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   Chapter 36 THE LOVERS.

Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 24936

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Doeninger went to the door and opened it, and a beautiful young girl slipped immediately into the room. "Hush, hush," she whispered to Doeninger; "do not say anything to him." And she hastened on tiptoe to Andreas Hofer, who was reading once more with close attention the proclamation which he had dictated to Doeninger.

She bent down and kissed the hand in which Hofer held the paper. "God bless you, dear, great father and liberator of the people!" she said, in a silver voice.

"Lizzie Wallner!" exclaimed Andreas, joyfully, casting aside the paper. "Yes, by the Eternal, it is she! It is Lizzie, the dearest child of my best friend-the most heroic girl in the Tyrol. Come, Lizzie, embrace your second father, Andy, and give me a kiss for father and mother, and one for yourself, my dear girl."

Eliza encircled Hofer's neck, and imprinted a tender kiss on his lips. "God bless you, dear father, for you are the father of the whole Tyrol," she whispered, "and must not scold me for calling you my father too."

"On the contrary, it gladdens my heart," exclaimed Andreas, folding her tenderly to his breast. "It seems to me as though I were holding one of my own girls in my arms, and as though I heard her dear voice calling me father. Lizzie, I can tell you I often long for my pretty daughters and their mother, Anna Gertrude, and sometimes I feel very lonely indeed."

"And why do you not send for your wife and children, father Andy, and have them brought here? I am sure there is room enough for them in this large house."

" No, they shall stay at home," exclaimed Andreas, vehemently. "The mother must attend to household affairs, and keep every thing in good order, and the girls must help her do it. Otherwise all would go amiss, and when I should have no longer to work for the emperor here, and went back to my home, the inn in the Passeyr valley would be worthless; we should be destitute, and become beggars. Besides, I do not want my girls to become proud, and think they are aristocratic young ladies now, because their father is commander-in- chief of the Tyrol, and the emperor's lieutenant. We are peasants, and will remain peasants. However, let us speak no more of myself, but of you, Lizzie. Where do you come from, what do you want here, and how did you get into the midst of the crowd in the audience- room?"

"I came to see you, father Andreas. I asked the sentinel in the passage outside where I would find you, as I had to see you on important business. The sentinel told me to enter the audience-room. It was already crowded with persons who wished to see you, and who told me that one was admitted to you after another; but, on hearing that I had come all the way from Windisch-Matrey, and had walked two days and two nights without intermission, they took pity on me, and would not let me wait until my turn came, but allowed me to advance close to the door, so as to be the first to enter your room."

"The people of Innspruck are very kind-hearted indeed," exclaimed

Andreas, joyously. "Then you have come all the way from Windisch-

Matrey, Lizzie? And where is your father?"

"He and his sharpshooters joined Joachim Haspinger and Joseph Speckbacher, and the united forces of the three commanders marched against the Bavarians. Father and his seven hundred sharpshooters expelled the Bavarians from the Unken valley, and is now encamped near Berchtesgaden and Reichenhall. Speckbacher is stationed at Neuhauser and Schwarzbach, and Haspinger is still at Werfen. They are going to reunite their forces and advance against the Bavarians, in order, if possible, to drive them from the pass of Lueg, which the enemy has occupied with a large force."

"And you are not with your father, Lizzie, nor with your friend the Capuchin, who speaks of you only as a heroine? You no longer carry the wounded out of the thickest of the fight, to dress their wounds and nurse them?"

"I have another duty to fulfil now, and my father has permitted me to come to you in regard to it, dear father Andreas Hofer. I am in great distress, and you alone, dear, all-powerful commander-in-chief of the Tyrol, are able to help me."

"Tell me quick, Lizzie, what can I do for you ?" asked Andreas, eagerly. "I owe you yet a reward for your heroic deed on the day of the hay-wagons, and I should like to discharge this debt of the fatherland. Tell me, therefore, dear girl what can I do for you?"

"You can restore to me the dearest friend I have on earth," said Eliza, beseechingly. "You can deliver a patriotic girl from Bavarian captivity, and an excellent nobleman, who has done no other wrong than that he possesses a loyal Tyrolese heart, from grief and despair."

"I will do so with all my heart," exclaimed Andreas; "only tell me,

Lizzie, whom you refer to."

