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Doomed by Paul Heyse


                     Meran, 5th October 1860.

A week has passed since my arrival and I have not written a line! I was too much exhausted and agitated by the long journey. When I sat down to write, gazing on the white blank pages, it seemed to me as if I were looking into a camera obscura. All the scenes which had greeted me on my journey appeared so clearly and vividly before me and chased each other as in a feverish dream till my eyes filled with tears.

More than once during the journey I had felt the tears ready to start, but I was not alone, and I had no desire to be pitied, and questioned by the strangers who occupied the carriage with me.

Here it is different—I am alone and free. Already I have learnt by experience that solitude only can bring freedom. Why am I, even now, ashamed to weep? have I not a full right to do so? Is it not sad that my first glimpse of the beauties of this world should also be my last?

Truly it were better that I closed this book, and left the blank pages as they are. With what can I fill them but with useless complaints. I had imagined that it would be pleasant and consoling to write down every thought that crossed my mind, every event in this my last winter. I wished to bequeath this book to my dear brother, my little Ernest, who is as yet too young to understand life and death; but some day or other he would prize it, when, asking about his sister, he found no one to answer him. Now, however, I see it was a foolish thought. How could I wish to live in the memory of those dear to me, in the image of my last illness. Better that he should forget me, than have impressed on his mind these pale features which frighten even me when I look at them in the mirror.

                     —The atmosphere heavy and lowering.—

For several hours I have been sitting at the open casement. From thence one can overlook the beautiful country of the Adige. And far beyond the walls of the town and the wide-spreading[2] poplars which border the stone-dike beside the rushing Passer, the view extends over the lower pasture-lands, intersected with a hundred rivulets, where the cattle feed, to the distant chain of mountains which bounds the horizon. The air was so still that I could hear the voices of the promenaders on the Wassermauer[3]—or was it a fancy of mine?

The children of my landlord, a tailor, peeped in curiously through the door till I at last gave them the remainder of the chocolate in my travelling bag. How joyfully they ran down with it to their mother! Soon I became more calm and cheerful. I found that I had been wrong in dreading my own soliloquies. Why, even considering these leaves as a legacy, should they only contain sorrow? Did I not leave home, where I was tied down by a hundred fetters with the full determination for once, to enjoy life and liberty? And shall I now bear witness against myself that I am unworthy of that freedom?

Certainly it will be but a brief enjoyment, but all the more firmly will I grasp it and not embitter it by weakness and absorbing self-pity.

The landlady told me that this morning a burgher of Meran, who had never suffered from illness in his life, had died suddenly in his prime. They had all expected that he would attain to a good old age, and, probably, he had thought so himself. Comparing my fate with his, is not mine preferable? Probably, like the generality of men, he had spent his days in toil and labour, looking forward to a time when having earned a sufficiency, he would be able to rest, and enjoy the remainder of his life. His end was unexpected, whilst I know mine. And is not this difference all in my favour? Is not spring yet distant, and should I so fully enjoy this reprieve, were its short duration concealed from me? Oh, truly it is a blessing not to be overtaken, and surprised by death; to watch his slow approach, and only then, face to face with him, learn to live. I can never sufficiently express my thanks to our doctor, my dear fatherly friend, for not keeping the truth from me—thus has he fully redeemed the promise he gave to my dying mother, always to stand by me as a friend.

The night has now set in. I can hardly see what I write. In my whole life, I have never felt so thoroughly at peace as here, in this beautiful forecourt to the grave.—Father! that I could but waft one breath of it to your depressed and sorrowful soul. Good night! Good night, my little Ernest. Who has put you to bed to-night? Who shall now tell you fairy tales to send you to sleep?

                     The 6th Afternoon.

To-day as Frau Meisterin brought up my dinner, she eagerly tried to persuade me to take a walk and not to sit so much at home. It was so fine on the Wassermauer. So many people were to be seen there; she was sure it would divert me. I could not make her understand that all I wished was to collect my thoughts, and not to divert them; and that I did not feel the slightest desire for the company of strangers. At last, I convinced her by declaring that I was still so weak and so tired with the journey that the two steep stairs were as yet too much for me. Then she left me, and I continued to write.

I have been obliged to put aside my embroidery; it now hurts my chest. I had even to send away my landlord's little girls to whom I had intended to give sewing-lessons.

To-day a doubt weighs on my mind. It seized me suddenly for the first time on waking this morning, and came upon me with great force and persistence. I want to solve it now. Strange, that it should not have struck me sooner. I was so fully convinced that I was doing right! I knew that no one would miss me at home, that my father felt pained at every unkind look my step-mother gave me, that I could no longer be of use even to Ernest, since my step-mother had insisted, in spite of his tender age, on sending him to school, only to avoid seeing him, and having to take care of him.

My father shed tears when he clasped me for the last time in his arms; still my departure relieved him. He wished what is best for me, but what can he do?

This morning, however, the question suddenly occurred to me, whether I had not left other duties; whether any human being, not utterly disabled, has a right to sit down idly or go holiday making for a whole winter. Only since I have felt happy; since the littlenesses of the empty commonplace provincial life have ceased to oppress me, have I begun to question myself as to what right I had to enjoyment, more than all those thousands to whom death is not more distant, than it is to me, and who are forced to strive and wrestle to their last breath, and here am I closing a truce with the enemy, and celebrating a festival as if I had been victorious.—

                     7th October.

That question for which my poor head could find no answer, I have solved to-day when I came home as shattered from my first walk as if I had laboured for a day in chains. No, I am fit for nothing but rest, and if it taste sweeter to me than to many, that cannot be a cause for self-reproach. Am I not more easily contented than others? If I am of no use, am I a burden to any one? Even if I did not avail myself of the small inheritance left me by my mother, but kept it intact for my brother Ernest, would it exempt him from the necessity of supporting himself by his own exertions? Part of it will probably remain for him, for as I experienced to-day, my strength is already scantier than I had imagined. Who can tell how short my winter in the South may be? I shall not frequent the walk under the poplars. To-day I felt uneasy among those poor, coughing, dressed up people, who tottered about with their baskets full of grapes, and seemed eagerly to imbibe new hope with each berry. By those whose faces expressed hopelessness, I felt still less attracted. It may sometimes be soothing to frequent the society of fellow-sufferers; but when the same fate creates totally different feelings, then that which could otherwise unite only separates, and one feels all the more forcibly the difference of character. Not to one of them, would I have ventured to speak of the peaceful and grateful mood I enjoyed. They would either have looked upon me as an eccentric enthusiast, or thought me a hypocrite.

Can they be blamed for it? Possibly I too might have feared death had I loved life more. And why was my life so little loveable?

Only a few can understand the deep feeling of immensity, and peace with which nature fills my soul. For two and twenty years I never set foot beyond the walls of a small uninteresting commonplace town. In these days people travel much. But for the long illness of my mother, and after her death, the care of my little brother, I too would probably have wandered forth from that desolate little place. This beautiful valley already seems to me like the world to come, like a true Garden of God. The first time I inhaled this air, I felt as if I already glided over the earth, borne on the wings of my soul. It was certainly a pity that they did not support me better as I toiled up the steep narrow stairs, but what business had I to descend them, when every glance through my windows is an excursion into Paradise.

The people with whom I lodge are very poor. The man works till late at night, and his wife has enough to do, attending to the wants of her large family. The inside of the house looks dusky and gloomy. When the porter of the hotel who from the simplicity of my dress inferred great meagreness of purse, first took me through the long dark passages, and the gloomy courts, and we scrambled up the delapidated staircase, over the landing where dusty furniture, old spinning-wheels, beds, earthen ware and provisions of maize lay in confused heaps, and the spiders, undisturbed for many years, spun their webs, I felt oppressed and my heart beat so that I had to rest at every third step. But the first glance at my small low room reconciled me quickly to the thought that this was to be my last earthly habitation. That old fashioned writing-table with the brass mountings looks like the twin-brother of the one which stood in my dear mother's room. That arm-chair is just as high and heavy, and as brown with age, as the one she used. A few bad prints on the wall, which disturbed me, I immediately took down, and hung up the portraits of my parents instead. It now seems to me as if I had been at home here for years. In one of the corners on a black wooden console stands a crucifix which though I have not been brought up to it, causes me deep reflection. I have received all my books. My father sent them after me and now I want nothing more. At the same time he wrote me just such a letter as I expected from him. That trait of conforming oneself to what is unalterable without further struggle, I have inherited from him. Six lines from Ernest to tell me that he is very happy at school with his little comrades, and a greeting from my stepmother; at least, the letter contains one, but probably my father has added it without asking. Now I will write home. How much more freely could I do so, if I knew that my letters reached my father's hands only.

                     The 10th—Evening.

What strange people one meets with! An hour ago I was sitting, quite unsuspicious of any interruption, at my window reading, and enjoying the mild evening breeze—the sun now sets at five o'clock behind the Marlinger mountain, yet the air retains the mildness of a summer evening, and the tips of the high mountains to the East, a ruddy glow, for many hours longer—when there came a knock at the door, and a short stout lady, quite unknown to me, entered coolly, and introduced herself to me, expressing a most cordial desire to make my acquaintance. She had seen me on the Wassermauer the only time I had walked there, and had immediately taken a great interest in me, for I was evidently very ill and very lonely, and she had resolved to speak to me the next time we met, hoping to be of some use to me.

“For you must know, my dear child, that I, as I stand before you, am fifty-nine years old, and have not been ill for one day, except during my confinements. My two sons, and three daughters are also, thank heaven, perfectly healthy, and are all of them married and settled in life. But you see I have always had a passion from my earliest youth for helping those people who were not so well off as I am, for nursing the sick, and for rendering the last offices to the dying. My late husband used to call me the privileged life preserver; you cannot imagine a better nurse than I am, for you see I am of a generation when professional ones were as yet unknown. I can easily do without sleep, and can even assist at any operation without the least show of weakness. I have come here with a friend of mine who cannot last much longer. When the poor thing is released from her sufferings, I shall have more time at my disposal than now; she has always to entreat me to leave her and take some exercise—and so my dear child if you want support, advice, or help, apply to no one but me; you must solemnly promise me this. Of course I will no longer allow you to spend your days all alone. I will often come to see you. I never stand on ceremony with my friends, and so you must take it kindly if I tyrannize over you—it will be all for your good. I understand nervous complaints as well as the best of doctors—amusements, air, excitement, are the remedies I prescribe. A propos, which doctor have you consulted here?” I answered that I had not applied to any, neither intended to do so as I knew that my malady was incurable. She shook her head incredulously, so I took from my portfolio a sheet of paper on which our doctor had drawn a sort of representation, to shew how far the disease in my lungs had spread. She examined it with experienced eyes.

“My dear child,” she at last said, “this is all nonsense, the doctors are all the same, the more they talk, the less they know. I could lay any wager that your interior has a totally different aspect from this.” I told her that she had every prospect of being able to ascertain this, but that I declined the wager, as unfortunately I could not win it whilst alive. She only partly listened to what I said, and she continued in so loud a voice that it pierced to my very marrow, to give me an account of different illnesses which tended to shew how little doctors were to be relied on, accompanying it with so many details, that it would have made me sick, if I had not had courage and presence of mind enough to cry for mercy. At length she rose, and in taking leave she made a movement as if to embrace me, and was evidently surprised when I coldly and stiffly gave her my finger tips. She rustled out of the room in great haste, and with many promises to return soon. I had to sit for half an hour with closed eyes to calm my nerves. A sharp odour of acetic ether which surrounded her and which she strongly recommended to me as a powerful neurotic, is still prevalent in the room, and those sharp peering eyes, and the determined expression of philanthropy in her broad face still haunt me. Only the thought, that for some days at least, I was safe from another invasion, gave me some consolation. But my former tête-à-tête with destiny; that which gave a peculiar charm to this place are now lost to me, unless I speak to her yet more intelligibly; and that, even in a case of self-defence, would be most painful to me.

And is this human sympathy! The few who love us pain us by it, because we see that they suffer with us—and those who do not love us—can they please us? “Only beggars know, what beggars feel” I once read in Lessing. But can beggars give alms?—

                     The next Morning.

I have had a restless night. I am so little in the habit of speaking, and being spoken to that the shrill voice of the charitable lady still resounds in my ears. In my dreams I had a fierce quarrel with her, till at last she took off her fair front and threw it in my face—I woke up with a shudder and bathed in perspiration. What rude things I had said to her, among others that I would bequeath to her my lungs, preserved in spirits of wine. How exceedingly impolite we are in our dreams!

I dressed myself hastily, but even now I am in terror of another invasion—my humble little corner, where I had hoped to die peacefully—this too has been disturbed. Even here I cannot find quiet! I really must go out and try to find some safer hiding-place.

                     In the Afternoon.

To-day I have met with great events and have boldly surmounted them—first a high mountain then an adventure with a savage—finally I have revelled in nature, and solitude to intoxication. And although I am so tired that I have to summon all my energy every time. I raise my hand to dip my pen in the ink, yet I have renewed my inward strength, and have got over the effect of last night's encounter. Now I could boldly confront a whole company of coffee drinking sisters with false fronts.

How beautiful is my burial place, how marvellous the light that streams on it. I fancied that I had already remarked the magical effects of this light, but find that only to-day the scales have really dropped from my eyes. Seriously I believe that what we in the north call sunshine is only an imitation of it, a cheap mixture of light and air, a sort of gilded bronze in comparison with the real solid priceless gold which is lavished here.

I moved slowly up the cool and gloomy Laubengasse[4] where a shiver always seizes me and a peculiar oppression stops my breath. Then I reached the small Platz with the fine old church. The Platz appeared all black and red with the costumes of the peasants of the neighbourhood, and of the valley of the Passer. Their trim holiday dress consists of a short dark jacket with red facings, red waistcoats, and broad brimmed hats. Most of the people are fine-looking and stately, the men however, much handsomer than the women. Of the latter, I have only remarked since I came, two pretty faces with regular features.

As it was a peasant's holiday, they stood about in dense groups and none of them took the least notice of the suffering stranger who glided past their clumsy elbows. Over the whole Platz hung a thick cloud of acrid tobacco smoke, which gave me a fit of coughing, so I preferred to go round the church rather than endeavour to push my way through the uncivil crowd.

In the buttresses of the church, old tomb stones were immured. On one of them I read an inscription so full of meek resignation that I was greatly touched by it. One, Ludovica, was buried underneath it in the year 1836. I will write down the inscription, I learnt it by heart:

          “Separate they lived, and lonely,
            Father, mother, and only child
            Till death had them together bound.
            In blessedness themselves they found,
            For aye and ever now united.
            So the early fading of the rose,
            Is to be envied; it is repose.”

The quiet and fervent tone of these verses accompanied me for many hours. I walked pensively along the narrow streets up to an old gateway which leads through a weather-beaten tower, scarred with French bullets, into the valley of the Passeier. The view which from thence suddenly opened before me filled me with awe, by its strangeness, beauty, and grandeur. I sat down for half an hour on a large stone beside the gateway, from whence a steep path leads to the Küchelberg, and up to an old tower, formerly a powder-magazine, which now peacefully keeps watch over the vineyards like a pensioned veteran.

Just before me on a rock which projects from the Küchelberg, I perceived the ruins of Zenoburg, and considered whether my strength would carry me thus far on the broad and uncared for road, or if I should content myself with crossing the stone bridge from whence I could see the cheerful village of Obermais. A woman approached me with a basket of grapes and peaches on her head. I bought some fruit and after eating it felt invigorated. So I set off, pausing at every step to look down on the Passer whose water now dark blue, now flaked with white foam, flowed through the arch of the bridge. How boldly yet lightly the vines hang from the rugged rocks on the banks of the river; among them grows the wild fig-tree covered with purple fruit. Running water conducted in canals refreshes the leaves, and now and then turns a wheel. Large chesnut-trees rise from the depths. Everywhere luxuriant growth and rejoicing nature meets the eye. Mine rested with especial pleasure on the varied colouring of the rocks; here of a warm brownish tint, there of a silvery grey. How picturesque those peasants, in their bright costumes look, coming down from the Küchelberg, and that cart or rather two wheeled sledge, drawn by strong whitish grey oxen, and laden with vine-leaves, descending the Zenoburg. And above all a sky the colour of which, I had held till now, to be a fiction of poets, and painters. While I so walked on and wondered, I said to myself this is all mine this is my joy and no one can take it from me. Could it be more mine if instead of, for one moment, I had looked on it for centuries? Who can say if the best part of every pleasure does not consist in its transientness; how otherwise could the happy ever grow tired of their bliss....

