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as to the fate of the waggons, he could neither prevent nor ascertain it, and all responsibility ceased in troublous times like these.
"We are in a den of thieves,' said the merchant to his escort; 'I must request your assistance in bringing these people to reason.'
"Now, bringing people to reason was just what the young Pole believed to be his speciality; so, with a smile, he took a pistol in one hand, and said aside to
Anton, 'Do as I, and have the goodness
to follow me.' Next he seized the wag
goner by the throat, and dragged him down the stair. 'Where is the landlord?' cried he, in the most formidable tone he could raise. The dog of a landlord, and a lantern!' The lantern being brought, he drove the whole pack, the strangers, the fat landlord, the captured waggoner, and all others assembled by the noise, before him into the courtyard. Arrived there, he placed himself and his prisoner in the centre of the circle, bestowed a few more injurious epithets upon the landlord, rapped the waggoner on the head with his pistol, and then courteously observed in French to the merchant,The fellow's skull sounds remarkably hollow-what next do you require from the boobies?' "Have the goodness to summon the waggoners.'
"Good,' said the Pole; and then?' "Then I will examine the freight of the waggons, if it be possible to do so in the dark.'
"Everything is possible,' said the Pole, if you like to take the trouble to search through the old canvass in the night. But I should be inclined to advise a bottle of Santerne and a few hours' repose instead.'
"I should prefer to inspect the waggons at once,' said the merchant, with a smile, if you have no objection to it.'
"I am on duty,' replied the Pole, 'therefore let's to work at once; there are plenty of hands here to hold lights for you. You confounded rascals,' continued he in Polish, again cuffing the waggoner and threatening the landlord, I will carry you all off together, and have a court-martial held upon you, if you do not instantly bring all the drivers belonging to this gentleman into my presence. How many of them?' inquired he, in French, from the merchant.
"There are fourteen waggons,' was the reply.
"There must be fourteen waggoners,' thundered the Pole again to the people; 'the devil shall fly away with you all if you do not instantly produce them.'. .
Turning to the merchant, he said, 'Here you have the men; now see to the freight.' Then he carelessly sat down on the pole of a carriage, and looked at the points of his polished boots, which had got a good deal bemired."
One waggon was found to have goods hidden away; others had been been completely unloaded, and the pilfered. But restitution was enforced by the vigorous threats of the young Pole. The waggons were reloaded, and the merchant was prepared to leave the town with them the next day.
But provisional governments are not the most stable of institutions. The next day the young Polish nobleman was fighting for his own life fell, shot through the head. The landagainst an insurrectionary mob. He lord and his rascally friends were again in the ascendant; and now the merchant was in danger of losing both his life and his goods, when Anton came to the rescue. The landlord was rushing, sword in hand, at the merchant; Anton seized him from behind, tripped him, threw him on his back, and then, holding a pistol to his head, cried out to his followers, "Back, you rascals, or I shoot
At length the merchant contrived to leave the town with his fourteen waggons of valuable merchandise. Anton was left behind to make arrangements with debtors. In all this he acts, of course, with perfect discretion, and with all the success that could be reasonably expected.
When he returns home,we may well he would receive both from the merunderstand how cordial a welcome chant and his sister. Herr Von Fink had left for America; Sabine was free at heart; she was full of gratitude for the preserver of her brother's life; she was surprised to find how handsome Anton had become. We see the dénouement before us. Anton must become a partner in the firm, and marry Sabine.
But this happy issue of events must for a time be suspended, and even endangered. The exigencies of the novel absolutely require that Anton should postpone his happiness for the present; he has to be brought
again under the influence of Lenore and the Baroness; he has to quit the merchant, and become an agent, or steward, to a miserable estate in Poland, that he may know from experience the difference between serving a straightforward master, who both exacts and rewards with undeviating justice, and devoting a quite chivalrous service to bland gentlewomen, who praise, admire, solicit, and forget-forget all but the essential distinction between plebeian and patrician. We must therefore now turn to the Baron Von Rothsattel, his family, and his pecuniary affairs.
