It was a stormy autumn evening; the last yellow leaves of the beech-trees were whirling through the forest near Soröe, and the usually calm lake was lashed into wild waves like those of the open sea.

'Does Italian Franz reside in this wood?' asked a clear, manly voice from the road, as Count Otto stopped his grey steed close to a peasant's cottage, and knocked at the little window with his riding-whip.

'You can't lose your way,' replied an old woman, opening the window a very little. 'If you take the path on the left, alongside of the lake, the first house you will come to is where the under-ranger lives.'

The young count thanked her and proceeded on. When he turned into the path by the left, where the moon shone full through the trees, and cast its silver rays upon the agitated lake, his horse shied, and sprang to one side; at the same moment the count's eyes fell upon the trunk of a hollow oak-tree by the side of the road, against which a figure appeared to be leaning. It was that of a man in the garb of a hunter he saw; his rifle lay at his feet; his horse, bound to the old tree, stood by his side, and, as a moonbeam fell on his face, lighting up his features, the young count felt, for the first time in his life, a strange sensation of terror--it was as if he beheld before him a well-known countenance, but terribly changed and distorted. He gave himself no time to examine into the cause of this fear, a feeling which he had never before experienced in any of his numerous journeys, not even when he had fallen in with highwaymen and robbers, with whom he had often had desperate encounters, but without reasoning one moment with himself, or taking time to think why he felt such sudden dread, he plunged his spurs into his horse's sides, and galloped on as fast as possible. The solitary hunter leaning against the decayed tree was Italian Franz. This name had been bestowed on him on account of his having been in the employment of a noble family, with whom he had resided for several years in Italy, and who, as a reward for his faithful services to them, had obtained for him the rangership he now held near Soröe. He was born in this part of the country, where his father had been the owner of a mill. But his long residence in a southern climate had tanned his originally fair northern complexion, and imparted a swarthy, sunburnt hue to his cheek, while his light hair had also become darker in these remote lands. He was a man somewhere about forty years of age, and when he was in good spirits, or in a gay humour, he might have passed for much younger, especially when he indulged in the vivacity of manners he had acquired in the South. But when his fierce and gloomy fits came over him, he looked so old, and also so wild and formidable, that no one would willingly have met him alone in the woods. He would often remain whole nights in the forest, with his gun over his shoulder, whistling or singing Italian airs in the moonlight, especially when autumnal gales whirled the leaves around him, and the lake was dark and agitated.

While he thus wandered in the deep woods or by the lonely lake, his only child, the beautiful Giuliana, who was born in Italy, sat, a solitary being in the forest lodge, and gazed at the charming pictures of Capri, Torrento, and Ischia, and many other lovely spots, views of which her father had brought with him from her enchanting native land, and which she in vain tried to recall to memory, for she had left it at so early an age that she retained but a very faint recollection of it, and to her its beauties were almost ideal. She did not remember her mother at all; her father could never be induced to speak of her; and from the time she first began to notice what was going on around her, she had always felt inclined to cry when other children spoke of their mothers, because she had none herself.

She was about three years of age when the Countess R. took her from Salerno on her journey home from Italy, accompanied by her father, who had attended the noble family on a previous journey; and thenceforth Giuliana had never seen her beautiful unknown native land. During the two years, over which period their travels had extended, her infantine mind had opened considerably; and of that time she preserved many reminiscences. She had always been a pet of the beautiful countess, and had travelled in the inside of the carriage with her and the two young counts Otto and Wilhelm, while her father went outside with the servants, though he was by no means always their companion, for when the party arrived at inns in towns where they knew no one, it was always Jæger Franzesco who enlivened them, and amused the whole party. Giuliana well remembered how the countess and both her sons had wept when her father, ten years back, took leave of them, and carried her, then only five years of age, to the forest lodge at Soröe, while the young counts, who were then nearly grown up, accompanied their invalid and melancholy mother to some German watering-place.

From that time, no year had passed over Giuliana's head without her having received several kind and costly souvenirs--dresses, and other gifts--from the countess. She always wore, however, the simple dress of a peasant girl, not to seem peculiar or arrogant amongst her neighbours; and she looked much prettier on Sundays, in her knitted red sleeves and flowered bodice, than the smartest country girls, who, instead of appearing in their national costume, awkwardly attempted to sport what they thought fashionable attire. It was only at weddings, and on other great occasions, that she drew forth from her stores some pearls, or other precious stones, to adorn herself; and occasionally when she was alone, or on her father's or her own birthday, she could not resist the childish temptation to put on the pretty foreign garb which she knew was worn in her native country, and which, copying from her father's Italian pictures, she had amused herself by making up out of the foreign silks and other materials the bountiful countess had sent her.

Jæger Franz bad acquired more knowledge from his foreign travels than was usually possessed by men in his situation of life. He had been a great favourite of the deceased count, and had been treated by him more as a friend than as a servant. Being the companion of so superior and well-informed a man as the count, had improved him greatly. Up to the last hour of the count's life, Franz had been, next to the countess and their two children, his chosen associate; and when, on his return from a scientific tour in Sicily and the coasts of Barbary, he was attacked by a fever at Naples, which put an end to his life, the countess, being at that time confined to her bed by illness, Franz was the only one from whose hands he would take the medicines prescribed for him; and his last request to his wife was, that she would provide for the future days of his faithful Franz.

