Robert Louis Stevenson
Part 4 out of 4
He set down a pitcher of coarse wine, bread, a piece of cheese, and
a handful of raw onions. The bread was hard and sour, the cheese
like leather; even the onion, which ranks with the truffle and the
nectarine in the chief place of honour of earth's fruits, is not
perhaps a dish for princesses when raw. But she ate, if not with
appetite, with courage; and when she had eaten, did not disdain the
pitcher. In all her life before, she had not tasted of gross food
nor drunk after another; but a brave woman far more readily accepts
a change of circumstances than the bravest man. All that while, the
woodman continued to observe her furtively, many low thoughts of
fear and greed contending in his eyes. She read them clearly, and
she knew she must begone.
Presently she arose and offered him a florin.
'Will that repay you?' she asked.
But here the man found his tongue. 'I must have more than that,'
'It is all I have to give you,' she returned, and passed him by
Yet her heart trembled, for she saw his hand stretched forth as if
to arrest her, and his unsteady eyes wandering to his axe. A beaten
path led westward from the clearing, and she swiftly followed it.
She did not glance behind her. But as soon as the least turning of
the path had concealed her from the woodman's eyes, she slipped
among the trees and ran till she deemed herself in safety.
By this time the strong sunshine pierced in a thousand places the
pine-thatch of the forest, fired the red boles, irradiated the cool
aisles of shadow, and burned in jewels on the grass. The gum of
these trees was dearer to the senses than the gums of Araby; each
pine, in the lusty morning sunlight, burned its own wood-incense;
and now and then a breeze would rise and toss these rooted censers,
and send shade and sun-gem flitting, swift as swallows, thick as
bees; and wake a brushing bustle of sounds that murmured and went
On she passed, and up and down, in sun and shadow; now aloft on the
bare ridge among the rocks and birches, with the lizards and the
snakes; and anon in the deep grove among sunless pillars. Now she
followed wandering wood-paths, in the maze of valleys; and again,
from a hill-top, beheld the distant mountains and the great birds
circling under the sky. She would see afar off a nestling hamlet,
and go round to avoid it. Below, she traced the course of the foam
of mountain torrents. Nearer hand, she saw where the tender springs
welled up in silence, or oozed in green moss; or in the more
favoured hollows a whole family of infant rivers would combine, and
tinkle in the stones, and lie in pools to be a bathing-place for
sparrows, or fall from the sheer rock in rods of crystal. Upon all
these things, as she still sped along in the bright air, she looked
with a rapture of surprise and a joyful fainting of the heart; they
seemed so novel, they touched so strangely home, they were so hued
and scented, they were so beset and canopied by the dome of the blue
air of heaven.
At length, when she was well weary, she came upon a wide and shallow
pool. Stones stood in it, like islands; bulrushes fringed the
coast; the floor was paved with the pine needles; and the pines
themselves, whose roots made promontories, looked down silently on
their green images. She crept to the margin and beheld herself with
wonder, a hollow and bright-eyed phantom, in the ruins of her palace
robe. The breeze now shook her image; now it would be marred with
flies; and at that she smiled; and from the fading circles, her
counterpart smiled back to her and looked kind. She sat long in the
warm sun, and pitied her bare arms that were all bruised and marred
with falling, and marvelled to see that she was dirty, and could not
grow to believe that she had gone so long in such a strange
Then, with a sigh, she addressed herself to make a toilette by that
forest mirror, washed herself pure from all the stains of her
adventure, took off her jewels and wrapped them in her handkerchief,
re-arranged the tatters of her dress, and took down the folds of her
hair. She shook it round her face, and the pool repeated her thus
veiled. Her hair had smelt like violets, she remembered Otto
saying; and so now she tried to smell it, and then shook her head,
and laughed a little, sadly, to herself.
The laugh was returned upon her in a childish echo.
She looked up; and lo! two children looking on, - a small girl and a
yet smaller boy, standing, like playthings, by the pool, below a
spreading pine. Seraphina was not fond of children, and now she was
startled to the heart.
'Who are you?' she cried hoarsely.
The mites huddled together and drew back; and Seraphina's heart
reproached her that she should have frightened things so quaint and
little, and yet alive with senses. She thought upon the birds and
looked again at her two visitors; so little larger and so far more
innocent. On their clear faces, as in a pool, she saw the
reflection of their fears. With gracious purpose she arose.
'Come,' she said, 'do not be afraid of me,' and took a step towards
But alas! at the first moment, the two poor babes in the wood turned
and ran helter-skelter from the Princess.
The most desolate pang was struck into the girl's heart. Here she
was, twenty-two - soon twenty-three - and not a creature loved her;
none but Otto; and would even he forgive? If she began weeping in
these woods alone, it would mean death or madness. Hastily she trod
the thoughts out like a burning paper; hastily rolled up her locks,
and with terror dogging her, and her whole bosom sick with grief,
resumed her journey.
Past ten in the forenoon, she struck a high-road, marching in that
place uphill between two stately groves, a river of sunlight; and
here, dead weary, careless of consequences, and taking some courage
from the human and civilised neighbourhood of the road, she
stretched herself on the green margin in the shadow of a tree.
Sleep closed on her, at first with a horror of fainting, but when
she ceased to struggle, kindly embracing her. So she was taken home
for a little, from all her toils and sorrows, to her Father's arms.
And there in the meanwhile her body lay exposed by the highwayside,
in tattered finery; and on either hand from the woods the birds came
flying by and calling upon others, and debated in their own tongue
this strange appearance.
The sun pursued his journey; the shadow flitted from her feet,
shrank higher and higher, and was upon the point of leaving her
altogether, when the rumble of a coach was signalled to and fro by
the birds. The road in that part was very steep; the rumble drew
near with great deliberation; and ten minutes passed before a
gentleman appeared, walking with a sober elderly gait upon the
grassy margin of the highway, and looking pleasantly around him as
he walked. From time to time he paused, took out his note-book and
made an entry with a pencil; and any spy who had been near enough
would have heard him mumbling words as though he were a poet testing
verses. The voice of the wheels was still faint, and it was plain
the traveller had far outstripped his carriage.
He had drawn very near to where the Princess lay asleep, before his
eye alighted on her; but when it did he started, pocketed his note-
book, and approached. There was a milestone close to where she lay;
and he sat down on that and coolly studied her. She lay upon one
side, all curled and sunken, her brow on one bare arm, the other
stretched out, limp and dimpled. Her young body, like a thing
thrown down, had scarce a mark of life. Her breathing stirred her
not. The deadliest fatigue was thus confessed in every language of
the sleeping flesh. The traveller smiled grimly. As though he had
looked upon a statue, he made a grudging inventory of her charms:
the figure in that touching freedom of forgetfulness surprised him;
the flush of slumber became her like a flower.
