THE INVOLUNTARY JOURNEY Edit
By Heinrich Zschokke Edit
Translated from the German for Putnam's Library of Choice Reading by F. B. G. in 1892 Edit
The Involuntary Journey, though lacking the power and depth of some of Zschokke's other stories, is so charming a tale and so brilliant an example of his easy, graceful style and remarkable equipment as a writer of romance that we gladly give it place in our reproduction of famous stories.
That the first of the following letters may be better understood, I must make known that the writer and his sister were invited by the Countess Amelia von St y, on the 20th of
January, 1807, to a ball at her palace in . They went thither and had a merry evening, although the joy that shone on. the faces of all came not from the heart. For at that time was full of alarm and of Frenchmen, and a week had scarcely elapsed since the transitory regency had been appointed, at whose head stood the brave but much injured Malachosky.
The Countess of St Y was as beautiful as an angel that night. A magnificent necklace of pearls glittered around her neck. It was the New Year's present of her uncle.
The writer's sister had received a similar New Year's gift, but had neglected putting it on. The young rivals soon entered into a dispute as to which was the most beautiful necklace, each wishing that her own should bear away the triumph. The upshot of it was that both commanded the writer of these letters to go immediately and bring the missing necklace. His sister having given him the key of her jewelry box, he ordered his coach and hastened home.
FIRST LETTER, Edit
Blonie 21st January, 1807. My Dear Countess:
By all the Graces, among whom you stand the first, I beg that you will not be angry with me. Instead of bringing you Sophia's necklace yesterday, I carried it to Blonie. But today I return to , and this evening I shall lay it at your feet. I make use of a tedious hour to send you my excuses by a courier who hastens to . You will certainly declare my ofifence unpardonable in having postponed your yesterday's triumph, and will think it can never be atoned for. But I beg you to have mercy enough to deign to glance at these lines, and you will have compassion on the offender, who only sinned toward you for friendship's sake.
Yesterday I had put up Sophia's necklace, and was on the point of stepping into the carriage to return to you, at the ball to which your beauty gave the greatest charm, when my servant announced a French officer. I was obliged to receive him. He brought me a letter. Only think, they were the first lines I had received for twelve years from the only dear friend of my youth, noble Felix L y, who has during that time been in all Napoleon's campaigns, and now stands at the head of the Polish regiment. He wrote me but a few words: “ I have just arrived at Blonie, and learn, my dear Joseph, that thou yet livest. My hopes of embracing thee in are frustrated, now that I stand almost* before the gates of the dear city. I come from Posa, and here I find a courier from the army with commands to hasten immediately to Thorn. If it is impossible, come immediately to Blonie, where I shall rest at least several hours. Who knows whether we shall ever approach each other again so nearly in this world! We have so much to say to each other! Early in the morning I shall travel onward."
Will you now blame me, dear countess, for taking advantage of the important moment ? To think of seeing a dear friend from whom I had been so long separated! I begged the officer to take a seat in my carriage, letting his horses follow. I then threw my cloak around me, and thus, instead of going to the temple of love, I went to the feast of friendship.
After a shocking ride, for the road was wretched and the night pitch-dark, I arrived at Blonie, and my Felix was already at Sochazew, where some French generals were awaiting him. But he left a note for me, begging that I would follow him to Sochazew, where he would wait for me at all events. Now that I have come this far, for his sake, I will even go a few miles farther. But everything goes wrong. One of my horses was lamed last night, and I must take the post, and I must wait until the postman finds horses, for his are all in use now. But they give me hope of departing in one hour. Farewell, lovely one. This evening I shall kiss your hands.
Count of W.
SECOND LETTER, Edit
Kutno, January 23rd.
In truth, my most gracious, you will not be less astonished, on opening this letter, to find that I write from Kutno, than I am astonished at being here. Fate will make me a liar toward you, and I am inconsolable. What will you think of me ? And yet I am the most innocent man under the sun.
The only thing in my adventure that pleases me is that happily I overtook Felix at Sochazew. We embraced each other with mute ardor ; an overwhelming sweet sorrow suddenly seized us; and it seemed to me as if in another world I again held to my heart a loved one who had long since died.
You must have known him. The Fire-brains has become quite sedate. Egyptian and Spanish suns have browned his face finely, and the slash on the forehead, over the left eye, that he carried away from a battle, to the honor of a Calabrian sword, is so becoming that he would make me jealous, were I to know that he were quartered near you at Warsaw.
