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Will you go
minutes a knock was heard at my door, and Bernhardi entered. He was pale as death ; his eyes glistened with intense hate and desperation; his soul appeared harrowed by the most violent emotions ; but when he spoke his words fell slow, and were articulated naturally.
*I am under an obligation to you : for that reason I come here. I would be still deeper in your debt.
for me to the wretch and demand immediate satisfaction ? I say immediate !'
Are you not carrying the matter too far ? said I, soothingly; • has he not been sufficiently punished ?
* Punished !' said Bernhardi, fiercely; 'do you know what he attempted ?? I shook
head. · Then it shall forever remain unknown. Punished !' - one short minute, and I should have been too late ! Hear you that ? Will you act for me? Will you act now? Will you see that we meet forthwith ?'
That will depend on your adversary? · Oh, I cannot wait - I will not wait ! exclaimed Bernhardi : 'go! go!'
The irresistible frenzy of the student prevailed. I was taken by surprise. Quiet and peaceful as was the life I led, before I was aware of it I found this strange commission thrust upon me; and almost before I knew it I was in Balaiguer's room.
The Marseillese sat smoking with a light cap upon his head, which only partly concealed some recent bruises.
So,' said the savage, you come to have your laugh with the rest! and you were the tell-tale, eh ? you were the sneak!'
We will settle these epithets by-and-by; at present another's business has a preference. You must be aware that your conduct this morning
• What of it ?
· Nothing, except that Bernhardi will meet you at any momeut you will appoint'; for him the sooner the better.' 'For me the sooner the better,' growled the Marseillese.
Who is your friend ?' • Sacré bleu ! that remains to be seen. I will send him to you.'
I went back to my room, somewhat surprised at the bold bearing of Balaiguer, for I was sure that he was a coward, until I remembered that he was an expert swordsman, and that Bernhardi once told me that he himself had little knowledge of the weapon.
In about a quarter of an hour an acquaintance called on the part of Balaiguer. As I anticipated, swords were chosen. As to time and place, the Marseillese was quite indifferent.
There was a large hall over a billiard-room in a street near by, where many of the students were in the habit of fencing, but where, at that hour of the day, no one was likely to be seen. To this hall we agreed to repair forth with.
I summoned Bernhardi, and, accompanied by another friend, according to arrangement, we proceeded to the appointed place.
The German grew more and more excited. Never had I witnessed such an awful manifestation of human passion.
Are you expert with the small-sword ?' said I, as we went along. • It matters not how expert I am; I shall pass my weapon through his heart !'
These words were spoken slowly and deliberately, yet the speaker was boiling with rage.
We entered the hall. Balaiguer and his friends were on the spot. Bernhardi took no notice of any thing. His eyes glared more horribly than ever; a white foam gathered on his lip.
Balaiguer seemed in spirits. He was evidently delighted at the excitement of his adversary, and confident in his own skill.
The preliminaries were soon settled, (for a student's duel was no very serious affair, it rarely being a matter of life and death, generally ending in a scratch, or at most a flesh-wound,) and the parties stepped forward for the encounter.
I looked at Bernhardi with a curious eye. His .case' was a phenomenon in physiology; for excited — nay, almost raving – as he was, I perceived that physically his muscles were firm; there was no tremor in a single nerve. Dupuytren himself, at the moment of commencing the most serious operation, never carried a firmer hand. When he looked his adversary for the first time in the eye, he could scarcely contain himself. .
The signal was given.
• Beast !' screamed Bernhardi, as he brought his sword awkwardly to a guard, 'shall I kill you at once, or shall I do it with a 'one, two and three ? Is a moment's time worth any thing to you? If 80, you shall have it; for a moment saved her!'
Balaiguer smiled triumphantly at this new proof of his adversary's frenzied state,
and made an ordinary pass with which to commence the combat. Their swords met for the first time.
• Now for it!' said Bernhardi. One,' (a pass, parried by Balaiguer;). “two,' (parried also ;) .three !' The Marseillese fell, thrust through and through!
Bernhardi looked at the dead man for an instant. Dog ! he exclaimed; then, throwing down his sword, he clutched my arm, and clinging to it convulsively, he tottered down into the street.
