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Title: Famous Stories Every Child Should Know
Author: Various
Language: English
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[Illustration: Old Man of the Mountain]


[Illustration: (Title Page)]



FAMOUS STORIES

Every Child Should Know

EDITED BY

Hamilton Wright Mabie

THE WHAT-EVERY-CHILD-SHOULD-KNOW-LIBRARY

_Published by_

DOUBLEDAY, DORAN & CO., INC., _for_

THE PARENTS' INSTITUTE, INC.

_Publishers of "The Parents' Magazine"_

9 EAST 40th STREET, NEW YORK



COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE
COUNTRY LIFE PRESS. GARDEN CITY. N.Y.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The stories of "The Great Stone Face" and "The Snow Image" by
Nathaniel Hawthorne, are used in this volume by permission of Messrs.
Houghton, Mifflin & Company. Messrs. Little, Brown & Company have
granted permission for the republication of "The Man Without a
Country" by Edward Everett Hale.



INTRODUCTION


The group of stories brought together in this volume differ from
legends because they have, with one exception, no core of fact at the
centre, from myths because they make no attempt to personify or
explain the forces or processes of nature, from fairy stories because
they do not often bring on to the stage actors of a different nature
from ours. They give full play to the fancy as in "A Child's Dream of
a Star," "The King of the Golden River," "Undine," and "The Snow
Image"; but they are not poetic records of the facts of life, attempts
to shape those facts "to meet the needs of the imagination, the
cravings of the heart." In the Introduction to the book of Fairy Tales
in this series, those familiar and much loved stories which have been
repeated to children for unnumbered generations and will be repeated
to the end of time, are described as "records of the free and joyful
play of the imagination, opening doors through hard conditions to the
spirit, which craves power, freedom, happiness; righting wrongs, and
redressing injuries; defeating base designs; rewarding patience and
virtue; crowning true love with happiness; placing the powers of
darkness under the control of man and making their ministers his
servants." The stories which make up this volume are closer to
experience and come, for the most part, nearer to the every-day
happenings of life.

A generation ago, when the noble activities of science and its
inspiring discoveries were taking possession of the minds of men and
revealing possibilities of power of which they had not dreamed, the
prediction was freely made that poetry and fiction had had their day,
and that henceforth men would be educated upon facts and get their
inspirations from what are called real things. So engrossing and so
marvellous were the results of investigation, the achievements of
experiment, that it seemed to many as if the older literature of
imagination and fancy had served its purpose as completely as alchemy,
astrology, or chain armour.

The prophecies of those fruitful years of research did not tell half
the story of the wonderful things that were to be; the uses of
electricity which are within easy reach for the most homely and
practical purposes are as mysterious and magical as the dreams of the
magicians. We are served by invisible ministers who are more powerful
than the genii and more nimble than Puck. There has been a girdle
around the world for many years; but there is good reason to believe
that the time will come when news will go round the globe on waves of
air. If we were not accustomed to ordering breakfast miles away from
the grocer and the poulterer, we should be overcome with amazement
every time we took up the telephone transmitter. Absolutely pure tones
are now being made by the use of dynamos and will soon be sent into
homes lying miles distant from the power house, so to speak, so that
very sweet music is being played by arc lights.

The anticipations of scientific men, so far as the uses of force are
concerned, have been surpassed by the wonderful discoveries and
applications of the past few years; but poetry and romance are not
dead; on the contrary, they are more alive in the sense of awakening a
wider interest than ever before in the history of writing. During the
years which have been more fruitful in works of mechanical genius or
dynamic energy, novels have been more widely distributed and more
eagerly read than at any previous period. The poetry of the time, in
the degree in which it has been fresh and vital, has been treated by
newspapers as matter of universal interest.

Men are born story-readers; if their interest subsides for the moment,
or is absorbed by other forms of expression, it reasserts itself in
due time and demands the old enchantment that has woven its spell over
every generation since men and women reached an early stage of
development. Barbarians and even savages share with the most highly
civilised peoples this passion for fiction.

Men cannot live on the bare, literal fact any more than they can live
on bread alone; there is something in every man to feed besides his
body. He has been told many times by men of great disinterestedness
and ability that he must believe only that which he clearly knows and
understands, and that he must concern himself with those matters only
which he can thoroughly comprehend. He must live, in other words, by
the rule of common sense; meaning by that oft-used phrase, clear sight
and practical dealing with actual things and conditions. It would
greatly simplify life if this course could be followed, but it would
simplify it by rejecting those things which the finest spirits among
men and women have loved most and believed in with joyful and fruitful
devotion. If we could all become literal, matter of fact and entirely
practical, we should take the best possible care of our bodies and let
our souls starve. This, however, the soul absolutely refuses to do;
when it is ignored it rebels and shivers the apparently solid order of
common-sense living into fragments. It must have air to breathe, room
to move in, a language to speak, work to do, and an open window
through which it can look on the landscape and the sky. It is as idle
to tell a man to live entirely in and by facts that can be known by
the senses as to tell him to work in a field and not see the
landscape of which the field is a part.

The love of the story is one of the expressions of the passion of the
soul for a glimpse of an order of life amid the chaos of happenings;
for a setting of life which symbolises the dignity of the actors in
the play; for room in which to let men work out their instincts and
risk their hearts in the great adventures of affection or action or
exploration. Men and women find in stories the opportunities and
experiences which circumstances have denied them; they insist on the
dramatisation of life because they know that certain results
inevitably follow certain actions, and certain deeply interesting
conflicts and tragedies are bound up with certain temperaments and
types of character.

The fact that many stories are unwholesome, untrue, vulgar or immoral
impeaches the value and dignity of fiction as little as the abuse of
power impeaches the necessity and nobility of government, or the
excess of the glutton the healthfulness and necessity of food. The
imagination must not only be counted as an entirely normal faculty,
but the higher intelligence of the future will recognise its primacy
among the faculties with which men are endowed. Fiction is not only
here to stay, as the phrase runs, but it is one of the great and
enduring forms of literature.

The question is not, therefore, whether or not children shall read
stories; that question was answered when they were sent into the world
in the human form and with the human constitution: the only open
question is "what stories shall they read?" That many children read
too many stories is beyond question; their excessive devotion to
fiction wastes time and seriously impairs vigour of mind. In these
respects they follow the current which carries a multitude of their
elders to mental inefficiency and waste of power. That they read too
many weak, untruthful, characterless stories is also beyond question;
and in this respect also they are like their elders. They need food,
but in no intelligent household do they select and provide it; they
are given what they like if it is wholesome; if not, they are given
something different and better. No sane mother allows her child to
live on the food it likes if that food is unwholesome; but this is
precisely what many mothers and fathers do in the matter of feeding
the imagination. The body is scrupulously cared for and the mind is
left to care for itself!

Children ought to have stories at hand precisely as they ought to have
food, toys, games, playgrounds, because stories meet one of the normal
needs of their natures. But these stories, like the food given to the
body, ought to be intelligently selected, not only for their quality
but for their adaptation. There are many good books which ought not to
be in the hands of children because children have not had the
experience which interprets them; they will either fail to understand,
or if they understand, they will suffer a sudden forcing of growth in
the knowledge of life which is always unwholesome.

Only stories which are sound in the views of life they present ought
to be within the reach of children; these stories ought to be well
constructed and well written; they ought to be largely objective
stories; they ought not to be introspective, morbid or abnormal in any
way. Goody-good and professionally "pious" stories, sentimental or
unreal stories, ought to be rigorously excluded. A great deal of
fiction specially written for children ought to be left severely
alone; it is cheap, shallow and stamped with unreality from cover to
cover. It is as unwise to feed the minds of children exclusively on
books specially prepared for their particular age as to shape the
talk at breakfast or dinner specially for their stage of development;
few opportunities for education are more valuable for a child than
hearing the talk of its elders about the topics of the time. There are
many wholesome and entertaining stories in the vast mass of fiction
addressed to younger readers; but this literature of a period ought
never to exclude the literature of all periods.

The stories collected in this volume have been selected from many
sources, because in the judgment of the editor, they are sound pieces
of writing, wholesome in tone, varied in interest and style, and
interesting. It is his hope that they will not only furnish good
reading, but that they will suggest the kind of reading in this field
that should be within the reach of children.

HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE



FAMOUS STORIES

CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I. A Child's Dream of a Star
   By CHARLES DICKENS

II. The King of the Golden River or, The Black Brothers
    By JOHN RUSKIN

III. The Snow Image: A Childish Miracle
     By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

IV. Undine
    By FRIEDRICH, BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUÉ

V. The Story of Ruth
   FROM THE BOOK OF RUTH

VI. The Great Stone Face
    By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

VII. The Diverting History of John Gilpin
     By WILLIAM COWPER

VIII. The Man Without a Country
      By EDWARD EVERETT HALE

IX. The Nürnberg Stove
    By LOUISE DE LA RAMÉE ("Ouida")

X. Rab and His Friends
   By JOHN BROWN, M.D.

XI. Peter Rugg, the Missing Man
    By WILLIAM AUSTIN



STORIES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW



I

A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR


There was once a child, and he strolled about a good deal, and thought
of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child too, and his
constant companion. These two used to wonder all day long. They
wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at the height and
blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of the bright water;
they wondered at the goodness and the power of God who made the lovely
world.

They used to say to one another, sometimes, supposing all the children
upon earth were to die, would the flowers, and the water, and the sky
be sorry? They believed they would be sorry. For, said they, the buds
are the children of the flowers, and the little playful streams that
gambol down the hill-sides are the children of the water; and the
smallest bright specks playing at hide and seek in the sky all night,
must surely be the children of the stars; and they would all be
grieved to see their playmates, the children of men, no more.

There was one clear shining star that used to come out in the sky
before the rest, near the church spire, above the graves. It was
larger and more beautiful, they thought, than all the others, and
every night they watched for it, standing hand in hand at a window.
Whoever saw it first cried out, "I see the star!" And often they cried
out both together, knowing so well when it would rise, and where. So
they grew to be such friends with it, that, before lying down in their
beds, they always looked out once again, to bid it good-night; and
when they were turning round to sleep, they used to say, "God bless
the star!"

But while she was still very young, oh very, very young, the sister
drooped, and came to be so weak that she could no longer stand in the
window at night; and then the child looked sadly out by himself, and
when he saw the star, turned round and said to the patient pale face
on the bed, "I see the star!" and then a smile would come upon the
face, and a little weak voice used to say, "God bless my brother and
the star!"

And so the time came all too soon! when the child looked out alone,
and when there was no face on the bed; and when there was a little
grave among the graves, not there before; and when the star made long
rays down toward him, as he saw it through his tears.

Now, these rays were so bright, and they seemed to make such a shining
way from earth to Heaven, that when the child went to his solitary
bed, he dreamed about the star; and dreamed that, lying where he was,
he saw a train of people taken up that sparkling road by angels. And
the star, opening, showed him a great world of light, where many more
such angels waited to receive them.

All these angels, who were waiting, turned their beaming eyes upon the
people who were carried up into the star; and some came out from the
long rows in which they stood, and fell upon the people's necks, and
kissed them tenderly, and went away with them down avenues of light,
and were so happy in their company, that lying in his bed he wept for
joy.

But, there were many angels who did not go with them, and among them
one he knew. The patient face that once had lain upon the bed was
glorified and radiant, but his heart found out his sister among all
the host.

His sister's angel lingered near the entrance of the star, and said to
the leader among those who had brought the people thither:

"Is my brother come?"

And he said "No."

She was turning hopefully away, when the child stretched out his arms,
and cried, "O, sister, I am here! Take me!" and then she turned her
beaming eyes upon him, and it was night; and the star was shining into
the room, making long rays down towards him as he saw it through his
tears.

From that hour forth, the child looked out upon the star as on the
home he was to go to, when his time should come; and he thought that
he did not belong to the earth alone, but to the star too, because of
his sister's angel gone before.

There was a baby born to be a brother to the child; and while he was
so little that he never yet had spoken word he stretched his tiny form
out on his bed, and died.

Again the child dreamed of the open star, and of the company of
angels, and the train of people, and the rows of angels with their
beaming eyes all turned upon those people's faces.

Said his sister's angel to the leader:

"Is my brother come?"

And he said "Not that one, but another."

As the child beheld his brother's angel in her arms, he cried, "O,
sister, I am here! Take me!" And she turned and smiled upon him, and
the star was shining.

He grew to be a young man, and was busy at his books when an old
servant came to him and said:

"Thy mother is no more. I bring her blessing on her darling son!"

Again at night he saw the star, and all that former company. Said his
sister's angel to the leader:

"Is my brother come?"

And he said, "Thy mother!"

A mighty cry of joy went forth through all the star, because the
mother was reunited to her two children. And he stretched out his arms
and cried, "O, mother, sister, and brother, I am here! Take me!" And
they answered him, "Not yet," and the star was shining.

He grew to be a man, whose hair was turning gray, and he was sitting
in his chair by the fireside, heavy with grief, and with his face
bedewed with tears, when the star opened once again.

Said his sister's angel to the leader: "Is my brother come?"

And he said, "Nay, but his maiden daughter."

And the man who had been the child saw his daughter, newly lost to
him, a celestial creature among those three, and he said, "My
daughter's head is on my sister's bosom, and her arm is around my
mother's neck, and at her feet there is the baby of old time, and I
can bear the parting from her, God be praised!"

And the star was shining.

Thus the child came to be an old man, and his once smooth face was
wrinkled, and his steps were slow and feeble, and his back was bent.
And one night as he lay upon his bed, his children standing round, he
cried, as he had cried so long ago:

"I see the star!"

They whispered one to another, "He is dying."

And he said, "I am. My age is falling from me like a garment, and I
move towards the star as a child. And O, my Father, now I thank Thee
that it has so often opened, to receive those dear ones who await me!"

And the star was shining, and it shines upon his grave.



II

THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER; OR, THE BLACK BROTHERS


I.--HOW THE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM OF THE BLACK BROTHERS WAS INTERFERED
WITH BY SOUTHWEST WIND, ESQUIRE

In a secluded and mountainous part of Stiria there was, in old time, a
valley of the most surprising and luxuriant fertility. It was
surrounded, on all sides, by steep and rocky mountains, rising into
peaks, which were always covered with snow, and from which a number of
torrents descended in constant cataracts. One of these fell westward,
over the face of a crag so high, that, when the sun had set to
everything else, and all below was darkness, his beams still shone
full upon this waterfall, so that it looked like a shower of gold. It
was, therefore, called by the people of the neighbourhood, the Golden
River. It was strange that none of these streams fell into the valley
itself. They all descended on the other side of the mountains, and
wound away through broad plains and by populous cities. But the clouds
were drawn so constantly to the snowy hills, and rested so softly in
the circular hollow, that in time of drought and heat, when all the
country round was burnt up, there was still rain in the little valley;
and its crops were so heavy, and its hay so high, and its apples so
red, and its grapes so blue, and its wine so rich, and its honey so
sweet that it was a marvel to everyone who beheld it, and was
commonly called the Treasure Valley.

The whole of this little valley belonged to three brothers called
Schwartz, Hans, and Gluck. Schwartz and Hans, the two elder brothers,
were very ugly men, with overhanging eyebrows and small, dull eyes,
which were always half shut, so that you couldn't see into _them_, and
always fancied they saw very far into _you_. They lived by farming the
Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were. They killed
everything that did not pay for its eating. They shot the blackbirds,
because they pecked the fruit; and killed the hedgehogs, lest they
should suck the cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs
in the kitchen; and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all
summer in the lime-trees. They worked their servants without any
wages, till they would not work any more, and then quarrelled with
them, and turned them out of doors without paying them. It would have
been very odd, if with such a farm, and such a system of farming, they
hadn't got very rich; and very rich they _did_ get. They generally
contrived to keep their corn by them till it was very dear, and then
sell it for twice its value; they had heaps of gold lying about on
their floors, yet it was never known that they had given so much as a
penny or a crust in charity; they never went to mass; grumbled
perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of so cruel and
grinding a temper, as to receive from all those with whom they had any
dealings the nickname of the "Black Brothers."

The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both
appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined
or desired. He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed, and
kind in temper to every living thing. He did not, of course, agree
particularly well with his brothers, or, rather, they did not agree
with _him_. He was usually appointed to the honourable office of
turnspit, when there was anything to roast, which was not often; for,
to do the brothers justice, they were hardly less sparing upon
themselves than upon other people. At other times he used to clean the
shoes, floors, and sometimes the plates, occasionally getting what was
left on them, by way of encouragement, and a wholesome quantity of dry
blows, by way of education.

Things went on in this manner for a long time. At last came a very wet
summer, and everything went wrong in the country around. The hay had
hardly been got in, when the hay-stacks were floated bodily down to
the sea by an inundation; the vines were cut to pieces with the hail;
the corn was all killed by a black blight; only in the Treasure
Valley, as usual, all was safe. As it had rain when there was rain
nowhere else, so it had sun when there was sun nowhere else. Everybody
came to buy corn at the farm, and went away pouring maledictions on
the Black Brothers. They asked what they liked, and got it, except
from the poor, who could only beg, and several of whom were starved at
their very door, without the slightest regard or notice.

It was drawing towards winter, and very cold weather, when one day the
two elder brothers had gone out, with their usual warning to little
Gluck, who was left to mind the roast, that he was to let nobody in,
and give nothing out. Gluck sat down quite close to the fire, for it
was raining very hard, and the kitchen walls were by no means dry or
comfortable-looking. He turned and turned, and the roast got nice and
brown. "What a pity," thought Gluck, "my brothers never ask anybody to
dinner. I'm sure, when they've got such a nice piece of mutton as
this, and nobody else has got so much as a piece of dry bread, it
would do their hearts good to have somebody to eat it with them."

Just as he spoke there came a double knock at the house door, yet
heavy and dull, as though the knocker had been tied up--more like a
puff than a knock.

"It must be the wind," said Gluck; "nobody else would venture to knock
double knocks at our door."

No; it wasn't the wind: there it came again very hard, and what was
particularly astounding, the knocker seemed to be in a hurry, and not
to be in the least afraid of the consequences. Gluck went to the
window, opened it, and put his head out to see who it was.

It was the most extraordinary looking little gentleman he had ever
seen in his life. He had a very large nose, slightly brass-coloured;
his cheeks were very round, and very red, and might have warranted a
supposition that he had been blowing a refractory fire for the last
eight and forty hours; his eyes twinkled merrily through long silky
eyelashes, his moustaches curled twice round like a corkscrew on each
side of his mouth, and his hair, of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt
colour, descended far over his shoulders. He was about four-feet-six
in height, and wore a conical pointed cap of nearly the same altitude,
decorated with a black feather some three feet long. His doublet was
prolonged behind into something resembling a violent exaggeration of
what is now termed a "swallow-tail," but was much obscured by the
swelling folds of an enormous black, glossy-looking cloak, which must
have been very much too long in calm weather, as the wind, whistling
round the old house, carried it clear out from the wearer's shoulders
to about four times his own length.

