The Project Gutenberg eBook of The dead tryst

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Title: The dead tryst

Author: James Grant

Release date: August 19, 2022 [eBook #68789]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: George Routledge and Sons, 1883

Credits: Al Haines









Price 2s. each, Fancy Boards.

The Romance of War
The Aide-de-Camp
The Scottish Cavalier
Jane Seton: or, the Queen's Advocate
Philip Rollo
The Black Watch
Mary of Lorraine
Oliver Ellis: or, the Fusileers
Lucy Arden: or, Hollywood Hall
Frank Hilton: or, the Queen's Own
The Yellow Frigate
Harry Ogilvie: or, the Black Dragoons
Arthur Blane
Laura Everingham: or, the Highlanders of Glenora
The Captain of the Guard
Letty Hyde's Lovers
Cavaliers of Fortune
Second to None
The Constable of France
The Phantom Regiment
The King's Own Borderers
The White Cockade
First Love and Last Love
Dick Rooney
The Girl he Married
Lady Wedderburn's Wish
Jack Manly
Only an Ensign
Adventures of Rob Roy
Under the Red Dragon
The Queen's Cadet
Shall I Win Her?
Fairer than a Fairy
One of the Six Hundred
Morley Ashton
Did She Love Him?
The Ross-shire Buffs
Six Years Ago
Vere of Ours
The Lord Hermitage
The Royal Regiment
Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders
The Cameronians
The Scots Brigade
Violet Jermyn
Jack Chaloner







On an evening in summer before the late siege of Paris, three ladies—one a matron of mature years, the other two both young and handsome girls, a brunette and a blonde—were seated in one of the lofty windows of a stately room on the first étage of the Grand Hotel Royal, which immediately overlooks the Rhine at Cologne.

The senior of these—Adelaide, Countess of Frankenburg, a woman grey-haired now, and with features somewhat of the heavy German type—had just received a letter, and was intent upon it, while her daughter Ernestine, and her orphan niece Herminia, watched her face with interest, and forgot the little Tauchnitz editions over which they had been idling.

'What does my brother Heinrich say?' asked Ernestine.

'That he has got extended leave of absence from Potsdam, and next week will arrive at Frankenburg, to spend some time with us. He brings with him a young English friend, Carl Pierrepont, an officer of his regiment. I trust, Herminia, you will receive my dear boy with all the affection he so justly merits.'

But Herminia made no reply, so the Countess repeated what she had said, and fixed her eyes steadily and inquiringly upon her. She only sighed, opened, and then tossed aside her Tauchnitz edition of an English novel. The Countess's ideas of propriety would not permit her to allow her girls to peruse any other light literature; but having an idea that a married woman might read works of a higher-flavoured nature, she sometimes read the works of MM. Dumas and De Kock, to 'keep up her French,' as she phrased it

The cousins—known as 'the Belles of Frankenburg'—were alike in stature and delicacy, but very dissimilar in style of beauty and in complexion. Herminia was dazzlingly fair, of a pure Saxon type, with hair of that lovely brown tint which seems shot with gold in the sunshine, and soft eyes of violet-blue, that seemed almost black at night, and though brown her tresses, and wondrously fair her skin, her eyelashes and eyebrows were dark, almost black; but her pretty little nose bordered rather on the retroussé.

Ernestine was a dark beauty, with black hair and clear, but thoughtful and dreamy hazel eyes, which she inherited with the blood of some Hungarian ancestor; her whole style was more classic than that of her cousin. Her nose was slightly aquiline, with dark straight eyebrows that nearly met over it, imparting a great degree of character to her face, which was suggestive of decision of mind and firmness of purpose—a little self-willed and opinionated, perhaps; for Ernestine was not without her faults. She was fond of admiration; but what pretty girl is not? She liked dress and gaiety, and would dance all night if her partners pleased her.

The Countess carefully folded her son's letter, and fixing her keen grey eyes on Herminia, said, somewhat sententiously:

'Though an old man now, the father of my Heinrich was as brave a soldier as ever trod the soil of Germany, and his name is yet venerated among the Uhlans of the Archduke; and I am proud to say, Herminia, that his son is worthy of such a father.'

'Were my cousin the Archduke himself,' said Herminia, wearily, for she was pretty well used to hear these encomiums, 'he would be totally indifferent to me.'


'Totally, I repeat. Pardon me, dear Aunt Adelaide; but he has no particular claim on my regard.'

'He is your cousin, your own blood relation—near almost as a brother!' said the Countess, impatiently.

'But still, mamma, as I have said a hundred times before, he can have no claim upon her hand,' urged Ernestine, who had not yet spoken on the subject.

'Do you, Grafine, wish to abet Herminia in her strange contumacy?' asked the Countess, severely.

'I speak but my thoughts, dearest mamma.'

'Her father, the Staats Rath, gave her away to him as a child; but you, as well as I do, know the arrangement made by our family; they were betrothed when she was in her cradle, and he a schoolboy at Bonn; and now he comes to claim her hand, in virtue of that betrothal,' added the Countess, who, though a German, had considerable nobility and dignity in her bearing and aspect.

'Such foolish arrangements may have been made long ago, Aunt Adelaide, when robber-barons lived in those ruined castles which look down from every rock upon the Rhine; but such would be absurd in these days of ours, when its waters are ploughed up by steamers, and the lurlies and elves have all been put to flight.'

'Herminia,' said the Countess, with increasing severity, 'do you revere the memory of the Baron and Privy Councillor your father?'

'I do, indeed, Aunt Adelaide; my father's memory is very dear to me, even as that of my dead mother, whom I never saw,' replied the girl, with her eyes growing moist; 'but I decline to admit the right of either to give me, while yet a helpless child, away to anyone in marriage. The idea is eccentric; it is more, it is odious and preposterous!'

'You use somewhat strong language, Grafine.'

'Surely not stronger than the situation merits?' replied Herminia, her soft voice trembling with agitation and annoyance. 'If my cousin Heinrich is unmanly enough to insist upon the fulfilment of this most absurd family compact, I shall ever deem him most unworthy of my regard, or, indeed, that of any woman!' added Herminia, whose tears now began to fall.

'Then it is your resolution to violate, to trample upon, to utterly disregard the affectionate contract made by your parents and by his?'

'But I have never seen this—this most tiresome cousin, Aunt Adelaide!'

'That has been a misfortune caused by your being educated in England, while he was at the university, and then with the army.'

'Hence he is to me a stranger, and must be greeted and received as such.'

'I think my brother Heinrich is acting foolishly in bringing the English friend (of whom he writes so frequently) to Frankenburg,' said Ernestine.

'Why?' asked the Countess.

'Because Herminia, in the very spirit of opposition, may fall in love with him.'

'My father could not have taken a surer way to make me shun and loathe my cousin, and even do something more dreadful still, than by forming this arrangement.'

'Something more dreadful still!' repeated the Countess, raising her voice, and surveying her niece through her gold eyeglass. 'In Heaven's name, what do you mean, Herminia?'

'By compelling me to marry a man I don't love; for what happiness could follow a union with a total stranger? Besides, I don't want to marry.'

'Your own cousin a stranger?' persisted the Countess. 'But though we have discussed this subject a thousand times before, there is one feature in it to which I have never referred, and which, consequently, will be new to you.'

'I am glad to hear that,' replied the contumacious little beauty, shrugging her pretty shoulders and almost yawning.

'I mean a clause in your father's will, by which, if you do not marry our Heinrich, your fortune will be divided between him and your cousin Ernestine,—leaving you, in fact, without a silver groschen.'

'I would not have a kreutzer of it—neither, I am sure, would Heinrich!' exclaimed Ernestine, emphatically.

'Neither of you would be consulted in the matter. But now, Herminia, will you brave the prospect of poverty—a life of utter dependence—go back to England as a governess, perhaps?'

'Yes,' said the girl proudly; 'I would brave anything.'

'You love some one else!' exclaimed her aunt.

'I have never said so,' replied Herminia, with a perceptible tremor in her sweet voice; 'but no doubt it is this fortune of which you speak that Heinrich wants.'

'Did he want it when you were in your cradle, and he was carrying his satchel at Bonn?'

'I should think not; but he may want it now, after some years spent in the army.'

'Shame! you forget yourself, Herminia—forget that you speak of your own cousin—of my son. It is much more likely that some adventurous friend, some acquaintance, whom you have picked up here is thinking of your fortune, than my dear Heinrich.'

The old lady's eyes were actually filled with tears, and after a pause she said:

'I regret, Herminia, that I ever sent you to England.'

'Why, dearest aunt?'

'Because those English girls, your school companions there, have indoctrinated you with preposterous ideas of female independence—right of choice, and so forth; and now that I think of it, who is that gentleman with whom you waltz so frequently?'

'Waltz, aunt?' said the girl, in a low voice.

'And who gave you, last night, that rose which you now wear in your breast?'

'Last night, aunt?' faltered Herminia, now blushing deeply, while Ernestine laughed mischievously.

'Don't repeat my words, please. Yes, last night, when the band of the Uhlans was playing in the garden of the Prinz Carl?'

'Herr Ludwig Mansfeld.'

'And how came you to know him?' asked the Countess, severely, adding, 'I hope he is not an officer from the barracks?'

(Such dreadful fellows 'those officers from the barracks' seem to be all the world over, from Canterbury to Cabul!)

'I met him first at a ball in the Kaiserlicher Hof, where the Master of the Ceremonies introduced him to me when you were playing cards in the ante-room. We dance frequently; and the introduction was unnecessary, according to our German ideas.'


'Is there any harm in all that when he dances so delightfully?

'And oh, how handsome he is!' exclaimed Ernestine.

'I fear some harm has been done already; and I do not think that any gentleman should dance with a young lady before he has obtained the permission of her chaperone.'

There was now a pause, after which the Countess said:

'The Count urges our return before Heinrich arrives; so we shall take the train to Aix-la-Chapelle to-morrow.'

'So very soon, aunt?' said Herminia, growing pale.

'My dear, I am sorry to spoil your pleasure here; but to-morrow morning we go,' said the Countess, rising haughtily; 'come with me, Ernestine. I need your assistance with my correspondence.'

The mother and daughter swept out of the room, their dresses—the rustling moiré of the Countess and the maize-coloured silk of Ernestine—gliding noiselessly over the varnished floor, and Herminia was left to her own sad reflections.

'Ich bin sehr böse!' (I am very angry) she heard the Countess exclaim, as the door closed, and then she heard her cousin make some laughing response.

'How can Ernestine be so heartless?' thought the girl; 'but, alas! she knows not what love is! To-morrow,' she exclaimed aloud—'to-morrow, I shall lose him, and perhaps for ever, my dear, dear Ludwig!'

Her handsome eyes were now welling over with hot, salt tears. She had her arms above her head, with her white slender fingers interlaced amid the coils of her beautiful brown hair; her eyes were cast mournfully upward; then she tore her fairy fingers asunder with a sob in her throat and let her hands drop by her side as she sank back in her chair.

'Would to Heaven that I had never known him—that we had never, never come to Cologne,' she exclaimed.

She felt that she must see Ludwig once again; but this dreadful cousin, how was he to be avoided?

These two ideas filled her whole soul as she sat, silent and motionless, looking out on the view that lay before the hotel windows: the broad waters of the famous Rhine, shining redly in the light of the setting sun, covered with sailing vessels and steamers shooting to and fro, its great pontoon bridge, through which the current surged, the wilderness of roofs that formed the city—that Rome of the north which Petrarch apostrophized to Colonna—stretching far away, with the great masses of the unfinished cathedral, the dome of St. Gereon, with its three galleries, and the stately tower of St. Cunibert rising high in the air and casting mighty shadows eastward. But Herminia surveyed them all as one who was in a dream, and kept repeating to herself, as she drew the rose from her breast and pressed it to her trembling lips with all a young girl's fervour:

'Yes—yes—I must see him once again, and then all will be over—over for ever!'

She glanced at her watch, took her hat and gloves from a console table close by, and hastily and noiselessly quitted the room. Descending the great staircase of the hotel, she issued into the beautiful garden attached to it, and proceeded at once to a certain fountain, near which a gentleman was lingering. He hurried towards her, and took both her tremulous little hands within his own. He gazed tenderly into her eyes, and then scanned the windows of the hotel. Alas! too many overlooked them, so the longed-for kiss was neither given nor taken; and neither knew that at this very time, they were both seen by the Countess and the laughing Ernestine.

Though in plain clothes, attired as a civilian, the soldier-like air of Ludwig Mansfeld would not conceal. He was dark-complexioned, especially for a German, with straight handsome features. He was closely shaven, all save a thick moustache, and he had tender brown eyes—tender, at least, when they looked into those of Herminia, who was now weeping freely.

'Tears?' said he, inquiringly.

'Yes, Ludwig, tears; I have much reason for them.'

'How, darling?

'We leave Cologne to-morrow.'

'Ah! why so soon?'

'It is the resolve of my aunt.'

'And for where, darling?'


Her lover's features brightened as she said this.

'Well, my own one, I shall be there in a few days,' he whispered cheerfully; 'and if we are prudent, and watch well our opportunities, it will indeed be a very remarkable thing if we don't meet as often as we may desire.'

'But my cousin—this most odious fiancé—Heinrich von Frankenburg, joins us in a week from Potsdam, where, I understand, his regiment is stationed.'

'I have seen Frankenburg, and know that he has the reputation of being dangerously handsome; but I thought he was on leave of absence?'

'So he has been. As for Aunt Adelaide, she is a tyrant, and I do believe would keep me in pinafores, if she could!' said Herminia bitterly.

'Herminia, dearest,' said the young man, while gazing at her lovingly, earnestly, and very keenly, 'you have never seen this wondrous cousin, to whom your family wish to assign you like a bale of goods?'

'Oh, never even once, Ludwig; and to me he is an object of abhorrence!' she exclaimed passionately.

'Excuse me, my love,' said Ludwig sadly; 'but I have a strange foreboding—a presentiment which comes to me unbidden, and seems to say that when you do see him, your present abhorrence may pass away, and—and a tender emotion take its place. The propinquity and charms given to a cousin are perilous for a secret lover like me.'

Herminia now wept bitterly.

'Ludwig, I could quarrel with you for such a cruel suspicion,' she sobbed out, 'but that we are, I fear me, now speaking together for the—the—the last time,' and, heedless of who might see the action, in the abandonment of her great grief, her head sank on his shoulder, and she nestled her sweet face in his neck.

'Your tears, my own darling,' said he, 'are a rebuke, and more than a sufficient rebuke, for my suspicion; and bitter, indeed, would this parting-time have been to me, but for the knowledge—the sure conviction—that, even if a thousand cousins came, still we shall meet at Aix.'

Herminia shook her head mournfully, and said, 'I pray to Heaven that it may be so, and with the hope these words inspire, I must now, dear, dear Ludwig, say—farewell!'

And so they parted, with hearts that doubtless were aching sorely, for their future seemed dark and dubious. Yet he seemed more hopeful than her. He kissed her very tenderly, and, though his naturally brown cheek looked pale, she thought he smiled at their temporary separation—if temporary it was to be—more than she could account for.

But doubtless, lover-like, he had some bold plan in view.

'Yet it was a sad, sad smile my darling gave me,' thought the girl, as, with her veil closely drawn, she slowly and wearily ascended the great oak staircase to the étage off which her bed-room opened; 'but no doubt he only thought of cheering me.'

Next morning the Countess's carriage took the trio to the Eisenbahnhof for Aix-la-Chapelle; and as Herminia from the swift-speeding train looked back to the sinking spires of Cologne, a curtain seemed to have fallen between her past and present existence.

And oh! how weary was the night that followed, when tossing restlessly, defiantly, and petulantly on her laced pillow, she lay in broken slumber, with tears matting her long and lovely eyelashes.



A week after this, a drochski deposited a smart-looking young officer, in the uniform of the 95th Thuringian regiment—blue with red facings and silver epaulettes, spike-helmet and black belt—at the entrance of the Pariser Hof of Cologne, a comfortable and moderate hotel, suitable to that style of economy continental military men are usually constrained to practise.

Though wearing the well-known uniform of the Prussian army, it was impossible not to recognize in the new arrival, as he sprang lightly up the steps of the hotel, that he was an Englishman, a genuine Briton, for he was the Carl Pierrepont mentioned by young Frankenburg in his letter to the Countess. Carl—or Charlie, as he was known when he was wont to hold his wicket in the playing-grounds of Rugby against the best bowler in the three hundred, and to con his studies in the white brick Tudor school-house, or in the long avenue called Addison's Walk—was a great favourite with all his regiment, and already had the honour of being specially noticed on parade by our Princess Royal when her husband was reviewing the Prussian troops, and of receiving from his hand the much-coveted Iron Cross when almost in his boyhood.

One great cause, perhaps, of Charlie's popularity among the Thuringians was, that as an Englishman he was destitute of that aristocratic hauteur which causes the well-born German officer to regard all under his command as an inferior order of beings, a style of bearing and sentiment unknown alike in the armies of Britain and France.

His face was fair, his features handsome, and he was verging on thirty years of age. His character, like his figure, was fully developed and formed; the expression of his eyes betokened intelligence and promise; while his lithe and manly form had all that muscular strength and activity that women often prefer to intellect in men, and which is frequently the result of the out-door sports in the playgrounds of Rugby, Eton, and Harrow, a portion of our English system of education.

Though the son of a fox-hunting Warwickshire squire, who knew every cover in Stoneleigh, the Brailes, and the Edgehills, the head of an old but certainly embarrassed family, so far as mortgages and so forth went, he was barely deemed among the wohlgeborn, according to the Prussian standard; and poor Charlie had nothing as yet but his epaulettes and sword, his pay as a soldier of Fortune, with the privileges usually accorded to Continental officers, such as going everywhere at half-price in virtue of their being in uniform—privileges which ours would decline 'with thanks.'

Charlie Pierrepont was everywhere a great favourite with the other sex; and perhaps there was no species of flirtation in which he was not a skilled hand, and he had carefully studied the whole 'scale of familiarities, the gamut of love,' as he was wont to call it, from a touch of the hand or the elevation of an eyebrow, upward, to the extremity of tenderness; and thus much of his time had been passed pleasantly for some ten years in every garrison town between the Elbe and the Vistula; but he had always come off scot-free, for he was possessed, as we have said, of but his epaulettes and sword, while many of the girls he met were as finished flirts as himself; and some, after a short acquaintance, would show their hands with a laugh, and, as it were, throw up their cards.

'Kellner! let me have a room on the lowest étage that is unoccupied,' said he, as his portmanteaus were carried in by the hausknecht.

'Yes, mein Herr,' replied the oberkellner, or head-waiter.

'Is the young Count Von Frankenburg here—an officer of the Thuringians?'

'Yes; he is now at the table d'hôte. The bell has just rung, so mein Herr is exactly in time for dinner.'

'Very good.'

'This way, mein Herr,' said the waiter, bowing; 'but, though in the Prussian uniform, I think the Herr is an Englishman.'

'How do you know that I am so?'

'Because I myself am one, and I recognized you by your voice.'

And, sooth to say, Charlie was very unlike a German in that respect, and had the pleasantly modulated voice of a well-trained English gentleman, and few voices are more agreeable to listen to.

He entered the stately speise-saal, or dining-hall of the hotel, where the landlord, in the kindly German fashion, sat at the head of the table, presiding over all his guests, more than a hundred in number, and already the waiters were busy. A single glance showed Pierrepont where his comrade sat—a smart and handsome young officer in undress uniform, who was caressing a dark moustache, and making himself agreeable to a lady beside him. He rose and beckoned to the new arrival.

'Welcome to Cologne, Carl!'

'Thanks, Heinrich. How are you?'

They shook hands simply, as Charlie had a genuine English repugnance to salute a man in the German fashion on the cheek. He then took the chair which his friend, the Count, had reversed and placed against the table, for service beside his own.

'Kellner! die speise-karte!' The wine card was called for next, and the serious business of the meal began, amid all that noise and hubbub peculiar to a German table d'hôte, where Counts and Barons, with ribbons and orders, may be seen handling their knives and forks like English ploughmen, and pretty frauleins tugging away at chicken bones with the whitest of teeth, and the most perfect air of self-possession. The first conversation was, of course, about the expected war concerning the Spanish succession, the political sketches in the Kladderadatch, the official accounts in the Staats Anzeiger; how all Paris was brimming over with enthusiasm, rage, and vengeance; that crowds were always in the streets shouting, 'Down with Prussia!' 'To the Rhine! to the Rhine!' 'To Berlin!' How the 'Marseillaise' was being sung, and the hotel of the Prussian ambassador was only saved from total destruction by the intervention of the gendarmerie; for the time had now come when the Prussians spoke exultingly of Leipzig, even as the French did of Jena, and also raised the cry of 'To the Rhine!' while the national songs of the Fatherland were constantly sung in hoarse but martial chorus.

Dinner over, the lighted candles came, as a hint for the ladies to retire, and rising like a covey of partridges they withdrew. The cloth was removed, and fresh bottles of wine, or lager-beer, with tobacco and cigars, were provided on all hands, and the conversation became more general, and, if possible, more noisy than before.

As the subject of the coming war was discussed, many eyes were turned to the two friends in the uniform of the 95th Thuringians, for both seemed gentlemen and soldiers, and no troops in the world look more like our own in bearing, and in firm, manly physique, than the Prussians. Charlie Pierrepont had acquired many of the ways of the latter, and would join, when on the march, 'Was is des Deutschen Vaterland,' as lustily as if his father had been some Rhenish Baron, and not a hearty Warwickshire squire.

'I am already sick of this subject of the war,' said Charlie, as he lingered over a cigar; 'one hears so much of it everywhere. By the way, have you yet seen your fair cousin, Heinrich?'


'And found her charming?'

'Beyond my fondest hopes; but she knew not that I had seen her, nor, in truth, did I care much to intrude upon her.'

'Intrude!—upon your intended?'

'That is the word,' said the Count, with a strange smile.

'Why, Herr Graf?'

'Don't "Herr Graf" me. Call me Heinrich.'


'A deuced fellow, named Ludwig Mansfeld (I found it so in the Fremden Buch, at the Grand Hotel), has cut me out—quite.'

'Have him out in another fashion, and I am the man to measure the ground for you.'

'Thanks, Carl, but I would rather fire at my own figure in a mirror,' said Frankenburg, laughing.

'You are sure your friends expect me at the Schloss?'

'Yes, at Frankenburg; they are familiar with your name there. I have written so often of you to Ernestine, my sister.'

'She was educated in England, I believe?'

'With Herminia at the west end of London; so you and she will get on famously together. As you are a musician, you will like her immensely, Carl.'

'I have no doubt of that.'

Little indeed could poor Charlie Pierrepont foresee all Ernestine was yet to be to him.

'I am a bad fellow, I fear,' said the Count reflectively; 'I have trifled with too many women in my time, and fear that I am not worthy of this sweet cousin of mine, even if she would have me.'

'Nay, nay, Heinrich——'

'Somebody writes, that "if we were all judged by our deservings, there is scarcely a man on earth would find a woman bad enough for him."'

'That is taking a low estimate of mankind in general.'

'And of the 95th Thuringians in particular,' added the young Count, laughing; 'to-morrow we shall start for Frankenburg in an open britzka—it is only twenty-five miles from this; and now, one bottle more of St. Julian, and then we shall go and see the girls at the gardens of the Prinz Carl.'

'Half German and half French—some of them are, no doubt, very pretty.'

'Nay, I hope they are wholly German now. It was in those gardens I first met my beautiful cousin, with that devil of a fellow, who, somehow, got introduced to her. Let us go then; the band of the 76th Hanoverians plays there every evening. This time to-morrow will find us at dear old Frankenburg, where, as I shall have the girl all to myself, I hope to turn the flank of this Herr Mansfeld. I am in love with my cousin—actually in love with her at last.'

'My simple comrade, of what are you talking? Is this any age of the world in which to wear your heart upon your sleeve? Is this fellow Mansfeld good-looking?'

'Rather,' said the Count, twirling the points of his moustaches, and eyeing himself complacently in the depths of a great mirror opposite; 'but I wish I had your general success, Carl.'

'In what—I took honours in nothing at dear old Rugby.'

'Indeed—not even in flirtation?'

'In that I might have had the golden medal, had golden medals been given for such excellence.'

They assumed their spike helmets and swords, which the Prussian officers wear through a perforation in the left skirt, as their belt is worn under the coat, and thus bantering each other, cigar in mouth and arm-in-arm, they proceeded laughingly towards the crowded gardens of the Prinz Carl Hotel.

Next day saw them off for Frankenburg in an open britzka. The day was a lovely one in summer, and the scenery around them grand. Charlie, of course, apostrophized the Rhine, and quoted Byron. They passed Düren and the valley of the Ruhr, with the picturesque hamlet of Riedeggen perched on its lofty rock; Merodé, the cradle of the Merodeur; industrious Stolberg, with its château crowning a hill, and the beautiful wood named the Reichswald.

Young Frankenburg was in excellent spirits, and bantered the driver, calling him schwager (brother-in-law), a singular title for post-boys, and so forth, the origin of which is unknown. He was rather too liberal to him in the matter of trinkgeld (drink money); thus the britzka was driven at a thundering rate down that basin of beautiful hills which surround Aix, while Heinrich waved his forage-cap, and sung verses from the war-song of Arndt:

'My own Fatherland, my brave Germany on!
    We'll sing them a terrible strain.
For what ages ago, their vile policy won—
    Of Strasburg, of Metz, and Lorraine.
They shall hand it all back to the uttermost mite,
Since for life or for death they compel us to fight.
To shout, "To the Rhine, to the Rhine, and advance!
All Germany onward, and march into France!"'



A week had passed away at Frankenburg, and the subject of the young Count's return—that event so dreaded by poor Herminia, from motives of delicacy, perhaps—had not been resumed, till the evening which saw him and his comrade driving through the beautiful scenery just referred to.

Dinner had been delayed, as the Count had telegraphed from the Pariser Hof that he was coming, and both the young ladies had made most careful toilettes, and perhaps sorely tried the temper of their attendants—Herminia, to please her watchful and somewhat suspicious aunt; Ernestine to please herself, and perhaps with a secret desire to please her brother's boasted friend, who, being an Englishman, would, she feared, be rather critical and fastidious.

And still further to achieve the laudable end of subduing him, she was now at her piano, practising sundry vapid fashionable songs which she had learned in England, just as our English girls strum German and Italian, learned, perhaps, at second hand from some poor needy governess. Most warmly had Heinrich written to her again and again about his English comrade, who had once actually fought a duel for him at Altona, when he was too ill to fight for himself, so Ernestine was all anxiety to know, receive, and thank him; for she doted on Heinrich, her only brother, as a loving, tender, and devoted sister alone can dote.

During all the past week, Herminia had but one thought, especially when riding, driving, or walking abroad. Her lover had confidently promised to see her again, and to follow her to Frankenburg; but she had seen nothing of him, and no letter or note, however brief, had reached her.

Why was this? She could find no answer in her heart, and doubt and anxiety cost her many tears in secret.

There had been great bustle and anticipation all day long in the somewhat secluded mansion in consequence of the expected arrival of the young Herr Graf and his friend. The family were to be 'not at home' to any visitors. Already Grunthal, Rheinburg, and sundry other Grafs had called in their ramshackle old-fashioned coaches and droschkies, covered with coats-of-arms exhibiting the usual German infinity of quarterings; and certain officials of Aix-la-Chapelle, with their wives, who, like other wives all over Germany, insisted upon taking the titles of their husbands' occupation, had been day after day leaving their cards, having heard that 'the Belles of Frankenburg had returned;' but now all were to be denied, and this afternoon was to be devoted to the only son of the house.

The Countess, who, though a modern lady of fashion, requiring her novels, cushions, Spitz lap-dog in a basket, and the Kladderadatch to get through the day, was nevertheless, on the other hand, as thrifty a German housewife as any of the old school, had bustled about overseeing the culinary preparations, while her husband, Count Ulrich, who was passionately addicted to the pleasures of the chase, spent only half that day in the woods, and was now, with a huge pipe (having a china bowl and tassel) in his mouth, watching, like a sentinel, from a terrace before the drawing-room windows, the road that wound away towards Aix-la-Chapelle.

The once smart officer of Uhlans, who had ridden on old Blucher's staff at Waterloo, on that eventful day when the 'Iron Duke' wept with joy to hear the boom of the Prussian cannon—the smart Lancer, of whom the Countess had boasted at the Grand Hotel, was somewhat obese now. He was, in fact, a very stout, bald-headed, and rather coarsely featured old Teuton, with a red ribbon (of course) at his button-hole, and a thick plain hoop on his marital finger, as all married men wear one in Germany.

He had been kept uninformed, so far as Herminia knew, of her aversion to his son, and her very decided preference for a certain obscure Herr Mansfeld, whose image was rising painfully before her, as she, too, from time to time, looked down on the distant view, to where the spires of the Dom Kirche of Aix rose darkly up amid the ruddy haze of evening.

The Countess could detect in the face and deportment of her niece that which the preoccupied or uninformed Count did not. It was but too evident that Herminia had passed a disturbed night, a restless and feverish day. Indeed, Ernestine admitted that she had heard her sighing and moaning in her sleep, and Herminia had quitted her couch that morning resolving to appeal to the chivalry, the manhood, the charity, and honour of her cousin to release her from the yoke, the thraldom his family had placed upon her, even with the loss of her fortune.

