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“Good faithful Franz, were he but saved," sighed the boy; "he is so brave and true—the captivity will break his heart."
“God will give him strength, my child,” replied the old lady, “ Heaven has not brought him to us in vain; I do not doubt but we shall see him again, and that then GOD will bring all we wish happily to pass !"
His grandmother's words made a deep impression on Severin. “You are right,” he said, standing up and wiping the tears from his eyes, “ God's finger is clearly visible in all that has happened to us to-day, and God will not leave His Work incomplete. Hope, courage, patience, and trust. That is what must strengthen us in these heavy days."
AFTER spending a restless night, disturbed with feverish dreams, Severin awoke early in the morning with the determination of walking over to the village of Benkendorf, seeing the old sergeant once more, and providing him with many little alleviations, perhaps even obtaining his liberty. He imparted his intention to his grandmother, who approved of the plan, furnishing him with a little packet of money to give to the prisoner. Besides this she commissioned him to obtain from Franz, a written testimony of his having been witness to the payment of the sum of money, for which Braun had driven them from their property. Severin promised to execute all carefully, and started off at an early hour.
It was still early when he reached the village; but, greatly to his horror, he perceived that it already bore & deserted air. Signs were not lacking of the French having lodged there that night, for they had conducted themselves very ill in the little village ; but they them. selves had already disappeared, having started on their march by break of day, and no one could inform the dismayed Severin of their destination, he could only learn what route they had taken. There was no news of the sergeant, further than that he had been well treated, that his wound was not dangerous, and that when seen on starting, riding on his white horse by the side of Colonel Senard, he had appeared grave, but neither depressed nor sad. No further information could Severin obtain.
Had he known the exact route and destination of their march he might have hastened after the French troop, but he did not think it advisable to start off on a random chase without first acquainting his grandmother, he therefore returned home, much dispirited by his disappointed expectation.
They are gone, grandmother," said he ; “no one knows whither. There is the money.
Who knows whether Franz will ever return, and without him how can we ever prove that Braun has defrauded us ?”.
“God will provide, my child,” replied his grandmother; “
we will commit all to Him. Remember our yesterday's conversation."
“Yes, you are right," replied Severin. and patience. ' Heute mir, morgen dir! Our turn will come at last."
After this the subject of the castle and its new proprietor was never mentioned. Severin and his grandmother did not trouble themselves about him, and Braun took good care to keep out of the way of the victims of his cunning. He lived in his castle like a badger in its burrow, and only quitted it for his daily walk to the ruins of Hohenstein, where he always went alone, not even a servant being permitted to accompany him, therefore none knowing what he did in that old ruinous keep. If a peasant or a wood-cutter happened to pass that way,
be saw Braun either sitting on the ruins, or else wandering among the old walls, staring with wild gaze around him, and would wonder at the strange fancy the new lord appeared to have taken for the gloomy deserted spot. Any one who saw him crept quietly back into the forest, for none of the villagers had any peculiar liking for the new lord who had usurped the place of the good old family.
« Courage Severin and his grandmother scarcely ever heard of Braun's strange custom of going daily, in all weathers, to the ruins, or if they did they heeded it as little as they did his other doings. Quietly and peacefully they lived on together; and when from time to time they alluded to the past, it was but to speak of their lost loved ones, or to mention the old sergeant, whose return was looked for by both, with a hope and confidence which could not be shaken. But time passed rapidly, and still the long desired return was delayed; years rolled by, and not even a romour of his fate reached the ears of Severin and his grandmother. Franz was certainly either dead, or else kept in such close imprisonment that he could not even find means of communicating with his friends. The former conclusion Severin would not be lieve, therefore he clung with the greater pertinacity to the latter.
His country's bondage under the foreign yoke of the French, caused the brave youth much sorrow. Each year as it passed made him feel still more deeply the disgrace and oppression beneath which the land of his fathers groaned, and he could not bring himself to leave his grandmother, whose sole remaining prop and comfort he was, to enter the service of the new sovereign placed over them by the French Emperor. Therefore he remained at home, dividing his time between his grandmother and his studies, which were to prepare him for a higher career, when the time should come that his poor oppressed fatherland should break the chains and fetters with wbich a foreign yoke bad bound it. That this time would come, however long delayed, Severin never for one instant doubted.
