|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||The Midnight Waltz|
THE MIDNIGHT WALTZ.
Translated from the Spanish
BY H. A. Birbeck.
I MAY as well say, as an introductory remark, that St. Silvester's Night, being the last of the year, is celebrated in the Southern countries of Europe with appropriate rejoicings; and the "Midnight Waltz" is often being danced when the clock strikes 12, and announces the com- mencement of a new year. 'Tis as the first chime is resounding that the waltzing simultaneously ceases, and with mutual felicitations and congratulations, each dancer salutes his fair partner, after which the dancing again commences.
Well, it was on St. Silvester's Night that the events I am about to relate took place.
A State ball was given at the German Court. The Grand Duchess had just entered the gallery (where the band of the Prahwinkel Regiment was performing), followed by her favorite maid of honor, the beautiful Attilia, Countess de Walkenetein, whose entrance caused a more profound sensation than that of the Grand Duchess herself, and whose transit through the sumptuous dancing rooms excited observations more or less complimentary.
"I cannot conceive," exclaimed the criticising Madame de Rothenwald, "how a girl dare appear at a ball in a simple muslin dress, without ornaments on the head, and totally devoid of jewellery and embroidery."
"This would never have happened in my time," said the aged Countess of Nottingen, taking a pinch of snuff. "In my time the Court was very different; and we would soon have taught better manners to a light-headed girl like this Attilia!"
"Oh! aunt," exclaimed the Schorita Estefanía, "have you seen the bouquet of superb Alexandrian roses that Attilia holds in her hand?"
"What nonsense you talk!" replied the Countess de Nottingen, pettishly. "Alexandrian roses! By St. Silvester, you must be dreaming! Why, they could not b procured for love or money at this season of the year not even in the hot-houses of the Royal Palace."
"Notwithstanding the improbability," added Madama de Rothenwald, " Estefanía is right. I too have seen Attilia's bouquet, and must confess I feel anxious to know who gave it to her."
"It may have been the Prince," reasoned the Countess de Nottingen, with an air of impatience.
"Oh! it was not him, dear aunt. And if Attilia does not take care, she will lose him, for he is already half in love with Lady Emily."
"What! that English woman whoso flowing locks reach to her waist ?" asked Madama do Rothonwuld.
" The same," said Estefanía. " She oonveraes with him about horsos and dogs ; and it sectnB not unlikoly that Attilia will find in her a suo oeasful rival. But, as to tho bouquot, I think I oan boIvo the mystery. Last Sunday wo' woro at tho palace with the Grand Duchess, and I heard Attilia say, within hearing of Frodorio, Count d'Ebersdorf, that bIio would givo what- ever price woro asked for a bouquet of Aloxau drian rosos, to wear this very night. And, I suppose you know, thero lives at Dilihoim an Amerioan old mon, who ia immensely rioh,-em- ploying bia wealth in tho cultivation of raro exotics, flowers, and roses, so that at his place the rarest.roses can bo procurod as easily in January as in July-"
"And tho proof all this?" interrupted hor
" Attend to mo a little, dear aunt," went on Estefanía. " Count Fredorio started from boro laat night, and rcturnod this- morning just in time to attend to his diplomatie dutioB."
"But do you boliovo," said Madama do Rothenwald, incredulously, "that tho haughty Frederic d'Eborsdorf would travel all night in order to go to Dilsboim to procuro roseB for tho
Countess Attilia ?"
Estefanía smiled. " Why," bIjo said, " my dear madama, how is it I Have you not ob- served that for tho last four weeks ho dances no cotillon without her?"
" My dear nieco," interposed tho Oountoss do Nottingon, in a reproving tone, " you hod better be more discreet than in occupying your time with other people's affairs ; you are too inquisi- tive, and talkative Both faults equally intoler-
" My aunt always winds up with scolding mo, after she has got nil tho information required," murmured Estefanía, poutragly.