Ignorant of this resolution, the Countess took her niece's passive hand—and a lovely little hand it was—in hers, and said kindly but firmly—

'Meine liebe, I trust that when our dear Heinrich arrives, you will not exhibit any unpleasant coldness towards him.'

'Can you expect me to exhibit warmth? Is he not an utter stranger save by name? Would warmth in me be modest or becoming, aunt? Besides——' she paused, for tears choked her utterance.

'Do not be alarmed, mamma,' said Ernestine, as she looked laughingly back from her seat at the piano; 'I know our Heinrich to be so handsome and winning, that he will soon obliterate all recollection of our friend at the Grand Hotel.'

'Ernestine,' said Herminia reproachfully, while she glanced nervously at the portly figure of her uncle, who was still watching the Aix road from the lofty terrace, where the box-trees were cut into strange and fantastic shapes, like lions and egg-cups, and where some stately peacocks strutted to and fro.

Frankenburg is situated on the summit of a tall rock that towers above the line of the Antwerp railway. The actual castle is a ruined and ivy-mantled tower of unknown, but fabulous, antiquity, as it is actually averred to have been a hunting seat of Charlemagne. A more modern edifice has been engrafted on it, and this formed at the time the residence of the Count's family. It had all the usual comforts of a fashionable German household; but there was still attached to it a banqueting-hall of the seventeenth century—the pride of Count Ulrich's heart—with its black oak roof, its rows of deer skulls and antlers, with all the implements for fishing, shooting, and hunting, hung upon the walls, pell-mell with fragments of armour and weapons of every kind, from the great glaives of the middle ages to muskets and sabres gleaned up by the Count at Ligny and Waterloo.

And there, at Christmas time, a tall fir-tree from the Reichswald; covered with toys and cakes, grotesque masks, papier-maché dolls, candles and shining lights, gladdened the hearts of the little tenantry, who were cuddled and kissed up and down by the hearty old Baron acting Father Christmas, with a mighty white beard, a cowl, and long wand; while Ernestine and Herminia glided about like good fairies, dispensing viands and wine to the sturdy Teutons and their blooming fraus, when the trees of the Reichswald were leafless and bare, and the branches glittered like silver and crystal in the frostwork, and the first snowdrops of the season were peeping up in sheltered spots, and the brown stacks of the last harvest were mantled with snow.

And on these annual festive occasions there was seen the Countess Adelaide, as lively and jovial at fifty, if not so pretty, as she was at fifteen. There, too, were the grim ancestry, the men and women of other days and years, looking down from their garlanded frames, in ruffs and stomachers, in breastplates or fardingales, just as Hans Holbein, Rubens, and others had depicted them, and looking as demure as if they had never flirted, squeezed hands under the tablecloth, known the use of the mistletoe, or been like other folks 'world without end.'

'Hoch! hoch! Gott in Himmel! here they come—here is our dear boy at last!' exclaimed the Count, clapping his fat pudgy hands, as the open britzka, drawn by a pair of sparkling bays, came suddenly in sight, with two officers in blue uniforms occupying the back seat. One of these—Heinrich, no doubt—was waving his forage-cap, and the vehicle was driven straight to the grand approach. The enthusiasm of the old veteran of Waterloo swelling up in his breast when he saw the uniform of the 95th, for

'He thought of the days that had long since gone by,
    When his spirit was bold and his courage was high.'

Herminia grew deadly pale, and took advantage of the Countess hurrying out upon the terrace to retire to her own room, whither, however, her watchful aunt almost immediately followed her.

'Dearest Aunt Adelaide, oh! spare me this great mortification!' intreated the trembling girl.

'Spare you?' repeated her aunt, now seriously angry, in expectation of a public scene before Charlie Pierrepont, a stranger.

'Yes, I implore you to spare me the horror of this meeting. Oh, Ludwig!' she moaned in her heart, 'my own Ludwig!'

'I do not know whether you are most weak or defiant,' replied her aunt. 'I give you a quarter of an hour to recover your composure and to make your appearance properly in the drawing-room, with such a bearing as will not be an insult to my son, to the memory of your father, and our whole family.'

And with these words the Countess swept haughtily away.

Herminia bathed her face and hands with eau-de-cologne and water, gave a finishing touch to her hair, kissed the envelope which contained the now dry and faded leaves of Ludwig's rose, placed it in her soft white bosom as a charm to strengthen her for the purpose she had in hand, and descended noiselessly to the drawing-room, when the sound of several voices, laughing loudly, jarred sorely on her ears and excited nerves.

She entered with her heavy eyelids drooping, and advanced with her gaze bent on the oak planks of the polished floor; then she shuddered as some one approached and took her unresisting hand.

'Herminia, dearest, look up! look upon me!' said a familiar voice.

'Ludwig! my own Ludwig!' she exclaimed in astonishment—almost terror, to see him there, and in the uniform of the Thuringians, as he said—

'And now, cousin, let me introduce you to my dear friend, Herr Carl Pierrepont of ours.'

'Ludwig?' said the thoroughly bewildered girl.

'No Ludwig at all,' he replied, laughing, and embracing her; 'but your own cousin, my belle—Heinrich of Frankenburg.'

'Aunt Adelaide!—Ernestine!—what does all this mean?'

'It means, my dear child,' said the Countess, laughing heartily at her niece's perplexity; 'it means that it was all a plot of Ernestine's and Heinrich's, too. They had early learned your repugnance to the plan of betrothal, when you were too young to consent or refuse, and we all saw the folly of a constraint that seemed so heart-sickening to you. Thus we arranged that you should meet him as a stranger under an assumed name. You have met, and know and love each other, so the tie of that love alone binds you now.'

'Oh, Ernestine, my sweet cousin, forgive and forget my reproaches!' exclaimed the blushing and trembling, but happy girl, as she laid her head on the bosom of the beautiful brunette, who laughed and kissed her, fondling her as if she were a child.

'Well, Carl,' said Heinrich, 'what do you think of all this?'

'That I wish you every joy; but I must own, that when proposing to "have out" this Herr Mansfeld, your reply about shooting at yourself in a mirror puzzled me,' said Pierrepont, laughing heartily at the whole situation, and enchanted with the happy scene amid which he was introduced to two such beautiful girls as the famous Belles of Frankenburg.

But now the bell clanged for dinner. The Countess took his arm, the Count leading with his niece, Heinrich and his sister following, all laughter and smiles.

The only silent one there was the radiant Herminia, who had been, as her affianced said, 'so pleasantly tricked.'



That night, at the very time the three gentlemen were in the smoking-room busy with their china-bowled pipes, and with silver tankards of beer before them—Heinrich full of happy dreams about his fair-haired cousin and the trick they had played her; the old Count full of memories of Waterloo and the coming war, French insolence, the Vaterland, and all the rest of it; Charlie thinking how divinely Ernestine sang and played, how sweet her downcast lashes looked, how bright her upward glances, how lovely were the white hands that wandered over the ivory keys, and made the said keys look very dark and yellow by comparison, and while to him and Heinrich it seemed that life at Frankenburg would be almost insupportable without the two 'belles' thereof. While all this was being thought of in the smoking-room, we say, the two young ladies were comparing their notes in their mutual dressing-room before retiring for the night to their beds—those most uncomfortable couches which, in 'the Vaterland,' are mere wooden boxes with pillows half-way down, and so arranged that one can neither sit nor lie at full length therein.

That Charlie was handsome, agreeable, pleasant, and so forth, was voted and carried nem. con., and Ernestine was full of fun and pleasure at the success of her scheme—for with her it originated—for luring Herminia into love with her brother by having him introduced to her as a stranger.

'But oh, Herminia!' she exclaimed, 'to think of you getting the start of me!'

'In what way?' asked Herminia, putting the whitest of feet into the daintiest of slippers.

'In getting engaged first; it is most unkind!' continued Ernestine, laughing, as she let down the masses of her dark silky hair.

'You forget, dear cousin, that I was engaged when in my cradle or berceaunette.'

Then the two girls, now nearly half-undressed, laughed as only young and happy girls can laugh, and with two snowy arms upheld, and dimpled elbows shown, Ernestine went on brushing out that thick, dark silky hair of hers.

'I declare, Herminia, I do think I am pretty,' said she, suddenly pausing and surveying herself in her laced night-robe in the long cheval glass.

'You are too beautiful not to be quite aware of it,' replied Herminia.

'I wonder if Carl Pierrepont admired me?'


'Because—I should like him to do so.'

'Who could fail to admire you?' responded the happy Herminia.

'How sweetly he sang that song with me.'

'Heinrich tells me he is poor,' was the suggestive remark of Herminia.

'Alas!' after a pause, the former said, smiling.

'Herr Pierrepont scarcely took his gaze off you all the night; when you sang alone he seemed entranced, and when with you, in those duets, his voice became tender and tremulous.'

'Herminia, do you really think so, or do you jest?'

'I do not jest; hence my suggestion about his being poor, for that man is loving you at first sight.'

'Your own sudden happiness, and the revulsion of feeling consequent to the great dénouement of to-day, lead you to think so,' replied Ernestine, her smile brightening nevertheless, for she liked the idea.

'Nay, nay, his visit is to last some time; and time will prove that I am right,' persisted Herminia, twisting up her coils of golden brown hair.

Ernestine sat for a time toying with a velvet slipper half on and half off her pretty foot, and then suddenly she said—

'Oh, Herminia, how can such a man care for me?'

'Why not, cousin dear? who would not, or could not, fail to care for you?'

'But he seems so proud and cold, and so very English.'

'You quite mistake, and only wish to hear me contradict you. He is much less so than your special admirer, Baron Grünthal, the Director of the Upper Consistorial Court.'

'A hideous old frump!' said Ernestine, tossing her head.

'Old! He is only forty.'

'But that is more than twice my age. My husband must be young and handsome.'

'Like Carl Pierrepont?'

'Yes, like Carl Pierrepont.'

'He certainly seems to have impressed you,' said Herminia.

'You forget how often and how much Heinrich has written of him in his letters to me. He seems quite like an old friend. How strange it would be,' continued the girl, while a dreamy expression stole into her beautiful dark eyes, as she sat with her slender fingers interlaced over her knees, 'how very strange it would, if in him I should have met—met——'

'What, cousin?

'My fate.'

'Let him take heed, that, in meeting you, he has not met with his own,' said Herminia merrily.

'I have been longing to go to a wedding, and yours more than all, dear Herminia; for being aware of your betrothal, it was one to which I always looked forward. I shall be one of the bridesmaids, of course; and the two daughters of the Justiz-rath, and the two girls from Rheinberg, though their toilettes are odious, and Hermangilda's hair is always muffled up like a mop.'

'A golden mop, though; but, dearest cousin, how your tongue does run on! Does it never occur to you that no marriage can take place with this French war—oh, meine Gott!—before us?'

And her eyes of violet blue suddenly filled with tears as she spoke, as vague images of death and battle rose before her.

'Forgive me, Herminia. Yet I was not jesting.'

'Forgive you, dear? Yes. I may as well do so,' replied the other girl, kissing her cousin on both cheeks; 'for to you and aunt I owe the love that Heinrich bears me—the love that I bear him.'

'And which Herr Mansfeld so nearly carried off!'

'And now, as we have our prayer's to say, good-night.'

Herminia was right; the girl, indeed, a close observer, was seldom wrong in her deductions, for 'Herr Carl Pierrepont' was hopelessly smitten at last by Ernestine, who, like the lively blonde, her cousin, was rich in those charms, and mere than all, those pretty mannerisms, or tricks of women, that win and secure a man's love for ever.

Charlie was neither proud nor reserved—only a little shy at first; he had been engaged in many affaires du coeur, but a genuine attack of the tender passion was new to him. He soon found himself regularly installed and adopted, an ami du maison, with this delightful family at Frankenburg. As an Englishman, his natural love of hunting, shooting, and fishing won him the friendship of the old Count, with whom he drank as many flasks of Rhine wine and jugs of beer as he wished; but he had one blot in the eyes of the latter—he could never take cordially to saur kraut.

He was a prime favourite with the Countess from his general bonhommie of manner; and with Ernestine—ah! well, with Ernestine—he speedily became more of a favourite than the girl would have dared to acknowledge even to herself.

Society at Frankenburg was narrow and monotonous; most of the visitors who came, especially Baron Grünthal and the Justiz-rath, spoke only of politics, of Bismarck's plans, and the coming war, which did not interest the ladies, save in so far as the 95th Thuringians were concerned.

The days were devoted to rides and rambles amid the beautiful scenery around the old Schloss; the evenings to music, to singing, and frequently to dancing when the daughters of the Justiz-rath, or those of Baron Rhineberg, were present; and then our two 95th men were always in full uniform, à la Prussien; and the ladies were all unanimous that Charlie looked so handsome.

Those epaulettes! those epaulettes! To many a young English officer the pride and glory of wearing them was only secondary to the kiss of the first girl he loved; and where are they now?

So Charlie was proud of his epaulettes.

Heinrich had fairly won his lovely cousin—under 'false colours,' certainly; but, nevertheless, he had won her; perhaps, from the girl's peculiar temperament and pride, he might never have done so otherwise; but having so won her, he was compelled to be thankful, for with this odious French war on the tapis—a war which, but for his love, he would have hailed with genuine German ardour, and the 95th under 'orders of readiness' for the Rhine—marriage, as Herminia herself had said, was not to be thought of: so they had but to trust to time and wait.

The Countess being always busy about the management of her household, the Count having frequently to visit Aix about a lawsuit in one of the courts there, and Heinrich being usually much with his fiancée, threw Charlie and the young Grafine so much together that their hearts were hopelessly entangled; yet no word of love escaped the latter: he knew too well his lack of civil rank, and how many, or rather how few, kreutzers he had per diem as a Prussian lieutenant of infantry. He could but abandon himself to the witchery of her society, to dream of the joy of loving and being loved by her, and drift away on the tide, too well aware that the charm of such a life and the tender influences of such society could not last for ever.

With all their exalted and somewhat absurd ideas of their own family, their rank and antiquity, the household of the Count and Countess Von Frankenburg was a homely and kindly one; and, after his garrison life, there was, to Charlie, a wonderful charm in accompanying the cousins, Ernestine especially, to see the plough and carriage horses taken to water at a certain pond below the old Schloss, to feed the peacocks on the terrace, to throw corn to the hens, and watch them picking and pecking between the stones in the yard at the home farm.

And Ernestine was to him the Eve of this Eden!

But for the soft and gentle influences under which Charlie and his friend were at Frankenburg, they would certainly, like Prussian officers in general (though gaming is strictly forbidden in the army), have spent many an hour at the New Redoute, or Gaming House, in the Comphausbad-Strasse, where games of hazard, rouge-et-noir, roulette, and so forth, are played from morning till midnight.

In lieu of this dissipation, they had quiet walks in the woods or visits to old ruins in the neighbourhood; and Ernestine, who was German enough to have a strong love of the mystic, the ethereal, and the romantic, and a desire to dabble with the unseen world, told Charlie many a strange weird story; and though with all an Englishman's mistrust of such things, it was impossible not to be charmed by her earnestness, the modulation of her voice, the bright expression of the dilated hazel eye, and the occasional but perfectly innocent pressure of her pretty hand upon his arm, when she sought to impress him by some remarkable episode.

In the old ivied tower at Frankenburg she showed him the window of the room in which the third wife of Charlemagne, Fastrada, daughter of Count Raoul, died, while the Emperor was absent at Frankfort; and told how he caused her body, which was so fair and beautiful, to the end that it might never decay, to be enclosed in a coffin of the purest crystal, which he kept in that chamber, and he never quitted it by day or by night, neglecting his empire and government, and forgetting all the concerns of war or peace, till Turpin the Wise resolved to cure him.

Watching his opportunity, while the Emperor slept, he opened the coffin, and took the golden wedding-ring from the finger of Fastrada, and cast it into the lake below the castle, and thus broke Charles' spell of sorrow. From that day the great lake into which the magic ring was cast, and which quite surrounded the Schloss, began to shrink, and nothing of it remained but the tiny horse-pond already mentioned.

And while she was telling this legend, a little grey owl sat in the window of the ruin, winking and blinking in the sunshine, as if he was weary of having heard the story so often.

The ruin, too, was haunted by the spectre of a former Count of Frankenburg, who, resolving to get rid of his Countess, to the end that he might marry again, invited her to share a dish of love-apples with him. These he divided with a silver-knife poisoned on one side; but by some mistake, he ate all the poisoned halves himself, and so fell dead at the table; and there in the upper story of the tower, his cries of pain and despair were sometimes heard on the wind in the stormy nights of winter.

So, amid this sweet intercourse—like one gathering beautiful flowers on the brink of a giddy precipice—did Charlie Pierrepont drift into a deep and hopeless passion.

He never spoke of it, but surely his eyes must have told, and his manner too, that he loved her. Oh yes, how he loved her, this earnest and warm-hearted young Englishman, yet was silent. He dared not seek to lead her into a promise to wait till the sun of Fortune shone on him, to waste her young and happy life till slow promotion came: and even were he a colonel, the Count might—nay, would—look for wealth or rank, or both; and while he—Charlie—was thus waiting, could he ask a girl so lovely to trust to the doctrine of chances, for a lucky spoke in the wheel of the blind goddess, and to grow fade and withered with the sickness of hope deferred?

Yet the sweet face, the dark shining hair, the tender, bright eyes, the pretty winning ways—oh, those pretty winning ways, that twine so round the heart of a man!—haunted him in the waking hours of the night, and in his tormenting, yet delicious, dreams by day.



Strong though the sentiment of friendship that existed between him and Heinrich, Charlie shrunk from making a confidant of him, as he knew but too well that his aristocratic prejudices and native ambition would preclude him from having any sympathy with such a secret love, or giving it the least encouragement.

So the days of joy stole away at Frankenburg, till Charlie began to reckon sadly the few that yet remained, when time would inexorably separate him from Ernestine, and, too probably, for ever.

Did she suspect that he loved her?

A hundred times had Charlie asked this question of himself in doubt: he was not an egotist; but every glance of her soft hazel eyes—that seemed, he knew not why, something between a caress and a compliment, together with a dash of entreaty—might have told him that he was far, far indeed from being indifferent to her.

In the spirit of the old song, he often thought,

'He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his desert is small,
Who dare not put it to the touch
    To win or lose it all.'

If 'things did not turn,' in time—and for him how could they turn? it was torment to think of losing her by his own silence and diffidence; of seeing her, perhaps, won by another, far his inferior in bearing and spirit, while he hungered for her smile, doted on her shadow, and alternately blessed and banned the hour that brought him to the Castle of Frankenburg.

He thanked Heaven that there was this impending war with France before them. On the banks of the Rhine, or before the walls of Paris, if he ever reached it, a French bullet might end it all for him, and he would never have the horror and sorrow of knowing that she was the bride of another; and so on, and on, day by day, when by her side, talking with her and enjoying all the sweet charms of her society, did this honest fellow torment himself, for we may, in the matters of love and jealousy, torment ourselves far more than others can.

Of this, a terror of every possible parti who approached her was one element, especially if rich or titled.

There was Baron Grünthal, who came about Ernestine more than Charlie relished. He was a man of great influence, and Oberconsistorial Director of the Court at Aix, not over forty, and rather good-looking. Even the daughter of a Count might be pleased to become Baroness Grünthal.

Then one or two young Counts, friends of Heinrich, were among the frequent visitors, and Charlie gnawed his moustache viciously, as he pictured to himself, perhaps meeting her years hence, as the wife of one of these, when he was getting grey, weary of waiting for the promotion that never came; or if it did, he would value so little then: for with her, the glory of life would depart.

Getting grey? But she would be a matron then in years; and does not Jean Jacques Rousseau tell us that a pair of grey-haired lovers were never known to sigh for each other? But Charlie thrust that thought aside; he preferred to live in the pleasant present than to picture the gloomy future. No romantic incident, no runaway horse, no death averted from accident, or other melodramatic episode to draw largely on the young lady's gratitude, as in novels, led to Charlie's avowal of his love.

It all came about suddenly, in the most unromantic way, a quick outpouring of passion, a rush, as it were, of the heart to the lips, through the influence of which he told her that he loved her, her only, and craved her love in return; and it all came to pass in this fashion.

One day—Charlie Pierrepont never forgot it—they had contrived to get away alone, to visit the great Dom Kirche at Aix, the shady aisles and vast depths of which, with all its sequestered chapels, were as well calculated to lure them into sweet and earnest converse as the leafy alleys of a forest.

They had visited the tomb of Charlemagne, where, as Ernestine, while leaning on Charlie's arm, and looking up in his face, from under one of the prettiest of hats, told him with bated breath, that when it was opened in the tenth century, the Emperor was not found in the usual fashion of the dead, reclining in his coffin, but seated on a throne as if alive, clothed in imperial robes, a sceptre in his hand, and the gospels on his knee. On his fleshless brow was a crown, and by his side his famous sword, Joyeuse.

'And now,' added his charming guide, 'I shall show you the throne on which he was seated; it stands in the Hoch Munster.'

Now the said Hoch Munster is a gallery running round the octagon, facing the choir, and to reach it a narrow stair had to be traversed. Charlie, who, strange to say, had drawn off his gloves, held out a hand to guide Ernestine, who, by another coincidence, had drawn off one of hers, and when Charlie's fingers closed on her soft and velvet-like little hand, the desire to press it naturally occurred to him, but a thrill, as if of electricity, went to his heart, when he felt—with the gentlest assurance in the world—the pressure returned!

The stair to the Hoch Munster was surely steeper than usual, they ascended it so slowly. Amid its obscurity, Charlie pressed to his lips twice the accorded hand, which was not withdrawn, and ere they gained the upper step that led to the gallery, the great secret of Charlie's heart had escaped him, and flushed and palpitating; Ernestine heard him with downcast eyes.

The vehemence with which the avowal was made, though his voice was low and earnest, and the tender expression with which he regarded her, when they did emerge into daylight, bewildered her a little, which, perhaps, was the reason that she permitted Charlie to take prisoner her other hand; but after a time she regained her composure, and, looking up at him with a most bewitching expression in her tender brown eyes and pouting lip, said, as if she had doubted her ears, in a whispered voice,

'You—you love me?'

'Yes—oh yes! Dearest Ernestine, you must have known from the first—from the very first hour I saw you, that I loved you.'

'I always thought,' she continued, in the same low and certainly agitated voice, 'that you preferred my society to that of Herminia or the Rhineberg girls.'

'Preferred your society—oh, Ernestine!'

'I did think that you were very fond of me—yes, very fond of me; but that you actually loved me, I could not conceive.'

So the lovely little gipsy pretended, and cast her eyelids down, while her soft bosom heaved so much with emotion that her diamond brooch sparkled like prisms. After a pause, the tender eyes were again uplifted to Charlie, and as if she rather liked the sound of the avowal, she said timidly,

'And so you love me—love me, Carl?'

How Charlie's heart now leaped to hear his Christian name uttered by her lips for the first time!

'Ernestine, my own darling!' (et cetera, and so forth).

They remained—as the sacristan who was patiently waiting for his fees said—quite long enough to have made an acute archaeological investigation of the whole place; but somehow their minds were otherwise occupied.

Singularly enough, they had forgotten all about the throne of Charlemagne, and actually descended—slower than they had ascended—the stairs of the Hoch Munster without having seen it.

They were both very silent on the drive homeward, but their young hearts were brimming over with joy, and deep blushes suffused the face of Ernestine, and her lips were trembling; and as if her mother's eye might read how they had been occupied in the Dom Kirche, she hurried upstairs to her own room, to seek in solitude the power of reflecting over all that had passed, and her new position, for within an hour she had passed a certain rubicon in life.

Charlie, too, desired to be alone, and ascended into the recess of the ruined Schloss, where, among the owls and the ivy, he slowly lighted a cigar, and while his heart was full of love and happiness, and of gratitude to Ernestine for returning his passion, he began to consider what was to be done next.

He first abandoned himself to a dream of joy. In imagination Ernestine was with him still; her hands so soft and small yet lingered in his; her lips were still before him, and the perfume of her dark hair came back to him, as he rehearsed, over and over again, all that episode in the Dom Kirche.

The secret that had trembled so long on his tongue—the secret that cold prudence and dread of German pride withheld so long, had escaped him at last. His love had been avowed; that love was accepted and reciprocated.

But now, alas! there came home to Charlie's heart those thoughts that had occurred to him before—thoughts that had not, as yet, entered the mind of Ernestine. The future—how and what was it to be? How cold and miserable was reflection—miserable, but for a time only. Was not the fact of mutual love and perfect trust existing between them enough to make all seem glorious, and the path of life most flowery?

She loved him—that bright and beautiful girl! Beyond that love she might never be his; but with that love for him, she would never be the wife of another. Yet, as he before asked himself, was it just or generous that her young life should be wasted, and for him?

If he suggested an elopement, in what light would such an episode place him with his friend Heinrich, with her whole family, with his regiment, and society, even, which was very, very doubtful, if she would accede to such a measure.

So long as he had not spoken of love to Ernestine, but lingered on the pleasant borderland that adjoins the realms of Cupid, Charlie felt that he was guilty of no breach of faith with her family, and no violation of the hearty hospitality extended to him. But now his position seemed entirely altered. Their love was a fact; he had won her heart without the consent of her parents, and that consent, in his subaltern rank in social and military life, he knew but too well would never be accorded to him.

'Well, well,' thought he, with something of grim joy, 'the war is before me, and who can foresee what honours I may win in defending Germany, or on the soil of France!'

When the party in the Schloss met at dinner that evening, there was a conscious expression in the faces of Charlie and Ernestine that they alone could read, and to which their hearts had alone the key; and to both there was something novel, joyous, and inexpressibly sweet in this secret understanding between them. Each felt a delicious interest and right of proprietary in the other.

Among the visitors was Baron Grünthal, the Oberdirector of the Consistory Court at Aix, a stout and florid, but rather handsome man, in the prime of life, with an ill-trimmed moustache hiding his whole mouth, and the inevitable red ribbon at his button-hole, who mentioned incidentally that he had seen the Grafine and Herr Pierrepont leaving the Dom Kirche by the great door, on either side of which are a she-wolf and a fir apple in bronze. Ernestine stooped over her bouquet to hide her conscious blush.

'You know, mamma,' said she, in a tone of explanation, though none was required, 'we drove into town, Herr Pierrepont and I, that I might show him the tomb and throne of Charlemagne.'

'Ah! yes,' said the Baron, making his champagne effervesce with a piece of biscuit; 'did you think the marble slabs of a good colour, Herr Pierrepont?'

'Beautiful!' said Charlie. 'The finest black I ever saw,' he desperately added, at a venture.

'Black?' said two or three voices. 'Why, they are of the purest white!'

'Exactly; that was what I meant to say. My German is not perfect, Herr Baron,' said Charlie.

And Ernestine, who had grown pale, now laughed and glanced furtively at her lover.

Dinner over, the Count and Baron retired to smoke and talk politics; but the latter, whose suspicions had been roused by the confused manner of Charlie, and the evident absorption of him and his fair companion when quitting the Dom Kirche, began to talk of something that might seriously affect their happiness.

Charlie and Ernestine betook themselves to the piano, where eye could look into eye, and finger touch finger occasionally in the duet, or soft whispers be exchanged amid a sonata of Beethoven; the Countess retired to doze in the boudoir, with her Spitz pug on her knee; while Herminia and her betrothed found sufficient attraction in each other; so the evening of this eventful day passed off peacefully and happily, as many others had done.

During the protracted progress of the sonata, the two antiquarians from the Dom Kirche agreed that their engagement—for such they fully considered it now—should, as yet, not be divulged to anyone, not even to Herminia, from whom Ernestine had never before had a secret to withhold.

Outwardly, our hero and heroine seemed merely intimate friends who were soon to part; inwardly, they had their own happy thoughts, while the family had not the slightest suspicion of how matters stood, though that night all was on the very verge of discovery!

In the recess of a window, whither they had gone to study the stars, Charlie suddenly pressed Ernestine to his breast.

'Oh, dearest, don't do that again!' she exclaimed. 'Aunt Adelaide may see us; and she has the eyes of a lynx!'

After this night, matters progressed fast with the lovers. In the same house, they had a hundred means of meeting each other, were it but for five minutes at a time. Rings and locks of hair, of course, with coloured photos—the best that could be got in Aix-la-Chapelle—had been exchanged; promises were made and vows exchanged again and again, with other delicious tokens equally intangible.

In the flush of his love, Charlie forgot for a time the cruel doubts that had at first oppressed him. Ernestine should be his wife at all risks, even if he carried her off to England; and, in the ardour of his imagination, he began to marvel whether his father's old place in Warwickshire would ever be free from those debts which drove him to become a wanderer, a soldier of fortune, and to feed himself by his sword in the ranks of the Prussian army.



Amid the pure satisfaction arising from the knowledge that Ernestine loved him, and the natural anxiety to discover how she was ever to be his wife, there was fated to come to Charlie Pierrepont the fear of greater opposition to his—as yet—secret hopes and wishes, in the person of a formidable rival, who, in a few weeks after the visit to the Dom Kirche, came suddenly into the field.

One evening, when the Count, his son, and Charlie were seated cosily in a place which the former called his study (but which more resembled a harness and gun room, and littered with pipes of all kinds, as the literature there consisted of a few volumes on hunting, shooting, farriery), with their pipes and flasks of Rhine wine, which they drank from silver tankards, the Count startled our hero by a revelation which he made to him as a friend of the family.

A wealthy and great man—an intimate friend of the house of Frankenburg, who, though not noble, was nevertheless Hochwohlgeboren, had made proposals for the hand of Ernestine.

