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injured couple to his own favourite niece Helene, and making him his heir.

Scene II.-Helene appears to wish her uncle a happy birthday. He tells her that Baron Georg von Thernstein is to arrive that day, and gets her to confess her love for this young man whom he has chosen for her bridegroom. Some casual remarks, however, arouse in him the suspicion that Georg may be identical with the unknown lover in his wife Countess Sophie's diary. He resolves to watch her, and give her no warning of the expected guest.

Scene III.-His suspicions are verified, for at sight of Georg Countess Sophie faints, and is carried to bed.

Scene IV. - An interview between Count Dietrich and his wife. He tells her that he has read her diary, and knows Baron Georg to be the man she loves. Likewise that Georg's seeming attentions to Helene had been merely an excuse to obtain news of Sophie -now her aunt by marriage. Dietrich accuses his wife of perjury for having wedded him with another love in her heart. From her he learns that she had only given her hand under the mistaken belief that Georg was false to her; and she learns that her father, whom she had always believed in as the embodiment of honour and nobility, had been nothing more than a notorious cardsharper, who had been willing to sell his daughter's honour to the man who is now her husband, and that Dietrich's generosity alone had made of her his wife instead of a fallen and disgraced creature. She learns, too, that this husband, whom she has always hated and

VOL. CXLIX.-NO. DCCCCIII.

feared as a tyrant, has loved her passionately, and is forced to acknowledge that under a cold repelling exterior he is not devoid of noble qualities.

Scene V.-Towards evening the Count and some of the guests depart on an excursion to some neighbouring ruin or view. Countess Sophie seizes the opportunity of begging old Hans to render her two services: the first is to find and restore to her the diary, which volume still contains a compromising letter of Georg's, hidden inside the binding, and not yet discovered by Dietrich; the second is to beg Georg to come to her at once, before the others return. She must warn him of the peril to both of them should he remain, and entreats him to depart at

once.

Scene VI.-Between Sophie and Georg, who approaches her with passionate declarations of love, which she rejects; for while confessing that she returns his affections, she tells him that she intends to be true to her husband. Suddenly Count Dietrich appears, having overheard the whole conversation. He had (of course!) been concealed behind a curtain all along.

Scene VII. Hans Friedinger meanwhile has been searching the Count's writing-table for the missing diary. He does not find what he is looking for, but he finds something else. -a little prayerbook once belonging to Hanna, his dead bride, and some letters which reveal to him that the man who, thirty years previously, had seduced his sweetheart, and driven her to a remorseful suicide, was no other than his master, Count Dietrich.

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Count Dietrich

Scene VIII. summons Georg to fight him with pistols for having stolen the heart of his niece Helene under what he considers to be false pretences, and assailed his wife's honour. Georg at first refuses to fight without witnesses, but stung by the taunt of cowardice, takes up the pistol which is forced upon him. He stands opposite Count Dietrich von Thernstein, as once his father had done; but before either has had time to discharge his weapon, a report is heard, and another bullet, coming from a dark corner of the room, has pierced Count Dietrich through the heart. It is Hans Friedinger, who, crouching behind a screen, has killed his master, jealous lest another hand than his own should accomplish the work of vengeance; and as the curtain falls, he bends triumphantly over the expiring Count, and shouts in his ear that it is he, Hans Friedinger, who has done the deed!

The Passion - Play season is at an end; the drop - curtain of ice and snow has descended once more over the lonely Bavarian valley; along with the swallows have departed the swarms of English and American tourists who for months past had transformed the quiet village street into the semblance of Broadway or Pall Mall. The actors have all retired into private life; apostles and Roman dignitaries meet of an evening in friendly gossip over their BierSchoppen. Kaiphas is engaged in selling salt at 12 pfennig per lb.; Annas, the high priest, resuming the tailor's goose and scissors, is exercising his genius on flannel or fustian; and the Scriptural cock

a promising young joiner apprentice-is diligently plying the saw and hammer. Not again within this century will the silvery crow of this gifted bird resound through the Ammergau valley to arouse the dormant conscience of the faithless apostle.