I supported him to my room. He was as weak and powerless as an infant. In the course of an hour he regained sufficient strength to walk home without assistance, and extorting a promise from me to visit him the next morning, he went away.
I bolted the door of my room, and throwing myself into a chair, remained the rest of the afternoon and all the evening sitting quite alone. At length I went to bed, but I could not sleep.
Which ever way I turned, the form of the Marseillese, cold, stiff and stark, lay stretched out before me. The fierce whiskers, the grim moustaches, and the savage beard curled as fierce and as grim and as savage as ever, as it were in mockery of the pallid features they once so gaily adorned; while close at hand, stood Bernhardi, his sword dripping with blood, the very incarnation of an exulting fiend. Not for one minute did I close my eyes the whole night, for when I attempted it the images grew more horrible, and I was forced to open them in order to dispel the illusion.
I tried to believe the whole a dream, that I had been oppressed by a horrible night-mare. I could not realize that I had been so suddenly arrested, turned from my quiet unobtrusive way of life, and made to participate in the death, not to say murder, of a fellow creature : it seemed as if the morning would bring some relief, and for the morning 1 anxiously watched.
It came at last, but I was in no haste to stir out. At length a knock at my door roused me. It was the young Frenchman, and I rose to admit him. He told me about what I feared to ask. Balaiguer was discovered early in the evening by some students who repaired to the hall to fence. They gave the alarm and the police took the matter in charge. Three students, acquaintances of the deceased, were missing, (they were the two friends of Balaiguer and the young man who with me acted as friend to Bernhardi, who fearing the annoyance if not the danger of a legal investigation, had immediately left Paris,) it was understood that Belaiguer must have fallen in a duel, and it was a natural conclusion that the three who fled were his antagonist and the second of each party. So suddenly had the affair sprung up, 80 suddenly had it terminated, that not a soul beyond the persons present, except the young Frenchman, who could guess the truth, knew or suspected any thing relating to it. The latter now begged me to rise, and appear as if nothing had happened, and insisted that I should take my coffee with him.
I asked for Bernhardi. The young Frenchman had not seen him, but singular to say, his name had not been mentioned in connection with the tragical affair. Two strong cups of the best coffee with the usual accompaniments of a roll, two eggs, and a plate of fruit, did much to restore the steadiness of my nerves, which had been, I admit, considerably shaken.
Recollecting my promise to visit Bernhardi, I crossed over soon after breakfast to see him.
He was standing at the door of the conciergerie, apparently waiting for me.
He took my hand as I came up, and inquired anxiously how I was. As for himself, his countenance had resumed its pale, saddened expression. No trace of the passions, which had been so terribly roused, , appearing there. He requested me to go with him
to his room, and I willingly assented. We entered it in silence. Bernhardi pointed to a chair, and I sat down, while he took a seat near me. I glanced over the apartment. It bore traces, all around, of the presence of - woman, It was furnished with admirable taste, and ornamented with pictures, engravings, and embroidery. Folding doors, which however were closed, led into another room, and with the one we were in evidently formed a suite. I had scarcely time to finish this rapid inspection when one of these doors opened, and, I speak considerately, the loveliest, most angelic-looking being I ever beheld, entered. Her face
was as faultless as the Madonna of Correggio, her form as perfect as the Venus of Phidias, her countenance absolutely lovely and serene ; her eyes were a deep hazel, and the heavy tresses of her rich brown hair were exquisitely braided over her temples, and wreathed around the back of her head. She entered the room, and as if unconscious of my presence, approached Bernhardi, and throwing her arms over his shoulders, pressed him fondly, while she exclaimed : * Dear, dear Ernest, have you returned at last? Oh! do not go out again !'
Bernhardi shrunk from the embrace as if suddenly bruised by a blow, while his countenance exhibited signs of physical pain and suffering. He rose quietly from his seat and putting his arm around the lovely intruder, led her gently back to her apartment, without any resistance her
part. As she was leaving the room, she turned her eyes casually upon me; at once a horrible suspicion darted through my brain, my heart beat violently, my knees shook together. Bernhardi closed the or and resumed his seat by me : his countenance was troubled; he looked in my face sadly, and after a while he spoke.