The cloud of smoke in which the trio had enveloped themselves perhaps prevented the father and son from seeing the sudden contraction of Charlie's brow on getting this unpleasant information.

'Does it meet with your approval, Count?' he asked, with a violent effort to appear calm.

'In every respect.'

'And yours, Heinrich?'

'No, Carl.'


'Because the man is more than double her age,' replied the young Count.

'That is——' Charlie was about to say 'unfortunate;' but the fib remained unuttered. Then after a pause he asked, 'And what says the Grafine?'

'She dismissed him with kind words, certainly,' replied the Count, 'and well-bred wishes for his happiness. He then came to me, begging me to use my authority over her as a parent, which I shall certainly do.'

'Herr Graf!' exclaimed Charlie, who felt a keener interest in all this than his hearers imagined; for even Heinrich, in the absorption of his passion for his cousin, had not the faintest suspicion that his friend did more than admire his sister; 'Herr Graf, would you actually attempt to control your daughter's affections?'

'Der Teufel! attempt it? I shall do it!' replied the Count angrily, as he laid his hand emphatically on the arm of his chair.

So this was the first intimation Charlie had of the coming storm. A rival in the field, and his leave of absence on the verge of expiry! The situation—with all his trust in Ernestine—was, to say the least of it, alarming. Would she actually be torn from him after all? Fearing to speak, he remained perfectly silent; but, as his curiosity was irrepressible, he asked after a time—

'May I ask, Herr Graf, who this suitor is?'

'The Baron Grünthal, Oberdirector of the Consistory Court in Aix-la-Chapelle.'

Then Charlie remembered that the Baron had been at the Schloss that morning, and been long in the Graf's 'study' in consultation, and that he failed to see Ernestine as usual, save at dinner, after which she had hastily left the table. It occurred now to Charlie, too, that she had seemed both disturbed and taciturn during the progress of the meal.

Such an offer was deemed flattering, even for a daughter of the house of Frankenburg. Ernestine had dismissed the Baron; but, backed by her father's authority, he returned to the charge, and came the following day to dinner; and until the bell rang for that meal, Charlie, to his perplexity and annoyance, could see nothing of Ernestine, who remained sequestered in her room. Had her mother any suspicions? thought he; but as yet the Countess had none.

On this day, in honour of the suitor, whose aspirations met with her full approval, her white hair was done over a toupée that was higher than usual, her train was longer than ever, and she wore the best of the family diamonds.

This was the most miserable meal ever made by Charlie Pierrepont. The Count was rubicund, smiling, and conscious. He had smoked many pipes and imbibed much beer over the idea of having such a son-in-law. The Baron had made a careful study of his costume, and was most gracious to the ladies, but more especially to the Countess, who addressed nearly all her conversation to him—the winner of one of 'the Belles of Frankenburg.' Herminia looked waggish, Heinrich somewhat provoked, as he deemed the suitor too old, and that his sister's wishes should be consulted; while Ernestine—whose toilette (a golden-coloured silk, trimmed with black lace), a most becoming one for a brunette, had been made under the critical eye of her mother—looked pale, 'worried,' and worn, and, like Heinrich, provoked too, for, as we have said elsewhere, she was a self-willed little beauty, and somewhat opinionated.

In spite of the desire of all to appear at their perfect ease, the meal passed off awkwardly; the conversation flagged, and was unequal; and if the eyes of Ernestine met those of Charlie, he would read in them an imploring and sad expression, and when they looked down, they seemed to sparkle with anger.

At last the meal passed over—and it proved the last that Charlie Pierrepont was to consume in Frankenburg; the ladies rose from the table to retire.

As Charlie opened the dining-room door for them, Ernestine contrived to be the last who passed out, and swiftly and unseen, she slipped into Charlie's hand a tiny scrap of folded paper. This he hastened to open and read covertly, on resuming his place at table. It contained but one pencilled line—

'Be in mamma's boudoir to-night at eleven, when all are in bed.'

He would have pressed it to his lips, but for the presence of those who were with him. Eleven o'clock? The hour was then eight, as a great ormolu clock on the side buffet informed him, and so he had three long hours to wait for this most coveted interview! And for two of those hours he would have to endure the society—or rather the presence—of this most obnoxious rival who had so suddenly started up in his path, and with whom he felt a violent desire to quarrel, but that such an episode would have been alike unseemly, unwise, and calculated to excite suspicion.

They could meet in conversation on the neutral ground of the French war; but in everything he stated, Charlie could not suppress a keen desire to contradict the Baron. The latter asserted that King William would lead the Prussian army in person. To this Charlie gave a contradiction as flat as if he had it from the royal lips. Metz would be, undoubtedly, the chief base of the French operations. This idea he utterly scouted! England would take part in the war, through the influence of the Crown Princess. England would do nothing of the kind, said Charlie—what was the Rhine to her?

The Baron began to elevate his eyebrows, and became silent. The Count looked uneasy; one glass more, he suggested, and then they would join the ladies. They did so; but on entering the drawing-room found the Countess asleep as usual, with the Spitz pug in her lap; Herminia idling over the piano, while longing for Heinrich; and that Ernestine was—which was never her wont—absent.

She had pleaded a headache, and retired to her own room. The Baron looked glum and disconcerted. He had been framing many fine speeches to make to his intended; but now they were no longer required. He should see her no more for that night.

Charlie fingered the little note in his waistcoat-pocket, and felt defiant and jubilant.

The truth was that the Countess and her daughter had almost had high words on the subject of the Baron.

'Mamma,' the latter had said, 'the idea of such a thing is intolerable and absurd!'

'Why absurd, Grafine?' asked her mother, with asperity.

'A man of forty or more, getting bald already,' said Ernestine mockingly; 'a stout man in a blue coat and brass buttons, with a red ribbon, of course, at his lapelle; a man who, for twenty years, has never made up his august mind to marry, comes now to make a matrimonial victim of me. Thanks—no. I am the Grafine Ernestine of Frankenburg, and such I shall remain.'

'Do you prefer anyone else?' asked the Countess, her eyes glittering with sudden suspicion.

'No—none,' she falteringly said, with her cheeks aflame.

'Is there not one?'

'What do you mean, mamma?'

'I mean this,' said the Countess, with grim asperity, hiding her suspicions, if she had any, 'my dear child, the regiment of Heinrich is under orders for foreign service! his leave is conditional, and may be cancelled by telegraph at any moment; so that if we wish his presence at the marriage, the ceremony must be performed without much delay.'

'It shall never take place with me,' replied Ernestine resolutely.

'To your room, Grafine,' said the Countess with hauteur; so her daughter gladly withdrew, leaving her to make excuses for her absence as she pleased, so the usual female ailment of a headache came at once into play.



The Baron had been driven home to Aix in his britzka, promising to return for some final arrangements on the morrow, when he hoped to find the health of the Grafine restored; prayers were over; the household were all a-bed, or supposed to be so, and Charlie sat in his own room, looking sadly out upon the distant lights of Aix, which seemed to twinkle like the stars above them.

He had ample food for reflection. Fear of the Baron's influence on Ernestine he had none; but he had real fear of the influence her family, and long-trained habits of implicit obedience, might have on her, and genuine love and truth are commodities too scarce and valuable in this world to be wasted.

How much, thought Charlie, were Herminia and her cousin to be envied; they had been, and were, so successful in their love, and all through the fortunate little scheme of the Countess and Ernestine.

How he longed to show the latter to his sisters; for Charlie had three, in that dear old home in Warwickshire, all softly featured and gently mannered girls, such as England excels in, more than all the world besides. Would they love her? But could they fail to do so? Well, his father might, perhaps, oh, no! he could not look coldly on her, because she was a foreigner. Pure innocence and beauty belong to no country in particular; and Ernestine looked more thoroughly English than many an English lady Charlie had seen in Regent Street and the Row.

What was to be the end of all this?

In spite of all his prudence and the suggestions of reason, Charlie had fallen madly in love, without considering what a costly whim a high-born wife would prove to a Prussian subaltern; or how the prize was to be obtained, the whim gratified.

Eleven was struck by the great old clock in the hall of the Schloss, and Charlie, who had been awaiting it, watch in hand, took his wax taper, and softly and swiftly descended the great staircase to the boudoir of the Countess, a small octagonal apartment that opened off the drawing-room.

It was, of course, without a fireplace; but, in lieu thereof, in one corner stood the prettiest of little German stoves, a black iron cylinder, or column, surmounted by a large coronet of ornamental brass, and set on a block of white marble. Numerous statuettes under glass shades, and pretty bijou articles, littered all the marble and marqueterie tables, with Dresden china vases of flowers, gathered fresh that morning by Ernestine and Herminia in the garden at the foot of the castle rock. The furniture and hangings were all pale blue silk, trimmed with white lace or silver; water-colours decorated the wall, and, in a place of honour, hung a Berlin engraving representing the meeting of Wellington and Blucher at La Belle Alliance.

A moderator lamp, upheld by a bronze Atlas, was suddenly flashed up, and Ernestine stood before Charlie Pierrepont. She had let all her hair down, probably previous to coiling it up for the night, and now its silky masses floated over her shoulders far below her waist, and out of their darkness, her pale, minute, and delicately cut face came with strong distinctness in the subdued light of the lamp. How lovely she looked just then; her form, though mignonne, round and full. She threw her arms round Charlie, and putting her head on his shoulder, in a way she had like a petted love-bird, placed her sweet face amid the masses of her hair on his neck, and her lover gazed at her for some seconds ere he seated her by his side, with a kind of adoration, for she was in all the pride of her beauty and purity; and, as a writer says, with truth, 'There is nothing in the universe so exquisite, so fascinating, so irresistibly alluring, as a young girl! A girl in the first dawn of earliest womanhood, fresh and fragrant as a flower, and, alas! as fragile, for that bloom of youth is as evanescent as it is lovely, and its loss is never, to my mind, compensated by any maturer charm. Let who will inhale the perfume of the opening rose, but the sweet shy mystery of the folded bud for me!'

And some such thoughts ran through the mind of Charlie as he gazed upon her.

In the perfect confidence of this love, they did not at first speak of this sudden suitor (who had come like a thunder-cloud into their sunny summer sky), for rival he could scarcely be deemed by Charlie; but they referred to the last time they had been happy together in each other's society. Oh, so happy! and but two days ago!

They had ridden to Stolberg, after losing Heinrich and Herminia together in the wood (rather a common occurrence, by the way, when these four went out on excursions), and had taken shelter from a storm of rain in a village church, where a marriage ceremony had been performed before them, and they now recurred to this little episode.

'How sweetly pretty the bride looked!' said Charlie, playing with her rippling hair.

'And how happy the bridegroom!' she added, pulling Charlie's moustache, in her momentary joy, forgetful of the tears she had been shedding.

'How I envied them, Ernestine! Will our day ever come?'

'We can but hope.'

'And if it never comes?'

'I shall die—I shall die faithful to you, Carl. Faithful in life and in death!' said Ernestine, with passionate energy.

'You say this so often that you alarm me,' said Charlie, with great tenderness of tone.

'How can my promises of faith alarm you?'

'Nay. It is these references to death.'

Her eyes were tender, dreamy, and sad, yet full of love, as they looked into his. After a pause, he said,

'I, Ernestine, am more in danger of death and peril than you, dearest.'

'Oh, say not so! And yet, of course, it must be, Carl, my darling Carl!' she exclaimed, throwing herself upon his breast, in a passion of tears and affection.

'Heaven and earth! So these are the terms on which you two are!' exclaimed a shrill, stern voice behind them, and a low wail of terror escaped from Ernestine, on perceiving the Countess, her mother, standing there in her robe-de-chambre, a wax taper in her hand, and her usually pale cheeks and cold grey eyes inflamed with indignation. On this night she had, unfortunately, forgotten her unlucky Spitz cur (who was quietly looking on the scene from his basket of mother-of-pearl) and had descended from her room in search of him.

'So! so!' she exclaimed again, 'these are the terms on which you are; and such are the hopes in which you dare to indulge!'

How long she had been there, or how much she had heard or seen, they knew not. They had but one common thought—that they had been discovered, and all was over! This dénouement, occurring immediately after the proposal of the Baron, was too much for the patience or equanimity of the irate Countess. Even Charlie's friendship for her son Heinrich, and the duel he had fought in defence of his honour, were forgotten now.

There was a pause, during which they all surveyed each other with undisguised signs of discomposure. At last Charlie spoke, while Ernestine withdrew a little way from him.

'Gnädige Frau' (gracious madame), he began, 'blame not your daughter, but me, for all this; and pardon me for having so far forgotten my position in this house as to love her without your permission; but could I resist doing so—even without the hope of obtaining it? What can I say to mitigate your probable severity to her—your resentment to me? What am I to do?'


'Oh, say it!'

'Leave my roof at once!'

'Mamma, it is close on midnight,' urged Ernestine piteously.

'Silence, minx!'

Charlie's face had flushed to the temples at a tone and command so unusual and so humiliating.

'Oh, mamma,' urged Ernestine, attempting, but in vain, to catch her mother's hand, 'spare me and pardon him!'

'Him? Who!'


'You call him Carl already—and this to my face! This intruder, who, though in the king's uniform, is little better in the scale of society than a poor Handwerks-Burschen!'

Charlie now grew deadly pale at this insulting comparison, but restrained his rising anger for the sake of Ernestine, who said, piteously:

'Dearest mamma, I implore you not to adopt this tone to Heinrich's firm and tried friend. It is inhospitable! It is rude! It is cruel!' she added, amid a torrent of tears.

'You are no judge, now, of what is rude or not rude—proper or improper—to a violator of our hospitality. Oh, Herr Pierrepont, how little could I have foreseen all this!'

Unless the old lady had been as blind as a mole, she might, or ought, very well to have foreseen it.

'You know my views of all this matter, and I am certain they will be fully shared by the Count,' said the old lady, with intense hauteur. 'You also know the measures we expect you to take with as little delay as possible.'

She made a brief and haughty half-contemptuous bow, and taking her daughter by the hand, and, without permitting her to give even one farewell glance, led her away.

Charlie stood for a moment as if rooted to the spot. He then very quietly extinguished the moderator lamp, in a mechanical kind of way, and, taking his taper, ascended the great gaunt staircase to his room, where, with his heart torn by the contending emotions of love and sorrow, rage and mortification—for the insult to which he, an English gentleman, had been subjected by that intolerant and insufferable old German woman—he sat for a time without thinking of undressing.

Were she not the mother of Ernestine, he would have scattered a few pretty hard adjectives with reference to her. He then suddenly began to pack his portmanteau. He had but one desire and craving—to get as far away from Frankenburg as possible, though it was the cage that held his love-bird! And as if his wish had been anticipated, just as twelve o'clock was struck by the sonorous timepiece in the echoing hall, a knock came to his door.

'It is Heinrich,' thought he; 'come in!'

The visitor was not Heinrich, but the old family butler, who entered, bowing low, and looking very sleepy, cross, and very much surprised.

'The Herr Graf's compliments to the Herr Lieutenant. At what time would he require the carriage to take him to Aix?' (He called it Aachen.)


'Now—at this hour, mein Herr?'

'Now, I repeat—instantly—thanks; you may go.'

The old butler, who had served as man and boy in the Frankenburg family from shortly after the days of Waterloo and Ligny, who had attended Marshal Blucher when on a visit, and had made the fortunes and honour of the denizens of the Schloss his own, as hereditary retainers of the Caleb Balderstone type occasionally do, even in this age of iron, opened his grey eyes very wide, alike at the fierce energy and the order of Charlie Pierrepont, but vanished at once to rouse the grooms and comply.

So he was actually turned out of the house, however politely, at last; thrust out from her home as if his presence there degraded it. He thought of the old arms of the Pierreponts carved about his father's gate—the lion rampant sable, between two wings, the mullets semée, and the motto 'Pie repone te,' though he had never valued such things much; and his anger boiled up—nor did it cool down till he found himself on the eve of departure.

Why did Heinrich not appear? for good or for evil? Had he also been informed, and, like his father, mounted a high horse? It seemed so. The carriage was duly announced, at last.

As Charlie descended to it, the silver-haired butler appeared again with a salver, on which were a decanter and glass, saying:

'The Herr Graf requests that mein Herr will take a little glass of cognac, before leaving the Schloss; the night is cold.'

To have declined to accept this last act of old German hospitality would have been churlish, and the cause of comment among the domestics; so Charlie, with the name of her he loved on his lips, drained a petit verre, and sprang into the carriage.

'Aachen,' said the butler to the driver, as he closed the door, and bowing, said—

'Gute nacht—leben sie wohl, mein Herr.'

And Charlie, as he thought, turned his back on Frankenburg for ever.

Ernestine was as much, if not more, than any only daughter could be to Count Ulrich. He was selfish enough to have looked with stern, black, and utter discouragement on any swain who had no high rank; then how much more with anger on a penniless soldier of Fortune—a sub. of the Thuringians, like Charlie Pierrepont.

'All is at an end between the Frankenburgs and me,' thought the latter, as the carriage bowled on in the dark; 'but the war once over, if I escape it, I shall carry her off at all hazards—by Heaven, I shall.'

As a soldier accustomed to change of quarters, billets, camps, and barracks, Charlie could make himself at home anywhere; but nowhere (save his father's house) had he found himself so much at home as in that old German castle: a shrine he deemed it—a shrine of which Ernestine was the idol; and now he was exiled from it.



The carriage deposited Charlie Pierrepont at an hotel in Aix-la-Chapelle, where he meant to remain for a little to make some attempt to see Ernestine once more—to arrange, if possible, about their future correspondence, and then to rejoin the Thuringians.

The dawn stole in over the city, and the Rhine began to glitter in light—the dawn of that day on which the Baron Grünthal was to return to Frankenburg, and 'the final arrangements' were to be made. What would they be?

Five o'clock tolled from the great bell of the Dom Kirche. But five hours since she had been in his arms, with her head resting on his breast; how long it seemed ago; what storm of alarm, bitterness, and mortification had agitated his heart since then! The bell of the Dom Kirche brought instantly back to memory that day in the stair of the Hoch Munster, when the returned pressure of her little hand, though ever so lightly, nearly put him beside himself with joy, and lured him to divulge the great secret of his heart.

So all their stolen glances and sweet daily intercourse were at an end now; all the quaint weird stories that she had been wont to tell him in their rides and rambles, of sprites and elves, of lurlies and knights, who had loved and been drawn thus into peril, all their mutual songs and music, would never come again!

Too probably their paths on earth might lie for ever apart. A chasm separated the past from the present; still more did it seem to yawn between the present and the future; so Charlie could but wring his hands, and wish, at times, that Heinrich had never brought him to Frankenburg.

Ah, those lovely eyes that were ever varying in expression, now dreamy and tender, and anon bright with mischief, or soft with inexpressible love; the pouting rosebud lips, that were so firm and delicately cut; the skin, smooth as satin; the hands, of velvet: the pinky tint on the rounded cheek; the winning ways and the quaint sayings of Ernestine—were they all, indeed, to be as things of the past to him? It was intolerable!

They would be all as air-drawn pictures—nothing more. To Pierrepont, it seemed as if all the brightness had gone out of his life; or, as if half that life had left him. Would time ever cure this, or must it be war or death? God alone knew! In his sorrow for the loss he had sustained, and for the terrible emotions which he knew she would be feeling—torn from him on one hand, and menaced by a hateful marriage on the other—he could almost have wept, and perhaps would have done so, but for a glow of wrath and indignation, at the manner in which the imperious Countess had treated him.

He had been bluntly turned out of the house! That was what the termination of his visit plainly amounted to. Charlie felt that his epaulettes had been insulted, and his native English pride revolted at the idea. He felt his blood boiling at times, but against whom? It could not be against the father or the mother of her he loved so tenderly. Oh no! for surely they would relent in time, on seeing how deep and tender was his passion for their daughter.

'How would it all end?' he asked of himself a hundred times.

The day without was bright and sunny, but to Charlie Pierrepont it seemed as if the hours stole dully, darkly, and drearily on. The guests in the Speise-saal were numerous and noisy. Their voices irritated him; and often he started to his feet with the intention of vaguely proceeding to the vicinity of Frankenburg, and as frequently relinquished the idea; for he dreaded lest he should meet the Baron, and be tempted into the commission of some wild outrage.

With much of the same gloom that Herminia had in her mind, when, from the windows of the Grand Hotel, on the evening our story opens, she looked dreamily down on Cologne, on city, church, and river, did Charlie, from a balcony of his hotel, opposite the new theatre, look down upon the strasse that leads to Borcette, and the crowded boulevard that now occupies the place of a levelled ditch and rampart, and is prettily laid out with pine trees, and many tiny sheets of water.

Dinner was set before him under the awning which shaded the balcony, and there was a bottle of hock. Yes; he had ordered the kellner, mechanically, to serve it up; but the dinner remained untasted, though the hock was drained in draughts, as if to drown the ever-recurring thoughts—would he never again see that sweet girl whose witcheries were entwined around his heart? should he never more look into her eyes, whose tender glances were magnetic; never feel on his lips those clinging kisses, while he pressed her hand to his breast?

Near him, under an awning in front of the hotel, seated on hard wooden stools, at a bare deal table, were some poor Handwerks-Burschen, or travelling workmen, in blue blouses and wooden sabots, smoking, drinking beer, and making merry with their wives or sweethearts, and singing—

'Draw the social chair yet closer;
    Vow by this full draught of mirth,
That all evil is forgiven,
    Hell is banished from our earth.'

It was Schiller's beautiful 'Song of Joy' they were singing to the clanking accompaniment of their cans and wooden shoes. How happy those humble fellows seemed; and how much he envied them!

But Charlie was roused from his reverie by the Oberkellner announcing—

'Der Graf von Frankenburg.'

'Which?' asked Charlie, starting; 'Count Ulrich?'

'No, mein Herr—Count Heinrich.'

'Very good—show him up.'

Charlie would rather that the old father of Ernestine had come than her brother, whose errand would no doubt be a hostile one. That Heinrich, his friend and comrade, came on such an errand seemed horrible and unnatural. The wild justice of the pistol, as some one has named it, was ceasing to be appreciated even in Germany. The time had gone past when the pistols of skilled homicides were notched as registers of the lives they had taken, or had cards attached to them, with the names of the slain, the date and the place of meeting, and the distance of fighting, all neatly written thereon.

Let Heinrich taunt him how he would, a duel must not take place. 'In the battle-field,' thought Charlie, 'I shall cheerfully meet death, front to front and face to face; but I shall not carry there the mark of Cain, by perhaps shooting the brother of her I love—my brother in the spirit.'

Charlie forgot that in the Heilinghaist-feld at Altona he had fought a duel for that brother, and winged an officer of the King's Grenadiers; and he was just remembering that if hostilities were contemplated, a messenger would have been sent by Heinrich, when the latter entered the room, and coming quickly forward to Charlie, grasped both his hands with his usual frankness.

'Well, Sir Knight of the Rueful Countenance—' he was beginning, when Charlie said—

'How can you jest, Heinrich, at a time like this?'

'I do not jest; but have come, in defiance of all family views and prejudices, to cheer you, and have some conversation over this wretched affair. Poor Ernestine! I wish you and she had taken me into your confidence. By our past and present friendship, I surely merited that from you, at least.'

'A bottle of wine, Heinrich?

'Thanks—I have just galloped in from the Schloss, and had some difficulty in finding your quarters.'

'There are cigars, and here is an easy-chair. I am thankful you did not come on a hostile visit. To decline would have been disgraceful, to accept might have been fratricide; but I should have fired in the air.'

'What stuff you are talking!' said Heinrich, as he manipulated and lit a cigar, while the waiter was pouring out the wine.

'Now let us talk,' said he, when the latter had withdrawn.

'And how are the ladies this evening?' asked Charlie, trying, with a swelling heart, to talk common sense.

'As you may suppose, the Grafine, my mother, is in a furious pet; and I knew nothing about your sudden departure till I found your place vacant at the breakfast table.'

'And—and your sister, Heinrich?'

'Has been all day fretting in her room.'

'And the Grafine Herminia?'

'With her. I saw Herminia for a little time to-day, and she desired me to assure you of her fullest sympathy.'

'God bless her!' exclaimed he, whilst his eyes became moist.

'The poor little thing endured too much, when she believed me to be Herr Mansfeld, and knew me not in my proper person, to be without due sympathy for all afflicted lovers.'

'You do not speak of the Herr Graf.'

'Oh, he is inexorable!'

'And our infernal Baron—no doubt he was at Frankenburg to-day, hoping to play the lover,' said Charlie viciously.

'He was not.'

'How so?'

'His Excellency has a violent fit of the gout!'

'Long may it continue!' said Charlie fervently.

'Amen!' added Heinrich, lying back in his chair and laughing heartily; 'the idea of an adoring swain having an ailment so unromantic! And now for the object of my visit. I have simply come to apologize for all that has occurred at the Schloss; but I might have foreseen it, had my own affairs not occupied too much of my attention. Ernestine is too enchanting a girl to have failed to attract. What is done cannot be undone. I do love you, Carl, and deplore all that has taken place.'

The two friends shook hands warmly. With Charlie, his comrade, brother officer, and most particular 'chum,' was now the link between him and Ernestine—between him and Frankenburg—the Eden from which he had been banished, and without his Eve. How he loved the generous fellow! How gladly he would lay down his life for him; but in doing so, he would leave Ernestine, and, perhaps, to another. Another? Oh! that was not to be thought of! Heinrich began again—

'Herminia says that Ernestine has never closed an eye since last night, which I am sorry to say, because if troubles can be slept upon they are curable. However, don't be alarmed about Ernestine,' he added, laughing, 'she's very low and sad, no doubt; but there is no chance of her drowning herself in Fastrada's pool below the Schloss—that odious pond where I used to puddle for many a day with a crooked pin and a string, catching many a cold, but never a fish.'

'Why, Heinrich?'

'For a very sufficient reason. There was none in it.'

'Do you think your mother will ever forgive me?

'Heaven alone knows. Time will show. She has the most absurd ideas concerning alliances and family rank. As for my father, he storms and gets into rages that I call apoplectic ones; but he'll sit in his study among the saddles, dogs' collars, and so forth, and smoke himself into quietude ere long. He is a wonderful hale and hearty old fellow for his great age; but he married late in life, and has only had a silver wedding, when his comrade, old Field-Marshal Wrangel, has had a golden one. And, then, you are a soldier, Carl—and to be a soldier is always a trump card with him. You have heard how he saved Blucher's life at Ligny?'

'Only vaguely.'

'It is a matter of history: Prussian history, at least; and was one of those impulses, or inspirations, which, if not acted on instantly, may never come again. It was at Ligny where the Prussians and French were engaged on the 16th of June, on that dreadful day of tempest; rain, and wind, when the British were retreating from Quatre Bras to their position at Waterloo. Victory was evidently declaring for the Emperor, when Blucher strove to arrest his success by consecutive charges of cavalry. In person he led on a regiment of Hussars, who were repulsed; his horse fell beneath him wounded, and the great Marshal could not be extricated, and the enemy were pressing on! The last of his flying Hussars had left the brave old man, who lay helpless on the ground; but his aide-de-camp, the Count, my father, resolving to share his fate, flung himself by Blucher's side, and covered him with his horse-cloak that he might not be recognised. Over them swept a brigade of Brass Cuirassiers, so named from the metal of their helmets and corslets. The routed Hussars rallied suddenly, wheeled about, and attacked their pursuers, and again passed their fallen leader, and the old Graf—a young Graf, then—in their pursuit of the French, whom they routed. My father instantly seized the opportunity. He dragged Blucher from under the fallen charger, mounted him on a dragoon horse, and thus saved his life!'

While Heinrich, with something of exultation, was detailing this episode of the Count's early life, the thoughts of Carl were very far away from the events of Ligny and Waterloo.

'Next week will see us on the march for France,' said he, 'and I may cross the purposes of your family and the path of Ernestine no more! You, Heinrich, who are so successful and so happy in your love, might surely pity us.'

'I do, Carl. A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind.'

'Arrange for me,' continued Charlie, with great earnestness, 'that Ernestine and I may have one more interview. Our last farewell—our separation, was so cruelly abrupt.'

'A meeting! When and where?'

'When and where you choose. See her once again, I must at all hazards; and you alone can arrange this for me. Dear friend, don't deny us this last melancholy pleasure!'

'Where, then, think you?'

'Settle that with my darling; and may God bless you, Heinrich!' said Charlie, in a choking voice, as he patted his friend on the epaulette.

'I shall write you to-night, to-morrow at the latest; for we must not lose time while the Baron's gout lasts.'

And Heinrich ordered his horse and departed, leaving Charlie Pierrepont in a more contented mood of mind than he had been in since he left the boudoir of the Countess.

So he should see her once again!



Eagerly did Charlie Pierrepont await the arrival of the Brieftrager, or letter-carrier, who brought him a brief note from Heinrich, saying that he meant to take his sister for a drive that evening, and that Charlie would find her in the little church at Burtscheid at the hour of seven. The note was signed, as usual, 'Ihr treuer Freund, HEINRICH.' After all that had occurred, how delightful and encouraging it was to find her brother signing himself 'Your devoted friend,' as of old!

'The little church of Burtscheid?' said Charlie, after perusing the note for the third or fourth time; 'it is a strange place to choose.'

