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A BRIGHT wood fire is blazing on the
hearth in Baroness Derenberg's sitting-
room, giving to the dusky apartment
with its tall chimney-piece and old sculp-
tured furniture a cosy, home-like air. In
one of the deep window-recesses sits a
young girl of about fourteen, looking out
at the fading sunset glow of the short
winter day. Her delicate profile appears
sharply defined against the clear back-
ground of the window-pane. She has
folded her small hands, which lie idly in

VOL. I. 1


her lap, and her thoughts are evidently
wandering far away.

" Mamma," she says, suddenly, turn-
ing her head with its wealth of fair curls
towards a pale, fragile-looking lady, who
sits in an armchair by the fire, knitting.
" Mamma, what a long, long while Army
is staying in grandmamma's room again.
We shall not get to the mill after all, and
it is high time we went there. Army has
only a week's leave, and four days of it
have gone by already. He promised me
for a certainty he would go with me to-
day. What must Lizzie think, that he
has not been down to see them yet ? "

While speaking, the girl had risen and
drawn nearer her mother. There was a
look of vexation on her childish face.

" Patience, Nelly," answered the
mother, stroking her daughter's bloom-
ing cheek. " You know, if grandmamma


wishes it, Army must remain with her ;
he must stay as long as she likes. Grand-
mamma has many things to say to him,
no doubt. Practise patience, my darling;
it is so necessary to us through life.
Light the lamp. Bemember, there is
yet much to be done to Army's linen."

The slight girlish figure, still so child-
like in its contours, flitted almost noise-
lessly over the parqueted floor, and soon
a bright light spread through the old-
fashioned, but comfortable, room, making
it look doubly snug and pleasant. The
Baroness rose from her chair by the fire,
and seated herself at a great round table.
The rays from the lamp now fell on
a pale, prepossessing countenance, on
which care had graven many deep,
sorrowful lines. Mother and daughter
were alike in feature, but at this mo-
ment how different in expression ! The


youthful face opposite had brightened
suddenly, the long lashes were lifted, and
two great blue orbs flashed with a liappj r
gleam, for outside in the corridor a quick
elastic step was heard approaching. The
door of the room was thrown open, and
a dashing young officer entered. An
eager light beamed in his eyes, and the
bright, hopeful confidence natural to a
lad of nineteen was written on his sunny
brow. Nelly rushed up to him.

"Army, how glad I am you have
come ! Now we can go to the mill,
cannot we ? " she said, coaxingly, rais-
ing herself on tiptoe and winding her
arms about his neck. " I will run and
fetch my hood and cloak at once, for we
have no time to lose. They have supper
so punctually at the mill."

She would have hurried gleefully away.

" Nelly," cried the young man, catch-


ing her by the arm. " Say no more
about this. It it is not suitable now."

"Not suitable now?" The young
girl looked up at her brother inquiringly.

"No, Nelly. You really must be
reasonable. As a child one may asso-
ciate with any one, just because one is
a child ; but for a man, an officer, hold-
ing a commission in the army, it would
not do "

" Well, you can come and see Lizzie,
at least. You always used to be so ready
to go there with me."

" Oh, Army," said the Baroness, "you
do not mean it seriously. They are most
worthy people down at the mill, and have
always been very good to you. It would
be ungrateful - "

" Mother, do reflect, I beg of you," he
replied, his dark eyes sparkling angrily.
" These people are a most uncivilised set.


Suppose the miller were to come over to

B one day, and to take it into his

head to call on me. A pretty state of
embarrassment I should he in ! "

"They are not an uncivilised set,"
cried Nelly; "it is just grandmamma
who has been telling you that, because
she cannot endure the Ervings, or ' their
rags,' as she says."

" Their rags, that is just it," laughed
the young officer. " Let every one keep
to his own class. You yourself, Nelly,
will not always be able to be intimate
there. With the first long skirt that
trails behind you, it will be adieu, friend
Lizzie of the rag-mill ! "

"Never!" cried the girl, vehementlj'.
" I would run over to the mill in the
night if I were forbidden to go there in
the day-time. Lizzie is my only friend.
Whatever shall I say to explain your not
going ! " She burst into tears.


