tone with the Archduchess Sophia, who appeared to listen with the
most affectionate interest. Liszt having put an interval of some moments
between the two pieces he was to play, the grand duke took advantage of
that moment to express to him his admiration in the most gracious manner.
The prince, as he turned to his place, perceived me, made a sign of the
head to me with the greatest kindness, and said some words to the
archduchess in pointing me out to her. The latter, after having looked at
me for a moment, turned toward the grand duke, who could not help smiling
as he replied to her and spoke to his daughter. The Princess Amelia seemed
to be embarrassed, for she again blushed. I was in torments; unfortunately,
etiquette did not permit me to quit the spot where I was until the concert
was over, which was beginning. Two or three times I stole a glance at the
Princess Amelia; she seemed pensive and thoughtful; my heart was oppressed.
I suffered a slight feeling of uneasiness, as if I had been the cause of
the pain she felt. Undoubtedly the grand duke had been asking her,
jestingly, if she found any resemblance to the portrait of her cousin of
the olden times; and, in her ingenuousness, she perhaps reproached hers. If
for not having told her father that she had before recognized me. When the
concert was over, I followed the aid-de-camp. He led me toward the grand
duke, who advanced a few steps to meet me, took me cordially by the arm,
and, approaching the Archduchess Sophia, said to her:
"I beg of your royal highness the permission to present to you my cousin,
Prince Henry of Herkausen-Oldenzaal."
"I have already met the prince at Vienna, and I am happy to see him again
here," replied the archduchess, before whom I made a profound bow.
"My dear Amelia," continued the prince, addressing himself to his daughter,
"I present to you Prince Henry, your cousin; he is son of Prince Paul, one
of my most venerable friends, whom I much regret not to see to-day at
"Be so kind, sir, as to inform Prince Paul that I share deeply in my
father's regrets, for I shall be always happy to become acquainted with his
friends," replied my cousin, with a simplicity full of grace.
I had not before heard the sound of Princess Amelia's voice; imagine, my
friend, the sweetest, the most delicious, the most harmonious tones; in
fine, one of those accents which cause the most delicate chords of the soul
"I hope, my dear Henry, that you will remain some time with your aunt, to
whom I am greatly attached. I respect her as a mother, as you know," said
the grand duke kindly to me. "Come often to see us, familiarly, in the
morning, at three o'clock. If we are going out, you can join us in our
walk; you know I have always loved you, because you have one of the most
"I do not know how to express to your royal highness my gratitude for the
kind reception you condescend to bestow on me."
"To prove to me your gratitude, then," said the prince, smiling, "ask your
cousin for the second contra-dance; the first belongs of right to the
"Will your highness grant me this favor?" said I to the Princess Amelia,
bowing before her.
"Call each other simply cousins, after the good old German custom," said
the grand duke gayly; "ceremony is not proper among relatives!"
"Will my cousin do me the honor to dance this contra-dance with me?"
"Yes, cousin," replied the Princess Amelia.
PRINCE HENRY D'HERKAUSEN-OLDENZAAL TO COUNT MAXIMILIAN KAMINETZ.
"OLDENZAAL, August 25th, 1841.
I can hardly tell you, my friend, how pleased, and, at the same time,
pained, I was at the fatherly cordiality of the grand duke; the confidence
he testified toward me, the affectionate kindness with which he induced his
daughter and myself to substitute for the formula of etiquette these family
terms of a most tender intimacy, all penetrated me with gratitude; I
reproached myself so much the more bitterly for the fatal attraction of a
love which ought not, or could not be agreeable to the prince. I have
promised myself, it is true (and I have not failed in this resolution),
never to utter a word which might lead my cousin to suspect the love that I
was nourishing; but I feared that my emotion, my glances, might betray me.
In spite of myself, however, this sentiment, silent and concealed as it
must be, seemed guilty to me. I had time to make these reflections while
the Princess Amelia was dancing the first contra-dance with the Archduke
Stanislaus. Here, as everywhere, dancing is no more than a kind of march
which follows the measure of the orchestra; nothing could show to more
advantage the serious grace of my cousin's carriage. With a happiness
mingled with anxiety, I awaited the moment for that conversation that the
liberty of the ball would allow me to hold with her. I was sufficiently
master of myself to conceal my embarrassment, as I went to seek her with
the Marchioness d'Harville. Thinking of the circumstances of the portrait,
I expected to see the Princess Amelia share my embarrassment. I was not
mistaken; I recall, almost word for word, our first conversation; let me
relate it to you, my friend:
"Will your highness permit me," said I to her, "to say always my cousin, as
the grand duke has authorized me?"
