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Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 23104

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

An unusual commotion reigned in the market-place of Windisch-Matrey on the afternoon of the 9th of April. The men and youths of Windisch-Matrey and its environs were assembled there in dense groups, and thronged in constantly-increasing masses round the house of the innkeeper Anthony Aichberger, called Wallner. The women, too, had left their houses and huts, and hastened to the market-place. Their faces were as threatening as those of the men; their eyes shot fire, and their whole bearing betokened unusual excitement. Everywhere loud and vehement words were uttered, clinched fists were raised menacingly, and glances of secret understanding were exchanged.

The liveliest scene, however, took place in the large barroom of the inn. The foremost men of the whole district, strong, well-built forms, with defiant faces and courageous bearing, had assembled there around Anthony Wallner-Aichberger. They spoke but little, but sat on the benches against the walls of the room, and stared into their glasses, which Eliza, Wallner's eldest daughter, filled again and again with beer. Even the young girl, who was usually so gay and spirited, seemed to-day sad and dejected. Formerly her merry laughter and clear, ringing voice were heard everywhere; to-day she was moody and taciturn. Formerly her checks glowed like purple roses, a charming arch expression played around her beautiful small mouth, and the fire and spirit of youth beamed from her large black eyes; to-day, only a faint crimson tinged Eliza's cheeks, her lips were firmly compressed, and her eyes were dim and lustreless. From time to time, while waiting on the guests, she cast an anxious, searching glance through the windows over the market-place, and seemed to listen to the hum of voices, which often became as deafening as the wild roar of the storm, and shook the window-panes.

Anthony Wallner, her father, was likewise grave and anxious, and in walking to the groups of guests seated on the benches here and there, he glanced uneasily toward the windows.

"It may be that they will not come, after all, Tony, and that the Viennese have fooled you," whispered old Thurnwalden from Meran to him.

"I cannot comprehend it," sighed Anthony Wallner. "The insurrection was to break out on the 9th of April, and the Austrian troops were to cross the frontier on that day; and this was the reason why we have hitherto resisted the conscription and refused to pay the new taxes. But the 9th of April has come now, and we have received no message from Hofer or the Austrians."

"And to-day the time which the Bavarians have given us is up," growled George Hinnthal; "if our young lads do not report voluntarily to the enrolling officers by this evening, they will be arrested to-morrow."

"They shall not be arrested," exclaimed one of the Tyrolese, striking the table with his powerful fist.

"No, they shall not be arrested," echoed all, in loud, defiant tones.

"But you will not be able to prevent them," said old Thurnwalden, when all were silent again and had drunk a long draught from their glasses as if to confirm their words. "You know there is a whole company of soldiers at Castle Weissenstein, and Ulrich von Hohenberg, the castellan's nephew, is their captain. He is a Bavarian, body and soul, and, if we resist the authorities, he will lead his men with muskets and field-pieces against us."

"Why, you have become greatly discouraged, Caspar Thurnwalden," said Anthony Wallner, sneeringly, "and one would almost think you had turned a friend of the Bavarians. We have got as good muskets as the Bavarians, and if they shoot we shall shoot back. And as for the field-pieces, why, we have got wheels and may roll down cannon from Castle Weissenstein to Windisch-Matrey. But come, my dear friends, I see the Bavarian tax-collectors walking across the market-place yonder. They look very grim and stern, as if they meant to devour us all. Let us go out and see what is going on."

The men rose as if obeying a military order, and followed Anthony Wallner from the room to the market-place. Eliza Wallner was for a moment alone in the room; and now that she had no longer to fear the eyes of the guests, she sank quite exhausted on a chair and buried her face in her trembling hands.

"What am I to do?" she murmured in a low voice. "Oh, God in heaven, would I could die this very hour!"

"Why do you weep, Lizzie?" asked a gentle voice by her side, and, on looking up, Eliza beheld the grave, sympathetic face of her mother, who had just entered the room without being heard by her. Eliza sprang up and embraced her mother with passionate tenderness. "Dearest mamma," she whispered, "I am afraid."

