Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. II by Editor-in-Chief: Kuno Francke

Part 5 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

inadvertent cause of strange and painful emotions, left the wish behind
them, that this meeting might not be the last. Charlotte now made use of
the beautiful weather to return visits in the neighborhood, which,
indeed, gave her work enough to do, seeing that the whole country round,
some from a real interest, some merely from custom, had been most
attentive in calling to inquire after her. At home her delight was the
sight of the child, and really it well deserved all love and interest.
People, saw in it a wonderful, indeed a miraculous child; the brightest,
sunniest little face; a fine, well-proportioned body, strong and
healthy; and what surprised them more, the double resemblance, which
became more and more conspicuous. In figure and in the features of the
face, it was like the Captain; the eyes every day it was less easy to
distinguish from the eyes of Ottilie.

Ottilie herself, partly from this remarkable affinity, perhaps still
more under the influence of that sweet woman's feeling which makes them
regard with the most tender affection the offspring, even by another, of
the man they love, was as good as a mother to the little creature as it
grew, or rather, she was a second mother of another kind. If Charlotte
was absent, Ottilie remained alone with the child and the nurse. Nanny
had for some time past been jealous of the boy for monopolizing the
entire affections of her mistress; she had left her in a fit of
crossness, and gone back to her mother. Ottilie would carry the child
about in the open air, and by degrees took longer and longer walks with
it, carrying a bottle of milk to give the child its food when it wanted
any. Generally, too, she took a book with her; and so with the child in
her arms, reading and wandering, she made a very pretty Penserosa.

CHAPTER XII

The object of the campaign was attained, and Edward, with crosses and
decorations, was honorably dismissed. He betook himself at once to the
same little estate, where he found exact accounts of his family waiting
for him, on whom all this time, without their having observed it or
known of it, a sharp watch had been kept under his orders. His quiet
residence looked most sweet and pleasant when he reached it. In
accordance with his orders, various improvements had been made in his
absence, and what was wanting to the establishment in extent, was
compensated by its internal comforts and conveniences. Edward,
accustomed by his more active habits of life to take decided steps,
determined to execute a project which he had had sufficient time to
think over. First of all, he invited the Major to come to him. This
pleasure in meeting again was very great to both of them. The
friendships of boyhood, like relationship of blood, possess this
important advantage, that mistakes and misunderstandings never produce
irreparable injury; and the old regard after a time will always
reestablish itself.

Edward began with inquiring about the situation of his friend, and
learnt that fortune had favored him exactly as he most could have
wished. He then half-seriously asked whether there was not something
going forward about a marriage; to which he received a most decided and
positive denial.

"I cannot and will not have any reserve with you," he proceeded. "I will
tell you at once what my own feelings are, and what I intend to do. You
know my passion for Ottilie; you must long have comprehended that it was
this which drove me into the campaign. I do not deny that I desire to be
rid of a life which, without her, would be of no further value to me. At
the same time, however, I acknowledge that I could never bring myself
utterly to despair. The prospect of happiness with her was so beautiful,
so infinitely charming, that it was not possible for me entirely to
renounce it. Feelings, too, which I cannot explain, and a number of
happy omens, have combined to strengthen me in the belief, in the
assurance, that Ottilie will one day be mine. The glass with our
initials cut upon it, which was thrown into the air when the
foundation-stone was laid, did not go to pieces; it was caught, and I
have it again in my possession. After many miserable hours of
uncertainty, spent in this place, I said to myself, 'I will put myself
in the place of this glass, and it shall be an omen whether our union be
possible or not. I will go; I will seek for death; not like a madman,
but like a man who still hopes that he may live. Ottilie shall be the
prize for which I fight. Ottilie shall be behind the ranks of the enemy;
in every intrenchment, in every beleaguered fortress, I shall hope to
find her, and to win her. I will do wonders, with the wish to survive
them; with the hope to gain Ottilie, not to lose her.' These feelings
have led me on; they have stood by me through all dangers; and now I
find myself like one who has arrived at his goal, who has overcome
every difficulty and who has nothing more left in his way. Ottilie is
mine, and whatever lies between the thought and the execution of it, I
can only regard as unimportant."

"With a few strokes you blot out," replied the Major, "all the
objections that we can or ought to urge upon you, and yet they must be
repeated. I must leave it to yourself to recall the full value of your
relation with your wife; but you owe it to her, and you owe it to
yourself, not to close your eyes to it. How can I so much as recollect
that you have had a son given to you, without acknowledging at once that
you two belong to each other forever; that you are bound, for this
little creature's sake, to live united, that united you may educate it
and provide for its future welfare?"

"It is no more than the blindness of parents," answered Edward, "when
they imagine their existence to be of so much importance to their
children. Whatever lives, finds nourishment and finds assistance; and if
the son who has early lost his father does not spend so easy, so favored
a youth, he profits, perhaps, for that very reason, in being trained
sooner for the world, and comes to a timely knowledge that he must
accommodate himself to others, a thing sooner or later we are all forced
to learn. Here, however even these considerations are irrelevant; we
are sufficiently well off to be able to provide for more children than
one, and it is neither right nor kind to accumulate so large a property
on a single head."

The Major attempted to say something of Charlotte's worth, and Edward's
long-standing attachment to her; but the latter hastily interrupted him.
"We committed ourselves to a foolish thing, that I see all too clearly.
Whoever, in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes and hopes of his
early youth, invariably deceives himself. Each ten years of a man's life
has its own fortunes, its own hopes, its own desires. Woe to him who,
either by circumstances or by his own infatuation, is induced to grasp
at anything before him or behind him. We have done a foolish thing. Are
we to abide by it all our lives? Are we, from some respect of prudence,
to refuse to ourselves what the customs of the age do not forbid? In how
many matters do men recall their intentions and their actions; and shall
it not be allowed to them here, here, where the question is not of this
thing or of that, but of everything; not of our single condition of
life, but of the whole complex life itself?"

Again the Major powerfully and impressively urged on Edward to consider
what he owed to his wife, what was due to his family, to the world, and
to his own position; but he could not succeed in producing the slightest
impression.

"All these questions, my friend," he returned, "I have considered
already again and again. They have passed before me in the storm of
battle, when the earth was shaking with the thunder of the cannon, with
the balls singing and whistling around me, with my comrades falling
right and left, my horse shot under me, my hat pierced with bullets.
They have floated before me by the still watch-fire under the starry
vault of the sky. I have thought them all through, felt them all
through. I have weighed them, and I have satisfied myself about them
again and again, and now forever. At such moments why should I not
acknowledge it to you? You too were in my thoughts, you too belonged to
my circle; as, indeed, you and I have long belonged to each other. If I
have ever been in your debt I am now in a position to repay it with
interest; if you have been in mine you have now the means to make it
good to me. I know that you love Charlotte, and she deserves it. I know
that you are not indifferent to her, and why should she not feel your
worth? Take her at my hand and give Ottilie to me, and we shall be the
happiest beings upon the earth."

"If you choose to assign me so high a character," replied the Major, "it
is the more reason for me to be firm and prudent. Whatever there may be
in this proposal to make it attractive to me, instead of simplifying the
problem, it only increases the difficulty of it. The question is now of
me as well as of you. The fortunes, the good name, the honor of two men,
hitherto unsullied with a breath, will be exposed to hazard by so
strange a proceeding, to call it by no harsher name, and we shall appear
before the world in a highly questionable light."

"Our very characters being what they are," replied Edward, "give us a
right to take this single liberty. A man who has borne himself honorably
through a whole life, makes an action honorable which might appear
ambiguous in others. As concerns myself, after these last trials which I
have taken upon myself, after the difficult and dangerous actions which
I have accomplished for others, I feel entitled now to do something for
myself. For you and Charlotte, that part of the business may, if you
like it, be given up; but neither you nor any one shall keep me from
doing what I have determined. If I may look for help and furtherance, I
shall be ready to do everything which can be wished; but if I am to be
left to myself, or if obstacles are to be thrown in my way, some
extremity or other is sure to follow."

The Major thought it his duty to combat Edward's purposes as long as it
was possible; and now he changed the mode of his attack and tried a
diversion. He seemed to give way, and only spoke of the form of what
they would have to do to bring about this separation, and these new
unions; and so mentioned a number of ugly, undesirable matters, which
threw Edward into the worst of tempers.

"I see plainly," he cried at last, "that what we desire can only be
carried by storm, whether it be from our enemies or from our friends. I
keep clearly before my own eyes what I demand, what, one way or another,
I must have; and I will seize it promptly and surely. Connections like
ours, I know very well, cannot be broken up and reconstructed again
without much being thrown down which is standing, and much having to
give way which would be glad enough to continue. We shall come to no
conclusion by thinking about it. All rights are alike to the
understanding, and it is always easy to throw extra weight into the
ascending scale. Do you makeup your mind, my friend, to act, and act
promptly, for me and for yourself. Disentangle and untie the knots, and
tie them up again. Do not be deterred from it by nice respects. We have
already given the world something to say about us. It will talk about us
once more; and when we have ceased to be a nine days' wonder, it will
forget us as it forgets everything else, and allow us to follow our own
way without further concern with us." The Major had nothing further to
say, and was at last obliged to sit silent; while Edward treated the
affair as now conclusively settled, talked through in detail all that
had to be done, and pictured the future in every most cheerful color,
and then he went on again seriously and thoughtfully: "If we think to
leave ourselves to the hope, to the expectation, that all will go right
again of itself, that accident will lead us straight, and take care of
us, it will be a most culpable self-deception. In such a way it would be
impossible for us to save ourselves, or reestablish our peace again. I
who have been the innocent cause of it all, how am I ever to console
myself? By my own importunity I prevailed on Charlotte to write to you
to stay with us; and Ottilie followed in consequence. We have had no
more control over what ensued out of this, but we have the power to
make it innocuous; to guide the new circumstances to our own happiness.
Can you turn away your eyes from the fair and beautiful prospects which
I open to us? Can you insist to me, can you insist to us all, on a
wretched renunciation of them? Do you think it possible? Is it possible?
Will there be no vexations, no bitterness, no inconvenience to overcome,
if we resolve to fall back into our old state? and will any good, any
happiness whatever, arise out of it? Will your own rank, will the high
position which you have earned, be any pleasure to you, if you are to be
prevented from visiting me, or from living with me? And after what has
passed, it would not be anything but painful. Charlotte and I, with all
our property, would only find ourselves in a melancholy state. And if,
like other men of the world, you can persuade yourself that years and
separation will eradicate our feelings, will obliterate impressions so
deeply engraved; why, then the question is of these very years, which it
would be better to spend in happiness and comfort than in pain and
misery. But the last and most important point of all which I have to
urge is this: supposing that we, our outward and inward condition being
what it is, could nevertheless make up our minds to wait at all hazards,
and bear what is laid upon us, what is to become of Ottilie? She must
leave our family; she must go into society where we shall not be to care
for her, and she will be driven wretchedly to and fro in a hard, cold
world. Describe to me any situation in which Ottilie, without me,
without us, could be happy, and you will then have employed an argument
which will be stronger than every other; and if I will not promise to
yield to it, if I will not undertake at once to give up all my own
hopes, I will at least reconsider the question, and see how what you
have said will affect it."

This problem was not so easy to solve; at least, no satisfactory answer
to it suggested itself to his friend, and nothing was left to him except
to insist again and again, how grave and serious, and in many senses how
dangerous, the whole undertaking was; and at least that they ought
maturely to consider how they had better enter upon it. Edward agreed to
this, and consented to wait before he took any steps; but only under the
condition that his friend should not leave him until they had come to a
perfect understanding about it, and until the first measures had been
taken.