'Upon my word,' he thought, 'I did not think the girl could be so
pretty. And to think,' he added, 'that I am under obligation not to
use one word of this!' He put forth his stick and touched her; and
at that she awoke, sat up with a cry, and looked upon him wildly.
'I trust your Highness has slept well,' he said, nodding.
But she only uttered sounds.
'Compose yourself,' said he, giving her certainly a brave example in
his own demeanour. 'My chaise is close at hand; and I shall have, I
trust, the singular entertainment of abducting a sovereign
'Sir John!' she said, at last.
'At your Highness's disposal,' he replied.
She sprang to her feet. 'O!' she cried, 'have you come from
'This morning,' he returned, 'I left it; and if there is any one
less likely to return to it than yourself, behold him!'
'The Baron - ' she began, and paused.
'Madam,' he answered, 'it was well meant, and you are quite a
Judith; but after the hours that have elapsed, you will probably be
relieved to hear that he is fairly well. I took his news this
morning ere I left. Doing fairly well, they said, but suffering
acutely. Hey? - acutely. They could hear his groans in the next
'And the Prince,' she asked, 'is anything known of him?'
'It is reported,' replied Sir John, with the same pleasurable
deliberation, 'that upon that point your Highness is the best
'Sir John,' she said eagerly, 'you were generous enough to speak
about your carriage. Will you, I beseech you, will you take me to
the Felsenburg? I have business there of an extreme importance.'
'I can refuse you nothing,' replied the old gentleman, gravely and
seriously enough. 'Whatever, madam, it is in my power to do for
you, that shall be done with pleasure. As soon as my chaise shall
overtake us, it is yours to carry you where you will. But,' added
he, reverting to his former manner, 'I observe you ask me nothing of
'I do not care,' she said. 'I thought I saw it burning.'
'Prodigious!' said the Baronet. 'You thought? And can the loss of
forty toilettes leave you cold? Well, madam, I admire your
fortitude. And the state, too? As I left, the government was
sitting, - the new government, of which at least two members must be
known to you by name: Sabra, who had, I believe, the benefit of
being formed in your employment - a footman, am I right? - and our
old friend the Chancellor, in something of a subaltern position.
But in these convulsions the last shall be first, and the first
'Sir John,' she said, with an air of perfect honesty, 'I am sure you
mean most kindly, but these matters have no interest for me.'
The Baronet was so utterly discountenanced that he hailed the
appearance of his chaise with welcome, and, by way of saying
something, proposed that they should walk back to meet it. So it
was done; and he helped her in with courtesy, mounted to her side,
and from various receptacles (for the chaise was most completely
fitted out) produced fruits and truffled liver, beautiful white
bread, and a bottle of delicate wine. With these he served her like
a father, coaxing and praising her to fresh exertions; and during
all that time, as though silenced by the laws of hospitality, he was
not guilty of the shadow of a sneer. Indeed his kindness seemed so
genuine that Seraphina was moved to gratitude.
'Sir John,' she said, 'you hate me in your heart; why are you so
kind to me?'
'Ah, my good lady,' said he, with no disclaimer of the accusation,
'I have the honour to be much your husband's friend, and somewhat
'You!' she cried. 'They told me you wrote cruelly of both of us.'
'Such was the strange path by which we grew acquainted,' said Sir
John. 'I had written, madam, with particular cruelty (since that
shall be the phrase) of your fair self. Your husband set me at
liberty, gave me a passport, ordered a carriage, and then, with the
most boyish spirit, challenged me to fight. Knowing the nature of
his married life, I thought the dash and loyalty he showed
delightful. "Do not be afraid," says he; "if I am killed, there is
nobody to miss me." It appears you subsequently thought of that
yourself. But I digress. I explained to him it was impossible that
I could fight! "Not if I strike you?" says he. Very droll; I wish
I could have put it in my book. However, I was conquered, took the
young gentleman to my high favour, and tore up my bits of scandal on
the spot. That is one of the little favours, madam, that you owe
Seraphina sat for some while in silence. She could bear to be
misjudged without a pang by those whom she contemned; she had none
of Otto's eagerness to be approved, but went her own way straight
and head in air. To Sir John, however, after what he had said, and
as her husband's friend, she was prepared to stoop.
'What do you think of me?' she asked abruptly.
'I have told you already,' said Sir John: 'I think you want another
glass of my good wine.'
'Come,' she said, 'this is unlike you. You are not wont to be
afraid. You say that you admire my husband: in his name, be
'I admire your courage,' said the Baronet. 'Beyond that, as you
have guessed, and indeed said, our natures are not sympathetic.'
'You spoke of scandal,' pursued Seraphina. 'Was the scandal great?'
'It was considerable,' said Sir John.
'And you believed it?' she demanded.
'O, madam,' said Sir John, 'the question!'
'Thank you for that answer!' cried Seraphina. 'And now here, I will
tell you, upon my honour, upon my soul, in spite of all the scandal
in this world, I am as true a wife as ever stood.'
'We should probably not agree upon a definition,' observed Sir John.
'O!' she cried, 'I have abominably used him - I know that; it is not
that I mean. But if you admire my husband, I insist that you shall
understand me: I can look him in the face without a blush.'
'It may be, madam,' said Sir John; 'nor have I presumed to think the
'You will not believe me?' she cried. 'You think I am a guilty
wife? You think he was my lover?'
'Madam,' returned the Baronet, 'when I tore up my papers, I promised
your good husband to concern myself no more with your affairs; and I
assure you for the last time that I have no desire to judge you.'
'But you will not acquit me! Ah!' she cried, 'HE will - he knows me
Sir John smiled.
'You smile at my distress?' asked Seraphina.
'At your woman's coolness,' said Sir John. 'A man would scarce have
had the courage of that cry, which was, for all that, very natural,
and I make no doubt quite true. But remark, madam - since you do me
the honour to consult me gravely - I have no pity for what you call
your distresses. You have been completely selfish, and now reap the
consequence. Had you once thought of your husband, instead of
singly thinking of yourself, you would not now have been alone, a
fugitive, with blood upon your hands, and hearing from a morose old
Englishman truth more bitter than scandal.'
'I thank you,' she said, quivering. 'This is very true. Will you
stop the carriage?'
'No, child,' said Sir John, 'not until I see you mistress of
There was a long pause, during which the carriage rolled by rock and
'And now,' she resumed, with perfect steadiness, 'will you consider
me composed? I request you, as a gentleman, to let me out.'
'I think you do unwisely,' he replied. 'Continue, if you please, to
use my carriage.'
'Sir John,' she said, 'if death were sitting on that pile of stones,
I would alight! I do not blame, I thank you; I now know how I
appear to others; but sooner than draw breath beside a man who can
so think of me, I would - O!' she cried, and was silent.
