The Project Gutenberg eBook of Tales of the Wild and the Wonderful [1825]

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Title: Tales of the Wild and the Wonderful [1825]

Author: Mary Diana Dods

Contributor: August Apel

Dubious author: George Borrow

Release date: June 12, 2021 [eBook #65597]

Language: English

Credits: Transcribed from the 1825 Hurst, Robinson and Co. edition by David Price. Many thanks to the Bodleian Library for making their copy available


Transcribed from the 1825 Hurst, Robinson and Co. edition by David Price.  Many thanks to the Bodleian Library for making their copy available.



“Messer, dovete havete pigliate tante coglionerie?” quoth the Reader.

Cardinal Ippolito d’Este to Ariosto.






p. vTO








Pause one moment, gentle Reader—only one little moment will I detain you, while I reply to the question which I have supposed you to ask in the title-page.  Blame not me, I beseech you, if you are compelled to make the usual accusation against authors, that there is nothing new in the pages which I diffidently present to you: I am sorry for it, but I cannot help it.  Solomon asserted that all things under the sun were aged in his time; and if the wisest of old gentlemen could find nothing new in that early stage of his empire, what can be expected from a poor scribbler like me, near three thousand p. viiiyears after him?  Consider too, dear Reader, that this is the first time I have appeared before you in the character of a story-teller; and that I am a timid, nervous subject, and very easily discouraged.  Accept me then upon the score of wishing to amuse you, and permit me to say something for my Tales, after having said so much for myself.

Of the stories, “Der Freischütz,” as every body knows, is from the German.  “The Fortunes of De la Pole” is original; so is “The Prediction,” and “The Yellow Dwarf,” if I may be allowed that claim for such a “thing of shreds and patches;” it is an olla podrida of odds and ends, a snip of the garment of every fairy tale written since the days of King Arthur.  The last story, “The Lord of the Maelstrom,” is also original, though, as in that of “The Yellow Dwarf,” I have raised my structure upon an old nursery foundation; but it appeared to me an excellent vehicle for the beautiful mythology p. ixof the North, and the introduction of Odin and his exploits,—whose history, by the way, I believe, has been extracted from the Talmud, or from the rabbinical traditions of the events previous to the creation, and the deeds of Moses and others.  I, moreover, designed to have given thee a little poetry for thy money, gentle Reader, but the booksellers shook their heads when I mentioned my design, and told me it was out of fashion; so I returned my treasures in that way to my desk, there to remain, among many other excellent things, I assure thee, until it should again be the taste in England; and, in the meantime, offer these Tales of diablerie for your amusement.  Entreat me kindly, gentle Reader, I beseech you, for two reasons;—first, because it will entirely depend, upon your reception of this, whether I shall ever write a second volume—and secondly, because there has been a sad sweep lately among those who used to cater for your diversion: many who p. xwere most deserving have been snatched from your admiration and regard.  “Shelley is not—Lord Byron is not—and Maturin have they taken away.”  For myself, I am not a long-lived man, and therefore advise you to make much of me while I am with you; and as an example, look upon these “coglionerie” with a milder eye than their merits may seem to deserve from your judgment.

I am, dear Reader, truly yours,




The Prediction


The Yellow Dwarf


Der Freischütz


The Fortunes of de la Pole


The Lord of the Maelstrom


Notes to the Lord of the Maelstrom



“Let’s talk of Graves.”—Shakspeare.

On the south-west coast of the principality of Wales stands a romantic little village, inhabited chiefly by the poorer class of people, consisting of small farmers and oyster dredgers, whose estates are the wide ocean, and whose ploughs are the small craft, in which they glide over its interminable fields in search of the treasures which they wring from its bosom; it is built on the very top of a hill, commanding on the one side, a view of an immense bay, and on the other, of the peaceful green fields and valleys, cultivated by p. 2the greater number of its quiet inhabitants.  The approach to it from the nearest town was by a road which branched away into lanes and wooded walks, and from the sea by a beautiful little bay, running up far into the land; both sides of which, and indeed all the rest of the coast, were guarded by craggy and gigantic rocks, some of them hollowed into caverns, into which none of the inhabitants, from motives of superstition, reverence, and fear, had ever dared to penetrate.  There were, at the period of which we are about to treat, no better sort of inhabitants in the little village just described, none of those so emphatically distinguished as “quality” by the country people; they had neither parson, lawyer, nor doctor, among them, and of course there was a tolerable equality among the residents.  The farmer, who followed his own plough in the spring, singing the sweet wild national chaunt of the season, and bound up with his own hands his sheaves in the autumn, was not richer, greater, nor finer, than he who, bare-legged on the strand, gathered in the hoar weed for the farmer in the spring, or dared the wild winds of autumn and the wrath of the winter in his little boat, to earn with his dredging net a yet harder subsistence for his family.  Distinctions were unknown in the village, every man was the equal of his neighbour.

p. 3But, though rank and its polished distinctions were strange in the village of N—, the superiority of talent was felt and acknowledged almost without a pause or a murmur.  There was one who was as a king amongst them, by the mere force of a mightier spirit than those with whom he sojourned had been accustomed to feel among them: he was a dark and moody man, a stranger, evidently of a higher order than those around him, who had but a few months before, without any apparent object, settled among them: he was poor, but had no occupation—he lived frugally, but quite alone—and his sole employments were to read during the day, and wander out unaccompanied into the fields or by the beach during the night.  Sometimes indeed he would relieve a suffering child or rheumatic old man by medicinal herbs, reprove idleness and drunkenness in the youth, and predict to all the good and evil consequences of their conduct; and his success in some cases, his foresight in others, and his wisdom in all, won for him a high reputation among the cottagers, to which his taciturn habits contributed not a little, for, with the vulgar as with the educated, no talker was ever seriously taken for a conjuror, though a silent man is often decided to be a wise one.

There was but one person in N— at all disposed p. 4to rebel against the despotic sovereignty which Rhys Meredith was silently establishing over the quiet village, and that was precisely the person most likely to effect a revolution; she was a beautiful maiden, the glory and boast of the village, who had been the favourite of, and to a certain degree educated by, the late lady of the lord of the manor; but she had died, and her pupil, with a full consciousness of her intellectual superiority, had returned to her native village, where she determined to have an empire of her own, which no rival should dispute: she laughed at the maidens who listened to the predictions of Rhys, and she refused her smiles to the youths who consulted him upon their affairs and their prospects; and as the beautiful Ruth was generally beloved, the silent Rhys was soon in danger of being abandoned by all, save doting men and paralytic women, and feeling himself an outcast in the village of N—.

But to be such was not the object of Meredith; he was an idle man, and the gifts of the villagers contributed to spare him from exertion; he knew too, that in another point of view this ascendancy was necessary to his purposes; and as he had failed to establish it by wisdom and benevolence, he determined to try the effect of fear.  The character of the people with whom he sojourned was p. 5admirably calculated to assist his projects; his predictions were now uttered more clearly, and his threats denounced in sterner tones and stronger and plainer words; and when he predicted that old Morgan Williams, who had been stricken with the palsy, would die at the turn of tide, three days from that on which he spoke, and that the light little boat of gay Griffy Morris, which sailed from the bay in a bright winter’s morning, should never again make the shore; and the man died, and the storm arose, even as he had said; men’s hearts died within them, and they bowed down before his words, as if he had been their general fate and the individual destiny of each.

Ruth’s rosy lip grew pale for a moment as she heard of these things; in the next her spirit returned, and “I will make him tell my fortune,” she said, as she went with a party of laughers to search out and deride the conjuror.  He was alone when they broke in upon him, and their mockeries goaded his spirit; but his anger was deep, not loud; and while burning with wrath, he yet could calmly consider the means of vengeance: he knew the master spirit with which he had to contend; it was no ordinary mind, and would have smiled at ordinary terrors.  To have threatened her with sickness, misfortune, or death, p. 6would have been to call forth the energies of that lofty spirit, and prepare it to endure, and it would have gloried in manifesting its powers of endurance; he must humble it therefore by debasement; he must ruin its confidence in itself; and to this end he resolved to threaten her with crime.  His resolution was taken and effected; his credit was at stake; he must daunt his enemy, or surrender to her power: he foretold sorrows and joys to the listening throng, not according to his passion, but his judgment, and he drew a blush upon the cheek of one, by revealing a secret which Ruth herself, and another, alone knew, and which prepared the former to doubt of her own judgment, as it related to this extraordinary man.

Ruth was the last who approached to hear the secret of her destiny.  The wizard paused as he looked upon her,—opened his book,—shut it,—paused,—and again looked sadly and fearfully upon her; she tried to smile, but felt startled, she knew not why; the bright inquiring glance of her dark eye could not change the purpose of her enemy.  Her smile could not melt, nor even temper, the hardness of his deep-seated malice: he again looked sternly upon her brow, and then coldly wrung out the slow soul-withering words, “Maiden, thou art doomed to be a murderer!”

p. 7From that hour Rhys Meredith became the destiny of Ruth Tudor.  At first she spurned at his prediction, and alternately cursed and laughed at him for the malice of his falsehood: but when she found that none laughed with her, that men looked upon her with suspicious eyes, women shrunk from her society, and children shrieked at her presence, she felt that these were signs of truth, and her high spirit no longer struggled against the conviction; a change came over her mind when she had known how horrid it was to be alone.  Abhorring the prophet, she yet clung to his footsteps, and while she sat by his side, felt as if he alone could avert that evil destiny which he alone had foreseen.  With him only was she seen to smile; elsewhere, sad, silent, stern; it seemed as if she were ever occupied in nerving her mind for that which she had to do, and her beauty, already of the majestic cast, grew absolutely awful, as her perfect features assumed an expression which might have belonged to the angel of vengeance or death.

But there were moments when her naturally strong spirit, not yet wholly subdued, struggled against her conviction, and endeavoured to find modes of averting her fate: it was in one of these, perhaps, that she gave her hand to a wooer, from a distant part of the country, a sailor, who either p. 8had not heard, or did not regard the prediction of Rhys, upon condition that he should remove her far from her native village to the home of his family and friends, for she sometimes felt as if the decree which had gone forth against her, could not be fulfilled except upon the spot where she had heard it, and that her heart would be lighter if men’s eyes would again look upon her in kindliness, and she no longer sate beneath the glare of those that knew so well the secret of her soul.  Thus thinking, she quitted N— with her husband; and the tormentor, who had poisoned her repose, soon after her departure, left the village as secretly and as suddenly as he had entered it.

But, though Ruth could depart from his corporeal presence, and look upon his cruel visage no more, yet the eye of her soul was fixed upon his shadow, and his airy form, the creation of her sorrow, still sat by her side; the blight that he had breathed upon her peace had withered her heart, and it was in vain that she sought to forget or banish the recollection from her brain.  Men and women smiled upon her as before in the days of her joy, the friends of her husband welcomed her to their bosoms, but they could give no peace to her heart: she shrunk from their friendship, she shivered equally at their neglect, she dreaded any cause that might lead to that which, it had p. 9been said, she must do; nightly she sat alone and thought, she dwelt upon the characters of those around her, and shuddered that in some she saw violence and selfishness enough to cause injury, which she might be supposed to resent to blood.  Then she wept bitter tears and thought of her native village, whose inhabitants were so mild, and whose previous knowledge of her hapless destiny might induce them to avoid all that might hasten its completion, and sighed to think she had ever left it in the mistaken hope of finding peace elsewhere.  Again, her sick fancy would ponder upon the modes of murder, and wonder how her victim would fall.  Against the use of actual violence she had disabled herself; she had never struck a blow, her small hand would have suffered injury in the attempt; she understood not the usage of fire-arms, she was ignorant of what were poisons, and a knife she never allowed herself, even for the most necessary purposes: how then could she slay?  At times she took comfort from thoughts like these, and at others, in the blackness of her despair, she would cry, “If it must be, O let it come, and these miserable anticipations cease; then I shall, at least, destroy but one; now, in my incertitude, I am the murderer of many!”

p. 10Her husband went forth and returned upon the voyages which made up the avocation and felicity of his life, without noticing the deep-rooted sorrow of his wife; he was a common man, and of a common mind; his eye had not seen the awful beauty of her whom he had chosen; his spirit had not felt her power; and, if he had marked, he would not have understood her grief; so she ministered to him as a duty.  She was a silent and obedient wife, but she saw him come home without joy, and witnessed his departure without regret; he neither added to nor diminished her sorrow: but destiny had one solitary blessing in store for the victim of its decrees,—a child was born to the hapless Ruth, a lovely little girl soon slept upon her bosom, and, coming as it did, the one lone and lovely rose-bud in her desolate garden, she welcomed it with a warmer joy and cherished it with a kindlier hope.

A few years went by unsoiled by the wretchedness which had marked the preceding; the joy of the mother softened the anguish of the condemned, and sometimes when she looked upon her daughter she ceased to despair: but destiny had not forgotten her claim, and soon her hand pressed heavily upon her victim; the giant ocean rolled over the body of her husband, poverty p. 11visited the cottage of the widow, and famine’s gaunt figure was visible in the distance.  Oppression came with these, for arrears of rent were demanded, and he who asked was brutal in his anger and harsh in his language to the sufferers.  Ruth shuddered as she heard him speak, and trembled for him and for herself; the unforgotten prophecy arose in her mind, and she preferred even witnesses to his brutality and her degradation, rather than encounter his anger and her own dark thoughts alone.

Thus goaded, she saw but one thing that could save her, she fled from her persecutors to the home of her youth, and, leading her little Rachel by the hand, threw herself into the arms of her kin: they received her with distant kindness, and assured her that she should not want: in this they kept their promise, but it was all they did for Ruth and her daughter; a miserable subsistence was given to them, and that was embittered by distrust, and the knowledge that it was yielded unwillingly.

Among the villagers, although she was no longer shunned as formerly, her story was not forgotten; if it had been, her terrific beauty, the awful flashing of her eyes, her large black curls hanging like thunder-clouds over her stern and p. 12stately brow and marble throat, her majestic stature, and solemn movements, would have recalled it to their recollections.  She was a marked being, and all believed (though each would have pitied her, had they not been afraid) that her evil destiny was not to be averted; she looked like one fated to some wonderful deed.  They saw she was not of them, and though they did not directly avoid her, yet they never threw themselves in her way, and thus the hapless Ruth had ample leisure to contemplate and grieve over her fate.  One night she sat alone in her wretched hovel, and, with many bitter ruminations, was watching the happy sleep of her child, who slumbered tranquilly on their only bed: midnight had long passed, yet Ruth was not disposed to rest; she trimmed her dull light, and said mentally, “Were I not poor, such a temptation might not assail me, riches would procure me deference; but poverty, or the wrongs it brings, may drive me to this evil; were I above want it would be less likely to be.  O, my child, for thy sake would I avoid this doom more than for mine own, for if it should bring death to me, what will it not hurl on thee?—infamy, agony, scorn.”

She wept aloud as she spoke, and scarcely seemed to notice the singularity (at that late p. 13hour) of some one without, attempting to open the door; she heard, but the circumstance made little impression; she knew that as yet her doom was unfulfilled, and that, therefore, no danger could reach her; she was no coward at any time, but now despair had made her brave; the door opened and a stranger entered, without either alarming or disturbing her, and it was not till he had stood face to face with Ruth, and discovered his features to be those of Rhys Meredith, that she sprung up from her seat and gazed wildly and earnestly upon him.

Meredith gave her no time to question; “Ruth Tudor,” said he, “behold the cruelest of thy foes comes sueing to thy pity and mercy; I have embittered thy existence, and doomed thee to a terrible lot; what first was dictated by vengeance and malice became truth as I uttered it, for what I spoke I believed.  Yet, take comfort, some of my predictions have failed, and why may not this be false?  In my own fate I have ever been deceived, perhaps I may be equally so in thine; in the mean time have pity upon him who was thy enemy, but who, when his vengeance was uttered, instantly became thy friend.  I was poor, and thy scorn might have robbed me of subsistence in danger, and thy contempt might have p. 14given me up.  Beggared by many disastrous events, hunted by creditors, I fled from my wife and son because I could no longer bear to contemplate their suffering; I sought fortune all ways since we parted, and always has she eluded my grasp till last night, when she rather tempted than smiled upon me.  At an idle fair I met the steward of this estate drunk and stupid, but loaded with gold; he travelled towards home alone; I could not, did not wrestle with the fiend that possessed me, but hastened to overtake him in his lonely ride.—Start not! no hair of his head was harmed by me; of his gold I robbed him, but not of his life, though, had I been the greater villain, I should now be in less danger, since he saw and marked my person: three hundred pounds is the meed of my daring, and I must keep it now or die.  Ruth, thou too art poor and forsaken, but thou art faithful and kind, and wilt not betray me to justice; save me, and I will not enjoy my riches alone; thou knowest all the caves in the rocks, those hideous hiding places, where no foot, save thine, has dared to tread; conceal me in these till the pursuit be past, and I will give thee one half my wealth, and return with the other to gladden my wife and son.”

The hand of Ruth was already opened, and p. 15in imagination she grasped the wealth he promised; oppression and poverty had somewhat clouded the nobleness, but not the fierceness of her spirit.  She saw that riches would save her from wrath, perhaps from blood, and, as the means to escape so mighty an evil, she was not scrupulous respecting a lesser: independently of this, she felt a great interest in the safety of Rhys; her own fate seemed to hang upon his; she hid the ruffian in the caves and supplied him with light and food.

There was a happiness now in the heart of Ruth—a joy in her thoughts as she sat all the long day upon the deserted settle of her wretched fire-side, to which they had for many years been strangers.  Many times during the past years of her sorrow she hath thought of Rhys, and longed to look upon his face and sit beneath his shadow, as one whose presence could preserve her from the evil fate which he himself had predicted.  She had long since forgiven him his prophecy; she believed he had spoken truth, and this gave her a wild confidence in his power; a confidence that sometimes thought, “if he can foreknow, can he not also avert?”  She said mentally, without any reference to the temporal good he had promised her, “I have a treasure in p. 16those caves; he is there; he who hath foreseen and may oppose my destiny; he hath shadowed my days with sorrow, and forbidden me, like ordinary beings, to hope: yet he is now in my power; his life is in my hands; he says so, yet I believe him not, for I cannot betray him if I would; were I to lead the officers of justice to the spot where he lies crouching, he would be invisible to their sight or to mine; or I should become speechless ere I could say, ‘Behold him.’  No, he cannot die by me!”

And she thought she would deserve his confidence, and support him in his suffering; she had concealed him in a deep dark cave, hewn far in the rock, to which she alone knew the entrance from the beach; there was another (if a huge aperture in the top of the rock might be so called), which, far from attempting to descend, the peasants and seekers for the culprit had scarcely dared to look into, so perpendicular, dark, and uncertain was the hideous descent into what justly appeared to them a bottomless abyss; they passed over his head in their search through the fields above, and before the mouth of his den upon the beach below, yet they left him in safety, though in incertitude and fear.

It was less wonderful, the suspicionless conduct p. 17of the villagers towards Ruth, than the calm prudence with which she conducted all the details relating to her secret; her poverty was well known, yet she daily procured a double portion of food, which was won by double labour; she toiled in the fields for the meed of oaten cake and potatoes, or she dashed out in a crazy boat on the wide ocean to win with the dredgers the spoils of the oyster beds that lie on its bosom; the daintier fare was for the unhappy guest, and daily did she wander among the rocks, when the tides were retiring, for the shell-fish which they had flung among the fissures in their retreat, which she bore, exhausted with fatigue, to her home—and which her lovely child, now rising into womanhood, prepared for the luxurious meal; it was wonderful too, the settled prudence of the little maiden, who spoke nothing of the food which was borne from their frugal board; if she suspected the secret of her mother, she respected it too much to allow others to discover that she did so.

Many sad hours did Ruth pass in the robber’s cave; and many times, by conversing with him upon the subject of her destiny, did she seek to alleviate the pangs its recollection gave her; but the result of such discussions were by no means favourable to her hopes; Rhys had acknowledged p. 18that his threat had originated in malice, and that he intended to alarm and subdue, but not to the extent that he had effected: “I knew well,” said he, “that disgrace alone would operate upon you as I wished, for I foresaw you would glory in the thought of nobly sustained misfortune; I meant to degrade you with the lowest; I meant to attribute to you what I now painfully experience to be the vilest of the vices; I intended to tell you, you were destined to be a thief, but I could not utter the words I had arranged, and I was struck with horror at those I heard involuntarily proceeding from my lips; I would have recalled them but I could not; I would have said, ‘Maiden, I did but jest,’ but there was something that seemed to withhold my speech and press upon my soul, ‘so as thou hast said shall this thing be’—yet take comfort, my own fortunes have ever deceived me, and doubtlessly ever will, for I feel as if I should one day return to this cave and make it my final home.”

He spoke solemnly and wept,—but the awful eye of his companion was unmoved as she looked on in wonder and contempt at his grief.  “Thou knowest not how to endure,” said she to him, “and as soon as night shall again fall upon our mountains, I will lead thee forth on thy escape; p. 19the danger of pursuit is now past; at midnight be ready for thy journey, leave the cave, and ascend the rocks by the path I shewed thee, to the field in which its mouth is situated; wait me there a few moments, and I will bring thee a fleet horse, ready saddled for the journey, for which thy gold must pay, since I must declare to the owner that I have sold it at a distance, and for more than its rated value.”

That midnight came, and Meredith waited with trembling anxiety for the haughty step of Ruth; at length he saw her, she had ascended the rock, and, standing on its verge, was looking around for her guest; as she was thus alone in the clear moonlight, standing between rock and sky, and scarcely seeming to touch the earth, her dark locks and loose garments scattered by the wind, she looked like some giant spirit of the older time, preparing to ascend into the mighty black cloud which singly hung from the empyreum, and upon which she already appeared to recline; Meredith beheld her and shuddered,—but she approached and he recovered his recollection.

“You must be speedy in your movements,” said she, “when you leave me; your horse waits on the other side of this field, and I would have p. 20you hasten lest his neighings should betray your purpose.  But, before you depart, Rhys Meredith, there is an account to be settled between us: I have dared danger and privations for you; that the temptations of the poor may not assail me, give me my reward and go.”

Rhys pressed his leathern bag to his bosom, but answered nothing to the speech of Ruth: he seemed to be studying some evasion, for he looked upon the ground, and there was trouble in the working of his lip.  At length he said cautiously, “I have it not with me; I buried it, lest it should betray me, in a field some miles distant; thither will I go, dig it up, and send it to thee from B—, which is, as thou knowest, my first destination.”

Ruth gave him one glance of her awful eye when he had spoken; she had detected his meanness, and smiled at his incapacity to deceive.  “What dost thou press to thy bosom so earnestly?” she demanded; “surely thou art not the wise man I deemed thee, thus to defraud my claim: thy friend alone thou mightest cheat, and safely; but I have been made wretched by thee, guilty by thee, and thy life is in my power; I could, as thou knowest; easily raise the village, and win half thy wealth by giving thee up to justice; but p. 21I prefer reward from thy wisdom and gratitude; give, therefore, and be gone.”

But Rhys knew too well the value of the metal of sin to yield one half of it to Ruth; he tried many miserable shifts and lies, and at last, baffled by the calm penetration of his antagonist, boldly avowed his intention of keeping all the spoil he had won with so much hazard.  Ruth looked at him with scorn: “Keep thy gold,” she said; “if it thus can harden hearts, I covet not its possession; but there is one thing thou must do, and that ere thou stir one foot.  I have supported thee with hard earned industry, that I give thee; more proud, it should seem, in bestowing than I could be, from such as thee, in receiving: but the horse that is to bear thee hence to-night I borrowed for a distant journey; I must return with it, or with its value; open thy bag, pay me for that, and go.”

But Rhys seemed afraid to open his bag in the presence of her he had wronged.  Ruth understood his fears; but, scorning vindication of her principles, contented herself with entreating him to be honest.  “Be more just to thyself and me,” she persisted: “the debt of gratitude I pardon thee; but, I beseech thee, leave me not to encounter the consequence of having stolen from my p. 22friend the animal which is his only means of subsistence: I pray thee, Rhys, not to condemn me to scorn.”

It was to no avail that Ruth humbled herself to entreaties; Meredith answered not, and while she was yet speaking, cast side-long looks towards the gate where the horse was waiting for his service, and seemed meditating, whether he should not dart from Ruth, and escape her entreaties and demands by dint of speed.  Her stern eye detected his purpose; and, indignant at his baseness, and ashamed of her own degradation, she sprung suddenly towards him, made a desperate clutch at the leathern bag, and tore it from the grasp of the deceiver.  Meredith made an attempt to recover it, and a fierce struggle ensued, which drove them both back towards the yawning mouth of the cave from which he had just ascended to the world.  On its very verge, on its very extreme edge, the demon who had so long ruled his spirit now instigated him to mischief, and abandoned him to his natural brutality: he struck the unhappy Ruth a revengeful and tremendous blow.  At that moment a horrible thought glanced like lightning through her soul; he was to her no longer what he had been; he was a robber, ruffian, liar; one whom to destroy was justice, and p. 23perhaps it was he—.  “Villain!” she cried, “thou—thou didst predict that I was doomed to be a murderer! art thou—art thou destined to be the victim?”  She flung him from her with terrific force, as he stood close to the abyss, and the next instant heard him dash against its sides, as he was whirled headlong into the darkness.

It was an awful feeling, the next that passed over the soul of Ruth Tudor, as she stood alone in the pale sorrowful-looking moonlight, endeavouring to remember what had chanced.  She gazed on the purse, on the chasm, wiped the drops of agony from her heated brow, and then, with a sudden pang of recollection, rushed down to the cavern.  The light was still burning, as Rhys had left it, and served to shew her the wretch extended helplessly beneath the chasm.  Though his body was crushed, his bones splintered, and his blood was on the cavern’s sides, he was yet living, and raised his head to look upon her, as she darkened the narrow entrance in her passage: he glared upon her with the visage of a demon, and spoke like a fiend in pain.  “Me hast thou murdered!” he said, “but I shall be avenged in all thy life to come.  Deem not that thy doom is fulfilled, that the deed to which thou art fated is done: in my dying hour I know, I p. 24feel what is to come upon thee; thou art yet again to do a deed of blood!”  “Liar!” shrieked the infuriated victim.  “Thou art yet doomed to be a murderer!”  “Liar!”  “Thou art—and of—thine only child!”  She rushed to him, but he was dead.

Ruth Tudor stood for a moment by the corpse blind, stupefied, deaf, and dumb; in the next she laughed aloud, till the cavern rung with her ghastly mirth, and many voices mingled with and answered it; but the noises scared and displeased her, and in an instant she became stupidly grave; she threw back her dark locks with an air of offended dignity, and walked forth majestically from the cave.  She took the horse by his rein, and led him back to his stable: with the same unvarying calmness she entered her cottage, and listened to the quiet breathings of her sleeping child; she longed to approach her nearer, but some new and horrid fear restrained her, and held back her anxious step: suddenly remembrance and reason returned, and she uttered a shriek so full of agony, so loud and shrill, that her daughter sprung from her bed, and threw herself into her arms.

It was in vain that the gentle Rachel supplicated her mother to find rest in sleep.  “Not p. 25here,” she muttered, “it must not be here; the deep cave and the hard rock, these shall be my resting place; and the bedfellow, lo! now, he waits my coming.”  Then she would cry aloud, clasp her Rachel to her beating heart, and as suddenly, in horror thrust her from it.

The next midnight beheld Ruth Tudor in the cave, seated upon a point of rock, at the head of the corpse, her chin resting upon her hands, gazing earnestly upon the distorted face.  Decay had already begun its work; and Ruth sat there watching the progress of mortality, as if she intended that her stern eye should quicken and facilitate its operation.  The next night also beheld her there, but the current of her thoughts had changed, and the dismal interval which had passed appeared to be forgotten.  She stood with her basket of food: “Wilt thou not eat?” she demanded; “arise, strengthen thee for thy journey; eat, eat, thou sleeper; wilt thou never awaken? look, here is the meat thou lovest;” and as she raised his head, and put the food to his lips, the frail remnant of mortality shattered at her touch, and again she knew that he was dead.

It was evident to all that a shadow and a change was over the senses of Ruth; till this period she had been only wretched, but now p. 26madness was mingled with her grief.  It was in no instance more apparent than in her conduct towards her beloved child: indulgent to all her wishes, ministering to all her wants with a liberal hand, till men wondered from whence she derived the means of indulgence, she yet seized every opportunity to send her from her presence.  The gentle-hearted Rachel wept at her conduct, yet did not complain, for she believed it the effect of the disease, that had for so many years been preying upon her soul.  Her nights were passed in roaming abroad, her days in the solitude of her hut; and even this became painful, when the step of her child broke upon it.  At length she signified that a relative of her husband had died and left her wealth, and that it should enable her to dispose of herself as she had long wished; so leaving Rachel with her relatives in N—, she retired to a hut upon a lonely heath, where she was less wretched, because abandoned to her wretchedness.

In many of her ravings she had frequently spoken darkly of her crime, and her nightly visits to the cave; and more frequently still she addressed some unseen thing, which she asserted was for ever at her side.  But few heard these horrors, and those who did, called to mind the p. 27early prophecy, and deemed them the workings of insanity in a fierce and imaginative mind.  So thought also the beloved Rachel, who hastened daily to embrace her mother, but not now alone as formerly; a youth of the village was her companion and protector, one who had offered her worth and love, and whose gentle offers were not rejected.  Ruth, with a hurried gladness, gave her consent, and a blessing to her child; and it was remarked that she received her daughter more kindly, and detained her longer at the cottage, when Evan was by her side, than when she went to the gloomy heath alone.  Rachel herself soon made this observation, and as she could depend upon the honesty and prudence of him she loved, she felt less fear at his being a frequent witness of her mother’s terrific ravings.  Thus all that human consolation was capable to afford was offered to the sufferer by her sympathising children.

But the delirium of Ruth Tudor appeared to increase with every nightly visit to the cave of secret blood; some hideous shadow seemed to follow her steps in the darkness, and sit by her side in the light.  Sometimes she held strange parley with this creation of her phrensy, and at others smiled upon it in scornful silence; now, her language was in the tones of entreaty, pity, and forgiveness; anon, it was the burst of execration, p. 28curses, and scorn.  To the gentle listeners her words were blasphemy; and, shuddering at her boldness, they deemed, in the simple holiness of their own hearts, that the evil one was besetting her, and that religion alone could banish him.  Possessed by this idea, Evan one day suddenly interrupted her tremendous denunciations upon her fate, and him who, she said, stood over her to fulfil it, with imploring her to open the book which he held in his hand, and seek consolation from its words and its promises.  She listened, and grew calm in a moment; with an awful smile she bade him open, and read at the first place which should meet his eye: “from that, the word of truth, as thou sayest, I shall know my fate; what is there written I will believe.”  He opened the book, and read—

Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presenceIf I go up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, thou art there; If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

Ruth laid her hand upon the book: “it is enough; its words are truth; it hath said there is no hope, and I find comfort in my p. 29despair: I have already spoken thus in the secrecy of my heart, and I know that he will be obeyed; the unnamed sin must be—.”  Evan knew not how to comfort, so he shut up his book and retired; and Rachel kissed the cheek of her mother, as she bade her a tender good night.  Another month and she was to be the bride of Evan, and she passed over the heath with a light step, for the thought of her bridal seemed to give joy to her mother.  “We shall all be happy then,” said the smiling girl, as the youth of her heart parted from her hand for the night; “and heaven kindly grant that happiness may last.”

The time appointed for the marriage of Rachel Tudor and Evan Edwards had long passed away, and winter had set in with unusual sternness even on that stormy coast; when, during a land tempest, on a dark November afternoon, a stranger to the country, journeying on foot, lost his way in endeavouring to find a short route to his destination, over stubble fields and meadow lands, by following the footmarks of those who had preceded him.  The stranger was a young man, of a bright eye and a hardy look, and he went on buffeting the elements, and buffeted by them, without a thought of weariness, or a single expression of impatience.  Night descended upon p. 30him as he walked, and the snow storm came down with unusual violence, as if to try the temper of his mind, a mind cultivated and enlightened, though cased in a frame accustomed to hardships, and veiled by a plain, nay almost rustic exterior.  The thunder roared loudly above him, and the wind blowing tremendously, raised the new-fallen snow from the earth, which, mingling with the showers as they fell, raised a clatter about his head which bewildered and blinded the traveller, who, finding himself near some leafless brambles and a few clustered bushes of the mountain broom, took shelter under them to recover his senses, and reconnoitre his position.  “Of all these ingredients for a storm,” said he smilingly to himself, “the lightning is the most endurable after all; for if it does not kill, it may at least cure, by lighting the way out of a labyrinth, and by its bright flashes I hope to discover where I am.”  In this hope he was not mistaken: the brilliant and beautiful gleam shewed him, when the snow shower had somewhat abated, every stunted bush and blade of grass for some miles, and something, about the distance of one, that looked like a white-washed cottage of some poor encloser of the miserable heath upon which he was now standing.  Full of hope of a shelter from the p. 31storm, and, lit onwards by the magnificent torch of heaven, the stranger trod cheerily forwards, and in less than half an hour, making full allowance for his retrograding between the flashes, arrived at his beacon the white cottage, which, from the low wall of loose limestones by which it was surrounded, he judged to be, as he had already imagined, the humble residence of some poor tenant of the manor.  He opened the little gate, and was proceeding to knock at the door, when his steps were arrested by a singular and unexpected sound; it was a choral burst of many voices, singing slowly and solemnly that magnificent dirge of the church of England the 104th psalm.  The stranger loved music, and the sombrous melody of that fine air had an instant effect upon his feelings; he lingered in solemn and silent admiration till the majestic strain had ceased; he then knocked gently at the door, which was instantly and courteously opened to his inquiry.

On entering, he found himself in a cottage of a more respectable interior than from its outward appearance he had been led to expect: but he had little leisure or inclination for the survey of its effects, for his senses and imagination were immediately and entirely occupied by the scene p. 32which presented itself on his entrance.  In the centre of the room into which he had been so readily admitted, stood, on its tressels, an open coffin; lights were at its head and foot, and on each side sat many persons of both sexes, who appeared to be engaged in the customary ceremony of watching the corse previous to its interment in the morning.  There were many who appeared to the stranger to be watchers, but there were but two who, in his eye, bore the appearance of mourners, and they had faces of grief which spoke too plainly of the anguish that was mingling within: one, at the foot of the coffin, was a pale youth just blooming into manhood, who covered his dewy eyes with trembling fingers that ill concealed the tears which trickled down his wan cheeks beneath: the other—; but why should we again describe that still unbowed and lofty form?  The awful marble brow upon which the stranger gazed, was that of Ruth Tudor.

There was much whispering and quiet talk among the people while refreshments were handed amongst them; and so little curiosity was excited by the appearance of the traveller, that he naturally concluded that it must be no common loss that could deaden a feeling usually so intense in the bosoms of Welsh peasants: he was even p. 33checked for an attempt to question; but one man,—he who had given him admittance, and seemed to possess authority in the circle,—told him he would answer his questions when the guests should depart, but till then he must keep silence.  The traveller endeavoured to obey, and sat down in quiet contemplation of the figure who most interested his attention, and who sat at the coffin’s head.  Ruth Tudor spoke nothing, nor did she appear to heed aught of the business that was passing around her.  Absorbed by reflection, her eyes were generally cast to the ground; but when they were raised, the traveller looked in vain for that expression of grief which had struck him so forcibly on his entrance; there was something wonderfully strange in the character of her perfect features: could he have found words for his thought, and might have been permitted the expression, he would have called it triumphant despair; so deeply agonised, so proudly stern; looked the mourner who sat by the dead.

The interest which the traveller took in the scene became more intense the longer he gazed upon its action; unable to resist the anxiety which had begun to prey upon his spirit, he arose and walked towards the coffin, with the purpose of contemplating its inhabitant: a sad explanation p. 34was given, by its appearance, of the grief and the anguish he had witnessed; a beautiful girl was reposing in the narrow house, with a face as calm and lovely as if she but slept a deep and refreshing sleep, and the morning sun would again smile upon her awakening: salt, the emblem of the immortal soul, was placed upon her breast; and, in her pale and perishing fingers, a branch of living flowers were struggling for life in the grasp of death, and diffusing their sweet and gracious fragrance over the cold odour of mortality.  These images, so opposite, yet so alike, affected the spirit of the gazer, and he almost wept as he continued looking upon them, till he was aroused from his trance by the strange conduct of Ruth Tudor, who had caught a glimpse of his face as he bent in sorrow over the coffin.  She sprung up from her seat, and darting at him a terrible glance of recognition, pointed down to the corse, and then, with a hollow burst of frantic laughter, shouted—“Behold, thou liar!”

The startled stranger was relieved from the necessity of speaking by some one taking his arm and gently leading him to the farther end of the cottage: the eyes of Ruth followed him, and it was not till he had done violence to himself in turning from her to his conductor, that he could p. 35escape their singular fascination.  When he did so, he beheld a venerable man, the pastor of a distant village, who had come that night to speak comfort to the mourners, and perform the last sad duty to the dead on the morrow.  “Be not alarmed at what you have witnessed, my young friend,” said he; “these ravings are not uncommon: this unhappy woman, at an early period of her life, gave ear to the miserable superstitions of her country, and a wretched pretender to wisdom predicted that she should become a shedder of blood: madness has been the inevitable consequence in an ardent spirit, and in its ravings she dreams she has committed one sin, and is still tempted to add to it another.”

“You may say what you please, parson,” said the old man who had given admittance to the stranger, and who now, after dismissing all the guests save the youth, joined the talkers, and seated himself on the settle by their side; “you may say what you please about madness and superstition; but I know Ruth Tudor was a fated woman, and the deed that was to be I believe she has done: ay, ay, her madness is conscience; and if the deep sea and the jagged rocks could speak, they might tell us a tale of other things than that: but she is judged now; her only child p. 36is gone—her pretty Rachel.  Poor Evan! he was her suitor: ah, he little thought two months ago, when he was preparing for a gay bridal, that her slight sickness would end thus: he does not deserve it; but for her—God forgive me if I do her wrong, but I think it is the hand of God, and it lies heavy, as it should.”  And the grey-haired old man hobbled away, satisfied that in thus thinking he was shewing his zeal for virtue.

“Alas, that so white a head should acknowledge so hard a heart!” said the pastor; “Ruth is condemned, according to his system, for committing that which a mightier hand compelled her to do; how harsh and misjudging is age!  But we must not speak so loud,” continued he; “for see, the youth Evan is retiring for the night, and the miserable mother has thrown herself on the floor to sleep; the sole domestic is rocking on her stool, and therefore I will do the honours of this poor cottage to you.  There is a chamber above this, containing the only bed in the hut; thither you may go and rest, for otherwise it will certainly be vacant to-night: I shall find a bed in the village; and Evan sleeps near you with some of the guests in the barn.  But, before I go, if my question be not unwelcome and intrusive, tell me who you are, and whither you are bound.”

p. 37“I was ever somewhat of a subscriber to the old man’s creed of fatalism,” said the stranger, smiling, “and I believe I am more confirmed in it by the singular events of this day.  My father was a man of a certain rank in society, but of selfish and disorderly habits.  A course of extravagance and idleness was succeeded by difficulties and distress.  Harassed by creditors, he was pained by their demands, and his selfishness was unable to endure the sufferings of his wife and children.  Instead of exertion, he had recourse to flight, and left us to face the difficulties from which he shrunk.  He was absent for years, while his family toiled and struggled with success.  Suddenly we heard that he was concealed in this part of the coast; the cause which made that concealment necessary I forbear to mention; but he as suddenly disappeared from the eyes of men, though we never could trace him beyond this part of the country.  I have always believed that I should one day find my father, and have lately, though with difficulty, prevailed upon my mother to allow me to make my inquiries in this neighbourhood; but my search is at an end to-day,—I believe that I have found my father.  Roaming along the beach, I penetrated into several of those dark caverns of the rocks, which might well, by p. 38their rugged aspects, deter the idle and the timid from entering.  Through the fissures of one I discovered, in the interior, a light.  Surprised, I penetrated to its concealment, and discovered a man sleeping on the ground.  I advanced to awake him, and found but a fleshless skeleton, cased in tattered and decaying garments.  He had probably met his death by accident, for exactly over the corpse I observed, at a terrific distance, the daylight, as if streaming down from an aperture above.  Thus the wretched man must have fallen, but how long since, or who had discovered his body, and left the light which I beheld, I knew not, though I cannot help cherishing a strong conviction that it was the body of Rhys Meredith that I saw.”

“Who talks of Rhys Meredith,” said a stern voice near the coffin, “and of the cave where the outcast rots?”  They turned quickly at the sound, and beheld Ruth Tudor standing up, as if she had been intently listening to the story.  “It was I who spoke, dame,” said the stranger gently, “and my speech was of my father, of Rhys Meredith; I am Owen his son.”

“Son!  Owen Rhys!” said the bewildered Ruth, passing her hand over her forehead, as if to enable her to recover the combinations of these p. 39names; “and who art thou, that thus givest human ties to him who is no more of humanity? why speakest thou of living things as pertaining to the dead?  Father! he is father to nought save sin, and murder is his only begotten!”

She advanced to the traveller as she spoke, and again caught a view of his face; again he saw the wild look of recognition, and an unearthly shriek followed the convulsive horror of her face.  “There! there!” she said, “I knew it must be thyself; once before to-night have I beheld thee, yet what can thy coming bode?  Back with thee, ruffian! for is not thy dark work done?”

“Let us leave her,” said the good pastor, “to the care of her attendant; do not continue to meet her gaze your presence may increase, but cannot allay her malady: go up to your bed and rest.”

He retired as he spoke; and Owen, in compliance with his wish, ascended the ruinous stair which led to his chamber, after he had beheld Ruth Tudor quietly place herself in her seat at the open coffin’s head.  The room to which he mounted was not of the most cheering aspect, yet he felt that he had often slept soundly in a worse.  It was a gloomy unfinished chamber, and p. 40the wind was whistling coldly and drearily through the uncovered rafters above his head.  Like many of the cottages in that part of the country, it appeared to have grown old and ruinous before it had been finished; for the flooring was so crazy as scarcely to support the huge wooden bedstead, and in many instances the boards were entirely separated from each other, and in the centre, time, or the rot, had so completely devoured the larger half of one, that through the gaping aperture Owen had an entire command of the room and the party below, looking down immediately above the coffin.  Ruth was in the same attitude as when he left her, and the servant girl was dozing by her side.  Every thing being perfectly tranquil, Owen threw himself upon his hard couch, and endeavoured to compose himself to rest for the night, but this had become a task, and one of no easy nature to surmount; his thoughts still wandered to the events of the day, and he felt there was some strange connexion between the scene he had just witnessed, and the darker one of the secret cave.  He was an imaginative man, and of a quick and feverish temperament, and he thought of Ruth Tudor’s ravings, and the wretched skeleton of the rock, till he had worked out in his brain the chain p. 41of events that linked one consequence with the other: he grew restless and wretched, and amidst the tossings of impatient anxiety, fatigue overpowered him, and he sunk into a perturbed and heated sleep.  His slumber was broken by dreams that might well be the shadows of his waking reveries.  He was alone (as in reality) upon his humble bed, when imagination brought to his ear the sound of many voices again singing the slow and monotonous psalm; it was interrupted by the outcries of some unseen things who attempted to enter his chamber, and, amid yells of fear and execrations of anger, bade him “Arise, and come forth, and aid:” then the coffined form which slept so quietly below, stood by his side, and in beseeching accents, bade him “Arise and save her.”  In his sleep he attempted to spring up, but a horrid fear restrained him, a fear that he should be too late; then he crouched like a coward beneath his coverings, to hide from the reproaches of the spectre, while shouts of laughter and shrieks of agony were poured like a tempest around him: he sprung from his bed and awoke.