But Ernestine was a strange girl, and, with regard to this farewell meeting, had that in view which Charlie could not foresee. Ten hours had to elapse before the appointed one came; and to Charlie, who passed the day almost watch in hand, the time seemed interminable. Evening came, however, at last; and the shadows of the church spires were falling eastward when Charlie set out for the trysting-place, which is a mile and a half from the gates of Aix, and connected therewith by a handsome avenue of trees. The village is now chiefly celebrated for its mineral waters; but 'the abbey of Burtscheid,' says Forster, a writer at the close of the last century, 'is beautifully situated, and finished with all ecclesiastical splendour. Close by, a small wood runs towards a large reservoir, and as you advance you come to a narrow valley enclosed by woody hills, where several warm springs are soon discovered by the vapour that rises from them, and the large reservoir is quite filled with hot water. As you walk along a series of beautifully shaded reservoirs you see the romantic ruins of the old castle of Frankenburg.'

Thus the trysting-place selected by Ernestine was quite near her home. The church was an appendage of the abbey mentioned by Forster. It was a lonely place, surrounded by a burial-ground, where, as usual in German cemeteries, the inventions of the mason and carpenter rarely go beyond an urn, a cross, or a broken pillar in fashioning a tombstone, and where, for reasons to be afterwards mentioned, few came to promenade, as the public usually do in public burying-grounds.

At the gate stood a handsome britzka, with a pair of horses, the reins of which were held by Heinrich, who was without groom or other attendant.

'Ernestine?' said Charlie, grasping the hand of his friend.

'She is in the church. We have not been here three minutes. Do not detain her long, Carl, as I would not have suspicion excited. Meantime, I shall smoke a cigar.'

Charlie hastened into the edifice, for the Herr Pastor of which, in happier times, Ernestine and Herminia had worked many altar-cloths, pen-wipers, slippers, and smoking-caps. It was a plain, whitewashed edifice, ancient Gothic in some parts, patched with modern brickwork elsewhere; and a subdued light stole through the windows on the portraits of certain defunct Herr Pastors hung upon the pillars, the oaken pews, and the rows of black iron spittoons in some, with kneeling hassocks in others. Before the rail of the altar, Ernestine was kneeling, in prayer apparently.

There was no one else in the church, and on hearing Charlie approach, she threw herself into his arms, and for some time could but sob passionately and utter his name in a choking voice, while he patted her cheek and kissed away her tears. Then she became more composed, and taking Charlie's face between her soft and ungloved hands, gazed into his eyes with a tender smile.

'You will yet love me, Carl, in spite of all that mamma has said?' she whispered.

'Love you!' he exclaimed, 'what on earth could make me cease to love you?'

'How enchanting it is to be with you again, my own Carl! You will write to me from—from France, when Heinrich writes to me or Herminia, and I can reply in the same manner.'

'Thank you, darling, for the delightful promise.'

'No power on earth must separate us, Carl. I have resolved that such cannot, shall not be.'

'The Baron——'

'Ah, don't speak of him at this precious time,' said she, contemptuously; 'that odious Grünthal—such a mouth he has! When he laughs you can almost see it behind him.'

'Behind him, darling—how?'

'The corners of his mouth might meet behind his head.'

This was somewhat of an exaggeration, but as it was like some of Ernestine's speeches in merrier times, she made Charlie laugh.

'Yet, to such a man they would assign you!' said he.

'If they dare!' she replied, with a little gesture, peculiarly her own, as it was partly imperious and partly child-like.

Her tears began to flow again, and she said:

'It is in vain that the Graf storms, and that mamma tells me every vow that has passed between us must be forgotten, that when you left Frankenburg you lost all claim on me, and I was, and am, perfectly free. I am not free, Carl; I have promised to become your wedded wife, and no other shall have my heart or hand while I live!'

She spoke with strong passion, and as she lay in the arms of her lover, her whole delicate form was trembling violently.

'But for this war, I would implore you to take me away with you, and make me your wife in spite of them all—your dear little wife, Carl. Wherever you went, there Ernestine would be with you, and we should live but for each other, and love each other as we have always done.'

'And this war once over, if God spares me, I shall come, at every risk, at every hazard, and take you away—on this I had already resolved, darling.'

'When that time comes, dearest Carl, I will live on your smiles by day, and rest my head on your bosom at night.'

There was a smile on the eyes and on the lips of the girl as she spoke, though her heart was torn by the misery of the coming separation. Suddenly she said:

'Kneel with me before this altar, ere some one interrupts us. Let us make a promise to be true to each other in life and in death——'

'Death, darling?'

'In sorrow and joy, peril and safety; sickness and health, in death and in life! Repeat after me, what I say.'

Clasped hand in hand, and kneeling face to face, they each promised to be faithful, loving and true to the other, under all circumstances, exactly as if they had been wedded, till death parted them. The words she dictated were strangely nervous and solemn—solemn even to being fantastic—chilling, yet somehow charming, and they were never forgotten by Charlie, who repeated them after her as one in a dream.

In the usually tender eyes and soft face of Ernestine there was, for a time, a sad yet stern expression of resolution and self-mastery, which Charlie failed to analyze, though the memory of it long haunted him.

'We have forged our spiritual chain, beloved Carl,' said she, 'and cannot break it now.'

'Nor shall it ever be broken!' he replied, caressing her tenderly.

'For life and death our bond be recorded in Heaven!' said the strange romantic girl; 'kiss me, Carl, kiss me—I feel much happier now.'

'Surely Heaven will spare me for your sake, my love.'

'If not, we shall meet there, Carl—for I should not be long behind you, there, where there are no harsh parents, "where there is neither marriage, nor giving in marriage,"—then we shall be re-united, Carl, and live our dreams of love over again.'

The girl's manner was exquisitely tender, yet sad, and so earnest that there came a time when Charlie remembered it, occasionally with terror. The voice of her brother was now heard.

'Heinrich is very impatient,' said Charlie.

'One moment, Carl. If I were to come to you when dead, would you fear me?'

'When dead?' said Charlie, looking down on the sweet upturned face that lay on his shoulder; 'what do you mean, Ernestine?'

'I scarcely know; but I should not fear you, love. I have some strange emotions in my heart this evening. I do not think even the grave would keep me from you; but would it keep you from me?'

'I fear it would, darling,' said he, with a half smile, though rather bewildered by all this; 'battle trenches are often pretty deep and full.'

'Oh, horror, Carl; don't talk of such an end as that!'

He regarded her anxiously, fearing that sudden sorrow was affecting her mind. Again the voice of Heinrich was heard. She drew down the veil of her hat to conceal the redness of her eyes, and Charlie led her out to the britzka. All was over now, and they were separated till Fate or Chance should enable them to meet again.

Those who saw Ernestine looking back from the britzka, and Charlie lift his hat more than once, as he walked slowly down the avenue that led to Aix, could little have imagined the strangely solemn betrothal that had just taken place between these two, in the little church of Burtscheid.



'To Paris! To Paris! Hoch Germania!'

Such were the cries that rang along the line of march, when on the 1st of August the various columns of the German army began to meet those which left Paris shouting 'To Berlin!'

After detailing much that savours of what may seem romance, we have now to borrow a paragraph or two from the history of Europe.

Perfect in organization, the forces which the Prussian Government were able to bring to the frontier a few days after the declaration of war against France were divided into three great armies, making a grand total of four hundred and twelve thousand infantry, and forty-seven thousand eight hundred cavalry, with one thousand four hundred and forty pieces of cannon.

The first of these three armies was commanded by Major General Steinmetz, the second by Prince Frederick Charles, and the third by the Crown Prince—the whole being under the orders of the King of Prussia, assisted by General Count Von Moltke, a distinguished Dane, as chief of his staff.

Strong reserves were posted at Hainau, Frankfort, at the old electoral city of Mayence, and amidst the vast defences of Coblentz between the Rhine and the Moselle. Another army defended the north, under Von Falkenstein; so taken altogether, including the Landwehr, Prussia, with her million and a quarter of well-drilled soldiery, seemed impregnable.

Charlie Pierrepont's regiment was formed in brigade with the 7th, or King's Grenadiers, and the 37th, or Westphalians. The war establishment of a Prussian regiment is never less than 3,006 men, with 69 officers. His brigade was among the first troops actively employed, with orders to occupy the line of the Saar, resting its right on Saarbrück, with advanced posts at that place and in the schloss of the Princes of Nassau, at Saarlouis, which had been fortified by Vauban, at Bliescastle, where the Prussians and French fought a great battle in 1793, and at Merzig.

The second army, with the royal headquarters, crossed the Rhine at Mayence, and took a position on the left of General Steinmetz, occupied Zweibrucken (which the French had named Deux Ponts), and Pirmasens, with its main body echeloned along the line of railway from the ruined castle of the Counts of Sickingen at Landstuhl to the strong fortress of Landau.

The third army came on by the way of Mannheim and Germesheim, and formed to the left of the second, at the latter place, Speirs, Neustadt, and Landau. All these formidable columns could communicate with each other by railway, and were well secured in the rear in case of having to retreat. But no thought of retreating was in the Prussian ranks.

From the suddenness and efficiency of these arrangements, it was clear 'that Count Bismarck and his master had been long and actively preparing for war, and had not been entirely absorbed in peaceful and innocent designs, as we were constantly assured by certain writers in this country, who desired to present France to the world as a crafty and ravening wolf, and Prussia a meek and inoffensive lamb.'

Something of this kind was said by Heinrich to Charlie, as their brigade approached Saarbrück. But the latter would scarcely admit it, as his love for Ernestine, and his high military enthusiasm, made him, for the time, 'German all over—German at fever-heat,' as he said.

And splendid was the aspect of the strong brigade, with the King's Grenadiers in front, the Westphalians in the centre, and the 95th Thuringians in the rear, as it defiled across the bridge that led to the suburb of St. Johann, each battalion with its carts of reserve ammunition, drawn by six horses. After each battalion, also, came thirteen baggage and one canteen waggon, all the brass drums beating smartly to make the men step quick. The colours of the King's Grenadiers, black and white; of the other corps, black, white, and red—the standard of the North German Confederation—were floating in the wind, above the long lines of spiked helmets, and of bright bayonets and brighter musket barrels sloped in the sunshine, for the Prussian arms are not browned as ours are now, but pure, white steel. Hence the glitter over all the column was great, though the uniforms were sombre and blue.

Anon the brass bands struck up between the echoing streets of Saarbrück; but amid all the enthusiasm of the time, the crash of the martial music, the measured tramping of thousands of marching feet, Charlie's mind could not help reverting to those happy moments in the stair of the Hoch Munster, and the sadder ones in the quiet little church of Burtscheid, and, in memory, he still saw the rosy, trembling lips of the girl he loved, and the full bosom that rose and fell with sobs and sighs.

When would he be marching home, and what might happen then? Would it come to pass that he might never return, but find a grave in the soil of France? They were now within thirty miles of Metz. He cast a backward glance to where the rearguard was descending a slope, and, as if to reply to his surmises, there came marching with it a corps of grave-diggers, for a force of this kind was attached to every column, while 'by an arrangement characterised by a grim horror, yet unquestionably useful,' every Prussian officer and soldier was ordered to wear round his neck a label, to establish his identity in case of his being killed.

These reflections were but momentary, so Charlie's spirit rose again, and his heart beat responsive to the sharp and regulated crash of the drums; for there is much elasticity of mind in healthy twenty-eight or thirty years, and Charlie's were no more.

The enthusiasm all over Germany was unquestionably great at this time, and as a specimen of it, Heinrich told Charlie, exultingly, how his father's old comrade and brother officer, Field Marshal the Count Von Wrangel, then in the eighty-fourth year of his age, on seeing his old regiment, the 3rd Cuirassiers, marching through Berlin, had petitioned the king for leave to join them as a private, as he was now too aged to lead; but the king declined the offer of the brave old man, and requested him to remain in Berlin, and make himself useful in a more peaceable way.

On the early morning of the 2nd of August, Charlie Pierrepont was subaltern of the out-picket posted on the road that leads direct from the open town of Saarbrück towards Metz, where then the Emperor Napoleon III. commanded in person. He had returned from visiting his line of advanced sentinels, all of whom stood motionless, with musket ordered and bayonet fixed, with their faces turned in the direction of Metz, each longing, no doubt, for the relief and a pipe. Stiff, and chilled with the rain and dew of the summer night, Charlie shook himself, as a dog might do, and proceeded to light a cigar and look around him, as the dawn brightened, little foreseeing that this would be one of the most important days in the new current of events.

He could see the Saar winding in and out at the foot of a chain of hills, covered to their summits by beautiful oaks and beeches. Here and there the red precipices started up from the bed of the stream; for the rocks and the soil were red, and even the river was red, too, for rain had fallen overnight.

The scene looked lovely and peaceful. Red stones, spotted with orange-coloured lichens, lay plentifully in the bed of the Saar, where a solitary kingfisher wound about among the water-weeds. Here and there at the narrower parts of the stream, an occasional peasant was fishing with a tub and sink-net, and beyond lay the plain, where Saarlouis' ramparts rose above the swampy fields, where herds of cattle plashed disconsolately about.

'Guten morgen, Carl!' cried a familiar voice, and on looking up, he saw Heinrich hurrying towards him. 'I have news for you.'

'Are the enemy in motion?

'As your post is an advanced one, you should be the first to know of that. My news is from the rear.'

'From the rear!'

'How dull you are, Carl—from Frankenburg! Here, take a pull at my bottle; your own is, no doubt, empty by this time.'


Charlie took a few mouthfuls from the metal flask of brandy-and-water that Heinrich wore slung over his shoulder in a belt, and said—

'Now for your news, friend; it is not pleasant, I fear, when you fortify me thus.'

'Anything must be pleasant that comes to us from the girls we love. The field-post has just come. I have a letter from Herminia, Carl, with a little enclosure for you.'

It was a note—merely a note, on scented and tinted paper, for Ernestine was not above these feminine prettinesses, written in her graceful style and lady-like hand—to say that he was never absent from her thoughts, and how she and Herminia had wept and prayed in secret on the night the army crossed the Rhine.

'I fear, Carl, that I am looking ill and pale,' she continued, 'but sunny-haired Herminia seems to thrive on her grief; but you know she is ever all dimples—dimples on her white elbows and chin, cheeks, and hands—soft jolly dimples. Mamma, tired of knitting—she always knits as if her livelihood depended upon it—has dozed off to sleep, with her Spitz pug under her lace shawl in the boudoir. (The boudoir! Do you ever think of it, and that horrible night when she surprised us while searching for that miserable little cur?) Papa, as dinner is over, is smoking in his study, among his fishing and shooting gear, pistols, guns, whips, collars, and whistles, no doubt drinking to the health of the Kaiser and studying the Staats Anzeiger. All is unchanged since you left Frankenburg, from whence my heart goes with this to you, my dearest Betrothed of Burtscheid.'

Charlie was perusing this for the third time, Heinrich was lolling beside him on the grass, humming 'Du du,' and idly playing with his silver sword-knot, while watching the bright morning sunshine stealing along the wooded hills and winding river, when suddenly there was the report of a needle-gun in front. Another, another, and a third followed, as the whole line of advanced sentinels opened fire, and the out-picket rushed to their arms and fell in their ranks.

'Sapperment!' exclaimed young Frankenburg, springing to his feet; 'it has come at last! This is war! The French are in motion in front; there will soon be work for the grave-digger corps!'

So opened the day on which the young Napoleon was to receive his 'baptism of fire.'



For a time the preparations for her marriage had gone on openly—though Ernestine, in her tenderness of heart and reluctance to wound one she loved so well, made no reference to this in her short letter—so openly that there were times when she contemplated flight; but whither could she fly? and then she shrunk from the dreadful esclandre of such a proceeding; so settlements were made and deeds signed, and from time to time she found beautiful ornaments and jewels, the gifts of the Baron, on her toilette tables; but she never wore them, and the morocco cases remained unopened; till at last a serious illness, or sickness of the heart, in fact, supervened, and the espousals were delayed, and the Count cursed the hour that his thoughtless son had brought his troublesome English comrade to Frankenburg.

She was no longer espiègle, as of old; the piano remained unopened now, and no entreaties on the part of her father could lure her into playing 'Die Wacht am Rhein,' the war-song of Arndt, or any of those stirring and patriotic airs with which all Germany was resounding now. The very sound of the instrument fretted her.

Times there had been when she had tried over some of those songs she had loved to sing to Charlie Pierrepont—the same that she had been rehearsing on the evening of his arrival (how much had happened since then!)—but she fairly broke down and made the attempt no more.

A summons from Prince Bismarck, for the Baron Grünthal to attend at Berlin, in consequence of some affairs connected with the Oberconsistory Court at Aix, gave poor Ernestine a temporary respite from the annoyance of his presence and clumsy attentions; and as she was at times easier in mind, and more content to wait the issue of events, after that remarkable and somewhat solemn interchange of promises at Burtscheid Church, her parents began to hope that all was at an end between her and the Herr Lieutenant of Infantry, and that she would be content to receive the Baron as her husband in time, perhaps when Heinrich returned, if God spared him ever to return.

This was satisfactory to her on one hand, while on the other she had the pleasure of sharing her secret sorrows and hopes of future joy with Herminia, with whom she had now a double link and bond of sympathy.

They led but a dull life now in the old Schloss.

Baron Rhineberg, 'a beer-bloated Teuton' of the first class, came occasionally to talk politics with the Count, over a pipe and flask of Rhine wine; the two daughters of the Justiz-rath, and a few other visitors, dropped in, but Ernestine found it weary work to talk commonplaces with these people, not one of whom had any vital or particular interest, beyond a national one, in the army now in the field; and to chat of music and books, of Berlin wools and soup for the poor, when, perhaps, at that very moment of time, the bullets might be whistling about him she loved; or when he might be stretched wounded, dying or dead, upon the bloody sod—to talk, we say, of aught that was frivolous, with such fears in her heart, was impossible.

Strong, yet tender, was thus the bond of sympathy between the cousins; for those whom they loved—the one openly, the other secretly—and to whom they were affianced, were facing side by side the foes of Germany, and risking the same perils and toils.

Once only did she rouse herself thoroughly and feel startled when the portly Baron Rhineberg, taking his vast pipe out from his bushy moustaches, asked her abruptly if she 'ever visited the church of Burtscheid.'

'Sometimes,' said she, colouring deeply for a moment, and then becoming pale as before; 'but why do you ask, Herr Baron?'

'Because Herr Pastor Puffenvortz is preaching a series of stirring sermons there just now.'

Poor Ernestine, who had begun to fear that her interview there with Charlie had been overheard or overseen by some eavesdropper unknown, felt greatly relieved by the Baron's simple reply; but her sudden change of colour was not unnoticed by the Countess, who drew certain conclusions therefrom, though she could scarcely give them any form.

The sudden and blunt reference to the church at Burtscheid, the scene of her last and farewell interview with Charlie, gave her so sudden a shock—her sensibility had become so delicate now—that she had to retire to her room.

Burtscheid! All the scene then came again before her—when words were spoken that were known to Heaven and themselves alone! He was gone—torn from her, the first and only man she had ever loved, so the girl pined in her heart. So now she sat, as she had been wont to sit for hours, listlessly, as if without consciousness of thought; yet her mind was keenly active and full of images of the absent one.

To the latter, variety of occupation, change of scene in a foreign land, the activity of a military life, the incessant stir and alarms of war, would, in spite of love, separation, and fear of rivalry and of her family, draw in fresh moods of thought and afford thereby a certain healthy relief; but she was left amid the scenes of her departed joy, with the additional affliction before her of domestic persecution and the odious addresses of a would-be lover!

How eagerly she hoped that he would be detained for months at Berlin!

'Oh, Herminia!' she would sometimes say to her cousin; 'I was so happy—so happy, that it is a sin to make me so miserable!'

'Be calm, darling, be calm; Heinrich will bring him to you once again,' replied the girl, embracing her.

'It will be miraculous if they both escape the dangers of this mighty war.'

'Do not speak thus, I implore you,' said Herminia, passionately, and somewhat scared by her cousin's tone of voice and expression of eye.

'My sufferings are indeed great, Herminia. Do you remember,' she asked, with a sad smile, 'all you endured at Cologne, when you only knew Heinrich as Herr Mansfeld?'

'Never, never shall I forget them, and the agony that I suffered on one particular evening, when I heard you laughing, and deemed you heartless, dear cousin. How I then loathed the name of Heinrich—it seems wonderful now!'

'So now do I loathe that of the Baron. Oh, Herminia, few like me have to endure misery without the prospect of relief!'

In the evening after Rhineberg had withdrawn, the Countess, whose mind was still running on her daughter's evident emotion at the name of Burtscheid, gave vent to the anger and suspicion that excited her.

'Did you ever go to Burtscheid with Herr Pierrepont?' she asked abruptly.

'Never, mamma,' replied Ernestine, blushing again, but at her own quibble rather than the question of her mother, who, after eyeing her narrowly, almost sternly for a minute, said—

'You still pine for that insolent young man. I can see it in your face, Ernestine!'

'Oh, mamma!' said the girl, with a wonderful tenderness of tone, 'is it a crime to love?'

'Not if it is a proper love.'

'Then why, mamma darling, are you so severe on me?' asked Ernestine, nestling in her mother's neck in the most endearing manner.

'I wish to protect and guide you, and to teach you that you must not love one who is beneath you.'

'But, dear Carl——' (The adjective escaped her unconsciously.)

'Grafine!' exclaimed the astonished Countess.

'Well, mamma, Carl Pierrepont is not beneath me.'

'This is new to me—how?'

'Because, even if he were so, love makes all equal.'

By kisses and caresses she strove to win over her mother; but the latter almost thrust her back, saying:

'This is folly—worse than folly; crush, forget, dismiss such thoughts. They are unworthy of you, Ernestine—unworthy of my daughter!'

'And of mine, too,' added the Count, who had come unnoticed upon the scene. 'Der Teufel! much as I liked that English lad, I hope some French bullet may rid us of him for ever.'

'Oh, father,' implored Ernestine, 'spare me such terrible remarks. Think of his old father and his three sisters in England. Think that our Heinrich shares his dangers.'

'True—true; God forgive me the thought; but go to your room, child, and let us have no more scenes like this,' replied the old Count, who had long outlived the memory of what a young love was, and Ernestine gladly obeyed.

The expression of her face changed at times; its softness seemed to pass away, and then contempt and anger mingled with sorrow on her white lips. She was a spirited yet a gentle girl; she felt that she had been insulted, and treated like a child; that her natural freedom had been trampled on, her wishes ignored, and in the long waking hours of the silent night, when no sound was heard but the hooting of the owls in the ruined tower close by, she brooded, almost revengefully, upon the pride and tyranny of her parents, and the gross insolence—for such she justly deemed it—of the Baron Grünthal, seeking her hand without her affection—her hand in defiance of herself and her avowed love for another!

Then it was, in times such as these, that wild and impotent schemes of flight and freedom occurred—schemes from which she shrank when daylight came.

Ernestine looked ere long careworn and became ill; her physician recommended the baths at different places, and the mineral waters elsewhere; but they were resorted to in vain. One little enclosure from Carl, received secretly in the letters of Herminia, was worth all the baths and wells in Germany to Ernestine.

One evening Baron Rhineberg came galloping to the Schloss, and from his vast rotundity was ushered into the drawing-room when on the verge of an apoplectic fit. His features were purple, his eyes rolled wildly in their sockets, and from mingled excitement and enthusiasm, the burly old Teuton could only splutter and utter some incoherent sounds, while the Spitz pug barked furiously.

'Ach Gott!' exclaimed the Count; 'what is the matter?'

'Have you not heard the news, Herr Count?' he gasped.

'News!' repeated Frankenburg, changing colour, and mechanically, or by use and wont, playing with the pipe that dangled at his button, for even he did not smoke in the drawing-room, though a thorough German.

'But of course you could not, for I have just come from the city,' said Rhineberg.

'Der Teufel!' said Frankenburg, angrily, 'and what may the news be?'

'The advanced column of the German army has come to blows with the French at last.'

'At last!' said the Count, with something of pride mingling in his irritation; 'I don't think the Kaiser has lost much time.'

'Our troops were attacked, at least so the telegram says, by the French, led by the Emperor Napoleon in person.'

'Where—where?' asked all his listeners, while the three ladies grew very pale indeed.

'At Saarbrück.'

'The devil!' exclaimed the Count; 'that is actually on our Prussian ground.'

'Saarbrück?' re-echoed the Countess and Herminia, in faint voices, for they both knew that Heinrich was with the advanced column there.

Ernestine knew that her Carl was there too; but no sound left her white and quivering lips.

'And what were the results of the conflict—the casualties, and so forth?' asked the old Count, his mind flashing back to the days of Ligny, Wavre, and Waterloo.

'Unknown as yet. The first man killed is said to be an Englishman.'

'Gott in Himmel!' cried the Count, 'my girl has fainted!'

So at Frankenburg, as at many other places, where the hearts of the people were with the flower of Germany, they could but wait and pray—pray and be patient till true tidings came.



It was no false alarm that, as related in a preceding chapter, made the advanced sentinels of the 95th, all hardy fellows from the Thuringerwald, open fire in quick succession.

The Emperor Napoleon, who had recently arrived at Metz, looking old and ill, with his head sunk on his breast, and who, on the 28th of July, had issued that famous bulletin, 'Soldiers, the eyes of the world are upon you! The fate of civilization depends upon our success. Soldiers, let each one do his duty, and the God of armies will be with us!'—the Emperor, we say, finding that the time had come when something must be done to stimulate the spirit of those troops whom he had massed in and about Metz, as well as to appease the fiery impatience of the French people, being aware that Saarbrück was of importance to the Prussians, who there had command of three lines of railway for the conveyance of troops and stores, resolved to carry the place by storm.

Hence, about nine o'clock on the morning of the 2nd of August, the gleam of bayonets was seen on some heights that overlook the town, and the dark columns of the French, in their long blue coats, and red or madder-coloured breeches, became visible, and by that time the whole Prussian force in and about Saarbrück was under arms, and their cannon went thundering to the front.

Over the brass-spiked helmets, the brass-pointed pickel-haubes, with the spread eagle, rose forests of bayonets, a steelly sea flashing in the sunshine, the Uhlans riding with pennons furled and lances down on the flanks of the massed close columns. Anon the drums beat sharply, then the hoarse German words of command rang out on the clear air, the colours rustled on the morning breeze, and rays of light seemed to pass over all the force as the columns deployed into line, elbow touching elbow, loosely, and the order was given to load—to load those terrible needle-guns which carried death and destruction into the Austrian ranks in the war of 1866. They are simply breech-loading rifles, in which the charge is exploded by the projection of a piece of steel, called 'the needle,' on the detonating powder. The Prussians, whenever they encountered the French, allowed them to exhaust the fire of their chassepots at long range; then they poured in their own with deadly accuracy; and next came the bayonet charge—and those who have seen the Prussians charge will never forget the impression conveyed by their levelled ridge of steel, the shining helmets, the hoarse hurrahs, the flushed, yet resolute faces, the whole physique of the rushing infantry, and the roar of the trumpets as the Uhlans went thundering on their flanks, whirling their tremendous spears, as if impatient to close with the foe.

All this did Charlie Pierrepont see on this eventful day at Saarbrück.

Ere the Prussians formed line, the booming of their artillery was heard in front; a great deal of wood surrounded the town, and from this, as from an ambuscade, their cannon were fired, and high in the air rose the white smoke above the green foliage* With shouts of 'A bas la Prusse!' the 2nd French corps, under General Bataille, came rushing on, only to be checked and decimated by the biting cannonade; the grassy slope that led to the heights was soon dotted by killed and wounded, and the stretchers and ambulance waggons made their appearance along the whole line of route.

'What is the meaning of those cheers on the right?' asked Captain Schönforst, a tall soldier-like fellow of the 95th, of Charlie, who was busy scanning the enemy through his field-glass; 'are those dragoons coming in from Forbach?'

'By Heaven, I think it is the Emperor in person, surrounded by a brilliant staff, with a little boy riding by his side!' was the excited response of Pierrepont.

And the Emperor it was, accompanied by the Prince Imperial, then in his fourteenth year.

'Tell the officer commanding that gun near us who these new arrivals are,' said Schönforst, a veteran of the Austro-Prussian war,' and desire him to send a few doses of grape in their direction.'

Charlie promptly delivered the order; the direction of the gun was altered, and thus it was that the young prince received what was popularly known as his 'baptism of fire.'

'He was admirably cool,' wrote the Emperor to the Empress; 'we were in front of the line, and the bullets fell at our feet. Louis has kept one which fell close to him. Some of the soldiers shed tears on seeing him so calm.'

Filled with enthusiasm by all this, General Froissard despatched two battalions of the 67th regiment, under Colonel Theobaudin, to attack the hamlet of St. Arnaul, which was occupied by our friends the Thuringians, and was further defended by batteries of guns on the right flank of the Saar. The 15th French regiment made a rush at those batteries, and captured them with great bravery. Theobaudin's battalion, supported now by the 40th and 66th regiments, and some mitrailleuses—those horrible weapons, now for the first time tried in active warfare—made a furious attack on the village of St. Arnaul.

Shoulder to shoulder stood the resolute Thuringians—the lineal descendants of the ancient Hyrcinian foresters—volleying over wall and bank and hedge with their deadly needle-guns; but the French came rushing up the slope with glorious élan, though hundreds went rolling down, dead or dying, and choking in blood.

With those dreadful showers of balls, the mitrailleuses, 'those master-pieces for death and carnage,' were heard amid the roar of the musketry by the strange noise of their discharge, which was dry, shrieking, and terrible!