I had probably walked on too fast while thinking of all this, so that when I reached the top of the hill, I had to rest on a bench which stood before a pretty house. My eyes closed in involuntary slumber. All was still around me, only the Meran church bells which deafened me below sounded softly up here and lulled me to sleep. How pleasantly we dream in the mid-day sunshine, when the light penetrates our closed eyelids, and blends in our fancy, with the marvellous colours and rays which have nothing tangible or earthly in them. Sitting quite still for some time, I probably went to sleep, but suddenly I started up as I felt something cold and moist touch my hand; it was nothing worse than the nose of a large dog, who standing beside his master, watched me curiously. But the appearance of the latter was so horrible, that I would willingly have believed it to be a dream, to be got rid of by speaking and moving. It was a tall bearded man whose age I could not define. His hair hung over his forehead, he wore a heavy and enormous hat, covered by a wilderness of cock's feathers, fox tails, and strange furs, casting a fierce shade over his eyes, which however as I remarked afterwards, had a most innocent and harmless expression. Probably I plainly showed my terror, for the mysterious apparition, which seemed to have risen from one of the old tombs of the Zenoburg, laughed good-naturedly, holding a very small pipe between his even white teeth, he told me not to be frightened. He was only a Saltner, who watched the vineyards, and as I had entered his district he requested a penny for tobacco. In my consternation, I gave him half a florin in silver, and hastily turned away, as I did not feel quite secure in the close proximity of his bright spear. But the piece of silver which is scarce here, or perhaps a holiday humour made the giant quite tame and officious. He walked without ceremony by my side, and noticing that I climbed with difficulty, he energetically supported my arm with his great paw. I had to put a good face on the matter, and indeed; ended by being thankful for his help, as I could hardly have managed to ascend alone the last steep bit on which the ruins of the castle stand. It struck me how reserved he was in his questions, and how communicative about his own affairs. Comparing this charitable brother with the uncharitable sister, who had visited me yesterday, how much more elevated was the natural feeling of this peasant, than the obtrusive refinement of the so-called higher classes.—On the top of the hill it was indeed beautiful. With the exception of a small chapel and a solitary tower which remain intact, the castle is in ruins; only a few fragments of walls, thickly covered with ivy, are standing. Luxuriant grass grows beneath them, tribes of lizards rustle over the sunny stones. Tangled creepers of every description hang over the walls, and far below, so that a falling stone would dash perpendicularly into the water, the unruly Passer flows underneath the shelving rocks at the foot of the hill.

My armour bearer pointed out to me, on the opposite heights towards the south, many old castles and small villages, where the vine cultivators live, and told me the names of the different mountains, as I comfortably sat on the grass with his dog lying beside me.

At noon the church bells rang; he ceased talking took the three cornered hat off his head and the pipe from his mouth, and crossing himself devoutly, he prayed in silence. When the sounds had died away, he put his hat on again, puffed at his pipe, and asked me if I were hungry.

I answered in the affirmative, but said I was still too much exhausted to undertake my homeward journey. Without a word he descended the hill with stalwart strides, and disappeared.

Ten minutes later a little girl carrying a basin of milk, some bread and a piece of the fete-day roast, hurried up the hill and looked about for me, then silently and timidly placed the very welcome refreshment before me. After many vain attempts, I at last coaxed the child to speak to me. She told me that the Saltner had ordered it all for me in the house below; he himself was busy in the vineyards, and would not come again. The child then ran away and left me alone to feast in this delightful solitude. Never had I eaten a more delicious meal. I was quite ashamed of having consumed all, and having to carry back the empty dishes.

With difficulty I persuaded the good people to accept some money; probably the Saltner had forbidden them to take any. In vain I looked for him on my back. I do not even know his name.

Is this not quite an adventure? and have I not reason to note this day.

                     October the 12th—Morning.

This morning on waking, I thought how strange it is, that each different class should envy the supposed freedom of the other, although no true freedom can be found where the sense of this difference of classes exists. Perhaps while I am casting a longing glance at the life of these poor peasants who pass their days among vines, fields of maize, and mulberry-trees, and who know as little of the hundred narrow conventional considerations of propriety which rule the so-called refined classes than the silk worm knows of the glittering misery which may one day be covered by his web; to them the life of a town lady who if she chose might spend her days in waltzing may seem a life of supreme happiness and freedom. They are tied to their labour hour after hour, and when they rest on Sundays they can as little free themselves from the tedious customs which confine their enjoyments, as they can in the heat of a summer-day, exchange the heavy woollen skirt with the hundreds of plaits, for a lighter dress.

The educated classes certainly have this advantage that they can emancipate themselves when they will, but still would such a one not be blamed by his equals, just as peasant is blamed when he goes out shooting in the harvest time? Altogether....

                     1 o'clock.

No I will not bear this any longer, if I had to challenge the whole world for it. The dying surely need not lie, need not submit to be tormented, and smile complacently all the while. I am so revolted and harassed—my nerves are so bruised, that I wish for a speaking trumpet to be able to declare through it at the open window, my most solemn renunciation of all society; unfortunately my tormentors are dining at this moment, but this must happen sooner or later.

I will have an iron bolt to my door of an hundred pounds weight, and an iron mask for my face when I take a step out of my room.

The landlady has just brought up my dinner; well it may get cold, I have no appetite for it. My heart is beating fast with anger and agitation.

I am sick to death of all the talking that has been buzzing in my ears, and could no more be stopped than the stream which turns that wheel beside the bridge. That at least legitimates its noise by its useful activity.

Among all the good things I had to say of yesterday, I forgot to mention the vain attempt of “the life-preserver” to see me. Now I thought she will have at all events remarked that I do not wait for her permission to breathe the fresh air and for the future will let the light of her charity shine on more grateful beings. I little knew her.

Whilst I was writing I heard her step coming up the stairs, and laying aside my diary, I quickly took a letter which I had begun from my portfolio, and intrenched myself behind it, determined to defend myself to the last drop of ink.

My poor forces were overthrown by her at the first assault. Letter writing! tired! what nonsense; it was for my health I was here, and my nerves required amusement and rest. No, as I had run up the Küchelberg yesterday like an unreasonable child, she had come to-day to prevent the repetition of such suicide and to show me what it was to take the air in a healthful way. Oh, yes she had found me out, I was not pleased to see her again so soon! but a young lady who lived by herself was on no account to be neglected. I was only to submit to her authority, and would certainly be grateful to her afterwards.

I put on my hat silently and resignedly. I could not even feel angry at her clumsy and good natured tone, though it made me suffer bodily pain.

Chattering incessantly she dragged me towards the winter grounds, as the most sheltered part of the Wassermauer is called, for there an old cloister and its high garden-wall keep off all cold winds, evergreen shrubs flourish and the rose-bushes are still covered with roses. This place is always crowded, the band plays and the whole society of strangers walk there or sit basking in the sunshine. My protectress seemed purposely to have brought me here with the intention of introducing me to this beau monde. I had to run the gauntlet of a curious, but to me quite indifferent crowd of ladies and gentlemen. I saw not one face that pleased me, heard not one word that reached my heart. Then the heat under those arbours, the noise of the importunate brass band, and the rebellion which was chafing within me against this soft tyranny, nearly drove me distracted.

Still more revolting to me than the dull unfeelingness of the healthy, was the behaviour of many of my fellow sufferers. There sat a young countess who as I heard had been parted from her husband, in order to avoid all excitement, but she was not too ill to notice my simple old-fashioned dress, which she scanned from head to foot, and then with a crushing look, she wrapped herself up in her cashemere burnouss, as I sat on the bench beside her.

And that young girl who treated me as an old acquaintance in the first five minutes, and told me all the scandal of Meran, though death was written in her face, and her cough went to my heart. Are those figures of wax, dressed up automatons, who exhibit all their old minauderies, though when spring comes they will have to lie in their coffins.

It seemed to me quite a deliverance when the dinner-bell of the hôtel de la poste rang, and most of the company departed and my protectress had to go to her sick friend. I hardly bid her good-bye. I could no longer speak, or listen to a word, for I felt quite paralized; so she has at last obtained her object and tried her cure on me, and the result is, that both in mind and body I am more dead than alive. Certainly that is a sort of recovery.

                     The 13th—Evening.

I have at last succeeded, and cannot sufficiently express my joy at this achievement. I reflected that it was only just, that if I wished for freedom, I should purchase it by the exertion of some courage and determination. Armed with a book, I calmly walked through the winter grounds without recognizing any one, sat down in the midst of the whole society and read for several hours without once looking up.

Of course the life-preserver made her appearance and at once approached my bench, but I coolly told her that talking hurt me; she looked astonished, shrugged her shoulders, and left me to myself.

I saw very well that she was offended. So much the better! If I find no better occupation I will do this every day; I feel a certain satisfaction in it. Whilst I sat surrounded by all those tiresome people, I triumphed in my courage and the victory I had gained in not having allowed myself to be daunted. Certainly the conflict had made my heart beat faster, but even courage is not to be learnt in a day. And then is it not doubly refreshing to read the grave and beautiful words of our greatest poets, when from the different conversations around, one picks up words which show what inferior spiritual nourishment society puts up with.

Possibly this may be a proud and over vain thought. But some pride surely is pardonable in one so isolated. Is it not most presumptuous to retire within oneself, and be contented with one's own society? Surely he who prepares for death has a right to think of his soul above all things, and how is this possible, in the midst of the thoughtless, soulless noise, commonly called conversation?

Already they show me plainly that I am not to their taste. To-day when I appeared on the Wassermauer, with my book, all the benches were occupied except one, on which sat only a pale and melancholy looking young man, who is daily partly led, partly followed by a servant to a sunny corner of the wintergarden and there sits covered up with costly furs. Had the ladies, who were talking, and embroidering in the arbours deigned to move, they certainly could have made room for my slight person, whose crinoline never molested any one.

I saw however that they had resolved to cause me embarrassment. Oh, how sharp, unamiable, cold, and even inhuman our faces become, when we are determined to show our dislike to some one of our fellow creatures! I felt quite frightened at the stony features, dark looks, and drawn down lips of the company. But soon I was ashamed of my cowardice, and of having allowed it to be perceived. So I looked as if I saw no hostility in their countenances and quietly sat down beside the young man, leaving space enough between us, even for the wide robes of the countess. I was deeply absorbed in my book, but though I never looked up, I knew exactly what were the glances they cast at me, and could have written down the benevolent remarks that were whispered beneath those arbours. The sick young man hardly moved, only from time to time he sighed—I pitied him; he appears to be one of the most suffering of the invalids here, and to bear his illness with difficulty. He must be rich for I saw a costly ring glittering on his finger.

We sat side by side for several hours, and I was on the point of making some observation to him about the book I was reading merely for the sake of rousing him from the melancholy thoughts which seemed to oppress him. Where would have been the harm? But now a days, care is taken to make us feel ashamed of every natural impulse. So I remained silent and read on. Suddenly he let a silver pencil-case fall from his hands, as he was going to write down something in his pocketbook; he made an effort to stoop, breathing with difficulty and I, without much hesitation, anticipated him, and picked up the neat little pencil-case. He thanked me with rather a surprised look: I myself blushed deeply, and hearing a derisive titter from the ladies' bower, I lost my composure for a few minutes. I thought with most tormenting perspicacity of all that would be said of the crime committed by a young lady in being of use to a young man. What would he think of me? I had slightly glanced at him and remarked no smile on his melancholy face. If after this proof of how little worldly knowledge I possess, he thinks me very countrified, why should that annoy me? If I am contented to be so, why should I be angry with him for perceiving it? He bowed very politely, as half an hour later I rose to go. By this time I had come to an understanding with myself, and felt so composed, that I returned hi? salutation without the least embarrassment. Even the black looks of my protectress, who had been immediately taken possession of, by the other ladies, could not spoil my appetite for dinner.

Here comes the soup unfortunately, it is of a lighter colour even than the fair curls of the charitable lady. What a pity it is, that with the dying, taste is not the first thing to depart. How I wish for one good home cooked dish.—

                     Evening. The first autumnal winds
                     carrying with it some poplar leaves.

A letter from our dear old doctor, my best friend. He wants to hear how I am getting on, how I feel, and how the climate agrees with me. He reproaches himself for not having hidden the hopeless truth from me; at the same time he praises my courage and firmness; he does not try to change or put another construction on his former words; he knows it would be useless. “Remember, dear Mary,” he adds, “that miracles still happen every day, and that all our science and knowledge only teach us to marvel at everything or nothing. He is aware that my best comfort is to know the truth, and to live in the truth as long as life is granted me.”

                     Several days later. I have lost the date.
                     Beautiful autumnal evening.

Here was so much wind in the forenoon that I had to remain in-doors. I was busy altering my dresses for my chest becomes more and more delicate and they oppress me. In the afternoon the wind subsided, and I walked out, down the broad street called Rennweg. Numbers of cows and goats were driven through it—not a pleasant circumstance attending the walks here. I tremble every time I see one of those clumsy horned heads approach me though I know that they are not so stupid as they appear, and have not such strong prejudices against a lonely female, as my wise fellow-creatures. It is my bodily weakness which in case of need could not find shelter behind a stout heart, which leaves me defenceless. So I kept close to the houses, and arrived safely at the Western gate of the town from whence the road leads on to the beautiful and sunny Vintschgau. A path which passes at the foot of the Küchelberg and then winds through the vineyards tempted me and I slowly walked in that direction. It pleased me to see the heavy bunches of purple grapes hanging from the trellis above me, the huge yellow pumpkins, the ripe maize in short all the riches of a southern autumn. Now and then I met peasants at work; tubs filled with grapes and carts laden with vine-leaves passed me. It seemed strange to me that the work was done so quietly, without music or singing, for I had always fancied the vintage to be one of the most noisy and brilliant of festivals. The people of the country are of a lazy pensive disposition and never sing at their work. If one now and then hears a song it is owing to there being many Italians here, who are easily recognized by their fiery and lively gestures.

A hundred paces distant from the gate, close under the mountain, lies a solitary farm. My landlady had told me that there one could get milk fresh from the cow. As I am not a good walker, I entered the little garden and ordered some milk and bread. Only a few strangers occupied the benches, but just beside the door underneath a large orange-tree, sat the pale young man, whilst his servant further, off, was refreshing himself with a glass of wine. He had not touched the glass of milk which stood before him, and as I was going to pass, he rose, bowed, and offered me a seat at his table, saying that it was the most sheltered spot. It was the first time I had heard him speak several sentences together without stopping. His deep sad voice was very pleasing. I gladly accepted his offer and when he begged me to take his untouched glass, as he was not thirsty, I could not refuse without giving offence. Finally we began a conversation, though much broken by pauses, during which he relapsed into his melancholy dreaming. Only once he smiled slightly, but it made him look still more sad when his pale lips parted over the bluish white teeth. We had been talking of the dull monotony in the life of the patients here; of the tiresome sitting about in the winter garden. I said it reminded me of the caterpillars and cocoons which my little brother keeps in glass boxes. These also crawled about indolent and depressed amongst their food, satisfying their gaoler by feeding greedily, and eyeing each other curiously when they accidentally met; then they proceeded to their winter sleep, if by chance they did not find the air too oppressive for them, and died. He laughed, and said: “your comparison is much too flattering; do you think that our fellow-worms ever feel as light and free as they become, unless in a purer atmosphere than this terrestrial one?” “That depends,” replied I, “on whether, when they proceed safe and sound from their cocoons, they find their glass cage open. Otherwise they may be reserved for a still more cruel fate. Few enjoy the liberty of their wings; they are generally caught again, and struggle on a pin till their bright colours turn to dust.”

He remained silent, and I was half sorry for having led the conversation to so strange a theme; to divert his thoughts, I spoke to him of the stiff, foolish narrow minded views of my native town, where in the style of the so-called good old times, every one embitters the life of his neighbour in the most amicable and ceremonious way. I then told him how free and released I felt since I knew I was doomed to die. My fetters had been loosened like the fetters of those who are sentenced to death. He listened with interest but looked incredulous. When I had done speaking....

                     The next day.

Yesterday I could not have been interrupted in a more unwelcome manner. My door suddenly opened and the life-preserver, the sister of charity, the lady without nerves, rushed into the room with a particularly stern and solemn countenance which boded no good. Without taking breath after running up the stairs, she sat down, spread her skirts over my sofa, and without any circumlocution began to lecture me. Possibly she may be of use where bodily nursing is required, but for spiritual care she certainly has no vocation. A more clumsy way of touching on delicate subjects I have not yet met with, and I have certainly not been spoiled in that respect. I was informed that I had been guilty of great sins, and could only make atonement for them by deep contrition. The unaccountable whims of a sick person might, perhaps, excuse the highflown manner with which I had received the friendly advances of many estimable ladies, and the way in which I had withdrawn from their company. But I had dared too in the face of all society to make advances to a young man, and yesterday had gone so far as to accept his glass of milk, and his company on my way home. She had never heard of such a thing. A girl without the least education but with a sense of decency and a proper regard for her reputation would never have thought of doing so. After these occurrences she would certainly never have set foot over my threshold again, had not conscience, and her good nature bidden her warn me. I was alone here, and had no one to look after me if I went astray. That young man did not enjoy a good reputation; his illness was the consequence of a dissipated and reckless life which he had now to expiate by an early death. If so near to the grave, he was still so unscrupulous as to compromise a young creature like myself, then all persons who had any regard for morality must condemn his outrageous conduct, and endeavour to save his victim.

During this speech I remained petrified, and my heart beat so violently that I could not utter a word; but when she stopped and cast a severe look at me, the convicted sinner, I rallied all my remaining spirit and answered that I thanked her for her solicitude, and did not at all doubt her good intentions, but that I did not think I had committed any impropriety—still less had gone astray—that I did not believe my reputation to be in any danger. I knew what I could, or could not do, and would be responsible for it. I did not see why the fact of having one foot in the grave obliged one to give an account to the world of every free but innocent action, particularly as even that would not protect one against its malignant judgments. I had not come to Meran, I continued, in order to ingratiate myself with a society entirely strange to me, but to spend my last days in the manner most agreeable to me, and most in accordance with my nature. You must allow me, my dear Madam, I concluded, not to be led by considerations which, perhaps, may be useful to others. When I had delivered this speech I felt quite startled at my own boldness yet I was pleased with myself. This I thought will at all events make an end of it; and so it was; at least, I hope so, for my protectress rose with a dignified look which sat oddly on, her round face adorned with the little ringlets and said: “Good-bye, Mademoiselle, you are so independent that it would be indiscreet in me to prolong my visit,” and with these words she sailed out of the room. So I had at last got rid of her, but not of her sayings, nor of my thoughts. Oh, the sad cold littleness of the world! Is there no spot on earth where a poor human being may be permitted to die after its own fashion? Is one to go tightly laced even to one's last breath? No, they shall not get the better of me; I do not love them, then why should I not despise them; or at least not notice them when they cross my path? Possibly I may have been thoughtless, but thoughtfulness requires time, and I have not much to spare. Certainly if I had to live with these people for an immeasurable time, it might be prudent not to exasperate them, and to bow before them—prudent, but annoying, and in my opinion, hardly worth the while. What harm could they do to me; at the worst they would leave me alone, and could they do me a greater favour? She said that he had caused his own sufferings. Is he for that less worthy of compassion? Perhaps, the remorse he feels is the cause of his melancholy, as the consciousness of my undeserved fate is the cause of my gaiety. Each of us has lived a different life, and has now to resign it. I have nothing to repent of, and nothing to regret; he does both, and so each of us dies a different death.

