Excerpt, Friedrich Freiherr De La Motte Fouque’: "Romantic Fiction." 1871.
Still many of the four hundred transports which formed the fleet were missing, though confidently expected; And the landing, after a council of war had been held, was deferred till the dawn of the next day while the bright and innumerable stars began to sparkle on the clear southern night-heaven.
The late contrary wind had not been the first which the Christian emperor's squadron had had to encounter since the sailing of the thirty-six imperial galleys from the harbour of Genoa; for it was not without almost constant combats against wind and waves, that after fourteen tedious days he had at last reached the island of Majorca. In this harbour he found many German and Italian ships, but was obliged to wait a stated time for the Spanish fleet, under the command of Admiral Madoza, two hundred sail strong; for this bold seaman had attempted a long time, but in vain, to guide it through the rough autumnal sea to the appointed place of rendezvous. He had succeeded at last, and they were now close to Africa.
Silent, gloomy, void of habitations, — for the threatened Algiers was not in sight, — Cape Matifo, the destined place of landing, frowned on the Europeans.
Upon the noble galley of the young bold Genoese Giannettino Doria, nephew of the doge, sat the old, but still powerful steersman, Ruperto Sansogno, at his post; his left hand supporting his head, which was sunk in thought, his faithful right hand leaning upon the helm that had been entrusted to him, while his long white hair flowed down over his brow to his long white beard. You might almost fancy he was one of those old river-gods sculptured upon the monuments of Romish antiquity, with dripping locks, leaning upon his oar.
Walprecht, a young German trooper in Giannettino Doria's chosen body-guard, let his silver-tipped swordsheath, as if by chance, slip down from his arm upon the deck, and burst into a fit of unrestrained and hearty laughter, as the thoughtful old man started up a little frightened at the alarm.
"Foolish jester!" said Ruperto, angrily, sinking back again into his former position. "Thou mightest have spared thy silly grins for the time when that moon-like German mask of thine shall have dropped from the empty skull beneath. That, under the existing circumstances, may very soon happen, and then you may grin on as long as you like."
"Yours are not very flowery similes," returned Walprecht, in unrepressed merriment; and yet it seemed to him as if an icy hand was laid upon his shoulder; but shaking off the gloomy feeling without any perceptible motion, he added, laughing: —"And, nevertheless, you Italians are proud of being born the children of the south, whose little hands, even in the cradle, grasp two bright bunches of flowers and fruit of a never-fading kind. It was indeed a beautiful picture, a child with bright swelling bunches of flowers," he said, after some consideration, kindly, and with a softer voice; but then again adding, with a laugh, —"only it is unfortunate, old Ruperto Sansogno, that your observations about skulls are appropriate to nothing in the world less than to an Italian flower garden, like those which, to my great delight, I have often strolled through at Genoa."
"Everything has its season," said the old steersman. "When God chooses to send a warning death-worm —they call it also a death-watch — to me, to you, and to others, what have you to say against it? and what can I do for or against it, if I am only once commanded in this manner by the great Admiral on high? Have you never seen a butterfly of a sad-coloured kind, which is called the ‘mourning cloak,' rise up out of the bright chalice of a flower? But hark, close by lies the galley of the young noble Spaniard, who has the command of ten vessels, Don Felix Carrero, who dreams of nothing but victory and Renown; and with him is his beautiful beloved Donna Lisandra, more angel-like even in the beauty of her song and the notes of her guitar than in the perfect gracefulness of her form. Listen, and disturb not the lurking spirits of the air, for she sings."
And as the notes of nightingales pass over beds of flowers, a sweet woman's voice breathed forth the following song in the language of Castile:—
"Slumbering on a couch I lay,
And a dream passed through the air.
As the soft, soft breezes stray
Over beds of blossoms fair:
Bright the glorious future spread
Rainbow-like around my head;
As a princess I was crowned,
And in the triumphal train
Proudly o'er the flower-strewn ground
Don Carrero led me on.
Don Carrero, noble knight,
Listen, and thy love shall tell
How the vision clear and bright
On her sleeping eyelids fell.
We had landed in my dream.
And thy purple banner hung
A flag of victory in the gleam
Of the glorious setting sun;
And thy sword-blade through the air
Sounded like the last faint groan
Of the dying, here and there
O'er the field of battle borne.
Round thee on the field of blood
Towered a bulwark of the slain,
While I in bridal vesture stood
On a hill above the plain.
Breathing hopes of love and joy
Through the tumult of the fight.
But amid the trumpet-call.
Sounding through the gathering night,
Fainter, lower grew my song.
Dying like a lute unstrung.
Then a conquered Moor drew near—
Conquered, else he had not dared.
Spirit of evil, near to me,
Glowing star of victory!
'Beautiful lady,' then he said,
'The purple flag thy hero waves
In token that his foes are dead.
Or numbered with his conquered slaves.
To thee, who in thy lofty mind
Viewest the issue of the fight.
Belongs a purple star, to bind
As on the glorious brow of night.
Bow down, lady! Man must bow
When he honour would receive.'
But the bowing pleased me not,
'Moorish slave, I'd have thee know,
I no little flower am,
Bent about by every breeze.'
But the thought unto me came
Of the noble crown of state
Soon upon my head to stand.
And I bowed before the man:
But upon my head he set
No wreath, or gem, or coronet.
No! upon my breast there bloomed
Suddenly a purple rose.
Hero of the conquering flag,
Noble knight, Don Carrero,
Thy bride, thy love, in purple shone.
To ornament thy victory! "
The song ceased, or it was overpowered by a joyous burst of trumpets, that suddenly broke loose upon the deck of Don Carrero's galley. The proud Castilian did honour to the dream of victory of his beautiful lady and bride with a warlike greeting.
Called upon deck by the joyous sound, the beautiful blooming youth, Giannettino Doria, appeared on the deck of his vessel, and at his side a grave, somewhat aged man, of a noble countenance, with fiery, almost burning eyes, his arms folded over his breast, and veiled in the white black-crossed mantle of the German order of knights.
Upon the deck of the neighbouring Spanish galley still strolled her captain, Don Felix Carrero, tenderly leading his tall graceful bride — a wondrously beautiful Castilian, somewhat pale, but her features of the most perfect symmetry, and with silent large dark star-like eyes, and jet black hair parted over her proud alabaster brow. The rising moon shone upon her figure, now wholly veiled in its white drapery, surrounding her as it were with a glorious light. The two ships greeted each other solemnly and respectfully.
"Yonder knight, Don Felix Carrero, would be an enviable man, if one dealt in such unworthy feelings as envy!" said the young glowing Genoese, Giannettino, to his companion. "But away with such thoughts! This tall knightly Castilian deserves to be an angel's bridegroom, and with noble right bears his name, 'Felix, the happy.' Think you not so, Baron of Marbach?"
"I!" answered the German lord with kindled, almost angrily sparkling eye; "I and that Don Felix Carrero! It is always against my will that any appeal is made to me concerning him. The man displeases me from first to last. In my whole life I never saw any one with such lofty, overflown, and unbearably proud ideas and manners.
You laugh, Signor Giannettino. Might I ask you why?"
“Bold knight," returned the young Doria with engaging sweetness, "permit me to speak to you tonight a little more freely and more boldly than it else might beseem my youth to address your ripe age of manhood, already crowned with honour. But harken: days of fierce battle are close at hand; then shall we all seem of the same age, at least as regards this particular object that we have in view. Age and youth can contend equally with the undisciplined troops rising up before us on these Moorish coasts."
"I love you always, Signor Giannettino Doria," answered the German knight with heartfelt, and to him rare but most pleasing cordiality; "but most of all when danger draws near, or is already in existence. Then are you the most dear to me. Therefore say what you will; you have laughed at me just a little — and why?"
"Does it seem so right to you," said the young Genoese, "whom thousands call the bold, the proud, the brave Baron Marbach, to blame so hastily the ideas and manners of this Don Felix Carrero as something altogether wicked and unheard-of? Have you then no looking-glass in your cabin? or has the sea-wave, when it is still, never reflected back your own noble self?"
"Tonight is a vigil, I suppose,'' said the German knight, with difficulty disguising his rising passion under a kind of raillery. "Indeed, young gentleman, though it may be necessary for me to repent, yet I cannot but say that the boldness of your speech exceeds the wisdom of it."
"I did not wish to offend you," returned Giannettino Doria, gently but firmly.
"Enough!" said Baron Marbach somewhat sharply. Yet soon recovering himself, he fondly took both the hands of the princely youth in his, and looking kindly at him, said — "Giannettino, I have a mind to give account to you of my pride, in comparison with the pride of this Castilian; but mark me — only to you. Therefore know, a lofty mind searches throughout the swarming stars in order to find the polar star, and having found it, to measure the form and order of the whole. Pride will climb to heaven in order to prepare itself a throne therein; that is a giant's dream and foolery. Have you understood me?"
"Yes, sir knight," answered Giannettino, "as far as your definition goes I understand you. But as to why your aspirations should be all of the noble and excellent kind, and the aspirations of the Don Felix Carrero all as certainly of an ignoble and evil kind — excuse me, this I am by no means able to comprehend."
“Young man," said the Baron of Marbach in a strangely moved voice, while two big tears sparkled in his eyes — "young man, my striving is after a divine idea of a new world, and a new era of time; the aim of this poor Carrero is confined to his temporal knighthood and his childish love. God grant that you may perceive the difference; and hope it of you."
Then, with a tone and manner strongly contrasted with his former energy, he added “And now, to set the crowning point to his vanity, he leads about his ostentatious bride, as if she were a bird in a bower on purpose to be looked at; he even takes her into the very midst of the tumult of battle, as if to point her out as a prize of victory for the Mohammedans."
Giannettino Doria, with a proud look, and some haughtiness in his tone, returned “Baron Marbach, whatever we may bring with us to these barbarous coasts, under the protection of the invincible Emperor Charles the Fifth — and permit me at the same time to add, the admiral, my uncle, Andrea Doria, the Doge of Genoa, who ranks next to our emperor as a naval commander. Whatever we bring with us at this time can never be intended as a booty for the barbarians, but only serve to render our victorious trophies more brilliant and more complete. Donna Lisandra de Sarmontada y Balcosta, the richest and most beautiful heiress in Spain, cannot possibly be more secure in one of her strongest castles than in this victoriously winged armada, under the protection of her beloved Don Felix Carrero, flower of the Castilian knighthood."
"Giannettino!" said the German lord, suddenly breaking forth into an unwonted laugh; "Giannettino Doria! are you still a merry thoughtless Italian, or have you suddenly changed into a solemn Spanish Hidalgo? for, in truth, I scarcely recognise your own words under such a solemn garb."
Giannettino laughed without restraint, and then added: "Indeed, as our Italian language has in its sound so at a similarity to the Spanish, the two nations must, one would think, have more in common with each other, and be more closely united, than we generally suppose. If we Italians by any chance rise into the heroic style, we are certain to fall down into the Spanish grandezza, scarcely knowing how. However, this much I must say, to pursue the subject of my Castilian brother in arms—that by thus bringing the dearest and most beautiful treasure of his life to these barbarous coasts, as to a triumphal procession, he gives surety that he possesses at any rate one great quality of a soldier, namely, the certainty of victory."
The German lord angrily shook his head. After some silence, he said, with scarcely repressed passion: — "Take it not ill, young prince, if I say that this boasted quality of a soldier is shared in the highest degree also by the common mercenary. Nor is it of much real value: for if in the midst of his certainty of victory, a lost battle, or some other great misfortune befalls him, he suddenly forgets his short-lived confidence, and wonders that he ever had such a certainty. The commander-in-chief, on the contrary, or the thoughtful warrior must consider upon and weigh every chance beforehand, and keep himself prepared for whatever may happen. Then, if an unexpected piece of fortune — but in prosperity every man knows how to act.''
"I would unwillingly," said the princely youth, "most unwillingly, contradict so famed and experienced a warrior as you are, but just as unwillingly would I enter into your views. Ah! it would banish all the joy from my soldier's life. No, Baron Marbach. For this same noble confidence of success, I would praise our emperor, and this young noble eagle of Castile, ever hoping for victory, and so for that reason victorious."
“And I think with your uncle, the great doge and admiral, Andrea Doria," answered Marbach quickly, "with regard at least to this seemingly unprosperous expedition of ours. Has he not —"
" Pardon me for interrupting you," said Giannettino; "but your voice is loud, and your words in no way suited for the ears of the sailors on watch, not even for my old brave steersman, who turns on us from his post every now and then such sullen piercing glances."
"You are right, and I am a fool," said the knight, full of noble resentment against himself. "They have a mocking proverb in Germany, that we Swabians never become prudent till the fortieth year of our life. If it is the prudence of the world of which the proverb speaks—the rules of which our rash Swabian blood often breaks—a dozen years may be added to the proverb for my sake; for though arrived at such an age, I must, notwithstanding, allow myself to be tutored, by your young Genoese prudence, and unfortunately with perfect justice. Nevertheless, my own heart is too full, and yours too dear to me, for me at once to break off our conversation. Step with me to the forepart of the ship; there we shall be undisturbed, and I will speak softly."
They stood on the beak of the galley, and after looking with a serious glance for a few moments over the gloomy coast of Africa, the German baron whispered to his young friend: — "Have you forgotten how your wise uncle warned the emperor not to undertake this expedition at a time when the sea-storms are at their height? at that time of the year when an experienced sailor leaves the mischief-bringing salt wave, and seeks a secure harbour?"
"I have not forgotten it," said the young Doria; "but neither have I forgotten how the Emperor Charles V answered my uncle and other prudent counsellors: 'Permit me once to act as an emperor, that I may satisfy myself.' It was a noble saying."
" It was the saying of an emperor certainly," answered the German knight gloomily; “but whether it was a humane and wise saying — that, indeed, the issue will soon teach us."
The youth, burning with noble rage, returned hastily: "Teach! — the issue! My baron, the issue may indeed teach many things; among others, prudence for future times, in so far as the same example can assist and be of value where the object is extended, and always different in some way from any former occasion. Still is there something over which the issue has no influence; and that is, the real intrinsic wisdom and right of every human resolve. You must, I am quite confident, after a beautiful and varied life, still bear in your nobly beating heart the remembrance of many a heroic and courageous resolve of your soul, which afterwards bore bitter fruit both for yourself and others, and whose influence would last for time and for eternity. It is not the skill or seeming wisdom with which an enterprise is planned that at all times gives it value. You know how this deserter from our holy faith to the standard of the crescent, Hassan Aga, who now reigns in Algiers, shamefully throws back upon Christian men and Christian countries, as evil, what good he has before learnt in our Christian army! How this reckless Sardinian renegade has not spared his own native island from his pirate squadron; how, with the most savage, and bloody, and, pardon me for the expression, brutish violence, he has pillaged the beautiful coasts of Sicily and Naples, so that they stand desolated, and mourn not only on account of the misery they have suffered through him, but also of the disgrace suffered from him! He is indeed the Corsair of the Corsairs."
"And well skilled in war by land as well as sea," added the knight Marbach; "and in the art of fortifications. It was not without a hard-fought contest that our imperial master returned in former years from the victory of Tunis, and no Hassan Aga commanded there."
"Well, and so much the better that he commands here!" exclaimed Giannettino Doria. "If we would kill the one powerful head of the hydra, we must do it by one decisive attack, and as it were by one stroke of the sword."
"May it be so!" said the other; adding in a low voice: "and you now, noble Giannettino, speak in somewhat a louder voice than is necessary, if you would keep the tenor of your words from the ship's watch, and from the steersman. Yet I grant that they will do no harm, for they carry with them the trumpet-sound of victory. And so, good night; God forbid that I should disturb any of your knightly dreams of joy."
He was about to leave him; but Giannettino seized the right hand of the German lord with both of his, and said, with the perfectly irresistible sincerity of youth: — "Bold baron, think not my heart is so childishly sure of the issue of our enterprise that I cannot endure the thought that it may perhaps prove unsuccessful. All rests in the hand of God; but I feel, however the event may be, an unextinguishable joy in my heart, assuring me that the remembrance of my name shall not be lost in the future wave of time, because I dared to conquer or die in a great undertaking. Though stranded or broken to pieces on a neighbouring cliff, every noble ship leaves the track which follows her keel behind her course upon the mirror of the waves."
"Trust not the mirror of the waves, and still less the foam that rises for a moment on their surface," said the baron, shaking his head. "Many a beautiful image has vanished unnoticed, as a fool with cap and bells disappears after a banquet."
"Well," returned Giannettino, somewhat downcast, but with a firm and manly tone, "if after-ages may hear nothing good of me, they shall at any rate hear nothing that is bad. This at least is in the power of every man."
"Indeed!" said Baron Marbach gloomily to himself, and he drew his knight's mantle close around him, as if he were shivering in a winter's frost. "Well, think as you will; but for my part, it seems to me that you still persevere in your hopes of victory."
"Troy fell, and Hector remained great!" exclaimed Giannettino joyfully.
"But," Marbach answered, "then Hector had good luck; and yet not altogether good luck, for to this day every schoolboy relates how Hector ran three times round the walls of Troy as a deserter, before he could make up his mind to fight with Achilles, who was pursuing him. You must know, young knight, that I consider to be as untrue, as I should consider it if it were told of you or of me. Yet schoolboys explain it thus, and their honoured tutors cry 'bravo!' to it; and old Homer was, in the main, a great poet, and moreover a worthy man, who was well acquainted with war, as may be seen from many parts of his works. Now if a poet, after two or three hundred years—though there were scarcely so many years between Hector and Homer—happens to judge unjustly of you, can you hinder it?"
"I cannot, and neither do 1 wish to," said the young Doria, proudly, while he leaned upon his long beautifully shaped rapier. "The African Moorish poets I do not fear, with regard to my fame in after-ages; and the Italian poets shall not be able to think otherwise of me than I would desire they should think."
"As if there were only Moorish and Italian poets in this widely peopled world!" exclaimed the German lord, with a scornful laugh. “Only think, after some two hundred years, a young poet may spring from the race of Marbach, who shall be inspired by the Muse to write an historical tragedy, or epic poem, or some such thing, concerning these our times; and it may occur to him, in a wild fit of humour, to bring in Geanettino Doria (it may be because it will give weight to the plan of the poem) as a careless spendthrift, as a silly blockhead, as a weak, perfectly uneducated child, or even as—"
Giannettino's shining blade flew out of its sheath. "For pity's sake, do not wound the air!" said the Baron of Marbach, with ironical composure. "Only consider, your presumptuous calumniator has already to wait a hundred years until he is born; and therefore I myself cannot induce my Marbachian offspring, either by anger or prayers, to place you in your best light. Therefore, fame stands written where victory stands written, and all incomprehensible things besides." He looked in deep thought upwards to the stars.
Giannettino let his beautiful blade sink slowly back again; but not before he had carefully wiped it with an Indian handkerchief, as something like rusting dew was sprinkled upon the noble steel.
"It is the fault of the changing climate!'' he said, involuntarily explaining to the German lord.
With kind but grave salutation they parted from each other.
At the same hour of the night, alone, upon a watch-tower of Algiers, stood the chief of the horde of pirates, the so much feared Hassan Aga.
With inward rage he looked out over the region round Cape Matifo, as if he would see with his naked eye the fleet of the Christians, which he knew was anchored in the bay. His angry spirit, like a grisly distorted monster, hovered about it with harpy wings and harpy claws.
Then again, sinking back into his own breast, he refreshed himself there with the fearful thoughts of battle, which had made him so often, and for so long a time, a terror to the heretofore peaceful coasts. But it seemed to him as if his own spiritual deformity glimmered against a mirror, a fiery flaming mirror. "Black upon a gold ground!" he muttered to himself. "Away! I have never been able to endure the colours. They are the most hateful to me in all the world! They are the colours of the Christian emperor's eagle! And woe is me! my soul floats like an eagle before my inward eyes, though far blacker than an eagle — oh, far blacker!" He looked wildly upwards to the firmament, murmuring — "Stars! I see you in multitudes; but where hides itself now the crescent — the sickle, the emblem of victory? Mahomet's crescent! where tarriest thou?"
