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She said this very quietly. He leaned forward, and kissed her. As he did this, a certain something, perhaps the deadly coldness of the cheek which his lips touched, or it might be a sense of reality in the act, which had not seemed to attach itself to the rest of the scene roused him to a state of half-consciousness. He was in a strange room; and his sister Marguerite, and no other, was sitting up in her bed, beside him.
At first he thought himself in the other world, which he remembered in his youth to have heard the priests speak of. Just then the report of cannon outside reached his ear, and still further aroused him. It seemed as though his consciousness were coming back to him by a series of distinct impulses, as the embers of a fire are raised into a flame by the successive strokes of the bellows.
" I see it all now,” he cried, “I remember— I remember well enough! but why did they unbind me, and bring me here! And you, Marguerite -how came you here? I did not see you among the prisoners outside. I had hoped"
At this moment, his eyes, which had been fixed upon her face, wandered downward to her dress. He saw with surprise that she was in a ball toilette, and that her neck and arms were bare : he did not remember to have ever seen her so before. Then it flashed upon him all at once, that hers was the figure which he had noticed on the balcony, leaning on the balustrade with so much unconcern, waving the fatal pocket-handkerchief! His sister was Baudet's mistress! At another time the shock of such a discovery would most probably have deprived him of utterance; but now, the exhausting emotions which he had gone through, seemed to have taken from him the faculty of surprise at anything which might happen. “Marguerite," he said, "only tell me what has become of our father, and that Lisette is not—with you and then let me go out and meet my fate. I had hoped—yes I had hoped that you were dead !"
She laid her hand on his arm, for he was preparing to go. “Heinrich," she said, quietly, “ Heinrich, this is a terrible meeting for both of us. I know very well what you would say—I know the expressions that are forming on your lips-as well leave them unsaid, now. You have not time to give utterance to them, my brother. The moments pass quickly; at any instant we may be interrupted. Listen. I have simulated a terrible fit as a means of having you near me for a few minutes—some faithful friends have helped me in my design. Never mind how it has been done, but here you are, alone with me, and he will not name him—is keeping watch outside yonder door. He will not come in till he is summoned by the woman, whom he supposes not bear to see me with my features distorted by pain, for I have fits now, at times, since—listen more attentively Heinrich ! Ah! it is on me that your thoughts are still wandering. You long to call me miserable, degraded, a monster, to curse me. Malheureux, before one of these epithets has left your lips, the opportunity for your escape may have passed away, for ever !”
As he made no reply, she rose completely, and sitting down beside him on the couch, took his band in her own. “My brother, unless I
say a few words to you about myself, I see there will be no such thing as rousing you to act on your own behalf. They must be
brief. Let me tell you then that when I first joined this monster, it was on the condition that the lives of our father and sister were to be spared. Alas, that I could be so credulous! Heinrich, Heinrich, instead of giving yourself up to your grief, remember that you, the last of the family must be spared, to obtain the church's prayers for their souls. Yes, I see what that look means. Lisette, at any rate, has escaped my fate. Never mind that now; suffice it that I have remained where I am, partly for vengeance, partly from a presentiment that I should one day have the opportunity of saving you. Such an opportunity has actually occurred. When I saw your name among the list of condemned for to-day, I obtained, by my influence, that the execution should be at this place. And now, look here," she glided noiselessly to a cupboard, and drew from it the complete dress of a republican guard-sword, belt, cartouche-box, nothing was wanting. “Change your clothes for these_not an instant is to lost! Then out of the window here : the fall is only a few feet, into the courtyard below. There is not a soul there at this moment; every one is at the front of the building where the fusillades are taking place. Walk boldly out by the back entrance to the pavilion, with this written order in your hand. It is signed by St. Just, himself. I have contrived to get possession of it. Recollect, it is an order which you are carrying to the officer at the Fort du People; you remember the fort, half a mile down the river. You are listening -you understand me Heinrich ? When you have reached the Poplar Avenue, run for your life. You know the river lies straight before you. There will be no one there to prevent your swimming across on such a day as this. All the sansculottes are assembled here. If you perish in the stream, why better-For heaven's sake, Heinrich, quicker ! quicker! as you value the last hope that remains to you, to me. If Antonie, who is supposed to be with me, should only return—and she dare not leave us much longer alone. Here, the belt, the hat. Try and look the soldier as much as you can-ah! the pass-word in case you are challenged · Mort aux Tarquins '--for God's sake bear it mind. Heaven be with you, my poor brother !'
