MY FRIEND THE DUTCHMAN

BY FREDERICK HARDMAN

 

[MAGA. October 1847.]

 

"And you will positively marry her, if she will have you?"

"Not a doubt of either. Before this day fortnight she shall be Madame Van Haubitz."

"You will make her your wife without acquainting her with your true position?"

"Indeed will I. My very position requires it. There's no room for a scruple. She expects to live on my fortune; thinks to make a great catch of the rich Dutchman. Instead of that I shall spend her salary. The old story; going out for wool and returning shorn."

The conversation of which this is the concluding fragment, occurred in the public room of the Hotel de Hesse, in the village of Homburg on the Hill—then an insignificant handful of houses, officiating as capital of the important landgravate of Hesse-Homburg. The table-d'hôte had been over some time; the guests had departed to repose in their apartments until the hour of evening promenade should summon them to the excellent band of music, provided by the calculating liberality of the gaming-house keepers, and to loiter round the brunnen of more or less nauseous flavour, the pretext of resort to this rendezvous of idlers and gamblers. The waiters had disappeared to batten on the broken meats from the public table, and to doze away the time till the approach of supper renewed their activity. My interlocutor, with whom I was alone in the deserted apartment, was a man of about thirty years of age, whose dark hair and mustaches, marked features, spare person, and complexion bronzed by a tropical sun, entitled him to pass for a native of southern Europe, or even of some more ardent clime. Nevertheless he answered to the very Dutch patronymic of Van Haubitz, and was a native of Holland, in whose principal city his father was a banker of considerable wealth and financial influence.

It was towards the close of a glorious August, and for two months I had been wandering in Rhine-land. Not after the fashion of deluded Cockneys, who fancy they have seen the Rhine when they have careered from Cologne to Mannheim astride of a steam-engine, gaping at objects passed as soon as perceived; drinking and paying for indifferent vinegar as Steinberger-Cabinet, eating vile dinners on the decks of steamers, and excellent ones in the capital hotels which British cash and patronage have raised upon the banks of the most renowned of German streams. On the contrary, I had early dispensed with the aid of steam, to wander on foot, with the occasional assistance of a lazy country diligence or rickety einspänner, through the many beautiful districts that lie upon either bank of the river; pedestrianising in Rhenish Bavaria, losing myself in the Odenwald, and pausing, when occasion offered, to pick a trout out of the numerous streamlets that dash and meander through dell and ravine, on their way to swell the waters of old Father Rhine. At last, weary of solitude—scarcely broken by an occasional gossip with a heavy German boor, village priest, or strolling student—I thirsted after the haunts of civilisation, and found myself, within a day of the appearance of the symptom, installed in a luxurious hotel in the free city of Frankfort on the Maine. But Frankfort at that season is deserted, save by passing tourists, who escape as fast as possible from its lifeless streets and sun-baked pavements; so, after glancing over an English newspaper at the Casino, taking one stroll in the beautiful garden surrounding the city, and another through the Jew-quarter—always interesting and curious, although anything but savoury at that warm season—I gathered together my baggage and was off to Homburg. There I could not complain of solitude, of deserted streets and shuttered windows. It seemed impossible that the multitude of gaily dressed belles and cavaliers, English, French, German, and Russ, who, from six in the morning until sunset, lounged and flirted on the walks, watered themselves at the fountains, and perilled their complexions in the golden sunbeams, could ever bestow themselves in the two or three middling hotels and few score shabby lodging-houses composing the town of Homburg. Manage it they did, however; crept into their narrow cells at night, to emerge next morning, like butterflies from the chrysalis, gay, bright, and brilliant, and to recommence the never-varying but pleasant round of eating, sauntering, love-making, and gambling. Homburg was not then what it has since become. That great house of cards, the new Cursaal, had not yet arisen; and its table-d'hôte, reading-room, and profane mysteries of roulette and rouge-et-noir, found temporary domicile in a narrow, disreputable-looking den in the main street, where accommodation of all kinds, but especially for dinner, was scanty in the extreme. The public tables at the hotels were consequently thronged, and there acquaintances were soon made. The day of my arrival at Homburg I was seated next to Van Haubitz; his manner was off-hand and frank; we entered into conversation, took our after-dinner cigar and evening stroll together, and by bed-time had knocked up that sort of intimacy easily contracted at a watering-place, which lasts one's time of residence, and is extinguished and forgotten on departure. Van Haubitz, like many Continentals and very few Englishmen, was one of those free-and-easy communicative persons who are as familiar after twelve hours' acquaintance as if they had known you twelve years, and who do not hesitate to confide to a three days' acquaintance the history of their lives, their pursuits, position, and prospects. I was soon made acquainted, to a very considerable extent, at least, with those of my friend Van Haubitz, late lieutenant of artillery in the service of his majesty the King of Holland. He was the youngest of four sons, and having shown, at a very early age, a wild and intractable disposition and precocious addiction to dissipation, his father pronounced him unsuited to business, and decided on placing him in the army. To this the Junker (he claimed nobility, and displayed above his arms a species of coronet, bearing considerable resemblance to a fragment of chevaux-de-frise, which he might have been puzzled to prop with a parchment) had no particular objection, and might have made a good enough officer, but for his reckless, spendthrift manner of life, which entailed negligence of duty and frequent reprimands. Extravagant beyond measure, unable to deny himself any gratification, squandering money as though millions were at his command, he was constantly overwhelmed with debts and a martyr to duns. At last his father, after thrice clearing him with his creditors, consented to do so a fourth time only on condition of his getting transferred to a regiment stationed in the Dutch East Indies, and remaining there until his return had the paternal sanction. To avoid a prison, and perhaps not altogether sorry to leave a country where his cash and credit were alike exhausted, he embarked for Batavia. But any pleasant day-dreams he may have cherished of tropical luxuries, of the indulgence of a farniente life in a grass hammock, gently balanced by Javan houris beneath banana shades, of spice-laden breezes and cool sherbets, and other attributes of a Mohammedan paradise, were speedily dissipated by the odious realities of filth and vermin, marsh-fever and mosquitoes. He wrote to his father, describing the horrors of the place, and begging to be released from his pledge and allowed to return to Holland. His obdurate progenitor replied by a letter of reproach, and swore that if he left Batavia he might live on his pay, and never expect a stiver from the paternal strong-box, either as gift or bequest. To live upon his pay would have been no easy matter, even for a more prudent person than Van Haubitz. He grumbled immoderately, swore like a pagan, but remained where he was. A year passed and he could hold out no longer. Disregarding the paternal displeasure, and reckless of consequences, he applied to the chief military authority of the colony for leave of absence. He was asked his plea, and alleged ill health. The general thought he looked pretty well, and requested the sight of a medical certificate of his invalid state. Van Haubitz assumed a doleful countenance and betook him to the surgeons. They agreed with the general that his aspect was healthy: asked for symptoms; could discover none more alarming than regularity of pulse, sleep, appetite, and digestion, laughed in his face and refused the certificate. The sickly gunner, who had the constitution of a rhinoceros, and had never had a day's illness since he got over the measles at the age of four years, waited a little, and tried the second "dodge," usually resorted to in such cases. "Urgent private affairs" were now the pretext. The general expressed his regret that urgent public affairs rendered it impossible for him to dispense with the valuable services of Lieutenant Van Haubitz. Whereupon Lieutenant Van Haubitz passed half an hour in heaping maledictions on the head of his disobliging commander, and then sat down and wrote an application for an exchange to the authorities in Holland. The reply was equally unsatisfactory, the fact being that Haubitz senior, like an implacable old savage as he was, had made interest at the war-office for the refusal of all such requests on the part of his scapegrace offspring. Haubitz junior took patience for another year, and then, in a moment of extreme disgust and ennui, threw up his commission and returned to Europe, trusting, he told me, that after five years' absence, the governor's bowels would yearn towards his youngest-born. In this he was entirely mistaken; he greatly underrated the toughness of paternal viscera. Far from killing the fatted calf on the prodigal's return, the incensed old Hollander refused him the smallest cutlet, and, shutting the door in his face, consigned him, with more energy than affection, to the custody of the evil one. Van Haubitz found himself in an awkward fix. Credit was dead, none of his relatives would notice or assist him; his whole fortune consisted of a dozen gold Wilhelms. At this critical moment an eccentric maiden aunt, to whom, a year or two previously, he had sent a propitiatory offering of a ring-tailed monkey and a leash of pea-green parrots, and who had never condescended to acknowledge the present, departed this life, bequeathing him ten thousand florins as a return for the addition to her menagerie. A man of common prudence, and who had seen himself so near destitution, would have endeavoured to employ this sum, moderate as it was, in some trade or business, or, at any rate, would have lived sparingly till he found other resources. But Haubitz had not yet sown all his wild-oats; he had a soul above barter, a glorious disregard of the future, the present being provided for. He left Holland, shaking the dust from his boots, dashed across Belgium, and was soon plunged in the gaieties of a Paris carnival. Breakfasts at the Rocher, dinners at the Café, balls at the opera, and the concomitant petits soupers and écarté parties with the fair denizens of the Quartier Lorette, soon operated a prodigious chasm in the monkey-money, as Van Haubitz irreverently styled his venerable aunt's bequest. Spring having arrived, he beat a retreat from Paris, and established himself at Homburg, where he was quietly completing the consumption of the ten thousand florins, at rather a slower pace than he would have done at that headquarters of pleasant iniquity, the capital of France. From hints he let fall, I suspected a short time would suffice to see the last of the legacy. On this head, however, he had been less confidential than on most other matters, and certainly his manner of living would have led no one to suppose he was low in the locker. Nothing was too good for him; he drank the best of wines, got up parties and pic-nics for the ladies, and had a special addiction to the purchase of costly trinkets, which he generally gave away before they had been a day in his possession. He did not gamble; he had done so, he told me, once since he was at Homburg, and had won, but he had no faith in his luck, or taste for that kind of excitement, and should play no more. He was playing another game just now, which apparently interested him greatly. A few days before myself, a young actress, who, within a very short time, had acquired considerable celebrity, had arrived at Homburg, escorted by her mother. Fraülein Emilie Sendel was a lively lady of four-and-twenty or thereabouts, possessing a smart figure and pretty face, the latter somewhat wanting in refinement. Her blue eyes, although rather too prominent, had a merry sparkle; her cheeks had not yet been entirely despoiled by envious rouge of their natural healthful tinge; her hair, of that peculiar tint of red auburn which the French call a blonde hasardé, was more remarkable for abundance and flexibility than for fineness of texture. As regarded her qualities and accomplishments, she was good-humoured and tolerably unaffected, but wilful and capricious as a spoiled child; she spoke her own language pretty well, with an occasional slight vulgarism or bit of greenroom slang; had a smattering of French, and played the piano sufficiently to accompany the ballads and vaudeville airs which she sang with spirit and considerable freedom of style. I had met German actresses who were far more lady-like off the stage, but there was nothing glaringly or repulsively vulgar about Emilie, and as a neighbour at a public dinner-table, she was amusing and quite above par. As if to vindicate her nationality, she would occasionally look sentimental; but the mood sat ill upon her, and never lasted long: comedy was evidently her natural line. Against her reputation, rumour, always an inquisitive censor, often a mean libeller, of ladies of her profession, had as yet, so far as I could learn, found nothing to allege. Her mother, a dingy old dowager, with bad teeth, dowdy gowns, a profusion of artificial flowers, and a strong addiction to tea and knitting, perfectly understood the duties of duennaship, and did propriety by her daughter's side at dinner-table and promenade. To the heart of the daughter, Van Haubitz, almost from the first hour he had seen her, had laid persevering and determined siege.

