Imágenes de página

cradling the world to a gentle slumber; but there shone in my breast the light of an endless day; the morning of my happiness had dawned. And how changed was my Magdalene! She stood as it were transfigured before me; the spirit of a higher existence was shed around her, and the expression of happy love shone in her features like the bright halo which encircles the immortal. Before, she was the perfect woman ; now she stood before me a seraph from a better world.

I have not spoken with her parents yet, but I hope they will not blight our happiness. They love Magdalene with such tenderness, that I feel sure they could not throw a cloud over her sky. Gustavus, if you have never yet experienced the rapturous moment when love wraps two hearts in sweet confusion and fills them with highest earthly. bliss, if you have never heard the heavenly words • I love thee!' falling from lips you love, then you can form no idea of the fathomless joy, the soul-thrilling joy, of requited affection !

Villarosa, August 1. SHARE my happiness, dear Gustavus ; she is mine!- mine by the choice of her own heart, and mine by the consent of her parents ! They make no objection to me; they receive me, stranger as I am, into the beautiful circle of their love. Does not every thing conspire to gratify my fondest wishes, sooner than even I had dared to hope ? Does not every thing lovingly unite, even in these stormy times, to establish sweet peace forever in my breast ?

I have told them all my plans; how that from love of arms I had joined this campaign ; how I intended, when it was over, to obtain my discharge, sell my property in Bohemia, and return to my happy Italy, there to live for Magdalene and the pleasant duties of our youthful loves. I told them all, and believe they felt that at least I would not make her unhappy. I pressed them to make a speedy decision, for I expected every moment orders to march; and they at length gave us their blessing. Gustavus, when the father led her to me and said: • Take her — she is the joy of my life, and make her happy!' when she sank into my arms and the kiss of ratification burned on our lips in the holy presence of her parents, I was lost in bliss; all the angels of heaven descended into my soul, and bore down to me a most bewitching Eden. I revelled in the fulfilment of dreams that now, in beautiful reality, were blooming on the path of my life. Surely, Gustavus, such happiness was never intended for me!

Villarosan DEAR FRIEND: What days of Eden I am now enjoying in the circle of those I love. The father and mother strive in every manner to show their regard for their new son, and Magdalene lives only for me. We are together the live-long day, and she seems to grow more noble, more lovely, more holy every hour. I have told you of her taste for music: she is anticipating great pleasure when Brother Camillo returns. Camillo, she says, sings a clear and beautiful tenor, and then we shall have many a pretty trio together. I am quite anxious to see my new brother. They cling to him with such fondness that they are moved almost to tears whenever they are reminded of his absence, and that is hardly for a moment to be avoided, for there is everywhere some memento of him. They love dearly to talk of Camillo. He must be a noble fellow. I think of him always as a tall young man, full of spirit, decision and energy; strong in body and in soul; a youthful, proud athlete.

Besides her singing and playing, she sketches also beautifully. She loves most to draw historic scenes, and in the execution has attained. an astonishing degree of perfection. She has just finished one representing Horatia at the moment when she discovers in her brother the conqueror and slayer of her lover. The expression of the maiden's face, in which one can read the strong struggle of conflicting emotions within, is most happy. To me the drawing was touching. The simple forms have made a deep impression on my mind. You ought to hear her talk about it, to see how feelingly she enters into the painfulness of Horatia's position. She does not blame the slayer of the lover, she blames the iron destiny; for the brother as Roman must conquer; and not Horatius but Rome thrust the sword into that loved bosom.

Magdalene is now drawing from memory a likeness of her brother for me. Her parents say it is excellent, so life-like does her memory call up his image ; but I am not to see it until it is finished. Gustavus, what an endless chain of heaven-like joys and feasts of love shall my future be! How my gentle M. will adorn our beautiful circle! I shall live days I would not give for all the treasures of the world. Those are indeed happy feelings we experience when, safe from the storms of the sea, our ship in full sail enters the harbor; but it is with anticipations of highest earthly delight that we look out upon the rosy morning streaks of love. Gustavus, my day has dawned.