Gluck was so perfectly paralysed by the singular appearance of his
visitor that he remained fixed without uttering a word, until the old
gentleman, having performed another, and a more energetic concerto on
the knocker, turned round to look after his fly-away cloak. In so
doing he caught sight of Gluck's little yellow head jammed in the
window, with its mouth and eyes very wide open indeed.

"Hollo!" said the little gentleman, "that's not the way to answer the
door. I'm wet, let me in."

To do the little gentleman justice, he _was_ wet. His feather hung
down between his legs like a beaten puppy's tail, dripping like an
umbrella; and from the ends of his moustaches the water was running
into his waistcoat pockets, and out again like a mill stream.

"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck, "I'm very sorry, but I really can't."

"Can't what?" said the old gentleman.

"I can't let you in, sir--I can't indeed; my brothers would beat me to
death, sir, if I thought of such a thing. What do you want, sir?"

"Want?" said the old gentleman, petulantly, "I want fire, and shelter;
and there's your great fire there blazing, crackling, and dancing on
the walls, with nobody to feel it Let me in, I say; I only want to
warm myself."

Gluck had had his head, by this time, so long out of the window that
he began to feel it was really unpleasantly cold, and when he turned,
and saw the beautiful fire rustling and roaring, and throwing long
bright tongues up the chimney, as if it were licking its chops at the
savory smell of the leg of mutton, his heart melted within him that it
should be burning away for nothing. "He does look _very_ wet," said
little Gluck; "I'll just let him in for a quarter of an hour." Round
he went to the door, and opened it; and as the little gentleman walked
in, there came a gust of wind through the house, that made the old
chimneys totter.

"That's a good boy," said the little gentleman. "Never mind your
brothers. I'll talk to them."

"Pray, sir, don't do any such thing," said Gluck. "I can't let you
stay till they come; they'd be the death of me."

"Dear me," said the old gentleman, "I'm very sorry to hear that. How
long may I stay?"

"Only till the mutton's done, sir," replied Gluck, "and it's very
brown."

Then the old gentleman walked into the kitchen, and sat himself down
on the hob, with the top of his cap accommodated up the chimney, for
it was a great deal too high for the roof.

"You'll soon dry there, sir," said Gluck, and sat down again to turn
the mutton. But the old gentleman did _not_ dry there, but went on
drip, drip, dripping among the cinders, and the fire fizzed, and
sputtered, and began to look very black, and uncomfortable: never was
such a cloak; every fold in it ran like a gutter.

"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck at length, after watching the water
spreading in long, quicksilver-like streams over the floor for a
quarter of an hour; "mayn't I take your cloak?"

"No, thank you," said the old gentleman.

"Your cap, sir?"

"I am all right, thank you," said the old gentleman rather gruffly.

"But--sir--I'm very sorry," said Gluck, hesitatingly; "but--really,
sir--you're--putting the fire out."

"It'll take longer to do the mutton, then," replied his visitor dryly.

Gluck was very much puzzled by the behaviour of his guest, it was such
a strange mixture of coolness and humility. He turned away at the
string meditatively for another five minutes.

"That mutton looks very nice," said the old gentleman at length.
"Can't you give me a little bit?"

"Impossible, sir," said Gluck.

"I'm very hungry," continued the old gentleman. "I've had nothing to
eat yesterday, nor to-day. They surely couldn't miss a bit from the
knuckle!"

He spoke in so very melancholy a tone, that it quite melted Gluck's
heart. "They promised me one slice to-day, sir," said he; "I can give
you that, but not a bit more."

"That's a good boy," said the old gentleman again.

Then Gluck warmed a plate and sharpened a knife. "I don't care if I do
get beaten for it," thought he. Just as he had cut a large slice out
of the mutton there came a tremendous rap at the door. The old
gentleman jumped off the hob, as if it had suddenly become
inconveniently warm. Gluck fitted the slice into the mutton again,
with desperate efforts at exactitude, and ran to open the door.

"What did you keep us waiting in the rain for?" said Schwartz, as he
walked in, throwing his umbrella in Gluck's face. "Ay! what for,
indeed, you little vagabond?" said Hans, administering an educational
box on the ear, as he followed his brother into the kitchen.

"Bless my soul!" said Schwartz when he opened the door.

"Amen," said the little gentleman, who had taken his cap off, and was
standing in the middle of the kitchen, bowing with the utmost possible
velocity.

"Who's that?" said Schwartz, catching up a rolling-pin, and turning to
Gluck with a fierce frown.

"I don't know, indeed, brother," said Gluck in great terror.

"How did he get in?" roared Schwartz.

"My dear brother," said Gluck, deprecatingly, "he was so _very_ wet!"

The rolling-pin was descending on Gluck's head; but at the instant,
the old gentleman interposed his conical cap, on which it crashed with
a shock that shook the water out of it all over the room. What was
very odd, the rolling-pin no sooner touched the cap than it flew out
of Schwartz's hand, spinning like a straw in a high wind, and fell
into the corner at the further end of the room.

"Who are you, sir?" demanded Schwartz, turning upon him.

"What's your business?" snarled Hans.

"I'm a poor old man, sir," the little gentleman began very modestly,
"and I saw your fire through the window, and begged shelter for a
quarter of an hour."

"Have the goodness to walk out again, then," said Schwartz. "We've
quite enough water in our kitchen, without making it a drying-house."

"It is a cold day to turn an old man out in, sir; look at my gray
hairs." They hung down to his shoulders, as I told you before.

"Ay!" said Hans, "there are enough of them to keep you warm. Walk!"

"I'm very, very hungry, sir; couldn't you spare me a bit of bread
before I go?"

"Bread indeed!" said Schwartz; "do you suppose we've nothing to do
with our bread but to give it to such red-nosed fellows as you?"

"Why don't you sell your feather?" said Hans, sneeringly. "Out with
you!"

"A little bit," said the old gentleman.

"Be off!" said Schwartz.

"Pray, gentlemen--"

"Off, and be hanged!" cried Hans, seizing him by the collar. But he
had no sooner touched the old gentleman's collar, than away he went
after the rolling-pin, spinning round and round, till he fell into the
corner on the top of it. Then Schwartz was very angry, and ran at the
old gentleman to turn him out; but he also had hardly touched him,
when away he went after Hans and the rolling-pin, and hit his head
against the wall as he tumbled into the corner. And so there they lay,
all three.

Then the old gentleman spun himself round with velocity in the
opposite direction; continued to spin until his long cloak was all
wound neatly about him; clapped his cap on his head, very much on one
side (for it could not stand upright without going through the
ceiling), gave an additional twist to his corkscrew moustaches, and
replied with perfect coolness: "Gentlemen, I wish you a very good
morning. At twelve o'clock to-night I'll call again; after such a
refusal of hospitality as I have just experienced, you will not be
surprised if that visit is the last I ever pay you."

"If ever I catch you here again," muttered Schwartz, coming half
frightened out of his corner--but, before he could finish his
sentence, the old gentleman had shut the house door behind him with a
great bang: and there drove past the window, at the same instant, a
wreath of ragged cloud, that whirled and rolled away down the valley
in all manner of shapes; turning over and over in the air, and melting
away at last in a gush of rain.

"A very pretty business, indeed, Mr. Gluck!" said Schwartz. "Dish the
mutton, sir. If ever I catch you at such a trick again--bless me, why,
the mutton's been cut!"

"You promised me one slice, brother, you know," said Gluck.

"Oh! and you were cutting it hot, I suppose, and going to catch all
the gravy. It'll be long before I promise you such a thing again.
Leave the room, sir; and have the kindness to wait in the coal cellar
till I call you."

Gluck left the room melancholy enough. The brothers ate as much mutton
as they could, locked the rest in the cupboard and proceeded to get
very drunk after dinner.

Such a night as it was! Howling wind, and rushing rain, without
intermission. The brothers had just sense enough left to put up all
the shutters, and double bar the door, before they went to bed. They
usually slept in the same room. As the clock struck twelve, they were
both awakened by a tremendous crash. Their door burst open with a
violence that shook the house from top to bottom.

"What's that?" cried Schwartz, starting up in his bed.

"Only I," said the little gentleman.

The two brothers sat up on their bolster, and stared into the
darkness. The room was full of water, and by a misty moonbeam, which
found its way through a hole in the shutter, they could see in the
midst of it an enormous foam globe, spinning round, and bobbing up and
down like a cork, on which, as on a most luxurious cushion, reclined
the little old gentleman, cap and all. There was plenty of room for it
now, for the roof was off.

"Sorry to incommode you," said their visitor, ironically. "I'm afraid
your beds are dampish; perhaps you had better go to your brother's
room: I've left the ceiling on, there."

They required no second admonition, but rushed into Gluck's room, wet
through, and in an agony of terror.

"You'll find my card on the kitchen table," the old gentleman called
after them. "Remember the _last_ visit."

"Pray Heaven it may!" said Schwartz, shuddering. And the foam globe
disappeared.

Dawn came at last and the two brothers looked out of Gluck's little
window in the morning. The Treasure Valley was one mass of ruin and
desolation. The inundation had swept away trees, crops, and cattle,
and left in their stead a waste of red sand and gray mud. The two
brothers crept shivering and horror-struck into the kitchen. The water
had gutted the whole first floor; corn, money, almost every movable
thing, had been swept away and there was left only a small white card
on the kitchen table. On it, in large, breezy, long-legged letters,
were engraved the words: _South-West Wind, Esquire_.


II.--OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE THREE BROTHERS AFTER THE VISIT OF
SOUTHWEST WIND, ESQUIRE; AND HOW LITTLE GLUCK HAD AN INTERVIEW WITH
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER.

Southwest Wind, Esquire, was as good as his word. After the momentous
visit above related, he entered the Treasure Valley no more; and, what
was worse, he had so much influence with his relations, the West Winds
in general, and used it so effectually, that they all adopted a
similar line of conduct. So no rain fell in the valley from one year's
end to another. Though everything remained green and flourishing in
the plains below, the inheritance of the Three Brothers was a desert.
What had once been the richest soil in the kingdom, became a shifting
heap of red sand; and the brothers, unable longer to contend with the
adverse skies, abandoned their valueless patrimony in despair, to seek
some means of gaining a livelihood among the cities and people of the
plains. All their money was gone, and they had nothing left but some
curious, old-fashioned pieces of gold plate, the last remnants of
their ill-gotten wealth.

"Suppose we turn goldsmiths?" said Schwartz to Hans, as they entered
the large city. "It is a good knave's trade; we can put a great deal
of copper into the gold, without any one's finding it out."

The thought was agreed to be a very good one; they hired a furnace,
and turned goldsmiths. But two slight circumstances affected their
trade: the first, that people did not approve of the coppered gold;
the second, that the two elder brothers, whenever they had sold
anything, used to leave little Gluck to mind the furnace, and go and
drink out the money in the ale-house next door. So they melted all
their gold, without making money enough to buy more, and were at last
reduced to one large drinking-mug, which an uncle of his had given to
little Gluck, and which he was very fond of, and would not have parted
with for the world; though he never drank anything out of it but milk
and water. The mug was a very odd mug to look at. The handle was
formed of two wreaths of flowing golden hair, so finely spun that it
looked more like silk than metal, and these wreaths descended into,
and mixed with, a beard and whiskers of the same exquisite
workmanship, which surrounded and decorated a very fierce little face,
of the reddest gold imaginable, right in the front of the mug, with a
pair of eyes in it which seemed to command its whole circumference. It
was impossible to drink out of the mug without being subjected to an
intense gaze out of the side of these eyes; and Schwartz positively
averred, that once, after emptying it, full of Rhenish, seventeen
times, he had seen them wink! When it came to the mug's turn to be
made into spoons, it half broke poor little Gluck's heart: but the
brothers only laughed at him, tossed the mug into the melting-pot, and
staggered out to the ale-house: leaving him, as usual, to pour the
gold into bars, when it was all ready.

When they were gone, Gluck took a farewell look at his old friend in
the melting-pot. The flowing hair was all gone; nothing remained but
the red nose, and the sparkling eyes, which looked more malicious than
ever. "And no wonder," thought Gluck, "after being treated in that
way." He sauntered disconsolately to the window, and sat himself down
to catch the fresh evening air, and escape the hot breath of the
furnace. Now this window commanded a direct view of the range of
mountains, which, as I told before, overhung the Treasure Valley, and
more especially of the peak from which fell the Golden River. It was
just at the close of the day, and when Gluck sat down at the window he
saw the rocks of the mountain tops, all crimson and purple with the
sunset; and there were bright tongues of fiery cloud burning and
quivering about them; and the river, brighter than all, fell, in a
waving column of pure gold, from precipice to precipice, with the
double arch of a broad purple rainbow stretched across it, flushing
and fading alternately in the wreaths of spray.

"Ah!" said Gluck aloud, after he had looked at it for a while, "if
that river were really all gold, what a nice thing it would be."

"No it wouldn't, Gluck," said a clear, metallic voice close at his
ear.

"Bless me! what's that?" exclaimed Gluck, jumping up. There was nobody
there. He looked round the room, and under the table, and a great many
times behind him, but there was certainly nobody there, and he sat
down again at the window. This time he didn't speak, but he couldn't
help thinking again that it would be very convenient if the river were
really all gold.

"Not at all, my boy," said the same voice, louder than before.

"Bless me!" said Gluck again; "what _is_ that?" He looked again into
all the corners and cupboards, and then began turning round, and
round, as fast as he could in the middle of the room, thinking there
was somebody behind him, when the same voice struck again on his ear.
It was singing now very merrily, "Lala-lira-la;" no words, only a soft
running, effervescent melody, something like that of a kettle on the
boil. Gluck looked out of the window. No, it was certainly in the
house. Upstairs, and downstairs. No, it was certainly in that very
room, coming in quicker time, and clearer notes, every moment.
"Lala-lira-la." All at once it struck Gluck that it sounded louder
near the furnace. He ran to the opening, and looked in: yes, he saw
right; it seemed to be coming, not only out of the furnace, but out of
the pot. He uncovered it, and ran back in a great fright, for the pot
was certainly singing! He stood in the farthest corner of the room,
with his hands up, and his mouth open, for a minute or two, when the
singing stopped, and the voice became clear and pronunciative.

"Hollo!" said the voice.

Gluck made no answer.

"Hollo! Gluck, my boy," said the pot again.

Gluck summoned all his energies, walked straight up to the crucible,
drew it out of the furnace, and looked in. The gold was all melted,
and its surface as smooth and polished as a river; but instead of
reflecting little Gluck's head, as he looked in, he saw meeting his
glance from beneath the gold the red nose and sharp eyes of his old
friend of the mug, a thousand times redder and sharper than ever he
had seen them in his life.

"Come, Gluck, my boy," said the voice out of the pot again, "I'm all
right; pour me out."

But Gluck was too much astonished to do anything of the kind.

"Pour me out, I say," said the voice rather gruffly.

Still Gluck couldn't move.

"_Will_ you pour me out?" said the voice passionately. "I'm too hot."

By a violent effort, Gluck recovered the use of his limbs, took hold
of the crucible, and sloped it so as to pour out the gold. But instead
of a liquid stream, there came out, first, a pair of pretty little
yellow legs, then some coat tails, then a pair of arms stuck akimbo,
and, finally, the well-known head of his friend the mug; all which
articles, uniting as they rolled out, stood up energetically on the
floor, in the shape of a little golden dwarf, about a foot and a half
high.

"That's right!" said the dwarf, stretching out first his legs, and
then his arms, and then shaking his head up and down, and as far round
as it would go, for five minutes without stopping; apparently with the
view of ascertaining if he were quite correctly put together, while
Gluck stood contemplating him in speechless amazement. He was dressed
in a stashed doublet of spun gold, so fine in its texture, that the
prismatic colours gleamed over it, as if on a surface of
mother-of-pearl; and, over this brilliant doublet, his hair and beard
fell full halfway to the ground, in waving curls, so exquisitely
delicate that Gluck could hardly tell where they ended; they seemed to
melt into air. The features of the face, however, were by no means
finished with the same delicacy; they were rather coarse, slightly
inclining to coppery in complexion, and indicative, in expression, of
a very pertinacious and intractable disposition in their small
proprietor. When the dwarf had finished his self-examination, he
turned his small eyes full on Gluck, and stared at him deliberately
for a minute or two. "No, it wouldn't, Gluck, my boy," said the little
man.

This was certainly rather an abrupt and unconnected mode of commencing
conversation. It might indeed be supposed to refer to the course of
Gluck's thoughts, which had first produced the dwarf's observations
out of the pot; but whatever it referred to, Gluck had no inclination
to dispute the dictum.

"Wouldn't it, sir?" said Gluck, very mildly and submissively indeed.

"No," said the dwarf, conclusively. "No, it wouldn't." And with that,
the dwarf pulled his cap hard over his brows, and took two turns, of
three feet long, up and down the room, lifting his legs up very high,
and setting them down very hard. This pause gave time for Gluck to
collect his thoughts a little, and, seeing no great reason to view his
diminutive visitor with dread, and feeling his curiosity overcome his
amazement, he ventured on a question of peculiar delicacy.

"Pray, sir," said Gluck, rather hesitatingly, "were you my mug?"

On which the little man turned sharp round, walked straight up to
Gluck, and drew himself up to his full height. "I," said the little
man, "am the King of the Golden River." Whereupon he turned about
again, and took two more turns, some six feet long, in order to allow
time for the consternation which this announcement produced in his
auditor to evaporate. After which, he again walked up to Gluck and
stood still, as if expecting some comment on his communication.

Gluck determined to say something at all events. "I hope your Majesty
is very well," said Gluck.

"Listen!" said the little man, deigning no reply to this polite
inquiry. "I am the King of what you mortals call the Golden River. The
shape you saw me in was owing to the malice of a stronger king, from
whose enchantments you have this instant freed me. What I have seen of
you, and your conduct to your wicked brothers, renders me willing to
serve you; therefore, attend to what I tell you. Whoever shall climb
to the top of that mountain from which you see the Golden River
issue, and shall cast into the stream at its source three drops of
holy water, for him, and for him only, the river shall turn to gold.
But no one failing in his first, can succeed in a second attempt; and
if anyone shall cast unholy water into the river, it will overwhelm
him, and he will become a black stone." So saying, the King of the
Golden River turned away and deliberately walked into the centre of
the hottest flame of the furnace. His figure became red, white,
transparent, dazzling--a blaze of intense light--rose, trembled, and
disappeared. The King of the Golden River had evaporated.

"Oh!" cried poor Gluck, running to look up the chimney after him; "oh
dear, dear, dear me! My mug! my mug! my mug!"


