MoboReader > Literature > Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel

   Chapter 9 'TIS TIME

Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 25033

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


It was late in the afternoon of the 8th of April. The setting sun was shedding his last red rays on the distant mountain-crests of the Janfen and the Timbler Toch, whose blood-red summits contrasted wonderfully with the deep azure of the clear sky. On the lower slopes of the mountains twilight had set in; the pines, the daring chamois of the vegetable kingdom, which had climbed up to the highest parts of the mountains, cast the gray veil of dusk over these lower slopes. Below, in the Passeyr valley, however, night already prevailed, for the mountains looming up on both sides of the valley filled it with darkness even before sundown; and only the wild, roaring Passeyr, which rushes from the mountain through the valley, glistened like a silver belt in the gloom. The church-bells of the villages of St. Leonard and St. Martin, lying on both sides of the valley, tolled a solemn curfew, awakening here and there a low, sleepy echo; and from time to time was heard from a mountain- peak a loud, joyous Jodler, by which a Tyrolese hunter, perhaps, announced his speedy return to his family in the valley. The gloom in the narrow Passeyrthal became deeper and deeper, and, like bright glow-worms, the lights in the houses of St. Leonard and St. Martin glistened now in the darkness.

Lights appeared not only in the valley below, but also here and there on the mountain-slopes; and especially in the solitary house on the knoll situated half-way between the two villages, was seen the bright glare of many candles, and the persons passing on the road in the valley looked up and whispered to each other: "Andreas Hofer is at home, and, it seems, has a great many guests at his house, for all the windows of his handsome inn are illuminated."

The solitary house on the knoll, then, belonged to Andreas Hofer. It was the Gasthaus zum Sand, far famed throughout the Tyrol. And the passers-by were not mistaken. Andreas Hofer was at home, and had a great many guests at his house. On the benches of the large bar-room sat his guests, handsome Tyrolese, with flashing eyes and animated faces, which were all turned toward the Sandwirth, [Footnote: The name usually given to Hofer-"Sandwirth, landlord of the inn Zum Sand."] who was sitting on the small table yonder, and conversing in a low tone with his friends Eisenstecken and Sieberer. All the guests seemed excited and anxious; no one opened his mouth to utter merry jests; none of the gay songs so popular among the Tyrolese resounded; and the guests did not even venture to address playful remarks to Hofer's pretty daughters, who were gliding noiselessly through the room to fill the empty beer-glasses.

"It seems," murmured Anthony Sieberer, "that the Austrian government has again postponed the matter, and we shall vainly look far the arrival of the message. This new delay puts an end to the whole movement."

"I do not think so," said Hofer, gravely, and loud enough to be heard by all. "Do not despond, my dear friends! The Austrian government will assuredly keep its word, for the dear brave Archduke John promised me in the emperor's name that Austria would succor the Tyrolese, and send troops into our country, if we would be in readiness on the 9th of April to rise against the Bavarians. My dear friends, do you put no confidence, then, in the word of our excellent emperor and the good archduke, who has always loved us so dearly?"

"No, no, we put implicit confidence in their word!" shouted the

Tyrolese, with one accord.

"The messenger will surely come, just have a little patience," added Hofer, with a pleasant nod; "the day is not yet at an end, and until midnight we may smoke yet many a pipe and drink many a glass of beer.-Anna Gertrude see to it that the glasses of the guests are always well filled."

Anna Gertrude, a fine-looking matron of thirty-six, with florid cheeks and flashing hazel eyes, had just placed before her husband another jug, filled with foaming beer, and she nodded now to her Andy with a smile, showing two rows of faultless white teeth.

"I and the girls will attend to the guests," she said, "but the men do not drink any thing. The glasses and jugs are all filled, but they do not empty them, and-Look! who comes there?"

Andreas Hofer turned his head toward the door; then suddenly he uttered a cry of surprise and jumped up.

"Halloo!" he exclaimed, "I believe this is the messenger whom we are looking for." And he pointed his outstretched arm at the small, dark form entering the room at this moment.

"It is Major Teimer," he continued, joyfully; "I suppose you know yet our dear major of 1805?"

"Hurrah! Martin Teimer is there," shouted the Tyrolese, rising from their seats, and hastening to the new-comer to shake hands with him and bid him heartily welcome.