" Oh, you will find some excuse, little
one ; don't cry," said her brother, con-
solingly. His voice was soft and tender
now, just as it had often been in the old
days when he had broken his sister's doll,
and knew not what comfort to offer.

" Dear Army," she pleaded, looking up
at him hopefully; "you only meant to
tease me. We are going to the mill, are
we not?"

He stood for a moment irresolute.
Before his mental vision there flitted the
well-known figure of a small maiden, as
he had seen her a hundred times of old
Lizzie, little Lizzie of the paper-mill
down in the hollow. She looked up at
him with sunny blue childish eyes ; her
red lips whispered, " Army, come with
me, come to Aunty. She has apples for
us, and I have found a bird's nest in the
park. Come, Army, come." Mechani-


cally lie made a movement, as though to
seize his cap which lay on the table.
The light from the lamp caught a
sparkling ring on his hand; it was
a richly enchased emerald, on which
glittered a hear, the Derenberg crest.
His glance rested on it for a moment ;
then he snatched up the cap and threw
it on to a side-table. " Don't worry
me," he said shortly, and turned away.

A long silence ensued. The young girl
went back to her place at the table,
bending her head low over her work ; but
the little fingers which plied the needle
trembled violently, and great tears fell
from her eyes on to the white material
she was sewing. The Baroness sighed,
and followed her son with sad, wistful
looks, as he paced restlessly up and
down the room. The old rococo clock
struck six, and began to play some


long-forgotten love-song. The sweet
simple melody echoed through the lofty
chamber, then died away, and still a
troubled silence reigned among these
three who yet were bound together by
love's tenderest ties.

"Army," said the pale lady, at length,
" when did grandmamma give you the
ring you are wearing on your ringer ? "

He stopped before the fire-place, and
thrust the poker in between the glowing
embers, so that the sparks flew high.
Then he answered

" This afternoon, just now, when I was
in her room."

" Do you know that it is your father's
ring, Army? "

The young man turned quickly. " No,
mother, Granny did not tell me that.
She merely spoke in a general way about
the crest and its significance, and ..."


"Well, my sou, then / will tell you."
The Baroness's voice faltered, and shook
with repressed agitation. " It is the ring
grandmamma drew from your father's
cold and stiffened hand after he ...
when he was dead." The last words
ended with a half-stifled cry, and the
speaker sank back in her chair, shattered,
as it were, by her emotion.

" My dear, good little mother ! " ex-
claimed Army, hurrying to her side, while
Nelly, stooping over her, nestled her
cheek against the wan face over which
bitter tears were streaming.

" Don't cry, dear mother," implored
the young man. " I will hold the ring
high in honour, to show how proud the
son is of his father's memory. I will
strive to become as good, as noble of
heart as he was."

In these words, in the look he raised to


his weeping mother's face, there lay the
genuine conviction of an unspoiled filial
heart, the absolute faith which endows
the dead father with all fairest qualities,
and regards him as the best of men. But
his speech produced a strange, an over-
whelming effect. The Baroness started
from her chair ; her frail form was drawn
erect. She gazed at her son vacantly as
one distraught, and then exclaimed, in
wild tones of horror

" My Army, too ! Oh, Almighty Father,
spare me that, spare me but that ! "

" My mother is ill," cried the young
man, and hurried to the bell ; but the
sound of a weak voice whispering, " Come
back, Army, it is over now," recalled him
to her side.

She took a glass of water thankfully,
and said, with- an attempt at a smile

" I have frightened you both, poor


children. The remembrance of your
father's death is full of anguish to me,
even after this lapse of years; but now
that Army is about to go out into the
world, I must speak to you of the past,
which I have hitherto always avoided
doing. You must often have wondered
to yourselves," she continued, after a
pause "why we lead so simple and
retired a life ; a life from which all luxury
is so rigorously banished. Ah, Army, it
is not for myself, it is for you both I
grieve ! You will find yourself in the
most cruel position imaginable, and all
this trouble has been brought upon you
by the boundless folly of your . . ."

She stopped as though in alarm at her
own words, 'and broke into a flood of
bitter tears.

