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   Chapter 35 A DAY OF THE EMPEROR'S LIEUTENANT.

Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 23735

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The imperial palace at Innspruck was still the residence of Sandwirth Andreas Hofer, commander-in-chief of the Tyrol, and lieutenant of the Emperor Francis. He had lived there since the 15th of August; but as simply, quietly, and modestly as he had lived when he was a horse-dealer and innkeeper, so he lived now when he was ruler of the Tyrol, and the emperor's lieutenant. Instead of occupying the large state apartments of the imperial palace, as his friends had often asked him to do, Andreas had selected the plainest and humblest rooms for his quarters, and his style of living was as simple and modest as his dwelling-place. Vainly his suite tried to persuade him to hold levees and receive guests at his festive table. Andreas rejected all such suggestions with proud and withal humble indignation.

"Do you think I took this arduous task upon myself to play the aristocratic gentleman, and revel in luxury?" he replied to those who asked him to adopt such a course. "I did not become the emperor's lieutenant to display vain and empty splendor, but to serve my dear Tyrol and preserve it to the emperor. I am only a simple peasant, and do not want to live like a prince. I am accustomed to have bread, butter, and cheese for breakfast, and I do not know why I should change this now, merely because I am no longer at home with my dear wife, but here at Innspruck at the emperor's palace. I am also accustomed to dine very plainly, and am therefore opposed to any expensive repasts being got up for me here. I do not like the meats prepared by the cooks of the aristocracy; and while I do not want anything but bread, butter, cheese, and wine, I shall send to Niederkircher's tavern for my dinner. But it must never cost more than half a florin. I will invite guests, for I like to have merry people about me; but the guests must not come for the sake of the repast, but for that of our pleasant conversation. I shall send to Niederkircher for the dinner of all my guests, and he must send enough, lest any of them should remain hungry. But there must never be more than six guests, for it would be too bad if I, who intend to preserve the Tyrol to the emperor, were to cost him a great deal of money here. In order to prevent mistake, Niederkircher must send in his bill every morning for me to examine; the financial secretary shall pay it every week, and send me the receipt." [Footnote: The expenses of Hofer and his whole suite, during their six weeks' sojourn in the city of Innspruck, cost the public exchequer only five hundred florins.]

Andreas Hofer remained in these days of his splendor as active, industrious, and simple as he always had been. The welfare of his beloved country engrossed all his thoughts, and he was desirous of devoting his whole strength to it. He issued a number of useful and liberal decrees, which, it is true, Ennemoser, Doeninger, Kolb, or other friends of his had drawn up, but which he had approved and signed.

Andreas Hofer gave public audiences every morning like a real prince, and the sentinels placed in front of the imperial palace and at the door of the commander-in-chief had received stringent orders not to refuse admittance to the audience-room to any one, but allow all to come in, how poorly soever they might be dressed. Andreas listened to every one with kind patience and cordial sympathy, and always took care to help console the distressed, make peace, and conciliate; and every one who needed comfort and assistance hastened to apply to the always helpful commander-in-chief.

To-day again many persons were in the audience-room, waiting impatiently for the moment when the door should open, and when Andreas Hofer should make his appearance on the threshold, greet all with a pleasant nod of his head, and then beckon to him who was nearest to the door to enter his cabinet.

But the hour fixed for the audience had struck long ago, and the commander-in-chief, who was usually so punctual and conscientious, had not yet opened the door of his audience-room. He had already been half an hour in his cabinet, and Doeninger sat at the desk, ready to write down the names of all applicants for audience, and add a brief statement of their wishes and petitions. But Andreas was still pacing the room, his hands behind his back; and although he had already laid his hand twice on the door-knob, he had stepped back as if in terror, and continued striding up and down.

"Commander-in-chief," said Doeninger, after a long pause, during which he had watched Hofer's irresolute bearing smilingly, "there is something that disquiets you, is there not?"

"Yes, Cajetan," sighed Andreas. "As you have found it out, I will no longer deny that there is something that disquiets me."

