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Full text of "The Freres, by mrs. Alexander"

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Xa 



I 



THE FRERES. 



a ^obei. 



MRS. ALEXANDER, 



R DEAREST FOB, ' 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. IL 




LONDON T 

RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON, 

9nblt«lura in (DrIiiiMrt! to ^zr ^Biajtetg tht Vintn. 



[All Sights Ramid.^ 



'SI 



Sss\ 




THE FRERES. 



CHAPTER I. 



^ OR reasons best known to himself. 
General Costello was eager to leave 
London, and would nyt delay his depar- 
ture for a day. The preparations for his 
grand-niece's departure were consequently per- 
. formed at a gallop, and no one had time for fears, 
hopes, or doubts. 

To Grace, the change brought fresh life. She 
was going into a new world. She would leave dis- 
appointment and mortification — ay, and obscurity 
— ^behind. For should she not have her mother's 
powerful and noble relatives to back her up ? and 
did not money go twice as far in Germany as in 
England .' 

And to Germany she was determined to remove 
mother, Mab, and their belongings. The only draw- 
VOU II. 22 



2 THE FRERES. 

back to her anticipations was the necessity of 
leaving Randal behind. 

Randal alone in London represented an unknown 
quantity of extravagance, folly, and scrapes. Not 
wild or wicked extravagance, but errors of judg- 
ment, carelessness of money, yielding to petty 
temptations. Ought she not to stay and watch 
over him t On the other hand, if Randal was ever 
to gather strength sufficient for self-governance and 
self-guidance, it was high time he should begin. 
And Mab deserved consideration, and the dear 
mother, too; something ought to be sacrificed to 
give her life a little brightness — a little society of 
the class to which she had been accustomed. For 
was not foreign society easier, gayer, more culti- 
vated, and in every way more desirable than 
English ? While, for herself, on what regions of 
romantic adventure might she not be entering ! 

So ran the currents of thought and imagination, 
while her quick eyes and nimble fingers were busy 
about the many-sided arrangements requisite, not 
only for her own journey, but for the comfort of 
those she left behind. 

How often she explained to Mrs. Frere the 
system of 'supply and demand' by which the 
weekly expenditure must be regulated ! with what 
tender tact she confided the care of mother, Mab, 
and the housekeeping to Miss Timbs, who accepted 
the charge with grim acquiescence ! But the rock 
of her security was Jimmy Byrne; and Jimmy 
promised all things — to examine the housekeep- 
ing accounts, to visit Mrs. Frere at least once a 



THE FRERES. 3 

week, to have an eye on Randal, to write to herself 
full private reports of how everything was going 
on, and to negotiate terms with Miss Timbs, should 
Grace find quarters cheap enough and tempting 
enough to make emigration desirable. 

The intervening days were at once too short and 
too long. She rose early and went to rest late, 
yet could scarce accomplish all she wished ; while 
the evening on which Uncle Costello proposed 
their journey seemed gone away ages back. 

But the moment of starting came at last, and 
then, in spite of her bright anticipations, her keen 
pleasure at the notion of travel and variety, Grace's 
heart sank within her, and she could have given up 
all, rather than say good-bye. It was not that she 
feared for herself ; she would hardly have done so 
had she to travel alone, and her complete sym- 
pathy with the count made his companionship one 
of the best ingredients in the visions of enjoyment 
which flitted across her brain. But the idea of her 
mother alone, and fretted, and comfortless, was almost 
more than she could bear. The thought that sup- 
ported her was the hope of furthering the family 
welfare. For her own pleasure, she could not have 
left her dear helpless charges. 

It was a dull, damp evening when they set out, 
and both Randal and Jimmy Byrne were at the 
station to see them off. 

' Dear Randal ! you will be very careful while I 
am away } You know we must save all we can, or 
we shall not be able to leave London.' 

' Why, Grace ! you talk to me as if I was a 

22 — 2 



4 THE FRERES. 

baby ! Yes, of course I will take care. And now 
give us a kiss ! You would be a first-rate girl, 
Grace, if you were not so given to preaching/ 

* And you will write, Randal ?' 
/ To be sure ' 

'Come along, my dear! take your place,' cried 
the count, who was got up in a most correct tra- 
velling suit, and carried a roll of wraps properly 
bound up, with ' Baedecker ' thrust under one of 
the straps. ' Stand back, Randal.' 

* Oh, uncle, I must shake hands with Jimmy !' 
then, in a half whisper, * Jimmy, I trust everything 
to you ; you have been my only help all these 
dreadful months. Write to me often, and — and — 
mind Randal for me.* 

* Faith I will. Miss Grace dear ! God bless you I 
Keep a good heart. Sure, the place will not be the 
same without you !* 

A hearty hand-shake — a hasty adieu from the 
general : * You have been a good friend to my 
niece and her family, and I thank you, sir — thank 
you sincerely. Accept this snuff-box as a slight 
remembrance. It once belonged to Radetzky, and 
ought to be only in the hands of an honest fellow.* 

In another moment the doors were banged-to — 
the guard whistled shrilly, the train moved off, and 
the familiar faces were lost to sight. 

The family who had thus opened their doors to 
receive their unknown kinswoman were Saxon on 
the father's side. Frau Alvsleben was the eldest 
daughter of Count Costello, and had married early 
a gentleman farmer (Gutsbesitzer) of good, though 



THE FRERES. 5 

not noble, family. Losing her husband afcer a 
dozen years of matrimony, she had devoted herself 
to her children and the management of her son's 
estate. 

Dalbersdorf, the family residence, was a 'gut* 
or farm of seven or eight hundred acres, lying 
between the Riesen and Erzgebirge, within two 
hours' march of the Bohemian frontier, and on the 
edge of a hilly forest district, remarkable for the 
weird beauty of its curious water-worn rocks and 
winding, wooded gorges. 

The Alvsleben family consisted of a son, about 
the age of Grace ; a daughter Friede, nearly two 
years older ; and an elder daughter, the first-born 
and most important, who had been left a large 
fortune (according to the Saxon standard) by her 
godmother — a scion of the noble house of von 
Walwitz. 

Ulrich Alvsleben was already an officer in the 
Saxon hussars, and rarely at home ; but the young 
ladies, after the usual course of governesses, and a 
school at Dresden till the period of confirmation, 
resided with their mother, sharing the many duties 
and simple pleasures of Saxon country life. 

The advent of this unknown English cousin was 
looked forward to with great excitement and a 
little discomfort, as it was supposed that the niece 
of * Herr Graf — of whose greatness and nobility at 
home they had heard so much — would, like all 
English grandees, be accustomed to the luxury 
and splendour of a magnificent home, and consider 
the life of Dalbersdorf mean and dull. Still It 



6 THE PRE RES. 

would be a charming variety to have a girl visitor 
of her own age to lionise, and 'perhaps make a 
friend of/ said Friede. 

* And to improve our English/ said Gertrud. 

'And to teach our management/ said the mother ; 
* for the English are thriftless, and have no womanly 
ways/ 

It was a fair September afternoon when the 
travellers reached Zittau, the nearest railway 
station to Dalbersdorf ; and Grace, who was some- 
what exhausted by a rapid journey and bewilder- 
ing succession of new objects, roused herself to 
look with interest at the neighbourhood of her 
temporary home. The station was large, new, and 
neat ; and the red-capped stationmaster himself 
came to assist Count Costello and his companion 
to alight, with evidently a hearty and respectful 
welcome, though Grace could not understand a 
word he said. On the platform, among a crowd of 
substantially-dressed peasants, small shopkeepers, 
soldiers, and ragged, jaunty, dark-eyed Bohemian 
reapers, Grace clung closely to her uncle's arm, 
feeling awfully strange and desolate, even for a 
moment asking herself why she ventured into this 
unknown land — a bit of cowardice of which she 
was heartily ashamed. 

Count Costello pressed her hand encouragingly 
to his side and passed on, scattering bows and 
greetings right and left — receiving reverential salu- 
tations in return — taking off his hat every other 
minute. Indeed, Grace thought she witnessed more 
bowing and hat-lifting, in the short transit through 



THE FRERES, 7 

the station, than she had seen in all her life 
before. 

They found a motley gathering of country 
waggons, droschkies (open public vehicles), and 
two or three unwashed, old-fashioned landaus, 
gathered before the entrance. The station stood 
on high ground, and beyond lay a wide plain, 
dotted with small villages, and chequered green 
and pale yellow where the stubble still remained, 
sloping gently up to a range of abrupt hills, covered 
with pine-wood, and broken here and there by 
ravines or gorges ; while far away on the left the 
blue outlines of bigger mountains rose against the 
sky, and showed where the giant range approached 
its humbler brethren — a fair scene, smiling in the 
rich sunlight, while the shadows of a few slow- 
sailing clouds crept gently over its varied surface. 

* Oh, uncle, this is beautiful ! I did not think it 
would be so beautiful.' 

* Ay, it is fine country ; but come along, here's 
the carriage. Ah, Fritz ! How goes it ?' This to a 
stout, square man, in plain blue livery, much but- 
toned, a round cap with silver band, and white 
cotton gloves, whose broad, sunburnt face was 
puckered up with a grin of unmistakable pleasure, 
as he pulled ofif his cap and bowed in reply to 
the count's greeting. 

* Good, Herr Graf!' and a short conversation en- 
sued, in which the coachman's part seemed to con- 
sist in the repetition of deep-chested, guttural ' Ja 
wohls.' 

A roomy landau, not in the highest conditiorv oi 



8 THE FRERES. 

cleanliness or polish, drawn by a pair of strong, 
but rough-looking, brown horses, stood near the 
entrance ; and into it the count handed Grace, while 
the coachman assisted in placing the luggage — an 
operation inspected by the droschky-d rivers with 
lazy, placid interest. A few more liftings of the 
hat, and, with a huge crack of the whip, they were 
off at a tolerable pace. 

After driving for some minutes up a street 
bordered by handsome villas and their gardens, the 
carriage turned sharp to the right, and descended 
a steep road, on one side of which were rows of 
trees, and behind them a large architectural build- 
ing; while on the other were irregular quaint 
houses with arbours and balconies, evidently of 
early date. 

* We are only skirting the town,' said Count 
Costello ; * it is a nice old place, as you will think 
when you see it. We have a drive of four or five 
miles before we reach home. You'll be quite tired 
out, my dear/ 

* No, no,' returned Grace. * I am so pleased with 
the look of the country, and the air is so fresh and 
reviving, that I seem to have shaken ofif my 
fatigue.' 

The carriage rolled on; at the foot of the hill 
they crossed a small river by a steep narrow bridge, 
and continuing their route through a long straggling 
suburb, struck away to the right by a rougher road, 
which led always uphill across an open country, 
where the various fields were only discernible by 
the difference of colour — no trace of hedge- row or 



THE FRERES. 9 

fence being perceptible, nor scarce a tree — the wide 
plain lying unsheltered in the blazing sunlight up 
to where the hills and dark pine-woods rose a 
sudden mass of shadow. 

A few exclamations, explanatory or otherwise, 
from her grand-uncle, a few replies from Grace, 
was all that passed between them, till, after 
nearly an hour's drive, they reached the brow 
of an unexpected hill. The ground fell away 
in a gentle declivity, rising again like an arrested 
billow, at the other side of a wide hollow, 
not deep enough to be styled a valley ; so that, 
looking from the side by which our travellers 
approached, the eye was carried on without per- 
ceiving the inequality of surface. In this hollow, 
which led in a slowly ascending slope to the hills 
now very near them, nestled a diminutive village, 
clustered round a little church with a bulbous 
steeple, and a large, square, grey house, with a 
steep roof, full of the queer, shy-looking, eye-like 
windows peculiar to this part of Saxony ; a clump 
of lindens at one side, a short avenue of fine walnut- 
trees in front, and a patch of pine-wood behind, 
which seemed to be an arm out-stretched from the 
forest, gave a comfortable look of shelter to the 
mansion. 

* Ha !' cried the count, pointing to the village, 
while the coachman screwed on the m^canique 
hard, and sent his horses down the hill at a rapid 
trot, * there is Dalbersdorf.' 

Grace's heart beat a little faster at this near 
approach to her unknown relatives. She stood u!j 



lo THE FRERES: 

and gazed with great interest at the scene before 
her ; a few minutes more, and they had passed the 
little church — passed t/ie shop, where rolls of flannel 
and coloured stuffs stood right and left of the door 
— passed the * German Empire Post-office,' with its 
bright blue letter-box — passed a small deserted platz 
— passed a long, low restauration, with a gravelled 
space in front for chairs and tables, and a vine- 
covered arbour at each corner, where several people 
were drinking beer. As soon as they had cleared 
the village, they turned into the avenue of walnut- 
trees, which had no gate or fence, and the next 
moment were rattling over the pavement of a small 
court, enclosed on three sides by the centre and pro- 
jecting wings of an old solid stone house ; narrow 
flower-beds ran along the walls, and at the end of 
the east wing was a large arbour covered with 
luxuriant greenery. 

The large front-door, which was ornamented by 
a heavy pediment and much incoherent carving of 
the renaissance order, stood open ; and just within 
it were three ladies, while a rosy-cheeked maid- 
servant — a marvellous conglomeration of towy- 
looking plaits twined round her head, and a grin 
of delight on her broad face — occupied an advanced 
post on the steps. Grace observed, too, that the 
door was framed in a thick green wreath, studded 
with bright blossoms ; and above it was the word 
' Wilkommen' in white letters on a red ground. 
It was written in the Latin character, and near 
enough to English to suggest pleasant ideas. A 
great whity-brown rough dog sat with almost 



THE PRE RES. ii 

judicial gravity on the lowest step ; but no sooner 
had Count Costello alighted, than ladies, * Dienst- 
madchen,' and dog flew upon him, and vociferous 
tongues hailed him. 

* Ach Gott ! thou art welcome, thou best of 
fathers !' 

' Welcome ! thou beloved grandfather !' cried the 
ladies, clinging round him in a bunch. 

* God be thanked, you have returned to us safe, 
Herr graf T exclaimed the servant, kissing his hand ; 
while the dog added a hoarse jubilant bark to the 
general chorus. 

The taller of the two young ladies was the first 
to disengage herself and approach Grace, who had 
descended from the carriage, and stood back a 
little, contemplating the scene with sympathetic 
eyes. 

*But, mother,' she said, *we are forgetting the 
cousin ;' and taking Grace's hand with a smile, first 
dropping a curtsey, and then kissing her brow 
kindly. 

* I am very pleased to receive you, my dear, and 
hope to make you happy while you are our guest. 
You are indeed welcome !' said Frau Alvsleben 
in very fair French, and embracing her young 
kinswoman. 

* Here is your eldest cousin, Gertrud ; and this 
is my little Friede. Come in — come in, my good 
father ; come, my child ! You must want rest and 
refreshment after your long journey.' 

So saying, she took Grace's hand and led her 
into the house, followed by the count, on whose 



12 THE F RE RES. 

arms both his granddaughters hung ; the rear 
brought up by the red -cheeked servant, loaded 
with bags, parcels, and the minor etceteras of travel. 

Crossing a wide flagged hall, decorated by a 
couple of deers' heads and antlers, hung with 
wreaths of wild flowers, and at one side of which 
was a broad oaken stair, Frau Alvsleben conducted 
her guest into a large dining-room. 

The un-English aspect of this apartment struck 
Grace on entering. True, there were tables, chairs, 
curtains, and a side-board, which sounds like any 
dining-room from the Land's-end to *John o* 
Groat's house/ But the absence of small orna- 
mental articles, the carpetless parquet, gave a look 
of bareness and heaviness almost depressing. 

The walls were painted in panels, grey shading 
off to white, with pale blue centres above the 
dado, which was of oak ; the furniture was of oak 
also, but darker, and shining with the vigorous 
rubbing of years. In two corners were itaghes^ on 
which were scattered books, papers, mineralogical 
specimens, the miscellany which collect in a general 
living-room. The sofa and easy-chairs were covered 
in red leather, much dimmed and rubbed by time 
and use ; other chairs were cane-bottomed, with high 
backs of rough open carving in nearly black wood. 

A tall circular stove of white tiles, fixed on a 
block of stone and surmounted by a vase or urn, 
was at one side of the room, and three windows at 
the other ; from the centre one of which was sus- 
pended a bird-cage with a canary, over' a wicker- 
work stand of plants. 



THE PRE RES. 13 

The large windows and lace curtains did not do 
much to counterbalance the sombre effect of the 
dark furniture and a huge buffet with shelves, 
drawers and cupboards which faced the door, and 
was decorated with numerous green and white silver- 
topped beer-beakers, and a wire basket of flowers. 

A tall elderly woman, with a strong weather- 
beaten face, stood just within the threshold. She 
wore a dark stuff dress, a white bib-apron, and a 
haube, or species of muslin mob-cap, with a lace- 
edged border standing up round it 

She greeted the new-comers with loud exclama- 
tions, and kissed the count's hand. He spoke 
kindly with her before placing himself at table, 
which was spread with various small dishes of 
sliced cold meat, cold partridge, green and potato 
salad, with {rmt-compote, black bread and brddchen^ 
equivalent to petit pains, all set out in china of 
unfamiliar shape. 

Frau Alvsleben and her daughters pressed the 
travellers to eat with hospitable warmth ; while the 
elderly female above-mentioned, who seemed to be 
a housekeeper and was called Mamsell, after a 
short disappearance, returned with two large cups 
of buttillon, which, notwithstanding their hot drive, 
was very acceptable to the new-comers. 

Count Costello and his daughter conversed 
eagerly and noisily in German, with much gesticu- 
lation on his part, both evidently engrossed in the 
topics under discussion. 

Friede meantime did the honours of the table to 
Grace, and Gertrud went to and fro between the 



14 THE FRERES. 

table and the buffet, fetching spoons or forks, or 
passing round the Rhein wine, in which, with 
much clinking of glasses and hand-shaking, Frau 
Alvsleben drank everyone's health. 

* And you have never left England before — no ?* 
asked Friede in English, as she handed the coinpote 
to her new cousin. 

* Never ! that is, since I grew up. We lived in 
France when I was a child.' 

' So ! then you can talk with the mother ; she 
never learned English,' said Gertrud, ' and we speak 
very little ; but you will help us, " nicht wahr " ?' 

* Ach ! can you not speak a word — not one word 
German ?' asked Friede, opening her eyes. 

* Not a word ; but I intend to work very dili- 
gently — dSidiyou will help me, will you not V 

* Yes, yes, with my whole heart ! I will make you 
quite German in three — four weeks. We will speak 
German all morning, and English all the afternoon/ 

* I think you speak wonderfully already, con- 
sidering you have never been in the country.* 

' You flatter me. I shall do better now you are 
come. Eat a little more — pray take some cheese — 
a little cake ! Ach gott ! you eat not at all.* 

* Grace, my child,' broke in the count, * how are 
you getting on ? Maybe you'd like to see your 
room, if you will not take anything more.' 

Grace rose, and with her Frau Alvsleben. 

*0h, the mother can stay — stay, dear mother. 
We will conduct you, my cousin,' said Fraulein 
Alvsleben. 

* Yes, you young things go together !' cried the 



THE PRE RES. 15 

count, and then addressed his daughter, who re- 
sumed her seat. 

' Pray call me Grace ; I shall feel a stranger if 
you do not/ said our heroine, smiling. 

* Natiirlich, yes ; you must not be strange — you 
who are of our race !* cried Gertrud, drawing her 
cousin's arm through her own, and walking with 
her down the room and past the centre window. 
Grace had sat with her back to it at table, so now 
perceived, for the first time, that it commanded a 
view of a large yard, surrounded by irregular build- 
ings of various heights, and occupied in the centre 
by a huge oblong heap, enclosed by stout posts 
and rails, and of a rich brown colour, diversified by 
the straw,green branchlets, and big whitish cabbage- 
leaves strewn upon it. Looking back, too, at the 
table, she first noted distinctly the aspect of her 
newly-found relations. 

Frau Alvsleben was a large woman, who looked 
as if she was superior to the restraints of stays and 
whalebone. She was in black, with a large black 
silk flounced apron and bib, to defend her dress 
against all exigencies. She had fine eyes, but a 
somewhat coarse mouth, deficient teeth, grey hair, 
and a skin prematurely wrinkled for her years. 
Her head was covered by a three-cornered hand- 
kerchief of black lace, one point of which was 
raised at the back by a high comb, while the other 
two were tied loosely under her chin ; large hands, 
which looked as if they did good service, and an 
eager, anxious expression, completed the picture 
impressed on Grace's mind's eye. 



1 6 THE F RE RES. 

The two young ladies were not like each other. 
The eldest was rather square-shouldered and short- 
necked, with a huge pile of plaits and curls on her 
head ; a broad face, with a dull, thick complexion, 
and light blue watchful eyes. Friede was taller, 
slighter, and more graceful. She, too, wore her 
hair in a profusion of coils, curls, and plaits ; but 
the hair itself was of a pretty, bright brown 
tinge, closely resembling her English cousin's : 
she had also fine dark eyes, like her grandfather's, 
a very fair skin and delicate colour, and a mouth 
rather like her sisters, only softer and kindlier. 
Both girls wore dresses of a nondescript, pale grey- 
blue and brown check, very tight-fitting, and many 
flounced ; linen collars, the corners turned over, 
widely open at the throat, and fastened by large 
bows of blue ribbon. 

Grace was gratified by the frank cordiality with 
which both sisters received her, but she was espe- 
cially attracted by something congenial in Friede. 

The three girls ascended the stair, and crossing 
a large landing or ' Vorsaal^ entered a light and 
cheerful bedroom — the chocolate-brown floor, pale 
grey walls, and crisp, fresh white muslin curtains, 
making a pleasant combination. A small bedstead 
in a corner (which, as is usual in foreign bed- 
chambers, seemed an accidental intruder, instead 
of the chief occupant), a sofa, and a writing-table, 
with a tolerable square of carpet under it ; hand- 
some wardrobes or presses of dark wood, a dress- 
ing-table and small looking-glass almost buried 
in chintz drapery, a large oval glass between 



THE FRERES. 17 

the windows ; a high, iron stove, of a greenish- 
brownish tint ; some cane chairs, and a few fear- 
fully hard oil-paintings, composed the furniture 
and decorations. But on the table were two flower- 
pots, decorated with cut gold and silver paper 
one containing a white azalea, the other a foreign 
heath — little tokens of welcome, according to the 
gracious German fashion, with which Grace ex- 
pressed her delight, and then ran to the window, 
which looked towards the hills and dark pine- 
woods ; for the room was in the eastern wing, and 
so escaped the farm-yard and the dung-heap. 

* What a charming room ! and how good you are 
to welcome me so kindly !' cried Grace, taking a 
hand of each. * You cannot think how delightful 
it is to look out on hills and woods again, after 
being shut up in London.* 

Friede embraced her on the spot, but Gertrud, 
smiling, said : 

' I only fear it will all seem very poor and — and 
mean to you, after the pracht — that is, the splen- 
dour you are accustomed to in England/ 

* But I have not been accustomed to splendour,* 
cried Grace, laughing ; * do not imagine it ! I shall 
enjoy myself immensely here.' 

* I hope so,' said Friede. 

* And now it is the hour of repose ; let us leave 
the dear new cousin to rest. You will be quite 
refreshed by the time coffee is ready, and then we 
will help you to unpack.' 

She cast a longing look at Grace's large box 
and small valise, which had already been brought 

VOL. II. 2*^ 



1 8 THE PRE RES. 

upstairs ; then, kissing her hand to her guest, left 
the room. 

Frauleiti Alvsleben lingered for a few minutes, to 
point out the convenient hanging-press, the Schreib- 
shrank (bureau), and Commode (chest of drawers), 
all of which were empty and ready for her use. 

At last Grace was alone, and free to think her 
own thoughts. First she opened the door-like 
windows wide, and stood there drinking in the 
delicious air, the (to her) home-like look of hills 
and woods. Yet even nature, in a foreign land- 
scape, has in it something unfamiliar. Something in 
the colouring, something indefinable in the pleasant 
odour of the warm air, kept up the sense of strange- 
ness, but a strangeness she no longer dreaded. The 
simple kindness of her reception, the absence of all 
pretension, set her at ease. Here was nothing 
formidable, no harsh, contemptuous criticism to be 
dreaded. She longed to describe it all to the dear 
mother, and make her share the agreeable impres- 
sion she had received. 

After another scrutinising look round her room, 
and a fruitless search for a bell, she set forth her 
writing materials, and placing herself on the sofa 
beside the writing-table, began her letter ; but soon 
she paused, and leant back to think and select, out 
of the abundant stores of incident which her travels 
.supplied, what was most worthy of record. The 
sofa was comfortable, the evening warm, and a 
monotonous clack, clack, from some machine in 
the farm-yard, lulled her off to sleep, and she slept 
profoundly. 



THE FRERES. 19 

The light was beginning to lose its golden tinge, 
when she was roused by the entrance of Friede, 
who carried a small tray, on which was a coffee- 
service of beautifully painted china. 

' Ah, you have had a good sleep ! I knocked 
twice on the door, and then I peeped in, and you 
were deeply asleep. So I left you. And now I 
bring your coffee ; we have already drunk ours,, 
though the dear grandpapa slept long also. Will 
you, please, take sugar and milk V 

* Oh, thank you !' exclaimed Grace, sitting up^ 
and rubbing her eyes. * How good you are ! Have 
I slept long } What o'clock is it V 

* It is nearly jfive o'clock, and we have our Abend- 
brod (supper) at half seven. How do you call it } — 
half after six } Still, we shall have time to arrange 
all your Sachen — your things first. You will let 
me help you } Ach, Gott in Himmel ! you have 
slept with both your windows open !' flying to shut 
them. * Meine liebe ! you will kill yourself.' 

' Oh no ! I often sleep all night with the window 
open,' said Grace, smiling, and sipping her coffee, 
which was hot and fresh, if not very strong, while 
Friede had already unstrapped the cover of the 
box, and Gertrud came in to assist, so Grace drew 
forth her keys unresistingly. 

In truth, she would have preferred unpacking 
alone. Her wardrobe, though in fair condition^ 
was scarcely abundant or richerM enough to bear 
the inspection of strange eyes : but hers was no dis- 
trustful, sullen spirit ; and she accepted the offered 
aid without demur, although curiosity had evidently 

23—2 



20 THE FRERES. 

no small share iii her kinswomen's readiness to save 
her trouble. 

Many were the exclamations of surprise, and 
some of admiration, at the treasures disclosed, at 
the difference of cut and the beauty of some 
materials, while the pointed shape of the boots and 
the absence of aprons excited strong disappro- 
bation. 

At length, with a vast amount of chatter and 
contention of a mild order, Grace's box was 
emptied, and its contents arranged in drawers and 
wardrobe. During the performance she instinc- 
tively noticed a difference — a very slight difference 
— in the manner of the sisters. Friede admired or 
found fault with equal frankness ; Gertrud was 
less outspoken ; but there was an expression of 
keen criticism in her look — a silent feeling of a 
texture here — a holding up of a trinket to the light 
— a slightly contemptuous turn of the lip or toss of 
the head, indicative of undervaluing what was not 
familiar. 

The shades of evening were closing when the 
empty box, its cover carefully stowed inside, was 
carried away by a stout-armed, not neat-handed 

* Phyllis,* and Grace was informed she had better 
make her toilette for the Abend-brod. 

* Must I change my dress V 

* Gott bewahr !' cried Friede, who still stayed 
(Gertrud had bustled away with her key-basket) ; 

• only arrange your hair, and — what you like. There 
IS no one coming, only Herr Sturm.' 

* And who is Herr Sturm ?* asked Grace, as she 



THE FRERES. 2i 

shook down her long hair previous to replaiting 
it. 

'Heinrich Sturm is the Verwatter — the — oh! what 
you may call the farmer, manager or inspector : in all 
Rifterguts there is a Verwalter, But I must put on 
another ribbon, and then I will return for you.' 

The large dining-room looked dim as the two 
girls entered arm-in-arm. It was lighted by a single 
bronze lamp of good design hung over the table, 
now set for supper, and shone upon the white cloth, 
old-fashioned silver, and high metal-covered beer- 
glasses or beakers, glinting on the curves and 
angles of the quaint highly-polished side^board, the 
^tagires gleaming occasionally as they caught the 
light here and there, in the gloom of their distant 
corners, while the tall sepulchral white stove loomed 
like a ghost in the semi-darkness. 

The maid who had welcomed them was placing 
the supper on the table — dishes of sliced cold meat 
and sausages, hot potatoes served in their skins, 
cheese, bread and butter, sour cucumber (/>., 
cucumber preserved with salt, and not to be 
despised), a large centre-dish piled with pears, and 
sundry small ones filled with diverse compotes^ made 
a goodly array. Frau Alvsleben had already taken 
her place at one end of the table, knitting in hand ; 
Gertrud was placing the finger-napkins ; and Count 
Costello was standing in one of the windows talking 
with a slight young man, whose abundant fair hair 
was brushed back behind his ears, round which 
were secured a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. 
He wore a morning-coat of a dark grey mixture 



22 THE FRERES. 

with remarkably tight trousers of the same colour. 
Though above middle height, he was dwarfed by 
the count's stately stature, and stood with an 
awkwardly respectful air, one huge red hand grasp- 
ing a chair-back, the other stroking a rather feeble 
whity-brown moustache, as if he was coaxing it to 
' come on.' 

' Come, meine Herren !' said Frau Alvsleben, in 
German ; * all is ready — come to table. Here is the 
dear cousin.' Then changing to French : * Are you 
rested, my dear, and ready to eat your supper } 
Let me introduce our good friend Herr Sturm — 
Herr Sturm, my kinswoman Fraulein von Frere.' 

Frau Alvsleben did not imagine that any relative 
of her father's could be less than von. 

Whereupon Herr Sturm, colouring deeply, made 
a half turn, ' looked full to his front,' and performed 
a bow which presented the crown of his head exactly 
on a level with Grace Frere's eyes. She felt inclined 
to laugh, and from an irresistible sense of fun made 
.him a deep, solemn curtsey, which appeared to her 
JSaxon relatives all that it ought to be. But the 
<;ount held out his hand, and she sprang to his side ; 
it was quite delightful to meet him after all these 
hours. 

* And are you as fresh as a rose, my darling ! 
Begad ! we have both slept it out, and you look all the 
better ! Come and sit here between Theresia and 
myself; we'll let Sturm have a sight of you from 
over the way ; it's not every day he sees an English 
Fraulein.' 

So saying, the count placed her between his 



THE FRERES. 23 

daughter and, himself, while Gertrud took the foot 
of the table, and Friede a seat to her left. 

' Mr. Sturm, he speak very good English — yes,' 
said Gertrud, as she began to distribute the 
potatoes. 

* I spik a leetle, var leetle,' returned Herr Sturm, 
with profound solemnity ; ' but shall be var glad to 
exercise myself.' 

* It is quite wonderful,' exclaimed Grace, with 
genuine surprise, * that you all speak so well, when 
you can only have learned from books. I suppose 
you seldom speak with my uncle ?' 

* Not often, indeed,' said Friede, laughing ; * the 
dear grandfather does not like my English.' 

* Faith ! I cannot stand hearing my own tongue 
mangled,' he returned. 

' Now you have come,* resumed Friede, addressing 
Grace, * we shall do well.' 

* But I am most eager to learn German, and I 
hope you will help me.' 

•Ya, gewiss — certainly,' cried Frieda; 'we will 
begin to-morrow. Herr Sturm has a quantity of 
books — lesson-books to learn English with, and- — 
and we can turn them round, you know. Is it 
not so, Herr Sturm ? you will give us your English 
lesson-books for the Fraulein V 

Herr Sturm, whose mouth was full of sausage 
and potato, nearly choked himself in his haste to 
assure the young ladies that all he possessed was 
at their service, an effort from which he did not 
recover till after copious draughts of beer. 

The count, though Germanised in most things. 



24 THE FRERES. 

preferred grape-juice to beer ; and a bottle of 
Hungarian wine was usually placed beside him. 
He was very liberal of the beverage, and insisted 
on everyone taking a glass, whereupon there was 
much clinking of glasses. Then the young Ver- 
waiter rose up and made a speech in an odd singing 
accent, and with a guttural fluency which surprised 
Grace, as she thought him too shy for such an 
undertaking. She longed to understand what he 
said, for there was a good deal of it, and the count 
nodded approbation at intervals. At the end, Frau 
Alvsleben, the speaker, and the daughters of the 
house cried ' Hoch !' with much energy, and every- 
one jumped up and ran round to clink their glasses 
against the count's, the young ladies and their 
mother kissing him at the same time, and uttering 
exclamations of evident endearment. 

After this excitement, the evening meal pro- 
gressed serenely ; all were most kindly attentive to 
their young guest, who, after refusing wurst, un- 
cooked ham, and herring salad, supped well on 
excellent cold roast-pork, sour gherkin, and hot 
mealy potatoes. 

' I see you have already begun to sow the Winter 
Saatl said the old general, after looking round as if 
in search of something, which something was 
supplied by Friede, who handed him his cigar-case 
and matches. 

* Yes,* returned his daughter, 'the harvest has been 
fine and early. Herr Sturm has had his hands full.' 

' Good r said the old man, taking the cigar from 
his lips. 



THE FRERES. 25 

* We [have narrowly escaped a misfortune, how- 
ever,' remarked Sturm. 'The young brown horse, 
which you considered so valuable, got into the 
clover field one day, when all were busy reaping, 
and we thought he would have burst. We had 
the Tl^/Vr-^r^/ (veterinary surgeon) from Zittau, and 
he did nothing ; but an old shepherd from Hain 
cured him.* 

' I don't believe in old shepherds,' said the 
count, puffing argumentatively. * A veterinary 
surgeon must know more.' 

'I only know ,' began Herr Sturm, when 

Frau Alvsleben interrupted : 

* It matters not ; but I have still better news. 
Vaterchen. My nephew, Falkenberg, has ex- 
changed into the Zittauer regiment, and by his 
help we have got the " Lieferungs Contract " (sup- 
ply), for oats and potatoes to the garrison — it will 
be some three or four hundred thalers in our pocket. 
Wolff is a love-worthy being after all — he is quite 
steady now. He has paid most of his debts. I 
have asked him to come here to hunt.' 

* I wonder where he found any money to pay 
with,' growled the count. ' He has been a wild 
fellow, but pleasant enough — too pleasant !' 

* Hans Schuman, by Schwarze Mulle, has taken 
two-thirds of the corn this season, and has fetched it 
himself, which, if I be allowed to say so, is the best 
bargain we have made for years.' 

' Indeed, my young friend has been tireless in 
his energies,' chimed in Frau Alvsleben. 

After listening intently to this conversation^ 



26 THE FRERES. 

hoping she might here and there catch the meaning 
of some word from its likeness to French or English, 
but in vain, Grace turned to Gertrud, and asked : 

* Do you ride much ? You must have a charm- 
ing country for riding here/ 

*Yes, sometimes Friede rides with the grand- 
father, but I not. It is rather too bold. I like 
best to stay at home ; I can walk well, and go far 
enough in the garden and fields.' 

* But you are fond of riding, I hope,' continued 
Grace to Friede. 

* Yes, ytSy I like it immensely, and I am very 
brave ; but the grandfather, he does not ride so 
often now, and Ullrich has taken away my pretty 
horse for himself, he liked it so much when he came 
last; so I have only a very young one, and it 
goes not nicely. But Wolff — my cousin Wolff — 
has promised to — to — what do you say } — make it 
go right.' 

* Break it for you. That will be delightful ! 
Then, perhaps, we can ride together. I don't much 
care what sort of a mount I have, so long as it can 
go. I do long for a gallop !' 

' And you shall have it ! Potztausend, you shall !' 
cried Count Costello, who caught the last words. 
* We must see about horses, mein lieber Sturm ! 
My niece here can ride, V\\ go bail.' 

' I doubt not, Herr Graf, but it is a difficult 
time ; the * 

*0h, we'll manage it,' interrupted the count; 
*and I have a saddle for you, my darling — an 
English saddle, with three pommels, faith ! I 



THE FRERES. 27 

picked it up at poor Von Dahlheim's sale, the last 
time I was at Vienna ; and you wouldn't believe it, 
but my little Friede prefers the old two crutch con- 
cern she learned to ride on.' 

' Ach Gott !' cried Friede, ' three are so uncom- 
fortable.' 

* While Grace was wondering why Friede, the 
taller of the two sisters, was always called ' little,' 
Frau Alvsleben rose, and making her young cousin 
a curtsey, murmured something like *Te' and 
* Kite ;' whereupon the count, also rising, took her 
hand in both of his, and said slowly, * Gesegnete 
Mahlzeit ! — blessed meal — that is our grace after 
meat' 

' Is the light in the Garten Saal T asked Frau 
Alvsleben. 

Gertrud answered in the affirmative, and they 
all followed the lady of the house into a smaller 
room on the right of the salle a manger. It opened 
on the garden, and had the same aspect as the one 
above which had been assigned to Grace. 

The walls of this apartment were painted to 
represent a trellis covered with vine-leaves. The 
furniture was extremely simple, and painted white 
— tables and side cabinets, or rather small presses, 
and rush-bottomed chairs, all were white. The 
curtains were of lace and old-fashioned chintz ; and 
through the centre window Grace could see the 
moonlight sleeping on a terrace walk, raised a 
couple of steps above the garden, and furnished with 
sundry rustic seats. It led to the arbour at the 
end of the east wing, which she had noticed on her 



28 THE FRERES. 

arrival that afternoon. Moreover, she perceived a 
piano and well-filled music-stand at one side of 
the room ; of course, her cousins were musicians 
— art and music are the birthright of Germans. 

Frau Alvsleben had placed herself on a large 
sofa, behind an oval table draped with a dull grey- 
brown cloth of some canvas-like material, the 
border of which was curiously worked, and over the 
centre a large napkin— rather what we should call 
a tray cloth — of choicest damask, like brocaded 
white satin, was spread diamond-wise, a finely- 
shaped bronze vase standing in the middle. 

While Grace was taking in these details, Herr 
Sturm was favouring her with queries and observa- 
tions in his best English, having followed her to 
the window. 

*You have had a var long journey, miss. I 
wonder you can stand upright !' 

* Oh ! we had a nice rest at Dresden. We slept 
there last night, but we were too late to see the 
gallery. The train from Cologne does not come in 
till twelve, and by the time we had had breakfast 
and dressed, it was nearly two.* 

* Ach so !' returned Herr Sturm, with an air of 
deep interest. He had scarcely understood a word 
she said, and took refuge in that invaluable excla- 
mation which means everything and anything in the 
mouth of a German. 

* You will find it not — not var animated — lively — 
at Dalbersdorf. No ball, or theatre, or concert,' 
continued Herr Sturm ; * nothing but meadows, and 
rocks, and trees !' 



THE FRERES, 29 

* That IS what I like best. I have been shut up 
in London for four months, and it is quite charm- 
ing to get into the country again.' 

* Ya, gewiss — that is, certainly.' 

' Bravo ! bravo, Sturm ! you are getting on with 
the language,' cried the count ; but Herr Sturm, 
with an elaborate bow, told Grace that he had 
' many businesses to do before he slept ;' and with 
another obeisance to Frau Alvsleben, he left the 
room. 

* You play the piano ?' asked Grace of her eldest 
cousin. 

* Yes ; but Friede is the musician. And you V 

* Oh, I can play but little, although I like to 
hear it.' 

After a little intermittent conversation, and the 
exhibition of some photographs. Count Costello 
bid them good-night. 

* I am more tired than I thought,' he said. * But 
to-morrow I'll be all right, and open my treasures 
to show you what fine things I have brought you 
from London." 

' Ach ! mein liebe, Hebe Grace !' cried Friede, 
as soon as he was out of hearing. ' I burn to know 
what the dear grandfather has brought us You 
know, for he wrote that you and your good mamma 
helped him to choose. Will you not say T 

* I think you had better wait and have the 
pleasure of surprise,' returned Grace in French, as 
Frau Alvsleben had asked in that language what 
Friede said. Whereupon she remarked to her 
eldest daughter that the Grosz-vater must have 



30 THE FRERES. 

bought waggon-loads, as he had brought very little 
money back with him. And then she said it was 
late — past nine o'clock ; so Grace rose and bid 
them good-night. 

Friede escorted her to her room — ran to find 
her matches and a night-light, which Grace de- 
clined to use ; finally, kissing her and bidding her 
sleep well, departed. 

After a short examination of a mysterious 
arrangement by which the upper sheet was 
buttoned over the edge of a quilted silk counter- 
pane — a few minutes' listening to the profound and 
solemn silence — a slight shudder at the notion of 
her remoteness from all she had ever known — a 
loving prayer to God for the dear mother and 
Mab — a last longing thought of them, and the 
unconsciousness of deep sleep crept over her. 




CHAPTER II. 

I WEEK had made itself wings and fled 
away with rapidity incredible. No 
traction-engine can get up so much 
steam as Time does every now and 
then, dragging his helpless living train along at 
lightning speed, hurrying them over precipices or 
into paradises, up to heavens of joy and security, 
or down into hells of doubt, difficulty and lost 
opportunity. 

He wore a smiling and boyish aspect at Dalbers- 
dorf, however ; occupation and amusement were 
equally innocent, peaceful, and yet, it seemed to 
Grace, satisfying. 

The life was as different as possible to all she 
had expected. The idea suggested by Count 
Costello's description of his daughter's home as 
' an old family place,' and the incidental mention 
of horses, carriages, and shooting, was of a fine 
country-seat, of gay parties staying in the house, 
a retinue of servants, of riding and dancing — all 



32 THE FRERES. 

gayer and more amusing than in England, if not so 
costly and fine, as the old man had told her that 
everything was simpler and more homely in 
Saxony ; whereas the reality was in many ways 
like the routine of a mere farm-house. 

A cook MddcheUy and a Haus-madcfien did the 
whole work, with some slight assistance from the 
Wirthscltafterin (housekeeper or female steward), 
and a good deal from the young ladies. The 
man who had the chief care of the horses and 
draught oxen, and who drove the diurnal milk- 
cart to and fro the town, would occasionally scrub 
his face and hands, don a many-buttoned blue 
livery, and drive the ladies in the big landau to 
shop in Zittau, or to visit some neighbours of their 
own class. 

The household and its requirements were second- 
ary considerations compared to the operation of 
working the farm, on which depended the family 
fortunes. After the exigencies of the * business* 
had been provided for, then what crumbs of thought, 
what morsels of produce, what gleanings of profit 
could be best spared, were cast into the domestic 
treasury. 

Yet among the homely details of the simple 
existence led by her Saxon relatives, Grace per- 
ceived unmistakable marks of gentle birth — of 
real good breeding. The courtesy of each to each 
— the genuine respect of high and low to the 
^ gnadige Frau" (gracious lady) and her daughters — 
a respect which in no way diminished the fearless 
frankness with which they spoke to the Herrschaft 



THE FRERES. 33 

gentry — the absence of all pretension and its con- 
sequent unrest. And then the family relics : boots 
and spurs, swords and steel caps, the rigid portraits 
of departed Herren and Frauen — broad-browed, 
thoughtful- looking men, and women of coarse and 
forbidding aspect, who owed little to the skill of the 
limner ; besides old brocade garments and curious 
thick yellow-white lace, all indicated the social 
status of the family. 

All this charmed Grace, who found it difficult to 
understand the exact position of a family whose 
actual occupations and surroundings were at 
variance with the traditions of good blood and 
squirarchal standing, and so widely different from 
her own experience of country life. A day at 
Dalbersdorf resembled in nothing a day at Dungar ; 
nevertheless it was full of interest. At six, Friede 
— ^her hair gathered loosely into a muslin cap, and 
clad in the simplest of morning-gowns — brought 
her coffee, an indulgence Grace soon dispensed 
with. Then, when dressed, she usually found her 
friend Friede dusting the dining-room or Garten- 
saal, while Gertrud was busy with Mamsell (the 
invariable title of the housekeeper) in the store- 
room, giving out the daily portions of the Gesinde 
(work-people) for household use. Friede would 
subsequently feed the fowls and look to the flowers, 
in which Grace was delighted to assist ; as also to 
prepare the coffee and lay the cloth for the second 
breakfast between eight and nine, the Haiis-madchen 
bringing in the various articles required. 

At this meal the count made his first appearance, 
VOL. II. 24. 



34 THE FRERES. 

also the young Verwalier, Herr Sturm ; the letters, 
too, generally arrived with the returning Fritz and 
his empty cans. After this meal were housekeeping 
matters to be attended to, plain work or mending 
to be done, lace or fine things to be washed and 
ironed, and sundry small undertakings which may 
be generally classed in the delightfully indefinite 
category of * odd jobs ' to be carried through. 

It was not often that Friede could snatch an 
hour's practice or study before the midday meal, 
or, as Germans term- it, 'eating.' But after came 
two hours' freedom and repose, which Friede always 
spent in her cousin's room, and devoted to hearing 
her lessons ; for though Grace entered heartily into 
the life about her, and shared her kinswomen's 
tasks so far as she could, she had time enough to 
study and prepare for Friede's instruction. Then 
came a ramble through the woods, and even as far 
as the rocks of the Pferdeberg, the hill that lay 
nearest ; and often it was a scramble to get home in 
time for the Abend-broddX half-past seven. 

This over, Herr Sturm would frequently play 
cards with Herr Graf, or with Frau Alvsleben 
and Gertrud made a party at whist ; while Friede 
played long-pieces that sounded to her cousin's 
untrained ear very like scales and exercises. 

The freedom and fresh air — the total change — 
the hope that among people so frugal and unpre- 
tending, her mother's small income would not be 
dwarfed into painful poverty as it was in London, 
gave Grace new life. All things seemed good and 
pleasant to her ; she was more like her old self in 



THE FRERES. 35 

her old home than she had been since the blight of 
change and disappointment had touched her. She 
was up at cockcrow, busy about whatever task 
Gertrud or Mamsell would entrust to her inex- 
perienced English hands — always anxious to learn 
— exercising her small stock of German words — 
joining merrily in the laughter at her own mistakes, 
and daring to attempt conversation in a new tongue, 
even when obliged to ask Friede for every third or 
fourth word — milking the cows when she could get 
leave — feeding the calves — following Gertrud into 
the kitchen — Mamsell into the Gesinde Stube (a 
large room in a side building, half of which was 
occupied by cows, and where the farm-servants 
{Gesinde) cooked and eat their food) ; and, above 
all, following Fritz into the stable. 

She threw herself heartily into the life of those 
around her, and soon became a prime favourite ; her 
frank, fearless trust in herself and everyone else, 
her bright face and ready intelligence, soon made 
her a welcome helpmate to Mamsell, while she was a 
charming play-fellow to Friede, though they often 
quarrelled over the comparative merits of Irish and 
German ' ways.' 

Then the count greatly enjoyed her reading aloud 
to him an occasional English newspaper, sent by 
Mrs. Frere or Jimmy Byrne, and also in discussing 
with her the subjects therein treated; for Grace took 
a great interest in politics, albeit in a crude girlish 
fashion. 

Herr Sturm, too, was always profoundly polite 
and deferential, but had * crops and caltYe* too 

24. — 2 



36 THE FRERES. 

severely on the brain to be available for ordinary- 
conversation. With all these, Grace felt perfectly 
at home and safe. But she was dimly conscious that 
Gertrud was not so friendly as Friede, and that she 
was not always in Frau Alvsleben's good graces. 

Before the end of her first week at Dalbersdorf, 
she had delightful welcome letters from home. 
Oh, the sweet pain of reading the tender longings 
for her presence — the deep interest of the minute 
details — the joy to find that Randal had been 
going on well, that her own scribblings were con- 
sidered the perfection of letter-writing ! There was 
no mention of Max in her mother's epistle, and this 
suggested the thought of him for the first time 
since she had reached Germany; she reflected on 
this emancipation with delight. If she had indeed 
got rid of that haunting image, she had escaped 
from what was a perpetual degradation. 

But all this did not make her forget the main 
object of her visit to Saxony. 

* When may we go into Zittau T she asked Frau 
Alvsleben one evening, as they all sat together in 
the Gartensaal after supper. * You know, dear 
cousin, I want to tell my mother about it ; I want 
her so much to come and live here.* 

* Certainly, my child ! Herr Sturm, I think we 
might have the horses to-morrow after dinner. 
There is not so much to be done now.* 

* Yes, certainly,* returned the Verwalter from the 
game of Scat he was playing with the count ; * and 
there are many things the gnddige Frau might 
attend to at the same time.' 



THE FRERES. yj 

Whereupon the gnddige Frau and her employ^ 
plunged into an animated, not to say noisy, con- 
versation, in which Gertrud and Friede occasionally 
joined almost in a scream at intervals. 

* And, thou best of mothers !* cried Friede, * thou 
wilt go to Wolff, and find when he will come ? we 
know not when to prepare for him/ 

* Who is Wolff?' asked Grace, in a low tone. 

* He is my mother's nephew — that is, my papa's 
nephew — my aunt's son. He is the Baron Falken- 
berg. He was wounded at St. Privat, and is now 
in the regiment of Zittau. He is very nice and 
agreeable. He will bring his horses, and take 
us out to ride. I long to ride with you, dear 
Grace !' 

* What is the name ?' 

* Wolff von Falkenberg.' 

* What an unchristian Christian name !' said 
Grace, laughing. 

'It is a family name,' returned Friede. And 
after a little more talk, it was arranged that they 
should start at two next day. Whereupon Gertrud 
produced pencil and paper, and, with Herr Sturm's 
help, made out a formidable list of commissions 
to be executed. 

The count declared his intention to be of the 
party, and Friede suggested that she should stay at 
home, as Gertrud must assist her mother in various 
matters ; and so it was arranged 

The next day, as it often happens when an ex- 
pedition is decided on, was wet ; at least, there 
were sudden thunder showers in the morning. Rut 



33 THE FRERES. 

the chance of having the horses was not to be lost ; 
and the rain abating after dinner, the landau — 
closed in consequence of the weather — was brought 
to the door. The partie carrh started for Zittau, 
Frau Alvsleben and her eldest daughter full of 
business; the former voluble in her instructions 
to her father, where he was to take Grace in order 
to seek for an abode. 

* You must look at many, chhe enfant^ she said ; 
' but if you see any you like, leave the final bargain 
to me ; I shall do my best for Mrs. Frere and you. 
Prices are much higher than before the war, yet I do 
not see that anyone is better off. These accursed 
Prussians spoil everything !' she spoke in French, 
as she usually did to Grace. 

On reaching the market-place the party dis- 
persed ; Count Costello escorting Grace, and pro- 
mising to meet his daughter and Gertrud at the 
• Goldene Sonne,' the principal hotel, in a couple 
of hours. 

The search for a dwelling is always dispiriting. 
The least imaginative form ideals of a home very 
unlike the realities presented, as is also too often 
the difference between the price contemplated and 
that demanded. 

Poor Grace had a notion that she could get what 
she required for two or three hundred thalers 
yearly, and, as far as rooms went, she saw several 
''tages that would suit very well for that price; but 
then * they were empty, swept, and garnished,' and 
where was the money to come from to furnish 
them } 



THE FRERES. 39 

* And won't that please you either ?' asked the 
count, as they turned away from the fourth house 
they had examined— a pleasant mansion, in an 
open place where two or three streets met, and 
quaintly decorated in bygone style. 