" If the count really loveB Attilia," pursued Madama de Rothenwald, " it will explain tho dilemma of his having so strenuously resisted the anxious exhortations of the Court, request- ing his marriago with Enriqueta do Frankonthal. Tho day before yostorday, tho Grand Duke, who takeB great interest in this matrimonial schome, promised the oount the Grand Insignia of tho Order of the Pelican, if he consented to make Enriqueta his bride."
"And did ho refuse ?" interrogated the Countess de Notticgen, amazed.
" He begged four dByB for consideration."
"Four days to consider ! when such a thing as the Grand Insignia is at stako ? Four days for the consideration of such a boon ! And tho count only fivo-and-twenty ! Dear mo I when I bring to mind how my brother did not get even the smaller cross till the age of thirty-nine, and the grand insignia at the ago of fifty-six. My deceased husband did not obtain the Grand Cordon until within ton "days of his death, al- though he occupied such distinguished places of trust, honor, and confidence. Gracious me! how the times are changed !"
At the termination of this lamentation, the aged countess rose, and proceeded to smother her rising indignation at tho congenial card tables.- Madama de Rothenwald took Estefanía'« arm, and both advanced to witness a country dance.
"Strange, Estefanía," remarked Madama de Rothenwald. " Do you see Attilia danciog with thegranctcudero, and Count Frederic with En- riqueta?"
" That is," explained Estefanía, " that is because Híb Royal Highness commanded the count to dance the firsc/mncesa with Enriqueta. But see how Attilia eyes her «ir à vit. I feel certain Bhe is displeased ; and it will coït Count Frederic dear for dancing with la Frankenthal,
because Attilia detests her."
"But do you believe Attilia really loves tho
"Who!" «aid Estefanía ¡ "the proud and domineering Attilia love.' No; she is incapable of harboring such a divine feeling within her haughty breast. And if she loved him, she would sooner die a thousand death« than'reveil U. Nevertheltn, I imagine hor object ii to
enthral and domineer over him, aa she domi- neers ovor all the others that surround her."
" In that case," said Madama de Rothenwald, musingly, "I do not think she will ever Buccood;; for tho oount posssBBOS a oharaotor and Bpirit as proud and unmanageable as hors. A love between them will only bo a chollengo to tho death, becauso it is a matter of dubious conjec- ture which is tho most haughty and unyielding
of tho two."
Attilia Countess do Walkonstoin, tbo object of this conversation, seemed to realeo the ideal type of feminino dignity ; in truth there could not havo boen found a moro classically formed head, nor such pure, fascinating, and perfect cast of features. Hor beautiful golden bair, parted over an imperial forehead, her haughty glance, and the habitually contemptuous expression of her mouth, seemed to say that there existed nothing worthy of hor, upon tho wholo super- ítelos of tho earth. Educated in tho Court, under tho immediate caro of the Grand Duchess, who manifested for hor an almost matornal affec-
tion, Attilia soon became tho object of homage for the bright circles that attonded the Ducal Court. Hor oxtrome beauty, coupled with her high position, enchainod at her feet all tho cour- tiers in the kingdom, commencing with the hoir to tho Crown. The triumph sho ottained, the adoration and tho envy that followed wherover sho appeared, soon smothered in her the gorm of sensibility and of love that is naturally in- herent to ovory woman, and which augments to excess tho thirst for conquest that all womon feol. To Attilia to Uro wob to conquer, and reign unrivollod throughout tho world.
Being too cold to nppreoiato any true warmth of feeling that a lover might entertain for hor she did not ask for iuoh profound and exaltod a love, as long a« sho obtained a complete submis- sion to her will, and a blind obedienoe to tho whims excited by her predominant solf-lovo Despite tho lofty oontompt with which sho op- posed all theil' solicitations, ond not improbably, on account of this very oontompt, bIio found herself surrounded by sighing aspirants violently in love. No ono approached her without in- stantly almost losing his mind,.and, strange to say, not ono of her whole circlo of admirers could explain tho cause of tho rare 2>restige of this haughty bollo. Somo would attribute it to a magnetic iniluonco ; others to her calm de- meanor and swoot serenity, that attracted and onchantod liko tho aspoct of an unruffled and translucent loko whon reflected upon a starlit sky. Otbors imagined thoy could discover tho latent attraction in tho silvory and mollowed tono of hor dolicioas voice, that, in itself, was irresistiblo. But ovon though thoy could not discover tho sourco of hor tronscondont power, thoy novor ceased to feel its effootB,and continu- ing adoring her, and hoping against hopo.