"Certainly, my cousin," she kindly answered me; "I am always happy to obey
"And I am still more proud of this familiarity, my cousin; I have learned
through my aunt to know you, that is to say, to appreciate you."
"My father has also spoken to me of you, cousin, and what will perhaps
astonish you," added she, timidly, "I know you already, if I may say so, by
sight. The lady superior of St. Hermangilda, for whom I have the most
affectionate respect, one day showed to us, to my father and myself, a
"Where I was represented as a page of the sixteenth century?"
"Yes, cousin, and my father even used the little deceit of telling me that
this portrait was of one of our relations of the olden time, adding such
kind words toward this cousin of former days, that our family must be happy
to number him among our relations of the present day."
"Alas! my cousin, I fear I resemble no more the moral portrait that the
grand duke designed to make of me, than I do the page of the sixteenth
"You deceive yourself, cousin," said the princess to me, gayly; "for at the
end of the concert, casting my eyes, by chance, toward the side gallery, I
recognized you directly, in spite of the difference of costume."
Then wishing, undoubtedly, to change a subject of conversation that
embarrassed her, she said to me, "What a wonderful talent M. Liszt
possesses! do you not think so?"
"Wonderful! With what pleasure you listened to him!"
"Because, indeed, it seems to me there is a double charm in music without
words; not only is it played with excellent execution, but we can in a
moment apply our own thoughts to the melodies that we hear, and which
become, so to speak, their accompaniment, I know not if you understand me,
"Perfectly. Our thoughts are, then, the words that we adapt mentally to the
air that we hear."
"Just so, just so; you understand me," said she to me, with an expression
of pleased satisfaction; "I fear I should explain but ill what I felt just
now, while listening to that melody, so plaintive and so touching."
"God grant, my cousin," said I to her, smiling, "that you may have no words
to put to an air so sad!"
Either because my question was indiscreet, and she wished to avoid
answering me, or because she had not understood it, the Princess Amelia
immediately said to me, pointing out the grand duke, who, giving his arm to
the Archduchess Sophia was then traversing the dancing gallery:
"Cousin, look at my father: how handsome he is! how noble and fine his air!
how eagerly all glances follow him! It seems to me he is more beloved even
than he is revered."
"Ah!" I exclaimed, "it is not only here, in the midst of this court, that
he is cherished. If the blessings of the people should be echoed to
posterity, the name of Rudolph of Gerolstein would be, with justice,
In speaking thus, my enthusiasm was sincere; for you know, my friend, that
the dominions of the prince are, with good reason, called the Paradise of
It is impossible to paint to you the grateful glance my cousin threw upon
me on hearing me speak in this manner.
"To appreciate my father thus," said she to him, with emotion, "is to be
worthy of the attachment he bears to you."
"And can no one but myself love and admire him! Beside those rare qualities
that make great princes, has he not the genius of kindness that makes
"You know not how truly you speak," exclaimed the princess, still more
"Ah, I know--I know it, and all those whom he governs know it as I do. They
love him so much that they mourn in his sorrows, as they rejoice in his
happiness; the eagerness of all to come and offer their homage to the
Marchioness d'Harville is bestowed on the choice of his royal highness, as
well as the true worth of the future grand duchess."
"The Marchioness d'Harville is more worthy than any one of the attachment
of my father; this is the highest praise of her I can give you."
"And you can, doubtless, appreciate her justly. Have you not known her in
France, my cousin?"
Hardly had I uttered these words, when some sudden thought, I know not
what, came into the Princess Amelia's mind, she cast down her eyes, and,
for a second, her features wore an expression of sadness, that made me
silent with surprise. We were then at the end of the contradance; the last
figure separated me a moment from my cousin; when I led her back to the
Marchioness d'Harville, it seemed to me her features were still slightly
moved. I believed, and I believe still, that my allusion to the abode of
the princess in France, having recalled to her the death of her mother,
created in her the painful impression of which I have just spoken to you.