CHAPTER XIII

Men who are complete strangers, and wholly indifferent to one another,
if they live a long time together, are sure both of them to expose
something of their inner nature, and thus a kind of intimacy will arise
between them. All the more was it to be expected that there would soon
be no secrets between our two friends, now that they were again under
the same roof together, and in daily and hourly intercourse. They went
over again the earlier stages of their history, and the Major confessed
to Edward that Charlotte had intended Ottilie for him at the time at
which he returned from abroad, and hoped that some time or other he
might marry her. Edward was in ecstasies at this discovery; he spoke
without reserve of the mutual affection of Charlotte and the Major,
which, because it happened to fall in so conveniently with his own
wishes, he painted in very lively colors.

Deny it altogether, the Major could not; at the same time, he could not
altogether acknowledge it. But Edward only insisted on it the more. He
had pictured the whole thing to himself not as possible, but as already
concluded; all parties had only to resolve on what they all wished;
there would be no difficulty in obtaining a separation; the marriages
should follow as soon after as possible, and Edward could travel with
Ottilie.

Of all the pleasant things which imagination pictures to us, perhaps
there is none more charming than when lovers and young married people
look forward to enjoying their new relation to each other in a fresh,
new world, and test the endurance of the bond between them in so many
changing circumstances. The Major and Charlotte were in the meantime to
have unrestricted powers to settle all questions of money, property, and
other such important worldly matters; and to do whatever was right and
proper for the satisfaction of all parties. What Edward dwelt the most
upon, however, what he seemed to promise himself the most advantage from
was this:--as the child would have to remain with the mother, the Major
would charge himself with the education of it; he would train the boy
according to his own views, and develop what capacities there might be
in him. It was not for nothing that he had received in his baptism the
name of Otto, which belonged to them both.

Edward had so completely arranged everything for himself, that he could
not wait another day to carry it into execution. On their way to the
castle, they arrived at a small town, where Edward had a house, and
where he was to stay to await the return of the Major. He could not,
however, prevail upon himself to alight there at once, and accompanied
his friend through the place. They were both on horseback, and falling
into some interesting conversation, rode on further together.

On a sudden they saw, in the distance, the new house on the height, with
its red tiles shining in the sun. An irresistible longing came over
Edward; he would have it all settled that very evening; he would remain
concealed in a village close by. The Major was to urge the business on
Charlotte with all his power; he would take her prudence by surprise;
and oblige her by the unexpectedness of his proposal to make a free
acknowledgment of her feelings. Edward had transferred his own wishes to
her; he felt certain that he was only meeting her half-way, and that her
inclinations were as decided as his own; and he looked for an immediate
consent from her, because he himself could think of nothing else.

Joyfully he saw the prosperous issue before his eyes; and that it might
be communicated to him as swiftly as possible, a few cannon shots were
to be fired off, and if it was dark, a rocket or two sent up.

The Major rode to the castle. He did not find Charlotte there; he learnt
that for the present she was staying at the new house; at that
particular time, however, she was paying a visit in the neighborhood,
and she probably would not have returned till late that evening. He
walked back to the hotel, to which he had previously sent his horse.

Edward, in the meantime, unable to sit still from restlessness and
impatience, stole away out of his concealment along solitary paths known
only to foresters and fishermen, into his park; and he found himself
toward evening in the copse close to the lake, the broad mirror of which
he now for the first time saw spread out in its perfectness before him.

Ottilie had gone out that afternoon for a walk along the shore. She had
the child with her, and read as she usually did while she went along.
She had gone as far as the oak-tree by the ferry. The boy had fallen
asleep; she sat down; laid it on the ground at her side, and continued
reading. The book was one of those which attract persons of delicate
feeling, and afterward will not let them go again. She forgot the time
and the hours; she never thought what a long way round it was by land to
the new house; but she sat lost in her book and in herself, so beautiful
to look at, that the trees and the bushes round her ought to have been
alive, and to have had eyes given them to gaze upon her and admire her.
The sun was sinking; a ruddy streak of light fell upon her from behind,
tinging with gold her cheek and shoulder. Edward, who had made his way
to the lake without being seen, finding his park desolate, and no trace
of human creature to be seen anywhere, went on and on. At last he broke
through the copse behind the oak-tree, and saw her. At the same moment
she saw him. He flew to her, and threw himself at her feet. After a
long, silent pause, in which they both endeavored to collect themselves,
he explained in a few words why and how he had come there. He had sent
the Major to Charlotte; and perhaps at that moment their common destiny
was being decided. Never had he doubted her affection, and she assuredly
had never doubted his. He begged for her consent; she hesitated; he
implored her. He offered to resume his old privilege, and throw his arms
around her, and embrace her; she pointed down to the child.

Edward looked at it, and was amazed. "Great God!" he cried; "if I had
cause to doubt my wife and my friend, this face would witness fearfully
against them. Is not this the very image of the Major? I never saw such
a likeness."

"Indeed!" replied Ottilie; "all the world say it is like me."

"Is it possible?" Edward answered; and at the moment the child opened
its eyes--two large, black, piercing eyes, deep and full of love;
already the little face was full of intelligence. He seemed as if he
knew both the figures which he saw standing before him. Edward threw
himself down beside the child, and then knelt a second time before
Ottilie. "It is you," he cried; "the eyes are yours! ah, but let me look
into yours; let me throw a veil over that ill-starred hour which gave
its being to this little creature. Shall I shock your pure spirit with
the fearful thought, that man and wife who are estranged from each
other, can yet press each other to their heart, and profane the bonds by
which the law unites them by other eager wishes? Oh yes! As I have said
so much; as my connection with Charlotte must now be severed; as you
will be mine, why should I not speak out the words to you? This child is
the offspring of a double adultery. It should have been a tie between my
wife and myself; but it severs her from me, and me from her. Let it
witness, then, against me. Let these fair eyes say to yours, that in the
arms of another I belonged to you. You must feel, Ottilie, oh! you must
feel, that my fault, my crime, I can only expiate in your arms."

"Hark!" he called out, as he sprang up and listened. He thought that he
had heard a shot, and that it was the sign which the Major was to give.
It was the gun of a forester on the adjoining hill. Nothing followed.
Edward grew impatient.

Ottilie now first observed that the sun was down behind the mountains;
its last rays were shining on the windows of the house above. "Leave me,
Edward," she cried; "go. Long as we have been parted, much as we have
borne, yet remember what we both owe to Charlotte. She must decide our
fate; do not let us anticipate her judgment. I am yours if she will
permit it to be so. If she will not, I must renounce you. As you think
it is now so near an issue, let us wait. Go back to the village, where
the Major supposes you to be. Is it likely that a rude cannon-shot will
inform you of the results of such an interview? Perhaps at this moment
he is seeking for you. He will not have found Charlotte at home; of that
I am certain. He may have gone to meet her; for they knew at the castle
where she was. How many things may have happened! Leave me! she must be
at home by this time; she is expecting me there with the baby."

Ottilie spoke hurriedly; she called together all the possibilities. It
was too delightful to be with Edward; but she felt that he must now
leave her. "I beseech, I implore you, my beloved," she cried out; "go
back and wait for the Major."

"I obey your commands," cried Edward. He gazed at her for a moment with
rapturous love, and then caught her close in his arms. She wound her own
about him, and pressed him tenderly to her breast. Hope streamed away,
like a star shooting in the sky, above their heads. They thought then,
they believed, that they did indeed belong to each other. For the first
time they exchanged free, genuine kisses, and separated with pain and
effort.

The sun had gone down. It was twilight, and a damp mist was rising about
the lake. Ottilie stood confused and agitated. She looked across to the
house on the hill, and she thought she saw Charlotte's white dress on
the balcony.

It was a long way round by the end of the lake; and she knew how
impatiently Charlotte would be waiting for the child. She saw the
plane-trees just opposite her, and only a narrow interval of water
divided her from the path which led straight up to the house. Her
nervousness about venturing on the water with the child vanished in her
present embarrassment. She hastened to the boat; she did not feel that
her heart was beating; that her feet were tottering; that her senses
were threatening to fail her.

She sprang in, seized the oar, and pushed off. She had to use force; she
pushed again. The boat shot off, and glided, swaying and rocking into
the open water. With the child in her left arm, the book in her left
hand, and the oar in her right, she lost her footing, and fell over the
seat; the oar slipped from her on one side, and as she tried to recover
herself, the child and the book slipped on the other, all into the
water. She caught the floating dress, but lying entangled as she was
herself, she was unable to rise. Her right hand was free, but she could
not reach round to help herself up with it; at last she succeeded. She
drew the child out of the water; but its eyes were closed, and it had
ceased to breathe.

In a moment, she recovered all her self-possession; but so much the
greater was her agony; the boat was drifting fast into the middle of the
lake; the oar was swimming far away from her. She saw no one on the
shore; and, indeed, if she had, it would have been of no service to her.
Cut off from all assistance, she was floating on the faithless, unstable
element.

She sought for help from herself; she had often heard of the recovery of
the drowned; she had herself witnessed an instance of it on the evening
of her birthday; she took off the child's clothes, and dried it with her
muslin dress; she threw open her bosom, laying it bare for the first
time to the free heaven. For the first time she pressed a living being
to her pure, naked breast.

[Illustration: OTTILIE. _From the Painting by Wilhelm von Kaulbach_]

Alas! and it was not a living being. The cold limbs of the ill-starred
little creature chilled her to the heart. Streams of tears gushed from
her eyes, and lent a show of life and warmth to the outside of the
torpid limbs. She persevered with her efforts; she wrapped it in her
shawl, she drew it close to herself, stroked it, breathed upon it, and
with tears and kisses labored to supply the help which, cut off as she
was, she was unable to find.

It was all in vain; the child lay motionless in her arms; motionless the
boat floated on the glassy water. But even here her beautiful spirit did
not leave her forsaken. She turned to the Power above. She sank down
upon her knees in the boat, and with both arms raised the unmoving child
above her innocent breast, like marble in its whiteness; alas, too, like
marble, cold; with moist eyes she looked up and cried for help, where a
tender heart hopes to find it in its fulness when all other help has
failed.

The stars were beginning one by one to glimmer down upon her; she turned
to them and not in vain; a soft air stole over the surface, and wafted
the boat under the plane-trees.

CHAPTER XIV

She hurried to the new house, and called the surgeon and gave the child
into his hands. It was carried at once to Charlotte's sleeping-room.
Cool and collected from a wide experience, he submitted the tender body
to the usual process. Ottilie stood by him through it all. She prepared
everything, she fetched everything, but as if she were moving in another
world; for the height of misfortune, like the height of happiness,
alters the aspect of every object. And it was only when, after every
resource had been exhausted, the good man shook his head, and to her
questions, whether there was hope, first was silent, and then answered
with a gentle No! that she left the apartment, and had scarcely entered
the sitting-room, when she fell fainting, with her face upon the carpet,
unable to reach the sofa.

At that moment Charlotte was heard driving up. The surgeon implored the
servants to keep back, and allow him to go to meet her and prepare her.
But he was too late; while he was speaking she had entered the
drawing-room. She found Ottilie on the ground, and one of the girls of
the house came running and screaming to her open-mouthed. The surgeon
entered at the same moment, and she was informed of everything. She
could not at once, however, give up all hope. She was flying up stairs
to the child, but the physician besought her to remain where she was. He
went himself, to deceive her with a show of fresh exertions, and she sat
down upon the sofa. Ottilie was still lying on the ground; Charlotte
raised her, and supported her against herself, and her beautiful head
sank down upon her knee. The kind medical man went backward and forward;
he appeared to be busy about the child; his real care was for the
ladies; and so came on midnight, and the stillness grew more and more
deathly. Charlotte did not try to conceal from herself any longer that
her child would never return to life again. She desired to see it now.
It had been wrapped up in warm woolen coverings. And it was brought down
as it was, lying in its cot, which was placed at her side on the sofa.
The little face was uncovered; and there it lay in its calm sweet
beauty.

