Copyright
W. Heimburg.

Lizzie of the mill (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 10)
Online LibraryW. HeimburgLizzie of the mill (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


CHRIS



*





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



LIZZIE OF THE MILL.



LIZZIE OF THE MILL.



FROM THE GERMAN OF W. HEIMBURG.



BY

CHRISTINA TYRRELL.



IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. II.




LONDON:

RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON,
NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

1880.
(All rights reserved.')



PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
LONDON AND BECCLES.






PT



. 2



LIZZIE OF THE MILL.



CHAP TEE I.

THE news of Countess Stontheim's death
had awakened no great sorrow at the
Castle, for the younger B.aroness and
Nelly had not known the deceased lady
personally. The little girl twined fresh
wreaths, and sent them to her cousin
with a few sympathetic lines, and the
three ladies put on mourning garments,
in compliance with the usual forms, and
chiefly out of compliment to Blanche,
who, Armand wrote, was returning to

VOL. II. 21



2 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

Derenberg for a lengthened stay. Army
and her father were to accompany her
thither.

And now the day had come when the
visitors were to arrive. In Blanche's
apartments the windows were thrown
wide open, and the fresh autumnal air
streamed through the luxuriously ap-
pointed, home-like rooms. The sun-
beams played on the glistening pale-green
satin flutings on the walls, and on the
soft swelling cushions of the same hue
and rich material. Bright autumn
flowers bloomed everywhere in vases
and baskets ; and Nelly was giving a
last careful look around to make sure
that nothing would be wanting to the
spoilt child's comfort. In her simple
black merino dress, she looked like some
stray enchanted princess who, by acci-
dent, or by the action of some good fairy,



LIZZIE OP THE 1IILL. d

had suddenly been restored to the sphere
which was hers by right. The oval
face, with its delicate rosy tint, was
admirably set off by the deep black
dress, and the white hands which peeped
from under the crape cuffs, were almost
too diminutive to be those of a grown-up
young lady.

" It is lovely, this room, Grandmamma,
is it not?" she said, looking up at the
old Baroness, who just then appeared in
the doorway.

"Certainly; but for you, my dear, I
should prefer it in blue."

" Oh, for me ! " she laughed outright.
" Fancy me in a room all silk and lace,
Grandmamma. I should feel quite miser-
able in the midst of all this sheen and
shimmer."

"You will learn to feel at home in it,
my dear."



4 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

The young girl looked up quickly. The
words were spoken so seriously.

" If my little Nelly behaves nicely, and
does her best to lay aside her rough, wild
ways, I will perhaps give her a bright
little room like this for herself afc Christ-
mas," continued the old lady, going up
to her astonished hearer.

" You, Grandmamma ? " cried the girl,
incredulously. " Oh, no, I would far
rather have one like Lizzie's, all covered
with blue and white flowered chintz.
That looks so sweet and fresh."

The old Baroness shrugged her shoul-
ders and turned away, for at that moment
her daughter-in-law entered.

" I have just received a great parcel
containing materials for dresses and a
quantity of patterns. Have you ordered
them?" asked the latter. "I think
there must be some mistake, for there



LIZZIE OP THE MILL. 5

are silk brocades for furniture among
them, and all sorts of things we cannot
possibly use."

" I gave the order, Cornelia," declared
the Dowager, impatiently. " Let the
things be put into my room."

" Nelly flew away to see that it was
done, and the two ladies stood confront-
ing one another in silence.

"But," said the younger, at length,
" what is this for?"

"Have you looked at yourself in the
glass, Cornelia?" was the sharp retort.
" You are hardly fit to appear before our
servants on ordinary days, not to speak of
a wedding occasion," she laughed.

"I had already bought a white dress
for Nelly, and a black silk for myself."

"Of the cheapest quality a thin
Persian, such as circus-riders' skirts are
made of. I know the article," replied



G LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

the old lady, scornfully. " Say no more
about it. I shall buy what I think
necessary."

"But, Mamma, dear . . ."

" You are going to ask, perhaps, where
the money is to come from? Well,
Cornelia, that house of business has
made thousands out of me, and they
cannot refuse credit to the Baroness
Derenberg. That is enough for the
present. But perhaps you would wish
your son to be married in an empty
drawing-room, where the curtains are
dropping from the poles, so moth-eaten
are they, and the furniture is worn into
holes as big as that saucer. Your
daughter-in-law would turn up her nose
in disgust, you may be sure."