Why should it be a crime to exchange a few unconstrained words? Do not people who have set out together on a long journey fraternize, and become friends at the first station? Are they then to be blamed if they exchange a few words before starting.

                     Monday, the 21st October.

I spent my Sunday at home in writing, and reading the letters of Mendelssohn's youth, which in my opinion show his character to much greater advantage than his other writings. They convince me still more that even a complete and free man of genius can work earnestly at his own improvement. If I were a man, I should only care to be an artist. This seems an extravagant idea; for those not endowed with talents perceive only the outward freedom of the existence of a genius, and not the anxieties and labours of his vocation. But in some of the attributes of an artist's nature, in the power of desiring freedom, and of maintaining it, in enthusiasm for noble deeds, and in admiration for all that is beautiful, I should not be found wanting, and armed with these weapons could pass a lifetime in waging war against petty formalists and pedants.

But of what use are all these to me, a girl, with death before me. Well, at all events they will teach me to die calmly.

Mendelssohn's letters have awakened in me a longing for music. I hope I have not been extravagant in hiring a small piano. This morning it was brought to me, and now stands In my room. I have not played for a long time, and after reading Mendelssohn's letters felt quite ashamed of stumbling through his songs without words. I must purchase some sonatas and study them. I confess that at the first notes of music I burst into tears. The last conversation has left in me a wound which bled afresh, as the first sound of music reached my heart after so many weeks privation. I let my tears flow freely, and played on till I grew calm again.

                     “The 22nd.”

I have seen him again. I had avoided him these last days. Though I am quite determined to go my own way; still they have succeeded in robbing me of my first unconstraint. But to-day I met him at the bookseller's shop, where I was looking out some music. He asked me if I had felt unwell, as I had not appeared on the Wassermauer. I blushed and replied, “no, but I had not felt inclined to walk there.” Then we talked about music which he greatly likes. “Once I was in possession of a voice,” he said, smiling; “but it has departed this life before me.” As we came out of the shop I at first wished to bid him adieu, and walk home alone. Then I felt ashamed of my cowardice, and walked on with him to the gate which leads on to the Wassermauer. The day was lovely, and the promenaders walked about with their cloaks on their arms. Only a few yellow leaves reminded one of October. As we followed the course of the Passer and passed the benches occupied by the so-called good society, I was pleased, and happy to feel so much at ease. I tried to cheer him up and when I had succeeded in making him laugh I applauded my own spirit which was not to be daunted. I said to myself, “Does it please you my good people to put on disdainful looks, and to wrap yourselves up in your own virtue, as much as it does me to see this pale face, on which death has already cast its shadow, light up with the serenity of an evening sky.” We walked up and down for a whole hour, and I did not feel in the least tired. This time I closely examined his countenance. Whatever lies behind him, it can be nothing base or mean. His features are neither regular nor can they be called expressive, but when he speaks there is something refined and thoughtful about his face which becomes him well. He cannot be more than twenty-six years old. His manners are easy, and natural, and plainly show that he has mixed in the best society. I, with my provincial style of dress, and little knowledge of the world, must contrast strangely with him.

I have looked over the book of strangers trying to find out his name; before, I only knew where he lived; I have now discovered that he can be none other than a Mr. Morrik Particulier from Vienna. What an odd position! probably it means independent. Then I am a Particulière with more right to be so than he has. He is dependent on many things; on his fortune, on his melancholy thoughts—on his servant, who carries his cloak and furs for him.

                     The 23rd.

Last night I dreamt much, and very reflective dreams. In one of them, I again met Halding, who for years has never troubled my thoughts. I spoke to him as indifferently as ever, and asked after his wife and children. I was glad to hear that they were very well. Then still in my dream, I considered what would have been my lot, had I accepted his hand. I should now be established in America, in a fine house, and have riches and health, for I should not have passed through the sufferings of the last years, in my father's house—I should not be thinking of dying. I thought over all this, as I saw the red cheeked wife, who had so soon consoled him after my refusal—I shuddered at the idea of such happiness. This may appear foolish, full of pretension, and ingratitude. What fault could I find in him except that I did not love him. Many people found him most amiable, and I thought him even too much so, for a man. As a woman he would have made the best, most docile, and virtuous of wives, but just for that reason would, as a husband have made me most wretched. More than once I have been given to understand that my character was too determined and energetic for a girl. Did not the long lecture of the life preserver tend to show me how deficient I was in feminine timidity and reserve. If this be true the fault lies with my destiny, which threw me early in life on my own resources, and made me independent. One to whom the world and life makes advances may well await its approach but one who must confront its struggles, cannot do without reliance on God, and on himself. If I required any proof that no unwomanly boldness, no desire of dominating lies in my character, I would find it in my dislike to womanish men, who must lean for support on a wife; and towards manly women who only find their happiness in ruling.

                     The 26th.

A few quiet and uniform days have passed. I felt very languid and disinclined to everything and I remained at home, as the change from the hot sunshine to the dark arcades always hurts me. I read, and played a few sonatas, and felt that even solitude brings many heavy hours with it.

To-day I walked out and the first person I met was Mr. Morrik, as he really is called—I heard an acquaintance address him by that name. We sat for a long time together on a bench amidst the evergreen shrubs in the winter garden for underneath the poplars the air is now getting too sharp. Society seems to have reconciled itself to the unpardonable and unheard of crime, committed by two candidates for death, in talking to each other, and no longer disturbs us. So to-day we had a remarkable conversation. It began, instead of ending, as such conversations when they are earnest and agitated are apt to do, by the utterance of the most hidden thoughts which are usually kept back, till, after having turned over different questions, they suddenly break forth in the ardour of the contest. It was not the first time that I experienced in myself a habit of thinking aloud. To my own great astonishment I, this time suddenly took heart, and poured forth my most hidden and unavowed thoughts and feelings; so that when the words, I was uttering struck my ear I felt quite frightened at my audacity in harbouring such strange ideas, and still more in delivering them to a stranger. It sometimes really appears to me as if I had two characters within me—the one spirited, out spoken, and clever, and this one seldom shews itself—the other, silly and girlishly shy, which sits by in fear and trembling when the other speaks, and cannot muster courage to interrupt it. I forget what gave rise to this conversation. I only remember that before I knew what I was saying I found myself in the midst of an eager, and passionate sermon. The subject I treated was “the fear of death,” which is so plainly written in many faces around us, and also in his pale quiet features. I have now forgotten the greatest part of my lecture, though as the words flowed from my tongue it pleased me much and seemed to me impossible to be refuted. I only remember that the text of my sermon were the words of Goethe: “For I was made man, and that means, that I have striven”——etc. “Why then if we are all combatants,” I began, “Who sooner or later must perish beside their colours, why should it be a disgrace to those only who bear arms by profession to meet death with cowardice; why should it not also be considered repugnant to the esprit de corps, and the honour of humanity in general, to cling to life with groanings and lamentations when danger approaches. Soldiers who slink away on the eve of a battle are brought back dishonoured and disgraced, and are thought too despicable to be allowed to fight in the ranks of the brave. Why should a dying man who prays for a respite of days, and hours, and even minutes, not forfeit our sympathy and obtain only a little pity for his weakness?” So it was I spoke. I felt like an old trooper who exhorts his men before they commence the assault on an entrenchment. I believe that at that moment, if the whole of the society had gathered around me to listen, my ardour would only have increased. In the midst of my harangue, I cast a look over the beautiful landscape which lay bathed in sunshine and it seemed to inquire of me whether it were so very contemptible not to close ones' eyes readily on all we have learnt to love, when we do not know, when and how they will open again or whether they will like the change. But this mute interrogation did not disconcert me; I had an answer all ready; so I continued: “What you have once enjoyed is yours for ever. What has time to do with our immortal soul? and if the soul be immortal, will not the best part of our life, our love, all that we have striven, and yearned for be purified and increased, and remain ours for ever. And how few really happy sensations do we owe to that which we shall leave here below. How many delusions cling to our dearest friendships, must cling to them for in the midst of our enjoyment we feel restless, and dissatisfied! Then why not leave with a serene countenance this dreary world, where the brightest light throws the darkest shade?”—I could have talked on for ever, had not a vehement fit of coughing cut short my power of speech. Then only did I consider what effect all this might have on my silent and melancholy companion and whether it would not have been better to wait till our acquaintance had ripened somewhat, before I displayed my small knowledge of life and death. That which was a specific for me, his nature might not be strong enough to bear, and then what good would it do him? Should I not appear to him as hard and obtrusive as the lady without nerves had appeared to me. Had I the least right to force my aid and advice on him? However the words had been said and could not be recalled. He remained buried in thought for full ten minutes, and left me time to reproach myself bitterly. Then he began in a grave and affectionate tone to dispel my fears. He said that he agreed to every word I had spoken, and that as he took a great interest in me, it pleased him to see me meet my fate so well armed, and with so much fortitude; but that human destinies were different. “It is unjust,” he continued, “to expect from the sick the same strength and courage, which we justly demand in a troop of active and healthy men. Do you not believe that in a soldier who camps in the snow and marches twelve hours a day, the body and blood which he stakes when he hazards his life, and limbs must be of a more vigorous nature than those of the poor wounded man who from the hospital hears the report of the cannon and shudders. And is he for that to be despised? But there is another difference which a girl cannot well understand. A man who has any knowledge of life must perceive that his destiny is not merely to enjoy himself, but that he has a task to perform, duties to fulfil. Do not you think that it must be painful to have to leave the world without having even begun this task? You must not forget this difference Mademoiselle: The soldier fulfils his duty in dying: every other man in living except his death be a sacrifice or an example to others. How can he who has hitherto only lived to neglect his duty die without feeling his death to be a new fault, a new faithlessness. We have exchanged so many confessions,” he went on, “that it would be foolish to keep back, one, which to be sure is wholly personal and may not interest you. To judge from the opinions you have expressed you seem to think that my gloomy and unhappy humour is the consequence of an unmanly despair at the prospect of certain death. Perhaps you will be inclined to think more favourably of me when I tell you that my illness has taught me to look upon a life of vain amusements, caring and cared for by nobody, a life of pure selfishness as unworthy of the exercise of great medical skill, and of the benefit of this much lauded climate. The past would not hinder me from dying calmly—it was an empty life nothing worse. It is the future which I had hoped to conquer just when it was too late; wisdom came but strength left me. It is that gnaws at my heart and makes it impossible for me to leave life with the same cheerfulness that you do. Believe me I was not worse than the best of my equals. I spent my youth in idleness, gambling, travelling and such trifles and fancied as long as my father lived that it was a life suitable to my station, and this was also his opinion. I took great pleasure in the intellectual amusements as they are called. I was present at the début of every actor singer and musical composer. I collected fine pictures, cultivated music and took a part in any amateur quartett, and that not badly either. Suddenly my father died and his property, his fortune, his political obligations, and connections were left without a head. Nobody had dreamt of so sudden an end. Now it was my turn, now I had to advance to the front and to take an oar, and just at that time strength, and power to act were taken from me. How this happened and how much or how little the fault lies with me is not to the purpose. Let us suppose that this misfortune was not caused by any fault of mine, but that it came upon me as the stone falls from the roof. Do you not allow that my feelings on looking at the past may well be different from yours? and so are the feelings with which I view the future.” I was on the point of answering, what, I hardly know, probably it was to ask his pardon for my hasty condemnation, when I was prevented by an old woman who offered roses for sale. He took a bunch and gave her a florin in silver which she held in her hand, and looked at with astonishment, as here one only meets with dirty torn paper money. He made a sign to her, that it was all right and laid the bouquet on the bench between us. A gentleman then approached, and spoke to him. He rose without taking leave, but did not return to me. Soon after I walked away leaving the bouquet on the bench. Now I regret it. What crime have these poor roses committed that I should grudge them even a short reprieve in a glass of water.


I went out again, and as I must confess, only to fetch the roses. It seemed to me like a wrong towards living beings, to leave them to wither on the bench. I found them untouched, and now they stand fresh and flagrant outside my window. I had to place them there, for the nights are now so cool, that I dare not leave the window open. I will now read to quiet my agitated thoughts. The roses have brought back to my mind the epitaph on the tombstone:

                  So the early fading of the rose
                  Is to be envied: it is repose?

This sign of interrogation has slipped from my pen and I cannot make up my mind to strike it out. Truly, it is a question, whether a poor human creature has a right to envy his fellow men for anything, even for death.

                     The 29th

To-day is my birthday; I formerly never took any notice of it, and did not expect others to do so. This one however as it is my last one on earth, I resolved to honour and solemnize as much as I could. Quite early in the morning I summoned the little girls of my landlord and gave each of them a dress I had made for them, a cake and a kiss. Then I walked out though the day was chilly and without sunshine.

On the stairs I met Mr. Morrik's servant, who came to ask if I were unwell, as I had not appeared on the Wassermauer for several days. I felt pleased that some one inquired for me. After the recent conversation in the wintergarden I appeared to myself so unamiable, that I did not think it possible that any one should care whether I lived or died.

I walked up and down for some time underneath the arcades, for the rain swept through the narrow streets, and it was disagreeable to be out there, as a piercing wind which they call here the Jaufenwind had arisen, and though the Küchelberg kept it off in some degree still it now and then blew in gusts round the corner. I felt so dull and unemployed, so dreary, that by way of pastime, I bought some figs and peaches and ate them. I soon felt, that in this cold weather, I had not done wisely, but made bad worse by sitting down beside a woman who was roasting chesnuts, and eating some of these to warm me, and thereby only succeeded in nearly making myself ill.

So this is my holiday! It serves me quite right; How can an unemployed person think of holiday making. “Sour workdays, sweet holidays,” that is a different thing. More and more clearly I see that he was right, and that I was not only wrong, but have wronged him. It is only the heartless and selfish who would not feel regret at being called away from this life without having done any good in it. He was very kind and forbearing in trying to find a difference between his position and mine. Have we not all of us duties? Did not my mother fulfil hers till her last breath? And here am I happy in my unprofitable solitude, and joyful as a child who has shirked school.

Here are letters from my father, and little Ernest. Birthday congratulations. I will read them out of doors. The Jaufenwind has cleared the sky, and the sun shines so warmly that I can no longer stand the heat of the stove, and have to open both windows.

                     In the Afternoon.

This day has after all been celebrated; by a reconciliation which consisted in a second dispute. As the unexpected sunshine brought every living creature out into the wintergrounds, I walked on from the Wassermauer towards the west, till I reached the spot where the Passer flows into the Adige. There I saw at a distance Mr. Morrik sitting on the trunk of a tree in the sunshine, with his servant at his side. He observed me also, and rose to meet me. I was much embarrassed, for it seemed as if I had come in search of him; however it was too late to turn back; and why should I have done so? Was it not true that I was pleased to see him, and wished to speak to him. I owed him the satisfaction of telling him that he had converted me, and that all my death defying wisdom appeared to me now like the delirium of fever. I could hardly wait till an opportunity presented itself of confessing this to him, and so I almost started when he anticipated me by calling out: “How happy I am to see you! You will wonder at the miracle you have performed on me. During your heartfelt speech I felt what a deep impression it made on me; but like the rest of the world though I saw I was wrong I did not like to acknowledge it, and so I supported my cause as well as I could. We have not met since then, and in the meanwhile I had time to recall it to my thoughts, and after a few hours consideration, I felt I was completely changed and could have sworn never to desert the colours you carried so valiantly before me.”

“What will you say,” I replied despondingly, “when you hear that I myself have turned traitor?” “Impossible,” he exclaimed, laughing—and it was the first time I had seen him, not only smile, but laugh heartily—“and so even you are affected by human weaknesses; but beware of me, for I will bring back the deserter, willing or unwilling; not to pass sentence on him, but to entrust to him again the standard under which I will conquer or die.”

There now arose an absurd contest between us, each defending the very point he had vehemently disputed a few days ago, and trying to depreciate his former opinion as much as possible. “You must confess,” he at last exclaimed, “that in whichever way the wisdom of a Daniel might theoretically settle our dispute, my opinion, I mean your former one, is by far the most advantageous. Since my conversion to it, I feel reconciled to Providence, to the world, and even to myself, as—yes, as you were before you were led astray by me. Now, although my position, my sufferings and the few pleasures left to me are the same, they appear to me tinged with fresh and glowing hues, instead of the dull grey which shrouded them before. I look on the past as I did then; but can I win back what I have lost by losing also that which remains to me? You were so right in saying: in every minute, we can live a whole life. How many minutes, nay days, weeks, perhaps months still lie before me, and shall I not employ them? That which I had intended to do is not of such great importance after all. Humanity will not be much affected by its failure; but even had it been of the utmost importance, nothing can now be altered. I cannot go back. I can only advance and should there be some task for me to perform in the next world, I shall be better prepared for it by courage and confidence than by the useless despair of which I now feel heartily ashamed, before you, and should be still more so if you had not left your position, high above the rest of mankind, and had shown no human weakness.”

I can only write down dryly all that I remember of what he said; but when he himself utters his thoughts there is so much cleverness, originality and wit in them that they refresh the mind, like the inhaling of vivifying salt, and never leave a bitter taste behind.

