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   Chapter 33 ANDREAS HOFER, THE EMPEROR'S LIEUTENANT.

Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 16742

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Andreas ascended the staircase hastily, and entered the balcony- room.

The Capuchin had now risen from the carpet; Joseph Speckbacher was with him, and both hastened to meet Andreas Hofer.

"You have kept us waiting a long while, brother," said the Capuchin, indignantly; "you ought to have borne in mind that we have not eaten any thing, and are, therefore, very hungry."

"Yes, Father Andy," exclaimed Speckbacher, smiling, "you hung our bread-basket very high; we are quite weak from waiting and hunger."

"Now they blame ME for keeping THEM waiting," said Andreas mildly. "And yet I think they kept me waiting, and hunger drove me to the church. Well, never mind, my dear friends and comrades; we are together now, and I am very glad of it. Look at Niederkircher and his large dish! How splendidly it smokes and smells, and how good it will be to eat! Well, Niederkircher, put the dish on the table here, and sit down and dine with us."

"No, no, commander-in-chief, it is my duty to-day to wait on you, for you are now a highly distinguished gentleman, and so are the other two; hence, it would not behoove me to dine with you."

"If you refuse to do so. I shall not eat at all," cried Andreas

Hofer.

"And I shall run away," said Speckbacher, jumping up from his chair.

"I shall sit still," growled the Capuchin, "but I shall henceforth turn my back upon Neiderkircher if he allows our soup to become cold instead of sitting down at once and dining with us."

"I will do so," cried Niederkircher, moving a chair to the table, and seating himself on it. "But now my friends, permit me at least to fill your plates."

"We will not object to that!" exclaimed the three friends, laughing; "and pray fill them well, Niederkircher."

There was a long pause now; nothing was heard but the rattling of the spoons on the plates. All at once this comfortable silence was broken by deafening cheers and shouts uttered on the street.

Hofer dropped his spoon, frowned, and listened. "I believe they are calling me again," he sighed, dolefully.

He was not mistaken. Hundreds of youthful voices were heard shouting Andreas Hofer's name, and their cheers were followed by a loud, ringing flourish of violins, fifes, bugles, and trumpets.

"They have musicians with them," exclaimed Hofer, anxiously. "Holy Virgin, just listen how they are roaring! It seems as if they were intent on upsetting the house."

"They are calling you, they want to see you," said Niederkircher, who had stepped to the window. "They are the students of the university; they have come in their holiday attire to serenade you."

"And why do they want to serenade ME?" asked Andreas Hofer, almost indignantly. "Why not Speckbacher, or the Capuchin, or Peter Mayer, or Anthony Wallner? They all did just as much as I did, and perhaps even more."

"But you are the people's favorite, brother," said the Capuchin, smiling; "the people believe in you, and it would be cruel and short-sighted in us to shake their faith in you. Every thing must come from you; you must have done and accomplished every thing."

"And what we others did, we did only in your name, Father Andy!" exclaimed Speckbacher; "the people and the sharpshooters would not have obeyed us so well, had they not believed that you had issued all the orders and instructions which we gave them. On hearing your name they obeyed, fought well, and were confident that we should succeed. And for this reason they are justified in coupling your name with the celebration of the victory. Just listen how they are shouting your name! It is true, the dear boys have tremendous lungs, and if you do not comply with their wishes, and show yourself on the balcony, I am afraid they will make us deaf and themselves quite hoarse."

"Well, I do not care," sighed Andreas; "open the door again,

Niederkircher, I must step out on the balcony."

"And make another fine speech as before," said the innkeeper, throwing open the folding-doors.

Andreas made no reply, but went to the balcony with a grave and almost angry face. Deafening cheers greeted him, and the dense crowd assembled in the street shouted: "Long live Andreas Hofer, the commander-in-chief! Long live Andreas Hofer, the liberator!"

"My brave son, Joseph Speckbacher," said the Capuchin, filling his glass, "you see every one gets his due in the end. Day before yesterday, while we were fighting in the sweat of our brows on Mount Isel, my dear brother Andreas Hofer sat up at his friend Etschmann's tavern. A bottle of wine stood before him, and his rosary lay on the table; and while we were fighting, he prayed and drank, and sent us from time to time his orders, which sounded like oracles, which no one understood, and which every one interpreted as he deemed prudent. Now he must toil in his turn and fight with his tongue, while we are sitting here snugly and drinking our wine. There is another flourish outside! Trara! trara!"

And the Capuchin waved his glass and emptied it at one draught.

Suddenly the crowd in the street became silent; a student came forward and advanced several steps toward the balcony.

"Andreas Hofer, beloved commander-in-chief of the Tyrol," he said, in a loud, solemn voice, "our hearts are full of love for you and praise of your heroic deeds, and our lips, too, would like to overflow. Permit us, therefore, noble, hero, beloved liberator, to sing before you a song glorifying your exploits; a song praising your struggles and victories; a song which will henceforth be sung by every man, woman, and child, throughout the Tyrol. We students wrote the song, for your heroic deeds filled our hearts with enthusiasm, and our attachment to you taught us the finest music for it, Permit us, therefore, to sing before you the song of the victorious hero Andreas Hofer."

"No, no, my dear friends, do not sing," exclaimed Hofer, gravely and almost angrily. "Do not sing, and do not play any longer on your fifes and violins. We did not take the field to sing and dance, and I did not leave my wife and children at home with a light heart, but with tears and anxiety. But I did it because it was the Lord's will; and as He accompanied me into battle we succeeded in defeating the enemy. But it was a hard and mournful task; many brave and excellent men lost their limbs or even their lives, and many wounded patriots are yet imploring God to relieve them of their terrible agony. And while they are groaning and wailing, can you wish to sing? While so many fathers and mothers are lamenting their fallen sons, can you wish to exult here and make music? No, my dear friends, that would not be becoming for a Christian and charitable people. You had better lay your violins aside and take up your rosaries. Do not sing, but pray. Pray aloud and fervently for our beloved emperor, and, if you like, you may add a low prayer for poor Andreas Hofer. But you shall not sing any songs in his honor, for God alone accomplished it all, and homage should be rendered to none but Him. Therefore, do not sing, but pray. Pray in my name, too, for I have not much time now, and cannot pray as much as I should like to do. Say to the good God that we toiled honestly and bravely; say to Him that we suffered privations, watched, fought, and conquered, for the fatherland; and pray to Him for the brave men who accompanied us to the holy struggle, and who will never return, but have succumbed to their mortal wounds. Do not sing, but pray for their poor souls. Play your merry melodies no longer, but go home quietly and pray God to protect us henceforth as He has heretofore. That is what I wish to tell you, my dear friends. And now God bless you, and accept my heart-felt thanks for your love and attachment." [Footnote: "Gallery of Heroes: Andreas Hofer," p. 130.]

The students, seized with profound emotion, and deeply impressed by the simple yet soul-stirring words of Andreas Hofer, complied quietly and willingly with his request. Their fifes, violins, and bugles became silent, and the crowd dispersed noiselessly, without uttering any more cheers and acclamations.

"They are fine, dear lads," said Andreas Hofer, looking after them with beaming eyes; "strong and hearty lads, full of spirits and impetuosity, but on the other hand so gentle and submissive!-Well, now," he exclaimed joyfully, stepping

back into the room, "I hope we shall have some rest, and shall be able to finish our dinner in peace."

This hope, however, was not to be fulfilled. The dinner was not yet over by any means, when cheers and loud noise resounded once more in the street, and another solemn procession approached the tavern. This time, however, the members of the procession did not remain in the street, but entered the house, and the landlord, who had just gone down stairs to fetch some more bottles of wine from the cellar, hastened back to the balcony-room and announced that all the commanders of the Landsturm, and the municipal officers had arrived to pay their respects to the commander-in-chief of the Tyrol and communicate a request to him.

"Well, then," sighed Hofer, rising, "let them come in here. I see that our dinner is spoiled anyhow. Let them come in here, Niederkircher."

"God forbid! there are so many of them that they would not have room here; besides, it would not be becoming for you to receive all these gentlemen here where there is a dinner-table. I have conducted them all to the large ballroom; they await you there, Andreas Hofer."

"I would I knew what they want of me," sighed Hofer, stroking his long beard.

" I know what they want, Father Andy," said Speckbacher, smiling. "I myself suggested to the commanders of the Landsturm the plan of asking of you what they are going to communicate to you now. And you must not refuse to comply with their request, Father Andy; for the good of the country demands that you should yield, and the emperor himself will thank you for so doing."

"I know likewise what these gentlemen want of you, brother Andy," exclaimed the Capuchin, filling his glass. "I was yesterday already in Innspruck, where I conferred with the mayor and the members of the city council, and they will tell you now what we resolved then. You must not resist, brother; you must, on the contrary, comply with their request; for it is God's will that you should, and therefore you must. Now go to the ballroom, dear Andy."

"I shall not, unless you two accompany me thither," answered Andreas Hofer, emphatically. "They will finally believe I wish to monopolize all honors, and will charge me with forgetting that Haspinger and Speckbacher, day before yesterday, did a great deal more than myself at the battle of Mount Isel, and that we should never have gained a victory there without them. Therefore, you must walk side by side with me, one on my right, the other on my left hand; and we will enter the ballroom just as we fought in battle."

On entering the ballroom, where the commanders of the Landsturm in their uniforms and the officers of the municipality had ranged themselves along the walls, the three heroes were received with three deafening cheers; and this time Andreas Hofer was not bold enough to tell the enthusiastic gentlemen to be silent, but he looked quite respectfully at the mayor in his long black robe, who was approaching him with a grave step between two members of the city council.

"We come," he said, solemnly, "not only to thank you for the heroic deeds which you have performed, but to pray you to do still more for us and the fatherland. You have delivered the country from the enemy, but there is lacking to it a head, a crown. The Bavarian government commission, and Count Rechberg the king's lieutenant, have escaped from Innspruck with the French forces. We are free from the Bavarian yoke; we are no longer governed by the king's lieutenant, and in his place we want a lieutenant of the emperor. There must be one in whose hands all power is concentrated, and who rules over the country in the emperor's name. You must fill this position, Andreas Hofer. The authorities and the people of Innspruck elect you the emperor's lieutenant. You shall govern the country in his name, and we will all swear to you obedience, fidelity, and love."

After he had concluded his address, Anthony Wallner stepped forth from the ranks of the commanders of the Landsturm. "Yes," he exclaimed. "you shall be the emperor's lieutenant. We will all swear to you obedience, fidelity, and love. We commanders of the Landsturm wished to say this to our commander-in-chief, and this was the reason why we came hither. We want to pray you to govern the Tyrol in the emperor's name. Your consent would give us the greatest satisfaction."

"We want to pray you," said one of the members of the city council, coming forward from the midst of his colleagues, "to take up your residence as the emperor's lieutenant in the imperial palace on the Remplatz."

"That will never do," cried Andreas Hofer, in dismay. "How could I be so impudent as to reside in the palace of his majesty the emperor? No, no, that will never do; I cannot consent to it."

"It will do very well, and you must consent to it," said Haspinger, solemnly. "You shall reside in the imperial palace, not to gratify your own vanity, but to reassure the people, and show them that they are not entirely destitute of a ruler and protector. You shall govern the country for God and the emperor until all our enemies are worsted and the war is at an end. The emperor has not time at this juncture to take care of us: he must devote his whole attention to the reorganization of his army and prepare for the resumption of hostilities. The armistice expires at the end of this month, and war will then, of course, break out once more, for the French emperor will not keep quiet and submit before he is worsted and crushed entirely; and we have still a great deal to do, a great deal to fight, and much more blood will have to be shed, before we have delivered the whole Southern Tyrol, Carinthia, and Carniola, from the yoke of the tyrant. In order to do so, Speckbacher, Wallner, and I, will lead the brave Tyrolese against the enemy. Now, if the country is to be governed properly while we are fighting, a man in whom both the people and the authorities have confidence must be at the head of the government. You are this man, Andreas Hofer. The people, the authorities, and the defenders of the country, pray you to consent to it; but God commands you through my mouth to accept the position."

"Well, then," exclaimed Andreas, enthusiastically, lifting his eyes devoutly to heaven, "I will do joyfully what God commands, and what you request me to do. I will take upon myself this arduous duty; I will comply with your wishes. You say it is necessary for the good of the country and the emperor that there should be a lieutenant of the emperor; and if there is no other and better man than I, and if you have confidence in me, I will accept the position. I am nothing but an instrument in the hand of God my Lord, and I do what He wants me to do, even though it should cost my life. My life is in His hand, and what I am, and have, and can be, belongs to my emperor and my country. I will be, then, the emperor's lieutenant in the Tyrol until the emperor issues orders to the contrary, or until peace is restored to the country, and the emperor is able again to take charge of the government. Let us pray God and the Holy Virgin that that day may soon dawn upon us!"

"Long live the emperor's lieutenant!" shouted the whole assembly, joyously.

"Now," exclaimed the mayor, "give me your hand, Andreas Hofer, lieutenant of the emperor, and commander-in-chief of the Tyrol. We will conduct you in solemn procession to the imperial palace, for the lieutenant must take up his residence there."

"Yes, yes, let us accompany Andreas Hofer to the imperial palace," exclaimed all, in joyful excitement.

"Well, if it please God. I will take up my residence in the imperial palace," exclaimed Andreas Hofer, solemnly, giving his hand to the mayor and stepping with him to the door of the ballroom.

He was followed by the Capuchin, Joseph Speckbacher, Anthony Wallner, the other commanders of the Landsturm, and the municipal authorities. On stepping into the street, they were received with thundering cheers by the people who thronged the street and the neighboring place; and amid singing and deafening acclamations, and the ringing of all the church-bells, the emperor's lieutenant and commander-in-chief of the Tyrol, Andreas Hofer, was conducted to the magnificent imperial palace, where the Sandwirth was to take up his residence.

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