« IndietroContinua »
CARLO SEBASTIANI, THE AID-DE-CAMP.
The ball at Erlach was the most and, among the rest, was one of a showy display that its old battlements band of Italian pilgrims, who came and bastions had witnessed since their singing the airs which so perfectly foundation by Charles V. The day suit their country, and so touchingly itself was a gathering of good fortune. recall its captivations to all who have Besides its being the anniversary of trod the southern side of the Alps. the birth of the Empress of Austria, The group were chiefly young ; but the adjutant had brought from Vienna one of them, who seemed bowed with one of the Imperial orders for the extreme old age, and sang with a governor, with a highly complimentary feeble though still sweet voice, sudletter from the war-minister, applaud- denly fixed Carolina's eye. The feaing the “extraordinary vigilance which tures were those of evident antiquity, had counteracted the daring enterprise yet there was an expression in them of the enemy against his fortress," which reminded her of something and the “ consummate gallantry with which she could not drive from her which he met the attack, and captured mind. The attentions of the gallant and destroyed the whole division under chef-de. brigade lost their interest, if the French general.”
they had ever possessed any; and a If governors of threescore and ten shade of melancholy began to spread had any faculty of blushing, Major- over one of the loveliest countenances General von Sharlheim must have of living woman. blushed at his panegyric. But, as The ball was kept up with addi. that was out of the question, he or- tional gaiety by the arrival of fresh dered the letter to be entered on the groups.
Wine flowed more briskly, regimental books, and read at the head and the spirits of the company conof every corps on the parade; had stantly grew more animated. But the facsimiles made of it, which he dis- groups seemed suddenly and unacpatched to every corner of Europe countably to thicken, and to be comwithout loss of time; and published it posed, in some instances, of individuals at full length, and with all explanatory who could scarcely have been included comments, in the Hamburghsche. Cor. in the governor's invitations. Sounds respendenten, and the Algemeine of riot, too, were heard outside the Zeitung, and a crowd of others, which apartments, which scarcely comported sent it flying round the globe. In with the discipline of a garrison. A, short, the governor was in the highest strange feeling of alarm now began to spirits imaginable.
exhibit itself in the assembly; and Carolina Cobentzel, fairer than ever, though the dance went on, and the dressed like a sultana, and looking like hock and champagne were more liberthe Queen of the Graces, was the centre ally indulged in than ever, it was eviof attraction for the night. The French dent that something threatened to sour officers themselves acknowledged that the festivity. At length the appearshe had the vraie tournure Française, ance of one of the aids-de-camp, with by which they meant perfection, of marks of extreme anxiety in his coun. course ; and the assiduities of the gal- tenance, produced an universal pause lant chef-de-brigade were so pointed in the dance, and every eye was turned as to throw all the men into palpable on the governor. He continued calmdespair, and all the ladies into as pal- ly receiving the whispered report of pable displeasure. But the assembly the officer; and, though pale as death, was large, gay, and brilliant; the yet, by his gestures, evidently desirous neighbouring nobles, delighted at the that no disturbance of the festivities prospect of a fête, and at the transfor- should take place. The dancing was mation of the rugged old fortress into resumed, and the major-general again the palace of an Armida, had flocked took his seat at the head of the room. to the festival, and all was waltzing if But he had scarcely sat down, when not wit, and wine if not gaiety. Asin ail a voice from one of the pilgrims whisfancy balls, some of the groups were pered in his ear, “ Arrest the chef-dedull, and some costumed in contempt brigade on thre spot, or all is lost." of all history; but some were striking. The gallant chef was at this moment
waltzing with the Lady Carolina in and been every where. The enemy the midst of a buzz of admiration. continued pouring in battalion after This was a difficult point for the battalion, until the garrison, seeing the governor ; but the voice made so hopelessness of all defence, called for strong an impression on his mind, quarter. Shouts of Vive la République that, after a moment or two of deliber- rose at the entrance of every fresh ation, he called the Frenchman out of battalion, and the fortress was inevitathe set, and told him in a low but firm bly lost. voice that he must retire to his quar. • Let the poltrons be taken priters. The chef was all astonishment, soners, if they will,” exclaimed the demanded the reason of this insult, governor, as, with a few soldiers and haughtily refused to move. The and his staff, he fixed himself in a groups suddenly crowded round him, bastion—" I shall die here." But the a signal was made from the casement, enemy, determining to finish the affair and it was answered by a clash of at once, poured a volley into the work, arms from without, and a cry of which formidably thinned its defenVive la République ! The Frenchders. The next volley threatened to man now drew his sword, and, turning extinguish the little desperate troop, to the overwhelmed Von Sharlheim, when the governor heard the same said with that look which no other mysterious voice at his side which had nation can put on " Voilà, mon géne warned him in the ball-room. éral, la pièce est finie. Rendez vous ; sistance is ruin," were the words ; vous êtes mon prisonnier à present! “ follow me." He turned and saw the
“How is this, Monsieur?'exclaimed same decrepit and pilgrim-dressed the startled governor ;“what infamous figure which had before caught his treachery has done this ? "
attention. But desperate as the cir“ Comrades," shouted the chef, cumstances were, he disdained to save o forward, and convince the major himself by flight. “Make your escape, general that I am in the right and he sir, while you have time," said he; and in the wrong:
Vive la République !" raising his voice, exclaimed to his As he uttered the words, three-fourths officers, “Gentlemen, save yourselves; of the groups threw off their mas- there is no chance of saving the for. querade cloaks, and showed the French tress. You may live to be revenged, uniform under them.