And from the narrow passes of the rock, winding up between the wall of the fortress and the perpendicular rugged precipice, now overspread by the deepest shadows of night, like a ghastly echo sounded under the feet of the renegade —
"Mahomet's crescent! where tarriest thou?"
Seized by a singularly convulsive, but else not unusual, fit of shuddering, Hassan Aga cried, "Who sings there? Or rather, who howls there?"
A sudden, hoarse whisper, like the croaking of a raven, rushed up again as an answer, while the renegade could perceive nothing else than that it was spoken in the Arabic language: and a warning to be silent struck his ear about the tenth or twentieth word. The croaking creature now seemed to him under the shadow of the wall as a thing deformed, wound about with veils and thick drapery. Silently, but cautiously, with his sharp-bladed rapier in his right hand, he bent down far over the battlements. Still the figure of the veiled creature remained quite indistinct. He might have thought it a salamander stretched out by witchcraft to the size of a giant, but that now were widely extended long, dry, withered arms, the fingers armed with claws, waving through the night-air, as if forming an invisible web, wrought with thousands and thousands of threads. It appeared to Hassan Aga like a horrible magical net. Then the hoarse singing and howling began again, and the words of the song could be distinctly heard in the Arabic language:
"Crescent of Mahomet,
Break through with magic might!'
Long wert thou standing
In the heavens commanding; —
Oh! cast from around thee
The veils that enshroud thee,
Fling aside the pale dives, and
Vapour-like sylphs —
Children of fleeting air;
Fair as the blossoms white.
White as the blossoms fair,
Dew-clouds their veiling shroud.
Dew-winds their whisperings,
Children of dreamy night!
Crescent of Mahomet,
Tear them with piercing breath;
Scatter the shadow elves,
Bid them go hide themselves;
Heed not their smiles and tears,
Coming like hopes and fears;
Break through with magic might,
Sickle of Death!
If they weep, 'tis but like the call
Of a young bird,
At spring-time by nightfall.
In flower-fields heard.
If they bleed, men but hear the sound
Of soft dews trickling round—
Scatter with magic breath
The mists thou wearest;
In thy right hand thou bearist
Victory or death!
And inaudibly a thick shower of rain or dew overspread Hassan Aga's inquiring upturned brow, and the sickle of the moon, like the sickle of death, darted sharp and pale
through the clouds, suddenly flying away on all sides.
Hassan Aga could not but think of a mighty host driven asunder, of standards battered and torn to pieces in the wildest tumult and uproar of the battle. But from the dizzy footpath at the bottom of the wall distinctly rose the croaking question; "Hassan Aga, dost thou still take me for a bewitched salamander? Or for an enchanted web? Or hast thou perceived at last, by the effect my magical song had on the firmament, what I can do? Know, proud Aga, here lurks one who is a powerful friend to thee."
"The lurking friend is not a very pleasing one!" said Hassan, turning away.
But then the voice croaked back, screeching with passion: "Renegade, as a sneaking reptile you crept into the avenging, destroying band of Mahomet—a traitor to your mother Christianity; viper, as they call you there, where you were a child, a most beloved child; now a cursed pirate beast—you, cursed by priests and women, and all who once prayed for you in your Christian churches."
"Silence, grisly wretch!" cried the horror-struck renegade, supporting himself, as he spoke, against the battlements of the tower, so that a dizziness of horror might not precipitate him over the rocky walls into the dark gulf below. The croaking creature laughed almost unrestrainedly— like a glad and happy being, she laughed; but the ghastly sounds of hell broke forth also from her execrable heart.
"Cease! cease!" cried Aga, each moment growing more dizzy; and for the first time in Algiers his command sounded through the unsubstantial space in vain and unheeded. "Abominable mocker," he cried out at last, "who art thou? Answer! By Mahomet's sickle, I conjure thee! By his blood-dripping sickle, and by all the furies of hell, I conjure thee! Name thyself, thou she-devil!" And suddenly stopping in her laughter, as when a trumpet in the clatter of the wildest musket-fire sounds the "halt" of the commander, the woman said, mockingly it is true, but nevertheless as if she were completely conquered:
"For what reason have you not spoken with me before on such good and seemly grounds? I obey you willingly; it signifies little how. Attend, for you know me; at least you certainly know my name;" and suddenly shrieking out in a shrill tone, she cried: "I am the witch Baranaga! the witch Baranaga! the witch Baranaga!" And gloomily the sea, and the stony rock, and the stranded shore re-echoed again and again, Baranaga! Baranaga! Baranaga! and the roused owls and bats fluttered out of the walls, and flew madly round the turbaned head of the renegade. But he said angrily to the witch: "Away from hence, if life is dear to you. If you are caught, you shall burn to ashes on the wood-pile. Think you I have forgotten how, six years ago, you came creeping in from the desert, and croaked out just before the walls of Tunis the accursed foolery that this proud Christian emperor, Charles the Fifth, would take Tunis by storm?"
"And did he not truly and verily do so?" grinned the witch.
"Yes, indeed!" murmured Hassan. "He did so because your howlings and curses had bewildered and disheartened the brave Musselmen of my companion in fate and arms, the great Barbarossa."
"Those were brave Musselmen," sneered the witch Baranaga, scornfully, "who allowed themselves to be bewildered and disheartened by the crack-brained, malicious howling of an old woman! Do you not think so, renegade?"
Hassan answered, "One thing I not only think—one thing I know quite certainly—my great brother in arms, Barbarossa, wished at that time to have you burnt for your uncalled-for prophecies."
"Oh, yes; he wished to," murmured the witch—"there you are quite right; but could he? Would was there very far separate from could —even half the diameter of the earth apart; and so would it now prove to you if you still persevere in your murderous intentions. —Mark! Do you still see me? Farewell!" And she had slipped in between the stony cliffs and disappeared. Her wild singing howled up from below, distant and gloomy, like deep laughter from the hollow caves. But soon again gliding from a crevice in the wall, flourishing a blood-red burning torch in her fist, which illumined her hideous features, that seemed to tremble before it, she said calmly: "Burn me now, if it pleases you, renegade; I bring you a consecrated torch for that purpose. But catch me first!"
Hassan was silent with the savage feeling of his helplessness against the sorceress.
Then the witch began to dance wildly upon the narrow dizzy steps between the base of the wall and the perpendicular rock, and waved the torch in a thousand spiry circles about her disheveled head.
"Down with you," murmured Hassan softly through his long beard, that was wildly floating in the rising nightwind—"Down with you over the hanging cliffs, with your accursed dances."
The witch stood silent and terrified. She must have partly heard the angry murmuring curse of Aga, however inaudibly he supposed that he had muttered it. Softly and slowly she now let the flames of the torch blow again in the calm breezes of the night, while she whispered to the renegade: "So, so! will you curse me —me and my poor dances? You have danced with me willingly before now. I may have wished to dance with you oftener — but perhaps not to dance; for indeed I was also willing enough to talk with you. That you have noticed. Recollect when you were yet living in Livorno, —just then become a ship's ensign, after your first warlike attack upon a Venetian galley."
And with each word, her voice had become more sweet, more melodious still from the croaking that yet sounded in his ears; like the voice of a nightingale sorrowfully wailing, she added, "Just now, when I laughed so gladly in child-like joy, then you harshly and peevishly scolded me, because I — a poor and now sorrowful and miserable being —because I in my way became for a little while more happy."
“It is not possible!" whispered the renegade with repressed tears. "How, — strange mystery — apparition of the night,—can you be —you —Rosetta of Livorno?"
And the sweet voice answered from the veil that closely covered her form: "Rosetta —yes — the fresh blooming maiden, whom you would fain have seduced by your persuasions. Already she stood on the silken rope ladder, hesitating before her chamber-window, looking
down undetermined upon you who, to give her encouragement, had half climbed up the aerial path, — already she even bent down towards you, — when at midnight from the neighbouring church was wafted the greeting of a church festival with a spiritual song, and, breaking into a flood of tears, Rosetta of Livorno sighed, 'O God, that song sounded also at the day of my confirmation. No, false seducer, I will not yield!"
"Show me your countenance, your dear countenance, O Rosetta!" whispered the renegade; and the veil rose from the head of the dark figure, and in the glimmering of the upraised torchlight a spring-like face bloomed on him, full of all child-like and happy joys, only somewhat paler than in those days of blooming spring and happy love. Rosetta, you are here!" exclaimed he convulsively, stretching out his arms towards her.
Then the veil again closed, and the former raven-voice once more croaked forth: " No, no ! I am not Rosetta. No, I still remain myself, the witch Baranaga ! the witch Baranaga!" And again unveiling herself, the sorceress opened her wildly distorted, hideous face to the view. " It was only by dint of a little art in a mirror, — in the mirror of the full moon it might be still better obtained; but take that, if you please!" said she, laughing.
"Do you remember at the time the little Rosetta spoke of her confirmation, and the song from the distant church sounded like the rippling waves of the sea, how you tumbled from the rope-ladder, and the servants of the house found you insensible upon the pavement, and woke you from your stupor by their contemptuous laughter, that the poor little ship's ensign had ventured to hang on a rope-ladder at the palace of the richest merchant of Livorno, and even at the chamber-window of his most beautiful daughter? And how you then angrily sprang up, and with your sword and poniard wounded four or half a dozen of the jesters, and then flew to a corsair that just crossed by the coast, and thus, poor dreamer, you were laughed into becoming a pagan Saracen? What have you to say in answer, Hassan Aga? Can the old witch do nothing else but curse and howl?"
"If you could tell me," said the renegade, "where you have stolen that sweet mirror-likeness of Rosetta, which a little while ago sparkled over your raven cheeks —"
" Oh, that is easy enough!" answered the witch; "I held my veil against the crescent moon in the direction of Livorno. Then I beheld, as it might be about three steps before me, Rosetta, strolling on the sea-shore, with her beautiful, most beloved husband, a renowned painter, who declared the wave was but a dim mirror for her charms; and as she bent carelessly over the flower-covered railings, willingly I would have snatched her away by a magical sentence, the idle little fool; but her husband, the fool, just then looked up with silent thanks to heaven — or to Him who dwells therein," murmured the witch fearfully; "and so, in his gratitude for his beautiful wife, my words died away. But I caught her image, reflected by the brilliancy of the moon on the waves, all damp and vapour-like, and laid it upon my face with a wet cloth. But she had observed something, and was frightened. For this reason the little face looked somewhat paler than usual, and also because moonlight and the waves of the sea made it pale, and cold, and salt. In reality, the beautiful Rosetta blooms as bright and fresh as ever, only not for you, poor fool! Forget, therefore, everything but the flame of war, which alone can render your life fresh and vigorous."
"And this flame of war—can you kindle it, monster?" asked the renegade.
“Kindle it to fame and victory? Yes, indeed can I, you fool!" cried the witch, angrily.
"Already, for twice three hundred and sixty-five nights have I prophesied that the Christian emperor must come here to his own ruin, and to the glory of the crescent. The people have already listened, full of hope; but you, you incredulous unbeliever, had still a bitter tooth upon me about Tunis, and would hear nothing from me— or you might have supposed, since I could prophesy ruin, I could prophesy also victory. And now has Charles the Fifth, the bravest soldier in Christendom, arrived. And now—" she sung, —
“Storms will I brew for you,
Clouds will I call for you;
Men, for fear, pale shall grow.
Even as maidens do.
Lightning shall sparkle bright,
And dark grow the night:
Bound by a spell of might,
Sea-nymphs shall dress for you
Beds under waves of dew.
Storm-songs draw near,
Waves dance for fear,
While they in wild embrace
Drag you unto the caves
Which are their dwelling-place.
Beneath the briny waves."
"Good luck to the dancers!" exclaimed the almost bewildered Hassan Aga. "But, horrible songstress of the storm, and waves, and clouds, will you tomorrow, at the dawn of day, acquaint my squadron that they should stand ranged in solemn order, upon the shores of Algiers, with the rest of the assembled people. For there is not a sailor boy among them who would believe in what I might relate to them of you, so strange and like a dream is it!"
“I will come, and I will declare it! Rest satisfied: tomorrow, in the brightest light of the midday, I will come, and I will declare it," shouted the witch.
"But yet one condition!" said Hassan Aga; "that you never dare for the future, even for a single moment, to appear to me as Rosetta."
"You need not give yourself any trouble about that," croaked the old creature. "Once for all, I have had enough of that experiment. It lamed—almost lamed me to death. And know, friend renegade, death is no child's plaything; at least for such as we are—Hu!"
Trembling and shivering, she crawled into a hollow crevice of the rocks upon her hands and feet, more like a lizard than a human creature.
A clear autumnal sky, free from clouds, shone the next morning on the landing of the Christian host. With joyful promise, the young sun looked down upon the beautifully- armed troops, playing on the bright silver cuirasses, on the brightly-polished barrels of the rifled guns, and on the golden-decorated hoods and helmets; while variegated plumes of feathers, like beds of flowers, were blown about in the refreshing breezes; and the standard-bearers and pikemen raised up and waved variously-coloured flags, like a festively-decked grove of weapons.
It is true, the Arabs of the desert —as they angrily watched the beautiful sight, like a swarming crowd of vultures, upon their swift slender steeds —threw up the dust beneath the neighbouring hills and on the sandy coasts. But the artillery of the ships and galleys had only to discharge a few thundering greetings, and the fleet horsemen disappeared again as suddenly as they had risen from their ocean of sand. It seemed that they were only come in order to put to the test the power of the landed Christian soldiers by the futility of their attack and the swiftness of their flight.
Without opposition, the clear rejoicing instruments of war sounded already like a triumphal procession. In half an hour the imperial squadron was moving on its way to the city of Algiers, the siege of which, in the different councils of war, it had been determined should be immediately undertaken.
"So we are here!" said the tall grey-headed Andrea Doria; "and thus far, I find no objection to such a noble, bold deed. But urge onwards. Forwards before the autumnal storms disturb us with their dissonant howlings."
The city, like an amphitheatre with the glittering cupolas of its magnificent mosques, and the kioskas stretching boldly up to heaven, interspersed with garden-bowers and groves of pomegranates, presented itself to their sight in full glory; and the nearer they approached it, the more embellished and variegated seemed the sea-shore by bright meadows and plantations, hedged with golden-coloured wire trellis-work. Behind this towered lofty aloe-trees, like a second hedge of blooming pillars; and still beyond could be seen beds of flowers, and noble fruit trees, and most singular yet elegantly formed alcoves.
A more joyous certainty, at the pleasant sight, increased every moment in the heart of each tried warrior. Many merry words passed to and fro through the lines of the procession, particularly in the Italian corps. The Germans, though in a glad humour also, singing songs among themselves — now merry, now war-songs, now a sweet longing for home — on the whole proceeded a little more solemnly; but the most solemn, the most silent of all, were the noble, proud Spaniards. At the head of these now rode their far-famed captain, Fernando of Toledo, Duke of Alba, upon a high, raven-black, Andalusian steed, and, as he passed on with the train, quite motionless in his saddle, —haggard and solemnly grave, with his long beard flowing down over his chin, his commander's staff pressed close to his thigh,—he looked more like a monument upon the tomb of some glorious departed hero than a living soldier.
Yet life — yes, strong and vigorous life — was perceptible in the sparkle of his large dark eyes, and in the low but commanding words and signs with which he called first to one and then another captain from his troop of foot-soldiers, and charged them to march close together to the front of the hill behind which the Arabs had disappeared. But a very small part of the cavalry had yet landed.
He called, therefore, only a few of his esquires around him, rather as swift messengers on immediate errands than for any particular use in the main squadron. Now he trotted on before with them to mark a station upon the hill, in which he thought he could best secure the imperial host from being molested by the swift sons of the desert. His chosen troop of infantry, at a sign from him, were pressed into close lines — some light artillery in the middle — around which were a few scattered soldiers, all the rest keeping step in the sands of the African desert with as much order as if they marched on the shady parade at Madrid.
Meanwhile Giannettino Doria, riding near the Genoese foot-soldiers, some of his German horse-guards with him (the greater part were still in the ships), shared in the joy of the troops; and kindly inquired of the German trooper, Walprecht, already known to us from his last night's conversation on board their vessel:—
"How now, brave soldier! what think you of our expedition?"
"It pleases me mightily, your grace, since we now feel the firm ground under the hoofs of the horses, instead of the unruly sea under the keel of our ship," answered the fresh, fair-headed youth. " I never consider myself a man, except I feel a horse under me. A dismounted horseman is only half a man."
“A centaur, I suppose!" said Giannettino, laughing.
And Walprecht answered, though with a misunderstanding of his words: "Yes, remain here.' But to think of that makes me regret many things. The rich people to whom belong the beautiful meadows, and the bright houses and castles in the city yonder, rising on the hill, may have led a pleasant life enough before we came. Neither into Germany, or into Genoa, have these happy people ever come to injure us. Therefore, I cannot tell — though at the same time my doubts do not in the least disturb my dutiful subordination— why we are come here to destroy their pleasures."
Giannettino Doria laughed, and seemed disinclined to carry the conversation farther. But a deeply sorrowful voice began the defence of the expedition that was ungiven on his part. From one of the golden-latticed groves proceeded sorrowful sighs; and the gloomy voice of a man was also distinctly heard in the Italian language: " Oh, you who have come from the prosperous lands, where the sweet language sounds in which I heard you talk, and shout, and sing, — happy, beautifully armed companions of my home,— break to pieces, ruin those magnificent castles of the barbarians, and rescue your Christian brethren from the ill-usage and slavery of the Musselmen! Those whom you can no longer rescue, you can at least revenge! Behold me, for I am an example that shall urge you on!"
And, with a last agonising exertion, a tall thin man, of a deadly pale but noble countenance, his hair and beard dishevelled, as it is never seen but on imprisoned wild beasts, rose up from behind the golden trellis-work, firmly clinging to it, like ivy to a broken wall, bleeding from innumerable wounds between the mangling chains.
Giannettino Doria, with his esquire, looked on shuddering; while the sorrowful being called to them and the troops that were passing by: "I am an Italian, like you. I was a happy vinedresser on the sea-shore of Pausilipo. The sea-dogs, the barbarians, snatched me away —tore me from my wife and child. What is become of them, God knows, not I! Fifteen years of misery have I lived here, in chains, like a wild animal in brutish labour, as an ox before the plough and wagon! The cry of your landing drove the family of my oppressor away from here; and I was too weary to follow the rest of their scourged beasts, slaves, and other animals to Algiers. The sweet little children of the house, like little Cupids, with sharp-pointed arrows, shot at me, as people often do in our country at ridiculous, strange figures painted on wood. Now rescue! now revenge!"
He sank down dying upon the trunk of an aloe, which, at a sign from Giannettino Doria, Walprecht had brought to ease him, so that his last breath might pass, along with his cries of rescue and revenge, undisturbed and unchecked into the hearts of his comrades.
When at length his voice was silent, Giannettino said to his squire, Walprecht: " What think you now?"
"Death or victory against these colonies of devils!" answered the young German; and his cheeks, a little while ago so youthful, had become pale, deathly pale, as the face of an old man agitated with the deepest passion.
The Christian camp was pitched. Some twenty thousand foot-soldiers, chosen from Duke Alba's band, were stationed on the hill, ranged in many deep files, as a protection against the Arabs. Upon the left wing, which was stationed as a vanguard nearer to the city, the Spaniards were encamped, commanded by the vice-king of Sicily, Don Gonzago, Don Alvaro de Sandez, and the Duke of Camarino. At the centre were posted the Germans; with them was the emperor himself. Five hundred gentlemen, as his body-guard, accompanied him, who, selected from the three great nations of the army, had each desired to be a sharer in so great an honour. At the right wing were stationed the Italian troops, under Camillo, Colonna, Spinola, and Giannettino Doria.