It was a delightful hour. Had we been two men, or two women, we would have shaken hands at parting and have fraternized on the spot. We have now agreed to meet daily on the Wassermauer; we still think differently on several points and have not much time to decide them.

The letters from home have also pleased me. Ernest is quite impatient at not seeing me for so long. The poor little fellow does not know how long it will be before we meet. Meanwhile it has grown dark. I will have some music and so close the day harmoniously.

                     The 3rd November.

Pleasant days are rare guests in this world. Since I last wrote we have only met twice. The day before yesterday the weather was damp and foggy. I walked in the wintergarden, but he was nowhere to be seen. I only perceived the malicious inquisitive face of the young lady who always takes a seat close to Mr. Morrik and me, hoping to hear some of our conversation. The life preserver also arrived, and looked at me severely from head to foot, as I passed before and I heard her say to a lady who sat beside her, intending it for me: “That poor young man; how he has to suffer for talking so much.” I shuddered and was very nearly going up to the uncharitable sister, in spite of what had passed between us, to ask her for news of him. Fortunately he sent his servant in the afternoon, to tell me that he was confined to his room by the cold weather—it had snowed during the night—and that I ought to take great care of myself as the transition from autumn to winter was very dangerous. In spite of this I went out both yesterday and to-day with the hope of seeing him, but in vain. When two people are isolated among the rest, how soon they grow accustomed to each other's society! He has no acquaintances here except the doctor, whom he greatly likes. I sometimes feel inclined to consult this doctor—not to hear anything about myself, I know enough of that; but to hear if he really is doomed or only fancies himself so.

                     The 5th—Evening.

The wind has changed and now a sirocco is blowing. The whole country of the Adige is covered with fog, a warm soft rain drizzles against the window panes. The poplars have lost so much of their foliage that I can easily trace the outline of the beautiful peak of the Mendola. The vineyards are autumnally bare, the cattle are now sheltered in the stables, everything is prepared for winter, and I am heartily glad of a warm nook. My father writes of much snow and cold, whilst here the southern wind still brings an Italian warmth with it, and in the little garden below my windows, the roses bloom as gaily as if they were quite certain that the snow would never descend from the top of the Muth to the village of Tirol—still less reside on the Wassermauer.

                     The 6th—Morning.

The roses really seem to be right. The most beautiful sunshine awoke me; the stove shall enjoy a holiday. The green meadows in the lower part of the country are as bright as in May. Half an hour ago I received a note from Morrik saying that he wished to take advantage of the fine day, and enjoy a ride over the nearest hills as walking was forbidden him and he asked me if I would accept his company, and join him. In that case he would fetch me at ten o'clock with the mules. I wrote to him without much deliberation that I would be very happy to do so. Now when I think of it....

                     In the Evening.

Fortunately I had no time to think over it, or I should probably have thought many foolish and superfluous things. My landlady came to announce that the gentleman was waiting for me below, and at the same moment his servant entered to carry down my plaid and bag, so I had to hurry away. He had dismounted when I came down, and the pleasure of seeing him again, after so long a time, looking tolerably well and cheerful, the mild clear day, the view, and the prospect of a pleasant ride helped me to overcome my childish embarrassment. Society had at last got accustomed to see us talk together whilst walking, why should we not also do so on mules. So we rode gaily through the Laubengasse, and over the bridge, where to be sure the whole company of strangers rushed to the railings of the wintergarden, and followed us with their kind looks and remarks. On the other side of the bridge, the road turns to the left and ascends the hilly streets of the cheerful village of Obermais. We soon found ourselves among the leafless vineyards, and in trotting past the houses, saw the grapes pressed in large tubs, and barrels filled with their juice, and under the bare trellises, preparations for next year's harvest. One can hardly imagine anything more picturesque looking than one of those tall fine looking young peasants ploughing underneath these bowers with their strong grey oxen, or as in that beautiful picture of Robert's, resting his cattle while he leans on the pole between them. The whole surrounded by a frame of trellis work, which here supports the vine in the form of a vaulted arcade. They all left their work when we passed—I rode in front on a very quiet animal, led by the guide; Morrik just behind me, so that we could exchange the expressions of our delight at all these beauties of nature, and his servant brought up the rear.

When we had mounted somewhat higher, I involuntarily stopped; the view was so wonderfully beautiful. The entire valley of the Adige lay far beneath us, the river glittered between meadows and sands, and the more distant mountains encircled the whole with their clear and beautiful outline. But how can words describe a scene which the brush of the most able painter could not do justice to. Neither of us spoke, we remained in silent awe, and could only marvel. Had not the mules become impatient, who can say whether we should not be on the same spot still. My docile bay who was more sagacious than he looked, pondered, and shook his head with the conspicuous ears, over the folly of mankind in stopping where no fodder was to be seen: so he moved on slowly to supply our want of judgement, and the others followed. We left to our right a beautiful castle belonging to Count Trautmannsdorf, and the little church of St. Valentine, which stands quite isolated in a sheltered valley. Our way then again turned to the north over a hill which rises at the foot of the Ifinger, whose snowy summit towered in the clear autumnal sky. The whole ridge of the hill is covered with solitary farms, intermingled with old castles that are now chiefly inhabited by rich wine growing peasants who, during the summer months, lodge invalid strangers. I have forgotten the names of most of them, only one of them I remember, the castle of Rubein. There in front of the old battlements stand tall slender cypresses, like guardians round an old sarcophagus and contrast by their sombre hue with the green and yellow foliage of the vine. We took a hasty survey of the courtyard. The small open gallery supported by pillars, the steep stairs, which lead up to it, and in the comer the old, and now nearly bare walnut-tree round which myriads of birds were fluttering and singing, so that it seemed as if they had enjoyed too much of their grape harvest and were now intoxicated and overmerry. I could fill pages with a description of the beauties of these heights. Further on, towards the valley of Passeir, the road gently ascends underneath noble chesnut and walnut-trees, and the view opens out to the Küchelberg, and my dear old Zenoburg, till it rests on the high projecting village of Schönna with its old castle.

When we arrived it was just noon. We were both tired by our long ride, hungry and silent. The sights in which we had revelled still occupied our thoughts, and here again our eyes hardly sufficed to enjoy the view which extended far and near from every window. I entered the tap-room, whilst Morrik talked to the landlord outside, and sat quietly in the dusk for a while with closed eyes endeavouring to recover my calmness.

The room had a projecting bay window which formed a sort of recess, where sat, as a hasty glance when I entered had shown me, a young peasant, and a girl with their dinner and wine before them. They seemed to notice me as little as I did them. Morrik then came in, and sat down at a table beside me. He appeared more cheerful than usual, but also looked paler, as if the air had fatigued him. We talked about indifferent subjects. Suddenly the young peasant rose from his seat in the window, and with a full glass of wine in his hand, approached our table. “With your permission,” he said, “the gentleman won't object to my drinking the health of this lady, as we are old acquaintances.” Then he took a sip, looked at me over the edge of his glass, and gave it to me to drink from. I took the glass, but looked at him rather puzzled. He seemed quite unknown to me, and appeared to be flushed with wine, and in a waggish humour, so that I was really frightened.

“Well, well,” he said, as I was silent, and Morrik gave him no encouragement; the hat of a Saltner, and a beard of three months' standing certainly give a fellow somewhat more of a diabolical look than his holiday clothes. But if I did not seem appalling to her then, there is still less danger of it now, particularly as her brother, or her sweetheart....

“Natz,” the girl interrupted, “what nonsense you are talking. The young lady does not look as if she felt a great horror of you, but to drink wine is forbidden to those who are ill; is it not so your honour? Ignatzius has a notion that no one can live without wine. Oh what a wild fellow he is! I have been begging and entreating him for a whole hour to come away. We are going down to Meran for our pledge, you understand, our betrothal; but there he will sit, sit till night comes on, and when the wine is well up, forsooth, a pretty figure we shall make before the deacon. Do persuade him to come away my lady——”

“Heigh-ho what's this!” exclaimed the young fellow, whom I at last recognized as my friend of the Zenoburg, “don't you see Liesi that this gentleman and lady are in no hurry either? What do you say to that, sir? she already takes the reins; the women are always in a hurry to get the men into their power. A smart fellow often pauses on this road and drinks his last bachelor's bottle with all the more relish. In other respects,” he continued, casting a proud and merry glance at her, “I cannot complain; she is a tightly built lass, and has her senses about her; and certainly she has not been picked up on the highways—Only this setting down, and domineering, that is an affliction to be sure; but even the strongest and most determined fellow must submit to it—How have you fared?” turning to Morrik, the lady here is very nice, and I would not mind changing with you, but then there would be an end of playing the master of the house, “well every one has some burden to carry.”

“Ignatz,” I said, for Morrik still continued silent, and I feared he would set the young fellow down, whose tongue the wine had loosened, somewhat ungently, “this gentleman is neither my sweetheart nor my brother. We are both of us strangers here; who only had agreed to make this excursion together. You talk about commanding but that demands strength. A poor woman who will be buried before the spring arrives, neither has spirit nor inclination for it. And now go with your Liesi to Meran to the priest, and don't let it be said of you that you did not know what you were doing when you gave her your promise.”

The girl who was fresh and blooming, and had a frank and intelligent countenance, now also rose and took the young man by the arm.

“Thank you, young lady,” she said, “for helping me to get off with this fellow. Say God speed, to the gentleman and lady, Natzi, and then come along; and I hope ma'am that you will change your mind about dying. I was a servant girl in one of the lodging-houses down at Meran during two winters, and know many a one who quite recovered after having ordered his coffin, and many a one who thought he was breathing his last breath, afterwards climbed to the top of the Muth. The air of Meran is so fine that I should not wonder if it woke up the dead. But now goodbye your honours, or this one here, will go to sleep on the spot where he is standing.”

There really seemed some danger of this for he stood leaning against the table, and vacantly stared at the floor. He nodded dreamily towards us, and willingly let himself be led out.

I cannot deny that the whole scene had made a painful impression on me. It did not exactly show the young fellow to disadvantage, but his talk of which I have given the main part without his strong expressions had vexed me. Morrik did not seem much edified either by this encounter. The landlady who brought in our dinner, also asked importunate questions, and so did not improve our humour. Moreover the air was heavy in the low room and the smoke from the kitchen penetrated into it. The cooking too was bad, so we were glad to have done with it and to breathe again the fresh air. We walked slowly along the narrow paths among the picturesque farms, talking little. My cheerfulness however soon returned. “Are you not well?” I asked, as he pensively walked beside me. “I cannot complain,” he said, “I should feel neither care nor grief if thoughts did not oppress me.”

“Perhaps it would relieve you, if you could express your thoughts.”

“Perhaps it would make it worse. My thoughts would hardly please you.”

“Your confidence at least would please me.”

“Even if I should confide to you, that after all, I fear you have too much confidence in me?” I looked at him enquiringly.

“Look here,” he continued, “the little you know of me, is perhaps the best part of me; thence I am persuaded that you think much too highly of me, and would be disappointed if you heard the judgement which other people, who to be sure know me still less than you do, have passed upon me.”

“Is it not the same with every one of us,” I replied, “either we are judged too highly or undervalued by our fellow creatures. Even our nearest friends do not always see us in our true light. But shall I for that lose my faith in the durability of our friendly intercourse, the term of which is so very short.”

He smiled sadly. “I have a sure presentiment that you will outlive me; perhaps for many years. Since I have known you, your health has visibly improved, and who can tell whether the sentence pronounced on you by your doctor may not one day be laid aside with the rest of the sayings which false prophets have recklessly uttered. You shake your head. Well we will leave the future to decide this question. I carry the sure tokens of death too plainly within me to mistake them. So it causes me much deliberation whether I am not wronging you, in enjoying your society, your conversation, may I say your friendship? without heeding the injury your kindness may do you. You are so far above many things, which, in spite of their meanness, are all powerful in this world; how strong and cruel that power is, I myself have painfully experienced. Lest you should feel hurt at a man's reminding you of the prejudices and opinions which usually have more influence with women, and which hitherto, in our friendly intercourse, we have despised, you must know that I should not be here, not be ill, not be dying if I had been more careful of the judgement of others and of the light, or rather shade which I throw on all with whom I associate.”

We had seated ourselves on a stone, close by the roadside, and covered with moss and ivy from whence we could see the beautiful mountain peaks and the sloping heights of the Passer through the branches of the chesnut-trees.

Children on their way to school surrounded us at some distance, peasants passed, and cows were led to the fountain. He did not heed them, but continued in a low voice: “Perhaps you do not know, dear Marie, how much an independent position influences our nature for good or for evil. It is now useless to moralize on the subject, but one thing to be observed, is, that a man who is not restrained by any tie is very apt to despise those who are bound by considerations, or prejudices. I have already told you that I was better than my reputation. As I could easily dispense with the assistance, protection, and good-will of my fellow-creatures, I thought I could also dispense with their good opinion, and only laughed when the homemade people, as I used to call them, painted my character in darker colours than it really deserved. They envy me my freedom, I often said. As I am not dependent on them for anything, they want me at least to bow down before their moral tribunal. What would freedom be worth if it did not teach us to depend on ourselves and the voice of our conscience alone? So I went my way, and let them talk. Every path in life leads past human habitations, and whoever seeks admission into these must steady his steps that he may not be suspected of being a vagabond or a drunkard, and no peaceful citizen will let such a one cross his threshold. I will not give you a long history—to be brief; I made the acquaintance of a most amiable girl—perhaps, it was for the first time, that I felt warm friendship, and inspired it. The young lady had been engaged for several months to an officer whom I had formerly met in rather light society. At that time he was absent on duty. I am convinced that I would never have entered the house again, had I felt anything like love for his betrothed. But as matters stood, I gave myself up to the charm of this harmless and cordial intercourse, the more so, that her brother saw no objection to it. The family was wealthy and much esteemed. Small parties were given in the house, where dancing, comedies and tableaux-vivants went on, so that many young men were always assembled there even during the absence of the betrothed, and his future bride gaily joined in every amusement. Suddenly I remarked that her brother treated me with coldness and reserve; I was on the point of asking him the reason of this, when he anticipated me by writing a polite letter in which he expressed his positive desire that I should never again enter his parents' house. Of course, we had an explanation in which I was informed that the officer to whom his sister was engaged had charged her to break off all intercourse with me, as I was a man of no principle. Several other circumstances added to the irritation caused by this unfortunate affair, and though I did my best to spare my fair friend every sorrow, yet the affair took a serious turn. The conversation ended in a duel. I shot into a tree, but the brother whose blood was hotter than mine, grazed my side with his bullet. It was not much to speak of, but the agitation which I with difficulty repressed, the cold of the winter morning in which I drove for several hours in my carriage back to town, and the pain and rage I felt at seeing this pure and charming tie so foolishly rent asunder, all this laid me prostrate. I only rose from an inflammatory fever to be sent here as incurable. And now, dear Marie, you will understand why I can no longer make light of your innocently walking by the side of a man supposed to be without principles. I who, at least, have always adhered firmly to one thing, and that is not to seek my own happiness at the cost of another's.”

I had long made up my mind how I should answer him. “If you have confided all this to me, with the hope of changing my opinion,” I said, “you little know me. It can only confirm me in the belief that I do well in availing myself of the right of speaking the truth to you. A right which is only granted to the dying.

“All the good I have enjoyed in this life I have had to struggle for. I so truly prize our mutual friendship that I will not renounce it so easily. What would friendship be worth, if one had not the courage to acknowledge, and defend it when attacked. How mean and false, should I not appear in my own eyes, and in yours, if I changed in my conduct towards you because bad or silly people accuse you of things which I know to be untrue. I too depend on no one, in consideration of whom, I being a girl should subject my feelings against my convictions.

“If my father should ever hear that in my last days I had formed a firm friendship with a stranger, he will only think highly of the stranger in whom his daughter confided.

“So no more of these reflections which ought never to have troubled you, and we will remain what we were before, good comrades. Is it not so, my friend?”

“Till death,” he said, and pressed my hand, greatly agitated. I soon succeeded in cheering him again, and this happy day would have closed harmoniously, but for an event which to be sure troubled only me. We rode home early, as the sun so soon sets behind the mountains. Morrik was very merry, and talked to his mule, jestingly giving it credit for a sense of the beautiful; he stopped at the farms, and spoke to the children and their mothers, and as we rode past a white bearded old man whom we met panting up the hill, he stuck a paper florin in the old peasant's hat, and was delighted with the thought of what he would say when a passing acquaintance told him of the strange ornament. So we reached the bridge by a shorter road, there I saw on a bench a young Pole whom I had several times noticed, and not in the favourable sense of the word. I had now and then met him alone, and then he had stared at me with such a fierce look in his dark eyes that I always hurried past him. He is evidently one of the most suffering of the strangers here, and his passionate temper seems constantly to be in revolt against his fate, and this inward conflict distorts his otherwise handsome and attractive features. His strange costume, all black, with high boots, and a fur-cap with white feathers in it, gives him a striking appearance, which sometimes has haunted me in troubled dreams, always menacing me with terrible looks. To-day he sat quite quietly, and did not appear to see me. Morrik was in front as the bridge is so narrow that two riders cannot cross it side by side, and I had to pass close to the bench on which he was reclining apparently asleep. Suddenly he jumped up seized the bridle of my mule, and looked at me fixedly with piercing eyes; he wanted to speak, but only burst out in a frantic laugh, so that my mule shied and gave such a start that it nearly sent me flying over the parapet of the bridge. Before I had recovered from my astonishment, he had disappeared round a turning of the road. The guide in a fury sent a curse after him, and I had hardly time to enforce silence on him, before we reached Morrik, to whom I would on no account mention this singular adventure until I ascertain whether there is any mystery concealed under it. I have written too much, and my pulse is beating feverishly. This night I shall have to pay for the pleasures of the day. Good night.