Armand stood by the fire-place with
knitted brows, watching intently and


anxiously for what should come next.
The sunny expression had vanished from
his face, swept away, as it were, hy some
stormy gust of feeling, and about his
mouth were lines telling of grievous dis-

"When your father brought me home,
a bride I was then a child of sixteen
all was gaiety here and splendour," went
on the Baroness. " Castle Derenberg
had for long years been famous for its
hospitality, and your grandmamma well
knew how to attract guests to the house.
She was at that time still very beautiful,
almost as enchanting as she is repre-
sented in the great picture upstairs in
the portrait-gallery ; and she loved luxury
and grandeur. To me she was then so
kind and good, I really thought I had
found in her a second mother. Ah, that
brief, brilliant period was the fairest of


my life ! When I pressed you to my
heart, Armand, and you, my Nelly, it
seemed to me that nothing was wanting
to my happiness. Then came the terrible
shock of your father's sudden death.
Swiftly, and without any warning, mis-
fortunes poured in upon us." She
shuddered, and pressed her trembling
hands to her temples, as though trying
to convince herself that the events she
was narrating really belonged to a far
bygone past. " After his death a trustee
was appointed me in the person of old
Councillor Hellwig. It soon appeared
that our affairs were in the most terrible
disorder. Look which way we might,
there were mortgages, bonds, unpaid
bills. Grandmamma and I suddenly
found ourselves involved in a labyrinth
of debt and difficulty. How many sleep-
less nights, how many days of care have


passed since then ! And to this hour, in
spite of all old Hellwig's exertions, no
ray of light has won its way into the

" Do not distress yourself, dear mother,"
entreated the young officer. " Of course,
I have long known that our means were
very limited, though I could not guess
that we were so poor as you say. But,
courage ! better times will surely come,
and grandmamma was saying to me just
now that things are not so desperate, as
we may expect to inherit a considerable
fortune from Aunt Stontheim."

" Yes, grandmamma believes in your
chance of this fortune, but ..."

" She thinks," broke in the young
man, eagerly, " she thinks I ought to go
and pay my respects to Aunt Stontheim
before I join my regiment."

" I have no objection to your doing so,


my son ; and I sincerely hope that grand-
mamma may not be mistaken in her
views; but we must not forget that the
Konigsburg Derenbergs have as good a
title to inherit as we have. The daughter
of Colonel von Derenberg, of the 16th,
can lay claim to precisely the same right
as you and Nelly."

At this moment Sanna, the Baroness's
old waiting-woman, opened the great
folding-doors, and the elder Madame von
Derenberg entered the room. Stately
and commanding of aspect, she carried
herself well erect, despite her sixty years,
and wore the simple grey woollen dress,
in which she was now clad, with the
same grace and dignity wherewith she
had once borne through these apartments
her heavy silken trains. Her abundant
hair, raven still in its hue and drawn
slightly back from the temples, was


covered by a little cap, from beneath the
yellowish lace of which her magnificent
black eyes blazed forth with all the fire
of youth. There was an aristocratic air,
a look of breeding, about her whole
appearance, and her delicate features
wore an expression of unconquerable
pride. How old the careworn, sickly
daughter-in-law looked beside the im-
posing figure of this gentlewoman !

Armand hastened towards her, took
from her a great book she held in her
hand, and led her to the fire, about
which Sanna had placed several chairs
in readiness. The little granddaughter
had sprung from her seat at sight of the
new-comer, and the pale lady furtively
wiped the last lingering tears from her

" What was the subject under dis-
cussion ? " asked the old Baroness, taking

VOL. I. 2


a seat next tlie fire, and dismissing the
maid with a wave of the hand. " I heard
something ahout * the same right as you
and Nelly.' "

" We were speaking of Aunt Stontheim
and of the succession to the property,"
replied her daughter-in-law, taking the
opposite chair ; " that made me think of
the Konigsburg Derenbergs, and I was
saying that Blanche was just as much
entitled to inherit the fortune as our

" Blanche! What an idea ! " cried
the old lady, with a shrug of the
shoulders. " That red-haired consump-
tive creature ? Madam Stontheim has
too good taste, thank God, to make such
a mistake as that. Besides, if I remem-
ber rightly, she always entertained a
most well-founded dislike to that swag-
gering Colonel and his washed-out look-


ing spouse, whom lie picked up, Heaven
knows where in some corner of England
or Scotland, I think. She was a Miss
Smith, or a Miss Newman, was she not ?
It was some common name of that sort.
No, Cornelia, this is merely another of
those groundless, far-fetched notions with
which you torment yourself and others."