The report of the accident soon spread through the village; every one
was aroused, and the story reached the hotel. The Major hurried up the
well-known road; he went round and round the house; at last he met a
servant who was going to one of the out-buildings to fetch something. He
learnt from him in what state things were, and desired him to tell the
surgeon that he was there. The latter came out, not a little surprised
at the appearance of his old patron. He told him exactly what had
happened, and undertook to prepare Charlotte to see him. He then went
in, began some conversation to distract her attention, and led her
imagination from one object to another, till at last he brought it to
rest upon her friend, and the depth of feeling and of sympathy which
would surely be called out in him. From the imaginative she was brought
at once to the real. Enough! she was informed that he was at the door,
that he knew everything and desired to be admitted.

The Major entered. Charlotte received him with a miserable smile. He
stood before her; she lifted off the green silk covering under which the
body was lying; and by the dim light of a taper, he saw before him, not
without a secret shudder, the stiffened image of himself. Charlotte
pointed to a chair, and there they sat opposite each other, without
speaking, through the night. Ottilie was still lying motionless on
Charlotte's knee; she breathed softly, and slept or seemed to sleep.

The morning dawned, the lights went out; the two friends appeared to
awake out of a heavy dream. Charlotte looked toward the Major, and said
quietly: "Tell me through what circumstances you have been brought
hither, to take part in this mourning scene."

"The present is not a time," the Major answered, in the same low tone as
that in which Charlotte had spoken, for fear lest she might disturb
Ottilie; "this is not a time, and this is not a place for reserve. The
condition in which I find you is so fearful that even the earnest matter
on which I am here loses its importance by the side of it." He then
informed her, quite calmly and simply, of the object of his mission, in
so far as he was the ambassador of Edward; of the object of his coming,
in so far as his own free will and his own interests were concerned in
it. He laid both before her, delicately but uprightly; Charlotte
listened quietly, and showed neither surprise nor unwillingness.

As soon as the Major had finished, she replied, in a voice so light that
to catch her words he was obliged to draw his chair closer to her: "In
such a case as this I have never before found myself; but in similar
cases I have always said to myself, how will it be tomorrow? I feel very
clearly that the fate of many persons is now in my hands, and what I
have to do is soon said without scruple or hesitation. I consent to the
separation; I ought to have made up my mind to it before; by my
unwillingness and reluctance I have destroyed my child. There are
certain things on which destiny obstinately insists. In vain may reason,
may virtue, may duty, may all holy feelings place themselves in its way.
Something shall be done which to it seems good, and which to us seems
not good; and it forces its own way through at last, let us conduct
ourselves as we will.

"And, indeed, what am I saying? It is but my own desire, my own purpose,
against which I acted so unthinkingly, which destiny is again bringing
in my way? Did I not long ago, in my thoughts, design Edward and Ottilie
for each other? Did I not myself labor to bring them together? And you,
my friend, you yourself were an accomplice in my plot. Why, why, could I
not distinguish mere man's obstinacy from real love? Why did I accept
his hand, when I could have made him happy as a friend, and when another
could have made him happy as a wife? And now, look here on this unhappy
slumberer. I tremble for the moment when she will recover out of this
half death-sleep into consciousness. How can she endure to live? How
shall she ever console herself, if she may not hope to make good that to
Edward, of which, as the instrument of the most wonderful destiny, she
has deprived him? And she can make it all good again by the passion, by
the devotion with which she loves him. If love be able to bear all
things, it is able to do yet more; it can restore all things; of myself
at such a moment I may not think.

"Do you go quietly away, my dear Major; say to Edward that I consent to
the separation; that I leave it to him, to you, and to Mittler, to
settle whatever is to be done. I have no anxiety for my own future
condition; it may be what it will; it is nothing to me. I will subscribe
whatever paper is submitted to me, only he must not require me to join
actively. I cannot have to think about it, or give advice."

The Major rose to go. She stretched out her hand to him across Ottilie.
He pressed it to his lips, and whispered gently: "And for myself, may I
hope anything?"

"Do not ask me now!" replied Charlotte. "I will tell you another time.
We have not deserved to be miserable; but neither can we say that we
have deserved to be happy together."

The Major left her, and went, feeling for Charlotte to the bottom of his
heart, but not being able to be sorry for the fate of the poor child.
Such an offering seemed necessary to him for their general happiness. He
pictured Ottilie to himself with a child of her own in her arms, as the
most perfect compensation for the one of which she had deprived Edward.
He pictured himself with his own son on his knee, who should have better
right to resemble him than the one which was departed.

With such flattering hopes and fancies passing through his mind, he
returned to the hotel, and on his way back he met Edward, who had been
waiting for him the whole night through in the open air, since neither
rocket nor report of cannon would bring him news of the successful issue
of his undertaking. He had already heard of the misfortune; and he too,
instead of being sorry for the poor creature, regarded what had befallen
it, without being exactly ready to confess it to himself, as a
convenient accident, through which the only impediment in the way of his
happiness was at once removed.

The Major at once informed him of his wife's resolution, and he
therefore easily allowed himself to be prevailed upon to return again
with him to the village, and from thence to go for a while to the little
town, where they would consider what was next to be done, and make their
arrangements.

After the Major had left her, Charlotte sat on, buried in her own
reflections; but it was only for a few minutes. Ottilie suddenly raised
herself from her lap, and looked full with her large eyes in her
friend's face. Then she got up from off the ground, and stood upright
before her.

"This is the second time," began the noble girl, with an irresistible
solemnity of manner, "this is the second time that the same thing has
happened to me. You once said to me that similar things often befall
people more than once in their lives in a similar way, and if they do,
it is always at important moments. I now find that what you said is
true, and I have to make a confession to you. Shortly after my mother's
death, when I was a very little child, I was sitting one day on a
footstool close to you. You were on a sofa, as you are at this moment,
and my head rested on your knees. I was not asleep, I was not awake: I
was in a trance. I knew everything which was passing about me. I heard
every word which was said with the greatest distinctness, and yet I
could not stir, I could not speak; and if I had wished it, I could not
have given a hint that I was conscious. On that occasion you were
speaking about me to one of your friends; you were commiserating my
fate, left as I was a poor orphan in the world. You described my
dependent position, and how unfortunate a future was before me, unless
some very happy star watched over me. I understood well what you said. I
saw, perhaps too clearly, what you appeared to hope of me, and what you
thought I ought to do. I made rules to myself, according to such limited
insight as I had, and by these I have long lived; by these, at the time
when you so kindly took charge of me, and had me with you in your house,
I regulated whatever I did and whatever I left undone.

"But I have wandered out of my course; I have broken my rules; I have
lost the very power of feeling them. And now, after a dreadful
occurrence, you have again made clear to me my situation, which is more
pitiable than the first. While lying in a half torpor on your lap, I
have again, as if out of another world, heard every syllable which you
uttered. I know from you how all is with me. I shudder at the thought of
myself; but again, as I did then, in my half sleep of death, I have
marked out my new path for myself.

"I am determined, as I was before, and what I have determined I must
tell you at once. I will never be Edward's wife. In a terrible manner
God has opened my eyes to see the sin in which I was entangled. I will
atone for it, and let no one think to move me from my purpose. It is by
this, my dearest, kindest friend, that you must govern your own conduct.
Send for the Major to come back to you. Write to him that no steps must
be taken. It made me miserable that I could not stir or speak when he
went. I tried to rise--I tried to cry out. Oh, why did you let him leave
you with such unlawful hopes!"

Charlotte saw Ottilie's condition, and she felt for it; but she hoped
that by time and persuasion she might be able to prevail upon her. On
her uttering a few words, however, which pointed to a future--to a time
when her sufferings would be alleviated, and when there might be better
room for hope, "No!" Ottilie cried, with vehemence, "do not endeavor to
move me; do not seek to deceive me. At the moment at which I learn that
you have consented to the separation, in that same lake I will expiate
my errors and my crimes."

CHAPTER XV

Friends and relatives, and all persons living in the same house
together, are apt, when life is going smoothly and peacefully with them,
to make what they are doing, or what they are going to do, even more
than is right or necessary, a subject of constant conversation. They
talk to each other of their plans and their occupations, and, without
exactly taking one another's advice, consider and discuss together the
entire progress of their lives. But this is far from being the case in
serious moments; just when it would seem men most require the assistance
and support of others, they all draw singly within themselves, every one
to act for himself, every one to work in his own fashion; they conceal
from one another the particular means which they employ, and only the
result, the object, the thing which they realize, is again made common
property.

After so many strange and unfortunate incidents, a sort of silent
seriousness had passed over the two ladies, which showed itself in a
sweet mutual effort to spare each other's feelings. The child had been
buried privately in the chapel. It rested there as the first offering to
a destiny full of ominous foreshadowings.

Charlotte, as soon as ever she could, turned back to life and
occupation, and here she first found Ottilie standing in need of her
assistance. She occupied herself almost entirely with her, without
letting it be observed. She knew how deeply the noble girl loved Edward.
She had discovered by degrees the scene which had preceded the accident,
and had gathered every circumstance of it, partly from Ottilie herself,
partly from the letters of the Major.

Ottilie, on her side, made Charlotte's immediate life much more easy for
her. She was open, and even talkative, but she never spoke of the
present, or of what had lately passed. She had been a close and
thoughtful observer. She knew much, and now it all came to the surface.
She entertained, she amused Charlotte, and the latter still nourished a
hope in secret to see her married to Edward after all.

But something very different was passing in Ottilie. She had disclosed
the secret of the course of her life to her friend, and she showed no
more of her previous restraint and submissiveness. By her repentance and
her resolution she felt herself freed from the burden of her fault and
her misfortune. She had no more violence to do to herself. In the bottom
of her heart she had forgiven herself solely under condition of the
fullest renunciation, and it was a condition which would remain binding
for all time to come.

So passed away some time, and Charlotte now felt how deeply house and
park, and lake and rocks and trees, served to keep alive in them all
their most painful reminiscences. They wanted change of scene, both of
them, it was plain enough; but how it was to be effected was not so
easy to decide.

Were the two ladies to remain together? Edward's previously expressed
will appeared to enjoin it--his declarations and his threats appeared to
make it necessary; only it could not be now mistaken that Charlotte and
Ottilie, with all their good will, with all their sense, with all their
efforts to conceal it, could not avoid finding themselves in a painful
situation toward each other. In their conversation there was a constant
endeavor to avoid doubtful subjects. They were often obliged only half
to understand some allusion; more often, expressions were
misinterpreted, if not by their understandings, at any rate by their
feelings. They were afraid to give pain to each other, and this very
fear itself produced the evil which they were seeking to avoid.

If they were to try change of scene, and at the same time (at any rate
for a while) to part, the old question came up again: Where was Ottilie
to go? There was the grand, rich family, who still wanted a desirable
companion for their daughter, their attempts to find a person whom they
could trust having hitherto proved ineffectual. The last time the
Baroness had been at the castle, she had urged Charlotte to send Ottilie
there, and she had been lately pressing it again and again in her
letters. Charlotte now a second time proposed it; but Ottilie expressly
declined going anywhere, where she would be thrown into what is called
the great world.