Their balls in continuous streams tore thtough the Prussian ranks, mowing them down as scythes mow a field of corn. Everywhere the smoke was dense. Heinrich had an epaulette torn off by one bullet, and the spike of his helmet by another, while Charlie was twice on the point of being taken prisoner, when his company was skirmishing in front, at the time when the 8th and 23rd French regiments were also in skirmishing order through some thickly wooded ravines. Two powerful soldiers attacked him—in fact, he had run against them in the smoke—and he must inevitably have been killed or taken had he not rid himself of one with his revolver, while Captain Schönforst passed his long straight sword through the body of the other.

But the Prussian drums were now beating a retreat. It was impossible for the small force in Saarbrück—a mere weak advanced guard—to withstand the many battalions sent against it by the Emperor, especially as the attacking force was supported by an entire battery of mitrailleuses.

The affair was a skirmish rather than a battle, and ended by the town being set on fire, and the thick columns of smoke from the burning houses rose from amid the trees, rolled along the railway embankments, and added to the obscurity and confusion. Amid this rang the roar of the red flashing musketry, and the horrible shrieking of the mitrailleuse. The latter we may describe for the information of the reader is a four-pound gun, divided into twenty-five compartments by as many rifle barrels, all loaded at the breech by cartridges, and all discharged at once, the loading only requiring five actions, by which seven thousand eight hundred balls can be discharged in one hour into a circle of twelve feet in diameter.

It was by the fire of one of these that Charlie saw an event which was one of the most touching scenes in the war. His skirmishers had been driven by the French 23rd close to the railway bank, and near them lay a Zouave, terribly wounded in the lungs apparently. The poor man's agony was frightful. He was past speech, and could only clasp his hands in prayer, cross himself, and point imploringly to his mouth.

A kindly sergeant of the 95th uncorked his water-bottle, and raising the Frenchman's head, was about to slake his thirst, when the shrieking sound was heard amid the smoke close by. Out of that smoke came the leaden storm of the mitrailleuse, and the Prussian and the Zouave were literally blown to fragments.

Over the railway bank the Thuringians were now driven, and everywhere the whole Prussian line was giving way! The moment the Emperor became aware of this, with generous humanity he ordered the mitrailleuses to cease firing, and thus arrested the useless carnage.

As yet Charlie Pierrepont had escaped without a scratch, though frequently the very sod beneath his feet was torn and sowed by balls. Though the French obtained possession of Saarbrück—the last troops out of which were the Thuringians—the Prussians still continued to lurk in the village of St. Johann, on the further side of the Saar, and in the thick woods beyond it, from whence the white smoke spirted out in incessant puffs as their well-concealed skirmishers kept up a galling fire on the enemy.

This gradually ceased, and the shadows of evening began to deepen over Saarbrück, and on the faces of the dead and dying who lay by the sedgy banks of the once peaceful river. The fishers had fled, abandoning their tubs and baskets; no figures were seen moving on either side now save those of men in various uniforms; and terrified by the unnatural din that then had seemed to rend the sky, the little birds were seen to grovel amid the reeds and grass, as if too scared to seek their nests in those thickets around which the tide of carnage rolled.

The advanced sentinels were posted for the night, and under the shelter of a shattered cottage wall. Charlie Pierrepont, Heinrich, and Captain Schönforst congratulated each other that they all escaped untouched, and sat down amid the debris of what had once been a cabbage-garden, to enjoy an humble repast, some German sausage, a few slices of bread, and the contents of their water-bottles, dashed with cognac.

The telegram which, on that same evening, the Baron Rhineberg so duly reported at Frankenburg, thereby piercing, as with a poniard, the heart of Ernestine, was correct in some of its details, as the first man killed in the Franco-Prussian war was an Englishman—but not Charlie.

Prior to the affair at Saarbrück, twenty Baden troopers, led by a Mr. Winslow, made a dash into France at Lauterburg, and galloping on as far as Niederbronn, in open daylight, cut all the telegraph wires along the line of railway there. They halted next morning to breakfast at a French farmhouse, when they were surprised, and, in the combat that ensued, Winslow was cut down and slain.

The terror and anxiety of Ernestine were, however, short-lived, as Heinrich's letter, written next morning, contained an enclosure for her that gave her a blessed relief.



In talking over the stirring events of the past day, Captain Schönforst sat drawing out his fair fly-away whiskers to their full length, and then stuffing them into his mouth, as if to stifle his indignation at the Emperor Napoleon, for, like many other German officers at this time, he was loud in condemning him for bringing the Prince Imperial, a mere boy, under fire.

'You forget, Herr Captain,' said Charlie, 'that princes have a great political game to play in this world, and that the heir of a throne should always be a soldier.'

'But a boy—a mere boy—to be brought into action!' persisted the Captain.

'Well. The sooner his nerves are strung, the better, I think; and we must remember that boys are employed in navies as well as in armies, and it is no more inhuman to have a prince under fire than a midshipman or drummer boy.'

So the worthy captain was convinced, though much against his will.

We have no intention of afflicting the reader with a history of the terrible Franco-Prussian war; but we cannot omit the details of some of those events in which Charlie Pierrepont and his comrades, the Thuringians, bore a share.

Serious disasters followed the slight success won by the French at Saarbrück, when the Crown Prince of Prussia, two days after, made a furious attack on their right flank, which rested on a high hill called the Geisberg, just within the frontier of France and a little south-east of Saarbrück. All round the Geisberg the country is hilly and woody, with cultivated fields, detached cottages nestling among vines and flowers, and here and there pretty little hamlets.

Just as grey dawn stole in on the morning of the 4th of August, and when the French troops on the Geisberg were cooking their breakfasts and drinking their coffee quietly between their piles of arms, and looking from time to time into the beautiful pastoral valley, suddenly a storm of shells burst over them. The air seemed alive with fire and falling bombs, while, at the same moment, the whole town of Weissenburg, close by, burst into flames.

Unseen by, and unknown to the French, the Crown Prince of Prussia had established a terrible battery of guns on the heights of Schweigen, a village on the other side of the river, and these guns were supported by a vast force, variously estimated from 50,000 to 100,000 men.

On and about the Geisberg were only 10,000 French troops.

The country on the Bavarian side of the Lauter is so thickly wooded, that the approach of the Crown Prince's army was quite concealed; not a bayonet flashed out from amid the foliage; not a standard was seen to waver; hence the men on the Geisberg suddenly found themselves confronted by a vast host that crossed the river at various points, the first to plunge in being the Thuringians, with stentorian shouts of

'Vorwarts! Vorwarts! Hoch Germania!'

A young fähnrich (or ensign), a mere boy, carrying the King's colour, was shot through the head, and was being swept down the stream with the pole in his grasp, when Schönforst wrenched it away; and the standard, all bloody and dripping, was shouldered by another subaltern.

Pierrepont could see nothing of what was being done at any other point than where his regiment crossed; but in a few minutes he found himself out of the water, and into clouds of smoke, through gaps in which, when made by the morning breeze, he could see the dusky columns of the enemy—the red-breeched Zouaves in their variegated Oriental costume, their necks bare, and their bearded faces dark and brown, and a corps of Voltigeurs in blue faced with white.

Up the Geisberg went the Prussian troops, cheering, and with a rush—up so fast that the mounted officers were cantering their horses—and with a rush the hill was carried, after a short, sharp hand-to-hand conflict, though here the dark, savage Turcos fought with desperation and incredible bravery, charging many times with the bayonet, though their ranks were torn to pieces by grape-shot.

General Douay, commanding the French, was here killed by a shell. His fate was a very melancholy one, and a noble instance of self-sacrifice.

On seeing the battle hopelessly lost, he stood sadly apart on a little mound, watching the last desperate struggles of his fast-falling infantry. He then issued some final orders to the officers of his staff, and began to descend the slope of the mound alone. At its base he dismounted, and slaying his horse, as Roland did at the battle of Roncesvalles (but with a pistol), he drew his sword, and began to ascend the opposite slope of the Geisberg.

'Where are you going, Monsieur le General?' cried some of his soldiers, in astonishment.

'To meet the enemy,' he replied, through his clenched teeth.

They continued to dissuade him, but in vain. Sword in hand he continued to advance, calmly and alone, till a passing shell struck him dead.

General Montmarie, and many other brave officers, fell at the head of their men; and, on this day, was inaugurated that series of rapid disasters to France that never ended till the Prussian drums woke the echoes of the Arc de Triomphe at Paris.

The troops were considerably broken as they fought their way up the hill, and some of the King's Grenadiers got mingled among the 95th. Carl missed Heinrich from his place on the left of the company. 'Heavens!' thought he, 'has he fallen?'

Looking round, even at the risk of being struck by a bullet from behind, he saw him about fifty yards in the rear, in the grasp of a savage-looking and powerfully built Turco, whose left hand was on Heinrich's throat, while, with his unfixed bayonet, the socket of which he grasped dagger-fashion in his right, he was making vain efforts to stab and thrust—we say vain efforts, for, though Heinrich had lost his sword in the fray, he had firm possession of the Turco's right wrist.

While the two were wrenching and swaying to and fro, the black eyes of the swarthy Turco flashing fire, and his teeth glistening white as he hissed and muttered curses through them, a second Turco, not far off, took aim at Heinrich with his chassepot, and fired, but missed. He threw open the breech of the weapon to insert another cartridge; but ere he could close it, Pierrepont, quick as thought, snatched a needle-gun from the nearest soldier, took steady aim at him, and fired. The ball pierced the left side of the Turco, who bounded three feet from the ground, made a kind of half-turn in the air, and then fell flat on his face motionless.

When the smoke cleared away, Charlie saw his friend with a breathless and half-strangled expression hurrying towards him, having been freed from the Turco by the bayonet of a Westphalian. He had saved her brother; and from that gory field, his heart—his thoughts—flashed home to Ernestine.

It was now two o'clock p.m.; by this time the French were in full and rapid retreat, followed by the Prussian flying artillery, as they fell back upon the line of Bitsch. The Geisberg was won, but the slaughter on both sides was terrible. The French fought nobly. Fourteen men of the 24th regiment were all that were left alive of that corps at the close of the day; and even those refused to surrender, but kept fighting on at the point of the bayonet until the Prussians, not liking to kill them, rushed upon them in a body and threw them down by wrestling.

On the corpse-encumbered Geisberg the glorious old valour of France was conspicuous as ever; but her troops were badly officered and badly led.

Night came down on the field; the quiet stars were reflected in the placid bosom of the river, and heavy were the moans, and loud sometimes the screams of anguish from the wounded. The sisters of charity began to flit about like good angels, and the bells were rung in Weissenberg to muster the firemen for the burial of the dead.

To follow the 96th in detail through all the subsequent operations would be foreign to our story; suffice it that after the attack by the Crown Prince on the 6th of August, and the outflanking of Marshal MacMahon, after the desperate battle at Worth, Charlie Pierrepont and young Frankenburg found themselves still without a wound, hurrying in pursuit of the fugitive French, who were in full retreat towards Strasburg.

Their brigade halted for the night, and bivouacked among some vineyards near a little village.

Now that he had been so often under fire, Charlie Pierrepont looked back with surprise to the days when, in Frankenburg, he had hoped that a French bullet might kill him! But that was before he had told his love and had been accepted; before that happy day in the Dom Kirche.

Life seemed very different now; it was both precious and valuable!

The staff officers occupied all the cottages in the village, so Charlie, like other regimental officers, had to sleep among his men; and thus, weary and worn, Charlie muffled himself in his ample blue cloak, and with his sword and revolver beside him, went to roost under the shelter of a haystack. Undisturbed by the falling dew, by the occasional beat of a drum or sound of a trumpet, as the field-officers of the night paraded and inspected the out-pickets, the hoarse challenges of the German sentinels, and the clatter of ambulance waggons carrying wounded to the rear, he slept soundly, yet not so soundly as not to have after some strange rambling flights about old Rugby, and a delicious dream of Ernestine, which from its vividity made a great impression on him then, and was to make a still greater, when a future episode came to pass.

In the visions of the night she came to him as distinctly as she had ever appeared to him in reality, and bent over him tenderly and pityingly, as he lay there in that miserable bivouac, with a bundle of hay under his head, and he heard her murmuring softly—oh, so softly, in his ear—

'My darling, my own darling!'

Then, as a gush of her nature, which was ever passionate, deep, and earnest, came over her, she knelt by his side ere he could rise, and drew his head lovingly and caressingly on her soft breast, with her hands clasped under his chin—

'Oh, my Carl, how weary and how worn you look!' she continued, kissing his cheek, on which her tears were falling, while the light of love, triumph, and joy shone in her beautiful eyes.

'I think of you by day and night, my love, my wife, my own wife that is to be,' murmured Carl in his sleep; 'you are indeed my guardian angel.'

He pressed her to his breast, and starting, awoke, to find it all but a dream; that the clock of the French village was striking the hour of three, and that around him were the weary Thuringians, sleeping in their blue greatcoats and spiked helmets, between their piles of loaded muskets, but to his half-awakened senses her voice seemed to linger in his ear, and he still felt her soft warm kiss on his lips.

He closed his eyes and strove to sleep, in the hope of that dear vision coming back again; but he strove in vain: he was thoroughly awakened now; so dreams or slumber come no more to Charlie Pierrepont.

The dawn of the 7th August came in, and the Prussian troops began their march on Forbach.



The events of the war succeeded each other with frightful speed. Marshal MacMahon's spirited address to the army and his promise, 'with God's help, soon to take a brilliant revenge,' failed to inspire with courage the troops of France, whose military prowess seemed gone. The excitement in the army and at Paris grew terrible. Saarbrück was retaken by the Prussians; the French were again defeated at Forbach; vast bodies of prisoners taken in battle or by capitulation began to pour through the towns of Germany, where they were kindly received; the once great Empire of France seemed tottering to its fall, and on the 13th of August the Prussian scouts were at Pont-à-Mousson, on the Moselle.

Then, more fully to cut off MacMahon's communications with Metz, the 95th Thuringians, now greatly reduced in strength by fighting, and other troops, took post in the pleasant valley where the river divides the town in two parts. The town was soon filled by Prussian troops, but the hardy Thuringians pitched their tents near a village on the bank of the river, on a pretty wooded slope; and there on the first evening of the halt, Charlie received some intelligence from Frankenburg, which caused him much perplexity and thought.

Most of the furniture from the village had been brought into camp; before the tent of Captain Schönforst stood a table and chairs, and there he, with Charlie, Heinrich, and two other officers, sat smoking and drinking, and making merry, while their servants prepared a repast for them.

The aspect of the camp was very picturesque; it was now the beginning of evening, the August sun was sinking behind a wooded mountain range, the 'blue Moselle' looked bluer than ever between its green and fertile banks, and the rooks were cawing noisily overhead in the stately old beeches, amid which the tents of the 95th were pitched.

A single day's halt had enabled the officers to remove all the mud of the march; parade suits of uniform with fresh lace had been donned in lieu of old 'fighting jackets;' boots were polished and spurs burnished, and Schönforst wore a sword of which he was justly vain, as he had received it from the hands of King William after a battle in the campaign of 1866, when he was but a feldwebel, but won his silver shoulder-straps by bravery.

On all sides the men were cleaning their muskets, cutting wood, lighting fires, carrying water from the stream, singing merrily, and many of them in chorus.

'Well, Schönforst,' said one of his guests, Herr Donnersberg, a thoughtless young fähnrich, 'I feel that I have an appetite—what is your speise-karte for to-day?'

'The bill of fare shows rather an omnium gatherum,' replied the Captain, thrusting nearly half a pound of tobacco into the bowl of his pipe; 'but the chief feature in it is a goose, now broiling on ramrods. One of our foragers gave it to me this morning for a couple of kreutzers and a bottle of cognac.'

'Excellent!' replied the other, 'though it is a bird, which an English gourmand said "was too much for one, but not quite enough for two."

'Here is my contribution to the repast,' said Heinrich, producing from his tent a square case bottle of prime Geneva 'per Johann de Kuy, Rotterdam,' which he had picked up somewhere on the march.

'So, as we have nothing better than Geneva and beer,' said the Captain, 'it will be useless to discuss the question as to the aroma of Veuve Clicquot, as compared with that of sparkling hock or Sillery.'

'Hock!' cried the other; 'wait till our drums are ringing among the vineyards of Champagne!'

The goose was pronounced excellent, and soon disappeared with all Schönforst's own viands; the bowled pipes were again resorted to, and when Charlie produced a bottle of cognac from his tent, the serious business of the evening began, with the usual amount of rough military joking; and Schönforst was making them all laugh noisily and heartily, with an account of how Herr Major Rumpenfalz, just before the Westphalians marched, had married the frolicsome widow of a Hofrath, and on waking in the morning found his bride's golden hair on the toilette table, and her pearly teeth in the tumbler out of which the Herr Major was about to take his matutinal draught of cold water. While they were still laughing at this, or rather at the manner in which Schönforst related it, an officer who was passing suddenly paused, and—

'A glass with you, gentlemen!'

'With pleasure,' replied Schönforst, handing him a bumper of brandy and water.

'The Kaiser!' said the stranger, on which all started to their feet and drank the toast, standing with their caps off. Though wearing the usual spike-helmet, a plain blue surtout, with silver shoulder-straps, and a little eight-pointed cross at his neck, in the closely shaven face, the resolute mouth and square jaws, the stern grey eyes and aquiline nose of their visitor, they all recognised the Count Von Moltke—the spirit of the war, 'that embodied fate who prepared in mystery and gloom the blows that were to fall on mighty armaments, and in a few weeks to reduce great military powers to ruin and humiliation.'

'I have news for you, gentlemen,' said he. 'The Emperor has resigned the command of the French army to Marshal Bazaine, so he will have to make the great stand at Metz, where he has one hundred and forty thousand men, with two hundred and eighty pieces of cannon.'

He then put two fingers to the peak of his helmet, and walked slowly away, leaving them to discuss the probable turn events might take now; but jollity was soon resumed.

Charlie was rather silent and thoughtful; for sooth to say, the vivid nature of his dream still haunted him; and Heinrich, who knew well where his thoughts were, gave him a clap on the epaulette, and began to sing a verse of an old love song:


'They that behold me little dream
How wide my spirit soars from them,
And, borne on fancy's pinions, roves
To seek the glorious form it loves.

'Know that a faithful herald flies
To bear her image to my eyes,
My constant thought for ever telling
How fair she is, all else excelling!'

'Pass the bottle, Carl,' he added; 'let us be merry; weep when you must, but laugh when you can. Vive la bagatelle! as these Frenchmen have it.'

At that moment a Uhlan came spurring into camp with letters for the brigade from the field post; those for the 95th were soon distributed: there was one for Heinrich from Herminia, with another for Charlie enclosed, and both became at once deep in their contents by the last light of the sun. Ernestine's letter was very long, and so crossed and recrossed that the perusal of it occupied a long time. Ere he had read a few lines, Heinrich said:

'I do not know whether I should show you this, Carl.'


'A passage in Herminia's letter.'

'About whom?' asked Charlie anxiously.

'Ernestine—my sister.'

'Read it, pray; anything is better than suspense.'

'Herminia writes, "Poor Ernestine seems to fret fearfully. There is a flush on her cheeks such as often precedes but more often follows pallor; and all her actions, figure, and manner are indicative of listlessness and ill-health."'

'My poor darling!' said Charlie, in a low agitated voice.

'"Surely her mamma will have some pity upon her," continued Herminia; "the Baron Grünthal has returned to Aix, and though his gout still continues——"'

'Praised be Plutus!' commented Charlie; 'I wish the nasty old beast was at the bottom of the Red Sea.'

'"And though it does not improve his temper, he has become very anxious and importunate."'

'Curse him! I hope the gout may get into his Excellency's stomach.'

'"The Count and Countess begin to hint now that as the war will too probably be a protracted one, it was unwise to wait for Heinrich's presence at this odious marriage. How Aunt Adelaide pores over the Gazettes—those dreadful Gazettes!" And now, Herr Carl, all that follows are little bon-bons for my own perusal.'

Innocent Herminia little knew that her aunt watched the war Gazettes with the double hope that Heinrich's name was not in them, and that Charlie's was—or might be.

Poor Charlie! Her ladyship was to be gratified one day, however.

'What news from Ernestine?' asked Heinrich, when Charlie had finished the perusal of his letter; 'I feel as anxious about these girls at Frankenburg, as if I was Rip Van Winkle after his long snooze in the Sleepy Hollow.'

But Charlie made no reply; he sat with the letter in his hand, and lost in thought.

'What is the matter, my friend?' asked Heinrich. 'There is something more in your letter than there is in mine?'

'There is, indeed!' replied Charlie, in a strange voice, as he drained his glass.

'Good news?'

'No, Heinrich.'

'Bad news, then?'

'No, thank Heaven!' replied Charlie fervently.

'What, then, agitates you?'

'That which I cannot tell you. That which you cannot understand.'

'Carl!' exclaimed Heinrich.

'Pardon me—another time, and I may tell you. Oh, Heinrich, your sister, Ernestine, is indeed the world's one woman to me!' he exclaimed, with deep emotion; and, heedless of Schönforst and the rest, he rose from the table, walked into his tent, and threw himself on the pallet which was his couch, to re-peruse the letter of his betrothed.

The following was the passage at the end of her letter which caused him so much thought and bewilderment:

'Oh, Carl! Carl! what is separation but a living death—a blank in life—a place vacant?' ('How prone the girl is to speak of death!' thought Charlie.) 'But I am ever and always with you in spirit, my love. Do you ever dream of me, Carl? I ask this because last night I had such a delicious dream of you.'

'Last night,' thought Charlie, glancing again at the date of her letter—'7th' August; 'last night must have been the 6th, when we bivouacked in the stackyard, and I had such a vivid dream of her.'

'I imagined, love, Carl,' continued the letter, 'that I came upon you suddenly, when you were lying on the cold earth in your cloak, as I fear you too often are compelled to do. A great horror seized me! I thought you were dead, you looked so white and wasted; but a sudden joy came into my poor heart when I found you were but asleep. I drew your dear head upon my bosom, as a mother might do her baby's, and caressed you, calling you "My darling!" "My very own darling!" so distinctly that Herminia heard me speaking in my sleep.

'And then you kissed me, Carl, with such tender and passionate kisses as you gave me on that dear day in the Hoch Munster, and called me your little wife and your guardian angel. I was then startled by the great hall clock striking three in the morning, and awoke to weep on finding that it was all a dream, but a dear, dear dream to me.'

These were the actions and words of Charlie's dream, and he remembered that when he awoke the hour of three was tolled in the village spire!

'What can it mean?' he exclaimed, tossing his thick curly hair back from his forehead, impatiently—a way he had; 'the mystery of dreams is unfathomable; they are, indeed, "strange—passing strange!" The same dream, yet we are miles upon miles apart! The same words spoken and heard!—the same night!—the same hour and moment of time!'

Was there some magnetic influence at work? Some spiritual affinity, born of this great love, between these two? It almost seemed so.

Charlie Pierrepont, a matter-of-fact young officer, knew as little of the famous Dr. Emmerson's theories of polarity and odic force, as he did of the Philosophy of the Infinite, or any other abstruse speculation of the present day.

Though bewildered and perplexed, as we have said, it gave him a thrill of strange delight to think how strong, and yet how tender, must be the tie of love between him and Ernestine to produce a spiritual intercourse like this; and lest they might be laughed at by the heedless Heinrich, it was not until some days subsequent to the arrival of her letter that he revealed its contents to her brother, to whom, fortunately for the corroboration of the story, he had told of his vivid dream on the morning it occurred, before the regiment marched from the village.



A few days after the Thuringians and others advanced from the Moselle, the quiet family in the old Schloss of Frankenburg assembled as usual at breakfast. The old butler had cut and aired the morning papers—the Staats Anzeiger, the Cologne Gazette, the Extra Blatt, and so forth, and laid them beside the Count. The two young ladies were there in most becoming morning toilets, and there, too, was the Herr Baron Grünthal. The hour was an unusual one for his Excellency to be at Frankenburg, but he had been dining there the evening before; a storm had come on, and, to the infinite annoyance of Ernestine, he had accepted the Count's invitation to remain all night.

With the single exception of absurd family pride and the consequent tyranny over Ernestine, the general tenor of the Count's household presented a fair example of German domestic life.

'The serious character of a people,' says the translator of Schiller's poem 'The Glocke,' 'who begin the common business of everyday life with prayer, who attach importance as well to the manner of performing an action as to the action itself, the custom of travelling, either in their own or in foreign countries, in the interval between the completion of their education and their settlement in life, the domestic manners, where great attention is paid to the minutiæ of domestic economy,' are all, he maintains, peculiar to the German people.

As southerns, the family of Frankenburg were more gay and lively in manner than Germans usually are, for being nearer the Rhine they had been for generations insensibly under French influences; yet they were all German, to the heart's core.

Ernestine was looking crushed and pale. The self-conscious air that a really beautiful girl usually possesses had nearly left her now; while Herminia, happy in her love, and having but one anxiety—the safety of Heinrich—looked bright and radiant as ever.

In a letter from Heinrich to her, Ernestine had been told the story of the strangely coincident dreams; and to a romantic and enthusiastic girl like her—one deeply imbued, too, with German mysticism—the idea that she had thus communed and met, and might again commune with and meet her lover in the spirit, was a source of the purest joy. Every night she laid her head on the pillow in the hope that her soul might fly to him; but as yet no more such visions had come.

And this brave-hearted and handsome young Englishman—Carl, her own Carl—he was risking wounds and death, enduring toil and suffering for the Kaiser, for Germany, and for her; for well she knew that Charlie Pierrepont identified her image with the Fatherland. Then how cruel it was of the Countess to view him so, and to treat him as she did; and again and again she asked in her heart—

'Is it a crime to love?'

But rank was the joss, the idol that was worshipped in Frankenburg.

However, she had Charlie's ring on her finger, and a curly lock of his hair in a gold locket, reposing in the cleft of her white bosom, all unknown to the Herr Baron, and to all, save Herminia, who could now see the blue ribbon at which it hung encircling her slender neck; and in her bosom, too, she had his last letter, a mere scrap, but full of love and truth and great tenderness; and yet he wrote of pay and poverty. Ob, how hard it was when youth alone should be money, beauty, wealth, and everything.

'Ernestine, meine liebe,' the Countess would say from time to time, 'attend to the Herr Baron—assist him with your own pretty hands. Dear girl! she is always so bright when you are here, Grünthal. She must be doubly happy to see you this morning, after only leaving you last night.'

But poor Ernestine looked anything but happy or bright either, and the Baron, though a lover, was middle-aged; hence his raptures did not spoil his appetite, and he made genuine German breakfast, demolishing steaks, potatoes, rolls, eggs, and coffee, in the most unromantic way in the world.

His hair was turning iron-grey, and on his pericranium was a bald spot the size of a Prussian dollar. He limped a little in his gait—there was no concealing that devilish gout—yet he looked surprisingly young. He was attired in an elegant morning-coat with pale-coloured trousers, a scarlet flower as well as a red ribbon at his button-hole. His hair was brushed up into a stiff bristly pyramid in front; but his face looked flabby now, and his coarse moustache, like that of a walrus, overhung his mouth.

Though suspicious, as we have said elsewhere, concerning that visit to the Dom Kirche, and the mistake about the colour of the marble of Charlemagne's throne, he had not the slightest idea that he had a rival so formidable as Charlie Pierrepont, or that he, Herr Baron Grünthal, Oberdirector of the Consistory Court, could have any rival at all!

Yet there was one thing he could not help remarking—that of all the many handsome presents he had sent Ernestine, from Berlin and elsewhere, not one was ever to be seen on her slender wrists, her fairy-like hand, or round her delicate throat.

This surely boded ill for him as a lover! He found himself, however, highly acceptable to her family, and the marriage once over, all that was necessary would be sure to come after. Whenever he was present or expected, the Countess always seemed, somehow, unusually large and rustling, and on this morning was especially so, in white lace over back moiré, with her high toupée—it was quite an evening costume she had donned.

The meal was taken somewhat silently, for at times:

'When great events were on the gale,
And each hour brought a varying tale;'

and when newspaper correspondents were often fallacious and fallible, the gazettes were unfolded with fear and trembling, and the arrival of a telegram was quite sufficient to terrify the quiet household at Frankenburg.

The Count and Baron, with spectacles on nose, had skimmed over the papers, which contained nothing to alarm them in the way of friends' names among the lists of killed and wounded in the action of the 14th of August; but the Baron read aloud, with peculiar unction, some of those barbarous reports and stories with which the French and German papers then teemed of cruelties perpetrated on both sides. No one knew then whether they were false or true; but they served to fan and inflame the hatred of the adverse parties to fever heat.

The Baron read that many of the dead Arabs and Turcos at Freshweiler were found with fragments of human flesh—torn from the German wounded—between their jaws; that a Saxon officer, who had been struck by a bullet, and taken shelter in the house of a peasant, where he fainted from loss of blood, had his eyes torn out by a woman armed with a fork. These and many other details of atrocities, which actually found their way into the London papers, he read for the edification of the ladies, while Ernestine and Herminia exchanged glances of horror and commiseration, as much as to say how awful it was to think that those they loved so dearly had to run the risk of perils such as these!

Even the Countess forgot her Spitz pug, and a piece of mysterious crochet, that seemed endless as the web of Penelope, while listening to the news, and far away from her peaceful home her thoughts followed her son, to where in the fields, the lanes, the valleys, and pretty hamlets of Alsace and Lorraine, and in places then rendered deserts, there lay in hundreds—yea, in thousands—the hopes of families, the heads of homes, the source of many a broken heart!