When we passed through the pleasure-grounds, and paused with Anton before the castle of the Baronwhat man on earth could be happier? An unencumbered estate, a charming wife and daughter-taste and occupations that make a country life agreeable imagination cannot depict a condition of life more enviable. And his life is not useless to others, for not only that family group, who seize on him with joy as he enters the mansion, is made happy by his presence, but every servant about the house and farm, the stables and the dairy, receives the incalculable benefit of living under the eye of one who exercises a wholesome discipline, keeps order, sustains industry, and is kind and generous withal. But the Baron, though possessing what seems to an observer all the wealth that is desirable, wants just a little more to make him the most contented of men. His son is in the army, and of course expensive, and he shall by-and-by have to bestow a portion on his daughter. We see plainly that the Baron is one of those whom an unthinking world pronounce to be most fortunate, but who are really, by the want of that little more, very much to be pitied.
There is a portly usurer of the name of Ehrenthal, a man of substance in all senses of the word, exceeding courtly in his demeanour, who has had some dealings with the Baron. This man has secretly set his heart on the hereditary estate of the Rothsattels. He has only to cultivate in the Baron this nascent desire for gain, and the gentlemanly habit of borrowing, and the beautiful
house and grounds, and the wellstocked farm, will fall into the usurer's hands. He and his diamond pin, displayed upon his ample cravat, are accompanying the Baron, with many bows, round the property.
there was a pause, Ehrenthal being quite "After the inspection of the sheep
overcome with the thickness and fineness of their fleece. He nodded and winked in ecstasy. What wool!' said he; what it will be next spring! Do you know, Baron, you are a most fortunate man? Have you good accounts of the young gentleman, your son?'
"Thank you; he wrote to us yesterday, and sent us his testimonials.'
"He will be like his father, a nobleman of the first order, and a rich man for his children.' too; the Baron knows how to provide
"I am not laying by,' was the careless reply.
'Laying by, indeed!' said the tradesman, with the utmost contempt for anything so plebeian; 'and why should you? When old Ehrenthal is dead and gone, you will be able to leave the young gentleman this property--with-between ourselves-a very large sum indeed, besides a dowry to your daughter sand dollars at least.' of-of-what shall I say?-of fifty thou
"You are mistaken,' said the Baron gravely; I am not so rich.'
"Not so rich!' cried Ehrenthal, ready to resent the speech, if it had not been made by the Baron himself. 'Why, you may then be so any moment you like ; any one, with a property like yours, can double his capital in ten years, without the slightest risk. Why not take jointstock promissory notes upon your estate?""
This joint-stock company and its peculiar mode of operation are not very clear to us. Indeed, we are throughout-we presume from the difference between foreign customs and laws and our own-somewhat perplexed by the monetary and legal transactions referred to in the course of the novel. We suspect they have perplexed the fair translator a little. However that may be, the gist of the matter is, that the Baron, as a landed proprietor, may borrow money at four per cent, which money he is to use so dexterously that "he will obtain ten, twenty, nay, fifty per cent for it!' How manifest that the Baron has but to wish to be rich to become so!
The bait is taken. The Baron borrows 45,000 dollars at four per cent, but by what means he is to realise with them his ten, twenty, or fifty per cent, is, strange to say, not yet revealed to him. For the present he has no other use or enjoyment of the new parchment notes (for in that shape the borrowed dollars appear) than to arrange them neatly in 'a small handsome brass inlaid casket," and there contemplate them with much affection. "He would sit for hours opposite the open casket, never weary of arranging the parchment leaves according to their numbers, delighting in their glossy whiteness, and forming plans for paying off the capital." This is a very limited enjoyment of money, and manifestly not the way to realise the fifty, twenty, or even ten per cent-not even that four per cent which he must pay for this very innocent amusement. This four per cent must come out of the revenues of the estate, but the Baron was saving nothing before, and it was not to be expected that he should begin to save just as he was on the point of becoming so rich a man. It so happens, too, that, simultaneously with the borrowing of this money, he has to incur additional expenses; for it is now found essential, for the sake of Lenore, that he should have a house in the capital, Lenore cannot possibly be allowed to grow up in the country, for her mamma detects that she is in danger of becoming an original," than which, she observes, "there can be no greater misfortune for a girl in our circle, for the merest shade of eccentricity might ruin her prospects."