During our after-dinner tête-à-tête on the day now referred to, my friend the gunner had shown himself exceedingly unreserved, and, without any attempt on my part to draw him out, he had elucidated, with a frankness that must have satisfied the most inquisitive, whatever small points of his recent history and present position he had previously left in obscurity. The conversation began, so soon as the cloth was removed and the guests had departed, by a jesting allusion on my part to his flirtation with the actress, and to her gracious reception of his attentions.

"It is no mere flirtation," said Van, gravely. "My intentions are serious. You may depend Mademoiselle Sendel understands them as such."

"Serious! you don't mean that you want to marry her?"

"Unquestionably I do. It is my only chance."

"Your only chance!" I repeated, considerably puzzled. "Are you about to turn actor, and do you trust to her for instruction in histrionics?"

"Not exactly. I will explain. La Sendel, you must know, has just terminated her last engagement, which was at a salary of ten thousand florins. She has already received and accepted an offer of a new one, at fifteen thousand, from the Vienna theatre. Vienna is a very pleasant place. Fifteen thousand florins are thirty-two thousand francs, or twelve hundred of your English pounds sterling. Upon that sum two persons can live excellently well—in Germany at least."

Unable to contradict any of these assertions, I held my tongue. The Dutchman resumed.

"You know the history of my past life; I will tell you my present position. It is critical enough, but I shall improve it, for here," and he touched his forehead, "is what never fails me. This letter," (he produced an epistle of mercantile aspect, bearing the Amsterdam post-mark), "I received last week from my eldest brother. The shabby schelm declares he will reply to no more of mine, that his efforts to arrange matters with my father have been fruitless, and that the old gentleman has strictly forbidden him and his brothers to hold any communication with me, a command they seem willing enough to obey. So much for that. And now for the finances."

He took out his pocket-book, opened and shook it—a flimsy crumpled bit of paper fell out. It was a note of the bank of France, for one thousand francs.

"My last," said he. "That gone, I am a beggar. But it won't come to that, either, thanks to Fraülein Emilie."

"Surely," said I, "you are too reckless of money, too extravagant and unreflecting. Six months ago, you told me you had twenty such notes."

"Ay, twenty-two exactly, at the end of January, when I left Amsterdam. But whither was I bound? To Paris; and who can economise there? I've had my money's worth, and could have had no more, had I dribbled the dirty ten thousand florins over three years, instead of three months. I take great credit for making it last so long. Such suppers, and balls, and orgies, with the pleasantest fellows and prettiest actresses in Paris. But the louis-d'or roll rapidly in that sort of society. One must be a Russian prince, or a French feuilletoniste, to keep it up. I never flinched at anything so long as the money lasted. Then, when I found myself reduced to the last note, I got into the Frankfort mail, and came to rusticate at this rural roulette-table. My next change will be to conjugation and Vienna."

"But if you had only a thousand francs on leaving Paris, and have got them still, how have you lived since?"

"You don't suppose these are the same? There are not many ways of getting through money here unless one gambles, which I do not; but coin has somehow or other a peculiar aptitude to slip through my fingers, and the thousand francs soon evaporated. Meanwhile, I had written dozens of letters to my brothers, who seldom answered, and to my father, who never did. I promised reform and a respectable life, if they would either get me a snug place with little to do and good pay, or make me a reasonable yearly allowance, something better than the paltry three thousand florins they doled out to me when I was in the artillery, and on which, as I could not live, I was obliged to get in debt. They paid no attention to my request, reasonable as it was. The best offer they made me was five francs a-day, paid weekly, to live in a Silesian village. This was adding insult to injury, and I left off writing to them. A few days afterwards, taking out my purse to pay for cigars, a dollar dropped out. It was my last. I paid it away, walked home, lay down upon my bed, smoked and reflected. My position was gloomy enough, and the more I looked at it, the blacker it seemed. From my undutiful relatives there was no hope; the abominable Silesian project was evidently their ultimatum. I had no friend to turn to, no resource left. I might certainly have obtained the mere necessaries of life at this hotel, where my credit was excellent, and have vegetated for a month or two, as a man must vegetate, without ready money. But I had no fancy for such an expedient, a mere protraction of the agony. I lay ruminating for two hours, two such hours as I should be sorry to pass again, and then my mind was made up. I had a brace of small travelling-pistols amongst my baggage; these I loaded and put in my pocket; and then, leaving the hotel and the town, I struck across the country for some distance and plunged into a wood. There I sat down upon a grass bank, my back against an old beech. It was evening, and the solitary little glade before me was striped with the last sunbeams darting between the tree-trunks. I have difficulty in defining my sensations at that moment. I was quite resolved, did not waver an instant in my purpose, but my head was dizzy, and I had a sickly sensation about the heart. Determined that the physical shrinking from death should not have time to weaken my moral determination, I hastily opened my waistcoat, felt for the pulsations of my heart, placed the muzzle of a pistol where they were strongest, steadying it on that spot with my left hand. Then I looked straight before me and pulled the trigger. There was the click of the lock, but no report; the cap was bad, and had been crushed without exploding. That was a horrible moment. I snatched up another pistol, which lay cocked to my hand, and thrust the muzzle into my mouth. As before, the sharp noise of the hammer upon the nipple was the sole result. The caps had been some time in my possession, and had become worthless through age or damp."

I looked at Van Haubitz, doubtful whether he was not hoaxing me. But hitherto I had observed in him no addiction to the Munchausen vein, and now his countenance and voice were serious: there was a slight flush on his cheek, and he was evidently excited at the recollection of his abortive attempt at suicide,—perhaps a little ashamed of it. I was convinced he told the truth.