Soon proceeded forth from the city the gloomy sound of trumpets, and kettle drums, and other instruments mingled loudly together, and the wild battle-cry of the barbarians, giving evidence that the enemy were far too haughty to allow themselves to be surrounded without opposition, and much too proud to doubt in the least their victory over the infantry of the Christians, who were almost entirely destitute of cavalry.
A cloud of dust was raised above the gates, through which sparkled many shining weapons. Swift as the wind the Moorish and Arab riders drew on, hewing down the Spanish advance-guards, and those of the soldiers who had ventured out of the camp to seek the means of subsistence and other necessaries for the army. The shouting barbarians swarmed about the Christians, as if they expected to tread them to pieces under their horses' hoofs.
But having quickly discharged their first fire, the three warlike nations stood filed together in a close quadrangle, beginning their murderous attack with the harquebusses, muskets, and other weapons of artillery, and continuing it in cold blood, till the confused sally ended just as rashly and wildly as it had begun. Many dead riders, with their steeds, lay stretched out upon the plain, —silent witnesses of the enemy's defeat. The Saracen host, nevertheless, not pursued by the horsemen, had dragged almost all their wounded back to the city.
The Emperor Charles on his steed still kept his place in the midst of the victorious troops that were again pressing into their camp; near him was the greyheaded Andrea Doria.
Emperor Charles V
"Now, my noble, paternal friend," said the prince to him, full of martial ardour, "what think you of the first opening of the combat? Think you that Algiers will hold out to us a longer resistance than Tunis did six years ago?"
Andrea, his glance solemnly directed to the clouds, slowly answered: " Above yonder is it determined!"
And the pious emperor bowed low his helmeted head, encircled with a golden crown, in humble acquiescence, saying: "You know, father Doria, that not only what is sent down from the eternal throne above is good — it is most certainly the very best that could happen."
"My most honoured master," said the Doge of Genoa, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm; "in the greatness of your thoughts you have oftentimes outflown me, but never more beautifully than now; for this time, I had only fixed my eyes and thoughts upon the visible firmament. Signs of an approaching storm seem to me to be rising in the air, and as yet scarcely a tenth part of your six thousand horsemen are disembarked, while of your heavy artillery not one single barrel is on shore; and the land force is altogether without means of subsistence in "these regions, which are cultivated with only useless vegetation, so that they depend entirely on supplies from the ships. Permit me, as your faithful admiral, to take my place again upon the ship, in order that I may hasten the disembarkation of the forces, as well as make preparations against the storm hanging over us. Meanwhile there will rage on shore another kind of storm. I hope again, at the right hour, to take my place of honour by the side of my imperial lord and protector."
"You are brave as you are wise," answered the emperor Charles with friendly respect; "and I tell you, father Andrea, why I depend so firmly upon the success of our noble undertaking: it is because God has placed at my side such a helper and adviser as yourself. Let us follow as God calls us. Where the spirit leads, there certainly is opened the true path for honour and victory."
The Doge of Genoa bent down gratefully to his imperial friend; then he walked slowly to the strand, deeply thinking and revolving great things in his widely-experienced heart.
Meanwhile the emperor Charles called the herald of the empire, and commanded the stately messenger, accompanied by a trumpeter, to proceed to Algiers, and to require a conference with the wild renegade, Hassan Aga. "Here," said he, handing him a roll of parchment, "you have the generous conditions which I consent to grant the wretch, in case he yields, and gives up immediately the city and harbour; for if he agrees, it seems of such infinite value to spare the blood of subjects — of Christians. Believe me, valiant herald," added the emperor Charles with a moved voice, "to send you thus into that horde of robbers, and into the power of their apostate chief, gives me sorrow enough. God knows, I would willingly, and with all my heart, tread the dangerous path myself; but God knows also that I may not."
And the commissioned one, bowing with calm solemnity, said: "My imperial commander has called me a herald, and I hope to prove myself worthy of the name, both in life and death."
And turning his horse towards the stronghold of the pirates, he rode forward with slow and stately step over the blood - sprinkled ground — a trumpeter before him, blowing at regular intervals, which, among civilised nations, is the customary greeting of a truce.
At the same time the emperor, having accomplished his duty as he desired, leapt from his saddle, and went — the last of all his soldiers — into his tent.
Meanwhile Andrea Doria had reached the sea-shore, and was in the act of stepping into the boat which was to conduct him to the admiral's ship, when he saw another boat near the land, out of which sprang Don Felix Carrero, nobly equipped: the young Spaniard approached the commander of the squadron with a respectful salutation.
He received him kindly, yet at the same time gravely, inquiring of him what weighty and most important event had occurred to call the commander of ten galleys upon shore.
Don Felix Carrero started at this greeting; but soon recovered himself, and answered: "In the first place, I am not here without the knowledge of the Spanish captain, Don Mendoza; and in the second, my noble admiral probably asks me not so much, — ' Why so soon on land?' as, ' Why so late?' An hour ago did he not see from the admiral's ship its mighty leader depart? and do I not see even now your feet clad in rider's boots and knight's spurs? And, sire, your noble steed, from which you have just dismounted, shews plainly by
its matted hair how vigorously it has struggled in this day's fight."
Andrea Doria looked on the fiery young Spaniard with a strange smile, wherein lay some slightly contemptuous superiority, which was, however, at the same time, softened by a most pleasing expression of paternal kindness.
Then the rash Carrero involuntarily cast down his boldly flashing eyes.
After a short silence, Andrea Doria said: "Young comrade, half a century at least has passed since any one has called my eighty years' experience into question, as to why I did this, or why I left the other undone. Indeed, I had the good luck, even in the thirtieth year of my life, to arrive at some stability of judgment; and therefore I do not imagine that I shall now, before my perhaps very near passage into eternity, lose, just at the last, that mostcostly of all earthly goods. It is for this reason that your rebuke does not greatly disturb me, dear Don Felix Carrero; so much the less since it comes from you; for, indeed, not only do I love and honour your wonderful nation in general, but you in particular I love and honour above all others. Therefore, listen, and judge.
“The admiral's place is often at the side of his commander-in-chief, partly to receive orders directly from him, and as directly give back information to him; to see with his own eyes the movements of the land-army, and to make resolutions beforehand suitable to any probable change of circumstances. Neither at this or at any other time could such reasons as these call the commander of the transport ships from his post."
Admiral Andrea Doria
With some resentment upon his noble features, Don Felix answered: "Nevertheless, the commander of the transport ships does not for this reason, thank Heaven, cease to be a Castilian knight, if the favouring stars have permitted him to be born as such, and if no unworthiness of his own has bereft him of that inestimable jewel. But a Castilian knight keeps his word; and I have given mine some time ago to that incomparable beauty, the Donna Lisandra, — I need only repeat her name to mark her as an object of respectful admiration to the whole world—yes, to her, who as my wedded bride has followed me hither with the noble courage of a Queen Zenobia, have I pledged my word, in three days at the longest after our arrival, to accompany her to the shore, at the west of the doomed barbarian city, that she may be a close witness of the deeds which I, upon this continent, in this imperishable and ever-famed warlike expedition, hope to accomplish. To choose out a place where I think I can with safety conduct the beautiful umpire of the army, under the protection of a few faithful followers, I have landed on the shore which, at a later time, I have determined either to redden with mine or the enemy's blood; for in the ranks of the foremost foot-squadrons, which was offered to me at the beginning of the battle, will I fight. Sorely I grieve that I have missed the engagement that has just taken place; yet I had to give some necessary orders for the unloading of the heavy artillery on board my galleys; now, all that can be finished by any one —"
"By any one?" answered Andrea Doria, shaking his head. "I hope you will be that one, Don Felix Carrero, for to you this important duty properly belongs; and that, at any rate, you will not leave the deck of your frigate, and the other galleys of which you have charge, till the whole of the valuable cargo entrusted to you stands safely on the shore. Then, possibly, it may be granted you, Don Felix Carrero, to satisfy your thirst for battle upon these African coasts. Till then, honour and duty forbid you to move one step from your galleys. And now allow yourself to be rowed back to them without losing a moment. No answer, I beg of you! Your admiral commands you, as you love your own honour and duty!"
With these words, the Genoese doge stepped into the boat.
Pale from noble indignation, Don Felix walked back to his, and leapt into it, turning the helm towards the deserted ship, without being able to utter one syllable from his lips, sealed with passion. The bark flew over the sea back again to Carrero's magnificent galley; upon the deck of which stood Signora Lisandra, clothed in a rich satin drapery of the deepest and most beautiful colours, holding in her wondrously beautiful arms a polished and ornamented lute; to its loudly awakened tones she sang the following words to her bridegroom:
"Bravest captain, noble knight,
Hast thou found a glorious spot
Where thy love, thy bride may stand,
By the battle harmed not,
To behold the glorious fight?
Haste! I long to go!I stand
As for triumph decked, to see
Mohammed's power in ruins laid,
For thine and the Christians’ victory !"
Felix felt not only the words but the music also rouse anew the rage that was burning in his soul; but softening his heart before the sounds of his lady's lute, he sang to her the following words:
“A cold old man forbade our landing;
He, proud ruler of the flood,
A Neptune white, with snowy beard,
On the Moorish borders stood.
Noble lady, lay thou by
The glorious signs of victory;
Put off the glorious ornaments.
Less bright how far than the form
that wears them!
Lay thee down in gentle slumber,
Servile tasks to me belong;
Rest thy beauteous head in slumber,
Till a noble stirring song
Wakes thee from the world of dreams-
Wakes thee to behold the fight."
And Donna Lisandra sang, in answer.
"I will sleep, and I will dream.
But adorned with noble pomp;
For a solemn vow I made,
Never more, were it a year—
A hundred, or a thousand years, —
My glorious gems to lay aside.
When once I was apparelled thus.
Till before Algiers' gates
The eagle of our host should stand,
And bid our conquering army halt!”
The sun had already begun to sink to the west when the herald of the German empire, who had been sent to Algiers, again entered the presence of the Emperor Charles V. He sat in his magnificent tent, crowded with chiefs and captains, where, according to ancient custom, the herald struck his bright golden staff upon the ground with a long, widely-stretched arm, as if he were planting a young tree, and then began to speak thus: "Divine greeting, and divine prosperity from above, and my humble subject's duty, to my most gracious emperor, lord, and master! What I have to communicate to your imperial majesty from the pirate's stronghold of Algiers is bold insolence, diabolical madness, and obstinacy, to be bowed in no other way than by fire and sword. If it is not contrary to the will of your imperial majesty, I, the herald of the holy, glorious empire of Germany, stand ready to declare what I said and heard."
"Rise, and declare it to us, warily and with truth," said the emperor, kindly.
And the herald spoke as follows: "Arrived before the heathen robbers' nest, and at the call of the trumpet admitted to their presence with the apparent acknowledgment of an honourable herald, I still can only ascribe it to the protection of the Almighty Lord of all hosts that I arrived at the Mohammedan market-place (that they call the Bazaar) without being cut to pieces, and returned from it again in safety. The success of which marvelous return is considerably more to be wondered at than the success of the safe arrival. And yet this also seems far more like a divine miracle than an undertaking accomplished under mere human protection, though that be the highest, even the protection of the most mighty emperor himself The whole way as we went through the city the rabble insulted us with coarse words, sometimes also cast stones, at the trumpeter as well as at me, which were but too well aimed; also from the windows and balconies of considerable houses were poured revilings and insulting words; and even by most gorgeously dressed persons — yes, I do not lie — were stones cast on us. My serious remonstrances were of no avail, but rather increased than decreased their insults. Notwithstanding, I finally arrived at the bazaar in safety, and found Hassan Aga, after the Turkish fashion, seated in state upon a throne formed of costly carpets and cushions, as our jugglers exhibit themselves in comedies, in coloured calico and gold paper. Hassan Aga himself received me very harshly, requiring to know why I was sent hither, and who had sent me, in such a supremely insolent manner, that I should not have dared to declare the same, if it had not been the express command of the most high emperor."
The Emperor Charles answered, smiling: "It is well, brave herald. We absolve you and ourselves from those uncourteous titles. What else may have proceeded from the mouth of the renegade? Proceed! I would hear Hassan Aga's final resolution."
"As for the rest," said the herald, " it may sound pardonable enough; for the renegade suddenly restrained his snarlings and menaces, as if to his poor lost soul there returned a memory of those better days, when he still would have paid honour to the blessed Christians, and with that also an awful feeling of innocent respect at the greeting of an imperial herald. But something sprang up out of the midst of the crowd like a she-wolf enchanted into a human form, dashing up and down between the people and the ranks of soldiers like a poisonous horse-fly, in a way that it was impossible to describe, or to give any adequate notion of. Thus far I can relate with certainty, that the people seemed mad at the howling witch as at the stinging of horse-flies, and the wicked renegade still more mad than any one. I and the bold trumpeter, in the firm belief that our last hour was come, encouraged each other with a few honourable words, to suffer as good Christians what might be inflicted on us by Heaven, and as steadfast German soldiers, to look joyfully on everything, even in death. Then we prayed silently, fervently, and deeply, till dizziness overcame our brain; and the people seemed to be nothing more than mad puppets, swarming about in a mountebank's booth. But they became silent by degrees: it might be that in their wild frenzy they had raged till they were weary; or possibly the above marvelous apparition might have stopped them, feeling that it was permitted the tumult should go 'so far and no farther.'
“But the assembly grew ever more and more silent almost like running water from a pond that is drying in the sun, which at first, swelled by torrents of rain, had overleapt its banks with a great rushing sound. Then at last (whether the above-mentioned witch remained or not, I was in too great confusion to ascertain) speech returned to Hassan Aga, and, in truth, in the most heathenish and coarse manner. But he nevertheless commanded that we should be dismissed, in order that I might inform my noble lord that he gave your imperial majesty his word that you would have no more occasion to rejoice in the present undertaking than heretofore the two bold Spaniards, Don Ugo de Moncade and Don Diego de Bera, could have boasted of theirs upon the same place of combat; and so they let us out, it is true, but not as became our dignity and office, accompanying us with hideous yells, and with stones that they cast upon us as we went. But we proceeded with calm, majestic steps, free from the least haste, as unbecoming the ambassadors of your noble majesty. And we comforted each other with the assurance, that He who drew us out of our first great peril would likewise continue to protect us, and truly with perfect right, for here I stand unharmed before your imperial majesty, the trumpeter also, my companion in misfortune and honour, stands behind me unharmed, and our good steeds likewise have met with no hurt in the insane tumult of that heathenish crowd."
The Emperor Charles V made a gracious inclination of his head towards the two ambassadors, and said, deeply moved: "I beg of you earnestly, faithful and worthy messengers, to refresh yourselves after your well-withstood injuries and danger. Truly, not sparingly shall you be rewarded, if God continues my life and my kingly power."
Then rising from his lofty throne, his hand on his sword, he looked with sparkling eyes upon his chiefs and captains as they stood around in motley groups. Each one, according to the order of his arms which he was accustomed to wear, like a clap of thunder, shouted the imperial words through the circle: "Algiers, the bold defier of all true people and united Christendom, must fall."
"Fall" was echoed again by many hundred voices.
"To your posts, my brave soldiers; they are known to you!" cried the emperor. "To-morrow shall the pirates' city be besieged from three mighty batteries; later, when all our heavy artillery is on land, we will attack with twelve. Not much longer shall this brood of heathens scoff at us, I, the emperor, promise you. To your posts!" he again shouted, in the tone of a commander, and left the tent.
Joyful at the noisy warlike rattle of the weapons, all pressed out of the imperial tent; while heavy rain poured dawn from the darkening night-clouds.
"It will lay the sand of the desert!" said many happy shouting voices, in the German, Spanish, and Italian languages.
Giannettino Doria, in the stately crowd, again met with Baron Marbach, the knight of the German order, and asked him, with his young heart swelling high,— "Now, baron, in what light do you view the world and our warlike expedition? Did you not join in the brave echo, when the emperor said, 'Algiers must fall!'—the fall that sounded as if from one mouth?"
"Fall? yes!" answered the baron, gloomily, just like another echo. "Fall! yes, indeed! But do you as certainly know who it is that shall fall?"
It was about mid-day, and high in the heavens would have sparkled the hot southern sun, only his glowing rays could not pierce through the dense grey covering of clouds which, like a wide and thick carpet, stretched over land and sea, streaming down endless torrents of rain upon Algiers and its environs, as far as the clearest eye could penetrate.
Actively did the soldiers of the Emperor Charles work at the rising foundation of the three batteries whose flames were to pierce the stronghold of the pirates, and already from the distant hills sent forth a few solitary greetings of death over the heads of the workmen. But the sand of the ground, that was wetted quite through, caked together in huge lumps, and then again breaking asunder, checked and hindered the progress of the work; so that the workmen sank, now here, now there, up to their knees in the damp soil, or slipped out to try and reach a firmer footing. At every step, before and to the side, each person was obliged to hold firmly on his neighbour. The labour and trouble of this business overpowered the strength of almost all the soldiers, who worked at it in turn.
The young trooper out of Giannettino Doria's bodyguard, Walprecht, whom we have already made acquaintance with on board ship at the beginning of our history, now without his horse, and, instead of his sword, vigorously handling the spade, said joyfully to one of his fellow soldiers, who was almost lying under his work:
" Now, Lupold, what would the merry wenches in Genoa, and our noble young ladies of the Maine and Rhine say, if they saw you — generally such a merry companion, and so active in the dance and sports — so overcome in a warlike business? Ah, Lupold, recover yourself, or I will tell them about it, I promise you, and make all your gestures so piteously absurd, that their laughter will not cease for a whole evening long.”
" That foolish mirth," answered Lupold peeyishly, sinking the spade into the ground, and exhausted, supporting himself upon it, in so far as the wet sand clinging about his feet would permit — "that foolish woman's mirth, and the wit from you, I would pardon from my
heart, if it was come already, and I was well out of this dog's life."
“You!” said Walprecht, warningly, and for one moment also lingering in his work. “Bethink yourself comrade! So easily vexed! Scarcely would the lowest German lancer murmur at such a cause; how much less, then, a trooper in the body-guard of the noble Giannettino Doria!"
But the other answered, still discontentedly, "Well, let it be so! Have you ever before in your life seen me discontented, when it was my business to break in or to train horses, or to curry them, or even to put a fine polish on my saddling-tackle, and whatever else constitutes the duty of a good trooper? For as a trooper I was hired into the body-guard of my master, Giannettino Doria, and that with perfect love and desire; but not as a sapper. That is verily only a boor's work, and I am a soldier, and moreover a horse-soldier."
"Where have the five hundred young gentlemen placed themselves, who serve his imperial majesty as horse-guards?" asked Walprecht.
"Well, but," returned Lupld, "they do it of their own accord; and though I hold them to be far richer and more noble, yet, as horse-guards, they are in no way better than you or I."
"But wait a moment. Who there, on your left, is working so diligently with his spade? Do you know him?" said Walprecht.
"A little," said the other. “He is an Italian nobleman out of that guard, and called Monte — no ; what it he called? Monte-Cuc —yes, Cuc — Oli, heaven knows what he is called! but I know him very well, and that he is indeed a stout-hearted trooper."
"And," asked Walprecht, "who is he a little further on?"
"That is a Spaniard out of the same troop," was Lupold's answer; "a proud, bold swordsman, who would throw away all his fortune if a poor devil that he pitied asked him for it, but who would fight against a hundred devils from hell for a piece of buttered bread, if they tried to take it from him by force. He is a child of very considerable parents, and I think his name is Corduan —or some other such fine name. Yes, and truly, near him also digs the young nobleman, Gerd of Glemningen, another of the imperial horse-guards, whose father is the feoffee of my father. Now I understand why you asked me, Walprecht."
“Are you worse off than they are?" asked the other. "You allowed before that you were not so noble."