During this evening, I remarked a circumstance which will, perhaps, appear
to you puerile, but which has been to me a new proof of the fascination
this young girl inspires in all. Her bandeau of pearls being a little
deranged, the Archduchess Sophia, who was leaning upon her arm, was kind
enough to be willing herself to replace the bijou upon her brow. Now, to
one who knows the proverbial hauteur of the archduchess, such an act of
graciousness from her seems scarcely conceivable. Besides, the Princess
Amelia, whom I was observing attentively at the moment, appeared at the
same time so confused, so grateful, I might almost say so embarrassed, at
this graceful attention, that I thought I saw a tear sparkle in her eyes.
Such, my friend, was my first evening at Gerolstein. If I have related it
to you with some detail, it is that almost all these circumstances have
since had their results for me. I will now abridge: I will only speak to
you of some of their principal circumstances relating to my frequent
interviews with my cousin and her father. The day after this fête, I was
among the very small number of persons invited to the celebration of the
marriage of the grand duke and the Marchioness d'Harville. I never saw the
countenance of the Princess Amelia more radiant and more serene than during
this ceremony. She gazed upon her father and the marchioness with a kind of
religious ecstasy, that gave a new charm to her features; it might have
been said that they reflected the ineffable happiness of the prince and the
Marchioness d'Harville. That day my cousin was very gay, very affable. I
gave her my arm in a walk that we took after dinner in the palace gardens,
which were magnificently illuminated. She said to me, on speaking of her
father's marriage, "It seems to me that the happiness of those we cherish
is yet more sweet to us than our own; for is there not always a shade of
selfishness in the enjoyment of our own personal happiness?"
If I give you, from among a thousand, this reflection of my cousin's, my
friend, it is that you may judge of the heart of this adorable creature,
who possesses, like her father, the spirit of goodness. Some days after the
marriage of the grand duke, I held quite a long conversation with him. He
asked me of the past, of my plans for the future: he gave me the wisest
counsel, the most flattering encouragement; he even spoke to me of several
of his plans for government, with a confidence that made me feel as proud
as I was flattered; in short--shall I tell it to you? For one moment a most
foolish idea crossed my mind; I fancied that the prince had imagined my
love, and that in this conversation he wished to study me, feel my
sentiments, and perhaps lead me to an avowal.
Unhappily, this mad hope did not last long; the prince brought the
conversation to a close by telling me that the time for great wars had
passed away; that I ought to profit by my name, my connections, the
education I had received, and the intimate friendship that had united my
father and Prince M., prime minister to the emperor, and pass through the
diplomatic instead of the military career; adding, that all the questions
which were decided formerly upon the battle-field, would henceforth be
decided by Congresses; that soon the intricate and base tradition of
ancient diplomacy would give place to an enlarged and _humane_ system
of politics concerning the true interests of the people, who from day to
day gained more knowledge of their rights; that a high, loyal, and generous
spirit might have, before many years, a noble and great part to play in
political affairs, and might thus do much good; he proposed to me, in
short, the assistance of his high patronage to facilitate me at the outset
of the career in which he solicited me to embark. You understand, my
friend, that if the prince had had the least design upon me, he had not
made me such overtures. I thanked him for his offers with warm gratitude,
adding, that I felt all the worth of his counsel, and was determined to
follow it. I had at first used some reserve in my visits to the palace, but
in consequence of the urgency of the grand duke, I soon went there every
day about three o'clock. They lived there in all the simplicity of our
German courts. It was the life of the great castles in England, rendered
still more attractive by the cordial simplicity, the pleasing liberty of
German manners. When the weather permitted, we took long rides with the
grand duke, the grand duchess, my cousin, and the people of their
household. When we remained in the palace, we were occupied with music. I
sung with the grand duchess and my cousin, whose voice was of a tone of
unequaled sweetness and purity--such, that I could never hear it without
being moved even to the depths of my soul. At other times, we examined in
detail the wonderful collection of pictures and works of art, or the
admirable library of the prince, who, you know, is one of the most learned
and best-informed men in Europe; frequently I returned to dine at the
palace, and on opera days I accompanied the grand ducal family to the
Every day passed like a dream: my cousin gradually came to treat me with a
true sisterly familiarity; she did not conceal from me the pleasure that
she felt in seeing me; she confided to me all that interested her. Two or
three times she begged me to accompany her when she went with the grand
duchess to visit the young orphans; often, also, she spoke to me of my
future plans with a maturity of reason, a serious and reflective interest,
that astonished me, coming from a girl of her age; she was very fond, too,
of inquiring of my infancy, and of my mother, alas! ever regretted. Every
time that I wrote to my father, she begged me to recall her to his
remembrance; then, for she embroidered to admiration, she gave me one day
for him a charming piece of tapestry, upon which she had worked for a long
time. What more shall I tell you, my friend? a brother and sister, meeting
again after a long separation, would not have enjoyed a sweeter intimacy.