                     The 8th November—rain and sirocco.

This the second day we have had of this unwholesome air in which no patient dares to go out. It is a pity. I had anticipated the pleasure of discussing different subjects with my newly acquired friend, which I had refrained from doing before we had so cordially shaken hands as comrades. Now, I must wait patiently. Strange that the solitude which formerly seemed to me as life itself becomes only the resort of necessity now that I have associated with a genial and intellectual mind. I must content myself with my books and music. Every morning he sends his servant to enquire how I feel. The ride seems to have done him good, I still feel it in my limbs. I will write home and tell my father of my new friend; I know it will please him.

                     The 11th November.

Now, at last, the southern winter has commenced its mild reign, and people say that this will continue. Yesterday I again remained out of doors from two o'clock till sunset with Morrik on the Wassermauer, not always conversing, as he in compliance with my request brought a book with him. The poems of Edgar Allen Poe, he showed them to me with a smile, saying that these were the true expositors of his own feelings before his regeneration, as he called it. I have taken the book away with me and have lent him instead “The wisdom of the Brahmins” by my dear Rückert, of which, however, one can only take in finger-tips at a time, but every pinch of this snuff, to continue the clumsy simile, freshens the mind and dispels congestions.

“You really have given me a spiritual medicine,” Morrik jestingly said, “I must beg of you to go on prescribing for me, for that desperate American had quite unsettled me.”

He told me that people had talked a great deal about our excursion to Schönna, and looked at me to see if that annoyed me. “Do not let us please them by noticing it,” I answered, “just as we enjoyed the sunshine without allowing the gnats and flies that buzzed about us, to spoil our pleasure.” We have tacitly agreed never to talk about our illness, as most people here do, and either make themselves unhappy by it or find consolation in it, according to the warmth or coldness of their hearts. But I often perceive that he fancies erroneously that my health is improving, instead of which I distinctly feel the contrary. The momentary relief which I experience is just what characterises the approaching end in this disease. I fancy that I breathe more easily and move with less effort. I also eat more and sleep well, probably owing to exhaustion, which increases, though I have the illusive feeling of more vigour and ease. As I walked home to-day—I dine at three o'clock—I really felt hungry, but I know how it is with me.

To-day there is at Meran besides the usual market one of those large meat ones that take place in the autumn when the Lauben are transformed into long rows of butcher's stalls, and butchering goes on in all the court-yards. On every peg, there hangs the half of a pig or a calf which is sold to the peasants, who come in great multitudes from the Vintschgau, Passeier, and Ultner valleys, and from the different farms in the neighbourhood. Other booths are filled with various merchandize: ironware, clothes images of saints and numberless trifles. Between these boothes the people push, press, and jostle, so that if one is not in danger of one's life, one is at all events nearly suffocated as the smell of the meat mingles with the fumes of bad tobacco. I have even seen boys of ten years old walk about with short pipes in their mouths, and the smoke hangs over the market-place like a heavy fog; the lungs that can stand it must really be strong as healthy. I nearly fainted. Those great strong fellows would not stir a step out of my way. Fortunately my friend of the Küchelberg and his Liese came to my rescue, just when I most needed it. By plenty of vigorous elbowing he at last got me safely through those human walls. He was again somewhat flushed with wine, but he nevertheless appeared to me like a guardian angel and I easily forgave him the question he jokingly asked me about my brother or sweetheart. I could not make him understand that the gentleman was neither the one or the other, though very dear to me.

My landlady has just brought me in my afternoon meal. My hunger has grown so morbid that I cannot wait till supper time. Probably these are the last figs of this year. Thank heaven that ham and bread are not restricted to any particular season. What if I played our old doctor the trick of dying before the spring, and that of starvation!

                     The 19th November.

I can hardly hold my pen, I tremble so with the agitation of this last hour. How rashly I hoped that the weeks would glide on peaceful, and full of sunshine like the last one; one day resembling the other. In the forenoon, those happy hours on the Wassermauer with Morrik; the remainder of the day, my books, and letters, or my work and my piano, which I fancy sounds more and more melodious every time I play on it. And now this occurrence! Moreover I cannot speak of it to any one, and above all before my friend, before Morrik, I must appear as if nothing had happened. Is it not all some fearful dream! Has that poor man, I may say that madman, though he vehemently protested against the suspicion, really spoken words to me that I could not understand, accompanied by looks that I shudder to think of, for they seem to me to have been more expressive than his words. I ought to have listened to the secret misgivings which warned me against the solitary road on the Küchelberg, since that scene on the bridge. But I knew that Morrik was not on the Wassermauer, and did not like to be there without him, particularly as the band was to play on that day.

I had walked on so totally absorbed in my own thoughts that I had passed through the gate towards Vintschgau before I knew what I was doing: it is still as warm there as summer is at home, and one may saunter on through the leafless vineyards and find every now and then a bench inviting to rest. Where my thoughts were I know not, when suddenly he seemed to emerge from the ground, and stood by my side holding my hand. My fright was so great that I could not utter a sound but I fixed my eyes firmly on his face and saw that he opened his lips with an effort. He began first in broken German, and then fluently and vehemently in French, to excuse himself for the scene on the bridge. He had been blinded by pain and jealousy, and would willingly cut off the hand that had seized the bridle of my mule, if by so doing he could obtain my forgiveness. While he spoke I vainly tried to free my hand from his grasp. I looked around but no one was to be seen, the road was deserted. This roused my pride, and my courage; I drew back my hand, and could at last ask him what authorized him to speak in that way to a stranger. He was silent for some time, and a violent conflict seemed to rage within him. Every nerve of his face twitched convulsively. What he at last said I will forget, I listened to it as if it were not addressed to me. Could it be addressed to me, whom he did not know, with whom he had never exchanged a word? Is a passion that is roused by a figure gliding past like a shadow, by one who is inwardly dead, and only outwardly has a semblance of life; is not that passion but a freak of madness; and is a madman responsible for the words he utters? Only when he threatened Morrik, I began to think such an insanity dangerous, and not merely to be pitied. I do not know what I said to him, but I saw that it made a deep impression on him. Suddenly he took off his high black cap with the feathers in it, and stood humbly before me; “Vous avez raison, Madame,” he said in a deep thrilling voice which before had had a harsh hoarse tone in it. “Pardonnez-moi, j'ai perdu la tête.” Then he bowed and walked across the fields towards the level part of the country, where I could for some time distinguish his dark figure moving among the willows.

After having written all this, it seems to me that I look upon what has passed with more calmness; and compassion gets the better of my indignation. I looked at myself in the glass and could still less understand it. It will also always remain a mystery to me how such a scene could take place between two natures one of whom did not feel the slightest inclination for the other, who on his part made impetuous attempts to draw near. I know that not only affinities draw characters towards each other but also contraries; but can indifference also have that power? The longer I think of it the more clearly I perceive that his mind must be deranged. I will, after all, mention it to Morrik, for who can say to what I may not expose myself if I should a second time encounter this madman, defenceless, and fright should paralyze the self-possession which I need to subdue him.

                     Several days later.

The pain of mentioning this dreadful encounter to my friend has been spared me. It would certainly have agitated him, the more so, that he has been much less cheerful lately, and often walks quite absently beside me.

The poor young man whom I dreaded will never again cross my path. His clouded mind is now brightened by the light of heaven. This morning when my landlady came to me, she told me that a young Pole had died in the night. The description she gave me of his person is exactly that of the poor madman. A hemorrage had carried him off in the night and he was found dead in the morning. I now reproach myself with having spoken too harshly to him, but I had no other weapon than my words. If they were too sharp and wounded him more deeply than the offence demanded, the alarm of that moment may excuse me, and the fact that I did not immediately perceive the state of his mind.


Tired, agitated, and in conflict with myself.

To-day when I met Morrik, I welcomed my dear friend with particular pleasure, after these last painful days. He told me without laying much stress on it—for here one is accustomed to the disappearance of some known face—of the sudden death, and asked me if I remembered the handsome young man. I said: no, and then felt heavy at heart as though I had committed some crime. In vain I tried to persuade myself that by this untruth, I had cut short any further conversation on the subject, and perhaps the necessity of telling other falsehoods, I cannot get rid of the painful feeling that I have wronged my friend who has so much right to hear the truth. I shall again have a bad night, and shall not be able to rest till I have confessed all to him, and begged his pardon.

                     The next day—I believe it to be the 23rd,
                     cold and foggy.—

I am severely punished. The cold prevents his walking out. Now I must wait patiently till to-morrow comes, or perhaps till the day after. It has become quite a necessity with me, not to let the least breath of untruth, or misunderstanding come between us.

Edgar Allan Poe with his morbid discontents; his bitter and hopeless sarcasms, is now congenial to me. There is a frame of mind when wisdom is repugnant to us, as a bowl of sweet milk is to a man in a fever. Only that....

                     Two hours later.

Are calm and peace really only words void of meaning in this troubled world? Cannot even those retain them inwardly who had won them. I begin to think that I should not be secure from the events, and storms, which harass my last moments, even were I shut up in a walled in tower, where the ravens brought me my food through the barred windows. If no other catastrophe were possible, an earthquake would root up my place of concealment, and break through the walls, and I should be again cast out into the world among strangers, whose affection would distress me, when I had ceased to care for their aversion.

A visitor disturbed me this morning; the last person in Meran whom I should have expected to see in my room! No less a personage than the Burghermeister of the town. He came to spare me the disagreeable surprise of a solemn summons, and disclosed to me that he had been entrusted with a letter for me, and with the testament of the writer, who names me his sole heiress.

I looked helplessly at the Burghermeister. The thought of my father's death did not occur to me. If this dreadful event were to happen; if I should lose him before my hour had arrived, at least the pain of inheriting from him would be spared me. But who in the whole world—?

I glanced at the letter which the Burghermeister had with some hesitation laid on the table, and saw a handwriting that was quite unknown to me. “I don't know this handwriting,” I said wonderingly, though a sudden misgiving seized me, as I remarked that the direction was in French. My evident astonishment seemed to relieve him. He probably had supposed that a more intimate acquaintance had existed between me, and the writer of the letter, and was prepared for a painful scene. “Do you wish to read the letter now or later?” he asked. I opened it at once, and read it with a beating heart but without any outward show of emotion, at least I believe so. The letter was filled with the rhapsodies which I had before spurned from me with horror. They were hardly subdued by the approach of death, though the unfortunate man must have felt it coming. I have not as yet deciphered much of it. The indistinct French hand seems to have trembled at every stroke with violent emotion.

But not a word of the legacy; only wretchedness and accusations against fate which had rent asunder the fetters of passion, instead of loosening them; confused tumultuous words, and ideas, written in order to lighten the burden of one heart, and to weigh down the other with it.

When I had laid down the letter, the kindly old gentleman turned to me, and seemed to ask for an explanation which I could not give. When I had told him that I was just as much astonished as he was, he departed, leaving me a copy of the will for further consideration, but he seriously advised me not to refuse so considerable a property in the first moment of excitement, though I was of age, and need not consult the wishes of my father. He would call again in a few days.

I will take a walk, I feel as if I could no longer remain in the room with those papers; as if they impregnated the air with the fever heat from whence they proceeded. I did not even require to read them a second time to come to a decision; I—, or the poor of Meran—can there be a doubt which of us will outlive the other, and will need the fortune most.

                     In the Afternoon.

Truly this is a disastrous day. I wish it were past. Who can tell what the evening may bring!

I went out with the foolish hope of meeting Morrik, instead of whom, I encountered all the strange though well known faces in the winter garden. I can generally now pass them with indifference, but they were this day again to wound me deeply.

I perceived that they laid their heads together and whispered as I went by. On one of the benches sat the young chronique scandaleuse whom I have long ceased to bow to, as she tosses her head whenever I come near her. The place beside her was the only unoccupied one, but hardly had I sat down, when up she started and moved towards another bench, begging two ladies to make room for her. The blood rushed to my face but I was not conquered. At last the life preserver, who had not deigned to address a word to me for weeks past, rustled into the arbour. This time her heart was too full; she came up to me and said, so loudly that every one could hear her, “Well my dear, I suppose we are to congratulate you. The young Pole has bequeathed to you, his large fortune. Poor young man! To be sure you always kept him at a great distance. It is no wonder that he soon died. It is really quite touching that even after his death he offered his broken heart to you.”

“You are mistaken,” I said. “I have not accepted the legacy which was only left to me by the error of an unsound mind. But even if it had been clearly the intention of the deceased to appoint me his heiress, I would not have accepted it. I am not moved, either by the kindness, or the malevolence of strangers, but generally turn my back on both.” Then I quietly read on. There was a great silence in the arbour, and I could hear the quicker breathing of the fat old lady without nerves, as well as that of the little lady who hates me. I did not take any further notice of what they whispered and tittered around me, only I several times distinguished the name of Morrik, purposely pronounced very distinctly. Even that cannot hurt me. But as I walked home, shivering in the damp foggy air, and feeling inwardly as sunless and gloomy as the sky was outwardly. I should have liked a good hearty cry. I feel so weary, that not even tears will flow. Life, happiness, sorrow, everything, seems stagnant within me.

                     The 25th November.

And now this! this verily is the last drop in the cup of bitterness. This blow strikes at the very roots, and no storm is needed to level to the ground the falling tree a child could overturn it. And that this blow should come from the hand, from which I least expected it. That just where I had hoped to ease my heart, I have brought it back more heavy still. To-day I at last found him on the Wassermauer. The sun shone brightly; I felt revived and hoped to gain peace and relief from the conversation I had so long wished for. I thought I could easily explain to him this last occurrence, and I was not disappointed; he smiled when I told him how sorry I was for my want of truth towards him. He took my hand and before releasing it he pressed it to his lips. I felt strangely moved. He had heard of the legacy of the young Pole but had never doubted that I would refuse it. Everything now I thought was smoothed and settled, and I cast a grateful look at the sun as if his kindly beams had cleared it all.

How came it that we again turned to that unlucky theme? Alas it was my fault. I wished to convince him more fully still that my feelings for the poor madman had always been cool, and indifferent; so I began again by saying, how the bare thought of that meeting filled me with horror; how inexcusable it was to let people who were so evidently deranged walk about unwatched. He looked straight before him, and said: “You are mistaken dear Marie, he was not more deranged than I am who sit beside you, and I hope I do not inspire you with fear. He even has the advantage over me, for he has eased his heart of the burden which still oppresses mine.”

“I do not understand you,” I replied, and I spoke the truth.

“Then I will continue silent;” what good could speaking do me?

After a pause: “But no, why should I remain silent you might then only fancy something worse. Is it so contemptible, if a few steps from the grave we once more look back on life, and there perceive a happiness which would render it loveable and worth having if only it were not too late, and if then one grows distracted with misery and longing, and with rage against fate? If though dying one longs to press to one's heart the dear one who is denied to us, and breathe our last breath on her lips? That is what happened to the poor lad who now sleeps a dreamless sleep—and so....” He paused and looked at me. There was not a soul to be seen underneath the poplars and he again took my hand. “You tremble! before me too,” he said. “Forget my words.”

I could not speak. I felt that my last and best happiness was destroyed; the harmless confidence, the warm cheerful intercourse to which my heart clung. Again I was alone, I felt it must be so, if I would not add remorse to my other sufferings. “I will go home,” I said, “I feel unwell; you must remain here, and enjoy the sunshine which makes my head ache to-day. I will write a few hues to you in the afternoon to tell you, if I feel better.” Then I rose, gave him my hand for the last time; entreated him by a look to say no more, and left him.

I will see if I can collect my thoughts sufficiently to write to him.

                     In the Evening.

I lay the copy of my letter to him between these leaves, and feel relieved now that it is over; physically relieved, but the weight on my heart still oppresses me. This is the letter:

                     “Meran, the 25th November.

     “My dear friend!

“Let me to-day, bid you farewell for the last time in this world, and express my hope of a happy meeting in the next, towards which we are tending. It will be easier for both of us to take leave of each other now, while we are still under the impression of a pure and friendly intercourse, than it would be later when we should have felt that we do not agree in higher matters, and this I fear would sooner, or later have been the case, for your last words still sadden and dishearten me, as I never thought words spoken by my dear friend could have done.

“How I wish we still lived in the past; then I was happy and hoped that you were so. Why did you speak, why could we not calmly have awaited our destiny, and stood firmly by each other as true comrades till the end came.

“I hope that this calm and premature farewell, though it may cause you a momentary pain, will in time soften your thoughts, and give you back the clear-sightedness with which we a short time ago looked on the past, and hoped for the future. We cannot avoid meeting now and then; let us pass one another with a silent bow, as if already we were shadows moving in a higher sphere.

“I need not tell you that I shall always retain the warmest friendship for you, and I beg you to keep yours for me, though at one time it seemed overshadowed by darker passions.

“Farewell my dear friend; show me that these words, which come from the heart, are understood, by not answering them.”


                     The last of November.

I long for snow and ice for the cold winter air of my home. This sun that shines day after day in the clear blue November sky makes my eyes and my heart ache. This morning I woke with a pleasant surprise; it had snowed in the night and the soft snow still lay unsullied, and pure on the roofs and on the road. Now it has melted away, and only a few traces of it are left. People again walk about in light cloaks, and with dry feet under the leafless poplars.

My father wrote yesterday that he fully approves of my decision regarding the legacy. I immediately informed the Burghermeister of this, and have already received a vote of thanks from the administration of the poorhouse funds, which I would willingly have dispensed with. I now write rarely in this journal. One day resembles the other; they are like the leaves of a tree in the late autumn; all of them are brown, only one falls to the earth sooner than another.

