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   Chapter 12 FAREWELL!

Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 12236

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


She sped as gracefully and quickly as a gazelle down the corridor. In the large hall into which it led stood Elza, surrounded by more than twenty Tyrolese sharpshooters, with whom she was talking in a loud, animated voice. Her cheeks were very pale, her lips were quivering, but her eyes flashed courageously, and, notwithstanding the paleness of her face, it did not betray the least anxiety or terror.

"Have you considered well what you are going to do, men of the Puster valley?" she asked, in a clear, full voice. "Do you know that you are about to rebel against your government and your king, and that the rebels will be judged and punished with the full rigor of the law? "

"But the Bavarians will not judge us, for we shall drive them from the country," shouted the Tyrolese. "We do not want a king nor a Bavarian government; we want to get back our Emperor Francis and our old constitution."

"But you will not succeed," said Elza; "you are too weak against them. There are too many of them and too few of you; they have cannon, and you have nothing but your rifles, and there are many of you who have not even a rifle."

"But we have our God and our emperor, and those two will help us.

The Austrians, as Andreas Hofer has written to us, are already in

the country, and all the people are rising to drive the French and

Bavarians from the country."

"It is so, Elza," said Eliza, encircling her friend's neck with her arm. "I know you-I know that you are a loyal daughter of the Tyrol, and you will be glad to see our dear country delivered from the foreign yoke and restored to the good Emperor Francis."

"But, Lizzie, think of my poor cousin Ulrich," whispered Elza to her. "He will defend himself to the last drop of his blood."

"He is unable to do so," whispered Lizzie, with a cheerful smile. "I have locked him up in the dining-room, and the key is here in my bosom. Ulrich cannot get out, therefore, and though he is furious and grim, he must remain in the room like a mouse in a trap."

"That reassures me," said Elza, smiling, "and I understand now, too, why my father acted in the manner he did. He doubtless suspected what would occur here, and got rid of all responsibility, leaving me entirely free to choose between my Bavarian relative and my Tyrolese countrymen. Here is my hand, Anthony Wallner; I am a loyal daughter of the Tyrol, and shout with you, 'Long live our Emperor Francis!'"

"Hurrah, long live our Emperor Francis!" shouted the Tyrolese. "Long live Miss Elza, the loyal daughter of the Tyrol!"

"Thank you," said Elza, smiling. "I think I shall prove my loyalty when dangers and war beset us. I shall establish here in the castle a hospital for our wounded, and the women of Windisch-Matrey will assist me, scrape lint, and help me to nurse the wounded. For without wounds and bloodshed we shall not recover our independence, and the Bavarians will not suffer themselves to be driven from the country without offering the most obstinate resistance. Have you considered that well, my friends?"

"We have; we are prepared for every thing," said Anthony, joyously. "We will suffer death rather than give up our emperor and our dear Tyrol. We do not want to become Southern Bavarians, but we will remain Tyrolese, and defend our constitution and our liberty to the last drop of our blood. Will we not, my friends?"

"Yes, we will," shouted the Tyrolese.

"And as for the Bavarians, we are not afraid of them," said Wallner, firmly. "All the functionaries have already humbly submitted to the freemen of the Tyrol. They have surrendered with their wives and children, delivered their funds at our demand, and are now guarded in their official dwellings by our men. And as for the Bavarian soldiers at the castle here, we need not be afraid of them either, for we have locked them up, like badgers in their holes, and they cannot get out of the door."

"But if they cannot get out of the door, they will jump out of the windows," said Elza, "and offer the most determined resistance."

"We shall see if they can," exclaimed Wallner, energetically. "We must get through with them right away. Come, men, we must see to the Boafoks."

And Anthony Wallner, followed by his sharpshooters, hastened out into the court-yard. Large numbers of armed men had assembled there in the mean time; even married women and young girls, carried away by the universal enthusiasm, had armed themselves and came to take an active part in the struggle for the fatherland and the emperor. All shouted and cheered in wild confusion, all swore to remain true to the fatherland and the emperor to their last breath. The soldiers looked on wonderingly, and watched in breathless irresolution for their captain from the windows.

At this moment, Anthony Wallner and a number of courageous sharpshooters took position in front of the windows.

"Soldiers," he shouted, in a thundering voice, "surrender! you are our prisoners! Surrender, throw your muskets and fire-arms out of the windows, and we will open the door of your prison and allow you to return to Bavaria."

The soldiers made no reply, but leaned far out of the windows and shouted: "Captain! Where is our captain?"

"Here I am!" shouted a powerful voice above the heads of the Tyrolese; and, looking up in great surprise, they beheld on the balcony young Captain Ulrich von Hohenberg, with a pale face, his features distorted with rage and grief, and stretching out his right arm, with his flashing sword menacingly toward the Tyrolese.

"Great God!" murmured Eliza, clinging anxiously to Elza's arm, "If he resists, he is lost."

"Here I am, my brave soldiers!" shouted Ulrich von Hohenberg a second time. "Come to me, my brave lads! I have been locked up here; hence, I cannot come to you. Come up to me, then. Knock the doors in, and deliver your captain."

"First, let them deliver themselves, sir," shouted Wallner up to him. He then turned once more to the soldiers. "Listen to what I am going to say to you in the name of my countrymen, in the name of the whole Tyrol," he shouted. "For

four long years you have oppressed and maltreated us: you have insulted, humiliated, and mortified us every day. But we are Christians, and will not revenge ourselves; we want only our rights, our liberty, and our emperor. Therefore, if you submit willingly and with good grace to what cannot be helped, we will let you depart without punishing or injuring you in any way, and allow you to return to your accursed Bavaria. But first you will have to do two things, to wit: throw all your muskets out of the windows, and swear a solemn oath that you will no longer bear arms against the Tyrolese."

"You will never swear that oath, soldiers," shouted Ulrich von Hohenberg from his balcony. "You will keep the oath which you swore to your king and commander-in-chief. You will not incur the disgrace of surrendering to a crowd of rebellious peasants."

"No, no, we will not," shouted the soldiers to him; and thereupon they disappeared from the upper floor, and soon reappeared in dense groups at the windows of the lower story. These windows were only five feet above the ground, and they were therefore able to jump out of them.

"Shoot down the first soldier who jumps out of the window!" cried

Anthony Wallner to his sharpshooters.

The soldiers took no notice of his threats; a soldier appeared in each of the windows ready to risk the leap. One of them, more agile and intrepid than the others, was the first to jump down. Scarcely had his feet touched the ground, when a rifle crashed and a cloud of white smoke enveloped every thing for a moment. When it disappeared, the Bavarian soldier was seen to writhe on the ground in the agony of death, while one of the Tyrolese sharpshooters was quietly reloading his rifle.

But now crashed another shot, and the Tyrolese rifleman, pierced through the heart, reeled back into the arms of his friends with the last groan of death.

"Soldiers," cried Ulrich von Hohenberg, raising his discharged gun triumphantly, "I have avenged the death of your comrade. Now forward, jump down! Forward for your honor and your king!"

"Yes, forward for our honor and our king!" shouted the soldiers, and one of them jumped out of each of the windows.

Another shot was fired from the balcony, and wounded one of the

Tyrolese sharpshooters.

Wild cries of rage filled the court-yard, all eyes turned menacingly to the balcony. But Ulrich von Hohenberg had stepped back into the room, and nobody saw that he was reloading his fowling-piece, which, with his hunting-pouch and powder-horn, had hung in the dining-room.

"I shall defend myself until my soldiers come to deliver me," he said courageously to himself. Thereupon he moved the large table from the room to the balcony, placed it on its side, and leaned it against the railing; on the other side of the balcony he placed the bench in the same manner, and, protected behind this three-cornered barricade from the bullets of the Tyrolese, he pushed his gun into the aperture between the bench and the table, and fired again.

Furious cries again filled the court-yard, for the captain's shot had disabled another Tyrolese. The women wailed and lamented loudly, the men uttered fierce imprecations, and lifted their clinched fists menacingly toward the balcony. The soldiers had withdrawn from the windows, and were deliberating with their officers as to the course which they were to adopt. A defence was almost impossible, for, although they had their side-arms and carbines, they could not do any thing with the former before reaching the ground and engaging in a hand-to-hand fight with the peasants; and the carbines were utterly useless, as no ammunition had been distributed among them, the cartridges being in the captain's room in the main part of the castle.

"Ten of you will enter the castle," commanded Anthony Wallner now. "You will take the captain prisoner, and if he refuses to surrender, shoot him down as he has shot three of our brethren."

Ten of the most courageous sharpshooters stepped from the ranks and rushed into the castle.

"He is lost!" murmured Eliza Wallner, with pale lips, and she sank on her knees by the side of her friend Elza.

Now were heard resounding in the castle the thundering blows which the Tyrolese struck with the butt-ends of their rides against the door of the room where Ulrich von Hohenberg was locked up.

"The door is old and worm-eaten, it will give way," sighed Elza, and she hastened resolutely toward Anthony Wallner, who was just calling again on the soldiers with cool intrepidity to surrender to him.

"Anthony Wallner," she said, in a soft, suppliant voice, "you will not stain your great and sacred cause by cowardly murder. You will never think of killing in my father's own house his relative and guest?"

"Let him surrender: no harm will befall him then," cried Anthony Wallner, in a harsh, stern voice. "He has shed the blood of our men, and if he is killed, it will be done in a fair fight. Leave us now, miss; the struggle between the Tyrolese and the Boafoks has commenced; look at the corpses yonder, and say for yourself whether we can retrace our steps, and-"

A loud, thundering crash, followed by triumphant cheers, resounded in the castle.

"They have opened the door," murmured Eliza, still on her knees.

"Holy Virgin, protect him, or he is lost!"

A shot crashed in the dining-room, a cloud of white smoke issued from the open balcony doors, and a loud cry, accompanied by wild imprecations, was heard.

"He has shot another Tyrolese, you will see that he has!" shouted

Wallner, raising his clinched fists menacingly toward the balcony.

The cries drew nearer and nearer, and now Captain Ulrich von Hohenberg, his features pale and distorted with rage, rushed out on the balcony.

"Surrender!" shouted the Tyrolese, pursuing him.

"Never!" he cried. "I will die sooner than surrender to a rabble of peasants like you."

And forgetful of the dangers besetting him, and in the despair of his rage and grief, the captain jumped from the balcony into the midst of the crowd in the court-yard.

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