III.--HOW MR. HANS SET OFF ON AN EXPEDITION TO THE GOLDEN RIVER, AND
HOW HE PROSPERED THEREIN

The King of the Golden River had hardly made the extraordinary exit
related in the last chapter, before Hans and Schwartz came roaring
into the house, very savagely drunk. The discovery of the total loss
of their last piece of plate had the effect of sobering them just
enough to enable them to stand over Gluck, beating him very steadily
for a quarter of an hour; at the expiration of which period they
dropped into a couple of chairs, and requested to know what he had to
say for himself. Gluck told them his story, of which, of course, they
did not believe a word. They beat him again, till their arms were
tired, and staggered to bed. In the morning, however, the steadiness
with which he adhered to his story obtained him some degree of
credence; the immediate consequence of which was, that the two
brothers, after wrangling a long time on the knotty question, which
of them should try his fortune first, drew their swords and began
fighting. The noise of the fray alarmed the neighbours who, finding
they could not pacify the combatants, sent for the constable.

Hans, on hearing this, contrived to escape, and hid himself; but
Schwartz was taken before the magistrate, fined for breaking the
peace, and, having drunk out his last penny the evening before, was
thrown into prison till he should pay.

When Hans heard this, he was much delighted, and determined to set out
immediately for the Golden River. How to get the holy water was the
question. He went to the priest, but the priest could not give any
holy water to so abandoned a character. So Hans went to vespers in the
evening for the first time in his life, and, under pretence of
crossing himself, stole a cupful and returned home in triumph.

Next morning he got up before the sun rose, put the holy water into a
strong flask, and two bottles of wine and some meat in a basket, slung
them over his back, took his alpine staff in his hand, and set off for
the mountains.

On his way out of the town he had to pass the prison, and as he looked
in at the windows, whom should he see but Schwartz himself peeping out
of the bars, and looking very disconsolate.

"Good morning, brother," said Hans; "have you any message for the King
of the Golden River?"

Schwartz gnashed his teeth with rage, and shook the bars with all his
strength; but Hans only laughed at him, and advising him to make
himself comfortable till he came back again, shouldered his basket,
shook the bottle of holy water in Schwartz's face till it frothed
again, and marched off in the highest spirits in the world.

It was, indeed, a morning that might have made anyone happy, even
with no Golden River to seek for. Level lines of dewy mist lay
stretched along the valley, out of which rose the massy
mountains--their lower cliffs in pale gray shadow, hardly
distinguishable from the floating vapour, but gradually ascending till
they caught the sunlight, which ran in sharp touches of ruddy colour
along the angular crags, and pierced, in long level rays, through
their fringes of spear-like pine. Far above, shot up red splintered
masses of castellated rock, jagged and shivered into myriads of
fantastic forms, with here and there a streak of sunlit snow, traced
down their chasms like a line of forked lightning; and, far beyond,
and far above all these, fainter than the morning cloud, but purer and
changeless, slept, in the blue sky, the utmost peaks of the eternal
snow.

The Golden River, which sprang from one of the lower and snowless
elevations, was now nearly in shadow; all but the uppermost jets of
spray, which rose like slow smoke above the undulating line of the
cataract, and floated away in feeble wreaths upon the morning wind.

On this object, and on this alone, Hans's eyes and thoughts were
fixed; forgetting the distance he had to traverse, he set off at an
imprudent rate of walking, which greatly exhausted him before he had
scaled the first range of the green and low hills. He was, moreover,
surprised, on surmounting them, to find that a large glacier, of whose
existence, notwithstanding his previous knowledge of the mountains, he
had been absolutely ignorant, lay between him and the source of the
Golden River. He entered on it with the boldness of a practised
mountaineer; yet he thought he had never traversed so strange or so
dangerous a glacier in his life. The ice was excessively slippery, and
out of all its chasms came wild sounds of gushing water; not
monotonous or low; but changeful and loud, rising occasionally into
drifting passages of wild melody, then breaking off into short
melancholy tones, or sudden shrieks, resembling those of human voices
in distress or pain. The ice was broken into thousands of confused
shapes, but none, Hans thought like the ordinary forms of splintered
ice. There seemed a curious _expression_ about all their outlines--a
perpetual resemblance to living features, distorted and scornful.
Myriads of deceitful shadows, and lurid lights, played and floated
about and through the pale-blue pinnacles, dazzling and confusing the
sight of the traveller; while his ears grew dull and his head giddy
with the constant gush and roar of the concealed waters. These painful
circumstances increased upon him as he advanced; the ice crashed and
yawned into fresh chasms at his feet, tottering spires nodded around
him, and fell thundering across his path; and, though he had
repeatedly faced these dangers on the most terrific glaciers, and in
the wildest weather, it was with a new and oppressive feeling of panic
terror that he leaped the last chasm, and flung himself, exhausted and
shuddering, on the firm turf of the mountain.

He had been compelled to abandon his basket of food, which became a
perilous incumbrance on the glacier, and had now no means of
refreshing himself but by breaking off and eating some of the pieces
of ice. This, however, relieved his thirst; an hour's repose recruited
his hardy frame, and, with the indomitable spirit of avarice, he
resumed his laborious journey.

His way now lay straight up a ridge of bare red rocks, without a blade
of grass to ease the foot, or a projecting angle to afford an inch of
shade from the south sun. It was past noon, and the rays beat
intensely upon the steep path, while the whole atmosphere was
motionless, and penetrated with heat. Intense thirst was soon added
to the bodily fatigue with which Hans was now afflicted; glance after
glance he cast on the flask of water which hung at his belt. "Three
drops are enough," at last thought he; "I may, at least, cool my lips
with it."

He opened the flask, and was raising it to his lips, when his eye fell
on an object lying on the rock beside him; he thought it moved. It was
a small dog, apparently in the last agony of death from thirst. Its
tongue was out, its jaws dry, its limbs extended lifelessly, and a
swarm of black ants were crawling about its lips and throat. Its eye
moved to the bottle which Hans held in his hand. He raised it, drank,
spurned the animal with his foot, and passed on. And he did not know
how it was, but he thought that a strange shadow had suddenly come
across the blue sky.

The path became steeper and more rugged every moment; and the high
hill air, instead of refreshing him, seemed to throw his blood into a
fever. The noise of the hill cataracts sounded like mockery in his
ears; they were all distant, and his thirst increased every moment.
Another hour passed, and he again looked down to the flask at his
side; it was half empty; but there was much more than three drops in
it. He stopped to open it, and again, as he did so, something moved in
the path above him. It was a fair child, stretched nearly lifeless on
the rock, its breast heaving with thirst, its eyes closed, and its
lips parched and burning. Hans eyed it deliberately, drank, and passed
on. And a dark-gray cloud came over the sun, and long, snake-like
shadows crept up along the mountain sides. Hans struggled on. The sun
was sinking, but its descent seemed to bring no coolness; the leaden
weight of the dead air pressed upon his brow and heart, but the goal
was near. He saw the cataract of the Golden River springing from the
hillside, scarcely five hundred feet above him. He paused for a
moment to breathe, and sprang on to complete his task.

At this instant a faint cry fell on his ear. He turned, and saw a
gray-haired old man extended on the rocks. His eyes were sunk, his
features deadly pale, and gathered into an expression of despair.
"Water!" he stretched his arms to Hans, and cried feebly, "Water! I am
dying."

"I have none," replied Hans; "thou hast had thy share of life." He
strode over the prostrate body, and darted on. And a flash of blue
lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it shook thrice
over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy, impenetrable
shade. The sun was setting; it plunged toward the horizon like a
red-hot ball.

The roar of the Golden River rose on Hans's ear. He stood at the brink
of the chasm through which it ran. Its waves were filled with the red
glory of the sunset: they shook their crests like tongues of fire, and
flashes of bloody light gleamed along their foam. Their sound came
mightier and mightier on his senses; his brain grew giddy with the
prolonged thunder. Shuddering he drew the flask from his girdle, and
hurled it into the centre of the torrent. As he did so, an icy chill
shot through his limbs: he staggered, shrieked, and fell. The waters
closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the
night, as it gushed over _The Black Stone_.


IV.--HOW MR. SCHWARTZ SET OFF ON AN EXPEDITION TO THE GOLDEN RIVER,
AND HOW HE PROSPERED THEREIN

Poor little Gluck waited very anxiously alone in the house for Hans's
return. Finding he did not come back, he was terribly frightened, and
went and told Schwartz in the prison all that had happened. Then
Schwartz was very much pleased, and said that Hans must certainly
have been turned into a black stone, and he should have all the gold
to himself. But Gluck was very sorry, and cried all night. When he got
up in the morning there was no bread in the house, nor any money; so
Gluck went and hired himself to another goldsmith, and he worked so
hard, and so neatly, and so long every day, that he soon got money
enough together to pay his brother's fine, and he went and gave it all
to Schwartz, and Schwartz got out of prison. Then Schwartz was quite
pleased, and said he should have some of the gold of the river. But
Gluck only begged he would go and see what had become of Hans.

Now when Schwartz had heard that Hans had stolen the holy water, he
thought to himself that such a proceeding might not be considered
altogether correct by the King of the Golden River, and determined to
manage matters better. So he took some more of Gluck's money, and went
to a bad priest who gave him some holy water very readily for it. Then
Schwartz was sure it was all quite right. So Schwartz got up early in
the morning before the sun rose, and took some bread and wine in a
basket, and put his holy water in a flask, and set off for the
mountains. Like his brother, he was much surprised at the sight of the
glacier, and had great difficulty in crossing it, even after leaving
his basket behind him. The day was cloudless, but not bright: there
was a heavy purple haze hanging over the sky, and the hills looked
lowering and gloomy. And as Schwartz climbed the steep rock path, the
thirst came upon him, as it had upon his brother, until he lifted his
flask to his lips to drink. Then he saw the fair child lying near him
on the rocks, and it cried to him, and moaned for water.

"Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself,"
and passed on. And as he went he thought the sunbeams grew more dim,
and he saw a low bank of black cloud rising out of the west; and, when
he had climbed for another hour, the thirst overcame him again, and he
would have drunk. Then he saw the old man lying before him on the
path, and heard him cry out for water. "Water, indeed," said Schwartz;
"I haven't half enough for myself," and on he went.

Then again the light seemed to fade from before his eyes, and he
looked up, and, behold, a mist, of the colour of blood, had come over
the sun; and the bank of black cloud had risen very high, and its
edges were tossing and tumbling like the waves of an angry sea. And
they cast long shadows, which flickered over Schwartz's path.

Then Schwartz climbed for another hour, and again his thirst returned;
and as he lifted his flask to his lips, he thought he saw his brother
Hans lying exhausted on the path before him; and, as he gazed, the
figure stretched its arms to him, and cried for water. "Ha, ha,"
laughed Schwartz, "are you there? Remember the prison bars, my boy.
Water indeed! Do you suppose I carried it all the way up here for
_you_?" And he strode over the figure; yet, as he passed, he thought
he saw a strange expression of mockery about its lips. And, when he
had gone a few yards farther, he looked back; but the figure was not
there.

And a sudden horror came over Schwartz, he knew not why; but the
thirst for gold prevailed over his fear, and he rushed on. And the
bank of black cloud rose to the zenith, and out of it came bursts of
spiry lightning, and waves of darkness seemed to heave and float
between their flashes over the whole heavens. And the sky where the
sun was setting was all level, and like a lake of blood; and a strong
wind came out of that sky, tearing its crimson clouds into fragments,
and scattering them far into the darkness. And when Schwartz stood by
the brink of the Golden River, its waves were black, like thunder
clouds, but their foam was like fire; and the roar of the waters
below, and the thunder above, met, as he cast the flask into the
stream. And, as he did so, the lightning glared into his eyes, and the
earth gave way beneath him, and the waters closed over his cry. And
the moaning of the river rose wildly into the night, as it gushed over
the _Two Black Stones_.


V.--HOW LITTLE GLUCK SET OFF ON AN EXPEDITION TO THE GOLDEN RIVER, AND
HOW HE PROSPERED THEREIN; WITH OTHER MATTERS OF INTEREST

When Gluck found that Schwartz did not come back he was very sorry,
and did not know what to do. He had no money, and was obliged to go
and hire himself again to the goldsmith, who worked him very hard, and
gave him very little money. So, after a month or two, Gluck grew
tired, and made up his mind to go and try his fortune with the Golden
River. "The little king looked very kind," thought he. "I don't think
he will turn me into a black stone." So he went to the priest, and the
priest gave him some holy water as soon as he asked for it. Then Gluck
took some bread in his basket, and the bottle of water, and set off
very early for the mountains.

If the glacier had occasioned a great deal of fatigue to his brothers,
it was twenty times worse for him, who was neither so strong nor so
practised on the mountains. He had several very bad falls, lost his
basket and bread, and was very much frightened at the strange noises
under the ice. He lay a long time to rest on the grass, after he had
got over, and began to climb the hill in just the hottest part of the
day. When he had climbed for an hour, he got dreadfully thirsty, and
was going to drink like his brothers, when he saw an old man coming
down the path above him, looking very feeble, and leaning on a staff.
"My son," said the old man, "I am faint with thirst, give me some of
that water." Then Gluck looked at him, and, when he saw that he was
pale and weary, he gave him the water. "Only pray don't drink it all,"
said Gluck. But the old man drank a great deal, and gave him back the
bottle two-thirds empty. Then he bade him good speed, and Gluck went
on again merrily. And the path became easier to his feet, and two or
three blades of grass appeared upon it, and some grasshoppers began
singing on the bank beside it; and Gluck thought he had never heard
such merry singing.

Then he went on for another hour, and the thirst increased on him so
that he thought he should be forced to drink. But, as he raised the
flask, he saw a little child lying panting by the roadside, and it
cried out piteously for water. Then Gluck struggled with himself, and
determined to bear the thirst a little longer; and he put the bottle
to the child's lips, and it drank it all but a few drops. Then it
smiled on him, and got up, and ran down the hill; and Gluck looked
after it till it became as small as a little star, and then turned and
began climbing again. And then there were all kinds of sweet flowers
growing on the rocks, bright green moss, with pale pink starry
flowers, and soft belled gentians, more blue than the sky at its
deepest, and pure white transparent lilies. And crimson and purple
butterflies darted hither and thither, and the sky sent down such pure
light, that Gluck had never felt so happy in his life.

Yet, when he had climbed for another hour, his thirst became
intolerable again; and, when he looked at his bottle, he saw that
there were only five or six drops left in it, and he could not venture
to drink. And, as he was hanging the flask to his belt again, he saw
a little dog lying on the rocks, gasping for breath--just as Hans had
seen it on the day of his ascent. And Gluck stopped and looked at it
and then at the Golden River, not five hundred yards above him; and he
thought of the dwarf's words, "that no one could succeed, except in
his first attempt"; and he tried to pass the dog, but it whined
piteously, and Gluck stopped again. "Poor beastie!" said Gluck: "it'll
be dead when I come down again, if I don't help it." Then he looked
closer and closer at it, and its eye turned on him so mournfully that
he could not stand it. "Confound the King and his gold too," said
Gluck; and he opened the flask, and poured all the water into the
dog's mouth.

The dog sprang up and stood on its hind legs. Its tail disappeared,
its ears became long, longer, silky, golden; its nose became very red,
its eyes became very twinkling; in three seconds the dog was gone, and
before Gluck stood his old acquaintance, the King of the Golden River.

"Thank you," said the monarch; "but don't be frightened, it's all
right"; for Gluck showed manifest symptoms of consternation at this
unlooked-for reply to his last observation. "Why didn't you come
before," continued the dwarf, "instead of sending me those rascally
brothers of yours, for me to have the trouble of turning into stones?
Very hard stones they make too."

"Oh dear me!" said Gluck; "have you really been so cruel?"

"Cruel!" said the dwarf, "they poured unholy water into my stream; do
you suppose I'm going to allow that?"

"Why," said Gluck, "I am sure, sir--your Majesty, I mean--they got the
water out of the church font."

"Very probably," replied the dwarf; "but," and his countenance grew
stern as he spoke, "the water which has been refused to the cry of
the weary and dying is unholy, though it had been blessed by every
saint in heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy
is holy, though it had been defiled with corpses."

So saying, the dwarf stooped and plucked a lily that grew at his feet.
On its white leaves there hung three drops of clear dew. And the dwarf
shook them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand. "Cast these
into the river," he said, "and descend on the other side of the
mountains into the Treasure Valley. And so good speed."

As he spoke, the figure of the dwarf became indistinct. The playing
colours of his robe formed themselves into a prismatic mist of dewy
light; he stood for an instant veiled with them as with the belt of a
broad rainbow. The colours grew faint, the mist rose into the air; the
monarch had evaporated.

And Gluck climbed to the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were
as clear as crystal, and as brilliant as the sun. And, when he cast
the three drops of dew into the stream, there opened where they fell a
small circular whirlpool, into which the waters descended with a
musical noise.

Gluck stood watching it for some time, very much disappointed, because
not only the river was not turned into gold, but its waters seemed
much diminished in quantity. Yet he obeyed his friend the dwarf, and
descended the other side of the mountains toward the Treasure Valley;
and, as he went, he thought he heard the noise of water working its
way under the ground. And, when he came in sight of the Treasure
Valley, behold, a river, like the Golden River was springing from a
new cleft of the rocks above it, and was flowing in innumerable
streams among the dry heaps of red sand.

And as Gluck gazed, fresh grass sprang beside the new streams, and
creeping plants grew, and climbed among this moistening soil. Young
flowers opened suddenly along the river sides, as stars leap out when
twilight is deepening, and thickets of myrtle, and tendrils of vine,
cast lengthening shadows over the valley as they grew. And thus the
Treasure Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance which had
been lost by cruelty was regained by love.

And Gluck went, and dwelt in the valley, and the poor were never
driven from his door: so that his barns became full of corn, and his
house of treasure. And, for him, the river had, according to the
dwarf's promise, become a River of Gold.

And, to this day, the inhabitants of the valley point out the place
where the three drops of holy dew were cast into the stream, and trace
the course of the Golden River under the ground, until it emerges in
the Treasure Valley. And at the top of the cataract of the Golden
River are still to be seen two BLACK STONES, round which the waters
howl mournfully every day at sunset, and these stones are still called
by the people of the valley _The Black Brothers_.



III

THE SNOW-IMAGE: A CHILDISH MIRACLE


One afternoon of a cold winter's day, when the sun shone forth with
chilly brightness, after a long storm, two children asked leave of
their mother to run out and play in the new-fallen snow. The elder
child was a girl, whom, because she was of a tender and modest
disposition, and was thought to be very beautiful, her parents, and
other people who were familiar with her, used to call Violet. But her
brother was known by the style and title of Peony, on account of the
ruddiness of his broad and round little phiz, which made everybody
think of sunshine and great scarlet flowers. The father of these two
children, a certain Mr. Lindsey, it is important to say, was an
excellent but exceedingly matter-of-fact sort of man, a dealer in
hardware, and was sturdily accustomed to take what is called the
common-sense view of all matters that came under his consideration.
With a heart about as tender as other people's, he had a head as hard
and impenetrable, and therefore, perhaps, as empty, as one of the iron
pots which it was a part of his business to sell. The mother's
character, on the other hand, had a strain of poetry in it, a trait of
unworldly beauty--a delicate and dewy flower, as it were, that had
survived out of her imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive
amid the dusty realities of matrimony and motherhood.

So, Violet and Peony, as I began with saying, besought their mother to
let them run out and play in the new snow; for, though it had looked
so dreary and dismal, drifting downward out of the gray sky, it had a
very cheerful aspect, now that the sun was shining on it. The children
dwelt in a city, and had no wider play-place than a little garden
before the house, divided by a white fence from the street, and with a
pear-tree and two or three plum-trees overshadowing it, and some
rose-bushes just in front of the parlour-windows. The trees and
shrubs, however, were now leafless, and their twigs were enveloped in
the light snow, which thus made a kind of wintry foliage, with here
and there a pendent icicle for the fruit.

"Yes, Violet--yes, my little Peony," said their kind mother; "you may
go out and play in the new snow."

Accordingly, the good lady bundled up her darlings in woollen jackets
and wadded sacks, and put comforters round their necks, and a pair of
striped gaiters on each little pair of legs, and worsted mittens on
their hands, and gave them a kiss apiece, by way of a spell to keep
away Jack Frost. Forth sallied the two children, with a
hop-skip-and-jump, that carried them at once into the very heart of a
huge snow-drift, whence Violet emerged like a snow-bunting, while
little Peony floundered out with his round face in full bloom. Then
what a merry time had they! To look at them, frolicking in the wintry
garden, you would have thought that the dark and pitiless storm had
been sent for no other purpose but to provide a new plaything for
Violet and Peony; and that they themselves had been created, as the
snow-birds were, to take delight only in the tempest, and in the white
mantle which it spread over the earth.

At last, when they had frosted one another all over with handfuls of
snow, Violet, after laughing heartily at little Peony's figure, was
struck with a new idea.

"You look exactly like a snow-image, Peony," said she, "if your cheeks
were not so red. And that puts me in mind! Let us make an image out
of snow--an image of a little girl--and it shall be our sister, and
shall run about and play with us all winter long. Won't it be nice?"

"O, yes!" cried Peony, as plainly as he could speak, for he was but a
little boy. "That will be nice! And mamma shall see it!"

"Yes," answered Violet; "mamma shall see the new little girl. But she
must not make her come into the warm parlour; for, you know, our
little snow-sister will not love the warmth."

And forthwith the children began this great business of making a
snow-image that should run about; while their mother, who was sitting
at the window and overheard some of their talk, could not help smiling
at the gravity with which they set about it. They really seemed to
imagine that there would be no difficulty whatever in creating a live
little girl out of the snow. And, to say the truth, if miracles are
ever to be wrought, it will be by putting our hands to the work in
precisely such a simple and undoubting frame of mind as that in which
Violet and Peony now undertook to perform one, without so much as
knowing that it was a miracle. So thought the mother; and thought,
likewise, that the new snow, just fallen from heaven, would be
excellent material to make new beings of, if it were not so very cold.
She gazed at the children a moment longer, delighting to watch their
little figures--the girl, tall for her age, graceful and agile, and so
delicately coloured that she looked like a cheerful thought, more than
a physical reality; while Peony expanded in breadth rather than
height, and rolled along on his short and sturdy legs as substantial
as an elephant, though not quite so big. Then the mother resumed her
work. What it was I forget; but she was either trimming a silken
bonnet for Violet, or darning a pair of stockings for little Peony's
short legs. Again, however, and again, and yet other agains, she could
not help turning her head to the window to see how the children got on
with their snow-image.

Indeed, it was an exceedingly pleasant sight, those bright little
souls at their task! Moreover, it was really wonderful to observe how
knowingly and skilfully they managed the matter. Violet assumed the
chief direction, and told Peony what to do, while, with her own
delicate fingers, she shaped out all the nicer parts of the
snow-figure. It seemed, in fact, not so much to be made by the
children, as to grow up under their hands, while they were playing and
prattling about it. Their mother was quite surprised at this; and the
longer she looked, the more and more surprised she grew.

"What remarkable children mine are!" thought she, smiling with a
mother's pride; and, smiling at herself, too, for being so proud of
them. "What other children could have made anything so like a little
girl's figure out of snow at the first trial? Well; but now I must
finish Peony's new frock, for his grandfather is coming to-morrow, and
I want the little fellow to look handsome."

So she took up the frock, and was soon as busily at work again with
her needle as the two children with their snow-image. But still, as
the needle travelled hither and thither through the seams of the
dress, the mother made her toil light and happy by listening to the
airy voices of Violet and Peony. They kept talking to one another all
the time, their tongues being quite as active as their feet and hands.
Except at intervals, she could not distinctly hear what was said, but
had merely a sweet impression that they were in a most loving mood,
and were enjoying themselves highly, and that the business of making
the snow-image went prosperously on. Now and then, however, when
Violet and Peony happened to raise their voices, the words were as
audible as if they had been spoken in the very parlour, where the
mother sat. O how delightfully those words echoed in her heart, even
though they meant nothing so very wise or wonderful, after all!

But you must know a mother listens with her heart, much more than with
her ears; and thus she is often delighted with the trills of celestial
music, when other people can hear nothing of the kind.

"Peony, Peony!" cried Violet to her brother, who had gone to another
part of the garden, "bring me some of that fresh snow, Peony, from the
very farthest corner, where we have not been trampling. I want it to
shape our little snow-sister's bosom with. You know that part must be
quite pure, just as it came out of the sky!"

"Here it is, Violet!" answered Peony, in his bluff tone--but a very
sweet tone, too--as he came floundering through the half-trodden
drifts. "Here is the snow for her little bosom. O Violet, how
beau-ti-ful she begins to look!"

"Yes," said Violet, thoughtfully and quietly; "our snow-sister does
look very lovely. I did not quite know, Peony, that we could make such
a sweet little girl as this."

The mother, as she listened, thought how fit and delightful an
incident it would be, if fairies, or, still better, if angel-children
were to come from paradise, and play invisibly with her own darlings,
and help them to make their snow-image, giving it the features of
celestial babyhood! Violet and Peony would not be aware of their
immortal playmates--only they could see that the image grew very
beautiful while they worked at it, and would think that they
themselves had done it all.

"My little girl and boy deserve such playmates, if mortal children
ever did!" said the mother to herself; and then she smiled again at
her own motherly pride.

Nevertheless, the ideas seized upon her imagination; and ever and
anon, she took a glimpse out of the window, half dreaming that she
might see the golden-haired children of paradise sporting with her own
golden-haired Violet and bright-cheeked Peony.

Now, for a few moments, there was a busy and earnest, but indistinct
hum of the two children's voices, as Violet and Peony wrought together
with one happy consent. Violet still seemed to be the guiding spirit,
while Peony acted rather as a labourer, and brought her the snow from
far and near. And yet the little urchin evidently had a proper
understanding of the matter, too!

"Peony, Peony!" cried Violet; for the brother was again at the other
side of the garden. "Bring me those light wreaths of snow that have
rested on the lower branches of the pear-tree. You can clamber on the
snow-drift, Peony, and reach them easily. I must have them to make
some ringlets for our snow-sister's head!"

"Here they are, Violet!" answered the little boy. "Take care you do
not break them. Well done! Well done! How pretty!"

"Does she not look sweet?" said Violet, with a very satisfied tone;
"and now we must have some little shining bits of ice, to make the
brightness of her eyes. She is not finished yet. Mamma will see how
very beautiful she is; but papa will say, 'Tush! nonsense!--come in
out of the cold!'"

"Let us call mamma to look out," said Peony; and then he shouted
lustily, "Mamma! mamma!! mamma!!! Look out, and see what a nice 'ittle
girl we are making."

The mother put down her work, for an instant, and looked out of the
window. But it so happened that the sun--for this was one of the
shortest days of the whole year--had sunken so nearly to the edge of
the world, that his setting shine came obliquely into the lady's eyes.
So she was dazzled, you must understand, and could not very distinctly
observe what was in the garden. Still, however, through all that
bright, blinding dazzle of the sun and the new snow, she beheld a
small white figure in the garden, that seemed to have a wonderful deal
of human likeness about it. And she saw Violet and Peony--indeed, she
looked more at them than at the image--she saw the two children still
at work; Peony bringing fresh snow, and Violet applying it to the
figure as scientifically as a sculptor adds clay to his model.
Indistinctly as she discerned the snow-child, the mother thought to
herself that never before was there a snow-figure so cunningly made,
nor ever such a dear little girl and boy to make it.

"They do everything better than other children," said she, very
complacently. "No wonder they make better snow-images!"

She sat down again to her work, and made as much haste with it as
possible; because twilight would soon come, and Peony's frock was not
yet finished, and grandfather was expected, by railroad, pretty early
in the morning. Faster and faster, therefore, went her flying fingers.
The children, likewise, kept busily at work in the garden, and still
the mother listened, whenever she could catch a word. She was amused
to observe how their little imaginations had got mixed up with what
they were doing, and were carried away by it. They seemed positively
to think that the snow-child would run about and play with them.

"What a nice playmate she will be for us, all winter long!" said
Violet. "I hope papa will not be afraid of her giving us a cold!
Sha'n't you love her dearly, Peony?"

"O yes!" cried Peony. "And I will hug her and she shall sit down
close by me, and drink some of my warm milk!"

"O no, Peony!" answered Violet, with grave wisdom. "That will not do
at all. Warm milk will not be wholesome for our little snow-sister.
Little snow-people, like her, eat nothing but icicles. No, no, Peony;
we must not give her anything warm to drink!"

There was a minute or two of silence; for Peony, whose short legs were
never weary, had gone on a pilgrimage again to the other side of the
garden. All of a sudden, Violet cried out, loudly and joyfully--

"Look here, Peony! Come quickly! A light has been shining on her cheek
out of that rose-coloured cloud! and the colour does not go away! Is
not that beautiful!"

"Yes; it is beau-ti-ful," answered Peony, pronouncing the three
syllables with deliberate accuracy. "O Violet, only look at her hair!
It is all like gold!"

"O, certainly," said Violet, with tranquillity, as if it were very
much a matter of course. "That colour, you know, comes from the golden
clouds, that we see up there in the sky. She is almost finished now.
But her lips must be made very red--redder than her cheeks. Perhaps,
Peony, it will make them red if we both kiss them!"

Accordingly, the mother heard two smart little smacks, as if both her
children were kissing the snow-image on its frozen mouth. But, as this
did not seem to make the lips quite red enough, Violet next proposed
that the snow-child should be invited to kiss Peony's scarlet cheek.

"Come, 'ittle snow-sister, kiss me!" cried Peony.

"There! she has kissed you," added Violet, "and her lips are very red.
And she blushed a little, too!"

"O, what a cold kiss!" cried Peony.

Just then, there came a breeze of the pure west-wind, sweeping
through the garden and rattling the parlour-windows. It sounded so
wintry cold, that the mother was about to tap on the window-pane with
her thimbled finger, to summon the two children in, when they both
cried out to her with one voice. The tone was not a tone of surprise,
although they were evidently a good deal excited; it appeared rather
as if they were very much rejoiced at some event that had now
happened, but which they had been looking for, and had reckoned upon
all along.

"Mamma! mamma! We have finished our little snow-sister, and she is
running about the garden with us!"

"What imaginative little beings my children are!" thought the mother,
putting the last few stitches into Peony's frock. "And it is strange,
too, that they make me almost as much a child as they themselves are!
I can hardly help believing, now, that the snow-image has really come
to life!"

"Dear mamma!" cried Violet, "pray look out and see what a sweet
playmate we have!"

The mother, being thus entreated, could no longer delay to look forth
from the window. The sun was now gone out of the sky, leaving,
however, a rich inheritance of his brightness among those purple and
golden clouds which make the sunsets of winter so magnificent. But
there was not the slightest gleam or dazzle, either on the window or
on the snow; so that the good lady could look all over the garden, and
see everything and everybody in it. And what do you think she saw
there? Violet and Peony, of course, her own two darling children. Ah,
but whom or what did she see besides? Why, if you will believe me,
there was a small figure of a girl, dressed all in white, with
rose-tinged cheeks and ringlets of golden hue, playing about the
garden with the two children! A stranger though she was, the child
seemed to be on as familiar terms with Violet and Peony, and they
with her, as if all the three had been playmates during the whole of
their little lives. The mother thought to herself that it must
certainly be the daughter of one of the neighbours, and that, seeing
Violet, and Peony in the garden, the child had run across the street
to play with them. So this kind lady went to the door, intending to
invite the little runaway into her comfortable parlour; for, now that
the sunshine was withdrawn, the atmosphere, out of doors, was already
growing very cold.

But, after opening the house-door, she stood an instant on the
threshold, hesitating whether she ought to ask the child to come in,
or whether she should even speak to her. Indeed, she almost doubted
whether it were a real child, after all, or only a light wreath of the
new-fallen snow, blown hither and thither about the garden by the
intensely cold west-wind. There was certainly something very singular
in the aspect of the little stranger. Among all the children of the
neighbourhood, the lady could remember no such face, with its pure
white, and delicate rose-colour, and the golden ringlets tossing about
the forehead and cheeks. And as for her dress, which was entirely of
white, and fluttering in the breeze, it was such as no reasonable
woman would put upon a little girl, when sending her out to play, in
the depth of winter. It made this kind and careful mother shiver only
to look at those small feet, with nothing in the world on them, except
a very thin pair of white slippers. Nevertheless, airily as she was
clad, the child seemed to feel not the slightest inconvenience from
the cold, but danced so lightly over the snow that the tips of her
toes left hardly a print in its surface; while Violet could but just
keep pace with her, and Peony's short legs compelled him to lag
behind.

Once, in the course of their play, the strange child placed herself
between Violet and Peony, and taking a hand of each, skipped merrily
forward, and they along with her. Almost immediately, however, Peony
pulled away his little fist, and began to rub it as if the fingers
were tingling with cold; while Violet also released herself, though
with less abruptness, gravely remarking that it was better not to take
hold of hands. The white-robed damsel said not a word, but danced
about, just as merrily as before. If Violet and Peony did not choose
to play with her, she could make just as good a playmate of the brisk
and cold west-wind, which kept blowing her all about the garden, and
took such liberties with her, that they seemed to have been friends
for a long time. All this while, the mother stood on the threshold,
wondering how a little girl could look so much like a flying
snow-drift, or how a snow-drift could look so very like a little girl.

She called Violet, and whispered to her.

"Violet, my darling, what is this child's name?" asked she. "Does she
live near us?"

"Why, dearest mamma," answered Violet, laughing to think that her
mother did not comprehend so very plain an affair, "this is our little
snow-sister, whom we have just been making!"

"Yes, dear mamma," cried Peony, running to his mother and looking up
simply into her face, "This is our snow-image! Is it not a nice 'ittle
child?"

At this instant a flock of snow-birds came flitting through the air.
As was very natural, they avoided Violet and Peony. But--and this
looked strange--they flew at once to the white-robed child, fluttered
eagerly about her head, alighted on her shoulders, and seemed to claim
her as an old acquaintance. She, on her part, was evidently as glad to
see these little birds, old Winter's grandchildren, as they were to
see her, and welcomed them by holding out both her hands. Hereupon,
they each and all tried to alight on her two palms and ten small
fingers and thumbs, crowding one another off, with an immense
fluttering of their tiny wings. One dear little bird nestled tenderly
in her bosom; another put its bill to her lips. They were as joyous,
all the while, and seemed as much in their element, as you may have
seen them when sporting with a snow-storm.

Violet and Peony stood laughing at this pretty sight: for they enjoyed
the merry time which their new playmate was having with their
small-winged visitants, almost as much as if they themselves took part
in it.

"Violet," said her mother, greatly perplexed, "tell me the truth,
without any jest. Who is this little girl?"

"My darling mamma," answered Violet, looking seriously into her
mother's face, and apparently surprised that she should need any
further explanation, "I have told you truly who she is. It is our
little snow-image, which Peony and I have been making. Peony will tell
you so, as well as I."

"Yes, mamma," asseverated Peony, with much gravity in his crimson
little phiz, "this is 'ittle snow-child. Is not she a nice one? But,
mamma, her hand, is oh, so very cold!"

While mamma still hesitated what to think and what to do, the
street-gate was thrown open, and the father of Violet and Peony
appeared, wrapped in a pilot-cloth sack, with a fur cap drawn down
over his ears, and the thickest of gloves upon his hands. Mr. Lindsey
was a middle-aged man, with a weary and yet a happy look in his
wind-flushed and frost-pinched face, as if he had been busy all the
day long, and was glad to get back to his quiet home. His eyes
brightened at the sight of his wife and children, although he could
not help uttering a word or two of surprise, at finding the whole
family in the open air, on so bleak a day, and after sunset too. He
soon perceived the little white stranger, sporting to and fro in the
garden, like a dancing snow-wreath, and the flock of snow-birds
fluttering about her head.

"Pray, what little girl may that be?" inquired this very sensible man.
"Surely her mother must be crazy, to let her go out in such bitter
weather as it has been to-day, with only that flimsy white gown and
those thin slippers!"

"My dear husband," said his wife, "I know no more about the little
thing than you do. Some neighbour's child, I suppose. Our Violet and
Peony," she added, laughing at herself for repeating so absurd a
story, "insist that she is nothing but a snow-image, which they have
been busy about in the garden, almost all the afternoon."

As she said this, the mother glanced her eyes toward the spot where
the children's snow-image had been made. What was her surprise, on
perceiving that there was not the slightest trace of so much
labour!--no image at all--no piled up heap of snow--nothing whatever,
save the prints of little footsteps around a vacant space!

"This is very strange!" said she.

"What is strange, dear mother?" asked Violet. "Dear father, do not you
see how it is? This is our snow-image, which Peony and I have made,
because we wanted another playmate. Did not we, Peony?"

"Yes, papa," said crimson Peony. "This be our 'ittle snow-sister. Is
she not beau-ti-ful? But she gave me such a cold kiss!"

"Pooh, nonsense, children!" cried their good, honest father, who, as
we have already intimated, had an exceedingly common-sensible way of
looking at matters. "Do not tell me of making live figures out of
snow. Come, wife; this little stranger must not stay out in the bleak
air a moment longer. We will bring her into the parlour; and you
shall give her a supper of warm bread and milk, and make her as
comfortable as you can. Meanwhile, I will inquire among the
neighbours; or, if necessary, send the city-crier about the streets,
to give notice of a lost child."

So saying, this honest and very kind-hearted man was going toward the
little white damsel, with the best intentions in the world. But Violet
and Peony, each seizing their father by the hand, earnestly besought
him not to make her come in.

"Dear father," cried Violet, putting herself before him, "it is true
what I have been telling you! This is our little snow-girl, and she
cannot live any longer than while she breathes the cold west-wind. Do
not make her come into the hot room!"

"Yes, father," shouted Peony, stamping his little foot, so mightily
was he in earnest, "this be nothing but our 'ittle snow-child! She
will not love the hot fire!"

"Nonsense, children, nonsense, nonsense!" cried the father, half
vexed, half laughing at what he considered their foolish obstinacy.
"Run into the house, this moment! It is too late to play any longer,
now. I must take care of this little girl immediately, or she will
catch her death a-cold!"

"Husband! dear husband!" said his wife, in a low voice--for she had
been looking narrowly at the snow-child, and was more perplexed than
ever--there is something very singular in all this. "You will think me
foolish--but--but--may it not be that some invisible angel has been
attracted by the simplicity and good faith with which our children set
about their undertaking? May he not have spent an hour of his
immortality in playing with those dear little souls? and so the result
is what we call a miracle. No, no! Do not laugh at me; I see what a
foolish thought it is!"

"My dear wife," replied the husband, laughing heartily, "you are as
much a child as Violet and Peony."

And in one sense so she was, for all through life she had kept her
heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, which was as pure and
clear as crystal; and, looking at all matters through this transparent
medium, she sometimes saw truths so profound, that other people
laughed at them as nonsense and absurdity.

But now kind Mr. Lindsey had entered the garden, breaking away from
his two children, who still sent their shrill voices after him,
beseeching him to let the snow-child stay and enjoy herself in the
cold west-wind. As he approached, the snow-birds took to flight. The
little white damsel, also, fled backward, shaking her head, as if to
say, "Pray, do not touch me!" and roguishly, as it appeared, leading
him through the deepest of the snow. Once, the good man stumbled, and
floundered down upon his face, so that, gathering himself up again,
with the snow sticking to his rough pilot-cloth sack, he looked as
white and wintry as a snow-image of the largest size. Some of the
neighbours, meanwhile, seeing him from their windows, wondered what
could possess poor Mr. Lindsey to be running about his garden in
pursuit of a snow-drift, which the west-wind was driving hither and
thither! At length, after a vast deal of trouble, he chased the little
stranger into a corner, where she could not possibly escape him. His
wife had been looking on, and, it being nearly twilight, was
wonderstruck to observe how the snow-child gleamed and sparkled, and
how she seemed to shed a glow all round about her; and when driven
into the corner, she positively glistened like a star! It was a frosty
kind of brightness, too like that of an icicle in the moonlight. The
wife thought it strange that good Mr. Lindsey should see nothing
remarkable in the snow-child's appearance.

"Come, you odd little thing!" cried the honest man, seizing her by
the hand, "I have caught you at last, and will make you comfortable in
spite of yourself. We will put a nice warm pair of worsted stockings
on your frozen little feet, and you shall have a good thick shawl to
wrap yourself in. Your poor white nose, I am afraid, is actually
frost-bitten. But we will make it all right. Come along in."

And so, with a most benevolent smile on his sagacious visage, all
purple as it was with the cold, this very well-meaning gentleman took
the snow-child by the hand and led her towards the house. She followed
him, droopingly and reluctant; for all the glow and sparkle was gone
out of her figure; and whereas just before she had resembled a bright
frosty, star-gemmed evening, with a crimson gleam on the cold horizon,
she now looked as dull and languid as a thaw. As kind Mr. Lindsey led
her up the steps of the door, Violet and Peony looked into his
face--their eyes full of tears, which froze before they could run down
their cheeks--and again entreated him not to bring their snow-image
into the house.

"Not bring her in!" exclaimed the kind-hearted man. "Why, you are
crazy, my little Violet!--quite crazy, my small Peony! She is so cold,
already, that her hand has almost frozen mine, in spite of my thick
gloves. Would you have her freeze to death?"

His wife, as he came up the steps, had been taking another long,
earnest, almost awe-stricken gaze at the little white stranger. She
hardly knew whether it was a dream or not, but she could not help
fancying that she saw the delicate print of Violet's fingers on the
child's neck. It looked just as if, while Violet was shaping out the
image, she had given it a gentle pat with her hand, and had neglected
to smooth the impression quite away.

"After all, husband," said the mother, recurring to her idea that the
angels would be as much delighted to play with Violet and Peony as she
herself was--"after all, she does look strangely like a snow-image! I
do believe she is made of snow!"

A puff of the west-wind blew against the snow-child, and again she
sparkled like a star.

"Snow!" repeated good Mr. Lindsey, drawing the reluctant guest over
this hospitable threshold. "No wonder she looks like snow. She is half
frozen, poor little thing! But a good fire will put everything to
rights."

Without further talk, and always with the same best intentions, this
highly benevolent and common-sensible individual led the little white
damsel--drooping, drooping, drooping, more and more--out of the frosty
air, and into his comfortable parlour. A Heidenberg stove, filled to
the brim with intensely burning anthracite, was sending a bright gleam
through the isinglass of its iron door, and causing the vase of water
on its top to fume and bubble with excitement. A warm, sultry smell
was diffused throughout the room. A thermometer on the wall farthest
from the stove stood at eighty degrees. The parlour was hung with red
curtains, and covered with a red carpet, and looked just as warm as it
felt. The difference betwixt the atmosphere here and the cold, wintry
twilight out of doors, was like stepping at once from Nova Zembla to
the hottest part of India, or from the North Pole into an oven. O,
this was a fine place for the little white stranger!

The common-sensible man placed the snow-child on the hearth-rug, right
in front of the hissing and fuming stove.

"Now she will be comfortable!" cried Mr. Lindsey, rubbing his hands
and looking about him, with the pleasantest smile you ever saw. "Make
yourself at home, my child."

Sad, sad and drooping, looked the little white maiden, as she stood
on the hearth-rug, with the hot blast of the stove striking through
her like a pestilence. Once, she threw a glance wistfully toward the
windows, and caught a glimpse, through its red curtains, of the
snow-covered roofs, and the stars glimmering frostily, and all the
delicious intensity of the cold night. The bleak wind rattled the
window-panes, as if it were summoning her to come forth. But there
stood the snow-child, drooping, before the hot stove!

But the common-sensible man saw nothing amiss.

"Come, wife," said he, "let her have a pair of thick stockings and a
woollen shawl or blanket directly; and tell Dora to give her some warm
supper as soon as the milk boils. You, Violet and Peony, amuse your
little friend. She is out of spirits, you see, at finding herself in a
strange place. For my part, I will go around among the neighbours, and
find out where she belongs."

The mother, meanwhile, had gone in search of the shawl and stockings;
for her own view of the matter, however subtle and delicate, had given
way, as it always did, to the stubborn materialism of her husband.
Without heeding the remonstrances of his two children, who still kept
murmuring that their little snow-sister did not love the warmth, good
Mr. Lindsey took his departure, shutting the parlour-door carefully
behind him. Turning up the collar of his sack over his ears, he
emerged from the house, and had barely reached the street-gate when he
was recalled by the screams of Violet and Peony, and the rapping of a
thimbled finger against the parlour window.

"Husband! husband!" cried his wife, showing her horror-stricken face
through the window-panes. "There is no need of going for the child's
parents!"

"We told you so, father!" screamed Violet and Peony, as he re-entered
the parlour. "You would bring her in; and now our
poor--dear--beau-ti-ful little snow-sister is thawed!"

And their own sweet little faces were already dissolved in tears; so
that their father, seeing what strange things occasionally happen in
this every-day world, felt not a little anxious lest his children
might be going to thaw too! In the utmost perplexity, he demanded an
explanation of his wife. She could only reply, that, being summoned to
the parlour by the cries of Violet and Peony, she found no trace of
the little white maiden, unless it were the remains of a heap of snow,
which, while she was gazing at it, melted quite away upon the
hearth-rug.

"And there you see all that is left of it!" added she, pointing to a
pool of water, in front of the stove.

"Yes, father," said Violet, looking reproachfully at him, through her
tears, "there is all that is left of our dear little snow-sister!"

"Naughty father!" cried Peony, stamping his foot, and--I shudder to
say--shaking his little fist at the common-sensible man. "We told you
how it would be! What for did you bring her in?"

And the Heidenberg stove, through the isinglass of its door, seemed to
glare at good Mr. Lindsey, like a red-eyed demon, triumphing in the
mischief which it had done!

This, you will observe, was one of those rare cases, which yet will
occasionally happen, where common-sense finds itself at fault. The
remarkable story of the snow-image, though to that sagacious class of
people to whom good Mr. Lindsey belongs it may seem but a childish
affair, is, nevertheless, capable of being moralised in various
methods, greatly for their edification. One of its lessons, for
instance, might be that it behooves men, and especially men of
benevolence, to consider well what they are about, and, before acting
on their philanthropic purposes, to be quite sure that they comprehend
the nature and all the relations of the business in hand. What has
been established as an element of good to one being may prove absolute
mischief to another; even as the warmth of the parlour was proper
enough for children of flesh and blood, like Violet and Peony--though
by no means very wholesome, even for them--involved nothing short of
annihilation to the unfortunate snow-image.

But, after all, there is no teaching anything to wise men of good Mr.
Lindsey's stamp. They know everything--O, to be sure!--everything that
has been, and everything that is, and everything that, by any future
possibility, can be. And should some phenomenon of nature or
providence transcend their system, they will not recognise it, even if
it come to pass under their very noses.

"Wife," said Mr. Lindsey, after a fit of silence, "see what a quantity
of snow the children have brought in on their feet! It has made quite
a puddle here before the stove. Pray tell Dora to bring some towels
and sop it up!"



IV

UNDINE


I.--HOW THE KNIGHT CAME TO THE FISHERMAN'S COTTAGE

Once--it may be some hundreds of years ago--there lived a good old
Fisherman, who, on a fine summer's evening, was sitting before the
door mending his nets. He dwelt in a land of exceeding beauty. The
green slope, upon which he had built his hut, stretched far out into a
great lake; and it seemed either that the cape, enamoured of the
glassy blue waters, had pressed forward into their bosom, or that the
lake had lovingly folded in its arms the blooming promontory, with her
waving grass and flowers, and the refreshing shade of her tall trees.
Each bade the other welcome, and increased its own beauty by so doing.
This lovely nook was scarcely ever visited by mankind, except by the
Fisherman and his family. For behind the promontory lay a very wild
forest, which, beside being gloomy and pathless, had too bad a name as
the resort of wondrous spirits and goblins, to be crossed by anyone
who could help it. Yet the pious old Fisherman went through it without
being molested, whenever he walked to a large city beyond the forest,
to dispose of the costly fish that he caught in the lake. For him,
indeed, there was little danger, even in that forest; for his thoughts
were almost all thoughts of devotion, and his custom was to carol
forth to Heaven a loud and heartfelt hymn, on first setting foot
within the treacherous shades.

As he sat this evening most peacefully over his nets, he was startled
in an unwonted manner by a rustling sound in the forest, like that of
a man and horse; and the noise came nearer and nearer. The dreams he
had had in many a stormy night of the spirits of the forest started up
before his mind, particularly the image of a gigantic long snow-white
man, who kept nodding his head mysteriously. Nay, as he raised his
eyes and looked into the forest, he could fancy he saw, through the
thick screen of leaves, the nodding creature advance toward him. But
he soon composed himself, recollecting that even in the heart of the
woods nothing had ever befallen him; much less here, in the open air,
could the bad spirits have power to touch him. He moreover repeated a
text from the Bible aloud and earnestly, which quite restored his
courage, and he almost laughed to see how his fancy had misled him.
The white nodding man suddenly resolved himself into a little brook he
knew of old, which gushed bubbling out of the wood, and emptied itself
into the lake. And the rustling had been caused by a horseman in
gorgeous attire, who now came forward toward the hut from beneath the
trees.

He wore a scarlet mantle over his purple, gold-embroidered jerkin; a
plume of red and purple feathers waved over his gold-coloured
barret-cap; and from his golden belt hung a glittering jewelled sword.
The white courser which carried him was of lighter make than the
generality of chargers, and trod so airily, that the enamelled turf
seemed scarcely to bend under him. The aged Fisherman could not quite
shake off his uneasiness, although he told himself that so noble a
guest could bring him no harm, and accordingly doffed his hat
courteously, and interrupted his work when he approached.

The Knight reined in his horse, and asked whether they could both
obtain one night's shelter.

"As to your horse, good sir," answered the Fisherman, "I have no
better stable to offer him than the shady meadow, and no provender
but the grass which grows upon it. But you shall yourself be heartily
welcome to my poor house, and to the best of my supper and night
lodging."

The stranger seemed quite content; he dismounted, and they helped each
other to take off the horse's girth and saddle, after which the Knight
let him graze on the flowery pasture, saying to his host, "Even if I
had found you less kind and hospitable, my good old man, you must have
borne with me till to-morrow; for I see we are shut in by a wide lake
and Heaven forbid that I should cross the haunted forest again at
nightfall!"

"We will not say much about that," replied the Fisherman; and he led
his guest into the cottage.

There, close by the hearth, from whence a scanty fire shed its
glimmering light over the clean little room, sat the Fisherman's old
wife. When their noble guest came in, she rose to give him a kind
welcome, but immediately resumed her place of honour, without offering
it to him; and the Fisherman said with a smile: "Do not take it amiss,
young sir, if she does not give up to you the most comfortable place;
it is the custom among us poor people that it should always belong to
the oldest."

"Why, husband!" said his wife, quietly, "what are you thinking of? Our
guest is surely a Christian gentleman, and how could it come into his
kind young heart to turn old people out of their places? Sit down, my
young lord," added she, turning to the Knight; "there stands a very
comfortable chair for you; only remember it must not be too roughly
handled, for one leg is not so steady as it has been." The Knight drew
the chair carefully forward, seated himself sociably, and soon felt
quite at home in this little household, and as if he had just returned
to it from a far journey.

The three friends began to converse openly and familiarly together.
First the Knight asked a few questions about the forest, but the old
man would not say much of that; least of all, said he, was it fitting
to talk of such things at nightfall; but, on household concerns, and
their own way of life, the old folks talked readily; and were pleased
when the Knight told them of his travels, and that he had a castle
near the source of the Danube, and that his name was Lord Huldbrand of
Ringstetten. In the middle of their discourse, the stranger often
observed a noise outside a small window, as if someone were dashing
water against it. The old man knit his brows and looked grave whenever
this occurred; at last, when a great splash of water came full against
the panes, and some found its way into the room, he could bear it no
longer, but started up, crying, "Undine! will you never leave off
these childish tricks--when we have a stranger gentleman in the house
too!" This produced silence outside, all but a sound of suppressed
giggling, and the Fisherman said as he came back; "My honoured guest,
you must put up with this, and perhaps with many another piece of
mischief; but she means no harm. It is our adopted child Undine; there
is no breaking her of her childish ways, though she is eighteen years
old now. But as I told you she is as good a child as ever lived at
bottom."

"Ay, so you may say!" rejoined his wife, shaking her head. "When you
come home from fishing, or from a journey, her playful nonsense may be
pleasant enough. But, to be keeping her out of mischief all day long,
as I must do, and never get a word of sense from her, nor a bit of
help and comfort in my old age, is enough to weary the patience of a
saint."

"Well, well," said the good man, "you feel toward Undine as I do
toward the lake. Though its waves are apt enough to burst my banks
and my nets, yet I love them for all that, and so do you love our
pretty wench, with all her plaguey tricks. Don't you?"

"Why, one cannot be really angry with her, to be sure," said the dame,
smiling.

Here the door flew open, and a beautiful fair creature tripped in, and
said, playfully: "Well, father, you made game of me; where is your
guest?" The next moment she perceived the Knight, and stood fixed in
mute admiration; while Huldbrand gazed upon her lovely form, and tried
to impress her image on his mind, thinking that he must avail himself
of her amazement to do so, and that in a moment she would shrink away
in a fit of bashfulness. But it proved otherwise. After looking at him
a good while, she came up to him familiarly, knelt down beside him,
and playing with a golden medal that hung from his rich chain, she
said: "So, thou kind, thou beautiful guest! hast thou found us out in
our poor hut at last? Why didst thou roam the world so many years
without coming near us? Art come through the wild forest, my handsome
friend?" The old woman allowed him no time to answer. She desired her
to get up instantly, like a modest girl, and to set about her work.
But Undine, without replying, fetched a footstool and put it close to
Huldbrand's chair, sat down there with her spinning, and said
cheerfully--"I will sit and work here." The old man behaved as parents
are apt to do with spoiled children. He pretended not to see Undine's
waywardness, and was beginning to talk of something else; but she
would not let him. She said, "I asked our visitor where he came from,
and he has not answered me yet."

"From the forest I came, you beautiful sprite," answered Huldbrand;
and she continued:

"Then you must tell me how you came there, and what wonderful
adventures you had in it, for I know that nobody can escape without
some."

Huldbrand could not help shuddering on being reminded of his
adventures, and involuntarily glanced at the window, half expecting to
see one of the strange beings he had encountered in the forest
grinning at him through it; but nothing was to be seen except the deep
black night, which had now closed in. He recollected himself, and was
just beginning his narrative, when the old man interposed: "Not just
now, Sir Knight; this is no time for such tales."

But Undine jumped up passionately, put her beautiful arms akimbo, and
standing before the Fisherman, exclaimed: "What! may not he tell his
story, father--may not he? But I will have it; he must. He shall
indeed!" And she stamped angrily with her pretty feet, but it was all
done in so comical and graceful a manner, that Huldbrand thought her
still more bewitching in her wrath, than in her playful mood.

Not so the old man; his long-restrained anger burst out uncontrolled.
He scolded Undine smartly for her disobedience, and unmannerly conduct
to the stranger, his wife chiming in.

Undine then said: "Very well, if you will be quarrelsome and not let
me have my own way, you may sleep alone in your smoky old hut!" and
she shot through the door like an arrow, and rushed into the dark
night.


II.--HOW UNDINE FIRST CAME TO THE FISHERMAN

Huldbrand and the Fisherman sprang from their seats, and tried to
catch the angry maiden; but before they could reach the house door,
Undine had vanished far into the thick shades, and not a sound of her
light footsteps was to be heard, by which to track her course.
Huldbrand looked doubtfully at his host; he almost thought that the
whole fair vision which had so suddenly plunged into the night, must
be a continuation of the phantom play which had whirled around him in
his passage through the forest. But the old man mumbled through his
teeth: "It is not the first time she has served us so. And here are
we, left in our anxiety with a sleepless night before us; for who can
tell what harm may befall her, all alone out-of-doors till daybreak?"

"Then let us be after her, good father, for God's sake!" cried
Huldbrand eagerly.

The old man replied, "Where would be the use? It were a sin to let you
set off alone in pursuit of the foolish girl, and my old legs would
never overtake such a Will-with-the-wisp--even if we could guess which
way she is gone."

"At least let us call her, and beg her to come back," said Huldbrand;
and he began calling after her in most moving tones: "Undine! O
Undine, do return!"

The old man shook his head, and said that all the shouting in the
world would do no good with such a wilful little thing. But yet he
could not himself help calling out from time to time in the darkness:
"Undine! ah, sweet Undine! I entreat thee, come back this once."

