Imágenes de página



THIS was the first meeting of the brothers since Edmond's return. When Edmond came home from his Egyptian journey, Felix was still at the military school at M. Soon after his arrival at LEdmond wrote from the chateau to Felix, proposing to visit him at M in case his brother should be unable to obtain leave of absence. To this proposal Felix replied speedily and privately by the following letter, which I select from the numerous papers made over to me by the count, and copy without alteration or abridgment, as a tolerably fair specimen of the dif ference of character between the two brothers.


M. Marked Private and Confidential.


'Brother, don't come! Keep my secret; but, for God's sake, don't come. Fancy me crammed up to my ears for examination; loaded up to the muzzle (do you understand?) and ready to go off. I mean to take the dear old gentlefolks at home by surprise, and so I am going up a month before term. I can't hold out any longer. I can't live on in this way, sep

arated from all of you. I can't bear it, I say. And so, heighho! there is no help for it but to work, work, work (and oh! if you knew how I hate working!), day and night, night and day, at square root and cube, cube root and square, till I am fairly in the way to reduce myself to a decimal fraction. Now, shouldst thou come here, and were I to see thee, thou best and dearest of men, it would be all up with the curves and hyperboles. For, as for the mathematics, know that I am a dunce among the dunces. 'Oh dear Horatio, I am ill at these matters,' and what between plus here and minus there, hang it! the game lies so close, and the cover is so thick, that I am always making a false point of it, in despite of all thy teaching and training, oh thou inimitable Euclid! No! by St. Hubert I swear it, till all is fairly over, I will hear and think of nothing but the emth root of m (mark this!) plus n, to the power of s, plus m minus n to the power ofr minus m plus n minus q to the power of t plus the emth root of r, divided by m plus n plus p plus q plus r plus x y z botherorum Ouf! Bacchus, Apollo, divorum!

"Brandy and Seltzer-water! and find me the enth root of it all, if you can. My head whirls, Edmond, when I think how I might be hugging you all to my heart of hearts just now, instead of splitting these dull brains of mine on all the tormenting angles of trigonometry! To say nothing of these lamentable logarithms! Well, well! thank Heaven, it only wants eighty-seven days now to Easter! Eighty-seven days at twenty-four hours per diem, minus six hours' sleep ('tis the least I can do with), equals two thousand and

eighty-eight hours minus five hundred and twentytwo hours; equals fifteen hundred and sixty-six hours. Minus again twenty-five minutes one and a quarter seconds per diem for breakfast, dinner, et cætera, remains fifteen hundred and twenty-two hours. Then there is still minus two hours per diem riding-(oh! you should see the old roan now! I have her down. here, in first-rate condition)-that makes one thousand four hundred and sixteen hours' work. And in this space of time must I mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Differential Calculus. Faith! 'tis enough to make a man mount on a Flutter-mine, and blow out his brains, the sooner to get rid of all the stuff he has got into them. No matter, though! All is going on well. I shall manage to swallow the whole dose, I think. I am not afraid of the drugs, least of all of the Military History part of the emetic. Let them only ask me who gained the battle of Preston Pans, and if I answer Frederick the Great, I should like to see the Königlicher Preussischer Professor who will venture to pluck me. Humph!


Brother, brother, not a word of all this! Ear of my heart as thou art, be silent-silent as the tombs of Nineveh. Where is Nineveh, by the way? I hope they'll not ask me that. I suspect it must be in Pomerania: five hundred inhabitants; one thousand seven hundred houses; one Protestant chapel; ditto three Moravian; eight synagogues; two porcelain manufactories; and-if that's not right, the devil take the geographers for putting it into my head!

"Oh Edmond! Edmond! if you did but know what goes on in this head of mine! Is it not a shame to

[ocr errors]

think how many things have taken place in the world which I, poor devil! must needs know something about now?"

""Tis enough, oh brother mine, to put me in envy of the good old times of Cain and Abel. Lucky dogs, those brothers! Nothing had then happened to trouble men's heads but a damned apple. Easy enough in those days to pass one's examination. And if only that silly fellow Cain-fool! not to know the worth of his own good luck! why must he needs. But 'tis I am the fool, brother Edmond. Dolt! how came this nonsense into my head? I to be prating of Cain-such a fellow as Cain, forsooth!-I, who am writing to Edmond-Edmond, my prince of good fellows the best of brothers and dearest of men!

[ocr errors]

"Ay, and believe it, brother-for, trust me, this is as true and sure as that the sine of the angle is equal to the cosines multiplied by the tangent of it, or no matter in whatsoever other formula thou mayest be graciously pleased to receive the assurance-to no man on earth is Edmond half so dearly dear as to his stupid, good for nothing, but faithful and ever loving



Edmond faithfully kept his brother's secret. wrote to Felix two or three times a week, to encourage him. But he had not expected him home so soon. For I find, by reference to the dates of the papers in my hands, that the day on which this event occurred was the 21st of March, 1813.

So, after the first joyous greetings were over, Edmond drew his brother aside.

[merged small][ocr errors]

"How about the examination?" he whispers to Felix. "Can I speak out about it now? Are we to congratulate you?"

Whereupon Master Felix bursts into an immoderate fit of laughter; and, turning round to the others, "Oh, ay! the examination?" says he. "A famous farce, and you shall hear all about it.

"Passed my examination, have I, do you ask? I should think I have passed it, indeed! And what sort of an examination, too? That is the best of the joke. Faith! brother Edmond, I verily believe that the Seven Sages of Greece, and yourself into the bargain, had you all been present on that auspicious occasion, would have held your sides for laughing.

"But no matter. The thing is done. This time, as luck would have it; it was not I, but the professors' themselves that were at pains to pull me through. Never yet, you may be sure, was the Ass's Bridge made so smooth to the hoof of the ass; for, be it here

known to all whom it may concern, that it was settled beforehand in the council of the gods that I should be, with the utmost expedition compatible with the constitution of the Prussian mind, an officer in His Majesty's Army. The great Napoleon absolutely insisted on it.


Why are you all staring at me in that way? Do none of you know, here in your corner, what the whole world is about outside?

"Our King has appealed to the people!

"No more University, no more Lyceum, no more Military Colleges, no more Government Offices! Student and schoolboy, cadet and clerk-in short, every

« AnteriorContinuar »