Martin Teimer thanked them warmly for this kind reception, and a flash of sincere gratification burst from his shrewd blue eyes.

"I thought I should meet all the brave men of the Passeyr valley at Andy's house to-night," he said, "and I therefore greet you all at once, my dear comrades of 1805. That year was disastrous to us. but I think the year 1809 will be a better one, and we shall regain to- day what we lost at that time."

"Yes, we shall, as sure as there is a God," shouted the Tyrolese; and Andreas Hofer laid his arm on Teimer's shoulder and gazed deeply into his eyes.

"Say, Martin Teimer, are all things in readiness, and do you bring us word to rise?"

"I do, all things are in readiness," said Teimer, solemnly. "Our countryman, Baron von Hormayr, whom the Austrian government appointed governor and intendant of the Austrian forces which are to co-operate with us, sends me to Andreas Hofer, whom I am to inform that the Austrian troops, commanded by Marquis von Chasteler and General Hiller, will cross the Tyrolese frontier to-night."

"Hurrah, hurrah! the Austrians are coming!" shouted the Tyrolese, jubilantly, swinging their pointed hats in the air. "The war has broken out, the Austrians are coming, and we will expel the Bavarians from the country!"

Andreas Hofer's face, too, was radiant with joy; but, instead of singing and shouting, he was silent, lifted his eyes slowly to heaven, and seized with both his hands the crucifix resting on his breast.

"Let us pray, my friends," he said in a loud and solemn voice; "let us thank our Lord God and our patron saint in the stillness of our hearts."

The men paused; like Andreas Hofer, they clasped their hands, bent their heads, and muttered fervent prayers.

After a long pause Hofer raised his head again. "And now, men, listen to what I have to say to you," he exclaimed, cheerfully. "I have invited you all because you are the most influential and respectable men in this part of the country, and because the fatherland has need of you and counts upon you and me. The sharpshooters of the Passeyrthal told me, if war should break out, I must be their captain; and I accepted the position because I think that every one is in duty bound to risk his limbs and life for the sake of the fatherland, and place himself just where he can serve it best. But if I am to be your captain, you must all assist me to the best of your power. We must act harmoniously, and strain every nerve to deliver the fatherland and restore the Tyrol to our beloved emperor."

"We are resolved to do so," shouted the men, with one accord.

"I know it full well," said Andreas Hofer, joyously. "Let us go to work, then. and circulate throughout the Tyrol the message that the Austrians are coming, and that it is time. Say, Teimer, did yon not bring a written message with you?"

"Here is a letter from Hormayr," said Martin Teimer, drawing a large sealed paper from his bosom.

Andreas took it and opened it quickly. But while he was reading it, a slight cloud overspread his countenance, and for a moment he cast a rapid, searching glance on Martin Teimer's bright, keen face; however, no sooner had he met Teimer's stealthy, inquiring glance, than he quickly turned his eyes again to the paper.

"Well," he said then, striking the paper with his right hand, "the statements contained in this letter are entirely in accordance with our wishes. We are to rise at once, for already tomorrow the Austrians will have crossed our frontiers. Marquis von Chasteler will march from Carinthia into the Puster valley; General Hiller is moving from Salzburg toward the Lower Inn valley; the former thinks he will reach Brixen in the course of four days; the latter says he will be at Innspruck within the same time. I and Martin Teimer here, who no longer keeps a tobacco-shop at Klagenfurth, but is again Major Teimer as he was four years ago-we are to direct and manage every thing in the Tyrol, and are intrusted with the duty of seeing to it that the flames of the insurrection burst forth now as speedily as possible from one end of the Tyrol to the other, and that it shall become a conflagration that will burn up all Frenchmen and Bavarians, or compel them to escape from the country. Assist us, then, my men, in spreading the news over the mountains and through the valleys, that all may rise and participate in the great work of deliverance. Every able-bodied man is to shoulder his rifle, and the women and children are to carry, from house to house, little balls of paper on which are written the words: ''Tis time!' as we have agreed at our meetings. And now, in compliance with the promise I gave Hormayr in Vienna, I will issue a circular to all our friends that they may know what to do under these circumstances. Is there among you any one who can write well and correctly, and to whom I may dictate? for my own handwriting is none of the best, and although what I write may be thought correctly, it is not spelled as learned men tell us it should be. If there is among you one who can write nicely and correctly what I wish to dictate, let him come forward."

