Become Duke of Tyrol, take charge of the government and defence of the country. As provisional duke, call upon the faithful people to take up arms, and they will rise as one man and defend its frontiers against every enemy. Rule over the Tyrol in the emperor's place, until he himself is able again to do so and fold us again to his heart.""What you say is nonsense, Andy," exclaimed Hormayr, shrugging his shoulders. "You want me to become provisional Duke of Tyrol? Why, the whole world would laugh at me, and the emperor would punish me as a rebel!""Well, then," cried Andreas Hofer, in a powerful voice, "if you will not do it, I will! I shall take charge of the government and call myself 'Andreas Hofer, Sandwirth of Passeyr and Duke of Tyrol,' as long as it pleases God!" [Footnote: Andreas Hofer's own words.--See Hormayr's "Andreas Hofer," vol. ii., p. 361.]
"No, you will not, Andy," said Hormayr, gravely; "you will be sensible, on the contrary, and not, from worldly pride, endanger your country, your friends, and yourself. Bear in mind, Andy, that you would be responsible for the blood that would be shed, if you should incite the people to rebellion, and that you would be the murderer of all those who should fall in the struggle provoked by you so recklessly and in open opposition to the orders of your emperor. Bow your head, Andy, and submit as we all do. Intrust your and our cause to God; as it is good and just, He will not forsake it, but render it victorious when it is time.""I believe you," sighed Andreas; "but how can I keep quiet when, as you have often told me, I am God's instrument and destined by Him to deliver the dear Tyrol from the enemy? And what would my brave lieutenants say if their commander-in-chief, Andreas Hofer, were to leave the country in its sore distress, after he had taken an oath to defend it while he lived? Would they not point their fingers at me, and call me a traitor, a Judas Iscariot who sold his country for the sake of his own safety?""You are mistaken, Andy. You think your friends, the captains and other commanders, with whom you fought for the deliverance of the Tyrol, would despise you if you followed the Austrians now and saved your life? Now listen to me, my friend. Your best friends, the brave Tyrolese captains, in whom you repose the greatest confidence, will leave the Tyrol this very day of their own accord and accompany our Austrian troops to Carinthia.""That is false, that is impossible!" cried Andreas, vehemently.
"Speckbacher will never do so."
"Yes, he will, Andy. I saw him this morning. Here resisted and fought as long as he could; but since the armistice compels him to lay down the sword, and since, moreover, the French and Bavarians are entering the country once more, he feels that it is better for him to save his life than be caught and hung here by the vindictive enemy. Hence, Speckbacher accepted the offer of the Austrian officers, and will accompany them.""Joseph Speckbacher will leave the Tyrol?" murmured Andreas Hofer, mournfully.
"And he is not the only one, Andreas: Aschbacher, Puechler, Sieberer, and many other brave captains of the Tyrolese, will likewise leave with the Austrians. All have asked me to implore you to follow their example, and flee from the perils menacing you all.
Oh, believe them, believe me, Andreas! If you stay here, the Bavarians will not rest until they have taken you prisoner--until their hated enemy, the formidable Barbone, has fallen into their hands. Dear Andy, think of your wife at home, the faithful Anna Gertrude, who prays for you morning and evening, and beseeches the Almighty to spare the life of her dear husband; think of your dear children, whose only protector and supporter you are; do not make your dear wife a widow, nor your sweet children orphans! Andreas Hofer, you cannot now be useful to the fatherland; save yourself, then, for your wife and children!""My good wife, my dear children!" sighed Andreas, profoundly moved;"it is true, they love me dearly, and would be very lonely on earth if their father should be taken from them!""Preserve their father to them, then, and preserve yourself also to the fatherland! Follow the example of your brave friends Speckbacher, Aschbacher, Sieberer, and all the others; accompany us, leave the Tyrol for a while, and when the time has come, return with them and fight once more for the deliverance of the country.""Speckbacher will leave, and so will all the others," murmured Andreas to himself. "The Tyrol will fall again into the enemy's hands, and all has been in vain!"He hung his head and heaved a deep sigh.
"Come, Andreas, be sensible; think of yourself and your family,"said Hormayr, beseechingly. "I have come hither for the sole purpose of taking you with me; let me not have travelled in vain from Brixen to Lienz. Come, Andreas, come! My carriage is in readiness at the door; let us ride together to Matrey. Speckbacher, the other friends, and the Austrians are waiting for us there; we shall cross the Tyrolese frontier with them this very day, and you and all your friends will be safe. Therefore, do not hesitate any longer, but come!""I cannot make up my mind so suddenly," said Hofer, disengaging himself gently from the hand of Hormayr, who was trying to draw him up from his chair. "It is a grave, momentous step which you ask me to take, and before I can do so I must consult God and pray to him fervently. Therefore, pray leave me alone a little while, that I may speak to the good God and consult him and my conscience.""Very well, Andy, I give you a quarter of an hour to make up your mind," exclaimed Hormayr, approaching the door.
"A quarter of an hour is not enough," said Andreas, shaking his head. "It is late at night, and night is the time for repose and prayer. Therefore, stay here, Mr. Intendant; sleep a few hours, and to-morrow morning, at sunrise, come to my chamber and awaken me. Iwill tell you then what God in heaven has told me to do.""You pledge me your word, Andreas, that you will not leave during the present night?""I do. I shall stay here. And now good-night. My heart is profoundly moved, and I long for repose. This is my chamber; I begged Anthony Steeger to let me have it; he has fine rooms for aristocratic guests up-stairs, and he will give you one of them. Now good-night, sir!"He bowed kindly to the baron, shook hands with him, and conducted him to the door.