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“ Elle avait au bout de ses manches,
Une paire de mains si blanches ;
Que je voudrais en verité,

En avoir été souffleté!" “Ah! my God! there she is !"

The stilled exclamation fell on his ear, very low-spoken but passionate, as only a lover's entranced recognition is. He turned, and saw a mask in Venetian costume, to whose shoulder was also fastened the little badge of ivy.

“One of us; who, I wonder ? He, too, cannot speak of her without betraying himself,” thought Victor, as he swung round quickly and glanced over the boxes. In one of them he saw what he sought; with black Spanish laces and azure silks sweeping about her, caught here and there with

sprays of silver ivy, a woman masked, who, leaning her arm on the front of the loge, and her cheek upon her hand, gazed down into the tumult of colour and of movement that made up the ball below. Her face was unseen, but the lips, exquisite as the lips of a Greuze painting, had a certain proud weariness on them; and in the bright richness of her hair, in the elegance of her hand and arm, in the languor and


of her attitude and her form, there were sufficient sureties of the beauty that would be seen if the black mask that veiled it were removed.

The Venetian domino looked at her long, then with a stifled sigh


turned away.

You have loved her ?" whispered Vane. The domino started, and glanced at the ivy branch on Victor's arm.

To my cost,” he said bitterly, in French, that had a Magyar accent, as he plunged among the whirling dancers, and was lost in the spangled and riotous multitude.

Victor smiled. A woman who owned a limitless power, and was unscrupulous, and without pity in its use, was, perhaps, the only woman he was capable of respecting. Cold as he was, and but little accessible to anything of passion, for which his blood ran too suavely and too tranquilly, he felt something of warm eager curiosity sweep over him, and his pulse beat a shade quicker with a new expectation; he had long heard of her, he had never seen her, and he threaded his way with impatience through the Arlequins, Pierrots, masks, and costumes, till he reached the stairs, and mounted them lightly and rapidly towards the box, opened the door, and entered.

It was filled with dominoes, all decorated with the silver spray, and all bending towards her, with eyes that gleamed softly and admiringly through their masks, and voices that murmured flatteries, homage, and wit—to an inattentive ear. She lifted her head, and turned slightly as the door unclosed; her eyes, deep, large, luminous, dwelt on him through her mask, noting the badge he wore. She bowed languidly, a little haughtily.

Entrez, monsieur." And Victor Vane, all-impassive diplomatist, all-rusé man of the world though he was, felt a thrill run through him, and a warmth pass over his life, as he heard the nameless magic of that melodious lingering voice, and found himself, for the first time, in the presence of that Queen of the Silver Ivy, who was known as-Idalia, Countess Vassalis.





A PERSON looking down from the Kahlenberg upon the mass of houses grouped round St. Stephen's Tower, and called Vienna, notices at its south-eastern extremity a gloomy-looking quadrangle, which nearly occupies the space of a county town. Farther on to the right and left other smaller points emerge from the plain; the telescope enables us to recognise the enormous buildings of the Southern Railway, which, running over and through the Alps, brings Austria into contact with the mercantile riches of the Eastern world. Farther on lies the Raab station -the glass strays over its widely-scattered, smoke-blackened buildingsand then, what appeared a group of palaces, becomes again a paltry barrack when compared with the above-mentioned quadrangle, and resembles a satellite by the side of the sun.

This is, however, the sole resemblance with the sun which the quadrangle can claim ; at least, the solar spectrum has not yet informed us whether the sun contains as much iron in its glowing veins as to produce a further resemblance with the contents of the furnaces in this quadrangle. Its external appearance certainly affords the most striking contrast with a beaming planet. The closely-grated windows, twelve feet above the ground, look out sullenly upon the country; the red bricks, of which it is built, do not appear to have obtained their red hue solely from the weather; bastion-shaped towers rise here and there out of the uniform line and protect the flanks, like elephants escorting a herd of rhinoceroses.

Fortunately I have only seen this building by sunshine ; in rainy weather, I firmly believe, a view of it would fill a harlequin with mortal melancholy. Our fiacre rolled along, passed the barrière of the metropolis, crossed the Raab line-we drove for a short time through sterile fields, which seemed thirsting for rain and the carriage pulled up at the gigantic entrance gate. A corporal stepped forward from the heavy guard under the gateway, and came up to us. My companion handed him the cards of admission specially procured for us, whose sig. nature the soldier carefully examined for a moment. Then he fell back with a military salute, and we drove into the court-yard of the Arsenal of Venice-may I call it the Tower of Austria ?

The destinies of England were attached for centuries to the name of the Tower. That building on the Thames, the Zwing-Uri of England, whose foundations were laid by the Romans, did good service for a long time. The man who held the walled mound could act as he pleased. After the Romans came the Saxons, and forced their way on to its battlements ; after them came the Danes, and the Danes were followed by the Normans—all knew by experience that whoso held it held London, and whoso held London held England.

The bridle which the Habsburg rider has put on his hereditary steed is not so old as that of Britain. On the contrary, it is of very modern origin, and for that reason not so ponderously built. The mystic web is missing which antiquity has spread about the former; the romantic feeling, the quarrelsome barons, the value of personal strength and bravery, are absent. Here are no walls and moats, no sally-ports and drawbridges,



as in the prototype ; there is, assuredly, no reason for apprehending that the barons of the empire will march against it, sword in hand, in order to extort a Magna Charta for Austria, and hence it bears no highly poetical reminiscence-arousing name, but is simply known as the Vienna Arsenal.

“ Voilà l'Autriche !" my companion said laughingly to me, while one of the Pandours on guard walked in front of us, before whose divining rod the massive gates of the gloomy palace sprang open with a sullen growl. “ In the end you will be more surprised than you anticipate. You have come with the supposition of finding an immense mass of material of war, destructive instruments of old and new construction, artistic, complicated machinery, in which the human mind triumphs over the resisting capacity of nature, and at the close you will discover that in these halls one of the most wonderful systems of preservation is welded which the earth knows. What you regard as cannon, projectiles, and musket-barrels, will be changed in your eyes into so many clamps and chains, with which a rotten giant body, which has been internally suffering for centuries from deadly atrophy, is convulsively held together. You will see a steam-engine, in which nations set in motion by a dark power, allow themselves to be used as machines to crush other nations, until the boiler bursts some day, and, with a fearful explosion, rends the whole system of tyranny into a thousand splinters. For, after all, everything is possible under the sun.”

The Pandour had the most stupid face to be found in all Slavonia. We had passed through the splendid marble ante-chamber into the first hall, which is filled with relics from the past history of the Habsburg imperial family and its adherents. “Yes, yes; of course,” he said, with a cunning laugh, when my companion had finished his technical exposition ; then we read, with some difficulty, the words engraved on the gold tablet near us, “In thy camp was Austria.”

It is the staff which the late Field-Marshal Radetzky received in recognition of his many years' services to the empire. It is made of gold, and has the shape of a cannon resting on its carriage ; sapphires, rubies, and other precious stones adorn the border, especially, however, amethysts, which, according to the Eastern fable, protect the wearer from infidelity. All around, and fitted into the wreath of laurels, which is always laid on the grave of the benefactors of humanity, run tablets, bearing the names of the battles in which he hurled down the external and internal enemies of Austria. The dates begin from the death of the great Napoleon. Under them are piled up the gilt emblems of his trade, cannon, swords, flags, bullets, gun-carriages, helmets, pistols, bandoliers, harness, bayonets, and chains. Nothing is forgotten but the corpses, which lie elsewhere in ungilded graves. It will be seen that the staff is very valuable, and they must have been valuable services that he rendered to the empire, or, to speak more correctly, to its ruler. They must have been exceptional services, for which this monument was erected during his lifetime, for it occupies the centre of the hall, and the light appears to emanate exclusively from it. Huge town keys from the middle ages, on faded velvet cushions, such as former venerable burgomasters and long-peruked magistrates carried in a humble procession, and with trembling knees, to the predecessors of Radetzky, perhaps to Tilly. Tattered flags from all sorts of places, trophies from the Thirty Years' War. I noticed none out of the Seven Years' War. That those from the time of the German wars of Liberation should look very new and fresh, is explained by the recency of the period. Here and there a dusty something hung between, which I was unable to recognise.

Passing the bullet-wounded hat of Pappenheim, whose felt brim, judging from its width, seems to have been intended as a parasol for half a squadron of dragoons, we walked to a glass case, to which our guide especially drew our attention, for I stood with amazement before the unexpected sight.

In the midst of this memorable display of the remains of the bodily existence of archdukes and princes, who belonged to the only true church, surrounded by the gold-embroidered tunics and uniforms of Austrian generals, of older and later date, hung a grey leather jerkin, of such sober Protestant simplicity, that its wearer must have been scented a hundred yards off as a heretic, and beneath the modest jerkin was inscribed a beloved hero's name. How did this Saul come among the Habsburg prophets ?