The result of all this admirable management is, that at the end of the year there is a deficit of two thousand dollars which the Baron has in some way to raise. You expect now that the usurer will come forward, proffering the loan of this two thousand dollars. The usurer comes to his relief, but in a far more subtle manner; he lets him taste, at the same time, of the sweets of money-making. Lend me, says Ehrenthal, ten thousand dollars' worth of those promissory notes which are lying idle in your brass inlaid casket,
and in three months' time I will return them to you with two thousand dollars more, your half share of the profit I shall realise. What sort of transaction was that which was to be so profitable? was it such as a nobleman could honourably go shares in? Rothsattel asks the question, but permits himself to be easily satisfied. He lends the money, and Ehrenthal, according to his promise, brings it back, at the end of three months, with the additional two thousand dollars. The deficit is made up. "That very day the Baron bought a turquoise ornament for his wife, which she had long silently wished for, and sunshine prevailed in the family circle."
Now the nature of the transaction by which the Baron had gained his ten thousand dollars was this:-A villanous swindler had bought (but had not paid for) a quantity of timber of a nobleman living in the very neighbourhood of the Rothsattels. This swindler sells the wood to Ehrenthal for a mere fraction of its real value, pockets the money, and flies the country. Ehrenthal and Co., having bought the wood, sell it at a great profit, and the original proprietor is simply and entirely cheated of his timber. This comes out at a subsequent part of the history, much to the chagrin of the Baron. We may mention here that the forty-five thousand dollars borrowed of the jointstock company are finally invested in a mortgage on an estate in Poland.
And now Ehrenthal opens his heavy siege-batteries. Why does not the Baron build a factory on his estate for the extraction of sugar out of beet-root? The requisite capital could be easily obtained, and the profit would be immense. The scheme is played with, talked over, till at length it is adopted in earnest. From that time there is no peace in the beautiful residence of the Rothsattels, and very little sunshine in the family circle.
Ehrenthal advances money, to be secured by a mortgage on the land. But as the money is advanced from time to time, the usurer enters into an agreement with the Baron to take his simple note of hand in the first instance, and when the money
lent has risen to a certain amount, to receive a mortgage for the whole. The usurer trusts to the Baron's word of honour that he will give him this security on the land-a rather extraordinary proceeding on the part of such a man as Ehrenthal. However, such is the course he pursues, and it leaves the Baron open, at the next stage of the history, to a sad temptation to break his word.
For this building of a factory and planting the beet-root absorb much money and ruin the farm, and the Baron is driven to borrow of other men. These other men press for payment, will grant no delay, except on condition of having their debt secured on that very mortgage promised to Ehrenthal. It is our little villain Itzig, who, having learned and profited by the secret art of gaining wealth, had, under the name of others, lent this money to the Baron. He had been in the service of Ehrenthal, and was determined to outmanœuvre his old principal. When the Baron is in his utmost strait-in the very agony of expectation-all his money swallowed up in brick-chimneys and the cultivation of beet-root, and not an ounce of sugar yet extractedthis wretch comes with his demand for immediate payment. The Baron cannot pay-promises any amount of interest-begs only for time, that the sugar may make its appearanceall in vain Veitel Itzig will wait on one condition only-that he has that mortgage promised to Ehrenthal. The Baron yields.
But an old usurer, who, instead of his mortgage, has for all security the promissory notes of a bankrupt nobleman- -of one whom he himself has been pushing on to bankruptcy-is not likely to be a very placable antagonist. It is not only ruin, but dishonour, that now threatens the Baron. His workmen at the factory, dressing themselves in their new clothes, come with flying banners and music to celebrate the auspicious opening of his sugar-works. They serenade him they greet him with loud huzzas. Meanwhile quite other thoughts are working in his mind. In the evening he takes the waxlight from the servant's hand, enters his own room, opens a case of pistols,
and proceeds to load one of them. His wife rushes in as his finger touches the trigger. His aim is disturbed, and the result of his wound is not death, but blindness.
The Baroness and her daughter are of course plunged into the greatest grief, and also, as the Baron's circumstances become known, into the greatest embarrassment and perplexity. In this state of things they turn to Anton. It would be cruel to remind the novelist that there were solicitors and agents enough in Breslau, and that there was no need for the young merchant-grocer to leave his own career to take upon himself the arrangement of affairs which rather required a lawyer than a man of commerce. Anton, all generosity and emotion, devotes himself to these ladies in their distress. The Polish estate, which the Baron had been compelled to purchase, as the only way by which he could obtain anything for the money he had lent upon it, was now their only resource, their only property. Accordingly, to Poland Anton goes, and works, with the zeal of twenty agents, to bring affairs into some order.