"But consider," stammered Lupold with confusion, trying to excuse himself — "these young noblemen do it quite unbidden, for their own will and pleasure; but such as we—"
Walprecht angrily interrupted him with these words: "Then, is not the command of a noble warrior more than the will and pleasure of a German trooper?"
"Forwards, comrade!" cried Lupold. "Work, in order that we may outdo the young noblemen!" And hastily and vigorously they both again placed their spades into the bulwarks, with their eagerness doubly making up for the time that they had lost in talking.
But there suddenly was heard a sharp fire from the right wing, where the Italians stood; also from the left wing, entrusted to the Spaniards. At the same time, the horde of pirates sent so powerful a discharge of shot against the centre, where the Germans were posted, that for a moment the rainy clouds, at least immediately over the combatants, seemed pressed together, and the sun shed his beams over the field of battle, but only faintly and gloomily. In this light — more horrible than the dim obscurity— was seen the Baron Marbach leaping towards them, or rather only trotting; for, however much he endeavoured to urge his horse to a swifter speed, the deep mire of the soaked ground, and also the fatigue of the former combat, prevented the otherwise faster motion of the noble animal. Wildly flew the white mantle of his German order about the knight, as well from his impatient movements as from the rising hurricane.
"He brings some news, but nothing of good!" passed in a whisper through the files of sappers. All looked as if paralysed towards the newcomer; while the falling of the shot right and left, particularly from the Italian side, gave evidence, by its direction, that the sallying enemy was advancing rapidly.
Then was distinctly heard the call of the baron: "Away with your hatchets and spades! To arms! — to arms! The dismounted riders back to their horses! All back to the centre of the army! — the heathens are there. They press hard upon both wings, but your emperor still hopes for victory from his collected Germans Do you hear? Victory! — very soon will it be with you! But now back — back —speedily back! Leave your hatchets and spades! Quickly back to the headquarters! Then again forwards to victory! The emperor relies upon his Germans!"
This call, full of animation, but certainly somewhat strange and disjointed, perhaps might have had upon other than German soldiers rather a confusing than an enlivening effect: here it proved far otherwise. Already the friendly sounds of their native language — which, in the army, composed of three nations, was but seldom heard by the German squadron — shed a joy over the otherwise unwelcome message; and, more than all, the sentence — "The emperor relies upon his Germans!”
Walprecht and Lupold, on their horses again, joined a party of other German troopers out of Andrea's bodyguard, and Walprecht cried out joyfully: "Well, as it has turned out, it is all for the best that our master gave us this work to do, as now we are to fight once more, at the side of our German countrymen."
But Lupold answered, shaking his head: "At the side of our German countrymen! Dear brother, you were before more prudent than I was; but this time there is occasion for me to shake my head at you. In whose service and pay, then, are we?—yes, in whose oath? And hark at the thundering and the crackling in the foreign squadrons! Whose throat is the knife now piercing ? and more —whose body-guards are we?"
"Thunder and Doria, you are right!" cried Walprecht. "Away with the spades! — out with the falchions! To the assistance of our bold young master, Giannettino! "
With these words they galloped over to the right, where the Italians were stationed. There the combat raged wild and boisterous. The Moors and Arabs, accustomed to their strange African soil, and observing that the rain had wet the gunpowder, so that the arms of the Christians missed fire more often than discharged properly, pressed ever more fiercely forwards, flinging, with their peculiar strength and dexterity, spears and arrows into the enemy's files, — stones also of such fearful sharpness and weight, that every limb they struck was shattered or maimed. Even at the beginning of the combat, the barbarians, rushing on with their mighty falchions, had broken through the companies of the Italian foot-soldiers, and entirely hewn them down, as they stood, or rather slipped or sunk, upon the soaked and sandy ground.
Like a grove of pines crushed by a hurricane, or like a wildly-heaped funeral-pile, the mangled corpses lay one above another, staring horror into the hearts of their still living companions. It is true their files continued to hold together, though they were irretrievably weakened; but this resistance was owing less to their tactics and good discipline, than to the fear of falling alone into the hands of the victoriously-raging Moors and Arabs. The bold Italian chieftains, Camillo, Colonna, and Spinola, kept their men firm, to the utmost of their power, by the example of a noble contempt for death, and by now encouraging, now nobly-chiding acclamations. The retreat began slowly and orderly; but, nevertheless, it was a retreat.
Vainly did the faithful German troopers seek in the crowd for their young lord and master, Giannettino Doria. They had caught sight of him for a moment among the three companies that were massacred; then he vanished and disappeared without the slightest trace.
All seemed lost here. But still, high upon his snowy white Spaniard's steed, was seen the Emperor Charles; his glittering two-bladed German knight-sword in his right hand, turning it right and left as it were a commander's staff; and it might well be seen, in the midst of such great danger, that a less sharp commander's scepter would not protect the imperial master of the host.
Emperor Charles V
Then it happened that two Italian foot-soldiers broke forth into a mutinous cry, shouting "Down to the sea! Away to the strand! Upon the ships alone is there any protection for us! Preservation for us from the fire of the pirates' shots! Away to the strand!"
And while the two ungovernable men shouted their mad words boldly and loudly, many thought it was a command from the officers — a command which in their hearts they were willing enough to obey — and numbers turned in the direction pointed out.
In vain did the captain of the company seek for the two mutineers to bring them to silence by threats. Become bolder at length by many occasional murmurs in their files, they stepped forth before the company, throwing away their muskets, .and drawing their short swords, shouting, " Henceforth, comrades, we are your officers. Away to the ships! March!"
The enraged captain, thrusting his sword against the frenzied men, unexpectedly found himself attacked from behind by one of their accomplices, and disarmed. Already the squadron had set itself in motion towards the seashore. Then the Emperor Charles sprang up to it, accompanied only by a few of his noble bodyguard (the other five hundred he had sent away through the field of battle, at various points, divided into little squadrons, to stop the retreat); and with an angry commanding voice, he cried " Halt! Where do you go?"
All stood a moment; but quickly encouraged by the boldness that had once broken loose, both the ringleaders (two of the lowest and most dissolute of the dregs of the people) answered him, " To the seashore, my lord! We are going down to the seashore. That is the only gate open to you for escape! We counsel you for the best."
And they approached with quick steps, as if they would have seized the white horse of the emperor by the bridle, in order to lead his master with them after their own pleasure.
Yet before his life-guards could prevent this insolent attack, the sharp commander's blade of the emperor struck both the mutineers, and they sank down in their blood. He who had been the captain of the company, panic-struck, sprang back again alone and timidly into the crowd.
But the emperor said, now halting straight before the first company, "Captain, there lies your blade at your feet. Take it up, and let it not be so improvidently wrested from you a second time. The worst pair out of your files have died an infinitely more noble death than they deserved; for death from a soldier's hand is a most undeserved crown of honour for a rebel. But the poison of mutiny has spread shame over the whole troop. You, captain, are also guilty; for without neglect of the gardener, the garden is not overgrown with weeds. Up, altogether, to wipe away this stain from you — up! Halberdiers, prepare your weapons for the attack! Musketeers, load afresh! If henceforth, on this gloriously hard-fought day, the company remain nearest to the enemy, so shall they also, from henceforth, be the nearest to my heart. Drummer and fifer, do your part! The treason is washed away from the company of the Captain Tibaldo. To the enemy, and forwards ! March !"
And forwards pressed, in perfect order, the troop, inspired strangely by the words of the emperor. With firm steps and flourishing of drums, they proceeded on their way, followed by those of the company who were nearest them; and thus their revived courage spread through the united Italian squadron. And then, as it often happened in bygone days—and the old Romans, trying to explain it, said that the wing of their heathen goddess Victory was turned—then pressed a fearful apprehension into the soul of the Mohammedans, not over-courageous even now, that their as yet dormant adversaries had gained an unknown something; an apprehension which even the careless gambler is not a stranger to if the so-called fortune turns over from him to his adversary; how much more to be felt, then, in a noble combat, where fortune also is an inspiration!
But vainly may verbal or written words endeavour to express that which is inexpressible. Enough that it has existed. The medley of the Moors and Arabs recoiled. The squadron of the Italians took a firm and joyful stand.
"Now away to my Germans!" cried the Emperor Charles, and calling to his noble bodyguard to reassemble about him, he trotted after the firmly-ordered centre where the Germans were pressed together like an unconquerable wall of fortification. Opposite were innumerable strong troops of the enemy on horse and foot; but beyond reach of the artillery, and without having as yet joined in the attack. The firm halting of the German squadron seemed to astonish them, or had brought them to the determination rather to tarry until the Spaniards and Italians at the wings should be entirely discomfited, in order then, with their full unweakened force from all sides, to fall on their enemy in the centre. Only a few cannon-shots fell here and there, seldomest from the side of the Germans; for they rightly determined to save the small quantity of powder already landed, to use at the most decisive moment. As they saw the winged file of their master approach, they cried out joyfully and with a voice of thunder, "Long live our most gracious emperor Charles V!" and the whole battle-crowd, perceiving the approach of their noble commander, took up the word and shouted it again and again.
Kindly thanking and greeting them, the emperor rode slowly to the first rank, often repeating the words, "To you, my brave Germans, I grant today a chief part of the victory! Now go forwards, with my most high person immediately at your head!"
Joyously flamed the noble German blue eyes, and rightly glowed the fresh German countenances; and as the general now rode before their front, the captains of the German files, forming a circle around him, thundered still more loudly out of the troops to heaven, "Long live our most gracious emperor Charles!"
The heathen adversaries seemed to tremble at this sound, as if it were already a shout of victory. At least there was evident a strange moving to and fro in their squadron, without any distinct or definite intention; also quick assembling of their leaders and then separating again, and numerous swift riders hurrying away to both wings of their host.
The Emperor Charles looked at them a long time with the sharp and eager glance of a commander. Then he despatched some of his noble bodyguard to the strand, entrusting them with a sealed paper for the admiral Andrea Doria, with the command of the strictest haste, and the knowledge by what signal they could immediately call in a boat from the admiral's ship to their relief. The messengers sprang away, using their utmost strength to vie in speed with the Arab messengers.
Brightly smiling, the Emperor Charles for some moments looked through the circle on the surrounding colonels, then turning his eyes upon the Baron of Marbach, he said, "Well, now, my experienced knight of the German order; you are by no means always friendly to my hopes, but—I know it—much more often accustomed to chide than to encourage; what think you of the present position of affairs?"
"I admire the high gifts of the commander, and the wise knowledge of war that my imperial lord possesses," answered Marbach, bowing gravely, but with eyes glowing with enthusiasm.
"Do you, then, understand me and my measures so perfectly?" smiled the emperor, with an almost imperceptible tincture of disdain.
And the knight returned, suddenly icy-cold, with a firmer voice: "I hope so indeed—with certainty: yes."
"Now let me hear them, lord of Marbach," said the emperor.
Casting a look round, the baron asked, "Before all these witnesses?"
"There are none among them from whom I hold more secrets than from you," was the calm reply.
And the German lord, deeply wounded in his inmost heart, yet on that account—as from a mortal wound—growing more cool outwardly, only that his large eyes sparkled like stars through a thunder-cloud, said, "Well, my great emperor, seeing that the time of the year, weather, and the soil of the ground, are against his bold undertaking, his most noble friend (but sometimes also his most noble enemy), the Baron Marbach, hopes that he has subdued his own great heart, and has just sent a command to the admiral, Andrea Doria, for the re-embarkation of the army. The collected German corps is sufficient to cover the retreat of the Italian and Spanish squadrons, and has already inspired the barbarians with sufficient respect to be able worthily to follow, as a rearguard, without too great a hazard."
"It seems, my baron," said the emperor, "that you see the objects as they present themselves in strangely polished mirrors—quite correctly as far as they go, but only just shewing the head. Not with a command of reembarkation are my messengers despatched to the great admiral; but rather for the disembarkation of all the artillery, all the horses, and all the means of subsistence destined for the land-army. Also, not for a rearguard will I employ my German squadron, but rather for a vanguard in the general attack, which shall begin, I intend, as soon as the bodyguards that are despatched to the left wing bring me information how it fares with my "Spanish squadrons."
And if the answer is returned, that they fare badly?" asked the Baron Marbach, drily.
“Then shall the attack of the Germans be somewhat modified, but only still more bold," returned the emperor; adding, with a louder voice, "for mark you, brave colonels and captains, Algiers will your emperor vanquish, or before Algiers will he die!"
A deep silence at these words overspread the assembly — a warlike, noble silence, in which gravely mingled apprehensions of death, as well as proud and beautiful hopes of victory.
It was broken by the voice of one who called in haste, "Where is the emperor? I bring a message for the emperor! A message of victory I bring!" Then within the circle, quickly flying open for him, leading his nimble Polish steed close before the emperor, entered the young Baron of Lichtenstein, one of the emperor's noble guards; and his cheeks glowing with joy and thoughts of battle, he said, "In a good hour has my imperial lord dismissed me. I was witness to a splendid deed of victory. The bold Spaniards stood on the plain, assaulted by the whole of the heathen force, which had thrown itself between them and the high position of the great Duke Alba. He meanwhile had enough to do to repel the Arabs, who seemed to rise up out of the sand, whirling from thence horrible pillars into the air; so that neither from him nor from the left wing of the chief corps could any resistance be expected. Then Don Alvaro de Sandez seized the standard—the standard of St. Jago de Compostella—and cried aloud, 'Give oar saints and me into the power of those heathenish devils, or crush them to pieces! San Jago and I will venture into hell, in the name of God and of all the saints!’ And all followed that heard or even saw him, as he waved the banner, on his horse which far overtopped the crowd; and the bold vice-king of Sicily, like a sunbeam, hastening through the ranks, led after him those who tarried. You may still hear their flourishes. —
“Forward, without delay!"
"To the attack, noble knights!" cried the emperor. Today will the banner of the cross yet triumph upon the walls of Algiers!"
And while the colonels and chiefs left the circle, each springing to his squadron, the Emperor Charles, towering in the midst and visible to all, raised his high glittering sword of the cross, and turning to heaven, cried out to the neighbouring German corps with his powerful commander's voice, "In the name of God, forwards: march!" And as they pressed on closer towards him, he cried to them with a serene victory-declaring countenance, "My friends, soon shall the enemy vomit upon us more horrible flames, the more fearful the nearer we press to the abominable dragon's nest. But turn not at their rage. Victory is decreed to us! In God's cause you combat! for the glory of your old and glorious nation! for the good and the honour of united Christendom!”
Forwards then went the squadron with a triumphal step, the emperor in front; opposite them the heathen corps began immediately to turn and give way. The Italians courageously backed up the Germans; and from the left wing, already quite near the walls of the city, sounded loudly the victorious call of the Spaniards and the flourish of their trumpets.
From Don Felix Carrero's magnificent galley, he and his beautiful beloved looked down upon the warlike contest now going forward on shore — Donna Lisandra still arrayed in her glittering ornaments: Don Felix sparkling in his chosen decorated weapons; the silver target on his arm; at his side the great Spanish rapier, with a beautifully-carved golden hilt; and sparkling out of his richly embroidered girdle the smaller short sword, with a diamond-cut hilt, which he generally used with his left hand, and called Daga.
A busy crowd of men moved around the two tall silent figures. For a short time ago, the great admiral, Andrea Doria, on receiving the imperial message, had given the signal for the disembarkation of all the land artillery, horses, stores of powder, and for all the provision destined for the army. Don Felix, who had been keeping everything in readiness for the landing of the cannon committed to his charge, now joyfully saw how quickly the work went on in all the galleys over which he had the command, hoping to feel himself soon disburdened from the interdict which still held his battle-dreaming soul far from the African strand, already besprinkled with the blood of heroes and heathens; but, full of proud melancholy.
The glorious Lisandra stood at his side, till she at last, not being able longer to restrain her indignant feelings, broke out in these words: — " Felix ! the inferior gods, to whom a higher power seems to have left the management of our human fate —elements, accidents, whirlpools of time, and whatever else they may be called — are hurtful to you and to me. It may be, because your great father too boldly challenged them at your cradle, in calling you Felix, the happy; so may they now hazard their wild power to transform you to Infelix, the unhappy."
"They may," returned the noble, proud youth, while he looked smiling upon his wonderfully beautiful beloved, and then upon his glittering sword, that had already oftentimes been sprinkled with glory. "Till now," he added calmly—"till now, at any rate, their trouble has not been particularly rewarded."
"Oh," said Lisandra, "I know very well that gifts and joys are destined for you, Felix, which none of those malicious hobgoblins — indeed, they are only deserving of this name, not that of gods —may venture to intermeddle with — my love, Felix, and your heroic courage. But the garlands of this courage should deck you, and not a single charm out of them should be lost, if all went right in this world. Yet look!—only look how the attack against Algiers presses forwards, like the all-absorbing waves of the sea! Oh, you shall experience it, my knight!
Yet before we land—yet before the business of this day, this disembarkation of the artillery, is accomplished, that glorious contest will be decided, and will have enveloped us, with ever flowing-on waves, in the dark night of forgetfulness."
"The lady has rightly spoken," said a tawny, weather-beaten boatswain, from the coast of Majorca, while, misunderstanding Lisandra's words, he suddenly stopped, as he walked to and fro before them; "only too rightly has the lady spoken," he said again, while, shaking his head, he now looked up to the firmament, now down over the sea. "Dark night! Do you not see, Don Carrero, how they already begin to gather, the approaching stormy clouds, on the firmament that was a little while ago so sunny, so serene? Do you not mark the flowing-on enveloping waves, how they begin to raise their heads, ever more foamy? Those are the signs of an approaching fearful tempest, particularly fearful on this strand, and at this time of the year. God preserve us! the business of the disembarkation must soon have an end, at least for awhile.
“Would to God we were upon a higher sea! There at least a storm can be partly warded off, when a man understands his handiwork, like you and me, signor. But here — God preserve us! for many of us the last hour draws near."
Crossing himself solemnly, he passed them. Lisandra, with searching glances, in which there was ever mingled more proud hope than timid fear, looking at her loved one, felt nevertheless, with inward trembling, that the answer which the air and sea returned to her silent question was not a joyful one. And at the same time came another still more fearfully warning answer. The speaking-trumpet from Andrea Doria's admiral-ship thundered through the dark and lowering air — "Discontinue the disembarking! All power is useless against the rising storm!"
The captain sent as a signal down to the distant frigates the same ill-boding message—"Halt with the disembarking! — the storm comes!" And the storm whistled and howled, and the day became as night, and frightful claps of thunder broke over land and sea, and the waves dug loose in the deepest abyss of the sea the anchor of the ship, and rocked madly about, with invisible gigantic arms, ships, and barks, and galleys; shattering barks to pieces against the ships and galleys; and striking galleys and ships against each other in an equally ruinous crash of destruction.
"Are we lost?" sounded Lisandra's voice as clearly as it could through the tumult, into the ear of her beloved.
But he, not hearing her in the bellowing of the storm and tumult on board ship, could only press her to his heart with his left arm, thereby signifying, "Even in death we are one!" holding at the same time the captain's pipe with his right hand to his lips, crying out a signal-call, through the howling of the elements, to the many neighbouring vessels that were already going down and being wrecked.
The storm of the firmament had driven the storm of war back from the almost conquered ramparts of Algiers. In piercing lightning and in rattling thunder, the angry heaven seemed to open over those who had considered themselves as its warriors, and created a far higher and holier sort of fear and despondency than mere earthly danger was able to awaken in these otherwise bold and valiant hearts. The European squadron retreated on all sides, and the Emperor Charles, formerly braving every threatening danger, convinced that to him it was decreed to plant the banner of the cross over the ruins of this robber's stronghold, leading as a commander, and fighting in the tumult as a common soldier — the Emperor Charles felt awful shudders of mighty thoughts pass through his great soul. "Thou Almighty in heaven and earth! Thou willest not this work."