Tiha francesa over, tho gran etcudtro ondoa vorod to toko Attilia to her soot, but the press was so groat that they woro eonatrainod to pauao Bovoral times. During ono of these forced pauscB, they found themselves immediately be- hind Lady Emily and hor mothor.
" I cannot comprehond you," inquired tho mothor, speaking in tho English tongue, '
declining to 'dance tho cotillon with M. de
" Because I am almost certain of dancing it with tho prince," explained Lady Emily, in the Bamo language,
" With tho prince ?" rejoined the English mamma. "Has he intimated anything to wur rant your apparent certainty ?"
" Not exactly, but it is not long sinco ho askod if I had Been his favorito horses ; and during tho conversation he asked whether I liked dano ing cotillons, and when I answered in tho affir- mative, ho »aid he liked them too. I consider his saying so »a tantamount to having taken mo
Hor mamma Bhook hor head with an air of in- credulity. Attilia, whs had hoard and under- stood this dialogue, thanks to hor knowledge of the English language, proposed in her own mina to upBot all tboso little plans, and with thom tho hopos of Lady Emily.
Half-past 11 struck just as the Gabriela, tho moBt donco-compelling of tho walttos of Strauss, was commencing. The Grand Duchess ap- proached, and with a smiling countenance asked her favorito maid of honor :
"Who is the happy mortal with whom you aro going to dance the 'Midnight Waltz ?" '
Hardly had Attilia informed her that it wa« tho Count d'Ebersdorf, when Frodoriq himself stood before her ready to lead her out.
It were impossible to conceive tho effect of IhcBO waltzes, unless wo hod personally witnossod tbcm in Germany. Waltzes sometimes rapid and morry, sometimes melancholy ; now sweet and slow, and again rising in vohomenco, acting in strict accordance with the dancers, bocauso in Gomany the dancing and music aro not separate things, but parts of tho wholo, so that the rattlo of the spurs, tho ruatlo of tho silks, and tho sound of the feet, aro as necessary and inseparable in a waltz of Straus«, aa tho instru-
ments of tho orchestra.
Exactly at midnight tho woltzing ceased ¡ the orchestra exchanged its measured timo for geyer and moro cheering symphonies, welooming the entrance of tho new year. Everybody em- braced and kissed, and felicitating with congra- tulations everybody was pleosod. In the midst of the jubileo and rejoicing, Frederic fully in- tended enjoying the sweet privilege allowed him at thiB long expected moment, but as ho in- clined forward to stamp a kiss upon Attilio'a fair brow, eho moved backwards with tho indig- nation of an offended queen, which eo disoom fitted the count, that in attempting to smile bo
"I thought it was my right,-at leaBt aa are
ward for tho rOBes."
" In that case," said Attilia, " permit mo to return thom, that you may beetow them on who. ever you please."
"Attilia!" expostulated the count.
" Count d'Ebersdorf," returned the merciless Attilia, " I knew not you were entitled to coll
Frederic bit hiB lips. Tho waltzing wa« re- sumed and concluded without either Baying a word. When the countess again sot down, and while ehe was amusing herself by directing her eyeglass, first at Lady Emily, who, with visible impatience, scanned the room ia search of the prince, and then at Frederic, who convened in a hot and distracted manner with the Sefcorita de Frankenthal, His Royal Highness himself, attired in a brilliant uniform, with the Grand Insignia of the Order of the Pelican upon his breast, presented himself before Attilia in all hi« splendor. The usual compliment« over :
" Momeñor," said Attilia, in her moat winning manner, who, knowing the weak side of Hi« Royal Highness, intended to »vail herself of it, " moneemor, may I oak as to the welfare of your beautiful horse, Sultan?"
