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Then may God dispose of the rest, and I shall never be disobedient to you again. Nor did Liana seem to take much notice of the paternal No. When he had gone, the mother, weeping for bliss, snatched the silent form to her embrace; but Liana wept not so easily upon her bosom as once out of love, whether it was that her heart was too much exalted, or that it came back just as slowly into the old condition as it went out of it.

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I was to die; therefore I must needs love," said she. So she went smiling into the arms of sleep, with hard-beating heart. But in dream it appeared to her as if she were sinking away in a swoon, losing her mother, and struggling up again fearfully out of the grasp of flying death, and then weeping for joy that she lived again. Thereupon she awoke, and the glad drops, softly released by the dream, still flowed from her open eyes, and softened like a thawing-wind the stiff soil of life.

Ye great or blessed spirits above us! When man here, under the poor clouds of life, throws away his fortune, because he prizes it less than his heart, then is he as blessed and as great as you. And we are all worthy of a holier earth, because the sight of the sacrifice exalts, and does not oppress us, and because we shed burning tears, not from pity, but from the deepest, holiest love and joy.

Warmly and brilliantly did the sun, who today, like the unhappy one, was to be eclipsed, begin his morning race. Liana awoke on the burial-day of her love, not with yesterday's strength, but faint and languid, somewhat cheered, however, by the prospect of a return of her peaceful time. The mother, although herself sickly, pressed her, early in the morning, to her heart, in order to prove the pulse of the heart most precious to her.

Liana looked affectionately and yearningly, with moist eye, into her moist eye a long time, and was silent. Then in her mother's presence she bound together all Albano's letters, without reading them, except the one in which he begs her brother for his love. She sported with her mother, as fate does with us and as poor parents do with their children, who at first give them bright, gay garments, because these are more easily dyed into dark ones. Her mother sought gradually to take away from her her spiritual fantasies, the death-moss, as it were, which clung sucking to her green, young life.

She manifested to her mother almost a feverish gayety,--a sunshine on the last day of the year. She said, how it refreshed her, that she could now speak freely with her dear mother of her former lovely days.

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She portrayed to her Albano's great, glowing heart, and how he deserved the sacrifice, and the "pearly hours" which they had lived together. Remembrances last longer than present reality, as I have conserved blossoms many years, but never fruits. The Lector's note arrived with the intelligence that Albano was awaiting her in Lilar. Now, as the hour of interview drew so near, she grew more and more uneasy. With her work-basket on her arm, in which the letters lay, she stepped into the carriage, which they had to open, because its sultry air oppressed her.

But the sultriness was the breath and atmosphere of her own spirit, and everything beautiful which met her became to her to-day a benumbing poison-flower. Fearfully she kept grasping and pressing the hand of her mother, because every cry, every form that darted by, fluttered over her like a rustling storm-bird; a crier, with his rough tone, cut across her nerves; they trembled more gently again, only when a pastor and his servant passed by with the sick-cup for the evening drink of weary people.

O, the fair way was long to her! She had so long to hold together with fainting powers the breaking heart, which was to speak so firmly and decidedly and distinctly with her beloved. The sky was blue, and yet neither of them remarked that it was beginning to be dark without clouds, since the moon already stood with her night upon the sun. As they passed over the woodland bridge into the living Lilar, where on all branches hung the old bridal-dresses of a decorated past, Liana said, with intense earnestness, to her mother: "For God's sake, not into the old castle of the dead!


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That is his rendezvous," said the mother. He sees us already; yonder he goes over the gates," said she. Albano came slowly along down through the walks; he had cleared his eye of tears and his heart of storms. O, how had he hitherto, like a long-tossed mariner, peered into his dark clouds, in order between their misty peaks to discover the mountain-peaks of a green continent!

At last he stood with quivering lips before the beloved, beautiful form, who, childlike, pale, trembling, and watching her work-basket, looked upon him a little, and then struggled with her sinking eyes. Then his heart melted; the flood of old love rushed back high into his life. I am still the same as ever; and hast thou too not changed? A gash was made into the arteries of her life, and tears sprang up instead of blood.

His good form, his familiar, brotherly voice stood again so near to her, and his hand held hers again, and yet all was over; a hot sun-glance flashed across her former flowery garden-life, and showed it in a melancholy illumination, but it lay far from her. Tell me very briefly everything, why thou hast hitherto been so silent and done so.

I have nothing to say,--then let all be forgotten. He grew red at the maternal espionage; his eye flashed into hers a certain resentment against the "you," and his hot looks wanted to draw out of her agitated face the delaying riddle. Necessity commanded strength; she began. There is a mystery, which concerns merely you and your happiness, that has constrained me to part from you and from every joy.