And so he ceased from the attempt of stopping the fugitives, and encouraging them anew to the attack. Thoughtfully he rode after the retreating troops, unpursued by the enemy; he himself was the last to reach the camp. But within the walls of the fortress the heathens wildly rejoiced, as though mad with their unexpected triumph, and with praises shouted the name of their sorceress, Baranaga, to the sulphurous stormy clouds, which they imagined had been drawn together by the demoniacal of this magical woman; and between the shouts they clattered their tin vessels deafeningly, and shook the bells on their light lances, adorned with half-moons, and blew out of their shapeless trumpets and horns a hellish dissonance.
The renegade, Hassan Aga, in abhorrence at this distracted tumult and crowd, stood alone on the battlements of the tower — where we have already once before described him —that here he might refresh his wild heart with the defeat of his enemies, which he hoped to see perfectly from this high station. Yet soon the clouds of rain came between him and the wished-for sight; soon the shade of clouds lay over the Christian host; and soon also his ally, the wild storm wind, raged with such terrible violence, that he feared being precipitated over the battlements, and fixed his spear into the mossy joints of the stone floor, striving thus to keep himself firm.
Meanwhile, it seemed to him as though he heard a mournful voice sighing through the air — "Be faithful! — be faithful!" Already in dreams he had heard that call before; involuntarily it recurred to him;—yes, hundreds of times in dreams he had heard those words, and in fright and sorrow had awaked out of his slumber. Once he had heard them in reality, while he was yet a boy, when his dying mother was weeping in her last pangs, full of bitter prophesying anticipations of the danger of her darling's future apostasy.
Now, as he strove to keep his body firm by his spear, rusty with blood, he also strove to keep firm his agitated mind by haughty pride. Pshaw!" muttered he between his teeth. "My mother sleeps soundly in her bed, three ells deep. I myself saw her let down into the earth; I myself heard the clods of earth rattle against her coffin, and wept over it like a boy, as vainly as though I were now to howl in emulation within the storm. No, my mother sleeps under the high raised bed, decked with turf, and made firm by the stroke of the spade. It was a night-owl, who mistook this stormy, dark evening hour for midnight —perplexed, foolish owl's hooting— nothing more."
Then rose before him, out of the midst of the building, a dark, mysterious creature, and danced in wild evolutions up and down before him.
" Ha!" exclaimed the renegade, with suddenly awakened horror, "what are you? For an owl you are too gigantically large; and you cannot be the shade of my softly sleeping mother, you unearthly creature!" added he, with a milder voice.
And the ghastly appearance stood and croaked: ''I am Baranaga — the witch Baranaga — and require my reward for the storm, raised by my art, that has put your strong enemies under your feet."
But the renegade replied: "You have not caused this tempest, witch; you could not. That could only One do; and with Him such as you can make no covenant."
" If He is so powerful," murmured the witch, with a hellish grin, "why did you not remain faithful to Him?"
" Alas!" sighed the renegade out of the fearful anguish of his soul. All other sound was denied him in that horrible time. It was as though a dream had carried him back for a moment to the paradise-playing years of childhood, on a hill blooming and pleasant, when suddenly the ground at his feet sank away, an unearthly sea of naphtha, with hissing tongues, whizzing and jumping up, surrounded him; and a black spirit stood near the trembling one, and exclaimed, "That is hell!"
“Save thyself! save thyself!" sighed a sorrowful voice near him.
But the witch snarled, laughing: "I do not flinch or retire for mere words ; and you — whatever you may have in your trembling and tumultuous soul, poor apostate—you have as yet only given me more words. I will have payment — my payment."
The renegade, with an effort collecting all his strength, said: "Well, demand the payment, and take it; and let me be forever freed from you."
"That can by no means happen," said the witch. "Willing or not willing, we are now yoked to one and the same master — to the blood-furrowing plough. But to name the price: that is not my custom. You must propose something."
"If a thousand zechin content you," said the renegade, "take them— they are yours."
But the witch answered, wildly laughing, "Fool! you might at least have begun with a hundred thousand zechin, then there might have been a little more chance of making a bargain. But do not trouble yourself about your zechins: I would not have them if you were to offer me a million. I require what will be neither hardship nor pleasure to you — only the finger of a babe that has been born into the light of Algiers within the last month. You shudder! But why? It is not necessary that you yourself cut off the little finger. If you only say 'yes' to my request, I shall have the little finger brought here, by certain mysterious spells, quite of itself. No suspicion of it either shall fall upon you. Yet more, you may hoard your heap of zechin, offered to me as a reward, which never need be paid, as a prize for the animal or race of demons which tore away or bit off the little finger of the child. But now, before the moon again grows bright, we must be more familiar, my friend. For mark me—"
She seemed as though she would whisper something in his ear, and bent over nearer to him, with her withered arms extended. But he, as in dreamy horror, struck her from him with convulsive force; and she flew lightly as a ball over the battlements of the tower, then dashed heavily as lead on the cliff, and cracked like a fallen thunderbolt over the rocky ground. And the frightful being howled: "Hu! You have killed our love! You have broken all her bones! For I am Rosetta! Rosetta! It was only to have seen through that provoking disguise; and you, weak coward, have horribly crushed me in."
The voice failed, as that of a dying person; and Hassan Aga leant hesitatingly over the battlement of the tower. With the last horrible gasp, she uttered a fearful curse; and then, in a wild howl, her unhappy spirit passed away.
Yet Hassan Aga, breathing more calmly, said: "Oh! no, no! the curse of the sorceress, truly that told me certainly that she was not Rosetta. Rosetta wanders quietly and sweetly by the side of her noble love, on the blooming, sunny Italian shore; protected and guarded from me, and all other phantoms of the desolate night, — protected, guarded; Rosetta!"
And a sweeter slumber than the unfortunate Hassan had known for many, many years fell on him, as he lay behind the battlements of the tower on the sprouting grass between the stones. He heard no more of the wild cries of victory, and the clattering of the tins and trumpets, with which the crowds of barbarians were still raging through the city in mad jubilee.
The same hour passed much more solemnly in the Christian camp —if, indeed, it could be called a camp —deluged by rain, and storm-floods, and raging waves of the sea,—a desolate plain, where, a little before, bright tents and well-made fortifications had begun to be erected, and which now only stood like boggy ruins, inhabited, or rather restlessly haunted, by wandering spirits.
Next to the sea-shore, as near as the dashing salt waves would allow of, were assembled a little group of dismounted German knights, belonging to the bodyguard of the nephew of the noble Doge of Genoa, Giannettino Doria. Many princes and captains, full of earnest consideration and in weighty business, passed to and fro, warning the little troop not to give themselves up so uselessly to the possible danger of the sea-waves, which rose higher every moment.
But the same answer was always returned, —"We will search land and sea for our young knight and master, Giannettino Doria. We have till now learnt nothing. Here he left us, and here he must again appear. And so we fear neither the sand of the shore, nor the foam of the sea."
To such answers no further question was made; and every one was too much engaged with his own affairs, and his own immediate duty, to repeat in this time of confusion the injunction that had been given them. So the bold German bodyguard remained almost undisturbed, faithfully and sorrowfully listening and looking over the sea and plains as far as the stormy clouds, and showers of rain and sea-foam, would allow them. Sometimes the name of their dear lost master sounded through the howling of the storm, ever without answer; sometimes one strolled right or left along the strand; but all came back without intelligence.
The setting sun, as it approached the horizon of the sea, broke through the clouds; and his last rays, like blood-red arrows, illuminated the tossing ocean, covered with numberless broken ruins of ships.
And as the faithful troop directed their glances with renewed perseverance over the waste of water, Walprecht, our well-known young trooper, suddenly exclaimed, full of sorrow: "Look yonder! But perhaps it is only a heathen ghost of the wild god Neptune, as I have seen in Italian statues. He must have a noble troop of horses when he goes swimming forth into the sea. Ah, would that these were nothing more than Neptune's steeds ! But no, no! they are really and truly noble horses, cast into the waves out of the wrecks of the ships! See! there a hundred —it may be five hundred! Certainly they have not fishes' tails, as Neptune's distorted beasts; for then they would stand much higher above the mad waves than now. Oh, those beautiful, delicately-formed horses' heads! not clumsy, broad, and fishy, as Neptune's horses! no! beautiful, high, noble heads! proudly maned necks, sorrowfully bent, perhaps, in the uselessly struggling pains of death! Dear companions in war, strive no more! your endeavours to save yourselves are vain! Ah! that would be no use, even if they could understand me. Ah! but to rescue one noble champion from the clutch of death, before he grasps him! Ah! who can help? Only to save one out of the lordly troop!"
Quickly he cast round his daring blue eyes, to discover if there was not some possibility of doing so. Finding none, he said: "I can look no longer, from sorrow." And he veiled himself closely in his mantle, and turned away. The others, in their kindly feelings, for the most part, did the same; when one of them again looked at the sorrowful spectacle.
Lupold, Walprecht's bold companion, asked: "Do they still swim, the poor noble creatures?"
"Yes, still!" was the mournful answer.
"It is better," sighed Lupold, "that such noble animals seek not to shew their necessity by complaints or calls for help; otherwise the heart must burst in our breast."
Then the clouds thickly gathered again over the disappearing sun, and higher swelled the waves in the increasing darkness; and soon the unfortunate struggling horses were lost from sight, and soon they sank into their moist, sedgy, watery graves.
Now came some soldiers from the shore, walking slowly through the damp upturned sand; on a bier, made of their spears, bearing the body of one dead, or severely wounded, thickly enveloped in mantles.
"O God!" said the troopers, softly and sorrowfully, one to another; "then they have at last certainly found our prince, Giannettino, and are bringing him to us —but how?"
But one of them answered: "No, this is not our Giannettino Doria. Of him, unfortunately, we have no trace. It is another of our noble comrades that we bring, the German nobleman. Baron of Marbach, mortally wounded. Give room, and your mantles for covering for his couch and tent, and your spears for tent-poles; we will let him rest as well as we can, as it may be the last time, on this inimical and desolate strand."
In pious brotherly zeal they soon did as their comrades had desired. The lord of Marbach rested, still and pale, as under a canopy, his eyes closed, an earnest hero-smile around his lips. His light breathing gave warning that the high soaring spirit had not yet left his wounded and fainting body.
As they all stood round the noble death-bed, some of them softly praying, after the good old German custom, some striving to lighten the last struggles of the knight by their diligent care, a loud voice sounded over the heads of the warriors, — "Blessed are those who depart from this world."
It seemed to the astonished people as though an angel had descended from the heavenly halls to guide thither the brave, faithful soul; and the same thought came into the mind of the dying knight; he cast up his large beaming eyes, and murmured, gazing up into the clouds inquiringly, "Who blessed me?"
"A mortal man, as thou art!" returned the voice.
And all now perceived that it was the Emperor Charles the Fifth, who, on a high horse, halted near the circle, and recognised, with his eagle, loving glance, who it was that there on the bloody ground was breathing out his bold true life.
"Marbach! brave Marbach!" said the emperor, deeply moved.
"And the baron, with a heavenly smile, answered: “Welcome! That is balsam in the death-hour."
"You speak awful words, dear Marbach," said the emperor.
And Marbach said: "Yes, truly; to me also it appears in no way of small importance. To few, very few men is it permitted to be so nobly cared for; and to be dismissed, as your majesty has just dismissed me, with a truly imperial gift from the imperial service, and even from life itself."
And raising himself up with a strength which the beholders expected not to see in him, he looked eagerly round the circle, exclaiming — "Have you heard it? The emperor has called me the 'brave Marbach!'"
“Who calls you other than brave must lie," said Charles the Fifth. "But no knight dares lie, and still less a Christian emperor."
Marbach looked round thoughtfully, with an absent mind: "If besides other wounds, I did not also bear with me a death-wound in my almost bald pate," he began after a while, brightly smiling, "perhaps I should express myself better; but, dear comrades, you must accept the intention. It is a beautiful thing, my friends, when a soldier risks his life joyfully in battle, in assault, in retreat, in pursuit, or whatever else he may have to do. But it is much more beautiful, when a soldier, of brave heart and valiant arm, also possesses a prudent foreseeing soul, even in the hour of action offering counsel, and practising the noble art of war with all wisdom. Comrades, in both kinds of duty I hope to have done what was possible for me; and I feel that what was possible was not altogether trifling. But there remains yet another duty for a soldier, which is the most beautiful of all: trust in God,— and from that flows fresh hope and vigour of life through all ranks of the army. To you, dear friends and brethren, I must faithfully and sorrowfully confess, that in my otherwise honourable career I have often failed in this most beautiful duty. It was to me then — howbeit, I only see it dearly in the death hour; for God knows in life I ever did what seemed to me reasonable and for the good of the army — it happened to me often that my own imagined superior wisdom stood in my way, towering as the mountain Atlas, so that I neither over it or round it could see what others had imagined to be great or beautiful. If it had not been conceived by me, it was to me as though it was not there; and how prejudicially this has worked on many otherwise brave fellows, and so to the whole army. Heaven only knows; how prejudicially it has worked to myself, I know, next to Heaven, the best — or rather the worst. If you look into the history of the world, contemptuously rejecting what is therein, your own soul in your bosom will also soon be deformed by the mournful spectacle. Soon your head and limbs will feel lamed, and what beams from your eyes will no more he your own inborn fiery spirit, but a sorrowful transformed thing."
He stopped, and then smiling, added : "I can truly call it by no better term, and in so doing I speak my own sentence; out of our languid eyes looks a pale, grievous, melancholy, wise-acting little monkey! and, alas! I have acted much and often with such wise folly."
“You have also often and much helped with firm and earnest opposition, valiant Marbach!" said the emperor, “and when you helped not, it was the fault of him who did not take your warnings, and not yours."
“Oh I," said the knight Marbach gently, and kindly shaking his wounded head, “I have a very mild confessor, and a still more generous one. Truly, I have never failed in warning, and that is a good thing, when one does not let the die out of one's own hands. Whether the instruments of fate roll over the earth, or whether they lie firmly fixed, we must say the best we can of things that have already happened; valiantly forbearing all the criticism and especial examination of 'what any one had!' or 'any one has!' trusting and confiding in God for the present and the future. But I—”
With a light shaking of his head, as though blaming himself, the Baron of Marbach grew speechless on his death-bed. A dark troubled shade fell over his hitherto friendly and true-hearted features.
But the noble knight returned to himself again. Smiling, almost laughing, he once more raised himself up, and said: "Now, you have truly heard the confession of the departing Marbach, perhaps a more than usually candid confession; at least to many prudent men it may appear so. But during my life I have been a greater lover of plain words than of disguises; and, more than this, my great emperor has absolved me. Receive, then, all of you, ye brothers in arms, Marbach's parting blessing! Far from every one of you be murmurings of wisdom that has come too late, and after-handed prudence! Far from the lowest of the foot-soldiers and esquires! for it is as bad for the lowest in the army to trespass as the highest — I mean, for himself and before God. It is certain that from the summit the pestilential air is wafted more destructively down into the valleys, than from the valleys up into the heights; and so that God more particularly considers complaints and murmurs in high places. There are many below the imperial dignity who might receive my words as a wholesome medicine. My blessing be with you, comrades, and with—”
He sank back, his countenance growing bright in the slumber of death; and the Emperor Charles, when the last breath of the dying one was over, said, with moistening eyes —"Thy dear soul is with God, brave Marbach!"
Midnight was past, yet still the fleet pressed onwards, veiled in the horrible darkness of the sea-storm, and threatened by many dangers, partly from the separation of the ships one from the other, partly by wrecks on the hostile, inhospitable shore.
Leaning against the mast of his admiral's ship stood the great Andrea Doria, his large speaking-trumpet in his hand; from time to time he raised it to his mouth, and the thundering word of command sounded over the storm and waves. Some of the captains gave the answering signal from their pipes, but not all. Many of them were forever silent, and had disappeared with their ships, naval instruments, and lading. Some might have considered it their duty to save the ships entrusted to them from the dangerous harbour, by running them for a while into the Bay of Busia, which lay not far from here. Andrea Doria, remembering this, called through his trumpet: "I proclaim, for the third and last time —no one leaves the landing-place without my command. If we live, we live with the emperor; if we die, we die with the emperor, in God's name!"
And lowering the trumpet, he repeated softly to himself, "in God's name!" Then murmured more softly, his lips scarcely moving between his snow-white beard — "Many, oh, many have I seen sorrowfully perish in this fearful hour! And that dearest one, whom I have not seen perish, has vanished without a trace in this dark gloomy night of universal sorrow. Oh, that I could mourn over the corpse of my dear Giannettino! But no! such happiness is not allowed thee, forsaken old man! Thou gazest inquiringly in vain through the veil of thy sorrow, and no intelligence canst thou receive; and the horrible possibility of the pangs of death, or the yet more horrible life of slavery of thy loved one, pierces thy very brain as a spark from hell. Unhappy one, what now shall save thee from despair?"
Then suddenly shuddering before the most fearful of all maddening words, the old man collected all his strength. Looking towards heaven, and folding his strong hands, he said: "What saves thee? God. The little stars shine brightly yonder, though the clouds hide them from our sight. Why not the more glorious eternal sun?"
Then he said, after some thought, earnestly shaking his head: "Fool that I am — so to prattle in my fond old age in the antechamber, when the Most Holy is accessible to me. His royal ears are open every hour. Yes, Lord of lords, I seize, I embrace my heavenly right. To Thee will I speak ! only and alone to Thee!" Lips were silent, his eyes spoke to heaven.
Then there came near to the admiral's ship from the African shore a light boat, wildly dancing upon the waters, now raised on the foamy summit of the highest waves, now again disappearing in the gloomy deep green valleys of the salt waters. Yet it appeared again, and in it the forms of two men—one sitting at the stern, deeply shrouded, like a motionless, veiled statue; the other eagerly holding the rudder, while his white hair and beard wildly and strangely flew about in the storm.
At this strange spectacle there arose a low yet angry whispering among the sailors of the admiral's ship. "That is the goblin," murmured one to the other, "the water-goblin whom sorceress Baranaga — you have heard the Algerine prisoners who were sent on board of us boast of her —the goblin she has conjured up from the depths of the sea to destroy us! Do you see how jeeringly he slips in and out among our broken vessels?"
"Let us destroy the creature, for the fun!" said a second. "If we all at once directed our cross-bows and fire-arms at him—
"Oho!" broke in a third. "Do you think it is possible to shoot a goblin?"
''No," answered the other; "yet I thought even he would be frightened, and that would be some satisfaction. But which of the two may the goblin be? Or are they both goblins?”
The one who had spoken first now said authoritatively: "No, no. The veiled one is a soul whose body has been lost in the storm, and the goblin now carries it about in this boasting way as a sign of victory. But the one with the wild white beard and hair — only look how firmly and eagerly he swings the rudder —he is the chief goblin of the waves, and the learned call him Charon!"
"And you are the chief goblin of fools!" exclaimed a strong man's voice from the boat. "But as to myself, I am Ruperto Sansogno, steersman of the galley of the Prince Giannettino Doria, and he whom you presently shall help me to take from the boat into the admiral's ship is the noble, brave Giannettino Doria himself, preserved from a thousand dangers."
“Giannettino Doria! he lives —he lives !" cried the sailors with loud shouts of joy; and while some of them hastened round to help the young prince from the boat to the ship, others hastened to their admiral to cause him by their message of joy to weep no longer.
Andrea Doria still leant against the mast, his large eyes directed heavenwards; he kindly motioned them away with his hand, and said, with a scarcely perceptible inclination
of his head: "Yes, yes, I know it all! I thank you, good people, I have seen it all." And then he murmured more softly: "O ye ministering angels, bear my thanks before the throne of the Eternal.”
Meanwhile Giannettino had quickly cast aside the veiling mantle, and sprung on to the admiral's ship, carefully assisting with his firm, youthful hand the old steersman, Ruperto Sansogno, not leaving him until he stood beside him on the deck. Then he hastened to the feet of his uncle, where he sank on both knees before the grey-headed old man, covering his face with his mantle.