* Yes, dear uncle ; nearly all we have seen would 
do very well, but there is no furniture. What can 
we do without furniture ?' 

* Ay, to be sure ! I did not think of mentioning 
that you can scarce ever find a furnished ^tage in 
these small towns.' 

' What is to be done, then V 

* Oh, well, you must buy some.' 

' But, uncle, I fear that is impossible ; my 
mother could never buy furniture out of her little 
money.' 

* That's bad, my child ; remember it costs but 
little to furnish here — wonderfully little.' 

' Still, when we have not that little ' 

* I am afraid,' said the count, musingly, * I threw 
away a heap of money in London. I am afraid I 
cannot help you just now, but later on, perhaps. 
And there is Theresia, she has a lot of chairs and 
tables, and such things, stowed away ; she might 
lend them to you.' 

' No, no, no, uncle !' cried Grace, with energetic 
rejection; * I do not want to begin our sojourn here 
with a load of obligations ; we must try and find 
some other way. I will write to my mother, and I 
will gladly ask my cousin Alvsleben's advice ; she 
seems so wise and prudent.' 

* Good ; you can do no better, my darlin'. Now 



40 THE FRERES. 

we are too soon for our tryst : let us have a ramble 
round the town.' So saying, he offered his arm to 
his grand-niece, and they strolled away among 
some pleasant rows of trees, beneath which were 
flower-beds and grass, and which was called ' Am 
Park,' as far as an inoffensive-looking round tower, 
the last remnant of the fortifications which had 
been peppered by Prussian bullets in the Seven 
Years' War, and had some balls still visibly stuck 
into it. 

Then they wandered up and down queer little 
old-world-looking, sloping streets of pale yellowish 
stone houses, past a large, barn-like building, with 
a steep, red roof, full of the eye-like windows before 
described, which seemed to wink at passers-by an 
intimation that they had seen a great deal in their 
day. * This had been a corn exchange in old times,' 
said Count Costello. So on, by good-looking shops, 
and beer-houses innumerable, to a picturesque little 
Lutheran church, surrounded by linden and accacia 
trees ; and on still, by other quaint, rugged old 
churches, to a lofty, grey edifice — the Johannes 
Kirche — which formed one corner of the market- 
place. Behind this stood the town library, an 
irregular building, of mellow, pinky-grey sand- 
stone, with a clock tower, and pointed gables, and 
old, worn, nail-studded, oaken doors, with beauti- 
fully-wrought iron hinges and handles, with pro- 
jections catching the evening sunlight, and receding 
angles full of solemn shadow. 

' If it were not too late,' said Uncle Costello, * I 
would take you in to see the missals ; they have 



THE FRERES. 41 

some rare beauties there — just what you would 
like/ 

* I hope to be familiar with the librarian, if we 
live here, and perhaps read some of the books,' 
said Grace, gazing delighted at the old pile, and 
feeling that she must have read something about it 
somewhere, it seemed so oddly famiUar to her 
imagination. 

* Now, come along to the 'Conditorei' (confec- 
tioner), said the count ; ' we have half an hour left/ 

A few minutes brought them to a cool, dark 
confectioner's shop, which occupied what seemed 
to have been a vault or cloister, from its groined 
arches and thick walls. Here the count was warmly 
welcomed, and quickly served with ice. After a 
cheerful conversation with the shopwoman, a few 
words of which Grace, to her great satisfaction, 
understood. Uncle Costello made the young lady 
behind the counter a profound bow, resumed his 
hat, and once more offered his arm to his grand- 
niece. 

When they reached the * Goldene Sonne,' the 
rusty landau was in waiting ; but there was no sign 
of Frau Alvsleben and Gertrud. 

A gentleman was walking slowly to and fro 
before the hotel — a gentleman slightly above 
middle height, fairly well-dressed, and not pro- 
vincial in aspect. He had very light red hair, thin 
about the temples, though his moustaches were 
full and long. His eyes, too, were light, but re- 
markably clear and intelligent; his face, though 
pale and plain, was unusually sweet in expression^ 



42 THE FRERES. 

and, albeit without a good feature, singularly- 
attractive. Grace had time to remark all this, for, 
on perceiving them, the stranger hastened to greet 
her uncle. A prolonged hand-shaking took place, 
and a rapid interchange of question and answer. 
Then the count introduced him to Grace as * Herr 
Dr. Sturm, brother of our friend at Dalbersdorf ; 
and you may talk to him in any language you like 
— ^gad, he is at home in six or seven !' 

Disclaiming this, with a good-humoured smile, 
Dr. Sturm addressed Grace in very good English, 
showing by his remarks that he knew of her 
coming, and relationship to the Dalbersdorf family. 

While they spoke together, Frau Alvsleben and 
her daughter came up laden with small packages, 
in addition to the capacious basket carried by 
Gertrud. Very polite and formal salutations were 
exchanged, and Grace gathered that the doctor 
inquired for Fraulein Friede, and that Frau 
Alvsleben asked him to come and spend the fol- 
lowing Sunday at Dalbersdorf, in which opinion 
she was confirmed by his observing, as he handed 
her into the carriage, *that he should have the 
pleasure of seeing her soon.' 

Grace smiled an assurance that she should be 
glad, for she felt strongly attracted by his counte- 
nance and manner. 

* Is he really a very learned man T she asked, as 
they drove away, leaving Dr. Sturm, hat in 
hand, bowing after them/ 

* Learned! yes, certainly. They say he is the 
most learned man in Zittau; and he may before 



THE FRERES. 43 

long- be a professor, and he is not yet nine and 
twenty/ said Gertrud. 

' And what does he profess ?' persisted Grace. 

' Philology/ replied Frau Alvsleben ; hearing 
which tremendous word Grace asked no more. 

* But it is said/ continued Frau Alvsleben, im- 
pressively, * that he is tinged with evil opinions — 
quite unorthodox views. However, the best have 
enemies ; we will hope it is not true. And now, 
Gracechen ' (the affectionate diminutive), * what 
have you seen and done, mein Liebling V 

* Not much, my cousin I I am in despair ; none 
of the places we have seen have any furniture.' 

' Why, certainly not ! You must buy your furni- 
ture. But what were you asked for the ^tage of 
five or six rooms V 

* Two hundred and fifty to three hundred and 
fifty thalers,' returned the count. 

* Ach Gott bewahr T almost screamed his 
daughter. * I am mad to have let you two children 
go about by yourselves. Not a Hausewirth (house- 
keeper), in Zittau would dare to impose thus on 
me ! Our good cousin may be made of money for 
all I know, but that is no reason why she should 
be cheated. Gracechen, my child, I will come with 
you myself next week.' 

' Many, many thanks,* cried Grace^ anxious not 
to commit herself; *but I will first write to my 
mother, and tell her about the rooms being unfur- 
nished. She may not wish to stay long, and then it 
would not be worth while to buy furniture.' 

* If you must have a furnished itage^ you ought 



44 THE FRERES. 

to go to Dresden. It is quite a stranger's town — 
you can get everything in the world in Dresden,' 
remarked Gertrud ; and the conversation flowed on 
with much warmth on this topic. The count and 
Frau Alvsleben argued as if their lives depended 
on settling the matter in question, with raised 
voices and much gesticulation. At length Gertrud 
changed the subject by exclaiming : 

* We did not see Wolff after all. He had gone to 
Lobau, but his servant said he had sent a letter to 
the mamma this morning. The whole regiment is 
back again, since Tuesday ; the manoeuvres have 
not lasted more than ten days.' 

' I suppose he will say when we may expect him 
in the letter,' said Frau Alvsleben ; and then she 
began to discuss sundry domestic arrangements 
with her daughter, who was a great authority. 

The thunder«*howers of the morning had cleared 
the air, it was a glorious golden evening when they 
reached home. Friede ran out to meet them with 
a letter in her hand. 

' See, dear mother ! it is from Wolff von Falken- 
berg,' she exclaimed, and I have been tempted to 
open it' 

' Naughty child !' said Frau Alvsleben, with an 
mdulgent smile, as she alighted and read the letter 
in the hall. ' Yes, he comes on the day after to- 
morrow to Abend-brod! 

' Gott in Himmel !' cried Gertrud, * his room is 
yet shut up; we shall have a world to do to- 
morrow !' 

' He will bring all the news of the manoeuvres 



THE FRERES. 45 

with him/ said the count. ' My children, I am a 
trifle weary ; I will take a cup of coffee, and repose 
myself ;' and he slowly ascended the stairs to his 
own apartments. 

' Friede,' said Grace, * can you come with me a 
little way into the wood ? It is too delightful to 
stay indoors/ 

' Yes, certainly, I have done all my work, and 
everyone's work, while you were away. I will 
fetch my hat.' 

In a few minutes the two girls had crossed the 
space of open stubble field which lay basking in 
the sunshine, and reached the fragrant shelter of 
the pine-wood. 

They walked almost silently along the soft 
brown pathway, all thickly strewn with pine 
needles, till they reached a small opening where a 
spring bubbled up under a big black wet stone ; the 
water, trickling away into a small, marshy hollow, 
cushioned with delicate mosses of vivid green, and 
studded with dark boulders covered with many- 
coloured lichens, spread freshness and verdure 
along its edge. 

The twisted roots of a large fir-tree, which lent 
itself with pertinacious flexibility to the exigencies 
of rocky obstruction, made here a pleasant resting- 
place. 

Grace took off her hat, and sitting down close to 
the spring, leant over, and dipping her fingers into 
the water, sprinkled it upon the broad leaves of 
some moisture-loving plants which grew by the 
margin. 



46 THE PRE RES. 

* What a delicious spot ! How much obliged I 
am to you all for asking me here ! and how I wish 
my dear mother and Mab could come before the 
fine days are quite gone I' cried Grace, looking 
round her with a deep sense of enjoyment. 

* And how charming it is to liave you, my best 
of cousins,' returned Friede, warmly ; ' you are so 
— so different from what I expected/ 

'What did you expect?' asked Grace, laughing. 

' Oh ! a tall, proud English Fraulein ! who 
would say "horrid" to everything. We had an 
English teacher at our Dresden school, and she 
was always saying ' horrid! Now you seem to be 
the same flesh and blood as ourselves/ 

' And so I am ! at least, on my uncle's side/ 

' Ah ! you are so love-worthy because you are of 
the dear Gross-vater^ s race ;' and Friede passed her 
arm lovingly round her companion's shoulder. 
There was a pause. 

'When will our cousin, your mother, come .^' 
asked Friede. 

' I cannot tell. I must write and describe the 
cHages we saw to-day.' 

* Oh ! make her come soon, my sweetest Grace ! 
I cannot live without you now ! Gertrud is not 
sympathetic to me ; she is slightly hard, and too 
'•practical," what you call "matter-of-fact," and — 
and so terribly good.' 

* Do you know, Friede,' exclaimed Grace, avoid- 
ing this tempting subject, * I am here just a fortnight 
and we have not once ridden on horseback.' 

' Yes, it is very bad ; but my cousin Falkenberg 



THE FRERES, 47 

will bring his horses, and then we shall ride ; and 
Ulrich, he comes next week and brings two more. 
It is the time they all get leave.' 

Another pause, listening to the delicious trickling 
of the spring — inhaling the fragrance of the pines — 
absorbing the spirit of the place. 

' What sort of a person is this Falkenberg cousin 
of yours ?' asked Grace, at length. 

' Oh ! he is considered very fascinating ; he is a 
distinguished officer, too. He took a French eagle 
at St. Privat with his own hand, and he is very 
accomplished.' 

'Poor France!' said Grace. *I am always so 
grieved for France; but, Friede, we met such an 
interesting man in Zittau to-day. I only spoke 
half-a-dozen sentences to him, yet I took a great 
fancy to him — the inspector's brother, Dr. Sturm.' 

' Dr. Sturm !' cried Friede, her colour rising ; 
* did you meet him } What did he say } Did he 
ask for me V 

* I think he did, if I understood right ; and I 
think your mother asked him to come on Sun- 
day.' 

* Did she } Well, he and Wolff never agree ; still 
I am glad. We cannot sacrifice everyone to 
Wolff.' 

* What a Moloch Wolff must be !' said Grace, 
smiling ; *but tell me about Dr. Sturm — he ought 
to be very good, with that face.' 

'He is — he is!' cried Frieda, warmly; 'he has 
been a father to his young brother and sisters, and 
so liebenswiirdig (loveable). My mother knew his 



4S THE FRERES. 

when they were young. The father was a painter — 
an artist — just gaining a name when he died. Otto 
was only eighteen then ; he was obliged to serve 
his year as a/w Williger.^ 

'What! has he been a soldier? A common 
soldier ?' 

' Common ?* returned Friede, uncertainly. * Ge- 
mein ? we never call our soldiers so ! but he was at 
Koniggratz, and badly wounded there ; since then 
he has made wonderful examinations, and he reads 
poetry like an angel. You must hear him when 
you can understand a little more.' 

'Then do you like him better than Herr von 
Falkenberg ?* 

*Yes — no. You see he is not so brilliant and 
fashionable as Wolff. He is more homely, and — 
and I do not know what it is — he is not so striking, 
but I think he is more love-worthy.' 

* I shall like him best, I imagine. Now tell me 
about your brother.' 

This was a favourite topic ; and once Friede was 
launched upon it, Grace was free to follow the 
current of her own thoughts, and to enjoy the 
sounds, sights, and scents which surrounded her. 




CHAPTER III. 



3HE wliole of the following day was 
du-VQlcd to intense preparation. A 
'guest-chamber,' in the same wing as 
Grace's room, was opened, swept, and 
garnished. Grace heard Gertrud's rather high- 
pitched voice exhorting and entreating at peep of 



while thi 




/.//ivi (chambermaid), was 
airs powerfuHj- with a 
fter the German method 
U was to be met 
r^iuslin curtains, 
take the week's 
-jkl into the back- 
light and delicate 
dishes and cakes, 
le kitchen. The 
le whole household 
who gave what 
id to escape for a 
uncle. 



50 THE FRERES. 

The next morning she was made happy by a long 
letter from her mother, and a short but welcome 
epistle from dear Jimmy Byrne. How she longed 
to see their faces again ! For a few moments she 
felt desolate and alone ; but then she consoled 
herself by answering both, and particularly pouring 
out her fears and doubts respecting Zittau as a 
residence. This, with an hour's reading aloud to 
the count of some English papers which had come 
by the same post, had occupied most of the morn- 
ing ; so Grace prepared for dinner, changing her 
dress as usual for a pale lilac grenadine, with black 
ribbons and waistband, some delicate old lace lying 
softly against her throat and wrists. Having 
twisted her hair into a loose coil low down on her 
neck, according to the fashion ridiculed by her 
cousins as * English simplicity,' she went down- 
stairs; and on the way encountered Friede, looking 
very warm, her hair still in a dozen plaits thrust 
away under a large muslin morning-cap. 

* Are you ready for dinner so soon V she cried. 

* It is more than half-past twelve !' 

* That is not possible ! Oh, my best of Grace- 
chens ! go to the ironipg-room and make Gertrud 
go to dress. She has been ironing every collar and 
cuff she possesses, because next week she will be 
too busy r 

* Very well,' said Grace ; and turning to the left, 
went down a passage that led to the portion of the 
house specially presided over by Maimsell. 

Here was the linen, ironing, and store-rooms. 
These occupied the ground-floor of the western 



THE F RE RES. 51 

wing ; a large central hall dividing the house, the 
principal entrance at one end and the exit into 
the farm-yard at the other. 

Grace found Gertrud in the same guise as her 
sister, only looking much worse : a small pile of 
collars and cufifs at either side of the ironing-board 
— one finished, the other yet to be dpne. 

* Dinner will soon be ready ; you had better 
dress,' said Grace, as she entered. 

* So !' returned her cousin, crossly. * But I must 
not leave these ; I know not when I can make 
them — do them again ! And Mamsell is too busy 
and angry to help me. She has found that wicked 
Jette, the Mittel Magd (second farm-maid), selling 
her own bread and die Kleiners (the little ones), 
also! — then they grumble that they have not 
enough to eat. It is too bad ! they have no con- 
science !* 

* Selling their bread !* repeated Grace. 

'Yes; they have each their daily portion, and 
they sell it for very little money to the Hailslers^ 
and poor people, so they want twice as much 
Gemuse (vegetables) and Suppe! 

* Could I not help you V asked Grace, pitying 
the heated, worried look of her cousin. ' Could 
you trust me V 

' Thousand thanks ! I think if you are careful 
with the Stalls (iron), not to use it too hot, you can 
manage !' 

* Give me your Schurzen then.' 

Gertrud untied her white apron and assisted to 

* Cottagers. 

2$ — 2 



52 THE FRERES. 

fasten it on her cousin, bestowing some further warn- 
ings as she did so ; and had just gathered up the 
things already completed, when the sound of horses' 
feet clattering rapidly up the approach caught her 
ear. She looked eagerly to the window towards 
which Grace's back was at the moment turned, 
and the next instant crying in accents of horror 
and surprise, *Ach, du lieber Gott! it is Wolff; 
it is the Hauptmann !' fled at speed away upstairs. 

Grace looked after her with some amusement, 
and naturally tried to catch a glimpse of this im- 
portant visitor without being herself seen ; but 
only succeeded in obtaining a momentary view of 
a booted leg dismounting. She therefore applied 
herself diligently to her work, sincerely ambitious 
of proving herself worthy the trust reposed in her. 

* It is so much more independent to do every- 
thing for one's self, only it makes the hands red and 
swollen looking, I am afraid ! I wonder if this 
Wolff von Falkenberg will be really nice — an ideal 
soldier ! Perhaps he is in love with Friede. She 
is charming ; and how charming it is to have some 
one in love with you — when it is not Mr. Darnell ! 
How glad I should be to see Mr. Darnell now ! 
Ah, heavens ! have I scorched it V 

A moment's agonised doubt cut short the tangled 
skein of her reflections ; but finding she had escaped 
the danger, she applied herself with redoubled 
attention to her task, till a quick firm step and 
clank, as of a sword, came down the passage ; the 
door was noisily opened, and a tall, deep-chested 
man in uniform burst into the room, exclaiming, 



THE FRERES. 53. 

* My sweet cousin !* then stopping short, drew up, 
and saluted by raising his right hand to the side 
of his cap. 

Grace paused in her work, instinctively removing 
the iron from the collar under operation, and gazed 
at him out of her large serious eyes, for a moment 
gravely ; then they lit up with the smile already 
dimpling round her lips, which quickly parted in a 
laugh of hearty uncontrollable mirth, showing her 
brilliantly white teeth. The intruder smiled too, 
but guardedly, and removing his cap, bowed low as 
he murmured, * Pardon me !' 

* Monsieur de Falkenberg V asked Grace, at last, 
knowing that he spoke French. 

' A thousand pardons !' he returned, in a deep 
but not unpleasant voice. * I could find no one ; 
and Marie, telling me that Fraulein Gertrud was 
in the ironing-room, I presumed upon my privilege 
as one of the family to come here.' 

He spoke correctly, but slowly, with a somewhat 
thick accent. 

*My cousins are in their rooms ; they are not quite 
ready for dinner,' returned Grace, waiting to resume 
her work till he had gone ; but he was not going. 

* Pray do not let me interrupt you,' he said, 
advancing a step nearer, and laying his cap on the 
broad window-ledge. 

There was something she could not define of 
condescending patronage or conscious superiority 
in his tone that nettled Grace. 

* You do not interrupt me,' she said, coolly ex- 
amining her iron and proceeding with her work. 



54 THE FRERES. 

Falkenberg stood an instant gazing at her with a 
look of quiet, critical scrutiny, and then said : 

* I have the pleasure of speaking to Mees Frere ?• 
' Yes/ carefully looking at a collar to ascertain 

the right side. Then flashing a quick glance up at 
him : * How do you know ?' 

' Do you not think I have heard volumes of con- 
jectures respecting you from the dear Friede ?' He 
drew a rush-bottomed arm-chair near the table, 
and sat down. * I assure you, your coming was 
looked to with mingled delight and dread.' 

'Well,' returned Grace, pressing her iron care- 
fully on the edge of the collar, and not looking at 
the speaker, *now I have come, it is all delight.' 

* That I quite believe. But, mademoiselle, how 
is it that I see a great English princess, as you were 
represented to me, condescending to such homely 
ways V he pointed to the irons and her work. 

*0h, princesses may play Aschenbrudel (Cind- 
rella), without loss of dignity, if the dignity is 
real' 

' Ganz gewiss ! und sprechen Sie Deutsch, mein 
Fraulein f 

\ Not yet.' 

' I shall try and teach you.' 

* Thanks, I have an admirable teacher in Friede 
already.' 

'Ah, indeed! but, mademoiselle, ladies always 
learn best from a master.' 

' Do they V questioned Grace. 

' Are you and Friede devoted friends — absorbed 
in each other ?' 



THE FRERES. 55 

' Yes, wheii we agree/ 

* What, quarrel already !' 

* Too much sweetness sickens.' 
Another pause. 

' I hope mademoiselle is pleased so far with her 
visit to Germany ?' 

* Yes, very much pleased ; everyone is kind, and 
I like the life. But, Monsieur de Falkenberg, I am 
quite sure you will find my uncle in the dining* 
room ; he always goes there about a quarter of an 
hour before dinner, and Frau Alvsleben will be 
looking for you.* 

' She does not know I am here.' 

* She must have seen your horse by this time.' 

' Do you wish me to go away, mademoiselle ?' a 
half smile, as he pulled his long, fair moustache. 

' Who ? me — not at all. I am going away 
myself.' Collecting the collars and cuffs she had 
finished, and laying them in a neat little basket, 
she took off and folded up her apron ; then, basket 
in hand, went to the door, which he, starting up, 
opened for her, and with a sweet, quick smile and 
little nod, she passed him, saying: ^ Au revoir. 
Monsieur de Falkenberg.' 

He looked after her a moment, and turning back 
for his cap, murmured: 'Ach so! the stranger 
cousin is no milk-and-water English mees,' and 
strolled away into the hall, where he met his aunt 
coming from the kitchen, and accompanied her into 
the dining-room. 

Meantime, Grace ran upstairs to give Gertrud 
her belongings, passing Wolff von. Falkenberg 



S6 THE FRERES. 

under a mental review as she went His looks had 
impressed her favourably. He was quite as tall as 
Max, and much broader ; his sunburnt face a deep 
red-brown to where the band of the cap pressed on 
his brow ; wavy, abundant fair hair ; light blue- 
grey, quick, perhaps fierce eyes, set somewhat wide 
apart, under a broad brow ; and a straight nose, with 
a fine soldierly carriage, entitled him to be called a 
handsome man, a fact of which he was quite aware. 
Yet Grace, comparing him in her mind with Dr. 
Sturm's plain countenance, thought how charm of 
expression outweighed regularity of features. 
' Here are your things, Gertrud. May I come in ?* 
' Certainly ! thousand thanks, dear Grace ! I 
am not nearly ready yet. Will you sew a hook on 
my waistband, and tell me is my head right T 

* I suppose it is,' said Grace, gazing at the 
edifice. * It is the size of two.' 

*Well,' returned Gertrud, sharply, 'it is better 
than going as if to a bath.* 

* There is no accounting for taste,' remarked 
Grace, philosophically, as she threaded a needle. 

'Do you know is dinner served yet i*' cried Ger- 
trud, who was in a state of excited hurry. ' I sent 
word to my mother, who must add something to 
the meal. And where — where is Friede i^' 

* I do not know ; perhaps downstairs.' 

' Ah, yes ! I doubt not, full dressed to receive 
the company,* said Gertrud, sharply. * She is ever 
quick when Herr Hauptmann comes !' 

* Well, it is I who have received him to-day. I 
left him in the ironing-room.* 



THE FRERES. 57 

* In the ironing-room!' repeated Gertrud, in great 
astonishment. Wie — how — how came he there ?' 

' He was looking for you/ 

' Gott in Himmel ! I am glad I escaped. And 
did you speak to him, my Gracechen i* — you were 
not shy ? 

* Shy !' repeated Grace, contemptuously ; ' why 
should I be shy with a young man not much older 
or wiser than myself?' 

' Yes, yes, I know ; you are no " Backfischchen *' 
(shy school-girl) — you are bold.' 

' I hope I am not unmaidenly, if that is what 
being no Backfischchen means,' returned Grace, 
* coolly. But I am not shy, certainly.' 

' Please, will the gnddtgen Frdulein come to 
table V said one of the servants, outside the 
door. 

The whole party were assembled when Grace 
and Gertrud entered the dining-room. 

Herr von Falkenberg stood talking with the 
count in one of the windows, and Friede was assist- 
ing Marie to place the dishes on the table, while 
Frau Alvsleben and the Verwalter were standing 
by their respective chairs. 

' Ah !' cried the count, perceiving his grand-niece ; 
' come here, ma belle. Here, Monsieur de Falken- 
berg, is a specimen of an Irish girl. Let me present 
Monsieur le Baron de Falkenberg to you, cJiirie' 

' I have already presented myself,' returned that 
gentleman, bowing low, * and hope mademoiselle 
will pardon the presumption.' 

* Dinner is quite ready,' said Gertrud. 



58 THE FRERES. 

* Ah, my fair cousin, I hoped to have found j^ou 
the first,' said Falkenberg, with a kind of careless 
gallantry kissing her hand, though he hardly looked 
at her ; * but I found a stranger in your place !' 

Gertrudes rather heavy countenance assumed an 
expression of serene content as he spoke ; and with 
a loud scraping, as they drew in their chairs over 
the bare floor, they sat down to table. 

The first half of dinner was too serious to permit 
of more than a dropping fire of question and 
answer ; but the pangs of hunger assuaged, every- 
one began to talk. The strings of their tongues 
indeed seemed loosed, so rapidly did they go. 

But it was all in German, though Grace caught a 
word here and there from which she gathered some 
idea of the subjects. 

Hay, oats, and Winter Saat (seed), from Herr 
Sturm ; the tmverschamtes betragen (scandalous con- 
duct) of the Mittel Magd, and all the Magds, from 
Frau Alvsleben ; some inquiries as to the health of 
Herr Hauptmann Muller, from the young ladies ; 
and a discussion of the most animated nature be- 
tween the general and Falkenberg, in which the 
words * horse,' * Hauptmann,' * three thousand 
thalers,' occurring frequently, suggested to Grace 
the purchase of a horse by her grand-uncle. 

In this conversation Frau Alvsleben joined, evi- 
dently as a dissentient. She very often differed from 
her father, and not unfrequently over-ruled the old 
man's wishes ; but on the present occasion he seemed 
to have the all powerful Falkenberg on his side. 

' N'est-ce pas, mademoiselle ?' said Falkenberg, 



THE FRERES. 59 

catching Grace's eye as she strove to gather the 
sense of the talk about her, and addressing her 
suddenly in French ; * monsieur your uncle ought 
to buy a horse which I can procure for him — sound, 
steady, only five years old, and fit to carry a lady. 
Then Friede would have the benefit of it.' 

* I doubt it,' cried Friede, ' for I must ever ride 
with my grandfather.' 

* Ah ! M. de Falkenberg/ cried Grace, ' do take 
us out riding with you. This must be a charming 
country for riding.' 

' Ah ! you are an enthusiastic horsewoman,' he re- 
turned, looking at her with a cool deliberate stare. 
* English ladies generally are. I believe I have 
a nice little horse here that will suit you — a little 
wild, but you do not mind that ?' 

' Yes, I do,' said Grace, laughing. * I do not 
want to risk my neck.' 

*And I should be indeed grieved to do so/ 
replied Falkenberg, lowering his voice a little, as 
he leant forward to touch her glass with his. Then 
addressing his aunt : ' What do you say, madam } 
Shall we fix a partie for to-morrow t I will take 
care of Friede and mademoiselle.' 

* Oh ! my dear uncle must come, too. Will you 
not, uncle f 

* With all the pleasure in life, dear ; only, I have 
nothing to ride.' 

* My horse is at your service, Herr General,' said 
the inspector. 

* But Friede — what can Friede ride T said the 
mother. 



6o THE FRERES. 

Whereupon a noisy argument ensued, in which 
everyone took part, and Grace could not follow ; 
which ended, as Friede explained, by von Falkenberg 
proposing to send into Zittau for his friend Haupt- 
man Muller's horse, to be tried by the general on 
the following day with a view to purchase, a sug- 
gestion opposed by Frau Alvsleben, but carried by 
a large majority of votes. 

Whereupon Falkenberg, draining a last beaker 
of beer, rose and went to a side-table to write a 
note, which his servant was to take to the owner of 
the horse when he returned to Zittau. 

*That is quite delightful — a thousand thanks, 
M. de Falkenberg ! I have always longed for a 
ride with the count ; now we shall be a nice little 
partie carr^' 

* Charmed to fulfil your wishes, mademoiselle !' 

* But you forget,' said Gertrud, in a loud aside 
voice to Friede — * you forget that Herr Dr. Sturm 
comes to-morrow !' 

Friede's face fell a little, and Falkenberg said 
sharply : 

' Sturm ! is he coming here T 

* Yes,' returned Frau Alvsleben. * The father 
has not seen him since he came home, and he is a 
love-worthy creature.' 

Falkenberg folded his note in silence, and Friede 
said : 

* Well, you and the mother will be here to keep 
him company ; and then he will like some talk 
with his brother.* 

' Now, ladies, what shall we do ?' said Falken- 



THE FRERES. 6i 

berg, rising, note in hand. ' Has Mees Frere 
ascended the Oybin yet V 

* No,' said everyone. 

' And has been your guest for a fortnight ! Ah, 
mademoiselle, you wanted my guidance. Let us go 
this afternoon ; there is shade nearly all the way. 
It will be,— let me see, — an hour to the foot of the 
rock, half an hour to ascend, half an hour to drink 
coffee, another half hour to examine the ruins, and 
an hour and a quarter to return — three hours and 
three quarters, and it is now two. Let us start at 
three, and we shall be back for supper. What 
do you say V 

* Yes,' and * Yes,' from Grace and the sister. 

* And the Herr General ?* 
' Yes, too.' 

* Ach Gott, Vaterchen ! it is too much for you.' 

* If you would not be too tired,^ cried Grace, 
eagerly. 

* We would certainly find some carriage to 
return in at the restauration, if the Herr General 
needs it.' 

* Not I !' exclaimed the old gentleman, stoutly ; 
' I shall walk as well as the best of you.' 

The object of the proposed excursion was a huge 
mass of rock at the entrance of an oval valley, like 
the basin of an evaporated lake, about four miles 
distant, and surrounded by hills of more or less 
altitude ; amid which wound wooded gorges, full of 
picturesque and strange rocks, formed by Nature in 
her most fantastic mood, worn into hollows and 
moulded into peaks and angles and ridges, eatea 



62 THE FRERES. 

away here and rounded oflF there by the action of 
prehistoric tides. 

The Oybin* itself is of bee-hive shape, covered 
with pine-trees, and a rich growth of ferns, mosses, 
brambles, heather, and cranberries, save at one 
side, where a shere precipice, of some three hun- 
dred feet, beetles over the village ; the smooth 
grey sandstone, water-worn apparently, into the 
shape of a cyclopean ship's side. A higher portion 
of the rock or hill rears itself above, — its broken 
surface sparsely dotted with pine-trees. A little 
beyond this mighty mass of stone, the ground on 
which the village stands rises steeply to a pine- 
covered isthmus, which connects the promontory 
of the Oybin with the next hill ; on this side 
stands a little white-washed church, with a wooden 
belfry, built upon the rock, and following its slope. 
Here begins the long stair, chiefly hewn out of 
the stone, which, with sundry turns, leads through 
a couple of crumbling gateway-towers to the top. 

The remains of a monastery crown the summit ; 
through the still lovely lancet windows of the 
ruined church graceful branches of oak and syca- 
more have thrust themselves ; and through the 
pillared openings of the roofless cloisters you look 
down over the billowy tree-tops to a mere or tyke, 
once the convent fish-pond, hundreds of feet 
beneath, or away to loftier wooded mountains 
opposite ; and then pass through a low arch into 
the most picturesque of grave-yards, * where the 
rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep,' many steps 

* Pronounce * oy ' as in * boy,' * bin ' as ^ been.* 



THE FRERES. d^ 

nearer heaven than they lived. Beyond is the in- 
evitable restauration, and on the highest point 
stands the last remnant of the original Robber 
Castle — an unpromising origin, yet from such rude 
beginnings German Church and State seem every- 
where to have sprung. 

The Oybin presents, in fact, an epitome of the 
national history : robber stronghold, cloistered cell, 
Lutheran Church, and modern beer-house. 

The walk to this celebrated locality was very 
pleasant ; every step revealed new beauties, while 
the interchange of chaff and jest between von 
Falkenberg, his cousins, and the kindly, genial 
count, made the way short. Grace listened amused, 
though not able to join in the fun. She added her 
quota, however, by her attempts to speak German, 
in which von Falkenberg took a great interest and 
no small amusement. He was, however, careful to 
distribute his attentions equally. 

Grace kept close to her uncle. In this strange 
land he seemed the one thing belonging to her — 
the only one who knew her mother, Randal, Mab, 
and poor dear Jimmy Byrne ! She felt — as all 
must do — that isolation, that sense of groping in 
the dark, when those around you speak an un- 
known tongue ; yet the marvellous adaptability of 
youth was already familiarising her with the achs 
and ichsy the terrible topsy-turvy* sentences, the 
fearful composite words, which fell so glibly from 
the lips of her companions. 

How she longed for a fairy wand to transplant 
mother and Mab to this fair land and sweet air. 



64 THE F RE RES. 

laden with the indescribable aromatic perfume of 
the pine-woods. Should she be able to find a 
shelter for them in this pleasant homely place, 
where wealth was not indispensable to happiness 
or social standing, and the dear patient mother 
would enjoy something of that consideration and 
distinction so precious to her simple heart ? and 
Mab — if anything could mould Mab, it would be 
the admirable system of German education. 

When arrived at the restauration, Gertrud and 
Friede avowed themselves dead beat, and the 
count, though not owning himself fatigued, seemed 
ready enough to sit down and enjoy a huge glass 
of iced beer, while his granddaughters waited for 
their coffee. Falkenberg also called loudly for 
beer. So the party sat down before the little inn, 
which commands a charming view of the road 
winding through the wooded ravine beneath ; the 
village of Olbersdorf, at a little distance, trickling 
down to Zittau, with its green accompaniment of 
poplars and lindens, like a living stream along the 
hollow, which, with often a turn, leads gently to the 
plain, stretching in many-tinted patches far away 
into the dim blue distance, where the outline of the 
Prussian Landkro7ie is faintly discernible against the 
sky. Grace strolled forward, and leaning over the 
rail which defended the kind of terrace on which 
they sat, drank in the beauty of the scene alone 
for a few moments, lost in thought and memory 
— so lost that she did not heed an approaching foot- 
fall, though she presently was conscious that ^y^s 
were fixed upon her, and that her own were wet. 



THE FRERES. 65 

* May I venture to break upon your thoughts ?' 
said Falkenberg, with a sh'ght smile — not an un- 
kindly smile. *The count and my cousins are 
tired ; and as you do not appear to require rest, I 
will, if you permit, guide you round the rock and 
ruins/ 

' Oh, thank you, I do not want to rest ! I am 
so charmed with this place. It is extraordinary, 
and beautiful, and different from everything I have 
seen before !' 

' AUons done ! — permit me !' he held out his hand 
to assist her up one or two rugged steps, and then 
through a fissure in the rock so narrow that the 
Hauptmann's shoulders could only pass edgeways ; 
so out upon a giddy path, from which a variety of 
wooded hills were pointed out and named by her 
companion, till Grace was fairly puzzled with the 
strange nomenclature — Topfer and Scharfenstein, 
Pferdeberg, Johnsberg, Hausberg, and, towering 
over all, the Riesengebirge. Then through more 
dark and rocky passages, and up steep wooden 
stairs to the topmost portion of the hill, where a 
sort of oblong trough, cut out of the rock on the 
edge of a huge precipice, is shown as the * Emperor's 
Bed/ 

Here was the widest view of all, and they paused 
silently for a few minutes — Grace straining her 
eyes into the distance, and comparing the scene 
before her to the outlook from Dungar, with inex- 
pressible tender longing. 

' It is curious,' she said, at last *.I find myself 

VOL. II. 26 



66 THE FRERES. 

looking unconsciously for the sea. I feel im- 
prisoned without the sea.' 

' I should imagine the sea would give a feeling 
of imprisonment/ replied Falkenberg, looking 
observantly at his companion, who was quite a new 
specimen of the genus * young lady' to him. 

* No, it gives a feeling of freedom. On the sea 
you can go everywhere, and escape from everyone. 
I do not know which I like best — a free gallop on a 
good horse, or to dash over the waves in a fast 
sailing-boat, lying over on her side, and going like 
the wind ! To be sure, a horse is a living thing ; 
you can love it best T 

* But you could not have enjoyed all this in 
London V said Falkenberg, smiling at her warmth, 
which yet moved his own pulses. 

' I did not always live in London, thank God !* 
cried Grace. ^We lived with grandpapa — the 
count's brother-in-law, you know — away in the west 
of Ireland.' 

' Ah, indeed ! why did you leave it V he asked, 
with the unhesitating curiosity of a German. 

* Grandpapa died, and then it was no "more our 
home. The next heir took it.' 

' I understand ! Then mademoiselle has had 
something of a boy's training T 

' I wish I had !' returned Grace, candidly. * I 
should be considerably better educated than I am. 
I ran about with Randal, with my brother, cer- 
tainly, and so had much more pleasure, I believe, 
than the generality of girls. People who have 
never ridden on horseback, or sailed in boats when 



THE FRERES. 67 

the waves run high, have only known half a life ; 
and whatever comes, I have had a whole one so 
far. Don't you agree with me ?' 

' I do, certainly ; but I imagine this sense of 
physical enjoyment must be rare among young 
ladies. Even American girls, who are very different 
from ours, do not speak like you.' 

* No ?' returned Grace, dreamily, her eyes fixed 
and looking far away. * I certainly have had great 
advantages' — she spoke with simple sincerity — * but 
that is all over now.* 

* Why } If you come here to stay, as the 
General says you think of doing, you can get very 
good horses.' 

'No doubt, but then my mother is not rich 
enough to buy or keep any.' 

'Ach so! I am sure mine are quite at your 
service.' 

* Thank you, thank you very much, M. de Fal- 
kenberg. You are very good to say so, but I dare 
say they will give me a mount at Dalbersdorf 
sometimes^ and I must cultivate Friede's love of 
riding !' 

* I think Friede will do much for you. She is an 
angel, the gentle Friede !' 

' I am sure she is,' said Grace, earnestly ; * I like 
her the best. Gertrud is very nice, but ' 

' Not a word against Gertrud,' interrupted 
Falkenberg, with a laugh that sounded un- 
pleasant and mocking to Grace ; ' I am her avowed 
admirer !' 

' Are you ?' she returned, with such honest sur- 

26—2 



68 THE FRERESi 

prise that her companion laughed again, this time 
more naturally. 

'You see what magic you exercise, when I am 
growing confidential with you on — ^how many? 
— four or five hours' acquaintance.* 

He spoke jestingly, but something in his bold 
eyes made Grace suddenly, though vaguely, con- 
scious that they were alone. Yet, with instinctive 
tact, she asked the names of some distant vil- 
lages, and for some account of the ruins, of whose 
history he confessed himself ignorant, before she 
suggested that it was time to return to Count 
Costello. 

The walk back was very pleasant, though less 
noisy than their going forth. Grace told Friede 
she must often come to the Oybin with her, as she 
wanted to examine every part of the ruins, and 
even try to sketch them. 

' Dr. Sturm will tell you all about everything,' 
said Friede, who walked at one side of the count 
and Grace at the other, while Gertrud brought up 
the rear under Falkenberg's care ; 'there is nothing 
Dr. Sturm cannot explain.' 

' Faith, there is no end to his learning !' remarked 
the general ; ' and, what's better, he has not an 
ounce of conceit. He is like a child in some ways.' 

* " Wise as a serpent, as harmless as a dove," ' 
sneered Falkenberg. 

* Why are serpents always considered wise ?' 
asked Grace. ' Is it because they are crawly and 
venomous V 

* Mademoiselle is philosophical too T 



THE FRERES. 69 

* The dear Gracechen is too clever for you, mon 
clier cousin/ cried Friede. 

* Would that I might sit at her feet and gather 
honied wisdom from her lips !' said Falkenberg. 

The count made some retort in German, which 
set them all laughing ; and a few minutes' more 
quick walking brought them to the house, where 
they found Frau Alvsleben knitting in the dining- 
room, waiting for them with characteristic patience. 




CHAPTER IV. 



, : 'JNDAY at Dalbersdorf, though very 
^ ! unlike an English Sabbath, was never- 
theless a day of rest to the employed, 
and of social enjoyment to the em- 
ployers. 

The day began a little later than during the rest 
of the week, and the members of the household 
took it in turn to make an appearance in the family 
lege, or pew — a sort of square apartment in the 
gallery of the village church, where service began 
at nine in the morning. This edifice was of the 
ordinary Saxon type, and in some respects re- 
sembled the earlier Protestant parish-churches in 
England. High narrow pews disfigured the body 
of the building ; a gallery ran round it, wherein 
were the seats of the more distinguished members 
of the congregation. Over the entrance was a 
gaudily-coloured, exceedingly wheezy organ, and 
facing it was the pulpit — a curious shapeless erec- 
tion, covered with illogical wavy ornamentation, 



THE FEE RES. 71 

much gilded, with a large round opening in the 
middle, out of which the clergyman looked and ges- 
ticulated while preaching — a grey dove, with a pink 
and gold collar, surmounting all ; while beneath 
was a Communion-table adorned with a high black 
cross, on which hung a bronze Christ. 

The Dalbersdorf pew was lined with memorial 
tablets of deceased Alvslebens — some of pyramidal 
shape and large size, air more or less hideous. The 
whole interior was profusely decorated with heaps 
of coarse paint ; the front of the gallery was divided 
into panel pictures of Bible scenes, infinitely in- 
ferior to the gaily-coloured sheets which hang on 
the walls of an English infant-school, the artist not 
shrinking even from the awful difficulties of * The 
I^ast Judgment.' The very walls and roof were 
covered with endless many-tinted scrolls and lines. 
The effect was tawdry and disagreeable, while the 
damp earthy atmosphere suggested the unpleasant- 
ness of decay rather than the dignity of age. Nor 
was the scanty congregation more agreeable to the 
eye. It was composed of a curious variety of 
wonderfully wrinkled old women, all clean and 
neat, it is true, but painfully unpicturesque in their 
comfortable attire ; young ones in broad-brimmed 
hats, with long streaming ribbons and strictly 
modern dresses of the most glaring and decided 
hues ; a few withered, tottering old men, and a large 
sprinkling of rosy-cheeked boys. 

The service, too, was wearisome, even to those 
who understood it (judging from Friede^s face), 
while to Grace it was of course neither satisfactory 



72 THE FRERES. 

nor sanctifying to hear long prayers in an unknown 
tongue, and sermons equally incomprehensible, to 
say nothing of the howling of endless monotonous 
hymns at the highest pitch of their voices, which 
certainly did not show the musical perception 
supposed to be indigenous in Germans. 

Finding that no one objected to her staying at 
home, as the church-going appeared to be an 
avowed sacrifice to the exigencies of position, 
Grace availed herself of the liberty allowed her, 
and enjoyed her Sunday morning in her own room, 
writing to the dear mother — reading the liturgy 
of her church, feeling always refreshed after half an 
hour of hearty prayer and earnest thought. 

The rest of the family generally took Sunday 
morning also as a specially personal possession^ 
and occupied it as seemed best to them. Friede 
often utilised it for a long practice on the grand 
piano in the ^^Oben Stube'' (upper chamber), or 
finished some elaborate bit of china-painting, or shut 
herself up with a thrilling novel ; while Gertrud 
devoted it to especial bits of darning, or mending 
of things too precious for every-day work. 

When Grace first heard the sound of scales and 
<*xercises on the sacred day, and saw her cousins 
needle in hand ; or worse, the Haus-madc/ienyXVidldint 
in red ribbons, depart, avowedly to dance at a balJ 
at the village restauration, she felt as if the sleepy 
little place had suddenly developed into a modern 
Sodom or Gomorrah. But soon the immense power 
which is exercised by the habits and opinions of 
those we live with began to influence her, and she 



THE FRERES. 73 

acknowledged that the simple, kindly people 
around were not less true or honest or Christian in 
the essentials of conduct, for all the difference 
between their Sabbath and ours ; yet, to the last, 
she missed the peaceful holiness that, in spite of 
many flaws in the conduct of its observers, must 
always endear the memory of an English Sunday. 

This particular Sunday, however, was a busy day. 
Before the second breakfast was served, Grace 
heard the trampling of horses* feet as she sat 
writing to her mother (her usual Sunday occu- 
pation) in her own room, and concluded that the 
steed her grand-uncle was to try had arrived. 
On descending to the dining-room, she found Dr. 
Sturm making his bow to Frau Alvsleben. Grace 
therefore addressed him in French, in order to in- 
clude that lady in the conversation ; but the doctor, 
though understanding her perfectly, was not sofluent 
in that language as in English, into which, on the 
lady of the house leaving the room, they soon 
glided. 

Grace had begun to inquire the history of the 
ruins they had visited the evening before, when 
the door opened and Friede came in. Friede 
looking very fresh and pretty, in a blue muslin 
dress and ribbons, a blue velvet band fastening a 
large silver locket round her throat. Dr. Sturm 
was facing Grace, with his back to the door. Yet 
so soon as Friede's foot passed the threshold, he 
hesitated, paused, and * lost the thread of his dis- 
course,' while a faint colour came into his pale 
cheek — symptoms not lost upon Grace. * Here is 



74 THE FRERES. 

Friede/ she exclaimed, and Dr. Sturm, turning 
quickly, went to greet her with a certain amount of 
shyness surprising in so distinguished a savant. 
Friede, in spite of a sweet smile and becoming blush, 
received him coldly ; and there was an awkward 
silence of a few moments, broken by Grace, who 
telling Friede the subject of their conversation, 
resumed it, and learned how in the second half of 
the fourteenth century the Emperor Charles IV. 
invited some Celestine monks from Avignon, and 
established them on the Oybin, where for nearly 
two hundred years they and their successors led 
* blameless and useful lives' until the Reformation, 
which dried up their sources of revenue and found 
converts among the monks themselves. Then a 
fearful storm rent the rocks, partly destroying 
their house ; a fire succeeded, after which the com- 
munity removed to Zittau and gradually died out, 
while their church and dwelling were left to neglect 
and decay. 

Count Costello came in before the story wa's 
ended. Soon the whole party assembled — the Ver- 
waiter and his brother greeting each other with 
undisguised pleasure. . 

Frau Alvsleben was very kind, yet there was an 
indescribable something in her manner that to 
Grace's quick perception implied conscious supe- 
riority and condescension. 

However, the morning passed very pleasantly. 
The young ladies, at least the Fraulein Alvsleben, 
took their knitting into the arbour, the count 
accompanying them ; and Grace read to him a 



THE FRERES. 75 

leading article in the Daily News on the political 
prospects of Austria, during which Dr. Sturm and 
his brother added themselves to the group. 

When she had finished, Dr. Sturm complimented 
her on her clear enunciation and expressive 
emphasis. Then they strolled in the garden, and 
Grace found Dr. Sturm's conversation fascinating. 
His words seemed to lift some thick curtain, and 
Jet in a clearer newer light on most of the topics 
they discussed. She continued to talk and listen, 
walking slowly to and fro in the shadow of the 
house, till she perceived all the rest had disappeared; 
and with a sudden fear that she had absorbed him 
selfishly, perhaps kept him from his brother, she 
apologised and went indoors. 

At dinner Falkenberg appeared, to Grace's sur- 
prise, still in uniform. 

He saluted Dr. Sturm with careless scant civility 
— the young ladies with fluent compliments ; and 
then the serious work of dinner began. 

* Miiller has sent the horse,' said the Hauptmann, 
in the first pause of eating. 

* Yes,' returned Count Costello, ' I have been 
looking at him. He seems a serviceable animal — 
not quite up to my weight, I fear.* 

* We will see ! You do not want to ride twenty 
miles every day T 

' True ! but it makes a horse rather unsafe on 
his legs, if he is overweighted.' 

' I am sure,' cried Frau Alvsleben, * the dear 
Vaterchen would be better without a horse. He 
can ride one of ours now and again, but I shall 



76 THE FRERES. 

always be terrified at the idea of his going out on a 
wild, overfed beast that has scarce any work to do.' 
' Ach ! dearest daughter/ said the general, drily, 
* I am not a bedridden helpless dotard yet ; and, 
Donner-wetter ! when my old friend and comrade 
leaves me the means to do it, Til buy a horse if the 
devil himself said no !' 

* Bravo, Herr Graf !' cried Falkenberg. He 
seemed highly amused at the old man's rebellion 
against Frau Alvsleben, who did not like any 
member of the family to spend money without her 
consent and approbation. *And we will have a 
good gallop to-day — eh, mesdemoiselles V 

' I shall not,' said Gertrud, shortly. 

' No, no, of course not. We all know you are 
the type of the home-staying, gracious German 
maiden, all feminine gentleness and devotion, 
leaving these rough sports to foreigners, and — and 
— what shall I say ? — wilde-rosen, like Friede !' 

Gertrud simpered and drew up, while Friede 
shook her head and laughed ; and Grace thought 
there was as much mockery as compliment in the 
speech. 

' When shall we start V she asked. 

* About three,' returned the count. * We must 
smoke a cigar, and you have to dress.' 

* And where shall we go V asked Friede. 

* By Oybin to Luckendorf,* returned the Haupt- 
mann. * It is not too far, and we must not fatigue 
the ladies.' 

' My girl here is up to more than that,' exclaimed 
the count in German. * She is of the old Costello 



THE FRERES. 77 

de Burgh race, and can keep the saddle longer than 
most women.' 

He spoke in German, and Grace did not catch 
his meaning. 

' Ach Gott !' cried Frau Alvsleben, pettishly, *she 
IS not nearer to you than your own grandchild! 
Friede is also of your race !* 

* So she is, my dearest one !' said the old man, 
nodding to her with a kindly smile. * But the 
Gross-mcAU, she is a// Irish ; that is,' remembering 
her paternity, * English and Irish.' 

*The Herr General's patriotism has refreshed 
itself since his visit to London,' cried Falken- 
berg. * Herr General, I drink to you ! Miss 
Frere, you must let me fill your glass — it is to your 
uncle ;' and he stretched over to put some red wine 
into her glass, as she sat opposite to him — first, as 
German good-breeding requires, pouring a spoonful 
or two into his own, to make sure that the wine 
was free from cork and wax. 