But the echoes of the Passion Play still linger in the air, and are being caught up and daily reproduced in manifold ways. Many brushes are engaged in transferring to canvas the figures and scenery, many pens employed in fixing upon paper the impression of Ober-Ammergau. For the next twelvemonth we may confidently expect to be flooded with Passion-Play pictures and statues, Passion - Play poems and stories. Some particularly wideawake writers have in fact anticipated this coming fashion, more than one tale, whose scene is laid at Ober- Ammergau, having been issued even before the close of the Passion Play.

Decidedly the most remarkable of these romances is a German novel entitled 'Am Kreuz,' by Wilhelmine von Hillern,1 a daughter of the celebrated dramatist, Madame Birch Pfeiffer, and herself an authoress of some repute, who, having resided at Ammergau for many years, might be supposed to possess some knowledge of the people she describes. Aware of these facts, and of the author's previous reputation, we took up the book with pleasant anticipations, which, however, have been grievously disappointed; and although able to boast of a tolerably close acquaintance with recent French fiction, we do not remember having laid down a novel with feelings of more unqualified disgust. Not even Zola's

1 Am Kreuz; Passions Roman aus Ober-Ammergau. Von Wilhelmine von Hillern. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags Gesellschaft. 1890.

most repulsively realistic works, not Tolstoi's 'Kreutzer Sonata,' have in like manner outraged our holiest instincts, as this astounding production of a clever and accomplished lady. And the strangest part of the matter is, that evidently the authoress is wholly unconscious of having transgressed the ethics of religion or good taste. Actuated by the noblest motives, she intended to write a moral and edifying story, adorned by the sublimest sentiments; and she honestly believes herself to have accomplished this task.

The main thread of the story, which occupies two thick volumes, is briefly told. Countess Maria Magdalena von Wildenau (she had purposely been christened Magdalena at her birth in order the more perfectly to adapt her to the part she has subsequently to enact towards the Passion-Play hero) is a young widow who had been sold as a girl to a wealthy old roué, who in return had paid the gambling debts of her spendthrift father. She has everything that money can give, therefore finds her life an aching void. Of superfastidiously refined nature, she is hysterically upset at sight of a fly in her soup; has read Schopenhauer, and has doubts about the immortality of the soul. Always on the look-out for novel sensations and emotions to cure her ennui, she comes to Ammergau, accompanied by her rich and distinguished suitor, the hereditary prince of Metten-Barnheim. This time she finds what she seeks, for even before reaching the place her fate is sealed. Outside the village, near a wayside cross, she has met a tall imposing figure with glowing orbs, and sable locks falling in rank profusion over his shoulders. Their eyes meet for one brief moment in a kind of deliri

ous ecstasy, and from that moment their souls are irrevocably wedded to each other.

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He of the glowing orbs and lion's mane is no other than Joseph Freyer, who plays the part of Christ in the Passion drama; and the impression caused by his first appearance is deepened and fixed in Countess Wildenau's heart, when two days later she beholds him stage, crowned with thorns, and hanging naked on the cross. The combination of his divine expression and magnificent physique, of his melodious voice and splendid muscles, have turned her head. She longs to kneel to him and adore him as a god, to throw herself in his arms and embrace him as a man; and being a woman of considerable ingenuity, she does both. Two days after the performance we find Countess Maria Magdalena von Wildenau in a little summer - house overgrown with Virginian creepers, sitting on Joseph Freyer's knee, leaning her world - weary head against his breast, and relating or rather confessing to him, with artless simplicity, all the sins and follies of her past life (for it must be remarked that in order to complete the resemblance to her illustrious prototype, we are expressly informed that Countess Wildenau's youth has not been spotless).

A fragment of this interesting scene may here find place.

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He enfolded her with a gesture of famous "She" of Mr Haggard's divine love. novel.

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And so on for another blasphemous page or two, while the simile of the weary dove is ridden to death, as only a German author knows how to ride it. Let not the English reader, however, suppose this to be the real love-scene in the book, for that would be doing gross injustice to Madame Hillern's imagination. She has far stronger effects in reserve, and this fondling of the weary dove in the summer-house is but a sort of light skirmishing to pave the way to the real declaration, which takes place a little later on a hill-top and in the midst of a burning forest, when he of the sable mane carries her triumphantly, and apparently without the slightest effort, through whole tracks of burning wood to a place of safety. Charred trunks are falling to either side of them, sparks rain thickly down, and leaping flames surround them, like huge bridal torches; yet hotter than fire and flames are Freyer's words and glances, and when the authoress speaks of "red-hot glow and fiery breath," we are in doubt as to whether Countess Wildenau has been singed by falling sparks or scorched by her lover's kisses. She feels quite comfortable, however, in this doubly caloric atmosphere, and comports herself like a sort of idealised salamander, or the

