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barren globe! You are a sublime young man-I would give my existence to possess your greatness of mind.'
That same evening Edmund sent his easel and colours to the councillor's house, and the next morning the first sitting took place.
Edmund begged the councillor to transport himself, in fancy, back to the happiest moment of his life, for instance, the day he heard (his wife was dead) the vows of his youthful love first reciprocated.
My dear sir,' said the councillor, about three years since I received a letter from Hamburgh, informing me that I had gained a great prize in the lottery: I ran to my daughter, with the letter open in my hand, and never did I, before or since, feel such pleasure. Let us choose that moment, and I will go and fetch the letter, and hold it as I then did.'
So Edmund was obliged to take Mr. Vosswinkel with an open letter in his hand, which read thus:
'I have the honour to inform you that the ticket, No. 379, has been drawn a prize of £ &c.'
Upon a little table was the cover of the letter, addressed,
The Empire-free, Well-born,
Edmund painted a good-looking, round, oily, gig-keepingability, respectable little man; so much like the councillor, that the instant you saw the address on the letter, you exclaimed, 'Wonderful!'
Mr. Vosswinkel, himself, was delighted beyond measure, and begged the clever young artist to undertake a portrait of his daughter.
Edmund soon went to work again; but, somehow or other, Albertine's portrait did not progress so rapidly and happily as did her papa's.
The painter sketched, rubbed out, sketched again, began to paint, destroyed his work, began again, and continually changed the attitude. Then sometimes the day was too bright, and sometimes it was too dark; until, at last, the worthy councillor, who had attended the sittings, lost all patience, and never troubled them again with his advice or presence. But Edmund was there, morning, noon, and night; the portrait and the courtship appeared to proceed in an inverse ratio.
It came to pass one morning that Edmund and Albertine were standing near the window, snugly ensconced, as they thought, behind the curtains. Now the courteous reader knows, doubtless,
very well by experience, that a lover often adds weight to his vows and tender speeches by-several approved methods. Edmund, fearing, most likely, that Albertine did not quite comprehend what he was whispering, passed his arm round her slender waist, drew her towards him, and at that very instant of time the private secretary of the chancery was skipping along to his official duties, with the politic wisdom of Thomasius in his pocket. According to his invariable custom, he glanced his eye to the window of his intended, and saw, indistinctly, what troubled him exceedingly. He crossed over into the councillor's house.
Just as Mr. Tusmann entered the room, he heard Albertine say, 'Yes, Edmund, I believe you love me, and I will ever, ever, love you!'
Immediately after the young lady spoke, Mr. Tusmann had a fine opportunity of observing that curious attraction betwixt homogeneous bodies which draws bosom to bosom and lip to lip, ending suddenly with a smack, like the discharge of a Leyden jar.
In the intoxication, the blindness of their egotistical passion, the lovers heard neither the opening of the door, nor the creaking of the private secretary's boots, nor did they perceive the secretary himself standing motionless and aghast in the middle of the
Suddenly a squeaking voice said,
'But, Miss Albertine-
The two lovers separated in affright. Edmund flew to his easel, and Albertine to the sofa.
'But, Miss Albertine,' said the private secretary, taking breath, 'what are you doing? Not long since, in the middle of the night, you were waltzing with a young gentleman who I have not the honour to be acquainted with, and now, in the middle of the day, you are―― Oh, just heavens! is this, I ask, proper conduct for a young lady betrothed?'
Who is betrothed?" said Albertine; of whom do you speak,
'Of you, celestial creature,' said Mr. Tusmann; of whom but you should I speak? Your papa has long promised me that hand, which, in spite of my anger, I long to cover with kisses.'
'Sir,' replied Albertine, I should imagine from your conduct that you have called this morning at the tavern you visit so often; or else you are mad. It is impossible that my papa should dream of such a thing.'
'Miss Albertine,' answered the private secretary, you have known me a long time; have I not always been a careful, reflecting man? why do you suspect me of drunkenness or madness? Dear young lady, I will forget and forgive all. Your appearance, at midnight, at the old town-house; your waltzing with the unknown young gentleman; your——'
'Oh, dear me!' said Albertine, he is certainly mad. Do go
away, sir, you frighten me so. Go away, if you please, sir: oh,
dear me !'
Tears stood in the eyes of poor Mr. Tusmann. 'Oh, just heavens!' cried he, how I am treated! No, I will not go; according to Thomasius, I ought to stop and have justice done to me.'
He advanced towards Albertine, who retired towards Edmund. The young artist, boiling with rage, could contain himself no longer. He rushed upon the private secretary, passed a brush, impregnated with green paint, two or three times over his face, handed him to the open door, applied his foot to the western side of Mr. Tusmann, and projected him down the stairs. The councillor, who was just then mounting up, received his verdant old schoolfellow in his arms.
My dear friend, in the name of goodness, what has happened to your face?' said the councillor.
The private secretary related, in sentences almost unintelligible, the treatment he had experienced from Edmund and Albertine.
The councillor, very angry, led him back into the room.
"What is this I hear?' said he, in a severe tone of voice. Is it thus that a young lady ought to treat her intended?'
'My intended!' exclaimed Albertine.
Yes, doubtless,' answered the councillor, your intended. I don't know why you should appear so amazed at what I settled long ago. My old schoolfellow is your betrothed, and in a week or two we will have a merry wedding.'
'Never,' cried Albertine; I will never marry him. What! marry that old man! no, never!'
