Frances Milton Trollope.

Gertrude, or, Family pride online

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new friend Rupert's having fallen in love with her also, might
not already have taken place. This was the more generous,
because he was quite aware that he would himself be considered
as a match in every way desirable and proper, even for the heiress
of Schwanberg, whereas he could not doubt that it would be quite
sufficient for Rupert to be caught looking at her with the eyes of
affection, in order to ensure his being turned out of his present
paradise without an hour's delay.

But his perfect conviction that in thus thinking he made no
mistake, had a precisely contrary effect upon him, from what it
probably would have had upon most other people.

If he had believed himself as superior in talent, or even as
superior in the less important advantage of good looks, as he truly
believed himself to be the reverse, he would have been vastly
more inclined to take advantage of it, even at the cost of sacri-
ficing his newly-formed friendship to his newly-felt love ; but the
idea that, if both fairly weighed together, Rupert could only be
found wanting in weight of metal, was repugnant to him, even
though that metal was gold.

It required no great time to enable him to decide in^evocably
against running the risk which might endanger the happiness of
all, from any such rivalry ; but it took him rather longer, before
he could make up his mind as to what would be the best method


98 geeteude; ok,

of proceeding, in order to ascertain whether, in truth, Eupert
were as much in love as himself.

That he should have lived in the same house with Gertrude,
and escaped being so, certiiinly seemed to him to be pretty nearly
impossible ; but, nevertheless, he determined to have better au-
thority than this, before he decided upon what his own conduct
should be.

The result of all his meditations on the subject, was his writ-
ing and sending the following letter : —

" My deae Odexthal,

*' Though we have so well managed our pleasant rides
as to get more talk amidst our gallopings than, I believe, most
people could have done, and though the friendship thus began
between us took a very vigorous step onward during my uncon-
scionably long visit in the Schwanberg library yesterday, I still
feel that I want to know you better yet ; and I am inclined to
think that a good long tete-d-tete walk together, would be one of
the most agreeable modes of attaining my object. "NYhat say you ?
I know that you are not such an idle, useless fellow as myself

I don't believe I should have liked you so well if you

had been It must be for you, therefore, to fix the day and

houi' that will best suit your convenience for our ramble ; I shall
hold myself in readiness to meet you when and where you

'' Believe me,

" Dear Odenthal,

'' Yery sincerely yours,

*' Adolphe Steixfeld."

The receipt of this note surprised Eupeii: Odenthal a good deal,
but it pleased him considerably more. He had been, for the last
year or two of his Kfe, much too busy a personage to Kave had
any time to spare for day-dreams ; but, had he indulged in such,
the offered friendship of such a man as the young Count von
Steinfeld, would decidedly have been of the number.

But though his service was a very easy one, he felt at that
moment more decidedly, perhaps, than he had ever before done,
that he was not (^uite so free a man as he might wish to be. ^ But
ere he had positively breathed a sigh as he remembered this, he
threw down his pen, with a smile, as he remembered, also, that
it was to the lady of the castle, and not to its lord, that it was
necessary to apply for permission to accept the very agreeable
proposal which the note contained.


It was with a flushed cheek, and a brightly sparlding eye, ihit
he approached his cver-kiud patroness, and placed the note in her

Ho had no sooner done so, than Gertrude, Avith her accustomed
unchecked imp;>tuosity, sprung from her own table to that at
which her mother was sitting.

" It is not a secret, I suppose, mamma, is it ?" said she, bending
over her mother's shoulder, with the very evident intention of
reading the note she held.

"Fie upon you! naughty Eve, as you are!" said her mother,
laughing. " You may perceive it is addressed to Mr. Odcnthal,"
she added, holding up the note so as to exhibit the address ; and,
therefore, it is Air. Odenthal's permission, and not mine, which is

" Indeed, mamma!" said the young lady, bounding back to her
accustomed place still more vehemently than she had left it ; "I
have not the very slightest wish to force myself into ]Mr. Rupert's
confidence. TV'ill it be more discreet for me to leave the room ?
Or will it do, if I go down to the very farther end of it?"

"Let me read it aloud, Hupert — shall I?" said the greatly-
pleased Itadame de Schwanbcrg. " Silly child as she is, I think
it will give her almost as much pleasure as it does me ; and I am
quite sure it would, if she as well knew its probable importance
to you."

{She then read the note aloud, and addressing her daughter as
she gave it back to liupert, she said, "You see, Gertrude, that
we are not the only people in the world who find Rupert an
agreeable companion. But the messenger is Avaiting, my dear
boy. 8it down and write your answer."

"But you have not yet told me, dear madam, what that
answer is to be. AVhat will you give me leave to say to him ?"

' ' Oh, llupert ! if I were mamma, what a rage I should be in
with you!" exclaimed Gertrude, with cheeks as red as scarlet.
" Do you really think that mamma Avants to make a slave of you ?
Don't you feel that you hate him, mamma ? If I were in your
place, I am quite sure that I should!"

" jS'ot unless you misunderstood his application to me as com-
pletely after you had got into my place as you evidently do now,
Gertrude," replied the baroness; "our friend llupert might as
reasonably be accused of being a slave because he opened a door
for me, or offered me his arm in a walk, as because he consulted
me as to the best time of appointing Count Adolphe to meet


100 GtliTEUUE; OE,

'• Oh! if that is all, mamma, it is all very right and proper ;
and, of course, I was a fool for supposing that liupert could mean
anything else."

"Suppose you name mid-day, to-morrow, llupert," said the
baroness, after meditating upon the subject for a moment; "and
you had better say in your note," she added, kindly, "that we
should be very glad to see him here to dinner afterwards, at four

Thus authorized to return precisely such an answer as he wished
to send, Rupert was not long in despatching his reply ; and this
being done, he ([uietly sat himself down to continue the employ-
ment upon which he had been occupied when this agreeable
interruption stopped him.

l^ut Gertrude seemed determined to atone for her cross fit, by
becoming so gaily frolicsome, as to render it impossible for any
one within reach of the sound of her voice to employ themselves

" What is come to you, Gertrude ?" said her mother, laughing
with her, because it was impossible to resist her gaiety. "Upon
my word, you give us reason to suppose that you are beyond
measure delighted at the idea of seeing our agreeable young
neighbour at dinner, to-morrow ; and I cannot chide you for it, if
you are, for there are very few people that I like so well myself,
as this Count Adolphe."

"And I can go farther than that, mamma ! " replied the young
lady, with great energy ; ' ' for I can truly say, that I never in
mv whole life liked anv one so much."

Her mother looked at her earnestly for a moment, and during
that moment she certainly became more conscious tlian she had
ever been before, that Gertrude was no longer a child.

But neither by look or word did she betray the discovery she
had made, to either of her companions. She quietly resumed her
own employment, and Ptupert proceeded with his ; but Gertrude
liad less command of herself, and might have been seen, if her
companions had been at leisure to watch her, more occupied in
plucking the feathers from her gi^ey goose quill, than in writing
with it.

Nothing intervened to interfere in any way with the projects
which had been formed for the following day ; and with exemplary
puntuality to the hour named, the two young men met at the spot
indicated by Rupert, in reply to Count Adolphe's note.

The meeting was joyously cordial on both sides, and they set
forward on their projected ramble with as much satisfaction as if


the pedigree of the one was precisely on an equality with the
pcdigTee of the other.

Tor the first hour or so of their walk, it was Eupert who
seemed to lead the conversation; and many interesting themes
were touched, not one of which but might have furnished a
wider scope for interesting discussion than many a morning's
ramble could have allowed time for.

But at length, just as Paipert was waiting a reply to a some-
what bold speculation. Count Adolphe suddenly stood still, and
darting off from the subject they were upon, he exclaimed,
''What a lucky fellow you are, Eupert Odenthal I I envy you
that library ! I envy you the companions with whom you seem to
live there ! I really know no man living, whose existence seems
to pass so exactly as I would wish my own to do. There is but
one anxiety which could, I think, interfere to torment me in such
a situation."

"And what is that. Count?" said Eupert, with a smile, as
he thought of his right noble patron, the Baron von Schwan-

"^"ay," returned his companion, colouring. "I assure you
that the danger to which I am alluding has no mixture of jest in
it. I do really and truly think, friend Eupert, that if I spent as
many hours as you do in the society of the Baroness Gertrude, I
should be in gTeat danger of falling in love with her."

The sparkling eyes of Eupert again kindled into a smile.

" AVere such an adventure to befal me," he replied, "I should
most certainly consider it as a very terrible mishap ; but I don't
see why it should be so in your case."

" On account of the coutigiious estates, you mean, and all that
sort of stuff. Fie ! fie ! Eupert ! I did not expect to hear such
trash as that from you. Do you really think that I should con-
sider my happiness ensured by being married to Gertrude, at the
command of her father and mine?"

"Xo, indeed. Count Adolphe!" returned his companion; "I
think no such thing. But neither do I think, on the other hand,
that the well-pleased consent of both ought to be any di-awback
on your happiness."

"I did not exactly mean that, either," returned Adolphe,
colouring more perceptibly than before. "All I should want or
wish, would be, that they would let us alone. But what I want

most particularly to know at this moment is whether

you are in love with her yourself, Eupert?"

Eupert, in replying to this very important question, really and

102 , geetrude; oi?


truly did all lie could, both to look and spoak seriously, as he
answered, " Xo, my Lord Count. I am not!"

" Thank God !" exclaimed the young nobleman very fervently ;
" I am sure you would not deceive me, dear Rupert!" he added,
*' and, therefore, I welcome this very delightful assurance, with
the most perfect conviction of its truth. But how you have
escaped, is to me a perfect mystery ! Tell me, llupcrt, did you
ever see any one whom you thought more beautiful":'"

" I am almost afraid to answer you, dear Count !" said Rupert,
casting down his eyes, and assuming an aspect of gi'eat solemnity;
"but, at any rate, I will not take refuge in an untruth, in order
to propitiate your favour. Yes!" he added, "yes ! I have seen
two people "who, according to my judgment, are both handsomer
than the Baroness Gertrude von Schwanberg." And here he

Count Adolphe raised his arms in an action of astonishment,
but this was accompanied by a smile, which plainly proclaimed
that his offence was forgiven.

"Go on ! " said the Count.

I'pon which Rupert meekly bent his head, and pronounced, in
a deprecatory tone, "I think the baroness, her mother, is hand-


"And the other?" said Adolphe, with rather a contemptuous
shake of the head.

"The other is a little girl, whom you have probably never
seen, my Lord Count ; for she is the daughter of a poor woman,
who lives in the "spillage of v/hich mv uncle Alaric is the

"And you are not speaking in jest, Rupert?" said the young
nobleman, gravely.

"1^0, indeed, I am not!" returned Rupert, with all the sim-
plicity of truth. " As to our baroness at the castle, I scarcely ever
look at her without thinking that she is the exact model of what
a poet might fancy as the lovely sovereign of some enchanted land.
Some of Spenser's descriptions remind me of her. I do not think

her daughter will ever be so exquisitely graceful as she is

And as to my little nymph of the fountain — for it is when fetch-
ing water from the fountain that I have generally seen her — she
is more like a picture, or a dream, than anything made of flesh
and blood. The eyes of your young baroness are very much like
the eyes of her mother, and they are, therefore, exceedingly
h-.mdsomo ; but you must see my nymph of the fountain before
yo-.i can understand, Jiow beautiful eyes may be."


"Yes!" returned Adolphe, rather solemnly; ''eyes may
assuredly be very beautiful ; but what a providential arrange-
ment it is, friend Paipert, that the judgment of the eyes of those
who look, varies as much as the beauty of the eyes looked at. It
is long since I felt as light-hearted as I do at this moment, for to
tell you the honest truth, I was desperately afraid that you too
might be in love with this peerless young Gertrude. And yet,
my good friend, a moment's consideration ought to be enough to
suggest the heavy fact, that although she may not be in love with
you, nor you with her, yet nevertheless it does not follow as -a
necessary consequence, that she will therefore some day be in love
with me ! IS'ay, how do I know that I may not at this present
moment, be the object of her peculiar dislike ? Gracious Heaven I
"What a dreadful thought ! And yet my common sense tells me
that it is quite as likely that it should be so, as not. ..." And
having uttered these terrible words, in a tone of unmistakeable
sincerity, the agitated young man suddenly quitted the arm of his
companion, and throwing himself on the turf beside the path,
buried his face in his hands.

"It certainly is a strange choice, Count Adolphe, that has put
it in my power to give you hope on such a subject as this," said
Eupert, gaily throwing himself on his knees beside him ; " but so
it is, and that too, without any breach of confidence on my part.
But when your letter to me was brought into the library yesterday
morning, my ever kind friend and patroness, the baroness, ex-
pressed her pleasure at such an unequivocal proof of your amiable
readiness to forget the distance which station places between us,
and spoke of you generally, my good friend, in the terms wliich
you so well deserve. Whereupon, the young baroness, Gertrude,
blushing like a new-blown rose, exclaimed, with an earnest
energy, of which I would fain give you an idea if I could, ' I can
go farther than that, mamma ; for I can truly say, that I never
in my whole life, liked any one so much.' Does that satisfy you,

"Satisfy me I" exclaimed the delighted young man, springing
up. " Did she really say this, Eupert? But I know she did, for
you are incapable of deceiving me."

"Indeed I am, dear Count," replied Eupert, gi'avely. " If I
know myself, I am incapable of deceiving you in any way ; and
trust me, in a case where your happiness is so deeply concerned,
I would not only be true, but cautious also. But my memory has
not failed me, dear Adolphe ! She spoke the words with even
greater energy than I have repeated them ; and her mother was

104 geeteude; oe, ^

evidently conscious of this, for she positively started, and blushed
too, almost as brightly as her daughter."

I will not attempt to describe the state of happiness produced
on the young Count by this observation. He seemed to walk on
air ; nor was his reception, on returning to Schwanberg, at all
calculated to check the hopes which it had created.

The baron was as courteous as a baron so very solemn could be ;
the baroness was all genuine kindness, and the blooming Gertrude
went as far as it was possible for a well-behaved young lady to
go, in making it evident to the guest that she liked very much to
see him there.


OxcE fairly convinced that he had no rival to fear in Rupert,
and that the fair object of his passion was by no means disposed
to frown upon him, the course to be pursued became equally
hopeful and easy to the young lover. In the first place, as
in duty bound, he requested a private interview with his

The Count von Steinfeld was in many respects an amiable and
estimable gentleman ; and if his attachment to his son (his only
son) had something approaching to fanaticism in it, the fine
qualities, and excellent conduct of the young man, oftercd a great
excuse for it. The revenues of Count Steinfeld were very nearly,
if not fully, equal to those of his neighbour, the Earon von
Schwanberg ; and his nobility as unblemished, though not, per-
haps, of so high antiquity. The hopes of the young Adolphe,
therefore, had nothing deserving the imputation of presumption
in them ; but there is so much of true timidity for ever mixed
with true love, that it was not without trepidation that the young
man presented himself before his father, to beseech his consent
to his ofi'ering his hand to Gertrude.

Now the only feature in the business in the least likely to
check the satisfaction of Count Steinfeld on hearing this proposi-
tion, was the recollection that he was himself but just above forty
years old, and that his son was not yet twenty. His high rank


and ample fortune had produced in him an effect diametrically
different to what similar causes had produced on the Baron von
Schwauberg ; for whereas the baron had found it so difficult to
discover a lady in all respects deserving the honour of being his
wife, that he had nearly reached the age of fifty before he accom-
plished it, the Count had fallen desperately in love when he was
about the same age as his enamoured son was now ; and though
he could not jjlead his own example as a warning, for he had
been very particularly happy both as a husband and a father, yet
still he felt that there were some rational objections against such
very early marriages.

The first effect of Adolphc's solemn proposal was to make his
father laugh ; whereupon the young man blushed still deeper than

"Is there anything ridiculous, sii', in my selection?" said he,
with very considerable dignity.

'' No, indeed, Adolphe!" returned his gay father, still laughing.
"If you have really made up your mind that you are in want of
a wife, I really do not think that you could have chosen better."

Somewhat mollified and consoled by this assurance, Adolphe
replied, almost with a smile ; " Then may I ask why you laugh
at me?"

" ^N'ot at you, my dear boy My dear man, I mean. Xot

at you, Adolphe ! Your choice is an admirable one, in all ways.
I only laughed at thinking what a lot of dowagers there will be
in a few years, if your progeny follow our example."

" You were very fortunate, my dear sir, in meeting my mother
at an age, which was likely to ensure you a long life of happiness.
But at any rate, my dear father, my choice can involve no conse-
quences which should lead you to object to it as imprudent in a
pecuniary point of view. The Baroness Gertrude is an only child,
and her father is already an old man."

" True ! quite true, Adolphe," replied his father ; adding, in a
tone which had nothing of jesting in it, " Woo her, and win her,
my dear son ! Depend upon it your happiness shall find no im-
pediments from me. If it be settled, as I think it should be, that
vou should have an establishment of youi' own, I shall be ready
to double whatever income the baron may think proper to settle
on his daughter."

It may be easily predicted by what I have stated, that no time
was lost by Adolphe in ascertaining whether his friend Paipert
was right in believing that he had made a favoiu-able impression
on the heart of the young Gertrude.

106 geeteude; or,

The dinner which had succeeded to their morninc^ walk, showed
her ever ready to listen when he spoke, and to show, moreover,
Ly her replies, that she had listened with pleasure ; and ho de-
served very c:reat credit for the self- command which enabled him
to say farewell when he left her, without uttering a word that
might lead her to guess, that before he saw her again he would
probably have asked, and obtained permission, from both their
fathers, to kneel before her, and ask for her hand in marriage.

The interview with his own father, which has been already
described, took place early on the following morning ; and within
half-an-hour afterwards, he was galloping over the three or four
miles which divided the two mansions. He had the good luck of
meeting his friend Ptiipert at the distance of a live minutes' walk
from Schloss Schwanberg ; whereupon he sprang from his horse,
and throwing the reins over the saddle, he suffered the docile
animal to follow him, while he profited by the meeting, by making
jlupert understand that he came to offer his hand to Gertrude
with the full consent of his father.

"Bravo!" cried Rupert, joyously; "I wish you joy with all
my heart, for I am neither so blind nor so dull as not to think our
young baroness very charming, though not quite so beautiful as
her mother. But we must manage a Ute-a-Ute for you at once,
Sir Count, somehow or other, for the beauty of the mother will
not atone for the inconvenience of her presence at such a mo-

''Good heaven! Xo!" cried the lover, in a tone which be-
trayed great perturbation. " Manage this for me, Eupert, and I
u'ill cause your name to be specially mentioned in the castle chapel
the first day I am the master of it."

" jS^ay, traitor!" replied llupert, laughing, ''if you turn my
own jokes against me, I will so manage as to bring the mighty
baron himself to be present at the very moment you are making
your proposal!"

A little coaxing, however, so effectually softened the heart of
llupert, that he not only undertook to promise that the baron
should not appear, but also that he would invent some means or
other of causing the baroness to leave the room immcdiatelv. It
is not necessary to describe the gratitude of the lover on receiving
this promise; suffice it to say, that it was kept, and that Adolphe
Steinfeld and Gertrude Schwanberg very speedily found them-
selves Ute-d-tete in the Schwanberg library.

The reception which Gertrude had given to the young Count
upon his entrance, was by no means calculated to discoui-age him ;


for it was with a smile, not only bright and beautiful, but too
eloquently expressive of real pleasure to be mistaken.

The young' man lost no time, but had explained the object of
his visit, with equal eagerness and grace, within a few moments
after the successful manoeuvring of his friend had placed him
tete-d-tete with the young baroness.

Getrude, too, on her part, displayed more self-possession and
propriety of demeanour during these agitating moments, than
might have been reasonably expected from so young a girl. Thr.t
they wi:ee agitating moments, was proved by the deep blush
which suffused her beautiful face, and by a tremor in her voice,
which reduced it almost to a whisper.

"Your attachment. Count Adolphe," she said, "would do
honour to a much worthier object than such a childish creature
as I am ; but my esteem for you is too sincere to permit my
pleading my youth as an objection to your addresses; and I will
say to you now, what I am quite sui^e I should say, under similar
circumstances, were I many years older. I was but seventeen my
last birthday, Count Adolphe ; but, if I were of full age, I should
tell you that I refer you wholly to my father for your answer.
It is not, believe me, because I have any doubts of your merit, or,
on that point at least, any great doubt of my own judgment ; but
people of our station of life have duties to fulfil, which may not
be neglected with impunity. My own case, as you must be aware,
is a peculiar one. I have learnt, even from my dear mother her-
self, that my father's disappointment at not having a male heir

Online LibraryFrances Milton TrollopeGertrude, or, Family pride → online text (page 11 of 38)