* Your health, dear uncle !' said Grace, softly, 
giving him a loving look, and touching his glass ; 
whereupon Falkenberg said, in French, in a low 
quick tone, unheard by the rest, amid a clatter of 
talk between Frau Alvsleben, Gertrud, and the 
Verwalter, who were with one accord describing 
the misdemeanours of some Bohemian reapers to 
Dr. Sturm : 

* Give me also a kindly wish, fair stranger !' hold- 
ing out his glass, with a sudden flash of admiration 
in his glance, that showed Grace light eyes could 
speak eloquently as well as dark ones, surprising 



78 THE FRERES. 

her into a blush, and sensation of pleasure, half 
fun, half coquetry, at the idea of a German admirer, 
of which the next moment she was ashamed ; 
though she chinked her glass with his, giving him 
a frank smile and half bow as she did so, which 
implied more goodwill than the mere words, 
* Your very good health/ 

Falkenberg drained his, and put it down, pre- 
pared to attack a dish just set on the table. It 
contained what seemed to Grace something like an 
attenuated cat, with only the hind legs, done ex- 
ceedingly brown, split open, and thickly stuck with 
elongated cubes of bacon. 

' Wiiat is that V she asked the count, next whom 
she was sitting. 

* Hare !' he returned. ' Did you never see hare 
before ?* 

' Never like that ; why, where are the shoulders V 

* Ay, to be sure/ cried the count ; ' I had for- 
gotten how they dress a hare at home.' 

* Ach, mein Vater T said Frau Alvsleben, * is my 
house not your home } Have you learned to love 
England so much since you went back there ?' she 
spoke in a wounded tone, but there was an angry 
sparkle in her eye. 

* Gott bewahr, beloved daughter ! I spoke of 
my boyhood's home. Here, send the little cousin 
some, and let her taste how good a Saxon hare is.* 

Then Gertrud asked how they cooked hare in 
England ; and Grace was surprised to find that the 
English cuisine y according to the ideas of her 
cousin, consisted of nearly raw meat, vegetables 



THE FRERES. 79 

barely cooked, and swimming in hot water, red 
pepper, plum-pudding, apple-pie, and mustard. 

The discussion which arose was excessively noisy 
and very merry ; and Grace, attempting to explain 
matters in German, added to the hilarity, though her 
efforts to speak in their language were most kindly 
encouraged by her companions, and Falkenberg 
protested he would not utter a word of any other 
tongue during their expedition that afternoon. 

Then the count stood up, and, in a short hearty 
speech, proposed the health of their honoured 
guest, Dr. Sturm, at which Friede coloured with 
pleasure, and everyone, even Falkenberg, was 
obliged to join cordially. Dr. Sturm replied 
briefly, and Grace thought his voice the sweetest 
and most pleasing she had heard since she crossed 
the sea. 

Finally, Frau Alvsleben, with the dignity and 
graciousness she frequently assumed, drank to 
her good friend and *with-worker Herr Heinrich 
Sturm, whose never - to - be - sufficiently - acknow- 
ledged help was so valuable.* 

Then, amid a loud scraping of chairs and 
* Gesegnete Mahlzeits,' they rose, and the gentle- 
men adjourned to a verandah or terrace, where, 
with much empressement^ the young ladies waited 
on them, assisting Marie, the Stuben-madc/ieny to set 
forth huge glasses of beer on a rustic table, bring- 
ing cigars, pipes, matches, somewhat to Grace's 
surprise ; she limited herself to providing for her 
uncle's wants, and then went away to her room. 

It was a fine but grey afternoon when the party 



So THE FRERES. 

assembled at the door leading into the farm-yard, 
where Friede preferred to mount, because the stone 
parapet w hich defended the steps afforded a con- 
venient means of ascending on horseback. The 
horses were good enough — a dark brown mare and 
a bay horse, in fair condition, and well groomed, 
the property of Falkenberg (the latter had an 
English lady's saddle) ; an iron-grey, somewhat 
rough, but sober- looking, and serviceable, on which 
also a lady's saddle had been placed ; and a roan, 
which Grace decided was the best of the lot, were 
waiting. This last was the horse sent for trial, and 
round him the gentlemen were gathered. 

Grace noticed something different in the general 
look of the cattle from those at home. They were 
not so smart ; their necks craned about as if the 
animal were not thoroughly broken ; their limbs 
were less fine. The roan, indeed, looked like an 
English horse ; and, at all events, Grace went joy- 
fully amongst them, delighted to have horses to 
pat and give sugar to once more. 

Her heart beat with pleasure at wearing, for the 
second or third time only, her new, well-fitting, 
dark blue habit : a narrow, white linen collar, with a 
small black tie at the throat ; a cylinder hat, linen 
cuffs, wash-leather riding-gloves, and a plain, un- 
ornamented riding-whip slung to her wrist, com- 
pleted a most gentlemanlike toilette, worn with the 
ease and grace of long custom, and suiting admir- 
ably a round, pliant figure, more rich than slight, 
yet girlish ; her compact hair and simple dress 
looking thoroughly business-like. 



THE PRE RES. 81 

* What do you think of the roan, Grace ?' said 
her uncle, finding her near him. 

Falkenberg turned as he spoke, and gazed at her 
with unconcealed criticism. 

* I like his looks/ she replied. * His head is well 
set on, and he has honest eyes,' patting his neck, 
and offering him some sugar she had begged from 
Friede, and which the horse ate greedily. 

* Where did Miiller get him ?' asked the count, 
walking slowly round the animal. 

* I think he picked him up in France after the 
fighting was over — ^just before we were ordered 
back.' 

'He looks English-bred to me,* returned the 
count. 

' I fancy he is a little puffy about the hocks,' 
observed Grace, who took the deepest interest in 
the discussion, and, somewhat to the surprise of 
both her uncle and Falkenberg, after again patting 
his shoulder, drew her hand gently, but firmly, 
down the animal's fore leg, with a dexterous 
accustomed touch, to which he yielded, and let 
her raise and turn his hoof to be examined. All 
this in utter unconsciousness of doing anything 
singular. 

* Oh, Grace, Grace ! have care ! do have care !' 
cried Friede, from the door-step. 

Smiling, Grace nodded to her, saying to her 
uncle : 

* I do not think there is much the matter ; just 
you try.' 

* Ma chfere ! ma ch^re ! come away !' screamed 
VOL. II. 27 



82 THE FRERES. 

Frau Alvsleben ; ' you touch the beast as if you 
were a groom ! It is not comme ilfaut! 

Grace, colouring slightly at the rebuke, but 
anxious not to displease, obeyed, and returned to 
the door-step where Friede stood, looking very 
pretty. She had a green habit, made with a 
double breast, open to show an elaborate shirt-front, 
with a frill standing up round her throat, fastened 
with a large pink bow and brooch, and a hat with 
feathers and a veil in which she might have gone 
to church. 

* Come, mesdemoiselles,' cried Falkenberg, 'who 
will mount first ?' 

* Oh, Grace,* said Friede. ' But do take care, 
Wolff! Are you sure your horse will not be too 
wild ? has he ever been ridden by a lady ?* 

* Yes ; I was assured when I bought him that he 
would carry a lady. I got him from the Clam 
Gallas stables.' 

Grace laid hold of the pommel, and lifting her 
skirt slightly, looked round for some one to mount 
her. 

' You had better come up here — you can get on 
much better/ exclaimed Friede. 

' Can you not put me up ? said Grace to the 
count. * Have you forgotten how to mount a lady, 
uncle ?' 

* No, faith ! give me your pretty little foot.' 
And the old man, seconding her spring, lifted 

her to the saddle before Friede could finish the 
remonstrance she had begun. 

* Has he a very hard mouth, or is he given to 



THE FRERES. 83 

bolt ?' she asked, as Falkenberg placed the reins 
in her hand, evidently intending her to ride on the 
curb. 

' No, he is steady enough. Why do you ask V 

'Because you want me to use the curb. At 
home I always ride on the snaffle — often without 
any curb.' 

' Here we always use the curb.' 

* And when in Rome, do as Rome does,' added 
Count Costello, looking to his girths before swing- 
ing himself into the saddle. 

Meantime Dr. Sturm had assisted Friede to 
mount ; Falkenberg sprang on his horse, and with 
salutations from the group on the door-step, and 
some last cautions screamed after them by Frau 
Alvsleben, they started, walking quietly over the 
pavement of the yard and under the walnut-trees, 
beyond which they turned from the road, and 
enjoyed a pleasant canter across a wide stretch of 
stubble field, and so on to the Oybin road, near a 
little wayside inn of the humblest order. 

How delightful it was to feel herself once more 
swaying to the motion of a horse ! to enjoy the 
delicious sensation of double existence as she 
guided her steed with the motion of her wrist, 
albeit she found his mouth not too tender ; above 
all, to enjoy the mingled surprise, admiration, and 
i//jappprobation which Falkenberg, with all his 
cool self-possession, could not quite conceal. 

At first she rode beside her grand-uncle, whose 
pleasure in her company was great and undisguised, 
talking with him about the merits of his horse, 

27 — 2 



84 THE FRERES. 

sometimes reining in her own to take a compre- 
hensive view of the animal, turning and changing 
from side to side with the practised ease of one 
whose horsemanship was the result of early habit. 

At first the bay had been restive and fidgety, 
evidently unaccustomed to the skirt ; but a light 
hand, a gentle touch, and a firm seat, soon brought 
him into a better temper, and after a few screams 
and expostulations from Friede, all went tranquilly. 

On the hard high-road they again rode slowly, 
and Falkenberg came up alongside as Grace was 
describing the last long ride she had taken with 
her grandfather. 

* It was round by the Benbola Hills, and you 
know that is ten miles,* she was saying. 

* Ten miles !' exclaimed Falkenberg ; * how much 
German miles T To their surprise he spoke in 
English. 

There was a general exclamation. 

* Where did you pick up English T cried the count. 

* Oh ! I was in Dresden last spring, when I first 
returned from France, and knew some charming 
Americans ; they taught me, and I had some 
lessons from a professor. Now, tr^s chfere Made- 
moiselle Frere, you must complete my education.' 

This Grace readily promised ; and so they rode on 
together when the road narrowed,under the odorous 
pine-woods and huge solemn rocks, across the open 
space of the little Oybin valley, and up the sandy 
way that led by the curious Kelchstein or Chalice- 
stone — where the soft road tempted to a trot, which 
soon became a gallop — on to the top of the hill,along 



THE FRERES. 85 

the edge of which the road now led,and from whence 
they looked over an immense tract, thickly studded 
with strange fantastically-shaped hills and partly 
covered by pine-forests, away to distant blue ranges, 
rising one above the other and mingling with the 
clouds, all clear, yet not sharply defined, in a tender 
grey Wouvermans-tinted atmosphere — a view that 
called forth rapturous admiration from Grace and 
expressions of pleasure from her companion. Then 
on again, speaking English and German, laughing 
heartily at each other's mistakes, and, it must be 
confessed, flirting as gaily and unrestrainedly as if 
Grace had never quivered under the bitter pain of 
feeling herself deliberately neglected and ignored 
by her first ideal. Max — never shed tears of mor- 
tified affection and bruised pride ; but she was a 
very different creature from the Grace Frere who 
this time last year had accepted her cousin's kiss 
with such undoubting faith, such solemn confidence. 
Could she ever have the same trust again } Never- 
theless, why should she not enjoy while she might t 
and why not amuse herself with the half-unwilling 
admiration of this saucy soldier } 

But they feared to fatigue Friede, so turned 
towards home after passing the comfortable village 
of Luckendorf, though the count wished to extend 
their ride to Gabel — a small Bohemian town ; and 
again crossing some stubble fields, where Grace 
kept by her uncle's side, they reached Dalbersdorf 
as evening was closing in. 

* You must let me lift you down,* cried Falken- 
berg, throwing himself quickly from his horse. 



86 THE FRERES. 

* I only want your hands/ said Grace, dis- 
entangling herself from the pommel ; and taking 
them, she sprang lightly to the ground. * Thank 
you very much for the great pleasure you have given 
me/ she said, looking up in his eyes with a frank, 
sweet smile. * I like your horse, now I am a little 
accustomed to him ; and you don't ride badly your- 
self/ With a little approving nod, she gathered up 
her habit and ran indoors after Fried e, who had 
already dismounted with the assistance of Dr. 
Sturm. 

Falkenberg looked after her with a smile and 
slight elevation of the eyebrows ; he was not 
accustomed to patronising approbation. 

* Begad ! I have not had such a ride for ever so 
long!' exclaimed the count. * Faith ! I must mind 
what I say since you understand English, Falken- 
berg 1 And now, isn't it a pleasure to ride beside a 
girl that can sit her horse like my jewel of a niece ! 
By Jupiter! she is not a penny the worse for the 
English strain in her blood !* 

Poor Friede was dreadfully tired, and Grace felt 
more fatigued than she expected ; it was so long 
since she had mounted a horse. Both girls, how- 
ever, had energy enough left to array themselves 
with due regard to the * becoming ' for supper. 
After it there was music : Friede sang with Dr. 
Sturm, and Falkenberg trolled forth some martial 
Ltedcry to his own accompaniment, in a full, rich 
baritone, Dr. Sturm, his brother, and the young 
ladies joining in the refrain when there was one, 
even Grace catching up the air and adding her 



THE FRERES. 87 

voice ; whereupon Herr Doctor begged her to give 
them an English Liedy and Falkenberg added his 
entreaties, while the count crossed the room to pray 
for an Irish melody, and all joined in the request. 
Grace avowed her fear of giving pain rather than 
pleasure to so critical an audience, yet complied 
with unaffected readiness. Her fresh sympathetic 
voice and naturally dramatic expression, all un- 
taught though she was, gave a certain charm to the 
sad sweetness of that lovely air, * Has sorrow thy 
young days shaded ?' All applauded kindly except 
Falkenberg, while her uncle, taking her head be- 
tween his hands, tenderly kissed her brow. 

* You have brought back my boyhood to me, 
me darlinV he said ; * and now I will go to bed and 
dream of it.* 

Dr. Sturm was seriously eager in his advice 
that Grace should take lessons, and devote her- 
self to music ; he was sure she had great capa- 
bilities. 

* I do not think I have/ she returned. * I should 
prefer, if I could, to draw ; but when I look at 
Friede's beautiful china-painting, I despair of 
myself.' 

' Ach, not so ! China-painting is very mechani- 
cal,' said the doctor ; * you should try water-colours 
or oils.' 

'Better take drawing-lessons from me!' cried 
Falkenberg, rousing himself from a fit of thought, 
in which he seemed lost after bidding Count Cos- 
tello good-night. ' I draw nearly as well as I sing,* 
he added, and drawing a chair beside Gertrud, 



88 THE FRERES. 

began talking to her with some animation, though 
in a low tone. 

' I scarcely believe that/ returned Grace. * But 
Friede has promised to help me, and I have great 
faith in Friede.' 

She looked kindly at her cousin, whose counte- 
nance had changed when Dr. Sturm pronounced 
china-painting * merely mechanical.' 

* Not believe it !* exclaimed Falkenberg ; * why, 
you must believe in me wheil you pronounce my 
horsemanship not so bad.* 

* Horsemanship is not everything,' said Grace ; 
and, a little afraid that she might seem rude to 
foreigners, with the minutiae of whose manners she 
was not familiar, she added, * But if you really draw 
as well as you sing, you deserve a more advanced 
pupil than I am.' 

After some more conversation with the doctor 
and Friede, the former took his leave, as he had to 
walk into Zittau. The inspector also said good- 
night, intending to accompany his brother part of 
the way. Frau Alvsleben and Gertrud went out 
with them on the moonlit terrace, exchanging 
last words respecting the occupations of to-morrow. 
Friede, protesting she could not keep her eyes open, 
went away; and Grace following, found Falkenberg 
at the door. 

* We must soon arrange another ride,' he said, 
holding out his hand. 

* Yes, do,' she answered, putting hers into it. 
* It was delightful to-day. Good-night, Herr von 
Falkenberg.' 



THE FRERES. 89 

* Good-night/ with an earnest look into her eyes. 
* I, toOy shall][dream of the song and the singer.' 

* Better sleep sound, monsieur le capitaine !* 
returned Grace, laughing as she left him, and ran 
upstairs, a sense of gratified vanity soothing her 
self-esteem, and restoring a little the faith in her- 
self which had been so rudely shaken. 



( 




CHAPTER V. 

^3 COUPLE of days after,*e post brought 
a welcome letter to Grace from her 
mother. 
After the usual expressions of joy at 
hearing from her, and assurances of their welfare, 
Mrs. Frere continued : 



'I am very sorry you cannot find apartments for 
us in Zittau, and that you fear Dresden would be 
too expensive, for really it is most depressing to 
live in London under our circumstances. I never 
have a creature to speak to except poor dear Mab, 
and I do not think her quite so well as she might 
be. Randal is away all day, and Miss Timbs far 
from being as attentive as she should. The fact is, 
that since Mr. Byrne made some alteration in our 
agreement with her, about leaving before the end of 
a quarter, she has been quite different. Indeed, 
I do not know what we should do but for Mr. 
Byrne. He comes up twice a week to tea, and brings 



THE FRERES. 91 

me the papers, with the Graphic for Mab (you 
would be quite pleased to see how nicely she has 
coloured some of the pictures) ; and then I can talk 
to him of you, my dearest ! which is my greatest 
pleasure, and he seems to interest himself in you as 
much as I do. 

' Randal, I am glad to say, is a great favourite 
among his companions, and is constantly asked 
out. But he is very steady ; and we are all most 
prudent, for I know how anxious you are for 
economy. By the way, do you not want a little more 
money yourself.^ I might send you a five-pound 
note cut in two. I suppose you could change an 
English note even in Zittau } You see, I am 
growing quite a woman of business. Oh, how 
I wish we could furnish an apartment at Zittau. 
I feel I should be quite happy near my dear uncle 
and his daughter. Your description makes me long 
to know them all and enjoy their society, for it is 
a sad solitude here. I have been talking matters 
over with Mr. Byrne, and he thinks with me that 
it would be perfectly legitimate to ask your uncle 
Frere for assistance in our peculiar circiunstances : 
indeed, we must do it if we arc to move at all. 
Pray let me know your opinion by return. Apropos, 
Randal met Max a few days ago in Lombard 
Street, and nothing could exceed his astonishment 
to find you had flown — he did not seem able to 
believe it. I must not forget to tell you that some 
very charming verses of Randal's have been pub- 
lished in the Daily Bread — a new journal, which is, 
they say, taking a very high position. So, you see 



92 THE FRERES. 

he has got an opening at last, and there is no 
knowing what it may lead to. Adieu, my own 
dear one ! It is impossible to say how I long to 
see you once more. It is at night I feel your 
absence so cruelly ! God bless and preserve you, 
is the constant prayer of 

'Your devoted mother, 

*C. M. Frere. 

* P.S. Mab's best love : she wants you back ! I 
forgot to mention that as she is not very well and 
decidedly averse to practice, I have sent away the 
piano : it was a useless expense. Do answer about 
your uncle Frere. I am so anxious to join you. 
Do you think we could furnish for a hundred 
pounds ?' 

' Dearest, dearest mother !' murmured Grace, 
when she had made an end of reading ; * I can 
fancy how miserable she is without me. I fear she 
is right ; we can never manage the move if Uncle 
Frere does not help us. He will, I daresay, but 
how dreadful to ask him !* 

She did not answer this letter at once, as Frau 
Alvsleben had promised to take her into Zittau 
with herself to seek for a dwelling, and ascertain 
what arrangement could be made as to furnishing. 

Meantime life flowed on with a pleasant equable 
current at Dalbersdorf. Herr Hauptmann Falken- 
berg went out each morning early to shoot, and 
occasionally the old count accompanied him. The 
usual duties amply filled up the young ladies* time 
from the first breakfast to dinner-hour ; Grace 



THE FRERES. 93 

taking a fair share of it for study. In the afternoon 
there were excursions on foot, and sometimes on 
horseback ; for the count carried out his intention 
of buying the roan, and Falkenberg was their con- 
stant companion. He gave Grace hints about 
sketching ; he drew rDughly but effectively himself. 
One or two of his brother-officers also joined them 
for a day, now and then, and Dr. Sturm, so that 
time did not hang heavily ; and sometimes, when 
they mustered sufficient gentlemen, they danced 
in the evening, even Frau Alvsleben joining. 

Grace would have enjoyed it all immensely, but 
for a constant anxiety about the dear ^ nes at 
home, who depended on her so utterly ; still they 
were pleasant days, and Falkenberg a very pleasant 
companion. Though universally attentive in his 
way, Grace found, she knew not how, that he had 
established a sort of tacit understanding with her 
— little phrases of special meaning, looks that no 
one caught but herself, certain airs of proprietor- 
ship arising from his character of instructor, all 
mixed with jest and laughter and playful mockery, 
kept her thoughts occupied with him, and half 
angry that he should treat her more as a child 
than a woman, while ever and anon would flash 
out a gleam of real admiration that startled her 
into deeper interest — and all unnoticed by anyone 
else. Yet her truest, best pleasure was in Dr. 
Sturm's conversation ; and she felt this in so sisterly 
a fashion, that she did not attempt to conceal her 
preference for his society. 

' Do go away,' she sometimes exclaimed, when 



94 THE FRERES. 

Falkenberg or Friede would seek to interrupt their 
talk, * or sit down and listen. Dr. Sturm is explain- 
ing all sorts of things to me, which I never had a 
chance of understanding before.' 

And after such a speech Falkenberg was gene- 
rally more tiger than lamb-like in his playfulness, 
and Friede still and silent. 

Meantime, her familiarity with German increased 
rapidly, and she began to read with some ease. 

Falkenberg's stay was drawing to a close. He 
intended to spend the remainder of his leave with 
some relations in Silesia, a visit which he main- 
tained was compulsory, and respecting wJiich he 
uttered many complaints, half jest, half earnest, all 
tending to show his regret at leaving Dalbersdorf. 

* I wish, Friede, you would not idle here,' cried 
Gertrud one morning, coming into Grace's room, 
where Friede was finishing a group of flowers on a 
china vase, while hearing and correcting her cousin 
as she read aloud one of Andersen's fairy tales. ' I 
have so much to do, I know not where to begin ; 
and the mother goes away immediately with grand- 
papa to Zittau. You like anything better than 
work.' 

* I will come,' said Friede, submissively, begin- 
ning to put aside her painting materials. Friede 
had grown very quiet and subdued of late ; not so 
Grace, who was always ready to resist oppression. 

* I think Friede quite as diligent as you are ; 
only you enjoy working in the kitchen and store- 
room ; she is always ready to help you,' she said. 
' But, Gertrud, will Cousin Alvsleben take me with 



THE FRERES. 95 

her ? — she said she would — because I do so want 
to find some place for my mother/ 

' I do not think she will ; she is going on par- 
ticular business with the GrosS'^^^2i to the Gericht- 
amtsmann (judge of the district). But you can ask 
— she is here/ 

Frau Alvsleben entered in bonnet and mantle as 
she spoke. * No, my child/ she said, in reply to 
the request. ' I have some special private business 
with the father; but T shall find out everything 
for you — ^if you can hire furniture, or what it will 
cost — ^just as well as if you were with me.' 

She spoke in a kindly tone, and patted Grace's 
shoulder, seeming to be in excellent temper and 
spirits. Nevertheless her young cousin was dis- 
appointed, she wished to see and judge for herself; 
but to Frau Alvsleben's decision there was point de 
r6pliqtie, 

* Though Grace may think me a tyrannical sister,' 
resumed Gertrud, with a slight dilation of her 
nostril, as her mother left the room, ' I must ask 
your help to make the Apfel Strudel — you well 
know I cannot manage that alone. But knowing 
your superiority to these common cares,' she added, 
addressing Grace, *we will not 6\%XMxh you! 

* Do not talk such nonsense !' cried Grace ; 'you 
know I am always delighted to learn how to make 
a new dish, and Apfel Strudel is delicious.' 

She jumped up, and seized one of the aprons 
which she had made for herself under Friede's 
directions, accompanying the sisters to the scene of 
action, where all were soon busy. 



96 THE FRERES. 

Apfel Strudel is a combination of many things, 
and requires a division of labour ; so while Gertrud 
and Grace peeled and sliced the apples, and 
blanched and chopped the almonds, Friede pounded 
the spices, and prepared, with her fine and delicate 
touch, the thin pastry which was to envelop the 
goodly mixture. 

The scene and occupation were homely, yet 
there was a charm about both. The large kitchen 
was not unpicturesque, with its ponderous centre- 
table; its sandstone floor; its many shelves, laden 
with bright copper vessels, more for show than 
use ; its endless ranges of coffee-pots and pipkins, 
going down 'small by degrees and beautifully less;' 
the immense variety of long-handled wooden 
spoons and quirls, and utensils of different sorts, 
stuck like bouquets in wooden frames, hung against 
the wall ; the ranges of wooden tubs, white with 
sand-scouring ; the big, yellow-tiled cooking-stove 
— all had a character of their own, most unlike an 
English kitchen. Through the windows could be 
seen the farm-yard, with its rich colouring of 
brown, antiquated dirt, yellow straw, and green, 
freshly-cut grass, which a couple of red-and-white 
calves were chewing with an air of enjoyment. 
Sundry grey-and-black speckled fowls were cluck- 
ing and pecking about ; a Knecht (man who attends 
the farm-horses) walked to and fro, his wooden 
shoes making a monotonous clack, clack ; while 
through a rugged archway of weather-worn stone, 
between the barns at the far end, a glimpse might 
be caught of the road leading to the wood under 



THE FRERES. 97 

the arching beech and chestnut trees, nowdeliciously 
tinted with autumnal hues. 

* I think/ said Gertrud, with pardonable pride, 
* that the Dalbersdorf Strudel is quite celebrated ; 
I know that at Ottenbain and Warndorf it is never 
so good. Wolff, too, who never praises anything, 
says he can eat it here, and that is a great deal for 
him.' 

She was busily employed fastening a white cloth 
over a small table as she spoke. 

* Does he ?' cried Grace, collecting her last con- 
tribution of chopped almonds, and throwing them 
on the general mass, exclaiming as she did so, in a 
dramatic tone, 'Another for Wolff!' 

* What is for me ?' said that gentleman, suddenly 
putting his head into the kitchen window, and lean- 
ing his arms on the sill. 

* Ach Gott !' cried Gertrud, * you frighten one into 
fits.' 

' What has the gnadiges Frdulein for me V con- 
tinued Falkenberg, in a tone of mock gallantry ; 
^ anything from her hands is precious.' 

* Sugar for a spoilt boy,' returned Grace, smiling, 
and handing him a lump, which he, lifting his cap 
with profound deference, accepted, and eat with 
much gravity. 

' Is it permitted to an ignorant soldier to enter 
and witness the sacred mysteries ?* he asked. 

* Yes, come in,' said Gertrud, whose countenance 
had grown perceptibly brighter ; * but you would 
like the Strudel ever so much better if you did not 
see it made.' 

VOL. IL 28 



98 THE FRERES. 

* Nay, your work is so excellent it can bear in- 
spection/ he returned. Disappearing for a moment, 
he came in through the open door, and, removing 
his cap, seated himself on a corner of the centre- 
table ; his hunter's costume — a short loose tunic of 
grey faced with green, and girt by the hunting-belt, 
grey trousers with a green stripe, high boots, and 
^ Flinten-bandy richly worked in many-coloured 
silks, across his broad chest — suiting him well, he 
formed a very effective addition to the picture. 

The critical moment had now arrived when the 
delicate pastry is stretched out over the cloth- 
covered table, till it looks like the ghost of a sheet 
of vellum, and they only waited for Gertrud to 
begin. She had gone to bring a glass of beer to 
her Jager cousin, who sat watching the Strudel- 
making process with great interest. 

* Friede,' he said, holding out the beaker to her 
before touching it himself, ' drink, meine Liebe 1 
thou art pale and sad ! is it because I have not 
brought the fair-haired von Heldreich with me?' 
(a youthful lieutenant in his company, much laughed 
at for his conceit). * But the Verwalter tells me 
his learned brother comes back with the Graf and 
the Frau Mutter to dinner; that should console 
thee — though Fraulein Grace will absorb him, alas ! 
Comes not the great Sturm oftener than formerly ?* 

' Do mind what you are doing, Friede !* cried 
Gertrud ; * you have broken away that corner. 
And, ach du lieber Himmel ! Grace, you drag as 
if it were sackcloth, whereas there is nothing so 
tender as Strudel pastry.* 



THE FRERES. 99 

* But Miss Frere is not tender/ said Falkenberg, 
in English, setting down his beer-glass nearly 
empty. * She is what you call very harsh — strong 
— proud — what is it ? She has not one kind word 
for me, for the good news I bring that Herr Doctor 
comes to-day/ 

'What shall I say?' asked Grace, laughing, as 
she drew the dish containing the rich amalgam 
away from Falkenberg, who was trying with 
a spoon to pick out the morsels of almonds. 
* Thanks, dear Herr Baron, for your pleasant 
news ; I am very glad Dr. Sturm is coming.' 

* She calls me " dear !" ' exclaimed Falkenberg, 
stretching his arm after the dish ; * but only because 
I am the advanced guard of Sturm. I wish you 
would say " Dear WolflF." ' 

* Indeed I will not, Herr Hauptmann ; I cannot 
imagine a Wolff dear/ 

* Can you not ?' cried Falkenberg, with a sudden 
•dangerous gleam in his eye ; * poor Wolff! What 
do you say, Gertrud ?' 

* That you must eat no more Strudel^ till dinner- 
time ; but is Dr. Sturm really coming V 

* He is ! Your mother met the Verwalter, and 
called to him to say she would bring his brother 
back ; but to so excellent a Hausfrau as you, 
one or more unexpected guests can make no 
difference/ 

' Of course not,' said Gertrud. * Friede, do find 
me some string; it is nearly done.' 

^ Here is Hermann with my game-bag ; open it 
and see, Gertrud, what sport I have had/ 

28—2 



loo THE FRERES. 

The Lauf'knabe (errand-boy), who entered as he 
spoke, proceeded to empty the bag, covering the 
table with several brace of partridge, and some 
hares. 

They lay there a confused pile of mellow colour 
— the soft brown plumage of the birds shaded off 
to speckled grey on the breasts, and the light 
yellowish-brown of the hares brightening almost 
to red, and again fading to white on the chest and 
underneath. 

But Gertrud and Friede were now absorbed in 
laying the Strudel in the oven, and Grace ap- 
proached to admire and stroke the plumage of the 
dead birds. 

' So,' said Falkenberg, stooping a little forward 
from his seat to look into her eyes — * So, you can 
imagine a Gelehrte' (learned man) * dearer than a 
Wolff?' 

* Yes, of course,' returned Grace, giving him back 
a smiling glance : * a learned man is something of a 
gentle shepherd ; but lambs naturally fear being 
torn and devoured by a wolf.' 

'FearT repeated Von Falkenberg; * is there any- 
thing j^« fear ? I never before met a fe^irless girl 
like you ! yet ' 

He paused. 

* But I fear many things — too many things,' 
returned Grace. 

* To offend Herr Doctor, for instance V asked 
the Hauptmann. 

* No ; I should never offend him ; we understand 
each other too well' 



THE FRERES. loi 

'What do you see to like in him?' exclaimed 
Falkenberg, with an instant's earnestness. 

* Goodness, truth, knowledge, generosity, toler- 
ance ; I cannot think of anything more now/ 
wiping her hands in a large duster. 

* Gott in Himmel 1 it is enough !' cried Falken- 
berg, laughing. ' My sweetest Friede ! I used to 
think you too favourable to the doctor ; but ach ! 
the cousin ! she thinks him more than human. 
What hast thou, Friede } Come, unfasten this belt 
for me !' 

*0h, my head aches with the heat and with 
pounding the spice T 

* Come with me, dear Friede,' cried Grace, * and 
leave Herr Falkenberg to arrange his toilet un- 
assisted. Au revoir, monsieur ; I go to put on my 
prettiest dress for the dear doctor !' 

With a defiant smile and nod she slipped her 
arm into Friede's, and drew her away. But at the 
top of the stair Friede disengaged herself, and said 
with a sound as of tears in her voice : 

* I must go to my own room ; I must bathe my 
head, Grace ; it aches so terribly.' 

* Come in to mine, then, and let me bathe it 
with eau de Cologne and water,' returned Grace, 
affectionately. * You do look pale and ill ; come 
with me, dear Friede.' 

' No, no ; I would rather be alone,' cried Friede, 
escaping from her. 

She spoke abruptly and in German, as she always 
did when moved or in earnest. Grace turned into 
her own chamber slowly, and lost in thought. 



102 THE PRE RES. 

What was the matter with Friede ? Had she 
(Grace) offended her in any way ? She hoped not. 
With Friede she had first tasted the pleasures of 
companionship with a girl of her own age ; and in 
the short period of their acquaintance, scarce a 
month, had learned to love her. There was just 
that amount of difference in their natureswhich gave 
piquancy to their intercourse ; besides, Grace was 
flattered by the tacit admission of her superior 
force and strength implied by Friede's readiness to 
follow her lead. In truth, hers was far the broader 
and stronger character ; yet something of her 
cousin's gentle prudence would have been a useful 
addition to her own frank daring. Now she seated 
herself on the seat of her open window, and thought 
eagerly what could ail Friede } 

Suddenly it came to her vividly that her own 
openly-avowed preference for Dr. Sturm caused 
the mischief. * How could Friede be so stupid as 
to think I would speak in that way if I cared for 
him ! — cared for him, as I am afraid she does. 
Afraid ! — why } I think he loves her better than 
he ventures to show, and though I never could fall 
in love with him, he is too good and true and noble 
to change. No ! I never met anyone in whom I 
felt so much faith ; at least, not for a long time.' 

A long time ! What a sliding-scale is our 
measurement of time! At eighteen, — seven or 
eight months is a vast period, which, like Milton's 
description of Satan, * lies floating many a rood ; at 
eight- and-twenty, — the same period is an interval 
between the day before yesterday and to-day ; at 



THE PRE RES. 103 

forty, — last even ; at three-score-and-ten, ' a watch 
in the night,' of that soft darkness which mercifully 
gathers round the weary traveller as he nears his 
rest. 

Eight months ago would not Grace have staked 
her life on Max Frere's faithfulness, even to an 
implied attachment ? 

Some such undefined consciousness checked her 
unbounded trust in Dr. Sturm. * I will be more 
cautious,' was her next clear idea, rallying back 
from a confused cloud of images, dear yet sad, 
which came crowding like mist-wreaths out of the 
caverns of memory ; * I will not yield to the 
pleasure of talking to him, and I will tell Friede 
this evening before I sleep — what t — that I cared 
too much and too recently for — for some one far 
away to think about anyone else ; at least, not for 
a long time.' Then came the recollection of her 
mother's letter, and her description of Max Frere's 
astonishment at the news of Grace having left 
England. How she rejoiced at the notion of 
having escaped out of reach of his pity, his help, 
his advice ! even if her mother was obliged to 
accept aid from his father, it was quite a different 
matter from asking Max. At this season, too, he 
would probably be away shooting and amusing 
himself, as he did this time last year at Dungar, 
and would probably not even hear of the applica- 
tion for a long time ; and then, perhaps they might 
never meet again ! She hoped so, for Max was so 
associated in her mind with humiliation and weak- 
ness that she never wished to see him again. 



I04 THE FRERES. 

The dinner was very lively, almost noisy, in the 
absence of the elders, who did not return till the 
Apfel Strudel appeared. Friede, from being too 
pale and silent, had become rosy, and nearly 
riotous. As anticipated, Frau Alvsleben and the 
count brought Dr. Sturm back with them. 

The result of the visit to Zittau seemed to be per- 
fect satisfaction to Frau Alvsleben, and content- 
ment a trifle less radiant to Count Costello, while 
Dr. Sturm was as calm as ever. Dinner was 
more than half over when they returned ; every- 
one rose, there was a general hubbub, and the soup 
was brought back. 

'Ach! du lieber Himmel ! I am faint and 
hungry ; a glass of beer, my girl, and then I shall 
be able to eat. God be thanked, it has been an- 
altogether-fortunate journey! as thou wilt think, 
my Gracechen, when I can tell thee.' 

* What, Cousin Alvsleben ! have you found some- 
thing for us ? Is it possible !* 

* Patience, patience, my child ! let me eat, and I 
will tell thee all.' 

* Yes ; you don't know what a clever protector 
you have,' said the count, nodding to her with an 
air of profound wisdom, as she busied herself 
attending to his wants, for she had grown very 
fond of the old man as she came to understand the 
simple childlike nature hidden away under his 
stern soldierly exterior. * This daughter of mine is 
a Talleyrand — a Metternich in petticoats. Your 
very good health, my child ; and yours, Falken- 
berg ! What sport, my boy V 



THE FRERES. 105 

' I think your Fraulein Cousin improves quickly/ 
said Dr. Sturm to Friede. He had been speaking 
with Grace. 

* She does all things well/ said Friede, sadly. 

* It is pleasant for you to have so sympathetic a 
friend, and for her ! — How happy to find so sweet 
a companion !' 

Friede smiled, and handed a dish of spinach 
to the speaker; while Grace, who never could 
bring herself to attend to the wants of any gentle- 
man except her grand-uncle, carefully avoided the 
doctor, though she perceived that Falkenberg was 
watching her under cover of a conversation with 
the count. 

*I have been to see thy friend Herr Hauptmann 
Miiller and his wife/ said Frau Alvsleben to Falken- 
berg at length, having allayed the pangs of hunger. 
* He is terribly sick, poor man. The doctor says 
his only chance of life is a winter in Italy. He has 
already his leave. They start in about a fortnight' 

' Indeed !* returned Falkenberg, with some in- 
terest ; * I am sorry for both him and his wife. 
They had just settled themselves, too/ 

* Miiller had always more spirit than strength/ 
said the count. * He was scarce fit to go through 
the campaign/ 

' He was wounded at Sedan, which did not in- 
vigorate him.* 

* And so short a time married when war was de- 
clared/ added Frau Alvsleben. *The mother — 
Frau Miiller's mother — comes in two or three 
days to assist their preparations for departing.* 



io6 THE FRERES. 

* I have brought you the volume of Peschek's 
history you wished to read. Miss Frere/ said Dr. 
Sturm. 'Perhaps after dinner you will permit 
me the pleasure to point out some passages I have 
marked for you.* 

* Oh, thank you \-ery much/ said Grace, blush- 
ing, and hesitating in an unusual and suspicious 
manner. * Yes, of course ; but I \i*ant first — that 
is — ^if you show them to Friede, she will explain 
everj-thing to me. Friede explains so well.' 

Here the count called to Dr. Sturm, the con- 
versation became general, and beyond the range of 
Grace's German. 

Frau Ah-sleben, howe\*er, rose as soon as she had 
finished her dinner. 

' Come with me, my little one,' she said to Grace, 
who out-topped her. * I know you are dying to 
hear my news ; come to the arbour, and enjoy 
these last bright hours of autumn while we may.' 

Grace quickly followed. 

Ha\-ing found one of the knittii^-pins she had 
dropped, and settled her feet on a footstool, she 



* My child, I ha\*e found the \-er>'' thing for you ; 
and here is the history : When I was condoling 
with poor Frau Miiller to-day, she lamented to me 
that they had just taken their eta^ for a j'ear, and 
made many additions to their furniture, and now 
they should ha\*e all the cost of travel, besides their 
rent. So a bright thought struck me. " And what 
would jt>u say, meine liebe Frau,"^ I said, **if I 
were to find you good tenants — tranquil, careful. 



THE FRERES. 107 

and regular to pay ?" " Ach Gott !" cried the 
poor lady ; " but where is such a thing to be found 
in our little town ?" Whereupon I told her of my 
good cousin, your mother, and offered to write to 
her at once. And so do, my child ; for it is a 
chance that seldom happens. Stay' — (for Grace 
had clasped her hands and opened her mouth 
to speak) — * tell the dear mother that she can have 
the dtage for three hundred and fifty thalers — a 
little more than they pay for bare walls. And stay 
yet : it is a pretty apartment, of five — six pieces, 
and a kitchen ; not richly furnished, but neat and 
pretty, and near the school at the upper end of 
the town, by the park. So now write, meine 
Gracechen.' 

* You dear, delightful, thoughtful Cousin Alvsle- 
ben !' cried Grace, embracing her rapturously; ' you 
bring me joy and comfort. Oh, how delighted my 
mother will be ! Agree for the apartment at once ; 
there is no need to tell my mother first. I will 
only write to tell her to prepare. And when shall 
we be able to have these rooms ?' 

* In about a fortnight.' 

After a few more explosions of exuberant satis- 
faction, Grace retired to her own room to write a 
long letter full of directions and suggestions to her 
mother, infinitely thankful to have found such a 
solution of her difficulties. 




CHAPTER VI. 



WIO, Friede ! you shall not pass my door ! 
You must come in ! Why do you 
avoid me ? I have quantities to talk 
about to you.' 

So spoke Grace as the two girls paused at the 
latter's door that night after their guest was gone, 
and Count Costello had retired triumphant, having 
woo the conquering game out of three at backgam- 
mon with Grace. 

'Not to-night, dear Grace! Indeed I cannot; 
I am too miserable,' 

' Ail the more reason you should come and talk 
with me.' 

After some further resistance Friede yielded. 

' Come and sit by the window. The moonlight 
is lovely i I will not light my candle. Do you 
mind the open window, dear Friede ?' 

' No — not at all ! but do not sit half out of the 
window — that cannot be good.' 

' It does me no harm.' 

There was a long pause. Grace did not know 



THE FRERES. 109 

how to approach her subject. It was delicate and 
difficult — how should she manage ?* A low, soft 
sigh from Friede, and Grace rushed into speech. 

* What is the matter with you, Friede } You are 
sad and silent. You do not speak to me as you 
used. Don't you know I like you the best ; indeed, 
I may say, love you the best of all I have met here.' 

' Love me the best !' cried Friede, whose lip 
quivered. * Nay, my dear cousin, you deceive 
yourself. Your best love is for another. Nor do I 
blame you — it is but natural.' 

* Who is the other, then ?' asked Grace, quite 
pleased to think she had drawn Friede to the verge 
of an explanation. * My uncle 1 Well, I do love 
him heartily, but you are different — you, my com- 
panion and playfellow.' 

* Ah, Grace ! Why wilt thou not be candid with 
me } Thinkest thou because I have never travelled 
and crossed the sea, that I am dull and blind and 
cannot understand the tokens of preference that 
love forces even so proud a spirit as thine to betray } 
No, no ! I feel too deeply myself not to comprehend. 
Thy joy at exchanging the splendours of London 
for a little country town like Zittau — thy eagerness 
to acquaint thyself with everything German, even 
our domestic work — all tells the same tale. Thou 
lovest, — my poor cousin ! May your love be 
happy !' and covering her face with her hands^ 
Friede burst into a flood of tears. 

Grace got up, turned the key in the door, and 
coming back to her seat in the window, said 
quietly : 



no THE FRERES. 

* And with whom am I in love ?' 

* Grace ! it is not like yourself, this affectation of 
ignorance/ said Friede, struggling to be composed, 
and speaking English. 'Would you force me to 
speak the name of one dear to me. Yes, I do not 
blush to own it. I will open my heart, though 
false pride closes yours, and show you that a 
German maiden can immolate herself on the altar 
of love and friendship. For, Grace, I love Otto 
Sturm 1 I have loved him for years ! that is, since 
I came from school. But I see that you are a 
nobler women than I am — more worthy of him 
than I am. You have from the first recognised his 
great qualities. I was too volage — I was amused 
to flirt with Wolff von Falkenberg, and I fear 
that Otto felt himself slighted. Now 1 reap the 
bitter fruits of my own worthlessness ! He turns 
from me — he seeks you ; naturally, your souls are 
akin ! And I — I must submit — I must rise superior 
to self, and offer it a burnt-sacrifice to the beloved 
lover and friend, who in their bliss will sometimes 
give me a thought.' 

Here she broke down, nearly choked with sobs. 

' Friede,' exclaimed Grace, astonished at the self- 
abandonment of this outburst, *you are a dear, 
generous thing ; but you are talking nonsense ! I 
am not in love with Dr. Sturm, and I am perfectly 
certain he is not in love with me ! I like him be- 
yond everything in the way of a teacher I have 
ever met, for to talk with him is a valuable lesson ; 
but as to being in love — good heavens !' she added 
indignantly, * if I was, do you think I could say 



THE PRE RES. iii 

right out that I liked him, that I did not want any- 
one to interrupt our conversations, that he was the 
most interesting man I had ever met ! Why, even 
that conceited cousin of yours, Falkenberg, would 
understand such praises, of himself to be a sign that 
I was not in love with him. And as to Dr. Sturm, 
you are so cold and strange, it is no wonder he 
turns from you 1 Do not be a goose, Friede ; use 
your sense, and you will see we are such friends 
that we never could be anything more. To show 
you I can be frank too, I will say what I never 
said to mortal before — that once, not so very long 
ago, I was very fond of some one, and it will be 
long before I shall care for anyone else. There ! I 
could not prove my love for you more than by 
confessing so much.' 

'And, my liebe Hebe Grace!' cried Friede, all 
tears and blushes, kneeling beside her and clasping 
her arms round her waist, * is it then true that Otto 
is nothing to you save a friend V 

* Nothing whatever !' 

' Ah ! you were defended by another attach- 
ment. But tell me all ! My beloved, you are 
unhappy ; pour forth your heart to me !' 

* I would much rather not,' returned Grace, kiss- 
ing her brow ; ' it was all mortifying and foolish, 
and I want to forget as soon as possible. . I should 
be quite glad to fall in love with somebody else, 
just to change the current of my ideas.' 

'But, Grace,' cried Friede, shocked at such a 
declaration, * faithfulness is one of woman's noblest 
qualities/ 



112 THE PRE RES. 

* I daresay it is ; but what is the sense of being 
faithful to one who does not want your faith, and 
who makes you miserable — I mean uncomfortable ? 
There ! never remind me of this confession, or we 
shall quarrel, Friede. Now talk of Dr. Sturm/ 

' Ah, sweetest cousin ! how little I thought that 
a creature so bright as you are, had this load of 
grief upon your heart !' 

* But it is not such a load, Friede ; I have been 
ever so much better since I came here, and would 
much rather you did not pity me. Talk of your- 
self.' 

Whereupon Friede poured forth a history of her 
acquaintance with Dr. Sturm, from their first meet- 
ing to the present time, with minute details of how 
he looked and what she felt ; of how the divine 
attraction of mutual sympathy and comprehension 
had drawn them together ; of the marvel that so 
great a soul as Otto's should condescend to the 
simplicity of hers ; of a thousand and one presenti- 
ments and heavenly glimpses, hidden away in her 
heart ; of the weak vanity which had been flattered 
by the attentions of Wolff, whom she knew made 
love to every girl as a matter of course, a mere 
pohiesse, and had drawn her from that steady devo- 
tion which Otto deserved ; of her fears that he did 
not, could not really love her — a rapidly flowing 
torrent of talk that Grace at length thought would 
never end. 

' Speak lower, Friede,' she said, when the excited 
girl paused for breath. * If your mother hears, she 
will scold us for sitting up.' 



THE PRE RES. 113 

* No ; she will not mind, as we are not burning 
the candle. But tell nie, sweetest cousin, do you 
think it possible that Otto loves me ? Ah ! if he 
does not, what is to become of me ?' 

* It is very hard to say,' returned the sage coun- 
sellor, with an air of reflection. ' I have seen and 
known so few people that my opinion is not worth 
much ; I have only instinct to guide me : but I have 
always somehow felt that he was fond of you. 
When we are talking, no matter how deeply in- 
terested, if you come into the room he invariably 
breaks off", and seems for a moment unable to 
command his attention — only for a moment ; then 
his face lights up when he speaks to you, till it 
looks absolutely handsome.' 

* Absolutely handsome r repeated Friede, sur- 
prised. * Why, he is always beautiful.' 

* He is always nice,' said Grace ; * and I do think 
he is very fond of you.' 

' Ach ! du lieber Gott ! what hope and joy you 
give me, dearest Gracechen ! How wise and calm 
you are, and cheerful, though you have suffered ! 
Do, sweetest cousin, relieve your heart by confiding 
everything to me, as I have done to thee ; it will 
relieve it indeed.' 

* It will do nothing of the kind,' returned Grace, 
rather brusquely ; * follies are better forgotten. 
Nothing would have tempted me to say as much 
as I did, except to satisfy you ; and if you mention 
the subject again, I will never let you talk to me of 
Dr. Sturm.' 

' Is the wound so deep, then T said Friede, looking 
VOL. II. 29 



114 THE FRERES. 

with tenderest compassion at her cousin, endeavour- 
ing to find some traces of heart-searing sorrow on 
her fair face ; ' I will never touch it again/ 

' Very well ; take care you do not ! Now tell 
me, Friede, if Dr. Sturm is really in love with you, 
and you with him, what is to be the end of it ? 
How would Cousin Alvsleben and the dear grand- 
father and Gertrud like you to marry him ? He is 
poor, and is too good a son to desert his mother/ 

* Gott bewahr ! Oh ! marriage is very far off, if 
it ever comes — for no one would be content save 
myself; but that need not prevent a complete 
understanding — the deep delight of mutual sym- 
pathy and intercourse ! Ach ! it would be too 
much joy for this life '/ As if overpowered with the 
beatific vision, Friede became silent. 

Grace shivered slightly, and closed the window, 
resuming her seat, and leaning her head against 
the wooden frame- work. 

* Yes,' she said softly ; * I think it would be very 
nice to go on like that. It must be an awful trial 
to see a lover turn into a husband like those one 
reads of — not a brute, I mean — but troublesome 
about dinner and fidgety about buttons.' 

* Ah/ cried Friede, * what a charm would there 
not be in providing for all these little needs, in 
smoothing the path of one you love !' 

* Yes/ returned Grace, shortly but heartily. 
* Friede, do not think me heartless, but it is eleven 
o'clock !' 

* No ! is it possible 1 Well, I must go to bed. 
Dearest Grace, I go with a happy heart. I thank 



THE FRERES. 115 

God for so sweet and wise a friend as you are; 
and — and — on Saturday, when Otto comes, will 
you mind talking to Wolff, and amusing him ? he 
will not hate Herr Doctor so much if you are 
gracious.' 

* Indeed !' cried Grace, smiling ; ' well, I will do 
my best, but I think he will want your attention, 
and Gertrudes, and everyone's. * How is it that a 
real soldier, long past boyhood, who has been in 
battle and faced death, can be so miserably con- 
ceited ?' 

* I do not think he is so bad,' returned Friede, 
who was disposed to take a charitable view of 
everyone. 

' I should be sorry to meet anything worse,' said 
Grace, beginning to take off her dress ; * but he is 
very nice and amusing, and helps my German. Do 
go to bed, like a dear !' 

' Ach, meine Liebe ! you are too praktisch^ but 
you have a noble heart. Good-night, my dearest ! 
sleep well.' 