The many foreign countries Franz had visited, and the intercourse in which he had so long lived with his superiors, had much improved his mind and tastes, and he was able to give his daughter a much better education than the generality of country girls could aspire to. Italian Franz's pretty daughter was, therefore, well known over the whole district of Soröe, and the daughters of the principal burghers in the town did not think it beneath them to visit her. If ever they took upon themselves the least airs of superiority, she soon put them down in a gay and seemingly whimsical manner. She was a favourite, also, among the peasant girls, and they were not a little proud that she generally classed herself amongst them, notwithstanding her intimacy with the daughters of the clergyman and other young ladies in the neighbourhood. Within the last few months, however, her numerous young female friends had evinced some lukewarmness towards her, and she was left more to solitude in her father's somewhat lonely house; but if those of her own sex partly deserted her, the young gentlemen of the neighbourhood, both those who belonged to town and country, began to pay much attention to the little Italian, who was now fifteen years of age, and had been confirmed the last Easter.

Franz had secretly embraced Roman Catholicism in Italy, but had not found it possible to avoid letting his daughter be brought up in the Lutheran religion, although in her early childhood she had learnt the Ave Maria, and treasured the Holy Virgin and all the saints in her heart.

In a small side-chamber in the forest lodge, into which no one entered but the father and daughter, there hung over a little domestic altar, made of oak-tree, a beautiful picture of the Queen of Heaven, before which a lamp burned day and night, and Giuliana never forgot to keep the lamp always trimmed, and to ornament the little altar with fresh flowers on every festival day. Her father often retired to solitary meditation, or prayer, in this little oratory; but on one particular day every year he locked himself in there for twenty-four hours, and always issued from it in a state of great agitation, and as pale as a corpse, exhausted by fasting and earnest prayer. This was always on the 2nd of November, All Souls' Day.

Giuliana had once asked her father why he kept that particular day so strictly, but she never ventured to repeat the inquiry, she had been so frightened by the terribly withering look he cast upon her. There also lay an impenetrable veil of mystery over her mother's fate, and the history of her own childish years, which she never dared to attempt to raise. She was always glad when her moody father seemed for a little while to forget the past and the future. He also appeared to enjoy these short intervals of forgetfulness, and many people thought him the gayest and happiest man breathing. However, whenever All Souls' Day approached, he avoided the society of his fellow-beings, and plunged into the depths of the forest night and day, apparently in quest of game; but he frequently returned on these occasions without having shot anything, and often without having once discharged his gun.

It was on just such an evening in the beginning of October that Giuliana, in her loneliness, had taken out her dear Italian costume, to please herself by putting it on, and perhaps amuse her father when he came home. She was sitting with the silver ornaments in her dark hair, with the rose-coloured bodice and skirt of which she had read, and with the little pictures she loved so much before her, fancying herself amidst the charming scenes her imagination so often portrayed. It was late in the evening when she heard the sound of a horse's feet approaching, and observed that it had stopped at the paved pathway which led to the house. She concluded it was her father, and rose to meet him, when the door opened, and the young Count Otto entered, starting with astonishment at seeing the beautiful Italian girl in a Danish forester's house. He did not know if he was dreaming or awake, for never before had he beheld any one so lovely, and the Southern costume gave to the charming figure which stood before him an air strangely fanciful and romantic.

'Giuliana!' he exclaimed, after a moment's reflection. 'Yes, you must be Giuliana herself; and I am Otto,' he added--'the frolicsome little Otto, who teazed you with bitter oranges in the corner of the carriage ten years ago.'

'Otto!' cried Giuliana, calling to mind the half-grown boy who used to be her playfellow, as she had often seen him in her dreams of childhood. In her joy she had almost thrown her arms round his neck, but she beheld a handsome young man before her, and drew back, blushing. 'You have taken me by surprise, count,' she said, colouring still more deeply. 'I was only a very little child when you last saw me, and now you find in me but a big child. I expected no one but my father this evening, and this dress--'

'Becomes you admirably,' interrupted the count, 'and transports me back, as if by magic, to fair Italy. Do not thus cast your eyes down; let me see if I can recognize my little pet of five years old again. Yes, the eyes are the same; but I must not now speak so familiarly to you, or call you "my Giuliana," as I did then.'

'And my little knight Otto, with his wooden sword, which was to protect me from the brigands, has also disappeared,' said Giuliana. 'But tell me, count, what fortunate circumstance has recalled us to your recollection, that you should surprise us with a visit here, in our remote hermitage?'

'I shall tell that to your father,' replied Otto, gravely. 'He is not at home, I find: but do you not expect him back this evening?'

'He is out hunting in the forest,' said Giuliana. 'However, I hope he will come home this evening; I have seen very little of him for some days past. But you must be tired after your long journey, and must require some refreshment. Please to make yourself at home here, Herr Count, and excuse my absence for a few minutes; I will soon return.'

So saying, Giuliana tripped out of the room, and Count Otto sat down near the table. At first he observed nothing around him; he could see nothing but the image of the beautiful Giuliana, who had made a sudden and strong impression upon him, which, however, he chose to ascribe to her fanciful attire, and the surprise of their first meeting.

Nevertheless, he almost forgot why he had come, and that his visit was more to the father than to the daughter. But he now decided on remaining a little time at Soröe. Carelessly glancing over the table, he observed some of the best travels in Italy that had ever been published, and lying near them, collections of engravings of the most remarkable places, and of national costumes. He also saw some nicely-bound volumes, containing Tasso and Aristo in their original language, and, on a shelf against the wall, handsome copies of the old Danish tragedies, with selections from the best Danish and foreign poets.

A small wooden crucifix, on which was placed a wreath of immortelles, stood on a chest of drawers in an alcove, and at its feet lay an open Bible. The count rose, and, approaching the recess, he saw a curtain, which he drew aside, when a small bed on a pretty oaken bedstead in a corner became visible.