"I can do it," said a young man, stepping forward.

"It is Joseph Ennemoser, son of John Ennemoser, the Seewirth," said Andreas Hofer, smiling. "Yes, I believe you are a good scribe; you have become quite a scholar and an aristocratic gentleman, and are studying medicine at the University of Innspruck."

"For all that, I have remained an honest mountaineer; and as for my studies, I will not think of them until we have delivered the Tyrol from the Bavarian yoke. I shall keep only my pen, and act as Andreas Hofer's obedient secretary." [Footnote: Joseph Ennemoser, son of John Ennemoser, the tailor and Seewirth of the Passeyrthal, was a shepherd in his boyhood. His father sent him to the gymnasium of Innsbruck, and afterward to the university of the same city, where he studied medicine. In 1809 he was Hofer's secretary. Afterward he became a celebrated professor of medicine at the University of Bonn.]

"Sit down, then, my boy, and write. You will find pen and ink in the drawer of yonder table. Take them, and I will dictate to you."

And amidst the respectful silence of the men, walking up and down slowly, and stroking his long beard with his right hand, Andreas Hofer commenced dictating his "open order," which was as follows:

"Early in the morning of the 9th of April General Hiller will march from Salzburg to the Lower Inn valley, and General yon Chasteler from Carinthia to the Puster valley. On the 11th or 12th of April the former will arrive at Innsbruck, and the latter at Brixen. The Archduke John orders that the Muhlbach pass be occupied by peasants from the Puster valley, and the Kuntersweg by mounted men. They are to allow all forces of the enemy marching from Botzen to Brixen to pass, and will cut off all communications only so soon as they discover that the Bavarian civilians and soldiers are trying to escape from Brixen to Botzen. Not a man must be allowed to pass then."

While Andreas Hofer was dictating his "open order" with a firm and thoughtful air, the peasants stood dumfounded with admiration, staring at him with a feeling of awe, and delighted with his sagacity and understanding. That Hofer cast from time to time a searching glance at Hormayr's letter did not disturb the admiration they felt for their chosen leader, and they were silent and stared at him long after he was through.

"So," said Andreas when the writing was finished, "now Martin Teimer and I will affix our names to this open order; Ennemoser will then copy it half a dozen times, and six of you will carry the copies to

the other leaders who are already waiting for them, and who will give the signal to their friends in the lower valley. You, George Lanthaler, will carry the order to Joseph Speckbacher at Kufstein; you, Joseph Gufler, will take it to the farmer at the Schildhof; you, George Steinhauferle, will go to Anthony Wallner, the Aichberger at Windisch-Matrey. Quick, quick, my friends, we have no time to lose; you must walk night and day; you cannot rest on the road, for we must strike the blow with lightning speed, and it must be done at the same time all over the country."

"And I will likewise set out again to spread the news throughout the country," said Martin Teimer. "For two weeks past I have been in all parts of the Tyrol, and have worked everywhere for our cause, and know now that we may count upon all our countrymen. They are waiting for the signal, and we must give it to them. Here, take this package; it contains a large number of those little paper balls upon which are written the words ''Tis time!' Each of you can take a handful of them and give them to your wives and children, that they may carry them to the neighbors and distribute them everywhere. Speckbacher and Wallner, too, have packages of such paper balls, and so soon as our faithful messengers bring them our `open order,' they will likewise send around their wives and children through the neighborhood; and everywhere the cry will be, ''Tis time!' We must expel the Bavarians! I will go now, for I must concentrate my men in order to prevent the Bavarians from crossing the bridge of Laditch. Farewell, then, and God grant that we may all meet again before long as free and happy men at our good city of Innspruck!"

"We must go too," exclaimed the Tyrolese when Martin Teimer had left the house as quickly as he had entered it. "We must go into the mountains and inform our friends that it is time."

"But go through the kitchen, my dear messengers," said Andreas Hofer; "there is a bag of flour for each of you; take it on your back, and on passing during your march a rivulet or a mountain torrent, throw some of the flour into it; and wherever you find dry brushwood on the road, pile it up and kindle it, that the bale-fires may proclaim to the country, ''Tis time!"