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The storm rages all around the the earth trembles beneath their happy couple with unabated fury; feet; trees are shattered or uprooted; mountain-torrents are unchained, and metaphors run wild. Jupiter and Semele, Christ and Magdalen, Loreley, the Titans, and the Asra of Heine's poem, are all pressed into service in order to adorn this supreme moment,not forgetting, of course, the weary dove, besides a pair of veritable wood-pigeons, who laugh in the branches overhead, as well they may, at the rhapsodies of this preposterous couple.

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Freyer asks the Countess whether she is not afraid of the heat of his passion?-of the feelings which she herself has unchained in him?

"I afraid of thee!' cries out the proud woman, ecstatically; oh, that is great! that is like breath of the midst of this element that I have gods! How should I fear in the dreamt of and longed for,-of which I have long been conscious in my own heart? Does the flame fear the fire? the Titaness the Titan? Ah, now thy lightning, Jove! Hurl it down, and let the forest flare up to celebrate the victory of long-enslaved

but now released nature!'

"He sinks down near her, and his

glowing breath fans her cheek.

"So wilt thou take me? wilt thou give me now the kiss which today I dared not take?'

Yes.'

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for he grudges this beautiful woman to the Christian son of man. He has heard how she has laughingly invoked him in her divine ecstasy, and at his bidding the sky grows dark, the wind's bride saddles the storm-horses, and there gleams again the fire from heaven. A shrill cry resounds through the air, the highest forest-tree is cleft in twain and flares up on high-a bridal torch which Jupiter himself has lighted for the couple. "The gods forbid it,' said Freyer, gloomily."

How and where this peasant of Ober-Ammergau had acquired his mythological knowledge, so as to be thus familiar with heathen gods, the authoress does not condescend to explain.

The result of this thunder-andlightning scene is that Freyer elopes with Countess Wildenau, without any further interference from Jupiter, whose bark is apparently worse than his bite. Though immensely rich, the Countess by her late husband's will is condemned to lose her fortune if she marries again. She therefore persuades Freyer to a private marriage. A la Promessi Sposi, they surprise a village priest over his morning coffee, and the knot is tied. Great scandal is caused among the Ammergauers on learning that their Christ has run away with this new Magdalen; and the Passion Play, for want of an actor to take the Saviour's part, can be played no more that summer.

Meanwhile the happy couple has taken a wedding-trip to the Holy Land, where at Jerusalem the Countess gives birth to a son who has the eyes and features of the divine infant in Raphael's painting of the Sixtine Madonna. Together with their child they return to Bavaria, and settle down in a remote hunting-seat of the Wildenau family, where, far from the busy hum of men, they live at

first in a fool's paradise. Freyer passes for an overseer of the Countess, and the boy is given out to be the child of a servant-Josepha Freyer, a niece of Freyer's, and the former personator of Magdalen in the Passion Play, but who had been excluded from the drama because of a lapse of virtue.

Reaction soon sets in. The Countess makes the discovery that her peasant spouse is no fit mate for her. Gradually she resumes her place in the fashionable world, coming only at rare intervals to the lonely castle to visit in secret the husband and child she dare not acknowledge. The child pines away and dies for want of a mother's love; and Freyer, wounded and grieved at the repeated slights and humiliations showered upon him by his disdainful beautiful wife, grows melancholy and taciturn.

Countess Wildenau renews intercourse with her former suitor, the Prince of Metten- Barnheim, who, now become duke by his father's abdication, easily persuades her of the illegality of her marriage with Freyer, and though well acquainted with all the details of her past and present history, asks her to become his own wife, and the reigning duchess of his principality.

Freyer, dismissed as a useless actor whose art is played out, wanders back on foot to Ammergau, begging his way step by step. Too proud to accept a farthing of his wife's money, he has restored to her their marriage certificate, in order that by destroying it she may be free to contract another union. It is now ten years since he eloped with the Countess, and he feels that he owes a reparation to his native village, the more so as it is rumoured that this year the Passion Play cannot be performed for want of a Christ.

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