| ||The Banished Man. Volume 1 of 2|
Long were to tell
What I have done; what suffer'd—with what pain
Voyaged the vast unbounded deep—
Toil'd out my uncouth passage, forced to ride
Th' untractable abyss.
EARLY the next morning the suffering party, their equipage being repaired enough to carry them to a town about five miles distant, proceeded thither, drawn by such horses as the peasants could furnish them with. The ladies had suffered more from terror than from the water; but the children appeared to be restored; and as they went along, Madame de Rosenheim spoke of nothing but the gallantry and presence of mind that had been so fortunately exerted by the Chevalier D'Alonville. Madame D'Alberg said less; but appeared equally sensible of the obligations they all owed to the young stranger. The women were loquacious in his praise; and while they spoke of his merits, did not forget to dwell on his personal beauty. "Such a sweet young man!" cried one of them. "Such a genteel pretty young man!" echoed the other. Then "what an affectionate son! Poor dear gentleman, how he wept for his father! A good creature, I'll answer for him." In making this eulogium on the living, these good women had lost all recollection of the dead; and the unfortunate almoner Heurthofen was as much forgotten as if he had been already buried seven years. He had never, indeed, been a great favourite in the family, though he had lived in it some time. He was originally a dependant on a minister of
state at Vienna, who, from an ancient attachment to his mother, or for some other reason, had educated him in France, the language of which country he spoke as well as his own; but his protector being displaced, his views of preferment had been disappointed. A situation of trust at the castle of Rosenheim, which his patron procured for him by his interest with the Baron, was, with a small annual stipend from the bounty of his first protector, thought an eligible post of for him, till something better occurred. Three years he had unwillingly submitted to bury, in the dull routine of mere business in the Baron's private establishment, talents which he thought entitled him to move in a very different sphere, when he was supposed to have ended his short career. The natural goodness of Madame de Rosenheim's heart prompted her to think well of every body, till they had given her some very good reasons to change her opinion. Heurthofen was not a man for whom she could feel much esteem; yet as whatever his failings were, he had contrived to keep them from her observation, she contended herself with repressing the only fault she discovered in him—as desire to govern and dictate in the absence of the Baron; and thought of him generally with her usual candour. His death therefore gave her very great concern, and more particularly as it seemed to have been owing to his having gone forward by her desire. Madame D'Alberg acquiesced in her mother's expressions of pity; but with a degree of coldness, which seemed to say that she felt less for the death of Heurthofen, than one would have supposed she would have done for that of a perfect stranger, perishing as it were before her eyes. The spirits of the whose party revived on their reaching the town where it had
been their intention to stop in their first days journey. There they prepared to pass the night. Madame de Rosenheim remarked with real uneasiness the looks of D'Alonville, who appeared absolutely sinking under the excessive fatigue of so many days of suffering and of exertion, and had just placed him by her at their early supper, and prevailed upon him to eat something, when one of the men servants entered the room, and informed his lady, with more appearance of surprise than satisfaction, that the almoner was alive and coming up stairs. Heurthofen immediately entered, and was received by Madame de Rosenheim with great satisfaction. The rest of the party were silent, listened to the narrative he gave of his escape, without seeming to take much interest in it; while the almoner, either from remarking this coldness, or because he really thought himself injured, continued to tell the miracles of his involuntary voyage, interlacing his narrative with the expressions of "when I was thus abandoned;" "when thus I was left to struggle alone." "In this distressed condition, without any hope of saving my life," said he, "I was carried down the stream for some time upon my horse; at length collecting all my presence of mind, I imagined it would be best to abandon the animal, who was nearly exhausted. I disengaged myself then, and leaving him to his fate as I had been before left to mine, I endeavoured by swimming, in which I was a tolerable proficient, to gain the shore; but the current into which I had thus inadvertently plunged, in obedience to your wishes, Madame, was too rapid for me; and imagine what were my sensations, when I heard the rush of waters, which I knew to be the torrent of a mill-stream." "It is singular," said Madame D'Alberg, "indeed that
among this mighty rust of waters, you should distinguish the noise of a mill-stream, from the stream you were struggling in." "Not at all, Madame," answered Heurthofen. "I was convinced I should be driven through the mill race and perhaps dashed to pieces. Succourless as I was, and enfeebled by having so long contended with the boiling torrent, I gave myself up for lost, when as a last effort, I hallooed as loud as I could;—fortunately my voice was heard; a miller came forth with a lantern, he extended a pole towards me, on which I seized with difficulty, for the man was less able than willing, I was dragged on shore—I mounted my horse." " Your horse!" said Madame D'Alberg,—"I thought he had been drowned in the first setting out." "No, Madame," replied Heurthofen, "I did not say so—though he was left, it did not follow that he was drowned. He—he—swam ashore higher up; and was I know not by whom caught." "But would it not have been better," said Madame D'Alberg, "since you were so nearly exhausted, and had suffered so much—would it not have been better to have gone into the mill for refreshment?" "I could not," replied Heurthofen after a moments pause; "for no sooner had the man who had assisted me to the river's boundary, and another who came out his aid, surveyed my figure, than they declared I was a spy, and they had some inclination to precipitate me again into the raging cataract!" "A spy!" cried Madame D'Alberg, "what extraordinary notions these people must have of spies, to imagine that one of them would proceed on his mission by water at such a time of night!" "I cannot answer for their notions," said Heurthofen, "but I know, Madame, that owing to his absurd notion, I narrowly escaped