The Fisherman's words proved true. Nothing was to be seen or heard of
Undine; and as her foster-father would by no means suffer Huldbrand to
pursue her, they had nothing for it but to go in again. They found the
fire on the hearth nearly burnt out, and the dame, who did not take to
heart Undine's flight and danger so much as her husband, was gone to
bed. The old man blew the coals, laid on dry wood, and by the light of
the reviving flames he found a flagon of wine, which he put between
himself and his guest. "You are uneasy about that silly wench, Sir
Knight," said he, "and we had better kill part of the night chatting
and drinking, than toss about in our beds, trying to sleep in vain.
Had not we?"

Huldbrand agreed; the Fisherman made him sit in his wife's empty
arm-chair, and they both drank and talked together, as a couple of
worthy friends should do. Whenever, indeed, there was the least stir
outside the window, or even sometimes without any, one of them would
look up and say, "There she comes." Then they would keep silence for a
few moments, and as nothing came, resume their conversation, with a
shake of the head and a sigh.

But as neither could think of much beside Undine, the best means they
could devise for beguiling the time was, that the Fisherman should
relate, and the Knight listen to, the history of her first coming to
the cottage. He began as follows:

"One day, some fifteen years ago, I was carrying my fish through that
dreary wood to the town. My wife stayed at home, as usual; and at that
time she had a good and pretty reason for it--the Lord had bestowed
upon us (old as we already were) a lovely babe. It was a girl; and so
anxious were we to do our best for the little treasure, that we began
to talk of leaving our beautiful home, in order to give our darling a
good education among other human beings. With us poor folks, wishing
is one thing, and doing is quite another, Sir Knight; but what then?
we can only try our best. Well then, as I plodded on, I turned over
the scheme in my head. I was loath to leave our own dear nook, and it
made me shudder to think, in the din and brawls of the town, 'So it is
here we shall soon live, or in some place nearly as bad!' Yet I never
murmured against our good God, but rather thanked Him in secret for
His last blessing; nor can I say that I met with anything
extraordinary in the forest, either coming or going; indeed nothing to
frighten me has ever crossed my path. The Lord was ever with me in the
awful shades."

Here he uncovered his bald head, and sat for a time in silent prayer;
then putting his cap on again, he continued: "On this side of the wood
it was--on this side, that the sad news met me. My wife came toward me
with eyes streaming like two fountains; she was in deep mourning. 'Oh,
good Heaven!' I called out, 'where is our dear child? Tell me?'

"'Gone, dear husband,' she replied; and we went into our cottage
together, weeping silently. I looked for the little corpse, and then
first heard how it had happened. My wife had been sitting on the shore
with the child, and playing with it, all peace and happiness; when the
babe all at once leaned over, as if she saw something most beautiful
in the water; there she sat smiling, sweet angel! and stretching out
her little hands; but the next moment she darted suddenly out of her
arms, and down into the smooth waters. I made much search for the poor
little corpse; but in vain; not a trace of her could I find.

"When evening was come, we childless parents were sitting together in
the hut, silent; neither of us had a mind to speak, even if the tears
had let us. We were looking idly into the fire. Just then something
made a noise at the door. It opened, and a beautiful little maid, of
three or four years' old stood there gaily dressed, and smiling in our
faces. We were struck dumb with surprise, and at first hardly knew if
she were a little human being, or only an empty shadow. But I soon saw
that her golden hair and gay clothes were dripping wet, and it struck
me the little fairy must have been in the water and distressed for
help. 'Wife,' said I, 'our dear child had no friend to save her; shall
we not do for others what would have made our remaining days so happy,
if anyone had done it for us?' We undressed the child, put her to bed,
and gave her a warm drink, while she never said a word, but kept
smiling at us with her sky-blue eyes.

"The next morning we found she had done herself no harm; and I asked
her who were her parents, and what had brought her here; but she gave
me a strange, confused answer. I am sure she must have been born far
away, for these fifteen years have we kept her, without ever finding
out where she came from; and besides, she is apt to let drop such
marvellous things in her talk, that you might think she had lived in
the moon. She will speak of golden castles, of crystal roofs, and I
can't tell what beside. The only thing she has told us clearly, is,
that as she was sailing on the lake with her mother, she fell into the
water, and when she recovered her senses found herself lying under
these trees, in safety and comfort, upon our pretty shore.

"So now we had a serious, anxious charge thrown upon us. To keep
and bring up the foundling, instead of our poor drowned child--that
was soon resolved upon but who should tell us if she had yet been
baptised or no? She knew how not how to answer the question. That she
was one of God's creatures, made for His glory and service, that much
she knew; and anything that would glorify and please Him, she was
willing to have done. So my wife and I said to each other: 'If she has
never been baptised, there is no doubt it should be done; and if she
was, better do too much than too little, in a matter of such
consequence.' We therefore began to seek a good name for the child.
Dorothea seemed to us the best; for I had once heard that meant God's
gift; and she had indeed been sent us by Him as a special blessing, to
comfort us in our misery. But she would not hear of that name. She
said Undine was what her parents used to call her, and Undine she
would still be. That, I thought, sounded like a heathen name, and
occurred in no Calendar; and I took counsel with a priest in the town
about it. He also objected to the name Undine; and at my earnest
request, came home with me, through the dark forest, in order to
baptise her. The little creature stood before us, looking so gay and
charming in her holiday clothes, that the priest's heart warmed toward
her; and what with coaxing and wilfulness, she got the better of him,
so that he clean forgot all the objections he had thought of to the
name Undine. She was therefore so christened and behaved particularly
well and decently during the sacred rite, wild and unruly as she had
always been before. For, what my wife said just now was too true--we
have indeed found her the wildest little fairy! If I were to tell you
all--"

Here the Knight interrupted the Fisherman, to call his attention to a
sound of roaring waters, which he had noticed already in the pauses of
the old man's speech, and which now rose in fury as it rushed past the
windows. They both ran to the door. By the light of the newly risen
moon, they saw the brook which gushed out of the forest breaking
wildly over its banks, and whirling along stones and branches in its
eddying course. A storm, as if awakened by the uproar, burst from the
heavy clouds that were chasing each other across the moon; the lake
howled under the wings of the wind; the trees on the shore groaned
from top to bottom, and bowed themselves over the rushing waters.
"Undine! for God's sake, Undine!" cried the Knight, and the old man.
No answer was to be heard; and, heedless now of any danger to
themselves, they ran off in different directions, calling her in
frantic anxiety.


III.--HOW THEY FOUND UNDINE AGAIN

The longer Huldbrand wandered in vain pursuit of Undine, the more
bewildered he became. The idea that she might be a mere spirit of the
woods, sometimes returned upon him with double force; nay, amid the
howling waves and storm, the groaning of trees, and the wild commotion
of the once-peaceful spot, he might have fancied the whole promontory,
its hut and its inhabitants, to be a delusion of magic, but that he
still heard in the distance the Fisherman's piteous cries of "Undine!"
and the old housewife's loud prayers and hymns, above the whistling of
the blast.

At last he found himself on the margin of the overflowing stream, and
saw it by the moonlight rushing violently along, close to the edge of
the mysterious forest so as to make an island of the peninsula on
which he stood. "Gracious Heaven!" thought he, "Undine may have
ventured a step or two into that awful forest--perhaps in her pretty
waywardness, just because I would not tell her my story--and the
swollen stream has cut her off, and left her weeping alone among the
spectres!" A cry of terror escaped him, and he clambered down the bank
by means of some stones and fallen trees, hoping to wade or swim
across the flood, and seek the fugitive beyond it. Fearful and
unearthly visions did indeed float before him, like those he had met
with in the morning, beneath these groaning, tossing branches.
Especially he was haunted by the appearance of a tall white man, whom
he remembered but too well, grinning and nodding at him from the
opposite bank; however, the thought of these grim monsters did but
urge him onward as he recollected Undine, now perhaps in deadly fear
among them, and alone.

He had laid hold of a stout pine branch, and leaning on it, was
standing in the eddy, though scarcely able to stem it, but he stepped
boldly forward--when a sweet voice exclaimed close behind him: "Trust
him not--trust not! The old fellow is tricksy--the stream!"

Well he knew those silver tones: the moon was just disappearing behind
a cloud, and he stood amid the deepening shades, made dizzy as the
water shot by him with the speed of an arrow. Yet he would not desist.
"And if thou art not truly there, if thou flittest before me an empty
shadow, I care not to live; I will melt into air like thee, my beloved
Undine!" This he cried aloud, and strode further into the flood.

"Look round then--look round, fair youth!" he heard just behind him,
and looking round, he beheld by the returning moonbeams, on a fair
island left by the flood, under some thickly interlaced branches,
Undine all smiles and loveliness, nestling in the flowery grass. How
much more joyfully than before did the young man use his pine staff to
cross the waters! A few strides brought him through the flood that had
parted them; and he found himself at her side, on the nook of soft
grass, securely sheltered under the shade of the old trees. Undine
half arose, and twined her arms round his neck in the green arbour,
making him sit down by her on the turf. "Here you shall tell me all,
my own friend," said she in a low whisper; "the cross old folks cannot
overhear us. And our pretty bower of leaves is well worth their
wretched hut."

"This is heaven!" cried Huldbrand, as he clasped in his arms the
beautiful flatterer.

Meantime the old man had reached the banks of the stream, and he
called out: "So, Sir Knight, when I had made you welcome, as one
honest man should another, here are you making love to my adopted
child--to say nothing of your leaving me to seek her, alone and
terrified, all night."

"I have but this moment found her, old man!" cried the Knight in
reply.

"Well, I am glad of that," said the Fisherman; "now then bring her
back to me at once."

But Undine would not hear of it. She had rather she said, go quite
away into the wild woods with the handsome stranger, than return to
the hut, where she had never had her own way, and which the Knight
must sooner or later leave. Embracing Huldbrand, she sang with
peculiar charm and grace:

"From misty cave the mountain wave
  Leapt out and sought the main!
The Ocean's foam she made her home,
  And ne'er returned again."

The old man wept bitterly as she sang, but this did not seem to move
her. She continued to caress her lover, till at length he said:
"Undine, the poor old man's grief goes to my heart if not to yours.
Let us go back to him."

Astonished, she raised her large blue eyes toward him, and after a
pause answered slowly and reluctantly: "To please you, I will:
whatever you like pleases me too. But the old man yonder must first
promise me that he will let you tell me all you saw in the forest, and
the rest we shall see about."

"Only come back--do come!" cried the Fisherman, and not another word
could he say. At the same moment he stretched his arms over the stream
toward her, and nodded his head by way of giving her the desired
promise; and as his white hair fell over his face, it gave him a
strange look, and reminded Huldbrand involuntarily of the nodding
white man in the woods. Determined, however, that nothing should stop
him, the young Knight took the fair damsel in his arms, and carried
her through the short space of foaming flood, which divided the island
from the mainland. The old man fell upon Undine's neck, and rejoiced,
and kissed her in the fulness of his heart; his aged wife also came
up, and welcomed their recovered child most warmly. All reproaches
were forgotten; the more so, as Undine seemed to have left her
sauciness behind, and overwhelmed her foster parents with kind words
and caresses.

When these transports of joy had subsided, and they began to look
about them, the rosy dawn was just shedding its glow over the lake,
the storm had ceased, and the birds were singing merrily on the wet
branches. As Undine insisted upon hearing the story of the Knight's
adventure, both the old folks cheerfully indulged her. Breakfast was
set out under the trees between the cottage and the lake, and they sat
down before it with glad hearts, Undine placing herself resolutely on
the grass at the Knight's feet. Huldbrand began his narrative as
follows.


IV.--OF WHAT HAD BEFALLEN THE KNIGHT IN THE FOREST

"About eight days ago, I rode into the imperial city beyond this
forest. A grand tournament and tilting was held there, and I spared
neither lance nor steed. As I stood still a moment to rest myself, in
a pause of the noble game, and had just given my helmet in charge to a
squire, my eye fell upon a most beautiful woman, who stood, richly
adorned, in one of the galleries, looking on. I inquired her name,
and found that this charming lady was Bertalda, the adopted daughter
of one of the principal lords in the neighbourhood. I observed that
her eye was upon me too, and as is the way with us young knights, I
had not been slack before, but I now fought more bravely still. That
evening I was Bertalda's partner in the dance, and so I was again
every evening during the jousting."

Here a sudden pain in his left hand, which hung beside him, checked
the Knight in his tale, and he looked at his hand. Undine's pearly
teeth had bitten one of his fingers sharply, and she looked very black
at him. But the next moment that look changed into an expression of
tender sadness, and she whispered low: "So you are faithless too!"
Then she hid her face in her hands, and the Knight proceeded with his
tale, although staggered and perplexed.

"That Bertalda is a high-spirited, extraordinary maid. On the second
day she charmed me far less than the first, and on the third, less
still. But I remained with her, because she was more gracious to me
than to any other knight, and so it fell out that I asked her in jest
for one of her gloves. 'You shall have it,' said she, 'if you will
visit the haunted forest alone, and bring me an account of it.' It was
not that I cared much for her glove, but the words had been spoken,
and a knight that loves his fame does not wait to be twice urged to
such a feat."

"I thought she had loved you," interrupted Undine.

"It looked like it," he replied.

"Well," cried the maiden, laughing, "she must be a fool indeed! To
drive _him_ away whom she loves! and into a haunted forest besides!
The forest and its mysteries might have waited long enough, for me."

"I set out yesterday morning," continued the Knight, smiling kindly at
Undine. "The stems of the trees looked so bright in the morning
sunshine, as it played upon the green turf, and the leaves whispered
together so pleasantly, that I could not but laugh at those who
imagined any evil to lurk in such a beautiful place. I shall very soon
have ridden through it and back again, thought I, pushing on cheerily,
and before I was aware of it, I found myself in the depths of its
leafy shades, and the plains behind me far out of sight. It then
occurred to me that I was likely enough to lose my way in this
wilderness of trees, and that this might be the only real danger to
which the traveller was here exposed. So I halted, and took notice of
the course of the sun; it was now high in the heavens.

"On looking up, I saw something black among the boughs of a tall oak.
I took it for a bear, and seized my rifle; but it addressed me in a
human voice, most hoarse and grating, saying: 'If I did not break off
the twigs up here, what should we do to-night for fuel to roast you
with, Sir Simpleton?' And he gnashed his teeth, and rattled the
boughs, so as to startle my horse, which ran away with me before I
could make out what kind of a devil it was."

"You should not mention _his_ name," said the Fisherman, crossing
himself; his wife silently did the same, while Undine turned her
beaming eyes upon her lover, and said--

"He is safe now; it is well they did not really roast him. Go on,
pretty youth."

He continued: "My terrified horse had almost dashed me against many a
trunk and branch; he was running down with fright and heat, and yet
there was no stopping him. At length he rushed madly toward the brink
of a stony precipice; but here, as it seemed to me, a tall white man
threw himself across the plunging animal's path, and made him start
back, and stop. I then recovered the control of him, and found that,
instead of a white man, my preserver was no other than a bright
silvery brook, which gushed down from the hill beside me, checking and
crossing my horse in his course."

"Thanks, dear brook!" cried Undine, clapping her hands. But the old
man shook his head, and seemed lost in thought.

"Scarcely had I settled myself in the saddle, and got firm hold of my
reins again," proceeded Huldbrand, "when an extraordinary little man
sprang up beside me, wizen and hideous beyond measure; he was of a
yellow-brown hue, and his nose almost as big as the whole of his body.
He grinned at me in the most fulsome way with his wide mouth, bowing
and scraping every moment. As I could not abide these antics, I
thanked him abruptly, pulled my still-trembling horse another way, and
thought I would seek some other adventure, or perhaps go home; for
during my wild gallop the sun had passed his meridian, and was now
declining westward. But the little imp sprang round like lightning,
and stood in front of my horse again.

"'Make way!' cried I impatiently, 'the animal is unruly, and may run
over you.'

"'Oh,' snarled the imp, with a laugh more disgusting than before,
'first give me a piece of coin for having caught your horse so nicely;
but for me, you and your pretty beast would be lying in the pit down
yonder: whew!'

"'Only have done with your grimaces,' said I, 'and take your money
along with you, though it is all a lie: look there, it was that honest
brook that saved me, not you--you pitiful wretch!' So saying, I
dropped a gold coin into his comical cap, which he held out toward me
like a beggar.

"I trotted on, but he still followed, screaming, and, with
inconceivable rapidity, whisked up to my side. I put my horse into a
gallop; he kept pace with me, though with much difficulty, and twisted
his body into various frightful and ridiculous attitudes, crying at
each step as he held up the money: 'Bad coin! bad gold! bad gold! bad
coin!' And this he shrieked in such a ghastly tone, that you would
have expected him to drop down dead after each cry.

"At last I stopped, much vexed, and asked, 'What do you want, with
your shrieks? Take another gold coin; take two if you will, only let
me alone.'

"He began his odious smirking again, and snarled, 'It's not gold, it's
not gold that I want, young gentleman; I have rather more of that than
I can use: you shall see.'

"All at once the surface of the ground became transparent; it looked
like a smooth globe of green glass, and within it I saw a crowd of
goblins at play with silver and gold. Tumbling about, head over heels
they pelted each other in sport, making a toy of the precious metals,
and powdering their faces with gold dust. My ugly companion stood half
above, half below the surface; he made the others reach up to him
quantities of gold, and showed it to me laughing, and then flung it
into the fathomless depths beneath. He displayed the piece of gold I
had given him to the goblins below, who held their sides with laughing
and hissed at me in scorn. At length all their bony fingers pointed at
me together; and louder and louder, closer and closer, wilder and
wilder grew the turmoil, as it rose toward me, till not my horse only,
but I myself was terrified; I put spurs into him, and cannot tell how
long I may have scoured the forest this time.

"When at last I halted, the shades of evening had closed in. Through
the branches I saw a white footpath gleaming and hoped it must be a
road out of the forest to the town. I resolved to work my way thither;
but lo! an indistinct, dead-white face, with ever-changing features,
peeped at me through the leaves; I tried to avoid it, but wherever I
went, there it was. Provoked, I attempted to push my horse against
it; then it splashed us both over with white foam, and we turned away,
blinded for the moment. So it drove us, step by step, further and
further from the footpath, and indeed never letting us go on
undisturbed but in one direction. While we kept to this, it was close
upon our heels, but did not thwart us. Having looked round once or
twice, I observed that the white foaming head was placed on a gigantic
body, equally white. I sometimes doubted my first impression, and
thought it merely a waterfall, but I never could satisfy myself that
it was so. Wearily did my horse and I precede this active white
pursuer, who often nodded at us, as if saying, 'That's right! that's
right!' and it ended by our issuing from the wood here, where I
rejoiced to see your lawn, the lake, and this cottage, and where the
long white man vanished."