"Do not think me foolish or self-willed, my dear aunt," she said; "I had
better tell you what I feel, for fear you should judge hardly of me;
although in any other case it would be my duty to be silent. A person
who has fallen into uncommon misfortunes, however guiltless he may be,
carries a frightful mark upon him. His presence, in every one who sees
him and is aware of his history, excites a kind of horror. People see in
him the terrible fate which has been laid upon him, and he is the object
of a diseased and nervous curiosity. It is so with a house, it is so
with a town, where any terrible action has been done; people enter them
with awe; the light of day shines less brightly there, and the stars
seem to lose their lustre.

"Perhaps we ought to excuse it, but how extreme is the indiscretion with
which people behave toward such unfortunates, with their foolish
importunities and awkward kindness! You must forgive me for speaking in
this way, but that poor girl whom Luciana tempted out of her retirement,
and with such mistaken good nature tried to force into society and
amusement, has haunted me and made me miserable. The poor creature, when
she was so frightened and tried to escape, and then sank and swooned
away, and I caught her in my arms, and the party came all crowding round
in terror and curiosity!--little did I think, then, that the same fate
was in store for me. But my feeling for her is as deep and warm and
fresh as ever it was; and now I may direct my compassion upon myself,
and secure myself from being the object of any similar exposure."

"But, my dear child," answered Charlotte, "you will never be able to
withdraw yourself where no one can see you; we have no cloisters now:
otherwise, there, with your present feelings, would be your resource."

"Solitude would not give me the resource for which I wish, my dear
aunt," answered Ottilie. "The one true and valuable resource is to be
looked for where we can be active and useful; all the self-denials and
all the penances on earth will fail to deliver us from an evil-omened
destiny, if it be determined to persecute us. Let me sit still in
idleness and serve as a spectacle for the world, and it will overpower
me and crush me. But find me some peaceful employment, where I can go
steadily and unweariedly on doing my duty, and I shall be able to bear
the eyes of men, when I need not shrink under the eyes of God."

"Unless I am much mistaken," replied Charlotte, "your inclination is to
return to the school."

"Yes," Ottilie answered; "I do not deny it. I think it a happy
destination to train up others in the beaten way, after having been
trained in the strangest myself. And do we not see the same great fact
in history? some moral calamity drives men out into the wilderness; but
they are not allowed to remain as they had hoped in their concealment
there. They are summoned back into the world, to lead the wanderers into
the right way; and who are fitter for such a service, than those who
have been initiated into the labyrinths of life? They are commanded to
be the support of the unfortunate; and who can better fulfil that
command than those who have no more misfortunes to fear upon earth?"

"You are selecting an uncommon profession for yourself," replied
Charlotte. "I shall not oppose you, how ever. Let it be as you wish;
only I hope it will be but for a short time."

"Most warmly I thank you," said Ottilie, "for giving me leave at least
to try, to make the experiment. If I am not flattering myself too
highly, I am sure I shall succeed: wherever I am, I shall remember the
many trials which I went through myself, and how small, how infinitely
small they were compared to those which I afterward had to undergo. It
will be my happiness to watch the embarrassments of the little creatures
as they grow; to cheer them in their childish sorrows, and guide them
back with a light hand out of their little aberrations. The fortunate is
not the person to be of help to the unfortunate; it is in the nature of
man to require ever more and more of himself and others, the more he has
received. The unfortunate who has himself recovered, knows best how to
nourish, in himself and them, the feeling that every moderate good ought
to be enjoyed with rapture."

"I have but one objection to make to what you propose," said Charlotte,
after some thought, "although that one seems to me of great importance.
I am not thinking of you, but of another person: you are aware of the
feelings toward you of that good, right-minded, excellent Assistant. In
the way in which you desire to proceed, you will become every day more
valuable and more indispensable to him. Already he himself believes that
he can never live happily without you, and hereafter, when he has become
accustomed to have you to work with him, he will be unable to carry on
his business if he loses you; you will have assisted him at the
beginning only to injure him in the end."

"Destiny has not dealt with me with too gentle a hand," replied Ottilie;
"and whoever loves me has perhaps not much better to expect. Our friend
is so good and so sensible, that I hope he will be able to reconcile
himself to remaining in a simple relation with me; he will learn to see
in me a consecrated person, lying under the shadow of an awful calamity,
and only able to support herself and bear up against it by devoting
herself to that Holy Being who is invisibly around us, and alone is able
to shield us from the dark powers which threaten to overwhelm us."

All this, which the dear girl poured out so warmly, Charlotte privately
reflected over; on many different occasions, although only in the
gentlest manner, she had hinted at the possibility of Ottilie's being
brought again in contact with Edward; but the slightest mention of it,
the faintest hope, the least suspicion, seemed to wound Ottilie to the
quick. One day when she could not evade it, she expressed herself to
Charlotte clearly and peremptorily on the subject.

"If your resolution to renounce Edward," returned Charlotte, "is so firm
and unalterable, then you had better avoid the danger of seeing him
again. At a distance from the object of our love, the warmer our
affection, the stronger is the control which we fancy that we can
exercise on ourselves; because the whole force of the passion, diverted
from its outward objects, turns inward on ourselves. But how soon, how
swiftly is our mistake made clear to us, when the thing which we thought
that we could renounce, stands again before our eyes as indispensable to
us! You must now do what you consider best suited to your
circumstances. Look well into yourself; change, if you prefer it, the
resolution which you have just expressed. But do it of yourself, with a
free consenting heart. Do not allow yourself to be drawn in by an
accident; do not let yourself be surprised into your former position. It
will place you at issue with yourself and will be intolerable to you. As
I said, before you take this step, before you remove from me, and enter
upon a new life, which will lead you no one knows in what direction,
consider once more whether really, indeed, you can renounce Edward for
the whole time to come. If you have faithfully made up your mind that
you will do this, then will you enter into an engagement with me, that
you will never admit him into your presence; and if he seeks you out and
forces himself upon you, that you will not exchange words with him?"

Ottilie did not hesitate a moment; she gave Charlotte the promise, which
she had already made to herself.

Now, however, Charlotte began to be haunted with Edward's threat, that
he would only consent to renounce Ottilie, as long as she was not parted
from Charlotte. Since that time, indeed, circumstances were so altered,
so many things had happened, that an engagement which was wrung from him
in a moment of excitement might well be supposed to have been cancelled.
She was unwilling, however, in the remotest sense to venture anything or
to undertake anything which might displease him, and Mittler was
therefore to find Edward, and inquire what, as things now were, he
wished to be done.

Since the death of the child, Mittler had often been at the castle to
see Charlotte, although only for a few moments at a time. The unhappy
accident which had made her reconciliation with her husband in the
highest degree improbable, had produced a most painful effect upon him.
But ever, as his nature was, hoping and striving, he rejoiced secretly
at the resolution of Ottilie. He trusted to the softening influence of
passing time; he hoped that it might still be possible to keep the
husband and the wife from separating; and he tried to regard these
convulsions of passion only as trials of wedded love and fidelity.

Charlotte, at the very first, had informed the Major by letter of
Ottilie's declaration. She had entreated him most earnestly to prevail
on Edward to take no further steps for the present. They should keep
quiet and wait, and see whether the poor girl's spirits would recover.
She had let him know from time to time whatever was necessary of what
had more lately fallen from her. And now Mittler had to undertake the
really difficult commission of preparing Edward for an alteration in her
situation. Mittler, however, well knowing that men can be brought more
easily to submit to what is already done, than to give their consent to
what is yet to be done, persuaded Charlotte that it would be better to
send Ottilie off at once to the school.

Consequently, as soon as Mittler was gone, preparations were at once
made for the journey. Ottilie put her things together; and Charlotte
observed that neither the beautiful box, nor anything out of it, was to
go with her. Ottilie had said nothing to her on the subject; and she
took no notice, but let her alone. The day of the departure came;
Charlotte's carriage was to take Ottilie the first day as far as a place
where they were well known, where she was to pass the night, and on the
second she would go on in it to the school. It was settled that Nanny
was to accompany her, and remain as her attendant.

This capricious little creature had found her way back to her mistress
after the death of the child, and now hung about her as warmly and
passionately as ever; indeed she seemed, with her loquacity and
attentiveness, as if she wished to make good her past neglect, and
henceforth devote herself entirely to Ottilie's service. She was quite
beside herself now for joy at the thought of traveling with her, and of
seeing strange places, when she had hitherto never been away from the
scene of her birth; and she ran from the castle to the village to carry
the news of her good fortune to her parents and her relations, and to
take leave.

Unluckily for herself, she went, among other places, into a room where
a person was who had the measles, and caught the infection, which came
out upon her at once. The journey could not be postponed. Ottilie
herself was urgent to go. She had traveled once already the same road.
She knew the people of the hotel where she was to sleep. The coachman
from the castle was going with her. There could be nothing to fear.

Charlotte made no opposition. She, too, in thought, was making haste to
be clear of present embarrassments. The rooms which Ottilie had occupied
at the castle she would have prepared for Edward as soon as possible,
and restored to the old state in which they had been before the arrival
of the Captain. The hope of bringing back old happy days burns up again
and again in us, as if it never could be extinguished. And Charlotte was
quite right; there was nothing else for her except to hope as she did.

CHAPTER XVI

When Mittler was come to talk the matter over with Edward, he found him
sitting by himself, with his head supported on his right hand, and his
arm resting on the table. He appeared in great suffering.

"Is your headache troubling you again?" asked Mittler.

"It is troubling me," answered he; "and yet I cannot wish it were not
so, for it reminds me of Ottilie. She too, I say to myself, is also
suffering in the same way at this same moment, and suffering more
perhaps than I; and why cannot I bear it as well as she? These pains are
good for me. I might almost say that they were welcome; for they serve
to bring out before me with the greater vividness her patience and all
her other graces. It is only when we suffer ourselves, that we feel
really the true nature of all the high qualities which are required to
bear suffering."

Mittler, finding his friend so far resigned, did not hesitate to
communicate the message with which he had been sent. He brought it out
piecemeal, however; in order of time, as the idea had itself arisen
between the ladies, and had gradually ripened into a purpose. Edward
scarcely made an objection. From the little which he said, it appeared
as if he was willing to leave everything to them; the pain which he was
suffering at the moment making him indifferent to all besides.

Scarcely, however, was he again alone, than he got up, and walked
rapidly up and down the room; he forgot his pain, his attention now
turning to what was external to himself. Mittler's story had stirred the
embers of his love, and awakened his imagination in all its vividness.
He saw Ottilie by herself, or as good as by herself, traveling on a road
which was well known to him--in a hotel with every room of which he was
familiar. He thought, he considered, or rather he neither thought nor
considered; he only wished--he only desired. He would see her; he would
speak to her. Why, or for what good end that was to come of it, he did
not care to ask himself; but he made up his mind at once. He must do it.

He summoned his valet into his council, and through him he made himself
acquainted with the day and hour when Ottilie was to set out. The
morning broke. Without taking any person with him, Edward mounted his
horse, and rode off to the place where she was to pass the night. He was
there too soon. The hostess was overjoyed at the sight of him; she was
under heavy obligations to him for a service which he had been able to
do for her. Her son had been in the army, where he had conducted himself
with remarkable gallantry. He had performed one particular action of
which no one had been a witness but Edward; and the latter had spoken of
it to the commander-in-chief in terms of such high praise that,
notwithstanding the opposition of various ill-wishers, he had obtained a
decoration for him. The mother, therefore, could never do enough for
Edward. She got ready her best room for him, which indeed was her own
wardrobe and store-room, with all possible speed. He informed her,
however, that a young lady was coming to pass the night there, and he
ordered an apartment for her at the back, at the end of the gallery. It
sounded a mysterious sort of affair; but the hostess was ready to do
anything to please her patron, who appeared so interested and so busy
about it. And he, what were his sensations as he watched through the
long, weary hours till evening? He examined the room round and round in
which he was to see her; with all its strangeness and homeliness it
seemed to him to be an abode for angels. He thought over and over what
he had better do; whether he should take her by surprise, or whether he
should prepare her for meeting him. At last the second course seemed the
preferable one. He sat down and wrote a letter, which she was to read:

EDWARD TO OTTILIE

"While you read this letter, my best beloved, I am close to you. Do not
agitate yourself; do not be alarmed; you have nothing to fear from me. I
will not force myself upon you. I will see you or not, as you yourself
shall choose.