"I do not know," he continued, "whether, had I had surer weapons with me, I should have had courage to make a third attempt upon my life. Honestly, I think not; the self-preservative instinct was rapidly gaining strength. I walked slowly back to the town, my brain still confused from the agitating moments I had passed. I was unable quite to collect my thoughts, and felt as if I had just awakened from a long heavy sleep. It was now dark; lights streamed from the open windows of the gambling-rooms; the voices of the croupiers, the stir and hum of the players and jingling of money were distinctly heard in the street without. I have already told you I am no gambler, not from scruple, but choice. Nevertheless, I used often to stroll up to the Cursaal for an hour of an evening, when the play was at the highest, to look on and chat with chance acquaintances. Mechanically, I now ascended the stairs. On the landing-place, I found myself face to face with a man with whom I was slightly intimate, and who, a few evenings before, had borrowed forty francs of me. I had not seen him since, and he now returned me the piece of gold. 'Try your luck with it,' said he; 'there is a run against the bank to-night, everybody wins, and M. Blanc looks blue.' And he pointed to one of the proprietors of the tables, who, however, wore a tolerably tranquil air, knowing well that what was carried away one night, would come back with compound interest the next. The play was heavy at the rouge-et-noir table; a Russian and two Frenchmen—the latter of whom, judging from their appearance, and from the complicated array of calculations on the table before them, were professional gamblers—extracted, at nearly every coup, notes or rouleaus of gold from the grated boxes in front of the bankers. I drank a glass of water, for my lips were dry and hot, and, placing myself as near the table as the crowd of players and spectators permitted, watched the game. My hand was in my pocket, the forty-franc piece still between its fingers. But in spite of the advice of him who had paid it me, I felt no disposition to risk the coin; not that I feared to lose it, for as my only one it was useless, but because, as I tell you, I never had the slightest love of gambling or expectation to win.

"A pause occurred in the game. The cards had run out, and the bankers were subjecting them to those complicated and ostentatious shufflings intended to convince the players of the fairness of their dealings. During this operation the previous silence was exchanged for eager gossip. The game, it appeared, had come out that night in a peculiar manner, very favourable to those who had had the address and nerve to avail themselves of it. There had been alternate long runs upon red and black.

"'Mille noms de Dieu!' exclaimed a hoarse cracked voice just below me. 'What a series of black! Twenty-two, and only three red! And to be unable to take advantage of it!'

"I looked down, and recognised the grey mustache, wrinkled features, and snuffy black coat with a ribbon of the Legion of Honour, of an old French colonel whom you may have seen limping in and out of the Cursaal, and who ranks amongst the antiquities of Homburg. He served under Napoleon, was shelved at the peace, and has lived since then on a moderate annuity, of which one-fifth procures him the barest necessaries of existence, whilst the other four parts are annually absorbed in the vortex of rouge-et-noir. When gambling-houses were legal at Paris, le colonel rapé, the threadbare colonel, as he was called, was one of the most punctual attendants at Frascati's and the Palais Royal. When they were abolished, he commenced a wandering existence amongst the German baths, and finally settled down at Homburg, giving it the preference, as the only place where he could follow his darling pursuit alike in winter and in summer. From the opening to the close of the play he is seen seated at the table, a number of cards, ruled in red and black columns, on the green cloth before him, in which he pricks with pins the progress of the game. That evening he had been unfortunate, and had emptied his pocket, but nevertheless continued puncturing cards with laudable perseverance, of course discovering, like every penniless gambler, that, had he money to stake, he should infallibly make a fortune; predicting what colour would come out, and indulging, when he proved a true prophet, in a little subdued blasphemy because he was unable to profit by his acuteness.

"'Extraordinary run! to be sure,' repeated the veteran dicer. 'Twenty-two black, and only three red! There'll be a series of red now; I feel there will, and when I don't play myself, I'm always right. I bet this deal begins with seven red. Who bets a hundred francs to fifty it does not?'

"Nobody accepted this sporting offer, or placed upon the colour which the colonel's prophetic soul foresaw was to come out. The cards were now shuffled and cut for dealing. The hell relapsed into silence.

"'Faites le jeu, Messieurs!' was repeated in the harsh business-like tones of the presiding demon.

"'Red wins,' croaked the colonel. 'Seven times at the least.'

"Nearly all the players backed the black. By an idle impulse I threw down my forty francs, my entire fortune, upon the red. The old soldier looked round to see the judicious individual who followed his advice, smiled grimly, and nodded approvingly. The next moment red won. I let the money lie, and walked into the next room. Eighty francs were of no more use to me than forty, and I felt very sure that another turn of the card would carry off both stake and winnings. I took up a newspaper, but soon threw it down again, for my head was not clear enough to read, and I felt exhausted with the emotions of the day. I was about to leave the house when I heard a loud buzz in the card-room, and the next instant somebody clutched my arm. It was the French colonel, in a state of furious excitement; grinning, panting, perspiring, and stuttering with eagerness.

"'Seven reds!' was all he could say. 'Seven reds, Monsieur. Take up your money.'

"I hastened to the table. By a strange caprice of fortune, the colonel's prophecy had come true. Red had won seven times, and my forty francs had become five thousand. I took up my winnings, the colonel looking on with a triumphant smile. This was suddenly exchanged for a portentous frown and fierce twist of the grey mustache.

"'Mille millions de tonnerres! Not a dollar left to follow up that splendid run!' And with a furious gesture, he upset his chair, and dashed his cards upon the ground.

"I took the hint, whether intended or not. I could not do less in return for the five thousand francs the old gentleman had put in my pocket.

"'If Monsieur,' I said, 'will allow me the pleasure of lending him—'

"'Impossible, Monsieur!' interrupted the colonel, looking as stern as if about to charge single-handed a whole pulk of Cossacks. But I knew my man. He was the type of a class of which I have seen many.

"'Cependant, Monsieur, entre militaires, between brother-soldiers—'

"'Ah! Monsieur est militaire!' exclaimed the old gentleman, his alarming contraction of brow and rigidity of feature instantaneously dissolving into a smile of extreme benignity. 'That alters the case. Certainly, between brothers in arms those little services may be offered and accepted. Although, really, it is encroaching on Monsieur's complaisance ... at the same time ... a hundred francs ... till to-morrow ... quarters at some distance ... &c. &c.,' which ended in his picking up his chair, cards, and pin, and applying all his faculties to break the bank with ten louis which I lent him, and which I need hardly say I have not seen from that day to this.

"Such a sudden stroke of good fortune would have made gamblers of nine men out of ten, but I decidedly want the organ of gaming, for I have never played since. My narrow escape from suicide had made some impression on me, and now that I had five thousand francs in my pocket, I looked back at the attempt as an exceedingly foolish proceeding. For a month or more, I lived with what even you would admit to be great economy, writing frequent letters to Amsterdam, and trying to come to terms and an arrangement with my family. All in vain. They had no confidence in my promises, proposed nothing I could accept, talked of Silesian exile—roots and water in the wilderness—and the like absurdities, until I plainly saw they were determined to cast me off, and that if I was to be helped at all, it must be by myself. How to do this was the puzzle. There are few things I can do, that could in any way be rendered profitable. I can ride a horse, lay a gun, and put a battery through its exercise; but such accomplishments are sufficiently common not to be paid at a very high rate; and besides, I had had enough of garrison duty, even could I have got back my commission, which was not likely. So I put soldiering out of the question; and yet, when I had done so, I was puzzled to think of anything better. I had no fancy to turn rook, and rove from place to place in search of pigeons—no uncommon resource with younger brothers of an idle turn and exhausted means. I had fallen in with a few birds of that breed, and had come to the conclusion that, to save themselves work and trouble, they had adopted by far the most laborious and painful of all professions. In the midst of my doubts and uncertainties, the fair Sendel and her mother made their appearance. The first sight of their names upon the hotel book was a ray of light to me. Within an hour I made up my mind to sacrifice my independence to my necessities, and become the virtuous and domesticated spouse of the charming and well-paid Emilie. A hint and a dollar to the waiter placed me next her at the table-d'hôte, and I immediately opened my intrenchments, and began a siege in due form."

"Which you expect will soon terminate by the capitulation of the garrison?"

