In the meantime all had gone well at the castle. The skill of the surgeon, everything which was required being ready at hand, Charlotte’s assistance—all had worked together, and the boy was brought to life again. The guests dispersed, wishing to catch a glimpse or two of what was to be seen of the fireworks from the distance; and, after a scene of such confusion, were glad to get back to their own quiet homes.
The Captain also, after having rapidly changed his dress, had taken an active part in what required to be done. It was now all quiet again, and he found himself alone with Charlotte—gently and affectionately he now told her that his time for leaving them approached. She had gone through so much that evening, that this discovery made but a slight impression upon her—she had seen how her friend could sacrifice himself; how he had saved another, and had himself been saved. These strange incidents seemed to foretell an important future to her—but not an unhappy one.
Edward, who now entered with Ottilie, was informed at once of the impending departure of the Captain. He suspected that Charlotte had known longer how near it was; but he was far too much occupied with himself, and with his own plans, to take it amiss, or care about it.
On the contrary, he listened attentively, and with signs of pleasure, to the account of the excellent and honorable position in which the Captain was to be placed. The course of the future was hurried impetuously forward by his own secret wishes. Already he saw the Captain married to Charlotte, and himself married to Ottilie. It would have been the richest present which any one could have made him, on the occasion of the day’s festival!
But how surprised was Ottilie, when, on going to her room, she found upon her table the beautiful box! Instantly she opened it; inside, all the things were so nicely packed and arranged that she did not venture to take them out; she scarcely even ventured to lift them. There were muslin, cambric, silk, shawls and lace, all rivalling one another in delicacy, beauty, and costliness—nor were ornaments forgotten. The intention had been, as she saw well, to furnish her with more than one complete suit of clothes but it was all so costly, so little like what she had been accustomed to, that she scarcely dared, even in thought, to believe it could be really for her.
The next morning the Captain had disappeared, having left a grateful, feeling letter addressed to his friends upon his table.
[Illustration: P. GROTJOHANN OTTILIE EXAMINES EDWARD’S PRESENTS]
He and Charlotte had already taken a half leave of each other the evening before—she felt that the parting was for ever, and she resigned herself to it; for in the Count’s second letter, which the Captain had at last shown to her, there was a hint of a prospect of an advantageous marriage, and, although he had paid no attention to it at all, she accepted it for as good as certain, and gave him up firmly and fully.