I intend when I am with you to relate to you the whole story of his military expeditions, and that will be day after to-morrow. Heavens, how men are thrown about to all corners of the earth in these days! It is the general wandering time of nations, and no one can say whether he shall eat his last mouthful in or , or . Felix was attached to the general's staff for a long time, but now he commands his own regiment. He believes that he is destined to the corps of General Lannes, and asserts that Napoleon will be in next summer, particularly now that the Turks have shown themselves by no means indifferent, and have declared war. This much is certain : that the Russian ambassdor has left . The French generals that Felix found in Sochazew assured him that, since the battle at Pultusk and Golomyn, the French arms had been masters in a far bloodier day at Ostralenska.
But enough of politics. You will be much more curious to know how, instead of being in , I have finally arrived in this most pitiful little city. Only listen. He that has felt the damage must not mind the ridicule. You will laugh heartily, and nothing will remain for me to do but to laugh aloud, notwithstanding that I have the greatest inclination to doubt whether I am not even now with you.
We remained together in Sochazew till late in the evening before we separated for heaven knows how long ! As I could not count upon obtaining post-horses in a short time, and as I wished to return immediately to , notwithstanding my fatigue, that I might make atonement to you, Felix was kind enough to use his military power to procure me a conveyance that would take me to Blonie. A chaise appeared, which was harnessed to three fine nags. I again pressed the noble Felix to my heart ; he rode off, and I soon did the same.
Being wearied with the journey of the night before, in which I had not closed an eye, and also with the affairs of the day, I protected myself from the snowstorm by drawing the curtains of the chaise. I then wrapped my cloak about me, squeezed myself into a corner of the carriage, and went to sleep, in spite of its jolting. It was a happy thought of mine, that of putting on a great-coat over my ball dress. My feet, being only covered with silk stockings and slippers, were sheltered by a whole load of hay.
I slept uneasily, but my dreams were pleasant, for they were of you. Oh, how lovely, how kind the god of Fancy made you! What blessed words did I read in your eyes! My soul was with yours, I knew what you felt, and yet I felt unspeakably more than you. Oh, that it shotilJ only be a dream! Did you but know, enchanting Amelia, what a heaven you have to dispense, you would not act otherwise in reality than you did in my dreams!
No matter how often I was startled from my Elysium by the merciless blows on my head or on my ribs, yet I always shut my heavy eyes properly, and it was always you who led me back again to that lost Elysium. As soon as I had aroused myself from this enchanting sleep, I remarked with affright that it was already morning, and I had counted upon being in Blonie shortly after . I tore back the curtains of the chaise, and saw that we were entering a city that I had not had the honor of seeing before. " Where are we ? " I asked the driver.
"In Kutno," said the fellow drily, and kept on his way.
" In Kutno ! " I exclaimed, out of my senses with rage. " Does the evil one possess you to drag me to Kutno ? I will go to Blonie, to Blonie! "
The villain behaved as if he had no ears, and kept on, stopping finally at an inn. I got out, it is true, for my whole body was stiff; but I felt the greatest temptation to cudgel the rascal in the street.
He maintained, in the mean time, that the French officer who ordered him to go had named Kutno to him ; at least he had understood it so. On this he insisted, and, whipping his tired horses, he hurried away.
I ascertained from the innkeeper that my wicked coachman had been absent from Kutno, where he lived, for eight days, upon requisition probably (it being the custom with the military to drive about the world dealing blows and hunger), and he had now probably. taken advantage of the night to come home with his wagon, particularly as he saw that I was a Pole, and neither an officer nor a Frenchman.
This information, which my knowing host gave me so candidly, might be true, but it did me no good. I now sat in Kutno, and was not in , nor even in Blonie. The innkeeper comforted me with a miserable breakfast, and with the hope that an opportunity would be found to take me back again to Sochazew. He gave himself a great deal of trouble to procure me a wagon. I myself ran over the miry little city in my silk stockings, and had my labor for my pains. Everything had been seized for the service of the army. I even humbled myself so much as to seek out the rascal who had brought me to Kutno. In my distress I forgave him all his sins, and, holding up a purse, begged him to take me back to Sochazew. But he declared that his horses and carriages had been taken from him that same morning. On the contrary, my sagacious host thought that the wicked knave had hid his carriage in some safe place, so that it should not be put in requisition again.