'Here, then, that lovely creature sleeps,' thought he, 'happy in her sweet, innocent dreams: and she has chosen very intellectual and refined company for her solitude. Who would have expected to find such a girl in an abode like this?'

At that moment a nice-looking peasant girl entered, and began to arrange the table for supper--it was Giuliana, who had laid aside the foreign costume in which she had felt so embarrassed before the stranger. He thought she looked still more charming in the simple, unpretending peasant dress, but he did not wish to make her feel bashful by letting her see how much he admired her. He questioned her about her father's circumstances, and her own position; and then informed her of his mother's death, a piece of intelligence which made a much deeper impression on Giuliana's feeling heart than he could have anticipated.

He himself was much affected when he told of his bereavement; but his extreme grief seemed to be caused by something more than even sorrow for her loss. As soon as they had recovered themselves a little, the count took pains to avoid entering further on a subject so distressing to them both, and led the conversation towards those topics on which the various books of travels scattered about made him think he could venture. He soon perceived how the dim, childish recollections in Giuliana's excitable mind had been revived, and kept from fading away, by the beautiful engravings and interesting works depicting the enchanting land of her birth, and how it was that she felt herself such a stranger in the bleak North, and longed so much to return to the sunny South. To her it appeared like a wonderful fairyland, where her brightest dreams and hopes were centred. Her father's fits of deep melancholy, and his frequent uncontrollable bursts of agony of soul--the cause of which she could not fathom, and which she had no means of alleviating--often grieved her extremely. The constraint under which she generally felt with him, even when he was in good spirits, and unusually cheerful, contributed much to increase her longing for a change to a brighter land, and also to make her contrast in her young mind the peace and happiness entwined amidst her childish recollections, with her gloomy life in the lonely forest lodge.

She did not, however, express these sentiments to the young count, or dwell upon her own feelings, but they were soon perceived by her observant guest. He had begun to place before her some pleasanter prospects for the future, and had just mentioned that he knew a family who were soon going to Italy, and that they were in want of a lady-companion, who would take charge of two little girls. He was just speaking of this, and feeling in his own secret soul some dim, undefined hopes of agreeable days to come, when the neighing of a horse was heard close by. Suddenly the door was opened, and a man entered, in whom the count recognized the solitary hunter he had seen near the old tree in the forest, whose countenance had appeared so dreadful to him in the pale moonlight.

'My dear father,' cried Giuliana, springing forward to meet him, 'guess whom I have to present to you! Hush!' said she to Otto, 'let us see if he can find out who you are.'

Otto, who had been standing in the shade, now came forward towards the light which Giuliana held up near his face, and looked earnestly and in silence at Italian Franz.

'What is the matter, father?' exclaimed Giuliana. 'You have turned deadly pale--you seem to be seized with giddiness!'

'Who art thou?' cried Franz, starting back from Otto as if struck with sudden insanity. 'If thou art a living being, speak!--speak, and do not thus gaze like a spectre at me!'

'Good Heavens, father! it is only Otto!' said Giuliana, anxiously, yet soothingly.

'We take turns in being afraid of each other this evening,' said the count. 'For as I rode past you in the forest, Franz, I took you for a spectre, or some awful apparition, and now you pay me the same compliment, I see. But how goes it, old Franz, and how are you?'

'Very well, Herr Count--very well, thank you,' said Franz. 'I recognize you now by your voice, though it has, of course, become much deeper than when I heard it last. So it was you who rode past me down yonder, near the lake, upon that fiery horse? I was standing wrapt up in my own thoughts, when suddenly a horseman sprang forward from among the trees, and, passing me in wild haste, vanished speedily from my sight. By the glimpse I had of him, I thought his face was not altogether unknown to me, but I should as soon have expected to have seen the Wild Huntsman, or a ghost, as you, Herr Count.'

'Am I so much changed?' asked the count. 'I can now quite recognize you again, Franz, although you certainly look a little older. And Giuliana's eyes shine like a pair of well-remembered stars from my childhood's heaven. I believe I am as tall as my father was, and I am thought very like him.'

'I can't see any very strong resemblance,' said Franz, turning away from him. 'But has the count had no refreshment, Giuliana? Move that light a little farther off, it hurts my eyes; sit down, Herr Count, and let us be merry. I have still a flask of old Syracuse--we shall empty that together to the health of your mother, the noble countess.'

'I wear this mourning for her,' said Otto, suppressing his emotion. 'Three months ago, at Toplitz, she was released from her long-continued sufferings.'

'Dead!' exclaimed Franz, and covered his face with his hands. 'You come, perhaps, Herr Count, as the envoy of the dead, and bring me a word of farewell; or, more probably, she has latterly forgotten Jæger Franz. She has had no communication with me for ten long years.'

'My dying mother sent this ring to your daughter, said Otto, handing to Giuliana a gold ring, with a little diamond cross on it. On the inside of the ring was engraved, 'Keep watch over your soul, and pray for the dead.'

'I have a few words to say to you, Franz, when we are alone.'

'Go, my daughter, and fetch us some wine,' said Franz, bending the while a scrutinizing look upon Otto, yet trying to appear quite at his ease, though a degree of nervousness and anxiety in his countenance and demeanour proved that he was not so.

Giuliana left the room; and after a moment's silence, which seemed embarrassing to them both, Otto took Italian Franz's hand, and said:

'You must solve an enigma for me, which embitters my remembrance of my mother's last hours. She suffered exceedingly, but I think not so much from bodily as from mental pain. In the last interview I had with her, when I hoped she would have opened her mind to me, and have cast off the burden of some secret which seemed to oppress her heart, it was almost too late; she could scarcely speak, but she pronounced your name, and said, in a trembling voice, "Go to him, and ask him if that be true about which I have never ventured to ask him, and which, for full fifteen years past, like a frightful suspicion, has haunted my soul--ask him, for the sake of my eternal salvation, if--"'

'If what?' demanded Franz, springing up from his seat.

