Copyright
L. Mühlbach.

Andreas Hofer online

. (page 22 of 43)
Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 22 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


their summits crimsoned and loomed up to the sky in dazzling
splendor. The rays gilding them shed a lustre on the lower wooded
mountains, greeted the spires of the churches rising amidst the
villages, dissipated the mist which had hitherto filled the valley,
and converted the waters of the foaming Isel, meandering through the
valley, into liquid gold. The gloom entirely disappeared, and the
whole landscape was radiant in its morning beauty. God had willed
that there should be light, and the earth lay smiling and
surpassingly beautiful under the first glowing rays of the sun.

Eliza gazed with a rapt smile upon the sublime scene; the clouds had
disappeared from her brow also, and the gloom had vanished from her
eyes.

"Oh, how beautiful is the world! how beautiful is my dear Tyrol!"
she exclaimed, fervently. "I greet you, beloved mountains guarding
our frontiers! I greet you, Gross-Glockner and Venediger! Yes, gaze
upon the Tyrol, for now you may rejoice over it! The enemy is no
longer in the country, and I am bringing you the last Bavarian who
is still here, that you may send him across the border. Sir," she
added, turning her face, illuminated by the sun, slowly to the young
man, who had not contemplated the sun, but only her face, "we must
part here. I only intended to conduct you hither, to the Kalser
Thoerl. You will now descend to the village of Kals, which you see
in the valley yonder. Look, back there, its red roofs are rising out
of the green shrubbery. You will go to the inn there, and give this
letter to Lebrecht Panzl, the innkeeper. He is my mother's brother,
and she writes him in this letter to give you a reliable guide, who
is to conduct you over the Pruschler Thoerl and the Katzenstein to
Heiligenblut. You will reach Heiligenblut in seven hours. Its
inhabitants speak Bavarian German; your Bavarian dialect will not be
suspicious to them, and you will easily find there a guide to
conduct you wherever you wish to go. You will find some food for to-
day in the haversack here, and also some money, and powder and lead.
Take it, sir; here is the rifle, and here the haversack. Unless you
have them with you, no one will take you for a genuine Tyrolese.
There. Put your clothes into the sack, you can carry them better
that way; hang the rifle round your shoulder, and then adieu?"

"And you think, Eliza, I can accept all this kindness and
magnanimity?" cried Ulrich, vehemently; "you think I can accept at
your hands food, money - nay, more, my life, my honor, and leave you
with a cold 'thank you,' after denying and insulting you in the
despair of my wounded military honor? No, Eliza, you have mistaken
my character. I will not go, I will not leave you. I followed you
here to see how far your magnanimity and noble self-abnegation would
go; but now I shall return with you to Windisch-Matrey. Your father
invited to the wedding the men who wished to kill me yesterday; they
will await us at the church at nine this morning, and they shall not
wait in vain. Come, Eliza, let us return to Windisch-Matrey; for all
your kindness and magnanimity I shall give you the only thing I have
to give, my name. You will, you shall become my wife! Come, your
father and your friends await us at the church; I will conduct you
thither and to the altar."

"I will not do it," she exclaimed proudly; "for, as sure as there is
a God in heaven, I should say 'no' before the altar, and reject your
hand."

"Well, then, do that," he said, gently; "I have deserved this
humiliation; I owe you an opportunity to wreak your vengeance on
me."

"I do not want to avenge myself. I have sworn to myself and to my
dear Elza to save you, and I will. Go, sir; time is fleeting, and
you have a march of seven hours before you."

"No, I will not go," cried Ulrich, vehemently; "I cannot go, for I
love you, Eliza, Oh, I have loved you a long while, but my haughty
heart revolted at this love, and would not yield to it; and yet I
was deeply, passionately enamoured of you. But my heart did not know
itself, it believed at last that it might hate you, when all at once
your generosity, lenity, and magnanimity dissipated all mists
concealing my heart from my eyes, and I perceived how passionately I
loved you. Oh, Eliza, beloved girl, do not turn from me! Give me
your hand; let us go home; accept my hand, become my wife! Love
beseeches of you now what pride refused to you before accept my
hand, my name! Let us descend into the valley, go to the church, and
be married."