Sir John pulled the string, alighted, and offered her his hand; but
she refused the help.
The road had now issued from the valleys in which it had been
winding, and come to that part of its course where it runs, like a
cornice, along the brow of the steep northward face of Grunewald.
The place where they had alighted was at a salient angle; a bold
rock and some wind-tortured pine-trees overhung it from above; far
below the blue plains lay forth and melted into heaven; and before
them the road, by a succession of bold zigzags, was seen mounting to
where a tower upon a tall cliff closed the view.
'There,' said the Baronet, pointing to the tower, 'you see the
Felsenburg, your goal. I wish you a good journey, and regret I
cannot be of more assistance.'
He mounted to his place and gave a signal, and the carriage rolled
Seraphina stood by the wayside, gazing before her with blind eyes.
Sir John she had dismissed already from her mind: she hated him,
that was enough; for whatever Seraphina hated or contemned fell
instantly to Lilliputian smallness, and was thenceforward steadily
ignored in thought. And now she had matter for concern indeed. Her
interview with Otto, which she had never yet forgiven him, began to
appear before her in a very different light. He had come to her,
still thrilling under recent insult, and not yet breathed from
fighting her own cause; and how that knowledge changed the value of
his words! Yes, he must have loved her! this was a brave feeling -
it was no mere weakness of the will. And she, was she incapable of
love? It would appear so; and she swallowed her tears, and yearned
to see Otto, to explain all, to ask pity upon her knees for her
transgressions, and, if all else were now beyond the reach of
reparation, to restore at least the liberty of which she had
Swiftly she sped along the highway, and, as the road wound out and
in about the bluffs and gullies of the mountain, saw and lost by
glimpses the tall tower that stood before and above her, purpled by
the mountain air.
CHAPTER II - TREATS OF A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE
WHEN Otto mounted to his rolling prison he found another occupant in
a corner of the front seat; but as this person hung his head and the
brightness of the carriage lamps shone outward, the Prince could
only see it was a man. The Colonel followed his prisoner and
clapped-to the door; and at that the four horses broke immediately
into a swinging trot.
'Gentlemen,' said the Colonel, after some little while had passed,
'if we are to travel in silence, we might as well be at home. I
appear, of course, in an invidious character; but I am a man of
taste, fond of books and solidly informing talk, and unfortunately
condemned for life to the guard-room. Gentlemen, this is my chance:
don't spoil it for me. I have here the pick of the whole court,
barring lovely woman; I have a great author in the person of the
Doctor - '
'Gotthold!' cried Otto.
'It appears,' said the Doctor bitterly, 'that we must go together.
Your Highness had not calculated upon that.'
'What do you infer?' cried Otto; 'that I had you arrested?'
'The inference is simple,' said the Doctor.
'Colonel Gordon,' said the Prince, 'oblige me so far, and set me
right with Herr von Hohenstockwitz.'
'Gentlemen,' said the Colonel, 'you are both arrested on the same
warrant in the name of the Princess Seraphina, acting regent,
countersigned by Prime Minister Freiherr von Gondremark, and dated
the day before yesterday, the twelfth. I reveal to you the secrets
of the prison-house,' he added.
'Otto,' said Gotthold, 'I ask you to pardon my suspicions.'
'Gotthold,' said the Prince, 'I am not certain I can grant you
'Your Highness is, I am sure, far too magnanimous to hesitate,' said
the Colonel. 'But allow me: we speak at home in my religion of the
means of grace: and I now propose to offer them.' So saying, the
Colonel lighted a bright lamp which he attached to one side of the
carriage, and from below the front seat produced a goodly basket
adorned with the long necks of bottles. 'TU SPEM REDUCIS - how does
it go, Doctor?' he asked gaily. 'I am, in a sense, your host; and I
am sure you are both far too considerate of my embarrassing position
to refuse to do me honour. Gentlemen, I drink to the Prince!'
'Colonel,' said Otto, 'we have a jovial entertainer. I drink to
Thereupon all three took their wine very pleasantly; and even as
they did so, the carriage with a lurch turned into the high-road and
began to make better speed.
All was bright within; the wine had coloured Gotthold's cheek; dim
forms of forest trees, dwindling and spiring, scarves of the starry
sky, now wide and now narrow, raced past the windows, through one
that was left open the air of the woods came in with a nocturnal
raciness; and the roll of wheels and the tune of the trotting horses
sounded merrily on the ear. Toast followed toast; glass after glass
was bowed across and emptied by the trio; and presently there began
to fall upon them a luxurious spell, under the influence of which
little but the sound of quiet and confidential laughter interrupted
the long intervals of meditative silence.
'Otto,' said Gotthold, after one of these seasons of quiet, 'I do
not ask you to forgive me. Were the parts reversed, I could not
'Well,' said Otto, 'it is a phrase we use. I do forgive you, but
your words and your suspicions rankle; and not yours alone. It is
idle, Colonel Gordon, in view of the order you are carrying out, to
conceal from you the dissensions of my family; they have gone so far
that they are now public property. Well, gentlemen, can I forgive
my wife? I can, of course, and do; but in what sense? I would
certainly not stoop to any revenge; as certainly I could not think
of her but as one changed beyond my recognition.'
'Allow me,' returned the Colonel. 'You will permit me to hope that
I am addressing Christians? We are all conscious, I trust, that we
are miserable sinners.'
'I disown the consciousness,' said Gotthold. 'Warmed with this good
fluid, I deny your thesis.'
'How, sir? You never did anything wrong? and I heard you asking
pardon but this moment, not of your God, sir, but of a common
fellow-worm!' the Colonel cried.
'I own you have me; you are expert in argument, Heir Oberst,' said
'Begad, sir, I am proud to hear you say so,' said the Colonel. 'I
was well grounded indeed at Aberdeen. And as for this matter of
forgiveness, it comes, sir, of loose views and (what is if anything
more dangerous) a regular life. A sound creed and a bad morality,
that's the root of wisdom. You two gentlemen are too good to be
'The paradox is somewhat forced,' said Gotthold.
'Pardon me, Colonel,' said the Prince; 'I readily acquit you of any
design of offence, but your words bite like satire. Is this a time,
do you think, when I can wish to hear myself called good, now that I
am paying the penalty (and am willing like yourself to think it
just) of my prolonged misconduct?'