Half an hour afterward the large bar-room was deserted, and profound silence reigned in the inn Zum Sand. The servants and children of the Sandwirth had gone to bed; only he himself and his faithful wife, Anna Gertrude, were yet up. Both had retired into the small sitting-room adjoining the barroom. Andreas Hofer was walking up and down there silently and thoughtfully, his hands folded on his back; Gertrude sat in the leather-covered arm-chair at the stove, and looked at her husband. Every thing was still around them; only the slow, regular ticking of the clock broke the profound silence, and outside was to be heard the wild roaring of the Passeyr, which hurled its furious foaming waters not far from the inn over pebbles and fragments of rocks.

Finally, after a long pause, Andreas stood still in front of his wife, and gazed at her with a long, searching, and tender look. Gertrude, as if lifted up by this glance, rose, encircled his neck quickly with her arms, and looked with an expression of terror and anxiety into his face.

"Andy," she exclaimed, mournfully, "my own, dearest Andy, I am afraid harm will befall you!"

"That is what I expect," he said, sighing, "and I am sorry for you, my dearest wife. I was just speaking with God and my conscience, and asking them so fervently if it was not wrong in me not to think above all things of my dear wife and my beloved children, and if I ought not to live and die only for them. For I tell you, and I know, what I am going to do is dangerous, and may easily cost my life. I do not blind my eyes to it; I may lose my life in either of two ways. A bullet may strike me in battle; or, if my life should be spared in the struggle, and if we should be defeated, the Bavarians would treat me as a traitor; and then a bullet would strike me also, for they would shoot me."

"Oh, Jesus Maria! my Andy," cried Gertrude, taking Hofer's head in her hands, as if to protect it from the murderous bullets.

"I do not say that this will occur; I say only that it may occur," said Andreas, with a gentle smile. "I wish to tell you only that I am fully alive to the dangers threatening me when I step to-morrow morning out of my street-door, and enter upon the duties of the position which they have conferred on me; for I am to command the peasants of the Passeyr valley and direct the insurrection in all this part of the country. Therefore, I asked God and my conscience whether or not I did right in taking upon myself so responsible a task, and plunging my family, perhaps, into grief and distress. But do you know what both of them replied to me? They said: 'It is your duty to love your wife and your children; but you must also love your emperor and your country; and when the latter call you and say, "Come, we need your arm and assistance," you must, as an honest man, obey the call, go to them, and leave your family; for to love the fatherland is every man's highest honor, and to be loyal and devoted to the emperor is the first duty of every Tyrolese.' God and my conscience spoke to me thus in my breast, and now I ask you too, dear wife-I ask you before God and your conscience-would you like your husband not to obey the emperor's call, but stay at home, while his brave brethren and friends are taking the field to defend the country and expel the Bavarians?"

"No, indeed, Andy, I would not," cried Gertrude, in dismay; "I should never dare again to lift my eyes before anybody; I should not even venture to pray to the Holy Virgin and to God, for, as both gave up their divine Son, so an honest woman must give up her husband for the sake of the fatherland."

Andreas laid his hand on his wife's head as if to bless her. "It is as you say, Gertrude," he said, solemnly. "For the sake of the fatherland and the emperor you must give up your husband and your children their father; and we are not allowed to shut our ears in order not to hear that the dear Tyrol and the good Emperor Francis have called me. I have heard the call, and must obey it. I shall do so joyously and readily, and yet my heart grieves, and there is in my breast here something telling me that our happiness is at an end, that our sun has set, and-Gertrude, I am not ashamed of it-I weep!"

He leaned his head against his wife's shoulder, and, folding her to his heart, sobbed aloud. But this lasted only a short time; then be raised himself again, and drew his hand quickly across his eyes.

"There," he said, "it is all over now. I wept as a good Christian is surely allowed to do when he takes leave of his wife and his children, and gives them up for the sake of his country. Did not Abraham weep too, and beg God for mercy, when he was to sacrifice his son to the Almighty? But he nevertheless was ready to make the sacrifice. And, like Abraham, I have wept and lamented now, but I shall make the sacrifice. Here I am, my God," he added, lifting his eyes and hands to Heaven; "here I am, for Thou hast called me. Do with me as thou deemest best. I am nothing but Thy faithful servant; but if Thou wishest to use me for Thy great purposes, do so! I offer Thee my arms, my body, and my life! Take them!"

"But thou, Holy Virgin," murmured Gertrude, "and thou Saint George, our patron saint, stretch out your arms over him graciously and protect my Andy. Bear in mind that he is my most precious treasure on earth! Preserve my dear husband to me, and to my children the father whom they love so ardently!"