She shook her head slowly. "I have already told you," she said,
"that I should say 'no' before the altar. We do not belong together.
You are a nobleman, and I, as you have often called me in your
anger, am a peasant girl; you are a Bavarian, and I, thank God, am
again an Austrian. We do not belong together, and I believe it would
not behoove you to appear with me now before the altar and marry me.
For every one would think you took me only to save your life, and
your honor would be lost, not only in Bavaria, but also here among
us. The brave men would despise you, and the tempt - I felt it when
you looked at me so disdainfully yesterday - is worse than death. Go,
therefore, my dear sir; your honor requires it."

"Well, then, you are right: I will go. I see that I must not apply
for your hand at this juncture. But I shall return so soon as peace
is restored to the country, and when all these troubles are over.
Promise me, Eliza, that you will wait for me and not forget me. For
I swear to you, I shall return and marry you, in spite of the whole
world."

"You will not," she said, shaking her bead, "for I shall not take
you. I do not love you."

"Eliza," he cried, seizing her hand impetuously, and gazing deep
into her eyes, "you are just as much mistaken as I was myself. I
loved you a long time without knowing it, and thus, sweet one, you
love me too!"

"No," she exclaimed, vehemently, and turning very pale, "no, I do
not love you!"

"Yes, you do," he said, tenderly. "I felt it, and knew it by the
tone in which, stepping before me, and shielding me with your body,
you exclaimed yesterday, 'If you shoot him, you shall kill me too.'
Pity and compassion do not speak thus; only love has such tones of
anguish, despair, and heroism. I felt it at that moment, and the
blissful delight which filled my heart on recognizing it, made me at
length conscious of my own love. I confessed to myself that I never
should be able to love any other woman on earth, and never would
marry any other woman than you. Ob, Eliza, let us no longer resist
the happiness that is in store for us. Let the whole past be buried
behind us. Let the future be ours, and with it love and happiness!"

She shook her head slowly. "You have read badly in my heart," she
said; "you do not understand the letters written in it, and what you
spell from it is false. I do not love you, and would never consent
to become your wife. Let us drop the subject. We two can never be
husband and wife, but we may remember each other as good friends.
And so, sir, I will always remember you, and shall be glad to hear
that you are well and happy. But let us say no more about it, and
go. You have a march of seven hours before you; I must be at home
again by eight o'clock, in order not to keep the men waiting. Let us
part, therefore."

"Well, then," sighed Ulrich, "it is your will, and we must part, but
not forever. I swear, by God Almighty and my love, I shall return
when the war is over, and when the quarrels of the nations are
settled. I shall return to ask you if you will be mine, my beloved
wife, and if you will at last crown my love with happiness. Hush, do
not contradict me, and do not tell me again that you do not love me.
I hope in the future, and we shall see whether it will bring me
happiness or doom me to despair. Farewell, then, Eliza; and if you
will yet give to the poor wanderer, to whom you have given life,
food, money, and clothes, a priceless treasure, a talisman that will
shield him from all temptations of the world, then give me a kiss!"

"No, sir; an honest Tyrolese girl never kisses any man but the one
whose wife she is to be. You see, therefore, that I cannot give you
a kiss. Go, sir. But have you no commissions to give me for your
uncle and my dear Elza?"

"Greet them both; tell them that I love you, Eliza, and that you
rejected my proposals."

"That does not concern anybody, and only we two and the good God
shall know it, but no one else. But, sir, give me a souvenir for
Elza; it will gladden her heart."

"I have nothing to give her," he said, shrugging his shoulders.

She pointed to the crimson Alpine roses blooming at their feet
amidst the grass and moss.

"Gather some of these flowers, and give them to me," she said; "I
will take them to Elza, and tell her that you gathered the flowers
for her."

He knelt down, gathered a handful of Alpine roses, and tied them
together with a few blades of grass. "I would," he said, still
kneeling in the grass, "they were myrtles that I was gathering for
you, Eliza, for you, my affianced bride, and that you would accept
them at my hands as the sacred gift of love. There, take the bouquet
for Elza, and give it to her with my greetings."

She stretched out her hand to take it; but Ulrich, instead of giving
it to her, pressed the bouquet to his lips, and imprinted an ardent
kiss on the flowers; then only did he hand it to Eliza. - "Now,
Eliza," he said, "take it. You refused me a kiss, but you will carry
my glowing kiss home with you, and with it also my heart. I shall
come back one day to demand of you your heart and my kiss. Farewell!
It is your will, and so I must go. I do not say, forget me not; but
I shall return, and ask you then: `Have you forgotten me? Will you
become my wife?' Until then, farewell!"