"Consider, oh! consider your condition and mine. How must I not thank
you, that you have taken no decisive step! But the step which you have
taken is significant enough. Do not persist in it. Here, as it were, at
a parting of the ways, reflect once again. Can you be mine:--will you be
mine? Oh, you will be showing mercy on us all if you will; and on me,
infinite mercy.

"Let me see you again!--happily, joyfully see you once more! Let me make
my request to you with my own lips; and do you give me your answer your
own beautiful self, on my breast, Ottilie! where you have so often
rested, and which belongs to you for ever!"

As he was writing, the feeling rushed over him that what he was longing
for was coming--was close--would be there almost immediately. By that
door she would come in; she would read that letter; she in her own
person would stand there before him as she used to stand; she for whose
appearance he had thirsted so long. Would she be the same as she
was?--was her form, were her feelings changed? He still held the pen in
his hand; he was going to write as he thought, when the carriage rolled
into the court. With a few hurried strokes he added: "I hear you coming.
For a moment, farewell!"

He folded the letter, and directed it. He had no time for sealing. He
darted into the room through which there was a second outlet into the
gallery, when the next moment he recollected that he had left his watch
and seals lying on the table. She must not see these first. He ran back
and brought them away with him. At the same instant he heard the hostess
in the antechamber showing Ottilie the way to her apartments. He sprang
to the bedroom door. It was shut. In his haste, as he had come back for
his watch, he had forgotten to take out the key, which had fallen out,
and lay the other side. The door had closed with a spring, and he could
not open it. He pushed at it with all his might, but it would not yield.
Oh, how gladly would he have been a spirit, to escape through its
cracks! In vain. He hid his face against the panels. Ottilie entered,
and the hostess, seeing him, retired. From Ottilie herself, too, he
could not remain concealed for a moment. He turned toward her; and there
stood the lovers once more, in such strange fashion, in each other's
presence. She looked at him calmly and earnestly, without advancing or
retiring. He made a movement to approach her, and she withdrew a few
steps toward the table. He stepped back again. "Ottilie!" he cried
aloud, "Ottilie! let me break this frightful silence! Are we shadows,
that we stand thus gazing at each other? Only listen to me; listen to
this at least. It is an accident that you find me here thus. There is a
letter on the table, at your side there, which was to have prepared you.
Read it, I implore you--read it--and then determine as you will!"

She looked down at the letter; and after thinking a few seconds, she
took it up, opened it, and read it: she finished it without a change of
expression; and she laid it lightly down; then joining the palms of her
hands together, turning them upward, and drawing them against her
breast, she leant her body a little forward, and regarded Edward with
such a look, that, eager as he was, he was compelled to renounce
everything he wished or desired of her. Such an attitude cut him to the
heart; he could not bear it. It seemed exactly as if she would fall upon
her knees before him, if he persisted. He hurried in despair out of the
room, and leaving her alone, sent the hostess in to her.

He walked up and down the antechamber. Night had come on, and there was
no sound in the room. At last the hostess came out and drew the key out
of the lock. The good woman was embarrassed and agitated, not knowing
what it would be proper for her to do. At last as she turned to go, she
offered the key to Edward, who refused it; and putting down the candle,
she went away.

In misery and wretchedness, Edward flung himself down on the threshold
of the door which divided him from Ottilie, moistening it with his tears
as he lay. A more unhappy night had been seldom passed by two lovers in
such close neighborhood!

Day came at last. The coachman brought round the carriage, and the
hostess unlocked the door and went in. Ottilie was asleep in her
clothes; she went back and beckoned to Edward with a significant smile.
They both entered and stood before her as she lay; but the sight was too
much for Edward. He could not bear it. She was sleeping so quietly that
the hostess did not like to disturb her, but sat down opposite her,
waiting till she woke. At last Ottilie opened her beautiful eyes, and
raised herself on her feet. She declined taking any breakfast, and then
Edward went in again and stood before her. He entreated her to speak but
one word to him; to tell him what she desired. He would do it, be it
what it would, he swore to her; but she remained silent. He asked her
once more, passionately and tenderly, whether she would be his. With
downcast eyes, and with the deepest tenderness of manner she shook her
head in a gentle _No_. He asked if she still desired to go to the
school. Without any show of feeling she declined. Would she then go back
to Charlotte? She inclined her head in token of assent, with a look of
comfort and relief. He went to the window to give directions to the
coachman, and when his back was turned she darted like lightning out of
the room, and was down the stairs and in the carriage in an instant. The
coachman drove back along the road which he had come the day before, and
Edward followed at some distance on horseback.

CHAPTER XVII

It was with the utmost surprise that Charlotte saw the carriage drive up
with Ottilie, and Edward at the same moment ride into the court-yard of
the castle. She ran down to the hall. Ottilie alighted, and approached
her and Edward. Violently and eagerly she caught the hands of the wife
and husband, pressed them together, and hurried off to her own room.
Edward threw himself on Charlotte's neck and burst into tears. He could
not give her any explanation; he besought her to have patience with him,
and to go at once to see Ottilie. Charlotte followed her to her room,
and she could not enter it without a shudder. It had been all cleared
out. There was nothing to be seen but the empty walls, which stood there
looking cheerless, vacant, and miserable. Everything had been carried
away except the little box, which from an uncertainty what was to be
done with it, had been left in the middle of the room. Ottilie was lying
stretched upon the ground, her arm and head leaning across the cover.
Charlotte bent anxiously over her, and asked what had happened; but she
received no answer.

Her maid had come with restoratives. Charlotte left her with Ottilie,
and herself hastened back to Edward. She found him in the saloon, but he
could tell her nothing.

He threw himself down before her; he bathed her hands with tears; he
flew to his own room, and she was going to follow him thither, when she
met his valet. From this man she gathered as much as he was able to
tell. The rest she put together in her own thoughts as well as she
could, and then at once set herself resolutely to do what the exigencies
of the moment required. Ottilie's room was put to rights again as
quickly as possible; Edward found his, to the last paper, exactly as he
had left it.

The three appeared again to fall into some sort of relation with one
another. But Ottilie persevered in her silence, and Edward could do
nothing except entreat his wife to exert a patience which seemed wanting
to himself. Charlotte sent messengers to Mittler and to the Major. The
first was absent from home and could not be found. The latter came. To
him Edward poured out all his heart, confessing every most trifling
circumstance to him, and thus Charlotte learnt fully what had passed;
what it had been which had produced such violent excitement, and how so
strange an alteration of their mutual position had been brought about.

She spoke with the utmost tenderness to her husband. She had nothing to
ask of him, except that for the present he would leave the poor girl to
herself. Edward was not insensible to the worth, the affection, the
strong sense of his wife; but his passion absorbed him exclusively.
Charlotte tried to cheer him with hopes. She promised that she herself
would make no difficulties about the separation; but it had small effect
with him. He was so much shaken that hope and faith alternately forsook
him. A species of insanity appeared to have taken possession of him. He
urged Charlotte to promise to give her hand to the Major. To satisfy him
and to humor him, she did what he required. She engaged to become
herself the wife of the Major, in the event of Ottilie consenting to the
marriage with Edward; with this express condition, however, that for the
present the two gentlemen should go abroad together. The Major had a
foreign appointment from the Court, and it was settled that Edward
should accompany him. They arranged it all together, and in doing so
found a sort of comfort for themselves in the sense that at least
something was being done.

In the meantime they had to remark that Ottilie took scarcely anything
to eat or drink. She still persisted in refusing to speak. They at first
used to talk to her, but it appeared to distress her, and they left it
off. We are not, universally at least, so weak as to persist in
torturing people for their good. Charlotte thought over what could
possibly be done. At last she fancied it might be well to ask the
Assistant of the school to come to them. He had much influence with
Ottilie, and had been writing with much anxiety to inquire the cause of
her not having arrived at the time he had been expecting her; but as yet
she had not sent him any answer.

In order not to take Ottilie by surprise, they spoke of their intention
of sending this invitation in her presence. It did not seem to please
her; she thought for some little time; at last she appeared to have
formed some resolution. She retired to her own room, and before the
evening sent the following letter to the assembled party:

OTTILIE TO HER FRIENDS

"Why need I express in words, my dear friends, what is in itself so
plain? I have stepped out of my course, and I cannot recover it again. A
malignant spirit which has gained power over me seems to hinder me from
without, even if within I could again become at peace with myself.

"My purpose was entirely firm to renounce Edward, and to separate myself
from him for ever. I had hoped that we might never meet again; it has
turned out otherwise. Against his own will he stood before me. Too
literally, perhaps, I have observed my promise never to admit him into
conversation with me. My conscience and the feelings of the moment kept
me silent toward him at the time, and now I have nothing more to say. I
have taken upon myself, under the accidental impulse of the moment, a
difficult vow, which if it had been formed deliberately, might perhaps
be painful and distressing. Let me now persist in the observance of it
so long as my heart shall enjoin it to me. Do not call in any one to
mediate; do not insist upon my speaking; do not urge me to eat or to
drink more than I absolutely must. Bear with me and let me alone, and so
help me on through the time; I am young, and youth has many unexpected
means of restoring itself. Endure my presence among you; cheer me with
your love; make me wiser and better with what you say to one another:
but leave me to my own inward self."

The two friends had made all preparation for their journey, but their
departure was still delayed by the formalities of the foreign
appointment of the Major, a delay most welcome to Edward. Ottilie's
letter had roused all his eagerness again; he had gathered hope and
comfort from her words, and now felt himself encouraged and justified in
remaining and waiting. He declared, therefore, that he would not go; it
would be folly, indeed, he cried, of his own accord, to throw away, by
over precipitateness, what was most valuable and most necessary to him,
when although there was a danger of losing it, there was nevertheless a
chance that it might be preserved. "What is the right name of conduct
such as that?" he said. "It is only that we desire to show that we are
able to will and to choose. I myself, under the influences of the same
ridiculous folly, have torn myself away, days before there was any
necessity for it, from my friends, merely that I might not be forced to
go by the definite expiration of my term. This time I will stay: what
reason is there for my going; is she not already removed far enough from
me? I am not likely now to catch her hand or press her to my heart; I
could not even think of it without a shudder. She has not separated
herself from me; she has raised herself far above me."

And so he remained as he desired, as he was obliged; but he was never
easy except when he found himself with Ottilie. She, too, had the same
feeling with him; she could not tear herself away from the same happy
necessity. On all sides they exerted an indescribable, almost magical
power of attraction over each other. Living, as they were, under one
roof, without even so much as thinking of each other, although they
might be occupied with other things, or diverted this way or that way by
the other members of the party, they always drew together. If they were
in the same room, in a short time they were sure to be either standing
or sitting near each other; they were only easy when as close together
as they could be, but they were then completely happy. To be near was
enough; there was no need for them either to look or to speak: they did
not seek to touch one another, or make sign or gesture, but merely to be
together. Then there were not two persons, there was but one person in
unconscious and perfect content, at peace with itself and with the
world. So it was that, if either of them had been imprisoned at the
further end of the house, the other would by degrees, without intending
it, have moved forward like a bird toward its mate; life to them was a
riddle, the solution of which they could find only in union.

