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across the plain like a huge spider, her legs | every night in the corridor. Your pale cheek seeming to the child's fancy to start from her and tearful eyes do not testify of the courage I very neck, there was about her something so expected in you. A Pole should know no fear witch-like, that Leon might be forgiven for enter- but the fear of God. Be a brave boy, and think taining towards her both disgust and apprehen- no more of this silly business." sion. Fresh from the nursery, as it were, he harbored the most superstitious dread of the evileye, common to the people of this country,* and was convinced that a malignant glance shot at him from those piercing black orbs had, in some mysterious way or other, inflicted a mortal injury upon him; and, in a fit of despondency, with head bent on his breast, he returned home.
In the hall, he met his mother's maid, from whom he learned that the countess was resting in her own apartment, where she wished to remain undisturbed until the count should return. "But why do you look so pale, Leon?" she asked.
"Oh! Seraphinka," he exclaimed, bursting into tears," Jakubska has thrown an evil-eye on me."
Leon solemnly promised to do as his mother bade him, and saw no more of her till the count's return; but though he did not tell the general of the day's occurrence, still it weighed upon his mind, and he believed himself predestined, thenceforward, to some great misfortune. The count perceiving that the child wearied of his favorite games, and became subject to fits of abstraction foreign to his years and temperament, did his best to divert his mind. At last, he hit upon the ex pedient of taking him to a bear-hunt in the mountains, which, being a strange sight to the inhabi- ' tants of the plains-and Leon had never quitted them from his birth-was proportionably elating.
As the count had no property near the Carpathian mountains, this plan included a visit to a "You don't mean to say so?" said the maid, friend-an additional treat to his son, since the devoutly crossing herself. "Lord-lord! Are house was filled, not only with the numerous chilwe then to see you fade away like that poor child dren of their host, but those of the neighboring in the village yonder? I knew a lady once, who gentry, who were invited to establish an early achad lost five children, without any one ever know-quaintance with the heir of Stanoiki. Leon was ing what ailed them, until it was discovered that now as happy as the heroes of the fairy tales he an old, wandering beggar was in the habit of re-loved so well--admired and caressed by all-ever ceiving charity at the castle, and had cast an evileye on them. It is fearful to think of, but true. Well, my lady ought to know best, but―"
some fresh amusement whiling away days untroubled by teaching of any kind, and the renconter with the beggar woman retired somewhat into the background of his thoughts.
At that moment the countess' bell called Seraphinka to her mistress' apartment, whither Leon Weeks passed thus; the count exchanging the was soon summoned. He found his mother look- hospitable roof of one friend for that of another; ing very pale and weary, sitting in her arm-chair. when, perceiving his boy to be restored to his ac"My dear boy," she began, "I just saw you customed health and spirits, he decided on returntalking with Jakubska; what can she have wanting home to look after his dear invalid. The ed with you? Tell me all that passed, without | affection of childhood, so much less reflective than restriction."
Leon, unaccustomed to any check formidable enough to engender the habit of falsehood, gave his mother, according to his own views, a correct account of the great misfortune that had befallen him. The countess listened with deep attention. When his little narrative came to an end, she gently drew him towards her.
that of riper years, did not prompt Leon to desire his return. Here, in the distant hills, he thought himself safe from the intrusion of her he dreaded; but down there in the plains he felt sure to meet again the frightful old Jakubska, and the thought was fraught with terror.
They found the countess sensibly altered for the worse. She now seldom quitted her apart"Thank Heaven, my dear boy, that woman ment. Ordinarily so gentle, and even indolent in did not curse you! And never again treat any her temper and habits, she was now fretful and one, especially herself, in a way to deserve it. irritable. Even the presence of her son was irkAs to the evil-eye," she added, "I am not pre- some to her; and though, when absent, she ever pared to decide how far it may be founded on seemed to miss something, yet she could not entruth; but I am assured that Jakubska has no dure his society for any length of time. Perhaps other evil in her eye, or in her heart, than the the unavoidable and fast-approaching separation impatience of a bitter spirit. But don't anger made such interviews painful—at least, the count her, Leon; her anger were dreadful. And, above thought so; for he entertained no illusion as to all, don't tell your father anything about the loss her state of health, and was only anxious to soften of your buttons, or, in short, about your meeting the last bitter trial as much as lay in his power, with her; and, remember, whenever you are tor- devoting now his time exclusively to his beloved mented with a notion of the evil-eye, that the Vanda. So Leon was altogether left to his own worst evils are not in the eyes or hearts of others, resources. His mind having recovered its tone, but in your own. Don't take for confidant and with the volatileness of youth, he turned to his adviser that poor Seraphinka, who sees ghosts own amusements, without any thought of the future. The boatmen, the grooms, the pony, the *The belief in the evil eye is common to all the Sclavonian tribes, especially in Galicia and Bohemia. dogs, and the chance peasants he encountered, had
no sinecure, and the latter put up their daily pray- | been a source of happiness to individuals, or has ers to Heaven for the arrival of the expected tutor. insured the peace of the country? It swarms
One evening, the countess, feeling a little better, permitted Leon to remain with her. The general had that morning received a letter from a friend in Paris, respecting the difficulty of finding a proper person who would consent to undertake the charge of training a youth so far from the French capital.