It was some moments ere he could recover recollection, or shake off the horror which had seized upon his soul.  He listened, and with infinite satisfaction observed an unbroken silence p. 42throughout the house.  He smiled at his own terrors, attributed them to the events of the day, or the presence of a corse, and determined not to look down into the lower room till he should be summoned thither in the morning.  He walked to the casement, and looked abroad to the night; the clouds were many, black, and lowering, and the face of the sky looked angrily at the wind, and glared portentously upon the earth; the sleet was still falling; distant thunder announced the approach or departure of a storm, and Owen marked the clouds coming from afar towards him, laden with the rapid and destructive lightning: he shut the casement and returned towards his bed; but the light from below attracted his eye, and he could not pass the aperture without taking one glance at the party.

They were in the same attitude in which he had left them; the servant was sleeping, but Ruth was earnestly gazing on the lower end of the room upon something, without the sight of Owen; his attention was next fixed upon the corpse, and he thought he had never seen any living thing so lovely; and so calm was the aspect of her last repose, that Meredith thought it more resembled a temporary suspension of the faculties, than the eternal stupor of death: her p. 43features were pale, but not distorted, and there was none of the livid hue of death in her beautiful mouth and lips; but the flowers in her hand gave stronger demonstration of the presence of the power, before whose potency their little strength was fading; drooping with a mortal sickness, they bowed down their heads in submission, as one by one they dropped from her pale and perishing fingers.  Owen gazed, till he thought he saw the grasp of her hand relax, and a convulsive smile pass over her cold and rigid features; he looked again; the eye-lids shook and vibrated like the string of some fine-strung instrument; the hair rose, and the head cloth moved: he started up ashamed: “Does the madness of this woman affect all who would sleep beneath her roof?” said he; “what is this that disturbs me—or am I yet in a dream?  Hark! what is that?”  It was the voice of Ruth; she had risen from her seat, and was standing near the coffin, apparently addressing some one who stood at the lower end of the room: “To what purpose is thy coming now?” said she, in a low and melancholy voice, “and at what dost thou laugh and gibe? lo! you; she is here, and the sin you know of, cannot be; how can I take the p. 44life which another hath already withdrawn?  Go, go, hence to thy cave of night, for this is no place of safety for thee.”  Her thoughts now took another turn; she seemed to hide one from the pursuit of others; “Lie still! lie still!” she whispered; “put out thy light! so, so, they pass by and mark thee not; thou art safe; good night, good night! now will I home to sleep;” and she seated herself in her chair, as if composing her senses to rest.

Owen was again bewildered in the chaos of thought, but for this time he determined to subdue his imagination, and, throwing himself upon his bed, again gave himself up to sleep; but the images of his former dreams still haunted him, and their hideous phantasms were more powerfully renewed; again he heard the solemn psalm of death, but unsung by mortals—it was pealed through earth up to the high heaven, by myriads of the viewless and the mighty: again he heard the execrations of millions for some unremembered sin, and the wrath and the hatred of a world was rushing upon him: “Come forth! come forth!” was the cry; and amid yells and howls they were darting upon him, when the pale form of the beautiful dead arose between them, p. 45and shielded him from their malice; but he heard her say aloud, “It is for this, that thou wilt not save me; arise, arise, and help!”

He sprung up as he was commanded; sleeping or waking he never knew; but he started from his bed to look down into the chamber, as he heard the voice of Ruth loud in terrific denunciation: he looked; she was standing, uttering yells of madness and rage, and close to her was a well-known form of appalling recollection—his father, as he had seen him last; he arose and darted to the door: “I am mad,” said he; “I am surely mad, or this is still a continuation of my dream:” he looked again; Ruth was still there, but alone.

But, though no visible form stood by the maniac, some fiend had entered her soul, and mastered her mighty spirit; she had armed herself with an axe, and shouting, “Liar, liar, hence!” was pursuing some imaginary foe to the darker side of the cottage: Owen strove hard to trace her motions, but as she had retreated under the space occupied by his bed, he could no longer see her, and his eyes involuntarily fastened themselves upon the coffin; there a new horror met them; the dead corpse had risen, and with wild and glaring eyes was watching the scene before p. 46her.  Owen distrusted his senses till he heard the terrific voice of Ruth, as she marked the miracle he had witnessed; “The fiend, the robber!” she yelled, “it is he who hath entered the pure body of my child.  Back to thy cave of blood, thou lost one! back to thine own dark hell!”  Owen flew to the door; it was too late; he heard the shriek—the blow: he fell into the room, but only in time to hear the second blow, and see the cleft hand of the hapless Rachel fall back upon its bloody pillow; his terrible cries brought in the sleepers from the barn, headed by the wretched Evan, and, for a time, the thunders of heaven were drowned in the clamorous grief of man.  No one dared to approach the miserable Ruth, who now, in utter frenzy, strode around the room, brandishing, with diabolical grandeur, the bloody axe, and singing a wild song of triumph and joy.  All fell back as she approached, and shrunk from the infernal majesty of her terrific form; and the thunders of heaven rolling above their heads, and the flashings of the fires of eternity in their eyes, were less terrible than the savage glare and desperate wrath of the maniac:—suddenly, the house rocked to its foundation; its inmates were blinded for a moment, and sunk, felled by a stunning blow, to the earth;—slowly each man p. 47recovered and arose, wondering he was yet alive;—all were unhurt, save one.  Ruth Tudor was on the earth, her blackened limbs prostrate beneath the coffin of her child, and her dead cheek resting on the rent and bloody axe;—it had been the destroyer of both.


Oranges and Lemons.

Every body knows, or at least ought to know, with what an uproar of delight the birth of an heir to any noble family was celebrated in the old baronial times of fisty-cuff memory; exactly such a festival would we, the humble historian of the illustrious house of Tecklenburgh, describe, if we knew how to render justice to the outrageous mirth which shook the old castle to its very foundation, on the day of the eventful morn on which the lady of the eldest son of the family had presented her lord, and his no less expecting father the count, with a new prop to the seat of their ancient dignities.  It was amid the mingled uproar of trumpets, bells, soldiers, women, horses, and dogs, that the respectable purple-nosed dominican, who was confessor to the family, gave a p. 49blessing and a name to its future representative; and immediately after the ceremony, the knights and nobles, wearied by the blows given and received in the jousts, retired to the dining hall with the threefold intention of filling their empty stomachs with something better than the east wind, solacing their spirits with the biting jests of the count’s fool, and curing their wounds and bruises of the morning by bathing them in flagons of rhenish, till the moon should look down upon the evening.

But happiness will not endure for ever; like riches, she maketh herself wings and fleeth away: the company, after picking the flesh of the huge wild boar to the bone, began to stare at each other with bleared eyes, ask querulous questions with stuttering tongues, and reply with solemn and important visages; and the count of Tecklenburgh, fearing that his youngest son, the handsome Sir Ludolph, would soon grow as wise as the rest of the party, and of course utterly unfit for business, withdrew him quietly from the table and conducted him to his private apartment; there, seating himself in his state chair and enrobing his person, with an air of paternal dignity he solemnly demanded of his son, if he had, according to his particular order, considered the p. 50subject of their last conference.  The young knight answered, without any hesitation, that he had not, for that the subject was so disagreeable to him that he had never suffered it to enter his mind since; that he was determined not to become a monk, that he thought the tonsure excessively unbecoming, and that he had no inclination to pray every time St. Benedict’s bells should ring; and he added moreover, that he was resolved to carve himself out a fortune with his sword, and for that purpose intended to set off immediately for the court of the injured princes of Thuringia, whose cause was a just and honourable one, and make them an offer of his services: all this was said with an air of so much determination and composure, as partly to disturb, and partly to amuse the gravity of the count of Tecklenburgh; but considering within himself for a few moments, he thought this last project of his son was not quite so foolish as he had at first been willing to imagine it.  In addition to high courage and many knightly acquirements, Ludolph possessed a very handsome person, and this idea connecting itself with the beautiful sister of the princes of Thuringia, he began to think that it would be a pity to hide that fine form under a greasy cassock; he reflected that should the three sons of p. 51Albert the Depraved get their brains knocked out in the skirmish, (a consummation devoutly to be wished, and, from their warlike character and powerful enemies, very likely to happen,) their possessions would descend to their sister, who might possibly fall in love with his handsome son, and then possibly the margraviate of Thuringia might finally centre in his family.  These, and many other possibilities working in the brain of father Tecklenburgh, worked a change in his countenance also; and Ludolph seeing a smile, or something like one, hovering over his iron features, judged it a favourable opportunity for re-enforcing his petition, which he did with all the zeal and eloquence he could muster—eloquence which touched the heart of his tender father, for he assured him that if he would permit him to depart, he would not draw the smallest piece of copper from his treasury to fit him out for the expedition, but would make his aunt’s legacy of relics answer every purpose.  This last remonstrance settled the business; count Tecklenburgh, finding it was to cost him nothing, gave his consent to the measure, and made his son happy in his own way, though, if that happiness had cost him a single cruitzner, he would have held fast to the tonsure in spite of all the repugnance of p. 52poor Ludolph; as it was, he gave him his blessing, and dismissed him with much good advice, but not a single coin, and the knight was too happy in the granted permission to grieve at his father’s lack of liberality.  With a lightened heart he went for his holy legacy, which he found much heavier than he had expected; every bone and rag was carefully marked with the name of its original owner, and, after getting the monk to read him their titles, and affix a value to each article, he hastened to dispose of his sanctified treasure.  He imagined the most likely persons to bid handsomely for his commodities would be the monks, who paid such respectful and humble reverence to cargoes of that description; but, after visiting a convent of Dominicans situated near the castle, in this instance he found himself most grievously mistaken; these holy pedlars were much too wise to buy what they had long found their account in selling: they had already a good stock on hand, and, when this should be exhausted, they could manufacture others at a much cheaper rate than they could purchase them of count Ludolph: so he carried his legacy to the nuns, who rejected it instantaneously, doubting whether the articles were genuine.  From the nuns he went to all the orders of mendicants, who treated p. 53him and his relics with great contempt, cried down his cargo, and impudently asserted that the leg of St. Bridget, which he had considered the most valuable article in the pious collection, was the leg of a woman who was hung some years before for sorcery in Nuremburg, as they themselves had the real original limb of the saint in their possession.  Thus disappointed among the shorn lambs of the fold, Ludolph determined to seek for purchasers among the laity, and accordingly found them in the persons of priest-ridden princes, crusading nobles, pilgrim knights, and convent-founding ladies: the great variety of his good aunt’s collection enabled him to gratify the tastes of all, for his box contained one member or other of every saint mentioned in the monk of Treves’s martyrology.  St. Bridget’s leg he sold at a high price to a miserable old noble who had grown rich by rapine, and who trusted by this measure to scare away the goblins and spectres who nightly kept their revels round his bed.  The thumb of St. Austin was purchased by a beautiful princess, as the guard of her chastity amid the allurements of a court, and was suspended like a camphor bag around her delicate neck; while the illustrious mother of a reprobate young knight earnestly hoped, by tacking a piece of the p. 54hair shirt of St. Jerome to the shirt of her son, to effect a reformation in his morals, and an amendment in his manners.  There were always abundance of fools in the world, and in those unlettered times it did not require the light of a lantern to look for them.  Ludolph thought so, as, with a lightened box but a heavy purse, he returned to Tecklenburgh to fit out for his expedition.  Hosen, boots, vests, tunics, hoods, harness, and arms, were all ready in a short time; for when a man has money, every thing else under the sun is very much at his service.  His appointments were all of the handsomest kind; his device was a boar, and his colours were blue and scarlet.  And thus, having equipped the knight and sent him forward, let us look back for a little, to ascertain whither he is going, and for what purpose when he shall arrive there.

The cause of the princes of Thuringia was, as count Ludolph had truly stated, a just and honourable one: their father, Albert the Depraved, had disinherited them, and banished their mother, in favour of a worthless mistress and his illegitimate son, for whom he anxiously endeavoured to procure the investiture of his dominions after his decease.  Not succeeding in this notable project, and bent upon the ruin of his own children, he p. 55sold his landgraviate of Misnia to the emperor Adolphus, who dying before he could be benefited by his purchase, bequeathed this right, to which he had no right at all, to his brother Philip of Nassau, who, poor in character, and still poorer in purse, was now levying an army, aided by the emperor Albert, to deprive the legitimate heir, Frederic with the Bite, and his brother Dictman, of their rights and possessions.  To this project they were by no means disposed to consent, more especially as their mother, Margaret, daughter of Frederic the Redbeard, continually kept alive their resentment against their worthless father and his abandoned associates.  This princess, on being years before separated from her children by her husband, had requested permission to take leave of them ere their departure, which being granted, she, in the frenzy of rage and grief, left a singular memorial of her wrongs with her eldest son; she bit a piece out of his cheek, and the impression remaining upon his face for ever, inflamed his indignation against the original author of this disfigurement; so that, when capable of bearing arms, he deposed his father and assumed his place, to thrust him from which Philip of Nassau was now threatening, and to oppose whom half Germany was rising in arms p. 56to assist the cheek-bitten Frederic, and among many others the handsome knight of Tecklenburgh.

Margaret of Suabia, the mother of the princes, during the early part of her life, had been confined by her husband in the castle of Wartzburg, in order that she might be removed the more readily into a still smaller abode, whenever the proper opportunity should occur, and which he piously determined not to neglect.  She was at this period in a situation which might have interested any man but such a husband, for she promised to increase his illustrious family by an additional son or daughter; but as he cared for no children but the son of his mistress Cunegunda, this circumstance rather operated against the poor princess, who was left to amuse herself as well as she could in superintending the infancy of her sons, and hunting in the haunted forest of Eisenac.  One day, while thus diverting her attention from the many anxieties which oppressed her, she found herself suddenly separated from her attendants; but hearing a horn sound to the right, she spurred on her palfrey in that direction, till, after an hour’s hard riding, she began to fear she was removing still further from her people, for no sound could she hear but that of the eternal p. 57bugle, no hoof-tramp but that of her own steed.  Still the horn sounded, and still the princess galloped, till at length, wearied by her exercise, and finding herself in a large open plain, she dismounted to reconnoitre; at the same moment she remarked the silence of the horn, and the appearance of a gigantic orange tree, loaded with fine fruit, in the centre of the tranquil plain.  Astonishment she certainly felt on beholding so extraordinary and beautiful an object; but hunger and fatigue had entirely banished all notions of fear; besides, dame Margaret, having no small share of the curiosity of her grandmother Eve, could no more resist the temptation of tasting these oranges, than the first woman did the apple; so climbing up into the tree, she regaled herself to her heart’s content with this fine fruit of the forest.  By the time she had fairly dined, and was as weary of eating as she had previously been of riding, she bethought her of the boys at home, and with what glee they would have marched to the sack of the orange tree; but as that was not possible, she determined they should not be without share of the spoil, and therefore began to fill her huge pockets with the ripest and largest of the fruit.  But this action displeased the hospitable master of the table at which she had been p. 58so plentifully regaled; “Eat, but take nothing away,” had been one of his maxims, and he was mortally offended to see this honest rule set at nought in the person of a princess, a lady who, he thought, ought to have understood better manners.  Before, therefore, she had laid up provisions for the march, a little shrill voice from the tree commanded her highness “not to steal his fruit,” and, at the same instant, there issued from the trunk, which opened to give him a passage, a figure which effectually satisfied the curiosity of the princess of Suabia.  The animal which now quickly ascended the tree, and placed himself vis à vis with her highness, was a little deformed man, about three feet and a half high, with a face as yellow as the oranges upon which he lived, hair of the same hue hanging down to his heels, and a monstrous beard, of the same bilious complexion, gracefully descending to his feet; if you add to this, the gaiety of his yellow doublet, short cloak, and hose, you will not wonder that Margaret did not altogether relish the tête à tête in which she found herself so suddenly and singularly placed, independent of the awkwardness of paying a first visit in the boughs of a tree.  “Princess,” said the little yellow devil, after staring at her some time with his two p. 59huge goggling yellow eyes, “what business have you here?”  “I have lost my way,” she replied, “and being fatigued, was going to gather an orange to appease my hunger:” but he, without the least respect for his guest, or the rank of an emperor’s daughter, rudely answered, “Woman, you lie! you were stealing my property to carry away.”  At this insolent reproach, Margaret, whose patience was never proverbial, felt a strong inclination to treat the demon as she afterwards did her son; but fearing that the little gentleman might not endure it quite so temperately, prudently restrained this effort of her indignation, and only said, “I did not know the tree had any other owner than myself, or I would not have gathered any; what I have eaten I cannot restore, but here is the last I have taken;” and she threw it rather roughly at the Dwarf, who, irritated excessively at this behaviour, told her, grinning hideously, and exhibiting for her admiration his monstrous overgrown yellow claws, that he had a strong temptation to tear her to pieces, which nothing but his wish to be allied to the blood of the emperors should have prevented.  “My oranges,” said he, “which you have stolen, I estimate above all price, except that which I am going to demand: I am a powerful demon, and p. 60rule with unbounded sway many thousand spirits; but I am unhappy in not having a wife with whom to share my power; as Adam was not delighted in Paradise, neither am I in my Orange Tree, without a companion.  You are about to present an infant to your lord, who is utterly indifferent about the matter; it will be a girl, and I demand her in marriage on the day she will be twenty years old: consent to be my mother, and I will avenge your injuries upon your husband, and load you with honours and riches; refuse, and I will tear you in pieces this moment, and furnish my supper table with your carcase.”  Margaret, who had never been so terrified in all her life, and would not only have given her daughter, but her sons and husband into the bargain, to have got away, readily promised to agree with the Dwarf’s wishes, who now became exceedingly polite, embraced his dear mother, and assured her of his devotion.  He then informed her he would give her notice some months before he should claim his wife, placed her carefully and tenderly upon her palfrey, and mounting behind, spurred on the animal, who flew like the wind to the entrance of the forest; where again embracing his good mother, he dismounted and disappeared.  Margaret, freed from the odious company of the p. 61Yellow Dwarf, began to reflect with no very pleasant feelings upon her present adventure and future prospects.  She was, indeed, safe out of the orange-coloured clutches of her dutiful and well-beloved son; and, vexed as she was by the horrible promise she had been obliged to make, she could not help congratulating herself with great sincerity upon this circumstance, and began, like all who have just escaped a present danger, to make light of the evils in the distance.  The farther she cantered from the Orange Tree, the easier her mind became; and taking a few hints from “Time, the comforter,” she reflected that many things might occur before the expiration of twenty years: it was a long period to look forward; the little yellow devil might die, (and, indeed, she could not but allow that he looked most miserably ill,) or he might forget his bargain, or he might be conquered and killed by some black, pea-green, or true blue devil, who might be stronger or more powerful than himself; or, in case of the worst, she could secure her daughter in some strong castle or convent, or marry her, before the expiration of the term, to some prince capable of protecting her; at all events, thought Margaret, “sufficient to the day is the evil thereof;” and, delighted by these soothing reflections, and p. 62charmed to find herself in a whole skin, she trotted along with great complacency, and arrived quite comforted before the gates of Wartzburg.


“These yellow cowslip cheeks,
And eyes as green as leeks.”

Twenty years is indeed a long period to look forward, but a very short one to look back, and so thought the now widowed princess, when, nineteen years and some months after her adventure in the forest, she sat beside her lovely daughter in the palace of Erfurt, listening with earnest and tender attention to the plans of her warlike sons, for wresting their dominions from the iron grasp of Albert the One-eyed and Philip of Nassau.  It was necessary that they should give battle to their enemies; and as the margrave of Misnia intended to fight for his country in person, this would unavoidably deprive her beloved daughter of that powerful protection which hitherto had been her security against the threats of the Yellow Dwarf.  It now wanted but six months of the period when he had determined to claim his bride; and as he had not hitherto given any indication, according to his word, of his appearance p. 64for this purpose, she trusted he might have forgotten it altogether, and, quietly resolving not to complain of this breach of promise, forbore to mention the subject to her children.

One day, during the bustle of preparation for the approaching warfare, a knight, splendidly attired, arrived at the palace, and demanded to be introduced to the princess Margaret, who no sooner beheld him, than she recognised in the colour of his arms the livery of her dear son-in-law, the Dwarf of the Orange Tree.  He announced himself as the knight of the king of the oranges, and his embassy was to place abundance of gold at the feet of the princess Margaret, and to carry away her daughter as the bride of his master.  Concealment was no longer possible, so sending for her children, she informed them of her forest adventure, and its unfortunate result.  Poor Brunilda fainted away; her brothers swore as lustily as ever queen Elizabeth did, and fairly bullied the knight ambassador for his presumption in daring to think of their sister as a helpmate for the little dirty low-lived sorcerer his master; and Margaret, who before their entrance had been absolutely terrified to death by his presence, now finding herself protected, suffered her tongue to wag at a most unconscionable rate against the poor p. 65ambassador.  She told him she had a great mind to cut off his ears, for bringing her such a message; that his master was a little conceited monster; that if, with all this gold and silver, he would buy a fine castle, cut off his beard, and live like a gentleman, he should not want her interest with one of the dairy-maids, but as it was, the thing was utterly impossible, he would not succeed even with the lowest scullion.  “Madam,” replied the knight, with a grim kind of gravity, which was not half relished by the princess, “I would have you to understand I came not hither to bandy words with you, nor to listen to a catalogue of my master’s perfections: I must, however, inform you, that he would not part from his Orange Tree, nor with his beard, for all the princesses in the universe, the fair Brunilda included.  If you do not think proper to keep your promise, he will find means to oblige you: neither does he require human aid to obtain his betrothed bride; but his gallantry and good nature will not allow him to force the will of the fair princess, if he can relinquish his determination with honour.  He is fully aware of your present repugnance to his nuptials, and he is now whispering me to say, that if the princess herself declines his vows (which he can hardly believe), p. 66he will release her upon condition of her finding a champion that shall conquer me, and afterwards my invincible master, before the six months have expired, in single combat on horseback, on foot, with lance or sword, according to his highness’s good pleasure at the time of meeting: shall I say these terms are accepted?”  “You may,” replied the margrave, to whom these conditions did not appear very hard, and who thought it better to comply with than refuse them, as he was not aware of the strength of the enemy to whom his mother’s promise had really been given; and he remembered he should probably be compelled to leave his lovely sister unprotected, while absent on his distant wars.  The arrangements were, therefore, soon made, and the yellow champion was satisfied.

And now a splendid scene opened to view in the territories of Frederic with the bitten cheek.  No sooner each day had the bells rung out the hour of prime, than the trumpet sounded to proclaim the challenge of the yellow knight, and the promise of the margrave of Misnia, that the successful champion of the fair Brunilda should obtain her hand for his reward.  Day after day did some knight essay the adventure; and day after day did the noble Margaret enter the lists, attended p. 67by her lovely daughter, who looked, through her fan of peacock’s feathers, as charming, and carried herself as “daintily,” as whilom did the beauteous Esther, when she entered into the presence of the loving Ahasuerus.  But not like that beautiful daughter of the scorners of pork did she obtain her petition; for day after day was she compelled to witness the ruin of her hopes in the repeated triumphs of the yellow Haman over her own black, brown, or party-coloured champions: knight after knight fell beneath his ponderous arm, and were obliged to resign their claims to the fair Brunilda, to her infinite regret, and their bitter mortification.  Already had the counts of Wartzburg, Oettingen, Henneberg, Hanau, and Conrad of Reida, been compelled to acknowledge the superiority of his powerful arm, when the arrival of the handsome knight of Tecklenburgh, who just came in time to hear a week’s rest proclaimed, in order to gain time for the approach of other knights from the more distant parts of Germany to the aid of the endangered princess, revived the hopes of Brunilda.  He came, he saw, he conquered—not the sword of the yellow champion, but the heart of the charming princess, which was formed of too tender materials to hold out against so well-looking and redoubted a warrior: p. 68she fell instantly in love with him to distraction, and he, on his part, was too well bred to be behind-hand.  In the extravagance of her fondness, she thought all things possible to her lover, and made no doubt that he would be victorious in the combat.  Ludolph was precisely of the same opinion, and, to manifest its justice, was most irritably impatient for the day of combat, which was still at the distance of several halting sun-risings and sun-settings, which that long-legged old ragamuffin Time did not carry off, in the opinion of the lovers, quite so rapidly as he ought to have done.

But it came at last, that day, that morning of miracles; it came, and brought nothing with it to daunt the brave spirit of the knight of Tecklenburgh.  Light as the plume in his casque, gay as the colours of his harness, he entered the lists, and gallantly opposed his person against the ponderous carcase of the yellow-coloured champion.  Blow after blow was freely given, and as freely received, till the spectators began to doubt whether either of the men before them was really made of flesh and blood.  Proof decisive, however, was soon given, for the sword of Ludolph cleft the helmet of his antagonist, and dashed his weapon from his hand, so that, defenceless p. 69and at the mercy of his conqueror, he yielded up his claim to victory, and was content to beg his life.  The acclamations of the people proved to Ludolph the difficulty of the conquest he had just achieved.  The nobles were all anxious to testify their esteem and admiration, though some in their hearts were bursting with envy, and felt themselves almost choked by the fine things they thought it necessary to utter.  Ludolph took them all in good faith, with perfect confidence in their sincerity, for he was too happy and too honest to suspect; and then turning to the poor champion, whom he hardly allowed time to recover breath, recommended him to return to his little lord, and bear his defiance, as he should quietly wait to fulfil the last condition ere he received the hand of the beautiful Brunilda.  The Yellow Champion took the advice thus kindly offered him, and quitted the palace of Erfurt, leaving his conqueror busy enough in accepting those disinterested professions of service which are seldom offered except to those who do not want them, or from whom an adequate return may not unreasonably be expected.

Ludolph waited with great impatience the Dwarf’s reply to his challenge.  His time was passed, meanwhile, in making love to the princess p. 70(who on her part was tolerably well disposed to listen to him), and laying up a stock of devotion, by prayer and fasting, to serve, as occasion should warrant, in the approaching combat with the demon, of whose power he had formed other notions, since his residence in the Misnian court, than either thinking him so harmless or so insignificant as he had formerly done.  But the days rolled on, and no dwarf appeared.  Margaret, who sincerely admired the valour of Ludolph, was anxious to end his suspense, and Brunilda’s terrors, by uniting him at once to her daughter, without waiting for the presence of the Lord of the Orange Tree, of whom she could never think without shuddering; but the margrave, who, much as he loved his sister and her noble deliverer, was too much of a gentleman to break his word, even with a dwarf, determined they should stay the full time allotted by the demon.  The latter was too gallant, and too much in love with the princess, to forget his engagement, and accordingly one morning, as the trumpets were sounding the usual summons to the lists, the Dwarf himself entered them in his customary dress, mounted upon a yellow steed, and surrounded by a large troop of knights in his colours.  The nobles and ladies of the margrave’s p. 71court, struck by the oddity of his appearance, entirely forgot their politeness, and burst into as hearty and unanimous a laugh as ever was heard in our lower House at any of Joe H—’s blunders.  But it was no laughing matter to Brunilda: she saw, for the first time, her intended husband, and she felt that his ugliness even exceeded her mother’s report, and heaven knows that had not been flattering.  She cast a look of tender entreaty upon Ludolph, who, impatient to punish his rival and relieve her anxiety, couched his lance, and spurred forward to meet the demon, who, not to be behind-hand in courtesy, advanced to receive him.  But the knight suddenly sprung back, on observing the singular dress of his adversary, the extraordinary lightness of whose accoutrements struck him with astonishment.  “Sir knight of the Orange Tree,” said he, “except the lance in your hand and the sword in your belt, I see no sort of preparation for a combat; sheathe your person in harness, I pray you, that so at least the chances may be more equal between us.”  “What is that to thee?” replied the Dwarf; “it is my pleasure to fight in these garments: thief as thou art, conquer me in them if thou canst.  For thee, sweet lady, I am here, to prove my right to thy hand, to rescue it from this craven, and fear not p. 72but I shall deserve it: my palace is ready, thy dowry is ready, and twice a thousand slaves wait to obey thy wishes.”  Ludolph could not endure this insolence, so rushing forward as the yellow knights retired from the person of their leader, he began a most furious attack upon the animal who pretended to rival him in the affections of his lady.  Alas! poor Brunilda! if she had trembled before, during the combats with the yellow knight, what anxiety must not have filled her bosom now!  The lances were soon shivered to pieces: the champions drew their swords, but seemed to make very little impression with them.  Ludolph had not yet received a wound, and yellow-jacket seemed determined to make good his boast, and hold the knight of Tecklenburgh a tug.  Vain was all the skill and strength of the latter; though he struck with all his might and main, and heart and soul, he could not cut through a single hair of the Dwarf’s long beard, which seemed to wag at him in derision.  Poor Brunilda sat as uneasily upon her canopied throne as if she had been upon a bed of nettles.  She prayed to all the saints in heaven, and St. Henry the Limper in particular, to assist her dear knight in this terrible combat: but St. Henry the Limper was not in good humour, or was otherwise engaged, p. 73for he did not appear to pay the least attention to her request, and Ludolph was left to fight it out by himself as he could.  In truth, he did not want inclination to put an end to the business.  After pegging and poking at every inch of the Dwarf’s invulnerable carcase, he espied a little unguarded spot on the left side of his throat, exactly open to his right hand.  Delighted by the prospect of slicing off his ragamuffin head, he aimed a mighty blow with all his force, which the little demon parried; he struck a second with no better success; but the third was triumphant, for it sent the yellow head flying from the shoulders, and bounding to another part of the area.  The knight leaped from his saddle to seize the head and hold it up to the view of the people; but in this race, to his horror, he was outstripped by the Dwarf himself, who likewise, darting from his horse, flew to the head, grasped it firmly, gave it a shake, clapped it upon his shoulders, and fixed it again as firmly and steadily as ever.  Then, ere the spectators could recover from the stupor into which this unexpected contretemps had thrown them, he struck the staring Ludolph to the ground, seized the princess by her flowing locks, swung her behind him, and bolted out of the area.  His knights wheeled round to follow p. 74him, but the Misnian nobles, recovering from their confusion, surrounded them with drawn swords, and began a desperate battle, in which it appeared they clearly had the worst, only hacking and hewing each other; for the knights, squires, pages, and horses of the enemy suddenly vanished from their sight, and in their places appeared a waggon load of oranges bowling and rolling about the area in the most amusing manner possible.  It was some time ere the nobles could direct their attention to the unfortunate count of Tecklenburgh, who, stunned by the blow given to him as the parting blessing of the spiteful Dwarf, was lying insensible on the ground: the moment he recovered, he declared his intention of pursuing the enemy, in which he was seconded by all the knights present, who, headed by Margaret as guide and commander, resolved to storm the Orange Tree itself, and liberate the captive damsel.  They set forward with great courage and in good order; but they might just as effectively have stayed at home, for, after wandering about the forest for three days, they returned crestfallen enough, not only being unable to discover the Orange Tree, but even the plain in which it stood!  Poor Ludolph, whom the princes had vainly endeavoured to comfort with the assurance p. 75that he had fairly gained the victory, though he had lost the fruit of it, did not return with them.  They lost him from their company the first day of their search, and they firmly and devoutly believed the yellow devil had hooked him also in his infernal claws.  Margaret gave herself up to grief, and her sons, finding nothing else was to be done, endeavoured to forget theirs in the bustle of the approaching war.


Ha!—sure a pair!

S. Dro.  I, Sir, am Dromio! command him away.

E. Dro.  I, Sir, am Dromio; pray let me stay.

In the meantime Brunilda was jogging on at no easy rate behind the Yellow Dwarf, who, when arrived at the Orange Tree, opened the trunk by a sign, and, dismounting, bore his lovely burthen into it.  She felt herself, immediately after, descending a flight of steps, which, from the duration of time, appeared to be endless.  They did terminate, however, at last, and the Dwarf, placing her roughly upon her feet, retired swiftly from the place, closing the entrance at the bottom of the stairs carefully after him.  It was some time after his departure ere Brunilda took courage to open her eyes and look around her; when she did, she found herself in a subterraneous apartment as large as the bed-chamber of the empress p. 77Constance. [77]  Every article about it was of silver, and there was a magnificence about this underground palace, which made her conclude it to be the castle and principal residence of her intended husband, the Yellow Dwarf, whose company she did not covet, and who, to do him justice, did not appear to torment her.  Food was supplied, and every attention paid to her wishes by many attendants of both sexes, who, however, never exchanged one single word in her hearing.  Wearied out by this continual taciturnity, she began to wish for the sound of a human voice, and, thinking she might probably learn something of the Dwarf’s intentions from himself, she one day, instead of questioning her dumb attendants as usual about her lover, demanded some tidings of their master.  “He cannot approach your presence, madam,” replied one of the mutes, breaking his hateful silence, “unless you request his appearance.  A mighty spirit, one of the enemies of my master’s and your felicity, has contrived this misfortune by his spells, but, if you command it, he is permitted to attend you.”  Brunilda, who, in giving this required permission, never dreamed p. 78of any thing more than making inquiries after her family and lover, was confounded to hear the Dwarf, with the most rapturous impertinence, volubly thank her for this approval of his, and generous acknowledgment of her passion.  Putting aside his long beard lest it should throw him down, he knelt fantastically at her feet, seized her white hand, and declared himself the happiest of all demon-born beings.  It was in vain that Brunilda reasoned, entreated, and scolded: he protested he was satisfied with the proofs she had given of her love, and, in order to spare her modesty the pain of appearing to yield too soon, he should put a gentle restraint upon her liberty, and not suffer her to quit his palace till she became his wife.  At this avowal the poor princess grew outrageous; she asked the little monster how he had dared to select a princess of her exalted rank to share his hole under ground, and burrow like rats in the earth? why he had not rather chosen some humble cast-away maiden, who, having nothing in the world to lose, might be contented out of it?  “Rank!” replied the irritated little demon, “and what is this rank of which you are so vain?  An imaginary splendour bestowed upon some men by the cringing servility of others,—the weak fancy that decks one with p. 79this supremacy, gives birth to the slavish fear that ensures to him its possession.  Rank!” continued the atrabilious little viper, swelling into a respectable width by the overflowing of his angry venom, “rank! it is power gained by force, won by the sword, by fraud, by oppression!  The strongest is the noblest; and if so, I am more than your equal, beautiful Brunilda, for, princess as you are, you are my captive, and I am your master.”  Brunilda wept at this insolence, and, like all who know not how to controvert what they yet cannot bear to acknowledge, hated the Dwarf more than ever, and resolved to prove it to him by seizing every opportunity of annoying him.  With this laudable intention, she renewed the attack by commenting with great severity upon his frightful little person: she sneered at his long beard, short legs, and large head.  She demanded if he had ever looked in a mirror, and, if he had, how he could presume to imagine he could captivate any woman under such a detestable form?  In no age have ugly people borne to be laughed at, for, however hideous they may happen to be, they seldom find it out themselves, and are, in consequence, very much surprised and offended when informed of it by others; and, as vanity is usually the reigning passion of the most disfigured, they p. 80seldom pardon an offence which is mortal.  The Dwarf, the ugliest animal the eyes of Brunilda had ever encountered, could hardly believe this possible, and saw no joke in her mirth at his expense, and, as he had his full share of that precious commodity, vanity, he raved, stormed, and became so insolent, that Brunilda was compelled to order him out of her presence.  This command, which he was obliged to obey, irritated the little creature to madness, and he swore, that, since he could not enter her presence without her permission, he would find a mode of making her give it whenever he should condescend to require it.  This threat had more of truth in it than Brunilda imagined.  A few days after this animated conversation, the Dwarf sent to ask leave to be allowed to pay his visit to the princess, which was immediately refused.  This threw him into a rage, and he informed the princess, by one of his mutes, “that her lover Ludolph of Tecklenburgh was in his power, and that his head should pay for the scorn with which she thought proper to treat her lord and husband.”  Poor Brunilda hastily gave the required permission, upon condition that Ludolph should accompany him; and her “lord and husband,” as he styled himself, entered a few moments after, followed by the knight, whom his p. 81demons had seized in the forest.  “There, madam,” said he, grinning like Grimaldi, but not so merrily, “I found this stranger in the neighbourhood of my Orange Tree, and I have brought him hither to secure a welcome for myself.  Did I not tell you I would make you glad to receive me?  Here shall this valorous knight remain, a hostage for your good behaviour; and never shall you receive him without admitting me at the same moment.”  Brunilda, who would have been delighted, in her present condition, to have seen any human being whatever, was in raptures at the sight of Ludolph, who, on his part, was content with his captivity, since he shared it with her; and, unrestrained by the presence of the Dwarf, they so often and so tenderly repeated their mutual delight to each other, that their grim jailer could not endure the sight of their happiness, and, rather than witness it, withdrew himself and Ludolph from the company of Brunilda, which he did not again seek for some time.  When, attended by Ludolph, he next entered her apartment, his jealous tortures were increased by the renewed endearments of the lovers, and, resolving in his own mind not to endure what he flattered himself he could easily remedy, he threw a spell over the unlucky Brunilda, p. 82which he generously hoped would destroy all the little tranquillity she enjoyed.  The charm operated upon the sight of the princess, who no longer beheld her lover, but a hideous negro advancing towards her.  Brunilda was terrified, but, reassured by the explanation of the Dwarf, who felicitated himself on her mortification, she resolved to punish him in kind; so collecting all the woman in her soul, and conquering her dislike of the ugly shape he presented to her, she gave it a most affectionate welcome, and caressed it as her dear Ludolph.  The Dwarf would willingly have annihilated him; but, obliged to keep him in existence to ensure himself admittance to Brunilda, he resolved to embitter that existence as much as lay in his power, and, having once more recourse to his spells, the handsome Ludolph, unchanged to himself, appeared to the eyes of the fascinated princess a furious and monstrous tiger, armed with tremendous fangs and claws.  But love penetrates all disguises, and the princess was now a match for the sorcerer.  She knew that the fangs and claws, however terrible to others, had no danger for her, and she suffered him to lie at her feet, kiss her snowy hand, and put his shaggy head upon her lap, without manifesting the slightest apprehension, to the great annoyance of p. 83the Dwarf, whose dull wit was sharpened by his jealousy, and he now contrived the master-piece of spells, to the increased misery of poor Brunilda, over whose clouded senses the charm once more operating, presented her beloved Ludolph only under the form of the Yellow Dwarf himself.  This transformation was horrible to both the sufferers, for each of the figures maintained that he was the knight, and persisted in execrating the other as the impostor, while Brunilda, wearied with gazing on their hateful countenances, dared not afford the slightest notice to either, lest she should bestow the tenderness designed for Ludolph upon his detestable rival.  In vain did she weep, threaten, and supplicate the Dwarf to give her lover “any shape but that.”  She knew not even to which of the pair she ought to address her petition.  But the demon was inexorable, listened unmoved to her sorrows, for his heart was as hard as Pharaoh’s, and even inwardly laughed at her agonies.  In vain did she examine their features in the hope of discovering some slight difference that might point out her lover: both grinned the same ghastly smile,—both exhibited the same unvarying ugliness of feature.  Alas, poor Brunilda!  Lavater himself could not have assisted thee, though, hadst thou lived in p. 84our days, or Dr. Spurzheim in thine, some professional examination of the cerebral organisation of the two dwarfs might have set the question at rest.  Doubtless, some bump extraordinary, some wonderful dilation of the organ of self-esteem in the skull of the true dwarf, or amativeness or combativeness in that of the false one, might have aided thee to discover the unbrutified soul confined in the brutified body.  But, as it was, they were both brutes to Brunilda, and, as she had no wish to charm the Yellow Dwarf, she wept her disappointment incessantly.  Nor was Ludolph less busy than the princess in employing threats and prayers by turns to mollify the Dwarf, though one was to as little purpose as the other, in the presence of the princess.  The cunning demon reiterated the same whining petition, used the same arguments, and denounced the same vengeance as the unhappy Ludolph; and when retired from her apartment, laughed at his success, and replied to every threat with mingled hate and defiance.  It was in vain that Ludolph accused him of having broken all the laws of chivalry, held even by demons so sacred.  He told him he regarded no laws, except those which he had made himself.  It was to no purpose he argued his right to be set at liberty at least.  The Dwarf, p. 85who was a philosopher in his way, replied that men had no rights, and that “might,” which he possessed, was a much better argument, and a more effective weapon.  All this was unluckily true, but it did not convince the Westphalian.  Zeno, the stoic, said, “that we had two ears, and but one tongue, that we might hear much and say little.”  It was a wise observation, and happy are those who profit thereby: our two captives might, if they had had the good luck ever to have heard it; but as they had not, they acted directly counter, for they so heartily used their two tongues, and so entirely spared their four ears, that their jailer grew outrageous, and therefore, except when he went to torment Brunilda, he resolved to free himself from the society of the count of Tecklenburgh, who paid for his garrulity by being condemned to talk to himself in one of the most dreary dungeons of the cavern.  Here he had full leisure to think of his misfortunes, and execrate the contriver of them.  He prayed night and morning with all the strength of lungs he could command, to all the saints in the calendar, to give him a lift out of this purgatory.  He was too good a Christian not to abhor all thought of magic; but, finding how little notice was taken of his petition by the higher powers, p. 86he could not help thinking of the lower, and wishing and vowing, that if some sorcerer, witch, or even devil, would but come to his assistance now, he would find time enough for repentance hereafter, and heal his conscience, and propitiate Heaven by many good deeds to be done in perspective.  “I would walk to Jerusalem, for a penance,” said he, “or give the spoils I shall take in my next battle to the church, or I would, when I shall be able, endow an abbey.  Either of these designs would be satisfactory,” continued he, “and oh that I had the good luck to be able to put them into execution!  Oh that some friendly spirit, some gnome of these caverns, or demon of this forest, would but come to my assistance!”  No sooner said than done: the sinner trembled at the instant fulfilment of his wicked wish, and began with real alarm to suspect that he was a bit of a conjurer himself; for there arose in a moment, from the bosom of the earth, a gigantic dusky-looking figure in the human shape, inquiring his commands.  “I could not come to your assistance,” said the object, “till you summoned me, or you should not have suffered so long.  I am the mortal foe of the Yellow Dwarf, and the legitimate prince of these mines, into which he has intruded himself, during my absence p. 87on a short journey I made to the centre.  He has fixed himself pretty firmly in my palace by his spells, but I shall contrive to dispossess him.  I will begin by assisting you: speak, knight of Tecklenburgh, how can I serve you?”  Ludolph, who, recovered from his first fright, desired nothing better, immediately struck a bargain with the friendly gnome; the first article of which was, that he should liberate himself and the princess.  “I can free you instantly,” replied the gnome, “but the spells around the princess are too powerful to be suddenly broken; nevertheless, with your help it may finally be done.  We must possess ourselves of the charm in which lies the power of the Dwarf, this, unfortunately, is his beard; for it will be a work of difficulty to master it.  Could you, in your combat, have cut off that, instead of his head, all would have been well: but, as long as that beard hangs to his chin, his body is invulnerable, for, cut him into fifty pieces, and he will unite together again.  Notwithstanding all these difficulties, observe faithfully all my directions, and, ultimately, we may accomplish our wishes.  Beneath those mountains of Bohemia which bound the marquisate of Misnia, there is a diamond mine, as yet unknown to the human race, whose sacrilegious hands have not there torn open p. 88the heart of their mother earth and disturbed the spirits who sleep in her bosom.  There, concealed many fathoms beneath the mountain, has been hidden for centuries the magic weapon which alone can conquer the Yellow Dwarf.  It is that identical pair of scissors with which the demon Fate cuts asunder your mortal destinies; these, and these only, can secure our enemy.  It will be in vain to cut off his head so long as he retains his beard, and that beard is unapproachable, except to the magic scissors of fate: the chief difficulty will be in obtaining possession of this wonderful instrument, since only a knight of unstained loyalty, pure, spotless, free from all taint of libertinism, drunkenness, and bloodshed, can take them from the hands of the statue which holds them, without incurring the severe penalty of instant death.  When such a knight shall be found, the scissors must be put into the hands of a spotless virgin, for only such can use them in cutting off the formidable beard; should any other woman attempt it, the inevitable consequences would be also death from the scissors themselves.”  Poor Ludolph was as much depressed by the end of this discourse as he had been elevated by the beginning.  Such a knight it was indeed next to impossible to find.  He himself p. 89was as good and true as most; his loyalty was indeed unstained, he had not shed blood in a murderous or treacherous manner; but he had been too frequently engaged in his father’s petty, and often unjustifiable wars, to undertake an enterprise that demanded hands free from stain.  Then, as for drunkenness, alas! for poor Ludolph, though naturally a very sober man, he knew he had too often shared many a “t’other flask,” and too frequently drowned his fears of the abbot of Fulda in the big bowl of Tecklenburgh, to permit him any chance of success in the achievement.  In his own person, therefore, he gave it directly up, satisfied of his incapacity from the fore-mentioned weaknesses, without carrying his self-examination any further, but at the same time almost despairing of finding a substitute.  “For the spotless virgin, friendly gnome,” said the honest Westphalian, “there I have better hopes, since there are enough at court, and I shall find this part of my task easy enough.”  “Not quite so easy as you imagine, knight,” replied the gnome, “since there is not an unmarried lady in all Thuringia who will not lay claim to that honour, and you may thus be the innocent cause of the death of many; but I can assist you here, and make this part of the undertaking much less difficult.  Here p. 90is a magic girdle; obtain permission to try it, without speaking of its virtues, upon the ladies of the margrave’s court.  Should the dame who shall buckle it on be a deceiver, the girdle, though now appearing of a large size, will shrink into the smallest compass, and will not even encircle her slender waist: should the lady be the object of your search, it will set closely and gracefully to her form.”  “A thousand thanks,” replied the honest knight; “I have no fears for my success in this point, and perhaps I may be more fortunate than I expect in the other.  Now then, generous friend, accomplish your kind intention, release me from this dungeon, and I will immediately hasten to Eisenac and seek a maiden who may assist to break these abominable enchantments.”  “I will,” replied the spirit, “but do not forget that to other eyes as well as Brunilda’s, you still wear the form of the Yellow Dwarf; this is occasioned by three orange-coloured hairs, from his formidable beard, tied round your right arm; unloose them, and you will appear to others as you do to yourself and me.  Be under no alarm for the safety of the princess, since I have already prevented your enemy’s entering her presence without her permission, and will still continue to watch over p. 91her.”  The knight again thanked the gnome for his friendly care, and shutting his eyes, by command of his companion, and opening them again the next instant, found himself, to his infinite joy, standing near the Orange Tree, round which his horse was quietly grazing.  He soon sprang lightly into his saddle, and turned his head from the wood, determined to reach Eisenac ere daybreak.  With this resolution he spurred on gaily, thinking of the joy he should feel upon liberating his beloved Brunilda, when, in a turn of the wood, he suddenly encountered a troop of knights in the livery of the Yellow Dwarf.  A cold shivering seized him, for he expected to be dragged back again neck and heels to the Orange Tree, when, to his utter astonishment, they all lowly saluted and respectfully made way for him to pass.  He now remembered that he had not yet removed the orange-coloured hairs from his arm, and, feeling himself indebted to this circumstance for his safety, resolved to let them remain till he should be quite out of the infernal forest.  Dwelling fondly upon his hopes and brightening prospects, the young morning sun found him entering Eisenac, where he was greeted with a loud shout by a troop of boys, who seemed to recognise an old acquaintance.  Soon the boy crowd was augmented p. 92by a multitude of citizens, who surrounded Ludolph, yelling like fiends, seized his bridle, pinioned his arms, and saluted him with a volley of dreadful curses.  “Sorcerer, robber, demon!” rung in his ears in all directions, and, while the uproar raged in its greatest violence, he was dragged from his horse, and thrown on the ground.  At this extraordinary treatment, the count demanded to be conducted to the margrave, to the princess Margaret.  He was told that the court had quitted Eisenac, but they were resolved to burn him alive in revenge for his treatment of their beloved princess, and the noble count Ludolph, her destined husband.  Solomon said, that “fear is nothing else than a betraying the succours which reason offereth;” and, in this case, it was most truly so, for the knight’s agitation, in the first part of the attack, had made him forget in time to remove the orange-coloured hairs from his arm.  Their last exclamation had shewn him their mistake, and his own fatal imprudence.  Now he found that he was in danger of being burnt alive for the sins of the execrable Dwarf, unless he could immediately free himself from the charm.  “Hear me, dear friends,” he cried, “I am truly the unhappy Ludolph, but your eyes are bewitched by the sorceries of that abominable p. 93demon, and you see me only under his resemblance; release my arms for one moment, and I will convince you.”  At this insult to their understandings, the wise men of Eisenac set up a most tremendous howl, and were still more anxious to collect faggots for his service.  They kicked, buffeted, and reviled his person till he was almost delirious with rage, and the foamings of his indignation confirmed them in their belief that he really was, what he appeared, the demon of the Orange Tree.  During one of the pauses made by his guards to listen to his earnest entreaties for a moment’s liberty, he found means to disengage his hands from their grasp, tore open his sleeve, and furiously rending away the slight bandage of hair, stood before them in his own proper person.  Astonishment for a moment tied up the tongues of the assembly, but quickly recovering themselves before Ludolph could gain time to explain, they declared it a new piece of sorcery, and swore that the form of their gallant favourite should not shield the wizard who they firmly believed was his murderer.  The magistrates and officers of Eisenac, aroused by the news of the seizure of the demon Dwarf, had assembled upon the spot, and startled by the wonders they now heard, trembled to think of the p. 94consequences of the unbridled fury of the mob, should the story told by the equivocal knight be really true.  Anxious to avoid the spilling of innocent blood, they proposed conveying him to prison, and awaiting the decision of the margrave; but the people anticipated a sight, and rather than lose so excellent a joke as that of roasting a sorcerer, they would willingly have run the hazard of sacrificing even Ludolph himself.  But the magistrates, much to their honour, continued firm, and, through their interference, poor Ludolph, who already felt the flames crackling under him, with much difficulty obtained permission to say a few words to them in his defence.  “Noble magistrates and discerning judges,” said the mob-hunted count of Tecklenburgh, “I trust that you will believe that I am really myself, as I declare to you by my knighthood I am.  As for the Yellow Dwarf, a curse on him, I am his victim, not his ally; since it is from his infernal enchantments, and still more infernal malice, all my misfortunes have arisen.  How you can for a moment imagine that I could be his friend because I have been unlucky enough to appear under his odious form, I am at a loss to imagine, since nobody surely can possibly believe such a transformation to be a matter of choice.”  The female part of the audience p. 95perfectly agreed with this last observation of Ludolph, and the magistrates, puzzled by the sincerity with which he had delivered his remonstrance, determined to save him, at least from the fire and the faggots.  But, as the people had expected a show, thought the wise men of Eisenac, “a show they must have,” or the consequences, they knew, of their disappointment in an affair so essential to their well-being, might not be entirely insignificant to their betters.  So, while acquitting him, in their consciences, of being the Yellow Dwarf, and forbidding the animating use of fire and faggots, they condemned him to be put to the ban, as a nobleman, for dabbling in a little private sorcery in conjunction with the demon, in whose villainous shape he had just appeared.  No sooner was this righteous sentence pronounced against the unlucky Ludolph, than he was seized by the soldiers and followed by all the crowd, who, anxious to join in the fun, exhibited many a practical witticism at his expense, and cracked all their superfluous jokes upon his unfortunate person: then stripping him of his armour and knightly accoutrements, and clothing him in raw and filthy goatskins, they set him upon a sorry mule with his face towards the tail, and led him through the town, p. 96the herald proclaiming before him, “We declare thy wife, if thou hast one, a widow, thy children, if thou hast any, orphans, and we send thee, in the name of the devil, to the four corners of the earth.”  Thus sent upon a long voyage, with such a friendly benediction, it would not have been wonderful if the heart of the knight had sunk with his circumstances, which any heart would have done except a Westphalian one, but that was employed in swelling with indignation, and meditating the best mode of returning the compliments of the Eisenac nobility.  While thus occupied, he heard a voice close to his ear, which whispered, “Attend to my orders, and you are safe.”  He looked earnestly in the direction of the sound, and saw, to his infinite satisfaction, the dusky face of his friend the gnome beneath the helmet of a soldier.  “Let these people continue to believe you the Yellow Dwarf,” continued the spirit; “it is the only way to preserve you from suspicion in your real character; here are the hairs which, in your haste, you threw away.  Resist not while I tie them round your arm, and leave the rest to me.”  Ludolph sat silent while, under the appearance of a new insult, his instructor twisted the light band round his arm, and the shrieks of the people a moment after announced p. 97that the charm had taken effect upon their senses.  “It is the sorcerer,” they cried, “the horrible Dwarf—seize him, tear him, burn him!”  But, for this time, their kind intentions were completely frustrated, for the gnome, entering into the sorry mule which carried the prisoner, communicated to his worn-out frame such inconceivable vigour and rapidity, that a few minutes were sufficient to bear his rider far beyond the pursuit of his enemies, who remained in the market-place, staring after the beast and cursing the Yellow Dwarf.  The representative of that malignant little demon was meanwhile receiving a few drops of a powerful cordial from the hands of his friend the gnome of the mine, who politely apologised for not knowing earlier the mischiefs into which his dear crony had fallen,—owing, however, entirely to his own excessive carelessness, which he should never have suspected.  “And, in truth,” continued the friendly spirit, “I concluded you were safe at the margrave’s court which is at Weimar, and whither I had intended to follow you.  Passing over Eisenac, I rested to know the meaning of the tumult I witnessed, and was just in time to rescue you from the rage of the mob, who would not have quitted their prey, even after the soldiers should have set p. 98you at liberty.  Here,” continued the gnome, giving him a heavy bag of coin, a most welcome present to a half-naked knight errant, “hasten to equip yourself according to your rank, and lose no time in joining the court at Weimar, where you must select a damsel to conclude the adventure ere Brunilda can recover her liberty, or you be freed from the malice of the Yellow Dwarf.”  Ludolph heartily thanked his good friend, though he could not help thinking it would have been as well if his assistance had been tendered some few hours earlier.  But still, better late than never, thought the knight; and, though he had received a few cuffs and many bitter curses, yet hard words break no bones, and the cuffs he hoped one day to repay with interest.  In the interim his honour was preserved by the contrivance of the gnome, as no man in Eisenac, no, not even the sapient magistrates themselves, would ever believe the creature they had pounded and worried so unmercifully, was any other than the Yellow Dwarf himself.  Receiving from his hands once more the magic girdle which he had lost in the confusion, he bade farewell to the gnome, who promised to meet him in the forest, when he should have obtained the magic scissors, upon which their success depended; and, after accoutring p. 99himself as became his condition, not this time forgetting the three red hairs, he set forward once more for the court of the margrave; and, as he was by no means of a melancholy complexion, his past misfortunes had no other effect upon his spirits than elevating them to a joyous pitch for glee, that he had so well escaped the dangers which he believed would have ended more tragically.  And thus gay, and hoping much from the future, he arrived, without any further adventure, at the palace of Weimar.