Adrea Doria caressingly bent over him, and asked, “Are you wounded, my dear son?"
“I am not wounded," answered the voice of the youth gloomily from his thick mantle.
“Hide nothing from me, dear nephew," said the old man. "If you were mortally wounded, I should never cease thanking the all-merciful God that I again hold you in my arms. Compared with the dark, uncertain disappearance of him whom I loved above all men, whom I looked upon as the blooming heir of my fame, my power, and my treasures — Giannettino, compared with that most horrible disappearance, it would be heavenly joy to see you softly and happily die in my arms, under my protection, and with my blessing. Dearest Giannettino, hide nothing from me."
"I am not wounded," groaned the youth, still in the same position. "Would that I were wounded! To return from such a night without wounds seems only the herald of a yet more miserable fate.''
“Strange boy!" returned the old man, kindly, shaking his venerable head. "Surely you have fought with me often enough before now to know that wounds do not always fall to the lot of the bravest. Many a one keeps himself in the background, as far from danger as he can, and returns purple-sprinkled from the field of battle against his will; and the brave strives not after wounds — it is indifferent to him whether they come or not—he strives after victory. Rise, my brave Giannettino ; unveil your dear features."
And Giannettino, loosing his uncle's purple mantle, tremblingly rose, saying these words: "I pray you, my great foster-father, let no one in this moment see my countenance but you. You see it is deluged with hot tears, and I cannot restrain them. A stranger might deem it a womanly weakness. Uncle, you will not do so. You know the blood of Doria. You know I am not altogether unworthy that it should flow in my veins. But so noble a Christian armada as this is by land and sea, commanded by such heroes as the Emperor Charles the Fifth and my great uncle, to meet with such a fearful and destructive issue — oh, uncle, one image of sorrow after another, of every various and horrible kind, crowds upon my afflicted heart in strange, fearful confusion!"
He covered his flowing eyes with both hands, and was silent. Sorrow had penetrated his soul; his swelling heart wept in every pulse.
Not only the great Andrea Doria's purple mantle, but his uncle's arms now tenderly surrounded the weeping youth. They both slowly walked to the admiral's chamber, where a lamp, swinging by a golden chain, cast a wonderful light, now pale as moonlight, now glowing red. Then Andrea placed his nephew close to him on a couch, and said: "Giannettino, I also once lived in the land of youth. That you will say is plain enough, and could not be otherwise. But it is not so. There are men, Giannettino, who have never been young, in spite of the calendar. Youth to such people is only a Fata-morgana breath. But I can assure you, Giannettino, that I was once really and truly young ; and therefore my heart, after beating for eighty years, has still a sympathy with the joys and sorrows of youth—a loving, answering sympathy. Relate to me, dear rescued youth, what has happened to you during the last fearful, sorrowful hours. I pray you, turn not away from your physician. I shall be able to offer you comfort; I am sure of that, in God's mercy."
The youth raised his head that was sunk sorrowfully to the ground, shaking back from his lofty brow the thick black hair, wet with the dew of heaven and sea-foam, and seizing his uncle with both his hands, he looked at the old man like a deeply sorrowing child who has been half comforted.
“Say on!" repeated the old man, in a gently commanding tone, and with earnest, approving gestures, his large dark eyes flaming still more solemnly; and the youth began:
"At the first onslaught of those demoniacal enemies, our Italian battalion was pushed back to the yielding, slippery quicksands, and I saw myself cut off from all my companions, surrounded by raging swarms of Arabs and Moors. The descending rain and the darkening clouds might partly have led to this result, but it was yet more owing to the fierceness of the battle, and the angry ferocity of my own nature. I sprang from my horse and seized a banner, exclaiming to two or three of the nearest of my companions, 'After me, upon the enemy!' They followed nobly. Peace be with their brave souls! They all fell under the lances and scimitars of the heathens. I thoughtlessly hastened with quick steps over the deceitful ground, hearing unexpected cries of fury from the destroying Arabs behind the sand-hills, at my companions' flank. The muskets miscarried, soaked by the continual rain. It was far more from the prodigious numbers of the enemy than from their skill that our brave Genoese were overpowered, after a bloody but short resistance. You may be sure that I wished to have been with them, but there was a wild swarm of enemies between us, and prevented the attempt. I can die bravely alone, thought I, fixing my banner as firmly as I could in the sand, and holding it with my left hand, while with my right I grasped my good sword, ready to protect the honourable signal. "God knows what the rabble of heathens took me for when I was in this position, alone in the midst of them! I only know, that whoever approached me retreated in a sort of wild terror. But ever before my eyes raged the host of enemies. How was I to regain our squadrons, command them to halt, and again lead them to danger, encouraging them by example and words? Behind the sand-hills, the rolling sea carried on a mad sport with the sand. Yet I thought my only hope was to work my way down to the shore; and resolved to fulfil my duty as captain, I climbed, or rather slid down, carrying the banner with me. Yet I soon thought I had stepped into my grave, so treacherous was the ground beneath my feet, so fearfully and awfully the waves rolled over my head, like towering grave-clothes, and at every ebb spreading over me a shower of sand.
“Sinking down under so many strange horrors, I still remember what dreamy words escaped my lips: 'Here graves are easily and quickly made!' I shuddered at my own words. Then consciousness left me. "I was aroused by the agonising cry of a sweet woman's voice. With an effort I half-raised myself from my damp, sandy grave, and saw the wreck of one of our ships floating to the land, and standing on it—by the light of the awful, almost continuous lightning —I saw a beautiful, magniflcently-dressed woman, and a knight kneeling at her feet, who strove to hold her firmly; but whether she fell into the waves, or whether she rose to heaven with her beautiful garments extending as angel-wings, my reeling senses could not inform me. Again lethargy came over me. Powerless and exhausted, I sank back into my damp, sandy bed. 'Only hold fast the banner!' was my last thought, and I grasped it in my arms with a strong convulsive effort. Then something thundered in my ear, 'Loose it, you Christian corpse! you half-stiffen Christian corpse, loose it, or, for sport's sake, I will hew your obstinate hands from your body!'
“In anguish I felt the banner nearly wrested from my arms, and roused all my strength to protect this sign of honour. When I unclosed my eyes, I saw before me the face of a Moor frightfully grinning; his clutch had already loosened one of my arms, the other still firmly grasped the pole of the banner. ‘Assist me, ye saints!' I cried, and repulsed my grim enemy with all my strength. But he, laughing in mockery, had already drawn his scimitar to accomplish his threats. I still held fast; when a huge wave rose, covering and overwhelming us both. With a shriek the heathen loosed me, and flew up the sandy hill. I still held fast, but in vain! — the waves dashed, and wrenched the pole out of my hands, in mighty sport, tearing away the swelling flag, whilst I, nearly buried, could only half raise myself up. Away floated the banner into the immeasurable sea; my head grew dizzy.
“But still proud in my misery, I looked up the hill to the fugitive Moor, exclaiming, 'You, grisly wretch, have not the banner, thank heaven! I resign it with a willing heart to the waters of my God!' The black infidel looked in the flashes of the lightning like a spirit of the desert, peering down from the sand-hill not very far from me! In better days I might have reached him with a firm arrow from my cross-bow.
“He ran, and sprang on to a neighbouring hill, on which knelt, surrounded by the moonlight now streaming through the clouds, an angel-beautiful woman, she who had been
cast on the shore from the storm of the wreck, but no longer under the protection of the knight who knelt by her side. No; by her stood, instead, that ghastly Moor, swinging his scimitar over her, howling wildly: 'Die, you jewel-dressed doll! The jewels are for me — death for you!'
"Uncle, you may imagine how I extricated myself from the sandy grave, which before had quite enclosed me. You may imagine how I hastened up the hill with my last strength, crying, 'Stop, accursed Moor! Here comes one who is a braver object for your death-blade!' I knew that my sword was left behind in my sandy grave. What did that signify? I still had sufficient strength to sacrifice my own life for the threatened angel. Alas, how fatally slow were my wearied steps! Still looking on the threatened figure, I discovered, O uncle, that it was Donna Lisandra, the beautiful bride of the brave Spaniard Don Felix Carrero, who had followed her lover hither, boldly hoping to see him win a crown of victory, if not a regal crown; and so was she dressed in bridal magnificence for the triumphal victory of her loved one; now, some hours to go—"
Giannettino sank back, speechless, more like one dead than living; then he added, in a feeble, mournful voice: "Yes, now, she is dead! The Moor's scimitar pierced through her tender breast; such a deed was fit only for a night like this. Is it not true that she still murmured, praying for her life — that she cried, 'Oh, woe is me, I was too proud! Oh, woe is me, life is sweet! Oh, let me live, if it were only to be the ornament of a seraglio!'
“And yet the scimitar of the infidel cut off her lovely tender life; and I, uncle, was forced to see it, and climbed the hill only a moment too late to tear from the wolf the fair
gentle doe. Alas!"
And again innumerable tears flowed from the eyes of the youth, stilling his voice. Andrea Doria asked, with difficulty restraining his emotion, "Did the Moor stand to fight with you when you had climbed the hill, my son? For, weaponless and exhausted as you were, I know you would have attacked him."
"Ha!" cried the youth, aroused again by angry remembrances; "close to the beautiful murdered one he cowered to plunder her ornaments. As I approached him, commanding him to stop, he grinned at me sideways as a tiger over his prey, without pausing from his detestable task; then he mocked my defenceless condition, saying, with a sneer, 'Hunter without arms, sailor without rudder, painter without pencil! Such as you have not much power to command obedience. Would you see how I release this little doll from her polished jewels? But when I am ready, if you are still here, I will kill you. Do you hear?'
"But I found my dagger in my girdle, and swung it threateningly over the monster. Then, with an angry leap, he rushed wildly upon me, brandishing his scimitars. I slung the dagger; it struck him in the forehead. The wretch staggered back like a horrible unicorn; the sabre glittered in his hand, he fell over the declivity, and lay at the bottom crushed to death. But I knelt down by the beautiful dead lady; yet no — not yet quite dead; a gentle breath still came from her bleeding breast. 1 looked up to see if there were any means of help. Near me stood a noble warrior, his hair and garments dripping with sea-water, and murmuring in a bitter voice:' Sweet crown of most beautiful women! Of sweet women the most beautiful crown! Was it for this I carried you from the wreck to the shore, and sank back into the wave rejoicing that you at least would be saved as an ornament for the whole world? And now you lie slaughtered, making your couch float with your noble blood —such costly purple as the mightiest king dares not wear, the purple blood of your own sweet life and strength!'
"And then recognising me, he took my hand caressingly and said: 'I saw you with your bold right arm take vengeance on the robber. Scarcely had I struggled upon the land than you avengingly struck the tiger; the dying tiger fell by me, and expired at my feet. Ah, Doria, why have you robbed me of my revenge — of my last gleam of happiness upon earth! Giannettino, the tiger had not ruined you —but me!'
"He said these last words almost angrily; and, I gradually recognising him, exclaimed, full of melancholy, 'In what a sorrowful moment are you come, Don Felix!'
“But he returned, gloomily, 'Infelix! That is my name for the few short moments I have yet to live in this dark, bloody vale of pilgrimage called the world. But those Moors shall feel to the very last the revenging arm of Infelix.' And so he tore his sword from its sheath, and hastened down the hill, where raged thick crowds of the enemy. I would have followed him, and groped after the sabre which had glimmered in the darkness in the hand of the dying Moor, when there sounded in the distance the battle-cry of the unhappy youth:—'Infelix!'
"But a silvery voice near me murmured, 'Felix!'
“It was Donna Lisandra, returning once more to this earthly existence at the call of sweet true love. When I knelt near her, asking whether I could lessen her pains, she murmured very softly, but with the sweetest accents: 'My pains are nearly over, kind friend. I swim in a sea of purple blood, but its waves sing to me heavenly lullaby-songs; and soon, very soon, shall I be landed on the ever-green and ever-blooming shore. But tell me,
did I dream when I thought I saw standing near me a hateful devil, and then a flaming angel? It is true the angel was in wrath; but these glorious princes of heaven are sometimes angry when in combat with this sinful world or the horrible abyss. Or was it my sweet bridegroom — was it Felix?'
“‘Infelix!’ sounded again the war-cry from the battle amid the clattering of swords. But she exclaimed, in wonderful emotion: 'No, Felix; still Felix you remain to me, my own loved bridegroom. Felix, the happy —look, the gates of victory turn on their silver hinges; the purple hangings are agitated, lightened by the eternal bright radiance —you Felix, and I Felicia, forever!' "She sank back smiling, and thus she died: still murmuring with her last voice, 'Felicia.' Yet it was like a voice of triumph. The clattering of swords was silent. Felix Carrero must have perished in the fierce battle; or rather, must have flown to heaven.
“I would have followed him, and seized the Moor's sabre, ready to rush destructively with it on the heads of his companions for the last struggle, when there sounded, it seemed to me, out of the foamy sea: 'Giannettino, Doria's Giannettino! Your great uncle, the deserted hero, waits for you; bitterly he calls for his Giannettino.'
"I stood as though benumbed and enchanted; soon as though it was a phantom of your soul, blessing me, and calling me with a heartfelt cry; that it was your spirit, freed from its body in honourable battle, which came to conduct me home to the eternal halls! A form with white hair appeared on the strand, as though rising from the waves; — was it a sea-god's threatening image? —whatever it might be, I exclaimed to it, Here! Who seeks Doria? — Giannettino Doria is here!'
“And he landed, and laid aside his boat, and came up the hill, and spoke to me words of earnest meaning, pressing me with prayers and entreaties to come away from that scene of horrible destruction; was Ruperto Sansogno, the steersman of my galley, who faithfully and bravely had sought me in the sea and storm, and has preserved your nephew, dear father Andrea."
They embraced one another full of unspeakable love and sorrow; and the tears of the old man rolled down as fast as those of the youth. Yet Andrea Doria, remembering the beautiful duty of gratitude, opened the cabin-door, calling—"Ruperto Sansogno, brave preserver of my brave nephew! come hither."
At the same time the fresh young beams of morning burst into the cabin. And the old man Ruperto Sansogno was seen nimbly approaching, surrounded by the glowing light —almost like a bright and awakened soul separated from its earthly life.
Andrea Doria spread his arms to embrace him; the morning's glow shone round him also. Yet Ruperto remained standing, shaking his head, and looking sorrowfully at his commander. "What is the matter, my friend?" said Andrea. "You have saved what is dearest to me in the world; my whole soul is full of gratitude. What appears to you so wonderful, so blamable in me, that you stare at me, shaking your head?"
The old steersman could only gradually bring out these words: "Tears! in the eyes of the great Andrea Doria—tears!"
And the brave man, looking up to heaven, while still some large tears rolled from his glowing eyes on to his snow-white beard, said: "Yes, truly, many, very many things must have happened to make Andrea Doria, in his eighty-second year, learn to weep, after for half a century having sailed over and almost ruled the seas."
The Emperor Charles V sat on the strand, the waves of the sea gradually growing more peaceful in the first beams of his earnest hero-eyes now directed to the desolation which the wide sea offered to the mournful commander, now to the sand-fields on the African coast. Instead of a throne, he was now seated on a blood-sprinkled cuirass, which had been loosened from the body of some slaughtered man. Instead of a canopy, there floated over him some rent banners, which his faithful and noble attendants had zealously collected from the bloody field, in order to shelter his imperial head from the beams of the rising sun.
Of these brave attendants at least a third part had found their death on the field of battle. The rest stood round their emperor; the horses of those who still possessed any were ready bridled—yet men and horses were alike sunk into gloomy lassitude; the rich, but now torn mantles wildly floated in the wind, saturated with rain; the plumes of feathers, formerly so proudly waving, hung down from the helmets; the horses' heads were sunk sadly towards the ground, and on the ground was fixed the melancholy gaze of their riders.
The deep silence was interrupted by the emperor's chief cook, a hearty, merry, fat old man, born in the imperial city of Vienna—who came in this universal depression, as if to recall the image of some former feast-day; walking with the help of a broken spear, but yet announcing, with bright smiles; "Your imperial majesty, a morning meal is prepared —certainly only a spare one. An old faithful servant must implore the imperial majesty's extreme lenity for once for an extremely scanty meal. But little is better than nothing. Will it please your imperial majesty to eat?"
A peculiar smile passed over the features of the emperor; he signed to the master-cook that he should leave him. But the faithful servant was not to be so easily dismissed. "May your imperial majesty graciously pardon me," he began; "meat and drink keep body and soul together. That is a principle and maxim, to which the whole history of the world serves as an incontrovertible proof. Your imperial majesty is head and heart of this our powerful armada. Only let your imperial majesty properly eat and drink; then, no doubt, the whole affair will again be prosperous."
"Ah, yes," said the emperor, with sorrowful, conscious kindness; "that is the way with all men. If a thing will not move from its place, everyone thinks that those means have not been tried which he knows best how to use —the soldier his arms, the husbandman his spade, the merchant his goods, the learned his pen, the cook his soup ladle. And yet," he added thoughtfully, "that is for the most part the principle on which human undertakings are accomplished. Everyone is properly satisfied with his own tools, and the whole is preserved. Now, good master cook, consider, if the sword cannot in every case accomplish everything, so neither can the soup-ladle in every case accomplish everything. If you could prepare a breakfast for all my poor soldiers, I would go to table as willingly as the happy prosperous householders in the imperial city of Vienna. But do not desire the householder, when he is travelling with his family in a foreign land, having lost all his money — whether by his own fault or not — do not desire him to take the only spare place at the well-spread table, while there is no room, not even a fallen crumb of bread, for his little ones. He cannot satisfy himself while the others hunger. You might say in return, good master cook, as you seem inclined to. Of what use will it be to the hungry family for their father to remain hungry? I do not know any logical way of answering you. But, good master cook, it is not so; the emperor cannot eat while his soldiers fast—go."
And the good servant went away, sorrowfully shrugging his shoulders. But he gave vent to his grief in a speech to his faithful companions, and many of the noble attendants and others who stood round the emperor Charles did the same. And thence gradually spread a stream of comfort and strength through all the squadrons, which perhaps could not have been dispensed by the richest distribution of bodily refreshments. Even before this, no tongue had murmured against this obstinacy of the emperor for undertaking this campaign at so unseasonable a time of year, nor against his firm perseverance in the enterprise after it was once begun. But now it seemed as though it were granted to the bright spirit of the knight Marbach, as a reward for his pious confession, to look down upon the noble spectacle of an army in such unspeakable outward misery, and within free from all murmurs and complaints.
Yet the less these brave soldiers blamed their great commander, the more the imperial commander blamed himself. Truly only his own great soul perceived the tragical mystery. Yet many sorrowful reflections of it might be seen on the countenances of those who watched him sitting motionless on that bloody cuirass, a waving canopy of torn banners hanging over him. Sometimes a swelling sigh burst from his noble heart, as though he longed for and ardently desired sympathy, in order thus to soften a part of his indwelling misery.
Then there came a noble attendant announcing to the emperor," Admiral Andrea Doria is come to land, and approaches, wishing to appear before the imperial majesty."
"Thank God!" was the only answer of the Emperor Charles. As though loosened from a mighty load, he quickly sprang from his seat, eagerly going to meet the old man. Seizing his hand, and bowing his head before him, with tears in his eyes, he said, without any restraint, so that many might hear him, "Dear father, my disobedience to you brings me this heavy punishment."
Deeply moved, the old prince of the sea answered:—"My gracious emperor has already often honoured me with the name of father, permitting me to call him son; so it was when we were in the harbour of Majorca, and I warned you to desist from this at present too bold enterprise. But your answer was, 'Two and twenty years power for me, and two and eighty years life for you, is enough to content father and son, and make them satisfied to die.' Well now, my imperial son, let your noble words bear fruit for us both in this solemn hour. If we must perish on these barbarous shores, let this little word be the memorial of us both, 'Vixi.' Truly we have lived, and it shall not soil the memory of the Emperor Charles V, nor that of his Admiral Andrea Doria, if in this moment the last sleep comes over us. But let us work as long as it is day. And see, the Lord God has caused to rise over us the sun of a new day. What does my imperial master resolve on in this distress?"