                     The 1st of December—at Night.

A shooting festival has taken place and enlivened the quiet town of Meran. Early in the morning I was awakened by the band of music which accompanied the shooters from the Sandplatz in front of the Post to the targets. Then the whole day long the report of the rifles was heard and made me feel quite nervous, and later the shouts and jodles of the peasants who arrived rather the worse for wine. In the evening fireworks were displayed on the left bank of the Passer, and it was very pretty to see the population of the town, and the strangers walking up and down, and enjoying the mild air by the light of torches which were placed along the Wassermauer. Then a strong sirocco arose, and wildly swept the rockets across the water, made the torches flicker, and drove the spectators into their houses by bringing on the rain. I saw the spectacle from my window, and remained there till the last spark had died out in the dark starless night.

How long it is now since I have spoken to any one except to the people of the house where I lodge. The wish that my lips might be closed for ever grows stronger every day. Oh for an hour of the cheerful, confidential talk I once enjoyed with Morrik, and then to go to sleep and dream that same dream on to Eternity! But I must endure till my time comes.

                     The 4th December.

When my time has come, shall I find courage to resist my longing to see him once more, and in spite of my resolve, bid adieu to life with my eyes fixed on his. I think he too would wish it, whatever his present thoughts may be regarding my sudden rupture with him. Sometimes the idea torments me that he may have possibly misunderstood my letter and think that I drew back because I feared gossip. I should like to tell him once more that this is not the case; that I only did it for his sake, for his peace of mind, and indeed for mine also.

How is he now? Can he walk out? Who will help him to bear the long solitude of the day. I am truly grateful to him for having granted my wish in not having answered my letter. Still something seems missing in my life, now that I no longer see him, and cannot judge for myself whether he is cheerful or melancholy; how he bears his sufferings, what he reads, what he thinks—his thoughts even, I could once read in his face, his countenance is so clear and open.

Yesterday I met his servant. The faithful creature bowed to me; I should have liked to ask him how his master was; however it is better not.

                     The 11th.

Took a walk to the Zenoburg; that dear walk of former days, but not with my former spirits. As I passed by the house where he lodges, he was just coming out; he perceived me and stood still and motionless to let me pass. I dared not look at him, but the first glance told me that he had become pale and grave—nearly as much so as when I first saw him. He did not bow, but remained in the shade of the doorway as if fearing to frighten me; so I passed him with my eyes fixed on the pavement.

The hill seemed much steeper to me than when I walked up the first time—probably I have grown weaker—and then I was happy. What is it that hinders me from being so again, in spite of all my efforts and self-command. Is it merely compassion for him, and the want of that intercourse which had become a necessity to me. No, it is not that alone; it is as if I had been infringing on some duty. But how could I have acted differently? Can one trifle with the hopes and happiness of this life, when death is so near.

                     The 16th December—Evening.

A trying but pleasant day has passed. I have packed a small Christmasbox which I intend to send home. When all the trifles I had worked for my father, Ernest, and my step-mother were laid together; the pretty wood carvings, the picture of Meran, and the figure of a Saltner which I had dressed up for Ernest as like the real ones as possible, I was as happy as a child with its own Christmas presents. And then the packing of it all; as the box was not quite filled, I crammed in all I could get hold of; some pomegranates, a box filled with dried figs, another one with chesnuts, and one of those sweet Christmas-cakes made of honey and raisins. The box will tell its own tale of Meran.

My landlord's apprentice carried the box to the post. Then for the first time for several weeks, I walked on the Wassermauer. The strangers sat on the benches as they had always done, only foot-rugs had become more general. Morrik arrived soon after me. This time we silently exchanged salutations as had been agreed between us. He looked kindly and calmly at me probably to see whether I appeared well and cheerful. I was much heated by my Christmas packing. When I got home I looked at myself in the glass and perceived that it was only a transient flush of agitation, perhaps of pleasure. Now that we have again met so unconstrainedly I fancy that the future will seem easier to me. I need only imagine that I never exchanged a word with him but that I have simply read a story in which one of the characters had attracted me—that I now meet a stranger whose face recalls my idea of this character, and therefore that I take great interest in him. We did not sit down beside each other. I walked several times up and down the Wassermauer with a lady who was very kind to me, inquired why I had so persistently remained at home, and then told me all about herself and her children, from whom she had been separated for the sake of tranquillity. Tears started to her eyes as she said. “To be separated from those dear to us in order to enjoy quiet and peace of mind!” Oh you good doctors I what bad physicians for the soul you are.

                     Christmas Eve.

What am I to think of this! An hour ago a Christmas-tree beautifully decorated with oranges, pomegranites, and sweet meats, and covered with wax-lights was brought into the room by my landlady. The tree is so high that I was obliged to place it on the floor and yet it nearly reaches the ceiling. A strange maidservant brought it, my landlady tells me, and would on no account say from whom it came. I have now lit all the tapers and am writing by their light, after having given my landlady's children some Christmas-presents, for the people here never have Christmas-trees.

Now that I am again alone, I ransack my brain to find out who could have sent the tree. The kind lady who may also feel the want of Christmas joys, and Christmas lights? But surely she would have written a letter to say so, and then our acquaintance is so short. Many other kind faces have passed by me in my daily walks, but to whom of these would it have occurred to brighten my Christmas eve. I must confess that in my first irritation, I wronged many of them, and might certainly have found some pleasing acquaintances among them, if my first longing for solitude had not expressed itself so repellantly. Now no one would willingly speak to me.

Can the tree have come from him? but that would be contrary to our agreement. One who must and will keep silence cannot offer presents. It is easier to give than to receive silently, and yet how is it possible to express one's thanks after having already bid farewell.

The more I think of it the more uneasy I become. It is not all as it should be; something unnatural and indefinable seems to have come between us; something pernicious that would revenge itself on us.

Here come letters from my dear ones, from home! But I must first put out the tapers and light my little lamp. Some of the twigs are already crackling and glimmering. The last spark has died out on my last Christmas-tree. The church bells are ringing while I am writing these lines by the light of the moon which is now keeping me company, my lamp having died out.

                     December the 28th.

We have met again, our hands have touched, and our eyes have encountered each other; but what a sorrowful meeting. The vengeance I expected has come.

The program of a concert was brought to my lodgings. A player on the cither was going to perform in the Assembly rooms at the Post. I am no longer displeased at being roused from my own thoughts; so I went, as I very much like the cither, and have always wished to hear a virtuoso perform on it. When I arrived the first piece had begun, and only three seats in the front row were unoccupied; they seemed to have been kept for some expected personage of distinction: I found myself compelled to take one of these seats of honour, and did not do so, unwillingly for the tone of the instrument was rather low, and there too, I could observe the movement of the performer's hands. The air soon became oppressive; the heat of the stove, the crowded room and its low ceiling all combined to make it so. I was much flurried at first, but I soon grew calm, and listened with delight to the charming and touching sounds. Suddenly the door was opened softly and quietly, and Morrik entered. He stopped when he saw the room filled, but did not like to turn back. Some gentlemen near the door pointed out to him the empty seat beside me. He slowly moved up the room, and arriving at my side, sat down with a slight inclination of the head. My breath stopped and I feared he would perceive the trembling which seized me, as the arm of his chair touched mine; however he appeared to be much calmer than I was, and to listen to the music with more attention; so after a time I mastered my agitation, and listened too, absorbed in an exquisite and sweet reverie. I felt as if the melody were a celestial atmosphere in which our mutual thoughts and feelings rose and intermingled; a harmonious communion of soul with soul banishing all that had hitherto divided estranged and tormented us. I cannot describe how this sort of visionary dream comforted me. I felt persuaded that the same thoughts touched him also. Our eyes were fixed on the cither, and yet it seemed as if they met in one long book.

Even the applause and shouts of bravo! hardly roused us from this ecstasy. The pauses between the pieces only lasted for a few minutes, and at the end of one of them the cither-player put by his cither, and brought out an enormous instrument which he called the divine Kikilira, explaining in a few words that it was an instrument peculiar to the Tyrol, and had been constructed by a simple peasant. It is a sort of wooden harmonium—the notes are formed of very hard wood, and the tones are produced from them, by the sharp and rapid blows of two small hammers. It has a harsh shrill sound, and one could hardly have found an instrument more opposite to the cither. It rudely put to flight all my exalted thoughts and feelings, and seemed to outrage my very soul. I would willingly have left the room, had I not been afraid of offending the performer. I feared for Morrik, for I knew how exceedingly sensitive he was with regard to every noise. I slightly glanced at him. He sat with closed eyes his head reclining on his right arm, as if trying to shield himself from this sudden attack.

All at once I perceived that his lips grew still paler, his eyes opened partially and lost all expression; then his head sank heavily against the back of his chair.

Several of the audience also observed this, yet no one moved to assist the fainting man. I fancied, judging by the scornful expression on their faces, that they with malicious pleasure, purposely left this benevolent charge to me. I got up and begged the performer to stop, as a gentleman was unwell. I sprinkled his forehead with eau de cologne, which I always carry with me, and let him inhale the vivifying perfume. Part of the company had risen, but none of them left their places: it was only to observe the spectacle more at their case. Only the cither-player came to me, and helped me to support Morrik, when his senses had returned; and to lead him the few steps to the door. Once out of the room, where the fresh December-wind blew across his face, he recovered completely. He looked inquiringly at me, then remembered what had occurred and leant slightly on my arm as I led him down stairs. “I thank you;” was all he said, and we walked on together as his servant was nowhere to be found. I accompanied him up the kleine Lauben, as the street leading past the Post is called, and as far as the church from whence we could see his lodgings. “Do you feel better?” I asked. He bowed his head and made a movement as though he now wished to walk alone. Ere we parted he pressed my hand endeavoured to repress a sigh, and silently turned towards the house. I watched him till he had reached the door; he walked with firm slow steps, and did not once look back. When he had disappeared, I too went home.

I feel so overcome by this event that I must lie down; my head is nearly bursting with pain, and when I close my eyes the harsh hammering sound of that wooden instrument, which surely has received the name of “divine” in derision, rushes wildly into my ears, and I feel feverish and exhausted from the heat and oppressive air of the room.

                     The 11th January.

A fortnight of sickness and suffering, during which I did not open a book or play a note on the piano—It was only a slight influenza, sleep and diet have pulled me through—though one night when the fever tormented me with horrible visions, I was on the point of calling in a doctor, as my landlady constantly urged me to do. The people here have great faith in medicines. I am glad that I can now again stand on my feet, and owe it to no one but myself. I will venture on my first walk to-day. The air is cold, but still, and the sun is so powerful that I can boldly open my casement. I long to hear something about Morrik; but whom can I ask.

                     The same day.

My presentiment was right; the visions in my feverish dreams spoke the truth. He is seriously ill with typhus fever. He has been laid up ever since that concert and sometimes the fever is so bad that he lies unconscious for hours. I met his doctor just at the gate of the town, and mustered courage to ask him for news of Morrik; and what good would restraint do me; it would only be ridiculous for does not everyone already know that I led him out of the concert-room, and across the streets and is not my show of interest very innocent, though unfortunately it may seem improper. The doctor looked very grave and I should have liked to detain him, and extract from him a decided answer to my question as to whether there was any immediate danger, but just then one of his patients accosted him, and our conversation was broken off. With what feelings I sat down on the sunny bench, and gazed at the water, watching the logs of wood floating down the stream, and swept away by the force of the current every time they tried to cling to a stone. And is it not so with us poor human creatures; do we not float down the stream of life! and are the happy moments we enjoy anything better than a short rest on a cliff from which we are severed by the first passing wave.—Oh, come peace, come! My heart will break with its stormy throbbing. How shall I be able every morning to endure the pain of imagining him dying, and of not being able to watch for his every breath! Oh heavens! and has it come to this, that I must see him leave this world before me; I who never dreamt of such a possibility.

                     January, the 12th—Evening.

At last I have gained my point; and the calm I now feel amply compensates me for the struggle I have had to endure. I have just come from his lodgings where I have passed the day with him, and shall do so again to-morrow, and all the days that are yet granted to him.

How I passed this night, God to whom I prayed in my calmer moments alone knows. In those dark hours, when sorrow and hopelessness took away all feeling of His presence, and of my own strength, life, time, eternity whirled about in my giddy brain just like the helpless logs of wood tossed by the waves.

In the morning I begged the landlady to go to his lodgings and enquire how he had passed the night. She told me that a stout elderly lady with fair ringlets had opened the door of Mr. Morrik's sitting-room—He lay in the adjoining room and talked so loud in his fever that one could hear him distinctly from the outside. The lady asked who had sent her, and on hearing who it was, had made a wry face, and sent her away with the information that there was no change.

This was a terrible blow to me. I knew what he thought of the professional philanthropy of the life preserver, and that he had always purposely avoided her. And now there was she listening to his feverish talk, and plaguing him with her officiousness in his lucid intervals. I could not bear the thought.

It was early in the morning when I ascended the stairs of his lodgings, fully determined not to let any consideration, except what was necessary for his welfare and tranquillity, prevail over me. My courage only deserted me for a moment when on knocking at the door a shrill hard voice called out, “Come in.” All my coolness and presence of mind returned however, when I felt the cold lustreless eyes resting on me, with a severe rebuking expression; and with a quiet voice I said that I had come myself to have news of him, as the information of my landlady did not suffice me. Before she had time to answer Morrik called out my name from the inner room. “I will go myself,” I said, “and ask the sufferer how he feels. He seems to have recovered his senses.”

“Mr. Morrik receives no one,” she said, “and your visit would be against all propriety, a reason, to be sure, which is of little importance to you?” “At the death-bed of a friend, certainly not,” I replied. He called a second time “Marie;” so opening the folding that led to his bedroom, I entered without a moment's hesitation.

The small room looked dark, as the only window opened on the narrow, gloomy street, and was partly covered by a curtain; still it was light enough for me to see that his pale face was brightened by a ray of pleasure when I entered. He stretched out his hot hand, and tried to lift his head. “You have come!” he whispered, “I cannot tell you how your presence relieves me. Do not go away again, Marie, I cannot spare you, my time is so short. The lady out there, you know whom I mean, her very voice pains me; her presence seems like a nightmare to me, but I cannot bring myself to tell her so. I tried to hint to her that I preferred remaining alone, but she answered that: patients were not allowed to have a will of their own. Please remain with me, when you are here I shall see and hear no one but you, and I promise never to annoy you again.”

He talked on in this strain in so low and hurried a voice, that the tears sprang to my eyes. I pressed his hand warmly and promised to do all he wished. His face brightened in a moment. Then he lay quite still and closed his eyes, so that I believed him to be asleep but when I tried to draw away my hand, he glanced at me with a sad and pleading look. At the end of half an hour, he really slept. I returned again to the sitting-room where the lady sat on the sofa. She was knitting in great wrath, and the poor meshes had to suffer for my offence. I perceived that there was no time to be lost, so I told her with as much consideration for her feelings as I could, that the patient was very grateful to her for her kindness, but that he would not trouble her any longer as I was going to nurse him with the help of his servant and of the people who lodged him. “You, my dear?” she slowly asked, casting an annihilating look at me.

“Certainly,” I replied quietly; “among all the visitors here I am the nearest acquaintance Mr. Morrik has, and so we should both think it strange if I left the duty of nursing him to an entire stranger, who moreover has so many other charitable duties to fulfil.”

She stared at me as though my mind were wandering.

“Is it possible,” she at last said, “that you do not feel, that by this step you will for ever ruin your already so much damaged reputation. Are you related to him? Are you an old woman, who is above suspicion; or are you in need of a nurse for yourself, my dear?”

“I am perfectly aware of what I can do, and what I can answer for,” I said, “I regret that our opinions on the subject differ, but I cannot change mine. I shall remain here; and certainly I cannot hinder you from doing the same. Do not be uneasy about my reputation; I believe I told you once before that I have closed with this world, and submitting the case to a higher judge, I hope to be acquitted.” She arose, took her bonnet and said: “You will not expect me to remain in the same room with a young lady whose moral principles so widely differ from mine, and to sanction by my presence an intimacy which in every respect I hold to be most reprehensible. Nothing remains for me but to hear from the patient's own lips whether he desires my departure. If the doctor should sanction this continual emotion for a patient suffering from typhus fever, it is no business of mine.”

With these words, she moved towards the folding doors, but I quietly stopped her and said: “Mr. Morrik sleeps, so I beg of you not to disturb him; and from this sleep you may gain the tranquillizing assurance, that my presence is rather beneficial to him than otherwise.”

After these words we only exchanged a silent and formal curtsey, the door closed on the deeply offended lady and a load fell from my heart. I opened the door of the balcony which also leads into the garden, to let out the odour of acetic ether which the lady without nerves had brought here too. Then I looked round my new domain, and it pleased me much. What a difference between this elegant, handsomely furnished, and lofty apartment, and my own small room with its scanty furniture. Here, his writing-table loaded with all the luxury of portfolios, inkstands, and different trinkets; there, the shelves with his finely bound books; the comfortable arm-chair, and above all the pleasure of breathing the fresh air merely by stepping out on the balcony shaded by awnings from whence a few steps lead into the garden. How sunny, sheltered, and secluded it looked down there; only the splash of the fountain was heard, and the lullaby song of a nurse who sat on a bench with a pretty baby in her arms.

I was so charmed with the peace of this abode that I actually forgot who was lying in the next room in a feverish slumber. I was shocked at having been led for a moment into this obliviousness. I stepped to the door and listened. He called “Marie” in a low voice. When I looked in, he said: “I heard all; you are my guardian angel; I owe you the first refreshing slumber I have had for a fortnight.”—“Sleep on,” I replied, “you are not to speak. Cheer up, and dream pleasantly.” He nodded faintly, and again closed his eyes.