Such a nice démonstration of condescension
on the part of tho imperious Attilia, caused Hi« Royal Highness' countenance to light up with tnimation, and taking a Beat by her sido he gave satisfactory nows with roforonco to his favorite steed ; and seeing that ho wa» listened to with attention, tho royal heir went so far as to submit to tho approbation of his fair intoloou tor vast pinna for the bettor government of his extensive dominions, and ho confided to bor a design ho intonded laying boforo his august father, for preaonting now colors to certain regi- ments of tho Royal Guards, Ac., &c. Tho Countess do Walkonetein was so condescending, lively, and intorostedin tho prince's conversation that he flattered himself ho had at length modo a favorable impression, and beggod the ploasuro of dancing tho cotillon with her. Attilia ac- cepted, casting exultant looks at Lady Emily and tho Count d'Eborsdorf, tho latter of whom was still occupied with tho Sc&orita do Franken thal. Now, it happened that Attilia had, four days boforo, proinisod this Tory cotillon to Frederic, and although sho had just woundod his pride in an unmoroiful manaor, his polite- ness and various othor sontimonts conspired to make him remind her of lior promise, whioh he immediately did, as they woro forming for tho cotillon. " Pray forgivo my bad memory," ro plioil the haughty belle, in tho least confuBod, "but I am now alroady engaged." Frederic trembled with wouuded pride and disappoint-
" May I ask with whom?" ho inquired, trying to suppreBB his ohagrin.
The princo hero interrupted by giving his hand to Attilia, and telling tho count to lcod the cotillon. Frodorio placed himself with tho Señorita Frankenthal on the left of tho princo. At this mornont Lady Emily and her mother could bo soon leaving tho room. Partly by chanco, and partly by tho intricacy of tho thou- sand and one figures in tho cotillon, Frodorio and Attilia found thouisolvOB sido by sido, at a dis-
tance from tho rest.
"I sineorely thank you, countess," said Frede- ric, in a doprociatiug manner, " I Bincorely thank you for tho lesson you havo given mo ¡ you havo placed yourself so high in one senso, and so low in another, that I cannot but feel grateful to )ou for having oponod my oyoa boforo it woro
"I do not undorBtond you, Count d'Ebors- dorf," askod Attilia.
" I mean to soy that I havo nothing to do with a prince's dioico," wound up tho count.
Tho proud Attilia had soarcoly timo to answer this insulting spoooh by a withering glauco, when hor royal partner took lior away. For the first time in her life she felt profoundly humiliated, and doprived of her calm and cus- tomary dignity. Novortholess, concoaling her mortification undor Iho guiso of pretended buoyancy of spirits, sho tolerated tho attention of His Royal Highness during tho euppor that immcdiatoly followed, and tho most part of tho night,
As soon as tho Grand Duko roso tho noxt morning, Count Frederic beggod hi» sovereign's leave to marry the Señorito Frankenthal, coupled with a request to bo sent boyond tho kingdom on some affair. Four days after this, the murringo wa» oelobratod with great niogni Coonee at the Court, and Frederic departed for St. Petersburg ni confidential ambassador, taking with him his wife, tho Grand Insignia, and his official dispatches.