He gazed at her with a long look of love and tenderness; she avoided
meeting his look, and when he saw this, a smile, radiant as sunshine
and bliss, illuminated his features.

"Go, sir," she said, in a low voice, averting her face.

"I am going, Eliza," he exclaimed. "Farewell!"

He seized her hand impetuously, imprinted on it a burning kiss
before she was able to prevent him, dropped it, and turned to
descend the slope with a slow step.

Eliza stood motionless, and as if fascinated; she gazed after him,
and followed with an absorbed look his tall, noble form, descending
the mountain, surrounded by a halo of sunshine.

All at once Ulrich stood still and turned to her. "Eliza," he
shouted, "did you call me? Shall I return to you?"

She shook her head and made a violent gesture indicating that he
should not return, but said nothing; the words choked in her breast.

He waved his hand to her, turned again, and continued descending the
slope.

Eliza looked after him; her face turned paler and paler, and her
lips quivered more painfully. Once they opened as if to call him
back with a cry of anguish and love; but Eliza, pressing her hand
violently upon her mouth, forced the cry back into her heart, and
gazed down on Ulrich's receding form.

Already he had descended half the slope; now he reached the edge of
the forest, and alas! disappeared in the thicket.

Eliza, uttering a loud cry, knelt down, and tears, her long-
restrained, scalding tears, streamed like rivers down her cheeks.
She lifted her arms, her clasped bands, to heaven, and murmured with
quivering lips: "Protect him, my God, for Thou knowest how intensely
I love him!"

She remained a long time on her knees, weeping, praying, struggling
with her grief and her love. But then all at once she sprang to her
feet, brushed the tears from her eyes, and drew a deep breath.

"I must and will no longer weep," she said to herself in a loud,
imperative voice. "Otherwise they would see that I had been weeping,
and no one must know that. I must descend in order to be at home in
time, and then I will tell father and the other men that Ulrich
never was my betrothed, and that I said so only to save his life.
They will forgive me for helping him to escape when I tell them that
I never loved him nor would have taken him, because he is a
Bavarian, but that I saved him because he is a near relative of my
dear Elza. And after telling and explaining all this to the men, I
shall go to Elza, give her the flowers, and tell her that Ulrich
sent them to her, and that his last word was a love-greeting for
her. God, forgive me this falsehood! But Elza loves him, and it will
gladden her heart. She will preserve this bouquet to her wedding-
day, and she will not notice that I kept one flower from it for
myself. It is the flower which he kissed; it shall be mine. I
suppose, good God, that I may take it, and that it is no theft for
me to do so?"

She looked up to heaven with a beseeching glance; then she softly
drew one of the flowers from the bouquet, pressed it to her lips,
and concealed it in her bosom.

"I will preserve this flower while I live," she exclaimed. "God
strengthened my heart so that I was able to reject him; but I shall
love him forever, and this flower is my wedding-bouquet. I shall
never wear another!"

She extended her arms in the direction where Ulrich had disappeared.
"Farewell!" she cried. "I greet you a thousand times, and my heart
goes with you!"

Then she turned and hastily descended the path which she had
ascended with Ulrich von Hohenberg.


CHAPTER XXIII

THE TRIUMPH OF DEATH


It was a wondrously beautiful morning in May; the sun shone clear
and bright; the birds sang in all the shrubs and trees, and the gay
spring flowers exhaled their fragrant odors in all the gardens.
Nature had donned its holiday attire, and yet humanity was in
mourning; the sun shone clear and bright, and yet the eyes of men
were sombre and lustreless, and instead of rejoicing over the fresh
verdure and the blossoms of spring, they grieved, and their hearts
were frozen with care and pain.

For the Emperor Napoleon had raised his proud hand again against
Germany; he had defeated the Austrians at Ratisbon and Landshut, and
made his triumphant entrance into Vienna on the 12th of May, 1809.

For the second time the imperial family, fleeing from the victorious
Napoleon, had been compelled to leave the capital; for the second
time the foreign emperor occupied the palace of Schoenbrunn, and
Vienna had to bow again to the will of the all-powerful conqueror.
The Emperor Francis had escaped with his wife and children to
Hungary, and Vienna, whose inhabitants had at first sworn
enthusiastically to defend their city to the last man, and lay it in
ashes rather than surrender it to the French, had nevertheless
opened its gates already on the 12th of May to the Emperor Napoleon
and his army. It had to bow to stern necessity, for during the
previous night the Archduke Maximilian, with the weak forces with
which he had been ordered to defend Vienna, had evacuated the city,
had burned the great bridge of Thabor to prevent Napoleon from
pursuing him, and had succeeded in escaping, leaving it to the
Viennese to make terms with the conqueror and invoke his clemency
and generosity. They had thus been obliged to conceal their rage and
exasperation in their hearts, and surrender to the tender mercies of
the French emperor; they had opened their gates to the enemy, but
not their hearts. Their hearts were filled with boundless rage and
shame, which brought wild imprecations to the lips of the men, and
tears to the eyes of the women.