In the afternoon the doctor came. Him, at least, I must exempt from the accusation I recently brought against all doctors; that of being bad physicians for the soul. When I told him why I had remained, he smiled. Has Morrik spoken to him of me? I do not think so. But what pleased him more even than the departure of the life preserver, whose beneficial influence on the nerves, he evidently doubts, was the fact that Morrik had slept for three hours and that his pulse was calmer.

When I accompanied him to the door, and ventured to ask him what he thought would be the end of this illness, he shrugged his shoulders. “The danger has not yet passed,” was all he said. I had thought so.

At seven o'clock I walked home; the servant watches by him during the night. He slept when I went away, and did not even feel my hand when I touched his before leaving. I will sleep now; I want to be at my post early in the morning. For a long time I have not felt so peaceful and calm as this evening. Now nothing can again estrange us.

                     The 13th.

He woke in the night, and immediately asked for me. The servant could hardly quiet him with the assurance that I would certainly return in the morning. I found him much agitated; only after a long explanation, in which he followed me with difficulty, did I succeed in convincing him, that it must be so, that it was necessary that the day and night watches should be relieved. “But if I should die in the night?” he asked. “Then you will send for me, and I will come to you instantly.” When I had promised this, he went to sleep again. He does not eat a morsel and his hands are fearfully thin.

I am more convinced than ever that my presence tranquillizes him. The afternoon passed very quietly. We did not speak to each other, but the door between the two rooms was left open, so that he could see the light of my lamp, and watch my shadow on the wall; he had expressly desired this.

I read for a long time, and listened to his breathing. No other sound reached me. Only when I had to give him his medicines I went to him. Then he always had some gay and affectionate words to say to me, but without any tone of passion in them.

“She is a fairy,” he said to the doctor, “she makes even death appear a festival to me. Formerly, doctor, I always felt inclined to say to you: 'That thou doest, do quickly.' But now it is of great moment to me that you should prolong my life for a few days. I can never have enough, even of your horrid potions, now that a good spirit gives them to me.”

                     The 15th.

Yesterday I could not write. He was much worse. To-day he is, at least, not worse still; what a sad consolation! The hard frost continues. The fountain in the garden is covered with ice, and not a flake of snow to soften the piercing air, and to relieve the chest. I long for snow, for I am convinced that he will not be better till the air softens. To-day I stood for hours at his bedside, and he did not recognize me. In his delirium, he talked of people and countries unknown to me, and then I saw how little we really know of each other; and yet a moment later when he called me by name, I felt how near and dear I was to him, and that we do know of each other our best feelings and thoughts. All that is really worth knowing.

                     The 19th January, 5 o'clock in the morning.

I have just come home after four and twenty sleepless hours, and yet I feel that no sleep is possible for me till my feelings are more calm and collected, and I have expressed them in these leaves. I feel like one who has been blind, and who struck by the first ray of light, is made aware of his happiness by a dazzling pain. I will try to speak connectedly, though what is the meaning of beginning, middle, end—what is the significance of these words, when eternity has mingled with time; when dying, one awakens to a new life, which is subject to time, yet still bears the impress of eternity.

These are but weak and unconnected words, and I wished to speak clearly.

The days which have passed since I last wrote have been so sad that I could not speak of them. Yesterday evening when the doctor came quite late, I had sent for him as my anxiety increased every hour, he did not conceal his fears. “We must bring on a crisis,” he said, “or he is lost.” They put him in a tepid bath and dashed cold water over him. This excited him to such a degree that even through the closed doors, I heard his groans and his loud and unintelligible exclamations. When he had been again laid in his bed the doctor came to me. “I will remain with him during the night,” said the excellent man; “any blunder about applications of ice might be of fatal consequence. You must go home and rest, the day has been too fatiguing for you.” I told him that even at home I should find no rest, and would rather remain and watch with him. He did not press me further as he saw that I was quite decided. Had I not given my promise to Morrik that I would not be absent when his end was approaching. So I sat down in an arm-chair at his writing-table and took up a book only for the sake of holding on to something—to read was impossible; for that a clear mind is required, and mine was clouded over with a dark shadow, and all my attention was rivetted on the sick-room where the doctor sat by his bed changing the compresses himself, and only now and then giving the servant some order in a low voice. The moans and the rambling indistinct words which broke from those feverish lips cut me to the heart; this is still his voice I thought, and these are, perhaps, the last words that he will ever speak to me. I cannot understand their meaning, nor does he himself. Oh, what a leave taking!

I will not dwell on this scene; the remembrance, even, of that dreadful time makes me shudder. We heard the hours strike from the church-tower; ten, eleven o'clock, midnight.—In the next room stillness now prevailed. I kept in my breath and listened anxiously, questioning myself if this were a good or a bad sign. I tried to rise and creep to the door to hear if he yet breathed, but I found that the agony of the last hours had nearly paralyzed me, and I could not move. Or was it only that I could not muster courage and nerve myself sufficiently to face the dreadful certainty.

Strange! I had thought myself quite familiarized with death, even if it should approach the bedside of my dearest friend. And now, instead of calmly facing it, I shivered with fear like a child in the dark.

I know not if I could have endured these feelings much longer without fainting, especially as I had not swallowed a morsel the whole of that day. At last, just as my strength was giving way the bedroom door opened, and the doctor came out quietly. “He is saved.”

The shock these words gave me was so great that I burst into a fit of hysterical tears. The doctor sat down opposite me and said: “You weep, Mademoiselle, and perhaps the word 'saved,' seems to you only as a bitter mockery, when coupled with the name of a patient whose life was despaired of before this last illness seized him. But it is just on this illness that I found my hope of saving him. Nature has risked a bold experiment and has succeeded. It is not the first time that I have observed her employ this admirable device by which she first kindles a conflict in the nervous and blood systems; and then summoning the last vital powers, she combines all her forces to drive away the enemy who had taken entire possession of the citadel. Now you will see that our friend, if his convalescence after this fever proceeds without any disturbance, will make rapid progress towards the full recovery of his former health, which was once with reason despaired of. Now I can safely send him to Venice in March, without any fear of his catching the typhus there, as this fever seldom seizes the same person twice. The soft sea air will be most beneficial to his lungs; and though I never meddle with prophecies, I can say, almost with certainty, that in this case—taking it for granted that no outward disturbance occurs—our patient will in less than a year be as strong and healthy as ever.”

A slight noise in the inner room, called the doctor again to his post.

He stayed away only a few minutes, but at least I had time to become more collected before he returned. Can I acknowledge even to myself that this great revolution in all my ideas startled me more than it pleased me? So he was to live, and I firmly believing that he was to follow me into another world had as fully taken possession of his soul as if it were written that we should only be separated for a short time, and would part with the mutual wish of: A happy death to you! instead of a happy life to you!

Fortunately this selfish regret only lasted till the doctor returned, and I could say with a heart full of pure joy and gratitude, Thank God, he will live! He will once more enjoy his youth, his strength, his plans, and his hopes! When the doctor was again beside me he said, “They are both asleep: both master and servant. I settled the poor fellow, who certainly has been greatly fatigued, more comfortably in his armchair and he did not awake. It seems as if he knew that he is no longer wanted, now that the crisis has passed, and nature herself has taken charge of nursing the patient. I advise you to follow his example Mademoiselle and to lie down on the sofa and go to sleep. I have kept a cup of tea for myself and do not mind in the least remaining here till morning, and will feast meantime on our friend's looks. I cannot let you walk home in this cold winter night, you would by so doing risk all the benefit you have obtained by your stay here.” “Benefit!” I exclaimed; “you must know that I have no illusions whatever with regard to the state of my health. I am perfectly aware how little I have to risk. If I have gained anything by my stay here it is only a reprieve of a few days or weeks.”

“Pardon me,” he said with a smile, “if I do not share your opinion. To be sure we professional men are often worse prophets than the uninitiated. At least we are less confident.”

As during the last few days I had written some letters at Morrik's writing-table, I had brought with me the portfolio, in which I keep our old doctor's drawing, I drew it from the portfolio, and handed it to him. “Now you can convince yourself that I am only repeating the prediction of one of your colleagues,” and I told him how I had come to Meran.

The drawing appeared to make some impression on him. He shook his head after looking at it, and then said, “I generally examine the patient by auscultation myself before I give any opinion. You say that you have spent the winter without any medical assistance or advice, and perhaps you were right in doing so, for truly our power is very limited. Far be it from me to force my opinion on you, but it would interest me greatly to discover whether your looks, your movements, your voice, and your pulse are only deceiving, or whether this drawing is to be relied on. Would you let me ascertain this?”

“I have no objection to it,” I replied, “but you must permit me, whatever the result may be, to have more faith in our old doctor than in you.”

After auscultating me, he sat down for about ten minutes in front of me, and after taking a long draught of tea, he answered my question as to whether the drawing was not right after all. “I will not venture any opinion on that subject; all I can say is, that if your lungs really were in that state, then the Meran climate has worked wonders. We have had several cases here, in which the patients sent to us had been given up and were supposed to be in a hopeless state, yet those very patients are enjoying life to this day, to their own and their doctor's astonishment. The time you have staid here is however much too short to have operated such a marvellous recovery, and so I have my doubts about this drawing. I would even venture to say, if the assertion be not too bold, that you have never had any inclination to disease of the lungs, but that your illness is simply caused by great exhaustion of the nervous system. You say that your doctor is an old practitioner, but auscultation is a recent discovery and if Hippocrates and Galen had to speak on the subject they would certainly commit themselves deeply. You look incredulous dear Mademoiselle. Next year we will again speak of this, for it will be most beneficial to your nervous system, which is in a very irritable state, if you spend another winter here and only visit your relations during the summer.”

Could he have assured me positively of all this and proved it by a hundred scientific arguments it would have been in vain. I feel only too well that it is impossible. We had a long dispute about it, and his smilingly sarcastic tone, and confident manner made me at last lose all patience, and I uttered all the invectives I had ever heard against his profession, only exempting our dear old doctor from this sweeping condemnation. It was rather curious to hear a patient quarreling with his doctor for awarding life to him. But if life were again given back to me, could I receive it thankfully as a blessing, would it not appear only as a renewal of bondage after this short dream of freedom?

I could not rest till I had then and there in the presence of the doctor written to my old friend and besought him to come to my rescue; and save me from this return to life into which they wished to delude me. The day had not yet dawned, when the doctor and I left the house. Morrik's servant was now awake, and his master slept, to awaken to a renewed life. The doctor insisted on my ordering a sedan chair; but I refused decidedly, and went to post my letter myself. I then begged the doctor not to mention what had passed between us to any one, and above all not to Morrik till I had received an answer. He promised it, and smilingly took leave of me, after seeing me to the door of my lodgings. As I toiled up the steep stairs, I again felt convinced that ere long I should ascend them for the last time.

The mountain tops are not yet red with the rising sun, the air is foggy, and flakes of snow begin to fall. My room is comfortable and warm, as the small stove does its duty. If I could but find sleep. This mounting guard has been too heavy a service for the poor invalid. A great battle has been won without him, and he himself has been deluded with the hope of a victory the fruit of which he would not care to enjoy.

                     January 30th.

Yesterday, I remained at home, as I had rashly promised the doctor not to leave my room till he gave his consent. He said that the honour of science was at stake, if I brought to naught the opinion he had pronounced, by my reckless enterprizes. It is also necessary for our friend he added.

This morning he came to see me. God be praised Morrik it seems, improves rapidly. I dared not ask him if he had inquired for me, had missed me. It appears that he eats and sleeps a good deal.

Rain and snow help me to endure my imprisonment. I shall probably remain at home for the whole of this week. I do not wish to meet anyone. I feel a strange uncertainty and anxiety till the answer from my friend arrives.

I shall not know what face to put on when I meet my fellow creatures. Shall I appear to them as one who after a short rest among them will suddenly take up his staff again, or as one who has changed his mind and is determined to remain. I feel restless and unsettled since that conversation with Morrik's doctor. My home is neither in this world, nor in the next; my mind is uneasy. I fancy that every one looks at me suspiciously, as the police looks on a vagabond whose passport is not in proper order, and who cannot state from whence he comes nor whither he is going. And I shall have to pass another week in this disagreeable state of bewilderment before I can receive an answer, even if he wrote by return of post.

To-day I ought to write to my father but I cannot bring myself to touch a pen—my feelings are in such a sad state of confusion, often it appears to me that my body and soul cry out to me “you cannot live;” then suddenly the blood flows again so warmly and vigorously through my veins, that it seems to mock my aching heart, and worn out nerves. In those moments I take out my drawing as if it were a sure bill of exchange for a better world, but the doctor treated it with so little respect, that even this paper has lost its tranquillizing power. Formerly I was so sure that Death like grim Shylck would insist on the acquittance of his bond, but now I begin to fear that favour, instead of justice, will be shown me, but is it a favour to be restored to captivity?

                     The 15th.

Still no decision! This cold foggy weather continues. The only ray of light in my gloomy existence are the daily tidings my landlady brings me that Morrik's nights are good, and that he is gaining strength rapidly.

I must here confess a foolish action I have been guilty of. I have bought a new dress, and a silk neckerchief, just as any other girl might do. To be sure they were brought up to my room by a grey haired, half blind pedlar; who came in with his packages dripping with the cold damp fog. I pitied him when he resignedly tied them up again, after I had told him that I should hardly wear out the dress I had on. But could I not have given him some money, as a compensation for his useless trouble. It is a very pretty summer dress. I wonder who will enjoy all the blessings and riches of summer in it?

                     The 1st February.

I have slept on it, and yet have not gained more composure. When the letter arrived yesterday, I trembled so with excitement that I could hardly open it, and then at first all the lines danced before my eyes. When I had perused it all my ideas were in such a state of tumultuous confusion that I thought I was going mad. Was it pleasure? was it dread? was it self pity? No it was the certainty that we poor mortals can have no firm and steadfast support in this unstable world. I believed that I had at least one faithful, honest, intrepid friend; and he too has deceived me. I fancied that at least my own unbiassed instincts, and presentiments could not mislead me, and I find that they too had conspired against me.

But the more I read this letter the less angry I feel with him. I will destroy the answer I had begun in the first impulse of my disappointment. He meant it well, and has done his duty as a doctor but I always come back to my old maxim, that all of them are bad physicians for the soul. Did he consider before trying this energetic cure whether, though it might succeed with the body, it might not do irreparable mischief to the soul; or had he kept some “heroic remedy” as he calls it, also for that case. He knows me well—could he not have known me somewhat better? He is right in saying that without this deception I never would have consented to leave my home, my family; and never would have freed myself from those depressing bonds which wore out my life, never have allowed myself the rest which was so necessary for my recovery.

Was it not principally to spare my dear father, who already has so many cares, the additional one of seeing me die without the possibility of saving me, that induced me to leave him.

I would certainly have forced myself to look happy, and to submit to my destiny till I had made myself ill beyond human aid. He knew what suited my character when he deceived me in this cruel way. I have ever preferred the most dreadful certainty to a hopeful uncertainty. If peace and quiet were the only remedies which could strengthen my suffering nerves, and ward off the menacing disease from my oppressed chest, then I could only be saved by the firm belief that I was doomed. And the undecided wavering hope of life would only have aggravated my illness.

How artfully the crafty, malicious, cruel friend brought about what he thought good for me. This drawing, with; what seeming reluctance he put it in my hands, in order that I might have impressed on my mind a fixed tangible vision of my danger, that I might be well armed against all rising hopes, all glimmering wishes. Then his exhortation not on any account to consult a doctor who would certainly only seek to delude me, to spare my feelings, in the way all medical men treated their patients. His emotion when I left, his praise of my firmness and self-command—Still I cannot bear him ill-will. He does not know what sort of life it was, he sought to give back to me, by this stratagem. After having resigned it, it appears so paltry and valueless; how painful it is to me to begin anew with all the trifles of this world to which I had already become dead, and to bear what now seems doubly odious to me after having lived in a higher and nobler sphere; to fall back into the dreary drudgery of a girl's life; to be once more tied down to the narrow, commonplace customs and prejudices of a small town; to be observed, judged and pitied by one's so-called friends, who know so little of the characters of their acquaintances, that they invariably mistake their good qualities for their bad ones.

I must cease! my thoughts are lost in the deep gloom of a sunless future, in which the dear faces of my father and Ernest are the only bright spots.

What radiance streamed from the open gate, the entrance of which was guarded by the angel of death.

                     February the 3rd.

The doctor has just left me. He has taken the letter with him, as he thinks it very remarkable, and says he has not yet met with such a thorough physiologist as my old friend. Perhaps he wishes to show the letter to Morrik. From him not a word; I did not like to question the doctor, as I had heard in the morning, that he was getting on well, and yesterday for the first time, enjoyed the warm sunshine on his balcony.

To-day I fancied the doctor was very absent hurried, and mysterious; I had to ask him if he permitted me to walk out. He nodded, and said; “Mind you do not agitate yourself by any exciting conversation.” With whom should I speak?

So I must begin life again, where, and under what circumstances? I should like to keep a school; but here the people are all Roman Catholics.

Leave these dear mountains, and return to that dull town to look again on the monotonous faces of its inhabitants with their air of self importance, the obtrusiveness of which disturbs my very dreams. However I cannot leave my father. Fortunately he has not been duped as I have been. He agreed to the stratagem of our malicious friend.

It appears strange that Morrik should not have made the slightest inquiry, or sent any friendly greeting to me. He probably feels that there must be some change in our relations to each other, as it is decided that we are both to live. But some acknowledgement of our former friendship.... or does he not feel the pain and bitterness of having found each other, only to lose one another again for ever.