'I will allow,' said the councillor, that he is not now a giddy young man, but, like myself, arrived at years of discretion. He is an upright, modest, learned, amiable person, and, what is more, he was my schoolfellow at the college of the grey monks.'
No,' said Albertine, beginning to cry, it never shall be; I hate him! I detest him! oh, my Edmund!'
So saying, the young lady fell, almost fainting, into the arms of Edmund, who pressed her to his heart.
The councillor rubbed his eyes, quite stupified, and then endeavoured to part the lovers; but Edmund vowed to relinquish Albertine only with his life.
Thou serpent!' said the councillor, have you walked into my house to pounce down upon this dear little lamb? so you think I will deliver my cherished dove to your ferocious jaws, thou vile dauber, thou scoundrelly good-for-nothing, thou
The insults of Mr. Vosswinkel put Edmund quite beside himself; he seized his maul-stick, and whirling it round his head, would indubitably have broken the particularly-much-to-beoverrated councillor's pate, if, at the very instant, he had not heard the voice of Leonard, thundering out:
Stop, Edmund, don't be too precipitate, Vosswinkel is an ass; but he'll know better soon.'
At the sight of the goldsmith, Mr. Tusmann flew to the sofa, and sheltering himself behind it, exclaimed in his fright:
'O, heavenly powers! here's that terrible professor again-that horrible master of the ceremonies at the ball in Spandau-street!'
Fear nothing, Tusmann,' said the goldsmith, laughing, I shall do you no harm. You are now sufficiently punished for your ridiculous hymeneal fancies; your face will remain green all the rest of your days.'
Just heavens,' exclaimed the private secretary,' a green face for ever! what will the world say, what will his excellency the minister say? I am a ruined man; I shall lose my place; the ment can never go on with a private secretary of the chancery, whose face is the colour of a cabbage. O, wretched man that I am!'
Then be reasonable,' said the goldsmith, and renounce the idea of marrying Miss Albertine.'
He shall not,'-exclaimed together the councillor and the secretary.
The goldsmith darted at them fiery looks, and his anger was blazing up, when the room door suddenly opened, and old Manasseh entered with his nephew, the Baron Benjamin. The baron went straight to Albertine.
Charming young lady,' said he, I have come in person to throw myself at your feet; that is a figure of speech you understand, for the Baron Benjamin Manasseh never throws himself at any person's feet; the true signification of my address is simply this, that I shall have extreme felicity in saluting you.'
So saying, the baron would have embraced Albertine, but his curved nose elongated and knocked against the wall; he recoiled several paces, and his nose shortened, he approached Albertine, and his nose again took flight; in short, wonderful to relate, the olfactory organ of the Israelite went out and in like a trombone. Cursed enchanter!' howled Manasseh, and thou infamous Vosswinkel, thou art in league with Leonard against me. thou shalt be cursed; thou, and all thy race.'
Cursing and shaking the dust from off his feet, he dragged his nephew with him out of the room.
That same evening, the private secretary was sitting under the trees, in a solitary part of the botanic garden.
'Tusmann-tu patula recubans sub tegmine fagi."
'Just heavens!' soliloquized he, what have I done to merit. this hard fate? I learned from Thomasius that marriage would
not prevent the pursuit of wisdom, but, ever since I thought about marriage, wisdom appears to have flown from me. I am at open war with all sorts of necromancers and caco-dæmons. I had some hope in the skill of my friend Streccius, the chymist; but all is vain. The more I rub my face with the liquid he gave me, the greener it becomes; indeed, all shades of greenness; the four seasons have been exemplified on my unfortunate physiognomy.'
As Mr. Tusmann sat deploring his misery, the horrible thought of ending his existence, by throwing himself into the neighbouring water, suddenly entered his head.
'Yes,' said he rising, it must be so. Thomasius cannot save me. Adieu, cruel Albertine! you will never again see the man you despised.'
He ran towards the basin and stopped at the brink. Then he threw into the water the Politic Wisdom of Thomasius, then the Art of Prolonging Life, by Hufeland, and then he was going to throw in himself, when the clutch of a nervous arm prevented his direful purpose.
A well-known voice, the voice of the goldsmith, said: Tusmann, what are you doing here? now let me beg of you not to be a fool.'
In vain the private secretary struggled to free himself from the grasp of the goldsmith.
Honourable professor,' cried he, I am desperate, and I wish that the devil, your master, had you and your --’
The goldsmith released him suddenly. Mr. Tusmann falling upon the damp grass, in the darkness of the evening, fancied himself in the basin, and exclaimed :
O, cold death! O, icy death! Farewell Albertine, thy unfortunate intended is now at the bottom of the water, along with the frogs, who praise the saints in the hot days of summer."
The goldsmith raised the poor secretary, who, shivering, said:
I am in your power, Mr. Professor; do as you please with my body, but spare, spare my immortal ———
Don't talk such nonsense,' said the goldsmith, as he drew Mr. Tusmann along by the arm.
When they came in sight of the new tavern, Mr. Tuɛmann called out
In the name of heaven, worthy professor, where are you conducting me? I cannot go into any public place; I cannot be seen; I shall cause a scandal.'
Why so, Tusmann? You must have a glass of punch with me, or else you will be laid up with a fever. But et me dry your face and hands, you are in a shocking condition.'
As he spoke, the goldsmith drew from his pocket a dazzling cambric handkerchief, and dry rubbed the secretary.