"Amen!" exclaimed Andreas. "And now, dearest wife, come and give me a kiss, a parting kiss!"

"You do not intend to set out this very night?" asked Gertrude, anxiously.

"No, Gertrude, but still it is a parting kiss. For henceforth I must become another man-a hard man, who will no longer think of his family, but only of the fatherland and the emperor. I wept a few minutes ago as a good father and husband, but now I must become as hard as a good soldier ought to be. Until the Bavarians have been expelled from the country, I shall no longer think of you and the children, but shall be only a brave and intrepid soldier of my lord and emperor, and the commander of the Passeyr militia. Kiss me, therefore, a last time, Anna Gertrude! There! Give me another kiss! Who knows but it may be the last time you will ever kiss me, dear Gertrude? And here is still another kiss for our girls. Now it is enough. Go to bed now, Gertrude, and pray for me."

"You will not go to bed, Andy?" asked Gertrude, anxiously.

"No, I will not, Anna Gertrude. I have business to attend to in the yard with Joe, our laborer. We will kill the brindled cow."

"What? This very night?"

"This very night. We need the blood and meat. We shall pour the blood into the Passeyr, and you will see tomorrow that we need the meat, for I believe we shall have a great many guests in the morning."

Andreas Hofer's prophecy was fulfilled. Already early in the morning a great many men assembled in front of the inn Zum Sand. They were the sharpshooters of the Passeyr valley, who were flocking from all parts of the district to Hofer's house to report to the beloved commander of Passeyr. They came down from the mountains and up from the valleys. They wore their holiday dresses, and their yellow Sunday hats were decorated with bouquets of rosemary and handsome ribbons. They were merry and in the best of spirits, as if they were going to the dance; only instead of their rosy-cheeked girls, they held their trusty rifles in their arms. Nevertheless, they smacked their lips, uttered loud exclamations of joy, and shouted as merrily as larks-"'Tis time! The Bavarians must leave the country! Long live the emperor! Long live the Archduke John!"

And echo seemed to answer, "The Bavarians must leave the country!" But it was not echo that had repeated these words. They proceeded from the throats of merry men, and a gay procession descended now from the mountain-path. It consisted of the sharpshooters and peasants of Meran and Algund, who were marching up in the beautiful costumes of the Adige valley. Oh, how their eyes flashed, and the rifles in their arms also. And with what jubilant Jodlers the men of Passeyr received their dear friends from Algund and Meran.

All at once every sound was hushed, for in the door of the inn appeared Andreas Hofer, looking like a king in his handsome holiday attire; his good-natured, honest face gleamed with joy, and his glance was mild and clear, and yet so firm and commanding. His whole bearing breathed calm dignity, and it seemed to the men of Passeyr as though the morning sun which illuminated his face surrounded his head with a golden halo. They stood aside with timid reverence and awe. Hofer advanced into the middle of the circle which the men of Passeyr, Meran, and Algund formed around him. He then looked around and greeted the men on all sides with a smile, a pleasant nod, and a wave of his hand.

"My friends," he exclaimed in a loud voice, "the day has come when we must expel the Bavarians from the country and restore the Tyrol to the Austrians. 'Tis time! The Bavarians have amply deserved such treatment at our hands, for they have sorely oppressed us. When you had finished a wooden image, could you carry it to Vienna and sell it? No, you could not! Is that freedom? You are Tyrolese; at least your fathers called themselves so; now you are to call yourselves Bavarians. And, moreover, our ancient castle of Tyrol in the Passeyr valley was not spared! Are you satisfied with this? If you harvest three blades of corn, the government claims two of them; is that happiness and prosperity? But there is a Providence and there are angels; and it was revealed to me that if we resolved to avenge our wrongs, God and St. George, our patron saint, would help us. Up, then, against the Bavarians! Tear the villains with your teeth while they stand; but when they kneel down and pray, give them quarter. Up against the Bavarians! 'Tis time!"

"Up against the Bavarians! 'tis time!" shouted all the brave men, enthusiastically; and the mountain echoes answered: "Up against the Bavarians! 'tis time!"

And the blood-red waters of the Passeyr carried down into the valley the message: "Up against the Bavarians! 'tis time!"

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares