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List Of Contents | Contents of Karl Ludwig Sand, by Dumas, Pere
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KARL-LUDWIG SAND

By Alexander Dumas, Pere




On the 22nd of March, 1819, about nine o'clock in the morning, a
young man, some twenty-three or twenty-four years old, wearing the
dress of a German student, which consists of a short frock-coat with
silk braiding, tight trousers, and high boots, paused upon a little
eminence that stands upon the road between Kaiserthal and Mannheim,
at about three-quarters of the distance from the former town, and
commands a view of the latter.  Mannheim is seen rising calm and
smiling amid gardens which once were ramparts, and which now surround
and embrace it like a girdle of foliage and flowers.  Having reached
this spot, he lifted his cap, above the peak of which were
embroidered three interlaced oak leaves in silver, and uncovering his
brow, stood bareheaded for a moment to feel the fresh air that rose
from the valley of the Neckar.  At first sight his irregular features
produced a strange impression; but before long the pallor of his
face, deeply marked by smallpox, the infinite gentleness of his eyes,
and the elegant framework of his long and flowing black hair, which
grew in an admirable curve around a broad, high forehead, attracted
towards him that emotion of sad sympathy to which we yield without
inquiring its reason or dreaming of resistance.  Though it was still
early, he seemed already to have come some distance, for his boots
were covered with dust; but no doubt he was nearing his destination,
for, letting his cap drop, and hooking into his belt his long pipe,
that inseparable companion of the German Borsch, he drew from his
pocket a little note-book, and wrote in it with a pencil: "Left
Wanheim at five in the morning, came in sight of Mannheim at a
quarter-past nine."  Then putting his note-book back into his pocket,
he stood motionless for a moment, his lips moving as though in mental
prayer, picked up his hat, and walked on again with a firm step
towards Mannheim.

This young Student was Karl-Ludwig Sand, who was coming from Jena, by
way of Frankfort aid Darmstadt, in order to assassinate Kotzebue.

Now, as we are about to set before our readers one of those terrible
actions for the true appreciation of which the conscience is the sole
judge, they must allow us to make them fully acquainted with him whom
kings regarded as an assassin, judges as a fanatic, and the youth of
Germany as a hero.  Charles Louis Sand was born on the 5th of
October, 1795, at Wonsiedel, in the Fichtel Wald.; he was the
youngest son of Godfrey Christopher Sand, first president and
councillor of justice to the King of Prussia, and of Dorothea Jane
Wilheltmina Schapf, his wife.  Besides two elder brothers, George,
who entered upon a commercial career at St, Gall, and Fritz, who was
an advocate in the Berlin court of appeal, he had an elder sister
named Caroline, and a younger sister called Julia.

While still in the cradle he had been attacked by smallpox of the
most malignant type.  The virus having spread through all his body,
laid bare his ribs, and almost ate away his skull.  For several
months he lay between life and death; but life at last gained the
upper hand.  He remained weak and sickly, however, up to his seventh
year, at which time a brain fever attacked him; and again put his
life in danger.  As a compensation, however, this fever, when it left
him, seemed to carry away with it all vestiges of his former illness.
>From that moment his health and strength came into existence; but
during these two long illnesses his education had remained very
backward, and it was not until the age of eight that he could begin
his elementary studies; moreover, his physical sufferings having
retarded his intellectual development, he needed to work twice as
hard as others to reach the same result.

Seeing the efforts that young Sand made, even while still quite a
child, to conquer the defects of his organisation, Professor
Salfranck, a learned and distinguished man, rector of the Hof
gymnasium [college], conceived such an affection for him, that when,
at a later time, he was appointed director of the gymnasium at
Ratisbon, he could not part from his pupil, and took him with him.
In this town, and at the age of eleven years, he gave the first proof
of his courage and humanity.  One day, when he was walking with some
young friends, he heard cries for help, and ran in that direction: a
little boy, eight or nine years old, had just fallen into a pond.
Sand immediately, without regarding his best clothes, of which,
however, he was very proud, sprang into the water, and, after
unheard-of efforts for a child of his age, succeeded in bringing the
drowning boy to land.