Ottilie was throughout so cheerful and quiet that they were able to feel
perfectly easy about her; she was seldom absent from the society of her
friends: all that she had desired was that she might be allowed to eat
alone, with no one to attend upon her but Nanny.

What habitually befalls any person repeats itself more often than one is
apt to suppose, because his own nature gives the immediate occasion for
it. Character, individuality, inclination, tendency, locality,
circumstance, and habits, form together a whole, in which every man
moves as in an atmosphere, and where only he feels himself at ease in
his proper element.

And so we find men, of whose changeableness so many complaints are
made, after many years, to our surprise, unchanged, and in all their
infinite tendencies, outward and inward, unchangeable.

Thus in the daily life of our friends, almost everything glided on again
in its old smooth track. Ottilie still displayed by many silent
attentions her obliging nature, and the others, like her, continued each
themselves; and then the domestic circle exhibited an image of their
former life, so like it that they might be pardoned if at times they
dreamt that it might all be again as it was.

The autumn days, which were of the same length with those old spring
days, brought the party back into the house out of the air about the
same hour. The gay fruits and flowers which belonged to the season might
have made them fancy it was now the autumn of that first spring, and the
interval dropped out and forgotten; for the flowers which now were
blooming were the same as those which then they had sown, and the fruits
which were now ripening on the trees were those which at that time they
had seen in blossom.

The Major went backward and forward, and Mittler came frequently. The
evenings were generally spent in exactly the same way. Edward usually
read aloud, with more life and feeling than before; much better, and
even, it may be said, with more cheerfulness. It appeared as if he was
endeavoring, by light-heartedness as much as by devotion, to quicken
Ottilie's torpor into life, and dissolve her silence. He seated himself
in the same position as he used to do, that she might look over his
book; he was uneasy and distracted unless she was doing so, unless he
was sure that she was following his words with her eyes.

Every trace had vanished of the unpleasant, ungracious feelings of the
intervening time. No one had any secret complaint against another; there
were no cross purposes, no bitterness. The Major accompanied Charlotte's
playing with his violin, and Edward's flute sounded again, as formerly,
in harmony with Ottilie's piano. Thus they were now approaching Edward's
birthday, which the year before they had missed celebrating. This time
they were to keep it without any outward festivities, in quiet enjoyment
among themselves. They had so settled it together, half expressly, half
from a tacit agreement. As they approached nearer to this epoch,
however, an anxiety about it, which had hitherto been more felt than
observed, became more noticeable in Ottilie's manner. She was to be seen
often in the garden examining the flowers: she had signified to the
gardener that he was to save as many as he could of every sort, and she
had been especially occupied with the asters, which this year were
blooming in beautiful profusion.

CHAPTER XVIII

The most remarkable feature, however, which was observed about Ottilie
was that, for the first time, she had now unpacked the box, and had
selected a variety of things out of it, which she had cut up, and which
were intended evidently to make one complete suit for her. The rest,
with Nanny's assistance, she had endeavored to replace again, and she
had been hardly able to get it done, the space being over full, although
a portion had been taken out. The covetous little Nanny could never
satisfy herself with looking at all the pretty things, especially as she
found provision made there for every article of dress which could be
wanted, even the smallest. Numbers of shoes and stockings, garters with
devices on them, gloves, and various other things were left, and she
begged Ottilie just to give her one or two of them. Ottilie refused to
do that, but opened a drawer in her wardrobe, and told the girl to take
what she liked. The latter hastily and awkwardly dashed in her hand and
seized what she could, running off at once with her booty, to show it
off and display her good fortune among the rest of the servants.

At last Ottilie succeeded in packing everything carefully into its
place. She then opened a secret compartment which was contrived in the
lid, where she kept a number of notes and letters from Edward, many
dried flowers, the mementos of their early walks together, a lock of his
hair, and various other little matters. She now added one more to them,
her father's portrait, and then locked it all up, and hung the delicate
key by a gold chain about her neck, against her heart.

In the meantime, her friends had now in their hearts begun to entertain
the best hopes for her. Charlotte was convinced that she would one day
begin to speak again. She had latterly seen signs about her which
implied that she was engaged in secret about something; a look of
cheerful self-satisfaction, a smile like that which hangs about the face
of persons who have something pleasant and delightful which they are
keeping concealed from those whom they love. No one knew that she spent
many hours in extreme exhaustion, and that only at rare intervals, when
she appeared in public through the power of her will, she was able to
rouse herself.

Mittler had latterly been a frequent visitor, and when he came he staid
longer than he usually did at other times. This strong-willed, resolute
person was only too well aware that there is a certain moment in which
alone it will answer to smite the iron. Ottilie's silence and reserve he
interpreted according to his own wishes; no steps had as yet been taken
toward a separation of the husband and wife. He hoped to be able to
determine the fortunes of the poor girl in some not undesirable way. He
listened; he allowed himself to seem convinced; he was discreet and
unobtrusive, and conducted himself in his own way with sufficient
prudence. There was but one occasion on which he uniformly forgot
himself--when he found an opportunity for giving his opinion upon
subjects to which he attached a great importance. He lived much within
himself, and when he was with others, his only relation to them
generally was in active employment on their behalf; but if once, when
among friends, his tongue broke fairly loose, as on more than one
occasion we have already seen, he rolled out his words in utter
recklessness, whether they wounded or whether they pleased, whether they
did evil or whether they did good.

The evening before the birthday, the Major and Charlotte were sitting
together expecting Edward, who had gone out for a ride; Mittler was
walking up and down the saloon; Ottilie was in her own room, laying out
the dress which she was to wear on the morrow, and making signs to her
maid about a number of things, which the girl, who perfectly understood
her silent language, arranged as she was ordered.

Mittler had fallen exactly on his favorite subject. One of the points on
which he used most to insist was, that in the education of children, as
well as in the conduct of nations, there was nothing more worthless and
barbarous than laws and commandments forbidding this and that action.
"Man is naturally active," he said, "wherever he is; and if you know how
to tell him what to do, he will do it immediately, and keep straight in
the direction in which you set him. I myself, in my own circle, am far
better pleased to endure faults and mistakes, till I know what the
opposite virtue is that I am to enjoin, than to be rid of the faults and
to have nothing good to put in their place. A man is really glad to do
what is right and sensible, if he only knows how to get at it. It is no
such great matter with him; he does it because he must have something to
do, and he thinks no more about it afterward than he does of the
silliest freaks which he engaged in out of the purest idleness. I cannot
tell you how it annoys me to hear people going over and over those Ten
Commandments in teaching children. The fifth is a thoroughly beautiful,
rational, preceptive precept. 'Thou shalt honor thy father and thy
mother.' If the children will inscribe that well upon their hearts, they
have the whole day before them to put it in practice. But the sixth now?
What can we say to that? 'Thou shalt do no murder;' as if any man ever
felt the slightest general inclination to strike another man dead. Men
will hate sometimes; they will fly into passions and forget themselves;
and as a consequence of this or other feelings, it may easily come now
and then to a murder; but what a barbarous precaution it is to tell
children that they are not to kill or murder! If the commandment ran,
'Have a regard for the life of another--put away whatever can do him
hurt--save him though with peril to yourself--if you injure him,
consider that you are injuring yourself;'--that is the form which should
be in use among educated, reasonable people. And in our Catechism
teaching we have only an awkward clumsy way of sliding into it, through
a 'what do you mean by that?'

"And as for the seventh; that is utterly detestable. What! to stimulate
the precocious curiosity of children to pry into dangerous mysteries; to
obtrude violently upon their imaginations, ideas and notions which
beyond all things you should wish to keep from them! It were far better
if such actions as that commandment speaks of were dealt with
arbitrarily by some secret tribunal, than prated openly of before church
and congregation--"

At this moment Ottilie entered the room.

"'Thou shalt not commit adultery,'"--Mittler went on--"How coarse! how
brutal! What a different sound it has, if you let it run, 'Thou shalt
hold in reverence the bond of marriage. When thou seest a husband and a
wife between whom there is true love, thou shalt rejoice in it, and
their happiness shall gladden thee like the cheerful light of a
beautiful day. If there arise anything to make division between them,
thou shalt use thy best endeavor to clear it away. Thou shalt labor to
pacify them, and to soothe them; to show each of them the excellencies
of the other. Thou shalt not think of thyself, but purely and
disinterestedly thou shalt seek to further the well-being of others, and
make them feel what a happiness is that which arises out of all duty
done; and especially out of that duty which holds man and wife
indissolubly bound together.'"

Charlotte felt as if she was sitting on hot coals. The situation was
the more distressing, as she was convinced that Mittler was not thinking
the least where he was or what he was saying; and before she was able to
interrupt him, she saw Ottilie, after changing color painfully for a few
seconds, rise and leave the room.

Charlotte constrained herself to seem unembarrassed. "You will leave us
the eighth commandment," she said, with a faint smile.

"All the rest," replied Mittler, "if I may only insist first on the
foundation of the whole of them."

At this moment Nanny rushed in, screaming and crying: "She is dying; the
young lady is dying; come to her, come."

Ottilie had found her way back with extreme difficulty to her own room.
The beautiful things which she was to wear the next day were laid out on
a number of chairs; and the girl, who had been running from one to the
other, staring at them and admiring them, called out in her ecstasy,
"Look, dearest madam, only look! There is a bridal dress worthy of you."

Ottilie heard the word, and sank upon the sofa. Nanny saw her mistress
turn pale, fall back, and faint. She ran for Charlotte, who came. The
medical friend was on the spot in a moment. He thought it was nothing
but exhaustion. He ordered some strong soup to be brought. Ottilie
refused it with an expression of loathing: it almost threw her into
convulsions, when they put the cup to her lips. A light seemed to break
on the physician: he asked hastily and anxiously what Ottilie had taken
that day. The little girl hesitated. He repeated his question, and she
then acknowledged that Ottilie had taken nothing.

There was a nervousness of manner about Nanny which made him suspicious.
He carried her with him into the adjoining room; Charlotte followed; and
the girl threw herself on her knees, and confessed that for a long time
past Ottilie had taken as good as nothing; at her mistress's urgent
request, she had herself eaten the food which had been brought for her;
she had said nothing about it, because Ottilie had by signs alternately
begged her not to tell any one, and threatened her if she did; and, as
she innocently added, "because it was so nice."

The Major and Mittler now came up as well. They found Charlotte busy
with the physician. The pale, beautiful girl was sitting, apparently
conscious, in the corner of the sofa. They had begged her to lie down;
she had declined to do this; but she made signs to have her box brought,
and resting her feet upon it, placed herself in an easy, half recumbent
position. She seemed to be wishing to take leave; and by her gestures,
was expressing to all about her the tenderest affection, love,
gratitude, entreaties for forgiveness, and the most heartfelt farewell.

Edward, on alighting from his horse, was informed of what had happened;
he rushed to the room; threw himself down at her side; and seizing her
hand, deluged it with silent tears. In this position he remained a long
time. At last he called out: "And am I never more to hear your voice?
Will you not turn back toward life, to give me one single word? Well,
then, very well. I will follow you yonder, and there we will speak in
another language."

She pressed his hand with all the strength she had; she gazed at him
with a glance full of life and full of love; and drawing a long breath,
and for a little while moving her lips inarticulately, with a tender
effort of affection she called out, "Promise me to live;" and then fell
back immediately.

"I promise, I promise!" he cried to her; but he cried only after her;
she was already gone.