To-day, however, I struck a bargain with a French engineer officer, who is quartered on my host. He travels to Kladova; I accompany him there, and then he gives me the wagon, with the power of using it as a requisition wagon as far as Sochazew, and even to Blonie or , if I will. To make the matter more certain, I have not only acquainted the driver with our contract, but also that I shall not use it as a requisition wagon, but shall pay him well as far as I use it. So, in the worst of weathers, I must first go to Kladova, then be brought back to Kutno to get a carriage. For if I do not accompany the carriage to Kladova, I run the danger of losing it altogether.
The misery in this land is indescribable. Our deliverers make us pay dear for our enfranchisement. Money will hardly find a man bread.
But I must close, else I shall lose the current post. Oh, how I envy this happy sheet, that will be within your room two days sooner than I can! At the same time with this letter, I send one to my sister, to whom I wrote yesterday. Calm the dear girl, and say to her that, positively, I shall be in day after to-morrow.
Adieu! I am almost dying with impatience to see you again. More than once yesterday I was on the point of running back to , through snow and mud, in my dancingshoes. But my reason was kind enough to make my homesickness the apposite remark that I should have eighteen or nineteen miles to run.
Fare you well! May you feel the warm kiss that I spiritually press upon your hand!
Posen, January 26th.
I am certainly bewitched. I now believe in all possible enchantments, whereas I have never believed in any but that of your charms until now. Now I doubt no longer the power of hobgoblins and of malicious spirits. To-day I would, should have been in , in your boudoir, and at the feet of you whom I adore. But misfortunes multiply and bring me to Posen, to which I may add that I made my entrance as a prisoner. Do not be frightened. I stand already on my free feet.
I feel as one does in a nightmare. The faster I would go foward, the farther I find myself behind. Since man was born, has a child of man never had the unlucky chance, as I have, of leaving a ball for a pearly necklace, and then be driven out forty miles into the wide world ? All my longings, my impatience, or eagerness, my wisdom, my foresight, have been of no use to me, but to bring me backward, still farther backward ; as the storm at sea drives the most skilful and active sailor far from the port for which he strives.
Day before yesterday, the engineer and I rode together to Kladova, as we had proposed. In this miserable nest there was a sort of governor to whom the engineer announced himself immediately after his arrival. There he found orders to go to Sempolno without delay. He came back and told me the misfortune, shrugging his shoulders, and with a million of regrets at not being able to keep his word ; but the service must have precedence over everything else. I became almost speechless with horror. I begged, raved, placed my distress before him — all was in vain. He shrugged his shoulders and would go to Sempolno. While the groom was feeding the horses, the engineer ran to the governor, and accompanied by soldiers, visited stalls and stables, to procure another conveyance. I followed him, but we could find nothing but a large dirt cart.
To keep possession of my wagon, I resolved to travel in it myself to Sempolno, where I had the hope of obtaining, far more easily, another relay of horses and more endurable inns than in the wretched, dirty town of . The engineer approved of my determination. But I was out of temper, and on the journey we were neither of us so friendly and talkative as before. Yes, there were even disagreeable altercations, and in Sempolno we coldly separated from each other.
I was so much the more friendly toward my coachman. We concluded to stay over night in order to let the horses rest, and to journey back at the very earliest moment the next day. My generosity increased, and as a reward I sat at break of day in the wagon with my face toward .
We were scarcely half an hour's ride from Sempolno, when we saw three French chasseurs running after us at full speed. My driver, full of apprehensions and forebodings, whipped his horses with all his strength. I thought his distress was as superfluous as his haste was fruitless. The French soon reached us, ordered us to stop, and cursed the driver, who, as they said, had stolen away from the requisition without due permission. They commanded him to turn back, and even talked of shooting. My Phaeton did not comprehend a word, but he understood the pantomime of the " conquerors of the world," and cast a piteous glance on me. I now interfered. This the fellows seemed to have expected, and, turning to me, they inquired with much politeness who I was, and then inquired for my passport. I had none. In the most agreeable phrases they remarked that I was a suspicious person, and hoped I would have the goodness to make myself known to the governor of the city.
The polite clowns, who now turned the wagon and horses about without further ceremony, were, without doubt, fully convinced of my innocence. The governor, as soon as he understood that I had procured one of the requisition carriages in a deceitful manner and had not even a passport for myself, first declared me a suspicious person, secondly an enemy of Napoleon, and thirdly a prisoner. For my consolation, the objections that I made to this helped to send me to headquarters in order to give my justification; and two hours afterward I had the honor of going to Posen, in the company of a corporal and a lieutenant, though not by my wish did they go thither, or rather, ride.