'I could not understand another word; she was dying, and her speech was very imperfect. Suddenly a convulsive fit came on, and in a moment she was gone. It is now, alas! too late to obtain, for her peace, an answer to the mysterious question; but for the sake of my own peace, I would claim it. Tell me, Franz, what is it you know which made my mother so miserable on her death-bed?'

'And did she really and truly say nothing more?' asked Franz, with a relieved look.

'Not another word. But you must tell me the rest.'

'Thank your God that you have escaped hearing more, Herr Count! I will carry to my grave what I know; it would be good neither for you nor for myself, were I to disclose it.'

'You shall, though,' cried the count, grasping his short sword. 'I will know it, or--'

'Act as you please, Herr Count,' said Franz, coldly, and without appearing to be in the least intimidated by the threat. 'You would be doing me a service by putting an end to a life which I care not to hold; but no power on earth shall wring from me one word I do not choose to utter.'

The coolness of Franz checked the rising anger of the young man.

'Forgive my impetuosity, Franz,' he said, in a lower tone; 'your firmness and your calm demeanour put me to shame; I have no right to insist on any explanation from you. But I shall remain for a little while in this neighbourhood; we shall probably meet often, and when you are convinced of the great importance it is to me to discover what you now think advisable to conceal, perhaps you will change your determination.'

'I doubt that,' replied Franz. 'If you were a holy priest, Herr Count, and belonged to the true church, in which alone salvation can be found, but which is proscribed hereabouts, it would be another thing.'

'It is, then, a matter of conscience, Franz, about which my mother--'

'Think what you will of me, Herr Count, but do not implicate your mother! Whatever she may have fancied, and whatever account I may have to render to Him who will judge every soul, and the actions of every being, at the great day of doom--for the sake of your own peace of mind seek not to dive into the mystery of my gloomy fate; enough that it casts a dark shadow over my life. For Giuliana's sake, let me also entreat of you to keep this conversation secret from her, and if you do not wish to destroy the childish simplicity and peace of that unfortunate girl, leave us as soon as you possibly can, that she may not witness such scenes between you and myself.'

'I have a plan in regard to Giuliana, Franz, which I shall tell you to-morrow. To-night I do not feel in spirits to enter on the subject. Farewell!'

So saying, the young count left him, and when Giuliana entered shortly after with the wine, she found her father alone, and asked why Count Otto had gone away in such a hurry, and without even bidding her farewell.

'He had business to attend to, my child,' replied her father; 'but he intends to remain at Soröe to-night, and he will pay us another visit before he goes away.'

'What! is he going away so soon?' sighed Giuliana. 'I thought he meant to have stayed some time among us.'

'Have you, then, much pleasure in the thought of seeing him, my daughter?' asked Franz.

'Oh yes, yes! he is my dear old playfellow, and it seems to me as if we had always known each other. If he had not been so tall, and also a count, a nobleman of high rank, I would actually have embraced him when he came in so suddenly, and told me he was little Otto.'

'Never forget, my child, to behave to him with the respectful distance which becomes the difference between his situation and ours,' said Franz gravely, and fell into a gloomy mood.

In the hope of enlivening him, Giuliana took up the little Italian mandolin which her father had brought from her native land, and sang, in the language of that foreign country, Franz's favourite song, which ran as follows:--

'If life's joys thou wouldst find,
'Twere well oft to be blind,

Let the changeful hours roll as they may.

The stranger who goes,
Where the summer wind blows,

Dreads to think of a dark wintry day.


'The stranger who goes,
Where the summer wind blows,

Dreams that brightness and beauty shall last.

But too oft as he strays,
Where life's fountain plays,

He turns with regret to the past.


'Yet sometimes he strays,
Where life's fountain plays,

And pleasures unfading are met.

Where the balmy breeze sighs,
'Neath the soft Southern skies,

His soul can all sorrow forget!'

The next day Count Otto came again. Contrary to his usual custom, Franz remained at home, and he sought, by lively conversation and jovial manners, to efface the remembrance of the painful scene of the previous evening. He seemed determined to entertain his guest himself without any assistance from Giuliana, with whom Otto had, therefore, very little communication. Thus several days passed, yet the young count did not seem to think of his departure, although Franz often reminded him of it by drinking to his safe journey home.

Otto no longer doubted that Franz had observed the impression which the beautiful Giuliana had made upon him, and at the same time he became more watchful of his own feelings. Upon reflection, he allowed to himself that the father was acting wisely in wishing to check a passion which, if it were implanted and nourished in the heart of the lovely Giuliana, might cause, on account of the difference in their rank and station in life, great unhappiness to both. For several days he battled with himself, and several times he resolved to go away at once, and to give up the plan about Giuliana, which he had not yet communicated to her father. This plan would indeed gratify her long-cherished desire to visit her dear native land, but it would necessarily place her and him in a position which might be dangerous to the peace of both, unless he could sacrifice for her the opinions of his family, and the prejudices inherent to his standing in life. The longer he considered the matter, the more he felt convinced that the situation he proposed her filling was far beneath Giuliana. After all, he was his own master, and he valued mind, beauty, and amiable disposition more than all the genealogical trees and worm-eaten patents of nobility that ever existed.