"Afraid of what?" asked her mother, in a low voice. "Are you afraid the Austrians may not come, and the Bavarians may then imprison your dear father, because they have found out that he has instigated the people to disobey their behests?"

"No," said Eliza, blushing with shame, "no, that is not what I am afraid of. They will not dare to arrest my dear father, for they know full well that the people of the whole district are greatly attached to him, and that the men of the whole Puster valley would rise to deliver Anthony Wallner. It is something else, dearest mother; come with me into the chamber; there I will tell you all."

She drew her mother hastily into the chamber adjoining the bar-room and closed the door after her.

"Mother," she said, tremblingly and breathlessly, "listen to me now. I am sure the Austrians are coming, and if the men outside hear of it, they will kill all the Bavarians."

"Let them do it," said her mother composedly; "the mean, sneaking Bavarians have certainly deserved to be killed after the infamous treatment we have endured at their hands."

"But, mother, there are also good men among them," exclaimed Eliza. "You know very well I am a loyal Tyrolese girl, and love my emperor dearly, for you have taught me from my earliest youth that it was incumbent on me to do so. But, mother, there are also good men among the Bavarians. There is, for instance, Ulrich von Hohenberg up at Castle Weissenstein. You know his cousin has always treated me as a sister; we have grown up together, and I was allowed to participate in her lessons and learn what she learned. We were always together, and even now I have snot ceased going to Castle Weissenstein, although it is garrisoned by a detachment of Bavarian soldiers. Father himself wished me to go to the young lady as heretofore, for he said it would look suspicious if I should stay away all of a sudden. Therefore I went to see my dear friend Eliza von Hohenberg every day, and I always met there her cousin, the captain of the Bavarian soldiers. He is a very kind-hearted and merry gentleman, mother, and it is no fault of his that he is a Bavarian. His father, our castellan's brother, has lived for thirty years past down at Munich, and his son entered the Bavarian service long before he knew that we people of Windisch-Matrey desire to become Austrian subjects again. Now his general sent him hither with his soldiers for the purpose of helping the officers to collect the taxes and enroll the names of our young men. Is he to blame for the necessity he is under of obeying the orders of his general?"

"No, he is not," said her mother, gravely.

"But when the Austrians come now, and my father and the other men rise, and expel and kill the Bavarians, they will kill Ulrich von Hohenberg too, although it is not his fault that he is a Bavarian. Oh, dearest mamma, he is such a good, kind-hearted young man! he is my dear Eliza's cousin and our castellan's nephew, and you know how well Eliza and her father have treated me, and that they take care of me, whenever I am at the castle, as though I were the castellan's own child. Dearest mamma, shall we permit our men to kill the nephew of our excellent castellan?"

"No, we will not, Lizzie," said her mother, resolutely. "Quick, run up the footpath leading to the castle. Tell the young officer that the Tyrolese are going to deliver themselves from the Bavarian yoke, and that he had better effect his escape while there is time."

"Mother, he will not do it, for he is a brave young man!" sighed

Eliza; "and then-I cannot betray father's secret to him. If the

Austrians did not come after all, and I had told Ulrich von

Hohenberg what father and the other Tyrolese intend to do, would I

not be a traitress, and would not father curse me?"

"True, true, that will not do," said her mother musingly; "your father would never forgive you. But I know what you must do. Just run up to the castle and act as though you wished only to pay a visit to your friend Eliza; no one knows as yet what is going to occur. None of your friends have disclosed the secret; and the castellan too, though I think he is a good Austrian at heart, does not yet know any thing about it. Your father told me so this very morning. You will remain at the castle, and so soon as you hear the report of a rifle on the market-place here, you will know that the insurrection is breaking out. There is father's rifle; when it is time, I will step out of the back gate with it and shoot. You will hear the report, and tell the young officer that the Tyrolese are going to rise, and that he had better conceal himself until the first rage of the insurgents has blown over."

"Yes, I will do so," exclaimed Eliza; "I will run up to the castle now. Good-by, dearest mamma."