An ironical tone pervaded this speech.
The haughty dame was generally ironical
when she addressed her daughter-in-law.

"I only meant," returned the latter,
gently, " I only meant that one must
not count with too great certainty."
She paused. "Life brings so many dis-
appointments, that really ..."

" Bah ! " interrupted the old lady,
angrily. " Army will find his way to
the querulous old .woman's heart, and
will manage matters so that her really
princely fortune will descend to him."


"What do you mean by that, Granny?"
the young man's clear tones now sud-
denly struck in. "I should hope you
do not desire me to go legacy-hunting,
as it is called. I shall behave politely
to her, as a gentleman should behave
to a lady, but that will be all. I can't
manoeuvre and humbug. What she does
not give me of her own free will, she
can keep to herself."

In some astonishment, the old lady
raised herself from her negligent attitude
in the arm-chair, and her eyes sparkled
with indignation at this outspoken pro-
test, as she fixed them on her grandson's

"Would you believe this possible from
a young fledgeling of his age ? " she
asked, in a tone which she endeavoured
to render playful, but which vibrated with
real anger. "What, Army, have you


laid aside respect for your elders with
your cadet's coat, and do you imagine,
because your epaulets are a week old,
you can instruct your grandmother, and
afford to despise her counsels ? You are
too young still to form a right judg-
ment of the situation on which you
are about to enter. Is it legacy-hunting,
when one endeavours to win the heart
of an old relation ? "

"Yes, Granny," said Armand, stoutly,
not a muscle of his handsome face relax-
ing beneath her gaze. " Yes, it is fortune-
hunting when one tries to win a person's
heart, in the hope of getting his or her

" Which is absolutely necessary, if one
does not want to starve on a crusfc all
one's life, and drag out one's days in a
castle without domains or revenue,"
interrupted the old Baroness, angrily,


with a pettish little jerk of her chair

"That I admit, Granny; and I should
not have spoken so decidedly, if I had
not known there was another heiress.
But as Blanche "

" That Blanche again ! What do you
know ahout her? Are you sure even
that the poor sickly creature is still
living ? How distressing it is to hear
children, who have harely left school,
parading their wonderful wisdom ! I
desire that you go to your aunt Stont-
heim, Armand, and I will brook no con-
tradiction. The letter announcing your
arrival will be sent to-day."

" Certainly, Granny. I am ready to
go as soon as you wish," said Army, with
cool politeness.

She rose. Her proud face was suffused
with a crimson flush, and there was a


hard obstinate expression in the lines
about her mouth. Never had the like-
ness between the old lady and her grand-
son been more strikingly apparent. With
flashing eyes and lips tightly set, they
confronted each other in a hostile atti-
tude, neither willing to yield an inch.

" You will leave to-morrow by the five
o'clock coach," said the grandmother,
coldly and decidedly ; then, without wait-
ing for the young man's bow of assent,
she took leave of her dismayed daughter-
in-law by a slight inclination of the head,
and walked out of the room.

A painful silence reigned when the
folding-doors had closed behind the tall
figure of the old Baroness. Though he
had so audaciously ventured to oppose
the haughty woman, whose word was as
law to every soul in the house, the
young man now stood quietly by the


chinmey-piece, looking down at the blaz-
ing fire, calm and indifferent as though
nothing unusual had happened. Nelly
gazed over at her brother with wide,
wondering eyes. He was not like him-
self to-day. No one spoke. After a
while old Sanna came into the room
again. She carried a letter in her hand,
and asked :

" Does my lady want anything brought
from the village ? Henry has to go to
the post. It is snowing so hard just
now, he might do both errands at once."

The Baroness answered in the negative,
and the old servant speedily disappeared.
Armand meanwhile had sat down at the
table, and was turning over the leaves of
the book he had taken from his grand-
mother's hands shortly before.

" Ah, here is something about our
lovely ancestress, Agneta Maud, who is


up in the portrait gallery," tie cried, joy-
fully. "Here, little sis, this is interest-
ing. Come and listen."

