University of Virginia Library


What do you want, Percie?”

He was walking into the room with all the deliberate politeness
of a “gold-stick-in-waiting.”

“I beg pardon, sir, but I was asked to walk up, and I was not
sure whether I was still a gentleman.”

It instantly struck me that it might seem rather infra dig to
the chevalier (my new friend had thus announced himself) to have
had a valet for a second, and as he immediately after entered the
room, having stepped below to give orders about his horse, I presented
Percie as a gentleman and my friend, and resumed my observation
of the singular apartment in which I found myself.

The effect on coming first in at the door, was that of a small
and lofty chapel, where the light struggled in from an unseen
aperture above the altar. There were two windows at the farther
extremity, but curtained so heavily, and set so deeply into
the wall, that I did not at first observe the six richly-carpeted
steps which led up to them, nor the luxuriously cushioned seats
on either side of the casement, within the niche, for those who
would mount thither for fresh air. The walls were tapestried,
but very ragged and dusty, and the floor, though there were several
thicknesses of the heavy-piled, small, Turkey carpets laid
loosely over it, was irregular and sunken. The corners were
heaped with various articles I could not at first distinguish. My
host fortunately gave me an opportunity to gratify my curiosity
by frequent absences, under the housekeeper's apology (odd I


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thought for a chevalier) of expediting breakfast; and with the
aid of Percie, I tumbled his chattles about with all necessary

“That,” said the chevalier, entering, as I turned out the face
of a fresh colored picture to the light, “is a capo d'opera of a
French artist, who painted it, as you may say, by the gleam of
the dagger.”

“A cool light, as a painter would say!”

“He was a cool fellow, sir, and would have handled a broad-sword
better than a pencil.”

Percie stepped up while I was examining the exquisite finish
of the picture, and asked very respectfully if the chevalier would
give him the particulars of the story. It was a full length portrait
of a young and excessively beautiful girl, of apparently
scarce fifteen, entirely nude, and lying upon a black velvet couch,
with one foot laid on a broken diadem, and her right hand pressing
a wild rose to her heart.

“It was the fancy, sir,” continued the chevalier, “of a bold
outlaw, who loved the only daughter of a noble of Hungary.”

“Is this the lady, sir?” asked Percie, in his politest valet

The chevalier hesitated a moment and looked over his shoulder,
as if he might be overheard.

“This is she—copied to the minutest shadow of a hair! He
was a bold outlaw, gentlemen, and had plucked the lady from her
father's castle with his own hand.”

“Against her will?” interrupted Percie, rather energetically.

“No!” scowled the chevalier, as if his lowering brows had
articulated the word, “by her own will and connivance; for she
loved him.”


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Percie drew a long breath, and looked more closely at the taper
limbs and the exquisitely-chiselled features of the face, which
was turned over the shoulder with a look of timid shame inimitably
true to nature.

“She loved him,” continued our fierce narrator, who, I almost
began to suspect was the outlaw himself, by the energy with
which he enforced the tale, “and after a moonlight ramble or
two with him in the forest of her father's domain, she fled and
became his wife. You are admiring the hair, sir! It is as luxuriant
and glossy now!”

“If you please, sir, it is the villain himself!” said Percie in
an undertone.

Bref,” continued the chevalier, either not understanding
English or not heeding the interruption, “an adventurous painter,
one day hunting the picturesque in the neighborhood of the outlaw's
retreat, surprised this fair creature bathing in one of the
loneliest mountain-streams in Hungary. His art appeared to be
his first passion, for he hid himself in the trees and drew her as
she stood dallying on the margin of the small pool in which the
brook loitered; and so busy was he with his own work, or so soft
was the mountain moss under its master's tread, that the outlaw
looked, unperceived the while, over his shoulder, and fell in love
anew with the admirable counterfeit. She looked like a naiad,
sir, new born of a dew-drop and a violet.”

I nodded an assent to Percie.

“The sketch, excellent as it seemed, was still unfinished, when
the painter, enamored as he might well be, of these sweet limbs,
glossy with the shining water, flung down his book and sprang
toward her. The outlaw—”


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“Struck him to the heart? Oh Heaven!” said Percie, covering
his eyes as if he could see the murder.

“No! he was a student of the human soul, and deferred his

Percie looked up and listened, like a man whose wits were perfectly

“He was not unwilling, since her person had been seen irretrievably,
to know how his shrinking Iminild (this was her
name of melody) would have escaped had she been found alone.”

“The painter”—prompted Percie, impatient for the sequel.

“The painter flew over rock and brake, and sprang into the
pool in which she was half immersed; and my brave girl—”

He hesitated, for he had betrayed himself.

“Ay—she is mine, gentlemen; and I am Yvain, the outlaw—
my brave wife, I say, with a single bound, leaped to the rock where
her dress was concealed, seized a short spear which she used as a
staff in her climbing rambles, and struck it through his shoulder
as he pursued!”