"And what is it, commander-in-chief? Will you not communicate it to your faithful and discreet Cajetan?"

"Yes, I will, my dear Cajetan," said Hofer. "I am afraid I did something very stupid yesterday, and I am ashamed of it."

"Ah, you allude to the lawsuit which you decided yesterday," exclaimed Doeninger.

"You see, no sooner did I say that I did something very stupid, than you at once knew what I meant; what I did must, therefore, have been very stupid indeed. Yes, I alluded to the lawsuit, Cajetan, for I am afraid I did not decide it, but made it only more complicated."

"On the whole, there was nothing to be decided," said Doeninger, dryly. "The lawsuit was already decided; the supreme court had given judgment in favor of the plaintiff and awarded to him the sum of one thousand florins, which was at issue, and sentenced the defendant to pay that sum and the costs. But the defendant-"

"It was no man, Cajetan," interrupted Andreas; "it was a woman, and that was the worst of it. I cannot bear to see women weep. They know so well how to touch my heart by their tears and lamentations, that I long to help them. Lord Jesus, how that woman, the defendant in the lawsuit, wept! And was it the poor woman's fault, Cajetan, that her deceased husband was head over ears in debt, that he borrowed one thousand florins from a friend, and meanly affixed his wife's name without her knowledge to the note which he gave for it?"

"But that is just the trouble, commander-in-chief; not only did she know it, but she herself put her name under the note. I myself asked the judges about it yesterday. They say that the woman is known to be avaricious, greedy, and mean, and they would not have given judgment against her if there had not been sworn evidence to the effect that she herself signed the note. They add that she is rich enough to pay back the thousand florins which her husband certainly borrowed from his friend."

"I cannot believe it," exclaimed Andreas. "She wept and lamented so very unaffectedly; during my whole wedded life I have not seen my wife weep so much as the woman wept during that quarter of an hour yesterday; and I think one that can weep so much must be innocent. Hence, I did what I had a perfect right to do; I wrote to the judges and reversed their decision."

"Well, commander-in-chief, if you think you were justified in what you did, why does it disquiet you?"

"It does," said Andreas Hofer, "because I think now that the plaintiff, who lost his suit, may feel very sore over it, and blame me for depriving him of what he thought was due to him; and I shudder to think he maybe in the other room, and intend to reproach me with ruining him and taking from him what the judges had already awarded to him."

"And, Andy, because you would not like to see one man, you keep the others waiting outside."

"You are right, Cajetan. I ought not to do that; I am a selfish, cowardly fellow," cried Andreas, contritely. "I will no longer keep them waiting, but admit them at once."

And he went with a hasty step to the door of the audience-room, threw it open, and stepped upon the threshold. The large room was crowded with persons of every age and rank; all thronged toward the door, and every one was desirous of being the first to greet the commander-in-chief, and to be invited by him into his cabinet.

Andreas Hofer bowed kindly to all; his eyes fell on an old man with silver-white hair, who was striving to penetrate to him, and cast beseeching glances on him.

"My old friend," said Andreas, mildly, "it is true you are not nearest to the door, but you are the oldest person in the room, and therefore it is right for me to listen to you first. Come in, then, and tell me what you want of me."

The old man, leaning on his cane, hastened forward and entered the cabinet, the door of which Andreas Hofer himself closed behind him.

"Now tell me, my aged friend, who are you, and what I can do for you."

"Much, very much, commander-in-chief," replied the old man, in a tremulous voice. "You can grant me justice. My name is Friedel Hofmeier, and I am the unfortunate man who gained his lawsuit yesterday, and who was to get his thousand florins back, but from whom you took them again by virtue of your supreme authority."

"Cajetan, it is as I said," sighed Andreas, turning with a doleful air to Doeninger, who sat at the desk, pen in hand, and bowed to the commander-in-chief with a shrug.

"I come to you, the emperor's lieutenant, to demand justice," added the old man. "Your decree was unjust and contrary to law. The judges had decided in my favor, and by reversing their judgment, you treat with harshness and cruelty an old man who stands on the brink of the grave, and deprive my poor grandchild of its whole inheritance."

"May God and the Holy Virgin preserve me from committing such a crime," murmured Andreas Hofer, crossing himself devoutly. "Ah, my friend, why did you not come to me ere this, and tell me all about it? I should have gladly assisted you in recovering what was due to you."

"And yet it is your fault that I cannot recover what is due to me." cried the old man, mournfully. "Why should I have come hither ere this, and robbed you of your precious time? I confided in my good and just cause; I knew that the good God would not abandon me, and that He would not take from me, after losing innocently most of my property by the cruelty of the enemy, who burned down my house and outbuildings, the last remnant of my little fortune, the thousand florins which I lent to my friend, and which his rich wife engaged in her own handwriting to pay back ten years after date. The ten years had expired; the good God did not abandon me; for He caused the judges to grant me justice and adjudge the thousand florins to me."

"And I took them from him again," murmured Andreas Hofer, with tears in his eyes; "and it is my fault that he will die with a grief- stricken heart. Cajetan, I have ruined the old man; tell me, advise me how to make amends for it."

"You reversed the decision of the judges," said Doeninger, slowly; "you possess the power of reversing all decisions."

Andreas Hofer was silent for a moment, and gazed thoughtfully into vacancy, as if to fathom the meaning of an obscure oracle; all at once his face brightened, and a joyous smile played round his lips.

"I know it now, Cajetan," he exclaimed. "I have the power to reverse all decisions, and therefore my own also."

Cajetan Doeninger nodded with silent satisfaction. The old man clasped his hands and gazed at Hofer with an expression of ardent gratitude.

"Will you really do so, Andreas Hofer?" he asked tremblingly. "Will you reverse your own decree for the sake of justice?"

"Yes, I will," exclaimed Hofer, joyfully; "and I will do it immediately. Cajetan, take up your pen and write what I am going to dictate to you. There I now write as follows: 'I, the undersigned, confess by these presents that I committed a mistake yesterday, and violated the laws. To confess mistakes and avow faults is no disgrace; he

nce, I do so now, and beg pardon of the good God and the judges for doing wrong. I hereby reverse the decision which I made yesterday. Friedel Hofmeier is to receive the thousand florins which the supreme court adjudged to him, and the decision of the judges is to be valid, notwithstanding my decree issued yesterday.' Now give me the pen and let me sign the document."

"Oh, dear commander-in-chief," exclaimed the delighted old man, "what a noble and kind-hearted man you are, and-"

"Hush!" interrupted Andreas, looking up from the paper; "if I make a mistake now, the whole document will be invalid, and we must commence anew. Now I tell you it is hard work to write one's name with such a pointed pen on the paper, and my name, moreover, has such a long-tailed title. Therefore, keep quiet and let me write. There, it is done now-'Andreas Hofer, commander-in-chief of the Tyrol.' Now, my dear old friend, your document is valid. Take it to the city hall, and permit me to congratulate you on having recovered your thousand florins. Say nothing about it now, but hasten to the city hall. There are outside a great many persons who wish to see me."

He handed the paper to the old man, and conducted him to the door, which he himself opened for him. He was about to follow him, when he suddenly drew back and closed the door after him.

"Cajetan," he whispered, anxiously, "I saw something dreadful!"

"What was it, commander-in-chief?"

"Cajetan, I saw the woman whom Friedel Hofmeier sued, and to whom I gave the decree yesterday. Cajetan, I was not afraid when we were on Mount Isel and at Brixen, but I am afraid of that woman and her dreadful lamentations. I do not know what to do, Doeninger, if she should have found out what I have done, and come in here to reproach me with it."

"We shall not admit her, commander-in-chief," said Doeninger, laughing.

"But, Cajetan, I made a vow never to refuse admittance to any one, and not, as many princes do, to allow distressed persons to wait in my anteroom and send them away without listening to them and comforting them."

"But you heard, Andreas, that the woman is not in distress, for she is rich and very avaricious. She told you the most impudent falsehoods; hence, she must not be admitted; for, if you allow her to come in again, she would lie as she did yesterday."