"This gives me great pain," said the count, "for it is a shame to see Leon growing up so wild."
with a set of needy adventurers, too proud of their acquirements to return to the simple mode of life of their fathers, yet often not sufficiently accomplished to strike out any other line for themselves. They overcrowd the cities, embarrass every path of liberal employment, and, because they are themselves discontented and ill at ease in a state of society which affords not sufficient scope to their vanity and ambition, they make others discontented and unhappy, and become dangerous subjects. The countess was not inclined to enter on the What the German students are to the German subject. She seemed absorbed in thought. At governments, ours would soon prove to us, if your last, rousing herself, she said "I know, my suggestions were generally carried out. It is a dear Ladislas, you would do much to oblige me -nay, I think, at this moment, you would not have the heart to refuse any request of mine; but before I give utterance to the wish that preöccupies me, promise to grant my request."
"If it be one that my means can encompass, Vanda, it is granted before it is asked."
"Even if you had a prejudice to conquer ?" "I would lay more than that at your feet," he said, smiling.
"I do not speak of the cost," said she, "because you have often spent infinitely more to satisfy my most idle caprice."
"I own that you are so mysterious on the subject, that I begin to feel curious. Tell me at once-what is this mighty project ?”
strange thing, but a fact proved by the state of our own class, that the mind seldom ripens to peace and content, but rather to dissatisfaction and doubt."
"I am not able to reason with you, Ladislasmy motives are rather of the heart than of the head-but I still think, even if it be a wise policy, it is an unchristian deed to debar the poor from the right of cultivating their understanding."
"My dear Vanda, you might as well question our right of taking a knife from a child's hand." "But still there are natural rights," persisted the countess.
"Pshaw!-cant phrase of the day!" exclaimed the count, impatiently. "Natural rights, indeed! "Will you erect, in my honor, a school in Does nature herself respect them? Do we not your village?"
The count started, and an angry frown gathered on his brow. “I said—I meant anything in reason," exclaimed he, pettishly; "but this is an impossibility."
see youth languish and pine away with the decay of old age? Ask the blind, the deaf and dumb, the infirm of every kind, who are debarred from the joys of youth, why nature robbed them of her sweetest gifts and poisoned for them the dawn of
"The poor villagers desire it," the countess life; ask the bursting heart of the deformed, said, with earnestness.
"I dare say they do," was the reply. "Don't they wish a French tutor, and a dancing-master, too? Surely they do not limit their pretensions to so trifling a thing as a school?"
whose spring has no flowers, whose youth has no love, who sees the cold, averted eye seek with rapture a fairer form; ask that anguished heart if there be torture a tyrant can inflict equal to that caused by this injustice of nature! When genius,
"Do you think their desire extravagant ?—I when strength, when beauty will lie within our do not," replied the countess.
own command, then talk of nature's freedom, nature's rights, and not till then."
Vanda replied not, but a few silent tears stole down her pale cheek.
"I am wrong to argue with you in your present delicate state; but really-really, Vanda, in conscience, I cannot grant your request."
"I do not think it wise to let men remain wild beasts," said Vanda.
"But do you think, dearest, that painters and poets would till the ground?—that a Petrarch's Laura would milk the cows?"
"Bah! you speak like a child, Vanda. not mean merely with reference to our own interests-though these point pretty clearly to the propriety of keeping our vassals in their present state of subjection, which would not long exist if means of education were afforded them-but do you think it were a blessing to escape from it? They'd go starve, beg, and steal on their boasted liberty! You see few or no beggars on our estates; for are we not obliged to provide those with a roof, a hearth, and fuel, who want it? Have they not fields to cultivate, on whose produce they can not only feed their families, but, with a little industry, lay up a store for the future? It is true they are "That's a mistake," said the general. "Evbound to the soil; but I do not perceive that the ery single concession is a stepping-stone to the wanderings of the present generation have much next. There is a trite German saying which is, improved it. Look at the state of Germany. nevertheless, very true-' He who gives A, must You know little of it-less of its inhabitants; give Z along with it.' We must always be prebut think you the system of its free colleges has pared for the consequences of each movement.