So long as we suffer from the little annoyances and unexpected provocations of fate, we easily lose patience, probably because we always hope to overcome them ; but when misery comes too palpably, we are merry again, for man, when he sees himself conquered, and feels that all resistance is vain, turns to his native pride, and, while he fears naught, despises all things.
Thus the vexations of the preceding days made me as angry then, as it now appears amusing to me to go as a prisoner in ball dress, it is true) to Posen, and be kicked on to the very borders of Poland. In fact, my misfortune is not so very great, and I am certain that you will laugh as heartily over my adventures as I do myself. I have nothing to regret, my amiable countess, but the loss of the moments that I might live in your presence. You now see what a misfortune can be brought about through a strife between two beautiful women. Sophia's necklace must bear all the blame, and yet it drives about the world with me.
I am now truly happy to be in Posen. I was very kindly received at headquarters. They made many excuses on the score of strictness in the service, and could not refrain from laughing at the merciless caprice of destiny which had brought me, in the midst of winter, from a ballroom in the capital, to the tumult of war on the borders. My first business here is to equip myself anew, for I look wretchedly. I shall no longer rely upon a requisition coach, for I have bought myself a fine riding-horse that is to carry me back to you. I am having a warm travelling-coat made, whose military cut will produce a sensation among the commanding corporals of the world-conquerors. And I have also a passport, by means of which I«hall reach your ante-chamber without hindrance.
Nothing keeps me now from flying to your feet, but the tailor and shoemaker. I cannot come away before day after to-morrow, that I see. We poor mortals are most dependent in the smallest matters.
Time is tediously long to me, and I have already had quite enough of the warlike tumult that reigns here, the hundreds of different uniforms, and the marching backward and forward of troops. It is one of the most remarkable contradictions in enigmatical mankind, that the whole world dreads war as the greatest trouble of life, the world detests toil, and fears death ; and yet gives itself willingly in a thousand ways to war, toil, and death.
My only enjoyment is in thinking of you, in conversing with you, unfortunately in thought alone! — to admire 3'ou now in the dance, now at the piano, now at the toilet, now in the charming negligence of domestic life, now as the queen of beauty in that enchantment which nature and art shed around you.
Postscript of the 28th of January. — I could not send this letter to the post till to-day. I am ready to travel, and early to-morrow I take myself away. I travel in the company of several Polish and French officers who are well known to me. Say to my sister that I shall certainly arrive in on Tuesday.
, April 2nd.
Heavens knows, my dear countess, whether you have received the letter that I scribbled to you with a pencil from ; and Heavens knows whether you will ever receive these lines! I will therefore repeat in few words what I wrote from , and renew my request, that you use all your influence, combined with that of my relations, with our government, and also with the French authorities, that I may receive my freedom.
I have already made known to you that when some miles from Posen, between Schwersens and Kostrzyn, we were very unexpectedly attacked by a heavy body of Prussians, surrounded, and made prisoners. Of the Frenchmen in whose company I was riding, one officer and one soldier lost their lives. We were all plundered, and I only saved myself from ill-treatment by saying to the Prussian commander, in the German language, that I was no soldier, but merely a travelling citizen who had been thrown among the French by chance. My passport, which confirmed my declarations, and the announcement which I wisely made, in my trepidation, that, far from making one of the French party, I was a Prussian subject, and longed for nothing more than emancipation of Poland from the French deluge, did me great service.
The Prussian officer was a humane man. When I told him, in answer to his questions concerning the number of troops in Posen, that without doubt several regiments would that same day take the road to Warsaw, he determined immediately to retire into Silesia, but signified to me that he could not set me free that moment, because his own position forbade it.
Without being treated as a prisoner, yet I was the same as a prisoner. After several days' travel on miserable roads, we arrived in by passing over the , half starved and half frozen. Neither complaining nor laughing did me any good. I hid Sophia's necklace as cautiously as I could, together with my little money, for I much distrusted the fortunes of war; and I did wisely. Our commander, who bore the title of major, claimed me on the following day to serve as a true Prussian subject under the banner of the king. It was impossible for me to reject this honorable offer without either injuring my character or having my patriotism suspected. I therefore did the service of an adjutant, in the character of a lieutenant, longing with impatience for a convenient opportunity to get rid of it. The deeper we penetrated into , the lower my courage sunk.