Ane gat a twist o’ the craig,
Ane gat a bunch o’ the wame,
Anither gat lam’d o’ a leg,
And syne he went bellowing hame.

The princess Margaret was overjoyed once more to see her Brunilda’s lover, and she welcomed him with the sincerest regard.  She listened with burning indignation to the account of the Dwarf’s treatment of his captives, and to such other parts of his history as he thought proper to relate; for he carefully suppressed, in the presence of the court, his adventures at Eisenac and his release by the gnome, lest the friendship of this good-natured spirit should again subject him to the charge of sorcery; and as he had already smelt fire at Eisenac, he was particularly anxious to avoid so warm a reception elsewhere.  He informed the good princess that the girdle would only fit the damsel appointed by destiny to break the enchantment, and of consequence all were anxious to try it.  Three of the most beautiful ladies in p. 101Misnia attempted, but, strange to relate, in vain, to fix on the magic cestus: it shrunk to nothing round their forms, and Ludolph began again to tremble for the fate of his poor Brunilda.  In vain did the most prudish ladies of the court present their slim forms to the girdle,—it would not meet around them.  Several of those who had been most rigid in their own conduct, and most bitterly virtuous in regard to that of others, took the girdle with a devout air and a blushing modesty, that quite revived the hope of the Westphalian knight.  Alas! the cestus not only refused to clasp the waists of these fair ones, but even flew right out of their hands the moment they touched it; and this circumstance so disheartened Ludolph, that he foolishly enough, ere above twenty ladies had made the attempt, gossiped out the secret of its virtues in the delighted ear of the princess Margaret.  That good lady thought the joke too excellent to be confined to so few persons; and there being among the unlucky twenty some whose beauty rivalled that of her beloved Brunilda, she lost no time in publishing the secret, which had all the effect of making them abhor Ludolph, and defeating the plans he was so anxious to carry into effect; for now, not a single woman acquainted with the p. 102virtue of the cestus would even try it on, and, instead of laughing with the princess and Ludolph at the unlucky discoveries made by the twenty, they made, much to their honour, common cause against them, and vowed to smother the mischievous knight whenever they could conveniently catch hold of him.  It required all the authority of the margrave, who at this juncture arrived at Weimar from the camp, to protect the unfortunate knight from their vengeance, who began to be as much afraid of these beautiful destroying angels as he had been of the fire-loving devils of Eisenac, or even the Yellow Dwarf himself.  “Alas! I am surely the most unfortunate of men,” said he to the margrave; “I have been transformed to the detested shape of the Yellow Dwarf, for wishing to deliver your sister out of his hands.  I have been very near roasting alive for killing myself.  I have been put to the ban for suffering myself to be tormented by my powerful enemy, and now I am in danger of being torn to pieces by the loveliest women in the world, only for being anxious to find one virgin in their company.  Ah, my poor Brunilda! what will become of thee?”  The margrave comforted the knight with the assurance that he would certainly be successful, if he could but prevail upon the p. 103ladies only to try on the girdle, and, in case of their obstinacy, he advised him to put the magic scissors into the hands of Brunilda herself, “For, if she be not worthy to use them,” said the proud Frederic with the bitten cheek, “she is not worthy of liberty, nor the tender love you bear her.  For the other conditions, I fear we must despair, since I do not believe there is a knight in my court, no, nor in all the courts of Germany, that will venture to accept the challenge; though, against mortal foes, they are the bravest men in the universe.”  The margrave was right.  Each knight knew his own secret weaknesses too well to accept the office, when the conditions were stated to them, no one being willing, as they honestly avowed, to hazard an ignominious death, by disregarding the injunctions of the gnome.  There was not a man among them who had not, at some time or other, offended by drunkenness, licentiousness, or breaking heads in an unjust quarrel: indeed, with regard to the latter peccadillo, it was scarcely possible, in the time of which I am treating, for it to be otherwise, since not only disputes of chivalry, and all injuries, whether public or private, were settled by the sword, but even cases of felony and suits of law were arranged by the same expeditious decision; p. 104so that he of the strongest arm and stoutest heart infallibly gained his cause, whether right or wrong, as his adversary could no longer contend, either for reputation or property, after the dagger of mercy had been struck into his heart, or drawn quietly across his throat.

But, to return to our good Westphalian and his difficulties.  After many objections, disputings, hopings, and fearings, the margrave at last found a salvo for Ludolph, and a stainless knight for the service of the king of the oranges.  This was his own son, a boy of ten years old, upon whom, finding all other hope fail, he conferred the honour of knighthood, and released him from his martial studies, in which the gallant child spent all his time, and sent him to handle the shears of Atropus, and share in the glory of shaving the orange-coloured beard of the execrable Dwarf.  The little knight Herman of Misnia was highly delighted by his admittance to this post of honour, and attached himself fondly to his good cousin Ludolph, who now began making preparations for his march.  So great was the terror inspired among the people by the Yellow Dwarf, that it was with much difficulty he could collect troops sufficient to defend the son of the margrave upon this voyage of discovery, as all the nobles, p. 105knights, and regulars of Thuringia, were gone to the camp in daily expectation of an attack from the emperor Albert, who, having been just overreached in his views upon Bohemia, by his good cousin Henry of Carinthia, was advancing in no very good humour upon the troops of the margrave of Misnia.  After a proclamation of some days, in which Ludolph puffed the vast riches of the diamond mine with almost as much skill as Day and Martin puff their blacking, a number of strays from all parts of the empire gathered themselves together under his standard; and though he could not boast of commanding many of the nobles of Misnia, yet, upon the whole, his troop was about as respectable as David’s at the cave of Adullam, when only those who were in debt, or distress, or discontented, enrolled themselves in his service.  But great endings spring from small beginnings.  From a captain of half-starved ragamuffins David became a king; and Ludolph hoped that his regiment of black guards would finally conduct him to the feet of a princess.  With this notion he set forward, full of expectation, with the youthful knight committed to his charge.  On their road, fearful of any other delays, he inspirited his companions by dwelling, with affected rapture, upon the spoils of the diamonds, p. 106which were so soon to be at their service, in the sack of the mine.  These observations acted like electricity upon his respectable warriors, and sent them galloping towards the confines so rapidly, that before he had either hoped or expected it, they had arrived at the foot of the mystic mountain, where the whole troop made a halt, to await the return of Ludolph, who, with his young companion, was to descend first into the caves, seize the scissors, and then leave the coast clear for the plunderers to attack the mine.  Matters were soon settled.  The two knights found the entrance with some difficulty, and boldly descended into these dismal abodes, the residence of the infernal spirits who were in the pay of the Yellow Dwarf.  After traversing many dreary caverns, they entered the last, where, elevated on a golden pedestal, stood the gigantic statue which held the scissors of fate, and was the guardian of the life of the Yellow Dwarf.  Forgetting, in his joy at the sight, the caution of the gnome, he was advancing towards the statue, when a tremendous box on the ear from the marble fist taught him to know his distance.  He fell back accordingly, and, young Herman of Misnia approaching, the statue grinned as hideously as his protégé, but made no attempt to injure the boy, p. 107as fearlessly he climbed the pedestal, and, without any regard to the rights of property, grasped the magic scissors, and brought them away in triumph.  Ludolph received them from his hands with the wildest sensation of delight; but, prudence conquering his emotions, he took his young preserver in his arms and retraced his way to daylight.  Here he was greeted with shouts of applause by the soldiers, who, in spite of the entreaties of Ludolph, persisted to ransack the caves, pursuant to their original agreement.  In vain did he assure them the margrave’s enemies would furnish more spoils for them than the vaults, and that his share should be divided among them.  Vainly did he describe the threatening looks of the statue, and assure them he still felt the tingling of the marble thump in his ear, with which it had complimented him.  It was talking to the winds, or, as old Baker quaintly saith, “to as little purpose as if he had gone about to call back yesterday.”  Down they all dashed together, neck and heels, with tremendous outcries, into the diamond caverns.  But their return was silent and orderly enough.  The cave of Trophonius could not have effected a better or more expeditious change.  They were all as grave as judges, and every man appeared with his p. 108mouth twisted exactly under his left ear.  Ludolph could gain but little information as to what had befallen them; all he understood was, that they had seen the statue, who had given the first man such a thundering slap of the face that its shock was felt by all the rest of his companions, and left the consequences which he now beheld, and which they had such good reasons to deplore.  But, while the knights of the scissors and their wry-mouthed confederates are pursuing their road to Weimar, let us pop our heads under ground and see what has become of Brunilda.

The poor princess, much disconcerted by the diabolical contrivance of the Yellow Dwarf, gave way, when alone, to that indulgence of grief which she resolutely suppressed in his presence.  She had encouraged the visits of the two Dwarfs, in the tender hope that, though they afforded no consolation to herself, they might yield some satisfaction to the bosom of her tormented lover.  This being the real state of her feelings, she was deeply distressed when, the day after Ludolph’s release by the gnome, they neglected to pay her the customary visit, and therefore sent to request the presence of her tyrant.  He came, and in no very good humour, for he had just failed in the effect of a spell, which he hoped would discover p. 109the runaway.  He told her, even more brutally than usual, that Ludolph had escaped, that he was endeavouring to discover him, and that, in case he succeeded, of which he had no doubt, he would immediately hang him, unless the princess would save his life by giving her hand to his rival.  Delighted by the escape of the knight, Brunilda could not keep her joy to herself, but expressed it so imprudently, and with such heartfelt glee at the Dwarf’s vexation, that it irritated all the bile in his little yellow body, and provoked him to have recourse to his most powerful spells to discover the abode of Ludolph.  It was, luckily for the knight, a work of time and difficulty, since the gnome of the mine was at hand to unravel all his charms as fast as the other wrought them; and he was, by this means, obliged to desist, in order to find the invisible enemy who thus thwarted his plans and protected his victim.  The indefatigable gnome was still at his elbow, and poor yellow-beard continued as much in the dark at the end of his spells, as he had been at the beginning.  All this gave the knight time, which was what the gnome wanted, and the Dwarf remained in ignorance of his movements, till the spirits, who were the guardians of his talisman in the mountain caves, informed p. 110him of his danger and the seizure of the magic scissors.  Such a contrivance as that of knighting a child the demon had never contemplated, but finding one half of the adventure accomplished, he determined, as far as in him lay, to prevent the achievement of the other.  Learning by his fiends, that he was threatened with danger from Brunilda, he made it his principal care that the magic scissors should not be wielded by her, and accordingly penned her up more closely than ever, surrounding her by spells, not only inaccessible to mortals, but even to his own attendant spirits, whom he would not trust too far, lest his tyranny should have inspired them with hatred to his person, and laxity in his service.  Among his equals in the demon world he well knew, and feared the indignation of the gnome of the silver mines, whose territories he had invaded, and before whose power, if joined to that of other enemies, he would have good reasons to tremble.  These considerations determined his conduct, and, to prevent Brunilda from handling the scissors, and the scissors from approaching his beard, he devised a spell so potent, that he fondly hoped and believed he was safe from the attacks of, and might bid defiance to, all sorts of enemies, natural and supernatural.

p. 111In the mean time, Ludolph and his companions had arrived at the court of Weimar, to the great joy of the margrave and his mother, who, looking upon the adventure as nearly finished, entreated Ludolph to lose no time in joining his friend the gnome in the enchanted forest.  He himself had no wish to delay the business, and, after making one more unsuccessful attempt to prevail upon the ladies of Misnia to try on the girdle, he set off to present it to his lovely Brunilda; and, arriving near the Orange Tree, was met by the friendly gnome.  “It is not yet in my power to introduce you to the presence of the princess,” said he to the count, “as I have not yet conquered the spells by which our enemy has surrounded her: the cavern is inaccessible at present to any human foot, but it is not in the power of the demon to limit my steps in the territory of which I am the legitimate lord.  His spirits are as powerful as mine, and thus I am obliged to have recourse to artifice to conquer him, which I should not be able to effect, if he had not, by obtruding into my dominions, placed the secret of his spells in my power.  Unlike the free spirits who have existed from the beginning of the world, and who will probably survive its demolition, the Dwarf is mortal born, though, by p. 112magic spells, he has lengthened his life many hundred years; but his birth subjects him to death, which will be inevitable, should the infernal power by which he has accomplished his purposes be defeated.  To prevent this catastrophe, he has placed his life in a talisman, which he believes unconquerable, but which, I trust, we shall overthrow.  Caution is, however, necessary, for his spells are mighty, and the spirits subjected to his command are many.  In the interim you shall rest here, and I will provide for your necessities till I shall be able to conduct you to Brunilda, to whom you must explain the virtues of the scissors of fate, for, by an immutable decree which no spirit dares violate, I am restrained from appearing before her till she herself shall summon me.”  The gnome then raised a comfortable tent for Ludolph, loaded it with provisions, drew a line of protection about it, and vanished.

Three days passed tranquilly enough with Ludolph, while patiently awaiting the re-appearance of his friend the gnome, but the fourth was beginning to hang very heavy, when the spirit entered the tent in the middle of the night.  “I triumph,” said he; “I have unloosed the spell that kept you from the presence of Brunilda.  p. 113The Dwarf, being mortal born, is subject to mortal necessities, and at this hour he sleeps; rise and throw yourself at the feet of the princess; give me your hand, and close your eyes.”  Ludolph obeyed, and the next moment found himself in the apartment of Brunilda.  As I, the honest chronicler of the loves of the Westphalian knight and Misnian princess, am no great dealer in sentiment, I shall omit all the particulars of the meeting, and only say how truly happy Brunilda was to receive him, and how grateful she felt towards the obliging gnome, whom she gladly summoned to her presence.  To the great relief of Ludolph, who trembled and doubted grievously while making the proposal, she had not the slightest objection, even after she was made acquainted with its virtues, to try on the enchanted girdle, which fitted her graceful form as if it had been purposely made for her: her lover could not help commending the taste of the Yellow Dwarf, and was as much overjoyed at this earnest of success as if he already held the demon’s beard in his hand.  The gnome then gave Brunilda the fatal scissors, and telling them that the spirits of their enemy could not perceive them, from the powerful spells by which they were surrounded, desired them to follow his footsteps fearlessly to the inner p. 114caverns, where slept the demon, and whom sleep would probably render defenceless.  Stretching out their necks and stepping on tiptoe, the lovers followed the gnome to the private apartment of the Dwarf, whom Brunilda anxiously hoped to serve in quality of barber extraordinary.  With beating hearts they beheld their guide throw open the door of his chamber, and desire the princess to advance, at the same time approaching the couch of the demon, and drawing back his curtain.  Brunilda obeyed; mustering all her courage, and collecting a little army of disagreeable remembrances to her aid, she found herself so strengthened that, like Judith, she resolved to finish the business with a single snip.  But the Holofernes of Germany had had more wit than his drunken predecessor, and had taken much better care of his shaggy head; for the Judith of Misnia looked in vain for the yellow beard that was to fall beneath the fatal scissors.  That that had disappeared was not wonderful, since the face to which it formed such a remarkable appendage had entirely vanished from the body.  There lay the carcase of the Dwarf, sleeping, it might be, but his head was dozing in some other place, for the body was very quietly reposing without it.  Poor Brunilda shed tears of vexation, and the p. 115gnome looked silly enough to find himself thus completely outwitted; but knowing that he could find no remedy for the disappointment by standing gaping at the demon’s trunk, he drew the lovers from the chamber, conducted Ludolph back to his tent, and again had recourse to his spells, which told him that the Dwarf, fearful of surprise while disarmed by sleep, took off his head every night, and concealed it in some place of safety, but where he could not discover.  This was a vexatious incident; but “ruse contre ruse,” thought the gnome, and to work he went with a fresh resolution to outspell the yellow conjuror and liberate the lovers.  In the mean time the demon awoke from his invigorating slumber, and hastened to replace his ugly head upon his shoulders, and then, head and tail once more united, sat down to consider the possibility of recapturing the knight of Tecklenburgh, in whose hands, notwithstanding the success of his spells, he did not like to leave the magic scissors.  Brunilda, it is true, was safe enough; but the Dwarf knew (though Ludolph could not discover them) that there were more virgins than one in the Misnian court; and that the count wanted neither eloquence to persuade such to assist him, nor resolution to attack his enemy, when that difficulty should be p. 116conquered.  In the midst of these cogitations he was aroused by a summons from the princess, who had not permitted him to approach her since the day after Ludolph’s departure: the little coxcomb was enchanted by the message, and hastened to arrange his looks in the most becoming manner possible, ere he presented himself before the eyes of his lovely captive.  Brunilda was in tears when he entered her apartment, and no sooner did she behold him than she poured upon him such a torrent of reproach and abuse, that the Dwarf, though in general tolerably well skilled in the use of that cutting weapon the tongue, stood utterly confounded, and knew not what to reply.  She accused him vehemently of the murder of her lover, her dear Ludolph, which secret, she said, had been revealed to her in a dream by her patron saint that very night, and she had therefore sent for him to accuse him to his guilty face.  The Dwarf listened in surprise; but this time, far from retorting with his usual bitterness upon Brunilda, he was hugging himself in the notion that the patron saint might have told the truth, and that Ludolph, whom all his arts had failed to discover, might really be no longer an inhabitant of the earth, in which case he flattered himself he might possibly succeed him in the affections of the fair p. 117Brunilda, whose hand he coveted no less than her brother’s lands, of which he resolved to dispossess him whenever he should become the husband of his sister.  Full of these agreeable hopes and ideas, he soothed the weeping princess as well as the ruggedness of his nature would permit, and assured her, that though her lover was dead, (a circumstance of which he averred he was well aware, though compassion had hitherto prevented his informing her,) yet he had no hand in his death, and would endeavour by every mark of tenderness and attention to reconcile her to this inevitable loss.  Brunilda suffered herself to be comforted, and even allowed his yellow lips to press her fair hand, which so delighted the lover, that he released her from her severe confinement, and permitted her to roam at large through the caverns, and occupy her former apartment, where he continued to visit her daily, and daily quitted her with the flattering hope that he had at length discovered the mode of making himself agreeable.  Brunilda encouraged this delightful dream by her changed method of conduct; she ceased, after the first two interviews, entirely to reproach the Dwarf, and permitted his attentions without any ill humour.  From permitting his devotions, she gradually appeared to desire them, and even frequently condescended to rally him upon the p. 118oddity of his dress, and the old-fashioned cut of his hood: he immediately adopted another to gratify her taste, and was exceedingly vain of the notice she took of him.  She admired his flowing hair, and even his long beard had ceased to be an object of disgust to her: every thing became beautiful by custom, she said; and she now discovered, what her indignation before had prevented her from observing, that the colour of his beard was the same as that of her great grandfather the emperor Frederic II., who was universally accounted a very handsome man.  The Dwarf smirked, bridled, and was equally delighted with Brunilda and himself, since he now hoped no further opposition on her part would be offered to his proposals: he grew excessively fond of, and very indulgent to the princess, suffering her to command in his caverns, and taking great delight in exhibiting to her the riches of which she was so soon to be the mistress.  In all ages, among all nations, flattery has ever been the shortest and the surest road to the human heart; and men, however they may affect to smile at this weakness in the gentler sex, are not, whether giants, middle-sized men, or dwarfs, one whit less subject to this poor human frailty than the ladies themselves, in whom it is p. 119so pardonable.  If Eve yielded to the compliments of the serpent, Sampson was subdued by the witching coaxing of Dalilah; the sage Solomon drank flattery from the lips of seven hundred wives (Heaven pardon the old monopoliser!) and three hundred concubines; Holofernes lost his head for listening to the seducing tongue of Judith; and the mighty Nebuchadnezzar was not sent to grass for any other reason than swallowing down too plentiful a dose of this bewitching opiate: of all these gentlefolks, Eve was certainly least blameable; for it required diabolical power to turn her from the path of right, but the men sunk their virtue before the lustre of black eyes or the gorgeousness of costly attire.  As for profane story—O the tens and the fifties that might be enumerated!—but as this is not our present business, let us leave them to see what effect this pleasant medicine, so gently administered, had upon the mind of the little Dwarf.  He was, in truth, the happiest of all yellow men; for, deceived by the tranquillity of his life and the strength of his spells, he believed his enemy had given up the task of conquering him, and left him to wear his beard in quiet.  Brunilda still continued amiable, and heard him frequently, without any marks of indignation, express his hope that, when the time p. 120of her sorrowful mourning for the count of Tecklenburgh should be over, she would listen with compassion to the sufferings of a truer lover.  She neither checked nor encouraged these expectations; and the happy demon determined not to forfeit her affection by any precipitation on his part.  All this amiable conduct, however, on the part of Brunilda, was, in fact, but a contrivance of the friendly gnome, who thus hoped to extort by her means the secret of his nightly pillow from himself.  According to the plan agreed upon by the allies, the gnome, at this period of his enemy’s courtship, began again to disturb and puzzle him by his enchantments; and he succeeded in discomposing the harmony of his feelings so much, that he was obliged to have recourse to Brunilda, and (secure of her attachment to his person) vent all his complaints and vexations in her compassionating bosom.  She was all astonishment at the cruel designs projected against her Dwarf by his ungenerous enemies; she implored him pathetically to take care of his head, (a request with which he graciously promised to comply, more for her sake than his own,) and exhibited such anxiety to know if his precautions were sufficient, that the Dwarf almost betrayed his secret, overcome by the excessive vanity her conduct was so p. 121well calculated to inspire.  Relaxing from his habitual caution, he was about to inform her of some arrangements of his spells, when Brunilda, overacting the part assigned to her, entreated him, if he valued her happiness, to commit his precious head every night to her keeping, promising to guard it with her utmost tenderness and care.  At this imprudent request, all his suspicions returned; he eyed Brunilda askance, and gravely told her that, even were she his bride, he could not grant her desire, as it had always been his opinion that the less wives were trusted with the care of their husbands’ heads the better.  He left her surlily: he had himself told her of his headless rest, but he did not expect such a request would follow his information; and Brunilda, alarmed by the consequences of her ill-timed petition, summoned the gnome of the mine to her presence.  He chid her precipitation, but gave her a small vial containing a delicious cordial, which should repair the mischief.  “You may have observed,” said he, “that the Dwarf neither eats nor drinks of your food: prevail upon him once to sup at your table, and pour a few drops of this cordial into his drink: he must take it willingly, or it will have no effect.  In the sleep which follows the enchanted draught, he will be partly p. 122in my power, and compelled to answer any question you may propose to him.  I need not direct you what to ask; but should he reply according to our wishes, summon me to your side, and the business is done.”  The gnome gave her the potion, and vanished; while Brunilda diligently applied herself to remove the suspicions of the Dwarf.  In a few days she completely succeeded; and the flattered demon, on hearing her frequently complain of the insipidity of supping alone, requested permission to attend her at table during her supper.  This request was readily granted, and the visit constantly repeated by the Dwarf, who at length, at her earnest entreaty, consented to partake of her repast.  This was continued till all suspicion was removed from the mind of the Dwarf; and in one of his happiest moods she insisted upon his pledging her in wine: he obeyed, and, with the contents of the bowl, swallowed the magic cordial.  With what anxiety did Brunilda count the hours till she deemed the Dwarf had retired to rest; how she trembled as she quitted her chamber for that of her tyrant, whose beard, ere day-break, she hoped, would be the reward of her courage!  With a beating heart she entered his apartment, and stepping up to him, demanded in a trembling voice—“Dwarf of the Orange Tree, p. 123where hast thou hidden thy head?”  The stubborn carcase made no reply to this straight-forward question; and Brunilda shivered from head to foot as she considered the possibility of his not yet being asleep, and both hearing and understanding her question.  “Should it be so, I am indeed utterly undone,” said poor Brunilda; “for how shall I ever be able to deceive him again, since he must now be aware of my motives.”  Another reflection brought more comfort: she recollected, that as the head only can hear, so the head only can answer questions; and she determined to walk quietly through all the caverns, and repeat the question in each.  She had but a short time allowed her for action, as the Dwarf was an early riser, and she lost none in putting her scheme in execution.  Away she sallied, quick as anxiety would allow her; unwearied she pursued her task, but ranged through every apartment of the subterranean palace without obtaining an answer.  She almost thought the Dwarf had removed his head further off, when, passing through a dismal-looking hole in which were two iron pillars, she paused to repeat the charm—“Dwarf of the Orange Tree, where hast thou hidden thy head?”  “Here,” replied a well-known voice; “here, in the pillar on your left hand.”  Brunilda started at the p. 124sound, but quickly recovered her spirits, and turning to the east, summoned, as agreed upon, her coadjutors to her assistance—“Gnome of this mine, I call thee hither: bring with thee my lover, and the magic scissors of fate.”  In the next instant her friends were at her side, and the scissors glittered in her hand.  She explained in few words the happy result of her enterprise; the gnome struck the pillar with his mace, the massy substance divided, and the ugly head of her detested jailer rolled at the feet of the delighted Brunilda, who, without any apology, seized it, and began most nimbly to ply the magic scissors.  At that moment, the Dwarf, awakened by the near approach of morning, flew to replace his head upon his shoulders, and discovered, with the utmost rage and alarm, the intruders upon his premises.  The opened eyes of the head now directed the motions of the body, which rushed forward and bounced upon them so suddenly, that Brunilda shrieked and dropped the head, only retaining a grasp of the beard.  The Dwarf as nimbly caught it, and endeavoured to wrest it from her; but the princess, invigorated by despair and the exclamations of her friends, kept fast hold of it, and struggled stoutly with the demon.  The gnome lent her his assistance, in holding the p. 125head for her scissors, while Ludolph kept shoving, thrusting, and hacking with his sword at the invulnerable demon, in the hope of obliging him to loosen his grasp of his head.  The struggle continued some minutes, the Dwarf pulling, Ludolph shoving, and Brunilda, utterly regardless of the scratches he was liberally bestowing upon her lover, cutting away at the yellow beard with all her might and main.  At length she observed, that the longer she cut, the weaker grew the resistance of the demon, and this gave new force to her delicate fingers; she snipped on till the last hair was separated from the chin, and the yellow head and deformed body both fell senseless together upon the ground.  Brunilda was quietly looking upon her fallen enemy, when the magic instrument of her success suddenly sprung from her hand, and she beheld the scissors of fate gliding away rapidly through the air, as if borne off by an invisible spirit.  The friendly gnome then conducted the lovers to the margrave’s court, (after demanding from Brunilda the magic belt, which he said would be too dangerous a weapon in the hand of a lady,) and a few weeks after the battle of Luckow, in which the margrave was successful, they were united, to the great joy of p. 126all parties, but more particularly of those who expected to be invited to the wedding dinner.  But that dinner!  O that dinner! why what a glory of gastronomy were the dishes!  There was the porpoise stewed in his own oil; beeves roasted whole; and proudly pre-eminent, even among them, the noble wild boar, the standard dish of Germany, showed his grinning tusks, now no longer formidable; roasted cranes, standing upon their long legs, seemed just stepping out of their platters, making a “pretty drollery;” there was the knightly peacock, the bird of chivalry, dressed out in his brilliant feathers; the stately swan, sailing about in his golden dish; while herons, turkeys, geese, and such small fry, graced the magnificent board in quality of side dishes.  In short, as the newspapers said, “there were all the delicacies of the season,” which the nobles washed down with floods of Rhenish, until they did not know what they were swallowing.  The day was happier than it was long, for all thought its felicity was too short-lived, except Ludolph and his princess, who had many still brighter; as long years of happiness was the reward of their few months of suffering.  The gnome of the mine returned to his recovered territories, and, as he had now no farther occasion p. 127for their services, never since that time interfered in the concerns of mortals.  The princess Margaret lived to a good old age, and died at last in the odour of sanctity, eschewing evil, Satan, sin, and the yellow Demon of the Orange Tree.


From the German of A. Apel.

Black spirits and white,
Blue spirits and grey,
Mingle, mingle, mingle,
You that mingle may.

Listen, dear wife,” said Bertram, the forester of Lindenhayn, to his good and faithful Anne; “listen, I beseech you, one moment.  You know I have ever done my utmost to make you happy, and will still continue to do so; but this project is out of the question.  I entreat you, do not encourage the girl any farther in the notion; settle the matter decidedly at once, and she will only p. 129drop a few silent tears, and then resign herself to my wishes; but by these silly delays nothing rational can be effected.”

“But, dearest husband,” objected the coaxing wife, “may not Catherine be as happy with William the clerk as with Robert the gamekeeper?  Indeed you do not know him: he is so clever, so good, so kind—”

“But no marksman,” interrupted the forester.  “The situation which I hold here has been possessed by my family for more than two hundred years, and has always descended down in a straight line from father to son.  If, instead of this girl, Anne, you had brought me a boy, all would have been well; he would have had my situation, and the wench, if she had been in existence, might have chosen for her bridegroom him whom she loved best; now the thing is impossible.  My son-in-law must also be my successor, and must therefore be a marksman.  I shall have, in the first place, some trouble to obtain the trial for him; and in the second, if he should not succeed, truly, I shall have thrown my girl away: so a clever huntsman she shall have.  But observe, if you do not like him, I do not exactly insist upon Robert: find another active clever fellow for the girl, I will resign my situation p. 130to him, and we shall pass the rest of our lives free from anxiety and happily with our children.  But hush!—not another word!—I beseech you let me hear no more of the steward’s clerk.”

Mother Anne was silenced; she would fain have said a few more words in favour of poor William, but the forester, who was too well acquainted with the power of female persuasion, gave her no further opportunity; he took down his gun, whistled his dog, and strode away to the forest.  The next moment, the fair curled head of Catherine, her face radiant with smiles, was popped in at the door—“Is all right, dear mother?” said she.  “Alas! no, my child; do not rejoice too soon;” replied the sorrowing Anne.  “Your father speaks kindly, but he has determined to give you to nobody but a huntsman; and I know he will not change his mind.”  Catherine wept, and declared she would sooner die than wed any other than her own William.  Her mother wept, fretted, and scolded by turns; till at length it was finally determined to make another grand attack upon the tough heart of old Bertram; and, in the midst of a deliberation respecting the manner in which this was to be effected, the rejected lover entered the apartment.

When William had heard the cause of the p. 131forester’s objection,—“Is that all, my Catherine,” said he, pressing the weeping girl to his bosom; “then keep up your spirits, dearest, for I will myself become a forester.  I am not unacquainted with woodcraft, for I was, when a boy, placed under the care of my uncle, the chief forester Finsterbuch, in order to learn it, and only at the earnest request of my uncle the steward, I exchanged the shooting-pouch for the writing-desk.  Of what use,” continued the lover, “would his situation and fine house be to me, if I cannot carry my Catherine there as the mistress of it?  If you are not more ambitious than your mother, dearest, and William the gamekeeper will be as dear to you as William the steward, I will become a woodsman directly; for the merry life of a forester is more delightful to me than the constrained habits of the town.”

“O dear, dear William,” said Catherine,—all the dark clouds of sorrow sweeping rapidly over her countenance, and leaving only a few drops of glittering sunny rain, sparkling in her sweet blue eyes,—“O beloved William! if you will indeed do this, all may yet be well: hasten to the forest, seek my father, and speak to him ere he have time to pass his word to Robert.”  “Away,” replied William, “to the forest; I will seek him out, and p. 132offer my services as gamekeeper: fear nothing, Catherine; give me a gun, and now for the huntsman’s salute.”

What success he had in his undertaking was soon visible to the anxious eye of Catherine, on her father’s return with him from the forest.  “A clever lad, that William,” said the old man; “who would have expected such a shot in a townsman?  I’ll speak to the steward myself to-morrow; it would be a thousand pities such a marksman should not stick to the noble huntsman craft.  Ha! ha! he will become a second Kuno.  But do you know who Kuno was?” demanded he of William.

The latter replied in the negative.