"I refer to Baron von Hohenberg, who lived at the castle of Windisch-Matrey, and his daughter, my dear and only friend Elza. The old baron was always a very pious and affable gentleman, a benefactor and father of the poor; and not a poor man, not a woman in distress applied to him, but whom he willingly relieved and assisted. He lived for twenty years in the Tyrol, at his castle at Windisch-Matrey, and became in this manner an ardent son of the Tyrol, although he is a native of Bavaria, and his whole aristocratic family lives in Munich. His daughter Elza is my dearest friend; we grew up together, and I am so fond of her that I would readily give up my heart's blood for her. Now, think of it, dear Andy! the Bavarians, on returning to the Tyrol two months ago, made the two prisoners, the dear old baron and my Elza, and carried them as hostages to Munich; they charged them there with high-treason, because they stood faithfully by the Tyrol, and because, at the very outset of the insurrection, the Bavarian soldiers and their captain were surrounded at their castle and compelled to lay down their arms."

"Yes, yes, I know the story," exclaimed Andreas, gayly; "it was an heroic deed by which Anthony Wallner inaugurated our glorious war of liberation. And now the mean Bavarians call the good Baron von Hohenberg a traitor, when he was quite innocent of the whole affair, and was not even at home when it took place. They say he left his castle at the time in order not to prevent the Tyrolese from capturing the Bavarians, and that he was aware of the plans of the Tyrolese, and should have warned the Bavarians. But I say that he acted like a good patriot, and they ought neither to charge him with treason nor imprison him and his daughter."

"Ah, and both long so intensely to return to their dear Tyrol and their castle! Elza wrote me a letter which I received a week ago, and tears had blotted out half of its contents. Both feel so wretched in the large city of Munich; their aristocratic relatives upbraid them constantly for their hostility to the Bavarians; the confinement and prison-air have already made the old baron quite sick, and Elza thinks he will surely die of grief if he is not soon released and allowed to go home. Therefore, I implore you, dear, all-powerful commander-in-chief of the Tyrol, save the old baron's life, restore my Elza to me, and release them both from their captivity. This is what I came for, father Andy; and if you think that I have ever done any thing for the fatherland that deserves thanks and a reward, thank and reward me by releasing Elza and her father from their captivity and allowing them to return to their home."

"I will do all I can," exclaimed Andreas, profoundly moved; "and the good God sent you to me to-day, for to-day I can help you.-Can I not, Doeninger?"

"You refer to the Bavarian officer whom you are going to send to

Munich?" asked Doeninger.

"Yes, the Bavarian officer is to procure their release," exclaimed Andreas. "Look at the fortunate coincidence, Lizzie! Among the prisoners we took on Mount Isel was a Bavarian captain, a sensible, excellent man, who, it seems to me, sympathizes cordially with the cause of the Tyrolese. We resolved to release him on parole and send him to Munich, where he was to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, and maybe bring about an amicable understanding between us and the King of Bavaria. The Bavarian captain-I believe his name is Ulrich- -"

"Ulrich?" asked Eliza, trembling, and blushing deeply.

"I believe that is his name," said Hofer, quietly; "his other name I have forgotten; we call him only Captain Ulrich, as you call me Andreas. Well, Captain Ulrich has already received his instructions and the list of prisoners whose release he is to advocate. It will only remain for us to add Hohenberg's name to the list, and you yourself, my Lizzie, shall urge Captain Ulrich to restore to you the old baron and your friend Elza.-Pray, dearest Cajetan, go and fetch the captain; he was to set out in an hour, and he must, therefore, be here yet."

"He is certainly here yet, for there are his papers, which I intended to take to him, and without which he cannot depart," said Doeninger. "And here is the list of the prisoners whose release he is to procure."

"Add to it the names of the old baron and his daughter, Cajetan, and state that their release is urgently desired."

"But for whom are they to be exchanged?"