Notwithstanding all her father's efforts to prevent Giuliana from being much with the count, he met her frequently by accident, and often saw her when Franz's occupations obliged him to be absent, and it was not long before he perceived that the interest she took in him, and the attention she paid him, sprang from something more than mere good will, or simple childish affection. She tried, indeed, to obey her father's directions, and to be distant and respectful; she called him, as she had been desired, 'Herr Count,' and always corrected herself when the familiar 'Otto' trembled on her lips. Yet, from a thousand little circumstances, the said Otto could not fail to see that he was very dear to her, and when his departure was mentioned, it was evident that she tried in vain to conceal her distress at the idea of his going.

One evening, on returning home, Franz found Count Otto at the forest lodge, where he was sitting close to Giuliana, reading some beautiful old ballads to her; the sight of their intimacy displeased him, and by way of reminding the count of his long-delayed journey, he asked what day of the month it was.

'It is the second of November,' replied Otto; whereupon Franz, who for some weeks past seemed to have dismissed all his old sad thoughts, and had been always cheerful, often in a gay humour, became suddenly silent and gloomy. In a minute or two he rose with a grave air, and entering the little side-room, which he had fitted up as an oratory, he locked himself in. As he did not come back, Otto asked Giuliana what could detain him so long there.

'This is All Souls' Day,' she replied; 'my father did not remember it until you mentioned the day of the month. He keeps this day more strictly than any of the other fasts or festivals of the Church. He always passes it in fasting and prayer. I shall not see him again until about this time tomorrow evening.'

'Who would have thought that Jæger Franz was so pious?' said Otto. 'For some days after my arrival he scarcely gave me an opportunity of saying one serious word, he was so full of mirth and pleasantry.'

'My father's humours are very changeable now-a-days,' sighed Giuliana, 'and I am certain he would be happier if he did not get into such wild spirits sometimes. These strange fits of gaiety are generally succeeded by moods of deep dejection. Do you remember,' she continued, 'the evening that you arrived--'

'Let us not think of that evening,' cried Otto, interrupting her, while his countenance darkened at the recollection of the dreadful secret which he had come on purpose to discover, but his anxiety about which had given way to the new and softer feelings which his daily intercourse with the beautiful Giuliana had awakened in his heart. He tried in vain to recover his equanimity of manner, and finding that even her society could not, that evening, chase away the gloom that was stealing over his mind, he took his leave earlier than usual.

When Count Otto returned the next evening, he found that Franz had not yet made his appearance, and that Giuliana was very uneasy at his long self-imprisonment; but she did not dare to knock at the door, or in any way to intrude on his solitude. At length the door of the oratory was slowly opened, and Franz came out of it, but so altered in appearance as scarcely to be recognized. There was such agony in the expression of his wild, almost livid face, that he looked like one who might be supposed to have died in a state of despair, and arisen from the grave because he could find no rest there.

'But, dear Franz, what strange whim induces you to do such terrible penance?' asked Otto, with a mixed feeling in his own mind of horror and compassion.

Giuliana made a sign to him to be silent, while she quickly, yet quietly, set about getting something to revive and strengthen her father. It was not until he had drunk a whole flask of wine that he seemed to recover his consciousness, and to observe who was in the room.

'What, you still here, Herr Count?' he said, turning to Otto. 'I thought you had gone long ago. I have been ill, as you may perceive, and my memory is not quite clear yet, but I shall soon be better. Some good wine and the fresh air will speedily set me to rights. Will you hunt with me to-morrow?'

'Oh yes, with pleasure,' replied Otto, who treated him almost as if he were a lunatic, who must be coaxed and humoured. Before he left the lodge, however, that evening, Franz had quite recovered himself, and was as talkative and lively as usual.

'I have done penance long enough,' said he, as he emptied glass after glass of wine. 'Let us be merry now, as long as we can.'

The next day they rode out hunting together. On their way homewards Giuliana became the subject of their conversation, and Otto praised her warmly, and commended Franz for the care he had taken in educating her so well, and in cultivating her natural taste for all that was grand and beautiful. 'But,' he added, 'what sort of abode is a forester's lonely cottage for such a superior girl? Such a jewel would adorn a crown, and is too good to be thrown away among low people, or hidden in obscurity. She is fitted to shine in a much higher station of life.'

'I pray you not to put any such nonsense into the girl's head, count,' replied Franz. 'I see that you like her, but she can never be a countess; and if you say one syllable to her touching upon love or admiration, I shall be compelled to make it my earnest request to you to give up coming to my house.'

'But if I now ask her hand, Franz--'

'Are you mad, Herr Count?' said Franz, stopping his horse, and looking inquiringly at him. 'If things have really come to this pass, I must only warn you, Herr Count, that you will have to put up with my society alone for the future, should you continue to honour us with your visits, for hereafter I shall lock Giuliana up out of your way.'

'But if she herself, as I hope--'

'So much the worse,' cried Franz, interrupting him. 'She shall never be yours, Herr Count; rather than that, I would bury her in a convent, if I could find one here.'

'But what are your reasons?'

'I am the girl's father, and do not choose to give my consent; if that is not a sufficient reason, fancy any one you please. Cast a glance at your genealogy, and see how well a woodman's daughter would look among such a noble assemblage. Doves may not mate with eagles--that is my opinion. Breathe not a single word about love to Giuliana, Herr Count; not a single whisper. Promise me this, upon your honour, or you shall never see her again.'

'Well,' replied Otto, 'for the present I cannot escape giving you the promise you require; but you must, and shall, withdraw your unreasonable objections.'

'Never, as long as I live. Nothing can make me alter my decision while I have life; and when I am dead, perhaps you will change your mind yourself.'