"Undoubtedly. The result of the first day or two's operations was not very satisfactory. I rattled away, and did the amiable to a furious extent; but the divinity was shy, and the guardian of the temple (an old gorgon whom I shall suppress before the honeymoon is out) looked askance at me, and pulled her daughter by the sleeve whenever she seemed disposed to listen. They evidently thought the rattle might belong to a snake; did me the injustice to take me for an adventurer. On the third day, however, the ice had melted. I soon found out the cause of the thaw. The head-waiter, whom a little well-timed liberality had rendered my devoted slave, informed me that Madame Sendel had been making minute inquiries concerning me of the master of the hotel. The worthy man, who adored me because I despised vin ordinaire and looked only at the sum-total of his bills, said that I was a son of Van Haubitz, the rich banker of Amsterdam, which was perfectly true; adding, which was rather less so, that I was a partner in the house, and a millionaire. The effect of this information upon the speculative firm of Sendel Mère et Fille, was perfectly electric. Medusa smoothed her horrid locks, and came out at that day's dinner in cherry ribbons and fresh artificials. Emilie was all smiles and suavity, laughed at my worst jokes, nearly burst her stays by holding her breath to raise a blush at my soft speeches, and returned from that evening's promenade talking about the moon, and leaning tenderly on my arm."

"With such encouragement, I am surprised you did not propose at once."

"So hasty a measure—oh, most unsophisticated of Britons!" replied Van, with a look of grave pity for my simplicity—"would have greatly perilled the success of my scheme. Sendel Senior, having only the innkeeper's report to rely on, would have had her ungenerous suspicions re-awakened by my precipitation, and have instituted further inquiries; have written, probably, to some friend in Holland, and learned that the pretender to her daughter's hand, although unquestionably a son of the wealthy banker Van Haubitz, is excluded beyond redemption from the good graces of that respectable pillar of Dutch finance, who has further announced his irrevocable determination to take not the slightest notice of him in his testamentary dispositions. The excellent Herr Bratenbengel, whose succulent dinner we are now digesting, and whose very laudable Rudesheimer stands before us, had unwittingly laid the foundation of my success; it was for me to raise the superstructure. Now it was that I rejoiced at my economy since the lucky hit at the gaming-table. The greater part of my winnings still remained to me; golden grain, which I profusely scattered, sure that it would yield rich harvest. I had already made a favourable impression, and this I took care to confirm by the liberal expenditure which you, in your ignorance, have called extravagance; by treating money as if its abundance in my coffers made it valueless in my eyes, and by delicate generosity in the shape of presents to mother and daughter. The trap was too well set to prove a failure; the birds are fairly snared, and to-night, when we take our usual romantic stroll, I shall raise the fair Sendel to the seventh heaven of happiness by asking her to become Madame Van Haubitz."

Although the tenor and tone of these confessions by no means tended to elevate the Dutchman in my opinion, I could not but smile at the coolness with which they were made, and at the skill of his manœuvres. There was some good about the scamp; he had his own code of honour, such as it was, and from that he would not easily have been induced to swerve. He would have scorned to do a dirty thing, to cheat at cards, or leave a debt of honour unpaid; but would readily have got in debt to tradesmen and money-lenders beyond all possibility of reimbursement. And as regarded his present conspiracy against the celibacy and salary of Mademoiselle Sendel, a senate of sages and logicians would have failed to convince him of its impropriety. He looked upon it as a most justifiable stratagem, a lawful spoiling of the spoiler, praiseworthy in the sight of men, gods, and columns, and which he would perhaps have boasted of to a considerable extent to many besides myself, had not secresy been essential to the welfare of his combinations. I did not feel myself bound to betray his plot, or to put the Sendel on her guard against this snake amongst the roses. And whilst mentally resolving rather to diminish than increase the intimacy which the confident and confidential artilleryman had in great measure forced upon me, and which I, through a sort of easy-going indolence of character, had perhaps somewhat lightly accepted, I anticipated diversion in watching the manœuvres of the high contracting parties. I considered myself as a spectator, called upon to witness an amusing comedy in real life, and admitted behind the scenes by peculiar favour of an actor. I resolved to watch the progress of the intrigue, and, if possible, to be present at the dénouement.

"Are you quite certain," said I to Van, "that Mademoiselle Sendel's pecuniary position and prospects are so very favourable? The sum you mentioned is a large one for an actress who has been so short a time on the stage. Public report, very apt to take liberties with the reputation of theatrical ladies, often endeavours to compensate them by magnifying their salaries."

Van, I may here mention, lest the reader should not have perceived it, had a most inordinate opinion of his own abilities and acuteness. Like certain Yankees, he "conceited" it was necessary to rise before the sun to outwit him, and even then your chance was a poor one. He had been in hot water all his life, never out of difficulties and scrapes—once, as has been shown, kept from suicide by a mere accident and was now reduced to the alternative of beggary or of marrying for a living. None of these circumstances, which would have taken the conceit out of most men, at all impaired his opinion of his talent and sharpness. Replying to my observation merely by a slight shrug, and by a smile of pity for the man who thus misappreciated his foresight, he again produced his pocket-book, and extracted from its innermost recesses a fragment of a German newspaper, reputed oracular in matters theatrical. This he handed to me, tapping a particular paragraph significantly with his forefinger. The paragraph was thus conceived:—

"THEATRICAL INTELLIGENCE.—That promising young actress, Fraülein Emilie Sendel—whose first appearance, in the spring of last year, at once established her in the foremost line of the dramatic genius of the day—has concluded her twelve months' engagement at the Hof Theater of B——, where she doubtless considered, and not without reason, that her talents and exertions were inadequately compensated by a salary of ten thousand florins. The gay society of that capital will sensibly feel the loss of the accomplished and fascinating comedian, who has accepted an engagement at Vienna, on the more suitable terms of fifteen thousand florins, with two months' congé, and other advantages. Before proceeding to ravish the eyes and ears of the pleasure-loving population of the Kaiser-Stadt, la belle Sendel is off to the baths, under the protecting wing of the watchful guardian who has presided at all her theatrical triumphs."

"Clear enough, I think," said Van, when I raised my eyes from the protracted periods of the penny-a-liner.

I had nothing to say against the lucidity of the paragraph, nor anything to urge, at all likely to avail, against the prosecution of Van's designs upon the lady's hand and fifteen thousand florins, with "two months' congé and other advantages." No possible sophistry, to which I was equal, could prove the marriage to be against his interest; and as to trying him on the tack of delicacy—"imposition on an unprotected woman, degrading dependence on her exertions," and so forth—I knew the thick skin and indomitable self-conceit of the gunner would repel such feather-shafts without feeling them, or that the utmost effect I could expect to produce would be to get into a quarrel with the redoubtable native of the Netherlands, a predicament in which, as a man of peace, I was by no means anxious to find myself. So after hazarding the fruitless hint with which the reader was made acquainted at the commencement of this narrative, I abstained from all further intermeddling, and retired to my apartment, leaving Van Haubitz to con the declaration with which he was that evening to rejoice the ears of the fair and too-confiding Sendel.

I went to bed early that night, and saw nothing more of the Hollander till the next morning, when I was roused from a balmy slumber at the untimely hour of seven, by his bursting into my room with more impetuosity than ceremony, with the gestures of a maniac and the mien of a conqueror. Before my eyes were half open, he was more than half through the history of his proceedings on the previous evening. His success had been complete. Emilie had faltered, with downcast eyes, a sweet assent. The friendly gloom of eve, and the over-arching foliage, beneath whose shade the momentous question was put, saved her the necessity of practising upon her lungs to produce a blush. Mamma Sendel had bestowed her blessing upon the happy pair, and in the ardour of her maternal accolades had nearly extinguished her future son-in-law's left ogle with the wire stalk of an artificial passion-flower. The first burst of benevolence over, and the effervescence of feeling a little calmed, the bridegroom elect, who could not afford delays, pressed for an early day. Thereupon Emilie was, of course, horror-stricken, but her maternal relative, nothing loth to land the fish thus satisfactorily hooked, and well aware of the impediments that sometimes arise between cup and lip, ranged herself upon the side of the eager lover, and their combined forces bore down all opposition. Madame Sendel at first showed an evident hankering after a preliminary jaunt to Amsterdam and a gay wedding, graced by the presence of the bridegroom's numerous and wealthy family. She also testified some anxiety as to the view Van Haubitz Senior might take of his son's matrimonial project, and as to how far he might approve of a hasty and unceremonious wedding. But the gallant artilleryman had an answer to everything. He pledged himself, which he was perfectly safe in doing, that his father would not attempt in the slightest degree to control his inclinations or interfere with his projects, extolled the delights of an autumnal tour with his wife and mother-in-law before returning to Holland; in short, was so plausible in his arguments, so specious and pressing, pleaded so eloquently the violence of his love and inutility of delay, and overruled objections with such cogent reasoning, that he achieved a complete triumph, and it was agreed that in one week Van Haubitz should lead his adored Emilie to the hymeneal altar.