We suffered unspeakably from frost, snow, and want of provisions. Wherever we went, we were obliged to take what we needed by force. Our prisoners of war, who. were still driving about with us, were the most to be pitied. Notwithstanding this, the Poles, whose hard fate I most wished to relieve, declined my attentions proudly and indignantly. I read in the eyes of my countrymen that they took me for a betrayer, and this reproach was more painful to me than all the other miseries. I also felt soon enough the effects of their hate.
The major turned his troops toward Golgau, but we had not reached the place when, one morning, as our companies were taking their stand for marching out of a village, some French hussars rode up. They started at seeing us, and quickly retreated. As we marched out of the village, we were attacked and surrounded by a squadron of light French cavalry. This gave our commander no fear, but we were soon encompassed by several companies of infantry. We had fallen into a column of the Vend^ean body of the army, and our bravery was useless. The Prussians fought with unexampled courage, and even won two of the field-pieces with which we had been shot at. Notwithstanding, the end of the play was that we were beaten, and forced by their superior power to surrender. On our side, we had several killed and many wounded.
None were so happy as the French and Polish prisoners who had been liberated by the fight. The Poles immediately pointed me out to the French general, as a renegade Pole and an enemy to the French, who had betrayed them into the hands of the Prussians into whose service I immediately went. As the Prussian major named me as his lieutenant in counting out the prisoners to the victors, and called me a volunteer, he did not aid me in my justification. The passport from Posen only added to my guilt, and my horse, watch, and money were good booty for the world-conquerors. I was obliged to wade through snow and mire, on foot, with the other prisoners, by the way of Liegnitz to .
Here I wrote to you of my misfortune. In we rested several days, and then, with a number of other prisoners, we came through Leipsic here to . It is now eight days that I have been in this fortress. The inhabitants show much pity and kindness toward us, at the same time that they are to be pitied in the highest degree themselves. In no place have I seen the people so cast down as in this city. They all detest the French, the citizens adhere with ardor to their unfortunate king, and they do not give up the hope of yet seeing the Prussian eagle upon their ramparts.
As far as I can see, unless my cause is pursued in with untiring zeal, I must remain a prisoner till the end of the war. My well-hidden store of money begins to melt down. At all events, I beg of my dear sister, in the enclosed note, to send me a remittance to the subjoined address.
The governor is an obliging man. I had an opportunity of telling him my confounded adventures from beginning to end. He found them so curious that he laughed continually, and would scarcely believe me. He is personally well acquainted with my friend Felix. As to giving me my freedom, that, he says, is quite out of his power, and refers me to bitter patience. In the mean time he has told me to forward a letter to Felix, as well as this letter to you.
This joke of fate is almost too harsh to be amusing, but my despair would be useless. I am therefore as merry as I can be under the circumstances, and my health is inexhaustible. So you must be quiet on my account, and comfort my good Sophia. I shall now count the days, the hours, the minutes, till I receive an answer from you. When I see a line from you, it will seem as if I saw yourself, etc.
, May 20th.
Joy! my affairs are going on excellently. My magical star, or rather my evil star, I believe, will finally take me unexpectedly to Paris, to Lisbon, St. Domingo, Otaheite, the Tropics, the Esquimaux, the Hottentots, over Asia, to the smalUfooted Chinese, past the pious children of the Brahmas, and through the Persian gardens back to Warsaw. I have no doubt about the matter ; my affairs are going on excellently well, nowithstanding I always wished that they would come to a stand. I am already in . It is not farther to than to ; and if I am once in , what is it to me whether I go to you through or ?
But neither the German maidens (and yet there are some lovely faces among them), nor* the French ladies, nor the Spanish, nor the voluptuous beauties of the can make me faithless to you. So far as I have already gone, I have nowhere seen so many charms, such grace and dignity, as I left at the ball at . Ah ! if I had but one line from you !
Who knows but that the letters for me are lying now in , both from you and Sophia ? And who knows in where I am stuck ? After my letter was despatched to you, I was taken away with a great multitude of other prisoners of war. It was said that we were to go to Mayence ; in Mayence we were told that was our destination ; and when we are in , what will then be our destination ?
The host of prisoners with whom I came over the is scattered into a hundred portions. They go to all parts of the world. As I said before, I do not now doubt a moment but that I must go round the world. Were I only in Thibet with the Lama, or with the Prophet at , or on the , I would make a jubilee, for I should then be returning to you.