These instructions were given in a low, quick, whisper. Heinrich was all the time mechanically hurrying on the costume prepared for him, or rather, was pushed into each article of dress, by the feverish hands of his sister. It seemed but a moment, and he stood, awkward and stiff, in the uniform of a republican guard. His sword jingled against his cartouche box, in unison with the trembling of his limbs. The instinct of life had not deserted him. But he stood there, motionless—bis mind not yet quite recovered from the shocks it had undergone-unable to act on any impulse of his own, and seeming to wait for some fresh order from his sister.
“For heaven's sake, Heinrich ! ” she whispered—“Mon Dieu ! and there is, already, a noise at the door! They may come in at any moment. Here, through the window ; it is only a drop of a few feet to the ground. You want time, not only to get out of the building, but to be fairly out of reach. So, one kiss before you go.”
She almost dragged him to the window, and pointed, imploringly, to the court-yard below. Suddenly, a new idea darted through his disordered mind, and again, to her despair, he stood still.
“Marguerite, Marguerite! when my flight is discovered, what will happen to you ?"
“Nothing that would not equally happen, if you remained here, to be mowed down by the cannon to-day. Nothing that you can prevent. They can only kill me, Heinrich! It must come, sooner or later, and it will not coine the quicker on account of your flight. He will pardon me that, for he is not tired of me yet. But, you once safe, and I need no pardon—my work upon earth is accomplished. One, at least, of the family will have been saved by my sacrifice. My brother, if I have erred, you know the motive. You will pray for me in happier days, will you not? And now, for the love of heaven— ”
Her words seemed to breathe fresh life into him. He pressed her to his heart; her golden hair loosening itself from the knot which held it behind, and falling across his shonlders. Then, hurrying to the window, he let himself down into the courtyard.
The cold air outside still further revived him. Passing through the gateway, he lighted upon a party of soldiers, who were drinking on the sly, the rest of their comrades being at the front of the building, where the execution was taking place. These men, luckily, did not belong
to the regiment to which the number on his collar referred him, and, after a stare, they suffered him to pass on, unquestioned.
In a short time he had gained the Poplar Avenue, leading straight to the river, and shut out from the view of the pavilion, by a high bank on either side. Looking back, to make sure that no one was in sight, he quickened his pace to a run, and soon the broad waters of the Rhine rolled at his feet. He breathed more freely. Although to traverse the rapid current would be, even to the strongest swimmer, a feat of great peril, still the danger to be incurred was preferable to the horrible certainties which he had left behind him; and there was something not absolutely distressing to him in the idea of perishing in the embrace of that mighty river, which is cherished, almost like a tutelary genius, by those who have been born within sound of its flow, and whose childish sports have been mirrored on the surface of “Father Rhine.”
He had taken off his coat, and thrown his sword on the grass, when the sound of several voices reached his ears, and immediately afterwards, a party of some half-dozen villagers descended the embankment on the side of the pavilion, and made their way towards him. Doubtless they were returning from witnessing the show. Heinrich trembled with apprehension, as one of the party, a tall virago of about thirty, accosted him with a rude laugh.
“ Bathing, citizen soldier, and at this time of the year! Mille tonnerres, but you are a bold man.”
“I-I was carrying a letter from my colonel to the Fort du Peuple," murmured Heinrich, quite taken aback by this interruption.
“What ; leaning over the river with your coat off? You suppose, then, the fort to lie on the opposite side of the Rhine, in the Austrian quarters ?”
"I was washing my clothes in the stream," faltered the unhappy fugitive, not knowing what to say.
