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quiet and allow the enemy to take possession of the province, in
accordance with the stipulations of the armistice. And you see,
Andy, my heart revolted at that; therefore I wished to get away and
remain abroad until the armistice had expired, when we would be once
more allowed to fight bravely for our country and our emperor."

"No one shall prevent us from doing so now," said Andreas, calmly.
"What do we care for the armistice? The emperor concluded it; we did
not, and I believe the emperor will not blame us for disregarding it
and continuing the war as we commenced it."

"You are right, we will do so," exclaimed Speckbacher, joyfully.
"And now I will communicate to you some important news which the
Austrian officers received only this morning. Anthony Wallner, of
Windisch-Matrey is also of your opinion; he refuses likewise to
acknowledge the armistice and make peace with the enemy. When the
Bavarians, four days ago, intended to cross the frontier near
Windisch-Matrey, Anthony Wallner and John Panzl went to meet them
with four hundred sharpshooters whom they had gathered in great
haste. They took position at the bridge of Taxenbach and tried to
prevent the Bavarians from crossing it. The Bavarians were seven
thousand strong, and Wallner had only four hundred men; but our
friends, nevertheless, defended the bridge for seven hours, killed
and wounded over three hundred Bavarians, and retreated into the
mountains only because the odds were too great." [Footnote:
Peternader, "Die Tyroler Landesvertheidigung im Jahre 1809," vol.
ii., p. 84.]

"I know Anthony Wallner, and was convinced that he would not submit
quietly," said Andreas, joyfully. "And we will follow his example,
Joseph. The good God has imposed on us the task of defending the
Tyrol, and we will fulfil it faithfully."

"Yes, we will, and we will begin this very hour. We must find out,
above all things, if all of our countrymen are of our opinion, and
if they are courageous enough to continue the struggle, even after
the Austrians have left us."

"What good did the Austrians do us while they were here?" asked
Andreas, indignantly. "Let me tell you, Joe, on the whole I am glad
that the Austrians are evacuating the province. It is better for us
to fight alone, and trust only our own strength. Regular troops and
insurgents never fight well together in the end, for there are
always jealousies between them; they mutually charge each other with
the blunders committed during the campaign, and grudge each other
the glory obtained in the battles. Hence, it is better for us to be
alone and have no other allies than the good God, the Holy Virgin,
and her blessed Son." [Footnote: Andrew Hofer's own words. - See
Mayr's "Joseph Speckbacher," p.145. 22]

"You are right, always right, Andy," said Speckbacher. "We will go
courageously to work, then; and you shall see, my Andy, that
Speckbacher is still what he always was, and that he will henceforth
never think of leaving the country, but will stand faithfully by it
and fight until the enemy has been expelled once more, and we are
free again. I will ride now through the whole Puster valley, and
then from Brunecken through the Dux valley to my home, the Rinn; and
I will stir up the people everywhere, and call upon the men to
follow me and fight once more for liberty and the fatherland."

"Do so, Joe, and I will follow your example. I will return to the
Passeyr valley; you shall all hear from me before long, and then my
voice shall resound throughout the Tyrol. God will make it strong
enough to penetrate to every ear, and fill every heart with
enthusiastic devotion to the country and the emperor. Farewell,
then, Joseph! The Tyrol and I have recovered you, and my heart
thanks God fervently for it. Farewell, you shall hear from me before
long!"

He nodded once more kindly to Joseph Speckbacher and galloped down
the valley, while Speckbacher trotted up the mountain-path.

Andreas Hofer rode all day long through the country. He saw the
people everywhere in commotion and uproar; they greeted him with
jubilant cheers, and the men swore everywhere that they would not
allow the enemy to re-enter the country without resistance; that
they did not believe in the pacific assurances of the proclamations
with which the Bavarians had flooded the country; that they were
satisfied, on the contrary, that the enemy would revenge himself as
cruelly as he had done after his return in May; and that they were,
therefore, firmly resolved to fight and expel the enemy once more.

"Get your rifles and ammunition, then, and prepare for the
struggle," said Andreas Hofer everywhere to the men who were so full
of ardor. "You shall hear from me soon, and learn what God wants us
to do."