greater inconveniences even than those I had passed through." "Poor Heurthofen!" said Madame de Rosenheim, who, though she knew he was rhodomontading, had compassion alike for his late escape, and present confusion—"Poor Heurthofen! your perils do indeed seem to have been greater than ours." She good naturedly wished to turn the conversation, but her daughter was not disposed to let him off so easily. "Well, but inform us, Sir?" said she, "since you have so far excited our curiosity inform us if you please, how you got out of the hands of these injudicious persons." "I escaped them on horseback," replied Heurthofen, who had by this time recollected himself; "and making the best of my way from them notwithstanding the impervious darkness of the night. "Nay, nay," cried the inexorable Madame D'Alberg, again interrupting him, "it was not so very dark neither; there was a moon you know;" "Nothing could be darker, however," answered Heurthofen, "than were the woods into which I plunged." "To what purpose?" enquired Madame D'Alberg. "In endeavouring to find my way back" replied he, "to the fatal place where I had left the coach, in the hope, feeble as I own I was, to save the family. "Ah! you were very kind indeed, Sir," answered the lady. "Fortunately for us the Chevalier D'Alonville was nearer at hand, to whose activity and resolution we all owe our lives, which but for him would undoubtedly have been lost, before your plunging into woods and emerging out of boiling torrents would have permitted you to have come to our assistance." Heurthofen cast an angry and indignant look at D'Alonville; but what his mind suggested in answer to information evidently unwelcome to him
he had not time to express, a servant at the moment entering the room, who said a person desired to speak to the Abbe Heurthofen. He was not much disposed to move, and enquired rather peevishly who could possibly have any business with him? The servant said the man looked like a miller; and Heurthofen without farther hesitation went down; Madame D'Alberg gravely remarking as he left the room, that she was afraid it might be one of the men who had mistaken him for a spy, and was now come in pursuit of him.
"You are too hard upon Heurthofen," said Madame de Rosenheim to her daughter when he had left the room; "you see, my dear, he has a mind to make a merit of his sufferings." "He does wisely, certainly," returned Madame D'Alberg, to excuse as well as he can his desertion of us; but he lies so awkwardly that it provokes one." "I own" answered her mother smiling, "he has forgot himself, as Cervantes did about Sancho's ass; but I dare say he has suffered considerably." "I have no pity," cried Madame D'Alberg, "for his selfish sufferings. After the danger is over, and we are in safety at an inn, he finds us out, and with a round red face, as if he had eat or slept the whole time, insults us with an impossible story of dangers he ran, which never happened, in an attempt that he was now too wise to make. I am very sure, if we knew the truth, we should find that he scrambled out of the water, and found his way to some house, which he probably knew of before, as he is well acquainted with this road; and that all these whirlpools, and enemies, and Cimmerian woods, existed no where but in his own head, and were created only to excite our pity." "You judge too hardly, Adriana," said the Baroness.
"You will find I am right, Madame," answered her daughter. The almoner did not return, and the party separated for the night; D'Alonville undertaking, at the instance of Madame de Rosenheim, to give early directions for a more complete repair of the coach, and to procure horses for their journey.
When Madame D'Alberg retired to the room that was prepared for her, her woman, full of the events of the past days, began to descant upon them. "Surely never had any family such a narrow escape," cried she—"I am sure, now I came to think upon it coolly, my blood quite curdles as it were in my veins—It is a great mercy we are alive to tell of it." "It is certainly," answered her mistress. "But have you heard the more miraculous story of poor Heurthofen, and how near he had been lost in attempting to come back to us?" "He lost," exclaimed the woman; "Has he made you believe so, Madame?" Madame D'Alberg then related all the hair-breadth escapes which the almoner had described. "Well!" exclaimed the woman—"if I am not amazed at the assurance of some folks! So far from his having been in all this danger, I am very sure he scrambled out but a little way beyond where he blundered into the hole, which, after all his boasting, he ought to have known of; though I believe indeed he was pretty well frighted, and glad to find himself safe. He took special care not to get into danger again by trying to help us; but trotted off to a mill a mile or two lower down, where he told the people that he was benighted, and had narrowly escaped drowning: they took him in and gave him a warm bed and a good supper: The man that took care of his horse not being in the way when he sat out from thence this morn-
ing, came here by chance to-night with flour, and hearing that the Abbé Heurthofen was at this inn, he sent up to ask for money for the trouble he had taken with his horse. The poor beast it seems was in a bad condition, having been hurt in scrambling up an high bank; but as to the Abbé himself, he was a great deal more frightened than hurt—the miller has been telling our men all about it." "I wish," said Madame D'Alberg, "the man could be made to repeat the story to us as we get into the coach to-morrow; my mother will hardly be brought to believe that Heurthofen, instead of attempting to return to our assistance, went prudently off, and consulted his own safety." "Ah! madam," replied her woman, "I am sure he richly deserves to have the truth known; but my good lady the Baroness is so backward to believe any ill of him—a sly fellow:—as to this time he has taken care to send the man off, and so we shall never hear any more of the truth than we know already, and he will have credit for all his boasting." "Heurthofen," said Madame D'Alberg, "seems to be no favourite of yours."—"No, indeed," answered the woman; "I have not much cause to love him." Madame D'Alberg was too much fatigued to enter this evening into the causes of disgust that Heurthofen had given her servant; she dismissed her, therefore, and endeavoured to quiet her spirits, and to obtain the repose the so greatly wanted.