Oh, I don't mean that; there is a medium in all things," replied Vanda.
"Must he, too, leave you at this moment?"
forced him from the room.
"And now, dearest, that the child is gone, say, what have you on your mind?"
Besides, my dear Vanda, if I wished to deviate from my principles, in this respect, to oblige you, I could not; for we have, at a late meeting of nobles and proprietors, agreed upon an unanimous resistance to all encroachments on the part of our peasantry; and you cannot but feel how impossible it would be to break a plighted word. see the thing is not to be done. You You must discard it from your mind. Anything else-any- has weighed and glowed here," pressing her hand Oh, a fearful load!" said the countess ; "it thing unconnected with my duties as a gentleman tightly on her bosom, "until I thought I could and a father, I shall be most happy to do for you. bear it no longer-indeed, it is that, partly, which Now, pray, Vanda, try to coax your mind to some has worn me so fast." one of those thousand feminine caprices which men are so charmed to gratify."
"Your mind wanders, my poor Vanda. Of what can you-of what can one so pure-ever
Vanda shook her head, and sighed as she said, have been guilty?" "Is there never to be progress ?"
"A great sin towards you, and a more helpless But I feel my strength wearing fast-I Leon is not our child!"
"And has there been no progress ?" said the general impatiently. "Was I not present when my own father took off the head of a gypsy lad with the sword that hung by his side? I can re-instant gave way to one of unutterable anguish on The soothing expression of tender pity for an member the day when each lord made his own the general's countenance; but the latter faded laws. Now, our private justice were murder, away as his first surmises came back to his mind. and you call that no progress! What would you He had started from his seat by the bedside, and have more?" place, and calmly said, dropped the hand he held—he now resumed his
"I would have Seraphinka and my bed-light," said the countess, closing the discussion.
"Go on, my dear Vanda."
and that I am going to make you very unhappy; “Oh, I see you are incredulous," she said, but my conscience does not permit me to withhold the truth any longer. You see, sorely tempted. You remember, when our own Ladislas, I was blessed Leon was but a few months old, imperative duties called you to Lemberg. You left our child weak and puny; at your return, months later, you found him strong and hearty-but it was not our boy you then gazed upon, it was a changeling!"
The count was now desirous of removing to Lemberg, where the best medical advice might be" procured for his suffering wife, but the countess would not hear of this plan. She dreaded the fatigue of the journey, and was soon soothed by the notion of lingering in her loved home to the last. The count, above all anxious not to distress her, yielded the point at once, the more readily, perhaps, that his ample fortune enabled him to command the frequent visits of the first medical practitioners in that city. The countess found her chief solace in the unremitting attentions of her husband, and in the consolations of her ghostly monitors; one of whom, a stern Jesuitical-looking clergyman of the church of Rome, seldom, of late, quitted the castle. With him the countess remained closeted for hours; but the general observed with sorrow how much worse she seemed after each of those conferences.
among which doubt and surprise were predominant. The count was mute with contending emotions,
tinued the countess, "day by day, hour by hour. "When I saw our darling fade away," conand thought of your sorrow, for which there was no hope, and no comfort-when I thought that your affection to me might alter-that you would, Prepared as they both were for their approach- to your affliction—or that I should be condemned perhaps, travel far away in search of some relief ing separation, the awful moment came when they to watch during long years your undying griefleast expected it. The countess had of late shown I had not the heart to meet my fate. symptoms of renewed strength. The leaves were spare myself, but you yet more. I would rapidly falling, and the count was positive, and the poor old soul, if she were not dead I should have The nursecountess began to hope that she would pass through left her the care to reveal this secret, and not have the ensuing winter. The physicians, as usual, con-undertaken so painful a task at such a time; let firmed those expectations. But one autumnal morn- it be my punishment-the nurse had a cousin, a ing, as the general paid her his accustomed visit, serf on our estate, who had a child of precisely he perceived at a single glance a rapid alteration the same age as ours. in her features, and instantly knew, what she felt deepest destitution; her husband was dead; she The woman was in the in her inmost heart, that the dreaded blow was had no means of supporting her children. about to fall. The countess having gone through shall I say more? That poor child we have cherWhat her religious duties, dismissed her confessor, beg-ished under the name of our lost Leon. Rememging that her husband and herself might be left ber," she said, as she saw the general cover his alone together. She thought her desire had been face with his hands, and his breast heave with supcomplied with, when she suddenly perceived Leon, pressed passion, "remember that culpable as was who, half-concealed by its draperies, was sobbing this fraud, you have owed it eleven years of felicat the foot of her bed. ity."