After this conversation, Otto determined, as soon as possible, to tear himself away from the vicinity of the beautiful Giuliana, that he might not be tempted to break the promise her singular father had wrung from him; but he also resolved, in the course of a very few years--under, he hoped, more propitious circumstances--to return, and seek future happiness in a marriage with the beautiful girl, to whom, he now felt convinced, his whole soul was bound by the most delightful and indissoluble of chains, and from whom, he thought, that only an absurd and obstinate whim was the cause of his present needless separation. He had not, as yet, said a single syllable to Giuliana of his feelings for her; but she had not failed to read them in his amorous glances, and perceived them in the warm interest he took in her, and in his pleasure at the congeniality of their minds and tastes. That she seemed to find new life in his society, that he had made a deep impression on her heart, and that her sentiments were an echo of his, were evident to him also; he saw that a word, a breath from his lips, of love, would develop the sweet feeling of affection, which she scarcely understood herself, and cause the opening rosebud to burst into the full-blown charming flower. If that word were not to be spoken, Otto knew that he must fly from the lovely girl. But he was angry at himself for not having resisted the opposition he had encountered from selfish tyranny, and for having bound himself by a promise, which he could not break without creating disunion and unhappiness in a family circle; a proceeding from which he shrank, even though he believed that despotic and unjust authority was exercised on one side. He determined, however, once more to endeavour to make Franz yield to his wishes; and while waiting for an opportunity of doing this, an event occurred which materially changed the face of affairs.

The celebrated painter, Carl van Mander, who was invited by Christian IV. from the Netherlands, to improve the arts in Denmark, resided for some time at Soröe, where he painted an altar-piece for the church. He was an ardent lover and studier of nature, and was anxious always to give truthful design and colouring to his pictures. This caused him often to introduce real portraits into his historical or Scripture pieces, and whenever he beheld a striking countenance he hastened to make a sketch of it, which he afterwards worked up to suit different subjects.

Thus the countenance of Italian Franz had often almost terrified him when he met him accidentally in the woods, and on one occasion he had seized an opportunity of sketching him while they were both sitting, among other chance visitors, in a little tavern to which the painter sometimes resorted for the purpose of seeing a variety of faces. Without considering that there might be any harm in so doing, the painter transferred the likeness of Franz to his altar-piece for the church of Soröe. The artist had gone, and the picture was put up in its proper place in church. Everyone, from far and near, hastened to see it, and Carl van Mander's 'Last Supper' was pronounced a masterpiece.

Italian Franz seldom attended church; he liked the doctrine of absolution, and the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, which he had joined in Italy; and there being none within reach of his residence, he had fitted up an oratory in his own house. When he felt indisposed, or his gloomy fits came on, he often lamented that no Catholic priest was near to give him absolution, or to administer extreme unction to him when he should be at the point of death. At such periods of excited feelings he would lock himself into his oratory, and, as he had no priest to whom to make his shrift, he would write his confessions in secret, with injunctions that the document should not be opened until after his death. He had often thought of taking a journey to the capital to see a priest, but had always put it off, and sometimes he seemed to forget altogether that he had anything to confess.

Franz had acquired in Italy a taste for the arts--he had become fond of paintings; therefore, when he heard that the new altar-piece was finished and hung up in the church, he felt a wish to see it, and agreed to accompany Count Otto to the morning service one Sunday. They entered just as the clergyman was finishing his sermon. He had been endeavouring to awaken to a sense of their sins the souls around him; and with fervent eloquence was likening those careless Christians, who heard the Word but did not obey it--who acknowledged Christ with their lips, but denied him in their actions--to Judas Iscariot, who, with a kiss, betrayed his kind Lord and Master.

Franz started at these last words. At that very moment his eyes fell on the altar-piece, in which he instantly beheld his own likeness in the face of Judas Iscariot, who sat like a traitor amidst the holy group.

'Yes, I am Judas!' he shrieked, in accents of agonized despair. 'Do you not all see that I am Judas? Why do ye not curse me? Why do ye not stone me? I am Judas--the execrable Judas!

The entire congregation turned and looked with horror at the frantic being, who stood like a maniac, his whole countenance fearfully distorted, gazing wildly at the picture over the altar, and who, at the first sound of the organ, rushed out of the church with a piercing cry, as if its deep tones had sounded on his ear like the last trumpet's blast.

Otto was so overwhelmed with astonishment at this extraordinary scene, that he stood for a time as if nailed to the floor of the church. When he remembered himself, and hastened after the unfortunate Franz, whom he now sincerely believed to be deranged in his intellects, and who, he feared, might commit self-destruction in his access of insanity, that individual was nowhere to be found. After he had in vain sought for him in the town, he decided on taking the road to the forest lodge, to see if he were there, and to prepare Giuliana to hear of the calamity, the existence of which he thought could no longer be doubted. As he pursued his way in much anxiety, a terrible suspicion crossed his mind--a dread, which Franz's strange conduct, and his last astounding outbreak, rendered but too likely to be realized. When, on following the path to the left through the wood, he approached the shores of the lake, he beheld a crowd of peasants gathering round a tree, on which some miserable person had hanged himself, but whom, in their terror at the sight, and their horror of a suicide, they had not attempted to cut down.

It was Italian Franz, who thus fearfully had carried out his insane fancy that he was Judas, and who had put an end to himself in this dreadful manner. Count Otto had the body cut down instantly, and he resorted to every means of restoring animation, but in vain, for life was quite extinct. With many entreaties, and considerable bribes, Otto at length prevailed on some of the peasants to remove the corpse, at dusk, to the town, where it was quietly buried in the churchyard, and the affair was hushed up as much as possible.