Joseph Haydn, the silver-haired octogenarian, had still the heart of
a fiery man in his bosom, and his trembling lips cursed the
conqueror, the relentless foe of Austria, and called down the wrath
of Heaven on the French emperor, who always spoke of peace and
conciliation, and always stirred up quarrels and enmities. The
latest reverses of Austria had produced a most painful impression
upon the aged maestro, and the ravishing joy which had illuminated
Joseph Haydn's face at the performance of "The Creation," had long
since disappeared from his careworn and mournful countenance. His
eyes were gloomy and dim, and often veiled with tears; and when he
played his imperial hymn, as he did every morning, he could not sing
to it, for tears choked his voice, and the words, so full of
confidence and triumphant hope, seemed to him a bitter mockery.

He led now a very quiet and lonely life at his small house in the
Mariahilf suburb, and he did not even leave it, as he had formerly
always done, on Sundays, in order to go to mass. The sight of the
French uniforms wounded his heart, and he grieved on seeing his
beloved Viennese oppressed and humiliated.

"God is every where," said Haydn to his faithful servant Conrad,
"and He will hear my prayer even though I should utter it in my
quiet closet, and not at church. But to-day, my friend, I will pray
to God in the open air. See how gloriously the sun shines, and how
blue the sky is! To-day is Sunday. Let us, therefore, put on our
Sunday clothes. Conrad, give me the fine ring which the great King
of Prussia presented to me, and then come to hear mass in my little
garden."

Conrad fetched quickly the Sunday clothes of his master; he helped
him to put on the silken and silver-embroidered coat, and put the
large diamond-ring, which Frederick the Great had one day sent to
the great master of harmony, on his finger. Then he handed him his
hat and his strong cane, which was adorned with a golden cross-
piece, that the tottering octogenarian might lean on it. Joseph
Haydn now left the room slowly, his right hand leaning on his cane,
his left arm resting on the shoulder of his servant. Behind him
walked with a grave step the old cat, an heirloom from Haydn's
lamented wife, and hence highly prized and honored by the aged
maestro. Purring softly, now raising its beautiful long tail, now
rolling it up, the cat followed close in the footsteps of its
master, through the hall and across the yard to the small garden.

"How beautiful it is here!" said Haydn, standing still in the door
of the garden, and slowly looking around at the flowers and
shrubbery, the humming bees and flitting butter-flies. "Oh, how
gloriously beautiful is God's creation, and how radiant - "

"How radiant is nature," interrupted Conrad; "how brilliantly the
sun shines, and how splendid the lawn looks!"

"You are a fool, old Conrad, to repeat these words from MY
'Creation,'" said Haydn, with a gentle smile. "I was not thinking of
MY 'Creation' at this moment, but of God's creation. And He
certainly knew more about the music of the creation than I did, and-
-just listen how the nightingale sings in the elder-bush yonder! It
is an air such as is to be found only in God's Creation, and, as
Joseph Haydn, with all his talents and enthusiasm, never was able to
compose. Oh, how sweetly this prima donna assoluta of the good God
sings, and what divine melodies, modulations, and harmonies she
warbles forth, and - But what is that?"

"That is the parrot singing an air from Joseph Haydn's 'Creation,'"
exclaimed Conrad, bursting into triumphant laughter. "And just
listen, doctor, the prima donna assoluta of the good God has become
entirely silent, and listens with delight to the divine melodies,
modulations, and harmonies of my dear master Joseph Haydn."

"You are a fool, Conrad, despite your seventy years," said Haydn,
"to call old Paperl my prima donna assoluta, and compare him with
the nightingale. But tell me, for God's sake, where did the bird
hear that melody? Why, Paperl whistles the great base-air from 'The
Creation' as though he were the first singer. Where did he learn
it?"