After an effusive embrace, Friede opened the 
door with extreme caution, and stole away. Grace,, 
closing it carefully behind her, returned to the 
window, and stood there in the moonlight, brushing 
her long brown hair — sometimes pausing to gaze 
out upon the dim masses of the nearer hills, and 
the silver streak of moonlight across the darkness 
of the pine-woods, while she thought with much 
satisfaction that the explanation was over, and 
Friede happy. *What a wonderful memory she 
has !' mused Grace ; * what a multitude of small 

29 — 2 



ii6 THE FRERES. 

details she repeated, Yet could I not recall nearly 
every hour of August and September last ! but I 
could not speak of them to anyone — I hate myself 

for remembering them! Should I do so if * 

even in thought she would not complete the sen- 
tence. * It seems strange her avowing her love so 
openly, when she is not quite sure of him ; or even 
if she were. But how hard it is to judge another 
justly, and Friede is so good and transparent. I 
am a wretch even to think her strange. I am not 
simple; I think too much of myself. But no, 
whatever I may lose or suffer, I will never let 
any other man know I care for him until I am sure 
he is true — if I ever can be sure ! Oh, what a 
glorious possession, the whole of a good, brave, 
noble heart. And if I never win it ! well, there are 
other good things in life, and Cousin Alvsleben has 
found one for me in this delightful dtage. I wonder 
if Friede or Gertrud would come with me to see it 
to-morrow ;' and her thoughts wandered pleasantly 
into a new channel, imagination depicting the 
minutest circumstance which might, could, or would 
attend her mother's departure, journey, and arrival. 
Nevertheless, before sleep closed her eyes, she had 
lived over again that last ride with Max — the Max 
of Dungar, not of London — finally resolving never 
again to let the vision return to her mind. That 
it would present itself she felt sure ; but she would 
say to it, * Pass on ; there is no more room for you !' 
The next day was wet, and Wolff von Falken- 
berg went into the town to prepare for his departure 
on the following Monday. 



THE FRERES. 117 

He did not return till the evening meal ; and then 
he rejoiced all hearts by announcing that in a letter 
received by a brother officer from Ulrich Alvsleben, 
the young gentleman stated his intention of visit- 
ing his home, and would arrive on the following 
Saturday by an evening train. 

A storm of questions, conjectures, and observa- 
tions ensued. 

* Du lieber Himmel ! what a boy it is/ shrieked 
Frau Alvsleben, ' to let me hear this by accident, 
when we have been expecting him these ten days, 
and I have been writing to beseech an answer !' 

* He is a careless young animal,' said the count, in 
his deep hoarse voice. * He should show more re- 
spect to his family; but it is just what I should have 
done myself. He is a regular Costello, that boy.' 

* And to think of his having two letters from me, 
and two from Friede, unanswered ! and I sent him 
a pattern of blue ^' Eis lVo//e" to match, of which I 
am in great need.' 

* Nor did he notice a lovely cigar-case I enclosed 
in my last ; he is too negligent.' 

* He is an ingrate ; nevertheless I must urge that 
he has been away for a week at Homburg, with 
Hamerstein of the Garde Reiters, and ' 

* At Homburg !' cried his mother, in dismay ; 
' why what madness to go there, and what an 
expense 1' 

' What an unpardonable whim !' cried Gertrud. 
*But he must have been longer than a week?* 
suggested Friede. 

* I think he returns by Berlin,' replied Wolff. 



iiS THE FRERES. 

Chorus of astonishment — * Berlin !' 

' A very amusing place to visit/ remarkd Falken- 
berg, raising his eyebrows, and evidently enjoying 
the general consternation. 

* Bah !' said the count. * If you had known 
Vienna thirty years ago !' 

* Well, at present, one feels as though in a den of 
thieves there,' returned Falkenberg. ' Yet I grant 
one can be amused.' 

' Ach ! in my time your northern towns were 
mere hives of dull workers, compared to the life 
and lightness, the airy elegance of the Austrian 
capital ; but everything is changed now— every- 
thing tends to utility and economy. I remember 
when the Prater was indeed a sight — when Vienna 
was the winter abode of the Hungarian nobility. 
What fine fellows they were ! It always annoyed 
me to have to serve against them ; and I do not 
see that they are much better off for their half 
independence.' 

* It must be fearfully difficult to manage these 
mixed nationalities,' said Grace, anxious to draw 
her uncle on to talk of his experiences. 

'The best means to fuse all together is the 
steady pressure of a just despotism,' observed 
Wolff von Falkenberg, with the air of one who 
utters a truism. 

* Despotism can never be just !' cried Grace. 

* What ! have we a little Social Democrat here ?' 
he asked. 

* Little ! I am not little — I am nearly as tall as 
you are.' 



THE FRERES. 119 

* Nearly — not quite, meine Fraulein/ said Falken- 
berg, smiling ; after which the conversation passed 
to political subjects, and into German, too compli- 
cated for Grace to follow readily. 

The couple of days which intervened before the 
arrival of Ulrich were busily employed dusting, 
sweeping, decorating, fastening up drapery, and 
beating cushions ; everyone seemed pleased, and 
Count Costello gave Grade a good deal of desultory 
information respecting the character, disposition, 
habits, and history of his grandson, who was evi- 
dently the old man's favourite. 

On Saturday morning, Frau Alvsleben announced 
her intention of driving into Zittau that afternoon 
to transact sundry business, and then await her 
son's arrival by a train which arrived at half-past 
six. The count said he would accompany her, and 
Falkenberg proposed that the two young ladies 
should accompany him in a ride to Gabel, as the 
roan had proved sufficiently tractable to win 
Friede's confidence. 

* That will be charming !* cried Grace, who never 
could get enough of riding, * You will like to come, 
Friede, will you not ? it will pass away the time 
until your brother arrives.' 

' Yes, it will be very nice,' Friede said ; but some- 
thing in her voice and her change of colour sug- 
gested to Grace's quick perception that she had 
unwittingly crossed some plan of her friend's, for, 
since the outpouring of heart on the subject of Dr. 
Sturm, Friede had evinced z.fiireur of friendship 
for her cousin almost overpowering in its effusive- 



I20 THE PRE RES. 

ness. Grace, however, prudently kept silence, 
hoping that Friede would express any wish she 
might have as to their equestrian expedition. 

Soon after dinner, with much running to and fro 
after small, forgotten articles — keys which were left 
in locks, wools to be changed or matched, gloves 
to be cleaned, or pinless brooches to be repaired, 
Frau Alvsleben and the count started for Zittau, 
and Grace went to her room to put on her habit. 

Before she had finished her toilette the door was 
slowly opened by Friede, who came in, still in her 
indoor costume, and sat down suddenly by the 
dressing-table. 

* Why, Friede, you are not ready ! and we are to 
start at three.' 

* Meine liebe, Hebe Grace ! do you mind going 
without me } I feel not quite well — averse to ride. 
In short, I want to stay at home.' 

' Oh !' returned Grace — a long ' Oh,* as it came 
to her mind that Dr. Sturm was expected that after- 
noon. * No ; if you prefer staying at home really, I 
do not mind at all.' 

She would not even allow herself to smile, lest 
she should seem to see Friede's transparent ruse ; 
but Friede desired no such forbearance. She 
sprang up and threw her arms round her friend, 

* Oh, thou kindest and best of Gracechens !' she 
cried, 'you understand me! I know I ought not to 
desert thee, but it is so — so long since I have had a 
quiet talk with Otto ! And Gertrud is busy with 
Mamsell — she would not, at any rate, heed us» 
Oh, Grace, dost thou despise m*e V 



THE F RE RES. 121 

* Despise you ? — no, of course not ; I am de- 
lighted to see you happy. Just hook this last hook 
for me, and tell me, is my collar straight ?' 

* Quite — quite right, thou sweetest cousin ! But 
I do not like your toilette — you look like a boy.' 

* So I ought for riding — I only wish I was one.' 

* Ach, meine Liebe ! that is because you are un- 
happy,' said Friede, tenderly. ' Perhaps,' smiling 
roguishly, ' perhaps Ulrich may interest and con- 
sole you. How charming to have you for a sister !* 

' Nonsense, Friede !' cried Grace, laughing ; * I 
do not want consolation. And as to Ulrich, he is 
a mere boy. Why, he cannot be twenty yet !' 

' Not till December. Are you quite ready ? Will 
you mind going down alone } for if I go, Wolff will 
tease me.' 

' Very well ; I shall say you have a bad head- 
ache.' 

* Indeed, I do feel strange and headachy,' said 
Friede, putting her hand to her brow with an air of 
suffering. 

Grace laughed, and shook her whip at her. 

' Ah, little actress ! but I hear the horses. Lebe 
wohl !' and gathering up her habit, she went down- 
stairs, and through the hall to the door at the 
back, where the three horses were waiting, and 
Falken berg was tightening the girths of her saddle. 
She stood a moment, her whip under her arm, draw- 
ing on her gloves, till he looked up, and exclaimed : 

* Isn't Friede ready yet } She is always late !' 

* She is not coming,' returned Grace ; * she has a 
headache.' 



122 THE FRERES. 

* Ah !* said Falkenberg, just as Grace had said 

* Oh !' a few minutes before, looking at her so sig- 
nificantly that Grace blushed for her friend. 

* Tant mieux !' cried Falkenbei^ gaily, in French ; 

* I shall have you all to myself. And as you and I 
can go faster and farther than Friede, I shall take 
you round by a beautiful road/ 

* Thank you, that will be delightful/ she returned, 
frankly ; and coming dov/n the steps, put her foot 
in his hand, and sprang lightly to the saddle. 

* You are improving/ she said, looking down at him 
with a smile, as she gathered up the reins. * You 
mount me nearly as well as Randal now.' 

* Who is Randal V with an eager look and tone. 
*My brother. Perhaps you will see him one 

day, if we all come here.' 

* Where is Friede Y asked Gertrud, looking out 
of one of the kitchen windows, which projected a 
little to the left of the door. 

' She is not coming ; she has a headache,' cried 
Falkenberg. 

* And are you going without her V added Gertrud. 
' Yes, of course,' he returned. ' Come on, Miss 

Frere !' and they set forth, Grace bowing to Ger- 
trud as they passed. The tone with which she had 
asked, * Are you going without her ?' rang in her 
ear, however. It was sharp and full of reproof; and 
so soon as they were off the pavement, and on the 
soft cart-track which led across the fields to the 
high-road, Grace exclaimed : 

* Do you think Gertrud was vexed with me for 
leaving Friede } It was not wrong, was it ?* 



THE FRERES. 123 

' Heaven knows what her ideas may be !' rejoined 
Falkenberg, who was struggling with his horse, and 
trying to reduce it to quietness and a walking pace, 
but in vain. *You would not lose your ride for 
her pruderies ?' 

* Pruderies !' repeated Grace, a little struck by the 
word ; * no, certainly not ! What is the matter with 
your horse. Monsieur de Falkenberg? he seems 
very fidgety, and his eyes look wicked !* 

* He is unusually devilish, which is peculiarly 
annoying. I wanted to enjoy this delightful ride to 
the full/ 

* Oh, his jumping about will only give a little 
excitement,' said Grace, laughing. 

* Ah ! I suppose it would give zest to our excur- 
sion if I were to break my neck !' 

* You are too good a horseman to permit such an 
anticipation.' 

' That is a compliment from you !' returned Fal- 
kenberg, raising his hat, while his horse reared ; 
after which performance he went along a little 
more tranquilly, though with a dancing sidling 
movement which disturbed the equanimity of the 
bay on which Grace was mounted. 

* These'detestable animals are determined to give 
us all the trouble possible,' said Falkenberg. 

' They are only fresh at starting,' returned Grace ; 
* they are quieted already.' 

* So you left Friede undisputed possession of the 
all-accomplished Sturm ?' said Falkenberg, as soon 
as he had reduced his steed to obedience. 

* Yes ; it is as well to give up what you cannot hold/ 



124 THE FRERES. 

* Ha ! I imagine you could hold fast what you 
wish to keep, Mademoiselle Grace ; and, ma foix ! 
you are well-named. I never thought boldness 
could be graceful in a young lady till I met 
you/ 

* But, Monsieur de Falkenberg, I am not bold !' 
cried Grace, shrinking from the word. 

* Yes, on horseback you are ; I imagine riding 
must be a great pleasure to you.' 

* More delight than I can express, and now more 
than ever.' 

* Why V asked Falkenberg, looking at her. 

She coloured quickly with vexation, thinking he 
had put some interpretation on her words flattering 

to his self-pride, and was beginning, * Because ' 

when he interrupted her, smiling as he spoke : 

*No, no! I undeistand that indignant look! I 
am not quite so senseless a coxcomb as to suppose 
riding with your present companion adds any charm 
to your favourite exercise. You have taught me 
too many lessons of humility ' 

' Which you are slow to learn !' interrupted 
Grace in her turn, giving him a sunny laugh. 

They had now left the fields, and turning towards 
Oybin, followed the high road, which was exces- 
sively hard, and possibly objectionable to Falken- 
berg's horse, which began to plunge and rear, 

* I will give him his head for a little way, and 
turn again to meet you,* called Falkenberg, at 
length, * if you will follow slowly.' 

Grace nodded her assent, and Falkenberg quickly 
disappeared. She followed, holding in her horse. 



THE F RE RES. 125 

who struggled for a few minutes to go in pursuit 
of its companion, but as the sounds of the hoofs 
died away, settled down into a quiet pace. 

* He is really very nice,' thought Grace, * this 
Monsieur de Falkenberg, and good-looking too ; I 
like him, yet I never feel quite safe with him, though 
I do not know what I fear. I hope I am not growing 
suspicious and distrustful ! He means to be cou- 
sinly, as we are connected ; but — I wonder he is not 
coming back ! I don't like that brown horse — I 
never did.' 

She rode for perhaps half a mile lazily, expect- 
ing to see Falkenberg coming to meet her, when a 
sudden turn of the road, which here rose abruptly, 
brought her close to a little wayside inn they had 
often passed in their expeditions on foot and horse- 
back, and where her uncle and Falkenberg had 
sometimes taken a glass of beer. In front of this 
house was a group of two men and a woman, 
while a third man held a horse by the bridle — a 
brown horse, all flecked with foam, and one side 
torn and bleeding. As she looked, the men and 
woman between them raised a helpless figure from 
the ground, which they slowly carried into the 
house. For a moment Grace felt sick and giddy ; 
the next, without knowing how, she was standing 
by the sofa or couch on which the figure had been 
laid. 

Never could she forget the agony of not being 
able to speak or understand fully in such an 
emergency ! With an effort she mustered enough 
German to ask — * Is he dead ?' 



125 THE FRERES. 

* I hope not — God forbid !' said those standing 
round. 

Falkenberg was an awful sight : one side of his 
head and face covered with blood, the other 
ghastly pale ; his smart riding-dress torn and 
soiled. Almost fearing to touch him Grace took 
his hand — it was cold and clammy. As she did 
so, he opened his eyes and set his teeth for an 
instant as if in great pain. Meeting the look of 
distress and compassion bent upon him, he said 
rapidly in German : 

'The brute fell with me — on me. My leg is 
broken. Get off my boot ! quick — cut it to pieces !* 

' Oh, you are suffering fearfully !' 

'Yes ; but I fear for my leg — and so far from 
the doctor.' 

' Where is he to be found } I will go for him !' 
cried Grace to the' bystanders. ' Tell me, where 
does the doctor live T 

* The military doctor lives in the Berg Strasse,' 
replied the Wirt ft (host). 

* Not alone ! you cannot go alone !' murmured 
Falkenberg. 

' Why not .? I know the road, and I can do 
nothing else,' said Grace, turning away quickly to 
leave the room. 

Have a care, Hebe Grace,' said Falkenberg, 
brokenly ; ' do not go too quickly over the Zittau 
pavement' 




CHAPTER VII. 



-•T^ I A.CE was soon again in the saddle, and 
I^Mi I when clear of the hill, quickened her 
^jlgyl pace to a gallop, to the bewilderment of 
—^^ the drivers of such vehicles as she 
encountered. Keenly and intensely alive to every- 
thii^, she rode with daring and judgment. 

In an incredibly short time she was clattering 
over the little bridge at the entrance of the town ; 
after a short tussle with her steed, which tried to 
turn in the direction of his stables, she urged him 
along the park — past women laden with baskets, 
past men in uniform, past schoolboys and work- 
men, all of whom turned and looked at her open- 
mouthed. A lady alone ! and riding at headlong 
speed! She had no very distinct idea where Berg 
Strasse was ; but catching sight of a tolerably 
fresh pair of horses in a small open-carriage, 
{Drosckky), she managed to ask her way. 

' Straight on to the top of the park, then to the 
left,' replied the astonished coachman. 



123 THE FRERES. 

* Follow me, quickly/ she added ; * I shall want 
you/ 

Pressing on again and turning to the left, she 
drew up at a house from which two officers were 
coming out, rightly imagining it was the surgeon's 
residence. Both gentlemen stopped, startled by 
the apparition; and the elder answered her question 
with a polite — * Yes, Herr Dr. Niedner is within.' 

' Then will you find some one to hold my horse ?' 
said Grace, slipping quickly to the ground. ' Does 
Dr. Niedner speak French ?* 

* Oui, mademoiselle,' was the reply, as a proof 
of the speaker's acquaintance with the language. 

Whereuppn Grace volubly uttered a request that 
the gentlemen would detain a carriage which was 
coming after, and which she had endeavoured to 
engage, adding that ' a gentleman has had a bad 
fall,' without stopping to remember that these were 
probably P'alkenberg's brother-officers. The one 
who had not spoken had meantime turned back 
and rang for admittance at the entrance of the 
parterre, so Grace was at once ushered into a dingy 
little den furnished with red rep-covered oak chairs 
and sofa, smelling vehemently of smoke, and having 
its centre-table decorated with three huge empty 
beer-glasses. A very short, very stout, very 
fresh-looking man in uniform, with a bald head, 
spectacles and surprised eyes, came forward, gazing 
mutely at the erect form instinct with eagerness — 
the face and eyes all glowing with haste and excite- 
ment, which confronted him. 

* Herr von Falkenberg's horse fell with him 



THE FRERES. 129 

about half an hour ago/ she said, instinctively con- 
densing her information ; ' his left leg is broken, 
and he lies at the Wittigschenke on the Oybin 
road. How soon can you be with him ?' 

* Gott in Himmel !' cried the doctor ; then, mas- 
tering his surprise, added in French, 'Less than 
half an hour, if I had but a carriage and two good 
horses/ 

'I hope one is at the door now,' cried Grace, 
looking through the window. * Yes, it waits ! 
hasten, my dear sir ! He was in horrible pain 
when I left him.' 

' I shall be ready in five minutes,' returned the 
doctor, unlocking a cupboard, and taking out 
sundry articles of surgical aspect. 

'Can I carry back any message? I shall be 
there before you.' 

The little doctor gave her a quick look over his 
spectacles. 

* They must have a board or something to carry 
him on, and six or eight men. Then, mademoi- 
selle (if it be not too much), ride on to Dalbersdorf 
— ^he must go to Dalbersdorf — and tell them to 
prepare a room on the parterre for him — not to go 
upstairs.' 

* Good,' said Grace. ' Have you any eau de 
Cologne.? I can put it in the pocket of my 
saddle/ 

' Right ! well thought of !' exclaimed the doctor, 
rushing from the room ; he quickly returned with 
a bottle half full, which Grace took, and with a 
reiterated injunction to come quickly, went out to 

VOL. II. 30 



I30 THE FRERES. 

look for her horse. One of the officers was holding 
the animal, and the other lingered on the steps. 

*Will you be so good/ said Grace to him, 'as 
to promise the driver for me double money if he 
brings the doctor within half an hour to the 
Wittigschenke ?* 

* Certainly, mademoiselle,* and he proceeded to 
speak with an air of great authority to the coach- 
man ; while Grace looked to her girths, a movement 
which the elder officer understood and seconded. 

Then, grasping the pommel, she raised her foot, 
with an expressive look ; the officer instinctively 
put his hand under it, and she was once more in 
the saddle. Leaning forward a moment, she said, 
with sweet earnestness : 

* Thank you, thank you very much T and then 
away she went at a sharp trot. 

* Potz Tausend ! what can the matter be V cried 
the younger man, looking after her. 'What a 
strange maiden ! she is English !' 

' Of course. But she has wonderful eyes ! She 
must be the old general's English niece ; and she 
rides Falkenberg*s bay.' 

* And Falkenberg lies with his leg broken,' said 
the doctor, coming out. 

' Falkenberg has ever luck,' cried the taller of 
the two officers. 'Imagine what devotion, for a 
young lady to ride all this way alone to seek a 
doctor !' 

' It would take a great deal of devotion to atone 
for a broken leg, so I cannot see the luck,' returned 
the doctor, as he stepped into the carriage ; and 



THE FRERES. 131 

the coachman, at a nod from the elder officer, 
drove off rapidly. 

When Grace reached the Gasthaus, she was 
beginning to feel the effect of her fright, and was 
trembling all over, to her own great disgust. She 
found Falkenberg in great pain, but perfectly cool 
and collected. The good woman of the house had 
applied ice to the broken limb, and bathed his face ; 
he looked therefore much less ghastly. 

* Courage !' said Grace, sitting down beside him, 
and taking his hand with sisterly kindness ; * the 
doctor will be here in a few minutes, and I trust 
all will go well.' 

She poured some eau de Cologne on her hand- 
kerchief as she spoke, and laid it on his brow. 

* Thank God !' he muttered ; ' and thank you I 
I believe your promptness has saved my career — 
a lame man could not serve ; but you must be 
exhausted? pressing her hand feebly. *You 
tremble T 

* Of course I was startled,' returned Grace, trying 
to speak in a matter-of-fact tone ; * I thought you 
were killed. But the doctor desired me to go on to 
Dalbersdorf to tell them what to do. I will put 
my handkerchief and the eau de Cologne beside 
you.* 

* Must you go ? your touch is so soothing I* 

* I must indeed. I dare not disobey orders.' 
After a few more words of comfort, she managed 

to express the doctor's directions to the host, and 
proceeded towards home as fast as her blown horse 
would permit A few hundred yards from the 

30—2 



132 [THE FRERES. 

Gasthaus she met the carriage, and saw that, besides 
the doctor, a man in uniform sat with his back ta 
the horses. As the doctor only bowed, Grace 
still pressed on. 

Friede and Dr. Sturm were sitting in the arbour 
when Grace drew up suddenly beside it. 

Both came forth startled at seeing her alone ; her 
horse covered with foam ; herself pale, with a 
strained, distressed look in her large eyes. 

'What— what has happened.?' cried Friede, as 
Grace took Dr. Sturm's hands, and sprang to the 
ground. 

* Poor Wolff has had a bad accident ; his horse 
has fallen on him and broken his leg. He ' 

* Gott in Himmel !' cried Sturm ; *he must have 
the surgeon instantly. I will go for him,' and was 
about to rush away. 

* Stop, stop !' cried Grace ; * he is already with 
him.* 

A rapid explanation ensued ; then Gertrud 
appeared, and amid a torrent of exclamations, tears, 
and indeed outcries, for Mamsell, for Marie, for 
Fritz, the whole party hastened to carry down bed, 
bedding, and various pieces of furniture to a room 
near the Inspector's bureau, where the sufferer 
would be away from the noise of the living-rooms, 
and in Mamsell's own particular domain. 

Having largely assisted in these arrangements, 
Grace at last escaped to change her dress, to rest 
and think. 

By-and-by she heard a carriage drive up — she 
supposed the doctor; and later, she saw a pro- 



THE FRERES. 133 

cession come across the fields which were visible 
from her window — four men carried a recumbent 
figure, and three others, one a soldier, walked 
beside them. 

A sound of much running about and calling 
from below reached Grace's ears; but she kept 
quiet in her chamber, reflecting that there were 
hands enough without her, and that her igno- 
rance of the language and the requirements of 
such an emergency would render her help of little 
value. 

Gradually her excitement calmed down. She 
was very pleased with Falkenberg. His quiet 
endurance of pain — his natural and unexaggerated 
gratitude for her small service — his present helpless- 
ness, deepened the interest with which she had 
always regarded him. In the gathering twilight she 
sat and mused, vaguely speculating on the possibility 
of Falkenberg having more heart, more sensibility 
than he deigned to show. Then she told herself 
it was folly to waste her thoughts upon him, when 
she had nearer and better subjects of reflection. 
On Monday at furthest she would have her mother's 
reply, and then to see and agree for the abode 
which such a happy accident offered to her hand ! 
So she would begin a new life, and those dear to 
her should bloom in a new atmosphere. Who 
could tell if 

* Grace !' cried Friede, entering unperceived, 
' are you sitting here in the dark } The doctor is 
having a slice of bread and butter and a glass of 
wine. He would like to see the bold horsewoman 



134 TH^FRERES. 

before he goes. How is it, dearest, that you can sit 
here — ach Gott ! with a book in your hand, when 
he for whom you have shown so much devotion lies 
beneath ?' 

* Devotion !' repeated Grace. * It was common 
humanity ! I kept in my room because I knew I 
should be in the way.' 

*You English maidens are incomprehensible! 
but you will come with me ?' 
' Yes, certainly.' 

The doctor had departed, and night closed in, 
when Frau Alvsleben, the count, and the expected 
guest arrived. 

The girls. Dr. Sturm and the Inspector were 
all together in the salle d manger ; Gertrud having 
just come in, looking pale and weary. 

* Ach, du lieber Gott !' cried Frau Alvsleben, as 
she rushed into the room almost in a run ; * what 
misfortune is this .?' 

' Then you know Y cried everyone. 

* Ja, gewiss ! we met the doctor half-way from 
the town.' 

* Donner und Blitzen !' exclaimed Count Costello, 
' here is a catastrophe !' 

In the excitement he forgot to remove his hat. 
After him came a tall, slender young man in a 
blue and silver hussar uniform, with very fair 
— almost flaxen — hair, dark eyes, and a strong 
resemblance to the count. 

* But how goes it with the dear Falkenberg ? I 
trust his leg will be all right, or ' catching sight ot 



THE FRERES. 135 

Grace, he interrupted himself. * Pray present me to 
our new cousin.' 

' No longer new/ said Friede, kindly putting her 
arm round her — ' now quite one of ourselves.' 

* Most happy to consider you so, dear lady/ said 
the young hussar, taking her hand and kissing it 
with a chivalrous air. 

He spoke English with a good accent, and 
looked straight at her with a pleasant smile, which 
reminded her of Randal, and her heart warmed to 
him at once ; but she thought, 'He looks quite a boy 
— he cannot be twenty !' 

* I am glad to know you,' returned Grace, simply ; 
and then everyone began to talk at once. Frau 
Alvsleben, the count, and Ulrich asking a torrent, 
of questions, and all the rest giving details con- 
siderably varied by the imagination of the speaker. 
At last it occurred to Count Costello that as Grace 
had been present at the accident, she could give 
the best account of it. There was therefore a few 
moments' silence while she described, as shortly as 
she could, the whole occurrence. 

* Bravo !' said the count, as she ceased to speak. 
'There was the Costello spirit and pluck. Kiss 
me, my darling 1' 

* But where — where was Friede all this time ? 
asked Frau Alvsleben, her usually restless eyes 
growing still more eager, and a displeased expres- 
sion darkening her face. 

' Friede,' repeated Grace ; * oh, Friede did not 
come — ^she had a headache. Herr von Falkenberg 
and I went together/ 



136 THE FRERES. 

' And then you made this wild ride for the 
doctor V cried Frau Alvsleben, in a crescendo tone. 
* Ach Gott ! what a tale for the Zittau wives and 
daughters !' 

' Why, Cousin Alvsleben/ exclaimed Grace, open- 
ing her eyes, ' would you have had me stand still 
and see the poor fellow suffer V 

' Gott bewahr !* said Ulrich, * your promptness 
has probably saved his leg/ 

* No, no,* returned his mother ; * I would not have 
her stand still; but you know what gossips are, 
and ' 

* They may gossip for me !' cried Grace, with the 
utmost scorn. * What could anyone say of a mere 
act of humanity ?* 

* Then, see you/ replied Frau Alvsleben, a little 
severely, *had you stayed at home with Friede, 
Wolff would not have gone out to ride, and then 
all this would have been spared.' 

Grace felt for an instant deeply indignant at this 
attempt to throw the blame upon her. 

^ Was it wrong to go out alone with Herr Baron 
Falkenberg ?' in an ominously quiet voice. 

' In Germany it is scarce maidenly to do such 
things.^ 

Grace's quick temper was roused. 

* What !^ she exclaimed, an expression of scorn 
curling her lip ; 'are German gentlemen then wild 
beasts, who will devour you if one dares to be alone 
with them ?' 

* My child, you are talking nonsense !' returned 
Frau Alvsleben, more amused than angered by this 



THE FRERES. J 37 

outburst, while the count smiled, but shook his 
head. Gertrud looked volumes of disapprobation, 
and Ulrich laughed outright. Grace felt she had 
spoken too hastily, and kept silence, while Frau 
Alvsleben went on : * And now I must see Wolff, 
poor dear boy ! It is indeed unlucky for him !' 

* No, dear mother/ cried Gertrud, * Herr Doctor 
says he must not be disturbed, or even spoken to, 
lest he grow feverish. All is arranged. Mamsell 
is with him now, and I will take part of the night- 
watch. The Lazareth Guard returns at six to- 
morrow morning, and all will go well if we can but 
keep him free from fever. Alas, it is a bad splin- 
tered break!' 

The next two or three days were quite occupied 
by the invalid, and the hundred minutiae which 
appertain to a sick-room. Friede, Gertrud, Frau 
Alvsleben and Mamsell had but one central idea — 
how best to minister to the comfort of their precious 
charge, who was at first very feverish. 

The doctor came every day, generally about the 
time of the second breakfast. He took an evident 
interest in Grace, always insisting on her speaking 
German with him. Doctors, more than any other 
men, know the value of that incomparable quality, 
presence of mind, an instant's loss of which may 
sometimes mar a life. 

The count and Ulrich fell to Grace's care, and 
she did her best for them — enjoying long expo- 
sitions of the old soldier's views on matters political, 
social, and military, and perhaps equally enjoying 
her battles with Ulrich, whose greatest amusement 



138 THE FRERES. 

was to attack everything English, and rouse his 
cousin to indignant animation ; a process which 
soon made them fast friends, though Ulrich was 
nettled in his turn by being treated and talked to 
as a mere boy. 

Meantime the anxiously-expected letters from 
home arrived. Mrs. Frere's was full of contradic- 
tions. The chance of finding such an abode as 
that described by Grace was distinctly providen- 
tial, yet she was by no means to commit herself to 
take it till Mrs. Frere could be sure of funds where- 
with to travel, and the dreaded question of leaving 
before the end of the quarter was settled with Miss 
Timbs. Then she feared Randal would feel being 
left behind cruelly. Did not Grace think that if he 
came abroad and studied German for some months 
it would be a great advantage to him } indeed, he 
might write a work on Germany — though it would 
perhaps be unwise to quit his present employment. 
Still, Grace must remember that he could not 
possibly live in London on such a miserable pit- 
tance as twenty shillings a week ; they must make 
him a fair allowance, etc., etc. Finally, * I shall 
write without fail to your uncle this evening, after 
seeing our good friend, Mr. Byrne. I am sorry 
to say that Max has gone to the Pyrenees, 
Randal hears, for the autumn ; for I am sure he 
would be our advocate with his father.* 

Somewhat chilled by the uncertainties of this 
missive, Grace opened another, directed in Jimmy 
Byrne's well-known hand. After duly acknowledg- 
ing hers, he went on ; * I am truly rejoiced, my dear 



THE FRERES. 



139 



young lady, that you have at last found a place 
suited to your respected mamma, for — not to make 
you uneasy, but to speak truth — she is just wasting 
away for want of you, and Miss Mab would be the 
better for a change and a trifle of teaching. You 
take the house, Miss Grace ; Mrs. Frere and me 
will make it all right about cash. I will try and 
get them off next week ; and — mark my words ! — 
if Mr. Randal gets over your dear mamma to take 
him with her, it will be the worst day's work she 
ever did. He's an elegant young man, and ought 
to have a fortune ; but as he has not^ he must try 
and make one. Whereas, it's not by rolling about 
in foreign parts that's to be done. You set your 
face against his leaving London. I am in great 
hopes I shall be able to get a room for him where 
I lodge. It isn't what you might call a fashionable 
situation, but it is high and airy, in one of the best 
parts of Camden Town ; and I need not say what 
a pleasure and comfort it would be to me to have 
one of the family with me, to say nothing of Mr. 
Randal's being the height of good company ; be- 
sides, we might share and share alike, and that 
would be a saving to both !' 

* Dear, dear Jimmy !' murmured Grace, when 
she came to this passage, ' there would be small 
saving to you.' 

* So,' continued the letter, * you take the place ; 
but be sure you have a clear agreement on 
paper, and don't be taken in about extras — they 
are the devil ! — you'll excuse the word, for I can't 
abide scratching out.' 



140 THE F RE RES. 

Grace immediately decided to act on Jimmy's 
advice, and so informed Frau Alvsleben that she 
would agree for Herr Hauptmann Miiller's Stage, 

* I am well pleased to hear it, my dear. The poor 
lady has been asking anxiously what you intended 
to do. Let us go in to Zittau to-morrow morning, 
when Herr Doctor returns, and you shall see the 
rooms, and settle everything.' 

* Oh, thank you, Cousin Alvsleben ! I want so 
much to have the dear mother and Mab established 
before the cold sets in.' 

' Yes, it would be well. We will go without fail 
to-morrow, and then we will ascertain how your 
heavy luggage can be forwarded ; and perhaps 
your good mother would bring me one or two 
things from London which I still want,' etc, etc. 

It was with a sense of hope and renewed pleasure 
in life that Grace examined the apartment which 
was to be her home, perhaps for years. Herr 
Hauptmann Miiller had established himself within 
a few doors of Dr. Niedner, in one of the older 
houses which yet remained in the neighbourhood 
of the park. It overlooked the road, which led 
down a gentle hill, under beech and linden trees, 
and had a side view of the round tower, now the 
park-keeper's residence, which had been so plenti- 
fully peppered with Frederic the Great's bullets. 

The house was but three stories high — the lower 
half covered with a trellised vine, now beginning 
to be skeleton-like and bare — with a steep red roof, 
mellowed by age, and pierced by many windows. 
The first itage consisted of a moderately large salon^ 



THE FRERES. 141 

with three windows, the centre opening on a 
balcony, from which the hills were visible to 
the left ; next it a small dining-room, and two 
or three bed-rooms; at the back, a kitchen, a 
servant's room, and several closets, light and 
dark, offering any amount of stowage-room for 
china, glass, boxes, and lumber of all descriptions. 
The furniture was very scanty in all the rooms 
except the salon ; but it was of good quality and 
form. Grace examined it with delight, and planned 
in her own mind how she would arrange every- 
thing ; which should be mother's, and which her 
own room, while a storm of discussion, perfectly 
amicable, though very loud, raged between Frau 
Alvsleben and Frau Hauptmann's mother. The 
lady of the house herself was a quiet, careworn 
little woman, evidently depressed by her husband's 
state of health. The carpets (very few and far 
between), the curtains, the kitchen utensils, the 
question of incidental repairs, the share of keeping 
the strip of garden in order, the amount of bed- 
covering — each and all were the source of much 
volubility, in which Grace took no part, and, in- 
deed, but very partially understood. At last her 
attention was attracted by the words * clavier ' and 
*so lately bought,^ gently uttered by Frau Miiller ; 
and she found that Cousin Alvsleben was stoutly 
maintaining that the piano was part of the 
ordinary furniture of an ^tagc^ while the owner 
limply contended that it ought to be hired extra. 

* Pray allow it to be so,' whispered Grace to Frau 
Alvsleben, * We always expected to hire a piano.' 



142 THE FRERES. 

* Well, if you wish to bestow your money on 
strangers/ she returned rapidly in French, * why, 
do so/ 

She was absolutely cross at having the bargain 
wrenched out of her grasp, and that from no un- 
friendly feeling to the timid young wife, but from 
an innate principle of extracting the last farthing's- 
worth of value from whatever outlay she agreed to. 
A friendly explanation followed, and Frau Miiller 
seemed quite relieved by the success of her small 
demand, and disposed to be most accommodating 
in return, especially as Grace readily agreed to 
leave her in possession of a large closet, in which 
to store the many articles she wished to leave 
behind. 

' I imagine it must be cold here in winter,' said 
Frau Alvsleben, stepping out on the balcony. 

'That I do not know,' returned Frau Miiller; 
' we have scarce been here four months. It is very 
pleasant in summer.' 

' The walls are thick, and double windows make 
it comfortable,' added the mother. 

After a little more talk, it was agreed that Grace 
was to have possession of the itage in ten days ; 
and well pleased with each other, the high contract- 
ing parties separated, Frau Alvsleben and Grace 
walking away to make inquiries respecting the 
conveyance of the heavy luggage, which the count 
recommended should be sent by Hamburg. 

* How much obliged to you I am, dear cousin,' 
cried Grace, * for all the help you have given me ! 
Think of getting how many rooms } — six — seven 



THE FRERES. 



143 



— and furnished, for barely twenty shillings a week ! 
It is almost incredible !* 

*Yes, it is not dear; nevertheless it is a great 
chance for the Miillers. See ! you pay their rent, 
and I dare say six or seven hundred thalers more ; 
and you keep their rooms aired, and will wear 
their furniture very little. English people are 
careful, and what is injured you will pay for. Oh, 
they ought to be obliged to me too. But that 
" clavier," my child ; you spoiled my plan ! in two 
minutes more, the little woman would have yielded.' 

* I am quite pleased she should have some advan- 
tage,' said Grace, smiling, * and so w^ill my mother 
be also.' 

To this Frau Alvsleben made no reply, beyond 
an inarticulate grunt ; and they continued their 
progress, stopped every five or ten minutes by some 
acquaintance, to ask after Herr Baron, to be intro- 
duced to Grace, to utter a dozen questions in a 
breath as to the particulars of the accident, as to the 
wonderful ride of the Fraulein, all alone, for help. 
* Ach Gott !* it was * wunderschon ' and ^ wunderbar,' 
not to say ' shrecklich ' and * unerhort.' Then all 
the men, especially those in uniform, stared at her 
so undisguisedly that Grace felt rather uncomfort- 
able. 

* Yes !' said Frau Alvsleben, in reply to some 
wish expressed by Grace that people would not 
make such a fuss about a trifle, ' it was no doubt 
necessary that you should have fetched the doctor, 
but it is unfortunate when a young lady becomes 
notorious. It is all the result of the first error : you 



144 THE FkERES. 

should never have gone out with Wolff alone — that 
is the worst part of the affair/ 

* Really, Cousin Alvsleben, I have scarcely 
patience to hear you !' cried Grace, with her usual 
impetuosity. ' Would it be wrong to go out with 
Ulrich alone ?' 

* It would be better not/ said Frau Alvsleben 
sententiously, whereupon Grace burst into such 
hearty laughter that her severe kinswoman could 
not resist the contagion, and laughed too. 

Then Dr. Sturm overtook them, and accom- 
panied them to the house of the Burgomeistery a 
wealthy fabricant, who most kindly and fully gave 
all the required information. An hour's hurried 
shopping, and their time was expended, as Frau 
Alvsleben wished to be at home for dinner. 




CHAPTER VIII. 

SHALL meet you at Colc^ne,' wrote 
Grace, at the end of a long letter full 
of minute directions, which occupied 
the whole of the restful period between 
dinner and coffee, and in which she detailed that 
morning's successful agreement. 

' Till Cologne, you can make your way with 
French, and then, dearest mother, I shall once more 
be near to help you.' 

She finished the epistle with a few more loving 
■words. 

' I suppose Cousin Alvsleben will be shocked at 
the idea of my travelling alone,' thought Grace, as 
she closed her envelope, ' but I cannot help it ; it 
is impossible my mother can come all that way 
without me.' 

She put up her writing things, and changed her 
dress for a black merino, open at the throat, with 
foamy white tulle frillings ; tying a jet cross (one of 
Lady Elton's many small gifts) round her neck, 

VOL, II. 31 



14^ THE FRERES. 

with a sigh at the thought of the giver, she took 
her letter and went downstairs. 

The family were assembled, and taking their 
afternoon coffee, Ulrich sprang up to bring her a 
chair. 

* You are going into Zittau i^' she asked. 

* Yes ; I dine at the Casino/ 

'Then will you post this letter for me? Take 
great care of it !' 

* Certainly !' taking the letter. ' I hope you en- 
treat the good mother to come soon ! But you 
had much better come to Dresden ; it is gay, with 
much dancing, and you will have me there !' 

' That would be an enormous advantage ! But I 
think Zittau will be best for us.' 

* Ach ! you will only have Dr. Sturm and Wolff 
von Falkenberg there, and that is nothing !' 

* Oh, Grace !' cried Friede, catching the name ; 
* Wolff asks if you are never coming to see him. 
The doctor would not allow him to see you at 
first. He said it would be too exciting.' 

' That I believe !' whispered Ulrich, mischievously^ 
and Grace was provoked to feel her cheeks grow 
hot. 

* Will you come, then ?' continued Friede. 
'Yes, of course, if he wishes it,' said Grace,, 

readily; and when she had finished her coffee, 
Friede rose, observing : 

' Let us go now ; it is the dull time of the day for 
him. He gets tired reading, and the light fades ;' 
she led the way across the hall, and down a narrow 
jSanelled passage to the large comfortable room 



THE FRERES. 147 

that had been given to Falkenberg. Grace was a 
little startled to see a kind of wooden frame, rather 
suggestive of a gallows, consisting of two uprights 
and a bar extending the length of the bed, at 
some height above the patient, from which a sort of 
cradle for the wounded limb was suspended, and a 
cord by which he could assist himself to shift his 
position. 

Falkenberg himself looked pale and grim enough, 
with five days* growth of light brown beard and 
moustache. A large blue and white Austrian 
blanket was thrown over him, and the effect of the 
whole was rather picturesque, as the room was 
furnished with sundry quaintly-shaped, highly- 
polished, brass- handled, walnut-wood bureaus and 
commodes. 

Falkenberg's soldier-servant was taking away 
the cup from which his master had been drinking. 

' Gracechen comes to see you, Wolff/ said Friede, 
placing a chair for her cousin. 

' Why did you not come before V said he, taking 
her hand and looking up at her with a soft expres- 
sion in his usually hard, bold eyes — a wistful, half- 
reproachful look. 

' You did not want any more nurses,' returned 
Grace, drawing her hand gently from his, and 
sitting down ; * I should have been in the way.' 

' In the way !' repeated Falkenberg, dreamily ; 
*that could not be. I have burned to say how 
deeply I feel my obligation to you ! I have lived 
over that day a dozen times, and thought of your 
lonely ride as I lay here.' 

31—2 



148 THE FRERES. 

' Pray do not say any more about it ! too much 
has been said already/ 

*Well, I may think — that you cannot forbid, 
Friede !' 

' Friede is not there.' 

* Then hear me !' said Falkenberg quickly, and 
in a low voice : ' I shall soon be myself again, and 
hard and careless as ever ; but remember that to 
me thou wilt always be different from other women. 
And however I may speak or act, there is an inner 
cell of my heart or mind sacred to thee.' 

He held out his hand for hers ; she gave it, and 
he kissed it gently. Something unusually earnest, 
and quite unlike himself, in his voice and manner 
moved Grace more than she would have cared to 
acknowledge. Falkenberg had spoken in German, 
and used the expressive Duy which has so much 
tenderness on German lips. 

* I have not deserved this from you,* she said, a 
little embarrassed, and leaving her hand a moment 
in his ; it would be harsh to take it away too 
suddenly from a helpless invalid. ' You could say 
no more had I saved your life T 

Falkenberg again kissed her hand, and let her 
draw it away. 

* I shall feel what I feel, in spite of your logic,' 
he said, with more of his natural self-assertion. 

* And how goes it this evening T said the count, 
coming in at the right moment, Grace thought, as 
it was somewhat difficult to make conversation 
when Falkenberg's eyes were fixed upon her with 
that curious, questioning, wistful expression. 



THE FRERES. 149 

* Oh, I am a giant refreshed !' returned Falken- 
berg, in his old tone. *The visit of Mees Frere 
is a reviving draught — a tonic without bitter- 
ness/ 

* Herr von Falkenberg looks better than I hoped 
to see him/ said Grace, giving her seat to her uncle, 
and taking one a little further off, at which move 
Falkenberg frowned. 

* He will be quite well, and in the saddle, in five 
weeks at furthest,' said the count, cheerfully. ' I 
remember at Novara, my horse was shot, and fell 
on my leg ; it was broken — a cleaner break than 
Falkenberg's, certainly — but I was able to mount 
in four weeks. And I had not three charming 
young ladies, and two amiable old ones, to nurse 
me! 

* But I have only had two young ladies,' cried 
Falkenberg ; * your Frdulein Nichte has never come 
near me till this evening.' 

Grace let this pass without remark, and Count 
Costello proceeded to describe very minutely the 
treatment he had received, and how rugged his 
surroundings had been, from which he wandered 
into reminiscences of the war under Radetzky, and 
abused the Italians with the prejudice of an old 
Austrian trooper. 

Grace listened impatiently, feeling too conscious 
of her own ignorance to venture on argument ; but 
occasionally asking questions which drove the 
count into corners, and drew smiles from Falken- 
berg. 

'It was an infamous shame of the French to 



ISO THE FRERES. 

force the Pope back upon the people of RomeT 
she exclaimed at length. 

' Bah !' cried the count ; * the dogs did not know 
what they wanted. How could ignorant boors 
guide themselves, or resist regular troops T 

' Troops or no troops, the day of emancipation 
was only postponed/ returned Grace. * I remember 
reading about Garibaldi's descent upon Sicily, in 
some one's memoirs, to grandpapa, and longing to 
be a man that I might have fought with him.^ 

' Mademoiselle is evidently a sentimental politi- 
cian,' said Falkenberg, languidly. 

* I suppose so. Indeed, I do not see how a 
woman can be much more ; we can never correct 
our dreams by action.' 

*You are a little rebel,' said Count Costello, 
good-humouredly. ' But for heaven's sake don't 
parade a taste for politics ! It is not charming in 
a young lady.' 

*No, I shall not parade it; but I must always 
feel it. Lady Elton used to say politics would be 
the religion of the future.' 

' Bah !' said the count again. ' She is a has bleu' 

* She is delightful !' cried Grace, with such 
emphatic decision that Falkenburg laughed out- 
right, and then asked when madame her mother 
was coming. 

Whereupon Grace, brimful of the subject, 
launched into a glowing description of Herr Haupt- 
mann Miiller's residence ; of her anticipated delight 
in arranging it for her mother's reception, and of 
her plan of meeting the travellers at Cologne. 



THE FRERES. 



151 



* And you must help me in that scheme, dear 
\incle,' she said, laying her hand on his arm caress- 
ingly ; 'for Cousin Alvsleben has such strange ideas, 
she would not like me to travel by myself. Why, 
she was vexed because I went out alone with Herr 
von Falkenberg !' 

The words were out before she could stop herself, 
and the next moment she would have given any- 
thing to recall them. 

Falkenberg did not speak, and the count said 
indulgently : 

* Was she } Well, it seems over-strict, but not 
according to German ideas ; and you know, dear 
child, that when in Rome, etc., etc.* 

* It is utterly stupid,' cried Grace ; ' but there is 
no use in breaking one's head against the prison- 
bars within which your neighbours inclose them- 
selves !' 

* That's a sensible girl !* returned the count. 
'Ach! Bitte, mein Herr!' said Mamsell, who 

had entered unperceived with the lamp, in her 
felt slippers ; ' it is long enough ! Herr Baron must 
not have too much company. See ! he is flushed ; 
he must repose himself before the evening meal, 
and to-morrow he shall see the Fraulein again ;' as 
if she were soothing a sick child. 

*You will come again, will you not?' said 
Falkenberg, quickly, * Come and read aloud some 
German book. It will improve you^ and do me 
•great good. It wearies me holding a book for a 
length of time.' 

* Very well,' returned Grace, ' I will come when 



152 



7 HE FRERES. 



you send for me.' She nodded and smiled, but 
did not give him her hand again. 

' Schlafen Sie Wohl, Falkenberg ! You'll have 
pleasant dreams,' said the count, smiling, as he 
pressed his hand. 

* That doubt I,' he murmured, as the old man 
left the room ; and Mamsell, busying herself setting 
forth the invalid's table in readiness for supper, 
talked away volubly : 

* The Englische Fraulein was indeed love- worthy 
— so free and kindly and clever, too! Gott in 
Himmel 1 she already could make Apfel Strudel dsiA 
Ruhreir as well as Fraulein Gertrud herself. And 
to hear her try to speak German ! it is too charm- 
ing ! If she but had a German up-bringing just 
to correct that slight boldness, she would be 
without fault — a right noble Fraulein.* 

'It is the better for me she is bold,' replied 
Falkenberg. 

* Ja gewiss ! but for a wife, no one would 
like it.' 

* Perhaps so ; /should have no objection, only I do 
not want a wife — not for these ten years to come.' 

' Don't say that, Herr Baron,' returned Mamsell, 
coming to the bedside, and standing solid and 
square in her brown stuff dress and white Schurzen 
(apron), with her broad strong knuckles resting on 
her hips. * It's time you thought of choosing a Frau 
Baroniity and I am sure you need not go beyond 
Dalbersdorf. Where would you find a more love- 
worthy, everything-to-do-experienced maiden than 
Fraulein Gertrud — ^so regular and orderly ?' 



THE FRERES. ^53 

* Certainly/ said Falkenberg, lazily amused with 
her talk* * But Friedeis fairer, and — more graceful/ 

'Ach, bewahre!* cried Mamsell. * What matters 
grace and beauty for the house ? beauty will not 
make the eating better, and grace won't save the 
Groschen ! Not but that Fraulein Gertrud is pretty 
enough, with her golden locks and blue ^y^s. 
What more would you have, when a maiden has 
thirty thousand thalers for her dower? The kleine 
Friede is very young — she can wait ; and perhaps 
the gnadig Grossvater will give her a dowry too/ 

* Gertrud has not thirty thousand thalers, meine 
Hebe Mamsell/ 

*Ja gewiss! I know it! The gnadige Frau has 
no secrets from me. Ach ! the Hebe Gertrud will 
be a double treasure to the man who gets her/ 

' That I well believe,' said Falkenberg, with polite 
acquiescence. * Pray give me a glass of water, my 
good friend/ 

' Here, Herr Baron. Ach, Gott ! your hand 
burns, and — let me feel your pulse. No ! then I 
shall mix a browse Pulver — it wiU calm your ' 

* No, Mamsell, I will not take it. Set the lamp 
behind me, and I will try to sleep till supper/ 

Grace made a bold stand in the matter of meet- 
ing her mother at Cologne, but everyone was 
against her ; so being blessed with a little common- 
sense, she gave up. Uncle Costello suggested going 
himself to meet his niece, but this was negatived 
peremptorily by Frau Alvsleben, from whose de- 
cision there was no appeal. Her influence over the 



154 



THE FRERES. 



old man was very great ; and though well disposed 
herself towards her new-found relatives, she was 
not a little jealous of her father's affection for 
them. 

However, Dr. Sturm brought a solution of the 
difficulty a few days. before the expected arrival of 
Mrs. Frere and Mab. 

