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it as distinctly as if it were only yesterday-was singed of a yellowishbrown colour, and I must confess, to my shame, that I felt a considerable degree of malicious pleasure at seeing it
. But what did I care now for a carpet-bag? While Meier was collecting all the various objects scattered round the room, and after returning them carelessly to the carpet-bag, gave them a push with his foot in order to make them fit in properly, and then put it under the bed, I boldly donned the inexpressibles. Good Heavens! if they had not fitted !—but no !
“Hurrah !" I shouted, and cut various capers round the room. is serene!"
They fitted as if made for me. They were rather tight, but that was no consequence ; the style was splendid, and I was as delighted as a child. I was always rather sweet upon my leg. I had scarcely time for a hurried review in the mirror, for the whip of the driver, whom the servant had fetched in the mean while, was cracking furiously in the street. I put on my cloak, seized my gloves, slapped my hat on my forehead, and prepared to start.
Stop!” Meier shouted, and seized my arm. 66 What time do you think you
will come home ?” “ Who, I?--well, not late. When my lady goes home, I shall not dance another step ; at any rate, I shall be back by one or two at the latest."
“Well then, take the house-key,” Meier replied; “I shall hardly get home so soon, for we usually play a couple of rubbers afterwards. Are you a sound sleeper ?”
“ Not extraordinarily so.”.
“ Then I'll clap my hands under that window where your bed stands. You can tie the house-key in a pocket-handkerchief or in the tobaccopouch hanging there, and throw it down." “ But have
not a porter to answer the bell ?” “ The wire is broken, and has not been mended yet. You are sure to hear me."
“But the confounded heavy key —
, it won't bother you there—and one thing more, notice this door carefully. When
the stairs in the dark, keep to the left ; you can't make a mistake, it is the first door."
“ Enough, enough.” We hurried down stairs into the fly, and started for the Hôtel de Russie, where the brilliantly illuminated windows announced that the festivities had commenced. How my heart beat when I went up the wide flight of stairs ! I felt as if I suddenly had lead in my feet, and could not move or raise my limbs. I was forced to collect myself, and was indeed only recalled to my senses by one of the gailydressed liveried servants thrusting a card into my hands, and disappearing the next moment with my mantle. We entered the ball-room : the wild sounds of a gallopade reached our ear through the doorway. It was just as I had expected: three dances were already over, the Polonaise and two waltzes, and Emilie must be engaged for the whole evening. Could I reasonably anticipate anything else?
“ You see," I muttered into Meier's ear, with my hand convulsively pressed on my heart, “ such is the fate that ever mercilessly pursues me.
I have travelled eighty miles in the most piercing cold-surmounted gigantic difficulties—and now—too late—the curse which has undermined my whole existence-Emilie is lost, and I am a wretched, wretched man for ever.”
“ Adolph !” Meier whispered to me as he bent down. " You know what I have told you a thousand times : I advise you to forget the girl altogether. She is older than yourself ; her best years are passed."
. “Go to the deuce !" I cried, angrily. “ Fellow, do you want to render me insane, when you see me on the uttermost verge of despair ? You know that I
Very good—the old story—you will not listen—so go your way in peace. But there is Emilie's younger brother coming towards us, and you will immediately learn from him where you must seek your divinity;"
Angrily I turned away from him towards the brother of my beloved ; but who can describe my surprise, my delight I may say, when I heard that Emilie, who had also been delayed by some peculiar contretemps, had not yet made her appearance, but was expected every moment. I could have fallen on the neck of the amiable young man, a tall, thin, attorney's clerk, in the public ball-room. Of course I posted myself close to the doorway. I certainly paid my respects in my zeal to at least a dozen strange ladies : was forced to apologise repeatedly, and at last discovered that Emilie had entered by another door; but what matter ? Conducted by her brother, she came in search of me, and I forgot, in that moment, journey, carpet-bag, deception, and long waiting. I forgot the world, and lived and breathed in her alone. An hour thus passed in intoxicating joy. What dances I danced, what I said to her, how could I know ; I did not even see any of the merry throng that surrounded us ; I only gazed in her eyes, and in these I saw a paradise. Emilie had never before been so kind to me, and at this moment I would not have changed places with an emperor.
At length, during one of the pauses, I found time to converse more calmly with her ; arm in arm we walked up and down the room, and her little rosy lips whispered and prattled the sweetest flattery in my
We had at last reached one of the small red-covered benches. against the wall, and sat down : and Emilie now expressed her sorrow for looking so pale and distraite. Good Heavens! I had not even noticed it, she looked really much paler than usual—and, in truth, considerably altered. What could have happened to her ?