She imprinted a kiss on the hand of her mother, and then sped away as gracefully as a young roe.

"She is a very good girl," said her mother, looking after her smilingly, "and has a soft and compassionate heart. She wishes to save the castellan's nephew merely because she pities the young man who is exposed to such imminent danger. It is very kind of her! It- But, Holy Virgin! what is the matter outside? Is the outbreak to commence already? I believe it is my Tony who is talking outside in so loud a voice. I must go and hear what is the matter."

She hastened through the bar-room to the street-door opening upon the market place.

Yes, it was Anthony Wallner-Aichberger who was gesticulating so violently yonder. Round him stood the men of Windisch-Matrey, looking with gloomy faces at the three Bavarian revenue officers who were standing in front of Wallner.

"I repeat, sir," exclaimed Anthony Wallner at this moment with an air of mock gravity, "that we are all very loyal and obedient subjects, and that it is wrong in you. Mr. Tax-collector, to call us stubborn, seditious fellows. If we were such, would we not, being so numerous here, punish you and your two officers for speaking of us so contemptuously and disrespectfully?"

"You know full well that, at a wave of my hand, the company of soldiers will rush down from Castle Weissenstein and shoot you all as traitors and rebels," said the tax-collector haughtily.

"Well, Mr. Tax-collector," exclaimed Wallner, smilingly, "as for the shooting, we are likewise well versed in that. We are first-rate marksmen, we Tyrolese!"

"What!" cried the tax-collector, furiously, "do you speak again of

Tyrolese? Did I not forbid you to call yourselves so? You are no

Tyrolese, but inhabitants of South-Bavaria, do you hear? His majesty

the King of Bavaria does not want any Tyrolese as subjects, but only

Southern Bavarians, as I have told you twice already." [Footnote:

See "Gallery of Heroes; Life of Andreas Hofer," p. 15.]

"Very well

; if his majesty does not want any Tyrolese as subjects,

you need not tell us so more than once," exclaimed Anthony Wallner.

"He prefers Southern Bavarians, does he? Bear that in mind,

Tyrolese; the King of Bavaria wants only Southern Bavarians."

"We will bear that in mind," shouted the Tyrolese; and loud, scornful laughter rolled like threatening thunder across the market- place.

"You laugh," exclaimed the tax-collector, endeavoring to stifle his rage; "I am glad you are so merry. To-morrow, perhaps, you will laugh no longer; for I tell you, if you do not pay to-day the fine imposed on you, I shall have it forcibly collected by the soldiers at daybreak to-morrow morning."

"We must really pay the fine, then?" asked Anthony Wallner, with feigned timidity. "You will not relent, then, Mr. Tax-collector? We really must pay the heavy fine, because we had a little fun the other day? For you must say yourself, sir, we really did no wrong."

"You did no wrong? You were in open insurrection. On the birthday of your gracious master the king, instead of hanging out Bavarian flags, as you had been ordered, you hung out Austrian flags everywhere."

"No, Mr. Tax-collector, you did not see right; we hung out none but

Bavarian flags."

"That is false! I myself walked through the whole place, and saw every thing with my own eyes. Your flags did not contain the Bavarian colors, blue and white, but black and yellow, the Austrian colors."

"Possibly they may have looked so," exclaimed Anthony Wallner, "but that was not our fault. The flags were our old Bavarian flags: but they were already somewhat old, the blue was faded and looked like yellow, and the white had become quite dirty and looked like black."

"Thunder and lightning! Wallner is right," exclaimed the Tyrolese, bursting into loud laughter. "The flags were our old Bavarian flags, but they were faded and dirty."

The young lads, who had hitherto stood in groups around the outer edge of the market-place, now mingled with the crowd to listen to the speakers; and a young Tyrolese, with his rifle on his arm, and his pointed hat over his dark curly hair, approached with such impetuous curiosity that he suddenly stood close to the tax- collector. However, he took no notice of the officer, but looked with eager attention at Wallner, and listened to his words.

But the grim eyes of one of the two bailiffs noticed with dismay that this impudent fellow dared to place himself close by the side of the tax-collector without taking off his hat.