'O, pardon me!' cried the Colonel. 'You have never been expelled
from the divinity hall; you have never been broke. I was: broke for
a neglect of military duty. To tell you the open truth, your
Highness, I was the worse of drink; it's a thing I never do now,' he
added, taking out his glass. 'But a man, you see, who has really
tasted the defects of his own character, as I have, and has come to
regard himself as a kind of blind teetotum knocking about life,
begins to learn a very different view about forgiveness. I will
talk of not forgiving others, sir, when I have made out to forgive
myself, and not before; and the date is like to be a long one. My
father, the Reverend Alexander Gordon, was a good man, and damned
hard upon others. I am what they call a bad one, and that is just
the difference. The man who cannot forgive any mortal thing is a
green hand in life.'
'And yet I have heard of you, Colonel, as a duellist,' said
'A different thing, sir,' replied the soldier. 'Professional
etiquette. And I trust without unchristian feeling.'
Presently after the Colonel fell into a deep sleep and his
companions looked upon each other, smiling.
'An odd fish,' said Gotthold.
'And a strange guardian,' said the Prince. 'Yet what he said was
'Rightly looked upon,' mused Gotthold, 'it is ourselves that we
cannot forgive, when we refuse forgiveness to our friend. Some
strand of our own misdoing is involved in every quarrel.'
'Are there not offences that disgrace the pardoner?' asked Otto.
'Are there not bounds of self-respect?'
'Otto,' said Gotthold, 'does any man respect himself? To this poor
waif of a soldier of fortune we may seem respectable gentlemen; but
to ourselves, what are we unless a pasteboard portico and a
deliquium of deadly weaknesses within?'
'I? yes,' said Otto; 'but you, Gotthold - you, with your
interminable industry, your keen mind, your books - serving mankind,
scorning pleasures and temptations! You do not know how I envy
'Otto,' said the Doctor, 'in one word, and a bitter one to say: I am
a secret tippler. Yes, I drink too much. The habit has robbed
these very books, to which you praise my devotion, of the merits
that they should have had. It has spoiled my temper. When I spoke
to you the other day, how much of my warmth was in the cause of
virtue? how much was the fever of last night's wine? Ay, as my poor
fellow-sot there said, and as I vaingloriously denied, we are all
miserable sinners, put here for a moment, knowing the good, choosing
the evil, standing naked and ashamed in the eye of God.'
'Is it so?' said Otto. 'Why, then, what are we? Are the very best
'There is no best in man,' said Gotthold. 'I am not better, it is
likely I am not worse, than you or that poor sleeper. I was a sham,
and now you know me: that is all.'
'And yet it has not changed my love,' returned Otto softly. 'Our
misdeeds do not change us. Gotthold, fill your glass. Let us drink
to what is good in this bad business; let us drink to our old
affection; and, when we have done so, forgive your too just grounds
of offence, and drink with me to my wife, whom I have so misused,
who has so misused me, and whom I have left, I fear, I greatly fear,
in danger. What matters it how bad we are, if others can still love
us, and we can still love others?'
'Ay!' replied the Doctor. 'It is very well said. It is the true
answer to the pessimist, and the standing miracle of mankind. So
you still love me? and so you can forgive your wife? Why, then, we
may bid conscience "Down, dog," like an ill-trained puppy yapping at
The pair fell into silence, the Doctor tapping on his empty glass.
The carriage swung forth out of the valleys on that open balcony of
high-road that runs along the front of Grunewald, looking down on
Gerolstein. Far below, a white waterfall was shining to the stars
from the falling skirts of forest, and beyond that, the night stood
naked above the plain. On the other hand, the lamp-light skimmed
the face of the precipices, and the dwarf pine-trees twinkled with
all their needles, and were gone again into the wake. The granite
roadway thundered under wheels and hoofs; and at times, by reason of
its continual winding, Otto could see the escort on the other side
of a ravine, riding well together in the night. Presently the
Felsenburg came plainly in view, some way above them, on a bold
projection of the mountain, and planting its bulk against the starry
'See, Gotthold,' said the Prince, 'our destination.'
Gotthold awoke as from a trance.
'I was thinking,' said he, 'if there is any danger, why did you not
resist? I was told you came of your free will; but should you not
be there to help her?'
The colour faded from the Prince's cheeks.
CHAPTER III - PROVIDENCE VON ROSEN: ACT THE LAST
IN WHICH SHE GALLOPS OFF
WHEN the busy Countess came forth from her interview with Seraphina,
it is not too much to say that she was beginning to be terribly
afraid. She paused in the corridor and reckoned up her doings with
an eye to Gondremark. The fan was in requisition in an instant; but
her disquiet was beyond the reach of fanning. 'The girl has lost
her head,' she thought; and then dismally, 'I have gone too far.'
She instantly decided on secession. Now the MONS SACER of the Frau
von Rosen was a certain rustic villa in the forest, called by
herself, in a smart attack of poesy, Tannen Zauber, and by everybody
else plain Kleinbrunn.
Thither, upon the thought, she furiously drove, passing Gondremark
at the entrance to the Palace avenue, but feigning not to observe
him; and as Kleinbrunn was seven good miles away, and in the bottom
of a narrow dell, she passed the night without any rumour of the
outbreak reaching her; and the glow of the conflagration was
concealed by intervening hills. Frau von Rosen did not sleep well;
she was seriously uneasy as to the results of her delightful
evening, and saw herself condemned to quite a lengthy sojourn in her
deserts and a long defensive correspondence, ere she could venture
to return to Gondremark. On the other hand, she examined, by way of
pastime, the deeds she had received from Otto; and even here saw
cause for disappointment. In these troublous days she had no taste
for landed property, and she was convinced, besides, that Otto had
paid dearer than the farm was worth. Lastly, the order for the
Prince's release fairly burned her meddling fingers.
All things considered, the next day beheld an elegant and beautiful
lady, in a riding-habit and a flapping hat, draw bridle at the gate
of the Felsenburg, not perhaps with any clear idea of her purpose,
but with her usual experimental views on life. Governor Gordon,
summoned to the gate, welcomed the omnipotent Countess with his most
gallant bearing, though it was wonderful how old he looked in the
'Ah, Governor,' she said, 'we have surprises for you, sir,' and
nodded at him meaningly.
'Eh, madam, leave me my prisoners,' he said; 'and if you will but
join the band, begad, I'll be happy for life.'
'You would spoil me, would you not?' she asked.
'I would try, I would try,' returned the Governor, and he offered
her his arm.
She took it, picked up her skirt, and drew him close to her. 'I
have come to see the Prince,' she said. 'Now, infidel! on business.
A message from that stupid Gondremark, who keeps me running like a
courier. Do I look like one, Herr Gordon?' And she planted her eyes
'You look like an angel, ma'am,' returned the Governor, with a great
air of finished gallantry.
The Countess laughed. 'An angel on horseback!' she said. 'Quick
'You came, you saw, you conquered,' flourished Gordon, in high good
humour with his own wit and grace. 'We toasted you, madam, in the
carriage, in an excellent good glass of wine; toasted you fathom
deep; the finest woman, with, begad, the finest eyes in Grunewald.