But into Poland we shall not accompany Anton. We have opened the novel, and shown its purpose and its nature as fully as can be done in the pages of a review. We shall devote a few words more to our accomplished Itzig, and to a character which is rather a favourite of ours, old Sturm the porter, and then we shall leave the reader to pursue his own way, if he is so minded, through the novel itself.
Veitel Itzig-this precocious pupil of the devil-oversteps his part-is not faithful to his own maxims. Indeed, when the devil teaches a man to commit every possible fraud, but to avoid what the law calls crime, he knows very well that his pupil will not keep within the prescribed limits. He who has nothing but the hangman to terrify him is very likely to step too near, and slip at last into the hands of the hangman. That old lawyer, of the name of Hippus, whom we have mentioned as having first instructed the young usurer in certain legal mysteries, has been induced to become the instrument of
Itzig in some nefarious transactions : the police are after him; he forces himself into Itzig's office, declares that he has no intention of going to jail alone, and that Itzig must do his best to protect him, if he would screen himself from exposure. "You must
get me out of the way," says the old lawyer; and the young imp promises that he will get him out of the way.
The river Oder flows through Breslau, and a dense fog hung that day over the city. Now when Veitel Itzig first came to the capital, he lodged in a very humble room in a miserable inn, kept by Löbel Pinkus, the back part of which looked over the river. There were steps leading down into the water, which communicated with other steps leading into the neighbouring house; the communication between the two flights of steps being made by a planking or platform laid down in the water. This unsuspected mode of passing from one house to the other had been contrived for the convenience of certain smugglers, friends of Löbel Pinkus; and of course it was not long before the indefatigable Itzig had made himself acquainted with this secret passage. These steps, this secret passage, now occurred to Itzig. The fog favoured them; they might reach the spot unobserved. The old man was drunk; he might miss his footing in the water; walking knee-deep on a slippery plank, what accident might not happen?
"In the cold night-air the lawyer's senses partially returned, and Veitel enjoined him to be silent, and to follow him, and he would get him off.
"He will get me off!' mechanically repeated Hippus, running along at his side. As they neared Pinkus's house, Veitel proceeded more cautiously, leading his companion through the dark ground-floor, and whispering-Take my hand, and come quietly up stairs with me.' They reached the large public room, which was still empty. Much relieved, Veitel said, "There is a hidingplace in the next house; you must go there.'
"I must go there!' repeated the old
"The old man tottered down the steps, firmly holding the coat of his guide, who had almost to carry him. In this way they came down step after step, till they reached the last one, over which the water was rushing. Veitel went first, and unconcernedly stepped up to his knee in the stream, only intent upon leading the old man after him.
"As soon as Hippus felt the cold water on his boot, he stood still, and cried out,' Water!'
"Hush!' angrily whispered Veitel, 'not a word!'
'Water!' screamed the old man. 'Help! he will murder me!'
"Veitel seized him, and put his hand on his mouth; but the fear of death and, placing his foot on the next step, had again roused the lawyer's energies, he clung as firmly as he could to the bannisters, and again screamed out, 'Help!'
"Accursed wretch !' muttered Veitel, gnashing his teeth with rage at this determined resistance; then, forcing his hat over his face, he took him by the neckcloth with all his strength, and hurled him into the water. There was a splash-a heavy fall-a hollow gurgling-and all was still."
The feelings of a murderer just after he has committed the crime, have been a favourite and frightful subject of many novelists. Herr Freytag has evidently made this state of mind a subject of psychological study, and if his description is not altogether successful, it is partly because the traces of this study are too manifest. We think of the observant author, instead of being absorbed in the miseries of Veitel Itzig. But many points in the description are worth notice-as the gradual manner in which the horrible nature of his own deed
breaks upon Itzig, his playing with trifling subjects, thinking of his cigar-case, of the pleasant fire burning at home to receive him, striving to keep his mind in the old routine of thought, as if life could ever be again to him what it had been. The passage is too long for quotation, and it would be dealing unfairly with it not to give the whole.
Retribution speedily follows: first the spectacles of the old lawyer were found on the steps, then the crushed hat indicated violence, and in spite of the fog, Itzig had not been able