Frau Miiller's mother, who was to take charge of 
her two little grandchildren until their parents 
found a southern abode, lived at Bonn, and would 
therefore travel thither by Cologne. 

Grace might accompany her, and so meet the 
inexperienced travellers more than half-way. There 
was yet time to write to England and arrange the 
route, and Grace was in ecstasies. 

All went well, her mother wrote. Uncle Frere 
had behaved most handsomely ; he had not only 
sent a hundred pounds almost by return of post in 
reply to her request for aid, but inclosed it in a 
friendly letter, setting the seal of his august appro- 
bation on their scheme of life in Germany, and 
wishing them all success. (' He is delighted to get 
rid of us,' thought Grace.) Miss Timbs had been 
slightly extortionate, but that was no matter, as 
they had the money to pay her ; and Jimmy had 
assisted to cord up and despatch their heavy boxes. 
Jimmy had found a nice airy, tolerably- furnished 
bedroom for Randal in the house with himself, which 
in some degree mitigated the agony of parting 
with that dear boy, who was far from strong, and 
even now, at the beginning of winter, had taken 
cold, and had a bad cough. Jimmy, however, had 



THE PRE RES. 155 

solemnly promised to telegraph at once should any- 
serious symptoms display themselves. 

It was with the purest and most unselfish joy 
that Grace recognised the dear well-known faces as 
the train from Rotterdam stopped at the platform. 
Home, and childhood, and tenderness, and the 
security of having her own, all seemed suddenly 
restored to her, as she felt the clasp of her mother's 
arms, and heard her exclamations of delight, broken 
by sobs. 

* It has been so dreadful without you, darling ! I 
do not think I ever was so miserable.' 

' Why, Grace, you are looking quite fat !' from Mab 
* Do you know I was not a bit sick in the steamer, 
and I helped mother to dress this morning.* 

* Dear, dear Mab ! how pale you are ! You will 
soon get back the roses in your cheeks when you 
are in Zittau, and you will be quite delighted with 
Dalbersdorf.' 

* I am so hungry, Grace !' 

' And I have not yet recovered the parting with 
Randal. Poor boy ! he kept up wonderfully wett. 
although he felt it bitterly. I sometimes doubt if 
we ought to have left him alone in London.' 

* Well, you know he has Jimmy Byrne to keep 
him company \ and now you must come and have 
some luncheon or dinner ; you must be so hungry ! 
Our train does not start for four hours, so we can 
rest and look at the cathedral.' 

It was a new triumph to display her command 
of German ; and Grace found that, being on her 
own resources, she knew more than she thought. 



156 THE FRERES. 

while Mrs. Frere's wonder and admiration at hef 
daughter's acquirements were great and ever 
increasing. The simple, tender woman was looking 
pale and anxious : evidently the separation from 
Grace, the awfulness of a journey so far alone, had 
been almost too much for her. It was touching to 
see the look of perfect content with which her eyes 
rested on her eldest daughter. Their positions 
seemed reversed — Grace's was the part of pro- 
tectress, while her mother relied on her with 
undoubting faith. 

But despite the happiness of reunion, the little 
party were tired out before they reached Zittau on 
the evening of the third day of their journey; and 
Grace felt dizzy from the double night journey. 
She greeted almost with a cry of joy the welcome 
sight of Count Costello, who was awaiting their 
arrival, and opened the carriage-door. 

' Welcome, my dear niece !' he exclaimed ; 
' welcome, my little Mab ! Ah, Grace, my darlin' ! 
— come along. Here, give me the ticket for your 
luggage, and go away to the carriage; it waits 
outside.' 

He assisted to collect the wraps and small 
packages; he lifted out and affectionately kissed 
the weary Mab. And then they followed the 
polite porter to where the broad-faced, grinning 
Fritz stood in the lamp-light, ready to help them 
into the comfortable, capacious landau. Oh ! the 
rest and delight of being able to leave the worry of 
luggage, porters, and tickets to another — to feel 
one was coming among friends ! 



THE FRERES. 



157 



' This is really a very nice carriage, Grace ! How 
kind of my uncle to come and meet us I* 

* Yes, they are all very kind ; and you will find 
Friede at our house. She promised she would 
have everything quite ready for us ; she is such a 
dear girl !' 

Here the count came up, and gave the word to 
drive on. 

* How did you leave the youngster ?' asked the 
old man. ' Far better he should be left to himself; 
it will make a man of him. Had you a tolerable 
passage ? — ^the sea is the devil. Grace, my dear, we 
have missed you more than I can tell. Falkenberg 
has been quite melancholy, and the good mother 
listens for your foot ; and Gertrud, she is at a loss 
for some one to give lessons to. I fear you are 
sadly tired, my dear !' — this to Mrs. Frere, who 
was almost too weary to speak. * Ulrich was at a 
birthday-dinner given by their good friend the 
Burgomeister, but he would join them presently ; 
and Friede had arranged to stay the night.' 

' How delightful !' cried Grace ; * the very thing 
I wished, only I feared Cousin Alvsleben would not 
consent.* 

* How very kind you all are T exclaimed Mrs. 
Frere. 

A few more words from the count, and the 
carriage stopped at their new abode. Lights shone 
in the windows, and gleamed on the still green 
foliage of the nearer trees. The door was open, 
and in the lighted entrance stood a stout man in a 
blue linen tunic, girt to his waist with a belt, and a 



,38 THE PRE RES. 

flat cap which he doffed with much courtesy, and 
bid them * Willkommen ' as he opened the carriage- 
door, and assisted them to alight ; and behind him 
came quickly, as if he had just run downstairs, the 
tall, slight, well-set-up figure of Ulrich, who, even 
in that moment of supreme fatigue and disorgani- 
sation, was presented by Count Costello with much 
formality to his cousin, Mrs. Frere, whose hand he 
kissed with chivalrous courtesy ; and then they 
ascended the stair. There, under the doorway, 
stood Friede, all smiles and blushes of pleasure, 
and over the door, enclosed in a wreath of flowers, 
the word * Wilkommen ' in blue and white. More 
introductions and attempts at hand-kissing, which 
Mrs. Frere turned into a real embrace; so on 
through a narrow corridor to the saloriy where was 
a beautiful bouquet from Frau Alvsleben — ^ plant 
of mignonette from Gertrud, another bouquet with 
Ulrich's card, and a third with Wolff von Falken- 
berg's. 

The salon^ with its fresh white curtains, bright 
lamp, chintz furniture, and abundance of flowers, 
looked quite festive. Double doors open at one 
side showed the little dining-room ; the table set 
for supper, with the beautiful snowy table-linen lent 
by Frau Alvsleben until Mrs. Frere's should arrive. 

' Come r cried the count, ' I have brought no 
flowers ; but you will find a couple of bottles of 
Lafitte in there,' pointing to the supper-table, ' with 
a bouquet not to be despised.' 

The contrast between her doubts and half- 
fearful anticipations, and this delightful reality was 



THE FRERES. 159 

almost too much for poor Mrs. Frere. She could 
only exclaim, * Why, this is like coming home !' 
and breaking down, covered her face with her hand- 
kerchief, while Grace, putting her arm through hers, 
led her into her own room. 

The half-hour of supper, which followed as soon 
as Mrs. Frere was refreshed and composed enough 
to return to the dining-room, was very bright and 
pleasant. Everyone was charmed with Frieda's 
housekeeping, and everyone talked very fast a 
mixture of German, French, and English, which 
quite surprised and subdued Mab, with whom Friede 
at once fell in love, and waited upon as though she 
were a baby. 

The smiling little servant engaged by Mamsell 
for the new-comers was presented, and after drop- 
ping a deferential curtsey, presented her hand, 
somewhat to Mrs. Frere's surprise ; and Mab could 
not sufficiently gaze at her white bib apron and 
complicated arrangement of hair. 

The claret was pronounced excellent, and healths 
were duly drunk. At last the Count and Ulrich 
look their leave ; Mab was put to bed in a little 
room off Mrs. Frere's, and Grace was alone with 
her mother. 

Oh, how sweet was the sensation of safety and 
repose : the profound stillness, the fresh cleanliness 
of the room, the sweet country air that stole in 
when Grace opened the window to cool her mother's 
aching head ! How thankful she was that the 
great effort was over, and the dear ones with her 
once more ! 



i6o THE FRERES. 

* It IS too, too delightful !* murmured Mrs. Frere. 
* Far beyond what I expected. Oh, if Randal 
were only here !* 

* He is far, far better off where he is, mother dear. 
There is really nothing for a young man to da 
here but to be a soldier.' 

* Well, at all events, it is very different from our 
arrival in London.' 

* Yes, indeed ! And now, dearest mother, sleep 
sound. I will bring your breakfast in the morning, 
and, if you are not too tired, in the afternoon we 
will drive out to Dalbersdorf, and take Friede back/ 

* Oh yes ! I feel as if I were at rest, thank 
God !' 

' My Friede !' cried Grace, coming into the 
room which the cousins had arranged with two 
beds, that Friede might always have ^pied d terre 
in their abode. " How good and kind you are — 
what trouble you have taken, and how admirably 
you have managed ! Sweetest cousin ! what a de- 
lightful welcome you have given my mother ; how 
can I thank you enough !' 

A hearty embrace, and Grace, overdone with 
fatigue, could not suppress a few semi-hysterical 
tears, somewhat to Friede's satisfaction, as she had 
began to fear that h^r praktisch English cousin had 
no human weaknesses. 




CHAPTER IX. 



IHE beginning of home life at Zittau was 
very delightful. The change from the 
' on sufferance ' feeling inseparable from 
English furnished lodgings to a house, 
or rather itage, of their own was most agreeable. 

The right to range through the kitchen and rum- 
mage the larder, to exercise one's culinary skill, be 
it ever so slight, without the necessity of concili- 
ating cook by abject politeness; the possibility of 
washing up one's own breakfast things without 
consequent loss of caste in the estimation of servant 
or visitors — these are precious privileges which 
not even a home of one's own in England always 
confers ; and they were deeply valued by Grace 
and Mabel. 

The latter found an outlet for her restlessness in 
manual labour — an absolute necessity to some 
natures, which almost sicken for want of it. Then, 
during the period of settling, of finding a school 
and music teacher, and sundry other prelimi- 

VOL. 11. 32 



1 62 THE F RE RES. 

naries, Frau Alvsleben very kindly invited Mab 
to stay at Dalbersdorf — a rapturous interval, from 
which she returned with rosier cheeks and brighter 
^y^s than she had possessed since she left Dungar ; 
and moreover, with high repute for every childish 
virtue. Feeding the pigs and fowls, assisting to 
milk, inspecting the various processes of the farm, 
and such like congenial occupations, had made her 
supremely happy, and consequently good — un- 
happiness, that is dissonance, being at the root of 
two-thirds the misconduct of life. Moreover, as she 
could not speak French like her mother and Grace, 
she picked up an astonishing amount of German, 
with the true Saxon sing-song, and came back 
admirably braced for her winter studies. 

At first Mrs. Frere somewhat objected to her 
going to a school where the class distinctions were 
solely scholastic, or, indeed, to school at all ; 
but Grace persuaded her to overcome these old- 
world prejudices, pointing out the advantage to 
Mab of learning with other children, and to the 
family fund, of a good education for something 
under twelve pounds a year. 

In other branches of expenditure, the new 
settlers did not find the great difference in price 
which they anticipated ; nevertheless, the general 
style was inexpensive, and the temptations to extra 
and unnecessary outlay, in which so large a share 
of income goes, few and far between. 

The peace and happiness of such an existence 
would have been perhaps too delicious, but for the 
small, inevitable drawbacks which must arise from 



ITHE FRERES, 163 

the inequalities and imperfections of human nature 
and material things. The little Dienst-mddchen^ 
though bright and obliging (looking on her young 
mistress's amateur work as a serious help, and 
being disposed to reproach her when she remitted 
her labours), was yet not competent to manage the 
tall, white-tiled stove, so the salon was either like a 
conservatory for tropical plants, or a cold vault. 
Then she was disposed to consider herself free after 
the half-past six o'clock Abend-brod, or supper, and 
constantly went out to see her friends or walk with 
her Schatz (* treasure,' German for lover) ; she was 
also addicted to invite the said treasure (there was 
a good deal of him) to smoke his cigar in the 
kitchen, to the disgust, not to say terror, of Mrs. 
Frere, who once met the intruder face to face in 
the passage, and stopping, appalled, at the sight of 
a tall soldier — sword, epaulettes, and all — received 
a polite and well-assured salute, as if he were cer- 
tain of being a favoured guest. 

Then on cleaning days Paulina (pronounce ' au ' 
as the *ow' in fowl) was addicted to spend pre- 
cious half-hours stretched bodily out of the window 
of whatever room was under operation, conversing 
merrily with any passing acquainta.nce. Moreover, 
the cleaning itself was a matter of dispute, as 
Paulina's idea of that uiKjertaking was a total and 
complete boulversement of every room on the same 
day — if possible at the same moment ; so that 
the wretched inhabitants had not a resting-place, 
and chance visitors must be turned away, or sit in 
the corridor. The matter of Paulina's meals, too, 

32—2 



1 64 THE FRERES. 

was a source of disturbance both to Mrs. Frere 
and Grace. They never could persuade her to 
spread a cloth and sit down regularly to dinner. 
' Gott bewahr !' said that young person, * she 
would not so waste time.' Nevertheless she did not 
starve. She seemed for ever munching something. 
Mab frequently saw her take toll from the frying- 
pan (frying was her forte) or the soup pot — not 
furtively or with any sense of infringing the limits 
of duty, but openly, often offering a tit-bit to 
Mab from the same fork or spoon with which she 
had helped herself. 

Then the cooking was a vexed question. Grease, 
vinegar, fat, fish, salad and uncooked hams were 
Paulina's notion of the ne plus ultra in goodies, and 
Mrs. Frere's tastes were fastidious ! So Grace's 
general experience grew and multiplied. 

However, a month's struggle, backed by Frau 
Alvsleben's authority and much good counsel from 
Mamsell, who took the deepest, kindest interest in 
the foreign household, brought everything into 
working order, though Grace soon discovered that 
no German servant can dispense with supervision ; 
and before December brought frost, snow, and real 
winter, they were as much, nay more, at home in 
their Zittau ^tage as they had been after five or six 
months in their London lodgings. 

Meantime frequent visits to Dalbersdorf varied 
their life. Mrs. Frere and Frau Alvsleben became 
excellent friends — the former's unaffected admi- 
ration for her German cousin's activity and capa- 
bility was most flattering to the latter's self-love. 



THE FRERES. 165 

and in return the Dalbersdorf party heartily appre- 
ciated the beaux restes of good looks, once far 
beyond the average, and a certain high-bred, indo- 
lent grace not to be seen every day in Zittau, 
which distinguished Mrs. Frere. 

Wolff von Falkenberg had recovered in due 
time, and gone for change of air and the remainder 
of his prolonged leave to his Silesian relatives. He 
had been quite charming and almost boyish in his 
playfulness, on the three or four occasions when 
Grace saw him previous to his departure. Mab 
was his devoted ally, and Mrs. Frere pronounced 
him a remarkably well-bred, accomplished young 
man, though Ulrich*s vague likeness to Randal 
soon promoted him to the rank of first-favourite. 
He too, however, had returned to his regimental 
duties long before this stage of our history. 

Finally, under Frau Alvsleben's auspices, Mrs. 
Frere and Grace had paid a round of first visits 
necessary for introduction to German society, as 
residents in that country never take the initiative. 
It was a most solemn ceremony. The curtseying 
and complimenting — the stereotyped question and 
answer — the struggle to prevent the hostess seeing 
them to the door — the polite insistence of that 
lady — had to be gone through with all from the Frau 
Oberst down to the Ober-zoll Inspectorin. This 
once accomplished, a tide of * returns* set in. 

Thus the Freres were launched into the best circles 
of Zittau, backed as they were by the influence of a 
family so respected as that of Dalbersdorf, and soon 
the difficulty was to avoid too much company. 



i6H THE FIBRES. 

create fear, but for the kind heart and right noble 
l)rinciples which direct them/ 

To this Frau Alvsleben replied suitably, but with 
a tinge of weariness — at least Grace thought she 
detected some such indications. But to herself the 
eulogy was interesting, and her heart warmed with 
sympathetic appreciation of her friend the doctor. 
This was in truth a jewel of a man, worthy any 
woman's faith and love. 

Then, on the part of her mother, Grace expressed 
a hope that Cecilia would sometimes be permitted 
to visit Mabel ; and so the ceremony ended, with 
smiles and curtseys and expressions of mutual 
esteem. 

It was before the first snow fell ; the weather 
was already clear, cold, and wintry, necessitating a 
careful wrapping up of Mabel each morning on 
sending her forth to school at eight o'clock. The 
Mddchen had begun to understand the stove, so 
that Mrs. Frere found an agreeable temperature 
when she left her room for breakfast, and the visits 
of the Schat:: had been limited to once a week; 
everything, in short, was fairly en rtgle^ when one 
morning, returning from a short shopping expedi- 
tion, Grace, on entering the salo7ty found Baron 
Falkenberg installed in an easy-chair, with Mab on 
his knee : Falkenberg in his best uniform, his 
helmet glittering on the parquet beside him, and 
with gloves of such an exquisite fit and delicate 
spotless white that Grace felt ashamed to put her 
black one into the hand he offered. 



THE PRE RES. 169 

His face lit up with a look of real pleasure as he 
poured forth a hearty greeting in German — for in 
spite of its gutturals and many syllables, no tongue 
can express glowing yet delicate warmth more 
vividly. 

* I see you again, my Fraulein,' he exclaimed,. 
' and feel that it is to you I owe my standing here 
still fit for service. I have longed to return and 
renew my acquaintance — may I say friendship ? — 
with you and your Frau Mutter !* 

' I am very glad to see you/ said Grace, simply,. 
but blushing a little, partly from pleasure, partly 
from admiration for the fine soldierly figure before 
her. 

' And you will stay in our little Zittau all the 
winter V said Von Falkenberg, resuming his seat, 
and speaking French to Mrs. Frere. 

* For a year, certainly,' she replied. 

'That is charming, is it not, my dear little 
Mabel ?' holding out his hand to her, whereupon 
she gladly perched herself on the arm of his chair. 
* You will be a true German maiden by that time,, 
and will not allow the mamma and sister to go 
away again. Eh, Miss Grace } You do not know 
what friends Mabel and I became at Dalbersdorf.' 

* Oh, we heard a great deal about you. Monsieur 
de Falkenberg !' returned Mrs. Frere, smiling upon 
him, delighted by his notice of Mab. * You are 
quite Mab's hero.' 

* Mab, Mab!' repeated Falkenberg; * but it is a 
delicious name : it makes one think of your great 
poet, Shakespeare. It is a fairy's name.' 



I70 THE FRERES. 

* Mab is no fairy !' said Mrs. Frere, laughing. 
* I am surprised to find you so familiar with Shake- 
speare.' 

' But it is quite natural, madame. May I be 
permitted to say that we Germans understand 
Shakespeare better than his own countrymen !' 

* No ; it is not permitted/ said Grace, always ready 
to lift the gauntlet. * You fancy you know Shake- 
speare best, and I grant he is very Saxon ; but we 
too appreciate him.' 

' Scarce so much as we do, Miss Grace.' 

* How do you know ? You only echo what 
your critics say.' 

'True; yet there must be truth in their asser- 
tions.' 

* Wolff,' broke in Mab, ' will you let me ride your 
bayhorse — the one Grace used to ride .?' 

*My dear Mab,' remonstrated Mrs. Frere, 'you 
are very familiar.' 

' I pray you, madame,' cried Falkenberg, 'do not 
forbid her ; I only know myself as Wolff with her. 
Would I might hope for such a mark of adoption 
from mademoiselle and yourself !' 

* You would not have me say Herr Baron !' 
exclaimed Mab. 

* Certainly not, my little friend — my dear little 
friend !' 

* Herr von Falkenberg speaks English very well, 
mother,' said Grace. 

* Not very well — very badly,' said he, in English. 
' Suppose, madame, we constitute — no, create — our- 
selves into a mutual improvement Verein — society — 



THE F RE RES. 171 

to read English and German for an hour of an 
evening, when your day is over, and I can escape 
from my Casino dinner ?' 

'It would be very nice indeed,' returned Mrs. 
Frere, cordially. 

' I thank you much, madame. What a delight 
for me to be received into an English family ! — 
although I am a relation, you know/ 

* How ?' asked Grace, laughing. She understood 
his tactics better than her mother. 

* Well, my mother was sister to the late Herr 
Alvsleben of Dalbersdorf ; consequently my aunt, 
Frau Alvsleben, being your near kinswoman ' 

'Makes us cousins-german many times removed,' 
returned Grace, still laughing. 

' Yet near in spirit, if not in heart !' said Falken- 
berg quickly, in a low tone and in German. 

' Grace is quite a country girl,' said Mrs. Frere, 
apologetically; 'you must excuse her ruggedness 
of speech.' 

' Imagine j^«r being excused to me !' remarked 
Falkenberg to Grace. 'Does not your pride 
revolt } But you have transformed this room,' he 
continued. It looks graceful and what you call 
" comfortable," ' looking round. 

It had been beautified and added to. A remnant 
of Uncle Frere's hundred pounds had enabled 
Grace to buy a couple more easy-chairs, a writing- 
table, and a long mirror, which, together with some 
small ornaments and plenty of flowers,had improved 
it amazingly. 

' Yes ; it is quite a pleasant room,' returned 



172 THE F RE RES. 

Grace. 'I have been trying to find some large- 
leaved plants to fill up this stand with green, and 
there is nothing but small things in the market/ 

* No !' cried Falkenberg, with much animation ; 
* but I can guide you to a garden a little way out 
of the town, where you can find as many as you 
want.' 

* Indeed ! — where ?* 

* Mademoiselle has her hat on,' he returned; 'if 
you will permit me, I will escort you there.' 

* Thank you,' hesitated Grace. 

* Oh yes ; do go, and take me,' cried Mabel. 

* Can we go and return in half an hour V asked 
her sister. 

' Yes, certainly.' 

*Then we will be very much obliged for your 
guidance,' said Grace, frankly. * Get your hat and 
jacket, Mab.' 

It was a delightful, brisk, enjoyable walk, and 
though Falkenberg was strictly matter-of-fact and 
uncomplimentary, Grace had a pleasant instinctive 
conviction that he deeply enjoyed being her com- 
panion. He was kindly and playful with Mab, as 
Germans are with children, and a great help in 
bargaining with the gardener, who was of course 
most obsequious to a uniform. Finally the young 
ladies went back to dinner, exhilarated by their 
expedition — the effect of that innocent, yet 
magnetic, action and counteraction which Nature 
predestined when * male and female created He 
them.' 




CHAPTER X. 

SHE adaptability of human nature is won- 
derful. By the time Mrs. Frerc .ind 
her daughters had been two montlis 
resident in the little Saxon town, they 
had become quite acclimatised, and Mrs. I'rerc had 
acquired a few German words, though she was 
approaching the period of life when it is even more 
difficult to assimilate new mental than new material 
food. 

Both Falkcnbcrg and Dr. Sturm were frequent 
visitors, and already the small society of the place 
was distracted by an unsuccessful attempt to decide 
which was the favoured wooer of the so-called 
wealthy Entjlish girl — for, in spite of the modesty 
of their mdnage, Mrs. Erere shared the usual Eng- 
lish reputation for riches. 

The Frau Gerichts-director and Frau Oberst von 
Ahlcfeld had invited them to a couple of rather 
stiff entertainments, where the elders played cards, 
and the juniors made music — very excellent instru- 




174 THE FRERES. 

mental music, though the singing seemed to the 
English guests shrill and screamy. These diver- 
sions were succeeded by a solemn supper at the 
Burgomcistcr's^ consisting of soup, fish, entries, 
roasts, sweets, cheese. At these parties it always 
seemed to the onlookers as if Dr. Sturm was Grace 
Frere's admirer ; while, on the whole, Falkenberg 
was more attentive to Gertrud than to anyone else ; 
and Friede, though never at a loss for gallant 
cavaliers, had no especial devotee. A state of 
things which rather surprised Falkenberg's brother 
officers, by whom Grace was at first credited with a 
consuming passion for the man whose life she had 
saved. Extraordinary reports were current as to 
the dangers from which she had rescued him and 
exposed herself to in her headlong ride, which was 
represented as being utterly reckless, instead of 
being simply a sharp gallop along a good road. 

As Grace came gradually to perceive something 
of this, she instinctively avoided Falkenberg in 
society, and observed, rather to her surprise, that 
he seconded these attempts ; and however frank, 
friendly, sympathetic, and agreeable in his frequent 
visits, was most guarded in his conduct when in 
public. 

One of her greatest pleasures were Friede's 
visits, though she was also pleased to welcome 
Gertrud, who was more agreeable as a guest than a 
hostess. 

Both girls occasionally spent the night with their 
English relatives when a concert or a party brought 
them to town, and Count Costello often rode in 



THE FRERES. I75 

— being now independent of the farm horses — 
shared his niece's simple dinner, and told old stories 
of his campaigning days to a fresh audience. 

It was a cold, still night, in the first week of 
December. Mrs. Frere was sitting near the table 
which held the lamp, endeavouring to master the 
art of knitting; Grace and Mab were opposite — the 
latter endeavouring, with her sister's help, to prepare 
her Rechnung (arithmetic lesson), always a supreme 
effort, for the next day, and grumbling against her 
teacher all the time. The rules had not been 
rightly explained to her ; slie could not under- 
stand ! How was she to do things when no one 
showed her how } etc., etc. ; Mrs. Frere occasionally 
throwing in a mild remonstrance, which only in- 
creased Mab's irritation. 

The room, with its pale grey walls, bright chintz 
curtains, and well-filled JardinUres, which Grace 
contrived to keep green always when the blossoms 
failed, looked cheerful and attractive with its home- 
like aspect, as did the occupants. A certain air of 
being carefully dressed gave refinement to their very 
simple toilettes — Mrs. Frere was always in black, 
and Grace still wore second mourning. 

* Do attend, Mab,* said Grace ; * you could soon 
do it if you would only think. And if you make 
haste I will read you some more of that story 
before you go to bed.' 

* Well, I cannot think, Grace ! everything seems 
to go round in my head. I only seem * 

The sound of the bell, and Paulina speaking to 
some one, made her stop and listen eagerly, with 



176 THE FRERES. 

parted lips, a picture of curiosity. The clank of a 
sword followed — a moment's pause, and the door 
opened to admit Falkenberg, who entered with all 
the ease of an habittd. 

After a deep bow and respectful greeting to 
Mrs. Frere, he drew a chair beside Mab. 

* I have good news for you, Miss Grace. There 
are two degrees of frost to night ; if this continues, 
with a slight increase, we shall skate the day after 
to-morrow, and then I shall teach you/ 

' That will be delightful ! Mother, I must buy 
skates to-morrow.' 
' Very well, dear.' 
^ And I must have a pair too 1' cried Mab. 

* Not if you leave your lessons undone,' said 
Grace. 

' Bevvahre !' exclaimed Falkenberg ; ' you must 
do your work, my dear, dear little Mab ! Shall I 
help you V 

' Oh yes, thou dear Wolff!' 

Whereupon Falkenberg drew the much-smeared 
slate to him, and set to work explaining ever)^hing 
in German, which Mab seemed to understand, to 
her mother's intense admiration. And Mab, perched 
on the arm of his chair, resting one elbow on his 
shoulder, became suddenly content, alert, attentive. 
In half an hour the lessons were accomplished, in- 
cluding a few verses which Falkenberg insisted on 
his pupil repeating in the most dramatic fashion. 

' How very good of you, Monsieur de Falken- 
berg, to take so much trouble ! Mab ought to be 
very grateful !' exclaimed Mrs. Frere. 



THE PRE RES. 177 

' And so ought 1/ said Grace, smiling. ' I do not 
know when Mab would have finished with me/ 

' That is wrong. But, madame, I love children ; 
it seems quite natural to do everything for them/ 

' It shows a good heart to be kind to children 
and animals/ said Mrs. Frere. 

* I am not so sure,' returned Grace, with a quick 
upward glance at Falkenberg. ' Some of the mon- 
sters of the French Revolution were very fond of 
animals/ 

* Mademoiselle loves animals and children also ?* 
said Falkenberg, quietly. 

* Yes, you are a dear !* exclaimed Mab, smooth- 
ing his cheek with a hand somewhat begrimed 
from frequent rubbing on the slate. * You are nicer 
than Mr. Darnell, and far cleverer. I don't think /le 
could do Rechnmig^ 

' Who was Mr. Darnell V asked Falkenberg, in- 
dolently, leaning back in his chair, while Mab put 
her books together. 

*Oh, a gentleman in London. He had such 
lovely horses, and a great high carriage ; I had a 
drive in it once. He had very red hair, too ; but 
he was very kind, and,' lowering her voice, ' I don't 
know why he went away, but 1 believe it was because 
Grace would not marry him/ 

This revelation absolutely paralysed mother 
and daughter ; both thought they had effectually 
concealed this tragical history from the keen per- 
ception of Mab. 

* Poor Mr. Darnell 1' said Falkenberg, laughing, 
and enjoying their confusion. * Was he very 

VOL. II. 33 



178 THE FRERES. 

broken-hearted ? But need I ask — of course he 
was.' 

* I don't know ; he never came again/ said Mab, 
gravely. 

'Your path, no doubt, has been strewn with 
victims — an evidence in support of your theory 
that the love of animals is no indication of a kind 
heart. I remember you used to caress the. horses 
at Dalbersdorf, till one wished to be a quadruped.' 

This was said rapidly in German to Grace, with 
an expressive glance, unseen by Mrs. Frere. 

* I do not know that I have a good heart,' re- 
turned Grace in English, trying hard not to blush, 
and feeling vexed that Falkenberg's eyes should 
have such power ; ' a really good true heart is rare, 
I imagine.' 

* Grace is disagreeable sometimes,' said Mab, 
with an air of justice and discrimination ; *but she 
is not regularly ill-natured.' 

* You are very ungrateful, Mab,' said Mrs. Frere, 
seriously. ' I am sure Grace does everything for you.' 

' Well, I am going to be ill-natured now,' added 
Grace, * and take you to bed.' 

' I shall not go ! You promised to read to me, 
and now you break your word ; that is very bad, is 
it not, Wolff.?' 

* But you have had Herr Hauptmann to help you 
with your lessons ; is not that pleasure enough for 
one evening ?' 

' But Grace, do — do read just one little bit !' 

* / will read to you, my dear, dear Mab,' said 
Falkenberg, drawing the child to him in his caress- 



THE FRERES. 179 

ingway; *yotc shall give me my reading-lesson 
to-night.' 

* Oh, thank you, thank you !' cried Mab. * Where 
is the book ?* 

'Here/ returned Grace, putting * The Stokesley 
Secret ' into Falkenberg's hand. * Let me see 
which you like best, Miss Young or Scott.' (They 
had been reading * Quentin Durward.') 

So Falkenberg began with much seriousness ; and 
Grace, fetching her work, listened, greatly amused 
by Mab*s corrections and the explanations de- 
manded by her pupil. 

'It is half- past eight!' said Mrs. Frere, at last. 
' Mab, you must really go to bed.' 

* Yes,' said Falkenberg, closing the book. ' Die 
liebe Mutter says so, and you must.' 

After some refusals and writhings, Mab con- 
sented, saying : 

* You will come and read to me again V 

* Oh, Mab ! you must not trouble Monsieur de 
Falkenberg.' 

* It \s no trouble, madame, and the story is most 
interesting. I am quite anxious to know if they 
succeeded in buying the pig. Good-night, thou 
sweetest little friend.' 

When Grace returned from putting Mabel to 
bed, she found her mother describing the genius 
and beauty of Randal to her guest, who was listen- 
ing with polite attention. 

* The schools are so early here,' said Grace, to 
change the subject, as she drew forth her work — an 
apron of the German pattern — for her little sister, 

33—2 



i8o THE PRE RES. 

* that we must send Mab to bed in good time, of 
she would get no rest/ 
'Eight o'clock is not so early/ returnedFalkenberg. 

* In winter it is — too early. Our schools never 
begin till nine/ 

* Then you never work hard in England/ said 
Falkenberg, smiling. * You are rich and lazy/ 

*We must have worked at some time, or we 
should not be what we are.' 

' Circumstances have favoured you so much, 
mademoiselle. I used to know some Englishmen 
in Dresden before the war — I was in another regi- 
ment then — and they only amused themselves, 
except one, and he certainly worked immensely; 
but he amused himself too. Ach ! what energy he 
had under a quiet, almost sleepy, exterior !' 

* And what has become of him ?' 

* He went to Spain, I think. He wrote to me 
also from South America ; but that is nearly two 
years ago. Yes ; Moritz was what you call a fine 
fellow : we were dear friends. I wish he had been 
in our army.' 

'That would not do for an Englishman/ said 
Mrs. Frere. 

' And he was very English ; though I remember 
his telling me he was half Irish — partly your com- 
patriot, madame.' 

They were speaking French for Mrs. Frere's 
benefit, though Falkenberg often lapsed into 
German when addressing Grace. 

* Indeed 1' cried Grace, with interest ; * yet Moritz 
— you called him Moritz } — is not an Irish name.' 



THE PRE RES. i8i 

' That is my fashion of calling him. His name is 
Maurice — Maurice Belfor/ 

'Maurice Belfor !' repeated Grace. *That 
sounds familiar. How do you spell the name ? — 
the second name, I mean.' 

'B-a-1/ said Falkenberg, after a moment's 
thought, * f-o-u-r.' 

Grace dropped her work and clasped her hands 
together, her face lighting up with a look of sur- 
prise and pleasure. 

* He must be the Maurice Balfour we know,* 
she exclaimed. * What is his profession — call- 
ing?' 

'He is an engineer.' 

' It is our friend, then,' said Mrs. Frere. ' We 
have lost sight of him for some time, but we have 
known him almost all his life.' 

' And how delighted I should be to see him 
again !' cried Grace, her eyes dilating and growing 
moist as she gazed far away into the soft distance 
of bygone happy years, when life was one long 
holiday, till she forgot Zittau and Falkenberg, and 
once again saw her old home. 

* Is Balfour then so dear ?' asked Falkenberg, 
after watching her for a moment in silence. * You 
forget everything to think of him.' 

'I am thinking of much besides Maurice Bal- 
four,' returned Grace, rousing herself, yet still 
speaking a little out of her thoughts. * And what 
was he like when you knew him ?' 

* Is it long since you have seen him ?' was the 
counter question. 



1 82 THE PRE RES. 

* Nearly five years. His grandfather was the 
rector, our clergyman, you know/ 

'Yes, he has told me the grandfather was a pastor.' 

* I never expected poor Maurice to do much !' 
said Mrs. Frere. * He was so shy, and Randal 
thought him rather dull.' 

' Far from being dull ; I thought him much above 
the other young Englishmen I have met — I mean 
in intelligence. He was rather good-looking, not 
tall — at least, not so tall as I am.' 

' No ? Then he was not drilled like you. Mon- 
sieur de Falkenberg ; that makes a difference. 
Where did you say he was ?' 

* In South America. He was engaged on a rail- 
way there, but he talked of returning to Europe 
and paying me a visit.' 

* I wish he would come while we are here.' 

* It is curious that you should have known him,* 
added Mrs. Frere, and the subject dropped. 

Falkenberg was somewhat absent for a few 
minutes, and then, rousing himself, asked Grace if 
she would not read part of 'Hermann und Dorothea.' 
to him. She obeyed very readily, but now and 
then broke off to ask questions about Maurice, till 
Falkfenberg shut up the book with some impatience. 
'The next time I come to give you a lesson, 
mademoiselle,' he said, smiling, * I will not mention 
niv friend Balfour till it is over.' 
W I am very naughty,' returned Grace, looking 
penitently up into his eyes, * and you are really 
too good ; but if you only knew how charming it is 
to hear of my old friend.' 



THE FRERES. 183 

' Was he then your rive de qitinze arts T 

* Oh, I never dreamed about him ! He was too 
matter-of-fact even to suggest dreams/ 

* Nevertheless/ said Falkenberg, rising to take 
leave, * should he come here, you will have no eyes 
for anyone else/ 

' No/ returned Grace, with a little nod and a 
.vmile full of mischief ; * not for some time !' 

' Good ! I shall ask three weeks* leave when he 
comes,' said Falkenberg, laughing, and taking her 
hand as he bid her good-night, he pressed it hard, 
apparently unconscious that he did so. 

' If it is good ice, then, the day after to-morrow, 
Mrs. Frere, you will come down to the Weinau 
Teich. But I shall sec you in the morning ; per- 
haps Miss Grace will have a skating lesson early if 
I can get away. Adieu, mademoiselle ; do not 
dream of our friend !* 

' Indeed, I hope I shall !' cried Grace. * It is de- 
lightful to revisit the past — in good company/ 

* Is it possible,' said Falkenberg, in a low voice, 
*n German, * that you are a coquette ?' 

* Why should it be impossible ?' asked Grace ; 
but no ! I do not think I am/ 

* Adieu, madame ! sleep well, mademoiselle !' said 
Falkenberg, as he bowed himself out. 

The next day's post brought letters from Randal 
and Jimmy Byrne. The latter wrote shortly, and 
said little of his charge. Randal, after enlarging on 
the enormous success which had attended his small 
contribution to the 'Weekly Visitor/ went on to say 
that it was quite amazing how quickly money went 



1 84 THE FRERES. 

in London. ' Having received so much hospitality 
from our fellows/ he continued, * while staying with 
you, I feel bound, now that I am living en gar^on, 
to return it ; and as Jimmy (this is quite entre nous) 
seemed somewhat put out at the idea of our having 
supper in his room, I thought it better to invite my 
friends to sup at the Park Hotel — a very good place, 
and not expensive. It was, I think, a little dis- 
obliging of Jimmy, for, of course, I pay my share 
of the rooms, and I should have invited him to the 
supper. The affair was a great success, and Egerton 
(a very nice fellow, who has lately come into the 
office) said it was the pleasantest party he had been 
at for a long time. He and I have become great 
chums. He is quite a man of fashion; only, I am 
puzzled why a man like him chooses to sit at a 
desk — at all events, he writes a worse hand than I 
did. Now as I have told you this, you will not be 
surprised to hear that I am a little behindhand in 
my payments to Jimmy — two months, in short— 
and 1 don't like to let it run any longer ; so if you 
could spare me ten pounds it would put me all 
square, and I would keep right till after Christmas, 
when I hope " my wages will be riz," as Egerton 
says — you can't think what a contempt he seems to 
have for the shop ! 

* I daresay Grace will blow up about this, for she 
has the biggest share of the Frcre blood ; but 
don't you mind : send me the money, or write to 
the Dungar agent to forward it, like a darling 
mother as you are, and gratify 

' Your loving son, 

* Randal Frere.' 



THE FRERES. 185 

* It is too bad !* cried Grace, when she finished 
reading this letter over her mother's shoulder. 
* Such thoughtless extravagance ! I hope you will 
not send him the money, mother ; send it to Jimmy 
direct. Jimmy is evidently trying to restrain him. 
And as to his paying his share — it is but a small 
one ; where else, save with such a friend, would he 
find food and lodgings for twenty shillings a 
week ?' 

'True, my love. To be sure, he pays for his 
dinner in the city every day besides.' 

* Even so, it is shameful of him to be in arrears. 
And as to that ridiculous supper — it is worse than 
wrong to incur such uncalled-for expense. Indeed, 
dear mother, you must write to him very sharply.' 

' Yes, Grace, it was no doubt very wrong ; but 
after all, it is not so easy for us to judge what are 
the temptations of a young man. It may be very 
hard for him to ' 

' Oh, mother, he knows quite well what is right, 
and that he has no business to waste your money 
in that senseless way. Just send the money to 
Jimmy.* 

* No doubt it would be the best plan, but I fear 
Randal would be terribly wounded by such want of 
confidence; don't you think- so yourself?' 

' Perhaps it would be rather harsh,' returned 
Grace, reflectively ; it cut her to the heart to be 
unkind even in thought to Randal. * Suppose we 
send him the money, but say that you write to 
apologise to Jimmy. And what a cruel pull it will 
be, when I have tried so hard to save the few pounds 



1 88 THE FRERES. 

and generally by the work of their own hands, the 
wonder is that anyone is ever ready in time. 
Indeed, with months of preparation there is in 
nearly all families a scramble at the last, especially 
as each gift is to be a matter of surprise to the 
recipient, and must be worked at in odd corners 
and inconvenient times — out of sight. 

Grace grew quite impatient at the constant 
refusal of Fraulein Niedner, of Frau this and 
Baronin the other, to go with her to the ice. 
' Ach Gott, liebe Miss Frere ! it is not possible. 
I have still some Christmas work not quite done ;' 
or, ' To-day Miss Grace! no — no! the good father's 
cigar-case, or slippers, or watch-stand, is still many 
hours short of being finished. I cannot leave the 
house.' 

Themselves strangers, Grace and Mrs. Frere had 
less to do than their neighbours. A few gifts for 
their Dalbersdorf relatives and Mab's playfellow, 
Cecilia Sturm, was all their care. So as Christmas 
drew nearer, they had the Teich or mere very much 
to themselves. It was a new delight to fly across the 
ice, her hands firmly held by Falkenberg, who, as in 
most other exercises, excelled in skating — bending 
from side to side, her blood warmed by the rapid 
motion, her spirits exhilarated by the dry, keen 
air — so clear and still ; conscious too that her fur 
cap and thick fur-trimmed jacket were most be- 
coming—her bright colour, beaming eyes and ready 
tongue attracting only too much notice. 

It rather annoyed her to observe that not many 
of the other officers and gentlemen, who, unen- 



THE F RE RES, 189 

cumbered with Christmas cares, frequented the 
ice, attempted to skate with her, or interfere 
with the sort of proprietorship which Falkenberg 
exercised not certainly in any lover-like way, for 
they constantly argued and quarrelled, and he 
seemed always on the qui vive not to show her too 
much subservience, carefully measuring his atten- 
tions by the amount of notice she vouchsafed him, 
and ever ready to find fault. 

* Are you not tired of always skating with me ?* 
she asked one afternoon, as they paused after a 
rapid flight (it was little less) round the mere. 

'Well, no r returned Falkenberg, looking at her 
gravely. * You see, you are my pupil. I am proud 
of our progress, and I fear your falling into less 
skilful hands than my own.' 

'And you think I do pretty well V 

' Marvellously ! though I do not like to praise 
you. You think so very much of yourself, Miss 
Grace.' 

' I do not think I do,' she returned with perfect 
frank good-humour. * I should not be so eager for 
praise if I was — and I am too fond of it. You 
are far more conceited than I am, Herr Baron.' 

' Not so. I only try to believe my own merits, 
because no one praises me.' 

' I am sure my mother thinks you perfection.' 

* Madame your mother is a most charming and 
discriminating lady.' 

* Still I do not think I can skate as well as you 
say ; or some one else would wish to skate with 
mc.' 



t90 THE PRE RES. 

' Ah, I see ! You are tired of skating with me/ 
' No ! but variety is charming.' 

* My Fraulein ! I have the honour to leave you,' 
— a profound bow. 

* Stay, stay, Herr von Falkenberg ! I have no 
one to go on with. Well, go. I shall ask the Herr 
Oberst myself! and show you how I can skate 
alone. So saying, she glided away to where 
Falkenberg's colonel, a stout jolly veteran with 
daughters older than herself, stood talking wilh 
Mrs. Frere. 

' Wenn ich Bitten darf ! may I venture to ask for 
3''our escort, Herr Oberst ?* 

' Ach Gott ! with the greatest pleasure, my Frau- 
lein; allow me to put on my skates.' 

In a few minutes he was by her side ; certainly 
a less accomplished cavalier than Falkenberg, 
but wonderfully efficient, considering his weight 
and age. 

Seeing the redoubtable baron engaged with one 
-of the colonel's daughters, several of his brother 
officers asked permission to take tours with Miss 
Frere ; and she, delighted to have emancipated 
herself from Falkenberg, bestowed her brightest 
smiles and best German on her new partners. 

At length, after Mrs. Frere had twice mentioned 
that it was time to return home, Grace descried 
Dr. Sturm standing on the bank with his skates in 
his hand. She directed her course to him, and 
greeted him with much pleasure. 

' How is it that we see you so seldom, Herr 
Doctor ?' 



THE FRERES. 191 

' My time is not my own, dear lady ; and when I 
am free, it is already too dark. To-day I have a 
note for you enclosed in one from my brother. I 
called at your house, and found you were on the 
ice. 

* Oh, thank you !' cried Grace, extending her 
hand for the billet. 'It is from Friede, and in 
German,' she added ; ' you must help me. Dr. 
Sturm.' 

He drew near, and with his assistance Grace 
deciphered the missive. She found it requested 
hospitality for Gertrud and Friede, who were 
coming to Zittau early the following day, in order 
to shop and attend a 'coffee-party' at the Frau 
Oberst's, to which their mother would not accom- 
pany them ; but would send the carriage to fetcli 
the young ladies about nine or ten.' 

' A messenger will call for your answer in about 
two hours,' said the doctor, when they had de- 
ciphered the note. 

*Then come round to my mother, and I will 
show her the note. Of course we shall be delighted 
to put them up.' 

Mrs. Frere, always glad to exercise hospitality, 
proposed having a very early dinner, that the young 
ladies might enjoy some skating.' 

' And can you not manage to skate with us V 
asked Grace. 

* And come to supper,' added Mrs. Frere. 

Herr Doctor would like to do both, but could 
only manage supper. 

* In the meantime, put on your skates and take 



192 THE FRERES. 

a turn with me now,* said Grace, who had dismissed 
her last attendant (the fascinating von Heldreich). 
The doctor was again complaisant, and they 
were soon in deep animated conversation, passing 
Falkenberg, who was standing on the bank with 
the colonel and his daughters, once without noticing 
him, once with a smile and nod, positively insulting 
in its gay indifference. 

* Ah ! the pretty English girl is slightly coquette,' 
said the colonel, looking after her admiringly. 

*She is wiinderschonl remarked one of his 
daughters ; * but Hel^ne von Chersky, who knows 
many foreigners in Dresden, say they are all terribly 
bold — quite shameless.' 

* Mees Frere is not exactly coquette/ returned 
Falkenberg, \yho had taken off his skates and was 
in readiness to attend the colonel's party off the 
ground ; * at least I have not found it out : but she 
is very different from a German Fraulein.' 

' She is a sweet maiden, nevertheless,' returned 
the colonel (old men were always greatly attracted 
by Grace) ; ' I do not dislike her frankness.' 

* The papa is ever indulgent to beauty,' said his 
daughter, laughing, and they went away together 
towards the town. 

Grace, without seeming to notice it, perceived 
that, for the first time since the skating commenced, 
Falkenberg had deserted her, and she' felt a sudden 
thrill of resentment and mortification. It is always 
vexatious to have a morsel of property you have 
grown to consider your own taken from you ; yet 
the next moment she laughed at her own folly, 



THE FRERES. 193 

and walked home with her mother and Dr. Sturm, 
talking and smiling as gaily as if no Falkenberg 
were in the world. 

The next morning was delightfully busy. Grace, 
anxious to show her own and her mother's house- 
wifely accomplishments to the best advantage, 
worked eagerly to set everything in order ; ana 
Paulina required a great deal of help and super- 
vision. Then Paulina must be tidy, arrayed in a 
fresh white ScJmrzen (apron), her hair dressed (a 
tremendous undertaking), by half-past twelve. 

With the best will in the world, Grace found it 
impossible to manage all this without the help of 
the Hansfrau — a most important functionary in a 
German house. She is a sort of perpetual char- 
woman on the premises. It is her right and duty 
to sweep and keep the common stair clean, to carry 
down the coal and wood to the cellar, after the 
coal has been tumbled in a heap on the street, and 
to take out and put in the double windows in their 
season, for which services she receives a stipulated 
tax from the dwellers within the threshold. Some- 
times she is the dear friend of the Dienst-madclieji, 
and then meat, bread, coffee, coals, and sugar pay 
somewhat heavy toll, especially in a stranger's estab- 
lishment. German housewives are not so confiding. 
Sometimes she is an object of the Die7tst-mddcheji*s 
bitterest hate, and suspected of everypossiblevillany ; 
she is, according to the maiden's report, a thief, a 
liar, an evil tongue, a deadly temper, capable of 
waylaying departing guests at the house-door, and 
intercepting the flow of Groschen which ought to 

VOL. II. 34 



194 THE FRERES. 

find its way into the maiden's own pocket. But no 
matter how appalling the character of the Hausfrau, 
the most consistent and virtuous maidens never 
hesitate to leave her in possession of the kitchen, 
with all the chances of appropriating scraps, on 
those high days and holidays when, arrayed in her 
best, with a Tower of Babel in false plaits, puffs, 
and curls on her head, and yards of ribbon floating 
from her hat, the Mddchen goes forth to meet her 
Schatz, On Friday they may have stormed at 
each other on the stair, till you think nothing short 
of your interference could have saved bloodshed, 
and on Saturday you will be startled to hear 
Paulina or Augusta addressing her in honied 
accents as she is scrubbing the landing ; and a few 
minutes after you are smilingly assured that if'you 
can permit P. or A. to go out to-morrow early — 
say at six in the morning — the HaiisfraUy who 
when not in her tempers is a very friendly woman 
and not stupid, has kindly consented to be locum- 
tenens — you, the mistress, of course paying for the 
friendliness and bearing the possible losses. 

Now our Paulina was at deadly feud with the 
Hausfraify consequently met her mistress's pro- 
posal to have that excellent woman's assistance 
with an emphatic * Gott bewahr ! She (Paulina) 
would do double work with delight, rather than 
allow so ugly and dishonest a Frau to disgrace the 
Herrschaft's kitchen.' On which Mrs. Frere re- 
treated on her reserves (Grace), who came gallantly 
to the front, and insisted on the introduction of an 
auxiliary force, especially to go of messages, as a 



THE FRERES. 195 

note must be despatched to Herr Hauptmann von 
Falkenberg immediately. * For/ thought Grace, * we 
must not omit to ask him to supper this evening/ 

In spite of various difficulties and much tacit 
opposition from Paulina, everything was ready 
when the Dalbersdorf party arrived. Both Gertrud 
and Friede first flew into Grace's arms, and then 
proceeded to embrace Mrs. Frere. 

The cousins had not met for nearly a fortnight, 
so they were almost breathlessly eager to detail 
the small events that had occurred in the interim. 

' Ach Gott !' cried Friede, *but it is long since 
we have seen each other. The black horse was 
lame, and something was wrong with the other, so 
we have been prisoners/ 

* And imagine, that stupid old man Hans, the 
Nacktwdchter, fell asleep the other night, and some 
Bohemian thieves from over the border came in 
and stole three geese — cut the poor things' throats, 
and carried them away.' 

' Yes/ added Friede, ' Mamsell heard a voice, 
and got up to look what was the matter ; but it 
was so dark she could not make out anything.' 