"There will be a small matter to arrange with respect to Emilie," said Madame Sendel in her blandest tones, and with affectation of embarrassment. "She has an engagement at the Vienna theatre, which must of course now be broken off. There is a forfeit to pay, no very heavy sum," added she——

"Not a word about that," interrupted Van, whose blood curdled in his veins at the mere idea of cancelling the engagement on which his hopes were built. "There is no hurry for a few days. Let me once call Emilie mine, and I take charge of all those matters."

Emilie smiled angelically; Madame patted her considerate son-in-law on the shoulder, and applied to her snuff-box to conceal her emotion; and all matters of business being thus satisfactorily settled, the evening closed in harmony and bliss.

"Are you for Frankfort to-day?" said Van Haubitz, when he had concluded his exulting narrative, and without giving me time for congratulations, which I should have been at a loss to offer. "I am off, after breakfast, to get some diamond earrings and other small matters for my adorable. I shall be glad of your taste and opinion."

"Diamonds!" I exclaimed. "Farewell, then, to the thousand franc note—"

"Pooh! Nonsense! You don't suppose I throw away my last cash that way. The Frankfort jewellers know me well, or think they do, which is the same thing. They have seen enough of my coin since I have been at Homburg. For them, as for my excellent mother-in-law, I am the wealthy partner in the undoubted good firm of Van Haubitz, Krummwinkel, & Co. I never told them so; if they choose to imagine it I am not to blame. My credit is good. The diamonds shall be paid for—if paid for they must be—out of Madame Van Haubitz's first quarter's salary."

I was meditating an excuse for not accompanying my pertinacious and unscrupulous acquaintance on his cruise against the Frankfort Israelites, when he resumed—

"By the by," he said, "you will come to church with us. I have arranged it all. Quite private, for reasons good. Nobody but yourself, Madame Sendel, and Emilie. You shall act as father, and give away the bride."

The start I gave, at this alarming announcement, nearly broke the bed. This was carrying things rather too far. Not satisfied with rendering me, by his intrusive and unsolicited confidence, a sort of tacit accomplice in his manœuvres, this Dutch Gil Blas would fain make me an active participator. I drew at sight on my imagination, quickened by the peril, for a letter received the previous evening from a dear and near relative who lay dangerously ill at Baden-Baden, and to whose sick-bed it was absolutely necessary I should immediately repair; and, jumping up, I began to dress in all haste, rang furiously for the bill and a carriage, and requested Van Haubitz to present my excuses to the ladies, my unexpected departure at that early hour depriving me of the pleasure of taking leave of them. The Dutchman swore all manner of donderwetters and sacraments that he was grieved at my departure, trusted I should find my friend better, and be able to return to Frankfort in time for the marriage, but did not press me to do so, and in reality was too exhilarated by the success of his machinations to care a straw about the matter. And saying he must go and write to Amsterdam, he shook me by the hand and left the room, whistling in loud and joyous key the burthen of a Dutch march. In less than an hour I was on the road to Frankfort, and that evening I reached Heidelberg, where some friends of mine had passed the summer. I expected to find them still there, but they had left for Baden-Baden. Thither I pursued them, and—as if it were a judgment on me for my white lie to the Dutchman—arrived there the morrow of their departure. Baden was thinning, and they had gone down stream: I must have passed them on the Rhine. Having strong reasons to see them before they left Germany, I followed upon their trail. But their movements were rapid and eccentric, and after tracking them to one or two of the minor baths, the chase led me back to Frankfort. Here I made sure to catch them, or resolved to give up the hunt.

A week had been consumed in thus travelling to and fro. I had no great fancy for returning to Frankfort, lest my friend the Dutchman should still be there, and press his society upon me, of which, after his recent revelations, I was anything but ambitious. Upon the whole, however, I thought it likely he would have departed. I knew he would accelerate his marriage as much as possible; I had been nine days absent, which gave him ample time to get over the ceremony and leave the neighbourhood. By way of precaution I resolved to keep pretty close in my hotel during the period of my stay, which was not to exceed one or two days.

On arriving at the "White Swan," I found my friends were staying there, but had driven over to Homburg. Unwilling to follow them, and risk meeting my bugbear, I awaited their return, which was to take place to a late dinner. As usual, there was much bustle at the "Swan;" many goings and comings, several carriages in the courtyard, others in the street packing for departure, a throng of greedy lohn-kutschers, warm waiters, and bearded couriers hanging about the door, and running up and down stairs. I entered the public room. It was past noon, and the tables were laid for dinner, but there were only two persons in the apartment, a gentleman and a lady. They stood at a window, outside of which a handsome Vienna-made berline, with a count's coronet on the panels, was being got ready for a journey. As I walked up the room, the lady turned her head, and I was instantly struck by her resemblance to Emilie Sendel. So strong was it that I for a moment thought I had fallen in with the very persons I wished to avoid. A second glance convinced me of my error. The likeness was certainly startling, but there were many points of difference. Age and stature were the same, so were the hair and complexion, save that the former was less ruddy, the latter paler than in the case of the buxom Emilie. And there were grace and refinement about this person, far beyond any to which the Dutchman's lady-love could pretend. The expression of the interesting features was rather pensive than gay, and there was something classical in the arch of the eyebrow and outline of the face. The lady was plainly but richly attired in an elegant travelling-dress, and had her hand upon the arm of a tall and very handsome man, about forty years of age, of singularly aristocratic but somewhat dissipated appearance. They were talking as I entered, and a sentence or two of their conversation reached my ear. They spoke French, with a scarcely perceptible foreign accent.

Curious to know who these persons were, I returned to the court of the hotel, intending to question a waiter. It was first necessary to catch one, not easy at that busy time of day; and after several fruitless efforts to detain the jacketed gentry, I gave up the attempt, and took my station at the gateway. Scarcely had I done so, when a carriage drove up at a rattling pace, a small spit of a boy in a smart green suit, and with an ambiguous sort of coronet embroidered in silver on the front of his cap, jumped off and opened the door, and there emerged from the vehicle, to my infinite dismay, the inevitable Van Haubitz. Retreat was impossible, for he saw me directly; and after handing out Madame Sendel and her daughter, seized me vehemently by both hands.

"Delighted to see you!" he cried; "I wish you had been a day sooner. We were married yesterday," he added in a hurried voice, drawing me aside. "Have left Homburg, paid everything there, and leave this to-morrow for Heaven knows where. Explanations must come first (here he made a grimace), for my purse is low, and my mother-in-law makes projects that would ruin Rothschild. Lucky you are here to back me. Come in."

I was fairly caught, and in a pretty dilemma. My first thought was to knock down the Dutchman, and run for it, but reflection checked the impulse. Stammering a confused congratulation to the bride and her mother, and meditating an escape at all hazards, I allowed Madame Sendel to hook herself on my arm, and lead me into the hotel in the wake of the newly-wedded pair, who made at once for the public room. A magnificent courier, in a Hungarian dress, with beard, belt, and hunting-knife, strode past us into the apartment.

"Herr Graf," said the man, addressing the distinguished-looking stranger who had attracted my attention, "the horses are ready."

The Count and his companion turned at the announcement, and found themselves face to face with our party. There was a general start and exclamation from the three women. The strange lady turned very pale and visibly trembled; Madame Van Haubitz gave a slight scream; her mother flushed as red as the poppies in her head-dress, and hung like a log upon my arm, glaring angrily at the strangers. For one moment all stood still; Van Haubitz and I looked at each other in bewilderment. He was evidently struck by the extraordinary resemblance I had noticed, and which became more manifest, now that the two ladies were seen together.

"Come, Ameline," said the Count, who alone preserved complete self-possession. And he hurried his companion from the room. Madame Sendel released my arm, and letting herself fall upon a chair with an hysterical giggle, closed her eyes and seemed preparing for a comfortable swoon. Her daughter hastened to her assistance and untied her bonnet; Van Haubitz grasped a decanter of water and made an alarming demonstration of emptying it upon the full-moon countenance of his respectable mother-in-law. I was curious to see him do it, for I had always had my doubts whether the dowager's colours were what is technically termed "fast." My curiosity was not gratified. Whether from apprehension of the remedy or from some other cause, I cannot say, but Madame Sendel abandoned her faint, and after two or three grotesque contortions of countenance, and a certain amount of winking and blinking, was sufficiently recovered to take a huge pinch of snuff, and ascend the stairs to a private room, with her daughter and son-in-law for supporters, and half-a-score waiters and chambermaids, whom her hysterical symptoms had assembled, by way of a tail. Seeing her so well guarded, I thought it unnecessary to add to the escort. As she left the room, there was a clatter of hoofs outside, and looking through the window, I saw the coroneted berline whirled rapidly away by four vigorous posters. Just then the dinner-bell rang, and the obsequious head-waiter, who with profound bows had assisted at the departure of the travellers, bustled into the room.