What miserable creatures we are! We are like ants, whose houses are destroyed by the uncertain tread of a horse ; like insects, which the stormwind carries away, and then deposits in distant lands. Why am I in ? What is the war to me ?
I send you these lines that you may not fear, at least for my life. Good heavens! It seems as though I had been absent from you twenty years. How many countries, mountains, streams, nations, lie between us!
No one can be certain that I shall not yet have the honor of being your Antipode. Ah, my charming Antipode, what then would become of life ? How easily you might die under my feet, without my knowing a word about the matter! If you lived for another, would you not be dead for me ? I say to myself, I have never yet read of two loving each other faithfully.
Since we captured heroes wander on this side of the , they allow us many more liberties than on German soil. I can go where I will, if I only show myself to the commander at the proper hour. I can live, eat, and drink as suits my pleasure, with my own money — that is understood.
When I rode to your ball would I had but taken out more than the usual amount of gambling money, such as I have spent — I believe for these twenty years !
Next month I shall write to you again, and it shall be from the place I hope to keep within till peace, and where I can await answers from . But probably, my beautiful Antipode, I shall send you my first letter from the or . Adieu.
Aix, June 27th.
Finally I have reached my goal. I am destined to remain here till an exchange of prisoners, or until peace is announced. This information has been more painful to me than I had at first expected. To be hustled from to the Spanish borders is truly no small matter. I shall therefore neither see Otaheite nor the , notwithstanding there is in all probability much more to see there than in these deserts on the .
All the French that I have seen in cursed my fatherland. I can sincerely give it all back to them in their own. What a miserable, barren, flat, beggarly country theirs is! I strongly suspect that the French government carries on the war that it may people these immense solitudes. There are almost as many prisoners of war as inhabitants here.
This little town has almost fallen to the ground, but my host prides himself not a little upon its great antiquity. It is a pleasure that I will give up to him. He has a young daughter who appears to me much prettier than the oldest town. And he recommends the warm baths of the city to me as a great luxury, believing there never were such miraculous baths in the whole world. But the man is a born fool — warm baths while the weather is hot enough already to suffocate one ! I am burnt as black by the sun as a mulatto, and I can scarcely comprehend how the young maiden of this old city has preserved such a dazzling, pure hand.
The prisoners are quartered on the citizens; but we receive nothing free but lodging. Everything else is left for us to buy, if we would not starve. My money has come to the dregs. My fortune consists of Sophia's necklace alone, that I should have brought to you at the ball, and that must now be consumed in the neighborhood of the . I hope my good Sophia will bear with patience the present loss of her necklace, and be happy that her ornament can preserve the life of her poor brother from death by hunger and thirst. I have already sold some large diamonds and pearls to a jeweller of the city, but he was not in a position to pay down cash. He was obliged to get the gold from , a town about twelve French miles distant from here.
Since then I have again lived very comfortably, kept a servant, taken rides in the neighborhood, received visits, and lightened the fate of my fellow-prisoners. Adieu.
, July 13th.
Te Deum Laudamus! There is peace! Every one comes to congratulate me upon approaching deliverance, and my return home. And in fact, the journey from Aix to needs a felicitation, for I put little trust in my fortune. The French speak of naught but Tilsit, and raise their Napoleon up to the gods. They think that if Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great lived at the present day, they would scarcely perform the service of adjutant beside the great Napoleon. The mayor of the city asserted, in a speech which he made in honor of the peace, that without doubt Tilsit was on the borders of Asiatic Tartary, and far to the north, and that the left wing of the great army had pushed its advance guard far on to the eternal ice of the North Pole, where no mortal had dared to place his foot before. The good people of Aix (who are called asses) froze at the mere suggestion of the mayor. No doubt after listening to the speech, they had immediate recourse to their warm baths to ward off the polar cold.
I am now awaiting the command to return, as an effect of the Tilsit peace; and still more impatiently a few letters from your beautiful hand, my lovely countess, before I leave.
I shall procure a comfortable and strong travellingwagon, and as soon as I am free I shall fly over the with the extra post to the dear . My servant, an honest fellow of a Gascon, I shall bring with me. He is much attached to me, and bears the great Roman name of Pompey. The strange fellow has no fault but that of chattering incessantly without regard to the subject. He can talk three hours about salt soap. Sometimes I like to be overwhelmed by this ocean of words, that is, when I cannot forget myself in sleep, and would not think, and would tear myself away from my longing for you.