Let me add that, when, by some unusual chance, we were left alone, the
entrance of a third could never have changed the subject, or even the
accent of our conversation. You will be perhaps astonished, my friend, at
this brotherly feeling between two young people, especially as you recall
what I have acknowledged to you; but the more confidence and familiarity my
cousin showed me, the more I watched over, the more I constrained myself,
for fear of putting an end to the adorable familiarity. And then, what
increased still more my reserve, the princess showed, in her intercourse
with me, so much frankness, so much noble confidence, and especially so
little coquetry, that I am almost certain that she has always been ignorant
of my violent passion, though there remains a slight doubt on this subject,
arising from a circumstance that I will relate immediately. If this
brotherly intercourse could always have lasted, perhaps this happiness
might have been sufficient for me; but even while I was enjoying this with
delight, I reflected that my service or the new career in which the prince
was inducing me to engage would soon call me to Vienna or abroad; I
reflected, in short that, presently, perhaps, the grand duke would think of
marrying his daughter in a manner worthy of her. These thoughts became the
more painful to me as the moment of my departure approached. My cousin soon
observed the change that was at work in me. The evening before the day I
left her, she told me for a long time she had found me gloomy and
abstracted. I endeavored to elude her questions; I attributed my sadness to
a vague ennui.
"I cannot believe you," said she to me; "my father treats you almost as a
son; everybody loves you; to be unhappy would be ingratitude."
"Ah well!" said I to her, without being able to conquer my emotion, "it is
not ennui; it is grief--yes, a penetrating grief that I feel."
"And why? What has happened to you?" she asked me, with interest.
"Just now, my cousin, you told me that your father treated me as a son;
that everybody loved me. Ah! well, before long, I must renounce these
precious attachments; I must, in short, leave Gerolstein, and, I confess to
you, this thought fills me with despair."
"And the remembrance of those that are dear to us--is this then, nothing,
"Ah, yes--but years, but events bring so many unforeseen changes!"
"There are at least attachments which are not changed: such as my father
has always shown you. What I feel for you is of this kind, you know full
well; we are brother and sister--never to forget one another," added she,
raising toward me her large blue eyes, filled with tears.
This glance overwhelmed me; I was on the point of betraying myself;
fortunately, I restrained myself.
"It is true that feeling lasts," said I to her, in an embarrassed manner;
"but circumstances alter. For instance, my cousin, when in a few years I
shall return, do you think that then this intimacy, whose charm I value so
fully, may yet continue?"
"Why should it not continue?"
"Because you will then be, undoubtedly, married, my cousin--you will have
other duties--and you will have forgotten your poor brother."
* * * * *
I swear to you, my friend, I said no more to her. I know not yet if she saw
in these words an avowal which was displeasing to her, or whether she, like
myself, was sadly struck by the inevitable changes that the future must
necessarily make in our intercourse; but, instead of answering me, she
remained a moment silent, overwhelmed; then, rising suddenly, her
countenance pale and disordered, she went out, after examining some
embroidery by the young Countess d'Oppenheim, one of her ladies of honor,
who was working in the embrasure of one of the windows of the saloon where
our conversation took place. The evening of this day I received a new
letter from my father, which recalled me suddenly here. The next morning I
went to take leave of the grand duke; he told me that my cousin was a
little unwell, that I might entrust to him my last words to her; he pressed
me to his heart, like a father, regretting, he added, my sudden departure,
and especially that this departure was occasioned by the anxiety that the
health of my father gave me; then, recalling to me, with the greatest
kindness, his counsel on the subject of the new career which he begged me
to embrace immediately, he added, that on my return from my embassies, or
on my leaves of absence, he should see me again at Gerolstein with warm
pleasure. Happily, on my arrival here I found the state of my father a
little improved; he still keeps his bed, and is constantly feeble, but his
health no longer gives me any serious anxiety. Unfortunately, he has
already noticed my depression, my gloomy taciturnity, several times; but he
has supplicated me in vain to confide to him the cause of my melancholy
grief. I should not dare it, notwithstanding his blind tenderness for me;
you know his severity as regards everything which appears to him wanting in
frankness and loyalty. Yesterday, I watched with him; when alone by his
side, believing him asleep, I could not restrain my tears, which flowed in
silence as I thought of my happy days at Gerolstein. He saw me weep, for he
soon awaked while I was absorbed in my grief; he questioned me with the
most touching kindness; I attributed my sadness to the anxiety that his
health had caused me, but he was not deceived by this evasion. Now that you
know all, my good Maximilian, say is not my fate forlorn enough! What shall
I do--what resolve?
