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The French and Austrians are made to be at war with each other from the cradle ; for they are opposites in every thing except in their mutual and sincere love of tobacco. The Austrian would sit for ever; the Frenchman would never sit at all, if he could help it. The Austrian thinks that a victory is of no use unless it saves further fighting; the Frenchman makes a victory only the preliminary to a battle, in which it is a hundred to one that he gets beaten for his pains. The capture of the demi-brigades sounded a prodigious achievement in Vienna; court balls were given in commemoration of this grand piece of chivalry; and the Aulic Council narrowly escaped the mal-apropos of putting the army on the peace establishment.
But Moreau was of a different opinion. He determined to make the Austrians feel that a night skirmish was not a pitched battle, and that three demi-brigades were not the whole French army. He moved accordingly; and the first echo of his cannonade sounded in the ears of the honest Austrians as if the world were come to an end. But the German, if tardy, is brave; and if he has no actual taste for carnage, yet, when fairly warmed to it, exhibits quite a sufficient share of the general wild-beast propensity of mankind to tear each other. The camp was raised, soberly and slowly, but it was raised at last; and the columns leisurely took their way towards Manheim, on whose walls the French guns were already pouring out their shot and shells in unwelcome prodigality.
The Hulans were in the rearguard, and Carlo, with a few of his scattered companions, lingered to give a last look at the river, which every man of Germany regards as a sort of family favourite. Nothing could be less like war and the things of war. The summer was lying in all its colours on the hills on both sides. Strasburg was ringing its singularly beautiful chimes, as if there were nothing but weddings and holidays in the world. Kehl, with all its bastions behind them, looked like an enchanted hill, worked and carved by giants, and covered with a thousand tissues from the loom of that most magnificent and least costly of all artificers, Phoebus himself. All was softness, serenity, and luxuriance. Even the fortified head of the Rhine
bridge exhibited nothing more warlike than a few lounging soldiers smoking on its walls, and like themselves gazing at the sunset. Carlo stood contemplating it, while the shades of evening were sweeping round. "We shall be late," said one of his comrades. "We shall be forced to bivouac; for not an innkeeper will open his doors after nightfall, while the columns are in march."
"If I were a general," said Carlo, "I should save you the trouble of the march altogether. I should leave Manheim to fight for itself, and watch the French here."
"Why, there are none to watch!" "If not now, rely upon it there soon will be. Moreau has the character of being the first tactician of France. He will not deserve it, if, with this city to debouche from, and this fortress alone to protect our side of the river, he does not make the attempt. If he does, he must succeed."
"Pho! the thing is impossible. Do you see troops, boats, pontoonsany thing?"
"Nothing in the world," said Carlo; "and for that reason I dread the manœuvre the more. If he shows no troops, we have none to show. He wants to pass the Rhine; and, take my word for it, that he will pass it on the very spot where we stand."
The dispute continued, and the disputants were scarcely aware, in the dark, that an officer, wrapped in a large cloak, and attended by an orderly, had been listening to them for some moments. On discovering him, the group dispersed, and prepared to gallop after the regiment. "Stay, Hulan," said the officer to Carlo, in a tone of authority; "I have been an accidental hearer of your opinion, and I am inclined to think that you are in the right. What makes you suppose that the French will attempt to cross the river here?"
"The sagacity of the French general," was the answer; " and the maxim which I learned at the military school, always to prepare for a Frenchman when he is most desirous to put you off your guard." The officer seemed to be struck with the reason; put spurs to his horse, and taking his station on a rising ground, which commanded a wide reach of the river, continued sweeping the horizon with his
telescope. Carlo had now time to contemplate his interrogator, and was struck with the strong sense that characterised his physiognomy. The eye bold and powerful-the features, though heavy, yet noble-and the frame, though broad, yet either thinned by exertion, or rendered lighter to the glance by the springiness and muscular activity of his movements.
Twilight had now deepened into night, and the officer, with a sudden exclamation, started from his position, and rushed back to the spot where he had left his orderly. He wrote a few lines. Take this to the commandant of Kehl instantly," said he, to the orderly. "And you, Hulan, follow ." Carlo professed his willingness, if he should first obtain his colonel's permission. "Tonnere!" exclaimed the officer; "will he hinder you from following the Archduke?”—The hero of Germany-the Archduke Charles was before him! In the next instant they were both at full speed through the forest. As they approached the camp of the Swabian brigade, which had been left almost the only troops in observation, they halted to hear the sounds from the left bank. The movement was no longer equivocal. The strokes of innumerable oars, the hum of voices, and the cries of the boatmen, kept down as they were, showed that a powerful force was already on the water.