Giuliana was sitting alone at the forest lodge when Count Otto entered, and broke to her, cautiously and kindly, the sad intelligence of her father's sudden death; but he considerately withheld from her the knowledge of the mode of his death, as well as the strange scene in the church. But when she insisted on seeing the body, and was told that it was already consigned to the grave, she herself suspected what Otto had taken such pains to conceal from her. Her tears then flowed in silence, and in silence she prayed, with her whole soul, to the Almighty for the salvation in eternity of her unhappy parent.

While Giuliana sat absorbed in her sorrow, Otto, who had constituted himself the guardian and adviser of the orphan girl, undertook the duty of looking through the papers of her late father. During his search among them, he found, in a hidden drawer, the secret confession, which the unfortunate deceased had written in his moments of wretchedness and self-upbraiding. He carried it privately away with him, and read it when quite alone.

When Giuliana met Otto again, she almost forgot her own grief in her distress at the deep affliction which she saw in his countenance. She anxiously inquired if he were ill, and she forced herself to battle against her own dejection in order to cheer him, and restore peace and happiness to his heart. But the more warmly and affectionately she showed him her sympathy and solicitude--the nearer their common sorrow seemed to bring their hearts, and to accelerate the moment, when their deep, though unconfessed mutual attachment need no longer be pent up, but all, of which neither could doubt, might be openly admitted--the more unaccountable became Otto's melancholy and singular conduct. He avoided all intimate conversation. He assumed a measured calmness of manner, and a degree of distance in his communication with her, which she would have believed to arise from coldness, indifference, or a narrow-minded regard to their different positions in life, had she not before observed such unmistakable marks of his love for her, and known how little he cared for the distinctions of rank, and how capable he was of overcoming all such obstacles if he pleased.

'I can no longer delay my departure,' he said to her one day, when the constraint which prevailed between them was most painful to both; 'but I am not now going to Italy--America is my destination.' He then entreated the astonished Giuliana to accept of a large portion of his fortune, in order to secure her from all pecuniary adversity in the future, and which would enable her to purchase a small property in the country, or to reside in the capital with a respectable family, to whom she was related, and who would receive her kindly.

Giuliana could hardly suppress her tears, but she forced herself to smile, while she declined any assistance.

'I thank you, Herr Count,' she said, with composure--'I thank you much for the sympathizing kindness you, unasked, have shown me. I have but one wish in this world, and that is to see my native country again. Here I cannot live, and if you have any benevolent desire to benefit me, Herr Count, have the goodness to procure for me a situation as waiting-maid, or in some other capacity, in a family who are going to Italy. You once yourself proposed this; and I venture to hope that perhaps you will, if possible, indulge me in my dearest wish, now that I am left a solitary being in the world.'

'Well, then,' said the count, after a moment's reflection, 'since your longing to revisit your native country is so strong that you cannot live happily anywhere else, I will myself accompany you thither, and we shall adopt my original plan. You shall travel as companion to my aunt, and go with her and her children to Rome and Naples, where I shall see you safely settled in some agreeable family circle before I set off on my more distant voyage.'

Giuliana's childish delight at the hope of seeing the much-loved land of her birth could not, however, overcome her deep, secret sorrow at the alteration which had taken place in Count Otto; and her wounded feelings would not permit her to accept of his offer, for her sake, to relinquish for a time the visit to another continent, on which he had so recently determined. She entreated him, therefore, earnestly not to delay his voyage, but allow her to attend his aunt and her children, without himself accompanying them.

But he had made up his mind to go, and he told her that, without his escort, his aunt would not undertake to travel so far as Italy.

All was soon prepared for the journey. The aunt was informed of the count's plan for Giuliana, to which, fortunately, she was willing to agree. In a few days afterwards she made her appearance in her travelling carriage at the door of the principal hotel at Soröe; the count met her there, and took her and her children to the forest lodge, where they were introduced to their travelling companion, who immediately joined them, and who soon made a favourable impression on them all by her beauty and sweetness of manners.

The aunt had conjectured that there was some love affair between the young count and the pretty daughter of the sub-ranger, in whose neighbourhood he had remained so long, and she fancied that, in order to escape the taunts and gibes of the other members of his family, her nephew intended to marry Giuliana in a foreign country. Rumour had not failed to busy itself in the capital, by assigning a reason for the count's stay at Soröe. Poor Giuliana had been described sometimes as a simple peasant girl, who had allowed herself to be deluded by the gay count, and who believed his fine speeches, mistaking them for more honest ware; sometimes as an artful, half-Italian wood-nymph, who, under the mask of modesty and virtue, had enticed the hoodwinked young count into a snare, from which he could not escape.

His aunt had not troubled herself much about all this gossip; she educated her children herself, and had only accepted Giuliana's companionship because the count had made that the condition of his escort, without which she would not have liked to have ventured on so long a journey.

Now, however, she was very curious to ascertain the exact nature of their connection, and found, to her great surprise, that they themselves avoided that degree of intimacy and freedom in behaviour which travelling together almost rendered necessary; and that, far from seeking each other, they rather seemed to shun every opportunity of being near each other, even though these often occurred by accident. On the other hand, she could not but remark the anxious attention, nay, even devotion, with which the count forestalled every wish of Giuliana; and the quiet, retiring manner in which she sought to take her place as an inferior among the travelling party, although in mind and manners fitted to be their equal. The expression of patient sadness in her countenance, which neither her youthful pleasure at approaching Italy, nor the enlivening effect of the frequent changes of scene during a long journey, seemed to chase away, soon won the heart of the good-natured baroness; and she was pleased to see that Giuliana had also become a favourite with her children. The young girl seemed to be always more at ease and more cheerful in the count's absence than when he was present. Giuliana had taken her mandolin with her in the carriage, and she often amused the children by playing on it, and singing for them. When they stopped at the different inns, and she was alone in her own room in the evening, the baroness sometimes heard her playing and singing there also, but not the lively airs she sang in the carriage. Her songs were all expressive of deep sadness, and if the baroness entered her room unexpectedly, she generally found the sweet songstress with tears in her eyes.