' So she thought it was only a rat had frightened 
the geese,' continued Gertrud ; ^ and in the morn- 
ing the three were gone, and blood spilt all about ; 
but they took a pair of Hans' boots too, and that 
punished him. If he were a younger man, I would 
ask the mother to send him away ; but one cannot 
be hard on an old servant' 

'No, certainly not/ said Grace, with entire 
approval. 

34—2 



196 THE PRE RES. 

'And the dear Gross-vater told poor old Hans 
that they both had borne the burden and heat of 
the day, and ought to rest now ; so he gave him 
money to buy a new pair of boots/ said Friede. 

* Just like my dear uncle !' cried Mrs. Frere. 

* Yes, he is very good/ returned Gertrud. * But 
it was scarcely right to reward Hans for his 
negligence.' 

' And how is the Graf ?' asked Grace. * He has 
not been in Zittau for an age/ 

' He has not been so well/ said Friede, ' and has 
stayed in-doors till he is melancholy/ 

*Ach, du lieber HimmelP exclaimed Gertrud; 
' we have quantities to do and to buy. I am sadly 
backward fallen with my Christmas work. At 
what hour do you dine, dear cousin ? I must to 
the shops at once/ 

* We will dine at one punctually,' said Mrs. Frere. 
* I thought you would like to skate after ^ 

' It would be charming !' cried Friede, 'but ' 



* It is not possible,' interrupted Gertrud. * We 
have no time. Was Cousin Falkenberg to come 
with us V 

* I wrote to ask him this morning, but he had 
already gone out to ride, and his servant did not 
know when he would return.' 

* Did he not know?' began Gertrud, when Friede, 
who had been turning over the various packages 
and wraps which Paulina had brought in from the 
carriage, uttered a shriek of dismay. 

'Gott in Himmel ! it is lost it is forgotten ! — the 
parcel with the wool and silk, and my grounding 



THE PRE RES. 197 

stuff ! — all the patterns we were to match ! Ach, 
thou best of Paulinas ! quick — quick ! run, fly, 
catch Fritz — stop the carriage !' 

* Why, Friede/ cried Grace, ' if he was to return at 
once, Fritz must be half-way to Dalbersdorf by 
this time.' 

' Yes, he was to go back ; he was wanted in the 
yard ; and is to fetch us at half ten. Oh, thou 
thoughtless Friede ! all our journey is for nothing.' 

* Why did you not think of it yourself, Gertrud ?' 
said Friede, petulantly. 

Meantime Paulina might be seen flying down 
the road, holding on her plaits of hair with one 
hand, and gathering up her dress away from the 
snow with the other, while Gertrud and Friede 
turned over every article of the many which had 
been taken from the capacious landau, with reckless 
haste and utter disregard of their equilibrium, while 
with shrill voices they called heaven and earth to 
witness their despair and ruin. In the midst of the 
confusion enter Mab, Sack (satchel) in hand, bright, 
rosy, and amused. 

' You are stupid things !' she said. * Now if / 
did that !' So saying, she proceeded to deposit 
her Sack in a dark corner of the corridor, and lo ! it 
touched something soft. * What is this ?' cried 
Mabel, fishing up a loose, untidy-looking bundle, 
much tied round with worsted Gam (thread). 

Shrieks of delight on recognition ; loud thanks- 
giving to the unseen powers. 

Tableau — Gertrud holding up the parcel in 
triumph. 




CHAPTER XI. 



I HE coffee-party was to be at four, and at 
three Gertrud and Friede began to 
dress, somewhat to the surprise of 
Grace, whose only experience of such 
■entertainments was in London during .her brief 
period of favour with Lady Elton, and there ladies 
came in their ordinary afternoon toilettes. 

This was a much more serious undertaking 
First, a careful demi-toilelle must be provided ; 
then the hair must be elaborately dressed, for no 
hat or bonnet can with propriety be worn at i 
Kagee. 

Mrs. Frere had hoped to be saved the trouble of 
changing her headgear, but both Gertrud and 
Friede assured her it was impossible to appear save 
in a highly decorative cap. 

' But, liebe Cousine ! you can put on a head- 
handkerchief {Kopf-liich) ; it is warmer than a 
bonnet,' said Gertrud, as they stood ready to 
depart. 



THE PRE RES. 199 

^ I am afraid it will crush my feathers/ returned 
Mrs. Frere, who, if she had a vanity left, preserved 
a weakness for caps. 

* I will carry your cap !' cried Friede ; * and you 
can put it on when you go in. But let us start, or 
we shall be late.* 

The colonel's house was just outside the town, 
and stood in a large garden, duly guarded by a 
sentinel. Here was gathered all the female rank 
and fashion of Zittau, for no masculine element is 
permitted to disturb the exclusiveness of the 
institution, 

On reaching the first-floor, the door was opened 
by a military-looking man-servant, and the ladies 
disrobed in a wide vestibule, furnished with several 
stands bristling with pegs, and thickly hung with 
jackets, head-/«f//j, wraps of all descriptions — a 
looking-glass against the wall affording means of 
rectification. 

Two handsome rooms, solidly and somewhat 
gloomily furnished, were thrown open, but the 
absence of graceful litter, the small elegances indi- 
cative of the inhabitants* tastes and occupations, 
gave them a barren aspect, the usual characteristic 
of German drawing-rooms. They were already ful 
when Mrs. Frere and her three young ladies en- 
tered, and the Frau Oberst came forward with a 
polite and profound curtsey to receive them. 

* Pray, madame, be seated !' ' 

She waved Mrs. Frere to the seat of honour on 
the sofa, addressing her in French. 

* You know the Frau Burgomeisterin and Frau 



coo THE FRERES. 

Gerichtsamtmann Reinhardt, and these ladies, but 
allow me to introduce you to Frau Ober Forster 
Werner, and the Frau Ober ZoU Inspectorin, who 
have not had the pleasure of meeting you ; also 
Frau Richter, my good friend,' etc. etc. 

All these ladies rose and curtseyed with much 
respect and formality. Most of them were exceed- 
ingly stout, with vast waists, round which they 
wore chains of silver, or thick silk cords, to hold 
their fans or hook up their dresses, and had broad, 
good-natured faces, wonderfully pale and puckered. 
Preaching and tax-collecting seemed the least 
flourishing occupations, as their female representa- 
tives were long, lean, and bony to an excessive 
degree. Black silk and embroidered cashmere 
dresses predominated, with a good deal of fine 
Saxon lace. 

Meantime, while Mrs. Frere was exchanging 
smiles and compliments with those ladies who 
spoke French, or possessed a smattering of English, 
Fraulein Berta and Fraulein Marie von Ahlefeld, 
the colonel's daughters, took possession of Grace 
and her cousins. 

Leading them across the first salon^ Grace curt- 
seying at nearly every other step, on being pre- 
sented to ' gracious ' lady representatives of nearly 
every branch of civil and military service in Zittau. 
till they reached the inner room, where all the 
Fraulein were assembled, and a great clatter of 
many tongues moved the air. More introductions, 
curtseys, smiles, and compliments. 

Gertrud and Friede went among the groups. 



THE FRERES. 201 

talking to their acquaintances, and soon were 
seated in the neighbourhoods most agreeable to 
them — Fraulein von Ahlefeld finding a place for 
her English guest close to the curtain which draped 
the doorway, beside a pretty, blue-eyed, fair-haired 
girl of the ideal Saxon type, whom she introduced 
as her dearest friend, Fraulein Lisabeth Gutcher, 
who spoke English like an angel — a description 
which called forth many smiling disclaimers and 
remonstrances. The fair Saxon, however, with the 
readiness to seize an opportunity of speaking a 
foreign tongue usual to Germans, addressed Grace 
in English ; and with the help of mistakes and cor- 
rections, they were soon at home with each other. 

The company being assembled, both men-ser- 
vants and maid-servants brought in large trays 
laden with cups of coffee, each crowned with a 
snowy lump of whipped cream and great round 
thin cakes, each on a china stand, which just fitted 
it — deadly sweet, though light and rich, each sup- 
plied with a sort of silver perforated knife, like a 
small fish-slice, wherewith to serve the cake ; and 
besides those, there were silver baskets full of every 
description of sweet biscuit. From this moment till 
they left, a succession of cakes, coffee, ice, wafers, 
mixed sweetbread, red and white wine, chocolate, 
bonbons, goodies of every description, were per- 
petually being handed round, till Grace felt posi- 
tively sick with the mere attempt to taste a tithe 
of the dainties pressed upon her. The conversation 
meantime hung fire lamentably, and scarce rose 
above the level of question and answer. Presently 



202 THE FRERES. 

a plump damsel, in a green barege dress and red 
bows, sat down by Grace's new acquaintance, 
who, according to the excellent rule of German 
good manners, immediately introduced the stran- 
ger ; but the influence of common" topics and 
interests was too strong — both girls were soon 
absorbed in chatter so rapid that Grace could only 
understand an occasional word. As she sat thus 
somewhat isolated, her ear was caught by the name 
of Falkenberg, pronounced very distinctly by a 
strong elderly voice (there are periods for the voice) 
at the other side of the curtain beside her, and 
feeling it impossible to change her seat in that 
crowd of strangers, when there was no vacant place 
near either Gertrud or Friede, she was almost com- 
pelled to hear the greater part of what followed. 

' Ach, meine Liebe ! he is quite good and steady 
now. His debts are paid. All he has to do is to 
choose a rich wife, and they say that Grafin Schon- 
berg will * said another speaker. 

' Ach, Gott ! not so,' interrupted the first. * He 
has paid some portion of his gambling debts ; and 
in consequence of his remarkable conduct in the 
war, the king pardoned that dreadful affair with 
the Frau Baronin von Putska, and allowed him to 
change his regiment/ 

* It was in truth an unfortunate affair. Her 
religion, too, was a sad obstacle. Had they been 
Protestants, Herr von Putska and she might have 
arranged a divorce, and she might have married 
Falkenberg ; but the Catholics are such bigots.' 

* Ach! can you believe such a Geschichte (history)? 



THE FRERES. 203 

Think you Falkenberg would have married a 
woman without money, and lose his career ? It 
would have been impossible/ 

* I suppose so. But, lieber Gott ! the woman pays 
dear for her folly. They say she is in a convent 
near Warsaw, separated from her children — for 
Catholics will sacrifice anything to avoid a scandal/ 

' Ach, Himmel ! and he is as much sought as ever 
— as much with the excellent family at Dalbersdorf.' 

* But ' (a long-drawn Aber) ' what can a family of 
that kind know, away from the talk of towns ? 
(And.meine Liebe,what fearful gossips the Zittauers 
are — fearful ! too — too dreadful !) They are near 
kinsfolk too ; no one will speak to tliem. And the 
eldest, Fraulein Gertrud — they say he will marry 
her/ 

*Ach, mein Liebe, by no means. This stranger 
family, the good Graf's cousins or nieces — there 
will he find his Braut (bride). It is a distinguished 
family and wealthy, but compelled through political 
offences to leave their country. So a marriage 
with a well-born German will be excellent for the 
Fraulein Tochter.* 

' No, no, dear lady ; a thousand times no. The 
young Fraulein favours the Gelehrten, She is half 
a man, like these English Mddchcn ; and they say 
she has eyes and ears only for Herr Dr. Sturm/ 

Here a third person evidently added herself to 
the' speakers, and from the confusion of tongues 
which ensued, Grace could gather nothing distinct. 
Then, to her relief, Gertrud came across the room 
to introduce her to some other young lady friends. 



204 THE FRERES. 

and she escaped from her corner, the terrible reve- 
lations of the unseen speakers still ringing in her 
ears. 

Mrs. Frere, during this time, found herself the 
object of much interest, not to say curiosity. 

* You will find it dull in our little Zittau/ said the 
Frau Burpjomeisterin, as she stirred up the cream 
into her coffee. ' After the splendours of a great 
city, our simple life must seem too homely/ 

* By no means, madame. Zittau appears a 
charming residence to me. I was only a short 
time in London.' 

* And madame has only the one charming 
daughter and the little maiden } My young cousin 
has the pleasure to go to the same school with 
her.' 

' Yes, I have no other daughters ; but I have a 
son in England.' 

* Indeed ! And is he at school i*' asked the Frau 
Gerichtsdirector. 

' Or in the army ?' added Frau Ober Forsterin. 

* Or is he a learned professor Y pursued Frau 
Ober ZoU Inspectorin. 

'Ach, bewahr!' cried Frau Burgomeisterin, 
' madame is far too young to have a professor son. 
What are you thinking of ?' 

' My boy is not yet twenty,' said Mrs. Frere. 

* Certainly, gewiss !' cried the Frau Burgomeis- 
terin. ' Then what will you make of him, madame, 
when he has finished his course ?' 

* I think he will adopt a literary career. At 
present he is in a great house of business.' 



THE FRERES. 205 

* Maison de Commerce/ repeated the ladies to 
each other. Then rapidly adding in German : ' Im- 
possible!* 'Strange!* *It cannot be — aKaufmann!* 
{literally * a seller ' — it may be of bales, boxes, and 
ships' cargoes ; it may be of metres, litres, or kilo- 
grammes). * The son of so elegant a lady — a lady 
of quite a courtly appearance/ etc. 

' But, meine Damen/ said the Frau Postmeisterin, 
*■ a Kaufmann in England is not the same as here. 
There they rank according to their wealth — the 
richest is a duke. The English merchants are like 
those of Hamburg.' 

* Ach, du lieber Himmel !' shrieked the Frau 
Burgomeisterin, * what matters it 1 A merchant 
can never rank with the military, or the Spitzen 
behorde^ or the Gutsbesitzer, I thought Herr Graf 
Costello was of a great English family. Indeed, 
he has a princely appearance/ she added, with the 
aristocratic prejudice natural to a lady whose 
father, from a very humble beginning, had de- 
veloped into a wealthy Fabricant. 

* Hush !' whispered the Frau Gerichtsamtdirector. 
* The lady will wonder what we are speaking of ! 
And how old is mademoiselle your daughter ?' she 
asked politely, addressing Mrs. Frere. 

Mrs. Frere replied, and then they proceeded to 
inquire more or less minutely into her exact re- 
lationship to Count Costello and the Dalbersdorf 
family, the object of her residence in Zittau, its 
probable duration, and finally her opinion of 
Falkenberg and Dr. Sturm. However, in social 
tactics and the shibboleth of company conversation. 



2o6 THE FRERES. 

Mrs. Frere was no tyro ; she gave very ample 
and courteous replies which conveyed — nothing, 
elegantly ; thereby earning the respect of the in- 
quisitors, who nevertheless felt themselves a little 
slighted because she did not in her turn cross- 
examine them as to the number of their children, 
their various professions and acquirements, the 
rank and standing of their respective husbands, etc. 

This conversation was of course varied by flying 
visits from the hostess, whenever the cakes, and 
coffee, and ices, and ' Nusstorte,' and wine were 
being handed round. * Bitte, bitte, meine Damen !' 
she would cry ; * you eat nothing. Take another 
morsel of cake — a cup of coffee — a glass of bowle, 
I fear there is nothing to tempt you.' 

But even gossip garnished with sweets cannot 
last forever ; and about six, symptoms of separation 
began to show themselves. 

The Frau Baroninvon Heidenreich lived at some 
distance, and with three very tall, gaunt daughters, 
was the first to take leave, the young ladies curtsey- 
ing low and kissing Frau Oberst's hand. Others 
soon followed, and Mrs. Frere, availing herself of 
the movement, approached Friede and asked if 
they might leave. 

Then Gertrud and Grace had to be disentangled 
from the room full of Frauleins; but at last, much 
to Grace's relief, all was over, and they were once 
more in the keen, still air. 

* Well, my Gracechen, and what do you think of a 
" Kaffee Klatch T ' asked Friede, slipping her arm 
into Grace's, and leaving Mrs. Frere to Gertrud. 



THE FRERES. 207 

* Klatch !* repeated Grace. 

* Yes ; it means " coffee gossip." ' 

' It is quite original, and not very amusing/ 
Grace was not disposed to talk, so she let Friede 
run on unchecked with a rapid sketch of nearly- 
all the people they had just left, while she revolved 
in her own mind the history she had overheard. 
Those words, * The woman pays dear for her folly,' 
seemed still to sound in her ears. Her quick fancy 
sketched a vivid picture of a beautiful woman 
wearing out the remainder of a ruined life in 
silence and solitude, forsaken, forgotten — having 
forfeited a mother's right to the presence, the love, 
the knowledge of her own children ! The idea was 
too terrible. Could any woman live under such 
a ban, and keep her senses } and would not death 
be merciful, compared to such a lot 1 Could it 
be possible that Falkenberg — so bright and plea- 
sant — so almost innocently playful with Mabel—- 
so like a son and a brother in their simple home — 
had played a guilty part in such a tragedy as this ? 
She had always been dimly conscious of a certain 
distrust — a vague uneasiness when with him ; but 

of late it had nearly died away. Now 

But probably those horrid old women had ex- 
aggerated. How could she find out the truth } 
She could not ask — she could never repeat what 
she had heard ; it was such a horrible story ! True, 
her large experience in novel-reading supplied many 
parallel cases, but then they were in books ; and 
young readers rarely realise that such things occur 
now and then in life. Grace felt strangely moved ; 



2o"^ THE FRERES. 

her heart sank within her. What was Max Frere's 
fickleness and neglect compared to such faithless- 
ness as Falkenberg's to a woman, who, whatever 
she might be, had forfeited all for him ! 

* So you see, my Gracechen, the Burgomeister is 
sure to give a ball in January ; he always does ; 
and their parties are capital !* Frieda was saying, 
when Grace, with an effort, forced herself back to 
every-day topics. 

* Yes ; I am sure they are charming !' returned 
Grace, mechanically. * And my uncle, will he go?' 

* No ; he rarely goes out in the evening. But 
Grace, have you seen Otto Sturm lately ?' 

* Yes ; he was skating with me yesterday, and he 
sups with us to-night. I wish you had seen how 
he brightened up when my mother asked him !' 

* Did he know I — I mean we — were coming, thou 
sweetest one ?' 

* Yes, of course ; that was why we asked him. 
We scarce ever ask anyone.' 

* Well, your little Paulina has lit up every room ! 
How tempting and homelike the old house looks !' 
cried Friede, as they approached under the snow- 
laden trees. 

* I only hope she has done as I desired her about 
laying the table,' said Grace; 'between my bad 
German and my inexperience, I fear I am an in- 
different Hausfrau! 

' Come, then,' exclaimed Friede, who seemed in 
high spirits, 'let us run on, and make all right 
before anyone arrives.' 

The salofiy with its bright lamp and gay table- 



THE FRERES. 209 

covers, its books, photograph-stands, open piano, 
and Mrs. Frere's work-basket overflowing with 
many-coloured wools, seemed to welcome them 
cheerily. Mab, too, had donned a pretty, grey 
summer frock and coaxed Paulina to do her fair 
hair in two long plaits, after which friendly assist- 
ance they quarrelled — quarrelled bitterly, I regret 
to say — over the task of setting the table, as 
Paulina refused to permit Mabel any share of the 
work. 

* She is an odious, disagreeable thing,* said Mab, 
with her usual candour and decision. * And just 
you look, Grace, what a muddle she has made of 
it ! — a pile of spoons here, a heap of forks there. 
No room for the plates, she has put the dishes so 
near the edge. She knows nothing !' 

* It looks rather funny,' said Grace, glad to turn 
her thoughts to domestic matters ; * but I am 
afraid you speak rudely to Paulina, and that makes 
her cross. Come, you may help Friede and me.' 

So saying, she began to array the supper-table in 
English fashion, Friede and Mab assisting — all 
three enjoying their work — while Paulina was free 
to concentrate her energies on the preparation of 
Backhuhn (fried fowl with mushrooms — a Bohemian 
dish of decided merit). 

When all was ready, they left the double-doors 
open that the warmth of the salon might penetrate 
into the dining-room, thus permitting a pleasant 
peep of the supper- table, with its snow-white cloth, 
shining glass and silver, and centre-group of plants. 

' Do you not think Grace has learned much 

VOL. II. 35 



2IO THE FRERES. 

management since she came to us ?* asked Gertrud, 
who had rearranged her toilette with some care. 
Both sisters were arrayed in ruby French merino, 
much trimmed with velvet of the same colour, and 
bows of pale blue at the throat and in their hair. 

' Yes, she really does wonders ; and she knew 
little or nothing when she left England,' replied 
Mrs. Frere, to whom the question had been 
addressed. 

' And can she manage, as she intended, on sixteen 
thalers a week } It is really quite enough, only 
your ways are so different' 

* I imagine she does. She has not mentioned 
the house accounts to me for some time.' 

* It is no doubt a help to have the good Dalbers- 
dorf milk and butter at market price ; and Mamsell 
desired me to tell you that we kill a pig next week, 
and will you please say what Schivein Jleisch or 
wiirst you would like ?' 

* My dear, you had better speak to Grace ; I 
leave everything to her. But I am exceedingly 
obliged to you, Gertrud.' 

'And is it in truth so much more costly in 
London 1' 

Mrs. Frere s answer was stopped by the entrance 
of Dr. Sturm, whom they had previously heard taking 
off his coat in the corridor. He had made a care- 
ful toilette ; his neat tie, and hair brushed back 
behind his ears, all showed an unusual amount of 
attention to personal appearance. 

' I fear I am somewhat early,' he said, bowing 
low over the hand Mrs. Frere extended to him, 



THE FRERES. 21 1 

while his pale cheek flushed a little. * But it is 
always agreeable to be with Mrs. Frere; and I 
have, moreover, to make the excuses of my mother, 
who is too much overwhelmed with her Christmas 
preparations to leave the house/ 

* I am very sorry,* said Mrs. Frere. ' She ought 
to have come, were it only to rest for a couple of 
hours.' 

* Why did you not bring Cecilia ?' asked Mab. 
*Fraulein Gertrud, Friiulein Friede,' continued 

the doctor, ' you are, I hope, well } It seems a long 
age since I have seen you.' And after greeting 
Grace cordially, he took a seat between Friede and 
Mrs. Frere, turning occasionally when speaking to 
her to look at the former with such an expression 
of serene complete happiness, that Grace thought 
everyone who observed him for a moment must 
perceive the secret of his joy ; while Friede blushed 
and smiled and grew radiant under his honest 
loving glance, till her cousin felt absolutely indig- 
nant at this display of feeling without the smallest 
attempt at concealment or self-control. 

The conversation turned on the coffee party of 
that afternoon, and Grace asked if Friede knew 
who the two ladies were who sat near her (Grace) 
by the doorway. 

'While you were talking with Fraulein Gutcher.^* 

' Yes.' 

' I am not quite sure. One was, I think, Frau 
Walter ; the other is a stranger from Dresden, who 
is, I think, staying with the Frau Oberst.' 

* Oh, that Frau Walter is too dreadful ; she is 

35— 2 



k 



212 THE PRE RES, 

the greatest gossip in Zittau, and always has the 
worst stories of everyone/ cried Gertrud. 

This was a crumb of comfort to Grace, and it 
had hardly been caught when little Paulina opened 
with a beaming aspect, and said : 

' Herr Graf, meine gnadige Frau, and Herr 
Baron,' when, to the amazement of everyone. Count 
Costello's tall stately figure appeared in the door- 
way — for everyone knew he seldom left Dalbers- 
dorf of an evening in winter — and close behind 
came Falkenberg. 

*My dear uncle!' cried Mrs. Frere and Grace 
together. 

'Ach Gott, der Gross- vater !' exclaimed his 
granddaughters, with one voice. 

' This is indeed a pleasure,* said Grace, embracing 
him warmly, while Mrs. Frere drew forward her 
own arm-chair, and all crowded round him. 

* Why, it is a treat to come among such a bevy 
of beauties,' said the gallant veteran, having kissed 
them all round and settled himself in his chair. 
* And your salon, niece, has borrowed something of 
your own charm.' 

* But to what do we owe the pleasure of seeing 
you, dear uncle f 

* Yes,' echoed Friede, ' how is it you are here, 
G^r^jj'-papa ? 

* Ah, you have to thank me,' said Falkenberg, 
who had kept in the background, furtively watching 
Grace ; * and nobody takes any notice of me. Miss 
Grace has not even spoken one word.' 

* I beg your pardon,' said Grace, laughing to hide 



THE PRE RES. 213 

the change in her tone, which was perceptible to 
herself; *I was too much surprised to notice 
anyone. Thank you very much for bringing the 
count to us/ She spoke without moving from her 
place, and Falkenberg consequently did not offer 
his hand. 

* After you started this morning,' said the count, 
^ Falkenberg made his appearance, and insisted on 
my riding over with him to Burchardtswald ; then 
I went to dine at the Casino — so I am here, and 
shall return with the girls. My Frau Tochter was 
quite alarmed at such an outbreak on the old 
soldier's part. Ha ! ha ! ha !' the count laughed 
triumphantly at the notion of his daughter's dis- 
comfiture. * However, I have enjoyed my day.' 

* Ah, Wolff !' cried Friede, * you are always ready 
to stir up insurrection.' 

' Have I not done well, and given everyone 
pleasure V he returned. 

' Please come to table,' said Paulina. 

The count offered his arm to Mrs. Frere, Falken- 
berg to Gertrud, and Sturm brought up the rear 
with Friede and Grace. 

' Ah,* said the count, as he glanced approvingly 
at the chief dish, * Backhuhn ! that is good. I have 
not tasted Backhuhn for some time — and mush- 
rooms — good !' 

' And here, uncle, is a bottle of Mislauer. I know 
you like it — at least, I hope so,' said Mrs. Frere. 

The supper proceeded merrily, Grace and Friede 
doing a good deal of the waiting, Sturm and Falk- 
enberg occasionally assisting. 



214 THE FRERES, 

* Thank you, me darling/ said the count, as Grace 
bent over him to place a fresh roll by his plate. 
' Faith ! it transports me back nearly fifty years to 
look at you to-night, though you are pale. Whaf s 
the matter, Grace ?' 

'Nothing, dear uncle,' she returned, blushing 
vividly, for every eye turned upon her at this ob- 
servation, and she hastened back to her place, 
which was between Sturm and Falkenberg, at the 
foot of the table. The latter, glancing up at her 
round pliant figure, in its simple dress of close- 
fitting black silk, buttoned from throat to feet, with 
a frill and cravat of rich old lace, said, smiling : 

* Miss Grace is a very deceptive young lady. The 
roses come and go so quickly in her cheeks that a 
stranger might think her very shy — timid — bashful 
— which is it } But no ! she is firm, and self-reliant, 
and proud — very proud. Is it not so, Herr General?' 

* I tell you what it is, Falkenberg, my boy ; you 
have a very fair general idea of the sex — ^you have 
made the most of your opportunities, I daresay — 
but I don't think you understand an Irish girl like 
my Grace.' 

' Do I not V said Falkenberg, turning a signifi- 
cant look on Grace. ' I think I ought.' 

'And I think, Wolff, you are very rude to in- 
sinuate that my cousin is bold,' said Gertrud, with 
a simper of superiority. 

* But I said no such thing. What I do say is, 
that for all the sweet home- staying virtues of a real 
German maiden, there is no better type than my 
fair cousin Gertrud.' 



THE F RE RES, 215 

* And am not I home-staying, too V asked Friede, 
in an injured tone. 

'To be sure ; dare anyone deny it ?' said Falken- 
berg, soothingly. 

' Fraulein Friede is formed to be the light and 
joy of the home she stays in/ murmured Herr 
Doctor, in a low tone, unnoticed by anyone save 
Friede and Grace, while Falkenberg rather noisily 
drank Gertrudes health. 

* Well said,' thought Grace to herself. ' How 
well he says most things!' and she silently wondered 
that intellectual refinement could co-exist with 
manners somewhat primitive in some directions, for 
even as he spoke, he unhesitatingly rested his knife, 
all dripping with gravy, on the table-cloth while 
sending his plate for a supply of Backlmhn^ and 
then thrust the gastronomic weapon into the salt 
previous to renewing his attack ; nor did any doubt 
seem to cross his mind at a later period as to the 
propriety of using his toothpick : unimportant 
trifles, perhaps, yet Grace thought how intolerable 
in a husband ! When she again attended to what 
was going on, the count was concluding a pane- 
gyric on the beauty and virtue of his country- 
women. 

* Not but there are angels by the dozen to be 
found in Saxony and Austria ; but, for dash and 
fun, and the salt of pleasant devilry to keep the 
blood warm in your veins while all goes well, and 
love and tenderness to heal your wounds and 
soothe your bruises when you've been battered in 
the battle of life, there are few can equal an Irish 



2i6 THE PRE RES. 

girl. Your health, my dear niece ; and yours too, 
my jewel P 

' I aku quite sure of the devilry/ said Falkenberg, 
laughing and glancing at Grace, as she held out 
her glass to touch her grand-uncle^s ; ' and of 
course, that carries conviction as to the rest of the 
assertion !' but Grace did not meet his eyes. 

' I should have thought, my dear uncle,^ said 
Mrs. Frere, * that you knew little or nothing of your 
countrywomen, you left home so early.' 

* Fifty-four years ago, last November,' returned 
the veteran. * But, my dear, I have known Irish 
women out of Ireland ! To be sure, fifty years ago 
every woman was sweeter and fairer, the sun shone 
brighter, the thunder rolled more grandly ; ach, 
Himmel ! joy was more joyous, and grief more 
keen/ 

* Is it, then, so long, Herr Graf, since you left 
your country ?' asked Dr. Sturm. 

* Ay ! I have seen the map of Europe twice 
changed during the time, and not much good come 
of it.' 

*You should dictate your memoirs to Friede 
and to me,' said Grace ; ' I long to write, and your 
recollections would be historical.' 

' I have seen a good deal, one way or the other, 
certainly,' returned the count, with some pride, 
while Mrs. Frere filled his glass ; ' but I tell you 
that, while most things seem to grow smaller and 
feebler in my sight, the enormous size of modern 
armies fills me with astonishment.' 

* And sorrow,' put in Sturm : * such cruel waste 



THE PRE RES. 217 

of the most precious material the world holds — 
human life/ 

*It is not wasted/ said Falkenberg, sharply; 
* wars do not often occur, and the military death- 
rate is not higher than civil/ 

' Ah, Herr Baron, you wilfully misunderstand 
me,' cried Sturm. ' It is not of the waste of 
physical life I speak, but careers interrupted, studies 
broken off at their most critical period, families 
deprived of their most effectual helpers ; of the 
country turned into a vast barrack, of industry 
paralysed/ 

' Liebe, Herr Doctor !^ returned Falkenberg, and 
there was a touch of scorn in his tone. 'The 
men who come into our ranks are too young to 
have family duties, or ought not to have them ; 
and as the obligation is universal, the breaking-off of 
studies, or careers, puts them at no disadvantage, 
while the discipline of the soldier teaches then 
order, punctuality, obedience, self-respect ' 

' Not self-respect ! A system that reduces them 
to machines, and stamps out individuality, cannot 
develop self-respect."* 

* Faith, every man is the better of being drilled,^ 
said the count ; whereupon Falkenberg remarked 
on the philanthropic enthusiasm of uninstructed 
civilians with a thinly veiled sneer. 

Dr. Sturm replied with perfect temper, but much 
earnestness, and the argument raged for some 
minutes in German, though the conversation had 
begun in English. Grace gathered enough to 
understand that Otto Sturm was an advanced 



2i8 THE FRERES. 

Liberal, and was of opinion that the peace of 
Europe would be safer in the hands of strictly 
representative governments, than in those of auto- 
crats or nominally constitutional kings, who could 
put the terrible machinery of war in motion from 
insufficient motives, or reasons apart from the real 
interests of the people. Moreover, she observed 
that he was always calm with the strength of deep 
unselfish conviction, whfereas Falkenberg spoke 
with repressed irritation and angry contempt, as 
if he would fain crush all opposition, all assertion 
of right, by his inferiors under his military heel. 
The count^s views did not come out very clearly, 
his old -soldier prejudices inclining to universal en- 
rolment — his kindly nature to give all a chance 
of improving their condition. 

Friede looked a little anxious as Falkenberg's 
face assumed a harder and more sneering expres- 
sion, noticing which, Grace, presuming on her sup- 
posed ignorance of the turn the conversation had 
taken, suggested that, as everyone seemed to have 
finished supper, they might go into the next room, 
and perhaps Friede would play to them ; where- 
upon they all rose from table and adjourned to the 
salon, Friede sat down willingly enough to the 
piano and began a long fantasia, while Dr. Sturm, 
listening attentively, stood beside her to turn over 
the leaves ; and the count occasionally whispered 
morsels of argument to Mrs. Frere and Gertrud, 
which were, unfortunately, too late for the inter- 
rupted discussion, Grace, meantime, drew a low 
seat between the piano and the sofa, which stood 



THE FRERES, 219 

somewhat back from where Gertrud had placed 
herself. After looking first at a few photographs, 
and then over Friede's shoulder at her music, 
Falkenberg threw himself in a half-reclining posture 
on the sofa, his head coming very close to Grace's 
ear. Presently, as the music grew louder, he said, 
very quietly : 

* Something has displeased or distressed you to- 
day : you have hardly spoken, you have hardly 
eaten ; and I imagine, perhaps groundlessly, that I 
am out of favour.* 

' Oh no ! nothing has gone wrong, and you have 
done nothing to displease me,' returned Grace. 

There was a pause, and then Falkenberg, again 
subduing his tone, said : 

* You have a most expressive voice ; did no one 
ever tell you so } Whatever words your lips may 
form, your voice tells the truth ; and you have had 
some shock, some mental blow to-day. I have 
learned to know you well, since the day you risked 
so much to bring me help.' 

' De grace, Herr von Falkenberg ! You know 
quite well that I risked nothing ; do not mention 
it any more.' 

* And will you not tell me what has distressed 
you V said Falkenberg, after an instant's pause, as 
if he waited for her to speak. 

' I have felt home-sick of late,' returned Grace, 
quickly ; * the season brings with it memories, and 
though I like Zittau, and my cousins, and — every- 
one, there are hours when I long — oh, unspeakably ! 
— for my old home — my old life.' 



220 THE FRERES. 

Her voice trembled slightly, her lip quivered as 
she spoke with pathetic earnestness, for her heart 
swelled with the thought of that far-away time, 
nearly a year ago, when the world was unknown 
and unfeared ; and treachery, falsehood, harshness, 
were mere stage effects, conjured up by clever 
writers to give force and interest to their dramatic 
pictures. Something in her voice and downcast 
look stirred Falkenberg^s heart, or circulating 
system; and lowering his voice to a whisper, full of 
almost passionate tenderness, he whispered : 

* Meine Hebe Grace ! you will tell me to- 
morrow, when we skate together V 

* I shall not,' said Grace, shortly, suddenly throw- 
ing off the softness and depression ^vhich had crept 
over her ; ' you are the last man I should tell any- 
thing to.' 

' Ach, so!' exclaimed Falkenberg, greatly startled, 
a long-drawn ' so ;' * then I am in disgrace !^ 

When the little party broke up, Friede, on pre- 
tence of looking at Mab asleep, stole first into Mrs. 
Frere^s and then into Grace^s room. 

* Ach, du Liebling !^ she said, twining her arm 
round her cousin's waist, ' was it not wonderschon 
(admirable) V 

* What V asked Grace. 

' Oh, the argument at supper : Otto's eloquence, 
his logic, his infinite superiority. Wolff is not at 
all equal to him. He loses his temper, he cannot 
reason ; he is not noble V 

* Herr von Falkenberg is no savant^ said Grace, 
coldly; * he is just a fighting-man with a few ac- 



THE FRERES. 221 

compHshments. But, Friede, do you know any- 
thing of his history? Why did he change into 
this regiment V 

* I scarcely know. He was unsteady, and 
gambled, and got into debt, and then he was 
mixed up in some unpleasant affair in Dresden ; I 
never was told exactly what, but there was a lady 
in it. Why do you ask, dear Grace ? Do you 
interest yourself in Wolff V 

' No ; certainly not as you mean. Yet he does 
interest me, though he is ever so far below your 
Otto/ 

' My Otto, beloved Grace ! Why do you call 
him thus V 

* Because I am sure he is.' 




CHAPTER XII. 



*^ 1 IRISTMAS, which at Dui^ar had been 
1!^ -J principally a time of religious observance 
— of charitable and family gifts, and 
some extra eating — was the most im- 
portant festival of the year at Dalbersdorf ; nay, 
more, the crowning-point, to which months of pre- 
paration were devoted. Herrschaft. gesinde Letile, 
Diemt-niddcJien, high and low, looked to its rewards 
as the ultimate end and aim of service and good 
conduct. Then professors from remote cities and 
soldiers from distant barracks rush home for even 
a couple of days, to taste once more the old family 
life — some with relish and enjoyment, some with 
weariness and disgust, according to their several 
natures. 

Mab had been for days wild with anticipation 
respecting the Christmas-tree, which, although 
familiar enough in England nowadays, was un- 
known in the ' wild West.' Mamsell had fa- 
voured her with many descriptions, and hinted at 



THE FRERES. 223 

a dazzling array of gifts spread on tables which 
was beyond the power of childish imagination to 
picture. But she little knew the fertility of Mab's 
fancy. 

Grace often warned her not to expect too much, 
though she was quite aware of the fruitlessness of 
her words. 

To Mrs. Frere and Grace the season brought sad 
and tender thoughts of their old home and its 
beloved master. This frame of mind drew them 
more together than ever — Mrs. Frere drooping like 
a plant deprived of sunshine whenever her daughter 
was away; and Grace, out of the treasure of 
a boundlessly generous nature, always finding 
patience, tenderness, sympathy enough to satisfy 
her mother^s needs — no shadow of selfishness ever 
suggesting that she gave too much, or received too 
little. Nor did Mrs. Frere often transgress reason- 
able limits. If of slight build, her character was 
true, sweet, and childlike : a creature that could die 
for one she loved, but could neither endure silently 
nor dare to look danger in the face. Her spirits in- 
variably flagged as the end of the quarter drew 
near, and rose again so soon as the fresh though 
expected supply of cash replenished the exhausted 
exchequer. She was rather reluctant to share the 
Dalbersdorf festivities ; but neither the count nor 
Frau Alvsleben would hear of an excuse, and 
Grace was equally urgent : * You cannot be left 
alone, you know, mother dear ; if you do not go, 
neither can I,' — an argument which settled the 
matter. 



224 THE FRERES. 

Christmas-eve was fine — that is, still and grey, 
but less cold than the days which had immediately 
preceded it ; and Falkenberg, of whom they had 
not seen much since the visit of Gertrud and 
Friede had come in the previous evening, to offer 
his sleigh for the accommodation of Mrs. Frere 
and her daughters. Mrs. Frere accepted very 
readily, for Falkenberg stood high in her good 
graces. 

* We shall take Ulrich with us, also,' he said. ' I 
had a letter from him ; he starts to-night, and will 
beat up my quarters about five or six in the moni- 
ing. There is an American entertainment at which 
he wishes to be present, and he will go from it to 
the train.^ 

' I am glad of that !* cried Grace ; * Ulrich is 
such a nice boy.' 

* Boy !' repeated Falkenberg, laughing ; * he would 
not be much obliged to you for such an epi- 
thet.' 

* Well, I always feel as if he were a boy ; I 
cannot believe he is nearly a year and a half older 
than I am.' 

* Is he ? I suppose it is ungallant to say so, 
but I always imagine you older than I suppose you 
are. May I ask ?' 

' Oh yes, certainly ; I shall be nineteen the 
23rd of January/ 

' The 23rd of January,' repeated Falkenberg, 
thoughtfully ; ' you look .' He paused. 

* Pray say no more,' returned Grace, laugh- 
ing. 



THE FRERES, 225 

The day then was grey and still, but Dalbers- 
dorf had put on its brightest aspect. Everything 
capable of being scrubbed or polished had been 
rubbed up to the last degree. The smiling Marie, 
who seemed to have subjected her face to the same 
process, had on a snowy apron and cap, and came 
to greet them with effusion and many * Achs !* 
* Gnadige Fraus/ and hand-kissing. 

Behind her Mamsell, also in her best : lace on 
her head-gear and apron, her Sunday black merino 
dress, and a lace handkerchief. The whole family 
following after from the dining-room to greet their 
guests. 

'Many happy Christmases to you, my dear,* 
cried the count, as Mab sprang into his arms, and 
was passed on from one to another, to receive a 
succession of embraces. 

* Ach ! but you are welcome, my good cousin 
and friend,' said Frau Alvsleben, presenting both 
hands to Mrs. Frere kindly ; * and you too, meine 
liebe — Hebe Grace!' 

* Welcome to a Saxon Christmas,' said Gertrud. 

* Dearest and best ! I have been looking for you 
this hour,' cried Friede. 

And amid the general kissing which ensued, 
Ulrich, who had done his first greeting in Zittau, 
quietly took his place among the household, pre- 
senting himself for his share with such an easy, 
natural air, that Grace found herself bestowing a 
similar salute upon him unconsciously, to the 
amusement of all, and the triumph of the young 
hussar. 

VOL. II. 36 



•226 THE FRERES. 

* Ach !' he exclaimed ; * it is the sweetest ! and all 
the sweeter for being almost stolen — eh, meine 
Hebe Cousine! Falkenberg, you are no cousin. 
You must keep afar off — poor Wolff!' 

Grace laughed good-humouredly. 

* I am glad you are pleased/ she said. * But I 
should say given kisses were sweeter/ 

* I too/ said Falkenberg, carelessly ; * nor can you 
deny me a nephew and cousin^s claim here/ 

So saying, he offered a polite kiss to Frau 
Alvsleben and her daughters. 

* Faith, Ulrich shows a touch of his Irish blood 
now and then/ cried the count. 

*But come — come into the dining-room/ said 
Frau Alvsleben ; * you must be cold after your 
drive/ 

' Ah ! we shall have a heavy fall of snow soon/ 
remarked the count. /I hope it will not come 
down till you are safe back to-night/ 

* Come with me/ whispered Friede to Grace, 
* and take off your wraps in my room.* 

* Yes, come with us/ said Gertrud, who was gay 
and gracious. 

Friede made a little furtive grimace to her 
cousin, for she did not particularly covet Gertrudes 
company. She was always greedy of opportunities 
to pour out her doubts, hopes, and fears to the one 
confidante in whom she dared to trust. 

However, the three girls went upstairs together ; 
Mab preferring Mamsell's company and a visit to 
the pigs and poultry. 

* What shall I do with these ?' asked Grace ; 



THE FRERES. 227 

* these' being sundry brown-paper parcels of 
various sizes. 

' Oh/ from Gertrud, * you must leave Friede's 
things with me, and mother's, and Wolff's ; and 
the rest with Friede.' 

' Wolff's !' repeated Grace, dismayed ; * I never 
thought of him. Mab has worked him a note-book, 
but I — I did nothing.' 

* That is too bad !' cried Friede. * I am sure he 
will be disappointed.' 

* I do not think he will mind,' said Grace. 

* I have worked him a new Jagd-giirtel (hunt- 
ing-belt), wonderfully beautiful [wiinderschdn)^ re- 
turned Gertrud, with an air of importance ; * and I 
have knit him three pairs of silk socks, and a 
Decke (cover) for his table.' 

* Why, Gertrud, you have been diligent ! But 
Herr Hauptmann has a splendid hunting-belt 
already.' 

*Yes,' said Gertrud, with a slight frown and 
much decision ; * but I do not wish him to wear it 
any more.' 

* Do you think he will leave it off?' 

'We shair see,' returned Gertrud, closing her 
mouth tightly. 

Grace looked at her in slight surprise. 

* Well, Gertrud,' she said, selecting several of her 
parcels, * I will give these to your care ; and these, 
Friede, to yours. . I have put names on them all. 

* I will take them at once to the salon (we use 
the Obeti'Stiibe always at Christmas),' said Gertrud, 
gathering up those committed to her charge. 

36—2 



228 THE FRERES, 

* After dinner Friede and I will set all in order. I 
would ask you to help, only as it is your first 
German Christmas, we want you to see the tables 
when all is ready/ \ 

* Next Christmas, dearest, you shall help us,' 
said Friede, caressingly, as if it was an honour and 
pleasure of which she reluctantly deprived her 
friend. 

While Grace found herself thinking: 'Next 
Christmas! Shall I be here next Christmas? I 
am content and happy enough ; but I should like 
to spend next Christmas in England.' A sudden, 
unusual yearning sprang up in her heart for 
Randal, for Jimmy Byrne, for her old nurse, for 
dear, pleasant Lady Elton, for all and everyone 
whom she had known and loved. 

Meantime Friede was speaking, and Gertrud 
had left the room. 

* It was so difficult to think of anything for Otto — 
Dr. Sturm/ 

* What have you decided on ?' asked Grace, 
finding some words were expected of her. 

* A large blotting-book, with his initials surrounded 
by a wreath of bay-leaves. It is really charming ; 
and a Decke for Frau Sturm. 

* And how do you conceal your gifts from each 
other when you both arrange them ?' 

* Oh, Gertrud decks my table, and I deck hers ; 
then we lay a cover over ; and when we all go in, 
each uncovers her own table : yours ^ 

Here a knock at the door interrupted them. 

* Herein,' called Friede, whereupon enter Ulrich 



THE FRERES. 229 

and Falkenberg, quite naturally and uncon- 
cernedly. 

* Ach ! meine Hebe Friede, Wolfifand I have been 
seeking thee ; and where is Gertrud ?* said Ulrich. 

* We have important secrets to commit to thy 
keeping/ added Falkenberg. * Call Gertrud, and 
come down to \!ci't Arbeit zimmer (^\Mdiy)\ the Frau- 
lein Cousin is not in our confidence !* 

They left Grace and went away together. She 
was going to seek Mab and Mamsell, when Frau 
Sturm, her son and daughter — the usual Christ- 
mas guests at Dalbersdorf — arrived. And the 
scene of hearty welcome and general hubbub was 
re-enacted, such as Grace had already shared : Friede 
embracing the kindly simple widow with warmth 
and effusion, taking her up to the guest chamber 
herself, and loading her with affectionate attention ; 
while to Grace's care Cecilia was confided, and they 
set out together to find Mab, and bring her in to 
dinner, which, in honour of the company, was fixed 
at the late hour of half-past two. 

After a prolonged symposium, from which the 
children soon escaped, Friede and Gertrud went 
away to their task of decoration ; and the table 
being cleared, Grace undertook to amuse Mab and 
Cecilia. The count went to take a nap, Frau 
Alvsleben to attend to sundry matters connected 
with the festival, and Ulrich, Herr Doctor, Falken- 
berg, and the VerwcUter to the stables ; while Mrs. 
Frere and Frau Sturm strove to keep up a conver- 
sation in mixed French and German. 

' Don't you think we might go upstairs and help 



230 THE FRERES, 

Gertrud and Friede ?' asked Mab, whose thoughts 
were with them already. 

*No, indeed ; you must not ! Come, here is 
Uncle Costello's old backgammon-board. You can 
play Mab, and I' will teach Cecilia.' 

To this Mab demurred ; but finding her sister 
resolved not to let her out of the room, and further 
impressed with her little companion's ready obedi- 
ence, she applied herself to the game and was soon 
interested. 

Presently the gentlemen returned. Ulrich and 
Falkenberg were instantly attracted to the back- 
gammon-players, and Dr. Sturm devoting himself 
to entertain Mrs. Frere, till Friede put in her head 
to ask Ulrich's assistance, but rejecting with a blush 
and smile that of Sturm, who immediately offered 
his services. 

This movement was too much for Mab's self- 
control. She would take no further interest in the 
game ; and Grace did not know what to do with 
her till Dr. Sturm, with the kindly consideration 
for children so usual in Germany, offered to tell the 
little friends stories about the old arms and head- 
pieces which hung in the hall, whither they joyfully 
accompanied him. 

* Will you give me a lesson ?' asked Falkenberg, 
arranging the pieces ; * it will pass the time. The 
tree will not be lit up for an hour yet.' 

* Very well,' returned Grace, ^ sitting down and 
beginning to show him the moves of the simple 
game, which yet resembles life in its mixture of 
change and skill. 



THE FRERES. 231 

Falkenberg was quick and attentive. He was 
evidently well informed as to the nature of games ; 
and at the end of the first, he began throwing the 
dice in an absent unconscious way. 

* How neatly and deftly you handle the dice/ 
said Grace, as she watched him. 

* Yes,' he returned, rousing himself; * they come 
a little too familiarly to my hand.* And he was 
silent for a moment ; then, speaking abruptly, as 
if out of his thoughts, he went on, still mechani- 
cally throwing the dice, * It is more than three 
months since that day.' 

* What day ?* asked Grace. 

* When you bent over mie, as I lay in mortal fear 
lest help delayed would be no help at all. Your 
face comes back to me often with the expression 
it wore then — so tender, yet so firm. I have had 
a feeling of comradeship with you ever since. You 
gave me an idea of what a woman might be who 
was strong and self-reliant as well as soft and 
loving.' ^ 

He paused ; and Grace did not know what to 
say, for he scarce seemed to speak to her. 

' It is strange,' he went on, in a low musing tone, 
* that so great a service rendered has not drawn us 
nearer to each other ; but it has not, and now we 
drift apart. There is some secret influence closing 
your heart against me, turning you from friendship 
with me ; there is something in you I never quite 
understand. I wish you were less fair and young, 
and good, meine liebe Schone. No !' checking him- 
self, * not mine.' He cast the dice three times very 



232 THE FRERES. 

deliberately ; then, throwing down the box angrily, 
he shut up the board, exclaiming : * Luck is against 
me, and fate too, Grace !' She looked at him, 
greatly surprised by the fierce impatient expression 
of his eyes ; but before either could speak, enter 
Mab and Cecilia at express speed. 

*You are to come upstairs. Ulrich and Herr 
Verwalter are lighting up the tree, Cecilia and I 
have run out in the front Hofy and the windows look 
all ablaze,' cried Mab. 

* But the door is still locked,' added Cecilia. 

* And Fraulein Friede has told me through the 
key-hole that you are not to approach till Mamsell 
summons you,* added Dr. Sturm, following his 
young listeners into the room. 

* Well, we shall go upstairs and wait, at any rate,* 
cried Mab. Ach, du lieber Wolff! has Grace 
taught you backgammon f 

'She has taught me much,' said Falkenberg, 
drawing the child to him. 

' Will the Herrschaft come up } all is ready,' said 
Mamsell. 

On reaching the landing there was yet a moment 
of waiting in the dark until the doors should be 
opened, and Grace could not help repeating in 
thought Wolff von Falkenberg's words — words he 
seemed to utter involuntarily. Was it possible 
that this rather spoiled man of the world was really 
attracted to her? She felt a little frightened, a 
little offended at having the remnants of a heart 
thus partially offered, partially withheld ! and yet 
gratified vanity predominated over all. There was 



THE FRERES. 233 

a certain soldier-like hardihood, a careless audacity 
about Falkenberg, flecked here and there with 
gleams of kindness, of sympathetic penetration 
and resisted sentiment, which made him very 
attractive to women. But from some occult cause 
he had not touched Grace's deeper feelings, and 
that wretched piece of gossip — though no doubt 
exaggerated, possibly untrue — had woke up a 
vague sense of repulsion. Still his admiration was 
pleasant — irresistibly pleasant ; only she wished he 
would not show it too openly. She felt rather than 
knew it would offend 

But at this point of her reflections the double 
doors of the sacred Oben-stube were thrown wide 
open, and a flood of light streamed forth. 