"Thank Heaven, he is gone," said the old man, and he then proceeded to
consider how his guest could best return to his friends in the city.
Upon this, Undine was heard to laugh in a whisper.

Huldbrand observed it, and said: "I thought you had wished me to stay;
and now you seem pleased when we talk of my going?"

"Because," replied Undine, "you cannot get away. Only try to cross the
swollen brook, in a boat, on horseback, or on foot. Or rather, do not
try, for you would be dashed to pieces by the branches and stones that
it hurls along. And as to the lake, I know how that is: father never
ventures across it in his boat."

Huldbrand laughed, and got up to see whether she had spoken true; the
old man went with him, and the maiden tripped along playfully by their
side. They found she had told them no worse than the truth and the
Knight resigned himself to staying in the island, as it might now be
called till the floods had subsided. As they returned homeward, he
whispered in his pretty companion's ear--"Well, my little Undine! are
you angry at my staying?"

"Ah," said she sullenly, "never mind. If I had not bitten you, who
knows what might have come out in your story of Bertalda?"


V.--OF THE LIFE WHICH THE KNIGHT LED ON THE ISLAND

Has it ever befallen thee, gentle reader, after many ups and downs in
this troublesome world, to alight upon a spot where thou foundest
rest; where the love which is born with us for fireside comfort and
domestic peace, revived in thee; where thou couldst fancy thy early
home with the blossoms of childhood, its pure, heartfelt affection,
and the holy influence breathed from thy fathers' graves, to be
restored to thee--and that it must indeed be "good for thee to be
here, and to build tabernacles?" The charm may have been broken, the
dream dispelled; but that has nothing to do with our present picture;
nor wilt thou care to dwell on such bitter moments; but recall to mind
that period of unspeakable peace, that foretaste of angelic rest which
was granted thee, and thou wilt partly conceive what the Knight
Huldbrand felt, while he lived on the promontory. Often, with secret
satisfaction, did he mark the forest stream rolling by more wildly
every day; its bed became wider and wider, and he felt the period of
his seclusion from the world must be still prolonged. Having found an
old crossbow in a corner of the cottage, and mended it, he spent part
of his days roving about, waylaying the birds that flew by, and
bringing whatever he killed to the kitchen, as rare game. When he came
back laden with spoil, Undine would often scold him for taking the
life of the dear little joyous creatures, soaring in the blue depths
of Heaven; she would even weep bitterly over the dead birds. But if he
came home empty-handed, she found fault with his awkwardness and
laziness, which obliged them to be content with fish and crabs for
dinner. Either way, he took delight in her pretty fits of anger; the
more so as she rarely failed to make up for them by the fondest
caresses afterwards. The old folks, having been in the young people's
confidence from the first, unconsciously looked upon them as a
betrothed or even married pair, shut out from the world with them in
this retreat, and bestowed upon them for comforts in their old age.
And this very seclusion helped to make the young Knight feel as if he
were already Undine's bridegroom. It seemed to him that the whole
world was contained within the surrounding waters, or at any rate,
that he could never more cross that charmed boundary, and rejoin other
human beings. And if at times the neighing of his steed reminded him
of former feats of chivalry, and seemed to ask for more; if his coat
of arms, embroidered on the saddle and trappings, caught his eye; or
if his good sword fell from the nail on which he had hung it and
slipped out of its scabbard, he would silence the misgivings that
arose, by thinking, Undine is not a fisherman's daughter, but most
likely sprung from some highly noble family in distant lands. The only
thing that ever ruffled him, was to hear the old woman scolding
Undine. The wayward girl only laughed at her; but to him it seemed as
if his own honour were touched; and yet he could not blame the good
wife, for Undine mostly deserved ten times worse than she got,
therefore he still felt kindly toward the old dame, and these little
rubs scarcely disturbed the even current of their lives.

At length, however, a grievance did arise. The Knight and the
Fisherman were in the habit of sitting cheerfully over a flask of
wine, both at noon, and also at eventide while the wind whistled
around, as it generally did at night. But they had now exhausted the
whole stock which the Fisherman had, long since, brought from the town
with him and they both missed it sadly. Undine laughed at them all day
for it, but they could not join in her mirth as heartily as usual.
Toward evening she left the cottage, saying she could no longer bear
such long dismal faces. As the twilight looked stormy, and the waters
were beginning to moan and heave, the Knight and the old man ran out
anxiously to fetch her back, remembering the agony of that night when
Huldbrand first came to the cottage. But they were met by Undine,
clapping her hands merrily. "What will you give me if I get you some
wine? But, indeed, I want no reward for it," she added; "I shall be
satisfied if you will but look brighter, and find more to say than you
have done all these tedious mornings. Come along; the floods have
washed a barrel ashore, and I will engage to sleep a whole week
through if it is not a barrel of wine!"

The men both followed her to a shady creek, and there found a barrel,
which did look as if it contained the generous liquor which they
longed for. They rolled it toward the hut as fast as they could, for a
heavy storm seemed stalking across the sky, and there was light enough
left to show them the waves of the lake tossing up their foaming
heads, as if looking out for the rain which would soon pour down upon
them. Undine lent a hand in the work, and presently, when the shower
threatened to break instantly over their heads, she spoke to the big
clouds in playful defiance: "You, you there! mind you do not give us a
drenching; we are some way from home yet." The old man admonished her
that this was sinful presumption, but she laughed slyly to herself,
and no harm came of it. Beyond their hopes, they all three reached the
comfortable fireside with their prize, unhurt; and it was not till
they had opened the barrel, and found it to contain excellent wine,
that the rain broke from the heavy clouds in torrents, and they heard
the storm roaring among the trees, and over the lake's heaving
billows.

A few bottles were soon filled from the great barrel, enough to last
them several days; and they sat sipping and chatting over the bright
fire, secure from the raging tempest. But the old man's heart
presently smote him. "Dear me," said he, "here are we making merry
over the blessing of Providence, while the owner of it has perhaps
been carried away by the flood, and lost his life!"--"No, that he has
not," said Undine, smiling; and she filled the Knight's glass again.
He replied, "I give you my word, good father, that if I knew how to
find and save him, no danger should deter me; I would not shrink from
setting out in this darkness. This much I promise you, if ever I set
foot in an inhabited country again, I will make inquiry after him or
his heirs, and restore to them twice or three times the value of the
wine." This pleased the old man, he gave an approving nod to the
Knight, and drained his glass with a better conscience and a lighter
heart. But Undine said to Huldbrand, "Do as you like with your money,
you may make what compensation you please; but as to setting out and
wandering after him, that was hastily said. I should cry my heart out
if we chanced to lose you; and had not you rather stay with me and
with the good wine?" "Why, yes!" said Huldbrand, laughing. "Well
then," rejoined Undine, "it was a foolish thing you talked of doing;
charity begins at home, you know." The old woman turned away, shaking
her head and sighing; her husband forgot his usual indulgence for the
pretty lassie, and reproved her sharply. "One would think," said he,
"you had been reared by Turks and heathens; God forgive you and us,
you perverse child."--"Ay but it _is_ my way of thinking," pursued
Undine, "whoever has reared me, so what is the use of your
talking?"--"Peace!" cried the Fisherman; and she, who with all her
wildness was sometimes cowed in a moment, clung trembling to
Huldbrand, and whispered, "And are you angry with me, dear friend?"
The Knight pressed her soft hand, and stroked down her ringlets. Not a
word could he say; his distress at the old man's harshness toward
Undine had sealed his lips; and so each couple remained sitting
opposite the other, in moody silence and constraint.


VI.--OF A BRIDAL

A gentle tap at the door broke the silence, and made them all start:
it sometimes happens that a mere trifle, coming quite unexpectedly,
strikes the senses with terror. They looked at each other hesitating;
the tap was repeated, accompanied by a deep groan, and the Knight
grasped his sword. But the old man muttered, "If it is what I fear, it
is not a sword that will help us!" Undine, however, stepped forward to
the door, and said boldly and sharply, "If you are after any mischief,
you spirits of earth, Kühleborn shall teach you manners."

The terror of the others increased at these strange words; they looked
at the maiden with awe, and Huldbrand was just mustering courage to
ask her a question, when a voice answered her from without: "I am no
spirit of earth; call me, if you will, a spirit pent in mortal clay.
If you fear God, and will be charitable, you dwellers in the cottage,
open the door to me." Undine opened it before he had done speaking,
and held out a lamp into the stormy night, so as to show them the
figure of an aged Priest, who started back as the radiant beauty of
Undine flashed upon his sight. Well might he suspect magic and
witchery, when so bright a vision shone out of a mean-looking cottage;
he accordingly began a canticle, "All good spirits give praise to the
Lord!"

"I am no ghost," said Undine, smiling; "am I so frightful to behold?
And you may see that a pious saying has no terrors for me. I worship
God, too, and praise Him after my own fashion; He has not created us
all alike. Come in, venerable father; you will find worthy folks
here."

The holy man walked in, bowing and casting his eyes around, and
looking most mild and venerable. Every fold of his dark garment was
dripping with water, and so were his long white beard and hoary locks.
The Fisherman and the Knight led him to a bedroom, and gave him change
of clothing, while the women dried his wet garments by the hearth
fire. The aged stranger thanked them with all humility and gentleness,
but would by no means accept of the Knight's splendid mantle, which he
offered him; he chose himself an old gray wrapper of the Fisherman's
instead. So they returned to the kitchen; the dame up gave her own
arm-chair to the Priest, and had no peace till he sat himself down on
it: "For," said she, "you are old and weary, and a priest besides."
Undine pushed her little footstool toward the good man's feet, and
altogether behaved to him quite properly and gracefully. Huldbrand
took notice of this, in a playful whisper; but she answered very
gravely: "Because he is a servant of the Maker of us all; that is too
serious for a jest."

Meantime the two men set meat and wine before their guest, and when he
had recruited his strength a little, he began his story; saying that
the day before he had left his monastery, which was a good way off
beyond the lake, intending to visit the bishop at his palace, and
report to him the distress which these almost supernatural floods had
caused the monks and their poor tenantry. After going round a long
way, to avoid these floods, he had been obliged toward evening to
cross an arm of the overflowing lake, with the help of two honest
sailors. "But," added he, "no sooner had our little vessel touched the
waves, than we were wrapped in the tremendous storm, which is still
raging over our heads now. It looked as if the waters had only awaited
our coming to give a loose to their fury. The oars were soon dashed
from the seamen's hands, and we saw their broken fragments carried
further and further from us by the waves. We floated on the wave tops,
helpless, driven by the furious tempest toward your shores, which we
saw in the distance whenever the clouds parted for a moment. The boat
was tossed about still more wildly and giddily: and whether it upset,
or I fell out, I cannot tell. I floated on, till a wave landed me at
the foot of a tree, in this your island."

"Ay, island indeed!" said the Fisherman. "It was a promontory but a
short time ago. But, since the stream and our lake are gone raving mad
together, everything about us is new and strange."

The Priest continued: "As I crept along the water-side in the dark,
with a wild uproar around me, something caught my eye, and presently I
descried a beaten pathway, which was soon lost in the shades; I spied
the light in your cottage, and ventured to come hither; and I cannot
sufficiently thank my heavenly Father, who has not only delivered me
from the waters, but guided me to such kind souls. I feel this
blessing the more, as it is very likely I may never see any faces but
yours again."--"How so?" asked the fisherman. "Can you guess how long
this fury of the elements may last?" replied the Priest. "And I am an
old man. My stream of life may perhaps lose itself in the earth,
before these floods subside. And besides, it may be the foaming waters
will divide you from the forest more and more, till you are unable to
get across in your fishing boat; and the people of the mainland, full
of their own concerns, would quite forget you in your retreat."

Shuddering, and crossing herself, the Fisherman's wife exclaimed, "God
forbid!" But the old man smiled at her, and said, "What creatures we
are. That would make no difference, to you at least, my dear wife. How
many years is it since you have set foot within the forest? And have
you seen any face but Undine's and mine? Lately, indeed, we have had
the good Knight and Priest besides. But they would stay with us; so
that if we are forgotten in this island, you will be the gainer."

"So I see," said the dame; "yet somehow, it is cheerless to feel
ourselves quite cut off from the rest of the world, however seldom we
had seen it before."

"Then _you_ will stay with us!" murmured Undine in a sweet voice, and
she pressed closer to Huldbrand's side. But he was lost in deep
thought. Since the Priest had last spoken, the land beyond the wild
stream had seemed to his fancy more dark and distant than ever; while
the flowery island he lived in--and his bride, the fairest flower in
the picture--bloomed and smiled more and more freshly in his
imagination. Here was the Priest at hand to unite them;--and, to
complete his resolution, the old dame just then darted a reproving
look at Undine, for clinging to her lover's side in the holy man's
presence; an angry lecture seemed on the point of beginning. He turned
toward the Priest, and these words burst from him: "You see before
you a betrothed pair, reverend sir; if this damsel and the kind old
people will consent, you shall unite us this very evening."

The old folks were much surprised. Such a thought had often crossed
their minds, but they had never till this moment heard it uttered; and
it now fell upon their ears like an unexpected thing. Undine had
suddenly become quite grave, and sat musing deeply, while the Priest
inquired into various circumstances, and asked the old couple's
consent to the deed. After some deliberation, they gave it; the dame
went away to prepare the young people's bridal chamber, and to fetch
from her stores two consecrated tapers for the wedding ceremony.
Meanwhile the Knight was pulling two rings off his gold chain for
himself and his bride to exchange. But this roused Undine from her
reverie, and she said: "Stay! my parents did not send me into the
world quite penniless; they looked forward long ago to this occasion
and provided for it." She quickly withdrew, and returned bringing two
costly rings, one of which she gave to her betrothed and kept the
other herself. This astonished the old Fisherman, and still more his
wife, who came in soon after; for they neither of them had ever seen
these jewels about the child. "My parents," said Undine, "had these
rings sewed into the gay dress which I wore, when first I came to you.
They charged me to let no one know of them till my wedding-day came.
Therefore I took them secretly out of the dress, and have kept them
hidden till this evening."

Here the Priest put a stop to the conversation, by lighting the holy
tapers, placing them on the table, and calling the young pair to him.
With few and solemn words he joined their hands; the aged couple gave
their blessing, while the bride leaned upon her husband, pensive and
trembling.

When it was over, the Priest said: "You are strange people after all!
What did you mean by saying you were the only inhabitants of this
island? During the whole ceremony there was a fine-looking tall man,
in a white cloak, standing just outside the window opposite me. He
must be near the door still, if you like to invite him in."--"Heaven
forbid!" said the dame shuddering; the old man shook his head without
speaking; and Huldbrand rushed to the window. He could fancy he saw a
streak of white, but it was soon lost in darkness. So he assured the
Priest he must have been mistaken; and they all sat down comfortably
round the fire.


VII.--HOW THE REST OF THE EVENING PASSED AWAY

Undine had been perfectly quiet and well-behaved both before and
during the marriage ceremony; but now her wild spirits seemed the more
uncontrollable from the restraint they had undergone, and rose to an
extravagant height. She played all manner of childish tricks on her
husband, her foster parents, and even the venerable Priest, and when
the old woman began to check her, one or two words from Huldbrand, who
gravely called Undine "his wife," reduced her to silence. The Knight
himself, however, was far from being pleased at Undine's childishness;
but no hint or sign would stop her. Whenever she perceived his
disapproving looks--which she occasionally did--it subdued her for the
moment; she would sit down by him, whisper something playfully in his
ear, and so dispel the frown as it gathered on his brow. But the next
instant some wild nonsense would dart into her head, and set her off
worse than ever. At last the Priest said to her, in a kind but grave
manner, "My dear young lady, no one that beholds you can be severe
upon you, it is true; but remember, it is your duty to keep watch over
your soul, that it may be ever in harmony with that of your wedded
husband." "Soul!" cried Undine, laughing; "that sounds very fine, and
for most people may be very edifying and moral advice. But if one has
no soul at all, pray how is one to keep watch over it? And that is my
case." The Priest was deeply hurt, and turned away his face in mingled
sorrow and anger. But she came up to him beseechingly, and said, "Nay,
hear me before you are angry, for it grieves me to see you displeased,
and you would not distress any creature who has done you no harm. Only
have patience with me, and I will tell you all, from the beginning."

They saw she was preparing to give them a regular history; but she
stopped short, appearing thrilled by some secret recollection, and
burst into a flood of gentle tears. They were quite at a loss what to
think of her, and gazed upon her, distressed from various causes. At
length drying her eyes, she looked at the Priest earnestly and said,
"There must be much to love in a soul, but much that is awful too. For
God's sake, holy father, tell me--were it not better to be still
without one?" She waited breathlessly for an answer, restraining her
tears. Her hearers had all risen from their seats, and now stepped
back from her, shuddering. She seemed to have no eyes but for the
saintly man; her countenance assumed an expression of anxiety and awe
which yet more alarmed the others. "Heavy must be the burden of a
soul," added she, as no one answered her--"heavy indeed! for the mere
approach of mine over-shadows me with anxious melancholy. And ah! how
light-hearted, how joyous I used to be!" A fresh burst of weeping
overcame her, and she covered her face with her veil.

The Priest then approached her with much gravity, and adjured her by
the holiest names to confess the truth, if any evil lurked in her,
unknown to them. But she fell on her knees before him, repeated after
him all his words of piety, gave praise to God, and declared she was
in charity with all the world. The Priest turned to the young Knight.
"Sir bridegroom," said he, "I leave you alone with her whom I have
made your wife. As far as I can discover, there is no evil, although
much that is mysterious, in her. I exhort you to be sober, loving, and
faithful." So he went out; and the old people followed; crossing
themselves.

Undine was still on her knees; she uncovered her face and looked
timidly at Huldbrand, saying, "Ah, thou wilt surely cast me off now;
and yet I have done nothing wrong, poor, poor child that I am!" This
she said with so touching and gentle an expression, that her husband
forgot all the gloom and mystery that had chilled his heart; he
hastened toward, her and raised her in his arms. She smiled through
her tears--it was like the glow of dawn shining upon a clear fountain.
"Thou canst not forsake me!" whispered she, in accents of the firmest
reliance; and she stroked his cheeks with her soft little hands. He
tried to shake off the gloomy thoughts which still lurked in a corner
of his mind, suggesting to him that he had married a fairy, or some
shadowy being from the world of spirits: one question, however, he
could not help asking: "My dear little Undine, just tell me one thing:
what was that you said about spirits of earth, and Kühleborn, when the
Priest knocked at the door?"--"All nonsense!" said Undine, laughing,
with her usual gayety. "First I frightened you with it, and then you
frightened me. And that is the end of the story, and of our
wedding-day!"