"You are right, Cajetan, she must not come in; and now, my friend, pray go and admit the next applicant, but not that bad woman."

Doeninger went to the door, and, opening it, beckoned to the person standing nearest to it.

A young woman, dressed plainly, but very neatly, came in, and remained at the door, in visible confusion and grief.

"Well, madame," said Andreas to her, "do you come to tell me that all is right, and that your husband and you, his pretty young wife, live together in happiness and content? Well, it was heavy work to reconcile you two, and persuade you to remain together and love each other, as it behooves a Christian couple. It cost me a whole forenoon, but I do not regret it, for I accomplished my task, and reconciled you, and all was right again between you. And I made you promise to return in two weeks and tell me how you got along with each other. The two weeks are up to-day, and here comes the pretty young wife to tell me that Andreas Hofer did his work well, and that her husband is now faithful, tender, and good. Is he not?"

"Alas, he is not!" sobbed the young wife, bursting into tears. "Tony, my husband, never stays at home in the evening; he returns only late at night, scolds me for weeping and upbraiding him with his bad conduct, and yesterday-yesterday he wanted even to beat me!"

"What a bad man!" cried Andreas, vehemently. "Why did he want to beat you, then? What had you done?"

"I had locked the street-door, and would not let him have the key when he wanted to leave the house."

"H'em! that was a little too severe," said Hofer, hesitatingly. "Why should a young man be prevented from going out a little? He cannot always stay at home."

"But he shall not go out without me, and he would not take me with him. I had requested him to do so, and he had refused; therefore, I locked the house and would not permit him to leave it. He shall not go out without me, for he is such a fine-looking man, that all the pretty women of Innspruck admire him in his handsome national dress, and ogle him when he passes by."

"Well, let them admire and ogle him," exclaimed Andreas, smiling.

"What do you care for it, provided your husband does not ogle them?"

"But he does, commander-in-chief; he runs after the pretty women, he goes to the theatre and the concerts to see them, and speak and flirt with them. Believe me, dearest commander-in-chief, he deserts me, he is faithless, and all your fine and pious exhortations were in vain. He loves me no longer, and I love him so dearly, and would like to be always with him and never desert him. But he says it would be inconvenient to him, and make him ridiculous, if he should always appear together with his wife, like a convict with his jailer."

"What a bad, hard-hearted man!" cried Andreas, indignantly.

"He is hard-hearted, indeed," sobbed the young wife. "He scolds me for my love, and when I like to be with him all the time, he says my jealousy is disagreeable to him, and there is nothing more abominable than a jealous wife!"

"Well, he may be right so far as that is concerned," said Doeninger, busily engaged in cutting his pen.

"What did you say, Cajetan?" asked Hofer, turning to him.

"I did not say anything, but thought aloud," said Doeninger, trying his pen.

Hofer was silent for a moment, and gazed into vacancy. "Yes, my dear woman," he then said boldly, "your husband may not be altogether wrong in complaining of your jealousy. I really believe that you are a little jealous, and beg you to try to overcome your jealousy; for jealousy is a grievous fault, and makes many husbands very wretched."

"But must I not be jealous?" she cried, vehemently, weeping bitterly. "Do I not see that the women are trying to seduce him and make him desert me? Do I not see him at the theatre gazing at the finely-dressed ladies and admiring their bare arms and shoulders?"

"What!" exclaimed Hofer. "Is it true, then, that the women here appear in public with bare arms and shoulders?"

"Yes, sir, it is," sobbed the young wife. "You can see it everywhere; it is the new fashion which the French brought here; the women wear low-necked dresses with very short sleeves, so that their shoulders and arms are entirely bare. All the aristocratic ladies of Innspruck have already adopted this new fashion; and on seeing them in their boxes at the theatre, you would believe they were in a bath, precisely as the good God created them. And it is owing only to these bare arms and shoulders that my dear husband deserts me and loves me no longer. The aristocratic ladies, with their naked charms have seduced him; and just think of it, he wants me to adopt the new fashion too, and go as naked as the other women!"

"You must not do it," said Hofer in dismay; "it is a shameless, unchristian fashion, and no decent woman should adopt it. This is not the first complaint that I have heard in regard to the indecent dress of the women here. Some of my neighbors were at the theatre yesterday, and were indignant at the indecent appearance of the women there; they told me the women sat there dressed in the highest fashion, their busts entirely bare and not covered with a handkerchief such as every decent woman in the Passeyr valley wears, and their arms adorned with all sorts of golden trinkets such as we see only on those of strolling players who perform in barns. But I will put an end to it; I will preserve the good and virtuous men from seduction, and will not suffer vice to dress up, and shamelessness to stalk by the side of decency. Just wait, my dear woman; I will protect your husband and all other good men from the seductive wiles of frivolous women, and issue a decree which will tell all the beautiful women how to behave. Sit down there and listen to the decree which I shall dictate to Cajetan Doeninger. Cajetan, take a large sheet of stamped paper and write what I shall dictate to you."

And pacing the room. and slowly stroking his fine black beard with his right hand, Andreas Hofer dictated as follows:

"Every one will perceive that we have good reason to thank the kind and almighty God for helping us so signally to deliver the fatherland from a powerful and cruel enemy; and every one will desire that we should henceforth remain free from this scourge, with which the Lord, as He punished His chosen people often in the Old and New Testament, visited and chastised our fatherland, that we might turn to Him and mend our ways. We will, therefore, turn to God with heartfelt thanks for his great mercy, and with the sincere purpose of improving our morals, and pray Him to protect us from further persecution. We must try to gain His paternal love by a devout, chaste, and virtuous life, and discard hatred, envy, covetousness, and all vices, obey our superiors, lend as much assistance as possible to our fellow-citizens, and avoid everything that might give offence to God and man. Now, many of my excellent comrades and defenders of the country have been scandalized at the neglect of many women to cover their arms and breasts, whereby they give rise to sinful desires which must be highly offensive to God and all good Christians. It is to be hoped that they will repent, lest God should punish them; but if they do not, it will be their own fault if they should be covered with mire in an unpleasant manner." [Footnote: See "Gallery of Heroes: Andreas Hofer," p. 135; and Hormayr's "Hofer," vol. ii., p. 445.]

"Shall I really write that?" asked Doeninger, looking up from his paper.

"Yes, you shall; and you shall not omit a word of it," exclaimed Andreas Hofer. "Give me the paper, Cajetan; I want to see if you have not scratched out the last words. No, there it is: 'But if they do not, it will be their own fault if they should be covered with mire in an unpleasant manner.' That is right-now give me the pen, Cajetan, that I may sign the document. Then seal it up and send it to the Official Journal and the Gazette; they are to publish it at once, that all the women of Innspruck may read it to-morrow and know what to do. Now, my dear woman, I hope you will have some rest, and need not be afraid of the seductive wiles of those ladies. Go home, then; and if you will permit me to give you good advice, be very gentle and kind toward your husband; and for God's sake do not torment him with jealousy, for that is a bitter herb which even the best husband cannot digest, and which renders him morose and angry. Go, then, with God's blessing, and come back a week hence, and tell me whether my decree has been effectual, and whether your husband goes any longer to the theatre and ogles the women there."

"May God and the Holy Virgin have mercy on us!" sighed the woman, going to the door; "for I shall not bear it if my dear husband ogles other women, and something dreadful will happen if he does not mend his ways."

"God be praised!" said Doeninger, with a deep sigh, when the woman had left the room.

"Why do you say 'God be praised'?" asked Andreas, in surprise.

"God be praised that I am not the husband of this jealous woman. She will torment her husband to death, and leave him not a moment's repose before be dies."

"It is true, she does not seem to be very gentle," said Andreas, smiling. "But then, Cajetan, she loves her husband dearly, is doubtless a virtuous woman, and will never sin against the seventh commandment. Well, my friend, do not grumble so much, but go and admit another person."

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