Do not write any answers to this, or any chance letters sent in future. They would arrive too late.
With this letter I send you my journal. It shall be my forerunner, and relate to you my experiences, remarks, and adventures, more circumstantially than I have been able to do till now in my hasty letters. I wrote it in weary moments, and of those I had not a few. You will recognize my inmost thoughts therein, and in the sanctuary of my inmost soul you will always find me your adorer!
Perhaps your eyes weep a tear in pity for the unfortunate on the — perhaps ere you have left off reading and weeping I shall kiss the beautiful tears from your blushing cheeks.
Pampelona, July 28th. My Sweet Countess:
Take the first good map of , seek there the kingdom of ; in the kingdom of , the capital, Pampelona, at the foot of the and consider — I am there !
I have an actual hobgoblin of a genius that withdraws me farther from you, when I am most certain in my hopes of soon being with you. The whole world is making peace. I alone must remain at war with the whole world, struggling with alcayades, regidores, procuratores, escrivanos, and heavens knows how many more honorable people. Now that I have passed the (certainly with little good will on my part), a journey may yet be made to , , Ispahan, and . Put no longer any trust in aught that I may write concerning my returning to .
I had received your package, enclosing some letters from dear Sophia, from Uncle St , from my friend W , and Count S . Your words had charmed me into the highest heaven — I enjoyed the sweetest reward for past sufferings, when misfortune brought the tipstave of the mayor of Aix to me; the tipstave led me to the mayor; the mayor to the judge ; the judge into a room where there were several people, among whom I only knew the jeweller or goldsmith to whom I had sold a good part of the jewels of Sophia's necklace, three weeks before, to pay my travelling expenses. They showed me the precious stones and pearls in a little box, with the question, " whether I acknowledged having truly sold these jewels to the man in ." They pointed out the goldsmith to me. I examined the stones, recognized them, answered yes, giving them several additional circumstances.
They declared me guilty, sealed up my effects, carried me to , gave me a second trial, and asked me in a most innocent manner for the hiding-place of my companions in the robbery. I then learned, for the first time, that a princess of high rank had been plundered by robbers on the highway as she touched the Spanish borders at Trun. I proved my innocence to the judges, by bringing forth the rest of Sophia's necklace, to which the stones and pearls exactly matched.
They clapped their hands, took the necklace from me, put me in closer confinement, and let me know incidentally that the necklace answered exactly to that described as having been stolen from the princess. Their decision only gave me hopes of getting off with the punishment of the galleys for life if I would procure also a jewelry-box, with ten valuable rings and a diamond cross, belonging to the pillaged lady. I answered all there was to answer.
At the end of a week I was packed on a donkey, and, well bound and well watched, I was led to Pampelona, where the viceroy (as he is called) had imprisoned some of my accomplices. He wanted to see the necklace, and to confront me with the highwaymen.
Let come what may of this absurd affair, I now only write to you that you may know what has become of me. More I cannot write, for I must deliver this letter open to the police, and let it be read, before it goes to you. Console my sister. If I am hung in it is your fault, for sending me from the ball to fetch that wicked necklace. But even on the gallows, I have the honor of being, etc., etc.
, August 14th.
I hope you have not been anxious on account of my last adventure. I was released on the second day after arriving at Pampelona; for the princess being there, she saw immediately that it was not her necklace which I had. The confronting me with other prisoners, the hanging, and a life in the galleys readily passed away from my mind. Apologies were made to me, and the viceroy even invited me to dinner, and I was presented to the princess.
But the Spanish ground burnt like fire under my feet. The viceroy had me conveyed to , on his own equipage. Here I find that my passports are ready for , and my chaise brought Pompey from Aix yesterday. Everything is ready for departure.
Whether I shall go forward to , or backward through , , Tangiers, and — that, my adored, I will not decide. Some enchanter must be in love with you, and jealous of me. Beyond all question there is magic in the game. In the natural state of the world, one is not required to go from one street in to another, by way of the . But if my enemy bewitches me into the moon, I shall even love you there. My next letter will probably be dated from . I am full of resignation.
, October 3d. I
I have just recovered from my first rapture of joy in the arms of my dear Sophia — having arrived within the last halfhour. O Amelia! Amelia! I tremble with delight as I announce myself to you in these lines. Let me know when I and my sister may come to you. Amen.