"Who is the gentleman who has just left?" I inquired.

"His Excellency, Count J——," replied the man. It was the name of a Hungarian nobleman of great wealth, and of reputation almost European as one of the most fashionable and successful Lotharios of the dissipated Austrian capital.

"And his companion?"

"The celebrated actress, Fraülein Sendel."

Had the cunning but unlucky Van Haubitz been a regular reader of the Theater Zeitung, or Journal of the Theatres, he would have seen, in the ensuing number to that whence he derived his information respecting Mademoiselle Sendel's confirmed popularity and advantageous engagement, the following short but important paragraph:

"ERRATUM.—In our yesterday's impression an error occurred, arising from a similarity of names. It is Fraülein Ameline Sendel who has concluded with the Vienna theatre an engagement equally advantageous to herself and the manager. Her elder sister, Fraülein Emilie, continues the engagement she has already held for two seasons, as a supernumerary soubrette. The amount stated yesterday as her salary would still be correct, with the abstraction of a zero. Talent does not always run in families."

This good-natured paragraph, evidently from the pen of a sulky sub-editor, smarting under a lashing for his blunder of the preceding day, did not come to my knowledge till some time afterwards, so that the waiter's reply to my question concerning Count J——'s travelling-companion perplexed me greatly, and plunged me into an ocean of conjectures. In fact, my curiosity was so strongly roused, that instead of availing myself of the absence of the Dutchman to escape from the hotel, I sat down to dinner, resolved not to depart till I heard the mystery explained. I had not long to wait. Dinner was just over, when I received a message from Van Haubitz, who earnestly desired to see me. I found him alone, seated at a table, his chin resting on his hand, anger, shame, and mortification stamped upon his inflamed countenance. A tumbler half full of water stood upon the table, beside a bottle of smelling salts; and, upon entering, I was pretty sure I heard a sound of sobbing from an inner room, which ceased, however, when I spoke. There had evidently been a violent scene. Its cause was explained to me by Van Haubitz, at first in rather a confused manner, for at each attempt to detail the circumstances he interrupted himself by bursts of fury. Owing to this, it was some time before I could arrive at a clear understanding of the facts of the case. When I did, I could scarcely help feeling sorry for the unfortunate schemer, although in truth he richly deserved the disappointment he had met. Never was there a more glaring instance of excess of cunning overreaching itself,—for no deception had been practised by Madame Sendel and her daughter. They doubtless gave themselves credit for some cleverness and more good fortune in enticing a rich banker, with more ducats than brains, into their matrimonial nets; and doubtless Fraülein Emilie put on her best looks and gowns, her sweetest smiles and most becoming bonnets, to lure the lion into the toils. But neither mother nor daughter had for a moment imagined that Van Haubitz took the latter for the celebrated and successful actress whose name was known throughout Germany, whilst that of poor Emilie, whose talents were of the most humble order, had scarcely ever penetrated beyond the wings and greenroom of the theatre, where she enacted unimportant characters for the modest remuneration of a hundred florins a month. By no means proud of her position as an actress, which appeared the more lowly when contrasted with her sister's brilliant success, Emilie had seldom referred to things theatrical since her acquaintance with Van Haubitz. On his part, the Dutchman, conscious of his real motives and anxious to conceal them, abstained from all direct reference to Mademoiselle Sendel's great talents and their lucrative results, contenting himself with general compliments, which passed current without being closely scanned. If he had never heard either his wife or mother-in-law make mention of Ameline, it was because they were on the worst possible terms with that young lady, who had lived, nearly from the period of her first appearance upon the boards, under the protection of the accomplished libertine, Count J——, over whom she was said to exercise extraordinary influence. When she formed this connection, Madame Sendel—who, in spite of her paint and artificial floriculture, had very strict notions of propriety—wrote her a letter of furious reproach, renounced her as her daughter, and prohibited Emilie from holding any communication with her. Emilie, against whose virtue none had ever found aught to say, sorrowfully obeyed; and, after two or three ineffectual attempts on the part of Ameline to soften her mother's wrath, all communication ceased between them. Their next meeting was that at which Van Haubitz and myself were present. Its singularity, Madame Sendel's fainting fit, and the resemblance between the sisters, brought on inquiries and an explanation; and the Dutchman found, to his inexpressible disgust and consternation, that he had encumbered himself with a wife he cared nothing for, and a mother-in-law he detested, whose joint income was largely stated at one hundred and fifty pounds sterling per annum. In his first paroxysm of rage he taunted them with the mistake they had made when they thought to secure the love-sick millionaire, proclaimed himself in debt, disinherited, and a beggar; and, finally, by the violence of his reproaches, drove them trembling and weeping from the room.

Van Haubitz had sent for me to implore my advice in his present difficult position; but was so bewildered by passion, and overwhelmed by this sudden awakening from his dream of success and prosperity, that he was hardly in a condition to listen to reason. His regrets were so selfish as to destroy the possibility of sympathy, and I should have left him to his fate and his own devices, had I not thought that my so doing would make matters worse for the poor girl who had thus heedlessly linked herself to a fortune-hunter. So I remained; after a while he became calmer, and we talked over plans for the future. By my suggestion, Madame Sendel and her daughter were invited to the conference. The old lady was sulky and frightened, and would hardly open her lips; Emilie, on the other hand, made a more favourable impression on me than she had ever previously done. I now saw, what I had not before suspected, that she was really attached to Van Haubitz; hitherto, I had taken her for a mere adventuress, speculating on his supposed wealth. She spoke kindly and affectionately to him, smiled through the tears brought to her eyes by his recent violence, and evidently trembled each time her mother spoke, lest she should vent a reproach or refer to his duplicity. She tried to speak confidently and cheerfully of the future. They must go immediately to Vienna, she said; there she would apply diligently to her profession; the manager had half promised her an increase of salary after another year—she was sure she should deserve it, and meanwhile Van Haubitz, with his abilities, could not fail to find some lucrative employment. He must get rid of his accent, she added with a smile (he spoke a voluble but most execrable jargon of mingled Dutch and German), and then he might go upon the stage, where she was certain he would succeed. This last suggestion was made timidly, as if she feared to hurt the pride of the scapegrace by proposing such a plan. There was not a word or an accent of reproach in all she said, and I heartily forgave the little coquetry, affectation, and vulgarity I had formerly remarked in her, in consideration of the intuitive delicacy and good feeling she now displayed. Truly, thought I, it is humbling to us, the bearded and baser moiety of humankind, to contrast our vile egotism with the beautiful self-devotion of woman, as exhibited even in this poor actress.

Madame Sendel by no means acquiesced in her daughter's project. The flesh-pots of Amsterdam had attractions for her, far superior to those of a struggling and uncertain existence at Vienna. She evidently leaned upon the hope of a reconciliation between Van Haubitz and his father, and hinted pretty plainly at the effect that might be produced by a personal interview with the obdurate banker. I could see she was arranging matters in her queer old noddle upon the approved theatrical principle; the penitent son and fascinating daughter-in-law throwing themselves at the feet of the melting father, who, with handkerchief to eyes, bestows on them a blubbering benediction and ample subsidy. To my surprise, Van Haubitz also seemed disposed to place hope in an appeal to his father, perhaps as a drowning man clutches at a straw. He may have thought that his marriage, imprudent as it was, would be taken as some guarantee of future steadiness, or at least of abstinence from the spendthrift courses which had hitherto destroyed all confidence in him. He could hardly expect his union with a penniless actress to reinstate him in his father's good graces; but he probably imagined he might extract a small annuity, as a condition of living at a distance from the friends he had disgraced. He asked me what I thought of the plan. I of course did not dissuade him from its adoption, and upon the whole thought it his best chance, for I really saw no other. After some deliberation and discussion, he seemed nearly to have made up his mind, when I was called away to my friends, who had returned from their excursion.

I was getting into bed that night, when Van Haubitz knocked at my door, and entered the room with a downcast and dejected air, very different from his usual boisterous headlong manner.

"I am off to Holland," he said; "'tis my only chance, bad though it be."

"I sincerely wish you success," replied I. "In any case, do not despair; something will turn up. You have friends in your own country, I have heard you say. They will help you to occupation."

He shook his head.

"Good friends over a bottle and a dice-box," said he, "but useless at a pinch like this. Pleasant fellows enough, but scamps like"—myself, he was going to add, but did not. "I am come to say farewell," he continued. "I must be off before daybreak. I have debts in Frankfort, and if my departure gets wind, I shall have a dozen duns on my back. Misfortunes never come alone. As for paying, it is out of the question. Amongst us we have only about enough money to reach Amsterdam. Once there—à la grace de Dieu! but I confess my hopes are small. Thanks for your advice—and for your sympathy too, for I saw this morning you were sorry for me, though you did not think I deserved pity. Well, perhaps not. God bless you."