“Lo you there now!” ejaculated Bertram; “I thought I had told you long since.  He was my ancestor, the first who possessed this situation.  He was originally a poor horseboy in the train of the knight of Wippach; but he was clever, obliging, grew a favourite, and attended his master every where, to tournaments and hunting parties.  Once his knight accompanied the duke on a grand hunting match, at which all the nobles attended.  The hounds chased a huge stag towards them, upon whose back, to their great astonishment, sat tied a human being, shrieking aloud in p. 133a most frightful manner.  There existed at that period, among the feudal lords, an inhuman custom of tying unhappy wretches who incurred their displeasure (perhaps by slight transgressions against the hunting laws) upon stags, and then driving them into the forest to perish miserably by hunger, or at least to be torn to pieces by the brambles.  The duke was excessively enraged at this sight, and offered immense rewards to any one who would shoot the stag; but clogged his benefactions with death to the marksman, should his erring bullet touch the victim, whose life he was desirous to preserve, in order to ascertain the nature of his offence.  Startled by the conditions, not one of the train attempted the rescue of the poor wretch, till Kuno, pitying his fate, stepped forward and boldly offered his services.  The duke having accepted them, he took his rifle, loaded it in God’s name, and earnestly recommending the ball to all the saints and angels in heaven, fired steadily into the bush in which he believed the stag had taken refuge.  His aim was true; the animal instantly sprung out, plunged to the earth, and expired; but the poor culprit escaped unhurt, except that his hands and face were miserably torn by the briers.  The duke kept his word well, and gave to Kuno and his p. 134descendants for ever this situation of forester.  But envy naturally follows merit, and my good ancestor was not long in making the discovery.  There were many of the duke’s people who had an eye to this situation, either for themselves or some cousin or dear friend, and these persuaded their masters that Kuno’s wonderful success was entirely owing to sorcery; upon which, though they could not turn him out of his post, they obtained an order that every one of his descendants should undergo a trial of his skill before he could be accepted; but which, however, the chief forester of the district, before whom the essay is made, can render as easy or difficult as he pleases.  I was obliged to shoot a ring out of the beak of a wooden bird, which was swung backwards and forwards; but I did not fail, any more than my forefathers; and he who intends to succeed me, and wed my Catherine, must be at least as good a marksman.”

William, who had listened very attentively, was delighted with this piece of family history; he seized the old man’s hand, and joyously promised to become, under his direction, the very first of marksmen; such as even grandfather Kuno himself should have no cause to blush for.

Scarcely had fourteen happy days passed over p. 135his head, ere William was settled as gamekeeper in the forester’s house; and Bertram, who became fonder of him every day, gave his formal consent to his engagement with Catherine.  It was, however, agreed that their betrothment should be kept secret until the day of the marksman’s trial, when the forester expected to give a greater degree of splendour to his family festival by the presence of the duke’s commissary.  The bridegroom swam in an ocean of delight, and so entirely forgot himself and the whole world in the sweet opening heaven of love, that Bertram frequently insisted, that he had not been able to hit a single mark since he had aimed so successfully at Catherine.

And so it really was.  From the day of his happy betrothment, William had encountered nothing but disasters while shooting.  At one time his gun missed fire; at another, when he aimed at a deer, he lodged the contents of his rifle in the trunk of a tree: when he came home, and emptied his shooting-pouch, he found, instead of partridges, rooks and crows, and in lieu of hares, dead cats.  The forester at length grew seriously angry, and reproved him harshly for his carelessness; even Catherine began to tremble for the success of the master-shot.

William redoubled his diligence, but to no p. 136purpose; the nearer the approach of the important day, the more alarming grew his misfortunes; every shot missed.  At length he was almost afraid to fire a gun, lest he should do some mischief; for he had already lamed a cow and almost killed the cowherd.

“I insist upon it,” said the gamekeeper Rudolph, one evening, to the party, “I insist upon it that some wizard has bewitched William, for such things could not happen naturally; therefore let us endeavour to loosen the charm.”—“Superstitious stuff!” interrupted Bertram, angrily; “an honest woodsman should not even think of such trash.  Do you forget the three things which a forester ought to have, and with which he will always be successful, in spite of sorcery?  Come, to your wits, answer my query.”  “That can I truly,” answered Rudolph; “he should have great skill, a keen dog, and a good gun.”  “Enough,” said Bertram; “with these three things every charm may be loosened, or the owner of them is a dunce and no shot.”

“Under favour, father Bertram,” said William, “here is my gun; what have you to object against it? and as for my skill, I do not like to praise myself, but I think I am as fair a sportsman as any in the country; nevertheless, it seems p. 137as if all my balls went crooked, or as if the wind blew them away from the barrel of my gun.  Only tell me what I shall do.  I am willing to do any thing.”  “It is singular,” muttered the forester, who did not know what else to say.

“Believe me, William,” again began Rudolph, “it is nothing but what I have said.  Try only once: go on a Friday, at midnight, to a cross road, and make a circle round you with the ramrod, or with a bloody sword, which must be blessed three times, in the name of Sammiel”—“Silence!” interrupted Bertram, angrily: “know ye whose name that is? he is one of the fiend’s dark legion.  God protect us and every Christian from him!”  William crossed himself devoutly, and would hear nothing further, though Rudolph still maintained his opinion.  He passed the night in cleaning his gun, and examining minutely every screw, resolving, at dawn of day, once more to sally forth, and try his fortune in the forest.  He did so, but, alas! in vain.  Mischiefs thickened round him: at ten paces distance he fired three times at a deer; twice his gun missed fire, and although it went off the third time, yet the stag bounded away unhurt into the midst of the forest.  Full of vexation, he threw himself under a tree, and cursed his p. 138fate, when suddenly a rustling was heard among the bushes, and a queer-looking soldier with a wooden leg came hopping out from among them.

“Holloa! huntsman,” he began, laughing at the disconsolate-looking William, “what is the matter with you?  Are you in love, or is your purse empty, or has any body charmed your gun?  Come, don’t look so blank; give me a pipe of tobacco, and we’ll have a chat together.”

William sullenly gave him what he asked, and the soldier threw himself down in the grass by the side of him.  The conversation naturally turned upon woodcraft, and William related his misfortunes to him.  “Let me see your gun,” said the soldier.  William gave it.  “It is assuredly bewitched,” said he of the wooden leg, the moment he had taken it in his hand; “you will not be able to fire a single shot with it; and if they have done it according to rule, it will be the same with every gun you shall take into your hands.”

William was startled; he endeavoured to raise objections against the stranger’s belief in witches, but the latter offered to give him a proof of the justice of his opinions.  “To us soldiers,” said he, “there is nothing strange; and I could tell p. 139you many wonderful things, but which would detain us here till night.  But look here, for instance: this is a ball which is sure of hitting its mark, because it possesses some particular virtue: try it; you won’t miss.”  William loaded his gun, and looked around for an object to aim at.  A large bird of prey hovered high above the forest, like a moving dot;—“Shoot that kite,” said the one-legged companion.  William laughed at his absurdity, for the bird was hovering at a height which the eye itself could scarcely reach.  “Laugh not, but fire,” said the other, grimly; “I will lay my wooden leg that it falls.”  William fired, the black dot sunk, and a huge kite fell bleeding to the ground.  “You would not be surprised at that,” said he of the wooden leg to the huntsman, who was speechless and staring with astonishment; “you would not, I repeat, be surprised at that, if you were better acquainted with the wonders of your craft.  Even the casting such balls as these is one of the least important things in it; it merely requires dexterity and courage, because it must be done in the night.  I will teach you for nothing when we meet again; now I must away, for the bell has told seven.  In the mean time—here, try a few of my balls; p. 140still you look incredulous—well—till we meet again.”—

The soldier gave William a handful of balls, and departed.  Full of astonishment, and still distrusting the evidence of his senses, the latter tried another of the balls, and again struck an almost unattainable object: he loaded his gun in the usual manner, and again missed the easiest!  He darted forward to follow the crippled soldier, but the latter was no longer in the forest; and William was obliged to remain satisfied with the promise which he had given of meeting him again hereafter.

Great joy it gave to the honest forester when William returned, as before, loaded with game from the forest.  He was now called upon to explain the circumstance; but not being prepared to give a reason, and above all, dreading to say any thing upon the subject of his infallible balls, he attributed his ill luck to a fault in his gun, which he had only, he pretended, last night discovered and rectified.  “Did I not tell you so, wife,” said Bertram, laughing.  “Your demon was lodged in the barrel; and the goblin which threw down father Kuno this morning, sat grinning on the rusty nail.”  “What say you of a goblin,” demanded p. 141William; “and what has happened to father Kuno?”  “Simply this,” replied Bertram; “his portrait fell of itself from the wall this morning, just as the bell tolled seven; and the silly woman settled it that a goblin must be at the bottom of the mischief, and that we are haunted accordingly.”

“At seven,” repeated William, “at seven!” and he thought, with a strange feeling of affright, of the soldier who parted from him exactly at that moment.  “Yes, seven,” continued Bertram, still laughing.  “I do not wonder at your surprise; it is not a usual ghostly hour, but Anne would have it so.”  The latter shook her head doubtfully, and prayed that all might end well; while William shivered from head to foot, and would secretly have vowed not to use the magic balls, but that the thought of his ill luck haunted him.  “Only one of them,” said he internally; “only one of them for the master-shot, and then I have done with them for ever.”  But the forester urged him the next instant to accompany him into the forest; and as he dared not excite fresh suspicions of his want of skill, nor offend the old man by refusing, he was again compelled to make use of his wondrous balls; and in the course of a few days he had so accustomed himself to the use of them, and so p. 142entirely reconciled his conscience to their doubtful origin, that he saw nothing sinful or even objectionable in the business.  He constantly traversed the forest, in the hope of meeting the strange giver of the balls; for the handful had decreased to two, and if he wished to make sure of the master-shot, the utmost economy was necessary.  One day he even refused to accompany Bertram, for the next was to be the day of trial, and the chief forester was expected: it was possible he might require other proofs than the mere formal essay, and William thus felt himself secure.  But in the evening, instead of the commissary, came a messenger from the duke, with an order for a large delivery of game, and to announce that the visit of the chief forester would be postponed for eight days longer.

William felt as if he could have sunk into the bosom of the earth, as he listened to the message, and his excessive alarm would have excited strange suspicions, if all present had not been ready to ascribe it to the delay of his expected nuptials.  He was now obliged to sacrifice at least one of his balls, but he solemnly swore nothing should rob him of the other but the forester’s master-shot.

Bertram was outrageously angry when William p. 143returned from the forest with only one stag; for the delivery order was considerable.  He was still more angry the next day at noon, when Rudolph returned loaded with an immense quantity of game, and William returned with none: he threatened to dismiss him, and retract his promise respecting Catherine, if he did not bring down at least two deer on the following day.  Catherine was in the greatest consternation, and earnestly besought him to make use of his utmost skill, and not let a thought of her interrupt his duties while occupied in the forest.  He departed—his heart loaded with despair.  Catherine, he saw too plainly, was lost to him for ever; and nothing remained but the choice of the manner in which he should destroy his happiness.  Whilst he stood lost in the agonising anticipation of his impending doom, a herd of deer approached close to him.  Mechanically he felt for his last ball; it felt tremendously heavy in his hand: he was on the point of dropping it back, resolving to preserve his treasure at every hazard, when suddenly he saw—O sight of joy!—the one-legged soldier approaching.  Delightedly he let the ball drop into the barrel, fired, brought down a brace of deer, and hastened forward to meet his friend; but he was gone!  William could not discover him in the forest.

p. 144“Hark ye, William!” said the forester to him in the evening, rousing him from the torpor of grief into which he had fallen; “you must resent this affront as earnestly as myself: nobody shall dare utter falsehoods of our ancestor Kuno, nor accuse him as Rudolph is now doing.  I insist,” continued he, turning again to the latter, “if good angels helped him, (which was very likely, for in the Old Testament we frequently read of instances of their protection,) we ought to be grateful, and praise the wonderful goodness of God.  But nobody shall accuse Kuno of practising the black art.  He died happily—ay, and holily, in his bed, surrounded by children and grandchildren,—which he who carries on a correspondence with the evil one never does.  I saw a terrible example of that myself, when I was a forester’s boy in Bohemia.”

“Let us hear how it happened, good Bertram,” said all the listeners; and the forester nodded gravely, and continued.

“I shiver when I think of it; but I will tell you nevertheless.  When a young man, practising with other youths under the chief foresters, there used frequently to join us a town lad, a fine daring fellow, who, being a great lover of field sports, came out to us as often as he p. 145could.  He would have made a good marksman, but was too flighty and thoughtless; so that he frequently missed his mark.  Once, when we ridiculed his awkwardness, we provoked him into a rage, and he swore by all that was holy that he would soon fire with a more certain aim than any gamekeeper in the country, and that no animal should escape him, either in the air or on the earth.  But he kept his light oath badly.  A few days afterwards an unknown huntsman roused us early, and told us that a man was lying in the road and dying without assistance.  It was poor Schmid.  He was covered with wounds and blood, as if he had been torn by wild beasts: he could not speak, for he was quite senseless, with scarcely any appearance of life.  He was conveyed to Prague, and just before his death declared, that he had been out with an old mountain huntsman to a cross road, in order to cast the magic balls, which are sure of hitting their mark; but that making some fault or omission, the demon had treated him so roughly that it would cost him his life.”

“Did he not explain?” asked William, shuddering.

“Surely,” replied the forester.  “He declared before a court of justice, that he went out to the cross road with the old gamekeeper; that they p. 146made a circle with a bloody sword, and afterwards set it round with skulls and bones.  The mountain hunter then gave his directions to Schmid as to what he was to do: he was to begin when the clock struck eleven to cast the balls, and neither to cast more nor fewer than sixty-three; one either above or under this number would, when the bell tolled midnight, be the cause of his destruction: neither was he to speak a single word during his work, nor move from the circle, whatever might happen, above, below, or around him.  Fulfilling these conditions, sixty balls would be sure of hitting, and the remaining three only would miss.  Schmid had actually begun casting the balls when, according to what we could gather from him, he saw such cruel and dreadful apparitions, that he at length shrieked and sprung out of the circle, falling senseless to the ground; from which trance he did not recover till under the hands of the physician in Prague.”

“Heaven preserve us!” said the forester’s wife, crossing herself.  “It is a very deadly sin undoubtedly,” pursued Bertram, “and a true woodsman would scorn such practice.  He needs nothing but skill, and a good gun, as you have lately experienced, William.  I would not, for my own part, fire off such balls for any price; I p. 147should always fear the fiend would, at some time or other, conduct the ball to his own mark instead of to mine.”

Night drew round them with the conclusion of the forester’s story.  He went to his quiet bed, but William remained in restless agony.  It was in vain that he attempted to compose himself.  Sleep fled entirely from his spirit.  Strange objects flitted past him, and hovered like dark omens over his pillow.  The strange soldier of the forest, Schmid, Catherine, the duke’s commissary, all rushed before his eyes, and his fevered imagination converted them into the most dreadful groups.  Now, the miserable Schmid stood warningly before him, and hollowly pointed to his newly bleeding wounds; then the dark distorted face faded to the pallid features of Catherine wrestling with the strength of death; while the wild soldier of the forest stood mocking his agony with a hellish laugh of scorn.  The scene then changed to his mind, and he stood in the forest before the commissary, preparing for the master-shot.  He aimed—fired—missed, Catherine sunk down on the earth.  Bertram drove him away; while the one-legged soldier, now again a friend, brought him fresh balls; but too late—the trial was over, and he was lost.

p. 148In this manner wore away his agonised night, and with the earliest dawn he sought the forest, hoping to meet with the soldier; the clear morning air chased away the dark images of sleep from his brow, and ennerved his drooping spirit.  “Fool!” said he to himself, “because I cannot understand what is mysterious, must the mystery therefore be a sin?  Is what I seek so contrary to nature that it requires the aid of spirits to obtain it?  Does not man govern the mighty instinct of animals, and make them move according to the will of their master?  Why then should he not be able, by natural means, to command the course of inanimate metal which receives force and motion only through him?  Nature is rich in wonders which we do not comprehend, and shall I forfeit my happiness for an ignorant prejudice only?  No!  Spirits I will not call upon, but nature and her hidden powers I will challenge and use, even though unable to explain its mystery.  I will seek the soldier, and, if I cannot find him, I will at least be bolder than Schmid, for I have a better cause.  He was urged by presumption, I by love and honour.”

But the soldier appeared not, however earnestly William sought him; neither could any of those of whom he inquired give him the slightest p. 149information respecting him, and two days were wasted in these anxious and fruitless inquiries.

“Then be it so,” exclaimed the unhappy young man; and in a fit of despair he resolved to cast the magic balls in the forest.  “My days,” he added, “are numbered to me; this night will I seek the cross road.  Into its silent and solitary recess no one will dare to intrude; and the terrible circle will I not leave till the fearful work shall be done.”

But when the shadows of evening fell upon the earth, and after William had provided lead, bullet-mould, and coals, for his nocturnal occupation, he was gently detained by Bertram, who felt, he said, so severe an oppression, that he entreated him to remain in his chamber during the night.  Catherine offered her services, but they were, to her astonishment, declined.  “At any other time,” said her father, “I should have preferred you, but to-night it must be William.  I shall be happier if he will remain with me.”

William hesitated.  He grew sick in his inmost heart.  He would have objected, but Catherine’s entreaties were so earnest, her voice so irresistible, that he had nothing to oppose against her wishes.  He remained in the chamber, and in the morning Bertram’s dark fears had faded, and p. 150he laughed at his own absurdity.  He proposed going to the forest, but William, who intended to devote the day to his search for the soldier, dissuaded him, and departed alone.  He went, but returned disappointed, and once more resolved to seek the forest at night.  As he approached the house, Catherine met him.  “Beloved William,” said she, “you have a visitor, and a dear one, but you must guess who it is.”

William was not at all disposed to guess, and still less to receive visits; for at that time the dearest friend would have been the most unwelcome intruder.  He answered peevishly, and was thinking of a pretext to turn back, when the door of the house opened, and the pale moon threw her soft ray upon a venerable old man, in the garb of a huntsman, who extended his arms towards him; and “William!” said a kind and well-known voice, and the next instant the young forester found himself folded to the bosom of his beloved uncle.

Ah! magic of early ties, dear recollections, and filial gratitude!  William felt them all; his heart was full of joy, and all other thoughts were forgotten.  Suddenly spoke the warning voice to the tranquil happy dreamer.  The midnight hour struck, and William, with a shudder, remembered p. 151what he had lost.  “But one night more remains to me,” said he; “to-morrow, or never.”  His violent agony did not escape the eye of his uncle, but he ascribed it to fatigue, and excused himself for detaining him from his needful rest, on account of his own departure, which he could not delay beyond the following day.  “Yet grieve not, William,” said the old man as he retired to rest; “grieve not for this short hour thus spent, you will only sleep the sounder for it.”  William shivered, for to his ear these words conveyed a deeper meaning.  There was a dark foreboding in his heart, that the execution of his plan would for ever banish the quiet of sleep from his soul.

But day dawned—passed—and evening descended.  “It must be now or never,” thought William, “for to-morrow will be the day of trial.”  The females had been busied in preparations for the wedding and the reception of their distinguished guest.  Anne embraced William when he returned, and, for the first time, saluted him with the dear name of son.  The tender joy of a young and happy bride glittered in the sweet eyes of Catherine.  The supper-table was covered with flowers, good food, and large bottles of long-hoarded wine from the stores of Bertram.  “Children,” said the old man, “this is our own festival; let us, therefore, p. 152be happy: to-morrow we shall not be alone, though you may, perhaps, be happier.  I have invited the priest, dear William, and when the trial is over”—A loud shriek from Catherine interrupted the forester.  Kuno’s picture had again fallen from its place, and had struck her severely on the forehead.  Bertram grew angry.  “I cannot conceive,” said he, “why this picture is not hung properly; this is the second time it has given us a fright: are you hurt, Catherine?”  “It is of no consequence,” replied the maiden, gently wiping away the blood from her bright curls; “I am less hurt than frightened.”

William grew sick when he beheld her pale face, and forehead bathed in blood.  So he had seen her in his distempered dreams on that dreadful night: and this reality conjured up all those fearful fantasies anew.  His determination of proceeding in his plan was shaken; but the wine, which he drank in greater quantities than usual, filled him with a wild courage, and ennerved him to undertake its execution.  The clock struck nine.  Love and valour must combat with danger, thought William.  But he sought in vain for a decent pretence to leave his Catherine.  How could he quit her on the bridal eve?  Time flew with the rapidity of an arrow, and he suffered p. 153agonies even in the soft arms of rewarding love.  Ten o’clock struck: the decisive moment was come.  Without taking leave, William started from his bride, and left the house to range the forest.  “Whither go you, William?” said her mother, following him, alarmed.  “I have shot a deer, which I had forgotten,” answered the youth.  She still entreated, and Catherine looked terrified, for she felt that there was something (though she knew not what) to fear, from his distracted manner.  But their supplications were unheeded.  William sprung from them both, and hastened into the forest.

The moon was on the wane, and gleamed a dark red light above the horizon.  Grey clouds flew rapidly past, and sometimes darkened the surrounding country, which was soon relighted up by the wild and glittering moonlight.  The birch and aspen trees nodded like spectres in the shade; and to William the silver poplar was a white shadowy figure, which solemnly waved, and beckoned him to return.  He started, and felt as if the two extraordinary interpositions to his plan, and the repeated falls of the picture, were the last admonitions of his departing angel, who thus warned him against the commission of an unblessed deed.  Once more he wavered in his intention.  p. 154Now he had even determined to return, when a voice whispered close to him, “Fool! hast thou not already used the magic balls, and dost thou only dread the toil of labouring for them?”  He paused.  The moon shone brilliantly out from a dark cloud, and lighted up the tranquil roof of the forester’s humble dwelling.  William saw Catherine’s window shine in the silvery ray, and he stretched out his arms towards it, and again directed his steps towards his home.  Then the voice rose whisperingly again around him, and, “Hence!—to thy work!—away!” it murmured; while a strong gust of wind brought to his ear the stroke of the second quarter.  “To my work,” he repeated; “ay; it is cowardly to return half way—foolish to give up the great object, when, for a lesser, I have already perhaps risked my salvation.  I will finish.”

He strode rapidly forward.  The wind drove the fugitive clouds over the moon, and William entered the deep darkness of the forest.  Now he stood upon the cross road; the magic circle was drawn; the skulls and bones of the dead laid in order around it; the moon buried herself deeper in the cloudy mass, and left the glimmering coals, at intervals fanned into a blaze by the fitful gusts of wind, alone to lighten the midnight deed, with p. 155a wild and melancholy glare.  Remotely the third quarter sounded from a dull and heavy tower clock.  William put the casting ladle upon the coals, and threw the lead into it, together with three balls, which had already hit their mark, according to the huntsman’s usage; then the forest began to be in motion; the night ravens, owls, and bats, fluttered up and down, blinded by the glare of light.  They fell from their boughs, and placed themselves among the bones around the circle, where, with hollow croakings and wild jabberings, they held an unintelligible conversation with the skulls.  Momentarily their numbers increased, and among and above them hovered pale cloudy forms, some shaped like animals, some like human beings.  The gusts of wind sported frightfully with their dusky vapoury forms, scattering and reuniting them like the dews of the evening shades.  One form alone stood motionless and unchanged near the circle, gazing with fixed and woful looks at William; once it lifted up its pale hands in sorrow, and seemed to sigh.  The fire burned gloomily at the moment; but a large grey owl flapped its wings, and fanned the dying embers into light.  William turned shivering away; for the countenance of his p. 156dead mother gazed mournfully at him from the dark and dusky figure.

The bell tolled eleven; the pale figure vanished with a groan; the owls and night ravens flew screeching up into the air, and the skulls and bones clattered beneath their wings.  William knelt down by his hearth of coals.  He began steadily to cast, and, with the last sound of the bell, the first ball fell from the mould.

The owls and the skulls were quiet; but along the road an old woman, bent down with the weight of age, advanced towards the circle.  She was hung round with wooden spoons, ladles, and other kitchen utensils, which made a frightful clattering.  The owls screeched at her approach, and caressed her with their wings.  Arrived at the circle, she stooped down to seize the bones and the skulls; but the coals hissed flames at her, and she drew back her withered hands from the fire.  Then she paced round the circle, and, grinning and chattering, held up her wares towards William.  “Give me the skulls,” she gabbled; “give me the skulls, and I will give thee my treasures; give me the skulls, the skulls; what canst thou want with the trash?  Thou art mine—mine, dear bridegroom; none can help thee: p. 157thou canst not escape me; thou must lead with me in the bridal dance.  Come away, thou bridegroom mine!”

William’s heart throbbed; but he remained silent, and hastened on with his work.  The old woman was not a stranger to him.  A mad beggar had often haunted the neighbourhood, until she found an asylum in the mad-house.  Now, he knew not whether her appearance was a reality or a delusion.  In a short time she grew enraged, threw down her stick, and chattered anew at William.  “Take these for our nuptial night,” she cried: “the bridal bed is ready, and to-morrow, when evening cometh, thou wilt be wedded to me.  Come soon, my love; delay not, my bridegroom; come soon.”  And she hobbled slowly away into the forest.

Suddenly there arose a rattling like the noise of wheels, mingled with the cracking of whips and shouting of men.  A carriage came headlong, with six horses and outriders.  “What is the meaning of all this in the road?” cried the foremost horseman.  “Room there!”  William looked up.  Fire sprung from the hoofs of the horses, and round the wheels of the carriage: it shone like the glimmering of phosphorus.  He suspected a magical delusion, and remained quiet.  p. 158“On, on, upon it!—over it!—down! down!” cried the horseman; and in a moment the whole troop stormed in headlong upon the circle.  William plunged down to the earth, and the horses reared furiously above his head; but the airy cavalry whirled high in the air with the carriage, and, after turning several times round the magic circle, disappeared in a storm of wind, which tore the tops of the mightiest trees, and scattered their branches to a distance.

Some time elapsed ere William could recover from his terror.  At length he compelled his trembling fingers to be steady, and cast a few balls without farther interruption.  Again the well-known tower clock struck, and to him in the dreadful solitary circle, consoling as the voice of humanity, rose the sound from the habitations of men, but the clock struck the quarter thrice.  He shuddered at the lightning-like flight of time; for a third part of his work was hardly done.  Again the clock struck, for the fourth time!—Horror!—his strength was annihilated, every limb was palsied, and the mould fell out of his trembling hand.  He listened, in the quiet resignation of despair, for the stroke of the full, the terrible, midnight hour.  The sound hesitated—delayed—was silent.  To palter with the awful midnight was p. 159too daring and too dangerous even to the dreadful powers of darkness.  Hope again raised the sunk heart of William; he hastily drew out his watch, and beheld it pointing to the second quarter of the hour.  He looked gratefully up towards heaven, and a feeling of piety moderated the transport, which, contrary to the laws of the dark world, would otherwise have burst forth in loud and joyous exclamations.

Strengthened, by the experience of the last half-hour, against any new delusion, William now went boldly on with his work.  Every thing was silent around him, except that the owls snored in their uneasy sleep, and at intervals struck their beaks against the bones of the dead.  Suddenly it was broken by a crackling among the bushes.  The sound was familiar to the sportsman, and, as he expected, a huge wild boar broke through the briers, and came foaming towards the circle.  Believing this to be a reality, he sprung hastily on his feet, seized his gun, and attempted to fire.  Not a single spark came from the flint.  Startled at his danger, he drew his hunting knife to attack it,—when the bristly savage, like the carriage and the horses, ascended high above his head, and vanished into the silent fields of air.

The anxious lover worked on steadily to regain p. 160the time he had so unhappily lost.  Sixty balls were cast.  He looked joyfully upwards; the clouds were dispersing, and the moon again threw her bright rays upon the surrounding country; he was rejoicing in the approaching end of his labours, when an agonised voice, in the tones of Catherine, shrieked out the name of “William!”  In the next moment, he beheld his beloved dart from among the bushes, and gaze fearfully around her.  Following her distracted steps, and panting closely behind her, trod the mad beggar woman, extending her withered arms towards the fugitive, whose light dress, fluttering in the wind, she repeatedly attempted to grasp.  Catherine collected her expiring strength in one desperate effort to escape, when the long-sought soldier of the forest planted himself before her and delayed her flight.  The hesitation of the moment gained time for the mad woman, who sprung wildly upon Catherine, and grasped her in her long and fleshless hands.  William could endure it no longer, he dashed the last ball from his hand, and was on the point of springing from the circle, when the bell tolled midnight, and the delusion vanished.  The owls knocked the skulls and bones cluttering against each other, and flew up again to their hiding places; the coals were suddenly extinguished; p. 161and William sunk, exhausted with fatigue, to the earth; but there was no rest for him in the forest; he was again disturbed by the slow and sullen approach of a stranger, mounted upon a huge and coal-black steed: he stopped before the demolished magic circle, and, addressing the huntsman,—“You have stood the trial well,” said he; “what do you require of me?”

“Of you, stranger, nothing,” replied William; “of that of which I had need, I have prepared for myself.”

“But with my assistance,” continued the stranger; “therefore a share of it belongs to me.”  “Certainly not,” replied the huntsman; “I have neither hired you nor called upon you.”

The horseman smiled.  “You are bolder than your equals are wont to be,” said he.  “Take then the balls which you have cast: sixty for you, three for me.  The first hit, the second miss.  When we meet again you will understand me.”

William turned away.  “I will not meet you again; I will never see you more,” he cried, trembling.  “Why do you turn from me?” demanded the stranger, with a horrible laugh: “do you know me?”  “No; no,” said the huntsman, shuddering; “I know you not; I will not p. 162even look upon you.  Whoever you may be, leave me.”

The black horseman turned his steed.  “The rising hairs of your head,” cried he with gloomy gravity, “declare that you do know me.  You are right; I am he whom you name in the secrecy of your soul, and shudder to think you have done so.”  At these words he disappeared, and the trees under which he had stood let their withered branches sink helpless and dead to the earth.

“Merciful Heaven! William,” said Catherine, on remarking his pale and distracted look on his return after midnight; “what has happened to you? you look as if you had just risen from the grave.”  “It is the night air,” he replied; “and I am not well.”  “But, William,” said the forester, who had just entered, “why then would you go to the forest: something has happened to you there.  Boy, you cannot thus blind me.”

William was startled; the sad solemnity of Bertram’s manner struck him.  “Yes, something has occurred,” said he; “but have patience for a few days, and all shall be explained to your satisfaction.”  “Willingly, dear son,” interrupted the forester; “question him no further, Catherine.  Go to your needful rest, William, and indulge in p. 163hope of the future.  He who goes on in his occupation openly and honestly, never can be harmed by the evil spirits of the night.”

William had need of all his dissimulation; for the old man’s observations so nearly meeting the truth, his forbearing love, and unshaken confidence in William’s honesty, altogether distracted his mind: he hastened to his room, determined to destroy the magical preparation.  “But one ball—only one will I use,” exclaimed he, weeping aloud, with his folded hands held up to heaven; “and surely this determination will efface the sin of the deed I have committed.  With a thousand acts of penitence I will make atonement for what is past, for I cannot now step back without betraying my happiness, my honour, and my love.”  And with this resolution he calmed the tumult of his spirits, and met the rays of the morning sun with more tranquillity than he had dared to hope.

The commissary of the duke arrived; he proposed a shooting party in the forest, before the trial of skill took place.  “For, though we must certainly retain the old form,” said he, “of the essay shot, yet the skill of the huntsman is, after all, best proved in the forest: so come, young marksman, to the woods.”

p. 164William’s cheek grew pale, and he earnestly tried to excuse himself from accompanying them.  But, when this was refused by the chief forester, he entreated at least to be allowed to fire his trial shot before their departure.  Old Bertram shook his head, doubtingly: “William,” said he, “should my suspicion of yesterday be just”—“Father!” replied the youth; and no longer daring to hesitate, he departed with them to the forest.

Bertram had in vain endeavoured to suppress his forebodings and assume a cheerful countenance.  Catherine too was dejected, and it was not until the arrival of the priest that she recollected her nuptial garland: her mother had locked it up, and, in her haste to open the chest, broke the lock, and was obliged to send into the village for another wreath, as too much time had been wasted in endeavouring to recover the first.  “Let them give you the handsomest,” said Anne to the little messenger, “the very handsomest they have.”  The boy accordingly chose the most glittering, and the seller, who misunderstood him, gave him a death garland, composed of myrtle and rosemary, intermingled with silver.  The mother and daughter beheld and recognised the mysterious intimation of fate; they embraced each other in silence, and endeavoured to smile p. 165away their terror, in imputing it to the boy’s mistake.  Again the broken lock was tried; it opened easily now; the wreaths were changed, and the bridal garland was twined around Catherine’s brilliant locks.

The sportsmen returned from the forest.  The commissary was inexhaustible on the subject of William’s wondrous skill.  “It almost appears ridiculous,” said he, “after such proofs, to require any further trial; yet, in honour of the old custom, we must perform what appears superfluous; we will therefore finish the business as quickly as possible.  There, upon that pillar, sits a dove, shoot it.”  “For God’s sake,” said Catherine, hastily approaching, “do not shoot that dove.  Alas! in my sleep last night I was myself a dove, and my mother, while fastening a ring round my neck, on your approaching us became covered with blood.”

William drew back his gun; but the chief forester smiled.  “So timid, little maiden!” said he, “that will never do for a huntsman’s bride: come, courage! courage!—or is the dove a favourite, perhaps?”

“Ah, no,” she replied; “it is but fear.”

“Well then,” replied the commissary, “have courage; and now, William, fire!”

p. 166The shot fell, and, in the same moment, Catherine sunk, with a loud scream, to the earth.  “Silly girl,” exclaimed the commissary, lifting her up: but a stream of blood flowed over her face, her forehead was shattered, for the ball of the rifle was lodged in the wound.  William turned, on hearing loud shrieks behind him, and beheld his Catherine pale, weltering in her blood, and by her side the soldier of the forest, who, with a fiendish laugh of scorn, pointed to his dying victim, and cried aloud to William, “Sixty hit, three miss!”

“Accursed fiend!” shrieked the wretched youth, striking at the detested form with his sword, “hast thou thus deceived me?”  His agony permitted no further expression, for he sunk senseless to the earth by the side of the victim bride.  The commissary and priest in vain endeavoured to console the childless heart-broken parents.  The mother had scarcely laid the prophetic garland of death upon the bosom of the bridal corpse, when her sorrow and life expired with her last-shed tear: the solitary father soon followed her, and the miserable William closed his life in the mad-house.


In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men;
Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
Then a spirit passed before my face, the hair of my head stood up.

Job, chap. iv.

Early in the seventeenth century, on a very cold November morning, a gentleman of Winchester was returning to his home, by a road which then led by the borders of the New Forest.  He was conversing gaily with his attendants, when his dogs arrested the mirth of the party, by darting suddenly into the mazes of the forest, and signifying their discovery of some unusual object by loud and continued howls.  Sir Bernard Courtenay instantly followed their track, and was startled by discovering, amid the tangled bushes, the corpse of a man, frightfully mangled, and p. 168which appeared to have lain some time in its concealment.  Little observation was necessary to point out the identity of the sufferer,—Sir Bernard Courtenay almost instantly recognised an intimate friend; and, with deep and painful commiseration, prepared to assist his attendants to convey the body to its home.

Many conjectures were immediately afloat, as to the cause and perpetrator of this dreadful act, and, as is ever usual in such cases, many more absurd and irrational than just:—there was no apparent possibility of tracing the fact; it appeared to mock all the art and all the power of justice.  He had not been robbed—murder alone had been intended, and had alone been perpetrated; so that one fact at least was clear, that this deed had been the work of an enemy: no common one, it was presumed, if the appearance of the corpse might weigh any thing in evidence; it was mangled fearfully, and the frightful distension of the muscles, the grim and rigid expression of the features, the many deep and bloody wounds upon the body, and the firm and powerful grasp with which the strained fingers of one hand clenched a dark lock of human hair, while those of the other as firmly closed over the hilt of a broken dagger, gave tokens that a fierce and p. 169terrible struggle had preceded his unexpected destruction.  It was hoped, that some corresponding token of wounds and fierce exertion might lead to a discovery of the murderer; for none deemed, after beholding the body, and calling to mind the noble courage of the victim when in life, that the destroyer could pass from that gripe unharmed.

He who had thus fallen, was one for whom every eye had a tear and every heart a genuine sigh; he had been the friend of all, the enemy of none; he was young, beautiful, and brave; and his native town had looked up to him as one who was to add new glory to her venerable name, and new lustre to his own princely blood; and cut off in the beginning of his career, the very high day of his happiness and beauty, and so cut off—who was there that did not lament for John de la Pole?  But, though all Winchester, and the county in whose bosom it lies, sorrowed over the corpse of John de la Pole, the agony born from his death was to be found in his family alone; there he had been adored, and there most truly and deeply was his sad destiny accused.  His young and lovely wife, scarce past her bridal year,—she who had, long before his marriage, been the secret object of his ardent love, and who, p. 170upon the death of his father, became the object of his choice—of her grief it was scarcely possible to think without affright; for, in that convulsion of soul into which, in the first horror of eternal separation from all we love, we invariably fall, she had withdrawn herself from all consolation of her friends—all succour of her attendants; and report whispered that she was using means, though quietly, (in order to avoid public shame,) to shorten a life which was now become odious and burthensome.  To this cruel resolution she had been driven by a terrible incident: on the morning of the discovery of the body, she had, believing him to be on his road towards his home, ascended her carriage in order to meet him, and was driving cheerfully through the town, when her progress was arrested by the appearance of the crowd bearing the corpse of her husband.  She recognised it at a glance, and, before they were aware of their imprudence, a piercing shriek announced to the people that she did so.  She took another searching, distracted look at the body, and shrunk into the arms of her attendants, insensible and silent.  They thought she was dead—it would not have been wonderful if she had been; the husband of her soul was lying before her, a deep gash across his throat, another p. 171had disfigured his snowy brow, and almost divided his once lofty head, while the bosom upon which she had been accustomed to repose was mangled and rent by stabs and blows too many to number—what an object for a young and loving wife!  Remembrance was terrible to her, and the inability of justice to discover the murderer added despair to her grief, and thus compelled her to seek for consolation only in the prospect of death.

As bitter a grief, though perhaps not so deep or desperate, had fastened upon the heart of the only survivor of his family, a youth of twenty, of a beauty and virtue equal to his lamented brother, and who had indeed ample reason for his regrets.  John de la Pole had been as a father to his youth, and loved him with a warmth far surpassing the kindness of ordinary brotherhood.  Eustace had never been taught to remember that he was the younger, for the fortunes of his house were open to him, and the purse of the elder was common to both.  On the marriage of the latter with his beloved Agatha, the younger had timidly hinted at his fears of an interruption to their friendship; but John had remedied this, by generously providing for his brother, and entreating his Agatha to allow him still a home at the castle: which p. 172being granted, Eustace, though still fearful of the influence of his lovely sister, continued to reside at home.

But the influence he so much dreaded during his life, became singularly apparent after the death of his beloved John.  The will of the latter had indeed left an independence to Eustace, but nothing to support the splendour of that princely house of which he was now sole representative.  All was assigned to Agatha,—she was the sole heir of her husband,—the being for whose sake alone he appeared to glory in the possession of wealth.  Eustace indeed might still enjoy it, but it was upon a condition which drew the blood from the young man’s cheek as he read, and palsied the warm throbbings of the heart in his bosom; it was, that if John de la Pole should die childless before he had attained the age of thirty, Eustace should espouse his widow.  His brother even entreated this sacrifice of him: he said, he knew his heart had been sensible of other charms, but he implored him to yield up this transient gratification to his eternal happiness.  He could not endure, he said, the thought of averting from Eustace the fortune of his house; yet still less could he endure to know that Agatha would fill a subordinate state in his family to that in which p. 173he had placed her.  He shuddered at the thought of her being driven, by this circumstance, to become the wife of another—of one who would love her, and whom she could also love.  He besought Eustace therefore, if he valued his repose, to wed her, as no attachment subsisted between them, and he was satisfied to believe that by him she would be treated with gentleness.  Agatha he entreated to comply with his last wishes, and accept the hand of Eustace within two months after his death, or be content to resign, with her present rank, the estates to the next of kin.  Such was the will of John de la Pole.  Eustace, full of grief, instantly retired from the castle of his sister, whom he believed as little inclined to fulfil the conditions of the will as himself, and resigned his spirit for some days to despair; but his friends rallied round him, and represented how much depended upon his calm decision.  The next of kin had appeared too, a greedy rapacious man, the son of his father’s sister, who seemed to be sure of his inheritance, and whom John, (it was conjectured,) had purposely named, to stimulate his brother to fulfil his dying injunctions.  Hugh de Broke was insolent and brutal, had never been upon kindly terms with his cousins, and had once nearly been p. 174murdered by the peasantry for wounding John in a quarrel which occurred a few years before.  The inhabitants saw him return with disgust; his early brutalities were remembered; and when he boasted, in his drink, that he knew his cousin before his death intended to make a will in his favour, all Hampshire was ready to accuse him of the murder, and many of its gentlemen would have given half their estates to have been able to substantiate the charge.  From earnest desire to action there is but one step: the thought was scarcely uttered by one, ere many endeavoured to prove it a fact, and Hugh de Broke became, from an object of mere dislike, one of abhorrence and suspicion.  He was not told of the murmurs afloat respecting him; and he was too much accustomed to signs of dislike, to observe any thing new in their conduct.  The eyes that glared upon him had nothing in them peculiarly ferocious to him now; nor did the deep mutterings and suppressed curses as he passed, startle him at this period from his path; he remembered the hatred of other days, and if he did observe any increase of this ill feeling towards him, he attributed their malignity less towards himself in his own person, than against the authority he would be enabled to hold over their actions as the fortunate heir of p. 175John de la Pole.  At all events, he fortified himself against their inflictions, by resorting in some cases to the exercise of his native brutality, in others to a loud and bitter scorn, which only served to increase their abhorrence and his own unsuspected danger.

The accusers were wary in their proceedings, and silently went on collecting proofs and accumulating evidence, until they believed they had truly in the ruffian kinsman, discovered the murderer of their popular favourite.  It was remembered, that after three years’ absence, he had appeared in Hampshire about a month previous to the murder of John, and then had suddenly disappeared, to re-appear as suddenly in Winchester after the contents of the extraordinary will were made public.  He had boasted a previous knowledge of this document, and he had taken into his service the man who attended John in his fatal journey, and who, by delaying to follow his master, had given courage to the assassin to make the attack.  This man had been dismissed by Eustace with a bitter reproof, and had immediately repaired to De Broke.  Fear, or too much security, (it was affirmed,) had dictated the measure of his adoption, after a dismissal which ought to have rendered his services every where p. 176suspicious.  John, it was urged, had been absent nearly a month, on a visit to a distant friend; he had set out on foot on his return, unaccompanied; for this man, according to his own statement, was commanded by his master to follow him with the horses, one of which (De la Pole’s) had been injured by an accident a few days before; but he had loitered long after, in order to keep an appointment which he had made with a damsel in the establishment of his master’s friend.  He was for this loudly accused of treachery; and De Broke ferociously became his champion, with a violence that only defeated the object he had in view.  The lock of hair found in the gripe of the corpse was remembered and produced; it was a bunch of thick and clustering curls, and had been forcibly torn from the head of the assassin.  The hair of the servant was pale, but it was remarked that Hugh’s was dark and curling, and they sought an opportunity to compare them together.  De Broke drove the party from his presence with every mark of contempt, and hardly deigned to assent to the repeated asseverations of his servants, that his hair was much darker, and altogether of a different texture from that produced as taken from the corpse.  His conduct was resented warmly.  By degrees all the p. 177gentry assumed the opinions of the mob; and when, in a violent attack upon his person, it was discovered that his hair had lately been polled in order to facilitate the cure of a wound, and which had hitherto been concealed by the (then) extraordinary contrivance of a peruke, the magistrates made open cause with the people, and Hugh was conducted to prison.  There his conduct was sullen and brutal; he would give no explanation, save that the wound in his head arose from a fall from his horse.  He was unusually ferocious; and considerably aggravated his case, by his constant threats of deep and deadly vengeance against Eustace de la Pole, who, he insisted, had conspired to cheat him of his estate, in conjunction with his other enemies.  Many new proofs appeared against him, and the whole county awaited, in trembling suspense, the event of his anticipated trial.

But these anticipations were not to be gratified: a few nights before the arrival of the judges, Hugh had contrived to escape from his prison, and elude the vigilance of his enemies, by the aid, it was supposed, of his servant, for he also fled the country; and neither master nor man again fell into the hands of justice.