"If you speak the truth-if you are not dream- the evil-eye were about to fall upon him, begining," said the general, in choking accents, "why ning with his mother's death; but little did he rob me of my only comfort-my only consolation?" anticipate the depth of the abyss down which he "Because it would have been doubly a sin to was about to be precipitated. deceive you and the world, and allow your honor One morning he was 'woke early by an unusual and wealth to pass to one who had no right to animation in the court below. He sprang out of either when fate again left you free to have a bed, and, on looking from his window, perceived lawful heir. I know the wound, how severe so that the servants had drawn out his father's ever it may be, will heal again. But I had travelling carriage, and were busily preparing it learned to love the child so well, I should not, for the road. Surprise and joy kept the boy for perhaps, have had the fortitude to act as duty dic-a moment mute; then turning to Seraphinka, who tated, had not the woman tormented me as she had just entered his room, he exclaimed— has done since the death of my poor nurse. But, for the last two years, not content with the pension I made her, which was ample, and the kind-haps to Lemberg. You have been so good to me ness I extended to all her children, she has harassed me beyond the powers of endurance. Latterly, her insistence and her insolence have almost driven me mad; and, unjust as it may be, I felt that I loved the poor child less when so constantly reminded of his odious mother. You see, Ladislas, I leave not one weakness concealed from you; pity and forgive."
"The woman's name ?"
Jakubska, my pensioner in the village yonder. My confessor, with herself and me, are the only persons in possession of this secret. But oh! Ladislas-for justice, for humanity's sake-it is my last prayer-be kind to the poor boy."
"Madam," said the general, starting up, and giving way to an explosion of uncontrollable anger, "if I can find it in my heart to forgive you, it is as much as mortal has a right to demand! Betrayed!-deceived!-fooled, as I have been, for years!—persuaded to foster, with a parent's care, the brat of a vassal! I hardly know what restrains me from washing away all trace of this disgrace in the changeling's blood!" A scream burst from Vanda's lips, and she fell back, to all appearance lifeless, on her pillow. The general was shocked. Though writhing with the excess of his own passion, still he accused himself of having hastened, by his cruelty, the fatal moment. He rung the bell till the rope gave way. Priests, attendants, nurses, all hastened into the room together, who soon discovered that the countess had but swooned. When she came to herself, the general endeavored, by the tenderest expressions, to soothe the wound he had inflicted. The countess was so weak she could scarcely answer; but, with the last effort of expiring nature, raising her head from her husband's bosom, she cried out, "For God's sake, my letter! my letter!"
She spoke no more.
For some days after the fearful event no one was admitted to the general's presence-not even the priest who had shrived the countess. The bare mention of Leon's name had excited him to such fury that Seraphinka strongly dissuaded the former from his original intention of braving his father's anger, as he had often done before with the successful audacity of a spoiled child. He now thought the misfortunes he had dreaded from
"I am so glad we are going to leave the chateau ! We are going back to the hills; or, per
these last days, and so consoled me in my grief, that I will buy you something fine, Seraphinka.”
"Alas! I am afraid you are not going with your papa, for he has given me no orders about packing up things for you, and yet I cannot think he would leave a poor child of your age in this dull, dreary chateau, and not even a tutor to keep you company. But, then, my lord is scarcely himself yet; however, he has had the steward with him making arrangements, as if for a long absence. I began to fear, seeing that the poor late countess brought my lord no dower, as we all know, he might have forgotten her servants— but all those who have had anything to do with my lady are allowed to retain their apartments in this house, and are to enjoy a pension, proportionate to their wages during her life. As for me, I retain every single advantage, even to the coffee and sugar. May the Virgin bless my lord, and lighten his sorrow! for sure there never was a more affectionate husband or a better lord. I own," added Seraphinka, musingly, “the pension I expected, but the coffee and sugar was a surprise."
Leon, wrapped in the ecstatic notion of departure, and being restored to his father's presence and love, heard not a single word of what Seraphinka was saying. At that moment, the count's valet-de-chambre entered the room.