After a miserable night, the care of providing for the loved remains
fell upon Charlotte. The Major and Mittler assisted her. Edward's
condition was utterly pitiable. His first thought, when he was in any
degree recovered from his despair, and able to collect himself, was,
that Ottilie should not be carried out of the castle; she should be kept
there, and attended upon as if she were alive: for she was not dead; it
was impossible that she should be dead. They did what he desired; at
least, so far as that they did not do what he had forbidden. He did not
ask to see her.

There was now a second alarm, and a further cause for anxiety. Nanny,
who had been spoken to sharply by the physician, had been compelled by
threats to confess, and after her confession had been overwhelmed with
reproaches, had now disappeared. After a long search she was found; but
she appeared to be out of her mind. Her parents took her home; but the
gentlest treatment had no effect upon her, and she had to be locked up
for fear she would run away again.

They succeeded by degrees in recovering Edward from the extreme agony of
despair; but only to make him more really wretched. He now saw clearly,
he could not doubt how, that the happiness of his life was gone from him
for ever. It was suggested to him that if Ottilie was placed in the
chapel, she would still remain among the living, and it would be a calm,
quiet, peaceful home for her. There was much difficulty in obtaining his
consent; he would only give it under condition that she should be taken
there in an open coffin; that the vault in which she was laid, if
covered at all, should be only covered with glass, and a lamp should be
kept always burning there. It was arranged that this should be done, and
then he seemed resigned.

They clothed the delicate body in the festal dress, which she had
herself prepared. A garland of asters was wreathed about her head, which
shone sadly there like melancholy stars. To decorate the bier and the
church and chapel, the gardens were robbed of their beauty; they lay
desolate, as if a premature winter had blighted all their loveliness. In
the earliest morning she was borne in an open coffin out of the castle,
and the heavenly features were once more reddened with the rising sun.
The mourners crowded about her as she was being taken along. None would
go before; none would follow; every one would be where she was, every
one would enjoy her presence for the last time. Men and women and little
boys--there was not one unmoved; least of all to be consoled were the
girls, who felt most immediately what they had lost.

Nanny was not present; it had been thought better not to allow it, and
they had kept secret from her the day and the hour of the funeral. She
was at her parents' house, closely watched, in a room looking toward the
garden. But when she heard the bells tolling, she knew too well what
they meant; and her attendant having left her out of curiosity to see
the funeral, she escaped out of the window into a passage, and from
thence, finding all the doors locked, into an upper open loft. At this
moment the funeral was passing through the village, which had been all
freshly strewed with leaves. Nanny saw her mistress plainly close below
her, more plainly, more entirely, than any one in the procession
underneath; she appeared to be lifted above the earth, borne as it were
on clouds or waves, and the girl fancied she was making signs to her;
her senses swam, she tottered, swayed herself for a moment on the edge,
and fell to the ground. The crowd drew asunder on all sides with a cry
of horror. In the tumult and confusion, the bearers were obliged to set
down the coffin; the girl lay close by it; it seemed as if every limb
was broken. They lifted her up, and by accident or providentially she
was allowed to lean over the body; she appeared, indeed, to be
endeavoring, with what remained to her of life, to reach her beloved
mistress. Scarcely, however, had the loosely hanging limbs touched
Ottilie's robe, and the powerless finger rested on the folded hands,
than the girl started up, and first raising her arms and eyes toward
heaven, flung herself down upon her knees before the coffin, and gazed
with passionate devotion at her mistress.

At last she sprang, as if inspired, from off the ground, and cried with
a voice of ecstasy: "Yes, she has forgiven me; what no man, what I
myself could never have forgiven. God forgives me through her look, her
motion, her lips.

"Now she is lying again so still and quiet, but you saw how she raised
herself up, and unfolded her hands and blessed me, and how kindly she
looked at me. You all heard, you can witness that she said to me: 'You
are forgiven.' I am not a murderess any more. She has forgiven me. God
has forgiven me, and no one may now say anything more against me."

The people stood crowding around her. They were amazed; they listened
and looked this way and that, and no one knew what should next be done.
"Bear her on to her rest," said the girl. "She has done her part; she
has suffered, and cannot now remain any more amongst us." The bier moved
on, Nanny now following it; and thus they reached the church and the
chapel.

So now stood the coffin of Ottilie, with the child's coffin at her head,
and her box at her feet, inclosed in a resting-place of massive oak. A
woman had been provided to watch the body for the first part of the
time, as it lay there so beautiful beneath its glass covering. But Nanny
would not permit this duty to be taken from herself. She would remain
alone without a companion, and attend to the lamp which was now kindled
for the first time; and she begged to be allowed to do it with so much
eagerness and perseverance, that they let her have her way, to prevent
any greater evil that might ensue.

But she did not long remain alone. As night was falling, and the hanging
lamp began to exercise its full right and shed abroad a larger lustre,
the door opened and the Architect entered the chapel. The chastely
ornamented walls in the mild light looked more strange, more awful, more
antique, than he was prepared to see them. Nanny was sitting on one side
of the coffin. She recognized him immediately; but she pointed in
silence to the pale form of her mistress. And there stood he on the
other side, in the vigor of youth and of grace, with his arms drooping,
and his hands clasped piteously together, motionless, with head and eye
inclined over the inanimate body.

Once already he had stood thus before in the Belisarius; he had now
involuntarily fallen into the same attitude. And this time how
naturally! Here, too, was something of inestimable worth thrown down
from its high estate. _There_ were courage, prudence, power, rank, and
wealth in one single man, lost irrevocably; there were qualities which,
in decisive moments, had been of indispensable service to the nation and
the prince; but which, when the moment was passed, were no more valued,
but flung aside and neglected, and cared for no longer. And _here_ were
many other silent virtues, which had been summoned but a little time
before by nature out of the depths of her treasures, and now swept
rapidly away again by her careless hand--rare, sweet, lovely virtues,
whose peaceful workings the thirsty world had welcomed, while it had
them, with gladness and joy; and now was sorrowing for them in
unavailing desire.

Both the youth and the girl were silent for a long time. But when she
saw the tears streaming fast down his cheeks, and he appeared to be
sinking under the burden of his sorrow, she spoke to him with so much
truthfulness and power, with such kindness and such confidence, that,
astonished at the flow of her words, he was able to recover himself, and
he saw his beautiful friend floating before him in the new life of a
higher world. His tears ceased flowing; his sorrow grew lighter: on his
knees he took leave of Ottilie, and with a warm pressure of the hand of
Nanny, he rode away from the spot into the night without having seen a
single other person.

The surgeon had, without the girl being aware of it, remained all night
in the church; and when he went in the morning to see her, he found her
cheerful and tranquil. He was prepared for wild aberrations. He thought
that she would be sure to speak to him of conversations which she had
held in the night with Ottilie, and of other such apparitions. But she
was natural, quiet, and perfectly self-possessed. She remembered
accurately what had happened in her previous life; she could describe
the circumstances of it with the greatest exactness, and never in
anything which she said stepped out of the course of what was real and
natural, except in her account of what had passed with the body, which
she delighted to repeat again and again, how, Ottilie had raised herself
up, had blessed her, had forgiven her, and thereby set her at rest for
ever.

Ottilie remained so long in her beautiful state, which more resembled
sleep than death, that a number of persons were attracted there to look
at her. The neighbors and the villagers wished to see her again, and
every one desired to hear Nanny's incredible story from her own mouth.
Many laughed at it, most doubted, and some few were found who were able
to believe.

Difficulties, for which no real satisfaction is attainable, compel us to
faith. Before the eyes of all the world, Nanny's limbs had been broken,
and by touching the sacred body she had been restored to strength again.
Why should not others find similar good fortune? Delicate mothers first
privately brought their children who were suffering from obstinate
disorders, and they believed that they could trace an immediate
improvement. The confidence of the people increased, and at last there
was no one so old or so weak as not to have come to seek fresh life and
health and strength at this place. The concourse became so great, that
they were obliged, except at the hours of divine service, to keep the
church and chapel closed.

Edward did not venture to look at her again; he lived on mechanically;
he seemed to have no tears left, and to be incapable of any further
suffering; his power of taking interest in what was going on diminished
every day; his appetite gradually failed. The only refreshment which did
him any good was what he drank out of the glass, which to him, indeed,
had been but an untrue prophet. He continued to gaze at the intertwining
initials, and the earnest cheerfulness of his expression seemed to
signify that he still hoped to be united with her at last. And as every
little circumstance combines to favor the fortunate, and every accident
contributes to elate him; so do the most trifling occurrences love to
unite to crush and overwhelm the unhappy. One day, as Edward raised the
beloved glass to his lips, he put it down and thrust it from him with a
shudder. It was the same and not the same. He missed a little private
mark upon it. The valet was questioned, and had to confess that the real
glass had not long since been broken, and that one like it belonging to
the same set had been substituted in its place.

Edward could not be angry. His destiny had spoken out with sufficient
clearness in the fact, and how should he be affected by the shadow? and
yet it touched him deeply. He seemed now to dislike drinking, and
thenceforward purposely to abstain from food and from speaking.

But from time to time a sort of restlessness came over him; he would
desire to eat and drink something, and would begin again to speak. "Ah!"
he said, one day to the Major, who now seldom left his side, "how
unhappy I am that all my efforts are but imitations ever, and false and
fruitless. What was blessedness to her, is pain to me; and yet for the
sake of this blessedness I am forced to take this pain upon myself. I
must go after her; follow her by the same road. But my nature and my
promise hold me back. It is a terrible difficulty, indeed, to imitate
the inimitable. I feel clearly, my dear friend, that genius is required
for everything; for martyrdom as well as the rest."

What shall we say of the endeavors which in this hopeless condition were
made for him? His wife, his friends, his physician, incessantly labored
to do something for him. But it was all in vain: at last they found him
dead. Mittler was the first to make the melancholy discovery; he called
the physician, and examined closely, with his usual presence of mind,
the circumstances under which he had been found. Charlotte rushed in to
them; she was afraid that he had committed suicide, and accused herself
and accused others of unpardonable carelessness. But the physician on
natural, and Mittler on moral grounds, were soon able to satisfy her of
the contrary. It was quite clear that Edward's end had taken him by
surprise. In a quiet moment he had taken out of his pocketbook and out
of a casket everything which remained to him as memorials of Ottilie,
and had spread them out before him--a lock of hair, flowers which had
been gathered in some happy hour, and every letter which she had written
to him from the first and which his wife had ominously happened to give
him. It was impossible that he would intentionally have exposed these to
the danger of being seen by the first person who might happen to
discover him.

But so lay the heart, which but a short time before had been so swift
and eager, at rest now, where it could never be disturbed; and falling
asleep, as he did, with his thoughts on one so saintly, he might well be
called blessed. Charlotte gave him his place at Ottilie's side, and
arranged that thenceforth no other person should be placed with them in
the same vault. In order to secure this, she made it a condition under
which she settled considerable sums of money on the church and the
school.

So lie the lovers, sleeping side by side. Peace hovers above their
resting-place. Fair angel faces gaze down upon them from the vaulted
ceiling, and what a happy moment that will be when one day they wake
again together!

SHAKESPEARE AND AGAIN SHAKESPEARE[1]

TRANSLATED BY JULIA FRANKLIN

So much has already been written of Shakespeare that it would seem as if
nothing remained to be said; yet it is the peculiarity of a great mind
ever to stimulate other minds. This time I propose to consider
Shakespeare from more than one point of view--first as a poet in
general, then as compared with poets ancient and modern, and finally, as
a strictly dramatic poet. I shall endeavor to show what effect the
imitation of his art has produced upon us and what effect it is capable
of producing in general. I shall voice my agreement with what has
already been said by repeating it upon occasion, but shall express my
dissent positively and briefly, without involving myself in a conflict
of opinions. Let us, then, take up the first point.