They are coming!" exclaimed the Archduke, at nervous intervals; "Alvinzi has made an irreparable blunder. We have not five thousand men within five leagues. Hulan, you ought to have been the general; but come on, we must still do our best." At this moment a sudden thunder of artillery rolled along the whole French front, and two vast embarkations of troops were seen by the blaze rapidly pressing to the shore. In the centre a smaller column headed both, and was already landing on an island, connected with the German side by a bridge of boats. The Archduke looked on this scene with feverish anxiety. "Not a shot is fired," he exclaimed; "not a vidette challenges. They will be all taken in their beds-poltrons!" That they were not in their beds, however, soon became apparent; for, after a sharp skirmish, the garrison of the island were seen running in a mass to the bridge, and followed so closely by
the French that they evidently would not have time to cut off the communication. "All is lost," said the Archduke, with a degree of calmness singu. larly contrasted with his former tone. He now saw the full danger, and was now prepared to look upon it with the composure of a soldier's mind. "The Eshlar Rhin," murmured he to himself, "is in their hands. They have the bridge, and by daylight they will have ferried over their whole force. Well, so be it!"
The trampling of the fugitives, and the shouts of the pursuing French now came near. Carlo, less absorbed in the consequences of "grand manoeuvres," now ventured to hint that the pursuit lay in their direction; and in proof pointed to a huge branch of an elm which had been just cut off by a cannon-shot.
"Right," said the Archduke; "we must not wait to be taken prisoners. Ride off and order Staringer to bring down his Swabians instantly to this spot. You can show them the way."
"But, your highness, will the general receive a verbal order from a private in the Hulans?"
"True," observed his hearer; "but it is impossible to write now. Who are you? You say you have been at the military school. When? How long have you served ?"
Carlo gave his information as briefly as the questions.
"Ha! the son of Colonel Sebasti ani?" said the Archduke; "excellent officer-and you a private! I seesome escapade, some coup de jeun esse!"
Carlo explained matters; and the short conference ended by the Archduke's bidding him consider himself as his aid-de-camp for the night, and bring down the troops to meet the leading column of the French; while he himself rode to the main body of the army, to retrieve if possible the overs sight of their march to Manheim.
The new aid-de-camp flew on the wings of the wind. He was now an officer; glory, power, wealth, and diamond epaulets filled his brain; it was an intoxication, and before he had sobered it he was in the bivouac of the Swabians. Staringer was, like his countrymen, as brave as his own sabre; but he had all their delibera
While Carlo was frantic with
impatience, the honest Swabian moved
with the etiquette of parade. The French guns sounded nearer and nearer; but nothing could be more regular than the manner in which the Swabian columns formed, and nothing more unlucky. Carlo flung himself on and off his horse a dozen times, before he could prevail on the gallant German to march. The shouts of the French, who, to do them justice, are the most noisy of all troops on earth, seemed by this time to come from every part of the horizon, and Carlo was in despair. At length, in an agony of vexation, he rushed forward, at the head of a squadron of chasseurs, to probe the thicket for the advance of the rest.
It was the height of summer, and the dawn was already beginning to gleam along the hills of the Vosges: below all was still, wrapped in purple vapour; and, except the occasional glitter of a bayonet, nothing was visible along the lower landscape. But a new blaze of sunshine, bursting through the ridges of the Black Forest, suddenly lighted up the whole scene, and nothing could be more extraordinary or splendid. Thirty thousand men in three columns were on the surface of the Rhine; the centre column already landed in part, and keeping up a continued and heavy fire; the others more slowly advancing, in immense masses, with glittering arms and waving banners, across the broad expanse of the noble river. The sounding of trumpets, the beating of drums, and the repeated cheerings of the troops, filled up the wild harmony of war. Carlo stood gazing in fixed astonishment at the pomp of the view; he saw for the first time the magnificence of soldiership, and the impression was full, overpowering, and indescribable.
But his military coup d'œil saw as clearly that the Swabians were too late, and that they could advance only to be taken prisoners. He rushed back to the column, and informed the general of what he had seen, and his opinion. But Staringer, if he had been difficult to move in advance, was still more difficult to move in retreat. The young aid-de-camp's remonstrances, by no means promoted by his Hulan cap and cloak, were listened to, with calmness indeed, but with the very reverse of conviction; and the three thousand Swabians marched without stop down to the
shore, and began a steady fire on the boats.