The doctor says that so severe a crisis often changes the whole nature, and so his soul which has arisen renewed, and invigorated from the paroxysm of fever, has probably kept no remembrance of his companion on the road to death. Well I must submit to it.

Let him forget me; I will always remain to him what I have been.

                     The 5th—Morning.

Received a letter from my father congratulating me. I shed tears over it. Whilst every one was condoling with me I felt happy, and now that I am again given back to life, and ought to rejoice I feel wretched.

These desolate winter-days, the sun shining with the heat of spring, make me feel miserable in body and soul; it is but a sterile....

                     February the 6th.

Yesterday amidst all my hopelessness, a spark of courage kindled within me. I left my writing and walked to the window. I felt heartily ashamed of my cowardice, my grief, and my ingratitude towards God.

What had become of the sentence which I had once so valiantly used as the theme for a sermon? “For I was made man; and that means that I have striven.”

The wings of angels which I had expected are not to be mine yet. I must still be up and doing, and if necessary, must work my way through the world with these mortal arms of mine, and be thankful if some day I should be able to twine them round a dear friend and there find rest.

The remembrance that I had once approached a higher sphere and had learnt to know it, or at least to anticipate it, will always remain with me for good and for evil. For good, as I carry away with me an everlasting treasure of golden thoughts; for evil, as many things which formerly I should have deemed riches, will now appear insufficient to me. Yet I would not spare the past.

I have written to my old friend this morning and have reconciled myself with him; and now I will try to be reconciled to myself, for I was justly angry with my own weakness. Must I not be at peace with myself, before I can once again engage in the battle of life.

                     The 8th February.

And where is the free and happy mortal who is permitted to glide through life as on wings, whose forehead reaches the clouds, who can say that the dust on the road of life has not touched his soul, no barrier hemmed in his steps, or obstructed his sight, that every hour he feels within him an eternal bliss and freedom. To few mortals has fate awarded such a lot as awaits Morrik after his heavy trials. My heart beats with joy when I think of the brilliant future that lies before him. How little I grudge him his happiness; I rejoice in it. It seems strange to me, that only a fortnight has passed since I stood beside his bed. How much has occurred since then! When he hears my name, he will perhaps look up wonderingly, and try to recollect where he met me.

Here I sit thinking and planning for his future, like an old woman who after many long years is told that a friend of her youth has thriven and prospered in life, and who says: “He has well deserved it; his character was noble and generous; I knew him well when I was young!”

                     The 12th February.

The wisest thing I now can do is honestly to confess my folly and then have a good laugh at myself. How long is it since I again resolved to be a true combattant? And now? What a heroic achievement to lay down my arms and run away without having even the courage to desert, but to lose heart when half way, and turn back again. Well done brave warrior! If I did not look on the whole thing from a ludicrous point of view, I should feel deeply ashamed of myself.

Well this afternoon the air was so warm and springlike that the sun drove me from my customary lonely walk on the Küchelberg. Not a breeze stirred, the lizards whisked about as gaily as in summer, and there is no foliage to afford shade; the tendrils which were formerly trained into cooling bowers have probably a good reason of their own for not budding as yet.

I turned back, and for the first time for many days ventured on the Wassermauer, which was not much frequented.

My heart beat as though everyone already knew that I had slipped into the society of the doomed, under false colours, and had been sent back with a protest.

I tried to find a ready answer in case anybody should ask me; “and so you have changed your mind, and are not going to die?” All the small sins I had committed in the belief that it was pardonable to gratify every wish, as the wish of one dying, rose in array against me. How impolite, how regardless of giving offence I had been to every one for whose good opinion I did not care. There is that stout old gentleman with a small thermometer in his button-hole, who fastens or unfastens one of the buttons of his overcoat at every degree more or less of cold. At first he had lectured me about my health, and I had not only continued my imprudent courses but even, when I once met the fat philanthropist, unconsciously let down my veil, to his great astonishment. There is that young girl, with whom I never exchanged another word, because after the first quarter of an hour of our acquaintance she kissed me, and read aloud a poem which her brother had composed. There is that lady with her two big mustachioed sons, who with great foresight, had cautioned me against any flirtation with them, and after all was much offended when I followed her advice and turned my back on them; and above all the poor little chronicler of scandal, who can now only come out by means of an arm-chair, but still has strength enough left to rejoice over the weaknesses of her fellow creatures. What a character she will give me, when she arrives in the next world before me! Well I hope He who judges up yonder will be more lenient than the good people here below. I was thinking over all this, and feeling very much provoked at my own paltry cowardice which seemed to flourish again and prevented me from attaining the indifference and disdain with which I had formerly looked down on the life here, when I reached the Winter garden, and glancing along the benches and arbours, what I saw there put the finishing stroke on my remaining courage. There sat bolt upright, and expanding around her the skirts of a dazzling toilette, the lady without nerves, and beside her, silently looking on the ground, and perfectly restored—Morrik! She was eagerly talking to him, and he listened patiently, a kind smile even brightening his face. I grudged her that smile, as I would have done to no one else. I cannot express the misery I felt, the longing to be away, never to see, or be seen of them again; never to be forced to speak indifferently to those with whom, in the presence of death, I had exchanged words full of weal or woe.

I fled across the bridge, and along the highroad which leads through the beautiful valley of the Adige, and after passing several villages reaches Botzen sixteen miles off. I soon left the first village of Untermais behind me, and then sat down on a bench, and there collected my thoughts sufficiently to devize a plan, which though wiser than the rest was still exceedingly foolish. If I walk on for several hours, I thought, I shall reach Botzen to-day, and probably some carriage or omnibus may overtake me, and give me a lift. Once at Botzen, I can write to the people with whom I lodged, and apprize them that I was forced to leave suddenly, send them some money, and beg them to pack my things and forward them to me. By so doing, I should never again see them all, and should avoid the trials and pain of leave taking in case anyone should care about my departure—at least it will not trouble my rest. And who will care? Perhaps the doctor, and I can write to him. I need not be uneasy about him whom I once called my friend. He must have quite recovered, if he can sit beside the lady without nerves, and smile when she speaks to him in her shrill voice. When I had taken this resolution, I felt quite satisfied, at least I fancied that I was so; so I walked bravely on towards the south, and tried to enjoy the fine scenery around me; the green meadows, the bare rugged mountains with the snow glittering on their summits, the picturesque houses of the peasants, the vineyards, the rushing streams which I passed on my way, and above all, I tried to rejoice in the thought that I had now put an end to all my doubts and cares, and had depended on no one but myself. It seemed quite a relief to return home, and to hide my broken wings. They had been too weak to soar aloft, and had not borne the test of freedom. Is not that a common misfortune among caged birds?

The sun had now set. I had passed a village the name of which I did not know, and had there drunk a small glass of wine as, I was shivering in my light cloak. The air was sharper than was agreeable to a patient spoiled by the warm sun of Meran. I became more and more uneasy as I wandered alone, along the highroad, in the twilight. I often looked back to see if nothing was coming that might give me a lift. An omnibus passed me, but it was crowded with smoking peasants, and did not look inviting.

After having walked on for another hour, nearly famished, and with no shelter in view, the brave heroine who had formed such daring projects, sat down on a stone by the way-side, and had a good cry, like any other baby which had strayed from its home. Truly death is easy, and life is hard!

Heaven knows what would have become of me had not a lucky chance, no, it was kind Providence, taken compassion on me. Suddenly I heard the rolling of a light cart, and the crack of a whip, and looking up I recognized in the charioteer, my friend of the Küchelberg, Ignatius.

After scanning the lonely figure, with sharp eyes he pulled up. A touching scene of recognition took place, which ended by Ignatius lifting me into his cart, and driving me homewards. He had concluded some wine business in Vilpian and was in high spirits. He was quite satisfied with my declaration, that lost in thought, I had walked on and so strayed far from Meran. There I sat wrapped up in coverings, and conveyed home as speedily as possible. Fortunately we did not approach Meran before dark, and did not meet anyone except the doctor, who came out of a house just as we were passing through Untermais, and who little suspected who was hiding from him in that cloak and veil. During the drive, kind Ignatius gave me a detailed description of his conjugal felicity, with a freedom of expression which I had to pardon on account of the wine of Vilpian which had loosened his tongue. “Certainly,” he remarked, “Liesi still had her old propensity for setting down and knowing better; but he had at last come to the conclusion that she really did know better. A single person did so many foolish things, but when two kept house together all was quite different. Where one was at fault, the other succeeded, and two pair of eyes saw just twice as sharp as a single pair could do. Then his Liese was so handy and clever in every respect, just as he had always wished his wife to be. She always had a kind word for him, in short, life seemed a paradise to him since his marriage.” Once he asked after the gentleman who had been with me at Schönna. When I told him that he had quite recovered his former health, he hummed a song, and nodded and winked at me so mischievously that I got quite angry.

The good people with whom I lodge, stared in astonishment when I told them how far I had wandered. I then informed them that I would leave after another week. I have been told that the passage over the Brenner is now free from snow and the cold is not very keen. I must take advantage of this early, and probably transient, spring for my passage over the Alps....

I now make a solemn vow that to-morrow I will do public penance for my childish flight of to-day. I will walk on the Wassermauer, speak to my few acquaintances and tell them how marvellously I have recovered my health. I will confront even the lady without nerves, and see if I cannot be restored to her favour. It would have been really too disgraceful if I had reached Botzen. To run away like a rogue who dares not look an honest man in the face. Then I quite forgot too that this diary would have remained here, and who knows into whose hands it might have fallen.

                     The next day—Spring has burst forth.

Can one write down what the heart can neither seize, nor comprehend? I will try.

When I rose in the morning I did not in the least fear all the trials which this day would bring me, all the test of courage I should have to undergo in front of the enemy. Had I known what bliss was awaiting me, I should have perhaps run away overpowered by its greatness. Yesterday I wrote that life was hard to bear; but hardest of all for a poor weak heart to bear, is great happiness when it has never before tasted it from youth upwards, and is then suddenly crushed and overpowered by its weight. It cannot cease to ask itself, “Will it not be taken from me before my strength is equal to it?” There is one comfort however in this, that no true happiness has to be borne alone. This deep and heartfelt bliss can only be given us by a fellow creature, who in bestowing it on us, shares it with us. There lie the first violets they too bear witness to the spring which has this day come to me. I had a refreshing rest after my long wandering of yesterday; softly rocked to sleep by a conscience which had grown quite easy since I had firmly resolved not to be ashamed before the world of the crime I had committed in returning to life.

When I rose the day was far advanced. While dressing my hair before the glass I perceived that my colour was returning, and when I put on my dress, I remarked that I could no longer wear my funereal clothes; they have become much too tight for me and confine my chest. The old hoary headed pedlar came in good time! It is long since I have had a fit of vanity. But if one is to live, why not do like other women? When I had done plaiting my hair, I came to the conclusion that after all, I did not look so very old. I do not know how it happened, but my thoughts then suddenly turned to the young Pole, and I began to consider what charm was attached to me, that anyone could fall in love with, at ten paces distance. Probably it is all a matter of taste.

For the first time I was ashamed of my old-fashioned clothes, and when putting on my hat, determined to have a new ribbon for it, before I ventured out on my thorny walk among the strangers. And so it came to pass that as I was going to leave my room, my head filled with finery like that of a silly Miss in her teens, the door opened and in walked Morrik. I verily believe that he had forgotten to knock. I was somewhat startled, but he did not seem to notice it. He was quite absent and shy.

He did not even sit down, but walked at once to the window, and admired the view; then examined the writing-table, and talked about rococo furniture with the air of a connoisseur. All at once he burst forth, and begged my pardon for the liberty he had taken in calling on me, but that he was starting for Venice tomorrow morning, and wished to take leave of me. He wanted also to excuse himself to me and to thank me.

I sat down on the little sofa, and could find no word in reply but: “Won't you sit down.” I still had my hat on which did not appear very hospitable but he seemed to think of nothing but how to express in words, what weighed on his mind.

“What must you have thought of me,” he at last said, “when you neither saw nor heard anything of me, after that night when you, and the doctor watched by my bedside. But I am not quite so bad, so heartless, so ungrateful, as you must have supposed me. The truth is that I can recollect no more of what happened during my illness than I can remember of an uneasy dream. I certainly fancied that I had seen you at my bedside, that I had received the medicines from your hands, and that it was you who had arranged my pillows. I had also a vague impression of some strange scene between you and my bête noire, the lady without nerves. But when I had considered it all, it appeared to me, so strange that I quickly banished it from my mind. Had I not received the letter from you, in which you so seriously and decidedly bade me farewell. To be sure your landlady came daily to inquire for me, but then many other persons did the same. Why should you not have been civil, though everything was at an end between us. So I feared to act against your stringent orders, by trying once more to approach you. I even doubted whether you would not consider it as an offence if I were to write a line to you before leaving, and send you a bouquet as is customary in this country. You will now understand my astonishment when having accidentally met the life preserver, I heard from her that all that had seemed to me a dream, had actually taken place; that you had really been my deliverer and faithful guardian, and with noble generosity, had taken pity on my sufferings and not resented all that had estranged us, and had so suddenly put an end to the bright and happy days of yore. Now I can hardly thank you sufficiently. I feel quite unhappy, and bewildered when I think of the past. I wished to tell you so yesterday, and to clear up all that must have seemed incomprehensible to you, but you were out when I called. Were you not told that I had been here twice? Perhaps you would rather leave everything unexplained, as it was before; quite without my knowledge and will. Your interest was only for the dying man. Now that it is decided that I am to live, I am perhaps quite as much estranged from you as when I rashly uttered the words that pained you so much. Well, I am to leave Meran to-morrow, and you will be freed from the constraint which my presence has caused you.”

What I answered; what he said, when he spoke again; how it came that his hand held mine, and that he again called me “Marie,” as he formerly had done, how can I tell?

The air seemed suddenly filled with intoxicating music, my eyes were dazzled with the rays of heavenly light which appeared to stream through the room. How long this ecstasy lasted I know not; all I know is that Eternity opened before me. I had died happy and without agony, and now I was awakened to a new life, in heaven and yet in this world; dead to all the small cares and faintedheartedness of human life, and arisen to the full glory of peace, everlasting trust, and the eternal knowledge of the truth.

“Come,” he said at last, “you are ready for a walk; let us make our bridal visits.”

I took his arm, and he first led me across the passage into the workshop of my landlord, where the good old Meister and his apprentices stared at us, and the Frau Meisterin hearing the news, rushed into the room, with a frying pan, which she was just going to put on the fire, still in her hand; she loudly sang my praises, and congratulated Morrik on having secured such a treasure as a wife, till I at last burst out laughing through my tears. Then we walked through the town, and he now and then entered a shop, and bought most useless things only for the pleasure of saying. “Send it to the lodgings of my betrothed, you know the house of the tailor, three stairs high, next door to heaven,” and he said it all with perfect gravity.

When we arrived on the Wassermauer, all the strangers were assembled as if by appointment. The band was playing, and for the first time, it seemed to me, that the instruments were in tune, and the musicians keeping time.

At first I felt rather embarrassed, as all eyes were upon me, but that soon passed off, and I was infinitely amused to see how amiable and friendly every one had suddenly become, and how pleased I was with them. We first turned to the life preserver, and actually something like a tear glistened in her small unmeaning eyes when Morrik kissed her hand and told her she was as yet the only woman who had made me jealous. This speech procured me a gracious kiss on the forehead and the assurance that my behaviour was to be overlooked in consideration of my jealousy, and weak nerves. Then came the lady with her two smart sons, the sister with her brother the poet and even the fat gentleman with the thermometer at his button-hole. From them all we received congratulations, and they all assured us that they had known it long ago; to which Morrik answered that in that case they had known more than we ourselves had done; he even joked with the little chronique scandaleuse, who alone persisted in treating me with icy coldness. To a child who offered me a bunch of violets he gave his whole purse. The sun shone, the trumpets seemed to call the spring from its winter sleep. And yonder in the churchyard where I had chosen a sunny little corner for my grave, the flowers were blooming, as if after having taught us to live, death had disappeared for ever.

After that, we sat together for a long time and only took leave of each other when the sun was setting.

“Darling,” he said, “I have solemnly promised our tyrant the doctor, not to see you again before next spring. Nothing he says is so pernicious to the health of convalescents as a long betrothal between two solitary young people. That was the reason he would never speak out about your nursing me in my fever; although I several times very plainly alluded to it. But you have learned how to write as I know to my own cost, and so we shall still be united. How I shall rejoice at the first letter from you which does not speak of leave taking but of meeting, never to be parted again; not of death, but of a life full of happiness.”

We were standing on the stairs in the twilight. We clasped each other's hands and promised to bear this last trial cheerfully. I pressed him once more to my heart before I had to surrender him again; but we both firmly trusted that He who had granted us this happiness would also grant us a future to enjoy it. We shall not in vain have passed from death to life....

I now close this journal: I will send it to you to-day, my dearest friend, perhaps it may amuse you to peruse it on your lonely journey when your thoughts are with me. Is not all I possess, are not all my thoughts yours for ever? The pages contain your name more than once. May it be a clear mirror in which our united images are reflected. I lay this poem between the leaves, I have copied it for you, and have placed beside it one of the violets you gave me to-day. When they bloom again, we shall be once more united, if God permits it—and He will permit it.—

            Thou shall't not weep but gladdened be
            And bless thyself at noon, at night,
            When free thy soul with wond'ring glee
            Shall joyful taste love's deep delight.

            Of life, the tumult all is o'er;
            No sounds to us from earth can soar,
            As heav'nward now our eyes we raise,
            And on the glorious stars we gaze.

            Softly the waves of peace shall flow
            O'erwhelming every grief at last;
            And to our senses the bright glow
            Of endless love o'er all is cast.


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