In the mean time, the interval months, the p. 178short period of time allowed for most important considerations, were fast wearing away; the two persons most interested in their progress had come to no decision; and though Hugh de Broke had for the present withdrawn his claim, yet he had heirs, who, neither more delicate nor more generous than himself, might endeavour to prove his incapacity, and substantiate their own in place of his.  At all events, delays were dangerous, and the fortunes of De la Pole were too considerable to be put to hazard.  Eustace loved another, and Agatha could not forget her husband; yet a compliance with the terms of the will became an absolute necessity.  Though with averted hearts, they joined hands at the earnest entreaty of friends and relatives; nor would it have been possible to have refused, since even royal majesty evinced a solicitude, that the great fortunes and powerful political interest of the family should not pass into any other hands than those of that loyal and princely blood which had hitherto held them so nobly.  Agatha and Eustace became man and wife, and vowed to cherish and love each other till death.

But it was soon evident to all, that this was not either in the power or inclination of the new wedded pair: a deeper sorrow had sunk into p. 179their minds, and their calm grief was supplanted by looks and feelings of horror and despair.  They spent much of their time together; but their conferences seemed rather to heighten than to soothe their mutual suffering.  It was at length remarked, that Eustace never passed his nights in the chamber of his wife, but sometimes in deep groans and anguish in the seclusion of his own apartment, or in wandering wildly through the gloomy mazes of the forest.  At such times a stupor would overshadow the spirit of Agatha,—a silent and uncomplaining madness that seemed to render her insensible to suffering; and only upon his return did she vent her keen anguish in words, or dissipate her torture by shrieks as piercing as they were fearful.

Those about them saw no other cause for this mental hell, than the grief which had seized upon them, by constantly contemplating their eternal separation from the being they most loved.  It was anticipated that time would effect, if not a cure, at least some amelioration of its bitterness; but time rolled on, and their agonies did not decrease.  Nor did the prospect of an heir to their disastrous union afford any pleasure or consolation to their minds; they went through the usual routine of preparation, because, as it p. 180appeared, it was usual; there was no joyous anticipation on the part of Eustace,—no tender, trembling hope on the side of Agatha; there was no anxiety, no care; it was a thing unspoken of, unnoted; and when the bustle of the house, the importance of the attendants, and the entrance of the friend, (who, unsummoned, save by the servants, yet judged it necessary to be near her,) told Eustace of the near approaching throes of Agatha, he threw himself upon the ground in the chamber adjoining her, and buried his face in his hands.

Eustace, young, beautiful, and of a gallant spirit, was adored by his household, all the members of which fondly contemplated the birth of an heir, as an event well calculated to calm their mutual suffering, and endear them to each other: and though the maternal anguish of Agatha took place before the usual and expected time, the hopes so affectionately cherished were not shaken by the event; but the conduct of their master gave a wound to their generous devotion.  Sad and singular as it was, that of Agatha was scarcely less inexplicable: no groans, no tokens of pain accompanied her physical suffering; and it was apparent that some keener pang of the mind, some woe too deep for utterance, had deadened all p. 181sense to merely corporal pain.  Her eyes were generally closed, except when some louder noise, or the nearer approach of an attendant towards the couch, forced her to open them, and gaze around her for an instant; but, when her senses were thus for a moment awakened, it was evident the object which had aroused them had no share in their attention.  Heedless of all that was passing, she took a shuddering rapid glance around the chamber, as if in earnest search of one whom she yet feared to encounter, and then closed them in evident affright, and sunk anew into stupor and silence;—it was amidst this stupor and silence that her first-born son entered the world.

Eustace had not long remained absorbed in his own painful meditations, ere a mighty shriek from the chamber of Agatha broke upon his ear, and made him partly raise his head from the hard pillow to which he had consigned it.  But his soul was dead within him;—he thought no further agony could reach him now—no keener pang could inflict a wound in his already crushed heart; and though the scream was one of horror and dismay, a sound of many voices in grief and consternation, it passed over his senses without further notice, and he again drooped his head to the ground, and, grovelling to earth, seemed as he p. 182would bury himself from his anguish in the kindly bosom of his only parent—his last—his truest friend.

But repose was not for him—no, not even the repose of despair—he was again to wake, to feel, to suffer; there was an undreamed of agony near—a sting that was to penetrate his palsied bosom, and awake his crushed soul from the dead; to die would have been bliss, but that was a bliss denied him.

The unhappy young man arose;—a footstep was heard hastily rushing towards his chamber—the wife of Courtenay approached him with a look of commiserating regard, and took his arm to draw him to the apartment of Agatha.  She did not speak, but Eustace read in the expression of her features that there was yet more to encounter and to endure.  He entered the apartment of his wife—she was lying speechless and insensible upon her couch, utterly incapable of any observation of what was passing around her; and by her side lay a deformed and distorted infant, plunged in the still deeper silence of death.

In the first moment of sorrow, the friend who had so hastily sought the presence of Eustace, had done so under the compelling influence of the p. 183circumstance and the time; but a few moments had scarcely elapsed, ere Courtenay recovered sufficient recollection to decide that his wife had judged unwisely in so rapidly flying from the chamber of the poor Agatha, and bursting into that of her husband, dreading the influence the sudden grief might probably acquire over the already racked brain of the latter.  With this feeling, Courtenay raised his eye from the dead child to observe the countenance of Eustace, and, if possible, form a judgment as to how he was likely to support this shock: but here his fears gave place to a new feeling, and his grief was overpowered by astonishment at the singular deportment of Eustace: the childless father advanced slowly towards the corse of his infant, and gazed upon it intently for a moment; a spasm of agony passed over his countenance, but there was no surprise mingled with its expression.  “And is it indeed thus!” he murmured in a low and agonised tone of voice; “and so must my punishment begin!—yet better is it even thus, than that thou, poor distorted thing! shouldst live to reproach thy father, and, by thy sufferings, be an accusing witness against him.”  A convulsive shivering seized upon his frame, and he seemed to p. 184be struggling with some difficult and awful resolve.  At that moment a similar convulsion appeared to extend itself to the body of the infant; its eyes rolled, and one arm suddenly stretched itself out with a convulsive kind of movement, and remained extended, pointing towards Eustace.  The struggle was at an end in an instant; the change from distracted to subdued sorrow was the work of a moment.  He grew perfectly calm; and turning his looks again towards the infant, and addressing it in a low steady voice, “I thank thee,” he said, “for this warning; thou too shalt not have cause to reproach me; I have hesitated too long; but His will and thine shall be done.”  Saying thus, his head drooped upon his bosom as in deep thought, and the extended arm of the child a moment after fell quietly down by its side.

Courtenay, the friend of Eustace, and the near relative of Agatha, now judged that in this moment of calmness, he might venture some expressions of consolation.  He deeply regretted that he should have mistaken the sleep of the infant for the last slumber of death, and he urged to Eustace the possibility that the union of medical skill and paternal care might relieve p. 185his child from its afflictions, and restore it, in natural beauty, to his love.  He continued to dwell some time longer upon well intended topics of consolation, until he perceived that Eustace no longer heard his observations, or even remembered his presence.  Suddenly, a new thought appeared to awaken the dormant faculties of the latter.  “Has Agatha seen her child?” he demanded.  “No,” replied the wife of Courtenay; “she was insensible at the time of its birth, and I instantly rushed from the chamber to seek counsel of my husband: he could give none; but, terrified as myself, followed me hither.  Now, I deem, that as the child has uttered no sound since it came into the world, it were better she were told of its death; it will be but an anticipation of what must happen; for surely such an unhappy object cannot long exist.”  “I know not that,” observed Eustace, sadly; “but at least do as thou hast said, and remove the child from the castle.”  Courtenay retired from the apartment; and the wish of De la Pole was speedily obeyed.

But it seemed as if this unmeasured sorrow had brought calmness to him whom they feared it would annihilate: he sought not the apartment of p. 186his wife, but retired tranquilly to his own; and there was a stillness in it throughout the night, wholly unlike the restless pacings and disturbed groans which had hitherto been heard to issue from it.  In the morning he went to Agatha: their conference was long and sad, for traces of tears were on her countenance when they parted; but the shrieks and agonies which had formerly distinguished their interviews were no more; she had caught consolation and fortitude from him, and her mind, it appeared, had now grown as resigned and tranquil as his own.

Eustace made a journey to a distant part of the country: he spoke nothing of his intention previous to his setting out, nor of its object on his return; that it had been of importance, could only be collected from the care with which he had concealed it, and the continual occupations which followed his arrival at Winchester.  He was constantly employed in writing, and once or twice had had earnest conversations with Courtenay.  It was during one of these that he received an unexpected interruption in the person of Agatha, who entered calmly the apartment of her husband, and demanded his attention.  Courtenay arose, and was preparing to retire, when Agatha arrested his p. 187steps.  “That which I have to say is for thy ear also,” she remarked; “stay, therefore, and answer me.  Sleeping on my couch in the midday heat, the voices of my damsels in discourse broke upon my ear, and the sound they uttered gave me to know that my infant boy yet lives; wherefore is it that it is not in the bosom of its mother? and why was it ever banished from her care?”  There was a dead silence at the conclusion of this speech.  Eustace replied not, and the lip of Courtenay trembled.  “Eustace fears to reply,” observed Agatha; “he trembles to accumulate more sorrow upon this drooping head; he may, in tenderness, deceive; but thou, Courtenay, knowest not to lie, and from thy lip must the bitter truth come; wherefore is my infant not here?”  “We feared it would die,” answered Courtenay; “and, therefore, in thy already terrible agony, wished to spare thee the spectacle of its dissolution.”  “But it did not die,” pertinaciously resumed Agatha; “why was it not restored? it might have brought peace and consolation to the bosom of its mother.”  “No, madam,” returned the shuddering speaker; “that child would have brought sorrow and dismay, but no joy to the heart of its unhappy parent.  We removed it to a distance, p. 188fearing the effect of its appearance upon your mind; it is most fearfully disfigured.”  “Disfigured!” repeated Agatha, with a thrilling start.  A long pause ensued.  “Let her behold the boy,” said Eustace, calmly.  “Yes! let me behold my boy,” said the mother, while tears of sorrow heightened the lustre of those splendid eyes; “let me behold my boy; I shall not shrink from his sight, even though he be an eternal remembrancer of”—She paused, and sadly turned her eyes towards her husband.  “Well, then, thou hast anticipated aright,” said Eustace; “he will be to thee an eternal remembrancer; to me—that ghastly face:—that pointing hand—I will not behold them; yet do I rejoice in thy resolve, for such is thy painful duty, and thus wilt thou share my sacrifice without enduring my suffering.”  He retired as he spoke; and soon after, conducted by Courtenay, in silence and secrecy, the hapless mother folded the ghastly boy to her breast.

It is rare that the human mind can dwell upon more than one wonder at a period.  The neighbourhood, roused by the idle gossiping of the castle damsels, had begun to be astonished at the disappearance of the heir of De la Pole, who p. 189was said not to be dead, but deprived of his mother’s tenderness and his father’s succession; and, offended that there should be a secret, they determined that rendering justice to the injured child should be the apology for their own ungenerous curiosity.  From this they were diverted by a singular incident.

A meeting of the gentlemen of the county had been called for some public purpose foreign to this narrative.  In the midst of this discussion, it was observed that Eustace de la Pole was absent: this, to many who had known of his recent griefs and habits, was nothing singular; but those who resided more remote from the sphere of his influence, felt authorised to demand his presence and attention in a matter which was supposed deeply to interest the class to which he belonged.  A messenger was despatched to request his attendance, and was told that he was preparing to wait upon them; and he who was charged with the embassy had scarcely returned to his employers, ere Eustace de la Pole entered the council-chamber, leading by the hand a tall and graceful youth, whom he placed at the table of the council, and behind whose chair he stood while he spoke.  His words were few; but their stunning import threw horror and astonishment over the noble assembly.  p. 190“I present to you this young man,” calmly said he; “and I have assigned to him his appointed place; mine it must be no longer; he is the son of Hugh de Broke, who is lately dead, and who, a few months since, was accused of the murder of John de la Pole.  I come to render him a late, though, I trust, not useless justice, and restore the honour of his house.  This youth is not only the heir of the fortunes of De la Pole, but of his father’s innocence, since I only was the murderer of my brother.”

It would not be possible to paint all the feelings of the audience who listened to this singular declaration, nor the contrariety of opinions that pervaded the minds of men upon its disclosure.  Some asserted that derangement had fastened upon the mind of Eustace, and that he only imagined the fact; others, that grief had wearied him of existence, and that, preferring to die by other hands than his own, he had chosen this method of escaping from life and its convulsions; but the far greater part (as is ever the case in human judgments) decided for the darker side of the question, and concluded the self-accusation to be just, and were only now interested in analysing his motive.  The will of the victim too became a subject of infinite wonder; and when, to p. 191every interrogatory (save those which implied the participation of Agatha, which he instantly and earnestly denied,) Eustace remained mute, indignation supplied the place of pity; and among those who had been his intimates and friends, had eaten of his bread and drank of his cup, there were not wanting some, who, baffled in their eager pursuit of the marvellous, and offended that a secret was denied to them, even hinted at the torture, as a means of compelling a discovery of his motives and accomplices.

There are many whose sickly existences find health only in the contemplation of the severer agonies of others; many who, without either hatred or malignity, yet love to feed their unnatural and craving appetites for singularities and horrors; and would rather cherish them with the blood of a dear friend, than suffer them to famish for want of sustenance.  In small communities and country places, this inclination in the inhabitants is most apparent: here it was cruelly visible.  John de la Pole had always been a popular man, and his destiny had afforded them a feast of blood, for which they felt grateful to his memory; from his murderer they could exact it, and they would: the loudest for justice appealed to the king for the application of the torture, and those p. 192who pitied the sufferer did not oppose the petition, as curious to behold the result.

The weak and inquisitive prince who then filled the English throne, saw something singular and mysterious in the conduct of the young De la Pole, and therefore unhesitatingly gave his assent to the sentence of his judges.  The torture was borne by Eustace without a groan, though a close imprisonment of some weeks might have weakened his spirit and exhausted his bodily strength.  He walked calmly and unsupported to the scene of suffering, conversing steadily with Courtenay, who never for an instant forsook him.  From any outward tokens of anticipated agony or terror, it would have been difficult to distinguish the criminal from the spectator: he even smiled as he recognised his acquaintances in the crowd assembled to gaze upon his sufferings.  There was only one action remarkable in his bearing at this trying juncture; on ascending the scaffold, and while they were binding his arms, his attention was arrested apparently by some object near him, though no one could be seen by the crowd, and during the whole period of the infliction of the “peine forte et dure,” the victim kept his eyes still fastened upon this spot, but without articulating a word.  When the accumulated weights p. 193pressed so heavily on his sinking breast as to threaten dissolution, he raised his head to look upon his mangled limbs, and surveyed them in silent attention; he then turned his eyes to the spot which had so long occupied their regards, and, pointing with a slow and solemn motion to the load upon his breast, said, in a clear and steady tone, “Thou see’st!”

Eustace was remanded to prison; his friends, his enemies, those who were neither, all besought him with equal earnestness not to die with this secret sin upon his heart; he smiled at their anxiety, but answered nothing to their queries;—they doubted his guilt, ascribed his conduct to madness, to despair;—he replied by throwing off his cap and shewing the scar in his head, from which his brother, in the last agonising grasp of death, had torn the dark and bloody lock which had once so nearly condemned the unfortunate De Broke,—and they were silenced.  He continued steadfast to his purpose—silent, sorrowful, but calm.

And where was Agatha during these scenes of insult and endurance?  Had she too forsaken the dungeon of her husband, and given up her soul to exultation in his captivity and anguish?  She had once, and only once, demanded admittance p. 194to his prison; she had remained with him many hours, and retired, like himself, tranquillised from the interview.  Soon after, she formally resigned the castle and its dependencies to him whom Eustace had named as the lawful heir: her own son, and his claims, were now no longer remembered, since the crime of his father had deprived him of the succession, which had been awarded by the king to the son of the injured De Broke.  After these arrangements, which were performed in silence and celerity, and with only the casual assistance of Courtenay, Agatha withdrew from her native town, and concealed her person and her sorrow for ever from the eyes of the world.

But her desertion of her husband at the tremendous juncture when he so much needed her help and consolation, was not regarded with indignation by the many who considered the circumstances under which she stood: that husband was a murderer, and of whom?  The terrible question needed no reply, and Agatha was speedily acquitted; her absence too was a trivial circumstance compared with that of her husband’s situation.  All eyes were turned to the prison at Winchester.

At length Eustace de la Pole was led out to p. 195die.  It was a splendid day, in the season of autumn, on which his mortal career was to terminate.  Consideration for the princely blood which flowed in his veins, had forbidden, in his case, the strangulation by the degrading cord, and the axe and the block had been substituted in its room.  The novelty of the circumstance drew many thousands round the scaffold, who awaited, in feverish and almost angry impatience, the arrival of him who was to furnish forth the spectacle of the day.  He came,—not indeed as before, with an erect and unassisted step, for his limbs had been crushed, and his physical strength destroyed; but his pale countenance was composed, and his soft rich voice was steady and clear, as he conversed at intervals with Courtenay, the priest, and the executioner, who received him courteously, as, led by the two former, he ascended the steps to the scaffold.  Of the crowd around he took no heed, but with calm and silent celerity prepared himself for the block.  At sight of the noble young man, bare-headed and disrobed for a sad and ignominious death, there were many who could no longer restrain their tears; and hard-hearted grey-headed men who, hating his crime, believed they could find pleasure in his sorrow, and went thither to feast upon his suffering, p. 196now wept loudly for him whom, in their first feeling of horror, they had cursed.  He appeared unconscious of this change of temper, and seemed rather disposed to hasten than to retard the preparations, for he laid his head down upon his last pillow before the executioner had entirely completed them.  He had himself promised to give the signal for the fall of the axe; and while the multitude were anxiously awaiting this movement, they beheld him suddenly raise his head from the block, and gaze intently upon one particular spot upon the scaffold; all eyes were instantly directed towards it, but to them at least no object was visible.  He gazed for a few moments with intense earnestness, then calmly replacing his head upon the block, exclaimed in solemn but eager accents, “Thou see’st!” and gave the signal for his death.  The axe fell—heavily, rapidly—it was over—swifter than thought.  The executioner held up the gory head to the people; the features were calm, the eyes closed; but before he could utter the customary sentence, they had once more opened and fixed themselves upon the same spot which had attracted the last of their living regards; they appeared slowly to follow the movement of some unseen object round the scaffold, till they reached p. 197the opposite side; then they withdrew their gaze, quivered for an instant, dropped, dark and immoveable, for ever.

This, as many strange scenes, was however doomed to be forgotten, like other things.  Ten years passed away, and ten other wonders had, during that period, interested or frightened the people of Winchester and its surrounding country.  John and Eustace de la Pole were no more remembered, or their story only casually mentioned as belonging to the odd things that were; Courtenay had glided into middle age, and the youth for whom Eustace had done so much, had long since written man.—Ten years!  How many and how striking may be the changes of ten years!  Courtenay had long pondered over the destiny of Agatha, and sighed to think whither her unhappy fate might have conducted her; but the long interval which passed had almost swept her from his mind, when a letter, in her unforgotten character, was one day put into his hand.  It was couched in brief and anxious terms, and conveyed a request that he would immediately proceed to her dwelling.  Courtenay was no laggard in the cause of humanity; he did not pause to speculate upon this address, or even to wonder at its abruptness, but he set forward instantly, p. 198and the morning of the following day saw him knock at a lonely cottage on the coast of Dorsetshire, in the neighbourhood of Corfe Castle.  The door was opened by Agatha herself, who, habited in the black robes which she had worn since the sad death of the last of her husbands, received him with courteous sadness.  Years had not dimmed the beauty of her matchless face, but sorrow had been busy with its expression; the same lovely features were there, but their once bright character was gone.

Their meeting was tenderly sorrowful: Agatha said little in explanation until she had conducted her guest into an adjoining chamber, and pointed out one object for his observation.  Stretched upon a couch, grown to boyhood, covered with wounds, and unchanged in person, save that his deformities had now grown more manifest, lay extended the ghastly boy, the only child of Agatha and the hapless Eustace.  Courtenay trembled as he gazed; but the mother’s looks were calm.  “He is dead,” she said, on observing the emotion of her guest; “what Heaven and Nature with so much difficulty spared, the brutality of man has destroyed; he was my joy and sorrow, and many a weary hour have I watched to snatch him from the yawning p. 199grave: for ten years he has been my sole care; and for the insults and scorn heaped upon his deformed and idiotic existence, he found compensation in the tenderness of his mother.  The small pittance which I derived from my father was sufficient for our wants: and never should I have called upon any former friend, but for the cruel deed of yesterday; robbers from the waters broke into my poor dwelling, and pillaged thence my property.  I knew not how it was; I had gone to a distance to buy food, and on my return found the poor idiot thus.  My only attendant, an old woman, had been wounded in his defence; and from her I with difficulty learned, that the convulsive movements of the boy, and his pointing hand, as his menacing eye followed their actions, had drawn upon him their wrath and its brutal consequences.  I am averse from again appearing in the scenes which I have once and for ever abandoned, and therefore I sent for thee, Courtenay, to spare myself the sad task of interring the pale corpse of my boy, and drawing wondering and inquisitive eyes upon my person and history.”

Courtenay was pleased with the confidence reposed in his friendship.  A brother’s love might have done less for Agatha; it could not have p. 200effected more.  Her wishes were immediately performed; and he was preparing, with unintrusive delicacy, to return to his home, when Agatha for a few moments detained him; “You have deserved unlimited confidence at my hands;” said she, “and you shall obtain it: he who is now numbered with the ignominious dead desired it should be so, and I withhold it no longer.  You, in common with all the world, were ignorant of the motives which impelled the unhappy Eustace to the deed which he perpetrated; but you did not, in common with all the world, forsake him in his utmost need: for you he drew up the story of his sorrows, and placed it in my hands to be given to you only when I saw the fitting time; that time hath arrived.  The child of sorrow is dead, and I shall still more completely retire from a world where insignificance and poverty are no protection from cruelty and avarice; a convent will shortly receive me, and, if I continue to live, a newer and better existence will be mine: if not, I shall have done wisely in thus obeying the last command of Eustace.”

Courtenay received the packet and retired; he lingered not a moment to relieve the recluse of his presence, but returned to Winchester, after receiving her commands to see her again in three p. 201days; he then hastened to his apartment, and, with trembling avidity, read, in the confessions of Eustace, the secret story of the fortunes of De la Pole.

“I know that thou despisest me, Courtenay; I know that thou deemest me no less a fool than a coward; thou didst bring me the means of an honourable death, gavest into mine hands the dagger and the drug, and I have rejected both: we disputed, differed, parted, met again, and again renewed the subject: thou didst even deign to persuade the coward (so thou thoughtest him) to act like a man; but thy entreaties were unheeded and thy counsel rejected; he will die like a thief and a criminal—he will be hooted out of life; and curses will be the torches to give light to his memory, that it sink not into darkness and oblivion.

“Said I not that I was a sacrifice? that my punishment was a propitiatory offering?  Now again I say to thee the same thing.  Death would have few horrors for me (for it is a thing I covet) without the ignominy of a public execution; to offer my life for my wrong would be nothing, but to offer it up thus!—This alone can satisfy immortal justice; this alone can satisfy p. 202the spirit of the murdered man.  Read and behold my meaning.

“Thou knowest how fondly, contrary to his father’s hope, John de la Pole loved the beautiful daughter of Philip Forester, thy kinsman; but thou knowest not how much more fervently she was adored by the wretched Eustace, and how tenderly the gentle Agatha returned that love.  Hope there was none; for what had I to bribe the greedy father of my love, when John de la Pole could hereafter lay the fortunes of his house at her feet?  Philip suspected the state of his daughter’s heart, and had looked deeper than I imagined into mine: he determined that a younger brother was not deserving of his Agatha’s beauty, and, by cold civilities and hints of my father’s and brother’s disapprobation, banished me from his house.  One thing alone gave consolation to my blighted heart, the steadiness with which my father resolved against the marriage of John with the object of our mutual passion.  In one of the sad conferences which I occasionally, though now but seldom, held with my beloved Agatha, it occurred to my imagination, that though my father had resolved to dispose differently of the heir of his house, he might not object p. 203to my union with the object of my choice; and I received permission of my beloved to make the attempt upon his feelings.  I did so immediately, and, with a rapture which I dare not now dwell upon, received his permission, and his solemn promise to purchase the approbation of the selfish Forester, by bestowing upon me one-fourth of his more than princely fortune.  He arranged to see Forester upon the following day: the same evening I flew to Agatha.  O Courtenay! didst thou ever love?  Those few blessed hours were the most happy of my life, and the last that were so.  We parted; Agatha radiant with happiness; I, to think, to hope, to anticipate, to wish all things could share my transports, to love creation, to love God.  In the morning my father was found dead on his couch; and the following month Agatha became the wife of my brother!  Courtenay! didst thou ever love?

“Thou wilt ask, where was Eustace when his beloved was thus sacrificed?  Alas! sent to a distance, to execute some commands of that brother upon whom I was now so utterly dependent.  He had discovered my love, and thus, without my suspecting his intentions, prevented its consequences: he hastened to Agatha, represented the ruin she would bring upon me, and his determination p. 204to abandon me for ever, unless she became his wife; Forester, who was his ally, threatened her with his curse; I know not all the artifices used,—I never could listen to the detail.  She became the wife of the man she could not love, and I was suffered to wither beneath his roof, while, with calm hypocrisy, he told his own tale, ostentatiously enriched his younger brother, and declared he could not live happy without him.  Fool that he was!—stupid, uncalculating idiot!  He had torn asunder two burning hearts, and expected to smother their fires; he had separated two devoted beings, compelled them to live in each other’s presence, and yet expected them to forget.  Agatha abhorred his sight—his very aspect was loathsome to her.  I saw her agonies,—I saw her daily shudderings at every demonstration of his love; and cold dews of death spread over my own heart when I beheld her submitting to his fondness.  I implored to be banished from the castle; I entreated to be allowed the sad privilege of beholding Agatha no more: he could not trust me from him, he said; and I was obliged to remain.  Merciless idiot! blind looker into the human heart!  Had he consented, all might then have been well; but how did he dare thus selfishly sport with torture?  He went p. 205on a journey for a few weeks; he commanded me to a distant part of the country on business of importance to his interests: I went, but returned ere half the allotted time for his absence had expired—to be alone with Agatha—to see her unrestrained—to mingle my tears with hers: I could not resist this one sad bliss, and I hastened back to enjoy it.

“We met, the lover and the beloved, in grief—in madness—in despair!  Oh, wonder not, that when we parted guilt should be added to the burthen of our sorrows; but the terrible consciousness of crime changed at once our natures and our deeds.  Agatha’s horror of her husband increased: and, now that she was mine, I determined she should no more be his—to fly, and rob the castle for the means of sustenance.  Alas! I feared to expose her to scorn, should we be unable to evade the pursuit of justice; and, even if in this we should succeed, what means had I of subsistence when that slender source should fail, proscribed, as we should be, in every part of our native land?  To live on, as I had lately done, was still more impossible; since Agatha herself had armed her bosom with a knife to be turned against her heart rather than again endure the horrors of her husband’s love.  Again and p. 206again we met in passionate, though gloomy conference; and thus continued to waste the time in fruitless debate until his messenger announced his approaching return.  Despair gave wings to my thought; Agatha’s eye glanced on mine; she drew the dagger from her breast, and I snatched it from her hand.  Our thoughts had spoken—there was no need of words—we had understood each other without them.

“I hastened to conceal myself in the New Forest, near the road through which he must pass on his return.  He had taken his confidential servant with him, and, rather than expose myself to observation, I had determined to fire at him through the trees, calculating and believing that the servant would mistake the attack for that of concealed robbers, and fly, leaving his master to his fate.  But I had scarcely arranged my mode of attack ere I heard a footstep in the road; I looked out, and beheld him slowly advancing, with his eyes steadfastly directed towards the towers of his castle, as if he sought out the apartment of his wife.  At the sight of him all prudence vanished—all recollection of the calm attack which I had meditated passed away from my mind; I did not even observe that he was alone: hatred and rage filled my heart, and I p. 207rushed upon him like a wild beast, tearing him to the earth by the bare strength of sinew, and inflicting many mortal stabs upon his breast: he grappled fiercely with me, struggled hard to rise, and even drew his dagger, which I broke in his grasp before he could strike one blow.  He tore a lock of hair from my head, but, during the terrible contest he had not uttered a single word, till a deep and home-directed stroke upon his brow threw him powerless on the sod, then he spoke gaspingly to his brother: ‘Have mercy upon me,’ he said, ‘have mercy; I have wronged thee, but that is not the heaviest of my crimes; I would live to repent: to expiate one, the deepest, darkest, let me live; I dare not die.  My father!—I overheard his arrangements with thee—I could not bear to lose her—he was found dead on his couch—I smothered him in the night.  Mercy, mercy!  O Eustace! let me live,—I am not fit to die!’  But his words raised a wilder fiend in my soul, that scared away the spirit of mercy.  He then had been the monster—he!—I raved aloud, ‘Murderer! thou art not fit to live—hell gapes for thee—begone!’  I drew my dagger across his throat; the blood gushed upon my face, upon my hands; he grinned, scowled, gibbered as he sunk, but he spoke and struggled no more.

p. 208“I hastened home,—but I saw not Agatha, neither did I seek her during the long and terrible night that followed the sunset crime: I dared not tell her what I had done; I could not have borne to hear her speak of the sin which I had committed.  Towards the morning I grew calm; my fears and horror subsided; I thought of the atrocious act of the guilty dead, and, by degrees, persuaded myself that I had done an act of justice; I began to calculate upon the consequences, and seriously consider whether, by this deed, I had really achieved the consummation of my wishes—the possession of my adored Agatha; she was my sister, the widow of my brother; could I legally become her husband?  And, allowing the possibility, was it probable that I should be permitted to do so?  These considerations gave birth to the action which followed; I forged the extraordinary will which gave the succession to me, but only with the hand of Agatha; and it appeared the more natural, as, during the period of her wedlock, she had borne no child to her husband.  That night and succeeding day was thus intently occupied.  On the following morning the corpse was discovered by you.  I had not seen Agatha, but, on hearing of her meeting the body, hastened to calm her mind, p. 209and prepare her for the will, which was opened after the interment.  I made use of the pretext of another love, to appear repugnant to the wishes of my brother, and quitted the castle to appease the inquietudes of Agatha, who entreated me not to see her again until I could make her my wife.

“You remember the reading of that will; you remember the arrival of De Broke; poor wretch! his drunken falsehoods, his silly boasts, and above all, his ungoverned insolence, has cost him fatally dear.  I was not concerned at the suspicion which fell upon him; on the contrary, I rejoiced it had found such an object: but I trembled with horror when I beheld him conducted to a dungeon, and reflected on the probability of his paying the penalty of my crime.  Guilty enough already, this accumulation of sin appalled me, and I determined that innocent blood at least should not cry out from earth against me.  In the night previous to the day fixed for his trial, which I dreaded equally, whether he should be condemned or acquitted, I sought his prison, and, by an exaggerated account of the popular rage against him, prevailed upon him to accept the means of escape; his servant who attended him, terrified by the picture I drew of his master’s danger, united his entreaties to p. 210mine.  Hugh’s courage and fortitude gave way to our solicitations; he fled, and preserved his life at the expense of his honour and his peace.

“I cannot express to you how deep was the pang the ruin of this man’s character gave me, nor how I shrunk from the eyes lifted to mine in commiseration, whenever his name was mentioned before me; even now, now that I have rendered back such severe justice, my heart sickens as I recall the curses which I heard heaped upon his head as the murderer of John de la Pole.  I should have suffered less had they branded the criminal unknown, but to hear an innocent man thus accused for me—O Courtenay! thou knowest not, mayest thou never know, remorse.

“I reasoned much even then upon the folly of this conduct; I said, I am a cowardly villain, a sneaking murderer, who fears the consequences of the crime he yet feared not to commit.  Why should I be careful of this man’s life? what is his safety to me? his death might be my security, at least would prevent suspicion from falling elsewhere: are not his manners brutal, his heart selfish, avaricious, and cruel? who will miss him from the earth? and by whom will his loss be mourned?  But it is my crime for which he will p. 211suffer, and the curse of innocent blood will lie upon my head: neither has he injured me, that I should doom him so hardly; I cannot even taste the luxury of revenge.  These thoughts disquieted me, and, recurring more frequently than I could bear, influenced my conduct in regard to the prisoner.  ‘The means of escape shall be offered to him,’ I said; ‘if, innocent, as he knows himself to be, he be coward enough to accept them, he is worthy of the opprobrium which will cling to him, and I ought not to grieve for that ruin of character which he himself alone will effect.’

“With this wretched sophistry I endeavoured to reconcile my conscience, and, strange to say, I succeeded; care and regret departed from my bosom, and I looked forward to the day of my approaching union with Agatha with an impatience which I found it difficult to control: it came at length, and under happy auspices, for all our friends were assembled around us, and I saw in my beloved’s tranquil smile the scarce concealed joy of her heart.

“You remember that day, Courtenay—you remember the brilliant assemblage and the gay festival of night—you remember how brightly sparkled the jest, how sweetly sounded the song, p. 212and how every creature present seemed wrapped in the delicious intoxication of the hour—you remember my parting commands after Agatha had retired, to carouse till the day-break, and make the young sun a witness of your felicity; you did so; it was a scene of joy and splendour.  Alas! there was another, and a widely different, passing in a more retired part of the castle.

“I must pause in my narrative here for a few moments; all that has as yet been detailed has been plain and simple fact, subject to no doubts, liable to no misconstructions; hitherto all has been clear; that which will follow is wild, strange, and improbable—mysterious, incomprehensible indeed, yet not less true than that which I have hitherto written.  How shall I make you understand what I have to present to your mind?  In what words shall I clothe a narrative so extraordinary as to prevent its stamping me with the opprobrium of folly or madness?  Even now, in my dying hour, on the very steps of the scaffold, I hesitate at the thought of being lightly esteemed by thee, or my sacrifice regarded as the result of a weakened intellect or a disordered brain: it is more easy to die as a knave than be lamented as a fool.

“Agatha had withdrawn from the hall with p. 213her damsels, and I hastened to follow her; she had retired to an apartment adjoining her bridal chamber, and thither, wearied of the noise and mirth of the rioters below, I also hastened.  I longed for a delight I had not lately experienced, an unreserved conversation with my wife, and to be allowed to dismiss the coldness which, during the day, I had been obliged to feign towards her.  The damsels retired, and we were left to pour out our hearts to each other in the unbounded confidence of our new relations, when we were startled by hearing a slow and heavy foot steadily ascending the stairs; as these were private, leading only to our apartments, Agatha was surprised and offended.  ‘Who would intrude at this hour?’ she demanded, while her eyes turned anxiously towards the door.  For me, a thrill of horror shot through my inmost heart; I said, relinquishing the hand I had till then so fondly clasped in mine, ‘That is the step of my brother!’

“And it was so, Courtenay: a moment more and the door slowly opened of itself to give entrance to its master; John de la Pole entered the room and stood between Agatha and me; his face was as in his dying hour, ghastly and menacing, and every gash of the murderous knife upon his body as frightfully distinct as on the p. 214night they were inflicted.  In one hand he held a lock of dark hair; the other was extended threateningly towards me; and thus he stood between us, drawn from another world by the crime I meditated against his bed, and an everlasting barrier before it.

“My first emotion was astonishment—a boundless and stupified surprise—then a vague and horrid notion that my brother was not really dead, that he had escaped alive from my hands, and was now come to accuse and surrender me up to scorn.  The interval which had passed since his death was obliterated from my mind, and I felt as if that night had been the season of the deed.  I spoke in extenuation of my crime, accused his selfishness, cursed his calculating cruelty; I implored his mercy, folded my hands in supplication, and knelt before him in humble debasement.  No muscle of his countenance moved, and not a sound escaped through his bruised and blackened lips; he did not even look upon me, but continued to fasten his stony eyes upon the face of Agatha, who stood silent and motionless as himself, gazing like a fascinated thing upon his aspect of horror.  I arose from my knees—shut my eyes—tossed my arms abroad to the air—endeavoured to think I was in sleep, in p. 215drunkenness, in delirium: no, he was still there!—I thought of the agony of tempestuous feeling I had endured on the night following the commission of the crime, and, believing that my jaded mind was suffering under the same infliction, resolved to seek my couch, to restore my exhausted spirits by rest and sleep.  I made an effort to move from my place; I knew that motion might recall my scattered senses; and I exerted myself to enter the chamber of Agatha.  Wilt thou believe me, Courtenay? the stern shadow anticipated my movement, and, menacing me back, strode silently towards my bridal chamber.  At the door its menacing attitude towards me was changed for one of command to Agatha; one bloody finger was raised to beckon her to follow: she did so.  Still stupidly insensible, gazing fixedly upon his form, she followed the direction of his hand, and passed after him into the chamber: the door closed upon them without a sound.

“Now I began to think more calmly: the dead, cold thing was gone, and there was life and air in the apartment; the feelings of this world came upon me, and I became sensible of fear.  I was safe; but where was Agatha?—he had beckoned her forth—was it reality?—she was gone—had it been the work of imagination, she had p. 216still been there—but she might have retired to her chamber alone.  This was to be ascertained.  I attempted to enter—the door was fast; I called upon Agatha—there was no sound in reply; I reviewed the last scene, considered the incidents of the past, weighed the appearances of the present, and came at length to the terrible conclusion that a spirit of the damned had stood before me, and that Agatha was still in his grasp!  You will not wonder that temporary insanity followed this hideous idea: I grew wild at the thoughts of her danger; I shrieked aloud for mercy; I tore my hair in agony, and beat at the closed door with the utmost exertion of strength.  I wonder even now that none heard the uproar I made; but my cries remained unanswered—no sound issued from the bridal chamber of the dead, and I continued to rave until nature, exhausted, sunk speechless and senseless to the earth.

“Morning had broken over the apartment when I awoke, and I was some moments in recovering recollection of my state and circumstances; slowly the truth came before me.  I was lying extended on the bare ground, the lights had burned out, and there was no trace of visitors having been near me in my sleep.  I arose and p. 217listened for some sound that might direct my first movements, for now I knew not what to think nor to do.  A low sobbing from the chamber of Agatha riveted my attention; I sprung towards the door, and, to my astonishment, it yielded to the slightest touch: I entered; Agatha was there, seated upon the bed, and gazing around her with a look of agonising affright; she saw me on the instant, and rushed into my arms.  ‘Thou art here! thou art safe!’ she cried in delirious transport; ‘and for this I am at least grateful; I deemed he had destroyed thee.  But thou didst leave me, Eustace.  O quit me not, I beseech thee! save me from him, Eustace, for thou alone canst!’  I endeavoured to soothe her anguish, and, after some time, succeeded in restoring her to tranquillity and composure enough to be made acquainted with the real state of our circumstances; and I implored her to inform me whither the ghastly phantom had led her, on their retiring from the chamber.  She shuddered at the question, and a wild and strange expression passed over her countenance ere she spoke.  ‘I will tell thee,’ she said; ‘yet it is but little that I have to say.  To this room we came, and our footsteps wandered no further.  Without a word he gave his commands to me, and without p. 218a word I obeyed him.  I ascended my bridal bed, he had willed it so, and he continued to gaze upon me till my head sunk upon the pillow; then the ghastly thing sat down by my side, and though I closed mine eyes hard that I might not behold him, yet I felt that the shadow of his unearthly face was upon me.  Once I looked up in the hope that he was gone; beholding him I shrunk, and would have called upon thee, but the stony eye of the spectre grew larger, and a fiendish pang passed over the immoveable face; then I hid mine in my mantle that I might look upon him no more: insensibility succeeded, and I slept; in the morning I awoke, and he was gone!’

“This was the tale of Agatha; thou wilt doubt its truth, nor can I wonder at thy most natural incredulity: yet I would now give my few short hours of life, precious as they may be, that thou hadst been present and seen her tell this story; I can give thee her words, her form of expression, but what language of mine can portray her looks as she spoke, or describe the harrowing tones of her voice as she cried to me for protection?  I doubted not; for these powerful witnesses would have carried conviction to my mind, had I not already beheld the shadowy thing she spoke of.

p. 219“What could I offer in consolation?  We wept bitter tears together, and mingled our tender grief.  If we indulged a momentary hope that it was but an illusion of the brain, and would return no more, we were quickly undeceived at the approach of night.  Again came the ghastly shadow, and again was the spirit of Agatha chained by the sleep of death in his presence.  Nor were his visitations confined to the dark and silent hour of night; when we met in the morning, to lament our fate and weep from our stuffed bosoms the weight that pressed upon our hearts, then, with a hideous familiarity, he would stand between us, mocking, with his menacing grin and uplifted finger, the agony his presence created.

Another night came; we sat alone, solitary, speechless, motionless; hour after hour passed, and we moved not, except to cast stern regards towards the door, or listen with repressed impatience to every sound in the castle.  Slowly, at last, came the step of the dead, heavily ascending the stairs;—he entered—I rushed to meet him, and the long pent up agony of my soul burst forth in madness uncontrolled.  ‘Monster!—murderer!—destroyer of thy father and thy brother! why comest thou thus to torture and not kill? why is thy bloody hand for ever raised, p. 220and yet forbearing to fall?  If thine aim be vengeance, strike—strike—strike—thou blood-bespotted horror! and rend from hope and from life those who dared to make thee what thou art!—Strike, thou silent, sullen thing! that we may be as thou art, and learn to fear thee not!’

“I darted towards him, but was arrested by some invisible barrier ere I had traversed half the distance between us; I could not reach him, but sunk, as if felled by an unseen blow, helpless and almost senseless, to the ground: he did not even look upon me, but again sternly summoned Agatha from the chamber, as nightly he had done before.  I—but wherefore dwell upon these agonies?  Suffice it to say, that these accumulated horrors at length drove me from the side of Agatha to solitude and reflection: sorrow came upon my soul—a sorrow less for my crime than for its fatal consequences.  ‘Alas!’ I said, ‘perhaps the tormentor is himself more keenly punished by these hauntings than either of his shrinking victims: said he not, in the hour of death, that he too was a murderer? and did he not pray for time in which to expiate the sin?  Surely, surely, these visitations must be the hell of the parricide.’

“And a feeling of remorse arose in my mind, p. 221as I deemed it possible that these unnatural hauntings might be involuntary.  I had stabbed at the life of my brother, and plunged his unprepared spirit into the hell which awaited it; and surely a more bitter one than looking again upon the secret deeds of the survivors, could not well be imagined.  Agatha, too, no longer wept over her separation from me, but hourly called upon Heaven for pity and for pardon; madness and anguish passed away from her heart, and sorrow and repentance entered it.

“I could not repent; at least I could not feel self-condemnation to that degree which I had been early taught was so necessary—that perfect sorrow which abhorred the crime and the criminal, and which, they say, is alone the gift of Heaven—that I did not feel: still, still did my inmost soul worship the thought of Agatha, and abhor the treachery of John de la Pole.  I could not regret that I had avenged my wrong—I could not repent that I had attempted to make her mine; I knew that were the deed again to do—again should I dare, and perform it.

“Repentance then was not mine; but I despaired of peace, and knew how to punish crime: I was not yet weary of life; and though tears of remorse did not fill my eyes for my p. 222brother’s early doom, yet his unnatural tortures now, and Agatha’s suffering, seemed to call for something like justice from my hand.  ‘Perhaps, in the stern mood in which I am,’ I said, ‘the sacrifice will be greater than if repentance struck; and, believing myself sure of forgiveness, I hastened to make my peace with Heaven.  Yes; I will die—I will inflict death upon myself as I would upon another, and expiate crime with blood!’