Villarosa, Aug. lih. What I have long feared has happened. I must part with her; I must leave my beautiful Magdalene. This morning I received orders to retire fifteen miles from Villarosa by day-break to-morrow. The enemy is probably advancing, and our general desires to receive him on the advantageous heights of C - Alas ! war, on which I once dwelt with such enthusiasm, has become wholly insupportable. The thought that I might lose Magdalene fairly makes my soul shudder, and dark forebodings haunt my dreams. If it were only to advance; but to retreat, to leave Villarosa and all that is dearest on earth in the power of the enemy, it almost makes me mad! I am not one of those iron spirits that can bear everything ; dare everything I can indeed; but to attain my point through patient endurance, there I lack the power. How hated is every moment in which I cannot see Magdalene; in which I cannot press her to this throbbing heart! Ah! I am Waldemar no more! I cannot summon resolution for the parting; the proud consciousness of manly power bows before this agony of feeling.

Riccardino, Aug. 7th. GUSTAVUS, let me pass in silence the scene of our parting, Magdalene's tears, my anguish and her last kisses. I obeyed my orders, and

have now been three days in Riccardino. It is a great comfort to me that from one window of my new quarters I can see Villarosa, where my loved ones are. I am continually at that window looking out toward it, and the intense longing of my spirit seems as though it would burst this bosom! Everything around me is so tiresome and dull; even the tumults of war, for there is considerable confusion from the number of regiments stationed here, has no interest for me. I have now but one feeling; a burning, maddening longing, which almost rends this frail body! Magdalene! Magdalene ! how unchanging is my love! I cannot live thus separate from thee!

Theo hours later. Gustavus, I am in a phrenzy of excitement! My dark forebodings are approaching their fulfilment. The general has ordered us out, and beat for volunteers to storm Villarosa. The enemy have taken possession of it, and seem determined to intrench themselves on the heights. That I should be the first to volunteer you can well understand. I shall rescue Magdalene from the enemy; what a heavenly thought! But that I shall cause death within those peaceful halls, shall help to disturb that beautiful home, to which she clings with such inmost love, can I do that! dare I do it! Oh! conflict of duties! But I must take the chances. The struggle will be sharp. The enemy cannot be exceedingly strong, yet my band is small. But there is need of alertness on every hand, for the enemy expect hourly large reinforcements. Shield me, God! Duty and loye call me! With blood must I achieve my destiny !

Thus far run Waldemar's letters. A few moments after he advanced with his brave guards on Villarosa. Already they neared the outposts of the enemy.

Waldemar had hoped to approach unnoticed by a path leading through the cypress-grove, the path he had so often threaded in happier hours, under the very walls of the Castle, but the enemy, to whom his attack had probably been betrayed, fell unnexpectedly upon him. The conflict was fierce, and soon they were engaged hand to hand. Waldemar's guards, seeming to know they were contending for their leader's bride, pressed fearfully up against the foe. Maddest of all fought the French officer, a young man of noble figure and dauntless bravery. Waldemar met him several times in the fight, but they were as often separated by the changing tide of the battle. At length the French, unable to bear up against the furious charge of the Guards, threw themselves into the Castle. The young officer defended the entrance with the energy of despair. Waldemar threw himself upon him with all his force. He yielded, and the Guards poured after their victorious leader into the Villa. Waldemar followed his obstinate opponent from room to room, in each of which the contest was renewed, calling on him to surrender, but in vain; instead of answering, he only fought the madder. Both were already bleeding from many wounds, when suddenly it seemed to Waldemar as though he heard the sound