"I taught him the melody, doctor," said Conrad, proudly; "I gave him
lessons for three months, and he took pains to learn the melody, for
he knew full well that we two were preparing a little surprise and
joy for our dear master, the great Joseph Haydn."

"And that is the reason why I have not seen Paperl for so long,"
said Haydn, nodding his head gently. "I did not wish to inquire
after him, for I was afraid the answer would be that the bird was
dead and had gone home to my dear old wife."

"Well, I am sure Paperl would never go to her," said Conrad,
laughing; "the two could never get along with each other, and were
always quarrelling. Whenever Paperl could catch one of your wife's
fingers, he bit it with his thick beak, and she hated the bird
cordially for it, and would have preferred sending him to the grave
than descending into it herself. But Paperl did not die, and you
need not be anxious on his account, doctor. Such parrots live a
thousand years. Therefore, I locked him up in my chamber for three
months, and taught him the beautiful air, that the bird might
whistle it to mankind a thousand years hence, and remind all of the
great composer, Joseph Haydn."

"Ah, my dear old Conrad," sighed Haydn, sinking into the easy-chair
which Conrad had placed for him under the fragrant elder-bush, "a
thousand years hence no one will know any thing about us, and we
shall be nothing but dust returned to dust. But God will remain, and
His sun will shine a thousand years hence as gloriously as it does
to-day; and His nightingales will sing the same wonderful melodies
from His creation long after my `Creation' has been forgotten."

He paused, and clasping his hands devoutly, lifted his eyes to
heaven. By his side, on the high pole, its right leg fastened to it
with a small silver chain, the parrot sat, and fixed its piercing,
sagacious eyes upon him; the cat lay at Haydn's feet, and gazed with
philosophical equanimity at the flies which were buzzing from flower
to flower, and pricked up its ears attentively whenever a small bird
rustled in the shrubbery, or skipped merrily from branch to branch
in the fragrant walnut tree. Beside the easy-chair stood Conrad, the
old servant, his faithful, honest face turned toward his master with
an expression of infinite tenderness, and quite absorbed in
contemplating this mild, smiling, and calm octogenarian, whose eyes
were looking around slowly, and seemingly greeting God and Nature.
In the distance bells were ringing and calling devout worshipers to
divine service; their notes resounded tremulously through the air
like a solemn accompaniment to the voices of Nature.

"Oh, how beautiful, how beautiful!" murmured Haydn. "Why can I not
exhale with this sigh of joy my old life, which is no longer good
for any thing? Why can I not die with this prayer of gratitude
toward God on my lips, and waft my soul up to heaven, as that bird
yonder is at this moment soaring toward the sun!"

"Oh, sir, why do you talk already of dying?" cried Conrad,
anxiously; "you must live yet a long while, a joy to mankind, and
honored and esteemed by the whole world."

"And a burden to myself," sighed Haydn. "I am exhausted, Conrad; I
have no longer strength enough to live. This unfortunate war crushed
to the ground and broke my poor heart. [Footnote: Haydn's own
words. - "Zeitgenossen," vol. iv., p. 36.] When Napoleon made his
second entrance into Vienna, and our good Emperor Francis had to
escape again from the capital, I felt as though my heart were rent
asunder, and this rent will never heal again. The misfortunes of my
fatherland will cause me to bleed to death! Ah, how dreadful it is
that Austria and my emperor were humiliated so profoundly, and that
they had to bow to the Emperor of the French! I cannot comprehend
why the Lord permits it, and why He does not hurl down His
thunderbolts upon the head of this hypocritical French emperor, who
throws the firebrand of war into all parts of Europe, who always has
pharisaical words of peace in his mouth, and gives himself the
appearance of wishing to reconcile all, when he is intent only on
setting all at variance. Oh, Conrad, when I think of this Emperor
Napoleon, of the innocent blood which he has already shed, and of
the many thousand victims which have already fallen to his ambition,
my heart swells up in boundless exasperation, and I begin to doubt
even the goodness and justice of God! - But hush, hush, my wild
heart," he interrupted himself, lifting his eyes with a beseeching
glance to heaven. "God will manage everything for the best. He will
one day, with a beck of His hand, hurl the French usurper from his
throne, and cause Austria to rise great and powerful from her
humiliating position. He will protect Germany from the wrongs
inflicted upon her by France, and avenge the disgrace which every
German has to suffer at the bands of the French. That is the hope
which I shall take with me into my grave; that is the confidence I
have in Thee, O my God!"



Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 22 of 43)