The young girl went up to him, bent
over the back of his chair, and looked
curiously down at the ancient yellow
page covered with faded written cha-
racters very hard to decipher.

Army read, spelling out the words with
difficulty : " On the 30th November of the
year 1694, the body of the high-born lady,
Agneta Maud, Baroness Derenberg, Lady
of the Manor of Derenberg, Schiitten-
felde and Braunsbach, by birth Baroness
Krobitz of the House of Trauen, was
solemnly interred in the ancestral vaults
of this Castle of Derenberg in a manner in
all things conformable with the directions
left by her in writing. To wit : the bier
stood in the great hall next the chapel,
the coffin being covered by two palls,


first a greater white one, and over this
a black velvet pall having a cross worked
in cloth of silver. Thereupon lay a
silver-gilt crucifix. The sides were orna-
mented with eight smaller, the ends at
head and foot with larger escutcheons
hearing the conjoined arms of the Deren-
herg and Trauen houses richly em-
broidered on yellow satin. The coffin
was borne into the chapel by nobles of
the country round, who had partaken of
many a goodly banquet here. Imme-
diately following the corpse came the six
sons of the deceased together with the
deeply afflicted widower. ..."

u This is tiresome," said the young
officer, breaking off; " but see here,
a little farther on."

"And this lady, Agneta Maud, Baroness
Derenberg, was by all accounts a proud
and discreet woman who stood faithfully


by her husband through all perils and
dangers. She was tall of stature and
slender, and her hair was red of hue, the
which might have been taken as no good
sign, according to the proverb

' In woman, horse, and hound,
Beauty is the thing of worth,
Beauty and good birth.
Can'st find such free from trick and vice
Hast a treasure of great price.
But, beware ! Look to the haire !
If redde, be sure 'twill prove a snare,
Let it not thee entice.'

Yet it would not appear that she was
more cunning or versed in tricks than
others of her sex, but showed herself
always a discreet and noble lady. So
notable was her beauty, that a cavalier,
who was enslaved by her charms, and
to whom she would accord no favourable
hearing, took his own life in despair at
her obduracy the which may God for-
give him ! And she found him stretched


in his blood before the entrance-door of
her chamber, so that a great alarm seized
upon her, and in that hour she was over-
taken by a fever so fierce that it was
thought she would miserably perish
from the effects of it. But the great
Giver of all blessings sent her a happy
recovery; notwithstanding which, from
that day forth no sound of laughter
issued from her lips ; and the cavalier,
who is said to have been a lord of Streit-
nitz, was laid to his rest here in the
Castle garden."

1 'What do you say to that, little
mother?" cried Army, quite excited by
his discovery. " I can fancy a man
committing suicide for her sake ! Hers
is a wonderful face ! I wish I could take
the picture with me, and hang it up in
my quarters. She must have been a
charming creature, this Agneta Maud ! "


" Why, Army," said the Baroness,
smiling. "I had no idea that your first,
passion had for its object a fair one long-
deceased. Well, at all events, we need
not fear it will prove a very dangerous
affair, need we, Nelly ? "

Nelly made no reply. The little party
could not regain its wonted cheerfulness
that evening. The young girl sat silently
bending over her work, thinking what
excuse she could offer for her brother to
Lizzie. Armand plunged anew into his
study of the old book, and the transient
smile soon vanished from the Baroness's
lips. Every now and then she would pass
her hand across her eyes and sigh heavily,
and each time a deep-drawn sigh reached
her children's ears they, by common
accord, would turn their heads and glance
with concern and anxious enquiry at
their mother's care-lined face ; then they


went back to their several occupa-

" My lady wishes to take tea in her
own room," said old Sanna, appearing
again. " She begs to be excused from
coming in to supper. My lady has a
bad headache."

The ancient waiting-woman carried
a tray on which stood an old-fashioned
tea-pot, and a cup and saucer of quaint
design. She was evidently about to take
up her mistress's tea. As she stood at
the door waiting for an answer, she
scrutinised the three occupants of the
room narrowly, to ascertain, no doubt,
what effect her news would produce on
them. The dreamy lady sitting over the
fire seemed not to have heard the

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