" I was not thinking of that," said the
pale lady, closing the door, for a cool
draught of air was blowing the silken



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 7

hangings from it far into the room. "I
only meant," she added, coming back,
and stopping near the handsome grand
piano which Blanche had sent for during
the summer, declaring that she could not
play on that old harpsichord thing in
the parlour "I only meant that, as we
are to be quite by ourselves, just our own
family . . ."

"Yes, those are precisely your narrow
views, Cornelia. Armand is not a name-
less young adventurer who may celebrate
his marriage in any corner where he may
happen to light on a sweetheart. He is
a scion of one of the noblest races in the
land, and his betrothed is a connection
of our house. I shall therefore take care
that this ceremony, at least, be performed
in a becoming manner. It would rouse
a saint's temper, Cornelia, to hear how
you express yourself .on these matters."



8 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

With a heightened colour the old lady
swept majestically past her daughter-in-
law, and went up to the window. " I
really must beg and pray that you will
keep your opinions to yourself, and make
some change in your manner of life
when Blanche is here. If not, you will
go just the way to make the place dis-
tasteful to her. She cannot endure the
anxious care and economy, which calcu-
lates every piece of bread and butter that
is eaten, any better than I can ; and now
our great object is to make sure of her
to make sure of her at any cost. When
the final Amen of the marriage service
is spoken, all our embarrassments will be
at an end."

A crimson flush had mantled to the
younger lady's cheeks, and tears rushed
to her eyes. For whom did she pinch
and save ? Who benefited chiefly by



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 9

her care and economy? "Why did she
go about in those poor clothes? In
order that the eccentric lady opposite
should suffer as little as possible from the
really grievous poverty which weighed
on them, that she might in some degree
live as she had been accustomed to live.
Every evening tea and cold meat would
be taken up by Sanna to the Dowager's
room, while the younger Baroness and
Nelly would content themselves with a
little soup, or a simple piece of bread and
butter.

" Now you are going to cry, I suppose,
Cornelia?" said the voice which was so
harsh and sharp in its pronunciation of
German, while, when speaking its native
tongue, it fairly melted into tones of
mellifluous softness. " Misericordia !
what sentimental creatures these German
women are ! It almost drives me mad



10 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

to see these ever-ready floods of tears.
All that I said just now was in our true
interest and for our good, if you would
but see it in that light."

At this moment Nelly came back.
"It is five o'clock, mamma, and they
may be here soon after six. The table
is laid downstairs, and Henry is coming
up here to light the fire and shut the,
windows. Oh, I am so curious to hear
all they will have to tell, to see Blanche
in her new mourning, and to know
about the will." As she spoke, she
looked at her mother and noticed the
tears in her eyes. " Don't cry, mamma,"
she whispered ; " Army will be here soon.
Think our dear old Army ! "

"The will?" said her grandmother.
" Mon Dieu! she half, and Army half,
with legacies to servants, hospitals, etc.,
and probably a trine to the gallant



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 11

Colonel, who is sure to have looked after
his own interests."

" Yes, Grandmamma; but remember,
Army said some time ago that Blanche
was everywhere looked upon as the sole
heiress ..."

" Bah ! Nonsense ! In that case we
should be even better off. A man has
always control over his wife's fortune.
But I don't believe it. My lady Stontheim
was too fond of Army for that."

" But if the will was made before,
Grandmamma ? "

"Well, then she will have added a
codicil," returned the old lady, im-
patiently.

"I wish I knew exactly when they
would come," said Nelly. "The mail-
coach generally gets in at half-past seven ;
but Army said in his letter that they
should take a post-chaise and should rest



12 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

and dine at the station. However,
between seven and eight they must be
here for certain. Patience ! I wonder
if I shall ever learn it," she added,
laughing at herself. "Just look what
a splendid sunset ! It will soon be dark
now. How glad I am that Army is
coming! "

Gradually darkness fell upon the Castle
and park. One star after another sparkled
forth in the heavens. The lamp was
not lighted yet in the old home-like
family parlour ; but the fire on the hearth
shed a sort of dim twilight through the
room. Nelly and her mother were alone,
for the Baroness had gone up to her
own room. The young girl sat in the
deep embrasure of the window, looking
with great dreamy eyes up at the myriad
constellations which studded the firma-
ment above. Presently she rose, went



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 13

over to her mother, and kneeling by
her side, passed her arm caressingly
about her waist. The agitated lady
pressed a handkerchief to her eyes, and
her bosom rose and sank convulsively.