`Bravely done!” I thought aloud.

“Was it not? I came up the next moment, but the spear
stuck in his shoulder, and I could not fall upon a wounded man.
We carried him to our ruined castle in the mountains, and while
my Iminild cured her own wound, I sent for his paints, and let
him finish his bold beginning with a difference of my own. You
see the picture.”

“Was the painter's love cured with his wound!” I asked with
a smile.

“No, by St. Stephen! He grew ten times more enamored as
he drew. He was as fierce as a welk hawk, and as willing to
quarrel for his prey. I could have driven my dagger to his heart


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a hundred times for the mutter of his lips and the flash of his
dark eyes as he fed his gaze upon her; but he finished the picture,
and I gave him a fair field. He chose the broad-sword, and
hacked away at me like a man.”

“And the result”—I asked.

“I am here!” replied the outlaw significantly.

Percie leaped upon the carpeted steps, and pushed back the
window for fresh air; and, for myself, I scarce knew how to act
under the roof of a man, who, though he confessed himself an outlaw
and almost an assassin, was bound to me by the ties of our
own critical adventure, and had confided his condition to me with
so ready a reliance on my honor. In the midst of my dilemma,
while I was pretending to occupy myself with examining a silver
mounted and peaked saddle, which I found behind the picture
in the corner, a deep and unpleasant voice announced breakfast

“Wolfen is rather a grim chamberlain,” said the chevalier,
bowing with the grace and smile of the softest courtier, “but he
will usher you to breakfast, and I am sure you stand in need of it.
For myself, I could eat worse meat than my grandfather, with
this appetite.”

Percie gave me a look of inquiry and uneasiness when he found
we were to follow the rough domestic through the dark corridors
of the old house, and through his under-bred politeness of insisting
on following his host, I could see that he was unwilling to
trust the outlaw with the rear; but a massive and broad door,
flung open at the end of the passage, let in upon us presently the
cool and fresh air from a northern exposure, and stepping forward
quickly to the threshold, we beheld a picture which changed the
current and color of our thoughts.

In the bottom of an excavated area, which, as well as I could


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judge, must be forty feet below the level of the court, lay a small
and antique garden, brilliant with the most costly flowers, and
cooled by a fountain gushing from under the foot of a nymph in
marble. The spreading tops of six alleys of lindens reaching to
the level of the street, formed a living roof to the grot-like depths
of the garden, and concealed it from all view but that of persons
descending like ourselves from the house; while, instead of walls
to shut in this paradise in the heart of a city, sharply inclined
slopes of green-sward leaned in under the branches of the lindens,
and completed the fairy-like enclosure of shade and verdure. As
we descended the rose-laden steps and terraces, I observed, that,
of the immense profusion of flowers in the area below, nearly all
were costly exotics, whose pots were set in the earth, and probably
brought away from the sunshine only when in high bloom;
and as we rounded the spreading basin of the fountain which
broke the perspective of the alley, a table, which had been concealed
by the marble nymph, and a skilfully-disposed array of
rhododendrons, lay just beneath our feet, while a lady, whose features
I could not fail to remember, smiled up from her couch of
crimson cushions and gave us a graceful welcome.

The same taste for depth which had been shown in the room
sunk below the windows, and the garden below the street, was
continued in the kind of marble divan in which we were to breakfast
Four steps descending from the pavement of the alley introduced
us into a circular excavation, whose marble seats, covered
with cushions of crimson silk, surrounded a table laden with
the substantial viands which are common to a morning meal in
Vienna, and smoking with coffee whose aroma (Percie agreed with
me) exceeded even the tube roses in grateful sweetness. Between
the cushions at our backs and the pavements just above the level of


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our heads, were piled circles of thickly-flowering geraniums, which
enclosed us in rings of perfume, and, pouring from the cup of a
sculptured flower, held in the hand of the nymph, a smooth stream
like a silver rod supplied a channel grooved around the centre of
the marble table, through which the bright water, with the impulse
of its descent, made a swift revolution and disappeared.

It was a scene to give memory the lie if it could have recalled
the bloodshed of the morning. The green light flecked down
through the lofty roof upon the glittering and singing water; a
nightingale in a recess of the garden, gurgled through his wires
as if intoxicated with the congenial twilight of his prison; the
heavy-cupped flowers of the tropics nodded with the rain of the
fountain spray. The distant roll of wheels in the neighboring
streets came with an assurance of reality to this dream-land, yet
softened by the unreverberating roof and an air crowded with
flowers and trembling with the pulsations of falling water. The
lowering forehead of the outlaw cleared up like a sky of June
after a thunder-shower, and his voice grew gentle and caressing;
and the delicate mistress of all (by birth, Countess Iminild), a
creature as slight as Psyche, and as white as the lotus, whose
flexile stem served her for a bracelet, welcomed us with her soft
voice and humid eyes, and saddened by the event of the morning,
looked on her husband with a tenderness that would have assoiled
her of her sins against delicacy, I thought, even in the mind of
an angel.

