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ject of Herr Schobeln's visits, and speculated thereon to their hearts' content. Poor Gertrude, deprived of the power of making her own observations on the state of affairs, always applied to Madame Leroux for the result of her's, and their dialogues were generally carried on in something of the following strain :—
Well," the Widow Steinbach would say, by way of commencement, Roschen's languid step having died away, and her chamber door having closed on the sufferer" Well, so you tell me that our neighbour, Schobeln, wore last night a new cinnamon vest, with gold buttons ; is it not rather strange for him to get a new vest ?"
"I never remember such a thing before," Amelia would rejoin ; "he used always to wear a black one, and I never saw him in any other, except the one belonging to his best suit, which he wore the first evening he came, you know."
"It is very strange," said the Widow Steinbach.
Well, that is strange certainly," assented Amelia.
"But I think I can find a reason for it, strange as it is," continued the Widow Steinbach. "What would you think, Amelia, if he should be coming to look for a wife ?"
"A wife, sister!" said Amelia, with a very good tone of surprise.
Aye, a wife, Madame Leroux; why should not he seek a wife as well as another, especially now, he has no more trouble or expense about that mad lady, you know? Why should not he have found out that a lonely home is not a happy one, and that a kind face and a bright smile by his fireside, and a kind hand to smooth his pillow if he were ill, would be a blessing? He is rich-we are poor; why, if he should ask one of us in marriage, should we say to him nay? It is not of myself I speak; my infirmities are a sufficient answer to any thought that might arise on that sub
ject; but if he offer to marry either you or Roschen, why should you refuse the means of escaping from this life of toil and poverty ?"
The tears of Amelia were by this time flowing fast, but her sister continued
"You are the best judge yourself to which his inclinations tend; I should think he would most likely choose you, for Roschen's sorrowful voice alone would put such thoughts about her out of any man's head. It must be you, Amelia, and I trust and believe it will prove so, and therefore already I say, God bless you with him!'"
Amelia was much pleased at hearing this opinion expressed by Gertrude. Herr Schobeln's attention had been hitherto divided so equally amongst the sisters, that she had felt some difficulty in her mind as to which was the favoured fair one. She had a real respect for Herr Schobeln; she knew he was rich, and she had no objection to become the partner of his fortunes, not indeed with a mere selfish wish for her own exaltation, but to have the pleasure of sharing her comforts with her sisters. Widow Steinbach's speech had confirmed her in her opinion that it was herself and not Roschen whom he sought; and she already saw herself the mistress of the old house over the way, felt her light step bounding through its large rooms and up its wide staircases, rummaged its chests and odd corners, and heard her own laugh ring through the long-silent apartments, as she brought to light some article of strange fashion or curious workmanship. She already felt in fancy the delight of procuring for her sisters the means which should supply Gertrude with the comforts her infirm state rendered necessary to her, and exempt Roschen from her laborious employments. She lived day by day in a happy dream of the future, only wishing that Herr Schobeln would be a little more explicit at once, that she might commence altering her dresses for the wedding, which she had not yet ventured to do, though she had already turned them over many times, and contrived how they might be remodelled to the best advantage. Why did not Herr Schobeln speak? He spoke at last, and to Amelia herself by herself; yet his avowal had the effect of a sudden thunderbolt, shattering to atoms the fairy palace of her hopes and anticipations. He spoke, and after a long preamble concerning the disagreeables of solitude and the pleasures of
the married state, he finished his harangue by begging, humbly begging, that Amelia would propose him as a suitor to her sister Roschen! What Amelia said, or how she received the unravelling of his intentions, cannot be known, for she never knew exactly herself. She remembered something about pleasure and honour, and endeavouring to meet his wishes, and then flew to the Widow Steinbach to disburden her mind of the astounding intelligence. But Gertrude did not sympathise with her exactly as might have been expected. "They had been mistaken;" that was all-she saw great cause for thankfulness that the wedding and the wealth would still be in the family, for of course Roschen, though no doubt she would be astonished, would never be so mad as to refuse him, if it were only for the sake of little Franchette. She shifted Roschen into the character of bride, which she had hitherto marked out for Amelia, with wonderful facility, observing in conclusion, that at any rate there would be a wedding, and they would all be at it. Very true; but it is a different thing to be the principal person on such an occasion, or a mere looker-on-there is a wide distinction between the importance of a bride and a bridesmaid, and between being the mistress and dispenser of this world's goods, and the humble recipient of them. All this Amelia felt, and a sense of deep disappointment and mortification, together with shame for the self-delusion she had been subject to, did at first possess her mind, though a certain pride swelling at her heart forbade her to say so, and urged her to acquiesce in the view Gertrude took of the matter with the best grace she could. Indeed such was the excellence of her temper and the elasticity of her feelings, that when a few hours after she informed Roschen of the proposal she was commissioned to make, she did it with a smiling countenance, and was really distressed when her sister declared her intention of refusing Herr Schobeln's offer.