but the governor must die here." “ Villain, take this !" was the brave Some took the advice and disappeared; old soldier's exclamation, when he had a few remained. The French fired recovered his breath. The sabre blow again, and the whole brave remnant which followed the word brought the lay on the ground. Day broke, and the chef to the ground; and the room was tricolor waved on Erlach-Glaringen. immediately a scene of the clashing The capture of the fortress was easiof swords and crossing of bayonets. ly accounted for. The French pri. The German officers made all the re- soners had kept up a communication sistance that could be expected from with their countrymen, who still men taken completely by surprise; but covered the banks of the Rhine in they were gradually pushed from the great force. Jo dan, after his defeat saloon into the open air. There the by the Archduke, had retreated upon scene was one of general struggle. the Lahn, but leaving behind him The garrison continued to fight; but nearly all his guns and baggage; the the greater part of them had been just peasantry, infuriated at his excesses roused from their beds, and the re- on the advance, had followed him with mainder had been drinking too deep, indefatigable hostility, and every stragof potations furnished more by the gler perished by their hands. The French commissaries than by the go. losses of the marauders amounted to vernor's liberality, to be able to offer thousands, and the fears of the Re. any effectual obstacle. Even the guns publican Government were so much which the artillerymen wheeled down alarmed, that powerful reinforcements from the bastions to fire on the square, were rapidly forwarded from the garwere found to have been rammed with risons on both banks, and the march clay. The very cartridges in the sol. of a army of 25,000 troops diers' pouches had been stolen, and was ordered under the favourite offi. their places filled up with cartridges cer of the service, Marceau. With of sand. Treachery had been active, this accession of strength the hopes of
conquest revived in the bosom of the looking down upon the Rhine. Their French commander-in-chief. He threw attention was apparently fixed on a himself forward, formed a new plan small column of troops which advanof campaign with the eccentric rapidi- ced with an open artillery waggon, ty which distinguished the war of the covered with flags, in their centre; a Republic, and daringly maneuvred to few cavalry preceded and followed, outflank the Archduke. The news and a solitary trumpet from time to had immediately spread to the pri, time sent its melancholy echoes among soners; they prepared for a general the mountains. It was evidently the attempt on the garrison; and a division last march of some distinguished sol. of the enemy was ordered into the dier. But, as the column ascended forest to assist the enterprise. The the heights, the uniform was observed enemy's march had been so dexterous- to be Austrian, and the banner was ly concealed, that Von Sharlheim, ac- the black eagle. They were friends; customed to more regular tactics, and the anxiety now was to know remained totally unsuspicious of this what gallant chief had been lost to the formidable neighbourhood. The pre- national cause. The peasant dress of parations for the fête on the Imperial the three precluded personal notice, birthday fully occupied the attention and they reached the column just as of his staff
, and the result was the it had arrived at its place of destinamarch of a powerful force at midnight tion. The funeral procession was one to the gates of the place, their intro- of those instances in which war is duction by the bribery of the sentinels, softened by the spirit of civilisation, and the capture. The scene in the and the honour due to genius and vaball-room was merely an adjunct of lour, is paid, even in an enemy. An that which had already occurred with officer from the Archduke's headquarout. A large party of French officers ters commanded the escort, and as the had joined the ball, in various cha- coffin was lowered from the carriage, racters, ready to take advantage of the and laid in the grave, he pronounced hour, and seize the governor and the a short and simple panegyric on the staff. The chef-de-brigade had medi- dead soldier. tated a seizure of another kind, which “ Austrians," said be," you see be, he must have effected but for the un- fore you the last resting place of a lucky exultation which betrayed him, gallant enemy. That grave contains and which was rewarded by the sabre a Frenchman, and one of the memora. blow of the governor-a blow which ble of his country: General Marceau swept off one of the most polished and fought in the unjust cause, and therepicturesque mustaches in existence, fore Germany may rejoice that the and carried with it a portion of the aggressor has been cut off; but he lip sufficient to prohibit its growth“ fought by the command of others, and for life. Whatever he might be as theirs be the crime. It is but a month a hero in time to come, there was since that brave general brought his an end of his claims as an Ado. force into the field; it is but a weck since
