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“ You do us a little injustice,” continued she. “ It was never intended otherwise than to liberate him as soon as circumstances permitted ; and this would have been easy had he been confined in the ordinary pri
The reputation, however, of his comrade, Peter Schwarz, procured them the honour of a dungeon, from which escape is now impossible, except by a regular military assault. This attempt, in which many lives would necessarily be lost, and, after all, the event be very doubtful, would be made without hesitation to save the chief; but for a stranger, or even one of the humbler grade in the band, it is received like an insult to their judgment to propose it.”
Then there is no hope ? ” “ There is hope. The firmness and intrepidity of Carl Benzel appear to men who are unable to comprehend his motives, as if they bordered on the miraculous; and on one condition they will consent to buy him, with a price of blood which makes me shudder to think of? ”
" And that condition ?".
66 Excuse me. Your knowing it would answer no purpose, neither am I at liberty to tell. I have only further to say that all that can be done is now in progress; and that one who never yet fainted under difficulties, is at this moment perilling his life in the cause.”
When Ida, after the conversation described in the last chapter, returned to her own apartment, it was fortunate for her that her mother was gone in search of her, else her flushed cheek and restless eye
would have told a tale that might have brought upon her a maternal persecution not easy to bear in her present state of mind.
As it was, she was at liberty to wander uninterrupted through the room, as if looking for something; to fly, every now and then, towards the window, forgetting that the only view it afforded was of an inner court, heaped up with ruins; to grow pale by fits, and moan, and
her feet, and with cheeks glowing with pride, compressed lips, and eyes darting fiery indignation through the tears that still hung trembling on the lashes, fix a daring and determined glance on the shadowy spectacle that swam before her.
All doubts, if her heart had permitted any to linger, were now at an end. Carl loved her, and was now about to lay down his head upon the block for her sake. This was the one idea that absorbed her mind for some time, and that perpetually recurred even in the midst of the wide and various reflections to which it was necessary to give up her faculties. A single hope, it seemed, remained. The banditti were willing to risk their lives for a consideration that was neither money nor safety. What could this object be that was so valuable, as to outweigh with them even the thirst of gold ? A terrible suspicion arose in the mind of Ida.
“ If it be so," she cried, “ all is lost. Even were it possible to suppose that he loves me so little as not to prefer his honour to his love, there would be now no motive for the sacrifice*. He must know, being in confidential communication with Schinderhannes, that I am safe; and the degradation, which I dare not describe even to my own mind, would be submitted to from cowardice alone. Rather than this would I see him, with my own eyes, perish by the axe of the guillotine; rather than this, would I sit, with upturned face, at the foot of the scaffold, and smile at the red rain that splashed upon my brow!"
The character of Liese induced her still more strongly to give way to this suspicion. Liese had evidently no moral perceptions either of honour or dishonour, as the words are understood in the world. She appeared to glory in her station as the wife or mistress of an outlaw; and the deeper he plunged in crime, and consequent ignominy, the prouder she would be of her husband. She seemed to enter con amore into the airs and state of a chieftainess ; and her eyes were only suffused with tears, when she reflected that the power even of the famous Schinderhannes was circumscribed.
* “ Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore ;
Ida, however, did ample justice to the estimable parts of her character. She was evidently untaught except by nature; and the impulses of her woman's heart, which to this interesting savage served instead of the laws of civilisation, were in general amiable. She was ignorant of, or incapable of appreciating, the distinctions of vice and virtue as they are laid down by society ; yet she was virtuous in the main by instinct. This companion of a robber was kind, humane, generous, and high-minded-capable of the truest friendship, and the most devoted love!
Magdalene, whom she would have liked better as a friend and companion, was altogether, as it appeared, of a different stamp; and, precisely for that reason, was less to be trusted to in an emergency like this. She was one, Ida thought, who, when prompted by any feeling of womanly pity or generosity, would exhibit the noblest traits of feminine hardihood, which consists of endurance rather than action. She would implore a grace, and if refused, sit down and weep. She would save a friend, provided it did not involve the destruction of an enemy. She would bear the rack with a smile, but faint away if threatened with a sword.
This judgment was no doubt influenced by the extreme youth of Magdalene, and by the girlish beauty and innocence of her face ; yet Ida should have known that woman is in some respects the converse of man, and that in her, the softest character, when acted upon by momentous circumstances, is always the most energetic. But the reader is already able to detect her mistake, which will be seen presently to be more important in its results than might be imagined.
A day passed over in such speculations; and then another. Wolfenstein, as she had been told, was at Mayence arranging for the ransom; Liese was from home, if she could be said to have any settled home at all: and our heroine was left to the dangerous society of her own thoughts. She became restless, feverish, almost mad. During the day, she either answered her mother incoherently, or gazed at her strangely, without comprehending what she said. At night she started screaming from her sleep. Her appetite was gone; her cheeks were Aushed ; her eyes glittered; her step was quick, energetic, yet broken and irregular.
Madame Dallheimer saw that her daughter was ill, and that her illness was more of the mind than the body; and she suspected, for the first time, that her love for Benzel was more deeply rooted than she had supposed. The appearance and manner of Ida at last became so alarming that the anxious mother, believing it to be almost a question of life and death, was half inclined to regret the decisive steps she had taken. By way of ascertaining the correctness of her suspicions, she at length ventured to mention the object of her daughter's attachment, and spoke kindly of one whose very name had long been an interdicted word between them.
Ida at first listened in terror and astonishment. The spell wrought, however; her mind, that was only confused and oppressed, recovered its energy;
she saw at once her mother's meaning, and flinging her arms round her neck, burst into a passion of tears. So long and bitterly did she weep, that Madame Dallheimer became alarmed..
“ Look up, my daughter,” she cried ; “ look up, my darling Ida! He shall be yours, since it is necessary