Months went by, and not only once but many times, by the agency of her sister, personally and by letter, did Roschen refuse Herr Schobeln. There was, perhaps, a lingering hope in Madame Leroux's heart that the determined coldness of Roschen might lead their neighbour to recollect that his cruel fair one had a sister, neither old nor ugly, who might not be so indifferent
to a similar proposition; but months, as I have said, went by, and Herr Schobeln determined to write once more to his obdurate charmer, and if she still continued unpropitious, to leave the town where he had already been much talked of as the rejected suitor of the beautiful young widow. Roschen received his letter, retired to her chamber, where she remained some hours, and on her return to the room where her sisters were sitting, calmly but coldly announced her intention of accepting Herr Schobeln.
Let no one who reads this tale burst forth with the hacknied quotation"Frailty, thy name is woman!" Roschen had done nothing rashly-nothing that could possibly subject her to the charge of fickleness or folly. The image of Francis Middleton, the first, the only loved of her heart, was as fresh in her memory as ever; this she had told Herr Schobeln, even while she acceded to his proposal. But he was gone; lost to her for ever in this world-her own health was failing, and, should she die, what would be the fate of her orphan child? who would carry on the struggle for her rights, which her mother had never yet abandoned? Then the Widow Steinbach: how could Amelia, in the event of Roschen's death, both wait upon her and work for her own support? All these things had been considered and re-considered, and thus it was that Roschen had consented to be the wife of Herr Schobeln.
The sisters, who had been apprehensive that, after all, there would be no wedding in the family, were overjoyed at Roschen's decision. Of the sacrifice she was making for others they had no comprehension. They were thankful that she had changed her mind, and they had no conception of the slow and most painful process by which that change had been effected. Roschen wept bitterly over her unappreciated sacrifice that night, as she knelt beside her sleeping child's couch, and poured out the agony of her soul before her Maker.
There was no occasion for the alteration of old dresses for the bridal, as Amelia had supposed there would be. Herr Schobeln seut the richest stuffs and silks that could be purchased in Frankfort as presents both to the bride elect and her sisters. Every preparation was made on a splendid scale.The old house, so long the subject of much ungratified curiosity amongst the towns-people, was now filled with work
men, and the gossips who gained admission were much disappointed to find it was so like other old houses. The wealth which the neighbourhood had so long taken for granted, was now presented to its eyes in the visible forms of rich carpets, curtains, and furniture of every kind.
The arrangements for the wedding feast were made in an equally liberal style by the direction of the bridegroom, and all Frankfort talked of nothing but the change that was taking place in the circumstances of two persons so unlikely to marry as the rich bachelor and the broken-hearted widow, and above all so unlikely to marry each
Perhaps even in the early bloom of her beauty Roschen had never looked so lovely as on the morning of her second wedding-day. The rich material and plain fashion of her snow-white dress suited well with the pure and intellectual character of her countenance, and the expensive lace veil which shaded her pale brow lent fresh delicacy to the outline of her features There was no wildness in her dark eye; no convulsive motion of the lip-all was hushed and composed as the calm depths of her own resolved spirit. She felt grateful to Herr Schobeln for all he had promised-a home for her sisters, protection for her child, unbounded kindness to herself, though she felt in her heart the last would not long be required. Since they had conversed more frequently and confidentially together, the bridegroom's feelings had undergone a change; he loved Roschien more than ever, if it were possible, but his love was blent with a respect that partook of the character of reverence. Indeed on the bridal day she seemed to awe even more than she had charmed him, and he moved and spoke in her presence with a deference that was scarcely lover-like.
The strangely assorted pair stood before the altar, where, ten years before, Roschen's young heart had throbbed so wildly, as her hand was placed in that of Francis Middleton, and the words pronounced which made her his own. She seemed to herself, in the present instance, to be enacting a part in some pageant in which she had no real inte
If this ceremony meant any thing; if she were really the bride of another, could she stand there so calm, so self-possessed? It was impossible.
The ceremony began; there was a
little stir at the door amongst the crowd who were passing in to witness it, and then voices were heard as in altercation. The clergyman paused and commanded silence, but still the people struggled, and still angry voices sounded. Suddenly Roschen started and turned round, gazing earnestly towards the door and listening with eager attention. A moment more and the bride sprang from her station at the altar, passed quickly through the crowd, who instinctively fell back to give her way, and was caught in the arms of a tall sunburnt man, in shabby sailor's clothes, whom she and no other knew-knew in an instant to e her own Francis Middleton !
He had been washed over board early on the fatal evening of the wreck, and, clinging to a floating spar, had been picked up by a small outwardbound vessel, and thus escaped the fate which awaited those who took to the boat. This vessel in her turn was doomed to disaster, being taken by a pirate, and all on board her were butchered or made prisoners. He had suffered sickness and slavery and imprisonment, but all had been overcome, and he had just reached Frankfort in time to save Roschen from becoming the wife of another.
"So there will be no wedding after all!" murmured Widow Steinbach, with something of a chagrined expression, when she was hastily informed of these particulars. "Of course I am delighted that Frank is alive and come home to us again, but it is a pity all these preparations have been made for nothing!"
"I would not have you be too sure of that," said Herr Schobeln at her elbow, and he spoke in a cheerful voice, very unlike that of a man who had just experienced so heart-rending a disappointment.