"Dear little mother," begged the girl,
in her sweet tones, " don't make your
eyes red with crying. What will Army
think when he comes ? I am sure Grand-
mamma did not mean to be unkind."

" Oh, Nelly, it is not that," whispered
the weeping lady; "but all day long I
have been beset by an anxious presenti-
ment, an uneasiness I cannot describe.
God grant that nothing evil has happened
to my boy ! "

"But, mamma, what could happen to
him?" said her little daughter, encourag-
ingly, hugging the blonde head to her
breast. "At this moment he is sitting
in the great yellow post-chaise opposite



14 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

his Blanche the pleasantest situation
in the world for him. Uncle is telling
them anecdotes, and they are all looking
forward to a hot supper and the sight
of your dear, kind face, little mother."

The lady started suddenly from her
seat in the armchair.

"What is it, mamma?" asked Nelly,
anxiously.

" I thought ... I thought I heard his
step," replied her mother, under her
breath. " Did not you hear it too,
Nelly?"

"No, mamma, and it could not pos-
sibly be Army, you know."

All grew still again in the lofty chamber.
The whispering voices were hushed not
a sound was to be heard save the crack-
ling of the fire on the hearth, and now
and then an anxious sigh escaping from
the mother's troubled heart.



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 15

" But there, there ! That was his step
in the passage, Nelly," cried the Baroness,
in a half-stifled voice.

The young girl flew across the room
just as the door opened, and a tall figure
entered.

"Army!" exclaimed his sister, joy-
fully, and his mother's pale lips re-echoed
the cry, " Army, can it he you ? "

" Yes, mother," he replied, and there
was an unnatural, forced sound in his
voice, as though he were putting a great
constraint on himself to appear calm.

"My dear boy," said his mother,
putting her arms about him tenderly.

"Dear old brother!" caressed Nelly.
" How glad I am to see you ! but do
say, where is Blanche ? "

"Where is your betrothed? " asked his
mother in her turn.

He was standing near the fireplace,



16 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

still wearing Ms cap and cloak ; in the
faint light cast by the dying flames his
features were hardly discernible.

" I have no betrothed ! " He spoke
in a voice husky from emotion.

Nelly uttered a little scream; but his
mother was struck dumb. This was the
trouble she had dimly foreseen and ap-
prehended. She pressed her son's hands
tightly in hers, as though she would rouse
him from some horrible, bewildering
dream.

"Don't make me give way, mother!"
he begged, drawing her to the nearest
seat. " It can avail us nothing. How
could I ever suppose that she . . . Get
a light, Nelly," he called sharply ; " and
prepare my grandmother for the news.
I have not much time. I must go away
again to-morrow."

With trembling hands, Nelly brought



LIZZIE OP THE MILL. 17

the lamp. Its clear flame shone full on
her brother's pale face, as he stood
motionless on the same spot, gazing
vacantly hefore him, as one lost in
thought.

" Army, my dear, my dear ! " whispered
his sister, sobbing, and throwing her
tender little arms round him.

He stroked her hair with an absent,
abstracted air.

" There is Grandmamma," she cried,
and ran to meet the old lady.

"Armand?" said the latter, inquir-
ingly, as she came in. "What is all
this ? I could not believe it when Sanna
declared she had met you in the corridor.
Where is Blanche ? Where is the
Colonel? What is the meaning of your
coming alone ? "

" It means," replied he slowly, empha-
sizing every syllable; "it means that

VOL. ii. 22



18 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

my betrothed this morning, shortly before
I started to come here, graciously signified
to me my dismissal. ' She does not
love me,' she alleges, as the reason for
her sudden determination, and God
knows the reason is a cogent one."
Again he laughed scornfully.

The old lady staggered and fell back,
as though struck by a thunderbolt.

" It is not possible ; it cannot be,"
she faltered.

" I said the same myself this morning,
when the Colonel made the communica-
tion to me, and a hundred times since then
I have stopped to ask myself if I have
not taken leave of my senses, or some
such thing; but no, it is a fact. The
engagement between Blanche von Deren-
berg and myself is at an end."

"But, Army, had nothing gone before ? "
asked his mother, who was leaning back
in her chair, utterly spent.



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 19

"You want to know what had gone
before ? " he answered in a cutting tone.
" Why. the reading of the will. Blanche
von Derenberg is sole legatee. She
inherits the whole immense fortune that
is all. Why should she marry a man
she does not love ? But you may set
your mind at rest, Granny" he went
a step nearer the old lady, who reeled
and caught at the back of a chair for
support. " Hers is a noble character.
She divines that expenses have been
brought on us by this engagement, and
therefore she informed me through her
father that she was ready to pay my
debts in toto. It was a sop offered to
the dismissed suitor, to the fool who
had so blindly, madly loved this false
creature."