Suddenly the Baron raised his voice, and a strange gleam passed over his face.

'Der Teufel!' he exclaimed; 'here is the name of a friend of yours—in the Extra Blatt?

'Of mine—who?' asked the Count.

'We regret to learn by a recent telegram from the seat of war that a party of the 95th Thuringian Regiment met with a severe misfortune, and lost two officers. Herr Lieutenant Pierrepont fell, it is believed, mortally wounded——'

The Baron paused and changed colour; the Countess grew pale, but with a smile of grim satisfaction on her lips; the Count said:

'Poor fellow—poor fellow!'

A low cry escaped Ernestine, who fell forward with her face on the table, and her arms stretched upon it at full length; but this emotion failed to avert the attention of the Baron, whose eyes, now dilated, were fixed on the newspaper. He was very pale, and shook his head slowly, as he said to the Count:

'Ach Gott—the worst is yet to come. Compose yourself, my dear friend.'

'Read—read—it is the name of my son—my Heinrich, that you see,' said the Countess, in a breathless voice.

'It is, madam. "Herr Lieutenant Pierrepont fell, it is believed, mortally wounded——"'

'You read that already; what matters it to me?'

'"And the Herr Graf Von Frankenburg was taken prisoner, and hanged by the Francs Tireurs!" Oh, my friends,' added the Baron, 'I beseech you to suspend your grief for a time; it may all be some terrible mistake, to be cleared up in the end.'

'We seem fated to have startling tidings here!' groaned the poor old Count, as his wife flung herself in a passion of tears upon his breast.



And now to relate that catastrophe which caused such grief and horror to the hearts of all in that hitherto peaceful German home.

We have said that on the 13th of August the Prussian advanced guard was at Pont-à-Mousson. The following day saw them defiling, with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets flashing in the sun, across the great bridge which there spans the Moselle, and gives its name to the town. This was on a Sunday morning, after the Herr Pastor of the 95th had preached on the text of 'Peace on earth and goodwill to all men'—French excepted, apparently—as the Colonel, while the regiment was yet in a hollow square, issued special orders as to the cleaning of the needle-guns and mode of carrying the ammunition in the pouches.

General Steinmetz having orders to make a demonstration against the French troops lying between him and the great fortress of Metz, at two o'clock on the afternoon of Sunday ordered his seventh corps, including the Thuringians and Westphalians, under General Von Zastrow, to proceed to the attack.

As if inspired by one of those presentiments of coming evil that come unbidden to many, and at times to the bravest of soldiers, on this day Charlie Pierrepont was unusually taciturn, thoughtful, and sunk in reverie. 'Rouse yourself, Carl, rouse!' Heinrich said to him, cheerfully; 'you have had a little romance that is not yet ended. The enemy is before us, and war brings promotion and glory.'

'To some.'

'And to others, Carl?'

'Death, perhaps.'

'Why so gloomy in an hour like this?' asked his friend.

'Life, Heinrich, is, alas! so full of the unforeseen!'

'Of course; but life has pleasant things in store for you yet. You have been having some gloomy dream of our Ernestine again.'

'I have not,' replied Charlie, with a sad smile.

'All will yet be well and happy for you both. My sister does not require to look for wealth or position. These she had already, and the Baron of Grünthal is lower in rank than a Grafine of the family of Frankenburg,' he added so proudly, that there was much in his tone and bearing which reminded Charlie of the Countess, his mother.

'This brigade will deploy into line, and throw forward skirmishers from the flank of each regiment,' were now the orders of General Von Zastrow; 'the other brigades will deploy in succession.'

And, on the spur, his aides-de-camp went skurrying hither and thither to the commanders of battalions to have the requisite formation completed with as little delay as possible.

'Take courage, Carl,' said Heinrich; 'my dear sister shall yet be your wife—or the wife of no one else.'

'You forget that, save my pay, I am all but penniless. A terrible crime in the eyes of the Grafine Adelaide.'

'Penniless girls are often married for their beauty,' said young Frankenburg, laughing; 'why should not a penniless man be married for his talents or bravery?'

And, as the subdivisions were somewhat apart, those two brothers in heart shook hands, saluted each other with their swords, and took their places in the new alignement.

The day was a bright and beautiful one. Over all Lorraine the green woods and vineyards seemed to be sleeping in the glowing summer sunshine, and the scared peasant near Courcelles Chaussy paused in his work with the sweat on his brow, and spoke with bated breath, as the marching troops went past to death and slaughter, and his honest sunburnt face grew pale, perhaps at the thought of what might be.

Around Ars and Grigy, Borny and Colombey, and many other hamlets and picturesque chateaux, the cattle, rich in colour and sleek in hide, were chewing the cud among the knee-deep pastures; the fresh blue streams ran on their course as if rejoicing to escape the scenes of blood that were about to ensue; the blue kingfishers flitted about, and the sparrows twittered in the green hedge-rows, the branches of which were matted and intertwined with gorgeous wild flowers. The corn was waving in the ripening fields, the swallows skimmed in the air, and from their cottage doors the buxom peasant girls, their cheeks dusky with southern blood and their black eyes sparkling with tears and terror, stood by their mother's side and watched in sorrow and terror the forward march of the Prussian troops to conquest and carnage, and the village bells, from more than one Gothic spire, rang out the hour that was to be the death-knell of thousands closing in the shock of steel.

The moment the formation of the infantry in line was complete, the cavalry scouts went galloping to the front, and in a few minutes a green ridge in front of the Prussian infantry was studded by Uhlans, with their figures and tall lances clearly defined against the pure blue of the sky. Anon, these weapons were slung, and pistols were resorted to, and a sharp cracking of these announced that the enemy was in sight.

In a cloud of dust, a body of dragoons in close column of troops now poured along the broad highway, with swords and helmets flashing in the sun. There were the escort of the artillery, which came rumbling along, with rammers and sponges ready for use, the limber-boxes unlocked, the gunners ready to leap down, and wheel their muzzles to the enemy.

When deploying from close column into line, the companies marched over everything, treading to mud and mire the golden grain—the hope of the husbandman and farmer; while the horses of the cavalry ate it standing in their ranks.

Resolutely marched on the Prussian infantry, each man with his blue greatcoat rolled over his right shoulder, the deadly zundnadelgewehr with bayonet fixed, sloped on his left shoulder, the chain of his helmet down, lest it should fall off in the mêlée. The Uhlans fell back round the flanks, and then the French were seen lurking in rifle-pits, which on one hand afforded them protection, and, on the other, enabled them over the little earthen banks to take sure aim at the invaders.

These rifle-pits and other defences extended over a considerable space of ground, from Colombey, with its fields of scarlet poppies, to Ars-sur-Moselle (so famous for its red wines), including Laguenxey, Grigy, and Borny, all pretty little hamlets. The firing first began at the village of Ste. Barbe, within seven miles from the walls of Metz, in front of which were the principal corps of the French army under Marshal Bazaine, according to the Prussian account.

The fire from the chassepots was deadly, and in their eagerness to come to close quarters, the Prussian officers were seen brandishing their straight-cutting swords and heard crying—

'Vorwarts! vorwarts! Hoch Germania!'

On the other hand the French were not slow in crying—

'En avant! en avant! à bas la Prusse, et vive la France.' For they were ceasing to shout the Emperor's name now.

The whole of the villages had to be stormed by the Prussians in succession. The French resisted nobly; hence the slaughter was terrible. In one rifle-pit alone there lay seven hundred and eighty-one corpses; the chateau of Colombey was taken and recaptured three times at the point of the bayonet.

The livelong day the battle lasted over all the ground before Metz, seven and a half miles in length. The air was loaded with the smoke of cannon and musketry, enveloping alike the dead and wounded, who lay everywhere, in fields and gardens, under hedgerows and hayricks, in vineyards and rifle-pits.

The Prussians were every moment receiving fresh reinforcements, and the troops of Bazaine, unable to check their advance, fell slowly back upon Metz, but fighting every foot of the way.

The 95th were at the third capture of the Chateau of Colombey, out of which the French Voltigeurs were driven in a fair hand-to-hand conflict, leaving behind them a vast number of wounded and slain. Among the former, supporting himself against a fragment of the shot-shattered wall, was a French captain bleeding profusely from a wound in the breast.

The fähnrich of Charlie's company, young Donnersberg, approached and offered him his handkerchief to staunch the bleeding, when the Frenchman, inspired by some sudden gust of national hate and rancour, uttered 'a good garrison oath,' and with all the strength that yet remained in his arm, ran his sword through the body of the German, and killed him on the spot.

Both fell nearly at the same time, as two or three bayonets clashed in the body of the Frenchman, who lay over a pile of dead, bleeding from several wounds. A few minutes after, Charlie chanced to pass where he still lay in the courtyard of the chateau, to all appearance dead. On his breast was the handsome white enamelled Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, conspicuous among his Crimean medals.

'A present for my Ernestine!' thought he; 'and it is no use now to this treacherous fellow.'

'Not yet, not yet,' muttered the Frenchman, while his white lips quivered and his blood-shot glazing eyes turned slowly on Charlie; 'accursed Prussian, I am not yet done with it.'

Charlie drew back. He would have taken it from the dead man without compunction, but shrank from touching the living.

'A little time—a little time,' moaned the Frenchman, 'and I shall indeed be done with it, and all—earthly things.'

'Pardon me,' said Charlie, and was about to pass on, when the Frenchman spoke again.

'Water,' said he, in a low piteous voice, like a sigh; 'one drop of water on my lips, for the love of God!'

Charlie glanced for a moment at the body of young Donnersberg that lay close by, with the Voltigeur's sword nearly up to the hilt in his breast; and then, inspired by pity, placed his water-bottle to the lips of his slayer, whose face was ghastly now and covered with the dew of death.

'Merci! Merci! I am dying!' said he. 'Take my cross, or less worthy hands will soon do so,' he added, trying with a feeble and fatuous hand to detach the ornament from his breast; 'but what will you do with it?'

'Hang it round the neck of her I love,' replied Charlie, who spoke French fluently, and hoping its destination might please a Frenchman's love of gallantry.

'Take it, then. Take it,' replied the latter, as he rent the cross from his breast by a last effort; 'take it, accursed Prussian!' he hissed, through his clenched teeth, 'and when you hang it round the neck of her you love, may she be like—like me!'

'What mean you?'

'A corpse!'

With this dreadful and inhuman wish, the vindictive Gaul sank back; a deadlier pallor overspread his features—there was a terrible sound in his throat, and all was over. For a moment Charlie stood bewildered, with the cross in his hand, and half-tempted to cast it from him. But he changed his mind, and carefully placed it in his breast-pocket as a souvenir for Ernestine of the battles before Metz, and hurried to join the shattered remnant of his regiment, now hurrying with others, double-quick, to take part in the attack of the orchards of the farm of Bellecroix, where two batteries of mitrailleuses made dreadful havoc among the assailants, sweeping whole ranks away.

By the time the batteries were taken, the French, after losing nineteen thousand men (and the Prussians fully an equal number), were in rapid retreat for Metz. Charlie Pierrepont's work was over for the day, and like his friend Heinrich, he still found himself untouched.

The sun was setting, and the shadows were darkening in the orchards of Bellecroix, when the 95th were ordered to pile arms and take a little rest; and a singular scene—singular by way of contrast, and yet terrible—did these orchards present. The trees were still in full foliage and bearing, and thickly among the green leaves the apples, golden and red, the yellow pears, the downy peaches, and the purple plums were all mingling on the branches above; below lay the dead and the dying, some of whom in their agony had burrowed their faces into the very earth; others had torn it up in handfuls. A few, who had been wounded early in the day, lay dead now, with their hairy knapsacks under their heads, and many with sweet smiles on their waxen faces, as if their last thoughts had been of home, and those who loved them there.

Some had died with their fingers clasped in prayer, others with their hands clenched, as if in rage or pain, and with their faces terribly contorted. Everywhere lay knapsacks, shakos, kepis, helmets, arms, and water-bottles. Pierrepont gladly quitted these dreadful orchards of Bellecroix, and retired to a grassy bank by the side of the highway to Metz, where a few of his brother officers, apart from the rest, were sharing the contents of their havresacks and comparing notes on the dire events of the day.

There he found young Frankenburg mounted on the horse of the adjutant, who had fallen in the attack on Bellecroix, and whose duty he had been ordered to take in the interim, an office that was nearly costing him very dear soon after.

As the troops were to halt on the field pending those operations which led to the battle of Gravelotte, a chain of out-pickets was detailed for the night, and Charlie Pierrepont, as many of his seniors had been killed off or wounded in that day's strife, had command of one of these, consisting of two non-commissioned officers and thirty men, with whom he was ordered to take possession of a little chateau nearer Metz than Bellecroix, to use it as his picket-house, and post his sentinels as to him seemed best.

He accordingly marched for this place, the Chateau de Caillé, belonging to a French gentleman of that name. It was a quaint-looking little place, with latticed windows of iron, two or three little stone tourelles, with conical roofs and vanes, and it was quite buried among masses of ivy, jasmine, and clematis, and embosomed, among rich fruit-trees.

Having posted ten sentinels, equidistant and in communication with those of the adjacent pickets, with orders to stand on their posts and keep their faces steadily turned in the direction of Metz, the dark mass of the citadel which, together with the spires of the churches, could be traced against the now moonlit sky, he approached the chateau with the main body of his picket, never doubting that they would find it deserted, and that the family of M. de Caillé had fled.

Passing down the little avenue which led to the front door, brilliant lights were visible in the lower rooms; loud and noisy voices were heard. Charlie ordered his men to look to their cartridges. As for the bayonets, they were never unfixed now; but a loud, hoarse German chorus that rang out upon the night showed that the place was already in possession of friends, and on entering the dining-room of the chateau, a curious scene presented itself.

It was a handsome apartment, with an elaborately polished floor, and modern furniture in the fashion of the time of Louis XIV. Wax candles in great profusion were burning on the elaborately inlaid table, on which were spread in great confusion dishes, plates, glasses, and bottles with viands and fruit of every kind. M. de Caillé, as he proved to be, a fine-looking old French gentleman, with hair and moustache white as the thistle-down, was there tied hand and foot with a rope, the end of which was secured to the knob of a shutter, compelling him to look helplessly on at the desolation of his dwelling, into which a dozen or so of stragglers from some Bavarian regiment, as they appeared to be, as their helmets were crested with black bearskin and not spikes, had broken, and were now making merry, eating, drinking, singing, and roughly pulling about Mademoiselle de Caillé, her terrified bonne, and other female servants; and it was only too evident that but for the timely arrival of Charlie and his picket, something very disastrous must have ensued, as these fellows were fast maddening themselves by drinking all kinds of wines and spirits in succession.

On Charlie's entrance, sword in hand, such is the influence of the epaulette, that they all started to their feet; their noise died away instantly, and every man raised his right hand to the peak of his helmet. Believing they were utterly lost now on the appearance of this fresh arrival, the young lady uttered a cry of despair, and shrank to the side of her father, who was unable to put forth even a hand to shield her, and who eyed Charlie Pierrepont with a half-piteous, half-defiant expression.

He was considerably reassured, however, when he heard the latter announce the duty which brought him there, and ordered the Bavarians, on pain of being treated as mutineers or deserters, at once to return to their quarters. They hurried to obey with more alacrity than goodwill, one alone venturing to explain that they had been fighting all day without food or drink, and were in an enemy's country. By a wave of his sword, Charlie cut him short, and ere he had shot it into the sheath, the chateau was empty of all but his own men, who crowded into the kitchen, and there certainly made free with all that the cook's pantry contained.

Charlie now apologized to M. de Caillé for the conduct of the Bavarians, and hastened to cut the cord that bound him. He was so weak and faint from all he had undergone, that he could only stagger into an arm-chair, when his daughter caressed him and chafed his hands, and while the bonne poured out some wine for him and Charlie, to whom she curtseyed, and tendered her thanks again and again.

After a time all became more composed, and the conversation naturally ran on the events of the day, and the dreadful din of cannon and musketry which had been ringing for miles around the little chateau; and somehow, while chatting over their wine, and Charlie received again and again the heartfelt thanks of the old Frenchman, the latter, by some word or exclamation that escaped him, discovered the nationality of the former.

'Thank God, monsieur is an Englishman!' he exclaimed.

'Yes,' said Charlie, with one of his pleasant smiles.

'And yet you fight for those horrible barbarians, the Prussians?' exclaimed the young lady.

'I am a soldier of fortune, my dear child,' said Charlie, laughing, for the girl was only in her fifteenth year, apparently, and he could not but remember that Ernestine was one of those 'horrible barbarians.'

'I could have guessed as much,' said the girl.

'How, Mademoiselle?

'By a certain boldness in your bearing, and by something in your eyes that tells of——' she paused shyly and coloured at her own impetuosity.

'An expression that tells of what?' asked Charlie.

'I don't know, unless it is of—sorrow.'

'You are an acute observer, Mademoiselle,' said Charlie, bowing. 'I have indeed undergone much sorrow but lately.'

The girl had a pretty, innocent, and most lovable little face. She was, probably, half German in blood; her eyes were bright blue; her cheeks delicate and peach-like; her lips a ruddy red, though cheek and lips were ashy white with terror when Charlie first saw her, being pulled about roughly by the Bavarians, who had boisterously dragged her from one another, under the eyes of her helpless and agonized father.

She nestled up to Charlie's side, and shaking the masses of her rich brown hair—hair that in its tint reminded him of Herminia—she put a pretty hand on each of his epaulettes, and looking into his face with pure childish confidence, said—

'I shall like you. I am sure I shall. I am so happy you are not one of those barbarians, though you do wear a spike-helmet!'

'Why? How should you like me?'

'Can you ask me why, Monsieur, after saving our lives? In gratitude, I can love you and pray for you.'

Charlie laughed, and said—

'Ma belle, I am, indeed, thankful that we were in time to turn these marauders out of doors.'

And then he thought of his three sisters at home, and what his emotions would be if such a scene, as he had just interrupted, had taken place in his father's quiet house in Warwickshire.

'What is your name, Monsieur?' she asked, 'as I must never forget it.'

'Carl—Charles Pierrepont.'

She repeated it two or three times, and laughing, said:

'It sounds very droll!'

Charlie could not help laughing at the girl's naïve manner, and thought that the old Warwickshire squire, who was fond of deducing his descent from Robert, who received the manor of Hurstpierpoint, in Sussex, from the Conqueror, would have found nothing 'droll' in it.

'And what is yours, Mademoiselle?'

'Célandine—Célandine de Caillé.'

'Well, I cannot say it is droll. I think it very pretty.'

'Your little rebuke is a just one, Monsieur,' said the smiling old gentleman, who, had Charlie been a genuine Prussian, would little have relished all this conversation between him and his daughter.

'We shall be very good friends, I doubt not, for to-night, at least, Monsieur.'

'Only for to-night?'

'To-morrow shall relieve you of our hateful presence, as we shall probably move against Metz.'

'Don't say "hateful," Monsieur, when we owe you so much, and esteem you so much,' urged Célandine.

'Ernestine will never have a rival, even here,' thought Charlie, as he begged them to excuse him, as he had to go his rounds, and, with his sergeant, post fresh sentinels.

That duty done, he undid his belt, but without undressing, threw himself on a sofa, and, utterly exhausted and worn out by the whole events of the day, oblivious of the presence of Mademoiselle de Caillé and her father in the dining-room, he slept as soundly as Hood's old woman,

'Who might have worn a percussion cap,
And been knocked on the head without hearing it snap.'



The night passed over quietly, and without alarm; but with dawn of day came an officer of Uhlans, attended by a trumpeter, flying at full speed along the line of advanced posts, calling in all the out-pickets, while the King was probably already telegraphing to Berlin as usual:—

'Another new victory! Thank God for His mercy!'

Referring to the official pietism of the Prussian monarch at this crisis, a very impartial historian of the war says thus:—'How little his armies were controlled by regard for humanity—the most essential element of any religion—will appear in lurid colours. Abu Bekr, the successor of Mohammed, enjoined his soldiers not to kill old people, women, or children; to cut down no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn; to spare all fruit-trees; and slay no cattle but such as they could take for their own use. But the Prussians made a desert of France, burned villages and small towns, and treated old people and women with horrible barbarity. But they were prodigal of religious words, and words with many have too often a greater weight than facts.'

But with all this, it should be borne in mind, from past experience of French invading armies, how would those of the Emperor have behaved had they reached Berlin?

One of a thousand of such episodes, as were daily occurring along the frontiers of Alsace and Lorraine, would no doubt have desolated for ever the household of M. de Caillé but for the timely arrival of Pierrepont and his twenty Thuringians.

Aware of this, when the Uhlan trumpet sounded, Célandine de Caillé, like most young girls, a light sleeper, heard it before the war-worn Charlie, and pale and startled, came forth in the prettiest of morning robes to bid him farewell, and to stuff his havresack, and the havresacks of his men (though they were Prussians), with all that the Bavarians had not consumed last night.

Charlie thought how fresh and radiant the young girl looked in her white morning dress, with blue breastknots, and a ribbon of the same colour in her hair, a soft light shining in her blue eyes, and a little colour in her peach-like cheek, that reminded him of Ernestine; but, ah! who was like Ernestine?

A soldier fresh from one battle and going forth to fight another is an object of interest to all; but a handsome, frank, and free-hearted young fellow, like Charlie Pierrepont, was doubly so to an impassionable girl like Mademoiselle de Caillé; thus her blue eyes filled with tears as he kissed her tremulous little hand, which, like her taper arm, came so delicately forth from the wide-laced sleeves of her dress.

'Why are there tears in your eyes, Mademoiselle?' asked Charlie, with a kind smile.

'Because, Monsieur, I pity you.'

'Pity me!'

'Indeed I do, Monsieur. Most earnestly.'

'And why?'

'Because you are too young, and too good and kind, to be killed. Oh!' continued the girl, looking up in his face, 'I implore you to go home—home to your own England—home to your mother, if you have one, and leave these odious Prussians to fight their own battles.'

'It is too late, my pretty friend.'

'How so?'

'The die is cast that makes me—Prussian.'

'Will another horrible battle be fought to-day?' asked Monsieur de Caillé, who now made his appearance.

'I am sure of it, Monsieur,' replied Charlie.

'Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!' exclaimed Célandine, clasping her hands, and looking upwards; 'and you will be in it?'

'Undoubtedly, Mademoiselle.'

She drew very close to Charlie, and said, in a low voice,

'Pardon me, mon ami—but—but when were you last at mass or confession?'

'We don't attend to either much in the 95th,' was Charlie's evasive reply; 'besides, our Herr Pastor is a Lutheran.'

The sweet French girl eyed him wistfully.

'You are too good and humane thus to die like a heathen!' said she, 'and many more will die to-day. Promise me, Monsieur, that you will wear this.'

And from her white neck she took a little holy cross and medal, suspended by a blue ribbon, which she passed over Charlie's head.

'For your sake, then,' said Charlie gallantly.

'For your own, rather. Whether you believe in such things or not, it will do you no harm to wear it.'

'Très bon, my child!' said the old gentleman; 'but Monsieur has a cross already,' he added, patting the iron one at the breast of Charlie's blue tunic.

'And now I must go,' said he, putting on his helmet; 'there sounds the trumpet again.'

As he bade them adieu and left them, the French girl, with a quick pretty action, flicked some holy water in his face from a Dresden china font that hung inside the door of the dining-room, and the glittering drops fell on his moustache and silver gorget, which the Prussians still wear, or at least wore then; and father and daughter stood sadly in the porch, looking after their protector as he marched off at the head of his men, for Charlie, though a thorough English gentleman, was, as some say, 'the soldier all over, but the soldier adventurer—the soldier of fortune, rather than the soldier of routine.'

Charlie, we fear, and are ashamed to admit it, did not pray often. 'It wasn't much in his line; besides, what was the Herr Pastor paid for?' but as he marched back to headquarters on the Bellecroix road, at the head of his picket, he prayed in his heart that no harm—no perils, such as those of last night—might ever again menace that frank, engaging, and innocent young girl at the Chateau de Caillé.

But he had not seen the last of that old mansion.

By this time, a considerable portion of the German army had penetrated so far to the west and north-west of Metz, as to be almost already between Marshal Bazaine and Paris! The line of the invading forces was thus so greatly extended that the French generalissimo dared not make any offensive movement against them, but was compelled to retreat along the highways that led from Gravelotte to Verdun.

Charlie had barely rejoined his regiment, and exchanged a few words with Heinrich, Schönforst, and other friends, when the order came for the line to advance, as the French were in position at Vionville, covering the whole southern road to Verdun, with a front extending to the village of Gorz, eight miles south-west of Metz; and in their martial ardour to meet the enemy, many of the Thuringians, as the march forward began, struck up the fine war-song of Arndt.

In the ranks of this regiment, as in others of the Prussian army, were many well-born and gently nurtured young men, bred to professions or businesses, and who could speak several languages, and take their place in good society, but were dragged away from their avocation, hearth, and home, by the Prussian military system. There were others, again, grey, brown, and hardy men, who could digest sutler's beef and eat such ammunition bread as the Kaiser's commissariat supplied, sleep in their spike-helmets as soundly as in a velvet night-cap, feel, by a bivouac fire, as comfortable as if in the Grand Hotel at Cologne, and march to be maimed or massacred, to wound and to slay, with genuine Teutonic taciturnity and phlegm.

The battle of the day began on some wooded hills above the pretty red-tiled village of Gorz, near a pleasant stream that meanders between fields and beautiful coppices from Mars-la-Tour to the Moselle.

By sheer force of numbers, the Prussians, while giving and receiving a storm of musketry, pushed into the woods, driving the French skirmishers before them. Those who were spectators saw the little scarlet kepis of the latter dispersing in succession amid the white smoke and green foliage; then the dark-coated Prussians, with their spike-helmets and goat-skin packs, disappeared also in pursuit. What happened in this part of the battle no one knows, or ever will know, as it was entirely in the dense woods and deep valleys, and thus no general view could be obtained; yet it is to this part of the field we have to refer, for there fought the 95th regiment.

From one wooded slope to another the French fell back, fighting desperately. In the valleys, the din of war rang with a hundred reverberations. Shrieks, cries, and hoarse cheering shook the very woodlands, and the smoke curled up from the latter as if they were on fire. White puffs and red flashes seemed to burst from every bush and tree. Now and then the bayonets flashed, or a tricolour appeared amid the foliage; but on, almost without check, went the Prussians, over ground strewn with the terrible debris of men, gun-carriages, limbers, and horses, in many instances blown literally to pieces, for the whole ground was ploughed by shot and shell, and sown with rifle bullets.

Charlie's regiment, with the 40th, 67th, and 69th, was ordered to surround and storm a cottage mid-way on the Gorze road. The reason of four battalions being sent to storm a mere cottage was that it was held by a half-battery of French mitrailleuses, which did frightful execution in their ranks as they advanced.

Forward they went at a rush, the living tumbling over the fast-falling dead, these dreadful cannon belching death and destruction from amid the foliage in front, with that horrible shrieking sound peculiar to their discharge, and Charlie felt the streams of shot as they passed him.

A wild cry of agony, amid many others, made him look to his right. There lay Schönforst and half his company writhing or dead in one bloody heap; and the next moment it was Charlie's turn.

He felt as if a hot sword-blade had entered his breast—there was a heavy blow, a sharp tearing of the body, an emotion of rage or anger—a loud cry escaped him, and he fell on his face, enduring terrible agony. He staggered up, just as the attacking force swept over him to assault the battery, but fell over on his side, and lay with the blood pouring from his chest.

Wounded at last—perhaps mortally! was his first reflection; for he could feel that the bullet was in his body still. Life, death—the past, the future—'the possible heaven, the impending hell'—all flashed upon him, with thoughts of his own misery in lying there dying, helpless, and so far from Ernestine!

A faintness came over him, from which he was roused by feeling some one opening his tunic.

'Where are you wounded?' asked a familiar voice, and Charlie found the doctor of the regiment—with all of whom, we have said, he was a great favourite—bending over him kindly, with the hospital attendant of his company.

'In the breast,' he gasped.

The doctor had but little time to lose, and the bullets were pinging past him and his patient in every direction.

'The bullet is lodged near the spine,' said the doctor, 'and it must be cut out, but not here.'

'Is—is the wound dangerous?' he faltered.

'Not very; but great care will be requisite.'

Whether on the part of himself or his medical attendant Charlie did not inquire; the tone in Which the doctor said 'very' lessened his hopes.

'God's will be done,' said he; and there flashed on his memory all that little Célandine de Caillé had said to him that morning about religion; while the doctor put a pad on the wound, bandaged it, and hastened to look at Schönforst, but he was long since past all aid, and stone-dead.

Save the moans, cries, and interjections—pious, fierce, or despairing—of those around him, Charlie heard little more but the occasional boom of the heavy guns as the tide and din of the battle rolled away towards Gravelotte; and great faintness, like a kind of sleep, stole over him. From time to time the acute agony of his wound roused him, and amid his terrible thoughts, ever present were the images of Ernestine and his family.

The emotion of faintness increased as the day wore on and evening came. He saw many around him die, and thinking that his own time would soon come too, he thought once more of the French girl's words, and strove to fashion a prayer or two, but they were little else than pious invocations.