Widow Steinbach treasured up the words, though she was too wary to startle Herr Schobeln by asking for an explanation of their meaning; but at the first opportunity she communicated them, with sundry notes and comments of her own, to Madame Leroux.
Again did Amelia's heart beat high with hope, and visions of altered old dresses and splendid new ones flitted before her mind's eye, together with the celebration of nuptials, whereat she herself was a principal personage; and reveries would come, and hopes would haunt her on the subject, notwithstanding her wise resolves against castle
building for the future. This time, however, her anticipations were realised. She became the wife of Herr Schobeln, and a happy wife too, despite the difference in their ages; and she reigned mistress of the old house and its handsome modern furniture, and rummaged every cranny and corner from garret to cellar, just as she had pictured to herself that she should, long before. She was not destined to become a mother, but she was of too contented a disposition to fret about the matter; and her kindness, unconcentrated by that absorbing feeling, maternal affection, flowed out to every creature around her. Herr Schobeln never had cause to repent the return of Frank Middleton, and only won
dered how it was that Amelia had not been his choice in the first instance.The Widow Steinbach found a home with her newly married sister, and little Franchette became the recipient of all the spare affections of Amelia's heart, and in process of time the inheritrix of a great part of Herr Schobeln's wealth. I have visited Frankfort again within the last few years, and passed some days at the mansion of Herr Schobeln, and the humbler home of Frank and Roschen; and I can truly say I have seldom enjoyed more heartfelt satisfaction than in witnessing the contentment and prosperity of the three sisters who had formerly been known and pitied as "the three widows of Frankfort."
TO A PHYSICIAN.
Oh! watched for, longed for, through the heavy hours
For thy next smile what sleepless eyelids pine!
I heard thy footsteps come and die away,
NO. XV.-WETZEL'S REMAINS.-SECOND ARTICLE.
THE METEOR OF KASAN.-A TRAGEDY.
The reading public has doubtless long before this decided that we have altogether forgotten our friend Wetzel. To be frank, we will acknowledge that since he and we parted company he has not often intruded on our speculations, and this because of reasons that we shall state. It so happened that about three months back we had the misfortune to sustain a severe attack of intellectual hypochondriasis, the effect of which was to revolutionise for a season all our literary tastes; insomuch that the admiration we had thitherto cherished of the fine land of our dreams, her cloudy philosophy and wizard poetry, was exchanged for a stupid antipathy, worthy the contempt of an Esquimaux. Neither physicians nor metaphysicians were able to comprehend, far less to remove, our malady. Whence it originated we ourself can hazard no conjecture; for who shall fathom the abysses of the human mind? Enough, that while it lasted it either paralysed or perverted all our faculties,-converting us, even while we fancied ourself an eagle, by turns into an owl, a raven, and a gander. We attribute our recovery from it, which was gradual, to the combined agencies of gymnastics and toastwater-a sober beverage in the main, though frequently drunk twice a-day for weeks in succession. The majority of our acquaintance have already transmitted us their compliments, congratulations, and cards by the hundred-perhaps we should rather say by the hundred weight-and that in a manner the most flattening to us. Among those worthy individuals we would beg to particularly particularise our world-renowned friend, William Carleton of Richmond Castle, who has fraternally counselled us to make the most of the great change that has overtaken us. We thank this distinguished man from the bottom of our inkstand, and shall endeavour to act upon the injunction, the more especially as any small change may overtake us stands, we lament
to observe, a very slender chance of being made the most of in such hands as
So far, so fair, in explanation of the past; and now to business. As we are about to close accounts with poor Wetzel, and are anxious that the balance should appear in his favour, we must abandon his minor poems to their fate, for we have already selected all of these that we thought readable. A review of the tragedy before us*, appears better adapted to answer our purposes. With regard to the authorship of this tragedy, it is true, we confess we are somewhat in the dark. No evidence establishing Wetzel's right to that authorship has yet been made public. Many persons even go so far as to attribute it to Baron Auffenberg, and among these is the Baron himself, for he has emblazoned his name on the title-page. Fortunately, however, the inquiry is not of paramount importance. If Wetzel be not the author of the book, somebody else is. It could not have started spontaneously into existence out of a stack of old rags on the road to a paper-mill, reasonable as that theory of universal possibilities may be which led Godwin to imagine that human beings might one day spring from the muzzles of muskets. Wetzel produced it-or-if you will, reader-Chrononhotonthologos produced it, or, in default of either of these two, a third person. Who that third person may be it is not at present material to ascertain. At some future period the requisite light will perhaps be thrown upon the points that baffle investigation in this intricate question. In the meanwhile the laurel will shade Wetzel's brow with quite as green a gracefulness as it could confer upon that of the Baron, who has his Prophet von Florenz to keep him in celebrity, independent of a version of The Warden of Galway, which he has recently put off upon the Carlsruhers as an original sin of his own.
The scene of the tragedy is Russia,
* Das Nordlicht von Kasán; Trauerspiel in fünf Aufzugen. Von Joseph Frhru v. Auffenberg. Carlsruhe; Müller, 1839.