“Your spick and span new clothes, which you don't appear to have ever put on before to-day? Aha! I have you now. I recollect," cried the woman, who had been scanning him closely ; “ Yes—on the banc des acousés, in the affair Lambinet, the day before yesterday ; that is where I have seen that imposing face of yours, citizen. Karl, Etienne, this is an escaped royalist, preparing to make his way to the enemy's
In a trice, he felt himself pinioned by more than one pair of stalwart
Resistance would have been out of the question, even if time had been given him to entertain the bare idea. Helpless, listless, the bitterness of death tenfold increased to him by the momentary glimpse of safety which had flashed before his eyes, Heinrich Seeman suffered himself to be led back in the direction of the pavilion, amidst the wild shouts and cries of his captors. The fury who had been the means of his capture, and who appeared to exercise a strong influence over her comrades, walked in front, waving his own sword, which she had just picked up, and singing the Marseillaise
every now and then she turned round to feast her eyes upon him, like a tigress glaring at
He knew well that no prayers or entreaties on his part would have the least effect on the rough natures around him. So he summoned his philosophy to his aid, and held his tongue. But once, when the virago approached very near him, and looked with a particularly insulting expression into his face, he could not help bursting out into a terrible imprecation—“May all the fiends of hell take possession of you, to your dying day, you she-wolf,” he cried. “May the God whom you deny curse you-he will curse you-to your latest hour, for betraying innocent blood ! "
In delivering this tirade, which he regretted the moment it had left his lips-he had advanced his right hand, and laid it on the woman's arm. He could not help noticing that a singular change came over her expression, and a flush, as of some strong emotion, dyed itself into her cheeks. She trembled—turned red and white by turnsthen looked at him for a moment, fixedly.
“Stop!” she exclaimed to the peasants who had charge of him, “I must examine this man's hand."
“What, at your old gipsy tricks again, la souricière!" cried a pale Albino-looking lad, who held Heinrich tightly by the left arm. don't want any fortunes told here—we can tell his fortune as well as you can, with all your bottles, and wax figures, and magic circles ; see here,” he made a motion with his forefinger across the back of his neck, to imitate the action of the guillotine.
She paid not the slightest attention to this remark, but employed herself the whole time in looking closely at the prisoner's hand which she held in hers. He thought of the hand which he had scrutinized in the same curious fashion some days before, and how soon his own would be cold and white and heavy as that was. He remarked as singular that she scárcely so much as glanced at the palnı, all her interest seeming to be concentrated on his little finger, on which he still wore
the topaz ring. Notwithstanding several small devices on her part to hide this circumstance, he felt that he could not be mistaken ; and that it was the ring, which, catching her eye for the first time, as he advanced his arm, had for some mysterious reason, rivetted her attention.
“You must let this man go !” she cried, with an air of command, “I was mistaken in him. He is a true and good patriot : I read it in the lines of his hand.”
“ Mistaken !” exclaimed one of the peasants, “That is a good one, la souricière ; as if I was not in court with you, and can swear to his face as I can to that of my cow Christine.”
“Ah, you dare to contradict me, Karl !” It was astonishing with what energy she spoke, and how earnest she appeared to be on behalf of one, whom a moment before she had been leading to death.
6 And you do not fear my vengeance? Who restored to you Christine, when she was enchanted by the gnomes? Who saved you, yourself, Karl, from the evil eye? Etienne, Baptiste, as you value your next vintage -as you do not wish to die, lingering and transfixed by the magic arrow_obey me! This man is my master. From him I hold all that I know. He has assumed his present form to try me. For a moment, the fairies blinded me; but on touching his hand, I have regained my sight. At his bidding the waters of the river leave their bed-sweep over your vineyards—tear down your frail houses engulph flocks and herds in their stream. Tremble at his vengeance. This is he of whom I have spoken to you—the Sorcerer Leloup !”
She foamed at the mouth, as she sbrieked out rather than spoke these words. Heinrich knew enough of the abject superstition of the Rhenish peasantry_indeed, we have seen that he was by no means free from it himself—not to be surprised that the gipsy's speech should produce a strong effect upon her rude hearers. But he was not prepared for the effect which actually took place. They shuddered, the boldest among them turned pale, and he felt the arms which still held his own, relaxing their gripe tremulously, and then quite withdrawn, as if paralyzed.
She saw her advantage, and was quick as lightning to profit by it. " Hasten,” she cried to the prisoner. “ Hasten back to the river, your element, and appease the wrath of Undine, your sister, lest she revenge herself upon us for the insult offered
Heinrich did not need a second invitation, but set off at that rate which is perhaps never attained but by those rare performers who have had occasion to run for their lives. He plunged into the river, and dashed out five or six vigorous strokes in succession : then paused to take breath a moment, and looked back. He saw that the villagers, recovered from their first stupor, were in full chase ; in fact, the gipsy's statement had been too monstrous, even for their gross understandings. But it had served its turn : the rapidity of the stream had, before many seconds, carried him out of reach of their pursuit.. In an inconceivably short time, he had floated down at least half a mile, still bending with all his failing forces towards the German shore. He could observe people on the French side watching him, and he feared, far more than perishing in the stream, that some one would put off in a boat and re