I never saw the like of them but once, in my own country, when I was
a young fool at College: Thomasina Haig her name was. I give you my
word of honour, she was as like you as two peas.'
'And so you were merry in the carriage?' asked the Countess,
gracefully dissembling a yawn.
'We were; we had a very pleasant conversation; but we took perhaps a
glass more than that fine fellow of a Prince has been accustomed
to,' said the Governor; 'and I observe this morning that he seems a
little off his mettle. We'll get him mellow again ere bedtime.
This is his door.'
'Well,' she whispered, 'let me get my breath. No, no; wait. Have
the door ready to open.' And the Countess, standing like one
inspired, shook out her fine voice in 'Lascia ch'io pianga'; and
when she had reached the proper point, and lyrically uttered forth
her sighings after liberty, the door, at a sign, was flung wide
open, and she swam into the Prince's sight, bright-eyed, and with
her colour somewhat freshened by the exercise of singing. It was a
great dramatic entrance, and to the somewhat doleful prisoner within
the sight was sunshine.
'Ah, madam,' he cried, running to her - 'you here!'
She looked meaningly at Gordon; and as soon as the door was closed
she fell on Otto's neck. 'To see you here!' she moaned and clung to
But the Prince stood somewhat stiffly in that enviable situation,
and the Countess instantly recovered from her outburst.
'Poor child,' she said, 'poor child! Sit down beside me here, and
tell me all about it. My heart really bleeds to see you. How does
'Madam,' replied the Prince, sitting down beside her, his gallantry
recovered, 'the time will now go all too quickly till you leave.
But I must ask you for the news. I have most bitterly condemned
myself for my inertia of last night. You wisely counselled me; it
was my duty to resist. You wisely and nobly counselled me; I have
since thought of it with wonder. You have a noble heart.'
'Otto,' she said, 'spare me. Was it even right, I wonder? I have
duties, too, you poor child; and when I see you they all melt - all
my good resolutions fly away.'
'And mine still come too late,' he replied, sighing. 'O, what would
I not give to have resisted? What would I not give for freedom?'
'Well, what would you give?' she asked; and the red fan was spread;
only her eyes, as if from over battlements, brightly surveyed him.
'I? What do you mean? Madam, you have some news for me,' he cried.
'O, O!' said madam dubiously.
He was at her feet. 'Do not trifle with my hopes,' he pleaded.
'Tell me, dearest Madame von Rosen, tell me! You cannot be cruel:
it is not in your nature. Give? I can give nothing; I have
nothing; I can only plead in mercy.'
'Do not,' she said; 'it is not fair. Otto, you know my weakness.
Spare me. Be generous.'
'O, madam,' he said, 'it is for you to be generous, to have pity.'
He took her hand and pressed it; he plied her with caresses and
appeals. The Countess had a most enjoyable sham siege, and then
relented. She sprang to her feet, she tore her dress open, and, all
warm from her bosom, threw the order on the floor.
'There!' she cried. 'I forced it from her. Use it, and I am
ruined!' And she turned away as if to veil the force of her
Otto sprang upon the paper, read it, and cried out aloud. 'O, God
bless her!' he said, 'God bless her.' And he kissed the writing.
Von Rosen was a singularly good-natured woman, but her part was now
beyond her. 'Ingrate!' she cried; 'I wrung it from her, I betrayed
my trust to get it, and 'tis she you thank!'
'Can you blame me?' said the Prince. 'I love her.'
'I see that,' she said. 'And I?'
'You, Madame von Rosen? You are my dearest, my kindest, and most
generous of friends,' he said, approaching her. 'You would be a
perfect friend, if you were not so lovely. You have a great sense
of humour, you cannot be unconscious of your charm, and you amuse
yourself at times by playing on my weakness; and at times I can take
pleasure in the comedy. But not to-day: to-day you will be the
true, the serious, the manly friend, and you will suffer me to
forget that you are lovely and that I am weak. Come, dear Countess,
let me to-day repose in you entirely.'
He held out his hand, smiling, and she took it frankly. 'I vow you
have bewitched me,' she said; and then with a laugh, 'I break my
staff!' she added; 'and I must pay you my best compliment. You made
a difficult speech. You are as adroit, dear Prince, as I am -
charming.' And as she said the word with a great curtsey, she
'You hardly keep the bargain, madam, when you make yourself so
beautiful,' said the Prince, bowing.
'It was my last arrow,' she returned. 'I am disarmed. Blank
cartridge, O MON PRINCE! And now I tell you, if you choose to leave
this prison, you can, and I am ruined. Choose!'
'Madame von Rosen,' replied Otto, 'I choose, and I will go. My duty
points me, duty still neglected by this Featherhead. But do not
fear to be a loser. I propose instead that you should take me with
you, a bear in chains, to Baron Gondremark. I am become perfectly
unscrupulous: to save my wife I will do all, all he can ask or
fancy. He shall be filled; were he huge as leviathan and greedy as
the grave, I will content him. And you, the fairy of our pantomime,
shall have the credit.'
'Done!' she cried. 'Admirable! Prince Charming no longer - Prince
Sorcerer, Prince Solon! Let us go this moment. Stay,' she cried,
pausing. 'I beg dear Prince, to give you back these deeds. 'Twas
you who liked the farm - I have not seen it; and it was you who
wished to benefit the peasants. And, besides,' she added, with a
comical change of tone, 'I should prefer the ready money.'
Both laughed. 'Here I am, once more a farmer,' said Otto, accepting
the papers, 'but overwhelmed in debt.'
The Countess touched a bell, and the Governor appeared.
'Governor,' she said, 'I am going to elope with his Highness. The
result of our talk has been a thorough understanding, and the COUP
D'ETAT is over. Here is the order.'
Colonel Gordon adjusted silver spectacles upon his nose. 'Yes,' he
said, 'the Princess: very right. But the warrant, madam, was
'By Heinrich!' said von Rosen. 'Well, and here am I to represent
'Well, your Highness,' resumed the soldier of fortune, 'I must
congratulate you upon my loss. You have been cut out by beauty, and
I am left lamenting. The Doctor still remains to me: PROBUS,
DOCTUS, LEPIDUS, JUCUNDUS: a man of books.'
'Ay, there is nothing about poor Gotthold,' said the Prince.
'The Governor's consolation? Would you leave him bare?' asked von
'And, your Highness,' resumed Gordon, 'may I trust that in the
course of this temporary obscuration, you have found me discharge my
part with suitable respect and, I may add, tact? I adopted
purposely a cheerfulness of manner; mirth, it appeared to me, and a
good glass of wine, were the fit alleviations.'
'Colonel,' said Otto, holding out his hand, 'your society was of
itself enough. I do not merely thank you for your pleasant spirits;
I have to thank you, besides, for some philosophy, of which I stood
in need. I trust I do not see you for the last time; and in the
meanwhile, as a memento of our strange acquaintance, let me offer
you these verses on which I was but now engaged. I am so little of
a poet, and was so ill inspired by prison bars, that they have some
claim to be at least a curiosity.'
The Colonel's countenance lighted as he took the paper; the silver
spectacles were hurriedly replaced. 'Ha!' he said, 'Alexandrines,
the tragic metre. I shall cherish this, your Highness, like a
relic; no more suitable offering, although I say it, could be made.
"DIEUX DE L'IMMENSE PLAINE ET DES VASTES FORETS." Very good,' he
said, 'very good indeed! "ET DU GEOLIER LUI-MEME APPRENDRE DES
LECONS." Most handsome, begad!'
'Come, Governor,' cried the Countess, 'you can read his poetry when
we are gone. Open your grudging portals.'
'I ask your pardon,' said the Colonel. 'To a man of my character
and tastes, these verses, this handsome reference - most moving, I
assure you. Can I offer you an escort?'
'No, no,' replied the Countess. 'We go incogniti, as we arrived.
We ride together; the Prince will take my servant's horse. Hurry
and privacy, Herr Oberst, that is all we seek.' And she began
impatiently to lead the way.
But Otto had still to bid farewell to Dr. Gotthold; and the Governor
following, with his spectacles in one hand and the paper in the
other, had still to communicate his treasured verses, piece by
piece, as he succeeded in deciphering the manuscript, to all he came
across; and still his enthusiasm mounted. 'I declare,' he cried at
last, with the air of one who has at length divined a mystery, 'they
remind me of Robbie Burns!'
But there is an end to all things; and at length Otto was walking by
the side of Madame von Rosen, along that mountain wall, her servant
following with both the horses, and all about them sunlight, and
breeze, and flying bird, and the vast regions of the air, and the
capacious prospect: wildwood and climbing pinnacle, and the sound
and voice of mountain torrents, at their hand: and far below them,
green melting into sapphire on the plains.
They walked at first in silence; for Otto's mind was full of the
delight of liberty and nature, and still, betweenwhiles, he was
preparing his interview with Gondremark. But when the first rough
promontory of the rock was turned, and the Felsenburg concealed
behind its bulk, the lady paused.
'Here,' she said, 'I will dismount poor Karl, and you and I must ply
our spurs. I love a wild ride with a good companion.'
As she spoke, a carriage came into sight round the corner next below
them in the order of the road. It came heavily creaking, and a
little ahead of it a traveller was soberly walking, note-book in
'It is Sir John,' cried Otto, and he hailed him.
The Baronet pocketed his note-book, stared through an eye-glass, and
then waved his stick; and he on his side, and the Countess and the
Prince on theirs, advanced with somewhat quicker steps. They met at
the re-entrant angle, where a thin stream sprayed across a boulder
and was scattered in rain among the brush; and the Baronet saluted
the Prince with much punctilio. To the Countess, on the other hand,
he bowed with a kind of sneering wonder.
'Is it possible, madam, that you have not heard the news?' he asked.
'What news?' she cried.
'News of the first order,' returned Sir John: 'a revolution in the
State, a Republic declared, the palace burned to the ground, the
Princess in flight, Gondremark wounded - '
'Heinrich wounded?' she screamed.
'Wounded and suffering acutely,' said Sir John. 'His groans - '
There fell from the lady's lips an oath so potent that, in smoother
hours, it would have made her hearers jump. She ran to her horse,
scrambled to the saddle, and, yet half seated, dashed down the road
at full gallop. The groom, after a pause of wonder, followed her.
The rush of her impetuous passage almost scared the carriage horses
over the verge of the steep hill; and still she clattered further,
and the crags echoed to her flight, and still the groom flogged
vainly in pursuit of her. At the fourth corner, a woman trailing
slowly up leaped back with a cry and escaped death by a hand's-
breadth. But the Countess wasted neither glance nor thought upon
the incident. Out and in, about the bluffs of the mountain wall,
she fled, loose-reined, and still the groom toiled in her pursuit.
'A most impulsive lady!' said Sir John. 'Who would have thought she
cared for him?' And before the words were uttered, he was
struggling in the Prince's grasp.
'My wife! the Princess? What of her?'
'She is down the road,' he gasped. 'I left her twenty minutes
And next moment, the choked author stood alone, and the Prince on
foot was racing down the hill behind the Countess.
CHAPTER IV - BABES IN THE WOOD
WHILE the feet of the Prince continued to run swiftly, his heart,
which had at first by far outstripped his running, soon began to
linger and hang back. Not that he ceased to pity the misfortune or
to yearn for the sight of Seraphina; but the memory of her obdurate
coldness awoke within him, and woke in turn his own habitual
diffidence of self. Had Sir John been given time to tell him all,
had he even known that she was speeding to the Felsenburg, he would
have gone to her with ardour. As it was, he began to see himself
once more intruding, profiting, perhaps, by her misfortune, and now
that she was fallen, proffering unloved caresses to the wife who had
spurned him in prosperity. The sore spots upon his vanity began to
burn; once more, his anger assumed the carriage of a hostile
generosity; he would utterly forgive indeed; he would help, save,
and comfort his unloving wife; but all with distant self-denial,
imposing silence on his heart, respecting Seraphina's disaffection
as he would the innocence of a child. So, when at length he turned
a corner and beheld the Princess, it was his first thought to
reassure her of the purity of his respect, and he at once ceased
running and stood still. She, upon her part, began to run to him
with a little cry; then, seeing him pause, she paused also, smitten
with remorse; and at length, with the most guilty timidity, walked
nearly up to where he stood.
'Otto,' she said, 'I have ruined all!'
'Seraphina!' he cried with a sob, but did not move, partly withheld
by his resolutions, partly struck stupid at the sight of her
weariness and disorder. Had she stood silent, they had soon been
locked in an embrace. But she too had prepared herself against the
interview, and must spoil the golden hour with protestations.
'All!' she went on, 'I have ruined all! But, Otto, in kindness you
must hear me - not justify, but own, my faults. I have been taught
so cruelly; I have had such time for thought, and see the world so
changed. I have been blind, stone-blind; I have let all true good
go by me, and lived on shadows. But when this dream fell, and I had
betrayed you, and thought I had killed - ' She paused. 'I thought
I had killed Gondremark,' she said with a deep flush, 'and I found
myself alone, as you said.'
The mention of the name of Gondremark pricked the Princes generosity
like a spur. 'Well,' he cried, 'and whose fault was it but mine?