This unexpected resistance evidently startled the advance of the enemy; and the head of the huge column, already within a short distance of the shore, hesitated, and, after a few moments, steered away to find another point of landing. The Swabians followed; and Staringer, now sufficiently alive to the magnitude of the peril in front, pushed rapidly along the bank. But the quick ear of Sebastiani caught a movement through the forest, which told him that the still greater peril lay behind. The Swabian general turned from the intelligence contemptuously, and hurried on. Within five minutes from his taking up his position, a burst of fire on both his flanks taught him his error. He was now evidently undone. Between the column on the river, and the troops in the forest, his retreat was utterly impossible. The German bravery still persisted in keeping its ground, and the French paid dear for their success; but the result was now a matter of calculation. A shout and a charge brought the enemy into the centre of his battalions; and before the half hour was over, the brigade was utterly dispersed, and Staringer, with his staff, guns, and colours, in the hands of the invaders. Carlo and a few others escaped in the general confusion.
This was rather a disastrous beginning of his services in the Imperial staff; but what was to be done? Nothing, but ride off in the morning, find the Archduke, state the facts, and trust to fortune.
Yet even this was not to be so easily managed. In this world a strong determination and a capital horse will go a great way towards their object; but not where an army of seventy thousand men lies between them. This was the case at the present crisis; for Moreau had landed with his whole force, and the French hussars were spurring round every corner of the country; there was no glory to be got, and his only expedient was to hide in the thickets. The day never seemed to have been so long since the Flood; the sun seemed to linger in the sky on purpose to betray him, and his sense of hearing assumed a painful acuteness, which persuaded him that every spot of the forest was filled with pur
suers. Night, however, came at last, and with the last gleam of evening he saw the door of a little inn. Nothing could be more opportune. At other times he might have doubted the safety of its hospitality, for nothing could be more robber-like than its physiognomy, and nothing could be nearer the fact. But he was dying with fatigue, hunger, and vexation. In this state, he would have faced half the banditti of the Black Forest naked. His sabre was so much in his favour, and, after a short and sulky interrogatory of the owner, he pushed his way in. His entrance was greeted with a general scream, and a rush of females into an inner room.
They had taken him for one of the French marauders, and expected to have all their heads dismissed from their shoulders, for the sake of their ear-rings and necklaces. But in their retreat they had left their supper behind them, and the young Hulan contented himself with sending an invitation to them to return, and sat down. This might not be chivalric, but he had seen nothing but their backs—the supper was plainly before him in all its charms—and, after a twelve hours' fast, there could be no comparison between the back of the Medicean Venus and a German sausage. His invitation having been declined, he had accomplished all the requisites of ceremonial; and he commenced the meal with an appetite which might have been envied by many a crowned head. But it was occasionally varied by the halfopening of the chamber door, and the glance of a peeping visage, apparently for the purpose of discovering whether he were a human being or a cannibal. At length the door fully opened, and a lady, attended by two female domestics, advanced, thanked him for his civility, and begged to know whether the French were approaching in that direction. Carlo started by instinct on his feet, and gazed at her in silence.
The lady repeated her question; but he was spell-bound, and it was with difficulty that he got out a few words. It is not to be presumed that a hero of eighteen, the son of a colonel, and an Italian, had not meditated something on the subject of female graces before; or that any man, passing his vacations in the Austrian metropolis, had not seen some striking specimens of the sex. But in all his
studies of that order, Carlo felt that he had never seen any thing like the face and form that there stood, evidently amused by his perplexity. The lady seemed just beyond girlhood, and just between the vivacity of the French and the seriousness of the German countenance. Her features were fine, her eyes brilliant, and the physiognomy noble; but there was an expression in that physiognomy, so singularly touching and sweet, that it took his soul by surprise. He felt it like a flash of electricity, and felt that there stood the arbiter of his fate. When he recovered his self-possession, he explained the circumstances of his being there, in a few words, to which the beautiful girl listened with increasing attention; a short dialogue explained every thing on both sides, and they sat down at table together; the domestics, to their great joy, coming from their retreat and attending. The lady divulged her name, Carolina Cobentzel. She was returning from a visit to some relations on the French bank of the Rhine, when the march of the enemy took place. She had reached the German side of the river but that morning, a few hours before the passage of the French. She had fled in infinite terror from the scene, and was in hopes of escaping it altogether; when the sight of some hussars in pursuit made the postilions turn into the forest, where night, if it stopped the pursuit, had stopped her equipage also.