The next day the proceeded on their journey, and the day following reached Coblentz; nothing occurring worth remark, unless it was the encreasing ill humour of Heurthofen, whose evil disposition towards D'Alonville visibly increased.—D'Alonville cared very little for his displeasure, and was indeed hardly conscious that such a man
existed. Madame de Rosenheim and her daughter found some difficulty in procuring lodgings in a town already crowded with persons, who, driven from the frontiers, had taken shelter there. A female friend whose husband was absent made room for them in her hotel; but D'Alonville, who would be no longer troublesome to them resorted to his own countrymen, among whom he found a distant relation of his mother's, a Mareshal de Camp, who, though by no means in high affluence himself, having saved very little, supplied him with money for his present support, and received him into a small apartment in the same house.
It was natural for him to pay the most assiduous attention to persons to whom he was so infinitely obliged; and gratitude, as well as the esteem which their characters inspired, attached him every day more and more to the Baroness de Rosenheim and her daughter. He considered the former as his mother, the latter as his sister; and attempted not to conceal the affection he felt for them, or that the only alleviating circumstance he at present found for his misfortunes, was being admitted on the most friendly footing to visit them; while on their parts they were both equally pleased with him, and as they knew more of him, felt a stronger interest in his fate. The younger lady, who had now received assurances that her husband was safe, and would soon be with her, re-assumed her usual serenity, and waited without uneasiness the instructions that were expected from the Baron, as to their future measures. Madame de Rosenheim seemed to be persuaded that he would direct them to go to him at Vienna; and as she wished to continue to be of service to her young French friend, she had held several conferences with her daughter, on
means of retaining D'Alonville with them, without shocking the pride, which his high birth and exalted notions of honor, had very properly inspired. Heurthofen, whose hatred of D'Alonville he did not even attempt to conceal, was very seldom of the parties which the Baroness collected round her; he contented himself with a cold and sullen performance of his duties in the family, and passed almost all the rest of his time in societies of his own; but to the servants he openly expressed his disapprobations of the Baroness's conduct in encouraging around her so many of the French emigrants, and avowed his hopes, that they should soon go to Vienna, and shake off these coxcombs; for a softer name he could not find for men whose superiority, though he felt it, he was too proud to allow. Heurthofen was a man of a singular character, of which pride and self consequence were the predominant features. Thrown by his birth at a great distance from the eminence he desired to aspire to, and apparently condemned, by having taken orders in the Catholic church, to remain for ever dependant on his patron, or to become the pastor of some German village, his ambitious spirit soared above his obscure lot, and he had neither feelings or principles likely to check any means, however daring or however immoral, which that spirit might prompt him to use for his exaltation. With a cool head, and a callous heart, he had none of those passions which so often baffle and betray the schemes of the politician. Incapable alike of friendship or of love, he had yet so much personal vanity, that he was persuaded his abilities gave him a general command over the minds of others; that no man could detect him whom he determined to deceive; no woman resist him whose affections he desired to
appropriate. He had not that degree of taste and discrimination which would have led him to admire the talents, virtues, and graces of Madame D'Alberg; but he had tried to ingratiate himself with her, in hopes to have the glory of discovering, that even a woman of understanding so superior, could not resist his art and his eloquence. The haughty repulse that he had always met with, and the pointed dislike towards him, which Madame D'Alberg always expressed, had mortified and piqued him without curing him of his presumptuous folly. He was still persuaded, that only opportunity and perseverance were wanting to obtain a more favorable reception; till her acquaintance with the Chevalier D'Alonville alarmed his pride, by showing him, that while he was treated with haughty reserve, and kept at a disdainful distance, this young man, of whom nothing was know but his misfortunes, was received and considered like an equal, while he appeared at the parties of the Baroness only as a dependant. Rage and hatred boiled in his bosom, and stimulated his intriguing and malignant spirit to punish the authors of the pain he felt, while he fought himself above the humiliating situation, where his dependence seemed to counteract perpetually the ascendancy of talents, which he believed would be under other circumstances, irresistible.