Andreas Hofer did not rest even at night. The great task which was
imposed upon him urged him on incessantly. He therefore profited by
the clear moonlight to ride across the Janfen, and at daybreak his
horse neighed joyously and stopped at the bank of the foaming
Passeyr, at no great distance from the white house of the Sandwirth,
the home which contained his greatest treasures on earth, his wife
and children.

But Andreas Hofer did not intend to return to them now; he did not
want to have his heart softened by the sight of his wife, who would
certainly weep and lament on learning of his resolve to renew the
war against the Bavarians and French. And for the same reason he
wished to avoid meeting his children, whose dear faces might remind
him that he was about to endanger the life of their father, and that
their bright eyes might soon fill with tears of bitter grief. He
would speak only to God, and solitude was to be his sole adviser.
Andreas Hofer greeted his house and its beloved inmates with a long,
tearful look; he then dried his eyes and alighted. The horse neighed
joyously and sped merrily down the hill toward his stable. But
Andreas Hofer took a by-path and ascended the mountain through the
forest and shrubbery to the Kellerlahn, a cave known only to him and
some of his intimate friends, where his faithful servant had
prepared him a couch, and kept always in readiness for him, in a
secret cupboard fixed in the rock, wine and food, some prayer-books,
and writing materials.

In this cave Andreas Hofer intended to pass a few days in prayer and
solitude.


CHAPTER XXX.

THE CAPUCHIN'S OATH.


A great festival was to be celebrated at Brixen today. It was the
2nd of August, the day of St. Cassian, and not only were the bones
of this saint, which reposed in the cathedral adorned with two
splendid towers to be exhibited as they were every year to the
devout pilgrims, but the pious bishop had resolved that these sacred
relics should be carried in solemn procession through the whole
city, that all might have an opportunity to see the saint's remains
and implore the assistance of God in the sore distress which bad
befallen the Tyrol again. Therefore, since early this morning the
peasantry had been flocking from all sides toward the gates of
Brixen. Women and children, young and old men, came from all parts
of the country to take part in the solemn procession and the devout
prayers for the welfare of the country.

Among those who were wandering along the road to Brixen, was a monk
of strikingly bold and martial appearance. His tall, broad-
shouldered form was remarkable for its military bearing; his long,
well-kept red whiskers and mustache did not correspond to the
tonsure on his head, which was covered with thin reddish ringlets;
and in striking contrast with it were likewise the broad red scar on
his healthy sunburnt countenance, and the bright, defiant glance of
his eyes, which indicated boldness and intrepidity rather than piety
and humility. He had tucked up his brown robe, and thus exhibited
his stout legs, which seemed to mock the soft sandals encasing his
broad, powerful feet. In his hand he held a long brown staff,
terminating at its upper end in a carved image of St. Francis; and
the Capuchin did not carry this staff in order to lean upon it, but
he brandished it in the air like a sword, or held it up triumphantly
as though it were a victorious banner.

But however strange and unusual the Capuchin's appearance might be,
no one laughed at him, but he was greeted everywhere with
demonstrations of love and reverence; and when he passed some slow
wanderers with his rapid step, they looked after him with joyful
surprise, and said to each other, "Look at old Red-beard, look at
brave Father Haspinger! He has fought often enough for the
fatherland. Now he is going to pray for the Tyrol."

"Pray, and fight again, if need be," said the friar, turning to the
speakers.

"You think, then, reverend father, that there will be war again?"
asked many voices; and dense groups surrounded the friar, and asked
him anxiously if he advised them to allow the enemy to re-enter the
country; if it would not be better to drive him back forcibly, or if
be thought it would be preferable for them to keep quiet and submit
to stern necessity?

"I think there is a time for every thing - for keeping quiet as well
as for fighting, for praying as well as for politics," said Father
Haspinger, shrugging his shoulders. "If you wish to pray and confess
your sins, come to me. I am ready to teach you how to pray, and
exhort you with true earnestness. But if you want to fight and expel
the enemy from the country, why do you not apply to your commanders,
and consult, above all, the brave and pious Andreas Hofer?"

"We cannot find him anywhere," shouted several voices. "He is not at
home, and even his wife does not know where he has concealed
himself."

"Do you, impious wretches, think that the most pious man in the
whole Tyrol, Andreas Hofer, has concealed himself because he is
afraid of the Bavarians who are re-entering the country?" asked the
friar, in a thundering voice.