This precious apartment was handsomely fur- 
nished with carved cabinets, tables, and Uaghes of 
black polished wood ; the chairs and sofa-covers 
and curtains of gold-coloured brocade ; the floor 
in the highest order of slipperiness, and sundry 
landscapes, in rich frames, hung upon the walls. 
A lofty, heavy mantelpiece was surmounted by a 
large looking-glass, and divers specimens of delicate 
china stood upon the shelf. 

The Oben-sttibe was only used on occasions of 
state and ceremony, or high festivals such as the 
present ; and Grace had only entered it on a clean- 
ing-day during her six weeks' visit. Now it was 
displayed in all its glory. All along the sides, 
across the ends, in the corners, wherever they could 
be placed, stood little tables loaded with a variety 
of articles, each lit by a couple of wax candles ; and 



231 THE FRERES, 

against the centre window towered a superb tree, 
glittering and shimmering with dozens of tiny- 
tapers, hung with filmy gold, silver, and coloured 
web -like chains of cut paper ; and thickly decked 
with gold and silver nuts and pine-cones, sparkling 
imitation icicles, and metal butterflies ; a gorgeous 
confusion of light and magnificence, calling forth 
shouts of delight from Mab and her friend. 

Graoe and Mrs. Frere also were somewhat 
dazzled, although the latter had seen something of 
the same kind before ; and exclamations of * How 
beautiful !' * How brilliant !^ ' So well arranged T 
etc., rewarded the decorators. But the thrilling 
moment was when the tables were examined. On 
Mab's were picture and story books, a lovely 
doll-child (Mab, though in her tenth year, still 
dearly loved dolls) from Uncle Costello ; a velvet 
belt and bag from Cousin Alvsleben ; a sash from 
Gertrud ; a beautiful knitted jacket from Friede, to 
put under her cloak when she went to school of a 
cold morning ; a spendid photograph-album from 
Von Falkenberg, with his own portrait in the front, 
etc., down to a work-bag, containing a large packet 
of sweets, from Mamsell ; and a bouquet from the 
Verwalter, 

These treasures were hailed with positive 
shrieks of exultation : and Cecilia, whose table 
was quite as richly furnished, was almost as voci- 
ferous. 

But Grace and Mrs. Frere had many useful and 
pretty gifts, and their contributions of English 
neckties and Irish lace, together with sundry 



THE FRERES, 23s 

productions of Grace's needle, were much admired 
and prized. 

Uncle Costello, too, came out very strong on 

the occasion. To Grace he gave a handsome 

porte-monnaie ; and not being able to wait until 

she asked the name of the donor, he jogged her 

arm : 

' Take it, dear,' he said, * with your old uncle's 
blessing;' then in a hasty whisper, with a wink 
which seemed sadly out of place on such a dignified 
countenance : * Don't look into it till you are alone 
by yourself, my darling!' an injunction which 
Grace, knowing his wholesome awe of his daughter, 
rigidly obeyed. 

But the joy of the rest was as nothing compared 
to that of the servants and Mamsell, whose tables 
were most substantially set forth. Pieces of cloth 
and stuffs for dresses, sheeting and bed-coverings, 
warm jackets, caps, ribbons, cloaks, little ornamental 
boxes containing the customary Christmas gifts of 
money ; besides which good things were trifles in 
the shape of collars, cuffs, ties, and pincushions. 
While every table had a certain allowance of long 
StolleHy a bread-like cake, with a ridge all along 
the centre, as essential to a German Christmas as 
plum-pudding in England ; a small pile of apples 
and another of walnuts, without which, however 
handsomely furnished, no servants* table would be 
considered complete. 

When the first excitement of running about from 
table to table and kissing and thanking everyone 
had partially subsided, Grace began to examine her 



236 THE FRERES. 

own possessions more thoroughly, and trace the 
givers of each article, till she came to a charming 
little riding-whip, with a silver handle encrusted 
with Saxon crystals. Her cousins, the count, Frau 
Alvsleben, all had acknowledged their presents, 
and she felt stupidly reluctant to inquire as to this 
one. She took it up and cut an imaginary horse 
with it sharply ; then 'covering her confusion by 
rushing into words, exclaimed : 

* Who is the giver of this lovely, delightful whip ? 
I never saw anything so pretty/ 

There was a moment's silence. 

* Aha !' cried Ulrich ; * I could a tale unfold ! 
Some one beat up my quarters a month ago at 
Dresden, and dragged me from shop to shop to 
choose pretty things. It was hard enough to 
please him with the cJidtelaine yonder ; but the 
whip was worst of all, for the people did not quite 
understand his needs,' and he looked smilingly at 
Falkenberg as he spoke. 

The chdtelaine was on Gertrudes table, and had 
been greatly admired ; she now thanked him with 
•evident gratification. Grace felt more embarrassed 
than she cared to admit. The whip was too hand- 
some ; but Gertrudes and Friede's gifts were equal 
in cost. So clearing her difficulty at a bound, 
Grace went straight to him and held out her 
hand. 

* Thank you,' she said, simply and heartily; *I 
admire your present ; it is quite beautiful, and I 
shall prize it always.' 

Falkenberg bowed low, and lifted her hand for 



THE FRERES. 237 

an instant to his lips — an unimportant courtesy in 
Germany ; but he uttered no word. 

After nearly an hour of intense admiration, ex- 
clamation, and general utterance of everyone's 
opinion in complete disregard of what their neigh- 
bours were saying, the tapers began to burn low,, 
and had to be extinguished by blowing through a 
long tube, whereby those furthest aloft could be 
reached. Then the children gathered and packed 
up their belongings, and the visitors did the same. 
Soon it was time for supper, which was a long 
affair, for many healths were drunk and speeches 
made : after which the table was cleared, and all 
joined in a waltz and polka, Grace distinguishing 
herself by playing with spirit and precision ; for 
Friede, like many other excellent performers, was 
unequal to dance-music. Mrs. Frere, too, was quite 
happy to assist, and all wound up with the Gross- 
vater, a sort of Saxon * Sir Roger de Coverley,*" 
begun with some six or eight steps of solemn state- 
liness, and then breaking into a wild gallop down 
the whole length of the room. In this even the 
count joined. 

At last Christmas morn was on them ; once 
more they were packed into the sleigh, thickly 
wrapped in furs and wraps of all descriptions ; and 
taking with them, in Ulrich's place, the Verwalter^, 
as he was to pass Christmas Day with his mother. 
Falkenberg was in high spirits, and laughed and 
talked very agreeably all the moonlit way home ; 
but Grace observed that, after he had shut up the 



238 THE FRERES. 

backgammon-board, he had never addressed a 
separate word to her. 

This, however, in no way ruffled the self-love to 
which his peculiar, half-reluctant admiration had 
offered such pleasant incense ; and Grace's first 
Christmas Eve in Germany always dwelt in her 
memory as a bright and happy reminiscence. 




CHAPTER XIII. 



11 HE brightness of this pleasant season 
was made infinitely more enjoyable by 
the satisfactory tone of Randal's letters, 
and still more so by Jimmy Byrne's. 
Both were excited almost to eloquence by their 
admiration of some small Christmas gifts, the work 
of Grace's and Mabel's own fingers. Randal repre- 
sented himself as the most careful and regular of 
young men, and requested his mother to send him 
no present of money, as, thanks to her previous 
liberality, he was still quite flush of cash. More- 
over, further contributions from him had been 
accepted by the Daily Bread, and Cornfield, another 
new weekly publication of surpassing merit ; he 
would post the numbers for his mother so soon as 
his lucubrations were printed. As yet the re- 
muneration was trifling, but when better established 
the pay would improve; and perhaps, after all, he 
might before long be able to subsist by his pen. 



240 THE FRERES. 

The office had changed greatly for the worse ; old 
Cartwright and the manager had been downright 
rude and unreasonable of late. * Uncle Frere/ he 
went on, * has, I fancy, heard of my small literary- 
successes — or Max has, for Uncle F. is an ignorant 
old duffer — and they asked me to dine, both on 
Christmas and New Year's Day. I refused the 
first, for I thought it right to keep Christmas with 
Jimmy, who really has been uncommonly good to 
me of late ; but when the second invitation came, I 
thought it better to go. It was not half as bad as 
I expected, for who do you think was there ? Lady 
Elton and Darnell ! S/ie was looking uncommonly 
well, and made no end of inquiries for you. I gave 
a great account of all your doings — trust me for 
frothing up twopenny beer till it looks like Bass or 
AUsopp ! Darnell was sulky, scarce spoke to me, 
and went away early. They say he is going to 
marry an earl's daughter — a widow and a great 
beauty. Lady Elton asked for your address ; she 
was on her way to some grand house in the North. 
Max was most agreeable, and asked a great deal 
about you and the mother,' etc., etc., etc. 

Jimmy confirmed much that Randal said, espe- 
cially as to his being more prudent about money — 
certainly holding it longer ; but he feared the young 
gentleman was still a little too fond of going out 
into society. 

These letters filled both Mrs. Frere and Grace 
with pleasure and thankfulness. 

* If,' thought the latter, * Randal can avoid drawing 
on my mother, I can make both ends meet, and 



THE FEE RES. 241 

get better music lessons for Mab ; she begins to 
practise quite nicely/ 

It was, therefore, a very bright face that greeted 
Falkenberg, in the afternoon of the day these letters 
had been received, as he met Grace and her little 
sister in the market-place on their way to ask 
Cecilia Sturm to tea. 

* Ah, mein gnadiges Fraulein ! how goes it ? I 
was going to your house, on the part of the Frau 
Oberst, to ask if the Frau Mutter and yourself will 
join her sleighing-party the day after to-morrow ? 
See, here is her note/ 

' Thank you ; I think it will be delightful. You 
will find my mother at home.' 

* But she will decide nothing without you — you 
are the supreme ruler ; so, if you permit, I will turn 
with you and make my visit after — eh, Mab, my 
dear little friend ?' 

* Yes, come with us, du lieber Wolff!' cried Mab, 
delighted ; and taking her hand, Falkenberg walked 
on beside Grace with the air of quite belonging to 
her, or she to him. 

* See,' said one of his brother officers to another, 
as they saluted in passing, ^ Herr Hauptmann is 
already assuming the rights of proprietorship. The 
little one clings to his hand as though he were her 
brother.' 

*And the fair Englishwoman {scJmie Eng- 
landerifi) has a large fortune — all these English 
girls have.' 

' I am not so sure/ 

' We have just met Falkenberg with Fraulein 

VOL. II. 37 



242 THE FRERES. 

Frere/ exclaimed Frau Major Schonfeld and her 
daughter, with one voice, to the Frau Burgomeister, 

* and alone — that is, only with the little sister ; and, 
ach, Gott ! they were laughjng and talking so fast 
and free.' 

* Theirs is the age for joy and laughter,' returned 
the Burgomeisterin, who, in spite of her aristocratic 
airs, had a kindly heart. 

Meantime Grace and her companions walked 
gaily on, little thinking or caring for the comments 
of those they encountered. 

*You are more lively than usual, Miss Grace,' 
said Falkenberg, as they neared Frau Sturm's 
house ; * gayer than I have seen you since that 
evening, now a month ago, when a sudden mys- 
terious shadow seemed to have fallen upon you. 
I remember it well, and I have racked my brain 
to account for it, especially as you always avoid 
the subject' 

*Then I would give it up if I were you, Herr 
Falkenberg,' she replied, smiling and colouring a 
little, as she always did when the topic was alluded 
to ; for though the sharpness of the impression she 
had received had somewhat worn off, the feeling of 
distressed doubt had never quite left her, and she 
would have given much to have the question, 

* Guilty or not guilty ?' answered anyhow. * To- 
day,' she continued, * I ought to look bright, for we 
have good news from my brother — very pleasant 
letters altogether.' 

* Letters,' repeated Falkenberg ; * ah, and you 
might have had ?/«pleasant letters tJiat day. Tell 



THE FRERES. 243 

me, dear Miss Grace, did the pleasant letters con- 
tain any tidings of Moritz — of our friend Balfour ?' 

* No, indeed,' said she, laughing at the eagerness 
with which he pounced upon this inference ; * none 
of us have heard anything of Maurice Balfour since 
we left Dungar. But some time ago we heard of 
our dear old rector's death. He was Maurice's 
grandfather, you know ; and now, possibly, we may 
never meet again.' 

* Oh yes ; he will return to Europe — he will 
come to see me ; and then — he will see you.' 

The last four words, spoken after a pause, implied 
so much, that Grace frowned slightly ; then forcing 
a smile, remarked : 

* I should have thought you superior to the vul- 
garity of thinking a girl cannot have a man friend 
—a real frank friend.' 

* But I am !' cried Falkenberg, with unusual 
earnestness. * I do believe there is nothing so 
charming as a friendship — a real tender friendship, 
between a man and a girl of soul and noble 
sentiment' 

* But you are my friend, Wolff — ^you ought not to 
have another,' said Mab, clasping his hand in both 
of hers ; ' and Grace does not love you half as well 
as I do.' 

* That I believe,' returned Falkenberg, emphati- 
cally. 

*At least, I do not express my affection so 
openly/ replied Grace, with careless self-possession, 
which elicited an ang^ sparkle from her com- 
panion's naturally angry-looking eyes. ' But here 

37-2 



244 THE FRERES. 

is Frau Sturm's abode/ added Grace, pausing before 
the door ; * you had better go and see my mother, 
and settle with her. I must see Frau Sturm/ 

* She may not be at home,' said Falkenberg ; * I 
will wait for a few minutes, in hopes of returning 
with you/ 

Fortune favoured him. Frau Sturm was not at 
home, but her old servant was sure * the Cecilia 
might accompany the kleine Frdulein ;' whereupon, 
to Grace's amusement, but more to her annoyance, 
Mab rushed out on the balcony, and screamed to 
Falkenberg, who was walking to and fro beneath : 

* We come, dear Wolff! we come !' 

On reaching Mrs. Frere's residence, they found 
that lady, as usual, in a very becoming cap, con- 
versing in the corridor with a short, broad, bony 
old woman, in thick woollen garments, a closely- 
knitted head-covering, tied under her chin, and a 
huge Korb, or kind of square basket, strapped over 
her back. Her skin was a marvellous network of 
wrinkles, and her kindly pale blue eyes were sunk 
and faded with age. This was the well-known Bote 
Frau, (messenger- woman) who every day, in storm 
or shine, trudged into Zittau and back from a 
village two or three miles beyond Dalbersdorf, 
calling there for parcels or messages. 

She was now the bearer of a note from Friede, 
enclosing a pattern of wool to be matched, and 
despatched the next day. 

Grace kept the old woman till she had ascer- 
tained the proposed arrangements. 

Need it be said that Mrs. Frere readily assented 



THE PRE RES, 2^5 

to join the sleighing-party. She had grown quite 
fond of society since she settled in Zittau. The 
rigid politeness, the distinct social laws of German 
society, forbade the sometimes mortifying, some- 
times too flattering, variations of courtesy and 
observance which result from our freer and more re- 
publican institutions. Moreover, as well-born, well- 
bred, and connected with a Saxon family of good 
standing, the new-comers were considered valuable 
additions to the best circles of the little border town. 

* I suppose Frau Alvsleben and the girls arc 
coming ?* said Grace. 

* Oh yes ; we are to drive to Friedland, Wallen- 
stein's place ; dine at the restauration there, and 
return by torchlight.' 

* Then, mother, had we not better write to Cousin 
Alvsleben, and ask if any of them would like to 
come in and sleep here to-morrow ?* 

* Yes, dear ; and send the note by the Bote Frau! 
The preliminaries were quickly arranged ; and 

Grace sat down to write her note, while Mrs. Frere 
went to give the old messenger- woman a glass of 
beer. 

*One point I have left unsettled. Miss Grace,' said 
Falkenberg, drawing a chair beside her writing- 
table, 'you must promise to be my partner. In 
these sleighing-parties, you know, men choose 
partners as in a ball ; and I have a capital horse. 
I will keep you ahead of the party.* He looked 
eagerly at her while she hesitated. * Thank you ; 
if such is the custom, I shall be very happy,' she 
returned slowly, vexed to leel that her cheeks 



246 THE FRERES. 

would flush under his bold eyes ; * but where is my 
mother to go ?' 

*Mrs. Frere is invited to take a seat in Ihe 
Oberst von Ahlafeld*s sleigh. The married ladies 
and chaperons all go in the zwei-spanner (two-horse) 
sleighs. And in talking over the matter with the 
Frau Oberst, I bespoke you ' 

*AhP interrupted Grace, *was I to have no 
choice in the matter ?* 

'Whom would you choose ? Sturm is not invited ; 
such trifles are beneath the dignity of so great a 
philosopher !' 

* But the doctor is as bright and agreeable as the 
most trifling amongst you.' 

* Do you then refuse to be my companion V 

* No ; I am sure you drive well, and ' 

* If we are overturned, / shall be sure of help if 
you are with me,' interrupted Falkenberg, smiling. 
' The days lengthen already ; in a few weeks we 
shall be able to ride again.^ 

The day fixed for the sleighing-party was an 
ideal winter's day. A bright sun, clear cold blue 
sky, crisp dry frosty air, the trees jewelled with 
sparkling frozen snow. The holidays were over ; 
and everyone going about his and her business, 
gave renewed cheerfulness to the picturesque 
streets. Mab growled a good deal because she 
was obliged to go to school, but was consoled by 
an invitation from Frau von Sturm to dine and 
spend the day with Cecilia. 

Of the Dalbersdorf party, only Friede appeared. 



THE FRERES. 247 

She brought the somewhat startling news that Frau 
Alvsleben and Gertrud had gone that morning by 
an early train to Dresden, where they generally 
paid an annual winter-visit to a relative of the late 
Alvsleben. 

The party assembled at Frau von Ahlafeld's 
house, where seven one, and six two-horse sleighs 
were assembled, besides an extra large one, which 
contained several of the best musicians from the 
regimental band. 

Falkenberg was among a group on the door- step, 
laughing and talking with some of the younger 
ladies, when Mrs. Frere, with Grace and Friede, 
came up. He did not immediately join them ; but 
on a movement being caused by the Frau Oberst 
coming out to assign places to those who were to 
occupy the larger sleighs, he turned to Friede, and 
exclaimed : 

* So my aunt and Gertrud have gone to Dresden.* 

* How do you know ?' 

* Ah ! everything becomes known as soon as it is 
done.* 

*Ach, Wolff! but Ulrich wrote to thee. He 
knew of the invitation before we did.' 

Falkenberg only smiled, and proceeded to pay 
his respects to Mrs. Frere with the air of profound 
deference he always assumed towards her, and 
which helped to make him so great a favourite. 

' Now, Miss Grace,' he said, ' you have greeted 
the gracious lady our directress, let me put you in 
my sleigh ; you must be well wrapped up.' 

Falkenberg's was the smartest of the einspanners^ 



248 THE FRERES. 

glittering with brass ornaments, and gay with 
coloured tufts of horse-hair, the arch which sur- 
mounted the horse's head thickly hung with tiny 
bells, the sleigh itself furnished with great wrappers 
of dark fur, Fuss-sacks (fur-lined bags to put the 
feet in), and all appliances for comfort. A large 
iron-grey horse, already pawing the ground and 
trying to free his head from the man who held him, 
promised some exercise of Falkenberg*s skill. 

* This is a charming turn-out,' said Grace, looking 
at it admiringly. 

* Have you anything to put over your head ?' 
asked Falkenberg. * You will need it.' 

* Yes ; Friede made me take this ' —a white, 
fluffy-looking, fringed scarf, which she threw over 
her sealskin cap, and tied loosely. 

Falkenberg, having wrapped her up with the 
greatest care, took his seat beside her. 

' Go/ he said to his servant ; * there is a place for 
you in the musicians' sleigh.' 

It had already begun to move off", and the man 
had a short sharp run after it. 

The grey pawed still more impatiently, and tossed 
his head, but no one moved till the band had gone 
ahead, and, having left a proper interval between 
itself and the rest of the party, struck up a stirring 
gallop. Then away they went, bells jangling, metal 
flashing, tassels swinging, little boys shouting, and 
all, young and old, within hearing of the music 
running to see the sight — away, smoothly, swiftly, 
noiselessly, over the beaten snow. Nothing is more 
exhilarating than a sleigh-drive : the delightful 



THE FRERES. 249 

motion — the sense of ease and lightness — the dry 
frosty air which is almost always its accompani-^ 
ment — the consciousness of extracting pleasure 
from the stern, dreary death-grapple of Winter's 
rule — all help to quicken the pulses, and give 
joyous excitement to the spirits. 

For the first few minutes Falkenberg was silent,, 
apparently occupied with his horse ; but as they 
cleared the town he turned and looked steadily,, 
critically at his companion for a moment. 

* I do not know which suits you best,* he said 
abruptly, as if speaking to himself, *the glow of 
autumn or the snow of winter ;' and his eyes dwelt 
yet another moment on the face beside him, its 
rich yet transparent colour heightened by the keen 
air, making the dark-grey eyes more brilliant ; 
while the smiling lips grew still and grave, as they 
always became whenever Falkenberg allowed any 
expression of admiration to escape him, which 
he seldom did, albeit not a variation of the 
changeful countenance was unnoticed by him, 
— the eyes, that could be so frank, almost de- 
fiant, and then so shy and soft, or earnest and 
questioning, or mischievous and mocking; the 
smile, which was tender or scornful, or proud, or 
simply mirthful — he knew every mood, yet did not 
quite fathom the nature in which they had their 
source. 

Grace was provoked to feel how much his words 
and look moved her. Distrust him as she would, 
her vanity was infinitely gratified by his admira- 
tion ; and yet a dim instinct seemed to inform her 



250 THE FRERES. 

that there was in it some element from which she 
shrank as not quite right, not worthy of her, and 
that her heart ought not to beat, nor her eyes to 
sink under his, as they did. 

* Everyone looks well on a fine, clear day,' said 
Grace, turning away her head, * and everyone ought 
to put on their best aspect for so delightful dLfite* 
This seems a good horse of yours, Herr Falkenberg ; 
have you had him long ?' 

* A couple of months. I got him in exchange for 
the brown, the one which fell with me.' 

* He holds his head well,' said she, critically. * I 
should like to take the reins myself, were it not so 
cold.' 

* Better not. When spring comes you shall drive 
him as much as you like.' 

They talked on easily of horses and the various 
small events of the Christmas festivities at Dalbers- 
dorf, when, suddenly turning to her, Falkenberg 
exclaimed : 

* But it is unwise of you, my Fraulein, to en- 
courage Friede in her folly.' 

* What folly ?* asked Grace, looking straight into 
his eyes. 

* Well-acted innocence !' said Falkenberg, laugh- 
ing. * Is it possible you think I do not see her whim 
for Sturm, and his presumptuous regard for her ?' 

* I see nothing to remark,' she returned, really 
thinking the lovers prudent. 

* Ah, Miss Grace, you would not allow yourself to 
be found out so readily ! But the dear Friede is 
simpler and softer ; I shall be so sorry for her when 



THE PRE RES. 251 

the inevitable break-up comes. It is a trying affair 
this falling in love with the wrong person ; and 
yet we seldom take to the right one — eh, my fair 
friend ?' 

* So it seems, according to books,' was the guarded 
reply. 

* My aunt and Gertrud would be furious if they 
had an idea that these excellent young people were 
preparing a cup of bitterness for themselves. Even 
the count, with all his kindness, would not like his 
grand-daughter to make a mesalliance.^ 

* But, without admitting that your surmises are 
right,' said Grace, her affection for Friede keeping 
her unusually on her guard, * would marriage with 
Dr. Sturm be a misalliance ? He will be a distin- 
guished professor, and the Alvslebens are not 
noble — they do not boast the magic " von." ' 

* No, but Friede is far better born than Sturm ; 
and the Alvslebens have been Gutbesitzers for — oh, 
for half a hundred years. Then she is very 
pretty, so soft and fair and graceful — like a white 
dove. I was rather in love with her once myself ; 
now I have transferred my affections to ' — an in- 
stant's pause — * Gertrud, and Friede has bestowed 
hers on Sturm.' 

* In despair at your faithlessness, I suppose,' said 
Grace, drily. 

* Exactly,' returned Falkenberg, looking down at 
her with laughing eyes. * I see you are very dis- 
creet. Well, I shall be very sorry if Friede makes 
trouble for herself. She will have but little fortune 
and should marry some rich landholder.' 



252 THE FRERES. 

* If she likes him/ 

* Well, we must all make some sacrifice for our 
social position. Would you, my Fraulein, marry 
Dr. Sturm ?' 

* Yes,* said Grace, boldly, * if I really cared for 
him, and he was my countryman. He is admirable, 
and so clever/ 

* What r exclaimed Falkenberg, looking sharply 
at her, ' a proud girl of your wealth and standing, 
marry a poor doctor in an obscure German school !' 

* I am obscure enough myself,* returned Grace, 
not heeding that he listened eagerly for her answer; 
* and as to wealth — I suspect Friede has more than 
I have.' 

* Ladies do not want money,* said Falkenberg, in 
a complimentary tone. * But it is an awful busi- 
ness for a man to be poor/ 

* I imagine it is much worse for women, who have 
so few ways of making money,* replied Grace. 

But Falkenberg did not seem to hear her, and 
kept silence for some time, urging on his horse, as 
if he himself were hunted by unpleasant thoughts. 

They had passed the sleigh with the band, but 
what little breeze there was brought the strains of 
a favourite waltz at intervals to their ears. The 
country was open, and undulating with distant pine- 
woods, and a range of high mountains to the left. 
And as mile after mile was passed with scarce a 
sign of human life, Grace, began to feel a slight 
sense of depression, as if all nature lay in its wind- 
ing-sheet. After a prolonged silence, Falkenberg 
roused himself with an effort, and began to speak of 



THE FRERES. 253 

Wallenstein and the Thirty Years' War, and soon 
was launched into an argument, Grace and he 
always taking opposite sides. However, the sub- 
ject, with a few changes, lasted till they reached 
the Gasthatis, where Falkenberg, now quite himself, 
jumped out, and proceeded to unroll and disen- 
tangle his companion from her voluminous wraps. 

The landlord and a brace of smiling damsels 
ushered them into a large, low, well-warmed room, 
where a couple of large tables were evidently pre- 
pared for dinner. 

* We are in capital time,' said Falkenberg, look- 
ing at the clock. ' It's not bad to do four German 
miles in an hour and three-quarters. We shall be 
able to go over the castle before dinner. Kellnerin, 
bring me Schnaps ! Suppose you and I go on and 
have the first look.' 

* No, no ; I must wait for my mother.' 

* Here they all come,' said Falkenberg, looking 
out of the window. * Herr Oberst with Mrs. Frere 
— they are great allies ! the Frau Mutter and Herr 
Oberst ! and. Miss Grace, poor Friede has fallen to 
the lot of little Heldreich !' 

After the sleighs had been unloaded, and driven 
off to the stables, and the party had enjoyed the 
warmth for a few minutes, it was suggested by 
Falkenberg to inspect the castle before dinner, while 
the light was clear, and they started accordingly. 

The snow was beaten hard on the roadway ; the 
slight air that had added to the cold at the outset 
had fallen, and the perfect stillness made the short 
walk pleasant. 



254 THE FRERES. 

The colonel offered Ihis arm to Mrs. Frere ; and 
most of the older officers paired off in a similar 
manner with the chaperons and married ladies — 
but the young people walked free and separately. 

* Come, Friede/ said Falkenberg, * let us see if 
the German Madchen can outstrip the English 
one. Which of you will reach the castle-gates 
first r 

' Oh, I will back Fraulein Friede !' said Lieutenant 
Volmar, an admirer of hers, who had come late to 
the rendezvous, and having missed his chance of 
securing a partner, had been reduced to take a 
young cadet, son of the colonel, on leave for a 
family birthday festival, for his companion. He 
was now determined to cut out von Heldreich if 
possible, and attached himself pertinaciously to the 
fair Saxon. Friede looked pretty enough to excuse 
such an attempt. Her warm winter-dress of dark 
cloth, and hat edged with sable, were peculiarly 
becoming to her. 

* I ought to win,' said Grace ; * I am taller. Keep 
back for a moment, Friede ; we must start fair.' 

They were well matched ; but Friede was a more 
practised pedestrian, and to Grace's surprise won 
by a few yards ; the result of the match being that 
they reached the gateway nearly a quarter of an 
hour before the rest of the party. Falkenberg, who 
knew the place well, acted as guide ; and they pro- 
ceeded through the newer portion of the edifice, 
the stately residence of the great Glam Gallas 
family, whose ancestor acquired a large portion of 
the murdered Wallenstein^s estate. Then came 



THE FRERES, 255 

remains of the ancient edifice, the armour worn by 
the gfreat chief, curious collection of arms, and espe- 
cially of saddles of various ages, both for male and 
female equestrians. But Grace sought in vain for 
some traces of the fair, unfortunate Theckla, that 
typical German maiden : still there was much to 
interest her in this the first specimen of an old 
castle she had ever seen. 

In the course of this inspection, the friends 
separated. All, save Grace, had visited the castle 
before. So Falkenberg naturally devoted himself 
to her service, in pointing out the various objects 
of interest ; and when they again reached the great 
hall, none of the rest were to be seen. 

* He was an extraordinary historical figure,' said 
Falkenberg, speaking of the original owner, * and 
must have had a strain of insanity in his character. 
His belief in planetary influence, his faith in the 
good luck of certain friendships, like Piccolomini's, 
showed insufficient reason/ 

* But he is always interesting,' said Grace. *I hope 
soon to be able to read Schiller's " Wallenstein." '^ 

* You will be charmed with it,' he returned. Then 
after glancing right and left, in his quick, resolute 
way, he opened the door of a small room, where 
there was a stove, and which seemed to be occupied 
by some official, as there was a high desk, with 
books and papers on it, opposite the door. ' Come 
in here, meine schone Fraulein/ he said ; * it is 
warmer here ; the rest will soon join us/ 

Grace walked to the stove, and tried to warm 
her feet against it 



256 THE FRERES. 

* But reason or no reason/ Falkenberg went on, 
after bringing her a seat, and then leaning his arms 
on the back of a high chair opposite, * some friend- 
ships are lucky — must be lucky. You spoke the 
other day of friendship between men and women. 
I have thought of your words ever since, meine 
liebe Grace — I mean Fraulein. Will you laugh at 
me if I say I want a friend ?' 

* Laugh ! — no, certainly not ; but I should have 
thought you had many friends.' 

* Acquaintances, comrades, pleasant fellows — ^yes; 
but a friend to whom I can speak my thoughts and 
reveal my inner self.' There was a pause. Grace 
-did not know exactly what to say. She sat silent, 
her eyes raised to his with questioning expression. 
'Do not look at me r he exclaimed hastily, 'but 
hear ! Will you be my friend — a real friend, to re- 
joice in my success (if I ever have any), to feel for 
my disappointment ? I think you are strong and 
true ! and we soldiers are very unlucky fellows in 
some ways,' he went on rapidly. ' We have small 
<:hances of making marriages of affection ; our very 
laws compel us to be guided by sordid motives. If 
one is in debt — and we all are — there is no means 
of extrication save in a wealthy marriage, unless, 
indeed, one has a wealthy father, which few possess. 
To a man in this position — and it is mine — what a 
priceless boon is the friendship and sympathy of a 
high-minded, tender woman ! It would be salva- 
tion, sweetest, fairest cousin ! (You are a sort of 
cousin,) have you the courage to undertake this 
friendship — friendship pure and simple ?' 



THE FRERES, 257 

* The courage !' repeated Grace, smiling — ' why 
courage ? Is there anything so terrible in your life, 
Herr von Falkenberg, that friendship with you 
requires courage ?* 

It was an unlucky word he had selected. When 
first he began to speak, Grace, with the mingled 
conceit and generosity of youth, was thrilled with a 
desire to befriend and reform him ; but with the 
expression ' courage,' came the recollection of the 
gossip she had overheard at the coffee Klatsch 
which, though the sharpness of the original impres- 
sion had been somewhat blurred, still dwelt in her 
mind. 

Falkenberg in his turn was greatly surprised. 
He had fully expected a warm, nay, tender accept- 
ance of the proffered friendship, and a gushing 
agreement to unalterable Platonic fidelity. The 
unexpected answer sent his mental thermometer 
down many degrees. 

* Ah ! there spoke the practisch Englishwoman,' 
he said, with a slightly cynical smile ; and drawing 
himself up : * No, Hebe Fraulein ! my life is neither 
better nor worse than my neighbours. The courage 
I thought of was required for a very different 
reason, and required far more by myself than by 
you.' 

* Oh !' said Grace, catching a glimpse of his 
meaning. 

*But,I must admit, I did not think you would have 
received a confession of my soul's need, which you 
alone could have drawn forth, with such cold 
unsympathising caution. Nevertheless, * ma belle,' 

VOL. II. 38 



258 THE PRE RES. 

I shall ever cherish a tender friendship for you, 
however indifferent j'^// may be/ 

This was kindly and frankly said; and at the 
end he held out his hand. Grace felt dreadfully 
ashamed of herself. Falkenberg had never spoken 
in such a tone before, and she ought not to have 
nipped any good feeling in the bud ; she put her 
hand in his readily, and said, in a softer voice and 
with downcast eyes : 

' I am not cold and unsympathising. I like you; 
I always did, and I will be friends with you with 
all my heart ; only ' — a sudden upward laughing 
glance — * take care of your own courage, and I will 
take care of mine !' 

* Good !' returned Falkenberg, pressing her hand 
tightly ; * I had need do so. And now we will trust 
each other, and thou wilt tell me thy griefs and 
joys ; and when alone thou wilt say Du, wilt thou 
not?' 

* No r replied Grace, sturdily. * If I do, I shall 
forget, and call you so always. Let us leave Dii 
alone/ 

* Ah, prudent one, you will be strong as well as 
kind ; you will giw^ me good counsel. It will be a 
new delight to think that you will care for me and 
feel with me till some more favoured and fortunate 

fellow comes, and then ' He stopped, and 

added, almost in a whisper, ' How I shall hate 
him r 

*And when you meet that well-dowered wife 
who is to share your existence,' said Grace, smiling 
pleasantly, and succeeding with an effort in with- 



THE FRERES, 259 

drawing her hand, * I hope she will not hate 
mar 

* No, no ; you do not understand the nature of 
our German women. She will love and reverence 
you as the helper, the purifier, of her husband's 
otherwise lonely life.* 

* I wonder,' said Grace, half to herself, while a 
very mischievous smile quivered in the dimples 
which lurked about her mouth ; * I wonder if my 
future " spouse " is undergoing a preliminary course 
of ennobling friendship at present ; because, some- 
how, I would rather not.' 

*You are mistaken,' said Falkenberg, with un- 
usual earnestness ; * true friendship with a high- 
minded woman makes a man more worthy of love.' 

* No doubt you are right !' exclaimed Grace. * I 
am at times too much inclined to see the ridiculous 
sides of things ; forgive my levity, and let us be 
fast friends. I like you so much when you are in 
earnest, and I am sure you could not be heartless 
or false !' 

* Ha !' cried Falkenberg, struck by her tone, 
* some one has been traducing me to you !' 

* No, no one, I assure you,' returned Grace 
quickly. 

There was no time for more ; the sound of voices 
and feet approaching echoed through the vaulted 
hall, and Falkenberg, going to the door, met Friede 
and VoUmar, who were laughing merrily at having 
given von Heldreich the slip in the long passages. 
He soon appeared, however, and when the re- 
mainder of the party joined them they found the 

38—2 



26o THE FRERES. 

pioneers of the expedition comfortably gathered 
round the stove. 

The dinner was a scene of joyous confusion, 
hearty honest laughter, noisy good-humoured talk, 
as is usual on such occasions in Germany, Falken- 
berg being the gayest among the guests. The 
Oberst von Ahlefeld, the leader of the party, was a 
gallant veteran well versed in such duties. He was 
a Hanoverian who, like many of his countrymen, 
entered the Saxon army after the fatal victory of 
Langensalze, that they might fight for Germany and 
yet avoid direct service with the hated Prussians. 
Speaking French and English well, and, as Hano- 
verians usually are, more a man of the world than 
the generality of Germans, he always showed marked 
attention to Mrs. Frere, who soon discovered they 
had had many mutual acquaintances in those past 
happy times when, wandering with her husband 
from one pleasant Continental town to another, 
life had been a long holiday. The Frau Oberst, 
too, had been much at the court when Hanover 
had one, and had there known many English, some 
of whom she had visited in their own country ; she 
was, consequently, always pleased to meet English 
people, though her knowledge of English was very 
limited, and an intimacy was rapidly growing up 
between the families. 

Mrs. Frere's gentle vanity was comforted by these 
attentions, and Grace marked with heartfelt pleasure 
her mother's brightened looks, and listened to her 
low, well-bred laugh. Yes ; it was well that they 
had made this bold step, and ventured into the un- 



THE FRERES. 26 1 

known land ; yet, even while she thought so, her 
heart yearned even for London, to see Randal and 
dear, kind, wise Jimmy Byrne. The tears absolutely 
stood in her ^y^s as she conjured up their faces ; for 
just then they had risen from table, and Falkenberg 
having begun a fine stirring Soldaten Lied^ the rest 
joined the chorus, and the strain, full of a proud 
melancholy, touched her almost to melting as she 
gazed through the window of the large, low room 
across the wide stretch of snow, through the softly 
deepening night shadows, far away to the places 
and people she had loved and left. It was curious 
how clearly she seemed to sec Max — Max of whom 
she had not thought for months. His dark, well- 
cut face and deep eyes, which had first taught her 
that she was a woman, came back to her vividly ; 
for an instant she felt an intense pang of longing 
to see him again — not the Max of London, but the 
grave, observant, sympathetic Max of Dungar. 

* Meine Liebe, thou art thinking sad thoughts,' 
whispered Falkenberg, suddenly startling her into 
consciousness. She saw the tables were being 
cleared and carried away, and that the bandsmen 
were coming in. 

* The sleighs will not be ready for another hour,' 
said Colonel von Ahlefeld, coming up to Grace, 
' and we propose to occupy the time by dancing. 
May I have the honour, mein gnadiges Fraulein ?' 

Falkenberg stepped back with a smile, slightly 
raising his eyebrows ; and Grace, her thoughts 
directed to a new channel, was soon among the 
dancers. 



262 THE FRERES. 

* Do not let us have torches/ said Falkenberg, as 
they all stood ready to depart ; * they are only an 
incumbrance. Let us keep near the music, and we 
shall have the light of theirs. Friede, you go with 
VoUmar ; let us start together.' 

The four friends slipped away, Grace first telling 
her mother that they were going, and so secured 
their place at the head of the procession. The 
start and homeward progress was very effective. 
The horses were eager, the music inspiriting, the 
various lights and shadows thrown by the torches 
weird and fairy-like ; the smooth snow made the 
gliding motion positively luxurious, and a splendid 
moon turned all beneath her beams into silver. 

* It is a sin to sully so pure a light with the glare 
and smoke of these torches,^ exclaimed Falkenberg, 
looking up into the blue blackness of the sky. * We 
will pass the foremost sleigh, and get away into the 
moonlight' So saying, he turned and called to his 
lieutenant : * VoUmar, we go on in front ; follow 
straight to Bergstrasse.' 

A touch of the whip, and they spun on at a 
swinging pace, past the musicians' sleigh, and soon 
nearly out of hearing of the occasional louder swell 
of the music. 

' Is it not delicious — the stillness and lovely 
light?' said Grace. 

' Yes ; and still more delightful to be alone with 
thee, sweet friend !' cried Falkenberg, who was in 
the highest spirits. * Now, tell me the secret of 
these sudden shadows, which sometimes fall upon 
thee. I have ever noticed them. That first walk 



THE FRERES, 263 

with thee — how well I remember it ! — when we stood 
on the Oybin,and those great soft eyes of thine gazed 
dreamily away into a distance of which I knew 
nothing ; then my soul was drawn to thine, and I 
felt I had found such a friend as I had always 
sought Now, this evening I watched thee, and 
saw those eyes fill up, and felt that in spirit thou 
wert far away. What is thy heart's secret, meine 
Liebe ? Tell me, and then I will tell thee some of 
my troubles.' 

He spoke in German, as he almost always did 
of late, even when she replied in English, and the 
tender Du fell caressingly from his lips. 

* I really have nothing to tell,' returned Grace, 
simply. * I am away from my old home, and my 
brother, and all that was dear and familiar to me, so 
it is natural that I sometimes, nay, often, feel a vague 
sadness — an indefinable sensation ; but I have only 
to think resolutely for a few minutes, and it dis- 
perses. We are really very happy here.' 

*Ah, your confidence may be won — I see it is 
not to be had for asking,' said Falkenberg, look- 
ing kindly into her eyes. *Tell me about your 
brother.' 

But soon he contrived to turn the talk upon him- 
self, his early days, his first military experiences, con- 
fessed many boyish follies of a pardonable and even 
lovable type. Indeed, a novelist need not desire a 
more interesting, piquant, and attractive opening 
sketch of his hero's beginning than Falkenberg's 
reminiscences supplied. They were given, too, 
with the most charmingly frank unstudied manner, 



264 THE FRERES. 

and in a tone of brotherly confidence which set 
Grace quite at ease. 

Altogether the homeward drive was very delight- 
ful, and when they reached Mrs. Frere's house they 
were far in advance of the rest of the party. 

' No/ said Falkenberg, as Grace turned to say 
good-night ; * I wait to say adieu to Mrs. 
Frere.' 

He sprang upstairs after her, and hanging his 
great fur-lined coat in the corridor, came into the 
warm, well-lighted saloji, and assisted Grace to 
remove her wraps. 

* And are the pretty little hands terribly cold?' 
he asked, taking them both in his. 

* Not so cold as yours,* said she, not liking to 
seem prudish by withdrawing them too soon. 

* And now,' he went on, impressively, * we have 
entered into a solemn compact of friendship. See, 
I have told you much of my life ; will you not also 
confide in me ? You will, in your own good time ; 
and I will be discreet. Only you must let me say 
I)u when we are alone — alas ! that is seldom. Yes, 
I will let your hands go so soon as you again 
promise to be my true and faithful friend.' 

* I will ! I do r cried Grace, disturbed and 
puzzled by this curiously un-English proceeding. 
Something in Falkenberg's voice and touch affected 
her strangely — vexatiously. 

* You will understand me better ere long,' con- 
tinued Falkenberg, still holding her hands. ' Now, 
let me explain the laws of our sleighing-parties. 
On the return from these expeditions, each cavalier 



THE FRERES. 26s 

is entitled to a kiss from the lady he escorted. But 
this is all friendship dares to take/ and he kissed 
the hands he held more than once with very 
friendly warmth indeed, and then let them go. 

* I hear the sleigh-bells/ said Grace, turning away 
hastily, and removing her fur cap to hide the quick 
bright colour that would spring to her cheek. 

* And our little hour is over !* cried Falkenberg, 
as he left the room to receive the fresh arrivals. 



M 


^2 


*^ 


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M 


^^^ 


1*^ 






^s 



CHAPTER XIV. 



f|HE period which succeeded this somewhat 
memorable Schlitten-partie was tranquil 
and agreeable. 

Falkenberg had, with much tact, kept 
up the tone of tender friendship he had established. 
Scarce a day passed without a visit from him on 
one pretext or another ; and as he was also 
frequently at Dalbersdorf, his intercourse with 
each family helped to draw the b'nks closer with 
the other. 

He carried notes and messages from the young 
ladies to Grace, and vice versA, and gradually became 
part of Mrs. Frere's daily life. Meantime, the 
variation of his moods puzzled and interested 
Grace, He was useful, too, in many ways ; and 
under a certain soldier-like pride and finery, was 
a homeliness that helped to make their intercourse 
easy. 

The chief event of this quiet time was a letter 
from Lady Elton, written in a kindly tone, as if 



THE FRERES. 267 

nothing had ever happened to interrupt their first 
warm friendship. 

'Though our intercourse lasted but for a brief 
season/ she wrote, * I am surprised, now that I am 
once more settled in London, to find how closely you 
had linked yourself with my life. I quite miss you ; 
and though I still think you acted unwisely, I 
pardon you. I wish you would come over and pay 
me a visit, if Mrs Frere could spare you. It would 
be far more to your advantage than vegetating in a 
miserable little Saxon town, the very name of 
which is unknown twenty miles beyond its own 
walls. Come and comfort me, for I have had a 
great sorrow since we met. The son of my oldest 
and dearest friend, who was as a son of my own, 
who had given me infinite trouble, yet who was my 
one link with the present, my one hope in the 
future, has been carried off by cholera at the other 
side of the world ; and I feel as if everything, save 
the merest mechanism of life, had ceased for me. 
I think I could still take an interest in you. Hitherto 
I have infinitely preferred boys and men to girls 
and women. We are weak and false and scratchy, 
dear ; and they are strong and selfish and true, be- 
cause they can do very much what they like without 
being obliged to put too fine a point upon it ; but I 
like and sympathise with you more than with any 
woman I have before known. 

* I met your brother, at a painfully dull dinner 
at the Freres', some weeks ago. He was not look- 
ing well, though in some ways he is improved, and 



268 THE FRERES. 

more a man of the world. I told him he might 
come and see me, but he has not availed himself of 
the invitation or permission. Do you know who 
he lives with in town — I mean, what set ? Max 
knows nothing of him. Talk to your mother, dear 
Grace, about coming to me for two or three months. 
Of course your journey to and fro would be my 
affair. Think of it, child ; and believe me, your 
company would be a boon to your friend, 

*H. Elton/ 

* I am sure, dear Grace,' said Mrs. Frere, when 
she had finished perusing this letter, * I would not 
for the world keep you back from what might be 
an advantage or a pleasure ; so if you would like 
to go ' 

An expressive break in the sentence, which was 
a little tremulous. 

' Why, mother dear, how could you possibly do 
without me?' cried Grace, bending over her mother's 
arm-chair, and kissing her brow ; * and what sort 
of pleasure should I have all that way off, imagining 
you struggling with Mab and Paulina, and the 
Schatz who would live in the kitchen if I was not 
here to frighten him ; and — no ! it is not to be 
thought of I assure you, I am quite content to 
stay here. I do not care to go to London, though 
I should like to see Lady Elton.' 

* Are you quite happy here, dearest ?' asked Mrs. 
Frere, fondly — * quite satisfied ? I think it is really 
very nice, and the society far from dull. I am sure 
we have changed for the better in coming. And 



THE FRERES. 269 

oh ! indeed, my darling, what should I do without 
you ? Only I suppose I must let you go some day. 
Ah! what will become of me if you marry a man 
who does not like me ?' 

* Oh, we must take care of that !' said Grace, 
laughing ; * and at present it seems a very remote 
contingency.' 

* I am not so sure,' returned Mrs. Frere, with an 
air of prophetic wisdom and a knowing nod which 
sent the colour to Grace's cheek and a thrill of 
annoyance to her heart. 

Surely her mother did not dream of a German 
son-in-law? any fancy in that direction must be 
nipped in the bud. But after a moment's pause 
Grace had self-control sufficient to turn the subject 
by exclaiming : 

* What ! have you commissioned dear old Jimmy 
to find an "illegant" young man of the best pattern ? 
Never mind the future, dear ; let us enjoy the 
present. I must answer this letter. Suppose we 
ask Lady Elton to come here ?' 

* Grace !' in a tone of horror and astonishment. 

* Why not i We could not give her luxuries, 
but our best is not bad, and for a little while the 
change would amuse her ; and then there is the 
" Goldene Sonne," a right royal hostellerie, and a 
beautiful country. She would be delighted with 
the count and the Hauptmann. Oh yes! I will 
beg her to come to Zittau.' 

* Oh, as to Lady Elton, I should not mind her 
so much ; but just think of her maid and Luigi here ! 
it is too terrrible.* 



270 THE FRERES. 

* Yes, it would be terrible/ said Grace, reflectively. 
* Yet I will suggest her coming here ; she seems so 
unhappy/ 

Here the sound of voices and the clatter of a 
sword without made her pause ; and before she 
could resume, the door opened to admit Falkenberg, 
who came in quickly. 

* Ah ! good-morning, Mrs. Frere. Good-morning, 
Miss Grace. I come for a moment to say that I 
must renounce the pleasure of driving you to 
Dalbersdorf this afternoon. I am suddenly called 
to Dresden on business.' 

* I am very sorry ; shall you be long away ? 

* No ; I have two days' leave, and when I return 
we must have a ride together — must we not, my 
sweetest friend ?' 

* We will talk about it/ returned Grace, who had 
not yet spoken, 

*Ach, Gott!' exclaimed Falkenberg, turning to 
her, and speaking rapidly in German. *When I 
return I shall have a secret, which yet will not be 
long a secret, to tell thee. Ah, Grace ! wilt thou 
yet care for thy friend, whose fate has ever been 
one of disappointment ?' 

' You' have no fresh trouble ?' asked Grace, kindly. 

* No, nothing fresh ! Come, dear Fraulein ; step 
out on the balcony and give me a look and a kind 
wish as I ride away.' 

He took her hand and pressed it tightly. His 
eyes were alight with a sombre fire, and a strain of 
suppressed excitement underlay his manner which 
affected gaiety. 



THE FRERES. 271 

*You ought to come and pay Dresden a visit, 
Mrs. Frere ; make up your mind and come with me. 
I am a capital cicerone, and I could get a few more 
days' leave if you and Miss Grace would accompany 
me. Miss Grace, join your prayers to mine. Gott^ 
it would be himmlischy a week's freedom in a strange 
place r 

*Very charming, Herr Hauptmann, but quite 
impossible,' said Mrs. Frere, smiling. * Curious 
enough, this is the second invitation we, at least 
Grace, has had this morning. 

* Ha ! how — where ?' cried Falkenberg, turning 
quickly to her. 

'To Lady Elton's in London,' returned Mrs. 
Frere, who could not bear to hide even a farthing 
rushlight under a bushel. 

' And you will go ? — of course you will, and better 
so,' said Falkenberg, looking down in an instant's 
deep thought. 

* I am not going,' returned Grace, quietly. 
*Then I shall find you here? We shall meet 

again !' he exclaimed. * Now I must away.' 

With a hasty good-bye to Mrs. Frere, and re- 
peating * The balcony ' in a low tone of entreaty to 
Grace, he left the room. 

Grace, struck by his unusual manner, stepped 
through the window, and looked down as he 
mounted his horse. He had evidently ridden over 
from the morning parade. Having swung himself 
into the saddle, Falkenberg raised his eyes to Grace 
and exclaimed in English, 'Farewell, fairest and best 
of friends — farewell !' Touching his horse with the 



272 THE FRERES. 

spur, he still looked back and waved his hand, 
though the animal started forward with a bound, 
and horse and rider passed quickly out of sight. 