The lady was lost; but the he saved the French army, which was fortress was carried. A prodigious his- on the point of perishing before Austory of the “ irresistible prowess" trian bravery ; it is but twelve hours' of all concerned was sent to Paris; since, at the head of his troops, atthe achievement was blazoned in the tempting to stop the irresistible arms Moniteur; thence it was turned into of our country, he fell at the battle of a melodrama at the Porte St Martin; Altenkirchen, in command of the rearfurnished a horse-pantomime at Fran- guard. It is the glory of the Ausconi's ; flourished as a “ romantic trian, that while he fights the enemy in opera” at the Odeon; and finally soared arms, he knows how to feel for the
• tragedie classique" at the prisoner. We found him wounded on Theatre Français. What could chi. the field. The Archduke, the hero of valry ask more ?
Germany, ordered his wounds to be About a fortnight after this period taken care of, but they were mortal ; a group of three persons, a wounded and the brave enemy breathed his last, old man, a young one with an ema. thanking the humanity of his conciated frame and countenance, and a queror. Honour to Germany-hon. young female, were seen sitting at the our to the Archduke honour to the door of a hut on one of the heights brave Marceau !"
The troops repeated the last words The sun forbids our lingering here, with three melancholy acclamations. or at least mine ; for the woodman, A howitzer then fired; and three vols who allows me the honour of an leys over the grave, and the planting apartment under his thateh, keeps of a bower of pine branches over the early hours, and shuts up his doors at spot, concluded the touching cere. twilight. I have a couple of leagues mony.
to go through the forest before that The troops returned down the hill; time, or I must bivouac like one of its but the three peasants remained. wild bears. Farewell, till to morrow." There was silence among them, and He took a few paces forward, then their eyes continued fixed on the spot returned, and said in a low voice to where the sun threw his farewell the lady,"If I should not return tolustre on the bed of one who was to morrow, rely upon me for returning awake to earthly glory no more. At at the first moment in my power.” length the old man spoke.
There was a change in his tone and “ He sleeps happy. The French. look which alarmed the quick susman served his country to the last. picions of the heart. Carolina took No stain darkens the reputation of him aside. years. Why could I not have found " Carlo," was the fair creature's such a grave ?"
answer, “what can you mean by this? The female by his side clasped his You are thinking of some dark atfeeble hand. “ My dearest uncle, my tempt that may be your ruin. Rememmore than father,” said she, in accents ber, that we wholly depend upon you of singular sweetness, “ You must not
Be candid with me; we have think of those things. You did your claims, if misfortune can give them. duty; you suffered only by treachery. My high-spirited and unhappy relaNo one on earth can charge you with tive must die if you leave us. What dishonour. And who can be answers may become of me is of less considerable for fortune ?” Her young com- ation. But you have saved my life, and panion's looks were fixed on the fair it is only gratitude to say that it is at consoler with an expression of intense your service for ever! Now, tell me of delight, which made her cheek glow what it is that you are thinking?”. “ Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue.”
“ Thinking! Of nothing on earth,"
exclaimed the enraptured hearer, “but “ Carolina," replied the old man, of that lovely being whose heart is as
your affection is my single rea- noble as her beauty, and whose hand son for enduring existence.
would be worth the world. Carolina, knowledge the noble spirit in which listen to me, and now listen in faith, our generous friend here persevered, for I speak in sincerity. The thought notwithstanding all the malice of his was sudden; it came from the grave fortunes, to save us both. I thank of Marceau. Looking on that spot, him with all the feelings that now I felt, with a stronger conviction than remain to me, for having saved you, ever, that to a soldier honour is essenmy child, from the hands of the villains tial. The tribute paid to that brave who have destroyed your uncle ; but, man even by enemies made me deterif my last wish were to be granted, it mine more solemnly than ever, that my would have been that I had died on Carolina's relative shall be saved from the bastion where I fell, and where the stings of calumny. As brave as his unhappy courage dragged me from any man living or dead, and suffering among my dead friends and soldiers. only under the ill fortune which has I can never appear among soldiers often happened to the brave, he can again."
require nothing but an opportunity to The old man's voice sank away, face accusation, and be cleared. My and he stood with his eyes turned in intention was, to go to the headquarters honourable envy to the grave of the of the army, and explain the capture gallant Marceau. All was silence for of the fortress.” a while. At last their companion, Carolina almost uttered a scream. with an evident effort to master some Tears burst from her eyes.