“But I hesitated still; death, contemplated so near, in any shape, was horrible; but, dealt by the hand of the executioner—I shrunk from the thought, and could not bear the shadow of a stain upon the honour of my house; so I went on from day to day, dreaming of justice but rendering none, till the birth of Agatha’s son.  Thou wast surprised, I believe, at the little emotion I betrayed at its sight: alas! I had long been prepared for some object of horror, and now it was before me.  Thou didst behold the action of the ghastly child; thou sawest the menacing finger upraised towards my head, and the calm determination with which I met this image: its presence had banished my indecision.  I believed now that Agatha was lost to me for ever,—that Eternal Justice by this sign spoke against me, p. 223and, in punishment of my hardness of heart, had thus perpetuated the remembrance of my crime.  Now, then, I resolved to die: I communicated my purpose to Agatha, and earthly feelings once more gained the mastery over my subdued spirit, and burst forth in words of grief and reproach, on observing that she evinced no horror at my approaching fate, and scarcely attempted to dissuade me from my purpose!  Agatha, for whom I had dared and suffered so much—even she had become indifferent to my destiny: it was indeed time to die!  But I did her wrong; sorrow had broken her heart, and repeated scenes of horror had subdued and weakened her spirit.  With the feeling common to her sex, she sought consolation only in religion, and thought that to reconcile herself with Heaven was all that was left her now: love had fled with every other human passion, and far from regarding death as an evil, she looked upon it as a passport to bliss, and was more ready to rejoice at than deprecate my fate.  Her conduct assisted my resolution.  Now, then, the first step was to be made—the most difficult and appalling—the rest would be consequential and easy.  It was necessary to begin, and I knew of no better mode than that of rendering justice to the living.  Hugh de Broke had been ruined by me, p. 224and it was now incumbent upon me to restore him to honour and to happiness: I set out for the distant and humble dwelling in which, since his escape, he had been obliged to conceal his name and dignity: he was stretched upon a sick-bed—a heart-broken and a dying man: it was no physical disease of which he was expiring,—but disgrace had poisoned the fountain of his blood, and shame had eaten its way like a canker-worm to his heart.  When he saw me, he shook off his dying listlessness, and sprung upright in his bed.  ‘What more wouldst thou have, thou blaster of mine honour!’ he said, ‘of a ruined and dying man?  To thy pernicious counsel I owe the shame no after-conduct can efface: cursed, cursed coward that I was! why did I heed or believe thy murderous mercy?  Begone, wretch! and let me die.  I cannot shake off this load of shame; but I shall sink under its burthen, and bequeath its remorse to thee; go, wretch! and let me die.’

“He was submissively attended by his wife and son, who were earnest with me to relieve him of my presence.  Sorrow, and the near approach of death, had softened his heart and chastised the natural brutality of his manners; he looked and spoke more mildly to them, though, with all his p. 225failing strength, he continued to heap maledictions upon me.  My humiliations were now to begin; I kneeled down by his side, detailed my crime without any palliation, asked his forgiveness for the injury I had done him, and finished by avowing my resolution to deliver myself into the hands of justice, and restore his fame and happiness.

“I was astonished, that during this confession no word had been uttered by him whom it so deeply concerned.  I looked up to behold its effect; he was staring wildly at me, the strong energies of his spirit struggling with the grasp of death to gain time to hear its termination; he strove hard to articulate something; and finally, whether he conquered for some few moments the mighty power that was wrestling with him, or that that power had now incorporated itself with his victim, and given him of its potency, I knew not, but he suddenly grew calm and passionless, pain and convulsion left him, his features assumed a pale rigidity, and his voice the solemn earnestness of the grave, as he spoke.  ‘I have no time for question,’ he said; ‘but I pray that the truth may be upon thy lips: soon, very soon, shall we meet again; and my pardon shall be truly thine when thou shalt tell me that my boy sits with honour p. 226in the halls of his fathers.’  He paused, placed the hand of his son in mine, and expired without a groan.

“What followed, I need not tell thee; the son of Hugh was restored, and Eustace consigned to a dungeon.  The attempts of the people to force from me my secret, you know how I resisted; calmly and even proudly I went to my prison and prepared myself to die.  I had humbled myself to De Broke, for to him I had done deep and particular injury; but to these men I owed no other reparation than what my life would pay: what right had they then to demand further humiliation of me, or attempt to rend from my bosom the mystery of its secret purpose?  I would die unaccusing, save myself; I would die, shrouded in gloomy dignity,—a man to be wondered at and feared, rather than pitied and scorned.  I will willingly furnish their greedy eyes with the awful feast of death, but not their vulgar souls with the struggles and humiliations of mine; my body is the law’s—is theirs; my spirit is beyond their judgment.  John de la Pole shall sleep on, embalmed in good opinions; I will not raise up his pall to shew them what corruption festers beneath it; I would not tell them what he was, though it should even lessen in p. 227their thought the horror of what I am.  Grand and silent death—majestic in thy obscurity—I wait to bid thee welcome!

“Thus far had I written, and thought that my story in the book of life had come to its close, but other events have crowded upon me; and before my death, (which will be on the morrow,) I would tell thee the incidents of the last few days.  Thou knowest how calmly I beheld thee depart from my prison, and how little emotion I manifested at my fate; but when thou wert gone, when I was alone, in chains, degraded, the enthusiasm of the moment past, and my spirit inactive, I wept bitter tears at the waywardness of my early fate; yet I relaxed not in my determination; I came hither to die, and nothing was left me but to finish my purpose nobly.  It is my will to doom a murderer, and I am he so doomed.  I wept, yet persisted; cursed the cruelty which had destroyed me, and yet prayed to my brother for pardon.  Of the future I had as yet scarcely thought; hitherto I had been solely employed about the method of quitting this world, without much considering the terms of my admission to another; now I pondered long, with anxiety, but not with fear.  Creeds puzzled me—I made not my own heart—I cannot be answerable for its p. 228opinions.  I have committed a deadly sin—I am about to expiate it with my blood—I cannot do more; and is not this sacrifice greater than the cant of sorrow and the whinings of prayer from one who never prayed before?  The one is from myself, the child of my resolution—the other the offspring of fear—But I was distracted still, and bewildered.  It was in this disturbed state that I was startled by a light sound in my prison—I listened—a soft voice, for the second time, pronounced in kindly accents, ‘My brother!’  I started up and gazed around me; on the opposite side of my dungeon stood the form of John de la Pole, but not as I had seen him last, pale, menacing, and bloody, but with that mild aspect and gentle look that had distinguished his early brotherhood, ere Agatha’s fatal beauty cut asunder the knot that bound our souls together.  ‘Thou hast done well,’ said the gentle spirit, ‘thus to render up thy life for thy crime; thy severe justice hath merited and obtained thy pardon; my sufferings, too, the punishment for unrepented sin, thy firmness hath terminated; and the days of Agatha shall henceforth flow more peaceful.  Soon shalt thou be with me, O brother! and the kiss of immortality shall be given to thee by my lips: weep not—doubt not—but bear all things steadfastly; p. 229in thine hour of agony I will stand by thy side.’

“A tender grief overpowered my spirit as he spoke, and tears fell from my eyes.  I extended my arms as if I would have embraced him, but the barrier between the living and the dead could not as yet be passed, and the shadow receded from my touch.  But this visitation had brought joy to my heart and tranquillity to my spirit, and the arrival of Agatha at the prison still further reconciled me to my doom.  ‘Thy sacrifice is hallowed,’ she said; ‘thou wilt die, but I must live to expiate my crime, as the slave of thy ghastly son, till Heaven shall call him to itself.  He stood by my couch last night; smilingly he looked upon me, as in the days of his early love, and bade me live and hope: in this world I shall behold him no more! but thou, my beloved! thou art for the distant land, and the abode whither he is gone before thee.  Oh that I might share thy doom, as I have already partaken thy guilt!’

“We parted—let me not dwell upon that—we parted for ever; for me there remained a mighty duty to fulfil, and from which I did not shrink—no, not even when those who had been my friends sought to wring my secret from my p. 230heart by the infliction of the torture: I pitied them, but not myself.

“The day of torture came; thou wert by my side, and didst urge a voluntary death to rescue me from agony and the stare of burning eyes eagerly watching my pangs.  I rejected thy counsel; yet didst thou not forsake me, but marched to the scene of my infamy by my side.  All around, as I went thither, did I look for the promised appearance of my brother, and trembled lest I should not behold him.  ‘Surely this is mine hour of agony,’ I said, as I ascended the steps of the scaffold; ‘wherefore is he not by my side?’  And the guest from the other world,—he beneath whose scowl my heart had for months been withering,—was desired with more impatience than ever I had felt for the presence of earthly friends.  I had not long to fear or to doubt—he was there before me; on reaching the scaffold, I beheld him standing by the block, and calmly and silently smiling a welcome to his brother.  Thou didst behold my firmness, and the multitude saw my composure with wonder; but they beheld not the cause; they saw not that he was looking on, and that I drew in resolution from his smile, and firmness from his awful brow.

p. 231“The ineffectual agony was past—curiosity was silenced—and I was condemned to die; and to-morrow I shall die,—from all that I have loved, hated, or valued, I shall be torn to-morrow.  The last sunset is falling upon my paper, is gilding my pen as I write; to-morrow it will sparkle upon the edge of the axe, and illuminate a brow from which the inward light will have departed for ever; to-morrow will be the scene of my last humiliation; but he will be there to witness it; and convert it by his presence into a triumph: and, when all shall be over, when the last mortal throb shall be past, what then shall be my destiny?  ‘Thou art pardoned,’ he said; ‘and an immortality is before thee!’  Oh, then, let me hope for an immortality of peace!  Now, then, I will go sleep—exhausted nature must be recruited for her great labour to-morrow—for these broken limbs, these strained sinews, and this bruised flesh, must needs want repose, ere they can encounter the task of fresh exertion.  Serve me well, ye mangled limbs, but to-morrow, and I shall require your service no more.—Courtenay, good night.”

Such was the tale of the fratricide, and of him who was his victim: of her who survived the deaths of both, no more was heard; for upon Courtenay’s going to the cottage at the period p. 232she had appointed to receive her last commands, he learned she had quitted it two days previous, but had left a small parcel to be given to him; it contained a few remembrances of herself and Eustace, and the following letter:—


“In giving thee the papers containing our story, I have obeyed the last wish of him whose lightest word was a law to me; but I cannot look on thee again after this communication.  Grieve not for me, for my lot will not be wretched; the death of my child has released me from the world, and I hasten to withdraw myself from it: I had arranged all things for the purpose before I sent to request thy presence.  Endeavour not to discover me; such search would be fruitless and vain.  I retire from the kingdom; and in a convent of Clairs, beneath the habits and rules of the order, and under another name, conceal for ever, from the eyes of the world, the person, the crime, and the sorrow of

Agatha de la Pole.”

p. 233THE LORD


—Hell is empty,
And all the Devils are here.


Somewhere about the year 112, in winter or summer—we are not exactly prepared to say which—died Olave the Second, one of the early kings of Denmark; he was a “fellow of no reckoning,” for he took no account of any thing that occurred during his reign, except the making of strong drink, and the number of butts in his cellar.  His p. 234majesty, it must be avowed, was in the presumptuous habit of forestalling the joys of heaven, (we mean Odin’s,) that is to say, he impiously got drunk every day of his life, before the regular allowance of fighting, the customary number of enemies’ broken heads, and his own orderly death upon the field of battle, bore testimony that he was properly qualified for such supreme enjoyment.  Olave in his life was a happy fellow; for, never having been sober during one hour of it, he had not the misfortune to hear all the ill-natured things that his courtiers and subjects said of his enormities, behind his back, or when he was asleep.  It must, however, be acknowledged that, even among the unscrupulous Danes, who were not at that period remarkable for their practice of sobriety, Olave was a filthy fellow: to this hour he is held up as a monument of brutality and stupidity, and the memory of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, was not more devoted to execration among the Jews, than that of king Olave the Second among the Danes.  On his death-bed, however, when he could no longer swallow his usual enlivening potations, blue devils beset his nights, and conscience twitted him with his ill-spent days.  He had never broken a head in his life, except by proxy; and how could he make p. 235his appearance in Valhalla without a skull to drink out of?—to knock at the gates of Valasciolf without a goblet in his hand?—The thing was impossible; it was clear he would be kicked through Asgard, and sent to fret in Nifthiem, where the burning claws of Lok would set fire to the good liquor incorporated with his being, and reduce him to the condition of an eternal, thinking cinder!—Miserable anticipations! he tried to weep; but water, which he had hitherto scorned, now scorned him, and absolutely refused to come at his desire: he shed tears of mead, which he caught in his mouth as fast as they fell, partly from fear lest Odin should remark them, and partly because he could not endure to see good liquor wasted.

But all things have an end—in this world at least—and so it was with the life and repentance of king Olave the Second; he died without the drinking-cup he had regretted so deeply, and before he had time to frame a decent apology to Odin for venturing into Valhalla without one.  There was a world of business now to be done at the palace of Sandaal: a dead king to be buried, and two living kings to be crowned; for such was the will of the lamented Olave, that both his sons should succeed him.  They were princes of very p. 236different characters, yet their father, it should seem, loved them equally, as he divided his dominions very fairly between them, to the no small disgust of the elder prince, Frotho, who, like the imperial Octavius, some years before, could not bear a divided throne.  This worthy in character resembled, in no slight degree, his excellent father, of dozy memory, for he loved to drink much and fight little,—more especially as his younger brother Harold had a decided vocation for the latter employment, and none at all for the former: to him, therefore, he left the charge of the glory of the Danish crown, while he, for the present, contented himself with drinking to his successes.  This good understanding, however, between the princes could not last for ever.  Frotho was, after all, only half a drunkard, and therefore extremely sulky in his cups—more especially when his queen Helga seated herself at his elbow to twit his courage with the heroic deeds of his brother.  Queen consorts should not meddle with politics, they never do any thing but mischief—and so it proved in this instance; for Frotho grew absolutely delirious, kept himself entirely sober for three whole days, buckled on his wooden target, put himself at the head of his troops, and, swearing to be revenged upon his p. 237brother, marched on an expedition to Jutland.  The expedition neither answered his intentions nor expectations; the men of Jutland were too many for king Frotho, for, headed by Feggo, (the murderous uncle of the philosophic Hamlet, whose father was prince only of this part of Denmark,) they drove Frotho “home without boots, and in foul weather too,” as Glendwr did, long afterwards, king Harry Bolingbroke.  Frotho could not stomach this affront—the beating was hard of digestion: his subjects made mouths at him too, and mimicked a race whenever he appeared in public.  So he sent his brother, king Harold, who was a fighter to the back-bone, to chastise the Jutlanders, which when he had done most effectually, Frotho grew more angry still; he detested his brother, dreaded his popularity, feared his wisdom, and quivered at his anger,—so he began to consider seriously how he might cleverly and quietly put him out of the way.

King Frotho had two counsellors, neither of whom ever agreed with the other in the advice they gave his majesty: the reason was tolerably obvious, for the one was an honest man, the other a rogue, and, like the Topaz and Ebene of Voltaire, they bewildered the unhappy monarch with the diversity of their opinions and advice.  On p. 238this occasion, however, king Frotho troubled only the rogue for his, which he was pretty certain beforehand would not differ very widely from his own.  Eric Swen was an unprincipled ragamuffin, who hated Harold, because he had discovered that Harold hated his vices; and, as that prince had two sons who were rising into manhood, he shuddered at the prospect of two or three strict warrior reigns, which would certainly bring virtue into fashion: the prince had refused him, too, the hand of his sister, which, to make the refusal more bitter, he had bestowed upon his rival in the council and camp, Frotho’s general, Haquin.  All these offences were carefully summoned up, to inflame his ire against Harold, by the devil, in the shape of Frotho, who promised him—Heaven knows what—both on earth and in Valhalla, if he would only push king Harold from his share of the stool, and leave both halves of it to Frotho.

Notwithstanding all the provocations on both sides, the confederates were two or three whole years before they could “screw their courage to the sticking place,” that is, to the pitch necessary for the murder of king Harold.  They had sent fifty inconsiderable nobles, whom they had found troublesome, to Asgard, without ceremony; but Harold was a king and a warrior, and required a p. 239good deal.  “If we could but pour poison into his ear,” said Eric; “Or into his cup,” replied Frotho; “Or stab him in his sleep,” said Eric; “Or coax him out hunting with us,” replied the brother, “and give it to him quietly in the forest.”  But none of these safe plans would answer;—so Frotho, accompanied by his sole and trusty counsellor, rode off for the forest, to find the cave where, tradition said, had resided, from the days of the “Avater” of Odin, his enemy Biorno, the descendant of Lok, grand nephew of Surter, and first cousin to the Wolf Fenris and Serpent Midgard.  Frotho, however well disposed to beg the aid and advice of the sorcerer, by no means felt quite at ease when he considered the family to which he belonged: the wolf and the eternal earth-circling snake were known to bear no very great partiality to the race of Odin,—and Frotho, they knew, if they knew any thing, was a true son of their enemy.  Still the Danish monarch trotted on with his squire till they reached the centre of the forest.

“After all, Eric,” said his majesty, as they trotted on cosily together; “after all”—but, as an historian, I must make one observation here: you are aware, dear reader, that the Scandinavians of the year 112, and some time p. 240after, did not use the same simple, plain, common-place sort of style which they have adopted to express their meaning now-a-days.  If we may believe their own writers, they were always in alt, gave their commands in a kind of heroic prose, and carried on dialogues in a sort of rambling blank verse.  It must therefore be obvious to you, dear reader, that I spare you their language, and only give you their sentiments, which, to the best of my humble ability, I will translate for you into decent colloquial English, the better to carry your patience through the long-winded history which I am preparing as a trial for it.  But to return to Frotho the Fifth of Denmark.  “After all, Eric,” said he, “I have perhaps no great reason to fear these ugly immortals: as I am going to consult their kinsman, and am withal very well disposed to put an end to the race of Odin, (that part of it at least most devoted to him,) I think they may be civil to me.  My own son Sevald is the only member of the family I wish to preserve, and I may soon mould him to my own opinions.  If the sorcerer will only dispose of Harold for me, or tell me how I may safely dispose of him, I shall not haggle on the terms of assistance; I will do any thing to serve him or his, which may not interfere with my own safety, or rob me of the diadem I p. 241am so anxious to wear alone.”  Eric was about to reply to his magnanimous master, but paused, half afraid, as he discovered they were really in the sorcerer’s neighbourhood, for the yawning mouth of the cave was actually staring them in the face.  Frotho, as became him, now took the lead, and marched dauntlessly forward, though not without a glance backward now and then to see if Eric was close behind him, and as any sound struck upon his ear that bore any resemblance to a hiss or a howl.  At length, after many turnings and windings, he found himself in a cavern of large dimensions, broadly lighted by a huge iron lamp, suspended from the upper part of it.  He turned round to make some remark to his patient tail-piece, but was petrified to observe that he had fallen to the earth stiff and insensible to every thing around him.  The Danish monarch’s cheeks waxed pale, and his knees began to smite each other; nevertheless he grasped the hilt of his falchion, as a slight noise on the opposite side withdrew his attention from the insensible Eric Swen; there stood an old man of reverend aspect, mildly but steadily gazing upon the king: “Art thou he whom I have been so long taught to expect?” said the sorcerer; “art thou the king of the race of Odin, alone chosen by his invincible p. 242foe to render a service to the son of Lok, and deserve the everlasting gratitude of his children? [242]  If indeed thou art the appointed, I bid thee highest welcome, for the task decreed to thee hath been denied to the immortals, above whom the grateful Lok will raise thee.”

Frotho recovered his spirits at this address; half his business was already done, for his wishes were anticipated.  He had been so little accustomed to receive compliments from his subjects, that his opinion of his own endowments had not been particularly high; but now he began to think he had mistaken himself, and was really a much greater man than he had suspected.  He readily promised obedience to the sorcerer, upon certain terms, and assured him of his assistance when and wherever it might be demanded.  The magician then proceeded to inform him that he was himself a descendant of Lok, and an ally of the spirits of fire, those daring beings who had for so many thousand years waged war with various success against Odin and his warriors, and which warfare would not cease till the end of the world; when, during a night which was to last a year, there would be a general battle, in which Earth, Niftheim, and Asgard, would go to wreck, and the conquering party be elevated to a p. 243newer and more beautiful heaven in Gimle,—while Nastrande, a still gloomier hell, would be made out of the fragments of the old one, for the accommodation of the party conquered.  “Balder!” exclaimed Frotho, starting at this part of the story,—for he never liked to hear any thing of the old hell, which he thought quite bad enough without the spirits troubling themselves about the creation of another; “but I thought, sir sorcerer, that the wicked alone would be punished in Nastrande, after the long night and battle of the gods; I thought”—“Exactly so, my son,” interrupted the sorcerer; “the wicked certainly; for the conquered will be the wicked—that is beyond dispute; but who will conquer is not so certain; perhaps Lok, perhaps Odin—each, as far as I see, have an equal chance; take part then with us, and share our danger and glories in the next world, and our certain assistance in this.”  To this world, then, (as king Frotho had at present more business in it,) he limited his wishes, and gave Biorno his steady attention as he proceeded in his narrative, “Odin,” the magician continued to observe, “though utterly unable to chain entirely the powers of Lok, had just now decidedly the advantage; for he had a few hundred years before seized upon his eldest son, p. 244the unwary Surter, whom he had caught out of his own territories, and wedged him, in the shape of a raven, into an iron cage, there to remain till one of his own race, a kingly son of his blood, should release him:”—a condition from Odin probably implying an eternal punishment,—as that divinity, who does not appear to have been as omniscient as he ought, never imagined any member of his house would have been found silly enough to fulfil it.  “Now then,” continued the magician, “I have consulted the eternal powers, and find that thou, Frotho of Denmark, art the king destined to this wondrous deed, and its following union with the immortals.”  Frotho gave his assent to all and any thing proposed; and the sorcerer immediately began his operations; he raised his ebon wand above his head, with many magical flourishes—turned himself rapidly round—then more slowly, pausing at each of the cardinal points, and calling north, south, east, and west, upon the tremendous name of Lok.  At that sound, so terrible even to the ears of spirits, the thunder began to rumble and the fires of Niftheim flash through the gloomy cavern; something like music was heard, and, though the concert was hardly better than those performed by king Frotho’s own band during his drinking p. 245orgies, yet as the voices (and they were many) solely employed their powers in singing his praises, and the approaching deliverance of the god by his means, his majesty was pleased to think nothing in heaven could be half so fine.  Presently the earth shook, and the sides of the cavern rocked; Biorno pointed to the bottom of the cave,—and Frotho beheld it, after a few violent convulsions, suddenly open, and disclose to his view an enormous raven, in a gigantic iron cage.  “Behold,” said the magician to him, “the prison of the immortal prince of fire!—in that shape he must remain a hundred thousand years, unless a kingly hand of the line of Odin shall restore him (by breaking the bars of his iron cage) to power and to liberty.  Monarch of Denmark! go,—and success attend thee.”  Frotho obeyed immediately; he made a desperate attack upon the iron cage, but failed in his intention of rending away its bars; he made many earnest efforts, but all in vain,—the bars remained unbroken.  The Dane paused in vexation—he was frightened and mortified—and, by the howls and groans which resounded on all sides of the cavern, it was evident the anxious spirits of Niftheim sympathised in his distress: Biorno too, afflicted beyond measure at the ill success of the enterprise, threw p. 246himself upon the earth, tore off his magical cap, plucked up his hair by the roots, and howled as loudly as the noisiest of them.  This dismal sight drove Frotho desperate; he collected all his energies for one mighty pull, rushed upon the cage, grappled with the bars, and, in an instant, threw them at the sorcerer’s feet, who sprung up like an elk to receive them.  Frotho stood majestically silent, while an uproar, such as no human ear has ever heard since, began its diversions in the cavern; a thick black mist quickly filled its whole space, so that Frotho could but indistinctly distinguish the figures who made up the ball; millions of shadows were flitting about, and millions of voices were laughing, singing, shouting, groaning, and cursing.  Midgard raised his glittering snaky head above the darkness and the shadows, and greeted the monarch with a cordial and complimentary hiss; wolf Fenris tried hard for a good-natured howl; and the grim Hela, their sister, the queen of death, tortured her ghastly face into a smile, as she capered nimbly backwards and forwards in the festival, animated by the thought of the many meals Frotho would furnish for her famished maw.  But, at length, the immortals grew weary of their own noises—the infernal jollification p. 247came to an end—the mist cleared off—the fires went out—the uproar died away,—and Frotho’s courage returned to its half-bewildered master, who took heart once again to look about him.  He was alone (to his great joy) with Biorno, except that, in place of the raven and his cage, there sat, reposing upon a light cloud, his beautiful brow diademed with his native element, the triumphant prince of fire, in all the pride of beauty and victory.  “Frotho, son of Olave,” said the sweet voice of the spirit; “bravest among the brave, and wisest of the sons of Odin,—what is thy will with me?  Tax my gratitude, preserver; ask, and obtain thy wishes.”  Frotho waited for no further encouragement, but directly stated his wishes to reign alone in Denmark, and sweep off all the collaterals of his house, who were such bars to his glory.  “Thy brother’s life I give thee,” said the spirit; “destroy him when thou wilt, but be cautious to keep it secret: his elder son shall in vain endeavour to oppose thee—I will baffle his claim, and proclaim thee sole monarch in Denmark; but touch not the life of Haldane; he has offended Lok, and the god demands the victim, whom he will receive from no mortal hand: for Harold the younger, do with him as thou wilt, but, if thou spare his life, he p. 248shall have no power to harm thee; go—reign—prosper;—nothing shall do thee wrong till thyself shall fulfil a decree which is gone forth respecting thee; thou shall prosper till thy hand shall unite thy own blood to that of thy deadliest foe: beware of this, and triumph.”  “Prince of the powers of Niftheim,” said Frotho, “surely Harold, my brother, is my deadliest foe, and he has no daughter to whom I can give my son; but I will be mindful of thy words, and remember thy warning.”  The spirit then desired him, should any event disturb his tranquillity, to come to the cavern and strike thrice upon the side where stood the iron cage: “Biorno shall meet thee,” continued he, “and yield thee, in my name, such help as thou mayest require;” then, slowly and silently encircling himself in the clouds which surrounded him, he gradually disappeared from the sight of Frotho, leaving the cavern illuminated only by the light of the iron lamp which hung from its centre.  Biorno, too, had vanished, leaving him alone with Eric Swen, who, now easily awakened from his trance, prepared to follow his master home, who simply informed his confidant that he had consulted the magician, who had advised the murder of Harold, and promised him success in its performance.  This was p. 249readily undertaken by the profligate Eric, who, watching, with a lynx-like assiduity, his opportunity, plunged his sword in the heart of the unhappy Harold with such right good will and judgment, that the prince died before he knew he was wounded: nor was Frotho behind his confederate in the good management of a difficult affair, and skill in getting out of a dilemma; and this was especially proved, when the body of Eric Swen, transfixed by a well-aimed javelin, was found stark and stiff by the side of king Harold, and Frotho ordered every body to believe that these enemies had fallen in single combat with each other.

There was one Dane in the court of king Frotho who took the liberty of believing contrarily to the royal orders; this was the brave Haquin, the brother-in-law of the two kings, and their favourite general and minister: he knew Frotho, and he suspected foul play.  He secured the persons of his murdered master’s two sons, and, giving out that Haldane should challenge his father’s crown against Frotho, in an assembly of the states, retired from the court to his own towers, till the nobles should be pleased to appoint a day for hearing the claim of his ward.  In the mean time, Haldane himself had not been idle; p. 250he employed a good number of his vacant hours in making tender love to his beautiful cousin, the young Ildegarda, and laying at her feet the crown which he was to have, and which Ildegarda accepted, as a thing of course; for she already considered herself the queen of Denmark.  Haldane was tenderly beloved, and they each looked forward to the day on which he was to claim his father’s crown from the ambitious Frotho, as that which was to seal their love and their happiness.

That day at length arrived; the states, the nobles, the warriors, and a great part of the troops, were assembled in an open plain, where Frotho, on his throne, awaited the arrival of his kinsman.  His majesty had arrayed himself with peculiar splendour for this solemn occasion; his long hair, now slightly tinged with grey, floated down his back, while all his face was clean shaven, except his upper lip, which exhibited a most magnanimous mustache; his breast, arms, and legs were painted in the brightest blue, and the most fashionable pattern in Denmark; a short petticoat of lynx skin, fastened round his waist by the paws of the animal, descended to his knees; and from his shoulders to his heels, secured round his neck by claws of gold, fell the robe of royal magnificence, the mantle made of the skins of p. 251many ermines; his feet were defended by shoes of the sable of the black fox; his neck was ornamented by a chain of gold, and the regal circle of the same precious metal shone through his locks around his temples; on his left arm was a target of leather, studded with brass nails of unusual brightness and immense value; in his right hand he held the sceptre; he sat upon a throne covered with the hides of wolves, and over his head floated, in proud sublimity, the standard of Denmark, the raven.

People may talk as long as they please about innate dignity and the majesty of mind, but the majesty of fine clothes has a much greater influence upon popular opinion,—else wherefore that elderly proverb which sayeth that “fine feathers make fine birds?”  Every body knows that king Herod’s silver petticoat made the stupid mob of Judea mistake him for a god; and on this day, so important to Haldane, Frotho’s amazing magnificence made his people mistake him for a hero.  So strong ran the tide of popular opinion, that when Haldane, simply habited, mounted on his snow-white steed, and only attended by Haquin and a few of his father’s friends, rode up the area, they scarcely deigned (though he was rich in all the pride of youth and graceful beauty) to consider p. 252him worth looking at: all eyes were turned to Frotho’s painted waistcoat and superb ermine cloak; and Haldane also beheld, with extreme disgust, that all his own friends, and the warriors favourable to his claims, who had fought by his side under his father’s banner, had been carefully excluded from the council, which he beheld supplied by the creatures of his uncle; he saw that his cause was lost before he could say a word: he was not daunted nevertheless; he demanded his right from Frotho, who, refusing to admit his claim, was challenged by the youth to decide the quarrel on the spot.  “The states and the troops are present,” said the prince; “let them be witnesses of this combat, which thy ungenerous ambition must render mortal: if thou desirest a double crown, shew that thou knowest how to defend it; descend from thy throne, meet me fairly, and let Denmark be the reward of the conqueror.”  Slowly, very slowly, king Frotho rose from his throne, for he saw that something was expected of him: although not precisely a coward, he had no mind to encounter his nephew, whose feats of arms he well knew; and earnestly and anxiously he put up a prayer to Surter to remember his promise, and baffle his kinsman in this trying emergency.  Surter was not deaf; for p. 253scarcely had the monarch put forth one leg for the purpose of descending from his throne, ere a wonder attracted the attention of the whole assembly; the sound of rushing wings was heard from a distance, and slowly, sailing steadily through the clear air towards his point, appeared a gigantic raven: black as the shining locks of Odin was the magnificent and stately bird, who, tranquilly passing over the multitude, suspended himself in air over the head of Frotho, and, hovering steadily above him, clapped his enormous pinions in triumph.  Haldane suspected a trick—Haquin was startled—but the multitude beheld a miracle, and the will of Odin clearly expressed by his own particular messenger: the bird hovered in the air a few moments, to witness the general acknowledgment of Frotho, then, amidst the deafening shouts of the people, ascended slowly upwards, cleaved through the clouds, and vanished.

Haldane stood apart, during the scene, in proud contempt of the ingratitude of his people; and the multitude were making too terrific an uproar to allow his few friends one word in his favour.  Frotho, pleased by the timely aid of Surter, was grateful for the first time in his life; and, remembering the commands of the spirit, abstained from taking what he yet scarcely knew p. 254how to spare, the hated life of Haldane.  Assuming an air of paternal interest and kindness, he bade the young prince retire from his presence and kingdom, without fear of molestation.  “Son of my brother,” said he, “seek another kingdom for thy rule, this the gods have given to Frotho; retire peaceably, and take with thee what part of my treasure thou wilt.”  “The crown, then,” boldly replied the prince; “for what is there, traitor! in thy power to bestow, that is not already mine by right?  No! mean-souled coward!  I scorn thy courtesy, and I defy thy anger.”  But this gallant resistance availed nothing in a lost cause; his own party counselled him, for the present, to get out of the reach of Frotho’s javelin; and, too wise to disdain advice alike given by friends and enemies, he obeyed their wishes, and, after taking a tender leave of his betrothed Ildegarda, and promising to claim her as a king, withdrew to Sweden to solicit aid from its warlike monarch in defence of his title,—aid which he did not receive; for king Frotho soon after received notice that he had been murdered on that inhospitable coast soon after his landing, and, as it could never be ascertained by whom, Frotho silently congratulated himself upon the sure and ready vengeance of his ally and divinity, Surter.  Haquin, p. 255alarmed by this circumstance, and more than ever suspecting the honesty of king Frotho, withdrew from court with the young Harold, now the sole surviving son of his murdered master, and, proclaiming him lawful king of Denmark, set up his standard in the heart of the country.  Many powerful nobles, disgusted by the cruel brutality of his uncle, immediately joined him; and Frotho, frightened by danger into valour, and relying upon the promises of Surter, put himself at the head of his troops, and prepared for a civil war.

Many skirmishes took place between the hostile powers, though nothing very decisive occurred; but the troops of Frotho had generally the advantage, and always when the king commanded in person.  Joy of this discovery nearly upset his majesty; he began to think himself a great general as well as a gallant warrior: he got exceedingly drunk with some of his old cronies who had made the discovery, and, during the deep sleep which followed this little extravagance, Haquin attacked his camp, beat his generals, carried off his son Sevald a prisoner, and nearly seized upon his sacred majesty himself, who knew nothing at all of the matter.  Poor Sevald was marched off for the camp of the enemy, in a transport of sorrow and despair.

p. 256“Be not offended, prince,” said the good Haquin to him when he was brought before him in his tent,—“be not offended that the chance of war has placed thy person in my custody for a season; it is no dishonour to be the prisoner of Haquin.  Our war is with thy father, not with thee; and should Harold succeed, even to the slaying of his uncle, he will never wrong thee, but yield thee thy just right, a second throne in Denmark: be not disturbed therefore at the slight accident of this war.”  This was kindly meant, but it entirely failed in its purpose, and Sevald would have still continued to grieve if he had not discovered, that fair princesses are better comforters than old soldiers.  He learned that his lovely cousin Ildegarda was in the camp of her father, and he concluded that things were not quite so bad as they might have been.  Sevald admired his fair kinswoman extremely, and, as Haldane’s death had set her free, he worked out the prettiest little romantic scheme possible for putting an end to the horrors of civil war and restoring peace to Denmark: he determined to entreat his father to give him Ildegarda for his bride, to adopt Harold as his partner, and thus to reconcile all parties to his ascendancy; but, unhappily for poor Sevald’s delightful scheme, all p. 257the persons concerned in it were, though for different reasons, materially against it.  Ildegarda, true to the memory of Haldane, would listen to no second love,—Haquin, faithful to the cause he had adopted, would rather have consigned his daughter to the grave than to the arms of a son of Frotho,—and the Danish monarch would entirely have lost the little wit he possessed, at the bare possibility of such a destructive union as that of his own blood with that of his deadliest foe, for such now had the father of Ildegarda become to him.  When he did hear it, he grew absolutely wild with terror and rage; he imprecated the most deadly curses upon his son, should he venture to espouse his cousin; and flew off like a madman to the cave of Biorno in the forest, to consult him in this most desperate emergency.  He found the sorcerer at home, and willing to assist him, which he civilly did by the best advice in his power; he desired him to return to his camp and attack the troops of Haquin, promising to commit that leader, his daughter, and prince Sevald, safely into his custody; at the same time hinting that, as Surter had done as much for his friend as could decently be expected, he need not call upon him for further assistance, which, unless from his own imprudence, he would not need, p. 258and Lok had prohibited them from supplying.  Frotho thanked him for past favours and present services, and, promising to demand nothing more for the future, they parted good friends, though not to meet again in this world at least, whatever might happen in the other.  Frotho had no sooner reached his camp, than he hastened to profit by his friend’s advice, and instantly experienced its salutary effects; he defeated his antagonists in a pitched battle, recovered his son Sevald, and, to his infinite joy, possessed himself of the persons of Haquin and his daughter, though Harold escaped in the battle, and hid himself securely from the pursuit of his enemy.  Had Frotho followed the suggestions of his own cruel heart, he would have decided Haquin’s destiny at once by taking off his head; but, fearful of his nobles, who held the chief in high esteem, and having likewise no hope of discovering Harold, except through his friend, he resolved to spare his existence, but to keep him in close imprisonment with his daughter, whose influence over Sevald he still dreaded, and whom, as the daughter of his sister, he dared not injure farther.  The poor prince wept bitterly over his ruined hopes, and Frotho rejoiced at the delightful consummation of his: he enjoyed himself p. 259in his own way, killing and drinking by turns,—till, in a fit of madness and extravagance, he impiously declared that he had a Valhalla of his own, which he would not change for Odin’s, upon any terms that divinity could offer.  Every thing was happiness in the palace, and Frotho was the most mischievous and merry of kings.

p. 260PART II.

What have we here? a Man or a Fish?—Legged like a Man, and his fins like arms.


Every sweet hath its sour,” saith a very respectable old ballad,—and truly there is wisdom in the saying.  King Frotho’s sanctity, as a crowned prince of the holy race of Odin, became at this period, for the first time, somewhat of an inconvenience to him.  In the midst of his festivities, howls and cries penetrated to his palace, and reached his ears, though surrounded by buzzing flatterers, and rendered dizzy by strong potations.  His people of Norway were unhappy, and they called upon their common father to relieve their misery.  A pest had arisen among them which no one could conquer, for no one knew how to attack: the frightful whirlpool of the p. 261Maelstrom had a guest, and the desolate island of Moskoe an inhabitant; it was neither man, beast, bird, nor fish, that had taken up his residence in this part of his Danish majesty’s dominions, but a most extraordinary compound monster, possessing all the faculties of each of these several creations.  As he had his little island entirely to himself, the want of society suggested to him an expedient by way of amusement, and also of remedying this evil—he employed his leisure in making descents upon the Norwegian coast, and carrying off the grown inhabitants, four or five at a time, and the little children by dozens, whom he devoured with as little remorse as he would young rabbits or dried herrings.  The people were terrified, and the nobles began to bestir themselves; they sent out armed men in well-built boats, headed by an able leader, and desired them to bring in the monster prisoner; but the lord of the Maelstrom, so far from being brought to consent to this arrangement, exactly reversed the orders of the Norwegian ministry, for he sunk all their boats, and carried their crews prisoners to his island.  Frotho heard this pitiful tale with much indifference, till they besought him to go in person against their enemy, well knowing that no magic or infernal power could succeed against the race of Odin;—p. 262then he sprung up in alarm, and declining, in his own person, all pretensions to superior sanctity, sent one of his best generals with a band of his own chosen troops, in two gallant vessels, to seize or destroy the monster.  All Norway assembled on the coast to witness their success; they saw the ships sail gallantly on, and, on the opposite coast, the giant monster rush into the waves to meet them.  With a strength against which they could not contend, he seized the luckless vessels, drew them coolly and steadily on to the frightful gulf of the Maelstrom, and then, swimming back to his island, left the noble ships to be sucked into the frightful bosom of the gulf.  The waves swept over them, and the tale of their deeds was told.

Frotho was frightened into sobriety when this news reached him; Denmark became as clamorous as Norway in the matter, and he was compelled to promise that he would exert his sanctity, and go in person to the attack of the monster: but he delayed as long as he possibly could, and, under pretence of making preparations, gave the fiend of the Maelstrom time to eat half the children in Norway.  At length “delays became dangerous” even to Frotho himself; he was obliged to depart, and, well armed, well guarded, and well attended p. 263by a resolute band of the bravest of his nobles and chiefs, set sail, on a fine sunny day, for the desolate isle of the Maelstrom.  His magnanimous majesty could not, however, help shivering at the first glance of the island; but he took courage, on remarking that the beast did not come out to meet him, nor advance to the attack as in the former instance; so he landed in good spirits on the island, promising himself immortal glory in his conquest.  A sufficient band was left in charge of the vessels, and Frotho, with his chiefs, went boldly forward into the island.

In the first few miles there was nothing to astonish them; rugged rocks, a roaring sea, and desolate naked heaths, were all that greeted the travellers: they had expected nothing else, for the Moskoe was well known to most of the party, and had never been suspected of sheltering a paradise in its bosom.  Such, however, to their boundless astonishment, the heroes now found to be the case.  A beautiful country arose amidst the desolate isle; and, after the first five miles, hills, dales, fertile valleys, richly wooded groves, and sparkling rivers, said a thousand smiling good-morrows to the travellers.  The scene was too charming to terrify, else the total absence of any thing like human inhabitants might have p. 264been sufficient to startle king Frotho, and make him doubt whether all was as it should be in this particular part of his dominion.  There was a total silence around them, unbroken, save by the sweet warblings of birds, or now and then the light foot of the flying deer, as, scared by the clatter of their arms, they fled from them into the forests.  Thus they proceeded till they arrived before the gates of a majestic palace of black marble, whose open portals courteously invited them to enter.  Frotho paused—so did his nobles; it was finer than any thing in Denmark; infinitely larger, grander, bolder, blacker, than the palace of Sandaal, the royal residence of king Frotho himself,—so that it was clear no human hands had reared it: but whose hands had?—a puzzling question, which king Frotho would not take upon himself to answer.

But the portals stood invitingly wide open, and king Frotho was waxing weary; so, without any further debate or permission demanded, they marched into a stately hall, where invisible cooks had made successful preparation for a magnificent supper; Frotho looked and longed.  There was venison, noble venison of the flesh of the elk, roasted wild boar, and a cistern of excellent fish delicately stewed in whale fat; there was a bowl p. 265of hydromel, in which king Frotho might have been drowned, and another of milk, that might have served him for a bath:—in short, the temptation was too great for the tempted; and though king Frotho well knew the danger incurred, even by a son of Odin, in tasting enchanted food, yet he could not resist the whale fat and the hydromel.  “The monster certainly expected me,” said he to his attendants.  “He is willing to make his peace with you,” said they to the king.  “It would be uncivil not to taste his good cheer,” said the master.  “Let us shew that we accept his submission,” replied the servants.  So they all sat down with one accord to the feast, and ate, and drank, and were merry.

