Both were so much absorbed in the letter that they did not perceive that the door opened behind them, and that Baron von Hormayr, in a dusty travelling-dress, entered the room. For a moment he stood still at the door and cast a searching glance on the two men; he then advanced quickly toward Andreas Hofer, and, laying his hand on his shoulder, he said: "Well, Andy, what are you writing there?"Andreas looked up, but the unexpected arrival of the baron did not seem to excite his surprise. "I am writing to old Red-beard," he said; "I am writing to him that he is to come to me immediately. And after finishing the letter to old Red-beard, I will write the same thing to Speckbacher and Anthony Wallner, Mr. Intendant of the Tyrol.""Do not apply that title to me any longer, Andy," said Hormayr, with a slight frown. "I am no longer intendant of the Tyrol, for you know that we must leave the Tyrol and restore it to the French and Bavarians.""I for one do not know it, Mr. Intendant of the Tyrol," cried Andreas, with an angry glance. "I know only that the Archduke John appointed you military intendant of the Tyrol, and that you took a solemn oath to aid us in becoming once more, and remaining, Austrians.""I think, Andy, I have honestly redeemed my pledges," said Hormayr.
"I assisted you everywhere to the best of my power, was always in your midst, encouraging, organizing, fighting, and mediating; and Ithink you will admit that I had likewise my little share in the deliverance of the Tyrol, and proved myself one of its good and faithful sons.""Well, yes, it is true," murmured Hofer; "you did a great deal of good, and, above all things, you gained over to our side the Austrian generals, who would not have anything to do with us peasants, and refused to make common cause with us; for you possess a very eloquent tongue, and what can be accomplished by means of the tongue you do accomplish. But now, sir, the tongue will no longer suffice, and we must fight also with the sword.""God forbid, Andy!" exclaimed Hormayr; "you know that the emperor has concluded an armistice with Bonaparte, and while it lasts we are not allowed to fight with the sword.""The emperor has concluded an armistice? Well, then, let there be an armistice. But you will not confine yourself to an armistice--you intend to evacuate the Tyrol. That seems to me no fair armistice, and therefore I shall summon old Red-beard, and my other faithful friends, and concert with them measures to prevent you from concluding such an unfair armistice, and forsaking us.""And Andy is right in doing so!" exclaimed Anthony Steeger. "We must not permit the Austrians to leave the province, and we are firmly resolved that we will not.""You are fools, both of you," said Hormayr, shrugging his shoulders.
"The Emperor Francis agreed positively that the Austrian troops should evacuate the Tyrol during the armistice; hence, the troops must leave, lest the emperor should break his word.""But if they do, the emperor breaks the word he pledged to us,"cried Anthony Steeger, vehemently.
"Anthony Steeger," said Hormayr, sternly, "I have come hither to have an interview with Andreas Hofer, to whom I wish to communicate something of great importance. Therefore, be so kind as to withdraw, and leave me alone with him.""I believe Andy does not want to keep any thing secret from me, and I might, therefore, just as well stay here. Say, Andy, is it not so?""It is. Speak, Mr. Intendant; Tony may hear it all.""No, Andy, I shall not speak unless I am alone with you; and what Ihave to say to you is highly important to the Tyrol. But no one but yourself must hear it.""If that is the case, go out and leave me alone with the intendant,"said Hofer, shaking hands with his friend.
Anthony Steeger cast an angry glance on Hormayr, and left the room.
"I know very well why he wanted to get rid of me," he growled, as soon as he was out in the hall. "He intends to persuade Andreas Hofer to leave with the Austrians and abandon the Tyrol. He thinks when he is alone with Hofer, he will yield sooner because he is a weak and good-hearted man, who would like to comply with every one's wishes. He thinks if I were present I should tell Andy the truth, and not permit him to desert our cause, and set a bad example to the others. Well, I will keep a sharp lookout, and if the intendant really tries to take him away with him, I will endeavor to detain him forcibly."When the door had closed after Anthony Steeger, Hormayr nodded kindly to Andreas Hofer and shook hands with him.
"Now we are alone, Andy," he said, "and will speak confidentially a word which no one is to hear save us two.""But you should always bear in mind that God Almighty is present, and listens to us," said Hofer, lifting his eyes devoutly to heaven.
"We shall speak nothing that can offend the good God!" exclaimed Hormayr, laughing. "We shall speak of you, Andy, and the Tyrol. Iwish to pray you, Andy, in the name of the Archduke John, who sent me to you, and who sent his kindest greetings with me, not to close your ears against good and well-meant advice.""What did the archduke say? What does he want of me?" asked Andreas, quickly.