He was leaving the room, but returned.

"I think you said you should stay at Coblenz before returning to England."

"I shall probably be there a few days towards the end of the month."

"Good. If I succeed, you shall hear from me. What is your address there?"

"Poste restante will find me," I replied, not very covetous of the correspondence, and unwilling to give a more exact direction.

Van Haubitz nodded and left me. At breakfast the next morning I learned that the Dutch baron, as the waiter styled him, had taken his departure at peep of day.

The first days of October found me still at Coblenz, lingering amongst the valleys and vineyards, and loth to exchange them for the autumnal fogs and emptiness of London. Thither, however, I was compelled to return; and I endeavoured to console myself for the necessity by discovering that the green Rhine grew brown, the trees scant of leaves, the evenings long and chilly. I had heard nothing of Van Haubitz, and had ceased to think of him, when, walking out at dusk on the eve of the day fixed for my departure, I suddenly encountered him. He had just arrived by a steamboat coming up stream; his wife and mother-in-law were with him, and they were about to enter a fifth-rate inn, which, two months previously, he would have felt insulted if solicited to patronise. I was shocked by the change that had taken place in all three of them. In five weeks they had grown five years older. Emilie had lost her freshness, her eye its sparkle; and the melancholy smile with which she welcomed me made my heart ache. Madame Sendel's rotund cheeks had collapsed, she looked cross and jaundiced, and more snuffy than ever. Van Haubitz was thin and haggard, his hair and mustaches, formerly glossy and well-trimmed, were ragged and neglected, his dress, once so smart and carefully arranged, was soiled and slovenly. My imagination supplied a rapid and vivid sketch of the anxieties, and disappointments, and heart-burnings, which, more than any actual bodily privations, had worked so great a change in so short a time. Van Haubitz started on seeing me, and faltered in his pace, as if unwilling to enter the shabby hotel in my presence. The hesitation was momentary. "Worse quarters than we used to meet in," said he, with a bitter smile. "I will not ask you into this dog-hole. Wait an instant, and I will walk with you."

Badly as I thought of Van Haubitz, and indisposed as I was to keep up any acquaintance with him, I had not the heart, seeing him so miserable and down in the world, to turn my back upon him at once. So I entered the hotel, and waited in the public room. In a few minutes he reappeared with the two ladies, and we all four strolled out in the direction of the Rhine. I did not ask the Dutchman the result of his journey. It was unnecessary. His disheartened air and general appearance told the tale of disappointment, of humiliating petitions sternly rejected, of hopes fled and a cheerless future. He kept silence the while we walked a hundred yards, and then, having left his wife and mother-in-law out of ear-shot, abruptly began the tale of his mishaps. As I conjectured, he had totally failed in his attempt to mollify his father, who was furious at his temerity in appearing before him, and whose rage redoubled when he heard of his ill-omened marriage. Unfortunately for Van Haubitz, the jeweller and some other tradesmen at Frankfort, so soon as they learned his departure, had forwarded their accounts to the care of the Amsterdam firm; and, although his father had not the remotest intention of paying them, he was incensed in the extreme at the slur thus cast upon his house and name. In short, the unlucky artilleryman at once saw he had no chance of a single kreuzer, or of the slightest countenance from his father. His applications to his brothers, and to one or two more distant relatives, were equally unsuccessful. All were disgusted at his irregularities, angry at his marriage, incredulous of his promises of reform; and, after passing a miserable month in Amsterdam, he set out to accompany his wife to Vienna, whither she was compelled to repair under pain of fine and forfeiture of her engagement. Although living with rigid economy—on bread and water, as Van Haubitz expressed it—their finances had been utterly consumed by their stay in the Dutch capital, and it was only by disposing of every trinket and superfluity (and of necessaries too, I feared, when I remembered the slender baggage that came up with them from the boat) that they had procured the means of travelling, in the cheapest and most humble manner, and with the disheartening certainty of arriving penniless at Vienna. Van Haubitz told me all this, and many other details, with an air of gloomy despondency. He was hopeless, heart-broken, desperate; and certain circumstances of his position, which by some would have been held an alleviation, aggravated it in his eyes. He said little of his wife; but, from what escaped him, I easily gathered that she had shown strength of mind, good feeling and affection for him, and was willing to struggle by his side for a scanty and hard-earned subsistence. His cares and irritable mood prevented his appreciating her attachment, and he looked upon her as an encumbrance, without which he might again rise in the world. He had always entertained a confident expectation of enriching himself by marriage; and this hope, which had buoyed him up under many difficulties, was now gone.

"I have one resource left," said Van Haubitz. "I have pondered over it for the last two days, and have almost determined on its adoption."

"What is it?" I asked.

"If I decide upon it," he replied, "you shall shortly know. 'Tis a desperate one enough."

We had insensibly slackened our pace, and at this moment the ladies came up. Van Haubitz made a gesture, as of impatience at the interruption.

"Wait for me here," he said, and walked away. Without speculating upon the motive of his absence, I stood still, and entered into conversation with the ladies. We were on the quay. The night was mild and calm, but overcast and exceedingly dark. A few feet below us rolled the dark mass of the Rhine, slightly swollen by recent rains. A light from an adjacent window illuminated the spot, and cast a flickering gleam across the water. Unwilling to refer to their misfortunes, I spoke to Emilie on some general topic. But Madame Sendel was too full of her troubles to tolerate any conversation that did not immediately relate to them, and she broke in with a long history of grievances, of the hard-heartedness of the Amsterdam relations, the cruelty of Emilie's position, her son-in-law's helplessness, and various other matters, in a querulous tone, and with frightful volubility. The poor daughter, I plainly saw, winced under this infliction. I was waiting the smallest opening to interrupt the indiscreet old lady, and revert to common-place, when a distant splash in the water reached my ears. The women also heard it, and at the same instant a presentiment of evil came over us all. Madame Sendel suddenly held her tongue and her breath; Emilie turned deadly pale, and without saying a word, flew along the quay in the direction of the sound. She had gone but a few yards when her strength failed her, and she would have fallen, but for my support. There was a shout, and a noise of men running. Leaving Madame Van Haubitz to the care of her mother, I ran swiftly along the river side, and soon reached a place where the deep water moaned and surged against the perpendicular quay. Here several men were assembled, talking hurriedly and pointing to the river. Others each moment arrived, and two boats were hastily shoved off from an adjacent landing-place.

"A man in the river," was the reply to my hasty inquiry.

It was so dark that I could not distinguish countenances close to me, and at a very few yards even the outline of objects was scarcely to be discerned. There were no houses close at hand, and some minutes elapsed before lights were procured. At last several boats put off, with men standing in the bows, holding torches and lanterns high in the air. Meanwhile I had questioned the bystanders, but could get little information; none as to the person to whom the accident had happened. The man who had given the alarm was returning from mooring his boat to a neighbouring jetty, when he perceived a figure moving along the quay a short distance in his front. The figure disappeared, a heavy splash followed, and the boatman ran forward. He could see no one either on shore or in the stream, but heard a sound as of one striking out and struggling in the water. Having learned this much, I jumped into a boat just then putting off, and bid the rowers pull down stream, keeping a short distance from the quay. The current ran strong, and I doubted not that the drowning man had been carried along by it. Two vigorous oars-men pulled till the blades bent, and the boat, aided by the stream, flew through the water. A third man held a torch. I strained my eyes through the darkness. Presently a small object floated within a few feet of the boat, which was rapidly passing it. It shone in the torchlight. I struck at it with a boat-hook, and brought it on board. It was a man's cap, covered with oilskin, and I remembered that Van Haubitz wore such a one. Stripping off the cover, I beheld an officer's foraging cap, with a grenade embroidered on its front. My doubts, slight before, were entirely dissipated.

When the search, rendered almost hopeless by the extreme darkness and power of the current, was at last abandoned, I hastened to the hotel, and inquired for Madame Sendel. She came to me in a state of great agitation. Van Haubitz had not returned, but she thought less of that than of the state of her daughter, who, since recovering from a long swoon, had been almost crazed with anxiety. She knew some one had been drowned, and her mind misgave her it was her husband. The foraging-cap, which Madame Sendel immediately recognised, removed all uncertainty. The only hope remaining was, that Van Haubitz, although carried rapidly away by the power of the current, had been able to maintain himself on the surface, and had got ashore at some considerable distance down the river, or had been picked up by a passing boat. But this was a very feeble hope, and for my own part, and for more than one reason, I placed no reliance on it. I left Madame Sendel to break the painful intelligence to her daughter, and went home, promising to call again in the morning.