The conversation grew animated. It was some months since Carlo had seen the face of woman, beyond those rather unfinished specimens which follow regiments. His natural spirits returned as if by enchantment; yet what enchantment is equal to that of grace, spirit, and beauty, in one? A new soul seemed to have entered into the Hulan; who, however, had now summoned courage to tell his fair guest that he was the Hulan no longer, but a chosen member of the staff of the favourite general of Germany. He forgot the time in the spell-like delight of the hour; he poured out all the glowing thoughts, wild fantasies, and eloquent picturings of the past and the future, that swept before his Italian imagination like a dream of Elysium. lady listened and looked, with growing astonishment; listened with fascinated ear, and looked with full, deep, unconscious gaze. Carlo had inherit
ed the features of his father's country; and their expression, lighted up by the ardour of his feelings, was brilliant. He seemed as if he could have poured out his fervours of poetry and passion for ever. The lady's lovely countenance, filled with emotion as rich and rapid as his own, looked on him, as if she had found, for the first time, a being by whom her heart could be understood, or whom it could understand.
But a sudden whisper of one of the domestics to her fellow, in which the name of Cavinski transpired, dissolved the charm at once. It was evident that nothing could be more startling to the lady's recollections. The countenance was instantly pale as death, the lips quivered; and, with an effort, she rose from the table, and, half-fainting, withdrew to her chamber.
Carlo's curiosity was too strongly excited, to suffer the domestic to withdraw with her, until he had ascertained the cause of the change. A couple of florins untied her tongue. "Her mistress, the daughter of a general officer in the Austrian service, was returning, for the express purpose of being married to the Count Cavinski, a Hungarian of immense estates, and one of the Imperial chamberlains."
"Does she love him?-can she love him? is it possible that she can love him?" were the breathless questions of the ardent Carlo.
The femme de chambre answered, with a smile worthy of the boudoir of a prima donna-" The count gives charming presents, and they say has three palaces; and all the ladies of the Court are dying for love of him—or them."
The reason was unanswerable, and a couple of florins more, the last relics of his month's pay, showed that the Hulan could give still more munificently than the count-for he gave all.
But there was no time now for deliberation. The door of the hut opened; and the half-savage owner rushed in, crying that the hussars were already hunting the next copse, and would be among them next minute. The news was sufficiently alarming; the lady was brought from her chamber; the horses were hastily put to; the postilions, tired, sleepy, and much "bemused in beer,"
dragged their jackboots over the saddles of their weary animals; and at length the Hulan had the honour of handing the fair fugitive into her britchska.
Here was an end of every thing— adventure, love, speculations wild, wandering, and wonderful. Carlo felt that his world was finished; and he wished himself shot on the earliest opportunity. Life or death being now equally indifferent to him, he mounted his horse, and slowly pursued his way in the direction which the army was supposed to have taken.
But this night was still to be a memorable one in his history. The sound of the carriage-wheels was just dying on his ears, when the galloping of cavalry and the firing of their pistols, showed him that they had been overtaken. His indifference abandoned him at once; he pushed his charger through brambles enough to have stopped an elephant; but what can stop a young hero, and that hero desperately in love with the most beautiful creature within a thousand leagues square, and that most beautiful creature in the hands of gentlemen of the road, who understand the art of fleecing like the French light troops? By dint of furious exertion he contrived to work his way through this German jungle, and at length had a fair view, though through a wall of brushwood, impassable to any thing but a wolf or a hound. The proceedings of the plunderers were systematic. They were three, evidently stragglers, who had slipped away on a private expedition. One was standing, torch in hand, at the horses' heads; another was regularly handing the travelling valises out of the carriage; while the third, also dismounted, was keeping guard over the lady and her servants. Finding that he could not force his way to the spot, Carlo fired his pistol at the fellow in charge of the postilions. The shot told on the torch-arm, which instantly fell by its owner's side; that owner himself following his torch headforemost to the turf. His companions instantly sprang on their horses, drew their sabres, and prepared for battle. It was now that Carlo felt the good fortune that often comes from our not being able to do all that we wish at once. If he had burst through the thicket, he must have