| ||The Banished Man. Volume 1 of 2|
To me, nae afer, day or nicht
Can e'ir be sweet or fair
But sune, beneath sum draping tree
Cauld death fall end my care.
IT was a gloomy evening of October, 1792, the storm which had never ceased the whole day continued to howl round the castle of Rosenheim; and the night approached with ten fold dreariness. The Baroness de Rosenheim and Madame D'Alberg her daughter, and their attendants and servants, tho' wearied by anxiety dared not think yet of repose. All day they had been listening to the sound of cannon, which a strong wind brought from the French frontier, whence they were seventeen miles distant. In the course of the last twenty-four hours they had received undoubted information that the French army, were following the Austrian and Prussian troops in their retreat, and would soon be in the dominions of the Emperor. The Baron de Rosenheim, a general in the Imperial service, was at Vienna; and being detained there by his
personal attendance on the Emperor, Madame de Rosenheim knew she had little reason to expect his return, whatever might be the danger to his private property. Unwilling however to spread alarm by her example, or to abandon the castle to the care of servants, yet equally unwilling to await the arrival of the army of the enemy, she had sent off a courier to her husband several days before, requesting his directions how to act. She now hourly expected the return of the messenger, which could hardly be delayed longer than the present evening, unless he had fallen into the hands of the French, which was far from being improbable. Time wore away, but no courier returned, and fear and dismay gained every moment on the inhabitants of the castle of Rosenheim, where, besides the usual number of domestics, as many peasants were admitted, as could be spared from their families in the village beneath. A regular guard was mounted within the walls; while as night approached, each questioned his comrade as to the probable events of the next day. Some affected a contempt of the danger which they were far from feeling; and others apologized for the fears they could not conceal, by relating the cruelties that according to their apprehension, would be exercised by the French on their prisoners. The castle, situated on an eminence, and once strongly fortified, could make a but a feeble resistance now against the troops that had compelled the armies of the emperor and the king of Prussia to retreat; and it was whispered by some of those who apparently had undertaken its defence, that if the French appeared before it, it could not be too soon surrendered.
Madame de Rosenheim, a woman of strong sense, who had seen a great deal of the world, possessed unusual presence of mind; and was not moved by the variety of fears with which people around her perplexed her. She knew she had taken every precaution possible against the evil that threatened her; and having done so, she awaited the event with all the fortitude of an elevated mind. Her daughters, from different motives, listened with apparent composure to the terrors of her women, and the fears of the vassals and domestics. Her soul, absorbed by the idea of the danger of her husband, a Lieutenant Colonel in the retreating army; she was too wretched to be much affected by any alarm for her personal safety. The hope that he might be safe, and soon return, or that, as he passed thro' the country, she might at least hear he was living and well, had hitherto sustained her; but the last information gave her reason to fear that he was among those who had fallen victims to disease on the desolated plains of the Champaign. No letter arrived from him, tho' she had fired a peasant who undertook to convey a letter to him wherever he was. The man, who had engaged to return many days before, had not yet been heard of; and the clamours of his wife and his mother, who were several times at the castle lamenting themselves in the course of the day, had quite overwhelmed the spirits of Madame D'Alberg. It was in vain that her mother, Madame de Rosenheim, endeavoured to direct her thoughts a moment from the father to fix them on the children. The more dear they were to her, the more she feared the loss of their protector. They were yet too young to be sensible of their situation; yet the innocent questions of the two little girls, who were twins, and almost three
years old, had served to harass and affect the spirits of their mother, thro' the day. Her son, yet an infant at the breast, was a still dearer object; but even to the preservation of them all, she was unable to attend, and leaving it to the Baroness, she passed the time of this dreary and portentous evening, in walking from room to room. Now sitting down a moment near her sleeping children; now, at every interval when the storm admitted it, listening for the arrival of the storm admitted it, listening for the arrival of the courier her mother had dispatched to Vienna; but with infinitely more solicitude for the return of the peasant.