Ah, my friend, I cannot tell you my anguish. What is to happen, my God! All
is utterably lost! I am the most wretched of men if my father does not
renounce his project. I will tell you what has just happened; just now I
had finished this letter, when, to my great astonishment, my father, whom I
believed in bed, entered my cabinet, where I was writing to you; he saw
upon my desk my first four great pages all filled; I was at the end of this
"To whom do you write so at length?" he asked, smiling.
"To Maximilian, father."
"Oh!" said he to me, with an expression of affectionate reproach, "I know
that he possessed your confidence entirely; _he is very happy--he!_"
He pronounced these last words so sadly, in such a bounded tone, that,
touched by his accent, I replied to him, giving him my letter, almost
without reflection: "Read, father."
My friend, he has read all. Do you know what he said to me, after remaining
for some time thoughtful?
"Henry, I am going to write to the grand duke all that passed during your
stay at Gerolstein."
"My father, I conjure you, do not do it."
"Is what you relate to Maximilian perfectly true?"
"Yes, my father."
"In this case, until now your conduct has been upright. The prince will
appreciate it. But in future you should not show yourself unworthy of his
noble confidence; you would do so if, abusing his offer, you should return
hereafter to Gerolstein, with the intention, perhaps, of making yourself
beloved by his daughter."
"My father, could you think----"
"I think that you love with passion, and that passion is, sooner or later,
an evil consoler."
"How, my father? you will write to the prince that----"
"'You love your cousin desperately.'"
"In the name of heaven, my father, I supplicate you, do nothing of this!"
"Do you love your cousin?"
"I love her to idolatry; but----"
My father interrupted me: "If this is the case, I shall write to the grand
duke to demand of him for you the hand of his daughter."
"But, my father, such a claim is madness for me!"
"It is true; nevertheless, I ought frankly to make this demand of the
prince, representing to him the reasons that lead me to this step. He has
received you with the most true hospitality, he has shown you fatherly
kindness; it would be unworthy me and you to deceive him. I know the
greatness of his soul; he will feel that I am dealing as an honest man; if
he refuses to give you his daughter, and this is almost unquestionable, he
will know at least that in future, if you should return to Gerolstein, you
ought to be no more in the same intimacy with her. You have shown me, my
child," added my father, kindly, "the letter that you have written to
Maximilian. I am now informed of everything; it is my duty to write to the
grand duke, and I am going to write this very moment."
You know, my friend, that my father is the best of men, but he has an
inflexible tenacity of will when the question is what regards his
_duty_; judge of my anguish, my terror. Though the step he is going to
take may be, after all, frank and honorable, it does not trouble me less.
How will the grand duke receive this mad offer? Will he not be displeased
with it? and will not the Princess Amelia be as much wounded that I have
allowed my father to take such a step without her consent?
Ah, my friend, pity me, I know not what to think. It seems as though I were
looking upon an abyss, and that a dizziness were coming over me.
I finish in haste this long letter; I shall write you soon. Yet once more
pity me, for, in truth, I fear I shall become crazy if the fever that
excites me lasts longer. Adieu, adieu! Yours from my heart, and ever,
* * * * *
We now conduct our reader to the palace of Gerolstein, where Fleur-de-Marie
had dwelt since her return from France.
THE PRINCESS AMELIA.