While speaking, he had been playing
nervously with a crystal goblet, which



20 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

stood on the table, turning it incessantly
round and round; now he took it up
and dashed it to the ground. It fell
with a crash, shivering into a thousand
fragments, which danced far and wide
over the old parqueted floor.

" Army ! " implored his mother in
faltering accents, stretching out her
trembling hands towards the passionate
youth.

But the old Baroness was herself again
by this time. "We shall not submit to
this," she said vehemently, standing
very erect. " Blanche inherits the for-
tune only on condition of your becoming
her husband. I have a letter from my
lady Stontheim ..."

" Do you think," asked Armand, as
with two strides he covered the distance
between them, and stood before her ;
"do you think I would ever look at



LIZZIE OP THE MILL. 21

her again ? She might go down on
her knees now and implore me I should
thrust her from me, were I and you, all
of you with me, starving. Not a penny
will I take of her bounty! I would
rather put a bullet through my head.
Indeed, that would, perhaps, be the best
thing for me to do. A bullet helped
my father in his need, so Blanche in-
formed me when I entreated her to make
her home here with me at Derenberg.
She was afraid, she declared, to live in
this uncanny old nest, where the last
owner had committed suicide. Ha, ha !
Excellent reasons, to which no sensible
person could take exception." He spoke
in a hoarse voice, and as one half dis-
traught, and his dark eyes gleamed with
a fierce, unnatural brightness.

"Mamma, mamma," cried his young
sister, piteously, " Army is ill he does
not know what he is saying."



22 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

The pale lady rose from her seat,
walked over to her son, and grasped his
hand. She tried to speak, but her lips
moved without producing a sound. She
looked at him with an agonized supplica-
ting look, as though she would say
" Spare me ! Have I not suffered enough
in my life?" He did not see that be-
seeching gaze. Impatiently he sought
to free his hand from hers.

"Let me be, mother, let me be! I
am not thinking of dying. I mean to
live for all of you. Ah, I was forgetting.
Here is a letter from the Colonel to the
Baroness von Derenberg," he added,
drawing an envelope from his breast-
pocket, and throwing it on the table ;
"setting forth, no doubt, that all is for
the best so, et cetera."

He passed his hands through his wavy
dark hair, and walked up to the window.



LIZZIE OP THE MILL. 23

Next minute he turned, and with a quick
firm step left the room.

For a little while all was very quiet
within. The paper rustled in the old
Baroness's hands, as she stood reading
the letter.

" See here, Cornelia, this is just what
I was telling you to-day. 'Another
motive, which induces my daughter to
ask to he released from her promise to
your grandson, is that she was far from
happy while at Derenberg, and never
could feel at home there ; you will ex-
cuse me from entering into full explana-
tory details. Why say unpleasant things
to each other, now that all connection
between us is coming to an end ? ' You
see," broke off the old lady, angrily
" this is what you have done, you and
Nelly. This is the consequence of your
awkwardness in dealing with that spoilt



24 LIZZIE OP THE MILL.

girl. Now you know what lias come of
it. Army lias you to thank, and you
alone, for the ruin of all his hopes. Oh,
it is exasperating, it is enough to drive
one wild, to find one's self thwarted by
such stupidity, to he linked to people
who own such pitiful, narrow views ! It
has been the bane, the curse of my life ! "

The old lady clenched her delicate
hands, and cast looks of withering scorn
over at the mother and daughter.

' ' You have a right to scold me, Grand-
mamma, if you like," said Nelly, stepping
forward protectingly before her mother,
" but leave mamma out of the question,
please. You must not be angry at my
speaking in this way ; I cannot help it.
Mamma was always friendly to Blanche,
and much more gentle and kind in her
manner than you were. I never liked
her, because I felt somehow she was only



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 25

marrying Army to please her aunt, and
now I say Army ought to go down on his
knees, an'd thank God that things are as
they are. So pray don't distress mamma
any more with unjust reproaches on that
false, heartless creature's account. A girl
who could insult my father's memory, and
accuse him of taking his own life . . .
Oh Heavens ! " she broke off suddenly,
and in a moment she was on the ground
by her mother's side, trying to raise the
unconscious lady in her arms.