“We live, like truth, here, in the bottom of a well,” said the
countess to Percie, as she gave him his coffee; “how do you like
my whimsical abode, sir?”

“I should like any place where you were, Miladi!” he answered,
blushing and stealing his eyes across at me, either in doubt how


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far he might presume upon his new character, or suspecting that
I should smile at his gallantry.

The outlaw glanced his eyes over the curling head of the boy,
with one of those just perceptible smiles which developed, occasionally,
in great beauty, the gentle spirit in his bosom; and
Iminild, pleased with the compliment or the blush, threw off her
pensive mood, and assumed, in an instant, the coquettish air which
had attracted my notice as she stepped before me into the church
of St. Etienne.

“You had hard work,” she said, “to keep up with your long-legged
dragoon yesterday, Monsieur Percie!”

“Miladi?” he answered, with a look of inquiry.

“Oh, I was behind you, and my legs are not much longer than
yours. How he strided away with his long spurs, to be sure! Do
you remember a smart young gentleman with a blue cap that
walked past you on the glacis occasionally?”

“Ah, with laced boots, like a Hungarian?”

“I see I am ever to be known by my foot,” said she, putting
it out upon the cushion, and turning it about with naive admiration;
“that poor captain of the imperial guard paid dearly for
kissing it, holy virgin!” and she crossed herself and was silent
for a moment.

“If I might take the freedom, chevalier,” I said, “pray how
came I indebted to your assistance in this affair?”

“Iminild has partly explained,” he answered. “She knew, of
course, that a challenge would follow your interference, and it
was very easy to know that an officer of some sort would take a
message in the course of the morning to Le Prince Charles, the
only hotel frequented by the English d'un certain gens.

I bowed to the compliment.


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“Arriving in Vienna late last night, I found Iminild (who had
followed this gentleman and the dragoon unperceived) in possession
of all the circumstances; and, but for oversleeping myself
this morning, I should have saved your turquoise, mon seigneur!

“Have you lived here long, Miladi?” asked Percie, looking up
into her eyes with an unconscious passionateness which made the
countess Iminild color slightly, and bite her lips to retain an expression
of pleasure.

“I have not lived long anywhere, sir!” she answered half
archly, “but I played in this garden when not much older than

Percie looked confused and pulled up his cravat.

“This house,” said the chevalier, willing apparently to spare
the countess a painful narration, “is the property of the old count
Ildefert, my wife's father. He has long ceased to visit Vienna,
and has left it, he supposes, to a stranger. When Iminild tires
of the forest, she comes here, and I join her if I can find time.
I must to the saddle to-morrow, by St. Jacques!”

The word had scarce died on his lips when the door by which
we had entered the garden was flung open, and the measured
tread of gens-d'armes resounded in the corridor. The first man
who stood out upon the upper terrace was the dragoon who had
been second to my opponent.

“Traitor and villain!” muttered the outlaw between his teeth,
“I thought I remembered you! It is that false comrade Berthold,

Yvain had risen from the table as if but to stretch his legs;
and drawing a pistol from his bosom he cocked it as he quietly
stepped up into the garden. I saw at a glance that there was no
chance for his escape, and laid my hand on his arm.


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“Chevalier!” I said, “surrender, and trust to opportunity. It
is madness to resist here.”

“Yvain” said Iminild, in a low voice, flying to his side as she
comprehended his intention, “leave me that vengeance, and try
the parapet. I'll kill him before he sleeps! Quick! Ah,

The dragoon had turned at that instant to fly, and with suddenness
of thought the pistol flashed, and the traitor dropped
heavily on the terrace. Springing like a cat up the slope of
green sward, Yvain stood an instant on the summit of the wall,
hesitating where to jump beyond, and in the next moment rolled
heavily back, stabbed through and through with a bayonet from
the opposite side.

The blood left the lips and cheek of Iminild; but without a
word or a sign of terror, she sprang to the side of the fallen outlaw
and lifted him up against her knee. The gens-d'armes rushed
to the spot, but the subaltern who commanded them yielded instantly
to my wish that they should retire to the skirts of the
garden; and sending Percie to the fountain for water, we bathed
the lips and forehead of the dying man and set him against the
sloping parapet. With one hand grasping the dress of Iminild
and the other clasped in mine, he struggled to speak.

“The cross!” he gasped, “the cross!”

Iminild drew a silver crucifix from her bosom.

“Swear on this,” he said, putting it to my lips and speaking
with terrible energy “swear that you will protect her while you

“I swear!”

He shut our hands together convulsively, gasped slightly as if


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he would speak again, and, in another instant, sunk, relaxed and
lifeless, on the shoulder of Iminild.