The Baroness de Rosenheim renewed her exertions to chear the spirits of her dejected daughter, as in the great gothic hall, where they usually eat, they took their melancholy supper. The almoner of the castle was their only companion, who, while Madame de Rosenheim endeavoured to find every earthly source of hope, bade her with more piety than tenderness, divest herself of earthly anxieties, and fix her mind on spiritual happiness; which was, he assured her, the only way fortify herself against the fears that now assailed her. Teased by the unfeeling manner in which he gave this advice, and by its importunante repetition, Madame D'Alberg answered at length that she was very glad he had discovered the efficacy of this entire resignation, and trusted it would prevent his feeling in future any alarms, whatever might arrive. Very certain it was, that on the confirmation of the retreat of the German and the advance of the French troops, no person in the castle had endeavoured to conceal their apprehensions with so little success as the Abbé Heurthofen. As the Baroness went herself around the courts, and saw every body at their posts every night, Madame
D'Alberg took leave of her as soon as supper was over, under pretence of retiring to bed. Her mother earnestly recommended it to her to do so; for her pale and languid countenance alarmed her. Madame D'Alberg, to quiet her mother's tender apprehensions, promised to endeavour to compose herself; and going to her own apartments, which consisted of a large anti-room that divided her dressing room and bed room from that where her children were, she bade her woman, who slept in the latter, go to bed, saying she herself should not to night sit up to read, as was very frequently her custom. All soon became still about the castle; but Madame D'Alberg yielding to the anxiety that tormented her, and which she found it impossible to appease, could not determine to go to bed. There were three large and high windows in her bed-chamber; two of them looked into the great court of the castle. She opened the casement of one, and thro' the darkness of the tempest, discerned the light from the lantern of the sentinel who was posted under the gateway, as it glimmered faintly on the opposite wall, and served to render darkness more dreary. The rain coming on again with redoubled violence, and driving that way, the shut the window, and without exactly knowing why, but still in the faint hope that her messenger might yet arrive, she went to the other, which was in that part of the building defended by a very deep fossé, and a parapet behind it. The torrents of rain which had fallen, and had been collected from the higher grounds near the castle (for a mountainous tract lay behind it) now murmured in the fossé, and added to the noise of the wind among the battlements. In that torpor which long-baffled hope frequently creates, Madame D'Alberg remained a moment or two at the window, when at length she fancied
she heard a groan as of a person in pain. Alarmed, she listed more attentively; the wind was a moment hushed, and the rain ceased to beat. An instant or two passed, and no return of the same sound alarming her again, she concluded that it was merely the creation of fancy, or that some of the watchmen or persons in the house had made some noise which her fears had magnified into a sound of anguish and complaint. Cold and desolate she left the window, and from an unaccountable restlessness, and a persuasion that she should not sleep, she could not resolve to get into bed; but made up the almost extinguished fire in her stove, by adding a few pieces of wood to it, and lay down in her clothes. Fatigue of body and mind conquered in a few moments the restlessness and inquietude with which she had been tormented; but she had rather dozed than slept for about a quarter of an hour, when she started! being awakened as she imagined by the same hollow groan more loudly repeated. She sat a moment in consternation; then recollecting herself, began to appease her terror, by believing it to be a dream, the effect of disturbed and unsound sleep; but when she had nearly reasoned herself into this belief, she heard it again so loud as to leave no doubt of its reality. A human voice uttering a few words low and sorrowful, now certainly was heard. These sounds seemed to come from the fossé, at the bottom of the castle wall. She hurried in breathless apprehension to the window. She looked down, but it was too dark to distinguish any object. The water still murmured loudly, and if any person was there, they must be in danger of drowning. She endeavoured to cast a light on the ground from the casement; but the distance between the window and the fossé, made all beneath her appear in chaotic darkness.
Now, however, she more certainly heard the voice of one complaining faintly, as if exhausted by pain, while another person, in all the agonies of apprehension for the sufferer, seemed to be endeavouring to assuage the anguish he deplored; and at length Madame D'Alberg heard distinctly pronounced in French, " If there is any person within hearing, I entreat them to send some assistance to my father." Madame D'Alberg speaking as loudly as she could, endeavoured to assure the person who spoke, that some assistance should be immediately sent. She then rang a large bell by her bed side; but fearing she should not be soon heard by the men servants, who lay in a distant part of this large edifice, she took a candle, and passed into the room where her woman and a nurse slept, with the children. With some difficulty she awaked one of these women, who, notwithstanding the fears she had expressed the preceding night, was sunk into a profound sleep. "There are Frenchmen under the castle wall," said Madame D'Alberg. The servant, awakened thus suddenly, and hearing the word Frenchmen, concluded that the Sans Culottes were in the castle; and staring wildly, she began to cross herself, and to call upon all the saints in the calendar for protection. "You are needlessly alarmed," cried Madame D'Alberg, "these persons appear to be in great distress, and to require our pity, rather than raise our fear; get up, therefore, and endeavour to make the men in the house go down to join the watchmen in the assistance of those unfortunate people, who it is amazing to me they do not hear." "I, Madame," cried the woman, "go through the castle alone to awaken the men! Lord! not for a thousand worlds! I'll ring the bell, if you please, for certainly the watchmen ought to be alarmed. I