"Seraphinka," he said, "prepare Count Leon for the journey; he is to be simply and warmly dressed, and ready within the shortest possible time. You had better make all the haste you can," said he, turning to Leon-" my lord has already locked the chambers of the late countess, that no one may disturb them-all his orders are giventhe horses are putting to, and he will be in the carriage in an instant."
The eager Leon made such haste, that it was lucky an ample cloak hid the inaccuracies of his toilet.
"Your watch-your watch-you have forgotten your watch and chain," said Seraphinka, running after him, as he turned from his small apartment, without a word of leave-taking with his faithful ally.
"No-not now," he hastily answered; "you'll send it after me, or keep it till I return. Adieu, Seraphinka."
THE MODERN VASSAL.
According to the custom of her country, the faithful abigail raised his hand to her lips, in token of the submissive devotion which girls of that class entertain towards their superiors. Leon, hastily tearing away his hand, scampered away to join his father. Never had the corridors or flights of stairs seemed to him so long as at this moment of nervous impatience; but, bounding onward like a young fawn, he soon stood at the carriage door. The chasseur lifted him in, banged to the door, and mounted in the rumble behind-the coachman gave the rein to four fiery young horses, and away flew the carriage with our young hero and his misfor
The count addressed not a word to the child, though he had not seen him since the moment he had so reluctantly led him from the chamber of death. Leon stole a timid glance at him-he was closely muffled in a travelling cloak, and his foragLittle ing cap was drawn deeply over his eyes. of his face as these precautions permitted to become visible, however, the contrast of his ashy pallor with his deep mourning, and the almost sinister expression of his brow, frightened the boy, and he shrank into his corner of the carriage. But the count, keeping his eyes in a marked manner riveted on his own window, Leon's situation became too painful to be endured, and he attempted to rouse his attention.
'Papa," he began-but he could get no further, for the count cried aloud-"Silence!" in a voice of thunder.
the travellers was diverted from his inward brood-
Though not a little amazed at the command he received, the well-trained domestic suppressed every outward mark of surprise; and, having transmitted the order to the coachman, resumed his seat in the rumble, without so much as casting one glance of curiosity at the three figures exposed to a pelting rain in a bleak waste, on which not a house, or a tree, or any object whatever, except the stone cross, was within the range of the eye. The count now moved forward, followed by the child, straight up to the cross.
The object cow
parent-you are yet young enough to forget the duty you now think you owe me, and to learn that which is due to her-the past is but a dream, suffer it not to linger on your mind."
"Jakubska!" he called out. Never in his life had he heard these accents, or, ering at the foot of the stone monument rose at least, addressed to himself. Terrified, convinced hurriedly to her feet. "I need not, I suppose," now his mother was gone, that he was become an continued the count, "repeat the conditions I have object of hatred to his father after having been one stipulated with you-I think, for your own sake, of love, the poor boy sank back in mute anguish. you are not likely to forget them. Boy," said he, But Leon had a proud heart, and a keen natural turning sharply to Leon, "from this day you cease sense of injustice. He could not prevent the boy- to fill the place you have too long usurped-you ish tears from coursing one by one down his burn-are not my child-I restore you to your legitimate ing cheek; but he stifled the thick sobs that nearly choked him, lest the count should discover that he was weeping. Perhaps this stubborn pride deprived him of the only opportunity that offered for melting the count's heart; for he was by no means what could be strictly called an unfeeling man, though he was stung to madness by the shock of losing at once his wife and his child-at having to blot from his existence eleven long years of hope and joy. His pride, too, revolted at having fostered in his halls a beggar's brat; and, accustomed to the roughness of the camp, to the author-witch in her dark cloak to whom he had just been itativeness of military command, his temper, naturally firm and hasty, had become harsh; and the cringing dread of his serfs, amongst whom he had chiefly lived of late years, had not tended to Leon had much of the teach him self-control. same ingredients in his composition for good or for evil; and, thanks to his training, was as obstinate and wilful as any feudal lord need be.
The day was drizzly and rainy. The roads were heavy. There was nothing in the atmosphere nor the features of the country to attune the mind to a soft mood; and, accordingly, neither of
So saying, he coldly turned from the mother and her son, and moving away with hasty strides reached the bend of the road and his britchka beThe wheels of the retiring fore Leon had recovered from the first stunning effect of his words. carriage first roused him from his stupor. He stared wildly round. The naked plain-the old
delivered over-the carriage rolling in the distance
Jakubska remained silent. Pity for the grief of her child, mingled with a sort of respect for the station he had but so lately filled, subdued her usual vein of loquacity. The blow had stunned her too. Though prepared for it by a hurried in