" He was a great robber; the great Emperor Ferdinand had him executed,” stammered my Pandour, who was behind me, and interpreted my explanation, as a question about the object of my inspection. My companion took a glance at it, and laughingly turned with the commentator into the next room. I, however, remained behind for a moment, agitated by the strangest medley of feelings. He was no Habsburg prophet! Had it not been for the little bullet in his back, where would the state of the fourteen kingdoms and duchies now be? Who would now be sitting in the splendid halls of the Burg? The sight of this relic, at such a spot, rendered me dubious whether Schiller was really right when he said of the wearer, that the greatest service which he rendered Germany was dying at the moment he did.

History decides the destiny of centuries with a small bullet. Perhaps, had it been otherwise, the purple mantle of the Emperor Ferdinand would now be hanging in Stockholm, and the stupid Laplander who acted as guide would treat historical facts in the same anachronistical fashion. The Laplanders, however, though they are Protestants, and even much less, namely, half Pagans, are by far not so stupid as the Pandours. The latter only possess greater faith, and that is probably the reason why the former have a greater historic sense. At least, a Laplander would have known more than our guide about the German emperors into whose brazen circle we now descended. So I at first believed; eventually I discovered that I had been unjust to our poor Cicerone. He had a small book in his hand, from which he read a sentence before every coat of mail. Being ignorant of German, however, he did so methodically, without understanding what he was reading. Hence he did not perceive that he had made a mistake, and was explaining to us the emperors of the Habsburg line from a pocket edition of the “ Lives of the Saints," instead of an historical compendium. This gave rise to comic embroglios, as, for instance, when Charles V. was praised as a humble servant of the Lord, who began and ended his life in gentleness and love of humanity, or when his grand-nephew, Rudolph, always victoriously resisted the seductions of the senses and of Satan. Surely there was no great sin in laughing heartily at such delicious misunderstandings. My merriment,



however, frightened our declaimer, so that he silently retired into a corner with the “Lives of the Saints,” and left us alone with the German emperors, or rather the cocoons, out of which the brilliant moths had flown many a century before. They stood there in rank and file, the size of life, an earnest

, silent assembly. The most varying ages, the most varying costumes and armaments, were represented. And all real and authentic: we had before us the very garb these emperors had once worn.

If I were Emperor of Austria, I would let my eldest son enter this hall, not with the “ Lives of the Saints,” but with a sensible history, which, unfortunately, is not yet written. In the mean while, I would recommend supplying its place with the reports in the daily papers about the expulsion of the princes of North and South Italy.

There are above one hundred brass forms arranged in a long row down the hall, and they form a wide walk. Involuntarily you walk softly, as if afraid of awaking them, for in such case they might have a sudden impulse to fall on each other with their broad glaves. On the right-hand side of the entrance stand the coat armour of the emperors, mostly richly decorated and inlaid; field and parade armament side by side, frequently in several specimens, as in the case of Charles V., his holiday coat of mail

, which is gilded from head to foot, flashes among the rest, like a sunbeam darting through grey clouds. Here and there you see a figure in a leather jerkin, with embroidered collar and puffed sleeves. These have but few martial emblems, frequently but a shield and sword, and probably in their lifetime strove rather to conquer female hearts than kingdoms. The painted doll's head faces peeping out under the helm of these figures, for they wear no visor, heightens this impression. They look more peaceful than the others, and as if afraid of their scowling neighbours. Opposite to them is a similar row of coats of mail

, in which formerly counts

, barons, knights, and gentlemen dwelt. Here and there their favourite avocation is indicated by their position. Some hold their lances pointed at each other, and are just going to bore their points through the armour-joints. Others have their iron fingers on their sword, and are swearing eternal war against their 'suzerain on its cross-shaped hilt. It seems as if you can hear their teeth savagely grinding behind the visor, while in others you can see within the helm the eyes distinctly flashing, with which, crouching like beasts of prey ready for a spring, they watched the merchants passing beneath their castle walls.

At the latter row was seated a workman, engaged in polishing the iron plates, which had grown rusty in the course of time, and keeping them brilliant. He had just finished one figure, and came up to another, before which I was standing in admiration. A tall, imposing form : the sword upraised in his right hand formerly held at bay as dense a band of common fighting men as the illustrious name inscribed under it now does their common peaceful descendants. The workman, however, went up to the figure unshrinkingly, and took off the helmet. Beneath the latter was a rough log of wood, to fill up the space. This he threw with his plebeian hands into a corner.

I had not gone many yards farther when the row of armour was suddenly interrupted, and a strange sight presented itself to us.


Here were

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