"No, your reverence, we do not. We know well that Andreas Hofer will
not act like Ashbacher, Sieberer, Teimer, Eisenstecken, and
Speckbacher, and abandon us in our sore distress."

"He who does not extricate himself from his sore distress will not
be saved by others," cried the friar, indignantly.

"Do you not know the eleventh commandment you white-livered cowards,
who think you are lost when there is no leader to put himself at
your head? Do you not know the eleventh commandment, saying that he
who trusts in God and fights well will overpower his enemies? But
you will never overpower your enemies; you do not trust in God, and
hence you can not fight well."

"But we will fight well, your reverence," replied the men, with
bold, defiant glances; "only our leaders do not stand by us. Every
one cannot fight alone and at random, but there must be some one at
the lead to lead the whole movement. Since Andreas Hofer cannot be
found, pray put yourself at our head, your reverence, and become our
leader!"

"That request is not so stupid," said the Capuchin, smiling, and
stroking his red beard. "You know very well that old Red-beard does
not stay at home when an effort is to be made to save the
fatherland, and perhaps I may soon be able to accept your offer and
call upon you to defend the Tyrol."

"Do so, do call upon us," shouted the men enthusiastically. "We will
not permit the French and Bavarians to murder our people and burn
our houses as they did last May; we will fight rather until we have
driven them from the country or perished to a man!"

"These are brave and pious sentiments," said Father Haspinger, his
eyes flashing for joy; "and we will speak further about them. Come
up to the church of Latzfons to-morrow, and hear me preach; and
after the sermon we will confer as to the state of the country. But
now keep quiet, for you see we are at the gate of Brixen; turn your
souls, therefore, to God, and pray St. Cassian to have mercy upon
you, and intercede for you with God and the Redeemer."

And Father Haspinger's face became suddenly very grave and devout;
he lifted the rosary hanging at his belt, and, while entering the
city by the gate, he commenced praying a Pater-noster in an
undertone.

The city meanwhile was already in great commotion. The bells had
begun to ring their solemn peals, and all devout worshippers,
consisting on this occasion of the whole population of the city,
were flocking to the cathedral. All at once the doors of the
cathedral were thrown open, and under a gold-embroidered baldachin
borne by four priests appeared the pious bishop, carrying in his
uplifted right hand the casket containing the bones of Saint
Cassian. Behind the bishop came the priests bearing wax-lights, and
singing soul-stirring hymns. Next followed the long line of acolytes
with smoking censers; and pious worshippers, carrying torches, and
repeating the hymns intoned by the priests, closed the pro cession.
This procession gained strength at every step as it advanced, and
soon it had been joined by the whole population of the city and the
hundreds of pious pilgrims who had flocked to Brixen to take part in
the holy festival.

Haspinger, the Capuchin friar, was likewise in the procession; he
walked in the midst of the brave peasants with whom he had
conversed, singing with head erect and in a tone of solemn
earnestness the hymns with which the holy relics were being invoked.
Only it seemed to the peasants who heard his powerful voice as
though he somewhat changed the passage imploring Saint Cassian to
grant the Tyrolese peace, protection, and tranquillity, and prayed
for the very reverse. The passage was as follows: "Have mercy upon
our weakness, and grant us peace and tranquillity." But Father
Haspinger, brandishing his staff with the image of Saint Francis,
sang in a tone of fervent piety: "Have mercy upon our valor, and
grant us war!" To those who looked at him wonderingly on account of
this change of the text, he nodded with a shrewd twinkle of his
eyes, and murmured: "Come tomorrow to the church of Latzfons. We
will hold a council of war there!"

The procession had not yet finished one-half of its route, and had
just reached the market-place when a horseman gal loped up the
street leading from the gate to the market-place. It was probably a
belated worshipper, who intended to take part in the procession. He
alighted hurriedly from his horse, and tied it to the brass knob of
a street-door, and then walked close up to the procession. However,
he did not join it, but stood still and contemplated every passer-by
with prying eyes. Now he seemed to have found him whom he sought,
for a smile illuminated his sunburnt face, and he advanced directly
toward Father Haspinger, who was singing again: "Have mercy upon our
valor, and grant us war!" But on perceiving the young lad who was
approaching him, he paused, and a bright gleam of joy overspread his
features.

"It is Andreas Hofer's servant, Anthony Wild," murmured Father
Haspinger, joyfully, holding out his hand to the lad. "Say, Tony, do
you come to bring me a message from brother Andreas?"