It was my duty to be beside you, loved or not. But I was a skulker
in the grain, and found it easier to desert than to oppose you. I
could never learn that better part of love, to fight love's battles.
But yet the love was there. And now when this toy kingdom of ours
has fallen, first of all by my demerits, and next by your
inexperience, and we are here alone together, as poor as Job and
merely a man and a woman - let me conjure you to forgive the
weakness and to repose in the love. Do not mistake me!' he cried,
seeing her about to speak, and imposing silence with uplifted hand.
'My love is changed; it is purged of any conjugal pretension; it
does not ask, does not hope, does not wish for a return in kind.
You may forget for ever that part in which you found me so
distasteful, and accept without embarrassment the affection of a
'You are too generous, Otto,' she said. 'I know that I have
forfeited your love. I cannot take this sacrifice. You had far
better leave me. O, go away, and leave me to my fate!'
'O no!' said Otto; 'we must first of all escape out of this hornet's
nest, to which I led you. My honour is engaged. I said but now we
were as poor as Job; and behold! not many miles from here I have a
house of my own to which I will conduct you. Otto the Prince being
down, we must try what luck remains to Otto the Hunter. Come,
Seraphina; show that you forgive me, and let us set about this
business of escape in the best spirits possible. You used to say,
my dear, that, except as a husband and a prince, I was a pleasant
fellow. I am neither now, and you may like my company without
remorse. Come, then; it were idle to be captured. Can you still
walk? Forth, then,' said he, and he began to lead the way.
A little below where they stood, a good-sized brook passed below the
road, which overleapt it in a single arch. On one bank of that
loquacious water a foot-path descended a green dell. Here it was
rocky and stony, and lay on the steep scarps of the ravine; here it
was choked with brambles; and there, in fairy haughs, it lay for a
few paces evenly on the green turf. Like a sponge, the hillside
oozed with well-water. The burn kept growing both in force and
volume; at every leap it fell with heavier plunges and span more
widely in the pool. Great had been the labours of that stream, and
great and agreeable the changes it had wrought. It had cut through
dykes of stubborn rock, and now, like a blowing dolphin, spouted
through the orifice; along all its humble coasts, it had undermined
and rafted-down the goodlier timber of the forest; and on these
rough clearings it now set and tended primrose gardens, and planted
woods of willow, and made a favourite of the silver birch. Through
all these friendly features the path, its human acolyte, conducted
our two wanderers downward, - Otto before, still pausing at the more
difficult passages to lend assistance; the Princess following. From
time to time, when he turned to help her, her face would lighten
upon his - her eyes, half desperately, woo him. He saw, but dared
not understand. 'She does not love me,' he told himself, with
magnanimity. 'This is remorse or gratitude; I were no gentleman,
no, nor yet a man, if I presumed upon these pitiful concessions.'
Some way down the glen, the stream, already grown to a good bulk of
water, was rudely dammed across, and about a third of it abducted in
a wooden trough. Gaily the pure water, air's first cousin, fleeted
along the rude aqueduct, whose sides and floor it had made green
with grasses. The path, bearing it close company, threaded a
wilderness of briar and wild-rose. And presently, a little in
front, the brown top of a mill and the tall mill-wheel, spraying
diamonds, arose in the narrows of the glen; at the same time the
snoring music of the saws broke the silence.
The miller, hearing steps, came forth to his door, and both he and
'Good-morning, miller,' said the Prince. 'You were right, it seems,
and I was wrong. I give you the news, and bid you to Mittwalden.
My throne has fallen - great was the fall of it! - and your good
friends of the Phoenix bear the rule.'
The red-faced miller looked supreme astonishment. 'And your
Highness?' he gasped.
'My Highness is running away,' replied Otto, 'straight for the
'Leaving Grunewald?' cried the man. 'Your father's son? It's not
to be permitted!'
'Do you arrest us, friend?' asked Otto, smiling.
'Arrest you? I?' exclaimed the man. 'For what does your Highness
take me? Why, sir, I make sure there is not a man in Grunewald
would lay hands upon you.'
'O, many, many,' said the Prince; 'but from you, who were bold with
me in my greatness, I should even look for aid in my distress.'
The miller became the colour of beetroot. 'You may say so indeed,'
said he. 'And meanwhile, will you and your lady step into my
'We have not time for that,' replied the Prince; 'but if you would
oblige us with a cup of wine without here, you will give a pleasure
and a service, both in one.'
The miller once more coloured to the nape. He hastened to bring
forth wine in a pitcher and three bright crystal tumblers. 'Your
Highness must not suppose,' he said, as he filled them, 'that I am
an habitual drinker. The time when I had the misfortune to
encounter you, I was a trifle overtaken, I allow; but a more sober
man than I am in my ordinary, I do not know where you are to look
for; and even this glass that I drink to you (and to the lady) is
quite an unusual recreation.'
The wine was drunk with due rustic courtesies; and then, refusing
further hospitality, Otto and Seraphina once more proceeded to
descend the glen, which now began to open and to be invaded by the
'I owed that man a reparation,' said the Prince; 'for when we met I
was in the wrong and put a sore affront upon him. I judge by
myself, perhaps; but I begin to think that no one is the better for
'But some have to be taught so,' she replied.
'Well, well,' he said, with a painful embarrassment. 'Well, well.
But let us think of safety. My miller is all very good, but I do
not pin my faith to him. To follow down this stream will bring us,
but after innumerable windings, to my house. Here, up this glade,
there lies a cross-cut - the world's end for solitude - the very
deer scarce visit it. Are you too tired, or could you pass that
'Choose the path, Otto. I will follow you,' she said.
'No,' he replied, with a singular imbecility of manner and
appearance, 'but I meant the path was rough. It lies, all the way,
by glade and dingle, and the dingles are both deep and thorny.'
'Lead on,' she said. 'Are you not Otto the Hunter?'
They had now burst across a veil of underwood, and were come into a
lawn among the forest, very green and innocent, and solemnly
surrounded by trees. Otto paused on the margin, looking about him
with delight; then his glance returned to Seraphina, as she stood
framed in that silvan pleasantness and looking at her husband with
undecipherable eyes. A weakness both of the body and mind fell on
him like the beginnings of sleep; the cords of his activity were
relaxed, his eyes clung to her. 'Let us rest,' he said; and he made
her sit down, and himself sat down beside her on the slope of an
She sat with her eyes downcast, her slim hand dabbling in grass,
like a maid waiting for love's summons. The sound of the wind in
the forest swelled and sank, and drew near them with a running rush,
and died away and away in the distance into fainting whispers.