Dying, as he certainly deemed himself to be, his thoughts flashed incessantly to her he loved; her whose soft hand might too probably never be in his again; anon to his boyhood's home in Warwickshire; the voices of his father and of his dead mother came drowsily to his ear; the soft English faces of his sisters floated before him. Oh, how hard it was to lie there bleeding, and too probably dying, when they were all making merry, perhaps, in that drawing-room which he remembered so well, and many of the pettiest details of which, even to a crack in the ceiling, came strangely back to memory now, with scraps of songs and forgotten airs.

Would the Krankentrager never come to take him away? Had the doctor and hospital attendant both forgotten him, or had been killed? The latter, too probably.

So the long, long day of anxiety, thirst, and agony passed away, and sunset came on. Charlie watched it fading on the distant woods and green slopes of those lovely Lorraine valleys, till the mellowing haze of twilight blurred all the landscape into gloom, and the silvery moon and the evening star came forth in their beauty to light up the carnage of the past day.

Neither the doctor nor the hospital attendant of his company had forgotten poor Charlie; but strange to say, when they came to look for him with a party about midnight, no trace could be found of him save a pool of blood on the grass where he had lain.

So the Countess, perhaps, had her wicked wish fulfilled at last, and fate had removed 'the intruder,' as she named him, for ever from the path of Baron Grünthal!



We must now devote a short chapter to the fate of young Frankenburg.

Ignorant that his friend Pierrepont had fallen—and a knowledge thereof would have served the latter but little—Heinrich, in his present capacity of adjutant, had to keep at his post and go on with the regiment, which, like the others, carried all before it.

The French, aware of the vital importance of keeping possession of a hill on their right, as soon as their troops began to fall back before those battalions sent forward by General Steinmetz, threw up some earthen works, in rear of which their 62nd regiment of the line lay down, while several batteries of artillery fired over their heads, raining grape and shell upon the fast-advancing Prussians.

For three hours the fighting was desperate there—the slaughter on both sides woeful! Again the French fell back, and the Prussians brought up battery after battery of Krupp guns to the summit of the abandoned height, the gunners using their whips and spurs, the officers brandishing their swords and shouting, 'Vorwarts! vorwarts!' with their horses at a gallop.

In the ardour of the pursuit, or in terror of the dreadful sounds which shook the air, the horse ridden by Heinrich, having got the bit of the bridle firmly wedged between his teeth for a time, darted with his rider to the front at racing speed, and fairly carried him through the line of the retreating French!

Shot after shot was fired after him, but he escaped them all, and ere long found himself in a village, the main street of which was crowded by Francs-Tireurs, who seemed to have expended all their ammunition, as they pursued him simply with fixed bayonets, yells, and ferocious maledictions; for, as the Prussians gave no quarter to this species of volunteer force, they were not disposed to give any in return, so Heinrich began to give himself up for lost.

An alley opened on his right, and by it he hoped to gain the open country. He spurred his horse and shouted; he urged it with leg and hand and voice, and forced it to the right down the alley, followed by a shout of fierce derisive laughter, the source of which he soon discovered to be the fact that the alley had no outlet, and that he was fairly entrapped in a narrow cul-de-sac!

To take a pistol from the holsters, to leap from his horse, make a dash into the nearest house, was to Heinrich but the work of an instant; but he had barely closed and secured the door, ere the human tide of the Francs-Tireurs, intent on revenge and bloodshed, came surging wildly down the alley against it.

The house had been abandoned by its owners. He sought for the back-door, but there was none. He could only drop from an upper window into a garden; but his uniform would cause him at once to be recognised, and instant death was sure to follow. Not a moment was to be lost! He looked wildly round him. On a peg there hung a loose, coarse peasant blouse of blue cloth. He tore off his uniform, threw it and his helmet aside with his weapons, donned the blouse, and was just in the act of dropping from the window, when his exulting pursuers, who had soon forced the door, burst into the room, with cries of:

'Tué, tué!—justice, revenge!—revenge for the Francs-Tireurs!'

The garden-wall was uncommonly high, the gate securely locked; outlet there was none; and in another minute Frankenburg found himself in the hands of a score of these French volunteers, so many of whose comrades had been—no doubt, barbarously—put to death by the Prussians, simply for being found with arms in their hands, so that to look for mercy was vain. Their grasp was upon him; and in their desire to destroy him, they actually impeded each other, and for a second or two it seemed doubtful whether he was to perish by the charged bayonet or the whirled butt-end of the chassepot, as he was hustled and dragged hither and thither from hand to hand.

'Checkmated—cornered!' thought he, as the faces of Herminia and all at home came before him; 'to die thus—and at the hands of these rascally French peasantry.' Suddenly one exclaimed:

'Un espion—un mouchard! A Prussian disguised in a blouse—he was about to become a spy!'

'L'espion, l'espion!—a rope, a rope!' cried the rest, catching at the new idea with extreme fervour. 'No, no—bayonet him!' cried one.

'They hanged my brother at Borny,' said another;' so, by Baalzebub, let us hang him—hang him, Etienne!'

Heinrich's blood ran cold at this horrible suggestion.

'I did but seek to escape, messieurs, in exchanging my uniform for this dress,' said he.

'Oh, of course—of course!' they cried, with fierce mockery and cruelty flashing in their eyes.

'I did it but to save my life,' he urged. 'Diable—of course!'

'I am but one man among hundreds,' he continued.

'And so shall die—tué! tué!' cried they altogether.

'You are a band of cowards!' exclaimed Heinrich, defiantly; 'I do not fear to die. Hurrah for Germany!'

'Hah, ha! hah, ha!—à bas le Prussien!' they chorused.

One now appeared with a rope, which he had procured somewhere, and a cold perspiration burst over the brows of Heinrich.

'I am the Graf Von Frankenburg,' he urged, almost, but not quite, piteously. 'I am an officer of the Thuringians—let me die the death of a soldier, not that of a felon.'

'You are the Graf Von Frankenburg?' said one; 'be it so. The higher the rank the greater the disgrace in dying the death of a spy; so, coquin, hang you shall.'

Resistance was vain; the iron grasp of many was on each of his arms, and he was as helpless in their hands as an infant. His father, his mother, his love—the bright-haired Herminia!—what horror would the story of his fate cost them! It was too dreadful to think of; it was madness!

'Oh,' thought he, 'that I had but died on yonder field, and not thus—not thus—in the hands of wretches such as these!'

He disdained to ask for mercy, and resolved to die with dignity even the horrid death to which they had doomed him. But little time was given him for reflection, and none for prayer; yet a cry certainly escaped him, and a nervous shudder, when he found a corporal actually adjusting the hastily constructed halter about his neck. An involuntary effort he made for resistance or escape, and then stood still and passive.

'Throw the end of the rope over that apple-tree,' was the command of the corporal; and after one or two efforts it was thrown over a suitable branch, 'Stand aside, comrades,' was the next command; 'whip him up now, and make fast the rope to the branch below.'

While a mocking shout burst from the band, and many brutal and irreligious speeches were made, some crying piteously, 'Bon voyage, Monsieur le Comte—bon voyage, mon Prussien,' the noose closed and tightened round the neck of Heinrich. His eyeballs seemed to start from their sockets, dark purple overspread his face, and he was swung up to the branch, where he dangled in convulsive agony, swinging and swaying to and fro, with a hoarse, rattling, gulping sound in his throat, and with his feet about eight feet from the ground.

The other end of the fatal rope was made fast to a lower branch, and then the Francs-Tireurs rushed away, with mocking shouts, to join their comrades, and left the unhappy Heinrich—the 'Prussian spy,' as they falsely affected to call him—to his miserable fate.



And now to account for the mysterious disappearance of Charlie Pierrepont, which the Herr Doctor could only account for by supposing that in the restlessness of his agony, or desire to procure water, he had crawled away into some obscure corner to die. But such was not the case.

It was still dusky night, or lighted only by the moon, when Charlie, lying where we left him, began to surmise whether the morning sun would evermore gladden his eyes, that were staring upward at the stars, as they twinkled through the branches of those trees amid which the battle had been partly fought, and the stems of which, in places, were barked and whitened by the passing whirlwinds of shot from the mitrailleuses.

'If I die,' thought he, 'the label at my neck will tell the burial party who I am—or was.'

And as the slow hours of the night stole on, he thought of the ghastly face of the French captain who killed the young ensign Donnersberg, and the peculiar hatred and inhumanity expressed by his dying wish. The sound of wheels coming slowly along now roused him. A party of the Krankentrager, picking up the wounded, were passing near. He tried to call aloud, but his voice had failed him.

'How high the moon is to-night,' said one.

'How bright, you mean; for I don't suppose she is higher up than usual,' replied another.

'But it would be a lovely night for having another turn with the French schelms, in their long blue coats and red kepis.'

'There has been slaughter enough, for one day, Rudiger; ugh!—how thick the corpses lie here, where the horrible mitrailleuses have been playing.'

The waggon was stopped, and the soldiers looked about them.

Suddenly one said—

'There is young Herr Pierrepont, the Englander of the 95th. How in his heart he loved the crack of the zundnadelgewehr, or the click of steel on steel! So he is gone, too!'

'He is worth a dozen dead men yet!' exclaimed one of the Krankentrager, leaping off the seat of the ambulance waggon, on seeing Charlie's eyes and hand move.

Some brandy-and-water was given him as a reviver, and he was lifted into the waggon, which was already full, and was hence driven from the field; and here we may mention that the Krankentrager is one of the best-organized corps in the Prussian army, and its special duty is to carry the sick and wounded.

In this Franco-Prussian war, it is to be recorded that to their immortal honour, the Sisters of Mercy were always on every field of battle before the firing ceased, and they went on foot, each little company preceded by a Catholic priest or Lutheran pastor.

Luckily, as it proved in the end for Charlie, he had fallen into the hands of Landwehr men alone, for ere long, conceiving him to be dead, they took him out of the waggon and left him at the door of a mansion, which proved to be the Chateau de Caillé.

Prior to this, as the waggon was driven slowly and tortuously, to avoid mutilating the killed and wounded, who lay thickly everywhere, in literal heaps in some places, in ranks in others, the moon went down, clouds overspread the sky, and, to add to the miseries of the helpless, rain began to fall. In the action of the previous day, the canopy of the waggon in which Charlie Pierrepont lay had been destroyed by a passing shot. No other had been substituted, so there he Jay, with seven others, packed closely side by side, some dying, some actually dead, with the rain of heaven pouring into their open months and eyes.

Some there were who stirred restlessly from side to side, constantly requesting their position to be shifted, as the agonies of death came on; and when they died they were lifted from the waggon and laid by the side of the way.

To the grim corps of grave-diggers was assigned the duty of noting the neck-labels, and doing what was necessary then!

As Charlie lay very still and motionless with eyes closed, sunk indeed into a species of stupor, the unskilled men of the Landwehr concluded that he was dead, and lifting him from the waggon, laid him near the gate of the chateau, and drove off, just as grey dawn began to brighten on the wooded hills that look down, the Moselle, and the great spire of the distant cathedral of Metz.

So there he was left to be killed, perhaps outright, by the first vindictive peasant of Lorraine who might be going a-field to his work; but there was too much gunpowder in the air about Metz just then to permit other work to be done than 'the harvest of death.'

Now, before those terrible fellows in spike-helmets came into that peaceful part of pleasant Lorraine, where the old chateau lies embosomed among vineyards and apple-bowers—the Lorraine that whilom belonged to the mother of Mary Queen of Scots—it had been the wont and custom of Célandine de Caillé, at the hour of seven every morning, to go to early mass in a little chapel near the highway that leads to Metz. She dared not venture so far now; but by mere force of habit, she was saying the prayers for mass among the dew-drops in the flower-garden, when something caused her to peep out of the front gate, and then she saw—— What? Oh, it could not be!

Was this pale, ghastly, sodden, and blood-stained creature the handsome young soldier who, but yesterday morning about the same hour, after being startled by the Uhlan trumpet, had marched away so proudly at the head of his Thuringians, with his silver epaulettes glittering in the sun, and had yet in his havresack—soaked with his own gore—the food so kindly placed there by Célandine?

It seemed incredible, yet so it was!

A shriek escaped the startled girl, and she rushed indoors for her father, her bonne, and everybody else; assistance was soon procured, the sufferer carried indoors, placed in bed, his uniform hidden, for the Francs-Tireurs were hovering about, and medical aid was procured from the nearest village, in the person of a young doctor, Adolphe Guerrand, on whom, as an admirer of Célandine, they could rely for silence and secrecy.

The thunder of war was an awful event to the inmates of that little secluded chateau, to none more than to Monsieur de Caillé, whose days were usually spent in dozing about his flower-garden, plucking off a faded leaf here and there, or training vines and sprays, and whose evenings were passed over a bottle of vin ordinaire with the Curé, or listening to Célandine's performances on a—well, it was not a grand trichord piano, because it had been her grandmother's.

Some days and nights elapsed—strange, drearily days and nights to Charlie Pierrepont, who only knew at times where, by a strange coincidence, he was. They were passed by him in a chaos or confusion of thought, in dreams of Ernestine, of the day in the Hoch Munster, and the evening in the church at Burtscheid, of battle-fields, with lines of red kepis, fierce bearded faces, and hedges of bristling bayonets looming through the smoke, of the roaring shriek of those dreadful mitrailleuses—the veritable invention of Satan; yea, even the scowl and curse of the French captain were not forgotten; but after a time Charlie's thoughts became coherent; he knew fully where he was; that a conical rifle bullet had been cut out of his back, near the spine, by the skilful hands of Adolphe Guerrand; that he had a narrow escape from death; that he was recovering, and had, as nurses, Célandine de Caillé and her kind old bonne.

'Ah! Célandine—Mademoiselle Célandine,' said he, taking the girl's tiny hand within his own, and just touching it with his lips, 'neither your holy water, nor the consecrated medal, acted as a charm. In what a condition have I come back to you!'

'But for my medal and the holy water, perhaps a cannon-ball might have taken off your head,' retorted little Mademoiselle de Caillé.

'True,' replied Charlie, as he kissed her hand again.

Three weeks had elapsed since the battle in which Charlie had fallen wounded; two days after, as Célandine told him, Gravelotte had been fought, and then the French had been defeated after a dreadful struggle, and driven back to Metz. Strasbourg was besieged, Phalsburg bombarded, the Prussians were daily everywhere victorious.

'And, alas! monsieur,' said the little maid, clasping her pretty hands, and lifting upward eyes that were suffused with tears, 'France is lost! The glory of my France is gone! And surely now the cries of Melusine will be heard!'

'Melusine?' asked Charlie, with surprise. 'Who is she?'

'Don't you know, monsieur? Have you never heard of the "Cris de Melusine?"'


'It is an old legend believed in by most of our peasantry. Brantôme says she is a spirit that haunts the old castle of Lusignan, where, by loud shrieks, she announces any disasters that are to befall France.'

'She must have been shrieking pretty loud and long of late,' said Charlie, smiling at the earnestness of the girl, who, in her love of the legendary, reminded him, he thought, of Ernestine, and he liked her the better for it.

So Charlie continued to be attended daily by the young Doctor Guerrand, and nursed by Célandine in secret, as it would have been perilous for Charlie had the exasperated peasantry learned that a Prussian officer was concealed in the chateau. The heart of the young French doctor Guerrand was full of bitterness for the disgrace that was falling on his country, and, were it not that by his practice he supported an aged mother, he would have cast aside the lancet and betaken to the chassepot.

'Sacre!' said he, on one occasion, to Charlie; 'in this war the French seem to make more use of their feet than their hands; but we won't talk of politics.'

'Why, Doctor?'

'Because I always lose my temper. I am a Republican now. I have become so in the bitterness of my heart. But, thank Heaven, we shall soon be rid of our Emperor, as you will, ere long, of your Kaiser; for what are kings, emperors, and princes, but a crowned confederacy against the freedom of the world? Sacre!'

And the young Republican ground his teeth in his fierce energy.

Charlie had Ernestine's photo, done and coloured at Aix-la-Chapelle. It was one which, so far as these sun pictures go, represented her to the life, and he had seen her in that particular posé, and with that expression on her soft face, many, many times. He kept it beneath his pillow. Never did he tire of gazing on it; thus, more than once, his active little nurse caught him with the blue velvet case in his hand.

'Ah! It is monsieur's mother?' said she, trying to get a peep at it.

'It is not,' said Charlie, with a fond smile.

'A sister, then? I have seen that it is a lady!'

'No, Célandine.'

'Something as dear as both would be?'

'I cannot say.'

'How so, monsieur?'

'I scarcely ever saw my mother. And when I left home to soldier in Prussia, my sisters were mere children; but dear she is, indeed.'

'Ah,—a fiancée?' said Célandine, laughing and clapping her hands.

'Yes, mademoiselle.'

'Ah, show me the likeness, monsieur,' she entreated; so Charlie gave her the case. 'How sweet, how lovely she looks! Do let me kiss her! Monsieur Pierrepont, I congratulate you. And when are you to be married?'

'Alas!' muttered Charlie, as his countenance fell.

'Surely she loves you?' asked Célandine, with her blue eyes dilated.

'Loves me?—dearly! so each of us has one secret of the heart to treasure.'

'What have I?' asked the girl, demurely.

'You have Adolphe.'

'Ah!—yes; M. Adolphe loves me, I believe, and—and perhaps I may learn to love him in time. I am not sure. I may marry some one else, and learn to love that some one. Mon père will arrange all that for me, and it will be so kind of him.'

Charlie looked puzzled; but ere long, in the case of Célandine herself, he was to see how matrimonial matters are arranged in the land of the silver lilies.

Her question, 'When are you to be married?' opened up no new train of thought to Charlie; that important when had been a source of frequent and painful surmise; but a new idea was ever before him now.

What had Ernestine heard of his fate?—that he was killed, wounded, or missing? He had no means of communicating with her now, and thus sparing her that which he would gladly have done—a single sigh, a single throb of pain.

There was no one at the chateau could tell him where the 95th were, whether in front of Metz, besieging Strasbourg, or fighting at Phalsburg. But, oh, how to relieve the grief of his betrothed! He would not, for worlds, have cost that warm, wilful, and impassioned heart one pang!

Yet there he lay on his back, with a closing wound, helpless.

Like an iron weight it bore on his heart, the remoteness and dubiety of their meeting again; and when all thought of his personal danger passed away, this reflection weighed more heavily on him than ever, while his very career as a soldier made the future more uncertain and gloomy.

He had but one fixed, yet vague, idea—that, at the risk of his life, he would see Ernestine before he returned to the regiment in which he was, as yet, unfit to serve, and assure her of his all-unaltered love. Times there were when he thought he would ask Célandine to write to her, but in turn was afraid to do so—to Herminia, or to Ernestine, over whose postal correspondence, doubtless, the Countess kept a strict vigil—or, if she did write, there was no other post than the field one between France and Prussia now, and that was with the German army.

So Charlie could but lie on his bed and writhe, though in the kindly hands of the sweetest of little nurses.

Would the Countess Adelaide, he sometimes asked himself, feel any compunction for her proud severity, any pity for her daughter's honest lover, on hearing of his probable fate? Alas! it seemed more likely that she would exult at it as a barrier, a bramble, removed from her path. The Count was an old soldier; perhaps he might relent and prove generous; and so, on and on, Charlie hoped, surmised, and pondered, till his very brain ached.

Célandine knew that Charlie was English by birth, yet Prussian by sympathy, which she deplored—they were such barbarians, those men in the spiked helmets. Thus when she played or sang to him, which she did with great taste and sweetness, with good taste she only chose neutral airs and songs, such as those from the Trovatore, etc., and in these Adolphe Guerrand frequently joined her.

As she was in her mere girlhood, it appeared that she was too young to marry, nor had ever thought of it; and more than all, as Adolphe was poor, having only his practice as a hard-working village practitioner, Monsieur de Caillé was by no means disposed to look upon him, even in the future, as an eligible suitor for his daughter, till a letter reached young Guerrand from Paris by which one morning he found himself rich by one of the most extraordinary chances in the world.

It happened that just a week before the Prussians crossed the Rhine, Adolphe Guerrand had been at Blankenberg with a patient, to whom he had prescribed sea-bathing, and, when walking on the beach there, had found a carefully sealed bottle among some sea-weed. Holding it between him and the light, he saw that it contained a written document, and conceiving naturally that it was a message from the sea—the last farewell from some sinking ship, he drew the cork, and perused the damp paper, which was properly signed and dated, from on board a French vessel, which had sprung a leak, and was going down in the middle of the Atlantic. And thus it ran on, in French:

'About to perish by drowning, I commend my soul to God, the Blessed Virgin, and all the saints. I hereby constitute my sole heir the finder of this will, which I enclose in a glass bottle. The labour of years, my fortune amounts to two hundred and twenty thousand francs, and I am without a relation in the world. I wish the house I have resided in at Paris to be converted into a chapel of St. Dominique, my patron saint. The fortune is deposited in the hands of the notary, M. Vantin, in the Rue St. Honoré. Ora pro me.


The letter was from Vantin, the notary, to the young doctor, who thus found himself suddenly rich, so all obstacles were removed to a union with Célandine, when she was a few years older, though the family of Adolphe was of humble origin and that of De Caillé ancient, and shone at the court of Louis XIII. It was of a Madame de Caillé that we are told, how when that monarch was once playing at shuttlecock with her at Versailles, it fell into her bosom, on which she desired his majesty to take it; but such was his royal delicacy that, to avoid the snare laid by the charming Lorrainer, he discreetly extricated the toy with the aid of the tongs.

Thus, on the first day of Charlie's convalescence, the formal betrothal of the daughter of the house took place; and to him it seemed a very cold-blooded affair to the wild, passionate, and solemn episode between himself and Ernestine in that lonely church at Burtscheid.

Adolphe was in his twenty-fifth year, naturally sanguine and enthusiastic; his clear-cut features and thoughtful eyes were now full of light and brightness; there was a greater springiness in his step, born of the knowledge that he was now rich and the inheritor of a fortune—the fortune of M. de Sourdeval, so mysteriously cast at his feet by the waves of the sea.

A well-bred French girl, of course, expects one day to be wedded, but chiefly looks forward to the event as an opportunity of displaying her presents and trousseau, and is supposed to have no preference in the matter. To Célandine it seemed only natural that she should accept her father's choice, just as he had done the choice of his parents in espousing her mother.

Yet in her heart of hearts, the girl—though very young—had grown fond of Charlie Pierrepont, her helpless charge, who was always so gentle and grateful, so sad, too, and who looked, withal, so manly and soldier-like. And with this sentiment in her heart, the girl was to contract what we must call a French marriage. So full of cross-purposes, hidden currents of thought, and secret springs of action, is this work-a-day world of ours!

She knew that it is understood and accepted in her native country that unions cannot, as in England, be contracted on the impulse of love or romantic notions, but upon principles of cold and practical utility, as mere transactions between parents; but they are sometimes equally so on this side of the Straits of Dover.

So, on the day referred to, M. de Caillé said to his daughter, with his eyebrows elevated as if he had quite made a discovery, while kissing her on the forehead, 'I have found you a husband, my love.'

'Merci, mon père—who is he?' asked Célandine, as if she had not the slightest guess on the subject.

'The time will come anon—but here he is,' and he led in Adolphe, who approached Célandine, whose eyes were fixed on Charlie, pale, wan, and propping himself on a cane of M. de Caillé's.

At such a crisis, Adolphe Guerrand had vague ideas—from what he had read in novels and seen at the theatre of the Porte St. Martin, when he was a student in Paris, at the Ecole de Medicin—that he should drop on his knees, or at least on one knee; but the floor was very slippery, and Célandine not being much in love with him, and very much inclined to laugh, he didn't attempt a melodramatic posé at this betrothal, which Charlie saw as in a dream; for his thoughts were at Burtscheid, and the heart-stirring parting words of Ernestine were lingering in his ear.



As the reader may suppose, some time elapsed ere the quiet little household at Frankfort realized—they could not for long recover from—the catastrophe recorded by the German papers; but when it was actually stated that a prisoner taken in a skirmish, a captain, was roasted alive, nothing seemed too horrible to happen now. That Heinrich might be wounded unto death, or slain outright in battle, seemed but a too probable contingency; but that he should be taken prisoner, and suffer an end of such enforced ignominy, was beyond the category of all their speculations.

The whole family were utterly prostrated by an event so inexplicable, and Ernestine felt the shock in her own peculiar way. She loved her only brother dearly, and all the more dearly that he was the friend and defender of her lover Carl—her betrothed husband, for as such she always viewed him. Now that her beloved Heinrich was gone, the links between her and Carl—the means of communication—were broken, and she could hear of him no more.

And, meanwhile, where was Carl? Alive or dead?

The Gazette, so grudging in words, so meagre in detail, had simply said that he was severely wounded. Where, and in what fashion, was he wounded? By steel or lead? Was he mutilated, disfigured for life? Perhaps he had since perished in his agony, or when undergoing some terrible operation!

So, for days and nights, the girl tormented herself till she became seriously ill with agonizing conjectures, over which she was compelled to brood in silence and tears.

At last, to the astonishment, to the wild joy of all, there came a letter from Heinrich himself—a letter dated ten days subsequent to the catastrophe recorded in the Extra Blatt!

It was dated from a village somewhere near Metz, and briefly recapitulated what has been detailed in Chapter Eighteen, and added that a humane peasant woman, who, from a hiding-place, had witnessed the terrible scene in the garden, the moment the Francs-Tireurs retired, had rushed forth and cut him down. She had quickly and adroitly released his neck from the odious cord, chafed it with her hands, given him water, and thoroughly revived him, though animation had never been quite suspended.

Moreover, she had concealed him in her house for two days, and enabled him to join the regiment before Metz; but the shock to his system was such that the military surgeons advised his return home for a time, and that, doubtless, he would spend his Christmas with them all at Frankenburg.

They had all mourned so deeply over his supposed terrible fate, that the account this letter contained—the assurance of his perfect safety and speedy return in his own handwriting—seemed like a resurrection from the tomb! All the family embraced each other and shed tears of joy, and a new and sudden happiness was diffused over the whole household, even to the grooms in the stable, for all loved the handsome young Graf.

An enormous amount of beer was consumed on the occasion, and in 'the study,' the Count and Baron Grünthal over their pipes, and certainly more than one bottle of Rhenish wine, grasped each other's hands ever and anon, and shouted, in the melodious language of the Vaterland,

'Hoch, Heinrich! Ich habe die Ehre, auf Ihre Gesundheit zu trinken!' (I have the honour of drinking your good health.)

In his letter there was no mention of Carl Pierrepont, and no enclosure for her, thought Ernestine; but then, as Heinrich wrote to the Countess, he could not make a communication concerning him; so the girl, though her joy for her brother's safety was somewhat clouded by that circumstance and the wish that Heinrich had written to Herminia; could but wait and hope—hope and pray.

'A little time, and my dear brother will tell me all,' she said to herself; 'but, oh! this suspense—this mystery concerning the fate of my Carl, is intolerable!'

And now, in the excess of their happiness, the intended marriage of her and the Baron was revived in greater force than ever. Heinrich was returning, and his presence would make the happiness of all complete. Daily, Ernestine, while scanning the papers with keen and haggard eyes for intelligence of the lost one, heard the marriage arrangement schemed out; the projected breakfast; the cake which was to come from the most celebrated confectioner in Aix; the trousseau, which was to come from the most fashionable Putzmacherin (or modiste) in Berlin; the feast in the hall, and who were to be invited; whether the honeymoon was to be spent at Wiesbaden, at Carlsbad, or Bruckenau, and the girl listened to them as if she had been turned to stone. But there is a writer who says, 'Age legislates and youth trespasses; but the tide of love no more recedes at a bidding, than King Canute's waves.'

Only once, however, did the sympathizing Herminia think her pale cousin was about to yield, when one night she laid her head on her bosom, and said with a gasping shudder,

'Oh, how terrible it is to give one's hand to the living when one's heart has been given to the dead!'

'But your dear Carl may not be dead. Heinrich is returning.'

Other times there were when she would not believe that he was dead, yet how many brave hearts were growing cold in death then all over Northern France! How many men yet were to perish among the blushing vineyards of Champagne, and under the beleaguered walls of Paris!

The cruel Blatt had only said he had been wounded. But how had he disappeared?

'He will return—oh, yet he will return! Kind God, you would not take him from me!'

And in the fervour of such a moment she would lift her streaming eyes upward with a trustful and angelic expression.

Like Charlie, when in many a comfortless bivouac under the sky and dew of heaven, under canvas when the summer rain pattered on the tent roof within an inch of his nose, of when in his bed tossing restlessly at the Chateau de Caillé, how many wild, strange, and impracticable plans and schemes did the busy mind of Ernestine frame, to reconstruct and hopelessly destroy again! Time, possibility, and the usages of life—and especially of her position in life, she overleaped with wonderful facility, so impulsive was she, but to fall back panting, as it were, and without one ray of hope, till she became, as we have said, like a stone, yet love lived on.

Times there were when she imagined, or strove to imagine, that she had eloped with Charlie; that he had cast epaulettes, sword, and military reputation to the winds, and all for her sake; and that she was rambling with him among those lovely woods and sylvan scenes he had so often described to her, the scenes of his native home in Warwick. They did not require a huge schloss; they could be so happy in a little cottage, and she was certain that she could milk a cow, if she tried.