of Magdalene's voice. The thought nerved him with new energy, and he summoned all his remaining strength. His antagonist sank, pierced through the heart. At this moment Magdalene and her father burst into the room. Brother, unhappy brother!' broke from her lips, and she fell lifeless upon his body. Despair fell upon Waldemar. He stood thunder-struck, overwhelmed by the thought of a brother's murder. At length Magdalene revived. Her first glance fell on Waldemar, then on his bloody sword. She swooned again, and fell back upon the bleeding body of her brother. They bore her away, and her aged father, who had stood with his eye fixed in death-like gaze upon his son, followed in silence. Waldemar remained alone, with the reflection that he had destroyed the happiness of those he held most dear. Soon the Count returned. He had recovered his self-possession, and held out his hand to the murderer of his son. Waldemar was overcome; he sank at his feet, and moistened his hand with his tears; but the old man drew him to his heart, and both wept aloud in each others embrace. When the Count had sufficiently recovered himself, he narrated to Waldemar how his son Camillo, after he had been obliged to leave on account of the duel, had taken service in the French army, and a few days before had agreeably surprised them; how Magdalene had told her brother of her Waldemar, and how he rejoiced in the hope of knowing and loving the friend of his sister. Waldemar's frame shook with anguish at the recital. He raved as one mad, and the Count snatched the sword out of his hand to prevent him from taking his own


But now the anxiety depicted in every movement arrests their attention. Alas! Magdalene, whose tender frame could ill endure such a shock, was dying!

Waldemar became frantic with despair; he prayed the count to let him see Magdalene once more, and threw himself at his feet. Trembling with emotion, the stricken father turned away that he might not refuse the unfortunate man this last request. Magdalene, whose heart struggled painfully between affection and horror, could hardly be persuaded to see again the slayer of her brother ; but her lovely spirit, so near its departure, overcame the reluctance, and undying love conquered. But here is a fragment of another letter from Waldemar :

Gustavus, I am ruined! I have murdered the peace of three angels! The stain of blood is on me, and despair throbs in my veins ! Gustavus, curse me! Fearfully do visions of the past haunt me; they will drive me mad. I am crazy now!

Once more have I seen her whose heaven of joy I have destroyed; once more she looked on me with all the tender expression of former love, and faintly whispered : • Waldemar, I forgive you!' These words went like a dagger to my soul, and I sank down at her feet. With her last effort she tried to raise me- to draw me to her bosom; but her strength failed, and she sank dead into my arms !

Gustavus, Gustavus, despair is hurrying me to her again ; yes, I am hastening after her. She has forgiven me, the lovely, the sainted one, but I-I cannot forgive myself! I must offer up myself; only by blood-by my blood — can I wash the stain from my soul !

• Farewell! I dare not contend with my destiny. I have murdered my own peace. Farewell, thou true brotherly spirit!-God in mercy will let me die!'

His last wish was granted him. That little skirmish was the prelude to a decisive battle, and the following day saw the two armies join in fearful conflict. Waldemar fought with desperation, rushed into the heart of the hostile army, and found what he sought-death! Pierced through with countless bayonets, he sank in the thickest of the fight, and the last word that breathed forth from his dying lips was • Magdalene !' His companions in arms, who loved him with generous enthusiasm, sought him out after the battle, and with tears of manly sorrow laid him in the family vault at Villarosa, by the side of his much-loved Magdalene.

[ocr errors][merged small]

To-Nigut my eyes, tear-laden, have wandered sadly o'er
The lines that told a passion, sleeping now to wake no more.

From each mute and voiceless syllable are dreary memories born,
That with fingers dim and spectral point to days forever gone.

· Forever,' oh !'Forever!' 't was the word you breathed to me
When your girlish faith you plighted, with the stars alone to see.

False scroll and falser passion ! how it haunts me lying there,
Read into my deepest memory, treasured up to mock despair.

Tears of joy have fallen on it, and again and yet again
Have my lips sought out the places where your fingers might have lain.

Foolish tears, ye were but squandered ! idle was the clinging kiss!
Of the love that blazed so brightly there is nothing left but this.

Ere this too be cold in ashes, let the voices of the past
Speak once more unto thy spirit, speak for this time and the last.

We were young in life; no shadows fell upon our lightsome way;
There was then no night of sorrow that would never break to day :

No passion heart inwoven, no memory so deep
That the wave of Lethe only could lull it into sleep.

Then I lingered in the sunlight of thy deep and pleading eyes,
Then I felt from out the fountains of my heart a love arise.

« AnteriorContinuar »