I

SHAKESPEARE AS A POET IN GENERAL

The highest that man can attain is the consciousness of his own thoughts
and feelings, and a knowledge of himself which prepares him to fathom
alien natures as well. There are people who are by nature endowed with
such a gift and by experience develop it to practical uses. Thence
springs the ability to conquer something, in a higher sense, from the
world and affairs. The poet, too, is born with such an endowment, only
he does not develop it for immediate mundane ends, but for a more
exalted, universal purpose. If we rate Shakespeare as one of the
greatest poets, we acknowledge at the same time that it has been
vouchsafed to few to discern the world as he did: to few, in expressing
their inward feelings of the world, to give the reader a more realizing
sense of it. It becomes thoroughly transparent to us; we find ourselves
suddenly the confidants of virtue and vice, of greatness and
insignificance, of nobility and depravity--all this, and more, through
the simplest means. If we seek to discover what those means are, it
appears as if he wrought for our eyes; but we are deceived.
Shakespeare's creations are not for the eyes of the body. I shall
endeavor to explain myself.

Sight may well be termed the clearest of our senses, that through which
transmissions are most readily made. But our inward sense is still
clearer and its highest and quickest impressions are conveyed through
the medium of the word; for that is indeed fructifying, while what we
apprehend through our eyes may be alien to us and by no means as potent
in its effects. Now, Shakespeare addresses our inward sense, absolutely;
through it the realm of fancy created by the imagination is quickened
into life and thus a world of impressions is produced for which we can
not account, since the basis of the illusion consists in the fact that
everything seems to take place before our eyes. But if we examine
Shakespeare's dramas carefully, we find that they contain far less of
sensuous acts than of spiritual expressions. He allows events to happen
which may be readily imagined; nay, that it is better to imagine than to
see. Hamlet's ghost, the witches in _Macbeth_, many deeds of horror,
produce their effect through the imagination; and the abundant short
interludes are addressed solely to that faculty. All such things pass
before us fittingly and easily in reading, whereas they are a drag in
representation and appear as disturbing, even as repellent elements.

Shakespeare produces his effects by the living word, and that may be
best transmitted by recitation; the listener is not distracted by either
good or inadequate representation. There is no greater or purer delight
than to listen with closed eyes to a Shakespearean play recited, not
declaimed, in a natural, correct voice. One follows the simple thread
which runs through events of the drama. We form a certain conception of
the characters, it is true, from their designation; but actually we
have to learn from the course of the words and speeches what goes on
within, and here all the characters seem to have agreed not to leave us
in the dark, in doubt, in any particular.

[Illustration: THE OLD THEATRE, WEIMAR _From a Water Color by Peter
Woltze_]

To this end all conspire--heroes and mercenaries, masters and slaves,
kings and messengers; the subordinate figures, indeed, being often more
effective in this respect than the superior ones. Everything
mysteriously brewing in the air at the time of some great world-event,
all that is hidden in the human soul in moments of supreme experience,
is given expression; what the spirit anxiously locks up and screens is
freely and unreservedly exposed; we learn the meaning of life and know
not how.

Shakespeare mates himself with the world-spirit; like it he pervades the
world; to neither is anything concealed; but if it is the function of
the world-spirit to maintain secrecy before, indeed often after, the
event, it is the poet's aim to divulge the secret and make us confidants
before the deed, or at least during its occurrence. The vicious man of
power, well-meaning mediocrity, the passionate enthusiast, the calmly
reflective character, all wear their hearts upon their sleeves, often
contrary to all likelihood; every one is inclined to talk, to be
loquacious. In short, the secret must out, should the stones have to
proclaim it. Even inanimate objects contribute their share; all
subordinate things chime in; the elements, the phenomena of the heavens,
earth and sea, thunder and lightning, wild beasts, raise their voices,
often apparently in parables, but always acting as accessories.

But the civilized world, too, must render up its treasures; arts and
sciences, trades and professions, all offer their gifts. Shakespeare's
creations are a great, animated fair, and for this richness he is
indebted to his native land.

England, sea-girt, veiled in mist and clouds, turning its active
interest toward every quarter of the globe, is everywhere. The poet
lived at a notable and momentous time, and depicted its culture, its
misculture even, in the merriest vein; indeed, he would not affect us
so powerfully had he not identified himself with the age in which he
lived. No one had a greater contempt for the mere material, outward garb
of man than he; he understands full well that which is within, and here
all are on the same footing. It is thought that he represented the
Romans admirably; I do not find it so; they are all true-blue
Englishmen, but, to be sure, they are men, men through and through, and
the Roman toga, too, fits them. When we have seized this point of view,
we find his anachronisms highly laudable, and it is this very disregard
of the outer raiment that renders his creations so vivid.

Let these few words, which do not by any means exhaust Shakespeare's
merits, suffice. His friends and worshipers would find much that might
be added. Yet one remark more It would be difficult to name another poet
each of whose works has a different underlying conception exerting such
a dominating influence as we find in Shakespeare's.

Thus _Coriolanus_ is pervaded throughout by anger that the masses will
not acknowledge the preeminence of their superiors. In _Julius Caesar_
everything turns upon the conception that the better people do not wish
any one placed in supreme authority because they imagine, mistakenly,
that they can work in unison. _Anthony and Cleopatra,_ calls out with a
thousand tongues that self-indulgence and action are incompatible. And
further investigation will rouse our admiration of this variety again
and again.

II

SHAKESPEARE COMPARED WITH THE ANCIENT AND THE MOST MODERN POETS

The interest that animates Shakespeare's great spirit lies within the
limits of the world; for though prophecy and madness, dreams,
presentiments, portents, fairies and goblins, ghosts, witches and
sorcerers, form a magic element which color his creations at the fitting
moment, yet those phantasms are by no means the chief components of his
productions; it is the verities and experiences of his life that are the
great basis upon which they rest, and that is why everything that
proceeds from him appears so genuine and pithy. We perceive, therefore,
that he belongs not so much to the modern world, which has been termed
the romantic one, as to a naive world, since, though his significance
really rests upon the present, he scarcely, even in his tenderest
moments, touches the borders of longing, and then only at the outermost
edge.

Nevertheless, more intimately examined, he is a decidedly modern poet,
divided from the ancients by a tremendous gulf, not as regards outward
form, which is not to be considered here at all, but as regards the
inmost, the profoundest significance of his work.

I shall, in the first place, protect myself by saying that it is by no
means my intention to adduce the following terminology as exhaustive or
final; my attempt is, rather not so much to add a new contrast to those
already familiar, as to point out that it is included in them. These
contrasts are:

Antique Modern

Naive Sentimental

Pagan Christian

Heroic Romantic

Real Idealistic

Necessity Freedom

_Sollen_ (Duty; shall; must; should). _Wollen_ (Desire; inclination;
would).

The greatest torments, as well as the most frequent, that beset man
spring from the discordances in us all between duty and desire, between
duty and performance (_Vollbringen_); and it is these discordances
that so often embarrass man during his earthly course. The slightest
confusion, arising from a trivial error which may be cleared up
unexpectedly and without injury, gives rise to ridiculous situations.
The greatest confusion, on the contrary, insoluble or unsolved, offers
us the tragic elements.

Predominant in the ancient dramas is the discordance between duty and
desire; in the modern, that between desire and performance. Let us, for
the present, consider this decisive difference among the other
contrasts, and see what can be done with it in both cases. Now this, now
that side predominates, as I have remarked; but since duty and desire
cannot be radically separated in man, both motives must be found
simultaneously, even though the one should be predominant and the other
subordinate. Duty is imposed upon man; "must" is a hard taskmaster;
desire (_das Wollen_) man imposes upon himself; man's own will is his
heaven. A persistent "should" is irksome; inability to perform is
terrible; a persistent "would" is gratifying; and the possession of a
firm will may yield solace even in case of incapacity to perform.

We may look at games of cards as a sort of poetic creation; they, too,
consist of these two elements. The form of the game, combined with
chance, takes the place of the "should" as the ancients recognized it
under the name of fate; the "would," combined with the ability of the
player, opposes it. Looked at in this way, I should call the game of
whist ancient. The form of this game restricts chance, nay, the will
itself; provided with partners and opponents, I must, with the cards
dealt out to me, guide a long series of chances which there is no way of
controlling. In the case of ombre and other like games, the contrary
takes place. Here a great many doors are left open to will and daring; I
can revoke the cards that fall to my share, can make them count in
various ways, can discard half or all of them, can appeal from the
decree of chance, nay, by an inverted course can reap the greatest
advantage from the worst hand; and thus this class of games exactly
resembles the modern method in thought and in poetic art.

Ancient tragedy is based upon an unavoidable "should," which is
intensified and accelerated only by a counteracting "would." This is the
point of all that is terrible in the oracles, the region where _Oedipus_
reigns supreme. _Sollen_ appears in a milder light as duty in
_Antigone_. But all _Sollen_ is despotic, whether it belongs to the
domain of reason, as ethical and municipal laws, or to that of Nature,
as the laws of creation, growth, dissolution, of life and death. We
shudder at all this, without reflecting that it is intended for the
general good. _Wollen,_ on the contrary, is free, appears free, and
favors the individual. _Wollen,_ therefore, is flattering, and perforce
took possession of men as soon as they learned to know it. It is the god
of the new time; devoted to it, we have a dread of its opposite, and
that is why there is an impassable gulf between our art, as well as our
mode of thought, and that of the ancients. Through _Sollen,_ tragedy
becomes great and forceful; through _Wollen,_ weak and petty. Thus has
arisen the so-called drama, in which the awful power of Fate was
dissolved by the will; but precisely because this comes to the aid of
our weakness do we find ourselves moved if, after painful expectation,
we finally receive but scant comfort.

If now, after these preliminary reflections, I turn to Shakespeare, I
can not forbear wishing that my readers should themselves make the
comparison and the application. Here Shakespeare stands out unique,
combining the old and the new in incomparable fashion. _Wollen_ and
_Sollen_ seek by every means, in his plays, to reach an equilibrium;
they struggle violently with each other, but always in a way that leaves
the _Wollen_ at a disadvantage.

No one, perhaps, has represented more splendidly the great primal
connection between _Wollen_ and _Sollen_ in the character of the
individual. A person, from the point of view of his character, should:
he is restricted, destined to some definite course; but as a man, he
wills. He is unlimited and demands freedom of choice. At once there
arises an inner conflict, and Shakespeare puts it in the forefront. But
then an outer conflict supervenes, which often becomes acute through the
pressure of circumstances, in the face of which a deficiency of will may
rise to the rank of an inexorable fate. This idea I have pointed out
before in the case of Hamlet; but it occurs repeatedly in Shakespeare;
for as Hamlet is driven by the ghost into straits which he cannot pass
through, so is Macbeth by witches, by Hecate, and by the arch-witch, his
wife; Brutus by his friends; nay, even _in Coriolanus_, we find a
similar thing--in short, the conception of a will transcending the
capacity of the individual is modern. But as Shakespeare represents this
trouble of the will as arising not from within but through outside
circumstances, it becomes a sort of Fate and approaches the antique. For
all the heroes of poetic antiquity strive only for what lies within
man's power, and thence arises that fine balance between will, Fate, and
performance; yet their Fate appears always as too forbidding, even where
we admire it, to possess the power of attraction. A necessity which,
more or less, or completely, precludes all freedom, does not comport

Book of the day: