Copyright
L. Mühlbach.

Andreas Hofer online

. (page 12 of 43)
Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 12 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the insurrection has commenced this very hour. Oh, thank God, you
did not find out what was going on; you felt so secure in your pride
and despised the Tyrolese so much that you did not fear them.
[Footnote: The Tyrolese kept the secret of their intended
insurrection so well, and the Bavarians were so overbearing and
careless, that they did not know anything about the plans of the
insurgents until the day of the rising, and on that day they tried
to levy contributions by force of arms. - See "Gallery of Heroes:
Andreas Hofer," p. 50.] But I tell you now, the insurrection has
broken out; the whole Tyrol is rising; all our people are in
commotion from Innspruck down to Salzburg. You can no longer prevent
or stifle it. You must submit. Save yourself, then, sir; you have
sworn to grant my request, and you must keep your word."

"No, I cannot and will not! I must do my duty. Let me go, Eliza! I
must go! I must go to my soldiers!"

"You can no longer reach them, for they have locked them up. Come,
you must save yourself!"

She seized his arm with superhuman strength, and tried to draw him
away, but he disengaged himself and rushed toward the door. But
Eliza was quicker than he; she bounded forward like an angry
lioness, and just as Ulrich was about to seize the knob, she stood
before the door and pushed him back.

"I shall not permit you to leave the room," she cried. "You must
kill me first; then you may go."

"Eliza, I cannot stay. I implore you, let me go out. My honor, my
good name, are at stake. You say the peasants have risen in
insurrection, my soldiers are locked up, and you think I could be
cowardly and miserable enough to conceal myself and surrender my
name to well-deserved disgrace? Let me go out, Eliza; have mercy
upon me! Do not compel me to remove you forcibly from the door!"

"Ah," cried Eliza, with scornful laughter, "you think I will step
back from the door and let you go to kill my father and my brothers?
Listen, sir; you said you loved me. Give me a proof of it. Let me go
out first, let me speak with my father only three words! Perhaps I
may persuade him to release your soldiers and go home with his
friends."

"Very well, I will prove to you that I love you. Go down, Eliza,
speak with your father. I give you ten minutes' time; that is to
say, I sacrifice to you ten minutes of my honor."

Eliza uttered a cry of joy; she encircled Ulrich's neck impetuously
with her arms and imprinted a glowing kiss on his forehead.

"Farewell, sir," she whispered, "farewell, and God bless you!"

Then she pushed him back, hastened to the door, threw it open, and
sprang out. She closed the door carefully behind her, locked it with
a firm and quick hand, drew the key from the lock, and concealed it
in her bosom.

"Holy Virgin, I thank Thee!" she exclaimed, joyfully. "He is saved,
for the room has no other outlet, and the balcony is too high for
him to jump down."


CHAPTER XII.

FAREWELL!


She sped as gracefully and quickly as a gazelle down the corridor.
In the large hall into which it led stood Elza, surrounded by more
than twenty Tyrolese sharpshooters, with whom she was talking in a
loud, animated voice. Her cheeks were very pale, her lips were
quivering, but her eyes flashed courageously, and, notwithstanding
the paleness of her face, it did not betray the least anxiety or
terror.

"Have you considered well what you are going to do, men of the
Puster valley?" she asked, in a clear, full voice. "Do you know that
you are about to rebel against your government and your king, and
that the rebels will be judged and punished with the full rigor of
the law? "

"But the Bavarians will not judge us, for we shall drive them from
the country," shouted the Tyrolese. "We do not want a king nor a
Bavarian government; we want to get back our Emperor Francis and our
old constitution."

"But you will not succeed," said Elza; "you are too weak against
them. There are too many of them and too few of you; they have
cannon, and you have nothing but your rifles, and there are many of
you who have not even a rifle."

"But we have our God and our emperor, and those two will help us.
The Austrians, as Andreas Hofer has written to us, are already in
the country, and all the people are rising to drive the French and
Bavarians from the country."

"It is so, Elza," said Eliza, encircling her friend's neck with her
arm. "I know you - I know that you are a loyal daughter of the Tyrol,
and you will be glad to see our dear country delivered from the
foreign yoke and restored to the good Emperor Francis."

"But, Lizzie, think of my poor cousin Ulrich," whispered Elza to
her. "He will defend himself to the last drop of his blood."

"He is unable to do so," whispered Lizzie, with a cheerful smile. "I
have locked him up in the dining-room, and the key is here in my
bosom. Ulrich cannot get out, therefore, and though he is furious
and grim, he must remain in the room like a mouse in a trap."

"That reassures me," said Elza, smiling, "and I understand now, too,
why my father acted in the manner he did. He doubtless suspected
what would occur here, and got rid of all responsibility, leaving me
entirely free to choose between my Bavarian relative and my Tyrolese
countrymen. Here is my hand, Anthony Wallner; I am a loyal daughter
of the Tyrol, and shout with you, 'Long live our Emperor Francis!'"

"Hurrah, long live our Emperor Francis!" shouted the Tyrolese. "Long
live Miss Elza, the loyal daughter of the Tyrol!"

"Thank you," said Elza, smiling. "I think I shall prove my loyalty
when dangers and war beset us. I shall establish here in the castle
a hospital for our wounded, and the women of Windisch-Matrey will
assist me, scrape lint, and help me to nurse the wounded. For
without wounds and bloodshed we shall not recover our independence,
and the Bavarians will not suffer themselves to be driven from the
country without offering the most obstinate resistance. Have you
considered that well, my friends?"

"We have; we are prepared for every thing," said Anthony, joyously.
"We will suffer death rather than give up our emperor and our dear
Tyrol. We do not want to become Southern Bavarians, but we will
remain Tyrolese, and defend our constitution and our liberty to the
last drop of our blood. Will we not, my friends?"

"Yes, we will," shouted the Tyrolese.

"And as for the Bavarians, we are not afraid of them," said Wallner,
firmly. "All the functionaries have already humbly submitted to the
freemen of the Tyrol. They have surrendered with their wives and
children, delivered their funds at our demand, and are now guarded
in their official dwellings by our men. And as for the Bavarian
soldiers at the castle here, we need not be afraid of them either,
for we have locked them up, like badgers in their holes, and they
cannot get out of the door."

"But if they cannot get out of the door, they will jump out of the
windows," said Elza, "and offer the most determined resistance."

"We shall see if they can," exclaimed Wallner, energetically. "We
must get through with them right away. Come, men, we must see to the
Boafoks."

And Anthony Wallner, followed by his sharpshooters, hastened out
into the court-yard. Large numbers of armed men had assembled there
in the mean time; even married women and young girls, carried away
by the universal enthusiasm, had armed themselves and came to take
an active part in the struggle for the fatherland and the emperor.
All shouted and cheered in wild confusion, all swore to remain true
to the fatherland and the emperor to their last breath. The soldiers
looked on wonderingly, and watched in breathless irresolution for
their captain from the windows.

At this moment, Anthony Wallner and a number of courageous
sharpshooters took position in front of the windows.

"Soldiers," he shouted, in a thundering voice, "surrender! you are
our prisoners! Surrender, throw your muskets and fire-arms out of
the windows, and we will open the door of your prison and allow you
to return to Bavaria."

The soldiers made no reply, but leaned far out of the windows and
shouted: "Captain! Where is our captain?"

"Here I am!" shouted a powerful voice above the heads of the
Tyrolese; and, looking up in great surprise, they beheld on the
balcony young Captain Ulrich von Hohenberg, with a pale face, his
features distorted with rage and grief, and stretching out his right
arm, with his flashing sword menacingly toward the Tyrolese.

"Great God!" murmured Eliza, clinging anxiously to Elza's arm, "If
he resists, he is lost."

"Here I am, my brave soldiers!" shouted Ulrich von Hohenberg a
second time. "Come to me, my brave lads! I have been locked up here;
hence, I cannot come to you. Come up to me, then. Knock the doors
in, and deliver your captain."

"First, let them deliver themselves, sir," shouted Wallner up to
him. He then turned once more to the soldiers. "Listen to what I am
going to say to you in the name of my countrymen, in the name of the
whole Tyrol," he shouted. "For four long years you have oppressed
and maltreated us: you have insulted, humiliated, and mortified us
every day. But we are Christians, and will not revenge ourselves; we
want only our rights, our liberty, and our emperor. Therefore, if
you submit willingly and with good grace to what cannot be helped,
we will let you depart without punishing or injuring you in any way,
and allow you to return to your accursed Bavaria. But first you will
have to do two things, to wit: throw all your muskets out of the
windows, and swear a solemn oath that you will no longer bear arms
against the Tyrolese."

"You will never swear that oath, soldiers," shouted Ulrich von
Hohenberg from his balcony. "You will keep the oath which you swore
to your king and commander-in-chief. You will not incur the disgrace
of surrendering to a crowd of rebellious peasants."

"No, no, we will not," shouted the soldiers to him; and thereupon
they disappeared from the upper floor, and soon reappeared in dense
groups at the windows of the lower story. These windows were only
five feet above the ground, and they were therefore able to jump out
of them.

"Shoot down the first soldier who jumps out of the window!" cried
Anthony Wallner to his sharpshooters.

The soldiers took no notice of his threats; a soldier appeared in
each of the windows ready to risk the leap. One of them, more agile
and intrepid than the others, was the first to jump down. Scarcely
had his feet touched the ground, when a rifle crashed and a cloud of
white smoke enveloped every thing for a moment. When it disappeared,
the Bavarian soldier was seen to writhe on the ground in the agony
of death, while one of the Tyrolese sharpshooters was quietly
reloading his rifle.

But now crashed another shot, and the Tyrolese rifleman, pierced
through the heart, reeled back into the arms of his friends with the
last groan of death.

"Soldiers," cried Ulrich von Hohenberg, raising his discharged gun
triumphantly, "I have avenged the death of your comrade. Now
forward, jump down! Forward for your honor and your king!"

"Yes, forward for our honor and our king!" shouted the soldiers, and
one of them jumped out of each of the windows.

Another shot was fired from the balcony, and wounded one of the
Tyrolese sharpshooters.

Wild cries of rage filled the court-yard, all eyes turned menacingly
to the balcony. But Ulrich von Hohenberg had stepped back into the
room, and nobody saw that he was reloading his fowling-piece, which,
with his hunting-pouch and powder-horn, had hung in the dining-room.

"I shall defend myself until my soldiers come to deliver me," he
said courageously to himself. Thereupon he moved the large table
from the room to the balcony, placed it on its side, and leaned it
against the railing; on the other side of the balcony he placed the
bench in the same manner, and, protected behind this three-cornered
barricade from the bullets of the Tyrolese, he pushed his gun into
the aperture between the bench and the table, and fired again.

Furious cries again filled the court-yard, for the captain's shot
had disabled another Tyrolese. The women wailed and lamented loudly,
the men uttered fierce imprecations, and lifted their clinched fists
menacingly toward the balcony. The soldiers had withdrawn from the
windows, and were deliberating with their officers as to the course
which they were to adopt. A defence was almost impossible, for,
although they had their side-arms and carbines, they could not do
any thing with the former before reaching the ground and engaging in
a hand-to-hand fight with the peasants; and the carbines were
utterly useless, as no ammunition had been distributed among them,
the cartridges being in the captain's room in the main part of the
castle.

"Ten of you will enter the castle," commanded Anthony Wallner now.
"You will take the captain prisoner, and if he refuses to surrender,
shoot him down as he has shot three of our brethren."

Ten of the most courageous sharpshooters stepped from the ranks and
rushed into the castle.

"He is lost!" murmured Eliza Wallner, with pale lips, and she sank
on her knees by the side of her friend Elza.

Now were heard resounding in the castle the thundering blows which
the Tyrolese struck with the butt-ends of their rides against the
door of the room where Ulrich von Hohenberg was locked up.

"The door is old and worm-eaten, it will give way," sighed Elza, and
she hastened resolutely toward Anthony Wallner, who was just calling
again on the soldiers with cool intrepidity to surrender to him.

"Anthony Wallner," she said, in a soft, suppliant voice, "you will
not stain your great and sacred cause by cowardly murder. You will
never think of killing in my father's own house his relative and
guest?"

"Let him surrender: no harm will befall him then," cried Anthony
Wallner, in a harsh, stern voice. "He has shed the blood of our men,
and if he is killed, it will be done in a fair fight. Leave us now,
miss; the struggle between the Tyrolese and the Boafoks has
commenced; look at the corpses yonder, and say for yourself whether
we can retrace our steps, and - "

A loud, thundering crash, followed by triumphant cheers, resounded
in the castle.

"They have opened the door," murmured Eliza, still on her knees.
"Holy Virgin, protect him, or he is lost!"

A shot crashed in the dining-room, a cloud of white smoke issued
from the open balcony doors, and a loud cry, accompanied by wild
imprecations, was heard.

"He has shot another Tyrolese, you will see that he has!" shouted
Wallner, raising his clinched fists menacingly toward the balcony.

The cries drew nearer and nearer, and now Captain Ulrich von
Hohenberg, his features pale and distorted with rage, rushed out on
the balcony.

"Surrender!" shouted the Tyrolese, pursuing him.

"Never!" he cried. "I will die sooner than surrender to a rabble of
peasants like you."

And forgetful of the dangers besetting him, and in the despair of
his rage and grief, the captain jumped from the balcony into the
midst of the crowd in the court-yard.


CHAPTER XIII.

THE BRIDEGROOM.


Wild shouts were heard now, and a great commotion arose among the
Tyrolese. The bold deed of the Bavarian had surprised and confused
them; they had forgot the soldiers for a moment, and riveted their
whole attention on the captain.

He was uninjured, for, in jumping down, he had fallen on the backs
of two Tyrolese, dragged them down with him, and thus broken the
violence of the fall.

Before the two men, stunned by their sudden fall, had recovered from
their surprise, Ulrich was again on his feet, and, drawing his
sword, cleared himself a passage through the quickly-receding crowd.

"Come to me, my soldiers, come to me!" he shouted, in a panting
voice.

"Here we are, captain," cried twenty soldiers, driving the crowd
back with powerful strokes. They had profited by the favorable
moment when the windows had not been watched, and had jumped to the
ground.

Now followed a hand-to-hand struggle of indescribable fury. Nothing
was heard but the wild imprecations and shouts of the fighting, the
shrieks and groans of the wounded and the screams of the women and
children.

But amidst the struggle and the general confusion Anthony Wallner
did not lose his presence of mind. He had posted twenty
sharpshooters in front of the windows, behind which the soldiers
were standing, and, with rifles raised, they threatened death to all
who should dare to approach the windows. Hence, the soldiers bad
retired into the back part of the rooms, and were deliberating on
the course which they were to pursue. But their faces were anxious
and irresolute, and they whispered to each other: "If our captain
should fall, nothing remains for us but to surrender."

But their captain had not yet fallen; he still lived and defended
himself courageously, surrounded by his soldiers, against the
Tyrolese, who attacked him furiously and parried the sabre-strokes
with the butt-ends of their rifles, but had no room, and did not
dare to shoot at him, for fear of hitting in the wild melee one of
their own men instead of their enemy.

But the odds were too great; six of the soldiers had already been
knocked down by the butt-ends of the Tyrolese rifles. The Tyrolese
had wrested the sabres from the hands of the fallen soldiers, and
had rushed with them upon their comrades. Then followed a furious
hand-to-hand struggle. The fumes of the blood flowing on the ground,
the shouts of the combatants, the hatred and fury with which the
enemies stood face to face, had filled their hearts with boundless
ferocity. Nobody gave, nobody asked quarter. Under the butt-end
blows of the Tyrolese, the Bavarians sank to the ground with a
glance of hatred; pierced by the swords of the Bavarians, the
Tyrolese fell, with an imprecation on their lips.

Ulrich von Hohenberg was still holding his ground; his sword had
spread destruction and death around him; he was still encouraging
his soldiers with loud shouts, but his voice was beginning to grow
faint, and his blood was running from a terrible wound in his
shoulder.

"To the rescue, soldiers?" he shouted now with a last effort, "do
not suffer your captain to be slain by miserable peasants. To the
rescue! help me or shoot me, that I may die an honorable death, and
not be assassinated by the traitors."

"I will comply with your wishes," cried Anthony Wallner, rushing
into the midst of the bloody melee close up to the captain; "yes,
you shall die; I will put an end to your life!"

And his arm, brandishing the sword of a fallen Bavarian, rose
threateningly above Ulrich's head, while two other Tyrolese rushed
upon him from behind with furious shouts.

At this moment two hands clutched Wallner's arm convulsively, and a
loud, anxious voice exclaimed:

"Father, do not kill him! He is my bridegroom!"

"Her bridegroom!" echoed the Tyrolese, starting back in surprise.

"Your bridegroom?" asked Anthony Wallner, casting a look of dismay
on his daughter Eliza, who was standing in front of her father,
pale, with flashing eyes, encircling Ulrich's neck with one arm,
lifting up the other menacingly, and staring at her father with a
resolute and defiant expression.

"Away from him, Lizzie!" cried Wallner, furiously; "I cannot believe
that my child will inflict on me the disgrace of loving a Bavarian."

"Yes, I love him," exclaimed Eliza, with glowing cheeks. "If you
wish to kill him, you must kill me first, for we have sworn to live
and die together. He is my bridegroom, father, and shall become my
husband, so help me God!"

"No, never!" cried Ulrich von Hohenberg, trying to disengage himself
from Eliza. "Never can the peasant-girl become my wife! Begone,
Eliza, I have nothing further to do with you."

"And still you swore a few minutes ago that you loved nothing on
earth more dearly than me alone," said Eliza, in a loud voice, "and
you implored me to go with you and remain always by your side?"

"But never did I say that I would marry you," exclaimed Ulrich, pale
with rage, and still trying to disengage himself from Eliza's arm.

"You would not marry her!" cried Anthony Wallner; "you intended only
to dishonor her, my proud Bavarian gentleman? You thought a Tyrolese
peasant-girl's honor an excellent pastime, but you would not marry
her?"

"Father, father," cried Eliza, beseechingly, clinging firmly to
Ulrich's side, "father, I love him and cannot live without him. He
is my bridegroom!"

"No, no!" shouted Ulrich, and a wild imprecation against Eliza burst
from his lips.

The Tyrolese in the mean time had long since overpowered the few
soldiers, and, attracted by the strange scene, crowded around the
curious group; only the twenty sharpshooters were still standing
with rifles raised in front of the windows of the imprisoned
soldiers, and watching them with threatening eyes.

Anthony Wallner had dropped his arm and looked down musingly; on
hearing the captain's insulting words, he gave a shout and lifted up
his face flushed with pride and indignation.

"Just listen to the traitor, brethren!" he said in the cold, quiet
tone which only the most profound exasperation imparts to the human
voice. "First he turned the girl's head and heart by the
protestations of his love, causing her even to forget her father and
her Tyrol; and now he insults her and refuses to marry her!"

"He said it only in his rage, father, but he loves me after all,"
exclaimed Eliza, clinging to the captain notwithstanding his
resistance, and trying to wrest his sword from him.

"Begone, Eliza!" cried Ulrich, "or - " He pushed her violently from
him, and quickly raised his sword against her. But two Tyrolese
prevented him from carrying out his fell design by rushing upon him,
seizing his arm with Herculean strength, wresting the sword from his
hand, throwing the weapon tar away, and exclaiming triumphantly:
"Now surrender, Bavarian! You are our prisoner."

" Then shoot me at least," shouted Ulrich, beside himself with rage;
"shoot me, I say; death is preferable to the disgrace of being a
prisoner of such miserable rabble."

"Hush, beloved, for God's sake, hush!" said Eliza, clinging to him
tenderly.

He pushed her violently from his side. "Begone, hypocritical wench!"
he shouted in a paroxysm of fury; "I do not want to have any thing
to do with you!"

"But you shall have something to do with her," said Anthony Wallner,
with proud calmness. "The girl says that she loves you, and that you
promised to marry her. It was bad in you to persuade her behind the
backs of her parents and infatuate her poor heart, and you shall be
punished now for your infamy. You shall marry Lizzie. The proud and
wealthy baron who despises the Tyrolese peasants so much shall now
marry the Tyrolese peasant-girl."

"Yes, yes, that is right," exclaimed the Tyrolese exultingly; "the
proud baron shall marry the Tyrolese peasant-girl."

"Let us go down to the village, then," said Anthony Wallner; "our
curate shall marry them immediately at the church; and then let the
two leave the place as quickly as possible, and beware of ever
returning to Windisch-Matrey; for never shall the wife of the
Bavarian Captain Ulrich von Hohenberg dare to say that she is Eliza
Wallner, daughter of the Tyrolese Anthony Wallner-Aichberger, the
innkeeper of Windisch-Matrey. I have no longer a daughter - I tear
her from my heart, as she tore honor, righteousness, and faith from
hers."

Eliza called two Tyrolese with an impetuous wave of her hand to her
side. "Hold him," she said, pointing to Ulrich, who, pale and
tottering, exhausted from his superhuman efforts and loss of blood,
was scarcely able to stand on his feet; "hold him, I must speak to
my father."

She hastened to him, seized both his hands despite his resistance,
and drew his face so close to hers that his hot, panting breath
touched her cheek; but he averted his eyes with a gloomy expression
and avoided meeting her fiery glances.

"You do not want to know me, father!" she asked mournfully. "You
avert your eyes from your Lizzie, whom you called only yesterday
your dear, brave Tyrolese girl?"

"You are no child of mine, you are no Tyrolese girl," exclaimed her
father, angrily and mournfully. "You want to marry the Bavarian, and
become an aristocratic lady."

"It is all the same to me whether Ulrich yonder is an aristocratic
gentleman or not," said Eliza, shaking her head proudly; "I love him
only because he pleases me so well, and because he loves me so
fondly and ardently. But, father, you must not say that I am no true



Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 12 of 43)