* He is handsome — he is certainly handsome, and 
nice,' thought Grace, looking after him with a slight 
sigh. * I am sure he is in some trouble, too ;' and 
she still gazed dreamily down the road by which he 
had vanished, half vexed to think how much she 
liked him, and how much he influenced her, yet half 
wondering that both liking and influence were not 
greater and deeper. * He is a very fair hero,' she 
thought, * and if I only believed him quite real and 
earnest I should be as fond of him as my mother 

is ; but He always puts my vanity on the qui 

vive ; I feel so different after talking with Dr. 
Sturm — happier and better.' 

* Poor von Falkenberg !' exclaimed Mrs. Frere, 
in a tone of tender commiseration, when Grace re- 
turned to the salon. * Did it strike you, dear, that 
he seemed very agitated ?' 

* Yes, he was different. Perhaps he has been 
sent for to receive some high appointment. I be- 
lieve he is rather a favourite at court, or ' 

* I am afraid it is nothing so good that calls him 
away ; I hope it is nothing unpleasant,' continued 
Mrs. Frere, taking up her knitting ; while Grace 
settled herself to a daily task of translating, from 
which she had a faint hope of deriving some small 
emolument hereafter. * I must say I have a high opi- 
nion of the Hauptmann. He is quite as well-bred 
as Max Frere, and yet free from that indescribable 
hauteur that made Max at times almost repellent' 



THE FRERES. 273 

* They are both very nice in their way/ said 
Grace, with a sh'ght sigh, as she drew her dictionary' 
to her, and, having found the desired word, began 
to think in an unaccountable way of her friendship 
with Wolff von Falkenberg, colouring over the in- 
nocent page as a variety of speeches and trifling 
incidents recalled themselves, which suggested 
speculations as to v/hat Falkenberg's love-making 
would be, if these were only marks of friendship. 
And then how cleverly he always retreated behind 
his outworks whenever she made any show of 
checking or rebuking him! Certainly she would 
miss him greatly if he were to leave Zittau ; never- 
theless, with all his attention and sympathy and 
devotion or friendship, though he had managed to 
occupy her thoughts a good deal, he never failed to 
add daily minute pebbles to the cairn of distrust 
that gradually reared itself in her imagination, 
despite a certain quickening of the pulse which 
looks and words of his always had the power to 
create. 

' I wonder would anyone — any publisher, I mean 
— ever give me any money for this story when it 
is finished ?' 

* I am sure they ought,' returned her mother. 
* You are doing it beautifully ; no one would think 
it was a translation.' 

* I only fear I have lost the spirit of the original.* 
Then, after a pause, ' Is it not nearly a fortnight 
since we had a letter from Randal ?' 

* Let me see,' said Mrs. Frere, looking over her 
VOL. II. 39 



274 THE FRERES. 

knitting into the events of last week ; * yes, it was 
a fortnight yesterday.' 

* I will write a line to Jimmy Byrne !* exclaimed 
Grace ; * I should like to know what they are about 
It will be in time for the post to-day ;' and she 
hastily put aside her manuscript. 

* Grace, my child ! you frighten me.' 

* No, dear mother, there is nothing to frighten 
you ; only ' 

* I know Lady Elton's letter has made you un- 
easy, and I do not wonder at it. God grant my 
dear boy is not seriously ill !' 

' Pray do not fancy such a thing, mother. Now 
here comes Mab ; give her some bread-and-butter 
while I finish my uote, and then I will take her 
with me for a nice quick walk — it will do us both 
good.' 

Grace's letter to Jimmy Byrne did not elicit the 
usual prompt reply, and, although she was careful 
to hide it from her mother, an undefined anxiety, 
for which she could not account even to herself, 
grew upon her — one of those vague presentiments 
which all have experienced, and the raison (Titre of 
which none can explain! 

Meantime the ordinary tranquil current of life 
rolled smoothly on in Bergstrasse. Grace was always 
busy, and Mab, with frequent relapses into contra- 
dictory wilfulness, was on the whole improved. 

Falkenberg's absence was prolonged to a week, 
and then, strange to say, he did not come first to 
his English friends to announce his return. 



' THE FRERES. 275 

It was almost dinner-time one bright keen day 
at the close of February, and Grace was endeavour- 
ing, with a mixture of command and entreaty, to 
induce Mab to wash her hands before the mid-day 
meal. 

* I am sure, Grace, your eyes must be dirty ! I 
cannot see that my hands want washing. Look at 
them, mother.' 

* My dear, it is perfectly amazing that you do not 
wish to wash your hands ! it is so much more 
comfortable.' 

' Not to me,' said Mab, decidedly. * Listen — 
there is the count.' 

In fact, the veteran's voice was heard interro- 
gating Paulina : 

* Die gnadige Frau, ist zu sprechen ?* 

* Ja wohl, Herr Graf.' 

Mab rushed forth to greet him, and help him off 
with the huge fur-coat still necessary in that elevated 
district. 

* My dear uncle, so very glad to see you. It is 
an age since any of you have been here. Are all 
well at Dalbersdorf ?' cried Grace, embracing the 
kind old man. 

* Well, yes — all but FriMe, who has a headache or 
a cold, or a something that would not let her come 
in with us. The Verwalter drove me into Zittau 
this morning. He came to see his brother, who is, 
I believe, going to Leipzig. There is a talk of his 
becoming professor of history there, in consequence 
of his "Essay on the Development of the Holy 
Roman Empire," or some such thing.' 

39—2 



2/6 THE FRERES. 

* That will be good for him — I am very glad !' 
exclaimed Grace, connecting this piece of news in 
her own mind with Friede's stay-at-home malady. 

* I am very pleased also. He is really a most 
deserving person/ cried Mrs. Frere. ' But, my 
dear uncle, you will stay and share our homely 
dinner. 

* It is roast goose !' cried Mab, with a triumphant 
sniff ; * I smell it' 

* Yes, dear uncle,' added Grace, * and a boiled 
batter-pudding of my own mixing.' 

* Faith, mee darlings, I would be delighted to eat 
a potato and salt in your charming society,' said 
the gallant veteran ; * but, Potf^tausettdl the goose 
and the pudding are not to be despised. I shall 
not return till six ; and as I want to perform some 
commissions for my Frau Tochter, perhaps you will 
come and help, dear niece ?' 

* Certainly,' returned Mrs. Frere ; and the count 
proceeded to ask for news from England, while 
Grace went to inspect the setting forth of the 
dinner. 

* Well,' said the count, unfolding his napkin and 
looking round him, as he placed himself at table ; 
* you are a couple of e:^cellent HatisfraueUy meine 
Danien! and a mighty pretty trick you have of 
decking out the food. One always finds you pre- 
pared, formed square, and ready to receive cavalry ! 
Here's your health, madame ; and yours, my Grace. 
It's a lucky fellow that will be able to put you at 
the head of his table. Gad ! I wish Ulrich was a 
few years older, and more worthy of you. I would 



THE PRE RES, 277 

like a Grace Costello in the family — and Grace 
Costello you always are to me/ 

* Thank you, a thousand times !' returned his 
grand-niece, laughing ; * but you know I must have 
a British husband/ 

* Faith, that's just prejudice ! There are good 
fellows everywhere, specially in Austria and 
Saxony/ 

* No doubt ; but they are better appreciated by 
their own countrywomen/ 

'I should like a German husband,^ said Mab, 
pausing, with a succulent bone upraised and half 
way to her mouth. 

* Very w6ll, I'll make a note of it/ returned the 
count, gravely. * Have you seen Falkenberg since 
he returned V he continued. 

* No ! I did not know he had come back/ said 
Mrs. Frere. 

* He came out to Dalbersdorf late last evening, 
and did not seem much the brighter for his visit to 
Dresden. As his leave had not quite expired, we 
put him up for the night ; and I left him there this 
morning. He is a fine fellow, Wolff von Falken- 
berg. They may say what they like about his wild 
doings before the war — 4y, and after too — but he 
is a gentleman, and a right pleasant comrade too 
He'll settle down into a first-rate officer yet ; and 
I hope to see him at the head of his regiment 
before I die/ 

* I agree with you, uncle ; he is a charming person, 
and I am sure refined and domestic in his tastes.' 

* Humph !' said the count, filling his glass ; * he 



278 THE FRRRES. 

is not exactly a home-bird, but I believe him to be 
a man of honour.' 

He is always very nice and kind to us/ observed 
Grace, helping her granduncle to walnuts. 

* And small blame to him. He always says he 
never knew how good and gracious Englishwomen 
could be, before.' 

Then the talk meandered to London and Randal. 
The count had a fixed idea that Richard Frerewas 
bound to take his dead brother's son into partner- 
ship. To give him * a share in the concern,' accord- 
ing to his loose notions and phraseology, was no 
more than placing an additional knife and fork on 
a plentiful table, and making a member of the 
family welcome — a view in which Mrs. Frere quite 
coincided. People in the city just sat on high 
stools, and wrote cabalistic formulas in big books, 
which produced money in some occult manner, but 
at the same time produced meanness and avarice 
in a truly despicable degree ; such was Mrs. Frere's 
vague impression of * business.' 

Grace, though tolerably convinced of the vanity 
of reasoning with either uncle or mother, could not 
help uttering a protest on the side of justice. 

' Faith, it's very queer' (he said ' quare ') ' to hear a 
young lady upholding commerce against soldiering,' 
said the count, looking at the speaker with a smile. 

* I am sure I like soldiers very much indeed. I 
feel quite soldierly myself when I hear a band, and 
the jingle of sword and spur has a music of its 
own for me ; but I cannot help seeing that com- 
merce has done much more for the world than war.' 



THE FRERES. 279 

* How do you make that out ? Half the wars 
we have had have sprung from the quarrels of 
merchants and priests/ returned the count. 

* And the rest from kings and emperors and am- 
bitious prime ministers/ added Grace, smiling, 
* and from anyone but the soldiers themselves. I 
wonder if we shall never be wise enough to leave 
off fighting ?' 

* Not till the sky falls, and we catch larks,' said 
Count Costello, risjng. * And now, dear niece, will 
you come with me while there is yet plenty of day- 
light, to help my ignorance in shopping ?' 

' May I come too ?' asked Mab. 

* Yes, if the count permits ; and you, Grace.' 

' Oh, I shall stay at home ; I have not done any 
of my work to-day. And you will return here, 
uncle, before you go back ?' 

* Yes, dear ; I will come and say good-bye.' 
When the well-assorted trio set out, Grace pro- 
ceeded to her usual self-imposed task of translating 
— partly as an exercise, partly in the vague hope 
of producing something marketable. With the 
example of Randal's overweening estimate of him- 
self before her eyes, she shrank from confiding to 
anyone the secret desire she had to commit her 
imaginings and observations to paper. There were 
thoughts and speculations suggested by that keen 
sympathy with nature, animate and inanimate, 
which is a royal road to knowledge ; vivid fancies, 
guided by the strain of common sense with which 
she was blessed. These haunted her, and made a 
large part of her happiness — for at this time she 



28o THE FRERES. 

was very happy, very tranquil ; and in the shape of 
notes on what she redd, abstracts and common- 
place books, she filled many a blue-covered cahier 
of the kind so well known in German schools. 
But these labours of love were for herself alone ; 
the dear mother's unhesitating and undistinguish- 
ing praise was as unsatisfactory as indiscriminating 
blame. Indeed, had Mab been a shade more 
womanly, she would have confided in her. Friede's 
admiration and want of comprehension destroyed 
the interest she might have had in communicating 
her lucubrations to that tender friend. Had they 
been sentimental outpourings indeed, agonies of 
the heart, passionate reminiscences of her old 
home and its dethroned hero, Friede would have 
appreciated her cousin's performances most keenly. 
But this was not Grace Frere's line. 

This sharp bright February afternoon she sat at 
her writing-table, holding her pen, but lost in 
thought ; her eyes dilated, and gazing far away. 
It was of course quite natural that Falkenberg 
should go first to his relations at Dalbersdorf, and 
yet she felt it augured some change. A month — a 
week ago, his first visit would have been to her 
mother and herself. There was nothing to complain 
of, yet she felt somehow wounded and * contraried.' 
i\n uneasy sensation, like the breath of a moral 
east wind, rippled over the current of her thoughts; 
and while she mused, the object of her reflections 
opened the door quietly, and walked up to her 
writing-table. 

* Oh, Wolff, you startled me !' she exclaimed, to 



THE FRERES, 281 

her own infinite annoyance, using the appellation 
she was so accustomed to hear. 

Falkenberg held out his hand without speaking. 
He was in his Jdger clothes, and looked very 
gloomy and colourless. 

' My dear Grace ! my sweet friend ! I have 
been watching for a chance to find you alone. 
I have so much to tell you, so much need of your 
sympathy ; and it is a good omen that you 
greet me by my name — I like to hear you say 
Wolff.' 

He threw himself on the sofa as he spoke, and 
Grace, resuming her seat, moved it slightly to face 
him. 

'What is the matter?' she asked kindly, and 
looking straight at him. * You do not look as if 
you had enjoyed your visit to Dresden/ 

' Ach, Gott ! no ; I am doomed to execution.' 

* What !' cried Grace, alarmed at his tone and 
looks, * you have not got into serious trouble ? 
You are not going' — she was about to add, *to 
leave your regiment,' but stopped the words, know- 
ing their terrible significance. 

* Going to run away ?' cried Falkenberg, laugh- 
ing, to the confusion of his listener. * No, I am 
not quite so far gone. I am going to pay my 
debts after the old Roman fashion, by selling 
myself.' 

' Oh !' said Grace, on whom the true state of 
affairs began to dawn. 

' Yes, dear friend,' he continued ; ' I have 
arranged my affairs, and my cousin Gertrude is 



282 THE FRERES. 

good enough to give me the wherewithal to satisfy 
my creditors — and herself into the bargain.' 

He looked keenly at Grace as he spoke, as if to 
see how she took the intelligence. She was not so 
astonished as he expected her to be, but looked 
very grave. 

* She is very good, Herr Hauptmann, and I do 
hope you will be grateful and kind to her always.' 

*And is it, then, so great a sacrifice to marry 
me?' exclaimed Falkenberg, starting up and be- 
ginning to pace the room. * Do you not think 
there are items in the bargain that suit Gertrud 
as well as her fortune suits me ? I will fulfil my 
part honestly enough : I will make her Baroness 
Falkenberg, give her the entrie of the court circle, 
give her all the respect and observance due to my 
wife. It is all she needs ; her household cares will 
fill up any vacuum, and ' 

^ No ! you ought not to talk like that/ inter- 
rupted Grace. * Gertrud is very fond of you ; if 
she was not, she could find plenty of barons be- 
sides you to make a bargain with. She will give 
you all her heart — will you give her all yours ?' 

* Suppose I have none to give,' said Falkenberg, 
stopping suddenly opposite her, and gazing into 
her eyes. 

* Does Gertrud give herself and all she has to 
you, knowing that you have no heart to bestow ?' 
asked Grace, bluntly. 

* She knows she has no romantic, impassioned 
lover in me,' returned Falkenberg, resuming his 
walk to and fro. * She knows that mine has been 



THE FRERES. 283 

no saintly life, and she is satisfied to take what is 
left of it. If she is content, that is enough.- 

* True,' said Grace, thoughtfully ; * you under- 
stand your own lives and their necessities better 
than anyone else, and I heartily wish you may bpth 
be happy.* 

* Is that all ?' cried Falkenberg, again pausing for 
a moment. ^ Have you no warmer, kinder word 
for your friend in this hour of — of hopeless defeat ?* 

Grace was silent, and dreadfully embarrassed. 

* You must see and understand all I dare not say. 
Will you promise still to be my friend — my sym- 
pathising, devoted friend ? — that you will give me 
a chance, when you can, of opening my heart to 
you, of taking counsel with you ? I ask nothing 
that need wound or offend my wife. Ach, du lieber 
Himmel ! must I say my wife to her ?' 

And again throwing himself upon the sofa, 
Falkenberg hid his face in his hands, and uttered 
a low groan. 

* Pray, pray, Wolff, do not marry if you feel 
like this,' urged Grace, half frightened and wholly 
horrified at the idea of the destiny preparing for 
poor Gertrud. * Surely you might persuade your 
creditors to give you time ; and my uncle would 
help you, and you might go away somewhere and 

make some money, or Perhaps I ought not to 

talk to you like this, but ' 

* Yes, yes ; talk to me — say anything. I like to 
hear your voice,' said Falkenberg, sitting up and 
taking her hand in his. * But you make me feel 
myself a poltroon ; I have no right to disturb and . 



284 THE FRERES. 

distress you. And you little know how much time 
my creditors have already given me, nor how im- 
possible for me, a Saxon soldier, to learn how to 
make money. No, sweetest friend ! — ^let me have 
your hand a little moment — marriage with Ger- 
trud is the only solution of my difficulties ; and 
but for one — one great heart-longing, it would be 
no great sacrifice on my part ' — (' Ah !* thought 
Grace, * the Polish countess ') — * a longing I must 
not explain to you. I ask but one consolation, 
which you only can give me : promise — ^promise 
solemnly that nothing shall alter the terms on 
which we are — that marriage shall make no differ- 
ence in our friendship — that I shall still be your 
beloved brother — for you love me, my sweetest 
sister, do you not ?' 

* I am indeed your friend,' returned Grace, her 
heart beating quickly, and absolutely alarmed at 
his vehemence, * and I do not change to my friends ; 
but, Herr von Falkenberg, I think you are not quite 
like yourself. I wish you would go away and think 
quietly over things ; and,' resolutely, * you must and 
shall let go my hand !' 

* Gott !' cried Falkenberg, releasing it, ' you are 
colder and harder than I thought. But remember, 
you will make things better and happier for me, 
for Gertrud, for yourself, if you continue my friend, 
and let me confide in you. Throw me some crumbs 
of comfort, some words and looks of kindness, and 
on my honour, on my soul, I swear I will always 
be master of myself! To-day I am overstrained, 
overtaxed — even now your strength and composure 



THE PRE RES, 285 

have restored me ! I will leave you, but will come 
again in the evening to see your kind lady mother. 
Let us meet as usual/ He seized her hand, and, 
kissing it, exclaimed, ^ Farewell, my beloved, most 
beloved sister !' 

The next instant he had shut the outer door 
violently behind him. 

When he was clean gone Grace sat down again 
at her writing-table, resting her elbow upon it and 
her cheek on her hand ; she thought long and pain- 
fully of the conversation, if it can be so called, 
which had just passed, while the quick beating of 
her heart gradually slackened, and her pulse resumed 
its ordinary measure. 

First she was very, very sorry for Falkenberg, 
but even still more vexed with him ; his conduct 
was selfish and unprincipled ; he had no right to 
drag Gertrud into the misery of a loveless marriage 
for the sake of paying his debts, though she admitted 
his position was a difficult one. He was somehow 
degraded in her estimation, and she was vexed 
with herself for the sort of regret she could not help 
feeling, as she thought that the pleasant piquant 
friendship so flattering to her vanity must come to 
an end, for her unsentimental rectitude and common 
sense told her it would be impossible, or ought to 
be with a married man ; and then, though alone, 
the colour came slowly back to her cheek as the 
true meaning of Falkenberg's passionate promise, 
* to be always master of himself/ flashed across her 
mind. Did he then presume to imply that his 
feelings for her would need mastery? He had 



286 THE FRERES, 

dared to adopt an almost threatening tone, when 
he assured her it would be better, 'for Gertrud, 
for herself/ if she continued the friendship which 
she knew and now confessed to herself was love 
thinly veiled. To what double-faced treachery did 
he wish to commit her ? She would have none of 
it. Falkenberg was a charming companion, a most 
attractive man ; but he had displayed the ugliness 
of his moral mechanism, and she was revolted ; 
though she felt keenly what a loss he would be to 
the every- day pleasantness of her life, and how 
difficult, too, to disengage herself from the sort of 
mesh he had contrived to weave round her. If she 
drew back too suddenly, with what cutting though 
veiled scorn he would suggest that her friendship 
was only for the unmarried and unengaged, in- 
sinuating that English sentiment required stronger 
and coarser aliment than Teutonic. If she ven- 
tured to check the warmth of his manner and 
language, how sneeringly he would assure her that 
she was crying out before she was hurt, that only 
the matter-of-fact British nature would so mistake 
the pure glow of German brotherliness. Trifles, no 
doubt, in the estimation of the gentle but mature 
reader, yet exceedingly formidable to proud sensi- 
tive nineteen, even when nineteen has a more than 
an ordinary supply of common sense. 

* Still,* thought Grace, * however disagreeable he 
may make himself, I will not let him worry me with 
nonsense. I know I should not like a husband of 
mine to have this sort of friendship with another 
girl, and Falkenberg must give it up.' 



THE FRERES. 2S7 

But she sighed as she murmured the words to 
herself. Here was disillusion number two. 

* After all/ she mused on, * Max is more honest 
and real than Wolff. I suppose all sensible, am- 
bitious men consider mere love-marriages folly 
and weakness ; yet how dreary marriage must 
be without love. Max was fond of me once. 
Yes, I feel — I know that' A faintly triumphant 
smile played round her lips at the memories his 
name evoked. * But it was only the pastime of an 
idle hour. Nor do I see how I was to avoid be- 
lieving it a great lasting reality. How contemptible 
such credulity must seem to men like Max ! Yet 
there have been women who attracted to themselves 
lifelong devotion and tenderness ; I wonder how — 
by some quality in themselves ? If so, what a gift ! 
To be truly, fondly, deeply loved — to dare to love 
• with one's whole heart utterly, trustfully in return ! 
Heigho ! there is no use thinking of such things ; 
it is too great conceit to fancy anyone would ever 
sacrifice anything for me. I am evidently not one 
of the soul-subduing order of women ; but I hope, 
for all that, there are stronger, braver, truer men 
to be found than Max Frere and Wolff von Falken- 
berg ! What fine eyes Max has ! he is much — much 
better looking than Wolff.' 

And then she resolutely turned to her writing, 
and worked more or less diligently till her mother, 
the count, and Mab returned. 




CHAPTER XV. 



SHE betrothal of a daughter was an event 
of the deepest importance, the wildest 
excitement, at Dalbersdorf. 

The day following the interview just 
described, the great rusty landau, with its strong, 
depressed-looking horses, made its appearance at 
Mrs. Frere's door as soon after the mid-day meal 
as the exigencies of time and space permitted. 

Within might be descried the heads of Cousin 
Alvsleben, Gertrud, and Friede, all arrayed in their 
very best bonnets, all nodding and smiling radiantly 
to Grace, who, as well as Mab, was attracted to the 
balcony by the sound of the carriage stopping. 

' Oh, mother !' cried Mab, ' here is Cousin Alvs- 
leben and Friede and Gertrud ; and Fritz has a pair 
of new gloves !' 

' Come to announce the news, I suppose,' ob- 
served Mrs. Frere, who had received Falkenberg's 
intelligence with cold displeasure, and had since 



THE PRE RES, 289 

preserved a dignified silence on the subject, which 
partly amused, partly annoyed her daughter. 

* Ack^ meine Hebe Cousine /' cried Frau Alvsleben, 
rushing into the room at double her usual speed ; 
* ach, what have I not to tell thee ! — what is at once 
a joy and sorrow to a mother's true heart. Here 
is Gertrud, my beloved child, a Braut — ^the Braut of 
my noble, gallant nephew, Wolff von Falkenberg.* 
An effusive embrace. 

* I congratulate you, dear Gertrud,' said Mrs. 
Frere, kindly, to the Bratit (or bride, as a betrothed 
girl is called in Germany) ; and Gertrud accepted 
and returned the offered kiss warmly. 

She looked years younger than when last Grace 
had seen her ; there was a colour in her usually 
pallid cheek, the light of joy in her usually dull 
blue eyes, that made her positively good-looking, 
and this evidence of her feelings touched Grace 
deeply. 

* I do wish you all possible happiness, dear 
cousin,* she said, kissing her so heartily that Ger- 
trud, moved to an unusual display, put her arms 
round her. 

* We all rejoice in dear Gertrud's happiness,' said 
Friede, rather tearfully. 

* And you too, meine Lieblingl said Grace, passing 
on to Friede, * I am delighted to see you again ; it 
is so very long since you have been here.* 

* I have had a cold — I have not been well,* re- 
turned Friede, whose bright looks seemed to her 
friend's keen eye somewhat forced. * But,* she 
added hastily, in a low tone, * I have much to tell 
thee.' 

VOL. II. 4p 



290 THE FRERES. 

Grace pressed her hand, and sat down between 
her and the Brauty while Frau Alvsleben poured 
forth a torrent of particulars. 

* Wolff was always fond of coming to Dalbers- 
dorf, but I never could make out which of the girls 
he liked best ; certainly, Friede always said it was 
not her. At all events, he hung about a long time ; 
and now it seems he was afraid of his debts, and 
was very unhappy. But he has managed to pay a 
good many ; and for the rest, neither my father nor 
I would permit them to stand in the way of Ger- 
trudes happy settlement. So it is all arranged; 
and as Falkenberg is anxious the engagement 
should be made public as soon as possible, I am 
even now on my way to the Zittauer Zeitung to 
have the announcement inserted.' 

* It will also appear in the Dresdner Journal] 
added Gertrud, with a triumphant little smile. * It 
is so strange to think that my next visit to Dresden 
will be to choose my trousseau !* 

^ Yes,' continued the mother, * dear Wolff is most 
pressing that the marriage may take place at once. 
But I do not think it can be managed before the 
end of April — that is, in about two months.' 

* Do you know,' resumed Gertrud, smiling supreme 
from the altitude of her assured position, * that I 
was so silly as to think Wolff was quite fond of you, 
Grace, at that time when you rode so daringly to 
bring the doctor to him ? But he must have known 
that, had you really loved him, you could never 
have done so.' 

* My dear Gertrud,' cried Mrs. Frere, colouring 



THE FRERES. 291 

slightly, * your fianc6 must be quite aware that Grace 
would not marry a foreigner !* 

*And to do Baron Falkenberg justice/ said 
Grace, laughing, * he never made any attempt to 
induce me ; for my part, I was not much surprised 
to hear of your betrothal, Gertrud/ 

* Thou art a keen observer, my cousin,' said the 
Brauty admiringly. 

Friede said nothing, but she looked curiously at 
Grace. 

* I am sure it is all most satisfactory,' said Mrs. 
Frere, with polite interest ; ' what does my uncle 
say ? He was here yesterday, and never mentioned 
the matter.' 

" Oh, he is quite pleased — quite charmed T 
returned Frau Alvsleben, emphatically. * You see, 
he left home yesterday before Wolff explained 
himself to me, so knew nothing for certain ; though 
he too, like others, had his suspicions. But I must 
not stay any longer. I have quantities to do. It 
you will allow me, I will leave the girls here, and 
go on to the newspaper office and the shops.' 

* Of course we are but too glad to have them,' 
cried Mrs. Frere and Grace together ; * and will you 
not return to an early Abendbrod? 

* No, meine Liebe ; I must return to Dalbersdorf 
There are letters to be written, and a thousand 
things. The girls will enjoy a long talk with you ; 
and WolfiT will probably join them here, and return 
with us to Dalbersdorf/ 

So saying, she rose to depart ; but stood a good 
half hour longer, saying last words. When at last 

40 — 2 



292 THE FRERES, 

she was gone, of course the young ladies retired 
into Grace's room to take off their bonnets, when, 
equally of course, fresh confidences respecting 
various minutiae, which had hitherto been omitted 
from the abundant details of the late event, were 
poured into Grace's sympathetic ear. 

Through them all, however, Friede was unusually 
quiet and silent ; and Grace grew anxious to hear 
what was the matter, for she was very fond of her 
gentle, kindly cousin. Mab had been, with much 
• difficulty, chased away from the revel of listening 
and conjecture in which she had been absorbed, to 
afternoon-school, whither she went with a very 
grave countenance, Falkenberg's engagement by no 
means meeting her approbation. At last Gertrud, 
with an air as though she were now more naturally 
inclined to grave society, exclaimed : 

' But I must go and talk with meine Fran 
Coiisirtel and walked away to Mrs. Frere ; and 
then Grace, putting her arms round Friede, said : 

' Now tell me, dearest friend, what have you ? — 
what is the matter ?' 

* Ah !' replied Friede, with a quiver in her voice, 
* have you not heard the change, fatal for me, that 
is about to take place ? Otto— Dr. Sturm — is to 
be professor, and leaves for Leipzig.' 

'Yes, the count told us yesterday. But, dear 
Friede, the promotion will be good for him — 
ultimately for you.' 

' For me } — alas ! no. I begin to fear I am 
of little value in his eyes. He came — oh ! quite 
three days ago — and told us the great news before 



THE PRE RES. 293' 

supper. Afterwards (it was my turn to keep 
the house) and I was putting away the table- 
napkins in their drawer — he returned to the salle a 
manger to look for the grandfather's allumettes : 
so he came to me, and said, " My Fraulein, there is 
a reverse to every picture, and this sudden success 
has a very black side to me. It is that I must bid 
thee farewell." Yes ! he said " Du," Grace ; and 
never before have I heard that sweet sound from 
his lips. I was overcome ; and could not restrain 
my tears. In my agitation, I dropped the mother's 
napkin-ring : he raised it, and in giving it back, 
caught my hand. The dear heaven only knows 
what he was going to say, when in bustled 
Mamsell, who was ever more Gertrud's friend 
than mine, crying, " Ach, Gott ! who is tumbling 
the napkin-rings about ? I am sure it is you, 
Fraulein Friede — you never think !" And so — 
and so — he went ; and though he came again to 
see his brother, he avoided speaking to me or 
approaching me Now he leaves next week, and 
all will be over ; and he looks so haggard and 
miserable! — what shall I do? I know he loves 
me. Ought I to tell him I know it, and respond 
to his tenderness? Perhaps, through silence, I 
may lose him. Tell me, dear Grace — shall I ?' 

* No — for heaven's sake !' exclaimed Grace, 
earnestly : ' you would be much more likely to 
lose him through speaking ; certainly you would 
if he were an Englishman !' 

* But if he goes away, and forgets me ! I do not 
suppose that we can marry for years ; but we might 



294 . THE FRERES. 

be engaged — we might really belong to each other. 
I wonder Otto does not see that ! Can it be that 
he is changed ?* 

* No, no. I really believe in Dr. Sturm's truth 
and fidelity ; but just think of his position, dear 
Friede ! His mother and sister to maintain, and 
scarcely yet a firm foothold on the upward ladder. 
It would not be right of him to commit himself or 
to hamper you with an engagement. You must 
have faith and patience, my Friede ; help him to 
hold his tongue. You can surely show an interest 
in his career, which he will understand. You, 
neither of you, need absolute outspoken words ; and 
in time things will come round. It is hard, dear; 
but it is only right' 

* It is very, very hard,' sighed Friede ; * it leaves 
everything so uncertain, and then we cannot send 
letters — or anything.' A pause ; during which 
Grace sought for some crumbs of comfort to offer 
the disconsolate one. *We should be in no way 
bound to each other ; and I shall be tormented 
to marry other people. If Otto would only 
speak ' 

* Dearest Friede, there is nothing for it but 
patience ; and after all, some other piece of good 
fortune may happen, and shorten your time of 
probation.' 

* It seems so strange,' said Friede, with a slight 
sob, * that Gertrud, who was always so miserable, 
and doubtful about Wolff, should now be serene 
and secure ; while I ' 

Here Friede broke down utterly ; and it took 



THE FRERES. 295 

several minutes of soothing, of praises of Otto 
Sturm, of assertions that he was worthy of all trust, 
etc., before Grace could restore her friend to com- 
posure sufficient to return to the salon. 

There they found Gertrud deep in an exposition 
of her views and intentions ; of the particular 
residence on which she had already decided, the 
servants she intended to keep, the system - of 
management she intended to pursue, the particular 
directions in which she expected to make econo- 
mies, etc., etc. Grace listened in wonder. * She 
must have been planning all this for months,* she 
thought ; * it could never have sprung into life in 
one day's thinking.' 

' And, my best of cousins,' continued Gertrud, 
with affectionate earnestness, * tell me, what is the 
dish of which dear Wolff has often spoken, and 
which he has eaten here? something sweet, with 
almonds and — and cream. I like to consult his taste/ 

* I am sure I cannot think what it is,' said Mrs. 
Frere, with an air of deep thought. 

* I imagine it must be " tipsy-cake," ' said Grace, 
smiling. 

* Tipsy-cake,' repeated Gertrud — * what a strange 
name ! But you will teach me, dear cousin, will 
you not? There is yet another Platy but I will 
ask him about it' 

' I wonder he is not here,' said Friede, walking to 
the window. 

* Oh, he is probably detained at the Caserne !* 
suggested Grace, who felt, in some odd way, that 
Falkenberg would not appear. 



2q6 THE FRERES. 

* True/ returned Gertrud ; * and after an absence 
there is always more to do. Did my grandfather 
say to you that he hopes Wolff will have quick 
promotion ? It will be very nice to be the Frau 
Oberst — nicht wahr, Grace? Then I must find some 
charming Iwch wohlgeborn Hauptmann for Frieda/ 
continued Gertrud, with unwonted benevolence. 

* Thank you. I want no Hauptmann^ said 
Friede, mournfully. 

The minutes flew past and accumulated to hours, 
and still no Falkenberg. Grace had persuaded 
Friede to try some duets with her as a variation 
upon the perpetual reiteration of Gertrudes schemes 
and hopes, but the performance was a lame one. 
At last Frau Alvsleben returned, still radiant. 
She had met Falkenberg, she said, who was obliged 
to see his colonel at the Caserne ; so if he was not 
at Bergstrasse before her, they were not to wait for 
him. He would go on to Dalbersdorf direct from 
his own quarters. 

Accordingly the Dalbersdorf party gathered up 
their various belongings, largely augmented by 
Frau Alvsleben's purchases; and with many em- 
bracings, last words, and promises to meet soon 
again, they departed. 

* Really,* said Mrs. Frere, after the sound of the 
carriage-wheels had died away, * Gertrud is an 
extraordinary young woman ; her castle-building 
is most prosaic. I wonder what she talks about to 
Wolff, who is a man of culture and imagination. 
How they will get on together I cannot imagine.' 

* They will do very well,' said Grace, smiling. 



THE FRERES. 297 

Herr von Falkenberg will respect a wife that can 
give him a good dinner ; and depend upon it he 
will never allow himself to be too much bored/ 

* Well, you modern young ladies are quite beyond 
my comprehension/ observed Mrs. Frere, a little 
peevishly. * I always thought you had a tinge of 
romance, Grace ; but the cold-blooded way in 
which you talk of people is rather disappointing.* 

* Oh, dear mother, I will never disappoint you if 
I can help it' 

She took up some needlework to seem busy, 
while her thoughts were far away. After a few 
moments given to Falkenberg and Gertrud, they 
turned to Randal and Jimmy ; their long puzzling 
silence now extending to more than a fortnight. 
Something must be wrong; and though unacknow- 
ledged, even in the secret depths of her. own con- 
sciousness, Grace was always prepared to hear that 
Randal was in a scrape — in a serious scrape. And 
while she mused, enter Paulina with the long- 
wished-for answer from Jimmy. It was short and 
unsatisfactory. A great press of business had pre- 
vented a speedier reply. There was nothing to 
cause his dear Miss Grace uneasiness that he knew 
of, but indeed he did not know much. Mr. Randal 
had had a bad cold, and was a trifle feverish ; and it 
was little Jimmy saw of him. As was natural, he 
was always in company, out every night; and 
though he, Jimmy, couldn't bear to trouble his 
respected friends, still if Miss Grace would drop a 
hint that no house would stand a clerk coming 
late, day after day, it might do good. * And you 



298 THE FRERES. 

can't be up late and early — human nature couldn't 
stand it. I think Mr. Randal is better friends with 
Mr. Maxwell Frere than he used to be. He went 
to dine with him twice in the last fortnight ; but 
he will likely tell you himself, for he promised me 
he would write to you to-day/ 

This letter filled up the measure of Grace's 
uneasiness, especially as Randal had evidently not 
performed his promise, or she would have had both 
letters together ; perhaps it might come to-morrow 
morning. On the whole, Jimmy's report was not 
so bad ; not by any means so bad as much that 
she had anticipated — not certainly bad enough to 

9 

account for the strange dread and looking forward 
to evil which had seized supremely upon her. She 
gave the letter, with some trepidation, to her 
mother, dreading lest it niight produce the same 
effect on Mrs. Frere as it had done on herself ; but 
evidently it did not.' 

* It is almost a pity,' she remarked, folding up 
the epistle and putting it back in its cover — * it is 
almost a pity that Randal's social success is so 
great, though it is only natural he should be im- 
mensely popular. Of course it is a temptation to 
late hours and all that — a temptation few young 
men could resist ; but I hope he may make useful 
friends among the people he associates with ; and 
you must admit he has not asked for any extra 
money for a long time. Still I will write to him 
myself, and tell him he must be more regular in his 
attendance at that horrid office. I think, after all, 
I have more influence over Randal than anyone else.* 



THE FRERES, 



299 



* I am sure you ought, dearest mother/ said 
Grace, and relapsed into her troubled thoughts. 

The only comfort in Jimmy's letter was contained 
in the paragraph respecting Maxwell Frere ; and 
that was so incredible as to be more startling than 
consoling. She could as soon imagnie fire and 
water fusing as Randal and Max enjoying each 
other's society; and then his unusual reticence about 
money matters, it was a sign for good or evil ? 

She was altogether unhinged and depressed, and 
sat on thinking — thinking, all the time her mother 
was composing a very pretty ladylike letter to Ran- 
dal, which she read aloud to Grace with some pride» 
and long after — till Mab had returned and dragged 
her mother away to look for sundry bits of lace 
and ribbon required to compose a doll's costume — 
till evening closed in, and she was obliged to put 
away the needlework with which she had striven to 
occupy herself ; and then she asked her mother if 
they might not have tea at once, as she felt quite 
feverishly eager for a cup. So tea was served ; 
and somewhat cheered by the lights and the re- 
freshing beverage, Grace proposed they should 
play a game of whist with dummy. Mab greatly 
enjoyed cards, and proceeded with delight to set 
forth the table. They were scarcely advanced 
beyond the second deal, when a sharp ring an- 
nounced a visitor. To their infinite surprise, that 
visitor was Falkenberg. 

* I thought you were at Dalbersdorf T exclaimed 
Mrs. Frere. 

* You were certainly expected there,' added Grace* 



300 THE FRERES. 

* Oh, I have been detained so late by the colonel 
that it would be stupid to go there at this time of 
night, so I thought you would let me come in and 
have a chat. What is the game — whist ? Well, I 
am better than a dummy. Will you have me for 
a partner, my dear little Mab ?* 

*Were I Gertrud, Herr Hauptmann, I should 
think you a tardy lover, to be content to lose so 
much of my company/ said Mrs. Frere, smiling 
graciously upon him as he unbuckled and laid aside 
his sword. 

* Don't you think we shall see enough of each 
other by-and-by ?' he returned, smiling and taking 
a seat at the card-table. 

Grace was quite silent. The expression of 
profound, complete happiness on Gertrud's face 
that morning came back to her memory, and 
roused her anger against Falkenberg, who, taking 
up the cards, began to deal them, talking easily 
and pleasantly the while. The game proceeded 
with many exclamations from Mab, till Falkenberg, 
who had frequently glanced at Grace, said rapidly 
in German : 

'What! have I sinned too far to be spoken to? 
I wish I had not come.' 

* So do I,' she returned, without looking at him. 

* You say so openly. What have I done ?' 

* You are due elsewhere, and you have neglected 
your devoir' 

* Ah, so you are afraid I am not 2^ preux cJievalier ! 
Be assured I shall fail in no proper respect to my 
Brant, She is not so exigeante as you would be.' 



THE FRERES. 301 

Then, returning to French, * I have a sort of right to 
the entrie^ dear madame,* he said to Mrs. Frere, 
besides your kind permission. I shall soon be your 
cousin — 7i est'Ce-pas f — by marriage, and I hope 
adoption ; and as I cannot pass the evening with 
my fianc^e^ the next best thing is to spend it with 
you. You see, my sweet friend and cousin, you 
have no right to be angry with me.* 

* And it does no good if I am,' said Grace, 
smiling ; * so, Monsieur de Falkenberg, go your 
own way !* 

* I shall, ma belle ; I always do.* 

And recognising the wisdom of non-interference, 
Grace attended to her cards, while Falkenberg was 
more than usually frank, bright, and agreeable. 
Yet she could not help deploring Gertrudes destiny, 
so much she feared that Falkenberg's present good- 
humoured indifference might later change into 
dislike. 

* I think,' said Mrs. Frere, in reply to some side- 
hint of Falkenberg's, * that Fraulein Grace is un- 
usually cold and distrait, — I think she is worry- 
ing herself about her brother. We had some 
accounts of him to-day, which shows that he is 
immensely sought in London society ; and Grace, 
who is absolutely puritanical in her strictness, fears 
he is neglecting his work and falling into wild 
ways.' 

* Ah !' returned Falkenberg — a long-drawn * Ah' 
and look at Grace — * but there is not much to fear 
if only he does not gamble ; that is the hopeless 
side of a young man's follies.' 



302 THE FRERES. 

* I am sure Randal does not gamble,' said Mrs. 
Frere. 

* We do not know what he does/ said Grace, with 
a sigh. Whereupon Falkenberg looked at his cards 
again ; but as soon as Mab had been sent off to 
bed, he began to speak so kindly and sensibly about 
Randal and his sister's anxiety for him, that Grace's 
heart warmed to the speaker, and she was soon deep 
in a confidential conversation, while Falkenberg's 
shortcomings faded temporarily from her sight. 

Three — four days slipped by. There was a 
family-dinner at Dalbersdorf, whereat the Frau 
Baronin Falkenberg was made acquainted with the 
English relatives of her son's Braut, It was rather 
a ceremonious affair. The Frau Baronin being born 
an Alvsleben, and acquiring courtly ways by grace 
rather than by nature, had taken in a double dose. 

She was kindly and simple under it all, and 
evidently pleased by her son's engagement. 

Grace was amused at the tremendous parade 
made of the Brant and Brautigam ; they were 
placed next each other at table ; and if Falkenberg 
came unexpectedly into a room where they were 
assembled, whoever was next Gertrud immediately 
vacated his or her seat in his favour. Everyone 
had sly allusions to make, or jests to crack. The 
engaged couple were despatched to walk together 
in the most conspicuous manner, and almost always 
accompanied by friends, who avoided interrupting 
them with oppressive distinctness. All this was 
evidently a source of grave enjoyment to Gertrud, 



THE FRERES. 303 

while Falkcnberg endured it all with a degree of 
good-humoured patience that astonished Grace. 
Once, and only once, she caught a glimpse of the 
deeper polar current which flowed counter to the 
placid surface-stream of his seeming. She had 
been sitting next to Gertrud, and listening to her 
anticipations of a visit to Dresden which was pro- 
jected for the following week, when Falkenberg 
came in from a visit to the stable, in company with 
the count. Grace naturally never thought of stirring, 
till Friede said, laughing : 

* You are reluctant then, meme Liebe^ to give up 
your friendly rights to Wolff^s higher claims V 

* How ?' asked Grace, puzzled for a moment ; then 
noticing a general smile, started up, exclaiming : 
* Oh, excuse me ; I quite forgot !' 

A sudden bitter scowl passed over Falkenberg's 
face, like the outward and visible sign of an inward 
and hearty curse. 

* You conduct these matters differently in 
England, do you not ?* he asked, recovering him- 
self with an effort, while he drew forward another 
chair for Grace, and stood beside her for a few 
seconds. 

* I believe so ; but I do not think I was ever in 
the company of an engaged couple before.' 

*And I should think you never wish to be 
again.' 

Notwithstanding this momentary glimpse of a 
substratum very different from the upper-crust, 
Grace returned with more comfortable anticipa- 
tions for Gertrud than she had yet ventured to 



304 THE FRERES. 

entertain. The whole affair was evidently con- 
ducted on national principles, which suited the 
contracting parties ; and though Falkenberg might 
vapour and talk sentiment, he would settle down 
into an average German husband, enjoy the good 
things provided for him by his Frau^ and not 
bestow any more of his society upon her than the 
customs of his country warranted. 

Nearly a week had elapsed since the announce- 
ment of Gertrudes engagement. It was a dull, 
rainy morning, and Grace had fastened Mab's 
waterproof, and seen her set forth, umbrella in 
hand, when the postman, a warlike-looking func- 
tionary, much medalled, approached ; and bestow- 
ing a letter and a smile on the schones Frdulein, 
gave a military salute and departed. 

Grace's heart stood still a moment, with a 
nameless unreasonable fear. Why should she so 
much dread a letter directed in Randal's graceful, 
indistinct caligraphy ? She retired into her own 
room, very thankful that Mrs. Frere had not yet 
left hers, and, opening the missive, read : 

* I have been too ill to write for a week past ; 
and though I am certainly better, the doctor says 
I require the most careful nursing to bring me 
round ; so I entreat you, dear Grace, to come to 
me at once — no one can make me well but you. 
There is a room for you here, and Jimmy could 
look after us both. Tell the mother that, if you 
come, all will go well ; but if not, I know I'll die. 



THE FRERES. 305 

The journey is not so expensive ; and after a while, I 

might return with you to Germany. Come by the 

first train after you get this. You see I can hardly 

write. Come, I implore of you, to 

* Your loving brother, 

* R. Frere; 

This was startling ; but within was a piece of 
paper, folded separately, containing these words : 

* Grace! you — you only can save me. If you 
are not here by the 28th, I shall be ruined and 
disgraced for ever. No one but you must know 
what I have done — no one but you can help me. 
Start at once ; get the money anyhow ; but a day's 
delay will destroy me. Show the letter only to my 
mother — burn this ! Oh ! how shall I live through 
the time that must pass before you come ? By all 
our old days, and all you hope for, do not fail me !' 

'What can he have done ? — what awful trouble 
has fallen on us ?' murmured Grace, with white lips, 
reading over again this terrible appendix. ' How 
shall I tell my mother even of the letter? My 
poor Randal, I will not fail you !' 

She gathered herself up, and having torn the 
postscript into minute pieces, thrust them into the 
lighted stove. 

* Shall you soon be ready, dear mother ?' 

* Yes, love ; in ten minutes. Am I not a lazy 
mother ?' 

' I will let her finish in peace ; and then * 

thought Grace, standing quite still, the open letter 

VOL. II. 41 



3o5 THE FRERES. 

in her hand, a dozen ideas crowding in her mind. 
What possible crime could Randal have committed? 
— might he not exaggerate ? What an awfully 
long, lonely journey lay before her ! and costly too ; 
it would take more than a hundred marks. And 
what would mother and Mab do without her? 
But where was the use of thinking of difficulties 
when, whatever their nature, she must plunge into 
them ? At any rate she would write to Friede ; if 
Friede would only come and stay with the dear 
mother, it would be an infinite relief.' 

But she felt dazed and bewildered. To travel 
alone presented little to frighten her brave spirit ; 
but to be alone with Randal in London, left to her 
own judgment in matters of critical importance, 
this was appalling — *and that poor boy, how he 
must suffer !' 

* Well, dear Grace, you have had a letter ?' said 
Mrs. Frere, coming into the room. 

* Yes, mother, from Randal ; and, dearest mother, 
he has been very ill, but is better, thank God ; and 
he wants me to go and nurse him until he is quite 
well. Here, read yourself.' 

* Oh, my boy, my precious darling boy !' cried 
Mrs. Frere, beginning to weep and tremble. * I 
felt some terrible blow was coming ; you know 
how miserably anxious I have been. Ah, the 
unerring instinct of a mother's heart ! I cannot 
see the words ; read — read for me, Grace !' When 
she had done so, poor Mrs. Frere dropped into 
the nearest chair. ' I will go myself. He only 
refrains from asking me, because he fears I would 



THE FRERES. 307 

not be equal to the terror and fatigue/ she said ; * I 
must go to him, Grace. Don't you think I must — 
I ought ?' 

* No/ returned Grace, taking her hand and 
tenderly stroking it. * I should have to go too ; and 
how could we leave Mab ? No, my mother, let 
me go, and I will bring Randal to you ; you see he 
is better already/ and so on. She strove resolutely, 
lovingly, to dissuade Mrs. Frere from going in 
person, which was evidently what Randal most 
wished to avoid. 

Of course she succeeded. Then she had to 
persuade Mrs. Frere to take a cup of coffee and a 
morsel of bread, to plan her route, to combat her 
mother's doubts and fears. 

' What will the Count and Frau Alvsleben say to 
your going all that way alone? You know they 
will blame me; and yet what can I do — eh, 
Grace ?' 

* What indeed ! If all Dalbersdorf went into 
fits, it would not affect my going ; we have some- 
thing more real to think of. There is a train to 
Dresden at eleven something ; and though it is 
frightfully slow, still I shall be able to catch the 
six o'clock train to Cologne, and so on to Rotter- 
dam ; and I shall be with Randal, please God, on 
Thursday morning. We must send to the bank 
and get some money ; and Paulina can call at the 
station and ascertain about the train as she comes 
back.' 

*And let us ask Wolff von Falkenberg to see 
you off: I am sure he will help us/ 

41 — 2 



k 



308 THE FRERES. 

* No, no, no !' cried Grace, with some vehemence. 
* No one can help us. Let me get away without 
being tormented by anyone. Come, dear mother, 
write a cheque, and I will send a line to Cousin 
Alvsleben, asking for Friede. You would like 
to have Friede while I am away, if they can spare 
her?' 

* Well, yes ; though she, or anyone, would be a 
poor substitute for you, my Grace. But do you 
not fear the long journey alone ?' 

* No— not one bit. Come and help me to pack ; 
it is past nine, and we have plenty to do once you 
have sent off your cheque. I should like to be 
quite away before Mab comes back — poor dear 
Mab ! Tell her I hope she will be very good, and 
take care of you while I am away.* 

Grace said truly she did not fear the journey one 
bit. The greater had utterly swallowed up the lesser 
dread. What was the journey compared to what 
might await her at its end ! and this fearful looking 
for of evil she must not breathe to anyone. The 
hasty, tearful preparations of that morning stamped 
their impress indelibly on her memory. The quick 
selection of necessaries for her journey — her poor 
mother's prayerful ejaculations — the ceaseless 
repetition in her own heart, * What can it be ? what 
can it be?' — the hasty glances at the clock — the 
startled exclamations, * It is ten o'clock,* * It is 
eleven ;' * You will scarce have time to eat a mouth- 
ful ; you must take some sandwiches with you, 
dearest,' etc., etc. — and then she was in the 
droschky, and at the station. She was taking her 



THE PRE RES. 



309 



ticket — she was kissing her trembling, weeping 
mother — she was feverishly begging Dr. Niedner, 
whom she fortunately encountered, to see Mrs. 
Frere home ; and that kindly, burly man was 
helping her into the carriage. The inspector 
snipped her ticket with a click, the door was 
slammed, a last glimpse of her mother leaning on 
Dr. Niedner's arm — and she was off on her lonely, 
anxious journey, the perpetual question still going 
on unanswered : 

* What can it be ? what can it be ?' 



END OF VOL. II. 



BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS AND ELECTROTYPERS, GUILDFORD. 

y. S, &* Sons.