But the emperor led the venerable old man away to his tent. There, without witness, turning to his fatherly counsellor and friend, he said, "Question against question, dear father. In how far is the embarkation of the remainder of the army still possible?"
“My imperial son and commander shall himself judge," said Andrea. "I will begin my dutiful report as clearly as my confusion, which has not yet subsided, will allow me. Of the twenty-two galleys equipt by me, eight at least are sunk; probably two more. I have the sorrowful certainty of the destruction of four other galleys. Of the ships, eight at least are sunk in the waves, or entirely wrecked on the strand. Of all the troops on board these vessels, not a hundred living souls are saved; therefore, my imperial commander will not blame his sailors. For the fifty years that I have ploughed the salt waves, now as the friend of old ocean, now as his opponent, I have never witnessed such a tempest, either in the threatening flaming scourge of heaven above, or yet in the horrible storm of the sea beneath, as in the dreadful hours that have just past. But what is certainly a crime in the captains is, their running their ships into the port of Busia; thinking more of the preservation of their ships than the danger of the naval army, or even of the mightiest temporal prince in Christendom. Yet I have already sent after them some light sails to call them back with all earnestness to the fulfilment of their highest duty. What still remain of my galleys wait the imperial command, and shall be severed plank from plank before they retreat from this shore, until your imperial majesty, yourself on board, in the height, and plenitude of your power, shall give signal to raise the anchor. And in my absence from the fleet, I have a pledge for the punctual obedience of the rest of the ships, in the presence of my nephew, Giannettino Doria.”
"Giannettino!" exclaimed the emperor, with quick joyful sympathy; "he lives?—his German life-guard look anxiously for him. You have him again safe and sound?"
"God has returned him to me for the approaching Christmas joy, I think," said Andrea Doria, casting a beaming glance to heaven. And, father," said the emperor, "God's mercy has also restored to me a younger brother. Certainly, of such Christmas joy I did not think as we sailed hither. It will be to me only the dearer, after returning from such threatening dangers. Scarcely the broad heaven could compass the idle hopes and vain magnificence with which I sailed here; and now in deep humility I have to praise God for restoring to me one innocent endangered head.
“Alas!" he added, with the deepest melancholy, "how many shall I have yet to mourn! How can we save the rest, dear father? What is our safest plan?”
"Would your imperial majesty come on board the ships?" asked Andrea. "Not imperial majesty," returned Charles the Fifth, humbly raising his eyes. "Everything is written above; yet we here below must counsel how it is to be done. What is the most considerable obstacle, admiral?"
"Next to the diminished number of transport-ships," said the admiral Andrea, "the worst will be want of provisions. Even if no threatening autumn-storm descends from heaven upon us, our provision will not last for the voyage home. A great part of the ships now become a booty for the sea were laden with food."
The emperor, after considering some moments, said with decision, "The horses must serve for food! All the rest of the horses of the whole army — slay them, cook them, and bring them on board in pieces. O dear father Andrea, this time offer no objection. A hundred and fifty of the noblest horses are landed for my stud —they shall be sacrificed first. Yet yesterday my beautiful white horse bore me so nobly from the battle —he shall be the first of my horses to suffer. When there is a hill to climb, it is well to have reached the summit. Good night, my beautiful true white steed! Good night!”
"Rather, good morning," said Andrea Doria, sadly. “Does not your imperial majesty see how the young day softly rises out of the waves?"
"Ah, yes. For eternity or for time? It will be proved, father Andrea Doria," said the emperor.
The command was issued to kill all the horses of the army. Our young friend, the German trooper Walprecht, had led his beloved brown horse a little from the rest to sacrifice him behind a sand-hill, near to the now again mirror-like smooth surface of the sea. Here he stood by the side of his good horse, and spoke to him the following words: "What I have yet for you, good friend, is a bold well-aimed sword-thrust straight into your true brave heart, that your death may not be more painful than it need be. And, first, I have some fodder for you, comrade, though only a miserable piece of bread, wet through and through with rain."
And as the good animal joyfully received the long needed nourishment, and sometimes laying his head gratefully, caressingly upon his rider's shoulder, the thought of what was impending, and drew nearer every moment, was almost too much for the faithful trooper's heart. "Good steed," said Walprecht, "if you could only understand that the wonderfully-beautiful white horse of the imperial majesty has not in the least a better fate—no, a great deal worse, for you die by your honourable rider's hand; yet the emperor has not time enough to kill his noble horse with his own knightly hand. And well — in the name of God, and according to the imperial majesty's express command.”
"He placed himself a sword's length from his horse, and bared his good blade. But the noble steed, invigorated by the food, and thinking it was a mock-fight, which sometimes his merry master sought to teach him, reared up on his hind legs, and eagerly sprung forwards. "Ah! do you think you are playing ?" loudly exclaimed Walprecht; and with a sudden blow he plunged his sword into the horse's heart. He pranced higher and then fell over with clashing violence and lay, stiff, stretched, and motionless on the ground. "Well fought, my poor frolicksome boy!" exclaimed the rider, bitterly. And weeping he sat down by his faithful companion, now looking at his bloody sword, now at his slaughtered horse.
Meantime there came from the strand, walking with quick steps, the great Andrea Doria: near him a noble Genoese, to whom the old man was eagerly imparting his commissions. "Now, I pray you, signor, repeat to me —but let us continue our way, we have no useless moment to spare—repeat to me the chief heads of my instructions."
The noble, with humble inclination of the head, began: "Everything is to be made ready for the shipping of the land-troops. In your Excellenza's name the word of command immediately goes forth by call of trumpets to all the ships, that by their honour and duty, by the danger of their chief, no captain or pilot shall turn the keel from the shore before receiving a full and complete lading. If the storm which threatens to rise from the south-west break ever so heavily, it will not release any one from this holiest duty. But above all, that your Excellenza's remaining galleys give the firmest example, and that they should rather be dashed to pieces, and wrecked on the strand, than that one should put out to sea before the intelligence sounds through your trumpet, 'The emperor is on board.' And it is irrevocably determined that his majesty and his guard will not leave the shore until the last squadron is shipped. Your excellency remains attendant on the emperor's person."
"Just so, my brave signor," said Andrea; "and therefore quickly to boat, and to the admiral's ship."
Now as the quick-winged oars of the boat divided the waves, the old admiral exclaimed from the depths of his loving soul, "And a father's greeting and a father's blessing to my dear nephew, Giannettino Doria."
But as the name Giannettino Doria sounded through the air, the trooper Walprecht raised himself from his seat near his bloody horse, and humbly presenting himself before Andrea, he said, "Forgive me, illustrious prince and admiral; is it only in the confusion of sorrow that you call for my noble young Signor Giannettino through winds and waves? Truly, after all that has happened here, the best, even his imperial majesty himself, need not be ashamed of being a little perplexed. Or is it possible" — the youth's strong voice faltered with little expectation —"that you have really good news of my young master? Bloody and wet with rain as I am, yet you can easily see that I belong to the German horse-guard of your illustrious nephew."
"Truly I see you are a brave fellow," returned old Andrea, kindly; "and very lately I have heard my nephew say, 'If I had not commanded my bold German troopers to the fortifications, but had kept them with me, they would never have deserted me in the greatest necessity; and who knows whether I had not yet been able to give the battle a favourable turn? No one should divide himself from his guard, when God has granted him so valuable a one as mine.' So spoke my bold nephew Giannettino."
"My noble prince," exclaimed Walprecht, "in the same words you give me joy and sorrow. Honourably has Prince Giannettino spoken of us; but he has been betrayed into danger far from us. For God's sake, Excellency, does he live? Is he wounded? Is he bleeding to death?"
"He is on board my admiral's ship unwounded," answered Andrea. "God has wonderfully preserved him to you and to me during the past wild night."
“We praise thee, Lord God," said Walprecht, with deep emotion, bending one knee to the ground, his head and hands raised beseechingly towards heaven; yet soon turning to his slaughtered horse, he said, "Now, sleep in peace, good brown steed; when I killed you, in obedience to the imperial majesty's command, I thought the last thing I loved upon earth died with you. For Signor Giannettino I imagined was dead—he lives. Peace be with you! Not that I shall not many times weep for you —sometimes when, at evening, the world seems dull and dreary. But if I must necessarily doom one of you two, without being able to sacrifice my own blood for you, then 'Live, Signore Giannettino!'"
The venerable admiral remained standing listening, pleased at this strange discourse of the trooper, and now said kindly, "Let it be my care, brave German, that you come to your young master in the next boat that leaves the shore; he will have great joy in greeting you."
“I hope so, noble sir," answered Walprech; "yet especial joy if I may accompany him back to his great uncle. Permit me, Excellenza, to call my comrades around you. That is my service before the embarkation; then I shall know my young lord and master again, and joyfully appear before him. Only let me accompany you —do not send me away, Excellenza. A good old man such as you cannot be so harsh to such as me; and if you could, I would not leave you any more than the lion did the foot-steps of the Archduke Henry, following him like a faithful dog, as the old song relates, from Palestine to Brunswick. Resolve and take me willingly!"
“In God's name, dear youth!" said the doge Andrea Doria; "very few men on the earth have pleased me, but you are one of those."
In the halls of the divan in Algiers, on richly-ornamented cushions, after the Persian fashion, sat the terrible renegade Hassan Aga. Since his slumber on the platform of the tower where his people had found him, and from which they carefully waked him as from a fainting fit, he had been more fearful of himself than of others — more fearful of his friends than his enemies.
With dull staring pride, his black eyes turned now upon himself, and now flashed in strange angry glances upon the warriors who surrounded him, as though he would say, "Who in this circle desires a bloody death? let him venture to address me!"
But this threat appeared to be quite unnecessary; for on the sunken brows of all present nothing else was to be read than stupid fear, which, however much their inward
rage might torment and vex them, still predominated. All were speechless. Hassan Aga also was silent —only sometimes his scorn-pressed lips opened through his monstrous beard with the angry question, "Is there no supplicating messenger from the Christian emperor before the gates?"
When a dumb denial was returned him for answer, he murmured, half audibly, "Yet he must —must —certainly must." And again he sank into fearful silence. He seemed like one vanquished, in whose soul raged the fury of the most hopeless despair. Message after message came that the army of the Franks was preparing to embark. Many a vigorous Musselman's arm grasped the sabre; many glowing Musselmen's eyes were turned inquiringly to the high seat of their commander. But he either silently shook his head, or said, "They dare not move from their place. The Emperor Charles must first crave permission. Before my throne he must first pray mercy for himself and the ruins of his army. Attend! here come the deputies —perhaps he himself."
After some such burst of arrogant pride, or the returns of short messages from the gate and halls, all was again silent. At last a messenger announced that they had found "without, on the rocky stone before the walls, the mangled corpse of the Moorish sorceress Baranaga — or rather, the crushed remains of it. A shudder passed through the assembly. But the renegade severely and coldly asked, "Who has gone beyond the gates without my command? Who has unbarred the gates without my permission?"
"Sire," stammered the frightened messenger, "your friend and relation Mulu Abdul wished to make an excursion with twenty Arabs. The gate-keeper held that for a sufficient reason to unbar the gates."
The renegade motioned him to be silent. Turning to the guard of black slaves, who stood behind him with drawn sabres, he twice touched his neck with his hand, and said, "Mulu Abdul; the door-keeper." And four blacks hastened out noiselessly. Then he turned to the messenger and said, "Come not before me again with such senseless news. And above all, come as seldom as possible. From this day your stupid head stands but insecurely on your slavish shoulders."
Trembling with fear the threatened man hastened from the saloon.
Then Hassan Aga, deeply breathing, said to the assembly. “Now my breast is lighter. Now I feel my old strength in me, which nothing can resist. For this Mulu Abdul was to me what none of you are—no, not ten of you together. Go, one of you. I may not see their two heads; but they shall be hung for a warning over the rashly unbarred gate. So now I am well again, and kindly as before.
“No one before me has cause to fear. Weak, enchanted dreams clouded my head in the night, and pressed into my heart —-childish dreams of my past life. There stood before me a foolish Christian maiden, formerly beloved by me, who eagerly beckoned to me, as, in my dreams, I seized my sabre to begin a second attack upon her emperor. 'Maiden' said I, contemptuously, in my dream, 'is, then, this old Frank emperor thy brother or thy lover?' Then she chanted an old Christian hymn, which I have often formerly heard sung in the Italian churches. Then it seemed as though gradually all the Christian voices in the whole earth, and under the earth, and over the earth, all joined in one wonderfully, and to me fearfully, loud-swelling chorus. If you, my good people, had not then awoke me, I should have died from that thundering harmony. But it has left me dizzy and confused. But ha!—no supplicating messenger from that proud Christian emperor?"
A deep silence within and without the hall gave answer in the negative. Then the renegade again rising up in the wildest anger sprang from the cushions of his throne, as the enraged tiger from his lair, exclaiming, "Out, out! we ourselves will force an answer from the vanquished! But now it is too late for any attempt on their part. Too late for negotiations and prayers. Fire their ships; make their bodies drunk with their own hostile blood —out!"
A swelling cry of triumph from around answered the newly-awakened demon of anger; and now his companions again recognised him as their old commander.
Then, in wild certainty of triumph, out streamed the Saracen hordes — Moors, Turks, and Arabs —over the bazaar, in horrible thirst for slaughter, each one prepared to slay the conquered Christian warriors.
Hassan Aga, on a foaming red horse, sprang to their head, and pressed through the gates after his host, that he might feast his eyes on the conquered enemies, and order and arrange everything for their entire destruction. "Hurra! hurra! worms crawling beneath my feet," sometimes his followers heard him shout in angry triumph. The wonderful Moorish battlements and defenses of the dazzling gate Babazon opened before the enraged leader.
The renegade wildly bowed over his horse's neck; and on both sides pressing the spurs before the saddle-girths, seemed as though he would dash through the gate as the storm-wind, when suddenly his red horse started and pranced into the air; and scarcely could the hardy rider save himself from falling from his saddle.
Astonished at so unusual a spectacle, his eager followers suddenly stopped his way. But Hassan Aga urged his horse forwards; he sprang up suddenly wildly prancing, so that it seemed horse and rider’ must have fallen one over the other if they went one inch further.
Then slowly and circumspectly the boldest of the whole band of Arabian horse — Emir Sai’d — rode up to Aga, speaking softly — "Flower of Saracen chivalry! what storm-wind, or what inimical mist presses on your bold soul, that you have so entirely forgotten the beautiful and honourable art of horsemanship Permitting his foaming steed to rest a moment, while the bewildered animal still snorted and dashed the ground with his forefeet, the renegade himself grown wild, answered: "Said Emir, is it of my horsemanship that you should complain, or of the sudden fury of the mad horse that bears me?"
"Sire," said the emir, "at first, certainly, your red horse started in a strange manner on his course, and then stood staring wildly round him. Then, as often as he obediently sprang forward, I clearly saw how you tore him back by the reins, then tugged him forward, and then again tore him back, so that your hands and feet have been in opposition; that is enough to drive the quietest horse to madness. Press both your spurs sharply, and loosen the reins, and may my head fall if the noble horse does now bear you away like a storm-cloud- — a spirit of the air.''
"Do you think so, emir?" said the renegade, with a strangely weakened voice — "do you think so? but I think differently. In my angry thirst for battle, I did not see at first what scared and terrified my steed; but when the war-horse started and pranced, then I looked, and my own soul grew mad and wild. Do you see nothing in the gate, Emir Said? Do you not see something which, with strange juggling tricks, bars this wide opened gate? Now it looks like a spider weaving bloody threads, now like a horrible salamander woven and imprisoned within the spider-web. Hu! it is the detestable soul of the crushed sorceress, Baranaga. And look! In the brightly adorned angle of the arch of the gate, under the gallery-roof —there, where like moonlight gleams the pale Rosetta! Do you not see her beautiful, tender, pale, blooming rose-form beckoning to me, and calling—'Back! unfortunate one! — back! Everything may yet be well with you! Unfortunate one! once so dear to me. Back! —oh, back!' Wise Arab Sai’d, do you see and hear nothing of all this?"
In earnest denial, Sai'd Emir shook his venerable head, yet added, with a solemn voice — "Though another may not see it, yet it cannot be said that it is not there. If such spirits are visible to you, Aga — above all, if they are distinct in the depths of your soul — act according to your knowledge and conscience. I cannot say yes or no."
And Hassan Aga turned his horse round towards the troops, and thundered — "Halt!" and his messengers speedily rushed to the gates, commanding, under pain of death, a quiet retreat; the gates were closed, and deathlike silence lay over the but even now warlike, rejoicing city of Algiers.
The Emperor Charles V stood on the African sea-shore, watching, like a guardian-angel, the embarkation of his troops; in a solemn attitude, he leaned upon his drawn sword. At his side was the most trusted of his soul of all the Spanish princes, Don Alvaro de Sandez; behind him, ranged in a warlike half-circle, stood in health and vigour what yet remained of the troops of his noble guards.
Yet nearer the strand was the noble hero, Andrea Doria, surrounded by Giannettino's horse-guards, but now dismounted, carefully arranging them for the next embarkation, giving and receiving signals, and commanding them on board the boats. With sorrowful steps, as is usual in time of retreat, the troops moved over the strand; and here, perhaps, among all the soldiers of the land-armada, there was not one who had not lost what was especially dear and precious to him on this blood and tear-drunken coast. From one or other indistinct sound there was raised a false alarm, that the enemy was breaking out of the city for a last attack on their retreat; and this produced, if not disorder, yet too great a haste, and too great a crowding together of squadrons on the shore. But the discretion of the commander and captains, supported by the bravery and firm discipline of the soldiers, prevented this threatening evil from an outbreak. The majestic presence of the emperor had a mighty effect on all.
Whoever glanced on that tall solemn heroic form, with golden-crowned helm and dazzling cross-sword, felt himself penetrated with all the majesty of war. Unconsciously he raised his head prouder and higher, fell into the step of the noble and solemn march, and eagerly grasped his weapons as though at some festive procession.
So the Italians passed over; and now the Germans began to move off. The Spaniards on the left wing, under their great Duke Alba, still turned a front towards the robber's nest, to guard against pursuit. But now, in the almost unclouded light of noon-day, there was no movement to be seen in Algiers; the Moorish city, but now re-echoing with violent shouts, lay as though entombed, or buried in enchanted slumber. The Emperor Charles turned to Don Alvaro de Sandez, and smiling said, so as to be heard by those standing around: "One might scarcely trust these barbarians, except for their concise proverb — 'Golden bridges to the flying enemy.' If, indeed," added he, with a prouder attitude, demeanour, and voice, "a warlike, honourable retreat, so forced by the elements, must be designated by the name of flight."
Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba
Now also the Spanish battalion began to move away. Only with one little remaining band, the great archduke stood marshalled on the extreme left wing, these brave men, holding their honourable posts, keeping watch to the last over the city of their destructive foes.
The retreating cavalcade of Spaniards came towards the emperor, who approached Don Alvaro, and in a low voice, only to be heard by him, said: "I cannot and would not hide it from you, noble Sandez. He alone who reads the heart knows how dear to me all the squadrons are that are entrusted to my sceptre; but the Spaniards are particularly dear to me. The Italian lives in a quick, witty, boldly crafty, bright existence, which sometimes wonderfully breaks loose, but often more wonderfully conceals itself in apparent lassitude and rest. They change according to their chameleon impulses; in each moment they are what they are thoroughly. They are rebels thoroughly, when once the evil spirit of mutiny penetrates their sharp, finely-formed soul.