Charlie she must and would see again at all hazards! Were they not each other's unto death—vowed in life and death? Even now where he was, she knew not, wist not; but in imagination she felt his arm pressing her hand to his side; she saw his brave and tender gaze of love into her eyes till they seemed to droop beneath the magnetism of it; she felt his kisses on their snowy lids, on her hair and on her brow, and all his soft uttered whispers come to memory again. And as she thought over all these things, the girl clasped her hot white hands in agony by day, and tossed feverishly and restlessly on her pillow by night.

At last Heinrich returned, to the increased joy of all and the thoughts of Ernestine went back to that evening when, from the terrace, she had watched Carl, driving in the britzka towards the Schloss—her Carl, then a stranger to her save by name, but who was now so dear! Heinrich looked well and strong, sun-browned and bold-eyed, and as the Count said, after kissing him on both cheeks, and giving him a kindly thwack on the back, 'not a whit the worse for his hanging!'

And now utterly regardless of what her parents might think or say, oblivious alike of their anger and their absurd pride, Ernestine, in her, usual passionate way, threw herself into her brother's arms, and cried in a piercing voice:

'Oh, Heinrich, what news of him, of Carl? tell me, my brother—my brother, lest I die.'

'I have no news, dear sister; the regiment has heard nothing of him since the battle of the 14th of August, before Metz,' replied Heinrich, speaking with great reluctance, being alike loath to wound his tender sister, or in that moment of their happiness to offend his parents. But now her father spoke, and calmly too.

'The Blatt stated that the Herr Lieutenant was wounded?'

'Yes, when we were storming a mitrailleuse battery.'

'Did you see him fall?'

'No, Herr Graf. The smoke was thick, and I was on the left of the line, he on the right, in Schönforst's company. Poor Schönforst—he fell there, literally torn to shreds!'

'What certainty is there that Here Pierrepont was wounded at all?' asked the Count, very desirous to learn that it was all over with poor Charlie, while Ernestine hung on her brother's words in agony.

'His company saw him struck. He was leading them bravely on after Schönforst's death. Our doctor patched up his wound in some fashion; but on returning at night, could find no trace of him.'

'Where was the wound?' asked Ernestine, with quivering lips.

'In the breast—we shall hear all about it ere long,' continued Heinrich, putting an arm kindly round his sister. 'He is doubtless in some of the many hospitals that are near the fields where we have been fighting.'

'Bah! the Herr Englander has probably tired of fighting, gone home to his own country, and will trouble Prussia no more!' said the Countess.

Heinrich thought it much more probable that he had crawled away somewhere and died unseen, or, to judge from his own experience, been murdered by the peasantry; but he kept these ideas to himself. On the first opportunity when they were alone, Ernestine had a thousand questions to ask Heinrich; but to the fate—the disappearance of Pierrepont, he could not give the faintest clue, though to feed her hopes, when he had none, he drew largely on his imagination; for he knew that unless Charlie were dead, or most severely wounded indeed, and quite helpless, which we have shown him to be, he would have put himself in communication with the nearest Prussian military authorities.

So, from the day of Heinrich's return, the health and spirits of Ernestine sank painfully and visibly.

Summer had passed away, and the tints of autumn, brown and yellow, russet and orange, stole over the woodlands around the old Schloss and the beautiful dingles of the Reichswald. In vain were daily drives in the open carriage resorted to, and in vain were doctors consulted; the cheek of Ernestine grew paler and thinner; her roundness of form was passing away, and the once lovely hand becoming all but transparent. Had sure tidings come that Charlie had been killed outright, and, was actually dead, she might have got over the shock; but the suspense of not knowing where he was, how circumstanced, how mutilated, whether in his grave or still lingering in the land of the living, proved too much for a girl so sensitively organized as Ernestine.

One fact was certain, as Heinrich's letters from the Thuringians assured her, that nothing had been heard of him by the regiment as yet. Owing to her state of health, the Countess's favourite topic and plan of the marriage was abandoned for the time, and in that matter she obtained some temporary relief.

The poor girl really was, to all appearance, in a rapid consumption; but in all her family, hale, hearty, and strong on both sides, such an ailment had never been known. The whole tenor of her ways was changed. Even her pets—and she had many—were forgotten now.

The winter would come, and with it Christmas, and to that festival Ernestine looked forward with a kind of horror now. Would it be jovial as usual in the old ancestral hall of Frankenburg? Doubtless the glittering Christmas tree—a pine from the Reichswald—would be there as of old, as it had been for generations; and there would be the venison pasty, and the brown shining boar's head to be solemnly cut and jovially eaten; speeches would be made, and toasts drunk with many a merry 'hoch!' while her heart would be with the German army before beleaguered Paris, or in the grave, where she feared her Carl lay; so she hoped as Christmas came that her place in Frankenburg would be vacant.

The girl's mind was a prey to suspense and fear, sorrow and love—love, the strongest of all human passions.

We have said that her nervous organization was delicate; hence these mental affections, together with incessant anxiety, threw her into a species of rapid consumption, which the presence and restoration of 'her Carl,' as she always called him, alone could cure or arrest. She had a dry cough, a quick small pulse, a burning heat in her hands, a loss of strength, and sinking of the eyes, and her state became such at last that the Countess begged the Baron to absent himself from the Schloss for a time, as his visits there were a source of perpetual annoyance to Ernestine, though, for some time past, she secluded herself in her own room.

Now her mother began to wring her hands, and pray that Heaven would find for her this Herr Pierrepont, if his presence, even if tolerated for a time, would restore her sinking child.

Again and again did Heinrich write and telegraph to the head-quarters of the Thuringians concerning Charlie; but nothing had been heard of him there, and all were certain that he must have been killed in the action on the 14th of the preceding August.

Poor Ernestine! Her case was soon pronounced hopeless. Her beauty remained; but it was of a strange and weird kind. On each cheek was a hectic spot; her eyes, sunken in their sockets, had an unnatural brightness; she spoke little, and laughed never.

A little time more, and she was confined to her bed, where she lay for hours with her hot hand clasped in that of Herminia's, who bathed her temples with Rimmel and eau de Cologne, and fanned and petted her, while she tossed on her pillow, and muttered 'Carl! Carl!'

It was always Carl.

Often when she spoke, her dark eyes flashed up, like the momentary flicker of a lamp about to go out for ever—on earth, at least.

'Oh, Herminia, darling!' she said on one occasion; 'life has no charms, and death has no terrors for me now.'

'Carl will return.'

'Never! Or it may be that he will come too late. Yet, even then,' she added, with a strange bright smile, that terrified her weeping cousin, 'even then I may see him, for it is among the possibilities of this world that the dead may return again!'

'Strange weird words! What does she—what can she mean?' thought Herminia.

Some days after this she became almost speechless; yet she was quite conscious, and looked so lovely with the dishevelled masses of her dark hair floating over her laced pillow and delicate neck, as she smiled tenderly on her mother, Herminia, and all who hovered about her. Yet ever she whispered to herself, 'Carl! Carl!'

On his last visit the doctor looked very grave as he departed.

'Can nothing be done to save her?' implored the Countess, in a tremulous voice.

'Nothing in my power, Grafine. Her disease is of the mind—the mind alone. Your daughter—I deplore to say it—is dying!'

'Of what, Herr Doctor? Of what?

'To me, it seems—of a broken heart!'

'Impossible!' replied the Countess; 'people do not die of broken hearts, and grief does not kill.'



So, like Heinrich, Charlie had fallen into the 'enemy's hands;' but fortunately for him, they were the soft and gentle ones of little Célandine de Caillé.

The passage of the ball had seriously injured him internally; thus he was long in recovering, and the winter of the year was almost at hand ere he could venture to travel; but it now seemed imperative to Charlie that he should trespass on his host and hostess no longer.

'You would spoil any man with kindness, Mademoiselle de Caillé,' said he, one day; 'or any dog, too.'

'Often the most loving animal of the two,' replied the French girl, laughing.

During that protracted convalescence how often, in the waking hours of the night, had he thought of Ernestine, and strove to sleep in the hope to dream of her; of their moonlight walks in the garden of the old Schloss, when she had held his arm, with her little hands interlaced so confidingly on his sleeve, and he used to pet and caress them as she leant with all her weight upon his wrist; or of the mad gallops they were wont to have through the glades and dingles of the lovely Reichswald, when the green woods seemed to sleep under the dusky purple of the summer sky; but one night he had a dream that startled, and, like that one in the bivouac, made a deep impression upon him by its vividness and the sense of pain it left.

In imagination she bent over him sadly and caressingly; her dark eyes were tender and beautiful as of old; but the rose-leaf tint had left her cheeks, as if for ever. Her smile was full of sweetness. Then a change came suddenly over her; the soft light died out of her eyes; her cheeks became hollow, her lips pallid; her whole expression and aspect painful and ghastly; the grasp of her hands became cold and chilling, and her voice grew faint and husky, as she said,

'At Burtscheid, dearest Carl; meet me at Burtscheid, where last we met.'

Then she seemed to melt away from before him, and Charlie started and awoke, to find it was happily but a mere dream, born too probably of his nervous and enfeebled condition, yet one so vivid, we have said—so terrifically vivid and painful, that he was trembling in every limb, a cold perspiration covered his whole frame; and by some strange association of ideas, the dying curse, if curse it was, of the French captain came rushing on his memory.

And now the time came when he was to leave the Chateau de Caillé.

'And you go, you go to her,' said Célandine, making a great effort to appear calm, on the day of his departure.

'To her whose miniature I showed you, dear friend yes.'

'Oh, may you both be happy—very, very happy!'

'I thank you, dear Célandine; you will ever have her gratitude, as well as mine; but there are many things to oppose, many interests to thwart our happiness.'

'Alas!' said the French girl, sadly; 'but remember that nothing is impossible.'

And so when Charlie Pierrepont left his kind friends and that charming part of Lorraine, he little knew that he left behind a warm girlish heart that yearned for him, and him only, and thought nothing of Monsieur Adolphe, with all his thousands of francs, her father's choice; and keenly she envied her—the unknown lady—whose miniature was in Charlie's heart.

From the surgeon of a Prussian regiment at Saarbrück, Charlie Pierrepont got a medical certificate, to the effect that he was incapable of rejoining the Thuringians, or of serving for some time. Leave was given him by the general in command, and he took the train from Saarbrück to Aix, to be near Frankenburg and her, of whom he had heard nothing for all those months, that seemed like so many ages now; for Charlie was so much of a lover, that to breathe the same atmosphere with her was a source of joy.

Yet it was a cold and frosty atmosphere now, for Christmas was close at hand, the time when Christmas trees are lighted, when arcades and toyshops, fruiterers and pastry-cooks drive a roaring trade, when circles long separated are reunited, and happy parents sit at the head of happy tables surrounded by shining faces.

The Reichswald was leafless and bare now, and a mantle of snow covered all those heights that surround Aix, which seems to lie in 'a fertile bowl surrounded by bold hills;' and ice lay in masses about the boats of the pontoon bridge of the Rhine. It was on the evening of the third Thursday before the great festival of the Christian year that Charlie found himself in the brilliant speise-saal of the Grand Monarque.

He was now within a very short distance of Frankenburg; but how was he to communicate with Ernestine? See her he must before Christmas-eve, or she could not meet him then; and the hunger, the craving of his heart, was too great to be endured long. He feared to write to Herminia, lest his handwriting might be recognised by the Countess, and to write to Ernestine would too probably be useless, as her correspondence was too probably under her mother's supervision.

What if she should now be the Baroness Grünthal? For months no one had known anything of his existence. All might have believed him to be dead, and she, perhaps yielding to the influences around her; but no, no—he thrust that thought aside, and recalled the solemnity of their vows interchanged at Burtscheid.

Had she not then, and on that eventful night in the boudoir, promised to be faithful to him in life and death? and Charlie smiled at his momentary doubt.

How many people there are in this world who treasure up and con over and over again an impossible day-dream that may never come to pass! Charlie thought of this as, from the hotel windows, he gazed moodily into the snow-covered street, with all its bustle and lamps, and shrank from the passing fear that his aspirations after Ernestine might only be an impossible and unrealizable longing; but see her again he must, even if he went to the Schloss—but no, that would never do after the treatment he had experienced there, and the epithets applied to him by the Countess.

Suddenly he observed near him, while lingering over his wine in the speise-saal, which had emptied of guests, the Baron Rhineberg and, of all men in the world, Baron Grünthal, busy with their meerschaums and tankards of beer. Both seemed very quiet and taciturn; they had been speaking very little, which perhaps was the reason that, in his abstraction, they had hitherto been unnoticed by Charlie, who now held up the Staats Anzeiger between them and him, as he had no wish to be recognised by either. However, they were a link between him and Frankenburg, so he could not help listening intently to whatever they said.

They were talking at slow intervals of some recent sorrow they had sustained; but so great was the slaughter of the French war, that everyone in Germany then was wearing crape or mourning for the loss of some friend.

'Ach Gott—yes,' said Rhineberg; 'it is certainly a great calamity even to the city of Aachen.'

'When I saw the black flag flying on the old Schloss,' responded Grunthal, 'and the hatchment with its sixteen quarters over the gate, I—I knew that the dreaded event had taken place at last.'

'That we had lost a dear friend?'

'Yes. The poor old Graf!' said Grünthal, with a sigh.

Charlie felt startled—almost inclined to speak and discover himself, but restrained the inclination, and listened intently, thinking, 'Well, the poor old veteran of Ligny and Waterloo could not be expected to live for ever.'

'He has never suffered more, I think,' said Rhineberg, after taking a long pull at his pipe, and watching the smoke thoughtfully as it ascended in concentric rings towards the lofty ceiling of the speise-saal, 'never, since that morning when the devilish Extra Blatt had in it the mutilated telegram concerning the capture of Heinrich by the Francs-Tireurs.'

'And the severe wounding—was it not mortally?—of the Englander, Herr Pierrepont,' added Grunthal, with something in his throat that sounded, as Charlie thought, exceedingly like a chuckle of satisfaction.

But Heinrich, his dear friend and comrade, had been taken by the Francs-Tireurs! Knowing, from experience, how the Francs-Tireurs and the Prussians were in the habit of handling each other, this was an event to cause him anxiety, but, as it happened, only for a few minutes.

Would the death of the Count in any way release Ernestine from parental thraldom? Though he felt genuine sympathy for her natural grief, he could not very much regret the event; 'and yet,' thought Charlie, 'the poor old fellow was always kind to me.'

'It is most fortunate,' said Rhineberg, after a little pause, 'that the young Graf Heinrich is at home during such a terrible crisis.'

'Most fortunate for his mother, and all.'

So Heinrich was at Frankenburg, and not with the old 95th before the walls of Paris! This was indeed most welcome news for Charlie! More than once he had been on the verge of speaking, as his curiosity had been keenly excited, but repressed the inclination; he did not wish that his presence in Aix should be known to the Countess, and to address Grünthal, his acknowledged rival, or competitor, rather, was altogether an intolerable idea, so quitting the speise-saal softly, he hastened to his own room.

Then he wrote rapidly a long and explanatory letter to Ernestine, full of all the deepest, most tender, and passionate thoughts of his heart, telling her of his presence at Aix, and beseeching her to meet him. He recalled the dream in which she had asked him to meet him at Burtscheid.

'At Burtscheid, be it,' he wrote, 'at the same hour, dear, dear Ernestine, when last we met there; and I shall give you a strange souvenir of the war—the bullet that pierced my breast, and has been the means, perhaps, of keeping me so long from you. At Burtscheid, then, my darling.'

This letter he despatched under cover to Heinrich, and felt more happy and composed than he had been since last he saw her.

He knew that his letter would be delivered by the post at Frankenburg in the morning.

Probably Heinrich would visit his hotel during the day, and he knew that at all risks—unless something most extraordinary intervened—Ernestine, who had such strength of will, would contrive to meet him in the old church.

All the following day Charlie lingered about the Grand Monarque, but Heinrich never came; doubtless the business or calamity to which the Barons referred had detained him.

Then a fear came over Charlie that the same event might prevent Ernestine meeting him, as she might be deprived of her brother's escort.

But if she failed to come, a messenger of some kind might meet him at Burtscheid.



'In five hours—in four—in two,' and so on he reckoned, 'I shall see her again—my darling! my darling!'

At last the wished-for time came when he was to set forth on that walk which—he fondly, ardently, and tenderly hoped—was to end in her presence; but, as he walked down the leafless avenue from the city, he felt his heart become tremulous, almost sick with anxiety and fear, lest she should be unable to meet him, even after all the months of separation undergone; yet his was a heart that never quailed, even when he faced that battery in the wood—a battery that was not of cannon, but mitrailleuses!

Anon as he proceeded, something of Ernestine's high and strange enthusiasm gathered in his breast.

Even if he were fated never to wed her, he felt that she was the one great passion of his life, a worship almost spiritualized, and that beyond the trammels of this material world, he would follow her, faithful and unchanged, into that to come.

Then he almost smiled to think how German the tone of his mind was becoming.

The evening sky was cloudless, and wore a kind of pale violet tint, amid which the stars sparkled out brilliantly.

The trees of the avenue between the city and Burtscheid were covered with rimy frost, which made their branches seem to coruscate and glitter in myriad prisms. Frost was on the pathway; it shone on the stems and twigs, on the stalks and blades of the wayside plants; snow covered all the district, yet the air was far from being cold.

At last the old church of Burtscheid rose before him again. In another minute or two, he would have clasped her to his breast, where he had clasped her last—at the altar-rail—when those sad and sweet and solemn vows were interchanged.

In that moment the campaign in Alsace and Lorraine, danger, duty, wound, and suffering, were all forgotten; nothing was in his mind but the intense happiness of the event to come.

He was conscious enough of the tombs and cypresses, the pillars and obelisks, standing grimly up from the snow-clad graves; of the dusky outlines of various distant buildings; of red lights streaming from windows out upon the gloom; and he could see the pale silver crescent of the new moon peeping sharply up above the black outline of the Schloss of Frankenburg.

He heard the faint whisper of the ivy leaves on the old wall; but all as one might do in a dream.'

He threw away the end of his cigar, and thought,

'I should not have been smoking when coming to meet her.'

No britzka or other carriage stood before the gate. Heinrich was not there as escort; neither was the old butler or any other servant there in attendance.

So, as the evening was clear and fine, she must have come alone to meet him, that they might have the joy of walking back to the Schloss together!

He entered the church. It was gaily decorated for the coming Christmas-eve.

No one was in the church, and Charlie's heart began at once to sink, when there was a sound behind him, and coming down two steps, from a door that he had not observed before, was his own Ernestine.

'Carl! Carl! It is thee! Thee, at last!' she exclaimed, in a piercing voice, and, with innocent self-abandonment and a tenderness that was irrepressible, but peculiarly her own, she flung herself into his arms, as on that night in the boudoir.

She was dressed as if for a ball or some great festival; but Carl remembered that this was Christmas-time, always a season of gaiety at Frankenburg as elsewhere.

Her dress was white silk, covered with waves of the finest white lace. A great veil of the latter material enveloped her head and shoulders.

She wanted but a white wreath to make her look like a lovely bride, and Charlie's heart throbbed with pride and joy to think that she was his own.

He thought she looked pale and tired. It might be—nay, doubtless, it must be—that the months of past anxiety had told upon her system as on his own.

Yet her eyes had all the tender purity of an angel's in them, though when she became excited there came over them a strange glitter, a restless flashing, a sparkling animation, that contrasted strongly with the languor of her form and actions; but happily there was no fever flush on her cheek, which was pale—paler than of old, as Charlie thought.

Long and silent was their embrace ere they spoke in broken accents of all they had mutually undergone; and, while speaking, her head nestling as it used to do on Charlie's neck, she shuddered sometimes, for she seemed to be sorely chilled by the damp cold atmosphere of the old church.

'Are all well at the Schloss?' asked Charlie suddenly, after a pause, as the last evening's conversation recurred to him.

'All! Thank Heaven!' replied Ernestine.

'And your father, the Herr Graf?'

'Well, too.'

Charlie was puzzled. He must have been in a dream, or have misunderstood the remarks of the two barons.

'Is Heinrich with the regiment?' he asked.

'No,' she replied, 'dear Heinrich is at the Schloss, and this morning put your letter into my hand; and then, after, to tease or please me, in my bosom. See, it is there now!' she added, in the most engaging manner.

'You found no difficulty in coming to meet me, dearest?'


'How fortunate—how happy we are!'

'My poor Carl!'

'Why poor? I feel to-night the happiest man in Germany.'

'I was resolved to meet you, at all risks, my darling. A faith plighted—a promise made is holy, Carl—holy to God and man. I promised to be here, Carl, in a dream that I had of you; and by a strange chance I have been permitted to come—to be here, to see you, feel your strong but tender arm round me once more. Oh, Carl, kiss me once again, as you did on that day in the Hoch Munster when first you said you loved me.'

'Ernestine, what do you mean?' asked Charlie, eyeing her with some anxiety, and impressed with a strange fear by the solemnity of her manner.

'I belong no longer to myself.'

'To whom, then? Heavens!' he added, starting, 'you have not become the wife of that man!'


'Baron Grünthal.'

'Oh, no; how could you think of such a thing for a moment, Carl?' she said, with a bitter smile, while looking down and playing with a ring he had given her in other days.

'Then to whom do you belong?' he asked, fondly.

'My love—to you!'

She put up her little face tenderly to his, and then looked away, with the weary, wistful expression of those who have long lived in some world of their own, and can never seem to see out beyond the present.

'We were betrothed together for life and death, Carl.'

'Were—are, you mean, Ernestine.'

'Yes, beloved Carl; but time presses—alas! I fear that I must leave you now.'

'But to meet again——'

'Very soon.'

'I have brought these for you from Lorraine. This is the bullet that struck me down, and this cross is a trophy of the war.'

'How pretty—nay, it is beautiful and interesting, too,' she exclaimed, with something of her old gleeful way, as he clasped round her slender throat a gold necklet he had procured in Aix, and now the white enamelled cross hung thereat.

She shuddered when she looked at the chassepot ball and took it in her hand.

'And this actually pierced you, my Carl?'

'Nearly through and through, love. For five days it was in unpleasant proximity to my lungs.'

'It is indeed a relic,' said she, while placing it in the bosom of her dress.

'So—so,' said she, sadly, disengaging herself from his arms, 'our love has been sanctified by danger and death.'

'Great Heavens!' thought Carl, 'sorrow has turned her brain!'

'It has not,' she said; 'do not think so.'

'What is not? I did not speak,' said Carl.

'No, but you thought; and I know what you thought, and there is no living grace or glory like a love so sanctified as ours, Carl.'

He regarded her with a bewilderment not unmixed with alarm.

There was a strange wild and weird beauty in her pale face—a radiance in her eyes, a brightness all over her such as Charlie had never before witnessed.

Whence did it come? From the altar-lights?

They were too dim.

What did it mean? Was it her natural beauty only, magnified by the force of his imagination, and enhanced by his great love for her?

Somehow Charlie was perplexed and startled by her, amid all the transport and joy of the time.

Suddenly there was a sound of wheels and horses' hoofs without, then of several feet ringing on the hard and frozen churchyard path.

Ernestine started, and exclaimed in a voice husky, as it seemed, with alarm—

'They are coming—my father and that dreadful Baron! I must leave you, beloved Carl—but only for a time; we shall meet again where even they can separate us no more!'

She turned, and flying like a phantom, hurried through the little door by which she had entered the church; and Charlie Pierrepont, feeling certain that their interview had been discovered—that they had come in pursuit of her in ire and indignation, and that there would be a scene which he was most anxious to avoid—looked hastily round the little church for a place of concealment.

There was none; so he resolved to make the best of it, and turned to the doorway just as the portly old Count of Frankenburg, the Baron Grünthal, limping as usual with gout, and Heinrich entered the church together.


They were all in evening costume—that sombre attire in which the modern gentleman may attend a funeral by day, and a ball by night, without change; and they all looked pale, harassed, and grave.

'Oh, Herr Graf von Frankenburg, if you have a human heart——' Charlie was beginning, anxious to propitiate the father of her he loved so dearly, when the Count, waving his hand, interrupted him, and said:

'Herr Lieutenant, I can well afford to forgive the past now, and your rash love for my daughter.'

'Herr Graf, I thank you—I thank you!' exclaimed Charlie, with warmth and gratitude; for he expected high words, anger, and fierce reproaches.

'Carl, my dear friend,' said Heinrich, taking his hand kindly in both of his, while his eyes filled with genuine emotion, 'you here!—you here after all!'

'You got my letter and gave it to her—to Ernestine?'

'To her—yes; but alas! Carl, it came too late.'

'Too late!—too late! How?'

'Do you not know? have you not heard? Poor Carl! poor Carl!' said Heinrich, in a voice full of sympathy.

'What do you mean?' asked Charlie, in great perplexity.

'He means, Mein Herr,' said the Count, in a broken voice, 'that our beloved Ernestine died at noon yesterday.'

Charlie passed a hand across his brow, and looked wildly in their faces, as if doubting their sanity or his own.

'Died!' he repeated mechanically.

'It is incomprehensible your being here,' said the Count, in a still more broken voice, and few could have seen that old man weeping unmoved, 'as her last words were, "Meet me at Burtscheid—at Burtscheid, dearest Carl."'

'And I have met her, seen her, spoken with her not two minutes since.'

'My poor friend,' said Heinrich, 'grief, or your wound, has turned your brain.'

'What madness is this?' asked Charlie, with a kind of bitter laugh in his voice, as he felt in no humour for jesting. 'Herr Graf, Herr Baron, Heinrich, my friend, Ernestine has been here with me, in this lonely church, for fully two hours!'

'And spoken with you?' said the Count, in an excited tone. 'Oh, if it should be that she still lives!'

'Lives!—great Heaven! Herr Graf—she was here with me, and I gave her a French cross with the bullet that wounded me.'

'He raves!' said the Baron Grunthal, with anger in his tone.

'She is there—in that room off the church.'

'In that room sure enough. It is the Dead Chamber,' said the Count, approaching the door.

'She fled there for concealment on hearing your approach.'

'Man,' said the old Count, pausing, 'are you not mad to tell me that she is there now, and yet was here but a minute ago?'

'As I have Heaven to answer to—she was!'

'Follow me, then.'

On entering the room, Charlie Pierrepont reeled, and would have fallen had not Heinrich supported him.

We scarcely know how to write of the episode that follows, and can but tell the tale as it was told by those who were cognisant of it.

In a purple velvet coffin, mounted with silver, and supported on trestles, the lid being open, lay Ernestine, dressed as we have described her—dead, stone-dead, cold and pale as marble, her lips a pale blue streak, her long eyelashes closed for ever.

Dead, beyond a doubt, was the girl he had clasped in his arms as a living being, but a few minutes before living and full of volition and life, love and energy; the lips he had kissed closed thus for ever; the hands he had caressed, snow-white now, disposed upon her bosom, the upper one holding the cross he had given her!

'Dead! What miracle of heaven; what magic of hell is here!' he exclaimed, as he staggered to the side of the coffin, pale as the girl who lay in it, the bead-like drops oozing from his temples as he grasped the locks above them. 'Speak! oh, speak, Heinrich!'

How terribly now came back to memory some of the strange things Ernestine had said to him, and more than all, those dying words of the French captain in the Chateau de Colombey, which sounded like something between a prophecy and a curse!

'Compose yourself, Carl,' said Heinrich, full of pity.

'My letter to her—written after she was dead,' said Charles, in a voice like a whisper—'she—she——'

'I placed it in her coffin ere she was brought here from the Schloss,' said Heinrich, who was now weeping freely; 'it is there now—and heavens, father! she has round her neck the cross of which Carl spoke.'

There are many things but imperfectly known in 'our philosophy,' and certainly this seemed one of them.

'She died talking of you—not raving—the poor angel,' said the old Count, as he bent fondly over the coffined girl, 'but smiling sweetly, and saying earnestly, again and, again, that she would meet you at Burtscheid.'

* * * * *

The gloomy half-lighted chamber in which this scene took place, and where the dead girl lay, looking so sweetly placid in her coffin, was one of those, where, in conformity with the police regulations of Germany in general, the bodies of persons deceased are placed within twelve hours after death—there to await interment.

In many places, more particularly at Frankfort, to guard against the chances of burial in cases of suspended animation, the fingers of the dead are placed in the loops of a bell-rope, attached to an alarm clock, which is fixed in the apartment of the attendant appointed to be on the watch.

The least pulsation in the body would give the alarm, when medical aid would instantly be called in.

Ernestine had a watcher in an adjoining room! but that worthy was found in the enjoyment of a profound slumber, and so had neither heard nor seen anything.

This strange story found its way into the Aix Gazette and the Extra Blatt.

Some averred that Charlie Pierrepont, on discovering her body in the chamber of Death, had gone mad and had imagined the whole interview in the church; others, that it was really a case of suspended animation, and that she had recovered for a time, and actually kept her tryst; but the former idea was the predominant one.

Certain it is that for many weeks after the event Charlie seemed to hover between life and death, sanity and insanity, at the Grand Monarque; and when he rejoined the Thuringianas before the walls of Paris, he had become so haggard, grey-haired, and old-looking, that his former comrades scarcely recognised him, so much had he undergone by a fever of the mind, rather than of the body.

When these dreadful events were soothed by time, though not forgotten at Frankenburg, and when the summer flowers were blooming over Charlie's grave—a grave which he found under the guns of Mont Valerien—the young Graf Heinrich was married to his cousin Herminia by the Herr Pastor Von Puffenvörtz, in the church of Burtscheid, when, as if no sorrow had preceded the ceremony, all indeed went merrily as a 'marriage bell.'