And the time did come. The Emperor Napoleon had with his large army penetrated into the very heart of Russia, the ancient capital of the kingdom was in flames; and now at last the moment seemed arrived, when the Almighty would cry to the presumptuous victor from above: “Stop! so far, and no further !"
Wonderful rumours were afloat amongst the German states, in the winter
of 1812. During his retreat through Russia, the French Emperor had been surprised by two grim foes, a Russian winter and Russian warriors. What the one spared the other destroyed, the large army was completely dispersed, and the Emperor himself in basty flight towards France.
Thousands and thousands of hearts beat high at this intelligence, thousands and thousands of eyes sparkled gladly, and thousands and thousands of brave men and youths began to hope that now they should be permitted to break the fetters that bound them, and drive their baughty foes back again across their Rhine boundary. Severin's heart beat high also, and his eyes sparkled as he gazed at his father's arms, which he had carefully preserved, and kept always hung over his bed. But still he lingered, for the cry had not yet gone forth to call the whole Prussian nation to arms, to join the standard of their king. That this call was not far distant he confidently hoped, and firmly expected, holding himself equipped and armed to be ready at a moment's notice. His grandmother saw and understood all, though Severin, not wishing to distress her before the time, had not spoken of his intentions.
It grieved her to the heart that her darling grandson, her son's child, should be obliged to face war's dangers ; but it never occurred to her, even in a dream, to think of withholding him from his purpose. No, his country needed every arm, every heart, and Severin must dedi. cate to it his whole strength and powers, and God, so she hoped and prayed, would spread His sheltering Hand over the boy, and not let her only joy, her last remaining comfort, be torn from her for ever.
One day, towards evening, Severin was coming from the neighbouring town, where he had been to gain the latest intelligence of what was passing, as he very often did now, and was returning to his village home. The evening was fearfully cold, though wonderfully fine and bright. The sun had already sunk low in the heavens, though still shooting its rosy sparkling rays through the leafless boughs of the trees, which were glittering in their richest winter garb. The thick mist of the past day now hung in crystal drops from every branch, and every little twig that was caught by one of the dying
rays, danced and sparkled till the whole forest appeared as though studded with diamonds.
Often had Severin beheld with silent admiration this spectacle of wintry splendour; but to-day he passed rapidly through the forest, his head sunk, and his cheeks glowing with inward excitement.
He had just gained important intelligence in the town; all the rumours which had circulated respecting the loss of the main body of the French army, had received the fullest confirmation, and the common expectation reigned everywhere, that now the king would seize his sword and call on all his country's faithful sons to do the same. Severin bad firmly resolved to obey the very first summons; and it was a wild dream of battles and victory which fired his heart and made his cheek glow. "The hour has come at last !” he exclaimed to himself. if the brave old sergeant were but at my side, how he would rejoice! How he would exult that the time is now come when we shall change our defeat into victory, and humble the haughty foe who had so deeply humbled us. 'Heute mir, morgen dir.' That morrow has come.”
As he thus hastened through the forest, wrapped in his own thoughts, a low groan met his ear, and caused him to stop in consternation. The groan was repeated, and ended in a feeble lament, so sad and piteous, that it cut to the very heart of the surprised and listening Severin. “Good heavens !” he murmured, bastening in the direction from which the piteous sounds proceeded, "good heavens ! some one is standing in mortal need! And in this fearful cold which almost freezes one's breath. Ha! Holla!” he called loudly. “Where are you, unhappy one? Help is near.
There was a feeble cry heard. Severin could scarcely tell whether of pain or joy; and three steps from him there rose from off the hard frozen ground a miserable figure, on whose every feature want and hunger were so clearly stamped, that Severin's heart instantly melted into the deepest compassion. Ghastly pale, with blue lips, and deep sunken eyes, the unhappy man fixed an imploring gaze on Severin, stretching out his trembling hands towards him. His head was wound round with a