"I do, reverend sir. The Sandwirth sends me to you, and as I did not
meet you at your convent of Seeben near Klausen, I followed you to
Brixen; for my master instructed me to deliver my message as quickly
as possible into your hands and return with your answer."

"What message do you bring me, Tony?"

"This letter, reverend sir."

The friar took it and put it quickly into his belt. "Where is
brother Andreas?" he asked.

"In the cave which is known only to him, to you, and to myself,"
whispered Anthony Wild, into the friar's ear. "He awaits your reply
there, reverend sir."

"And you shall have it this very day, Tony. Now, however, we will
not forget our divine service, but worship God with sincere piety.
Take the place behind me in the procession; and when we return to
the cathedral, follow me where-ever I may go."

And the friar commenced singing again; his hand, however, no longer
held the rosary, but he put it firmly on the letter which was
concealed in his belt, and whose contents engrossed his thoughts:

At length the procession had returned to the portals of the
cathedral. Father Haspinger signed to the Sandwirth's servant, who
was walking behind him, and instead of accompanying the other
worshippers into the church, he walked along the procession until he
reached a tall, slender young man, with whom he had already
exchanged many a glance. "Martin Schenk," said the friar to him,
"will you go home now?"

"I will, and I request you, reverend sir, to accompany me," said the
young man, hastily. "I believe you will find a number of friends at
my house. Peter Kemnater, the innkeeper of Schabs, and Peter Mayer,
the innkeeper of Mahr, will be there. I invited them, and had I
known that you would be here, I should have invited you too."

"You see that I come without being invited, for I think the
fatherland has invited us all; and I believe we will not partake of
an epicurean breakfast at your tavern to-day, but confer as to the
terrible calamities of our country. We are the cooks that will
prepare a very spicy and unhealthy breakfast for the French and
Bavarians, and I believe I am the bearer of some salt and pepper
from Andreas Hofer for this purpose. See, Martin Schenck, in my belt
here, by the side of the rosary, is a letter from our dear brother
Andreas Hofer."

"And what does he write to you? I hope he does not want us to keep
quiet and permit the enemy to re-enter the country, as all prudent
and cautious people advise us to do?"

"Hush, hush, Martin! do not insult our commander-in-chief by such a
supposition. I have not read the letter yet, but I believe I know
its contents, and could tell you beforehand every word that the good
and faithful Andreas has written to us. Ah, here is your tavern, and
let me ask a favor of you now. The lad who is following us is
Andreas Hofer's faithful servant, Anthony Wild, who brought me the
letter from his master, and who must wait for my answer. Give him a
place where he may rest, and a good breakfast, for he must set out
for home this very day."

"Come in, Anthony Wild; you are welcome," said the young innkeeper,
shaking hands with Hofer's servant.

"Thank you, but I must first fetch my horse which I tied to a pole
somewhere down the street. I rode very fast, and must first attend
to the Horse, afterward I will request you to let me have some
breakfast."

And Hofer's servant hastened down the street. The innkeeper and the
friar entered the house and stepped into the large bar-room. Two men
came to meet them there.

One of them, a man about forty-five years old, dressed in the simple
costume of the Tyrolese, and of a tall, powerful form, was Peter
Mayer, known throughout the Tyrol as one of the most ardent and
faithful patriots, and a man of extraordinary intrepidity, firmness,
and energy.

The other, a young man of scarcely twenty-two, slender yet well
built, and far-famed for his fine appearance, boldness, and wealth,
was Peter Kemnater, the most faithful and devoted friend of the
fine-looking and patriotic young innkeeper, Martin Schenk.

The two men shook hands with the new-comers and bowed to them, but
their faces were gloomy, and not the faintest gleam of a smile
illuminated them.

"Have you come hither, Father Joachim Haspinger, only to join in the
peace-prayers?" asked Peter Mayer in his laconic style, fixing his
dark, piercing eyes on the friar's face.

"No, Peter Mayer," said the Capuchin, gravely; "I have come hither
because I wanted to see you three, and because I have to say many
things to you. But previously let me read what our pious and
patriotic brother Andreas Hofer has written to me."

"You have a letter from Andreas Hofer!" exclaimed Mayer and
Kemnater, joyfully.