Striking with his fist on the young fellow's hat, he drove it deep over his forehead.

"Villain!" he shouted, in a threatening voice, "do you not see the tax-collector?"

The young fellow drew the hat with an air of embarrassment from his forehead, and crimsoning with rage, but in silence, stepped back into the circle of the murmuring men.

"That is just what you deserve, Joe," said Anthony Wallner. "Why did a smart Tyrolese boy like you come near us Southern Bavarians when we were talking about public parlour?"

At this moment a lad elbowed himself hastily through the crowd. His dress was dusty, his face was flushed and heated and it seemed as though he had travelled many miles on foot. To those who stood in his way he said in a breathless, panting voice: "Please stand aside. I have to deliver something to Anthony Wallner-Aichberger; I must speak with him."

The men willingly stood aside. Now be was close behind Wallner, and, interrupting him in his speech, he whispered to him: "I come from Andreas Hofer; he sends you his greetings and this paper. I have run all night to bring it to you."

He handed a folded paper to Wallner, who opened it with hands trembling with impatience.

It was Andreas Hofer's "open order."

Wallner's face brightened up, he cast a fiery glance around the place filled with his friends, and fixed his flashing eyes then on the hat of the bailiff who had rebuked the young Tyrolese in so overbearing a manner. At a bound he was by his side, drove the bailiff's round official hat with one blow of his fist over his head, so that his whole face disappeared in the crown, and exclaimed in a loud, ringing voice:

"Villain! do you not see the Tyrolese?"

A loud outburst of exultation greeted Wallner's bold deed, and all the men crowded around him, ready to protect Anthony Wallner, and looking at the tax-collector with flashing, threatening eyes.

The latter seemed as if stunned by the sudden change in Wallner's demeanor, and he looked in dismay at the audacious innkeeper who was standing close in front of him and staring at him with a laughing face.

"What does this mean?" he asked at length, in a tremulous voice.

"It means that we want to be Tyrolese again," shouted Anthony Wallner, exultingly. "It means that we will no longer submit to brutal treatment at the hands of your Bavarian bailiffs, and that we will treat you now as you Boafoks have treated us for five years past." [Footnote: Boafok, the nickname which the Tyrolese gave to the Bavarians at that time. It signifies "Bavarian pigs."]

"For God's sake, how have we treated you, then?" asked the tax- collector, drawing back from the threatening face of Anthony Wallner toward his bailiffs.

"Listen to me, Tyrolese," shouted Anthony Wallner, scornfully, "he asks me how the Bavarians have treated us! Shall I tell it to him once more!"

"Yes, yes, Tony, do so," replied the Tyrolese on all sides.

"Tell it to him, and if he refuses to listen, we will tie him hand and foot, and compel him to hear what you say."

