The Old Man of the Mountain/VII
After a restless and almost sleepless night, Edward next morning found the lovely charming girl on the grass plot before the house. She was very talkative, but he was in no mood to carry on a conversation.
— O dear mister Edward, said Rose at length; you don't seem to like me a morsel any more, you are making such sour faces at me.
— I shall soon be forced to leave you and this country, answered the young man; and that makes me so sorrowful.
— You be forced! you leave us! exclaimed Rose in dismay: Can there be anything that should force you? Good heavens! it never yet struck me that such a thing could be possible. I always thought you belonged to us, just like the great house in which we live, or the steep green hill facing us.
— I have now heard from your father also, what I could not have believed, that you are to marry Herr Eleazar, and that very soon.
— Did not I tell you so? answered Rose: Ay, ay, that is to be my fate, and I only wish I could make the crabbed man a little merrier. Time will pass away terribly slowly with him. But perhaps I shall then be able to go to the town some time or other, see a bit of the world, hear some music and have a dance; for I think at all events an old husband must do something now and then to please his young wife. And for all these matters I had counted very much upon you.
— No, my child, said Edward gravely and gloomily; I am the very last person you must count upon; for to say the truth, this marriage of yours is the chief reason that forces me to quit the neighbourhood. It would break my heart to stay here.
Edward repented of having been hurried so far by his passion, as thoughtlessly to allow these words to escape his lips; the more so, when he saw the lovely girl go away from him, starting back as if in affright, and then relieve her opprest heart by a flood of tears. He tried to take hold of her hand and comfort her; but she pusht his angrily back, and then said after a while, when she had got the better of her violent sobbing and was able to speak again:
— No, leave me alone, for we are now separated from each other for ever. I could never have thought that you would have behaved to me so ill; for you had always been so kind to me. Oh God! how forlorn I am now! Yes I meant to love my husband Eleazar with all my heart, and to do everything to please him; for heaven must grant him thus much, since he is hated and shunned by all mankind just like a leper or an evil spirit. I too can't bear him, if I were merely to follow my own feelings; for he is a thoroughly utterly odious creature. But for his sake, and out of love to my father, and for your sake too, Edward, I had made up my mind so peaceably to all this; and therefore I thought that you too would perhaps be very willing to stay here now, or might even do so a little for my sake, in case everything was not just as you wisht it.
— How so, Rose? is it partly for my sake that you have come to this determination? askt Edward in amazement.
— O yes! answered the child, and her eyes had recovered their kind look; but now I clearly see that I had reckoned without my host. You don't deserve it, indeed you don't like that I should be so fond of you. And now if you are really going away, it will then be indeed a shocking thing that I am to marry Eleazar: for in this lonely place, without you to help me and stand by me, he would seem just like a ghost.
— But how is it possible? said Edward interrupting her.
— Let me finish my speech! exclaimed Rose hastily; and then I will go away and cry again; for that will very often be the case now. I thought thus: if Eleazar is so cross, Edward is so goodnatured; and now I shall never be a day without seeing him, and he will talk to me, and perhaps give me books; for my father, people tell me, won't have so much authority over me when once I am married. In this way I might be better able to forget my woful husband, and might always think of you when you were away, and be glad and happy as soon as you came back to me. For thus do people live, and the parsons all order us to do so, with our hearts half in heaven, and the other half on this bad earth. Thus I should have kept my strength and spirits, so as even to make my unhappy Eleazar more cheerful at times; but if you go away ... then ... oh where shall I find any comfort! Then I shall soon die ... or only wish that my father ... or my plague of a husband would make haste and die. Alas! now that you don't love me any more, I am very very unhappy.
She began crying anew, and still more violently than before. Edward eyed her for a long time with a searching glance, and lost himself in a maze of thought. Whenever men, thus he mused to himself, give themselves up to dark phantoms, and make caprices and extravagancies the main stock of their life, mishap and horrour will spring up of their own accord under their feet. Life is so tender and mysterious, so pliant and volatile, and so easily takes every shape, that there is no seed it will not readily receive. Evil sprouts up and runs wild in it; and brings up the intoxicating grape from the nether world, and the wine of horrour. Here in this childish innocence and simplicity are already slumbering the germs of the most fearful events and feelings, if time and opportunity should but forward and ripen them; and close at my side stands the fiend tempting me to become the gardener in this beauteous garden of the deadliest fruits.
He awoke from his study and said mournfully;
— Dear child, thou dost not yet understand thyself, thy destiny, or the world. I am not frivolous enough to enter into thy plans, or to encourage thee in them in the innocency of thy youth. What thou wishest cannot, must not be; and in another year, or less perhaps, thou wilt see thyself how impossible it is. We should both become wretched, and to deepen our misery should despise each other. May heaven guide thy steps: but I love and prize thee so much, that I cannot ruin thee. Pray to God: he will support thee.
— He talks for all the world just like my father! cried Rose, and walkt away, half in sorrow, half in anger; while Edward went musing to his room.
— Is Balthasar right then after all? he said to himself; is human nature so utterly depraved? or is it not rather the business of energy, resolution, and reason, to transform those very qualities in us as in all other things into virtues and excellencies, which else if they are neglected would become malignant and base?
He then wrote a long letter to Herr Balthasar, and once more told him positively that he must quit his house and the country, if the marriage of Eleazar and Rose was irrevocably fixt; and that he would readily forgo his promist fortune, if Balthasar would only afford him some degree of support in his plans for his future life. He again however called upon him as a father to consider the unsuitable, nay the shocking nature of the projected match. He conjured him to look at the happiness of his child with a steadier, more impartial eye. At the same time he begged for another, a last interview, and said he had a request which the old man must needs grant him, if he would have him leave the mountains with honour, with peace of mind, and without repenting of the years he had past there.