Tub ensuing year wos vory fortilo with im- portant events at tho duoal court. The mar riogo of tho heir apparent with the Princess do -, gnvoriBO to innumerable festivities ; anew order of knighthood had boon oroatod-, tho chief oounBollor had disclosed bia communica- tions with Napoleon, and was disgraced ; and lastly, tho Countess de Walkenstoin had boen sovcrely indisposed with a malady wholly un- known to tho medical attendants of tho royal household ! although, it ia true, Bomo opinod that Count d'Ehorsdorf's marriage was the truo cauflo, for soon after tho ceremony she was at- tacked with convulsions that lasted throe hours, and an incessant fever had obliged her to keep her bed six weeks ; and as she was ofton attacked with convulsions that lasted threohours, and an inccseant lover had obliged her to keep hor bed six wooka, and as bIio wub ofton attacked after her oonvaloscenco, with norvous visitations, by whioh sho sulTered cruelly, during whioh sho always brought her hand ovor tho regions of hor heart in convulsivo delirium, tho modical attendants arrivod at tho conclusion that har malady arose from extreme sensibility, caused .by some latent torment in her heart. Directly thoy discovered this, she was prohibited from attending places that could in any woy rouse her feelings of emotion, and most particularly from dancing tho Grabiola waltz of Strauss, in oonsequenco of hor having boen on the verge of doath after having danced one at tho rocont festivities for tho royal marriage.
Well, in due timo, St. Sylvester's Night carno on again, and tbo ball was repeated at iho Grand Duko's court, which was as thronged as the preceding year. Count Frodorio and his wifo had arrivod from St. Petersburg three days before. Attilia, who continued in very bad health, was obliged to keep her bed, where the Grand Duchess repaired, boforo entering tho ballroom, imprinting affectionate kisses upon Attilia's fair and unconscious brow that lay at reBt, enveloped in a profound sleep.
A harmonious and animated waltz invited the dancers. Count Frederic was impatiently wait- ing the conclusion of a convocation rolative to a hunting excursion tho Grand Duke was pro- posing, in order to seek a partner j when sud- denly a general commotion took place-tho music ceased, ladies and gentlemen formed them- selves in groups ; and in the midst of the con- fusion, a lady of inoomparablo beauty, dressed in white, traversed the room, and directing her steps towards Count d'Ebersdorf, sho said, in a sweet end enchanting voice :
" Frederic, come, lot us danoo this waltz-let us dance it togetherl"
" Attilia 1" was the only response the amazed Frederic could articulate, ob he drew back, ns toniihed at tho apparition before him,
" For God's soke I Count d'Ebersdorf!" cried one of the doctors in attendance, "oppose not her request-comply at once. I seo that she is aaleep, and to wake her were to kill her."
Frederic felt transfixed contemplating that mournful figure that reminded bim so forcibly of the past ; that beautiful creature, attenuated by grief and sorrow, paled and barraBsed by sufferings,-her large blue eyes fixed, as if at- tracted by some invisible object ¡ hor lofty and majestic forehead seemed to be shaded over by the drooping wings of the Angel of Death. Te» ; there ehe stood, the same Attilia, pale, colorless, and inanimate as a beautiful marbi»
statue, sho had come to visit the sceno of her former conquests, and as Fredeno folt the icy hand that took and pressed his, it seomodtohim as a dream, an illusion, as a BOmothing too hor
riblo to bo real
"Como, Fredonc," iopoatod Attilia, "why do you wait?"