"Yes, yes, for whom? Well, for Captain Ulrich himself. If he procures their release, and returns hither, as he solemnly swore be would, with the reply of the Bavarian government, and, perhaps, brings the old baron and his daughter with him, he shall be free and at liberty to go wherever he pleases. Go, Cajetan, say that to the captain, and give him the papers, and repeat to him once more all that he is to do. And you, Lizzie, will you not send by him a note to your friend? But it is true, you have not yet written a letter to her. It is better for you to tell him what he is to say in your name to your friend.-Go, therefore, Cajetan, take the papers to the captain, and conduct him to Lizzie. But do not bring him in here, for there are in the anteroom still a great many persons whom I must see before I can converse further with you. Take him, therefore, into the other room; and when he is there, return to me, Cajetan. Lizzie may then go in there and see the captain; and we shall speak with the poor people in the audience-room who have had to wait already so long to-day.-But I shall not let you go again, my Lizzie," added Hofer, after Doeninger had left the room; "no, I shall not let you go again. You must stay with me at the palace here, and be my dear little daughter until the captain returns from his mission, and until you know if he brings your friend and her father along with him. Will you do so, Lizzie?"

"I will, dear father Andreas; I will stay with you until then, and take care of you as a good daughter, until my dear Elza, if it please God, returns, when I will go back with her to Windisch- Matrey."

At this moment Doeninger re-entered the room. "The captain is in the room yonder," he said, pointing to a side-door; "he awaits you, and will set out after seeing you. The carriage is already at the door. Go, therefore, Eliza Wallner."

"I am going already," said Eliza. She nodded to Andreas with a sweet smile and opened the door of the adjoining room, while Doeninger admitted another person from the audience-room into Hofer's cabinet.

The room which Eliza entered was one of the large state apartments of the palace, which Andreas did not occupy, and which he used only on rare occasions. It was a wide room with heavy silken hangings on the walls; curtains of the same description covered the windows, so that only a dim twilight reigned in the large apartment. Magnificent gilt furniture lined the walls; between the windows stood large Venetian mirrors in broad carved golden frames, and gorgeous lustres of rock-crystal were suspended from the ceiling.

Was it the splendor and magnificence surrounding her all at once that rendered Eliza so timid and anxious? She leaned for a moment in great embarrassment against the door, as if she could not venture to advance on the glittering floor. Her large, bright eyes glanced uneasily around the great room, and now she saw in the window-niche yonder the tall form of a gentleman; his head was averted from her, and he seemed to be looking eagerly out of the window.

"I do not know him; surely, I do not know him," said Eliza to herself. "It is foolish in me to think so; be stron

g, therefore, my heart, strong and calm, and do not throb so very impetuously!"

And overcoming her bashfulness with a courageous effort, she advanced toward the officer, who was still turning his back upon her.

Now she was close behind him, and said in a low, bashful voice:

"Captain, I-"

He turned quickly, and gazed at her with eyes radiant with joy and intense love.

Eliza uttered a cry; she raised her hands involuntarily, made a step forward, and lay in his arms before knowing it; she felt his burning kisses on her lips, in her heart, and thought and knew nothing but- "It is he! It is he! I see him again! He still loves me!"

"See, dearest Eliza," whispered Ulrich, drawing her close to his heart, "I had to act thus in order to elicit your heavenly secret from you. I knew it was you who wished to see me; I wanted to take you by surprise, and I succeeded. Your surprise betrayed what the timid and chaste lips of my Eliza would not confess to me. Yes, you love me! Oh, deny it no longer, for your heart betrayed you when you recognized me, and when joy illuminated your face like a bright ray of sunshine. Now you are mine, Eliza, and nothing on earth must or shall separate us any longer. No, do not try to disengage yourself from my arms, my beautiful, sweet, affianced bride! I shall not leave you; even though the whole world should come to take you from me, I should not leave you-no, not for the whole world and all its treasures!"

"The whole world will not come," said Eliza, disengaging herself gently from his arms; "the world does not concern itself in the affairs of a poor peasant-girl like me. But I myself intend to leave you, sir; you must let me go, that we may converse in a sensible manner, as it behooves two decent young persons. Take your arms away, Captain von Hohenberg; it is not right in you to embrace me here while we are all alone. You would certainly be ashamed of it if any one should see you folding the peasant-girl to your heart."

"No, Eliza, I would not; I should fold you only the more tenderly to my heart, and exclaim proudly in the face of the whole world: 'Eliza Wallner, the peasant-girl, is my affianced bride; I love and adore her as the most faithful, noble, and generous heart; she is to become my wife, and I will love and cherish her all my life!'"