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She covered her eyes with her hand and nodded slowly. How ye have lied"--he looked at his letters--"about eternal fidelity and love! Whom did you mean then, ye hellish liars? Liana was about to pick them up; he trod on them violently, and looked bitterly upon the affrighted one.


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Now he fell into a storm, and drew and poured out, like a water-wheel during the influx of the floods, his tumultuous, suffering breast, and ceased not his cruel pictures of his love, her weakness, her coldness, his pain, her former oaths, and her present violated one about his mysterious fortune, which he said he did not want at all. Her silence wrought him up to a wilder whirl. Her quick, intense breathing he heard not. It is all impossible now," she answered, imploringly. O, I will instantly to my mother! The two old black spiders, let down by Fate, stood again over her fair eyes and overspun them, busily spinning, with a closer and closer web; and over the golden strips of life already grew a gray mould.

He saw overhead in the blue heaven the lunar lump cast like a gravestone into the pure sun. Not so much as a real shadow, but only enervated shadows lived in the uncertain gray light; the birds fluttered timidly around; cold shudders played like ghosts of the noonday hour in the little, faint lustre which was neither sunlight nor moonlight. Gloomy, gloomy lay life before the youth; through the long black marble colonnade of the years sorrows came stalking on like panthers, and grew brightly spotted under the retreating sun-glances of the past.

Lilar must be covered up to-day. Look up at the moon,--how darkly it has rolled over the sun; once she too was our friend. O, make it still gloomier, utter night!

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Where is the temple and my mother? The black tiger of the most cruel anguish hung clambering on his breast and carried him away.

Little Pollux, made happy by his presents, had led along a begging mute, who followed with the ringing mute's-bell. Liana cried, "Mother, mother! The Minister's lady rushed out.

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Long did he lie, up in the thunder-house, with his eyes buried in his arms, and when he at last, and quite late, without knowing where he was, roused himself, as from a dream, he saw the whole landscape illumined by a serene day, the sunshine unveiled and warm in the pure blue, and the close carriage with the blind one rolled rapidly across the woodland bridge.

Then Albano sank down again on his arms. Now that Albano lived without love or hope; now that he had seen the polar-star of his life fall like a shooting-star into a wilderness still as death; now that every one of his actions and every recollection darted out a scorpion-sting, and he sent back Liana's letters, forsook Lilar, the house of the Doctor, the Lector, Liana's relatives, and the pious father; now that he directed his face, gradually growing pale, only to books and stars; men who know no higher sorrow than selfish sorrow must needs imagine that nothing weighs upon his bosom but the ruins and rubbish of the shattered air-castles of his hope and youthful love.

But he was more nobly unhappy and disconsolate: he was so, because he had for the first time made a human creature and the best of beings miserable,--his beloved blind! Into this abyss of his heart all neighboring fountains of sorrow flowed together. The smallest gayly-painted shards of his urn of fortune were as if shattered afresh, when he heard from day to day that the poor girl, although daily stationed in the bath-house before the healing fountains, was nevertheless brought back each time without a ray of light or hope, and that she now feared nothing more, lamented nothing more on this robbers' earth, than that death might perhaps close her eyes before they had seen her mother again.

O, the wound of conscience is no sear, and time cools it not with his wing, but merely keeps it open with his scythe!

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Albano called back to remembrance Liana's bitter entreaty for indulgence; and then it was no consolation to him, that, during that eclipse of the sun, he had not wished to sacrifice her eyes, but only her heart. In the burning-glass and magnifying-mirror of consequences fate shows us the light, playing worms of our inner man as grown-up and armed furies and serpents. How many sins pass through us unseen and with soft looks, like nightly robbers, because, like their sisters in dreams, they steal not out from the circle of the breast, and get no outward object to fall upon and strangle.

The fair soul readily detects in an accident a sin. Only those hard stormers of heaven and earth before whose triumphal chariots there starts up beforehand a wagon-rampart full of wounds and corpses,--that is, the fathers of war, which, in the long course of history, ministers have oftener been than princes,--only these can calmly kindle all the volcanoes of earth, and let all their lava-torrents stream down, merely that they may have--fair prospects.

They manure Elysian fields into a battle-field, in order to raise therein a redder rose-bush for a mistress. The first thing Albano did, when he arrived at the Doctor's house, was to trudge out of it down into the remote valley town, in order neither to see the suspected Lector, still less to hear daily the malicious Doctor Sphex upon the relapse of the blindness. Only the faithful Schoppe jogged off with him, especially as he, by a well-adapted course of behavior, had contrived to get up an opposition party against himself in the Sphex family, which could no longer suffer him in the house.