Nearer hand, a bird out of the deep covert uttered broken and
anxious notes. All this seemed but a halting prelude to speech. To
Otto it seemed as if the whole frame of nature were waiting for his
words; and yet his pride kept him silent. The longer he watched
that slender and pale hand plucking at the grasses, the harder and
rougher grew the fight between pride and its kindly adversary.
'Seraphina,' he said at last, 'it is right you should know one
thing: I never . . .' He was about to say 'doubted you,' but was
that true? And, if true, was it generous to speak of it? Silence
'I pray you, tell it me,' she said; 'tell it me, in pity.'
'I mean only this,' he resumed, 'that I understand all, and do not
blame you. I understand how the brave woman must look down on the
weak man. I think you were wrong in some things; but I have tried
to understand it, and I do. I do not need to forget or to forgive,
Seraphina, for I have understood.'
'I know what I have done,' she said. 'I am not so weak that I can
be deceived with kind speeches. I know what I have been - I see
myself. I am not worth your anger, how much less to be forgiven!
In all this downfall and misery, I see only me and you: you, as you
have been always; me, as I was - me, above all! O yes, I see
myself: and what can I think?'
'Ah, then, let us reverse the parts!' said Otto. 'It is ourselves
we cannot forgive, when we deny forgiveness to another - so a friend
told me last night. On these terms, Seraphina, you see how
generously I have forgiven myself. But am not I to be forgiven?
Come, then, forgive yourself - and me.'
She did not answer in words, but reached out her hand to him
quickly. He took it; and as the smooth fingers settled and nestled
in his, love ran to and fro between them in tender and transforming
'Seraphina,' he cried, 'O, forget the past! Let me serve and help
you; let me be your servant; it is enough for me to serve you and to
be near you; let me be near you, dear - do not send me away.' He
hurried his pleading like the speech of a frightened child. 'It is
not love,' he went on; 'I do not ask for love; my love is enough . .
'Otto!' she said, as if in pain.
He looked up into her face. It was wrung with the very ecstasy of
tenderness and anguish; on her features, and most of all in her
changed eyes, there shone the very light of love.
'Seraphina?' he cried aloud, and with a sudden, tuneless voice,
'Look round you at this glade,' she cried, 'and where the leaves are
coming on young trees, and the flowers begin to blossom. This is
where we meet, meet for the first time; it is so much better to
forget and to be born again. O what a pit there is for sins - God's
mercy, man's oblivion!'
'Seraphina,' he said, 'let it be so, indeed; let all that was be
merely the abuse of dreaming; let me begin again, a stranger. I
have dreamed, in a long dream, that I adored a girl unkind and
beautiful; in all things my superior, but still cold, like ice. And
again I dreamed, and thought she changed and melted, glowed and
turned to me. And I - who had no merit but a love, slavish and
unerect - lay close, and durst not move for fear of waking.'
'Lie close,' she said, with a deep thrill of speech.
So they spake in the spring woods; and meanwhile, in Mittwalden
Rath-haus, the Republic was declared.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL POSTSCRIPT TO COMPLETE THE STORY
THE reader well informed in modern history will not require details
as to the fate of the Republic. The best account is to be found in
the memoirs of Herr Greisengesang (7 Bande: Leipzig), by our passing
acquaintance the licentiate Roederer. Herr Roederer, with too much
of an author's licence, makes a great figure of his hero - poses
him, indeed, to be the centre-piece and cloud-compeller of the
whole. But, with due allowance for this bias, the book is able and
The reader is of course acquainted with the vigorous and bracing
pages of Sir John (2 vols., London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and
Brown). Sir John, who plays but a tooth-comb in the orchestra of
this historical romance, blows in his own book the big bassoon. His
character is there drawn at large; and the sympathy of Landor has
countersigned the admiration of the public. One point, however,
calls for explanation; the chapter on Grunewald was torn by the hand
of the author in the palace gardens; how comes it, then, to figure
at full length among my more modest pages, the Lion of the caravan?
That eminent literatus was a man of method; 'Juvenal by double
entry,' he was once profanely called; and when he tore the sheets in
question, it was rather, as he has since explained, in the search
for some dramatic evidence of his sincerity, than with the thought
of practical deletion. At that time, indeed, he was possessed of
two blotted scrolls and a fair copy in double. But the chapter, as
the reader knows, was honestly omitted from the famous 'Memoirs on
the various Courts of Europe.' It has been mine to give it to the
Bibliography still helps us with a further glimpse of our
characters. I have here before me a small volume (printed for
private circulation: no printer's name; n.d.), 'Poesies par Frederic
et Amelie.' Mine is a presentation copy, obtained for me by Mr.
Bain in the Haymarket; and the name of the first owner is written on
the fly-leaf in the hand of Prince Otto himself. The modest
epigraph - 'Le rime n'est pas riche' - may be attributed, with a
good show of likelihood, to the same collaborator. It is strikingly
appropriate, and I have found the volume very dreary. Those pieces
in which I seem to trace the hand of the Princess are particularly
dull and conscientious. But the booklet had a fair success with
that public for which it was designed; and I have come across some
evidences of a second venture of the same sort, now unprocurable.
Here, at least, we may take leave of Otto and Seraphina - what do I
say? of Frederic and Amelie - ageing together peaceably at the court
of the wife's father, jingling French rhymes and correcting joint
Still following the book-lists, I perceive that Mr. Swinburne has
dedicated a rousing lyric and some vigorous sonnets to the memory of
Gondremark; that name appears twice at least in Victor Hugo's
trumpet-blasts of patriot enumeration; and I came latterly, when I
supposed my task already ended, on a trace of the fallen politician
and his Countess. It is in the 'Diary of J. Hogg Cotterill, Esq.'
(that very interesting work). Mr. Cotterill, being at Naples, is
introduced (May 27th) to 'a Baron and Baroness Gondremark - he a man
who once made a noise - she still beautiful - both witty. She
complimented me much upon my French - should never have known me to
be English - had known my uncle, Sir John, in Germany - recognised
in me, as a family trait, some of his GRAND AIR and studious
courtesy - asked me to call.' And again (May 30th), 'visited the
Baronne de Gondremark - much gratified - a most REFINED, INTELLIGENT
woman, quite of the old school, now, HELAS! extinct - had read my
REMARKS ON SICILY - it reminds her of my uncle, but with more of
grace - I feared she thought there was less energy - assured no - a
softer style of presentation, more of the LITERARY GRACE, but the
same firm grasp of circumstance and force of thought - in short,
just Buttonhole's opinion. Much encouraged. I have a real esteem
for this patrician lady.' The acquaintance lasted some time; and
when Mr. Cotterill left in the suite of Lord Protocol, and, as he is
careful to inform us, in Admiral Yardarm's flag-ship, one of his
chief causes of regret is to leave 'that most SPIRITUELLE and
sympathetic lady, who already regards me as a younger brother.'
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