"Here it is," said the friar, drawing it from his belt. "Now give me
a moment's time to read the letter, and then we will confer upon the
matter that brought us here."

He stepped to the window and unfolded the letter. While he was
reading it, the three men looked at him with rapt suspense, seeking
to read in his features the impression produced by Andreas Hofer's
words on the heart of the brave Capuchin. Indeed, the friar's
features brightened more and more, his forehead and face colored,
and a smile illuminated his hard features.

"Listen, men," he exclaimed triumphantly, waving the paper as though
it were a flag; "listen to what Andreas writes to me!" And the friar
read in a clarion voice:

"Dear brother Red-beard! Beloved Father Joachim Haspinger: You know,
brother, that all has been in vain; the Austrians are evacuating the
country, and the emperor, or rather not the emperor, but his
ministers and secretaries, stipulated in the armistice concluded
with Bonaparte, that the French and Bavarians should re-enter the
Tyrol and recommence the infamous old system. But I think, even
though the emperor has abandoned us, God Almighty will not do so;
and even though the Austrian soldiers are crossing our frontiers,
our mountains and glaciers remain to us; God placed them there to
protect our frontiers, and He gave us strong arms and good rifles
and keen eyes to discern the enemy and hit him. We are the
inhabitants of the Tyrol, and the Austrian soldiers are not, hence
it is incumbent on us to protect our frontiers, and prevent the
enemy from invading our territory. If you are of my opinion, gather
about you as many brave sharpshooters as you can, call out the
Landsturm where it is possible, tell the other commanders to do the
same, and advance, if possible, at once toward the Brenner, where I
hope you will meet me or hear further news from me. Joseph
Speckbacher did not leave the country either; he is enlisting
sharpshooters and calling out the Landsturm in his district. It is
the Lord's will that the Tyrol be henceforth protected only by the
Tyrolese. Bear this in mind, and go to work. - Your faithful Andreas
Hofer, at present not knowing where he is." [Footnote: Andreas Hofer
signed all his letters and orders in this strange manner while he
was concealed in his cave.]

"Well," asked the friar, exultingly, "do you think that Andreas
Hofer is right, and that we ought not to allow the enemy to re-enter
the country?"

"I think he is," said Peter Kemnater, joyously. "I think it will be
glorious for us to expel the French and Bavarians once more from our
frontiers."

"Or, if they have already crossed them, drive them ignominiously
from the country," added Peter Mayer.

"I have passed, during the last few days, through the whole of
Puster valley," said Martin Schenk. "Everywhere I found the men
determined to die, rifle in hand, on the field of battle, rather
than stay peaceably at home and bend their necks before the enemy.
'It is a misfortune,' said the men, 'that the Austrians are
abandoning us at this critical juncture; but it would be a greater
misfortune still for us to abandon ourselves and consent to
surrender at discretion.'"

"And I say it is no misfortune at all that the Austrians have left
us," cried the Capuchin, vehemently. "The cause of the fatherland
has not suffered much by the retreat of the Austrians. Who assisted
us at the battle of Mount Isel? Who helped us to drive the enemy
twice from the country? Not an Austrian did! We accomplished all
that was great and glorious in the short and decisive struggle. Let
us not complain, then, that no one stands by us now, and that we
know that no one will help us but God and we ourselves. But we must
not plunge blindly and furiously into the struggle; on the contrary,
we must consider whether we are able to defeat the enemy. The French
and Bavarians are sending large forces on all sides to the poor
Tyrol. I cannot conceal from you that the enterprise which we are
going to undertake, and to which Andreas Hofer invites us, is a
dangerous one. Let me tell you that that miserable assassin and
ruffian Lefebre, whom they call the Duke of Dantsic, is approaching
from the north with twenty-five thousand men, and is already close
to Innspruck. General Deroi, too, is coming; he intends to march
through the whole Vintschgau, and force his way over the Gerlos
Mountains to the district of Innspruck. Rusca's wild legions are
already near Lienz; General Pery is moving up from the south with
his Italian troops; and the exasperated Bavarians, under Generals
Wreden and Arco, are already at Salzburg. In short, more than fifty
thousand men are coming up from all sides to trample the poor Tyrol
under foot. They are veteran soldiers; they have got artillery and
better arms than we, and are superior to us in numbers, equipments,



Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 29 of 43)