" You strong feeling, said, in a tone of sud- go to the army-you throw yourself on den cheerfulness,
the mercy of the Archduke! Ex. “ We must talk no more in this pect justice from the very circle of manner, general; at least not to-night. calumniators who have poisoned his
mind against you! Carlo, you will to suffer me to bring to your alliance have the fate of those on whom the a being unworthy of your hand. I malice of the world turns ; you will must think of the world, even for you. be overwhelmed by the crowd; you Shall I see the woman whom I love will disdain to defend yourself; you above all things on earth-the one will perish, and I—what then will who has confided her noble heart to become of me?” Carlo took her my charge, and without whom it would passive band ; and, as if to escape her even be impossible for me to livefascination, turned away his eyes. shall I see the daughter of an illustrious
“ Rely upon my caution,” said he ; line thrown into obscurity-into worse “ I will be prudent. But then, is it pos. than obscurity, into shame-by joining sible for me to see that brave and her fate with one stigmatized by the generous old man breaking down, day common voice of his country? Let by day, under bitterness of heart? me, then, make this single effort. I I have not the slightest doubt that my must first vindicate your relationstory will be heard, and will be ef. that task I shall find an easy onefectual. The general has still power- I must then vindicate myself; and, ful friends at Vienna. The Archduke whether that task be easy or difficult, is fully acquainted
with his services in I shall succeed at least in one objectthe Prussian and Turkish campaigns. I shall satisfy myself that I have done He is looked upon as dead, and no all that it was in my power to do-I sentence has been passed upon him; shall convince my enemies, if I have the knowledge of his gallantry in the them, that I have been ready to face defence of Erlach, unfortunate as its all enquiry; and with the conviction result was, will vindicate him at once ; that I have acted as became a soldier and I shall have the happiness-the and a man, the son of a brave man, unspeakable triumph—of restoring his and, by a still dearer name, the friend honour to the uncle of her, without of Carolina Cobentzel, I shall be conwhom life would now be a burden to tent to live or die.”
Farewell, then, and remember The calm energy with which he me!”
spoke, and the expression of his fine The lovely girl looked at him with countenance, which had recovered all increasing tenderness, and with thanks its ardour, made the listener feel that which were not to be told in words. his determination was fixed; and even But a sudden recollection started to that it was the wisest which, under her mind, and clouded her sunny brow. the circumstances, could be adopted.
“ And who will defend you ? " she After a pause, in which she wiped exclaimed, with the energy of ardent away many a tear, she turned her passion. “ You have been constantly magnificent eyes upon him, and pointpursued by a fortune which amounts ing to the sun, lying in golden rest on to a fate. I shall hear of your arrival the ridge of the Frendenberg mounat the Archduke's camp, only to hear tainsof your suffering the untimely death " Carlo," said she, “I must no of those whom the united cruelty and longer dispute the will of him whom I injustice of the world determine to have so long learned to honour and destroy. Be obstinate no longer- obey. I am not wholly convinced, there are more lives than your own in but I comply. You shall go to Vienthe balance. The hour of your death na; but that sun is the last that shall will be mine-I feel it. This old man set upon me here. General von Sharltoo will perish with us ; for, excepting heim and I will go with you. I still ourselves, who will think of his old have friends in Austria. We shall be age? Promise me, then, that you will able to give you some assistance: and abandon this desperate attempt; and I shall be saved from the infinite thank Heaven that we are left to live miseries which every hour would -and to love each other.” She stood bring while you were away." gazing on him, as if she could read his The darkening hue of Sebastiani's soul.
brow showed his alarm at her at6 But, Carolina, how can I endure tempting this new peril. The country degradation, and, worse than all, to was covered with troops, and travelling live degraded in your eyes ?” was the bad became a matter of extreme diffi struggling answer. “ You make honour culty. She caught the meaning intoo dear, by your generous affection, stantly, and combated it.