"Well, Mr. Tax-collector," said Wallner, with mock politeness, "I will tell you, then, how you Bavarians have treated us for four years past, and only when you know all our grievances will we settle our accounts. Listen, then, to what you have done to us, and what we complain of. You have behaved toward us as perjured liars and scoundrels, and I will prove it to you. In the first place, then, in 1805, when, to our intense grief and regret, our emperor was obliged to cede the Tyrol to Bavaria, the King of Bavaria, in a letter which he wrote to us, solemnly guaranteed our constitution and our ancient privileges and liberties. That is what your king promised in 1805. To be sure, we did not put much confidence in what he said, for we well knew that when the big cat wants to devour the little mouse, it treats the victim at first with great kindness and throws a small bit of bacon to it; but no sooner does the mouse take it than the cat pounces upon its unsuspecting victim and devours it. And such was our fate too; the cat Bavaria wanted to swallow the little mouse Tyrol; not even our name was to be left to us, and we were to be called Southern Bavarians instead of Tyrolese. Besides, our ancient Castle of Tyrol, the sacred symbol of our country, was dismantled and destroyed. You thought probably we would forget the past and the history of the Tyrol, and all that we are, if we no longer saw the Castle of Tyrol, where the dear Margaret Maultasch solemnly guaranteed to her Tyrolese their liberties, great privileges, and independence, for all time to come. But all was written in our hearts, and your infamous conduct engraved it only the more lastingly thereon. You took from us not only our name, but also our constitution, which all Tyrolese love as their most precious treasure. The representative estates were suppressed, and the provincial funds seized. No less than eight new and oppressive taxes were imposed, and levied with the utmost rigor; the very name of the country, as I said before, was abolished; and, after the model of revolutionary France, the Tyrol was divided into the departments of the Inn, the Adige, and the Eisach; the passion plays, which formed so large a part of the amusements of our people, were prohibited; all pilgrimages to chapels or places of extraordinary sanctity were forbidden. The convents and monasteries were confiscated, and their estates sold; the church plate and holy vessels were melted down and disposed of; the royal property was all brought into the market. New imposts were daily exacted without any consultation with the estates of our people; specie became scarce from the quantity of it which was drawn off to the royal treasury; the Austrian notes were reduced to half their value, and the feelings of our people irritated almost to madness by the compulsory levy of our young men to serve in the ranks of your army. In this manner you tried to crush us to earth. But I tell you, we shall rise again, the whole Tyrol will rise and no longer allow itself to be trampled under foot. You say the king does not want any Tyrolese as subjects. He shall not have any, for the Tyrolese want to become again subjects of their dear Emperor Francis of Austria. Men of the Tyrol, from Pusterthal, Teffereck, and Virgenthal, you wish to become again subjects of the Emperor Francis, do you not?"

"We do, we do!" shouted the men, uttering deafening cheers. "Our dear Francis is to become again our lord and emperor! Long live the Emperor Francis!"

"Silence!" cried the tax-collector, pale with rage and dismay; "silence, or I shall send for the soldiers and have every one of you arrested, and-"

"Be silent yourself!" said Anthony Wallner, seizing him violently by the arm. "Sir, you are our prisoner, and so are the two bailiffs yonder. Seize them, my friends, and if they shout or resist, shoot them down. And if you utter a cry or a word, Mr. Tax-collector, so help me God if I do not kill you for a Boafok, as you are! Keep quiet, therefore, be a sensible man, and deliver your funds to us. Come, men, we will accompany this gentleman to the tax-collector's office; and now let us sing a good Tyrolese song:"

"D'Schoergen and d'Schreiber and d'Richter allsammt,

Sind'n Teufel auskomma, druck'n ueberall auf's Land,

Und schinden Bauern, es is kam zum sog'n,

Es waer ja koan Wunder, wir thaeten's allsammt erschlog'n."

[Footnote: Song of the Tyrolese in 1809.-See Mayr, "Joseph

Spechbacher," p. 22.

"The pushing-the writers, and magistrates all,

Possessed by the devil, our country enthrall,

And grind the poor peasants; alas, 'tis a shame!

No wonder if we too share ruin the same."]

He concluded with a long and joyous Jodler, and shouted triumphantly: "Dear brethren, Andreas Hofer sends you his greetings, and informs you that the Austrians have invaded the Tyrol. Hurrah, 'tis time!"

"Yes, 'tis time," murmured Anna Maria, Anthony Wallner's wife, to herself; "'tis time for me to give Lizzie the signal, for the insurrection has broken out." She hastened into the house, took her husband's old rifle from the chamber, ran with it out of the back- door of the house, and fired the signal for her daughter.

"There," she said, returning quietly into the house, "she will have heard the report, and there is time yet to save him. I will do now what Tony asked me to do. When he sings the song, I shall take the paper-balls from the table-drawer in the back-room, give a package to each of the two boys and two servant-girls, and tell them to go with it into the mountains and circulate the paper-balls everywhere, that the inhabitants of the whole Pusterthal, from one end to the other, from the Gross-Glockner to the Venediger and Krimler Tauern, may learn this very day that it is time, and that the Boafoks are to be expelled from the country. Halloo, boys, come here! Halloo, girls, your mistress wants to speak to you!"

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