"And if you said so, the world would laugh at you; but your parents and my dear Elza would weep for you. Now, my Elza shall never weep on my account, and never shall your aristocratic parents be obliged to blush for the daughter-in-law whom you bring into their house. As a daughter-in-law I can never be welcome to them; hence, they could never be welcome to me as parents-in-law."

"Oh, Eliza, your beauty, your angelic purity and goodness would surmount their resistance, for no heart is able to withstand you; and when my parents are once acquainted with you, when they have submitted to stern necessity, they will soon love you, and fold you as a daughter to their hearts."

"But first they would have to submit to stern necessity, and I should have to be forced upon them, that they might afterward learn to love me. Much obliged to you, sir; I am only a peasant-girl, but I have my pride too, and will never allow myself to be forced upon a family, but will only take a husband whose parents would come to meet me affectionately, and give me, their blessing on the threshold of my new home. And now let us drop the subject, and tell me what has happened to you during our separation."

"You see, Eliza, what has happened to me," said Ulrich, mournfully. "After your divine magnanimity had set me free, I succeeded in passing through the insurgent country to the Bavarian lines and re- entered the service. We fought and suffered a great deal, and at length, on the 14th of August, I was made prisoner by the Tyrolese at the battle of Mount Isel and taken to Innspruck. However, they do not know my real name here, for I did not want the news of my captivity to reach my parents; I preferred that they should lament me as killed in battle, rather than as a prisoner in the hands of the insurgents. But fate decreed that it should be otherwise; I am no longer to be allowed to keep my mournful incognito; I am to repair to Munich to negotiate there an exchange of the prisoners for the hostages whom our troops carried off."

"Your uncle and my Elza are among the hostages," exclaimed Eliza. "Oh, sir, if you really think that you are under obligations to me, if you have not forgotten that I saved your life, pray procure the release of your dear old uncle, and bring him back hither; for he has indeed a hard time of it in Munich, where they charge him with treason, and where even his own relatives inveigh bitterly against him. This gnaws at his heart, and, unless released speedily, he will die of grief."

"I did not know that so sad a fate had befallen him," said Ulrich, gently; "Doeninger was the first to tell me of it, on bringing me the papers, and conducting me hither. But, I confess, in my intense joy on meeting you, my dear, sweet Eliza, my ungrateful heart had forgotten my old uncle, who gave me so many proofs of his love and kindness, and treated me for months as a son at his house. I will try to reward his love by availing myself of my influential connections and my whole eloquence to bring about his release; I will go myself to the king to intercede in his behalf."

"But you must bring my Elza with you too, sir," exclaimed Eliza.

"Oh, I implore you, by all that is sacred and dear to you-"

"Then implore me by your name, by your sweet face," he interrupted her, enthusiastically.

"I implore you from the bottom of my heart," she continued, without taking any notice of his words, "bring my Elza back to me. She is the better half of my soul; we grew up together, we shared all joys and afflictions, and have sworn to shed our heart's blood and die for each other, if need be, and to stand by each other in faithful friendship to the last day of our lives. Now, I am only half alive when my Elza is not with me. Therefore, dear Ulrich, restore my Elza to me, and I will thank you, and bless you, and love you as a brother."

"As a brother!" he cried mournfully. "But I do not want you to love me as a brother. I want your heart, your whole heart, Eliza; and it is mine in spite of you-mine! But you are vindictive, and cannot forget and forgive; and because I denied and misunderstood you once in my blind stubbornness, you wish to wreak vengeance on me, drive me to despair, and make me unhappy for my whole life!"

"I!" she exclaimed, mournfully; "I wish to make you unhappy?"

"Yes, you," he said bitterly; "you see my sufferings, and gloat over them; you feel that I love you boundlessly, and with cold, sneering pride you try to resent my former contemptible haughtiness. You oppose your peasant pride to my insensate aristocratic pride; you want to make me go mad or die heart-broken, and your coolness never leaves you for a moment, and my grief makes no impression on you; for, when I am dead, you will be able to exclaim: 'I fought for my country as a brave daughter of the Tyrol! I killed a Bavarian, I broke his heart laughingly!'"