dare to say they are asleep, and we shall all be murdered." "Grant me patience!" exclaimed Madame D'Alberg; "while you are hesitating from these selfish fears, perhaps some unhappy man is expiring. Good God! D'Alberg himself may, for ought I know, be at this moment in the same situation." By this time the woman who had the care of the children was awakened, who being more reasonable and humane, put on her clothes, and undertook to rouse some of the men. While she was gone, Madame D'Alberg, returned to the window. "I have, I hope, sent you some assistance, my friends," said she. "May I ask your names, and by what accident you have been thus distressed?" "May heaven reward you, Madame, whoever you are," replied the same voice that had spoken before "and may your generous intentions be immediately executed, or it will be too late, Alas! my father is already cold and senseless! I do not know whether he lives to receive your bounty." The manner in which this was spoken was so expressive of the grief and agitation of the person that spoke, that Madame D'Alberg, more than ever interested for him, and impatient to find that nobody seemed yet ready to go to the relief of the strangers, went herself to the door of her mother's apartment. The Baroness de Rosenheim had too many anxieties on her mind to suffer her to be in a very calm sleep, and starting at the first summons, she immediately arose and unbarred her door. Madame D'Alberg related as briefly as she could, the reason of her disturbing her; and the Baroness, who saw that whatever these strangers might be, prudence and caution was necessary before they were admitted to the castle, immediately put on a night gown, and told Madame D'Alberg she would be down her-
self "We must," said she, as she went down stairs, followed by her daughter, "we must however be cautious. This may possibly be some feint, made by an enemy to obtain admittance." "It may undoubtedly," replied Madame D'Alberg; "but these people appear to me to be gentlemen, from the voice and the expressions; and in such extreme distress, which can hardly be feigned, that I am sure we cannot acquit ourselves as christians, without going to their relief."
The sentinel at the castle gate, to whom the Baroness, attended by two servants, now spoke, was of a different opinion. He was a rough Fleming, with a decided aversion to men of every other nation, tho' he cared for only one individual of his own, and that was himself. He remonstrated against the danger of opening the gates at such an hour. "How do we know," cried he, "but that the enemy may be in force without, ready to rush in upon us?" "You ought to know they are not," cried Madame D'Alberg, offended at his unfeeling suspicions, which she thought favoured equally of cruelty and cowardice, "since you have been upon the watch for the last four hours. A large body of the enemy could with difficulty approach at night, without being heard, whatever caution they might use; but you it seems have not heard even the cries of these distressed people." "Well, well," said the Baroness, who felt the impolicy of weakening her little garrison by apparent distrust, "let us, since now they are heard, endeavour to succour them, if they really suffer, without however losing sight of a proper attention to our own safety." By this time near thirty people, servants and men who had been admitted for security within the castle, were assembled
with their arms; the Baroness directed three of them to go to the place where the wounded persons were supposed to be; but seized with the same fears and suspicions as had been expressed by the first sentinel, there was only the steward who would determine to go. The rest, without refusing, hesitated; and each endeavoured to find some unanswerable reason why it was hazarding the general safety of the castle. Madame D'Alberg, who had now followed her mother to the guard house, notwithstanding the storm which still blew, at intervals, became impatient. "Good Heavens!" exclaimed she. "while we are deliberating, these unhappy men are perishing! What can there be to fear from two wanderers, wounded, and perhaps dying? Give me a light," added she, taking a lantern from one of them, "and I will show you, that woman as I am, I should blush were such pusillanimous apprehensions to prevent my trying to help a fellow creature in distress." "No," said the Baroness, "that must no be, Adriana. You already hazard your health too much. Come," continued she, "If I have no fears, surely, my friends, you will feel none. Let three of those who dare do as I do, follow me." She then directed the porter and his companions to unbar the gates and let down the bridge. Reluctantly the men obeyed her, some of them murmuring loud enough for Madame D'Alberg (who stayed behind at her mother's earnest entreaty) to hear them. "Strangers and foreigners," muttered one of the domestics, "and especially Frenchmen, always interest our ladies; a German might not fare so well with them." "You are wrong there," cried Madame D'Alberg; "It is my endeavour always to do by others, as I wish them to do by me; and I represent to myself Count
