Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER IX.

SHOWING HOW THE STORY ENDS.

The outlaws, being now in another territory, were comparatively safe ; yet the presence of so large a body of armed men could not be viewed with indifference by the authorities. They separated, therefore, in small groups, fixing on a kochemer beye further

up

the country; and Buckler and Carl Benzel, with Liese and Ida, found themselves sitting alone in the shade of a wood near the river.

The master-outlaw had loosened his belt, and laid down his knapsack on the ground, as if determined to enjoy some relaxation ; but his brow was dark, and a cast of care, spread over his countenance, gave to the features of a young man of twenty-two the appearance of at least middle age. Ida had bound up the wounds of Carl Benzel, and still retained the hand locked in hers, on which she had exercised her surgery ; while Liese, having performed the same office for her husband, and tied a handkerchief round her bleeding arm, sat apart from the rest, meditating, as it seemed, with mingled sorrow and alarm, on her unhappy fate.

“ Benzel,” said Buckler, "you are now free. With the permission of my comrades, I release you from the

you !"

oaths, which

you took for the sole purpose of saving your mistress from dishonour.” “I thank you !” replied Carl. “God knows I thank

He leant his forehead upon the shoulder of Ida, and she alone remarked the single tearless sob that convulsed his bosom.

“What are your plans ?” continued the outlaw. “ You cannot return to the left bank of the Rhine ; for you are now a marked man. Your person will be described at all the public offices throughout the country; and if you are taken, the guillotine will be your

fate.” “I have no present thoughts of returning," said Carl, rallying; “but even with the comfortable prospect you have suggested, my heart is light, and my soul thankful. I am free !--and Ida is with me.”

“ You have nothing,” said she, in a low voioe, and casting her eyes on the ground," nothing to bind you to the left bank of the river. We should both consider this to be a new world ; in which, acting by our past experience, we might hope to be at once better and happier. I will write to my mother, and I have no doubt that she will join us on this side of the river. My fortune, it must be confessed, is in landed property, and, in some measure, under her control; but, seeing the irrevocable step I have taken, I am sure she will consent to its being sold.

“ That must not be,” said Carl. “It would be ruinous in disjointed times like these."

66 And what matter ? We are young and strong, and we can work for what is wanting !” The outlaw

started up

66

Nay, you must not leave us,” cried Benzel. “ Did you not hear her, Buckler? Surely you will not allow her words to stop at your ear, without sinking into your heart! Why continue to waste the talents and the energy with which heaven has endowed you, in a hopeless war against society-hopeless, because success would be your greatest loss? Why allow the noble qualities of your heart to run to seed, unappropriated and unemployed, in the fellowship of ruffians who would hate if they could understand you? Join us, Buckler! we will retire still farther off into the world, where your name is unknown; and by manly industry achieve an independence which Schinderhannes can never know.” A gloomy smile lighted up the features of the outlaw.

“ And is this the ending,” cried he, “ that you propose

for your romance? Do you still think me the baron Wolfenstein ? or do you imagine me to be some hero of your fancy, whose very nature you can mould, change, and re-cast at your pleasure ? Even supposing that that society, of which I have been the bitterest foe, were to open its arms to me; supposing that my fellow-men, whom I have injured and insulted, were to forgive and bless me; that the blood of Ishmael, and every other drop that I have shed, were to disappear in the ground; supposing that the princes and nations of the earth were to offer me riches and honour, armies to command, and provinces to governwhat then? Should I not still remain the same individual, subject to the same passions, controlled by the same prejudices, and fettered by the same habits ?

“ You think that I have no pleasures, no moments of enjoyment ! Do you set for nought, then, the pride of power, the gratifications of vanity, the glory of revenge? You have only seen the worst of my way of life. But even were this not the case, it is

the only life I am fit to lead. I was born for it-I was born to it; and I can no more change my profession than I can change the country of my nativity. As a man of society, I should be worse than an outlaw; I should expend my restless energies in meaner vices, and perhaps have recourse at last to the vulgar excitement of intoxication."

“ No, no. I must still wrong, and writhe up against the wrong of the

oppressor; I must still pursue and be pursued; I must still slay till I be myself slain. Farewell, Benzel; farewell, Ida Dallheimer. leave you to a brighter, happier fate than mine. I shall often think of you, in those moments when I think at all; and I shall hope that even you will not wholly forget one who never càn, and never would resemble you; who never will be more—but never less-than Schinderhannes, the Robber of the Rhine!”

As he turned away, he threw a glance upon Liese, who was weeping where she sat, with her face buried in her hands. He then looked at Benzel and Ida, but they could not tell with what expression, for he wheeled instantly round, and walked hastily away.

“What does he wish us to do ? ” whispered Carl.

“ To save her!” and Ida ran to her friend, and threw her arms round her neck.

Liese,” said she, “ you at least are not wedded by birth or habit to a life of guilt and terror. To leave your husband—which he desires himself,—will be to break one moral band that you may keep entire a thousand. Come with us, be our friend and sister, and share with us alike in our wealth and poverty.”

“ Where is my husband ?” cried Liese, starting up. “ He left you to our care.” “ It is false !-Forgive me, dearest lady, I feel your

kindness—but-but—where is he?”—and she wiped her eyes hastily with her arms, and arranged her beautiful hair.

“ You do not mean it”-continued she—“O, no; you could not mean to tell me that I ought to leave my husband! What, now? when he is a fugitive, & wanderer! with no one to watch him when he is asleep, and speak cheerfully to him when he awakesto dress his wounds—to-to-As I live his very knapsack is forgotten! Would you have me leave it there? Duty! Is it not my duty to carry my husband's knapsack? — Shame! shame!-dear lady, pardon

Farewell—God bless you !” and they embraced with tears.

“ And you too, Carl Benzel-there-it is not the first time, you know! Farewell ! farewell !” and the young, beautiful, high-spirited, and high-hearted Liese, throwing the knapsack over her head, walked away after her husband.

They saw them again at a turning of the road. The knapsack was on the shoulders of Buckler, whose arm was round Liese's neck, while her’s encircled his waist. The wanderers turned round, and signed an adieu, without disturbing the arrangement; and then, entering a clump of trees, they faded from the eyes of their friends, who saw them no more.

me.

The time has now arrived when it is usual for the moral to be spoken, and the curtain dropped. We have no moral to speak. We have presented a succession of pictures of what we believe to be human nature; although human nature placed in strange and out-of-the-way circumstances ; in which the conduct,

« AnteriorContinuar »