The apartment occupied by Fleur-de-Marie (we shall call her the Princess
Amelia only officially), in the grand ducal palace, had been furnished by
Rudolph's care, with extreme taste and elegance. From the balcony of the
young girl's oratory could be seen, in the distance, the two towers of the
Convent of St. Hermangilda, which, rising above immense masses of verdure,
were themselves commanded by a high wooded mountain, at the foot of which
the abbey stood. On a beautiful morning in summer, Fleur-de-Marie was
allowing her glances to wander over the splendid landscape, which extended
far away in the distance. Her hair was dressed, but she wore a morning
dress of thin material, white, with narrow blue stripes; a large
handkerchief of plain cambric falling upon her shoulders, left visible the
two ends and the knot of a little silk cravat, of the same blue as the
girdle of her dress. Seated in a large, high-backed elbow chair made of
carved ebony and cramoisie velvet, her elbow supported by one arm of this
seat, her head a little bent down, she supported her cheek upon the back of
her small white hand, delicately veined with azure. The languishing
attitude of Fleur-de-Marie, her paleness, the fixedness of her gaze, the
bitterness of her half-smile, revealed a deep melancholy. After some
moments, a heavy, sad sigh relieved her breast. Then, letting her hand
which supported her cheek fall again, she bent her head further upon her
breast. You would have said that the wretched girl was bending beneath the
weight of some heavy misfortune. At this moment a woman of mature age, with
a grave and distinguished air, dressed in elegant simplicity, entered the
oratory, almost timidily, and coughed slightly, to attract the attention of
Fleur-de-Marie. Arousing herself from her reverie, she raised her head
quickly, and said, saluting her with a motion full of grace,
"What do you wish, my dear countess?"
"I come to inform your highness that my lord begs you to await him; for he
will meet you here in a few minutes," replied Princess Amelia's maid of
honor, with respectful formality.
"I was wondering that I had not yet saluted my father to-day; I wait his
visit each morning with so much impatience! But I hope that I do not owe to
any illness of Fräulein Harneim the pleasure of seeing you, my dear
countess, at the palace two days in succession."
"Let your highness feel no uneasiness on that point; Fräulein Harneim has
begged me to take her place to-day; to-morrow she will have the honor of
resuming her service of your highness, who will, perhaps excuse the
"Certainly, for I shall lose nothing by it; after having had the pleasure
of seeing you two days in succession, my dear countess, I shall have for
two other days Fräulien Harneim with me."
"You highness honors us," replied the maid of honor, bending again; "this
extreme kindness encourages me to ask a favor."
"Speak, speak; you know my eagerness to be of assistance to you."
"It is true that for a long time your highness has accustomed me to your
goodness; but this regards a subject so painful, that I should not have the
courage to enter upon it, if it did not concern a very deserving object;
for this reason I dare to depend upon the extreme indulgence of your
"Your have no need of any indulgence, my dear countess; I am always very
grateful for every occasion that is given me for doing a little good."
"This concerns a poor creature who, unfortunately, had quitted Gerolstein
before your highness had established that institution, which is so
charitable, and so useful for young orphan or forsaken girls, whom nothing
protects from evil passions."
"And what has happened to her? what do you beg for her?"
"Her father, a very adventurous man, went to seek his fortune in America,
leaving his wife and daughter to a precarious mode of existence. The mother
died; the daughter, hardly sixteen years old when left to herself, quitted
the country to follow to Vienna a seducer, who soon forsook her. Then, as
always happens, the first step in the path of vice led this wretched girl
to an abyss of infamy; in a short time she became, like so many other
miserable creatures, the opprobrium of her sex."
Fleur-de-Marie cast down her eyes, blushed, and could not conceal a slight
shudder, which did not escape the maid of honor. Fearing to have wounded
the chaste susceptibility of the princess by conversing with her upon such
a creature, she continued, with embarrassment:
"I asks a thousand pardons of your royal highness; I have undoubtedly
offended you by drawing your attention to so polluted a being; but the
miserable one shows so sincere a repentance, that I thought I could solicit
for her a little pity."
