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Try,” said Ida in a broken voice; “ let us not part so.
“ It is impossible. Since I saw you last, my life has been like a dream, strange, wild, and fantastic ; and it is no wonder that the same visionary character should have been impressed upon my thoughts which pervaded even my actions. I reasoned upon shadows; I hoped absurdities ; but this night has ended all. I now know
my own position. Dead witness, my heart has received your evidence !”
I witnessed the deed,” said Ida, “ and your brave and noble efforts to save him.”
“ They were but a debt,” replied Carl. " I was in prison, surrounded by bayonets, and still more impassable walls; chained like a wild beast, and only waiting for the light of another day to die. It was then that Ishmael, influenced partly by his own noble heart, and partly by the grateful and admirable Magdalene, held out his hand to save me. He took my place in the dungeon, locked my fetters on his own limbs, and bade me be free.” Ida suddenly caught the dead man's hand in hers, and pressed her lips to it, with tears and sobs. Carl was agitated. He seemed about to rush towards her, but by a strong effort he resisted the impulse, and folding his arms tightly over his bosom, retired still further into the gloom.
“But all this would have been unavailing,” continued he.“ Wandering in the court of the prison, shut in by lofty walls, what could I have done ? At that moment, the gentle, delicate, fair, and fragile Magdalene was at my side like a spirit ; she led me by the hand as if I had been an infant, transported me through guards and gates: and at length, through the energy of her woman's will, and the keenness of her woman's wit, I breathed the free air of heaven again.” Ida was silent for some moments. It was a stranger who had been the delivering angel of her lover!
“ Ishmael was free,” said she at last, "you paid the debt ? ”
“ It is true,” replied Carl. “ I forgot that I was a citizen, and only remembered that I was a man?
“ It was my first crime," continued he bitterly; "and even now the fetters are riveting and the axe sharpening for the outlaw Benzel.”
“ And will they kill you,” exclaimed Ida, starting up and clasping her hands, “ for such a deed? But how was it executed ? who were your companions ?”
“ I accuse no one.” She knelt down again by the side of the corpse, and leant her face upon her hands.
“ And now, Ida,” said Carl, “ allow me to question in my turn. Why and how are you here?”
“ I made my escape this evening,” she replied, “ by scaling the walls, with the intention of proceeding to Birkenfeld to visit one who was in prison there for my sake. I encountered him, however, riding through the gloom with a troop of banditti; and returning by yonder broken wall, I saw a cruel and cowardly murder perpetrated by his comrades.”
“ You scaled these walls, you set out alone and at night, to wander through a strange country, filled, as you well knew with desperate men—and all for me!
“ Ida Dallheimer! I did not quite forget what I wished to say to you before parting. It was not so much want of memory, as want of courage that tied my tongue. When I consented to live, it was my intention, as soon as I had secured your liberty, to have asked you-to have inquired-I say, to have endea
voured to discover-whether~" he stopped in agitation, gasping as if to recover breath.
“ Whether I would consent,” prompted Ida, “ to become the wife-nay, that would be too high an honour, besides being out of character, whether I would consent to become the mistress of a robber!.”
“I thank you, Ida," said Carl, bitterly; "that has restored me to composure. My intention was to have informed
that circumstances compelled me to absent myself from your society for a certain time; and to have asked you whether I might hope, if all was well with me at the end of the period, to find your affection unchanged. This was one of my dreams: it was dissipated to-night by the sound of a pistol-shot.
“ The remains of Ishmael will be cared for; they shall be watched by mea service I owe to friendship and gratitude. Will you permit me in the meantime to show
to Madame Dallheimer's apartment?”
“I will watch myself,” said Ida, struggling with her tears.
“It must not be. The night is cold, and you have need of rest;
your journey commences early in the morning. Your presence here, besides, is unknown to the inmates of the house, who are all in bed; and I cannot answer for the consequences, if they discovered that
you witnessed the execution.” He walked away, as he spoke, towards the door, and Ida followed him.
It was so dark, and the ground was so uneven, that she stumbled almost at every step; yet he did not offer his arm. They at length reached the
which led to her own apartment.
“ Farewell !” said he. He half held out his hand,
but instantly withdrew it, as he saw that Ida's hung motionless by her side.
“ Farewell!" he repeated. “This episode in your life is ended. Go rest-go sleep; and when you awake to-morrow, think that it was a dream !” Ida remained confused and bewildered for a moment, endeavouring to consider what she ought to reply. When she raised her eyes again, he was gone. She flew to a window of the ruin, which looked into the court; and saw him gliding through the dark like a spirit. Her heart beat madly; her lips half unclosed; but still she hesitated.
“ Benzel !” she at length almost shrieked. It was too late. He was gone.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THINKING AND ACTING.
IDA neither rested nor slept that night. When the first transports of Madame Dallheimer at the recovery of her daughter were over, she prudently recommended the wearied runaway to go to bed; declaring, with many tears, that she would no longer oppose a marriage which seemed to be ordained by heaven. She little knew the agony which this promise inflicted upon her to whom it was intended as a precious balsam. The mother only knew that Carl had escaped, and was wholly unacquainted with the impassable barrier which now existed against his union with Ida.
The reflections of the young lady, it may posed, as she lay on her uneasy bed, were of the most harassing nature.
At one time she bitterly regretted her delay in calling him back till it was too late for him to hear; and she even accused herself of irresolution for not endeavouring to find out the place again where she knew he would remain the whole night watching the dead. At another period in her meditations, she would imagine the circumstance to have been the most fortunate that could have occurred. Why had she wished