The bowl of hydromel was empty—Frotho was looking into it disconsolately with one eye (for the other was asleep), and growing angry with his nobles, who had assisted him too heartily, and been over-zealous in obeying his commands to pledge him to the health of their entertainer.  After grumbling and growling for some time over the huge and now dismal-looking bowl, his majesty took it into his head to be displeased with the inattention of his host, who had failed to remark and replenish, as he ought to have done, the empty bowl of departed hydromel.  p. 266“Lord beast of the island,” said his majesty, at length, having thought till his thirst grew intolerable; “lord beast of the island, I will permit thee to be viceroy in Moskoe, but thou must not spare thy hydromel when thy master deigns to visit thee.  For thy good cheer, I thank thee; thy meat is of the best, and abundant, but, by the burning wheel on Balder’s breast, thy drink was scanty; and I command thee hither to supply me with more.”  A rumbling of thunder and a long terrific howl was the answer to the speech of the monarch.  Frotho shivered with affright, for he thought he recognised, amid the uproar, the voices of his old acquaintances the illustrious snake and wolf, cousins of his sorcerer friend Biorno; and, as he was a little diffident of their conduct, notwithstanding his services to Surter, he did not altogether relish the meeting, under present circumstances; so, ensconcing himself in the centre of his gallant little band of valiant warriors, he patiently awaited what was to be the second part of his entertainment.  This was settled in an instant; neither Fenris nor Midgard broke upon the supper party of the monarch, but a being more horrible than either, and infinitely more hideous than his or any imagination had already conceived of the monster of the p. 267Maelstrom gulf.  A stern gigantic shape entered the hall, and stood steadily face to face with king Frotho and his nobles: his features were frightfully flat, and two sunken fiery eyes shot terrific glances from a visage almost entirely covered with dark and grisly hair; long black elf locks hung down upon his shoulders, huge teeth grinned through his grisly beard, and his fingers and feet were furnished with claws which were worthy of Nebuchadnezzar himself; his enormous body was covered with black bear-skins, so disposed as to serve him for a whole suit; and his huge hand grasped a monstrous club, which seemed very desirous of a nearer acquaintance with his majesty of Denmark’s brains.  The monster contemplated the group for a moment in silence; he suffered them even to draw their swords and advance exactly one step towards him, when he suddenly lifted his terrible club, and, without striking a single blow, laid them all prostrate at his feet.  He then approached king Frotho; the son of Olave shrunk from the uplifted club, and bellowed out, in terror and haste, that he was the king of Denmark.  “And thy errand?” said the monster.  King Frotho was silent.  “I know it,” observed the spectre; “and for its presumption, but for one thing which I p. 268expect of thee, would bind thy trembling feet for ever to the spot where thou standest staring at me.  Hark thee! thou fool of Surter’s making! who hopest to overcome the invincible by human arms,—hear, and obey what I shall command thee.  I do not hate thee, and would not harm thee, for thou art the friend of Lok; but my wrath against the kingdoms must be appeased, and my divinity acknowledged.  I demand thy daughter.  A spotless virgin of royal blood must come voluntarily hither to be sacrificed on this island, and thou must conduct her: do this, and henceforth I too am thy friend; neglect it, and my thunders shall shake thy palace of Sandaal, and this club dash out thy brains and scatter them over thy sovereign throne.”

King Frotho looked aghast—not at the condition of his safety, but his utter inability to fulfil it—there was no cheating such an enemy as this—so he told him the plain truth, that he had no daughter, and humbly apologised for the want of one.  The monster yelled at him, and again lifted up his club.  Frotho, in agony, besought him to have pity, and then suddenly recollected that he had a niece who was his prisoner, and whom he very readily offered to his disposal.  The monster hesitated;—at length, in reply to p. 269Frotho’s earnest entreaties, he consented to spare his life, upon condition that, in the space of twenty days, he should land the princess on the island, and deliver her safely into his hands, to be sacrificed by his own high priest in his palace; and promising, should Frotho fail in his engagement, on the very next day, to shake Sandaal about his ears, and dish up his carcass as a meal for Midgard.  Frotho sealed his promise with a solemn oath, and the monster dismissed him with a kick on the throne-honouring part of his person, which sent him not only through the palace gates, but one mile forward in his journey to the coast, which long before he had gained, his panting train overtook him, being driven out by the lord beast, to wait upon and console their disgraced and afflicted master.

King Frotho had no intention, rogue as he was, to cozen the Moskoe monster; on the contrary, he was desirous to obtain his friendship and forbearance towards his subjects and the little Norwegian children for whom he had evinced such cannibal prepossessions.  He was not sorry, either, so effectually to dispose of Ildegarda, whose union with his son he had such good reason to fear.  The difficulty would be to persuade the princess to go voluntarily to be p. 270eaten.  He was ingenious however—naturally fertile in expedients—and he soon hit upon a method of persuasion which he deemed infallible: he told the poor princess that the monster demanded her or her father as prisoners; that he allowed her to choose, and if she thought proper to decline, he should ship off old Haquin immediately, to be stewed in whale fat, and served up for supper with milk sauce, according to the pleasure of the monster, in the marble palace of Moskoe: for his own part, in relation to herself, he pretended he did not clearly understand to what the lord of the island had destined her, but he hoped nothing so terrible as a roast or a hash.  Ildegarda wept, but came into the scheme quicker than Frotho had anticipated.  Haldane was dead, and her father’s life in danger; by the sacrifice of her own, which was now really become indifferent to her, she could at least preserve the last of these beloved beings, and therefore she did not hesitate.  Making Frotho swear a tremendous oath (which she knew no Dane dared break), to release her father on his return from Moskoe, she prepared to accompany the king, and, in less than twenty days, Frotho and his beautiful victim landed on the island, and prepared to march to the black palace alone.

p. 271They had not proceeded far on their journey, when their progress was arrested by the appearance of a singular cavalcade coming to meet them; this consisted of a magnificently painted chariot, drawn by four snow-white rein-deer, each of whom, to the astonishment of Ildegarda, had feet of pure gold: behind it came the monster-man himself, mounted upon a coal-black steed of extraordinary size and beauty, who pawed the earth impatiently, and, snorting and foaming as he reared, threw his magnificent mane from side to side, as if weary of the slight restraint which his rider appeared to impose upon him;—the latter had now a bear-skin cap upon his head, on the top of which sat a monstrous raven, decorating it by way of crest; and another on his wrist, with infinite grace and gravity, seemed ready to serve him in quality of falcon extraordinary.  The cavalcade paused on remarking the strangers; and the grim monster, advancing to Frotho, sternly demanded, “Comes the maid willingly?”  “She does,” replied Frotho; “and”—But the monster no longer gave him any attention: he did not even look at Ildegarda, but, bending his head down towards his horse’s ears, gravely and mildly asked, “Steed of heaven, art thou weary?”  “No,” replied the p. 272horse; “but I have to-day been so long upon the earth, that its gross air is beginning to affect me—the sod is heavy to my feet, and somewhat checks my swiftness: let me relieve my legs, I pray thee.”  The strange monster nodded his grisly head in reply, and Frotho beheld the courser slowly and deliberately draw up his four black legs, and let down three white ones in their places.  The king began now to guess his company; “It is the wondrous steed of Odin,” said he in a whisper to Ildegarda; “the immortal eight-legged Sleipner: but what is he who rides him?”  The princess had no time to answer this question, even had she been able, for the monster seemed determined to have all the conversation to himself.  He spoke to the raven on his head: “Hugo,” said he, “take the reins, guide my rein-deer smoothly, and conduct the lady to the palace: and you, Mumin,” added he to the bird on his wrist, “hasten homewards, and see that all be prepared for the victim.”  At these terrible words, the tears of Ildegarda began to flow, and Frotho prepared himself to make a speech.  The monster heeded neither the one nor the other, but nodded to Ildegarda to ascend the chariot, which when she had done, he turned round to Frotho, lifted up his terrible club, and exclaimed, p. 273in a voice of thunder, “Go!”  It was but one word, but the tone and the action weighed more than five hundred with Frotho, who, fearing to hear it repeated, darted from the party, and set sail for Denmark without once looking behind him.

In the mean time, Ildegarda was conducted by her ill-looking escort to the marble palace, and left by him in the same hall in which Frotho had rested on his first arrival: here, too, she found a supper prepared for her, though in a somewhat different taste from the former; but the princess had no inclination to eat—indeed she felt determined not to be fattened before killing, and threw herself upon the earth in a paroxysm of grief and despair.  Suddenly, soft and sweet music broke upon her ear, and the beautiful voice of some holy unseen thing thus sung soothingly to her sorrow:—

When the thunder-bolt cleaveth
   The trembling sky—
When the mad ocean heaveth
   His wild waves on high—
When the coiling snake waketh
   From the heaving earth curled,
And upreareth and shaketh
   An agonised world—

p. 274When his coil thrice he foldeth
   Around the night-born,
Till the gazer beholdeth
   Red blood fill her horn—
When Valkyries scatter
   The clouds which they tear,
And their steed hoof’s loud clatter
   Is heard in the air—

When on oak tops the tramping
   Of their hoofs echo loud,
While their snorting and champing
   Is lost in the cloud—
When wizards are breaking
   The sleep of the dead,
And the shadows are waking
   From each gory bed—

When the dog of hell howleth,
   As the sheeted dead glide
Where the queen of death scowleth,
   Grim Fenris beside—
When Surter assembleth
   The lost round his throne—
Then the murderer trembleth,
   And the murderer alone.

But then, guiltless beauty,
   What hast thou to fear?
All owe thee their duty,
   All homage thee here;
p. 275The life thou hast given
   The immortals will claim;
And Rinda in heaven
   Stamps thy star-written name.

The princess listened in breathless astonishment, and, when the sweet sounds died away, spoke in cheerful tones to the friendly singer.  “Thanks, gentle magician,” said she aloud; “I submit to the pleasure of Odin, and will not be ungrateful for thy anxiety; see, I will partake of thy hospitality, and then retire to rest confident in thy gracious protection.”  Ildegarda then ate something of the repast, and the moment she had concluded, the dishes and bowls retired of themselves from the table, without any assistance, through the doors and windows of the palace.  While she was lost in astonishment at this singular attendance, the doors on the opposite side of the hall opened of themselves, and she, supposing it a summons for her attention, immediately passed through them, and heard them close behind her.  She traversed several stately rooms, till at length she stood in one more magnificent than the rest, and which, from the circumstance of the doors closing when she entered it, she concluded was designed by her host for her chamber.  Grateful for his indulgence, p. 276she determined to accept his courtesy, and threw herself down upon her couch to sleep: satisfied, she reviewed the events of the day, and found she had little reason to complain.  “I could even be happy,” said Ildegarda, “if I were assured of the safety of my father.”  The wish was instantly gratified; a large curtain on the opposite side was suddenly withdrawn, and, represented on a magic mirror, the princess beheld her father in his own palace, conversing earnestly with his attendants.  The vision lasted but a few moments—the curtain fell again before the mirror, and Ildegarda, in a transport of gratitude, thanked aloud the courteous monster, who thus sought, as he had promised, to offer her the homage most pleasing to her feelings.

Ildegarda now tried to compose her spirits to sleep,—the pale moon had risen over the island, and was pouring a flood of calm cold light into each apartment of the palace,—suddenly, her beams were eclipsed by a light so glorious that the senses of the princess ached as she contemplated the wonder; she looked up to discover the cause, but mortality drooped under its excess of glory, and she bent downwards towards the earth; a soft voice called upon her name, but the princess could not reply; then the beautiful p. 277being, who was resting upon the light, beheld the embarrassment of her beloved, and, dismissing part of the effulgence by which she was surrounded, stood visible to the mortal sight, and Ildegarda beheld her beloved goddess, the guardian of her youth, the divine object of her innocent worship, the radiant Rinda, the daughter of the sun, the beloved of Odin and Freya.

Ildegarda bent her brow still lower to the earth, and kissed the fringe of the mantle of her goddess; then the most lovely of those lovely beings, who float on their ether thrones round the domes of Valasciolf, spoke tenderly to the fairest of her worshippers.  “Thou hast done well and wisely,” said the daughter of heaven to the child of earth, “in thus offering thy life for thy father and thy country, and thou hast not disappointed my hope; I carried up the perfume of the holy deed to the foot of the throne of Odin; pleased, he took it from my hand, clothed it in light, and placing it on a branch of Hydrasil, the tree of heaven, bade it blow and expand into an immortal flower, to commemorate thy virtue, and remind him of thy deserving.  Child of my love—hope all—fear nothing—endure with patience—and thy reward shall be most glorious.”  The goddess then recalled around p. 278her the extended beams of light, and, concentrating their brightness round her person, again became insupportably effulgent to human vision; in the next instant she was gone, and the glory she had left died away when unfed by her presence.

How sweet was the sleep of Ildegarda that night, and how blessed was her awakening on the morrow!  Morning, the gay bride of Balder, beheld her descend joyfully to the hall, after adorning her lovely person with an elegant dress, selected from many, which the unseen hands of her watchful attendants had placed in her apartment for that purpose.  Arrived in the hall, she expressed a wish to breakfast; and instantly the courteous dishes glided in from doors and windows to the table, attended by a grave-looking bowl of milk, which steadily sailed on till it placed itself in the centre, where it remained till the princess, by rising from table, dismissed its services for the present.  She then roamed through the vast gardens of this beautiful place, and talked to the birds and the deer, fondly hoping and expecting that they were enchanted princes and princesses, and, like the black horse whom she beheld on her arrival, endowed with the faculty of speech; but, after much conversation on her own part, she was compelled to p. 279resign this pleasing illusion, and believe that they were merely real birds and real deer, who could only sing and leap.  She then returned to the palace, wandered over its spacious apartments, and amused herself by counting the passages and doors.  Still the day went off heavily, even with the aid of these time-killing pastimes; and when the hour of supper arrived, the princess welcomed it as sincerely as if hunger had been the instigator of the pleasure her countenance expressed; she seated herself at the table, and was earnestly and anxiously employed in coaxing the birds to partake of it,—when a loud clap of thunder shook the palace to its foundation, and terrified all appetite from the poor princess.  She had hardly time to think of its cause, ere it became apparent, for the monster-man himself entered the hall, and, clad in his customary dress, stood still in the middle of the apartment.  Although his appearance was as usual, yet his manner was entirely different, for his step was slow and irresolute, and his voice mild and timid; he scarcely ventured to look up as he asked, in a humble and supplicating manner, if the princess would permit him to pay his duty while she supped.  Ildegarda, somewhat re-assured by his gentleness, requested him to use his pleasure in a place p. 280where unquestionably all things were at his disposal.  “Not so, gracious lady,” replied the courteous monster; “I will not stay in your presence, but with your express permission: my power I cede to your beauty and virtue, and am content myself to be the first subject of so lovely a sovereign.”  This gallant speech was made with so much humility and respect, that Ildegarda was not alarmed by its tenderness; and the monster, to shew (after she had granted permission) how highly he valued this trifling favour, and how little he was disposed to encroachment, declined the seat which, after a struggle, she offered him, and seated himself upon the ground, at a considerable distance from her.  Touched by this humble homage and generous delicacy of a being so powerful, and at whose mercy she so entirely was, the princess so far conquered her abhorrence, as to present him with food and drink; the former he declined, but he took the again-summoned bowl of milk from her snowy hand, and, with a gesture of respectful gratitude, tasted the balmy liquor, as if to indulge her wish.  At length, after a long silence, he asked her if she could be happy in the island?  “I hope so,” replied the princess; “but will you tell me, sir sorcerer, what has thus singularly p. 281changed my destiny?  I came hither to die—yet I live,—and anxiety is even manifested by my enemy for my happiness.  How am I to understand these contradictions?”  “Call me not your enemy, beautiful Ildegarda,” replied the monster, “for that I have not been; destiny had decreed you to be a victim, though not of death; I am but its instrument to work out its intentions; the sacrifice of your liberty only was demanded, and your generous resignation of life itself has impelled me to love your worth, and lighten, as far as my power will, the burthen of your sorrows.  I cannot release you from this rock, but I can surround you with pleasures, and render your bondage supportable.”  Ildegarda was pleased with this explanation, and, after thanking her host for his generous intentions, withdrew to her chamber, though not till she had accorded to Brandomann (for that he had told her was his name) permission to attend her on the next evening to supper: this was an honour she would gladly have declined,—but she felt it would be ungracious, and that he had some right to calculate upon her complaisance.  The next night came, and Brandomann was punctual—conducting himself in the same timid manner—though, observing the dislike of Ildegarda towards p. 282him, he put an end to the interview earlier than usual, and quitted her presence in sorrow.  The princess was sad that she had inflicted pain, yet she could not but hope that the hideous being would not again seek her society.  In this she was disappointed;—he came at night, as before, and seated himself silent and sorrowfully at her feet; he spoke not, and scarcely ventured to look at her, till she, affected by his griefs offered him the bowl and bade him drink; he took it with a smile—the poor monster intended it so, but the frightful grin which distorted his features was so odious, that Ildegarda sickened with affright, and heartily repented her condescension.  Brandomann understood her disgust.  “Ildegarda,” he said, mournfully, “I too well know how justly I must be an object of abhorrence to the eye of beauty; I will not give you pain therefore—though it will destroy the only happiness I have ever enjoyed, I will intrude no more into your presence,—I will not destroy the little felicity which fate has left you.”  He arose to retire; but the generosity of the princess overcame her reluctance,—she was not proof against this noble self-denial,—and, rising hastily from her seat, she requested, entreated,—nay, commanded him to continue his visits.  Brandomann was but too p. 283happy to obey; and he retired comforted from her presence.  The next night Brandomann was not so silent—he exerted himself to amuse and interest his lovely prisoner; and he succeeded admirably when he spoke of the present state of Denmark—the disorders of the king—the disappearance of both the princes, sons of Harold—and the courage and integrity of her noble father; upon this theme he discoursed till tears of pleasure filled the eyes of the princess, whom he repeatedly assured of Haquin’s safety.  “Should you wish a confirmation of the intelligence which I give you,” continued Brandomann, “on the first day of every month examine the magic mirror in your chamber; it will satisfy your curiosity, by representing your father and his employments; but only at that time must you consult it.”  Still Brandomann continued to talk, and Ildegarda to listen, till she forgot to wish for the hour of separation, and even suffered the monster to retire first; the next day she grew weary ere evening, and waited with something like impatience for the supper hour: it came at last, and Brandomann with it, who perceived, by the reception she gave him, that he was no longer so unwelcome a guest as formerly.  Animated by this belief, he again exerted all his p. 284powers to interest the princess; he related to her the early history of her country, and the exploits of the greatest heroes, her ancestors of the race of Odin; he then went on to discourse of the Scaldres, their singular union, their mystic occupations, and their magnificent poems; he himself, he remarked to her, was of this privileged order, and, without wearying her attention, recited some of his own compositions and those of his noble brethren.  Ildegarda was charmed by his discourses.  Balder had touched his lips with eloquence, and Brage had rendered his voice melodious, and many words flowed over his lips, sweet, yet powerful, as a torrent of silvery waters.  The princess was pleased while she only listened,—when she looked, the spell was broken.

p. 285PART III.

Misery acquaints a man with strange Bedfellows.


Day after day thus glided on without much variation, though not so heavily as formerly.  One evening Brandomann said to her, “Your mornings must still be wearisome to you; perhaps it might give you pleasure to travel around this little island; when such shall be your wish, summon aloud your carriage, with the snow-white deer, (that which brought you hither,) and it will instantly attend your command.”  The princess was impatient, till the next morning gave her an opportunity of indulging this new pleasure;—for when our pleasures are few, every little variation is hailed as a new one;—she sprung lightly from her couch, and, with beaming eyes and a throbbing heart, ascended her chariot, which, at p. 286her wish, waited at the gates of the marble palace.  For some hours she was delighted to be borne swiftly by the coursers of light through flowery vales and blooming gardens; but at length grew weary of the silence and monotony which every where surrounded her, and the inability to utter or reply to an observation.  The deer looked at her with their intelligent eyes, and seemed to understand her feelings.  “Yes, turn then, my lovely deer,” she replied in answer to their silent interrogatory; “bear me again to my home.”  She entered the marble hall.  It was many days since she no longer startled at the clap of thunder which announced the approach of Brandomann, and now she heard it with pleasure.  “You have been amused to-day,” said he to her as he entered.  “Not much,” she replied; “although I blush to say so; I would be happy if I could, yet I cannot help feeling that solitude is melancholy.”  “Alas! yes,” replied the lord of the Maelstrom; “but there are companions to whom it is preferable.  If I did not fear offending by my presumption”—He was eagerly interrupted by Ildegarda, who accepted the embryo offer with delight; and her manner had such an effect upon the monster, that again the princess repented her condescension.  He made ample amends for his p. 287hideous joy, however, on the following day, when attending Ildegarda on her journey, by his timid and gentle modesty.  Mounted on his coal-black steed, he respectfully followed her brilliant chariot, and never, except in answer to her summons, ventured to approach her side.  The princess was naturally generous, and this conduct secured her confidence.  She now encouraged him to converse, called him frequently to her side, and took pleasure in calling forth and listening to his observations.  On their return to the palace, a huge raven flew down from a tree upon the shoulder of Brandomann, and whispered something in his ear; the latter immediately turned to Ildegarda: “Princess,” he said, “the only friends who ever enliven this solitude by visiting me, are now on the island; will you permit them to attend you at supper?”  Ildegarda consented joyfully: the thought of once more seeing human beings filled her spirit with rapture; and, hastening to her apartment, she spent the intervening time in dressing her lovely person to the utmost advantage, not only for her own sake, but also to do honour to the taste and generosity of Brandomann, who had been most lavish in his preparations for her toilet.  At length she descended, and, with a palpitating heart, entered the hall.  p. 288At the door she was met by Brandomann himself, who courteously led her forward to present her to his guests—they rose to receive her—but imagine the astonishment of Ildegarda!—No words can do justice to her surprise, as she surveyed the assembled party: neither knight nor lady, spirit nor fiend, greeted her entrance,—but on one side stood an enormous wild boar—on the other a beautiful white she-goat—in front stood the eight-legged steed of Odin—and the two ravens, whom she had seen on her landing on the island, had perched themselves with infinite gravity upon Brandomann’s club.  The princess turned to her friend, and was about to demand an explanation, when she was prevented by the beautiful goat, who, with an air at once kind and dignified, welcomed her to the island, which she said was happy under the government of the good Brandomann, the favourite of Odin, and whom all good spirits loved: the boar made her his best bow—Sleipner assured her of his devotion—the ravens were happy in the honour of her acquaintance—and Ildegarda, after replying to each of these extraordinary visitors, recovered something of her composure, and smilingly sat down to supper with her company.  She was about to apologise for the want of proper fare, when she beheld them p. 289supplied with their own particular dishes by the same unseen attendants who so assiduously waited upon her.  Oats and hay, in a silver manger, were placed before Sleipner—a huge tray of nuts and acorns sallied in, and stood stationary at the tusks of the boar—a salad was the supper of the white goat—and a raw rump steak was provided for the accommodation of the ravens.  The princess began to be amused with her situation and company, and listen to their conversation with considerable interest: Mumin and Hugo, the raven messengers of Odin, were talking over some of the divinities of Asgard; and Sleipner mentioned a journey which Thor the Thunderer intended shortly to take upon his back, to correct the impious inhabitants of Jutland, who, since the ascension of the murderer Feggo to his brother’s throne, had totally neglected his worship.  “Is the murdered prince in Asgard?” demanded Brandomann.  “He has a magnificent palace in Valasciolf,” replied the huge boar, “where he resides among the other heroes and the divine family and ministers of Odin, and with them usually spends his nights at the banquet in Valhalla; but he is not a favourite warrior there: if he was no more amiable on earth than he is in heaven, I am not surprised p. 290at his wife’s wishing to get rid of him.  Hamlet is also there, and almost as unpopular as his father.  Can you imagine it possible, he spends all his time with Forsete at Glitner, and has grown so wise and disputacious, that he is continually instructing Odin himself; nay, the other morning, just before the sounding for the combat, he spoke so learnedly to that blind Horror, whom we dare not name out of heaven, and who is already sufficiently inclined to mischief, that Thor, provoked, lifted up his mallet to knock out the shadow of his brains,—but Balder interfered, and his eloquence and Lofna’s smile restored peace to heaven.”

“And how go on the happy Scaldres?” demanded Brandomann; “what is become of the unlucky Hiarn, whose skill in singing gained him a crown?”  “He is singer-in-chief in Valhalla,” replied Sleipner; “and indeed his strains well deserve this distinction.  But see,” he continued; “the princess looks to you for an explanation: take your harp, Brandomann, and let it tell the story of Hiarn.”  “I obey you,” replied the lord of the Maelstrom; and he caught up his harp and sung—


The heart of the monarch was savage and wild,
   And his red hand with life-blood was gory;
He spared not the matron, he spared not the child,
   Proud youth, nor the head that was hoary.

Then Hiarn arose—and his melody’s voice,
   As over the wild harp it swept,
Brought relief to the land, bade its nobles rejoice,
   For the dark monarch listened—and wept!

And his sorrow was holy, for into his heart
   Those tones tender pity had flung—
And Fate whisper’d, “Thy soul shall with music depart”—
   So he died, while the sweet harper sung.

Then Hiarn was king—for the fierce nobles came
   Subdued by his powers alone,
They crowned his bright brow, proclaimed his great name,
   And lowlily knelt at his throne.

Then Hiarn was king, and—

“Alackaday!” said the boar, who did not appear to have any very great taste for music, and who was beginning besides to be weary of Brandomann’s dismal ditty; “alas! for the poor harper; it is a pity, after such a glorious opening, the close of his history should have been so dismal.”  “What was it?” demanded Ildegarda; “tell p. 292me, I pray you, what was the fate of Hiarn?”  “A prince of the blood,” replied the courteous boar, “the warrior Fridleff, who did not understand music, challenged the crown from Hiarn: he was too good a musician to make any thing but a contemptible soldier, so, as might have been expected, he sunk under the first blow of Fridleff.  But, grieve not for him, charming princess, he is well rewarded for his short period of suffering; a throne in Asgard—a palace dome in Valasciolf—are surely higher blessings than even reigning in Denmark”—“Serimnor!” said the white goat, interrupting the conversation, and pointing with her horns to the stars, which were now rapidly gemming the heavens; “see, the lights in the palaces of Asgard are lit—the deities and heroes are on their way to Valhalla—let us not keep them waiting, but hasten to supper, lest we should offend the Highest by our presumption.”  Thus saying, she departed, after a friendly good-night to the princess, and a promise to spend many evenings with her in the island.  Serimnor, deeply engaged at that moment in a dispute with Brandomann about the politics of Jutland, did not remark her departure, but was reminded of it, to the no small astonishment of Ildegarda, in a very extraordinary p. 293manner; a gigantic pair of hands, the right brandishing an enormous carving knife, coolly entered the folding doors, and, seizing the throat of the luckless Serimnor, without any sort of notice or preparation, cut it from one side to the other, just as he was pronouncing the names of Harwendil and Feggo, which, from the suddenness of this manœuvre, burst through the gaping orifice in his throat, instead of by the usual channel of communication—the mouth.  The terror of Ildegarda, who had begun to esteem the polite and obliging Serimnor, was greatly increased by the extraordinary coolness of Brandomann, who stood looking on as if nothing particular had happened, and only discontinued his speech when the body of the poor boar was dragged from the apartment by the murderous pair of hands.  It seemed as if the whole party had been in a conspiracy to frighten the timid Ildegarda; for, on the disappearance of the boar, Sleipner started up, and, snorting till fire darted from his nostrils and eyes, sprung up into the air, and pawing, and dashing, and foaming, ascended up to the clouds through the roof of the palace, which parted to give him passage,—while the two ravens flew screaming out of the window.  Brandomann had disappeared in the bustle, and, p. 294as he did not attend her on the following morning, she waited with much uneasy impatience for an explanation in the evening: this was given by the good-natured boar himself, who had marked her anxiety, and hurried first to the palace in order to relieve it.  He thanked her for the interest she took in what appeared to be his suffering; “But grieve not, loveliest of maidens,” said the gallant beast, “at an event which is to me but the consummation of my glory: every night thus I die without pain, and my flesh is served up to the banquet of the gods,—while my spirit enjoys a blissful sleep, from which it awakes in the morning to animate the same form in which it was clothed the day before.  The beautiful goat whom you saw, is the immortal Heidruna, whose milk is the hydromel served up to the table of Odin.  She alone, last night, was punctual to her engagement, while the rest of the party, enchanted by your beauty, forgot the hour, and had some difficulty to reach Valhalla in time to avoid the reproach of Odin.”  Scarcely was this explanation given, ere Heidruna herself entered, attended by the ravens and Sleipner, who apologised for their hasty departure the evening before; and a moment after, the clap of thunder announced the approach of Brandomann.  The whole party now sat contentedly p. 295down to supper, infinitely pleased with themselves and each other; and perhaps it would have been difficult to find one more happy, or its members bearing more sincere good will towards each other.  The next day was the first of the month, and the princess hastened to avail herself of the magic gift of Brandomann.  With intense anxiety she raised the curtain, and her heart throbbed with delight to behold her father in health and spirits, well armed, and travelling, attended by a band of gallant warriors, who appeared to be anxious for his safety.  Ildegarda looked at him with rapture, and new feelings of gratitude to Brandomann gave the evening which followed this happy morning, fresh charms in her eyes, and made her confinement in the desolate island, with none but the ugliest of orangutangs for a constant companion, no longer either gloomy or dreadful.

One morning, while surveying together the beauties of the island in a sentimental walk, Brandomann asked the princess if she had now entirely resigned herself to the lot of total seclusion in the island of the Maelstrom.  “I may, and do sometimes regret the halls of my fathers,” replied the tender Ildegarda.  “But when I reflect from what miseries my devotion has preserved p. 296my beloved country, and still more beloved father, I feel that I ought not to complain.  Neither am I insensible of what I owe to you; and I acknowledge that, without any other motive, your generous protection of me and care of my happiness deserves the sacrifice even of these regrets: I am willing to make it, and should even rejoice in an opportunity that would allow me to convince you of my sincerity.”  “You have, then, (and permit me to say I hope it,) banished from your heart the remembrance of Haldane?” said the monster.  “Alas! no,” replied Ildegarda, bursting into tears of tenderness at his recollection; “that can I never do; and it is the certainty of his loss that enables me so well to support this destiny: but do not let this disturb you—the recollection of Haldane will never interrupt my gratitude to you.”  “And you could resolve upon fresh sacrifices if they were demanded of you?” inquired Brandomann.  “I could,” replied the princess.  Brandomann paused—he looked sadly and earnestly at Ildegarda, and then, as with a violent effort, flung himself at her feet, and tremblingly demanded, “Princess, will you become my wife?”  A shriek of horror, and a look of unmeasured abhorrence, was the only reply of the hapless Ildegarda; and too p. 297plainly these tokens spoke to the unfortunate Brandomann.  He calmed his agitation—arose from her feet, and spoke kindly and steadily to tranquillise hers.  “Do not hate me, beautiful sovereign of my destiny,” said he, “that thus I am compelled to add to your inquietudes.  Yet be not alarmed needlessly; I adore you, but no force shall be put upon your inclinations: forgive me, if, impelled by a power I dare not disobey, I am sometimes obliged to give you pain by this question.  But fear not—my wishes shall be sacrificed to yours—I would not receive that hand, dear as it would be, unless voluntarily presented by yourself.”

The princess took courage at this declaration of her hideous lover.  She knew he was a monster of his word; and she thought if he would not receive her hand till she presented it, she should be safe from the infliction of such a husband.  Assuring him, therefore, that she was far from hating him, and expressing with warmth the sentiments she really felt for her grim admirer, the poor monster was somewhat comforted, which Ildegarda was not sorry to remark; for if Brandomann was ugly when he was gay, he was ten thousand times more so when in sorrow.  They returned to the palace in tolerable spirits, and in p. 298the evening Ildegarda took an opportunity of depositing her perplexities in the bosom of the respectable white goat, for whom she began to experience something of filial affection.  Heidruna consoled the princess by her unqualified praises of the honour and sincerity of Brandomann, and her firm conviction that Ildegarda would never be molested by his fondness; although Heidruna thought, and could not help telling her young friend, that in the world she might have matched herself with many a greater beast than Brandomann: but, as this was entirely a matter of opinion, she rather soothed the princess than contradicted her.  The good Serimnor interrupted the tête-à-tête, and fully seconded the opinion of Heidruna, both as to the honour and goodness of the lord monster of Moskoe.  “You observe,” said he to Ildegarda, “that he has been admitted among the Scaldres, an order which generally requires perfection from its aspirants; and great must his virtues be, when the unbounded ugliness of his person could not outweigh them, nor conceal the richness and beauty of his mind.  He is also, as we are, the descendant of Odin, and peculiarly favoured by the mightiest of the gods, and his son Thor, the thunderbolt: he enjoys extensive power, and many prerogatives p. 299not granted to the more beautiful children of nature, to compensate for the imprisonment of such a spirit in so hideous and detestable a frame.  Were it possible to overcome your natural repugnance, you would have no reason to regret the change; but should your aversion be invincible, you will have nothing to fear, since he will continue to you the tenderest and humblest of lovers, and we shall always remain your friends.”

The princess thanked the friendly boar for his kind assurance, and they separated for the night in increased good will towards each other.  In a few days after this conversation, Brandomann sought the princess in her chamber.  “A storm is gathering above the whirlpool,” said he; “its effects will be terrific—our friends are collected to watch its progress—shall we follow them to the coast?  If it will interest you, I will raise my magic tent upon the top of the highest rock, and, sheltered even from the slightest drops of rain, you shall see the storm in its terrors, and the fiends unseen of mortal eyes, who increase its horrors and sport in its bosom.”  Ildegarda accepted the invitation, and the rein-deer swiftly bore their light and lovely burthen to the rocks, accompanied by Brandomann, whose eight-legged steed would far have outstripped the nimble p. 300coursers of the princess, but for the frequent checks of his rider.  Arrived at the point of rock, they beheld the waters raging around them, (for the island was seated in the midst of the gulf,) but with less violence than Ildegarda had expected: she remarked this to her attendant.  “The waters are now at their height,” replied Brandomann; “and for one quarter of an hour it will be tolerably calm, but the power of the storm will be tremendous when that short interval shall be past: many, deceived by the calm, venture out while it lasts, and encounter certain destruction at its close.”  Ildegarda continued watching for the termination of the delusive calm, when her meditations were interrupted by the arrival of Heidruna, Serimnor, and the ravens: they arranged themselves round the chariot of the princess, and, protected from the storm by the magic tent of Brandomann, stood watching its progress in silent anxiety.  The deceitful calm, as the lord of the island had predicted, was of no long duration.  In a few minutes the brightness of Balder was entirely obscured; the wind chorus began, and swept low and sullenly over the waters, which now rose upwards, gently murmuring, as if they were the echoes of the distant song.  “Listen, Ildegarda,” said Brandomann; p. 301“to you it is given to hear the secrets and wonders of the earth, in recompense for being thus shut out from its more social intercourse: listen, and you will hear the unknown song of the winds: hark! how it rises from an immeasurable distance, and yet you can distinguish their voices, and the words they utter.  Now they come nearer—hush!”


From the couch of the billows,
   The hollow bed
Where ocean pillows
   His giant head—
From secret caves,
   Where ancient Night
Sleeps secure
   From staring light—
From the breast
   Of the trembling earth,
Scorning rest,
   We have our birth.
Up, up, upward, murmuring,
Up, up, upward, still go we.

From wild Hecla’s burning cells,
Where the giant mother dwells,
Who to Lok, in days of yore,
Sin and death and horror bore—
p. 302From the Geyser’s boiling springs,
We soar, upborne on rushing wings,
Singing louder as we go,
Blow, ye wild winds, louder blow!

Up from the Dolstein still rise we,
Where about us rolled the sea,
And beneath, for ever whirled,
The master spirit of the world—
From the raging Dofrefeld,
Where green Niord’s feast is held—
From the land of eternal snow,
Blow, ye wild winds, louder blow!

We come, we come! the forests wave,
As above their tops we rave.
Blow winds, blow! the crashing tree
Of our might shall the witness be;
The staggering ship, and the broken mast,
Heaving, rended, sinking last;
And the crash of falling towers,
Speak our presence, and our powers.
Blow winds, blow! to heaven ascending,
Clashing, crashing, crushing, rending,
Wrath on earth and ocean pouring,
O’er the scared world, raging, roaring.

“The storm is indeed terrific now,” said Ildegarda; “I can almost see it in the air, as it scatters the clouds before it: look how the waters rise to meet it, roaring with the fury and force p. 303of a cataract!”  Amid the uproar, she thought she distinguished other noises than those of the tempest—a sound like the howls and shrieks of pain: she noticed the circumstance to Brandomann.  “You are right,” he replied; “look yonder, where a desperate battle is waging, in despite of this scene of tempest.  A bear has swum from his mountain territory of Hilseggen to prey upon the flocks of Suarven, one of the few islands in this gulf which is inhabited; a single gallant shepherd has attacked him, but I fear the bear has the mastery: see! the shepherd has lost his staff, and the monster grapples with him closely—he hugs him fiercely!—Is there no way by which I can save him?  What, ho! shepherd!—what, ho!—loosen yourself from the grasp of your enemy and fly—stand on the very edge of the rock, and let him spring against you!—So, so—the fellow fears me no less than the bear, yet he obeys—he is crouching—his enemy runs—plunges—ah! ah!—he has lost his balance and dashes headlong into the stream—well, run, shepherd!—He stays not to sing the death-song for his foe.—Good night, friend bear, you will sup with the fish of the Maelstrom to-night!”  While they looked on, they beheld the savage animal struggling for his life against the dreadful current, p. 304but in vain; borne onward, despite of his roarings, he was soon over the terrible pool, and then whirled rapidly round, till he was sucked down into the bosom of the dismal gulf, which, sages have written, penetrates the globe.  Ildegarda pitied the poor bear, whose love of mutton had occasioned him so miserable a fate; but a new wonder now claimed her attention and diverted her thoughts from his sorrows: this was another island, slowly arising from the bottom of the lake, and covered with sea-weeds, becoming stationary at no great distance from Moskoe.  Before Ildegarda could point it out to her companions, Serimnor advanced hastily towards Brandomann.  “There is mischief abroad, dear brother,” said he; “this storm is not of Niord’s raising.  Some friend beloved of Odin, and abhorred of Lok, is certainly in danger; for look who are sporting in the tempest.”  He pointed to the bosom of the gulf and to the rocky shore of Otterholm.  In the centre of the one, Ildegarda beheld the head of a monstrous serpent reared above the waves, and surveying with fiery eyes the distant sea; and on the other a hideous wolf, with his attention fixed in the same direction, and howling in concert with the storm.  The princess shuddered, and, for the first time in her life, drew p. 305nearer to Brandomann for protection.  “You have nothing to fear, dearest,” said he, “from these monsters whom you behold; they are indeed your foes and mine, for they are the children of Lok, and the enemies of Odin; but they have no power over you, and mine, by the gift of their conqueror, is greater than their own.  He whom you see in the waters is the giant snake, whose folds of sin encircle the guilty earth, and who now, from its centre, is bidding defiance to some noble foe of his evil father.  Fenris the wolf-dog, guard of hell, appears only when mischief is in the air, to increase, by his cries and the horror of his form, the fears and the danger of his victim.  I deem some hapless vessel has approached too near this coast during the calm, and now the storm will drag it to destruction.  But let us watch—Hugo and Mumin, stretch out your pinions—fly over the waters, and tell me what you descry.”  The messengers of Odin obeyed—they flew over the bosom of the lake—then out towards the boundless and ungirt ocean: suddenly they returned.  “A sail! a sail!” said Hugo.  “A gallant ship!” cried Mumin; “the whirl has surely caught her, she comes on so rapidly.”  Soon, very soon, she neared, and drove onwards, visible to all.  Brandomann grasped p. 306his club: “Some bold adventurers,” said he, “doubtless, who seek to land upon this island in defiance of the will of Odin; if so, they are lost indeed, for the king of Valhalla has resigned them to the power of the infernals.”  It was frightful to mark the force with which the ship drove on.  “They make for the island which has just risen from the lake,” said the princess.  “Death will too surely greet them there,” replied Brandomann; “for that is no land, but the snare of fiends to beguile; it is the dreadful Kraken, that monster of the deep, who, when the vessel touches him, will sink, and draw it with him”—And the vessel was near the monster, when a piercing shriek from Ildegarda arrested the thoughts of Brandomann.  “It is my father!” she cried—“it is my father!—I know his banner—he seeks me on this island—have mercy, Odin!—Oh, Brandomann, if thou lovest me”—“If I love thee!—lo! now I disobey the will of Odin for thee!—judge, then, how dear thou art!”  He started from her side, sprung upon Sleipner, darted from the rock, and the next instant Ildegarda beheld his giant form stemming the torrent with a power equal to its own.  The wolf beheld him and ran howling away, while a single blow from his mighty club drove the grim serpent p. 307beneath the waves, to howl his disappointment in Niftheim.  Ildegarda heard none of the consoling speeches addressed to her by her friends; her ear—her eye—her heart, were all with Brandomann: she shrieked aloud.  “He will not reach it ere it touches the Kraken,” she cried, “and then all help will be in vain.”  “Not so, dear princess,” replied Serimnor; “he acts with the power of Odin, and will save your father; and then what will not his generosity deserve?”  “My life—my love!” distractedly replied the wretched Ildegarda, totally incapable of accepting any consolation, and only alive to the danger of her father.  “Oh, Odin! save him!” she cried; “and thou, thou the nameless!—the mighty in strength—the blind invincible—preserve the faithful Brandomann!”  At this instant the Kraken sunk—the hoof of Sleipner had touched him—and Brandomann sternly approached the vessel: a band of warriors, headed by her father, prepared to oppose him, and Ildegarda beheld their bright weapons gleaming above his head.  At this sight, “Harm him not,” she exclaimed; “ye know not whom ye strike!”  But the next instant shewed her the folly of her fear and the mighty power of her lover.  Heedless of the flashing swords, Sleipner sprung among the p. 308warriors, whose arms were now useless in their deadened hands, and Brandomann stood upon the deck, sternly reproving their presumption, and commanding the gallant ship to return home to Denmark.  The vessel obeyed—the warriors knew the eight-legged steed of Odin, and were silent; but Haquin accused aloud the murderer of his daughter, for he judged he beheld the lord of the Maelstrom.  “Thy daughter lives,” replied the terrible Brandomann; “but she is mine: at her entreaty I have saved thy forfeit life—but approach no more the island forbidden by Odin to mortal foot, else will I resign thee to the fate thy presumption will incur, and which, but for thy daughter’s tears, thou wouldest ere now have tasted.  Hence, Haquin, and learn submission!”

Sleipner plunged into the waters, and the vessel, now removed beyond the power of the whirlpool, sailed back to Denmark, while Brandomann returned to Ildegarda, by whom he was received with a welcome far surpassing his hopes or expectations.  He said nothing, however, of the important service he had just rendered her; and this delicate conduct, which did not pass unobserved by the princess, created for him an advocate in her bosom stronger than his own entreaties, or those of all his friends united, could p. 309have done.  She saw how tenderly Brandomann loved her, but she saw also that he was resolved not to give her pain; and, to say the truth, she could not help being pleased by this circumstance: for her gratitude, great as it certainly was, was yet not sufficiently powerful to make so cruel a sacrifice to his happiness.  By the time he had landed, the storm had passed from the face of heaven, and all was as calm upon the bosom of the waters as if the fiends of Niftheim had not been raging within it but a few moments before; the party returned to sup in the palace, and all things went on as pleasingly as usual.  Days, weeks, passed away, but Ildegarda, no longer wretched in submitting to the sentence she had once thought so cruel, took little heed of time, except to notice the first day of the month, which presented to her anxious eyes the person and occupations of her father.  Twice, successively, she had seen him in his tent, surrounded by heroes, amid preparations for war; he was cheerful, and appeared to be encouraging the spirits of a young man, whom Ildegarda knew to be prince Harold, and who, with a gentle, downcast look, was listening to his observations: this was confirmed to her by the accounts of Brandomann, whose cares to lighten her anxieties and anticipate her p. 310wishes sensibly affected the generous daughter of Haquin.  She took increased delight in his conversation; and he, from whose presence she was at first so anxious to fly, was now frequently summoned to relieve solitude by his cheering conversation.  She was herself surprised at the change; and could she have shut from her bosom the thought of her early and beautiful love, Brandomann, even in person, would not have been disgusting.  As it was, he daily grew less odious, and daily grew the princess more contented with her lot; the happy society of the marble palace met nightly, and mirth, and song, and tale, gave wings to the cheerful hours.

p. 311PART IV.

Wilt thou begone?