At the age of twelve or thirteen, Sand, who had become more active,
skilful, and determined than many of his elders, often amused himself
by giving battle to the lads of the town and of the neighbouring
villages.  The theatre of these childish conflicts, which in their
pale innocence reflected the great battles that were at that time
steeping Germany in blood, was generally a plain extending from the
town of Wonsiedel to the mountain of St. Catherine, which had ruins
at its top, and amid the ruins a tower in excellent preservation.
Sand, who was one of the most eager fighters, seeing that his side
had several times been defeated on account of its numerical
inferiority, resolved, in order to make up for this drawback, to
fortify the tower of St. Catherine, and to retire into it at the next
battle if its issue proved unfavourable to him.  He communicated this
plan to his companions, who received it with enthusiasm.  A week was
spent, accordingly, in collecting all possible weapons of defence in
the tower and in repairing its doors and stairs.  These preparations
were made so secretly that the army of the enemy had no knowledge of
them.

Sunday came: the holidays were the days of battle.  Whether because
the boys were ashamed of having been beaten last time, or for some
other reason, the band to which Sand belonged was even weaker than
usual.  Sure, however, of a means of retreat, he accepted battle,
notwithstanding.  The struggle was not a long one; the one party was
too weak in numbers to make a prolonged resistance, and began to
retire in the best order that could be maintained to St. Catherine's
tower, which was reached before much damage had been felt.  Having
arrived there, some of the combatants ascended to the ramparts, and
while the others defended themselves at the foot of the wall, began
to shower stones and pebbles upon the conquerors.  The latter,
surprised at the new method of defence which was now for the first
time adopted, retreated a little; the rest of the defenders took
advantage of the moment to retire into the fortress and shut the
door.  Great was the astonishment an the part of the besiegers: they
had always seen that door broken down, and lo! all at once it was
presenting to them a barrier which preserved the besieged from their
blows.  Three or four went off to find instruments with which to
break it down and meanwhile the rest of the attacking farce kept the
garrison blockaded.

At the end of half an hour the messengers returned not only with
levers and picks, but also with a considerable reinforcement composed
of lads from, the village to which they had been to fetch tools.

Then began the assault: Sand and his companions defended themselves
desperately; but it was soon evident that, unless help came, the
garrison would be forced to capitulate.  It was proposed that they
should draw lots, and that one of the besieged should be chosen, who
in spite of the danger should leave the tower, make his way as best
he might through the enemy's army, and go to summon the other lads of
Wonsiedel, who had faint-heartedly remained at home.  The tale of the
peril in which their Comrades actually were, the disgrace of a
surrender, which would fall upon all of them, would no doubt overcome
their indolence and induce them to make a diversion that would allow
the garrison to attempt sortie.  This suggestion was adopted; but
instead of leaving the decision to chance, Sand proposed himself as
the messenger.  As everybody knew his courage, his skill, and his
lightness of foot, the proposition was unanimously accepted, and the
new Decius prepared to execute his act of devotion.  The deed was not
free from danger: there were but two means of egress, one by way of
the door, which would lead to the fugitive's falling immediately into
the hands of the enemy; the other by jumping from a rampart so high
that the enemy had not set a guard there.  Sand without a moment's
hesitation went to the rampart, where, always religious, even in his
childish pleasures, he made a short prayer; then, without fear,
without hesitation, with a confidence that was almost superhuman, he
sprang to the ground: the distance was twenty-two feet.  Sand flew
instantly to Wonsiedel, and reached it, although the enemy had
despatched their best runners in pursuit.  Then the garrison, seeing
the success of their enterprise, took fresh courage, and united their
efforts against the besiegers, hoping everything from Sand's
eloquence, which gave him a great influence over his young
companions.  And, indeed, in half an hour he was seen reappearing at
the head of some thirty boys of his own age, armed with slings and
crossbows.  The besiegers, on the point of being attacked before and
behind, recognised the disadvantage of their position and retreated.
The victory remained with Sand's party, and all the honours of the
day were his.

We have related this anecdote in detail, that our readers may
understand from the character of the child what was that of the man.
Besides, we shall see him develop, always calm and superior amid
small events as amid large ones.

About the same time Sand escaped almost miraculously from two
dangers.  One day a hod full of plaster fell from a scaffold and
broke at his feet.  Another day the Price of Coburg, who during the
King of Prussia's stay at the baths of Alexander, was living in the
house of Sand's parents, was galloping home with four horses when he

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