*I asked you to come here that I might give you the explanation to which you are entitled. Rumor and gossip have doubtless been busy with me. I care for neither, and although I have no desire for notoriety, I am indifferent to it. You have laid me under an obligation which I can never remove, and one which peremptorily demands that I should explain all to you. I shall be brief, just as brief as the bare recital will permit. Will you listen ??
I bowed assent. *I am a native of Wirtemberg. I was born in the little village of My father was a wealthy peasant, and I am an only child. I was brought up tenderly, and as I was said to manifest considerable wit and intelligence, my father determined to educate me. In the same village dwelt a widow lady, whose husband had been an officer of some distinction under Napoleon. Upon his death his widow had come back to her native place, bringing with her an only child, a little daughter of some seven or eight years of age. I was then about
The widow's fortune was small, but sufficient for the simple habits of the place she had chosen for her home. My father had known her when a young girl, and with my mother often called at her little cottage. In this way Rosalie and I were thrown much together. Indeed after a while we were almost inseparable. In all our sports and plays I was always Rosalie's bachelor. I used to call Rosalie my
little • wife' and she called me her little man.' This was without any reflection on our part: neither of us were old enough to think seriously.
• At length the time arrived when I was to go away to school. I suppose
I was twelve years old, and I look leave of Rosalie with a heavy heart. I really think at that early age I loved her. Well: years ran along. From school I went to Heidelberg. I was ambitious, I was full of energy, and my love for Rosalie preserved my boyish purity of heart. Year after year, as I visited my home, I was surprised to find in her some new grace, some new charm, some new beauty. At sixteen, she seemed to me all that could be imagined of
what is lovely and beautiful. A delicious ecstasy floated through me when I felt that she would one day be mine.
But I had a draw back to my happiness. In spite of every effort to believe the contrary, I could not feel in my very heart that I was loved by Rosalie even as I loved. True, she was fond of me, but it seemed rather the attachment to be felt for a protector or a brother, not the devotion of love to love.
I nursed myself with hopes. I had never loved but Rosalie ; no one had ever loved me but Rosalie; and who could expect that a young girl should show the same deep devotion that marks a powerful manly heart? This was the way I reasoned.
Rosalie I was certain kept nothing from me. She told me every thing. She said she loved me as well as she loved her mother; ought I not to be satisfied ? But when I pressed her to my heart, I felt not that electrical affinity which cements in one hearts which are united; still I did not complain : how could I complain, when Rosalie told me I was all to her?
• I had passed three years at Heidelberg, and now went to Munich. I had determined on medicine, and prepared to follow the study with devotion. I had been at Munich nearly a year, and I to come home and see Rosalie. I had stayed away longer than usual, because I wished to take a degree in my profession; then I felt that I could claim Rosalie for my wife. I did go home. Let me hasten my tale. I greeted my parents; every thing was well. hurried to Rosalie. She was well too. She ran out to meet me. She was delighted to see me.
Never had she looked so beautiful. As we entered her mother's house together, she exclaimed : We have a guest a charming guest; a son of my father's dearest friend. He has been with us for a month, but must soon return to Paris ; and I shall miss him so !"
* My brow grew overcast; my heart sunk. I said nothing; I believed my destiny sealed. I did not even look
reproachfully. How could I look reproachfully upon her ? - for her soul was pure; it knew no guile; it was incapable of concealment, or coquetry, or caprice.
Suffice it to say — for the narration is too much for me entering the cottage I found a young and handsome French officer. He was, as Rosalie had said, the only child of her father's dearest friend, and had sought out the widow at his father's request. “Hear me,' whispered Bernhardi, while he drew his chair nearer to me. I made friends with that young officer. With the closest observation I sifted him as wheat. I found him honorable, high-minded, goodtempered, pure. I satisfied myself that Rosalie loved him, (poor child ! she did not know it;) I sought an interview with Ernest de Fleury — that was his name; I pressed the secret from him, which he swore should otherwise never have been revealed, for he knew that Rosalie was my betrothed. Then I turned, and went for Rosalie. I had a long, long interview with her. For Heaven's sake, let me hasten !' gasped Bernhardi. “You - -you — guess the rest; guess at all. The sweet angel was sweeter than ever ; but — but- I got at the truth. She protested that she would never never give me