“Look at these Germans! The sparks rest in the flint — the firework bursts out at the sound of steel; yet, though the stone may sparkle, stone remains ever stone, immovable, true, and firm. As men are able to soften and melt even the diamond — though by dragon's fire and dragon's blood — so these rocks of men faint with want of food, and become frantically mad with too much wine.
“Now, only look at our Spaniards! They are the soldiers of the soldiers! Earnest in enjoyment, joyfully strong in endurance; rendering obedience, because it is their pride to obey. With them one might conquer the world — if the elements did not oppose the mighty thought,'' added he, while his bold swelling voice sank again to an unconscious melancholy.
Then approached him the great Fernando Toledo, archduke of Alba, with a proud step, feeling himself stronger, now that the sacrificing of his noble horse had given him an opportunity of shewing that heroic power dwelt within his noble heart. Therefore, his commander's staff in his right hand, bowing in respectful salutation before the imperial majesty, he said: "It is time to announce to the mighty lord of two hemispheres, that the moment for the embarkation of the king's person is arrived."
Yet the emperor returned, earnestly: "Your announcement, archduke, is a mistake, and to me a very incomprehensible one; for I see some troops still standing firmly on the shore behind me, and truly they appear to me those under your especial command. Call them forward, and begin their embarkation; then the moment for mine will be declared to me—but from One above; not from the soul or lips of a subject."
He cast up sparkling to heaven those beautiful heroic eyes which had been sunk in melancholy.
The Archduke Alba answered, strangely yet heartily smiling: "Now may your imperial majesty yourself perceive how so many false and evil tongues — I know it —have slandered me to my noble prince, as a man of proud, lofty, irritable, and perhaps disobedient and obstinate nature. Some of these faults might have otherwise appeared, at an answer so little gracious, returned at this moment to my dutiful announcement; but God rules in heaven, and princes upon earth."
"God my master in heaven knows," said the emperor, kindly, "that my words would least of all offend my most faithful and most powerful commander on the earth, Archduke Alba; but it has been decided by me, and not without the advice of my subjects, that I do not leave this unhappy shore as long as one troop of my army remains here. With my bold body-guard, I must stay the last on this African shore — or stay forever. The body as well as the soul belongs entirely to God."
"My emperor's noble soul is always elevated with high thoughts," said Archduke Alba. "Were thousands of your troops remaining, I must speak. Those who are the first in dignity, must also stand nobly to the last in threatening danger. Now but seven hundred of the chosen old Spaniards are with me; all the rest are on board, let the imperial monarch allow me and my soldiers to be his rear-guard--we all desire it."
“The emperor must shew that he also is a true soldier," returned Charles kindly. "If, noble duke, you would not longer delay my embarkation, you will not lose a moment in leading your remaining troops to the ship."
Full of melancholy, the Archduke Alba bowed; and raising his staff' of command, he beckoned to his brave troop — "Forwards, march!"
The brave files advanced; and Charles V murmured in their commander's ear: "I gratefully permit you, my noble Alba, to remain on shore when these brave men shall be embarked, until I lead you, with my noble guards, to the galley which shall bear me."
"My emperor knows how to pardon imperially," returned Archduke Alba, and humbly and gratefully kissed the monarch's hand. At the same time the seven hundred Spaniards moved off' with joyful steps, shouting loudly, but solemnly and earnestly, as if singing in chorus, —
"Viva el nuestro emperador!
Mueren por el sus soldados!"
Long live the Emperor!
For him his soldiers die!
In clear sunshine, on the sea-waves, now agitated by favourable breezes, the imperial fleet sailed from the African shore. Charles V, as he had decreed, with his bodyguard, and great Alba, and the noble Alvaro de Sandez, were the last to embark. The command of the imperial galley was, for the present, given to the Doge of Genoa, Admiral Andrea Doria; so that this ship was honoured with bearing more heroes than are often found together in so small a compass.
Three hours had their voyage lasted, and still the bright blue heaven beamed over the clear green sea. “The firmament clothes itself in the colour of faith, and the sea in the colour of hope," said Don Alvaro, joyfully, to his thoughtful commander, who sat on the deck under a canopy of sails. "The elements are again reconciled to your majesty."
"Do you think so?” returned the Emperor Charles. "To me it does not appear so. But truly it may be a sort of bodily ailment, for I know nothing about it really, which persuades me that a fearful threatening storm lurks under this apparent peacefulness. When we have so lately felt the ground of the firm land of Africa melt and sink under our feet, it is no wonder that mortal nature does not place very firm trust in the changeable sea. But here comes one who understands it better, not only than either you or I, but than all living men, whether on land or sea. Admiral Doria, old ruler of the waters, what think you of the heaven and of the sea?"
Brightly, but with deep earnestness, the old Andrea returned: "If I am the ruler of the waters, my most gracious master, in the waves but lately I have found very rebellious subjects; and if all signs do not deceive me, in spite of their smooth surface, under their deep hollows they are now murmuring even worse conspiracies and insurrections than before. May it be that they have not such evil designs, and they are mounting up there only to gaze more clearly at the clouds, more animated by sorrow than presumption! If you have anticipated an approaching sea storm, most gracious emperor, you are not deceived; and
above all things, I rejoice that you have the old sailor Andrea for your boatman and guide through the approaching tumult of winds and waves, which must burst out in less than half an hour. The signals have been given; every ship in the fleet has answered them; here on board everything is prepared for a strife with the elements. Now come what God will."
And soon the sea and heaven confirmed his prophetic warning. The waves, at first only audible to his listening sense, now howled in cries of death to every ear and heart. The clouds, at first playing as light, gentle messengers of joy, like white doves or silver lambs, now pressed closer and closer together, weaving a grey tapestry before the sun, who, instead of his golden arrows of joy, only darted blood-red spear-rays through the ever-blackening clouds; and the beautiful crystal-clear firmament was changed into threatening, sulphurous blue; and the peaceful green sea raised itself in more horrible, more foamy grave-crowns, and ever in madder frenzy bellowed its waves, and ever bolder whistled the icy wind. Now loudly crashed a grim, rattling thunderbolt; and as sometimes the threatening battle bursts out at the report of the artillery, so now broke out the war of the elements. Woe to the ships who met it!
Yet still the admiral Andrea Doria preserved his accustomed bearing, strong .and firm. "To the bay of Utika!" he thundered through the trumpet, and his voice sounded over the tossing of the sea and howling of the storm. "To the bay of Utika, those who have still command over their vessels! those who have not, if possible, to the open sea!"
"To the bay of Utika?" said the emperor, thoughtfully to himself. "How strange a command! Yet, if we go not there, we shall certainly be lost; and if we anchor in Utika--" He was silent for a time, doubtfully shaking his head; "Guerra agli elementi!" — war of the elements — the Italian sailors are still accustomed to cry at the breaking-out of a storm.
Then, with an earnest glance to the stormy and thundering heaven, he exclaimed aloud: "If Thou willest it, Thou Almighty One, and what Thou willest, we heartily submit to."
He loosened the buckle which clasped the golden crown of his steel helmet to his corslet and cuirass, laid his weapons down by the side of his ermine-covered seat, and breathing more freely, looked out with his large dark eyes into the still increasing storm.
Then suddenly, in eager haste, sounded Andrea Doria's cry: "Galley to the leeward! with all strength, quick to the leeward."
And scarcely had the order gone forth when the fearful cause revealed itself: a large transport-ship, with its deck thickly covered with troops, driving sideways, without mast or rudder, must have run against the emperor's galley, if they had persisted in its course.
"It is they!" exclaimed the great archduke, who stood behind the emperor's seat, in such a voice of anguish as, perhaps, had never before proceeded from his firm noble bosom. "They are my seven hundred remaining Castilians! O my heroic squadron, must I see you perish, without sharing your destruction?"
"Destruction!" repeated the emperor, shuddering. "Must this faithful band perish? Admiral Doria!" he called out, "is there no deliverance to be hoped, Admiral Doria?"
But the old captain approached the emperor's seat, and bowing down, said, inaudibly to the others: "They are lost! the ship already begins to sink!" In that fearful moment, the soldiers on board the sinking wreck, perceiving how near they were to the emperor's galley, shouted the war-cry, loudly swelling, as before, on the strand:
"Viva el nuestro emperador!
Mueren por el sus soldados!"
Then they brandished their weapons on high, and clashed them together as in joyful salutation. Then the ruined ship, suddenly and quick as an arrow, sank down; and the noble band of those who had shouted vanished; and the mighty structure which bore them vanished; and the foamy waves rolled on without a trace. The emperor covered his face with his purple mantle. Then again looking up to Andrea, he said: " Did you hear the parting shout of that band of heroes, Father Doria?"
"Yes, clearly,'' returned he, with firm determination. ''Also I, and many other bold warriors, I hope, will one day part from life with the same salutation:
"Long live our emperor!
For him his soldiers die!"
But the Emperor Charles added sorrowfully, shaking his head: "It may also be rendered—'Through him his soldiers die.' And in this enterprise, so obstinately begun and persevered in by me, it certainly might so be said— yes, through me my soldiers die!" Deeply sighing, he arose from his seat, took the crowned helm, which lay near him, held it for a time with both hands towards heaven, and then walking with quick step to the edge of the vessel, determinately threw the imperial ornament into the sea. Then he walked back and threw himself on his couch, pleased, as though after some wearisome but well-wrought work.
A low murmuring passed through the circle of lords and princes who surrounded him.
Meanwhile Andrea Doria, sorrowfully bending over him, said softly, in a tone of the tenderest reproach: "How now, my imperial son and master ? despair in a spirit such as yours?"
But the emperor returned aloud: "Despair? no! My trusting soul knows nothing of that. What I do now I may not declare at this moment to any one; but patience and trust; soon the time will come when it shall be declared to the whole world."
Tradition tells of holy pledges, by the offering of which the rage of the storm is abated and the waves of the ocean are appeased. And so they now appeared to be satisfied when the crown of the Emperor Charles had sunk into the sea; at least it became calmer around the galley which bore the emperor. Some hours after, the great Andrea Doria, now rather to be called captain than admiral, anchored in the bay of Utika his nobly freighted vessel, and the disembarkation was accomplished without obstacle. As the troops landed, the Emperor Charles sent them forward to the castle that for many years had been furnished with a Spanish garrison, there to rest and to refresh themselves. He had determined not to move from the shore until all of the ship-squadron that had escaped from this unfortunate voyage were landed. The imperial guard hastened to seek some shelter for their master; they could find nothing better than a small, decayed, ruined Roman building, which though it scarcely diminished the howling storm, yet kept off on one side the pelting rain. The roof of that formerly hospitable little dwelling had long ago broken in over the carefully arranged, now jutting ou, stones of the hearth. The Emperor Charles silently took his seat thereon; and before him, on the rubbish, leant his naked sword-blade, which in this place looked less like a weapon than a grave cross.
The emperor appeared to think so, as he sat with his eyes firmly fixed on it; only sometimes sorrowfully yet eagerly gazing out into the bay and sea, where floated the sails of the dismembered fleet like white sea-birds, some approaching the hospitable shore, others driven by the storms out into the trackless, measureless, hostile ocean.
On a projecting wall, next the door of the little house, the great Andrea Doria had found a resting-place. Near him stood leaning against the wall Archduke Alba, supporting himself by his mighty rapier like a cherub posted before some holy edifice, with shield-like protection: behind the emperor stood Don Alvaro de Sandez in a solemn, earnest attitude, as though he waited on his noble lord and master in the magnificent chambers of the palace.
Then a young Italian life-guard came before the entrance of the ruin, saying, with graceful inclination, "Will my invincible emperor please to remain a while in the narrow shelter which we have procured for him? There is a better being prepared at a farm not far distant, which, though not worthy of so noble a guest, is, however, more suitable than the mossy halls of this ancient and ruined abode."
The emperor returned with a bitter smile, shaking his head, "Invincible! that seems to me a name that is past. Ask Hassan Aga and the people of Algiers what they think of the title."
But the young Italian said gaily, "If it please your imperial majesty to discover the author of our late misfortune, it does not seem to me the right road would lead to Algiers; I should rather seek a sure direction and guide to the halls of Aolus, or the grotto of Neptune."
"Ah, young man," said the Emperor Charles, with a brighter countenance; "you Italians all bear some poetical nature with you: but perhaps you have quite devoted yourself to the beautiful lore of the Muses?"
“No, pardon me, gracious master," was the answer. “If I commune with the Muses, it is as the birds in the wood do—unconsciously, and less guided by my will than happy leisure."
"Those are not the worst sort of poets," said the emperor. "Your name?"
" Taddeo Guarini, at your imperial majesty's command."
"Guarini!" repeated the emperor; " a relation of the famous pastoral poet Guarini?"
"His art does not bloom in my soul," answered the youth; "but his kindred blood flows through my veins."
"It is a beautiful thing, this gift of the Muses," said the emperor, turning to Alvaro Sandez; "on so wild and desolate a shore, so far from all transplanted flowers, they yet wave and breathe their soft air around us." Then he said to the young Italian, "O Guarini, your kindred muse, the inventor of the pastoral Idyll, must have taught you that a Roman emperor could find no where better rest and shelter than in an old Roman hearth. Go, my brave youth, and tell your companions that the Emperor Charles the Fifth has found a resting-place."
Astonished, the young Italian went out, and the monarch spoke to the three faithful friends around him. "Here in Utika, perhaps in this same hearth, Rome's last citizen, the great Cato, rested for the last time, when it was clear to him that a Divine Will had destroyed the right for which he had been striving his whole life. There was no place left him on this changeable earth. Now, when a Roman emperor comes to Utika, truly it is a mighty coincidence in the whole history of the world."
"1 do not understand my great emperor," said Alvaro Sandez, deeply moved.
"God keep such bad thoughts far from my noble master!" exclaimed Alba, eagerly.
Andrea Doria said peacefully but very solemnly, "The last citizen of Rome was a heathen; my afflicted emperor is, thank God, a Christian."
And the Emperor Charles enlivened, looked round and said, "It is a coincidence, a strange coincidence, however little my three brave companions may perceive it; and it will be clearly acknowledged in after-days. But listen now, you three dear faithful men, and faithfully bear witness of me—the tempter shall never disturb my soul with heathenish thoughts of Cato's self-chosen death. But what you may have missed on me since the sea-storm, the crown-decked helm, is quite different: the helm is not my head. That divinely bestowed crown is very great, yet it is not my divinely bestowed soul, and does not affect it. Therefore, when a Divine command, deep within, in the mysterious and the most holy haunts of my soul, where no glance can penetrate but the all-seeing eye of God, when the command is heard: 'Thou standest on the brink! The weight of the imperial crown will henceforth destroy thy eternal salvation!'"
He was silent; moved with a momentary shuddering, his eyes fixed as in questioning inquiry on the cross-form of his sword. The three men around him were silent, as though petrified. And ever and anon the lessening storm cast its organ-notes over land and sea. Then in quick joyful steps approached the ruined edifice the young trooper Walprecht, from Giannettino's German life-guard. Quite regardless of the others, he came to Andrea Doria, who sat nearest to the entrance, announcing, in a soldier's manner, “Your noble nephew Doria is come to land, Excellenza; and see, one can count in the whole fifteen galleys now riding in the bay! The storm is abating fast; in an hour's time one might float the safest of the boats; in six hours time two or three others, and in twelve hours the whole number."
"Thanks, brave fellow!" said the noble old man, joyfully. "Your master's youthful vigour, imparted to me through your fresh spirit, refreshes me wonderfully."
“I do not quite understand you, Excellenza," answered Walprecht; " but, at any rate, I am glad you are merry, or joyful, or at least cheering up; for truly, what can a man do better than be cheerful? Especially so long as the storm is not passed, and he will pass for a man; afterwards he may sit in a corner beating his arms together, and lament what has happened to him during the bustle; he then may weep a little, as I shall some time for my good brown horse; but as yet, nothing of this! Hark how the weather gods are still making music over our heads."
"Quite right, brave fellow!" said Andrea, dispatching him with some message to Giannettino; and the bold German walked briskly away, without being conscious of the presence of his emperor.
Then the Emperor Charles rose solemnly from his seat on the hearth, saying, "Hark how the weather gods are still making music over our heads! Did not the hearty German trooper say so?"
Andrea Doria assented. "And," continued the emperor, "the youth also said, that as long as the storm is not over, it does not become anyone to sit melancholy in a corner, beating his arms together, especially if he would be deemed a man. Yes, truly, Charles has hitherto lived as a man, and in the last part of his life he will not cease to demean himself like a man. The storm still roars, not only here but in the political world, and Europe requires a crowned head in such a scene. Bold Alba, you look at me astonished; yet more astonished you may be hereafter. Do you wonder that the words of a common trooper should make such an impression in your emperor's soul? My friend, a bird flies over the empty desolate wilderness, and lets fall two little seeds out of his beak: in two hundred years a wood is grown that otherwise would not have been there. Or would you have it quicker? A scarcely visible ball of snow rolls down from the summit of the snow-mountain. Look three hours after: an overwhelming glacier forces brooks and streams out of their course, and destroys huts and cottages, leaving no trace behind. But nothing in the world moves and acts so quickly or so powerfully as the mind of man. Do not consider me vacillating — my determination is not changed; my Alba should have known me. But now the Gallic cock will jeer and banter without rest so soon as he hears of our misfortune. The first galley ready to sail, to Genoa, Father Andrea; from thence a quick messenger to Milan, to our stadtholder, Marques del Guasto!
“The next that puts to sea, to Carthagena, with letters to our royal infant Don Philip; another to Naples, which will take the vice-king on board in case he lives and is here; otherwise it will take you, Archduke Alba, and so will require no letter. The others must be quickly written, so up to the castle. And if there are no pens to write with — as certainly they are seldom supplied with such things — a strong finger must serve, which is also an instrument of the Eternal Lord."
Eagerly he caught up his sword that leant against the ruined wall, and what had appeared as a still and solemn grave-token, sparkled now in the emperor's hand like a meteor-flame that should shine over the world. God be praised!" exclaimed the Archduke Alba; "now is our great emperor himself again, and many enemies shall yet know it in many a noble fight. Yes, even those robber-hordes, who now rejoice in noise and riot in their heathenish feast, because the storms and sea have prevented my emperor's great purpose. We will one day return again to that renegade Hassan Aga, with revenging sword-flame, and plant the Christian banners of victory over the ruins of Algiers."
"What think you of it, Father Andrea?" asked the emperor, looking to Doria.
"As God wills," answered the grey-headed old man, turning his eyes to heaven. "The ways of the Lord are mysterious below; the purposes of the Most High are accomplished in a way we know not."
The emperor bent humbly; then he said, "My knightly Don Alvaro Sandez, what think you?"
“Your majesty knows that we have old heroic histories," returned the Castilian, "which now are begun to be laughed at, because much that is incomprehensible is mingled with true occurrences. Every one criticizes them according to his pleasure; but to me there appears in all of them a spirit which is quite worthy of questioning; and also to the humble, earnest, pious questioner, many a clear beautiful answer is imparted. Among other such things, I have conceived that for every undertaking there is only one knight appointed for the victor, while all others, however bold they may otherwise be, in that enterprise are overcome, and must be overcome. Algiers seems to me such an adventure, and your majesty not the chosen knight for it."
"You speak truly, dear Sandez," said the emperor; "I feel it echoed in the depth of my life and being; and truly if I ever was the knight chosen to take Algiers, I am so no longer. My too-great confidence in my own power and pride that God has granted me the direction of so many warlike people, has been taught me by my Eternal Master in a voice of thunder. In after-days He will raise a bolder knight for this taking of Algiers, who will have more trust in God than in his own strength. For the victory must at last be accomplished to the glory and prosperity of Christians, who are now so shamefully oppressed there."
"Amen," said Father Andrea.
And the emperor, with his three followers, walked towards the Castle of Utika. "What afterwards happened belongs not to this story, but to the history of the world.