"And you were right. Go on, I pray you," said Fleur-de-Marie, conquering
her sad emotion; "indeed, all errors are worthy of pity when repentance
"And that is the case here, as I have remarked to your highness. After two
years of this abominable life, grace touched this abandoned one. A prey to
a late remorse, she has returned here. Chance so favored her, that, on her
arrival here, she was lodged at a house belonging to a worthy widow, whose
gentleness and piety are well known. Encouraged by the pious goodness of
the widow, the poor creature has confessed to her her faults, adding that
she felt a just horror for her past life, and that she would purchase, at
the price of the most severe penance, the happiness of entering a religious
house, where she might expiate her errors and deserve their redemption. The
worthy widow to whom she has intrusted this confidence, knowing that I had
the honor to serve your highness, has written to me to recommend to me this
unfortunate one, who, by means of the all-powerful agency of your highness
with the Princess Juliana, lady superior of the abbey, might hope to enter
St. Hermangilda Abbey as lay sister; she asks as a favor to be employed in
the most painful hours that her penance may be more meritorious. I have
several times desired to converse with this woman before allowing myself to
implore for her the pity of your highness, and I am firmly convinced that
her repentance will be lasting. It is neither want nor age that has brought
her to the true good; she is scarcely eighteen years old; she is yet very
beautiful, and possesses a small sum of money, that she wishes to devote to
a charitable object if she obtains the favor that she solicits."
"I will take charge of her," said Fleur-de-Marie, restraining with
difficulty her emotion, so much resemblance did her past life offer to that
of the unfortunate one in whose favor she was solicited: she added, "the
repentance of this miserable one is too praiseworthy to be left without
"I know not how to express my gratitude to your highness. I hardly dared
hope your highness would deign to be so charitably interested in such a
"She has been guilty--she repents," said Fleur-de-Marie, with an accent of
commiseration and inexpressible sadness; "it is right to nourish pity for
her. The more sincere her remorse, the more painful must it be, my dear
"I hear my lord, I believe," said the maid of honor, suddenly, without
remarking the deep and increasing emotion of Fleur-de-Marie.
In fact, Rudolph was entering a saloon which opened into the oratory,
holding in his hand an enormous bunch of roses. At the sight of the prince
the countess discreetly retired. Hardly had she disappeared, when
Fleur-de-Marie threw herself upon her father's neck, resting her forehead
upon his shoulder, and remained thus some seconds without speaking.
"Good-morning, good-morning, my dear child," said Rudolph, pressing his
daughter to his breast with feeling, without yet observing her sadness.
"See this mass of roses; what a fine harvest I gathered for you this
morning; it was this that prevented me from coming sooner; I hope that I
have never brought you a more magnificent bouquet. Take it."
And the prince, still holding his bouquet in his hand, moved backward
gently, to disengage his daughter from his arms and look at her; but seeing
her burst into tears, he threw the bouquet upon the table, took
Fleur-de-Marie's hands in his, and exclaimed, "You weep! Oh, what is the
"Nothing, nothing, my dear father," said Fleur-de-Marie, drying her tears
and endeavoring to smile upon Rudolph.
"Tell me, I beg you, what is the matter? What can have made you sad?"
"I assure you, father, it is nothing to distress you. The countess has just
solicited my interest for a poor woman, so interesting, so unhappy, that in
spite of myself I am moved by her recital."
"Truly? Is it only this?"
"It is only this," answered Fleur-de-Marie, taking from a table the flowers
that Rudolph had thrown there; "but how you spoil me!" added she, "what a
magnificent bouquet, and when I think that each day you bring me such,
gathered by yourself."
"My child," said Rudolph, gazing upon his daughter with anxiety, "you
conceal something from me; your smile is sad--constrained. Tell me, I beg
you, what distresses you: do not occupy yourself with this bouquet."
"Ah, you know this bouquet is my joy every morning; and then I love roses
so much--I have always loved them so much. You remember," added she, with
an affecting smile, "you remember my poor little rose-bush. I have always
kept its remains."
At this painful allusion to the past, Rudolph exclaimed, "Unhappy child!
Are my suspicions founded? In the midst of the splendor that surrounds you,
would you yet sometimes think of that horrible time? Alas, I had thought to
have made you forget it by tenderness."
"Pardon, pardon, father! these words escaped me. I make you sad."
"I am myself sad, poor angel," said Rudolph sorrowfully, "because these
returns to the past must be fearful to you--because they would poison your
life if you were weak enough to abandon yourself to them."
"Father, this was by chance. Since our arrival here, this is the first
"This is the first time you have spoken of it--yes; but, perhaps, this is