The count's melancholy surprised his aunt still more, as he had always been remarkable for his gaiety and high spirits. He would now sit for hours in the carriage without uttering a syllable, and when they were all enjoying themselves at the evening's repast, after the fatigues of the day, he would often start up and leave them, complaining of a violent headache.

However, when they had crossed the Simplon, and were descending into the paradise of Giuliana's dreams--when they beheld the rich plains where the vines festooned themselves gracefully around the elms--where the lovely lakes were studded with beautifully wooded islets, and the lofty hills reared their blue summits to the skies, all gloomy thoughts seemed to have vanished, and everyone gazed with delight on the enchanting view. Giuliana clapped her hands in her transport of joy, and seizing Otto's hand, she pressed it to her heart, while she exclaimed:

'May God bless and reward you, dear count! I shall never cease to thank you for affording me yonder sight, and this happy moment!'

Tears sprang to Otto's eyes, and throwing his arm round her, he pressed her suddenly with impetuosity to his heart; but as if frightened at this unpremeditated act, he immediately afterwards got out of the carriage, and thenceforth took a seat on the outside, where, he said, he could have a better view of the country.

This scene in the carriage, of which the baroness had been a witness, fully convinced her of Otto's suppressed passion for Giuliana; and soon after their arrival at Florence, some words spoken to herself in her own apartment by Giuliana, in which Otto was named in terms of deep attachment--and the words of a song which she sang in her solitude, all of which had been overheard by the baroness--proved to her that the same sentiments pervaded both their hearts, though both seemed to wish to conceal their feelings.

She had, in consequence, a serious conversation with Otto, and urged him to explain what was the reason of his conduct, and why he seemed thus to seek and to repress the poor girl's affection.

In reply, he placed before her the confession of Italian Franz, and then hastened out to order post-horses for Leghorn, where the American ship, by which he had engaged a passage, was lying almost ready to sail.

The baroness shut herself up in her own chamber, and read:

'I, Franz Ebbeson, born September--, anno Domini 1--, and, when this shall be read, dead, as I hope, in sincere repentance, and trusting to mercy hereafter, confess and make known, that in my irregular youthful days I burdened my soul with fearful sins, for which I pray that the mediation and 'good offices of the Holy Church may be granted, therewith to obtain pardon for me at the great day of judgment.

'For some years I attended the noble family of R--ske while they were travelling and residing in Italy. The count was very kind to me, and raised me from the situation of his servant to that almost of a friend. But, notwithstanding his goodness, I betrayed and wronged him, out of a criminal love for his beautiful wife. In his absence on a scientific tour in Sicily and the coast of Barbary, which lasted nearly two years, during which he had left his family to my care at Naples, T took advantage of the weakness and the kind condescension of the young countess. At the time of the count's return, the consequences of the countess's and my faithlessness were too evident; and she pretended illness to screen herself. The count, almost immediately after his arrival, was taken ill, and I was the only one whom he would allow to attend him. In my wretchedness at having plunged myself and the countess into a misfortune which would lead to inevitable disgrace, the Wicked One inspired me with a horrible thought--a dreadful temptation that my sinful soul could not chase away; and when I ought to have mixed a few drops of laudanum with the medicine the poor count was to take, my hand trembled, and more than a hundred drops fell into it. I was going to throw the medicine away, but it seemed as if Satan seized my hand, and--I carried the deadly mixture to my unfortunate master.

'"God reward you for your kind attention to me, Franz," he exclaimed; and he speedily fell into that deep sleep from which he never more was to awaken. For fifteen years I have borne alone the burden of this guilty secret, of which neither the repentant countess, nor her and my daughter Giuliana, had the slightest knowledge, though perhaps during our last journey together, the countess might have suspected it. On All Souls' Day--the day of my ill-requited master's death--I have for ten years past devoted myself to praying for his eternal salvation. On that solemn day may some purer spirit pray for me, and may God have mercy on my sinful soul!'

The paper fell from the hands of the baroness, but she instantly caught it up, and destroyed it.

'Then they are half-sister and brother!' she exclaimed. And she understood what had seemed poor Otto's strange conduct.

But did Giuliana know it also?

At that moment a letter was brought to her from the young count, in which he entreated her to conceal from Giuliana what it would be better she should never know, and to treat her with motherly kindness for his sake. He added, that he had himself provided for her future comfort in pecuniary matters. There was, however, a little note addressed to Giuliana enclosed, which he requested should only be given to her if it were necessary to calm her grief for his departure.

A few days after he had left them, Giuliana became extremely ill and the baroness, thinking it was better she should know the truth, handed her Otto's farewell letter, which ran as follows:

'Ever-beloved Sister,--In this world we must separate, but yonder, where bride and bridegroom are as sister and brother, where there are no ties of blood, you will find the fond and faithful spirit, which is eternally bound to you, before Him who is Lord of the living and the dead.'

Giuliana outlived her grief for being separated from Otto, and learned to love him as an angel whom she would meet in future at the holy gates of the heavenly paradise. She retired into a convent dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and never forgot, on All Souls' Day, to pray for the repose of her unhappy father's spirit.

Count Otto returned no more to Europe. He died in a skirmish with some savage Indians. But by his papers which were sent to his family, it was evident that, unlike the more tranquil Giuliana, he had never overcome his unfortunate passion, but had carried that fatal attachment in its full force to his distant grave.