Tho count followed hor mochauically, tho waltz commenced, and the aleoping Attilia, light as tho spring broezo perfumed by fiowora, fleeting as an aerial spirit, «ho danced, or rathol she floated, for nobody could hear stops upon
tho floor The waltz coasod
" It is too hot hero," said Attilia to the count as thoy finished, loading bim a« ay to tho bnl oony, from whonco could bo scon tho palaco gar dona. Tho night was indeed glorious,-tho wholo ground waa covered with snow, and tho palo resplondoncy of tho moon's mild rays, vario gated tho wholo with light and shade AU wa» still betwoon heaven and enrth tho very winds seemed lulled to sleep upon tho leafless brauchos of tho gordon trees Naturo licrBulf exhaled not even a Bigh to rovoal hor wintry inoloii choly
"What a profound stillness roigns around us," lemorked Attilia, beckoning tho count to sit boaido hor " Look, rrodoric, thoao wooping willows overhanging yonder pond, do) on hoar DoBdcinono und Aphelio woepmg under their shade ? Oh ' Fredonc ' I too, havo wept-I have wopt all tho your I too havo Buffered But I boo now that it waa but juit that I should Builor first, in order to mont tho mcomparablo and oxquisito bliBS of this moment Would ^ on boliovo it, Frodorie, that in my despair I abmed my Cioutor, but now I am happy Tho Al
mighty bus viaitod my «oui with nn mpounng of colostial light Holy rohgion I I bow to theo in ponitonoo I hoar tho homonly chorus of the stara I seo tho gatos of hfo eternal fly open beforouio1 Frederic, my beloved ' place your bund over my heart That heart was ailing, throbbing alwa) s for you, but you havo boen far nwny And now it 19 again ut rest, bocauao you aro by my sido '"
" Wrotchod mortal, that I um," oxclaimcd the count, forgetting, 111 his oxoitoment, the dootor s precautions, "all is now lost to mc-mj happi
noss, my futuro, and mj lifo Tes, lost for over,-sacrificed at the shnno of a disgraceful pudo1"
" It wob prido that blighted my hopos too,'' muttorod Attilia , " and boaidoB prido, jealousy too Toa, Pradeño, jealousy dovoured ino bo cuuso you duncod with Enriqueta Could jon not soo that you woro driving daggers into my heart? And O ' tho swcot Alexandrian roses that you gnvo mo, whoro oro they now ?" con tinued tho boauty, in a soirowful tono. "lui most imngiuo I brontbo their porfumod atmoa
phoro! And tho kiBS 0! Frodonc, that I could havo denied you that kiss If you only could fool, how I folt thon, you would indeed commiaoroto mo Toll mo, did you ovor lovo Enriqueta do F/rankcnthol ? '
"Novor!" cnod tho count, emphaticolly, covering his fuco with his banda
"And do you lovo mo?-Huvo you always loved mo ? ' inquired tho sleeping beauty
" I havo always adored you " cnod tho count, with omotion " I lovo j ou moro than lifo "
"What a happy momont of love and bhsB," exclaimed the onrapturod Attilia, " your declara lion ho« opened out te ua Dios naio ' hew happy I feel !"
Letting her lovely head droop upon hu breast, Bho conngnod herself to a blissful silonco, and, without spoaking, her hpa und drooping eye lashoB gavo ovidonco of tho ooBtacies her soul was undergoing In tim loving posture the lovers remained until thoy hoard the first bar« of a waltz by Strauss, 'twas then that Attilia, procipitotoly rising, took Frederic's arm
" Do you hoar it P" sho oneil, " tho samo waltz that was played this hour lost year-la Gabriela-my favorito waltz Como'1 she addod, "you shall dance it again with mo always with mo '"
Impollod by an almost Bupernatural onlhu siufltn abo flow into tho room, dancing in a moat oxcitod manner , and without pausing onco, sho seemed awopt round by some furious whirl
'Taster," »ho critd, "foBtor1" At the Boroo timo ougmonting hor volooity to such a rato, that at loBt, neither tho musio nor Frcdono could keep up with bcr hoipbtoncd speed, when lo1 12 o'clock struck, and just as tho first chimo was resounding, tho oxhauBtod maiden fell into Count d'Eborsdorf's arms in a half fainting state, and with an agonizing voioo, sho cnod " The kiBS, Frodeno, tho kiss thol I do- med you-tako it . O' toko it now !"
" Attilia ' my hfo, my only bolovod '" ex oloimod tho oxcited Frcdono, in a frnntio mon
nor, ombrnoing and pressing hor to hiB heart, sealing her lips at the «amo timo with impaB
Ab tho count's lipa mot hera, a piercing shnok broko from Attilm, ond sho fell sonsolos» at his
"Count Frcdono, what havo you dono?" oriod tho Grand Duko, in tho greatest concern. " Havo you awakened her?"
"The danger is over," «aid the dootor, ex- amining hor " Her sleep ia now oternal !"