As I had expected, nothing was heard of Van Haubitz, nor any vestige of him found, save the foraging-cap I had picked up. Doubtless, the Rhine had borne down his lifeless corpse to the country of his birth. The next day Coblenz rang with the death of the unfortunate Dutchman. A stranger, and unacquainted with the localities, he was supposed to have walked over the quay by accident. I thought differently; and so I knew did Madame Sendel and Emilie. I saw the former early the next day. She was greatly cast down about her daughter, who had passed a sleepless night, and was weak and suffering, but who nevertheless insisted on continuing her journey the following morning.

"We must go," said her mother; "if we delay, Emilie loses her engagement, and how can we both live on my poor jointure? Weeping will not bring him back, were he worth it. To think of the misery he has caused us!"

I ventured to hint an inquiry as to their means of prosecuting their journey. The old lady understood the intention, and took it kindly. "But she needed no assistance," she said; Van Haubitz (and this confirmed our strong suspicion of suicide) had given their little stock of money into his wife's keeping only a few hours before his death.

That afternoon I left Coblenz for England.


On a certain Wednesday, about ten years after the incidents I have sketched, I had been enjoying the excellent acting of Bouffé in two of his best characters, and paused for a moment to speak to a friend in the crowded lobby of the St James's Theatre. Whilst thus engaged, I became aware that I was an object of attention to two persons, whom I had an indistinct notion of having seen before, but when or where, or who they might be, I had not the remotest idea. One of them was a comfortable-looking, middle-aged man, with a bald head, a smooth, clean-shaven face, and an incipient ventral rotundity. His complexion was clear and wholesome, his countenance good-humoured, his whole appearance bespoke an existence free from care, nights of sound sleep, and days of tranquil enjoyment. His face was too sleek to be very expressive, but there was a shrewd, quick look in the eye, and I set him down in my mind as a wealthy German merchant or manufacturer (some small peculiarities of costume betrayed the foreigner) come to show London to his wife—a well-favoured dame, fat, fair, but some years short of forty—who accompanied him, and who, as well as her better half, seemed to honour me with very particular notice. My confabulation over, I was leaving the theatre, when a sleek soft hand was gently passed through my arm. It was my friend the stout foreigner. I strained my eyes and my memory, but in vain; I felt very puzzled, and doubtless looked so, for he smiled, and advancing his head, whispered a name in my ear. It was that of Van Haubitz.

I started, looked again, doubted, and was at last convinced. Minus mustache and whisker, which were closely shaven, and half his hair, of which the remainder was considerably grizzled; plus a degree of corpulence such as I should never have thought the slender lieutenant of artillery capable of acquiring; his heated, sunburnt complexion and dissipated look, exchanged for a fresh colour and benevolent placidity—the Dutchman I had left in the Rhine stood beside me in the lobby of the French theatre. I turned to the lady: she was less changed than her companion, and now that I was upon the track, I recognised Emilie Sendel. By this time we were in the street. Van Haubitz handed his wife into a carriage.

"Come and sup with us," he said, "and I will explain."

I mechanically obeyed, and in less than three minutes, still tongue-tied by astonishment, I alighted at the door of a fashionable hotel in a street adjoining Piccadilly.

A few lines will convey to the reader the substance of the long conversation which kept the resuscitated Dutchman and myself from our beds for fully two hours after our unexpected meeting. I had been right in supposing that he had thrown himself voluntarily into the river; wrong in my belief that he meditated suicide. An excellent swimmer, he had taken the water to get rid of his wife. He might certainly have chosen a drier method, and have given her the slip in the night-time or on the road; but she had shown, whenever he referred to the possibility of their separation, such a determination to remain with him at all risks and sacrifices, that he felt certain she would pursue him as soon as she discovered his absence. He had formed a wild scheme of returning to Amsterdam, and haunting his family until, through mere weariness and vexation, they supplied him with funds for an outfit to Sumatra. There he trusted to redeem his fortunes, as he had heard that others of no greater abilities or better character than himself had already done. A more extravagant project was never formed, and indeed all his acts, during the six weeks that followed his marriage, were more or less eccentric and ill-judged. This he admitted, when relating them to me, and probably would not have been sorry to place them to the score of actual mental derangement. The redeeming touch in his conduct at that, the most discreditable period of his life, was his leaving, as I have already mentioned, what money he had to his wife and her mother, reserving but a few florins for his own support. With these in his pocket, he proposed proceeding on foot to Amsterdam. After landing on the right bank of the Rhine, he walked the greater part of the night as the best means of drying his saturated garments. When weariness at last compelled him to pause, it was not yet daylight, no house was open, and he threw himself on some straw in a farmyard. He awoke in a high fever, the result of his immersion, of exposure and fatigue, acting on a frame heated and weakened by anxiety and mental suffering. He obtained shelter at the neighbouring farm-house, whose kind-hearted inhabitants carefully tended him for several weeks, during which his life was more than once despaired of. His convalescence was long, and not till the close of the year could he resume his journey northwards, by short stages, chiefly on foot. Unfavourable as his prospects were, his good star had not yet set. This very illness, as occasioning a delay, was a stroke of good fortune. Had he at once proceeded to Holland, his family, in hopes to get rid of him for ever, would probably have given him the small sum he needed for an outfit to the Indian Archipelago, and he would have sailed thither before the 31st of December, on which day his father, a joyous liver and confirmed votary of Bacchus, eat and drank to such an extent to celebrate the exit of the old year and commencement of the new, that he fell down, on his way to his bed, in a thundering fit of apoplexy, and was a corpse before morning. The day of his funeral, Van Haubitz, footsore and emaciated, and reduced to his last pfenning, walked wearily into the city of Amsterdam. There a great surprise awaited him.

"Your father had not disinherited you?" I exclaimed, when the Dutchman made a momentary pause at this point of his narrative.

"He had left a will devising his entire property to my brothers, and not even naming me. But a slight formality was omitted, which rendered the document of no more value than the parchment it was drawn upon. The signature was wanting. My father had the weakness, no uncommon one, of disliking whatever reminded him of his mortality. He would have fancied himself nearer his grave had he signed his will. And thus he had delayed till it was too late. I found myself joint heir with my brothers. By far the greater part of my father's large capital was embarked in his bank, and in extensive financial operations, which it would have been necessary to liquidate at considerable disadvantage, to operate the partition prescribed by law. Seeing this, I proposed to my brothers to admit me as partner in the firm, with the stipulation that Ishould have no active share in its direction, until my knowledge of business and steadiness of conduct gave them the requisite confidence in me. After some deliberation they agreed to this; and three years later their opinion of me had undergone such a change, that two of them retired to estates in the country, leaving me the chief management of the concern."

"And Madame Van Haubitz; when did she rejoin you?"

"Immediately the change in my fortunes occurred. Reckless as I at that time was, and utterly devoid of feeling as you must have thought me, I could not remember without emotion the disinterested affection, delicacy, and unselfishness she had exhibited on discovery of my real circumstances. During my long illness I had had time to reflect, and when I left my sick-bed in that rude but hospitable German farm-house, it was as a penitent for past offences, and with a strong resolution to atone them. Within a week after my father's funeral, I was on my way to Vienna, to fetch Emilie to the opulent home she had anticipated when she married me. Her joy at seeing me was scarcely increased when she heard that I had become the rich banker she had at first thought me."

"And Madame Sendel?"

"Returned to Amsterdam with us. There was good about the old lady, and by purloining her artificials, limiting her snuff, and soaking her in tea, she was made endurable enough. Until her death, which occurred a couple of years ago, she passed her time alternately with us and her younger daughter."

"She became reconciled to Mademoiselle Ameline?"

"Ameline had been Countess J—— all the time. She was privately married. For certain family reasons the Count had conditioned that their union should for a while be kept secret. Seeing that her equivocal position and her mother's displeasure preyed upon her health and spirits, he declared his marriage. She left the stage to become a reigning beauty in the best society of Austria, lady of half-a-dozen castles, and sovereign mistress of as many thousand Hungarian boors."

Van Haubitz remained some time in London, and I saw him often. He was as much changed in character as in personal appearance. The sharp lessons received about the period of our first acquaintance had made a strong impression on him; and the summer tide of prosperity suddenly setting in, had enabled him to realise good intentions and honourable resolves, which the chill current of adversity might have frozen in the germ. Some of those who read these lines may have occasion, when visiting the country stigmatised by the snarling Frenchman as the land of canards, canaux, and canaille, to receive cash in the busy counting-house, and hospitality in the princely mansion of one of its most respected bankers. None, I am well assured, will discern in their amiable and exemplary entertainer any vestige of the disreputable impulses and evil passions that sullied the early life of "My Friend the Dutchman."