One night when the conversation particularly turned upon the exploits of the ancestors of Ildegarda, Sleipner, who possessed a natural love of noble actions, inquired of the boar whether king Uffon was constant in his attendance upon the nightly festival of the hall of Odin?  “He is so, frequently,” replied Serimnor; “but he takes more delight in the combat of the morning—from that he is never absent:—but what an extraordinary history is his!” continued the boar; “it is necessary that he should be in Asgard, for its inhabitants to believe it.”  Ildegarda’s attention was aroused; she had never heard of her ancestor, and she entreated Brandomann to indulge her curiosity.  He took up his harp p. 312immediately—for he appeared to have no occupation so delightful as to obey her slightest wish—and thus related to her the legend of Uffon the Merciful:—



There was a halo round
The golden crown which shone on Vermund’s brow,
The light of many noble deeds—
Some deathless flowers
From heaven’s immortal tree,
(The abode of changeless destiny,)
Were wreathed
Around his conquering sword:
But years rolled on, and age
Silvered his golden locks—
And then a darkness fell
Heavily on him,
Veiling the beauty of his later day—
For Lok in hate,
Or envy, breathed on him a withering curse—
And he grew blind!


He was a childless man,
And to the gods he prayed
That his own royal diadem might fall
Upon a kindred brow.
He asked a son—
And Odin granted to his agony
The son he craved.
p. 313Again the evil one
Blighted the bud of joy—
He laid his dark hand on the infant’s head,
And left its evil shadow on his brain—
He grew an idiot boy!


The Saxon king,
A wild, fierce warrior, heard of Vermund’s grief,
And he did rage to snatch, with greedy hand,
The sceptre of the blind.
Madly he poured
His thousands o’er the land;
The red steel clashed—
The curling fire ran—
The ravens fed
On beauty, and the eagles gorged on strength.
The blind prince trembling heard
His people’s dying groan!


The Saxon king
Rode, like the thunderbolt, his mighty steed
To the sad Danish camp.
He mocked the king—
And to his peers, with haughty action, said,
“Doth it become
The noble sons of Odin thus to bend
The knee before a blind man, and a fool?”


“Out on thee, wretch!”
The sightless prince exclaimed;
p. 314“It more becomes the warrior to protect
Than scorn the weak and aged!—
Mighty!—to thee—
Thee! whom we fear to name—
Thee! strongest pillar of great Odin’s throne—
Thee! dark, but terrible!—whose woe I bear—
Thee! whose most awful name
The reckless echo dares not repeat, and we
Shudder as we pronounce!
HODER!—I call on thee!—
Be thou the judge
Between this wretch and me!”


The Saxon heard
And shrunk at that dread name—
The nobles groaned—
The father wept, and clasped,
To his chilled heart, his dumb and idiot boy.
When, lo! a wonder!—
His sacred tears fell on the youthful brow
Like holy rain upon the scorched up earth,
And upward to the sun of glory sprung
The buried seeds of intellect—
He spoke!—


“Ha! scoffer!” said the boy, “didst thou not know
The blind and weak are sacred?”—
His eye shone
With a miraculous light—
“Hark!  Saxon churl!
I summon thee unto the field of death—
p. 315I, the dumb idiot—I will meet thee there,
And on thy craven bosom write a truth,
That Vermund hath a son—Denmark a prince,
Who will protect their glories!”


The day came—
And Uffon’s fiery chariot bore him forth
Unto the battle field—
Less bright—less beautiful
Is Balder when, from Lidscialf’s diamond steps,
He rises to illuminate the worlds
Which wheel caressingly around him—and
Gallantly rode the Saxon.
But the king—
The blind—the father—where is he?  He sits
On yonder rock, high o’er the foaming sea,
There to await the battle.
Should he fall—
His own—his only one—
Ocean will catch his form,
And hide his griefs for ever.


It was a deadly fight
Between the Saxon and the Dane;
And once
There was a scream, as if the inspired boy
Was lost, for he had sunk upon his knee—
But he beheld his father’s sightless eye
Upturned in agony—
And he arose—and then
p. 316Another sound was heard—a mighty shout—
The scorner of the blind was slain!


The son—he flew,
A bounding reindeer, to his father’s arms—
He paused—
They were upraised,
In attitude of thankfulness;
His lips
Were pale, and still, and smiling—
But—his heart
Had broke in that fierce struggle—
He was gone—
Heimdaller’s wings were shadowing him, as o’er
The wondrous bridge he trod;
Valkyries bore
His spirit to the foot of Odin’s throne,
To tell of Uffon’s glory.


Nameless one!
This justice was thy deed—
We worship thee,
Although we love thee not!

“No, truly,” said Serimnor, on the conclusion of the legend; “that would be quite impossible either for heaven or earth: but glory to the good Uffon—few warriors in Valhalla are more esteemed than he.  The skull of the impious Saxon is now his drinking cup; and his father, restored p. 317to sight, beholds the pledge of victory with undying felicity: and, in the combats and martial sports of the morning, the battle between his noble son and the Saxon is daily renewed, to gladden him with the sound of conquest and triumph over his shadowy foe.”  “Look, Serimnor,” said the horse of Odin, interrupting him impatiently, as a bright flash of lightning darted into the hall and played against his head for a moment; “Look, we are again outstaying our time—the son of Rinda is shooting his brilliant arrows, and one has already touched you: let us obey the summons, and not provoke him to make his fatal shafts unerring.”  “Away, then!” cried Heidruna.  The ravens flapped their wings—Brandomann rose—and the hall was cleared in a moment.

Ildegarda had hitherto been happy in the reports of the magic mirror, and satisfied with its assurances of her father’s safety.  On the first of the tenth month of her residence on the island, she again withdrew the curtain,—but a different spectacle awaited her; Haquin was lying wounded upon his couch, pale and insensible, while his attendants were anxiously endeavouring to stanch the blood which flowed from his injured side.  The princess became wild with apprehension; p. 318instantly she sought her faithful Brandomann, to pour into his bosom the grief which distracted hers.  He listened with tender sympathy.  “There has been a battle between your father and Frotho, no doubt,” he replied; “but though I am not informed of all the particulars, I know that Haquin will not die of this wound: take comfort from this assurance, for when did I ever deceive you?”  But Ildegarda refused all consolation, and persisted in thinking and making herself the most miserable of all human beings.  Her father was ill—wounded—in need of her assistance—and she herself uncertain of his fate for a whole month at least.  Her anxiety hourly increased, and her grief, too powerful to be concealed from Brandomann, affected him no less painfully than herself.  It was in vain he exerted his talents to divert her anguish; she was grateful for his kindness, but did not shed one tear the less: his conversation had lost its charms, his tales and songs their interest.  Brandomann discovered this, and, after a terrible struggle, his generous nature overmastered every selfish and interested feeling.  “I cannot,” said he at length to the weeping princess; “I cannot bear to witness your sorrow, and know that I am the cause.  For your sake I will again disobey p. 319the command of Odin, which had decreed your captivity to be perpetual; you shall go to your father: promise me that you will return hither, and you shall be swiftly conveyed to his tent—and remain with him seven days; at the close of that period you must return, or my life will pay the forfeit of my fault, and be demanded to appease the anger of Odin.  Go, then, beloved princess,—but sometimes think of Brandomann, and what he will suffer for your sake.”  The princess could scarcely believe what she heard: in a rapture of joy she accepted the offer, and was most fervent in her promises to return at the expiration of the seven days.  Brandomann sighed heavily, but made no reply to her frequent protestations of their soon meeting again.  “You shall be with your father to-morrow morning,” said he: “merely take this ring—put it upon your finger when you go to rest to-night, and do the same thing when you wish to return to me; but do not wear it at any other time.”  The princess joyfully accepted the gift—took an affectionate leave of her admired monster—and retired to rest full of hope and expectation—expectations which were fully realised on her awaking in the morning; for she found her couch p. 320in her father’s tent, and he himself gazing upon her with tender anxiety and wonder.

The joy of Haquin, at again folding his beloved child to his bosom, was considerably damped by the narrative of her adventures, and the promise which she had given to Brandomann to return.  As he did not deem it possible that she intended to keep her word, he was not a little astonished at her declaration, when she assured him she could remain with him only during the seven days.  He argued strongly against her intention; and she at present, unwilling to distress him, ceased to oppose his opinions, and occupied herself entirely with the care of his health, knowing that it would always be in her power to return whenever she felt the inclination.  Her tender attention was fully appreciated by Haquin, but she herself was far from being at ease in the midst of a tumultuous camp, where her wishes were not anticipated with the swift and delighted obedience of her island attendants: she had no change of dress either; a circumstance peculiarly vexatious, as she was daily surrounded by admiring warriors, who constantly paid homage to her charms,—and among whom prince Harold was not the least fervent in his expressions of devotion p. 321to her beauty.  Awakening one morning after many regrets upon this subject to herself overnight, she was surprised to see the chest which ornamented her chamber at Moskoe, and which contained her superb wardrobe, standing by the side of her couch: she opened it hastily: “Kind, generous Brandomann, always alike solicitous for my happiness and pleasure,” she exclaimed; “how much do I not owe thee!”  She immediately decorated her lovely person and returned to her father, who, cheered by her presence and renovated by her care, was quickly recovering from the effects of his wound: he now informed her that Haldane was universally said to have been murdered by his uncle; and that, in consequence of their disgust at this act of cruelty, many noble Danes had resorted to the standard of Harold, whom they had unanimously called to the throne, though they held not the gentle boy in the same estimation as his more valiant brother.  To this he added, that as the young king had declared a passion for Ildegarda, he had determined to unite them despite of the wrath of Frotho, and thus repay her long captivity by placing her upon a throne.  His daughter had many objections to this arrangement, but her father’s heart appeared to joy so deeply in its p. 322contemplation that Ildegarda had not the courage to undeceive him: the tenderness of Haquin, the novelty of again seeing human faces, and the pleasure of listening to the gallant praises of the noble Danes, at length rendered Ildegarda forgetful of her promise, and not only seven days, but twice that number slipped away, ere she called to mind the probable anxiety of Brandomann.  She now determined to repair her fault and hasten back to the island, but when, upon retiring to rest, she sought her ring to place it upon her finger, the talisman was no where to be found.  In great distress she hastened to her father, expecting him perhaps to sympathise in her misfortune, but, unlike the gentle monster of the Maelstrom, he laughed at her anxiety, and congratulated her upon her loss; he bade her be under no apprehension respecting her ring, since it was safe in his possession—he had stolen it on being informed of its virtue, in order to secure her company,—“which,” he continued, “it appears, without this precaution I should have lost.”  He observed that he could not permit such a preposterous union between beauty and a beast, who, instead of being a descendant of Odin, was doubtless a member of the infernal royal family of Lok, and consequently some p. 323diabolical sorcerer, who had thus bought her, body and soul, of Frotho: he would give her, he remarked, a husband better suited to her rank and beauty, and commanded her to prepare to espouse her royal cousin Harold, within at least ten days.  Ildegarda was much startled by this conversation; and she who in the desolate island had mourned over the idea of perpetual captivity, now wept with more bitterness her recovered liberty, and the prospect of never more returning to her prison; she thought of the tender obedience of Brandomann to her lightest wish, and his generous self-denial upon all occasions respecting her.  She lamented the kind-hearted Serimnor, the chivalrous horse, the affectionate goat, and even the ravens and rein-deer received the tribute of her tears; but the idea of the probable suffering of Brandomann for his devotion to her, and disobedience in her favour, filled her heart with the most poignant regret; she hated Harold, and she esteemed her Maelstrom friend, and not a day passed without the severest search for the ring that was to convey her back to his territories.  At length Rinda, in pity, heard her prayers.  In her father’s bosom, during his sleep, she found her glittering ring, which she hastily secured as her dearest treasure, and instantly retired to rest; p. 324and when morning again looked upon her, it was in her chamber of the desolate isle.

Ildegarda scarce waited fully to throw off the fetters of sleep ere she descended to the marble hall, and instantly gave the signal which used to summon Brandomann to her presence, and which he had never neglected; now it was unheeded.  Alarmed, she repeated it more strongly—Brandomann replied not to the call; half-distracted she hurried through the palace, and harrowed her own feelings by recalling to mind his mournful prediction of the fate which awaited him, should she exceed her allotted time.  She shuddered to reflect how long that time had elapsed.  From the palace she traversed the gardens, running wildly with an aching heart and burning brow to every quarter, and asking every object she met for tidings of her lamented Brandomann: the birds and the echoes alone replied to her mournful queries, and disconsolate and despairing she threw herself upon the sod to give vent to the bitterness of her sorrow, and lament undisturbed her affliction.  “Brandomann!” she exclaimed; “Brandomann! where art thou? friend of my soul, art thou yet in existence, or hath my ingratitude destroyed thee?  Oh, if thou hearest, if thou beholdest these tears, have pity on thy p. 325wretched Ildegarda, and hasten to relieve her agony, and pardon her involuntary crime.”  She started up in a sudden ecstasy, for a low groan at no great distance from her seemed to be an answer to her question; she rushed forward in that direction, and soon beheld the hapless Brandomann stretched upon the earth, and apparently in the agonies of death; but her beloved voice, the touch of her gentle hand, the glance of her worshipped eye, either of these would have recalled him to life, and now all were lavishly employed to restore him: he looked up for a moment.  Mournfully he said, “Beloved, thou art come to see me die!” and then relapsed into stupor and forgetfulness.  Ildegarda wept in agony—she was hanging over him in listless sorrow, when her thoughts were aroused by the appearance of Heidruna.  “Brandomann is dying,” said the white goat, “and from grief at your neglect; but you have returned, and, in compassion to your sufferings, I am permitted to restore him to you: take the bowl you see yonder, draw forth a portion of my milk, and give it to his lips; the hydromel of heaven will call him back to life.”  Ildegarda obeyed—she gave the miraculous draught to Brandomann, who as instantly recovered his reason and his strength; p. 326with tears of joy she expressed her gratitude to Heidruna; and the Moskoe chief observing her delight, and too happy once more to behold her, readily forgave her all he had suffered in her absence.  There was much happiness that night in the marble palace; Sleipner bowed down his arched neck to receive a pat from her snowy hand; Serimnor grinned till his huge tusks were completely visible; the ravens presented her the tips of their wings, and flew screaming about, as if they had been drinking the hydromel of Valhalla.  Ildegarda was happy, and Brandomann dared not trust his feelings to words.  Sunny walks and moonlight musings were now the pursuits of the imprisoned pair; for instead of retiring to rest, as formerly, when the Valhalla people went to their party, they roamed over the island, contemplating the stars, and talking tenderly of course, for when were love and moonshine separated?  It is true, in this instance, the tenderness was all on one side; for though Ildegarda permitted it, since she saw the happiness it gave to Brandomann, she yet could not prevail upon herself to return it, or say the words he wished to hear from her lips.  One evening, as thus, in the tranquil moonlight, they sat alone in the summery isle, Ildegarda was astonished, by p. 327the appearance of a wonder she had never yet remarked in the island; the moon was suddenly eclipsed by a light so glorious, yet so soft, that every object around her was visible in the brightness of beaming gold, yet without giving pain to the sense.  Brandomann remarked her admiration.  “This beauteous light,” said he, “is a mark of the approbation of the father of the gods, at some virtuous action of a favourite of heaven; it is Odin’s fire, dear Ildegarda, the light of his glorious smile; and shining now as it does upon thee, and our lonely isle, it comes to tell thee he is satisfied with thy past conduct, and approves thy present.”  Scarcely was this explanation given, ere the beauteous light died away from the mountains and the palace, and night wore again her solemn robe of darkness.  As they prepared to return, the star-studded sky, the jewel-paved floor of the palaces of Asgard, sparkling with its unnumbered lights, and shining in its soft blue glory, struck on their souls with delight; and, while they were gazing in rapture, a large and brilliant star shot from its place in the heaven and vanished rapidly from their sight.  “Some noble warrior or virtuous sage has closed his eyes upon this mortal scene,” said Brandomann, tenderly: “that was the star of his p. 328destiny; it fell from its seat in the heaven when he quitted his on the earth: this is the sign that tells to the survivors his fate, if it is fulfilled in the night; by day it is the vision of the rainbow bridge, the sacred arch that connects this earth with heaven, and over which the spirits of the just must pass.”  “I have heard that it is only visible to mortal sight, when the peculiarly brave and virtuous ascend its brilliant road,” said Ildegarda.  “And you have heard aright, dearest,” replied Brandomann; “it is only then that the guardian spirit of the bridge, Heimdaller of the radiant brow, descends from his abode on its top to meet and welcome the traveller; then it is, that the light from his rushing wings, and the gems which compose his jewelled crown, shine so strongly on the arch, as to render it visible to mortal sight, clad in the reflected glories of its guardian’s diadem.”

On the morrow Brandomann relieved her anxiety, which had been awakened by the sight of the falling star, lest her father’s should no more have a seat in the heavens, nor himself a name on the earth.  “A mild and gracious being hath left us,” said he, “for the happier scenes of Asgard; Sevald is dead—the virtuous son of the abandoned Frotho is no more—he fell, as became his p. 329race, in the battle-field, contending against your victorious father and his kinsman Harold, against whom the tyrant rages and vows destruction, as now the only rival he has to fear.”  The princess was satisfied by this explanation, the more especially as the first day of the month again presented the person of her father, though surrounded by the bustle of war.

p. 330PART V.

He hath borne all things well.


Whence is it, Brandomann,” said Sleipner one evening to the Scaldre, “that among those of the heroes whose virtues and glories you are nightly celebrating, I never hear the actions of Odin; why, while thus honouring his friends, are you neglectful of the great father of our race?  Surely he, from whom all inspiration flows, deserves the best, ay, and first fruits of your genius!”  “It was only because I feared my feeble strains would not do justice to the lofty subject,” replied Brandomann; “the glory of the father of gods and men requires a mightier hand than mine to celebrate it; Brage alone should strike the golden chord to his honour—alone should sing of deeds beyond the feeble thought of p. 331mortality; that which I can, I will; I dare not wake the voice of song, but I will speak of his wondrous deeds, that to-night, in Valhalla, thou mayest tell bright Asgard’s king that I have instructed this lovely maiden what honours and love are due to the first of her race, and the friend of her father.  Will it please thee, Ildegarda, to listen to the legend of Sigge?”  “Beyond all other things,” replied the princess, pleasedly: and Brandomann, smiling, began—

The Legend of Sigge.

From his high and everlasting throne in Valhalla, had Odin, the dispenser of good, poured forth, with unsparing hand, innumerable benefits upon his attendant spirits.  In the burning benevolence of his heart he forgot, or he disregarded, that to some essences obligation is pain, and gratitude a toil; so high did he raise some of those bright creations that stood nearest to his throne, that they became too great for obedience, and impatient of the most gentle restraint.  Lok, the most glorious of these glorious things, seated on the lowest step of the throne of light, saw but one between him and the highest; and once on that, what should restrain him from the throne of p. 332the universe?  Thus he thought, and thus he did: by his eloquence he seduced the higher spirits from their duty—by his beauty and promises the lower.  The worlds of Asgard sent their governing spirits forth to fight under his banner, and Surter brought myriads to his side.  For the first time since the creation, the standards of revolt flew in the cities of Asgard, and the proud Lok drove back, with contempt, the interceding ministers of Odin, who came to remonstrate upon his madness.  Confident in his power, the giant spirit entered Valasciolf, the city of the king, and dared even advance to Valhalla: the immortal beings who surround the diamond throne shuddered at his presumption, and, veiling their bright heads from the terrible glances of Odin, wept the approaching destiny of companions once so beloved, which they read in the eye of their master: the sovereign of the universe gave no command to his people—he uttered no reproach—he suffered his faithful spirits to fly before the sword of Lok and the devouring fires of Surter—he even permitted the lost ones to approach the steps of his eternal throne—then, when with proud exultation they advanced to seize upon him whose power they believed departed, he calmly arose from his seat and stretched out his right hand, armed with its p. 333invincible falchion, towards his enemies; at that tremendous signal Niord let loose the oceans of heaven, and, in terrific grandeur, they came rolling down upon the revolted; the winds from all the worlds were summoned up to heaven to aid their master, and rend and scatter his offenders.  Balder deserted his throne in the orb of day,—and the mad and governless globe flew up into Asgard, and burst its destructive flames upon the rebels.  Thor, the first-born of Odin, threw bye his star-formed diadem, girded his brow with the thunder, and, wielding the red bolt of vengeance, rushed upon them.  The sightless horror rose in his terrible strength, and the arrows of Vile, unerring as the lance of Hela, flew among the foes; all was confusion, terror, and despair—cries of anguish polluted the happy city—till Odin recalled his warriors, and plunged their enemies in the burning lake, bidding the proud Lok and the ambitious Surter obtain their wish and seat themselves on thrones.

But though the power of the infernal spirits was thus curbed, it was not destroyed; and, still invincible in malice, they resolved to wound Odin through his favourite, man.  Lok gave birth to the snaky sin, whose folds encircle the earth, and bade him breathe from his poisonous jaws upon p. 334her surface the blast of contention and hate: he obeyed; and man, no longer beneficent and kind, rose up against his brother; with bitter words, he poured curses on the father who called him into life, and smote on the bosom that had nourished him in helplessness.  The father of evil beheld and smiled—his work was half accomplished—and he called into existence death, to finish the deeds begun: the pale shadow stalked over the earth and drank the crimson blood till she grew wanton in her mirth, and besought her father for a companion: he heard, and sent Fenris up to follow her steps, and exult in her multiplied victims.  The fiends in hell heard the sounds of their triumph, and shouted responsive, when the shivering spirits of the slain were hurled weeping into Niftheim.  At length their cruel joy was heard in Asgard, at the same moment that sounds of sorrow ascended from the earth, from the few who still remembered his name.  It was from Scythia the plaining voice arose, and the monarch, looking down from his throne, beheld the last remnant of his people sinking beneath the power of the Roman.  Now then he determined to descend to the earth, not only to lead them to conquest, but to teach them wisdom and virtue.  Frea, the mother of the gods, resolved to partake p. 335the toils of her husband; and Thor, the eldest born of Odin, the ruler of the air, forsook his palace of nine hundred and forty halls, laid by his terrific thunderbolt, and his diadem of twelve stars, and, debasing his giant frame to the standard of humanity, descended with his father to the earth.  Cased in the armour of Scythians, they joined the troops of that beloved people, and the father god bidding them contend no longer against the power of the Roman, to whom Odin had given their country, promised to lead them to other fields, and give them other lands for their inheritance.  The fierce Scythians yielded to the persuasive voice of him whom they only knew as the warrior Sigge, and, rather than submit to the slavery they abhorred, they forsook the tombs of their fathers, and sought an empire in the north.

In vain the inhabitants of these regions sought to oppose the establishment of the heaven-conducted Scythians; in every battle they were defeated and driven with loss from their cities: the arrows of Frea carried destruction to the enemy—the mallet of Thor crushed thousands—and Odin, raging through their ranks, now as a warrior, now as a ferocious lion, spread devastation through their armies, and drove them p. 336from the field.  The Scythians saw these wonders; and secretly acknowledged Valhalla’s lord beneath the form of Sigge.  When the rage of battle was past, he lulled the wounded to repose, and arrested the parting spirits of the dying with the celestial strains of his harp; the wounds of his people were cured, and their strength restored by his celestial power, while, from the same cause, his enemies were bereft of courage and of vigour.  Sweden and Norway yielded to the matchless warrior, and received with joy the unknown Sigge for their king, but the Danes refused to acknowledge the leader of armies; and Mimer, their prince, an enchanter, and the friend of Lok, opposed himself against the victorious prince of Scythia.  Before the assembled Danes he contended with the stranger in eloquence and poetry, and in these his own people were compelled, by the severe laws of truth, to yield the palm to his rival.  Mimer was wise, eloquent, and brave; the strains of his harp were only inferior to those of Sigge, and he felt deeply the injury which he had sustained by the decision against him.  Determined to recover, with his sword, the glory he had lost, he called his armies together, and bade defiance to the Scythians: the opposing bands drew near; furious was the contest, for now, like p. 337a tiger sprung Mimer on his foes—now as a fiery serpent stung their hearts, or crushed them in his mighty folds.  As terrible raged Odin in various forms, carrying dismay around him, and thinning the ranks of the valiant Danes.  At length the monarchs met—in human form stood Mimer—in human form, prepared to oppose him, stood Valhalla’s mighty king: but momentary was the contest, the terrible blow of the Scythian brought the head of the Dane to his feet, as its faltering tongue pronounced the name of Odin.  The foe fled to the camp, while the father of men again raised to life his beloved Scythians who had fallen in this, the greatest of his fields.  At length, wishing to give peace to the weary land, he summoned the Danish chiefs to meet him in conference.  Seated on a throne, he received the warriors: in one hand he held the sceptre of his power, the other rested on a golden dish, in which, now richly embalmed, and adorned with a crown of gold, lay the head of the wretched Mimer.  The chiefs gazed in silence—a silence unbroken by human sounds, but disturbed by the voice of the dead, for the ghastly head opened its closed lips, fixed its eyes, and bade, in hollow but authoritative tones, its countrymen no longer oppose the will of the gods, but receive for their p. 338prince and lawgiver him who was master of the world!  Again it sunk into silence, and the astonished Danes, obeying its dictates, fell at the feet of the conqueror of Mimer.  And now, seated in peace on the thrones of the north, more brightly shone the unmatched virtues of Sigge.  He taught his subjects husbandry—he taught them to plough the waters—he opened to them the riches of commerce—and he dug from the earth the treasures which ages had concealed in her bosom;—he punished vice with severity—he rewarded virtue with munificence—he taught them letters—instructed them in the mysteries of the Runic—and obliged them to cultivate the milder graces of music and verse;—he allured men to obey by the charms of his eloquence and the splendour of his glory; and he spoke to their reason by his divine Hovamaal, which he gave them as his best gift—his richest legacy.  In this he bade them do no wrong to each other—to honour the eternal gods—and to render up life at the command of their country.  When he beheld the good effect of his regulations, and saw his people firmly attached to his laws, he called around him his children, born of his mortal wives, of the daughters of Scythia, and, dividing his dominions among them, taught them to govern p. 339according to his ordinances and example.  Satisfied with his work, he called Frea and Thor to his side, and, blessing once more his mortal children, ascended with them into the regions of light.  Then loudly the Danes acknowledged Odin, and paid their homage to his glory; to his race they have ever been faithful, for they still fill the earthly thrones of their father, who, from his abode in Asgard, looks down upon his children, and crowns their lives with prosperity: and thus shall he do till the long night which is to witness the last battle of the gods—the last attack of Lok and his allies, and which for ages they have been preparing—against Odin and the happy spirits of Asgard.  In the dreadful conflict, men and demons, oceans, earths, Niftheim, nay, even Asgard itself, shall be involved in one general wreck—one entire and undistinguished ruin; the infernal spirits shall fall in the convulsions—evil shall be no more—and from the ashes of the universe shall arise a brighter heaven—a gloomier hell, than those which have passed away.  To the glorious seats of Gimle, the city of burnished gold—to its diamond-studded palaces and star-paved courts—shall the spirits of the just ascend, with Odin and his triumphant sons, to the enjoyment of one endless festival; while the cowards p. 340and wicked of the earth shall sink with their infernal allies—the revolted of heaven—into the caves of Nastronde, an abode more horrible than Niftheim—a den built up of the carcasses of snakes, and illuminated by devouring flames, where ever-enduring sorrow shall be the punishment of the lost, from which they shall have no power to escape, again to disturb the repose of the just.

Honour and praise to Frea—victory to Thor—glory to Odin, the greatest, and the best—hail to the master of gods and men!


Happily for his hearers, it was here, at length, that the merciless Brandomann terminated his long-winded history.  Sleipner had for some time been his only auditor—Ildegarda had been nodding repeatedly—Heidruna fidgetily trotting backwards and forwards to the portal, watching the clouds—Serimnor had given two or three most portentous yawns—while the two ravens who did every thing in concert, had tucked their heads under their wings, and gone fairly to sleep:—but they all started up when the hum of his voice had ceased, and thanked the good Brandomann as sincerely as if they had p. 341been excessively delighted, for they were grateful that he had finished at last, and were besides too well bred not to be charmed with what had been done entirely for their amusement.

On the following day, during their usual rambles about the island, the princess looked so unusually depressed, and said so little in reply to the observations of her companion, that his attention, ever on the watch, was aroused by her sadness; tenderly he inquired the cause.  “I will tell you,” replied Ildegarda: “when absent from you, and believing your life in danger, my only anxiety was to return; now, when that difficulty has passed away, I confess I am wretched respecting my father’s feelings and conduct, when he shall discover that I have quitted him for ever; neither is my own heart without a pang when I reflect that I shall see him no more.  Oh that I knew what is to come!—that I could look into the future, and behold my destiny and his!”  “I know not that it is in my power altogether to fulfil your wishes,” answered Brandomann; “but I can give you a glance into the future, so as to discover its general complexion, but not to enable you to read exactly the very page of destiny.  That which I can, to gratify your curiosity, I will do,—I will arrest for a few minutes the flight of p. 342the triune deity Time, and, by her appearance, we shall be able to judge of what is to come.—Urda, Werandi, Skulda!” continued Brandomann, raising his powerful voice to its utmost pitch, “obey the command of the lord of the Maelstrom, the mighty delegate of Odin—pause in your flight for a moment, and stand visibly before him!”  Scarcely was the peremptory order uttered, ere a light cloud was seen advancing towards them from the sea, and when it became stationary Ildegarda beheld a female form slowly and gracefully emerging from its centre; her features were indistinctly visible, and upon the floating misty robe that enveloped her figure, many changing objects were, some faintly, some powerfully, represented.  “It is Urda the Past,” said Brandomann to Ildegarda; “the events written upon her breast and brow are partially concealed by her garment of oblivion and doubt; and when this is penetrated by mortal sight, they are still seen through the mists of passion and prejudice, by which she is ever surrounded: look now upon her breast and brow—what objects do they represent to you?”  “I see a criminal,” said the princess, “about to suffer the sentence of justice—the executioner is preparing to strike.”  “To my view the representation is different,” p. 343replied Brandomann; “I see a crowned king falling beneath the murderous swords of his rebellious subjects.”  “I observe a dying parent,” continued Ildegarda, “who consigns his child to a noble warrior who weeps by his couch, but presses the babe to his heart.”  “I also see the dying father,” said Brandomann, “but he resigns his infant to a demon in form, and worse than a demon in heart, for he instantly plunges a dagger in its throat: what else do you remark?”  “Many other objects,” continued the princess, “but nothing clearly; the goddess herself is retiring slowly from my gaze, and to whom does she give place?”  “To Werandi the Present,” answered Brandomann, “in her snow-white robe, with her unveiled face and open brow and eye—how clear she looks upon us!—and her garments will shew us our actions of this moment:—but she retires, and Skulda the Future supplies her place; clad in a robe of darkness, she exhibits nothing to our eyes, and the veil which covers her person conceals also her face from our observation: she shall withdraw it, and her smile or frown will shadow forth your destiny.”  The goddess gently withdrew her veil, and the soft enchanting smile which she beamed upon the princess banished anxiety from her bosom, and graced the departure p. 344of the triune spirit with the sweet attribute of benevolence.

A few days after the prophetic smile of the deity of Time had given such hope to the heart of Ildegarda, they were, while wandering about the gardens of the palace, astonished by the roaring of thunders which announced a distant storm: they were surprised by the sudden change from daylight to darkness, and were puzzling each other respecting its cause, when the storm died rapidly away, the clouds fell down in a gentle shower, and the rainbow-bridge stood out in faint splendour from the heavens.  “Look, dearest,” said Brandomann; “the spirit of the bow has lowered his beautiful bridge—some of the lesser warriors are ascending to Valhalla—I will address the guardian of it, and bid him render the road and its passengers visible to your sight.—All hail Heimdaller of the coloured crown!” continued Brandomann, “the friend of Odin speaks to thee; beautiful spirit of the rushing wings and eyes of tender glory, let us look upon thy face, and the road which leads to thy dwelling!”  The silvery voice of the spirit answered him, giving an immediate assent to his desire, and in a moment the road and its travellers became visible to Ildegarda.  Slowly, and with feeble steps, the wounded p. 345warriors dragged themselves on till they reached the summit of the bridge, when the gates of light flew open, and the spirit, in giving them his hand, bestowed upon them strength and beauty, and thus prepared them for the presence of Odin and the glories of the halls of Valhalla.

While Ildegarda with intense interest was watching the solemn procession of the dead, her eyes were suddenly dazzled by a brilliant light thrown upon the bridge, which now shone out in tenfold splendour, colouring the mountains of the island with tints of its beautiful hues.  She looked up, and beheld the spirit of the bow descending, glorious in his youthful beauty; his diadem of many-coloured gems was on his lofty brow, and, in the ineffable loveliness of his sunny smile, there was a sweetness that made Ildegarda weep.  “He goes to welcome one of the greatest of mortal heroes,” said Brandomann—“one of the favourites of Odin; his presence throws this glory round him, and at this moment the beings of earth, who gaze upon the bridge, behold its colours at the brightest: but see—at the foot of the arch there is one ascending to meet the spirit!—his wounds are terrible—his bosom is fearfully gored—and his steps are feeble and slow—but he has the brow and the port of a hero; as yet I p. 346know him not.”  “But I do!” shrieked the hapless Ildegarda—“O Brandomann, I know him well!”  The lord of the Maelstrom looked up again, and painfully recognised the shadow—it was indeed her father;—the pale inhabitant of another world, whom she saw ascending slowly to meet the welcome smile of the angel of light, was once the noble Haquin, the last friend of Harold and his sons.  Brandomann gazed in grief and terror, and the sorrow he felt for the death of the warrior was scarcely mitigated by the change wrought in his wearied frame by the touch of the radiant Heimdaller.  “Ildegarda!” he cried in a voice of tenderness and pity; “Ildegarda, think not that thou art alone in the world, or that all that loved thee have left it; look up, my dear one!—look on the happiness of thy noble father, and cease to regret his fate; what could thy love offer him in exchange for this?”  Ildegarda mournfully assented as she saw his glory, and her grief became more resigned and gentle.  She returned to the palace with Brandomann, who, far from attempting to console, wept with her the loss she had sustained.  In the evening her friends did not as usual visit the island, but they explained the cause of their absence on the next.  It was in honour of Haquin they had been p. 347detained at Valhalla, as Odin had commanded the feast earlier, in order to compliment this noble warrior,—“who now,” continued Sleipner, “sits highest in the hall, and nearest to Odin’s self.”

Time reconciled the princess to her father’s death, and to her hopeless imprisonment in Moskoe.  The generous Brandomann, now that she had lost in the world all that was dear to her, and was most entirely in his power, never spoke to her of the love which it was but too plain he bore her.  She saw and rewarded his virtue.  “Brandomann!” she said to him one day as they wandered through the gardens of the desolate isle; “Brandomann, friend of my heart, in the world, where my father walks no longer, I have no interest, and can never wish to return; yet I feel that I could love and render some deserving being more happy than a lonely destiny could make him; thou alone art worthy of this heart, and of the duty which I will pay thee; I cannot love thee as I once loved Haldane—as I fear I should love him still—that feeling it is not in thy power to inspire; but I honour thy virtue, and am grateful for its exercise.  Wilt thou accept this hand—this heart?  If so, take me, Brandomann, for I am thine!”

She threw herself, as she spoke, into the arms p. 348which opened transportedly to receive her, and bowed her head upon his breast.  She could not distinguish his reply, for a sudden peal of thunder rolled above their heads, and the earth was shaken to its foundation—a frightful darkness covered the island, and shrieks and howlings rung in their ears, mingled with shouts of triumph and the cheering blasts of the trumpet.  Ildegarda clung closer to her lover for protection, when a gentle, well-known voice reassured her spirits and relieved her terrors.  “Look on me, my beloved,” it said; “look on me, and receive the reward of thy virtue, and the approbation of Heaven on thy choice.”  The princess raised her eyes to the face of her lover, and beheld—not Brandomann, but Haldane—the one, the only beloved, the first choice of her innocent heart; it was on his bosom she leaned—it was his arm that supported her slender form: she trembled with painful emotion.  “But Brandomann?” she demanded—“Is at thy feet, my beloved,” replied the graceful warrior: “beneath that hideous form, Lok, in revenge for an ancient scorn, had condemned me to wear out my life, unless I could inspire a royal virgin with sufficient love to become my wife.  Odin, in compassion to my sufferings, confined me to this island, and endowed me with sufficient power to p. 349fulfil the condition, and deceive and baffle the evil spirits themselves, by the means of their wretched agent, the detestable Frotho.  Around thee stand the gallant chiefs and the Norwegian captives, who were sent against the monster of the Maelstrom, and who seemed to be destroyed by my vengeance; they are now my friends, and wait to conduct us to Denmark, where Haldane will lay his crown at thy feet.”  The chiefs paid their homage to the princess, and immediately after, there arrived, to offer their sincere congratulations, her tender friends of many moons, the eight-legged, four-legged, and two-legged animals of Valhalla.  Ildegarda, even on the bosom of Haldane, wept at the parting; for she knew she should behold them no more.  They attended her to the shore, and beheld her embark in the gallant ship which Niord, at the command of Odin, had preserved for them in one of the ocean caves.  Soon they were wafted to Denmark, and Haldane burst upon the usurper so suddenly, that he had no time even to arm his household guards for his defence.  He was presiding at a festival when Haldane entered his presence; some of his nobles humbly acknowledged their prince, and the others, not caring to attack him, made the p. 350best of their way out of the palace, leaving the miserable Frotho in the power of his nephew, who, without giving him time to make his will, threw him headlong into the cistern of mead before which he was sitting.

Whether Haldane, in his natural shape, was as amiable and complaisant as he had been under his assumed one, is a question which the historian of his life cannot answer—nor whether Ildegarda, on her throne in Denmark, found as true friends and faithful servants as she had in the gulf of the Maelstrom: certain it is, she lived to a great age with her glorious husband, (who was the greatest prince of the race of Dan that ever swayed the sceptre of the north,) and that once or twice during their lives they had together visited the desolate isle; and the princess, to the great scandal of the ladies and gentlemen of the court, and surprise of her husband, wept bitterly on finding that the marble palace and its beautiful gardens had disappeared, the Moskoe isle had resumed its ancient appearance, and nothing remained to mark it out as the scene of such wonders as had passed in it.  It has much the same character at this hour; and it would be very difficult to persuade its inhabitants, or the p. 351stranger who may visit its shores, that it once was a paradise only second to the bowers of Valasciolf’s own.  You, gentle reader, know better; and, complimenting you on the patience by which you have acquired this knowledge, I bid you, for the present, farewell.

p. 352NOTES


Olave the Second—one of the early kings of Denmark, of the race of Dan.  These princes believed themselves descended from Odin.  Olave was a worthless, profligate prince, who left two sons, who succeeded him; the elder, Frotho the Fifth, murdered his brother Harold, and afterwards the assassin who, by his own order, had stabbed him.  He endeavoured to secure the persons of the princes his nephews; but a nobleman, friend to their father, conveyed them out of his reach, and concealed them in a cave till they were of an age to revenge these injuries.

Asgard—the country of the gods; the Olympus of the north.

Valasciolf—its chief city, in which the principal divinities and more illustrious dead resided in magnificent palaces.

p. 353Valhalla—the chief palace of Valasciolf, the regal residence of Odin.

Niftheim—Hell.  A territory of devouring flames, typifying eternal remorse; the abode of the evil principle and his attendant spirits.

Feggo—the brother of Harwendil, king of Jutland, and uncle to Hamlet.  The latter prince feigned madness after the murder of his father, but killed Feggo at a festival.  He succeeded to the crown, which he wore with honour, till killed in battle by Viglet, king of Denmark.

Lok—the evil principle.  He gave birth to Midgard (sin), the snake whose folds encircle the earth—Hela (death)—and the wolf Fenris, the guardian of the gate of hell; these were the evil progeny of Lok, begotten for the destruction of the human race.

Surter—the evil divinity of fire—the next in rank to Lok.  The Scythians represented him as a beautiful youth; the Saxons as an old man, to whose honour they dedicated the seventh day of the week.

Balder—son of Odin, god of eloquence and poetry, and ruler of the sun—the Scandinavian Apollo.  He was represented as a youth with a burning wheel upon his breast; his face resembled the sun.

Nastronde—According to the Scandinavian mythology, at the end of the world, during a night which was to last a year, a tremendous battle was to be fought between the good and evil spirits, in which the former were to conquer and reign in Gimle, a more glorious heaven than Asgard; while the wicked were to be banished to Nastronde, a new hell, made purposely for them.

p. 354PART II.

Maelstrom, Malestrom, or Moskoestrom—a tremendous whirlpool on the Norwegian coast, very dangerous, and often fatal to navigators venturing too near it.  Moskoe is an island situated in the gulf: there are also several others.

Sleipner—the warrior horse of Odin.  He had four black legs and four white ones: he generally travelled through the air.

Rinda—daughter of Balder, and mother of Vile, by Odin.  The favourite goddess of the Scandinavian women.

Hydrasil—the tree of heaven, standing in the garden of Odin.  It was the abode of the disposer of man’s destiny.


Heidruna—the immortal goat, whose milk was the hydromel served up nightly at the festivals of Valhalla.

Serimnor—the wild boar, whose flesh served them for food.

Hugo and Mumin—the raven messengers of Odin.

Thor—the warrior god—the eldest son of Odin, who, in his journey over the world, defeated Midgard, and loosened his folds from the earth; he is typical of divine justice and vengeance.  In the beautiful fables of the Scalds, he is represented as a stern warrior, armed with an enormous mallet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars.  He lived in a palace of Valasciolf, of five hundred and forty halls, and was the ruler and wielder of the thunderbolt.

p. 355Forsete—divinity of controversy.  I believe this deity is peculiar to the Scandinavians.  He lived in a palace called Glitner.

Blind horror—Hoder—whose name was never pronounced by the Scythians without fear and immediate expiation—son of Odin, and born blind—the deity of strength.  He was abhorred in heaven, because, from envy, he attacked Balder, threw him from his throne, and put out the sun.  Odin interfered, and punished Hoder by the arrows of Vile (lightning), and afterwards restored the sun.  It was thus, in their beautiful and fanciful mythology, like the Greeks, and I think no less elegantly, that the Scalds described natural, but not understood events.  This story describes an eclipse of the sun, the strong and blind Hoder signifying darkness.

Lofna—goddess of reconciliation.  I believe this deity is also peculiar to the Scythians; they have deified her with great propriety.  Her post could not have been a sinecure in a paradise where happiness consisted in drinking and fighting.

Hiarn—his story is strictly historical.  It was Eric the Third who was so maddened by music as to commit murder for no other cause.

Geysers—boiling spouting springs in Iceland: they are near to Skalholt and Hecla; they spout water to a tremendous and incredible height.

Dofrefeld—a mighty range of Norwegian mountains, intersected by rivers and cataracts.

Dolsteen—a wonderful cavern beneath the Dofrefeld mountains.

Niord—the Scandinavian Neptune.

p. 356PART IV.

Uffon—this story is also historical.  Shakspeare, who read Danish history, borrowed the circumstance of Vermund’s death for that of Gloster in King Lear.

Lidscialf—the throne of Odin.

Heimdaller—guardian of the bridge Bifrost, or the rainbow, by which the happy dead ascended into Asgard.  He received the souls who were selected by the Valkyries, and conducted them to Odin.

Vile—god of archery; son of Odin and Rinda.


Brage—god of music and song.

Hovamaal—bible of Odin.

Odin—a wise and virtuous warrior, whose beneficence procured him, among the early Scythians, deification.  As a divinity, the father of gods and men, he is the husband of Frea (the earth), and from the union of divine love and the earth, spring light, heat, the elements, the seasons, strength, and genius, typified by Balder, Thor, Frey, Hoder, and Balder again, as orator and poet.  Odin, mounted upon his horse Sleipner, represents active benevolence.






[77]  An open field, in which, to satisfy the doubts of the nobles, the Emperor Frederic II., her son, was born.

[242]  Pages 242 and 243 were missing in the Bodleian scans and have instead been provided from the 1867 Milner and Sowerby edition which is textually nearly identical to this 1825 edition.—DP.