Oh, dearest friend!" she whispered, in reply to my sympathising question, “it was nothing of any consequence, and still it was a thing which almost forced me to give up the pleasures of this night's dance.”
The blood ran coldly through my veins when I thought even of the possibility.
“But how was that possible ? it cannot be illness? Your cheeks are really remarkably pale this evening ?”
“I was childish,” she smiled. “ Terror, and, at the same time, annoyance, if I must speak candidly, were in reality the foolish cause.”
“About a trifle. I have been spending a few days with a sick aunt in the neighbouring town—several acquaintances had arranged a little dance there—this evening I returned, and you will laugh at me—exchanged Nov.-VOL. CII. NO. CCCCVII.
carpet-bags in the carriage. Well, why do you start ? that is not so very terrible," she laughed, as I drew back.
“ No, indeed not,” I stuttered, and looked round to see whether the roof would not fall in to bury me. Exchanged-exchanged your carpet-bag-ba, ha, ha!-that is really too comical—that is gloriousha, ha, ha, ha delicious."
“But, for goodness' sake, Adolph !" Emilie exclaimed, in alarm, "you are attracting the attention of the whole room--what is the matter with you?”
Beg a thousand pardons,” I stuttered, quite confounded, for I really did not know at the moment whether I was on my head or my heels. Paint, powder, locks! I turned hurriedly towards her, and by Heavens ! she did not wear her usual brown locks, from which I had once stolen a sweet, dear memento, which had been kissed a thousand, thousand times. Plague and cholera! I had the remainder at home in the box. But what to do? Should I confess to her that I had been the unhappy wretch, who
No! that would not do ; at least not now. not the carpet-bag singed, ruined ? Did it not lie---I dare not think of it-where and wear what? My senses began to grow confused, and patches of burnt carpet, locks, black trousers, rouge, powder, all went round and round in my head like a burning Catharine-wheel in a thousand wild and ever-changing shapes.
“I really cannot understand you,” Emilie at last whispered, and directed a reproachful but still tender glance upon me.
6 What is the matter?”
“ Ah!" I replied, in fearful embarrassment, and must have looked at the moment as red as a freshly-boiled lobster" you really cannot imagine how sorry I am for your accident; if we could only-only discover who made the unfortunate mistake
“ I am certain it was a gentleman,” she said quickly. “I found just at the top-” She stopped suddenly and bit her lips.
“ You opened the carpet-bag ?"
“Yes, certainly, but of course by mistake; the padlocks are all alike, and I did not find my error till I-till I
I knew what was coming now, what must come, for they had been lying at the top.
“ Found a little book; that is to say, a few sheets of paper, sewn together, containing poems. Ah, Adolph, if you had only read the verses
I looked up to her in surprise. I had quite forgotten the confounded verses, but they pleased her. Emilie was an enthusiastic poetess.
“ You would have killed yourself with laughing at the stuff,” the young lady continued, who had now quite recovered her calmness. “I have read a good deal of nonsensical poetry in my time, but never such trash as this—such moonshine and melancholy-such fancies for suicide and similar trash. I was rather bold, and read a few of them; they were too absurd.”
“ But, madam,” I stuttered, and hid my face in my handkerchief-it seemed to me as if the blood must burst my veins —" I really do not know-a stranger's secrets !-"
“A grocer's apprentice," she interrupted me, laughingly. “There is
no risk; the pretty writing betrayed the author.” (It had cost me five shillings to have them copied neatly.) 6. You must visit us to-morrow," she continued; " then
you can read the trash yourself. I will send the carpet-bag to an acquaintance afterwards, at whose house I will have the advertisement directed.”
This was too much; my pulse beat furiously, my forehead burned, the word was on my lips with which I would annihilate her. I seized her arm at the same time with such violence, that she uttered a slight cry, and looked up in my face. At this moment the music recommenced, the dancers flew to their places—I sprang up and looked round wildly.
“Come, Adolph !" Emilie whispered, and pressed my hand gently, “the quadrille is forming ; let us take our places.”
She dragged me almost passively towards the merry band—me, the desperate man, with a very demon gnawing at my heart; but suddenly my fury broke out.