" Oh, cielo, cielo!" murmured the
Dowager. " What an existence, what a
fearful existence ! "

Midnight was long past, and still Nelly
sat by her sick mother's bedside. She
was the only one of the family who had
retained her self-possession in this crisis,
unshaken by this cruel reversal of fortune.
She had put her exhausted mother to



2G LIZZIE OF THE HULL.

bed, and had then gone about softly,
doing away as much as possible with the
preparations made for the reception of
the bride-elect. She had stolen on tip-
toe down the long corridor, and had lis-
tened at Armand's door. The sound of
the young man's restless steps pacing
incessantly up and down brought com-
fort to her little heart. And now she sat
by her mother again, counting the quick,
fevered pulse, and from time to time
breathing a soft kiss on the thin hands
which were so tightly clasped on the
heaving bosom. The first grey glimmer
of breaking day peeped through the cur-
tains, warming gradually till it grew to
be a faint rosy light. Nelly went up to
the window, and looked down at the
park below. The leaves on the trees,
heavy with moisture, drooped sadly to
the ground, which was crisp with a slight



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 27

lioar-frost. From the midst of the faded
autumn foliage the red crest of a moun-
tain ash shot up here and there, charm-
ing the eye with its brilliant dash of
colour. Over the forest hovered a thin
white cloud of mist, which enveloped the
topmost boughs of the tall trees in a
gauzy veil tinted pink by the rays of the
rising sun. Weary from want of sleep,
Nelly leaned her head against the panes,
and closed her eyes. Suddenly she heard
a noise behind her, the sound of a chair
being pushed across the floor.

"Mamma!" she cried, as she turned
round, and saw her mother throwing on
one garment after another with feverish
haste.

" I have slept so long, Nelly, and I
have not said a word of comfort to poor
Army yet. Why, it is morning now.
No, let me be, I must go to him. He



28 LIZZIE OF THE MILL.

must not lose his faith in mankind alto-
gether he is too young for that. Don't
try to stop me, Nelly. He is not asleep.
It is not so easy to sleep after such a
blow as that."

She would hardly allow the girl to
throw a shawl about her, before she
hurried away through the parlour.

Her little daughter did not dare to
follow her. She crept to the door of the
next room, and listened. Presently she
heard a scream, and, rushing out, she
flew down the long corridor. The door
of her brother's room was ajar. Her
mother stood inside, supporting herself
against the table.

At a glance Nelly took in all the
details of the room. Yonder, the old
four-post bedstead, with the pillows all
crushed and disordered ; on the table, a
bottle of wine, half empty, and a glass ;



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 29

over the sofa, a blank bare space the
picture which had filled it was standing
with its face turned to the wall. There,
on a chair just opposite lay the young
man's epaulets and sword but Army
himself, where was Army ?

" He is gone," gasped the trembling
lady. " He is gone, Nelly. Suppose, like
his father, he were . . . he were to . . ."

" What, mamma, what ? For God's
sake, speak."

" Suppose he ... he ... I ... oh
Father, have pity!" she stammered,
unconnectedly. " Nelly, make haste,
look for him. I am so weak, I cannot.
Tell him he must stay with me. Once
in my life I have borne that horrible
trial once is enough. I could not go
through it a second time."

" Mamma," pleaded Nelly, in terrible
suspense ; " tell me what you mean ? "



30 LIZZIE OP THE MILL.

" Quick, quick ! go then, make haste.
He is not to die, he must live. Go, or
they will be bringing him in to me all
pale and covered with blood, like . . ."
She shuddered, and pointed to the door.

The terrified girl understood her
mother now, and a horrid fear, seized
her heart, settling on it as with the
claws of a vulture. She sped away out
of the room. Where, oh where, should
she seek him first ? Instinctively she
ran downstairs. The turret door stood
ajar. In headlong haste she flew across
the open space, past the stone bears,
on into the avenue. Her brother's
desperate look and manner, that terrible
allusion to their father's fate, recurred
to her a dreadful certainty shaped itself
in her mind. She pressed her hand on
her beating heart, and stood still a
moment. Where could he be ?



LIZZIE OF THE MILL. 31

"Army!" she tried to cry, but she
could hardly force the sound from her
throat. " Army ! " All around remained
still as death.

Underfoot lay a soft wet carpet of
withered leaves. Some little birds,
twittering and fluttering in the boughs,
looked down with their curious black
eyes on the distressed young creature
standing below. " Army ! " she shouted,
summoning all her strength, and followed


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryW. HeimburgLizzie of the mill (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 10)