"You lie, I shall never say so!" cried Eliza, in an outburst of generous indignation; "you lie if you think me capable of so miserable a revenge; you lie if you believe that I have a cold and cruel heart. I wish I had, for then I should not suffer what I am suffering now, and I should at least be able to forget you. You really charge me with having a cold heart, with hating and despising you? Do you not see, do you not even suspect what I am suffering for your sake? Look at me, then; see how pale my cheeks are; see how dim my eyes are! I do not take any notice of it, I do not look at myself in the mirror-why should I, and for whom?-but mother tells me so every day, and weeps for me. And why am I so pale and thin, and why are my eyes so dim? Because my heart is full of grief; because I have no rest day or night; because there is in my heart a voice which I can never silence, not even when I am praying or kneeling in the confessional. Do you think I am grieving for the sake of the country or the bloody war? What does the country concern me? I think no longer of it, and yet every battle makes me tremble; and on nearing the booming of artillery, I kneel down and pray with tears of anguish to the Holy Virgin. Oh, may God forgive me! I do not pray for my father, nor for our soldiers; I pray for a Bavarian, I pray for you!"

"Eliza!" exclaimed Ulrich, radiant with joy, and stretching out his arms toward her, "Eliza!"

"Hush!" she said, stepping back proudly, "do not speak. I have told you the truth, for I do not want you to accuse and curse me, when I am blessing you every day. But now go, sir; forget what I have said, but remember me always as one who never hated you, and never thought of revenging herself upon you."

"Eliza," said Ulrich, gravely, taking her hand, and gazing deeply into her eyes, "let us now be honest and frank toward each other. Our hearts have spoken with each other, and God has heard them. You love me, and I love you. Do you remember what I said to you; when taking leave of you on the mountain?"

"I do not, sir," she whispered, dropping her eyes.

"But I do," he continued, gravely and firmly. "I said to you: 'I will go now, but I shall return and ask you: "Do you remember me? Will you become my wife?'" Now, Eliza, I have returned, and ask you as I asked you on the mountain, Eliza, will you become my wife?"

"And I reply as I replied to you on the mountain," she said solemnly. "We can never belong to each other as husband and wife, but we can remember each other as good friends. And so, sir, I will always remember you, and it will always gladden my heart to hear that you are well and happy."

"Is that your last word?" asked Ulrich, angrily.

"Yes, sir, it is my last word."

"Then you are intent on making us unhappy?" he cried, mournfully.

"Oh, you crystal-heart, so transparent and clear, so hard, so hard!

Will you never, then, allow yourself to be softened by the sunbeams

of love? Will they always only harden your heart?"

"I cannot act otherwise, sir, I assure you I cannot," she said, beseechingly.

"Well, then, I cannot act otherwise either," he cried. "I shall not accept this mission, I shall not go to Munich, I shall stay here."

"No, no, I implore you to go!" exclaimed Eliza. "Save my imprisoned countrymen; save, above all, my Elza and her father! Oh, she is unhappy, she longs for her home; she is weeping for me, for you, sir! Make haste, make haste; have mercy upon Elza and myself!"

"Why should I have mercy when you have none?" he asked, quickly. "Let the prisoners die of grief; I am a prisoner too, and shall know also how to die. I shall not leave Innspruck unless you promise me that you will become my wife on my return, and plight me your faith before the altar of God. I swear by all that is sacred to me, I will not leave this city unless I take with me your solemn pledge that you will overcome your pride and become my wife."

"Well, then," she said, blushing deeply, "go, then. Procure my

Elza's release, bring her home, and then-"

"And then?" he asked, as she hesitated.

"Then you shall receive at the hands of the priest a bride who loves you, loves you with infinite tenderness," she said, in a low voice.

He uttered a cry of joy, and folded her to his heart. But she disengaged herself gently. "Make haste now," she said; "for the sooner yon depart, the sooner you will return."

"I will set out immediately," he cried, radiant with joy. "But swear to me, Eliza, that I shall receive, immediately on my return, even though it should be early in the morning, at the hands of the priest, my bride-the bride who loves me with infinite tenderness."

"I swear by the Holy Virgin," said Eliza, solemnly, "that if you bring my Elza to me here, you shall receive your bride at the hands of the priest on the day of your return, whether it be early in the morning or late at night."

"Captain Ulrich," shouted Cajetan Doeninger, opening the door, "it is high time for you to set out. The carriage has been at the door for upward of an hour."

"I am ready," said Ulrich, holding out his hand to Eliza with a happy smile. "Farewell, Eliza; I shall return with your Elza in two weeks."

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