I tore myself away from the horrible creature, leaped back, and cried-no, not a word passed my lips, but an icy shudder ran down my back. Good Heavens! I had forgotten the tight trousers : a seam had given way in consequence of my hurried movement, so much I felt, and I now feared all that was most horrible. Every eye was at the same time fixed upon me—at least it seemed so to meand I felt as if I must sink to the earth in my shame. If they noticed it, if I must leave the room saluted by the contemptuous laughter of these wretches : but no, they could not yet have comprehended the whole extent of my misfortune, and it was still possible that I might retire unseen. The only method was a sudden attack of bleeding at the nose: I pulled out my handkerchief, held it before my face, and examined the terrain with a hurried glance. The whole of the ground between us and the door was free from men, but several ladies were standing here and there, and the countless lights imparted the brightness of day: if I dared to cross at this moment, I should rashly expose myself to detection: I must wait for a more favourable moment.
A second glance convinced me that the spot where I had lately been sitting with Emilie was disengaged, and was, in addition, somewhat hidden by a curtain. If I could retreat thither undetected, I could bide my time and gain the door at the first favourable opportunity. It may be imagined that, under such circumstances, I did not dare turn my back on the company; but although Emilie regarded me with surprise, and even the handkerchief I held up did not account for such a retrograde movement, I at length succeeded, by extraordinarily clever mancuvring, and covered by a high-backed chair, in reaching the bench again, and hoped to effect my flight in safety eventually.
It was now a pressing necessity to discover the extent of the injury that had been effected : as it seemed, no one at the moment was paying any attention to me, and I bent down a little. Good Heavens! I had not conceived that my misfortune was so great: but it was only too certain, and my heart beat fearfully, my limbs shuddered with fever. But the nearness of the danger renders even a coward bold for the nonce ; the misfortune was evident, it must be remedied. If Meier had only been for a moment with me but no, that cold-blooded, unfeeling man was assuredly seated at the whist-table and counting his tricks and points: I dared not caleulate upon him, and I was just preparing to rise,
in order to repair the calamity as well as I could. Almost involuntarily I raised my eyes, but I fell back on my seat as if shot, for scarce three yards from me, and coming straight towards me, I saw Emilie on the arm of the thin, consumptive clerk, her amiable brother.
Had the velvet-cushioned bench opened and swallowed me up, I would have sunk with the greatest pleasure any quantity of fathoms into the earth and utter obscurity; but it remained perfectly quiet, and I had scarce time to arrange my coat so as in some measure to hide the odious rent, when my destiny, in the form of this syren, came up to me, and asked, in a gentle, flattering tone:
“Is your nose bleeding, Adolph ?”
“ Well, that will soon be over," she consoled me; “but—might I trouble
for a moment?” I looked up in surprise and alarm.
“ You are sitting on my handkerchief,” she continued, in an imploring tone ; “I left it here just now.”
“ There—there is no handkerchief here," I assured her most decidedly, from behind my own handkerchief ; “I have just looked.”
“ Yes-yes, dear Adolph !” the horrible creature said, smilingly; “you are, indeed, sitting on it-1-I can see it;” and before I had the slightest notion of what impended over me, she suddenly seized the fancied handkerchief, and tried to draw it out.
If ever I wished heartily for anything in my life, it was at this moment to weigh somewhere about one hundred tons. I certainly seized the so-called handkerchief and held it tightly, but my merciless tormentor employed her utmost strength, and, as I could only make use of one hand, and, besides, did not sit at all firmly on the soft cushions, I felt that she gained gradually upon me.
“ But, my dear Mr. Miller," the unhappy clerk now said, and set to work too, " I really don't understand why you will not”—and he pulled with all his strength—"give up the handkerchief.”
I saw my ruin imminent; the fearful crisis was at hand; I could only delay it as long as possible, when-heavenly powers! it yielded, I felt it give way
the couple sprang back and held—was I awake or dreaming?—Emilie's handkerchief. A moment convinced me that my own fears had been unfounded; but whether they noticed it, or were only rejoicing over the victory, I cannot tell. I rushed out of the room, put on in my haste two wrong cloaks in succession; at last found the right one, with a hat which sunk over my temples—I threw it in a corner-put on the first that seemed to fit, and rushed down the stairs out of the house into the piercing cold, which, however, was balm to my burning brow. I was free, I could breathe again, and I hurried down the gloomy town towards the Castle-street.
When I at last reached it, I could not immediately find the right house; they were all alike, with their grey fronts and dark windows; but fortunately I knew the number, and at last found the No. 15, by the pale light of a lamp that burned opposite.
“To-morrow I'll start with the first train,” I muttered, as I pulled the heavy key from my pocket, and tried to put it in the keyhole. “I am cured. Meier is right; I was betrayed shamefully, abominably. Ah,