D'Alberg, imploring perhaps at some other door, the mercy which you would have here refused to these forlorn strangers." This idea froze her blood, the image of her husband, wounded and dying, was almost insupportable. Four or five armed men had been ordered to place themselves at the gate to secure a retreat for the party without, should any danger really threaten them. Madame D'Alberg went out among them to listen; but it was far round the fossé, and hardly the footsteps of those who traversed it were heard, tho' there was again a pause in the wind. She looked down across a hollow glen filled with old tress, which lay to the left, and which trees had been ordered to be felled, since there was reason to apprehend an attack of the castle. All was now black and hideous, and spectres seemed to flit along the drear obscurity. How different from what it once was, when in a walk, she had herself directed to be made thro' it, D'Alberg, in the early days of their affection, used to walk by her side, and gather for her the wild flowers that were profusely scattered among the rocky hollows, where a little weeping rivulet trinkled down among the old roots, and was lost in the larger stream that came from the hilly grounds beyond the castle. This comparison of the happy past, with the miserable present, she had hardly made, when a very quick step was heard. The party on guard recoiled; some looked terrified, and others endeavoured to look brave; when a young peasant, one of those who had followed the Baroness, appeared breathless with haste. "What is the matter?" cried a number of voices at once, "are the enemy at hand?" "No," answered the lad, as soon as he had breath to speak, "but a mattrass or a bed, must be carried out for the wounded gentleman or dead
gentleman: for my part I believe its all over with him. Make haste! my lady the Baroness is impatient." Madame D'Alberg now hurried herself into the castle, and in a moment contrived what seemed a convenient means of conveying the unfortunate stranger into it. Her benevolence of heart, allowed her not any longer to think of the weather, or of the hazard which the people again attempted to make her apprehend. She did not attend to their remonstrances, but ordering three of her own servants to attend her, and the peasant to return with her, she went forward guided by him to the spot, where she found her mother, and where a very affecting scene presented itself. She beheld a young man of about twenty seated on the ground whose features were disfigured by blood and dust, and who, tho' faint and exhausted, supported on his breast the head of a venerable looking man about sixty, who seemed dying. His face, of a clayey paleness, appeared covered with the old dews of death: His looks were turned towards the face of his son: He attempted to speak; and as it should seem, to bless him; while the inarticulate blessings of the latter were addressed to the Baroness, who was applying spirits to the temples of the father, and made him swallow a few drops; which had so far revived him that he now opened his eyes, and seemed by the expression of his countenance to be sensible, tho' he could not speak. "Not a moment is to be lost," cried the Baroness, as soon as Madame D'Alberg appeared. "Not a moment wasted, before this poor wounded gentleman is removed into a warm bed. Go back, dear Adriana, and let one be prepared, while we endeavour to convey him as easily as can be." "May Heaven reward you," said the young Frenchman, "but
how to move him! if the wounds should bleed a fresh! The coldness of the night, rather than my awkward endeavours has staunched the blood. Upon the least motion they will bleed, and my father will expire."
"Where is the Abbé Heurthofen?" enquired the Baroness, "he has some knowledge in these cases; why do I not see him here? Let him be called, but in the mean time let us endeavour to convey your father to the house."
The men, however, accustomed to scenes of distress, as the military part of them were, could not behold the countenance of the dying stranger, nor the agonizing solicitude marked on that of his son, without feeling interested for both. As their apprehensions of a stratagem of the enemy were now subsided, they yielded to the impulse of humanity, and each, encouraged by the Baroness and Madame D'Alberg, exerted themselves to place the old officer on this temporary bier, and while his son, holding a handkerchief to the wound in his father's side, hung over him, they began to move on; though the young man, as he attempted to step forward occupied in this pious office, was evidently so weak, that he would have fallen, if one of the people who was disengaged, had not supported him on the other side.
The mournful procession soon reached the guard-house, where the beir was set down, and the son threw himself upon his knees by its side. "Speak to me, dear sir!" cried he in an eager voice. "Tell me you are revived! "Thank God! the blood seems staunched, since the motion has not made it stream again. He knows me!" added he, wildly addressing himself to the Baroness, but he is speechless!"
By this time Madame D'Alberg returned to say a chamber was ready, and the Baroness directed her patient to be removed to it, with the same precautions as before.
"Where is Heurthofen?" again enquired the Baroness when they arrived there. "If he is not already up, tell him I desire his attendance." The Abbé in a furred night cap and a wrapping gown as well lined, now made his appearance. "Charity, my good Abbé!" said the Baroness, "has not been active with you, methinks. Here is a wounded gentleman to whom you must endeavour to be useful."
The Abbé cast a look of dissatisfaction on the sufferer, who remained on his mattrass on the floor. "If these events happen often, Madame," said he, "we shall soon have occasion for a person in the castle better skilled in surgery than I am. If gentleman is a French royalist, as I suppose he is, from the order I see at his breast, we are doing him no service, and incurring an additional risk ourselves, by admitting him into the castle. The patriots will be upon us in another day. Nothing in my apprehension can equal the frenzy of our staying here, unless it be admitting people who must encrease our danger." "Go, Sir," said Madame D'Alberg; "if you have these fears, take care of your own safety. The Priest and the Levite we know are but too apt to turn away from the wounded traveller." Strung by this remark, the Abbé, who dared not answer as he was disposed to do, prepared to assist the patient, who still continued insensible; and the ladies left the room; while with great difficulty and very slowly he was conveyed to bed.