VIII.--THE DAY AFTER THE MARRIAGE

A bright morning light wakened the young people; and Huldbrand lay
musing silently. As often as he had dropped asleep, he had been scared
by horrible dreams of spectres who suddenly took the form of fair
women, or of fair women who were transformed into dragons. And when he
started up from these grim visions, and saw the pale, cold moonlight
streaming in at the window, he would turn an anxious look toward
Undine; she lay slumbering in undisturbed beauty and peace. Then he
would compose himself to sleep again--soon again to wake in terror.
When he looked back upon all this in broad daylight, he was angry with
himself for having let a suspicion, a shade of distrust of his
beautiful wife, enter his mind. He frankly confessed to her this
injustice; she answered him only by pressing his hand, and sighing
from the bottom of her heart. But a look, such as her eyes had never
before given, of the deepest and most confiding tenderness, left him
no doubt that she forgave him. So he arose cheerfully, and joined the
family in the sitting-room. The three others were gathered round the
hearth looking uneasy, and neither of them having ventured to speak
his thoughts yet. The Priest seemed to be secretly praying for
deliverance from evil. But when the young husband appeared, beaming
with happiness, the care-worn faces brightened up; nay, the Fisherman
ventured upon a few courteous jokes with the Knight, which won a smile
even from the good housewife. Meanwhile Undine had dressed herself,
and now came in; they could not help rising to meet her, and stood
still, astonished; the young creature was the same, yet so different.
The Priest was the first to address her, with an air of paternal
kindness, and when he raised his hands in benediction, the fair woman
sank on her knees, trembling with pious awe. In a few meek and humble
words, she begged him to forgive the folly of the day before, and
besought him, with great emotion, to pray for the salvation of her
soul. Then rising, she kissed her foster parents, and thanking them
for all their kindness, she said: "Oh, now I feel from the bottom of
my heart how much you have done for me, how deeply grateful I ought to
be, dear, dear people!" She seemed as if she could not caress them
enough; but soon, observing the dame glance toward the breakfast, she
went toward the hearth, busied herself arranging and preparing the
meal, and would not suffer the good woman to take the least trouble
herself.

So she went on all day; at once a young matron, and a bashful, tender,
delicate bride. The three who knew her best were every moment
expecting this mood to change, and give place to one of her crazy
fits; but they watched in vain. There was still the same angelic
mildness and sweetness. The Priest could not keep his eyes away from
her, and he said more than once to the bridegroom, "Sir, it was a
great treasure which Heaven bestowed upon you yesterday, by my poor
ministration; cherish her worthily, and she will be to you a blessing
in time and eternity."

Toward evening, Undine clasped the Knight's arm with modest
tenderness, and gently led him out before the door, where the rays of
the setting sun were lighting up the fresh grass, and the tall, taper
stems of trees. The young wife's face wore a melting expression of
love and sadness, and her lips quivered with some anxious, momentous
secret, which as yet betrayed itself only by scarce audible sighs. She
silently led her companion onward; if he spoke, she replied by a look
which gave him no direct answer, but revealed a whole heaven of love
and timid submission. So they reached the banks of the stream which
had overflowed, and the Knight started on finding the wild torrent
changed into a gentle rippling brook, without a trace of its former
violence left. "By to-morrow it will have dried up completely," said
the bride, in a faltering voice, "and thou mayest begone whither thou
wilt."--"Not without thee, my Undine," said the Knight, playfully;
"consider, if I had a mind to forsake thee, the Church, the Emperor,
and his ministers might step in, and bring thy truant home."--"No, no,
you are free; it shall be as you please!" murmured Undine, half tears,
half smiles. "But I think thou wilt not cast me away; is not my heart
bound up in thine? Carry me over to that little island opposite. There
I will know my fate. I could indeed easily step through the little
waves; but I love to rest in thine arms! and thou _mayest_ cast me
off; this may be the last time." Huldbrand, full of anxious emotion,
knew not how to answer. He took her up in his arms, and carried her
over, now recollecting that from this very island he had borne her
home to the Fisherman, on the night of his arrival. When there, he
placed his fair burden on the turf, and was going to sit down beside
her; but she said, "No, sit there, opposite me--I will read my doom in
your eyes, before your lips have spoken it. Now listen, and I will
tell you all." And she began:--

"You must know, my own love, that in each element exists a race of
beings, whose form scarcely differs from yours, but who very seldom
appear to mortal sight. In the flames, the wondrous Salamanders
glitter and disport themselves; in the depths of earth dwell the dry,
spiteful race of Gnomes; the forests are peopled by Wood-nymphs, who
are also spirits of air; and the seas, the rivers and brooks contain
the numberless tribes of Water-sprites. Their echoing halls of
crystal, where the light of heaven pours in, with its sun and stars,
are glorious to dwell in; the gardens contain beautiful coral plants,
with blue and red fruits; they wander over bright sea-sands, and
gay-coloured shells, among the hidden treasures of the old world, too
precious to be bestowed on these latter days, and long since covered
by the silver mantle of the deep: many a noble monument still gleams
there below, bedewed by the tears of Ocean, who garlands it with
flowery sea-weeds and wreaths of shells. Those that dwell there below,
are noble and lovely to behold, far more so than mankind. Many a
fisherman has had a passing glimpse of some fair water-nymph, rising
out of the sea with her song; he would then spread the report of her
apparition, and these wonderful beings came to be called _Undines_.
And you now see before you, my love, an Undine."

The Knight tried to persuade himself that his fair wife was in one of
her wild moods, and had invented this strange tale in sport. But
though he said this to himself, he could not for a moment believe it;
a mysterious feeling thrilled him; and, unable to utter a word, he
kept his eyes rivetted on the beautiful speaker. She shook her head
sadly, heaved a deep sigh, and went on:--

"We might be happier than our human fellow-creatures (for we call you
fellow-creatures, as our forms are alike), but for one great evil. We,
and the other children of the elements, go down to the dust, body and
spirit; not a trace of us remains and when the time comes for you to
rise again to a glorified existence, we shall have perished with our
native sands, flames, winds, and waves. For we have no souls; the
elements move us, obey us while we live, close over us when we die;
and we light spirits live as free from care as the nightingale, the
gold-fish, and all such bright children of Nature. But no creatures
rest content in their appointed place. My father, who is a mighty
prince in the Mediterranean Sea, determined that his only child should
be endowed with a soul, even at the cost of much suffering, which is
ever the lot of souls. But a soul can be infused into one of our race,
only by being united in the closest bands of love to one of yours. And
now I have obtained a soul; to thee I owe it, O best beloved! and for
that gift I shall ever bless thee, unless thou dost devote my whole
futurity to misery. For what is to become of me should thou recoil
from me, and cast me off? Yet I would not detain thee by deceit. And
if I am to leave thee, say so now; go back to the land alone. I will
plunge into this brook; it is my uncle, who leads a wonderful,
sequestered life in this forest, away from all his friends. But he is
powerful, and allied to many great rivers; and as he brought me here
to the Fisherman, a gay and laughing child, so he is ready to take me
back to my parents, a loving, suffering, forsaken woman."

She would have gone on; but Huldbrand, full of compassion and love,
caught her in his arms, and carried her back. There, with tears and
kisses, he swore never to forsake his beloved wife; and said he felt
more blessed than the Greek sculptor Pygmalion, whose beautiful statue
dame Venus transformed into a living woman. Hanging on his arm in
peaceful reliance, Undine returned; and she felt from her inmost
heart, how little cause she had to regret the crystal palaces of her
father.


IX.--HOW THE KNIGHT AND HIS YOUNG BRIDE DEPARTED

When Huldbrand awoke from sleep the next morning, he missed his fair
companion; and again he was tormented with a doubt, whether his
marriage, and the lovely Undine, might not be all a fairy dream. But
she soon reappeared, came up to him, and said, "I have been out early,
to see if my uncle had kept his word. He has recalled all the straying
waters into his quiet bed, and now takes his lonely and pensive course
through the forest as he used to do. His friends in the lake and the
air are gone to rest also; all things have returned to their usual
calmness; and you may set out homeward on dry land, as soon as you
please." Huldbrand felt as if dreaming still, so little could he
understand his wife's wonderful relations. But he took no notice of
this, and his sweet Undine's gentle attentions soon charmed every
uneasy thought away.

A little while after, as they stood at the door together, looking over
the fair scene with its boundary of clear waters, his heart yearned so
toward this cradle of his love that he said: "But why should we go
away so soon? we shall never spend happier days in yonder world, than
we have passed in this peaceful nook. Let us at least see two or three
more suns go down here."--"As my Lord wishes," answered Undine, with
cheerful submission; "but, you see, the old people will be grieved at
parting with me, whenever it is; and if we give them time to become
acquainted with my soul, and with its new powers of loving and
honouring them, I fear that when I go, their aged hearts will break
under the load of sorrow. As yet, they take my gentle mood for a
passing whim, such as they saw me liable to formerly, like a calm on
the lake when the winds are lulled; and they will soon begin to love
some favourite tree or flower in my place. They must not learn to know
this newly obtained, affectionate heart, in the first overflowings of
its tenderness, just at the moment when they are to lose me for this
world; and how could I disguise it from them, if we remained together
longer?"

Huldbrand agreed with her; he went to the old couple and finding them
ready to consent, he resolved upon setting out that very hour. The
Priest offered to accompany them; after a hasty farewell, the pretty
bride was placed on the horse by her husband, and they crossed the
stream's dry bed quickly, and entered the forest. Undine shed silent
but bitter tears, while the old folks wailed after her aloud. It
seemed as if some foreboding were crossing their minds, of how great
their loss would prove.

The three travellers reached the deepest shades of the forest, without
breaking silence. It was a fair sight to behold, as they passed
through the leafy bowers: the graceful woman sitting on her noble
steed, guarded on one side by the venerable Priest in the white habit
of his order; on the other, by the youthful Knight, with his gorgeous
attire and glittering sword. Huldbrand had no eyes but for his
precious wife; Undine, who had dried her duteous tears, no thought but
for him; and they soon fell into a noiseless interchange of glances
and signs, which at length was interrupted by the sound of a low
murmur, proceeding from the Priest and a fourth fellow-traveller, who
had joined them unobserved. He wore a white robe, very like the
Priest's dress, except that the hood almost covered his face, and the
rest of it floated round him in such large folds that he was
perpetually obliged to gather up, throw it over his arm, or otherwise
arrange it; yet it did not seem to impede him at all in walking; when
the young people saw him he was saying, "And so, my worthy father, I
have dwelt in the forest for many a year, yet I am not what you
commonly call a hermit. For, as I told you, I know nothing of penance,
nor do I think it would do me much good. What makes me so fond of the
woods is, that I have a very particular fancy for winding through the
dark shades and forest walks, with my loose white clothes floating
about me; now and then a pretty sunbeam will glance over me as I
go."--"You seem to be a very curious person," replied the Priest "and
I should like to know more about you."--"And pray who are you, to
carry on the acquaintance?" said the stranger. "They call me Father
Heilmann," answered the Priest, "and I belong to St. Mary's
monastery, beyond the lake."--"Ay, ay!" rejoined the other. "My name
is Kühleborn, and if I stood upon ceremony, I might well call myself
Lord of Kühleborn, or Baron (Freiherr) Kühleborn; for free I am, as
the bird of the air, or a trifle more free. For instance, I must now
have a word with the young woman there." And before they could look
round, he was on the other side of the Priest, close to Undine, and
stretching up his tall figure to whisper in her ear. But she turned
hastily away, saying, "I have nothing more to do with you
now."--"Heyday!" said the stranger, laughing, "what a prodigiously
grand marriage yours must be, if you are to cast off your relations in
this way! Have you forgotten Uncle Kühleborn, who brought you all the
way here on his back so kindly?"

"But I entreat you," said Undine, "never come to me again. I am afraid
of you now; and will not my husband become afraid of me, if he finds I
have so strange a family?"--"My little niece," said Kühleborn, "please
to remember that I am protecting you all this time; the foul Spirits
of Earth might play you troublesome tricks if I did not. So you had
better let me go on with you, and no more words. The old Priest there
has a better memory than yours, for he would have it he knew my face
very well, and that I must have been with him in the boat, when he
fell into the water. And he may well say so, seeing that the wave
which washed him over was none but myself, and I landed him safe on
the shore, in time for your wedding."

Undine and the Knight looked at Father Heilmann, but he seemed to be
plodding on in a waking dream, and not listening to what was said.
Undine said to Kühleborn, "There, I can see the end of the wood; we
want your help no longer, and there is nothing to disturb us but you.
So in love and kindness I entreat you, begone, and let us go in
peace." This seemed to make Kühleborn angry; he twisted his face
hideously, and hissed at Undine, who cried aloud for help. Like
lightning the Knight passed round her horse, and aimed a blow at
Kühleborn's head with his sword. But instead of the head, he struck
into a waterfall, which gushed down a high cliff near them, and now
showered them all with a splash that sounded like laughter, and wetted
them to the bone. The Priest, seeming to wake up, said, "Well, I was
expecting this, because that brook gushed down the rock so close to
us. At first I could not shake off the idea that it was a man, and was
speaking to me." The waterfall whispered distinctly in Huldbrand's
ear, "Rash youth, dashing youth, I chide thee not, I shame thee not;
still shield thy precious wife safe and sure, rash young soldier,
dashing Knight!"

A little further on they emerged into the open plains. The city lay
glittering before them, and the evening sun that gilded her towers,
lent its grateful warmth to dry their soaked garments.


X.--OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE IN THE TOWN

The sudden disappearance of the young Knight Huldbrand of Ringstetten
had made a great stir in the city, and distressed the inhabitants,
with whom his gallantry in the lists and the dance, and his gentle,
courteous manners, had made him very popular. His retainers would not
leave the place without their master, but yet none had the courage to
seek him in the haunted forest. They therefore remained in their
hostelry, idly hoping, as men are so apt to do, and keeping alive the
remembrance of their lost lord by lamentations. But soon after, when
the tempest raged and the rivers overflowed, few doubted that the
handsome stranger must have perished. Bertalda, among others, mourned
him for lost, and was ready to curse herself, for having urged him to
the fatal ride through the forest. Her ducal foster parents had
arrived to take her away, but she prevailed upon them to wait a
little, in hope that a true report of Huldbrand's death or safety
might reach them. She tried to persuade some of the young knights who
contended for her favour, to venture into the forest and seek for the
noble adventurer. But she would not offer her hand as the reward,
because she still hoped to bestow it some day on the wanderer himself;
and to obtain a glove, a scarf, or some such token from her, none of
them cared to expose his life to bring back so dangerous a rival.

Now, when Huldbrand unexpectedly reappeared, it spread joy among his
servants, and all the people generally, except Bertalda; for while the
others were pleased at his bringing with him such a beautiful wife,
and Father Heilmann to bear witness to their marriage, it could not
but grieve _her_: first, because the young Knight had really won her
heart; and next, because she had betrayed her feelings by so openly
lamenting his absence, far more than was now becoming. However, she
behaved like a prudent woman and suited her conduct to the
circumstances, by living in the most cordial intimacy with Undine--who
passed in the town for a princess, released by Huldbrand from the
power of some wicked enchanter of the forest. If she or her husband
were questioned about it, they gave evasive answers; Father Heilmann's
lips were sealed on all such idle topics, beside which, he had left
them soon after they arrived, and returned to his cloister: so the
citizens were left to their own wondering conjectures, and even
Bertalda came no nearer the truth than others.

Meanwhile, Undine grew daily more fond of this winning damsel. "We
must have known each other before," she would often say, "or else some
secret attraction draws us toward each other; for without some cause,
some strange, mysterious cause, I am sure nobody would love another as
I have loved you from the moment we met." Bertalda, on her part, could
not deny that she felt strongly inclined to like Undine,
notwithstanding the grounds of complaint she thought she had against
this happy rival. The affection being mutual, the one persuaded her
parents, the other her wedded lord, to defer the day of departure
repeatedly; they even went so far as to propose that Bertalda should
accompany Undine to the castle of Ringstetten, near the source of the
Danube.

They were talking of this one fine evening, as they sauntered by
starlight round the market-place, which was surrounded by high trees;
the young couple had invited Bertalda to join their evening stroll,
and they now paced backward and forward in pleasant talk, with the
dark blue sky over their heads, and a beautiful fountain before them
in the centre, which, as it bubbled and sprang up into fanciful
shapes, often caught their attention, and interrupted the
conversation. All around them was serene and pleasant; through the
foliage gleamed the light of many a lamp from the surrounding houses;
and the ear was soothed by the hum of children at play, and of
sauntering groups like themselves; they enjoyed at once the pleasure
of solitude, and the social happiness of being near the cheerful
haunts of men. Every little difficulty that had occurred to their
favourite plan, seemed to vanish upon nearer examination, and the
three friends could not imagine that Bertalda's consent to the journey
need be delayed a moment. But as she was on the point of naming a day
for joining them and setting out, a very tall man came forward from
the middle of the place, bowed to them respectfully, and began
whispering in Undine's ear. She though apparently displeased with the
interruption and with the speaker, stepped aside with him, and they
began a low discourse together, in what sounded like a foreign
language. Huldbrand thought he knew this strange man's face, and fixed
his attention upon him so earnestly, that he neither heard nor
answered the astonished Bertalda's questions. All at once Undine
clapped her hands joyfully, and turned her back, laughing, upon the
stranger; he shook his head and walked off in an angry, hurried
manner, and stepped into the fountain. This confirmed Huldbrand in his
guess; while Bertalda inquired, "My dear Undine, what business had
that man of the fountain with you?" Her friend smiled archly and
replied, "On your birthday, the day after to-morrow, I will tell you,
my sweet girl;" and she would say no more. She only pressed Bertalda
to come and dine with them on that day, and bring her foster parents;
after which they separated.

"Kühleborn?" said Huldbrand to his wife with a suppressed shudder, as
they walked home through the dark streets. "Yes, it was he," replied
Undine "and he tried to put all sorts of nonsense into my head.
However, without intending it he delighted me by one piece of news. If
you wish to hear it, now, my kind lord, you have but to say so, and I
will tell you every word. But if you like to give your Undine a _very_
great delight, you will wait two days, and then have your share in the
surprise."

The Knight readily granted her what she had asked so meekly and
gracefully; and as she dropped asleep she murmured, "How it will
delight her! how little she expects such a message from the mysterious
man--dear, dear Bertalda!"


XI.--BERTALDA'S BIRTHDAY

The guests were now assembled at table; Bertalda sat at the top,
adorned with flowers like the goddess of spring, and flashing with
jewels, the gifts of many friends and relations. Undine and Huldbrand
were on either side of her. When the sumptuous meal was ended, and the
dessert served, the doors were opened--according to the good old
German custom--to let the common people look in and have their share
in the gaiety of the rich. The attendants offered wine and cake to the
assembled crowd. Huldbrand and Bertalda were eagerly watching for the
promised disclosure, and both kept their eyes fixed upon Undine. But
she was still silent; her cheeks dimpled occasionally with a bright,
conscious smile. Those that knew what she was about to do, could
perceive that her interesting secret was ready to burst from her lips,
but that she was playfully determined to keep it in, as children
sometimes will save their daintiest morsels for the last. Her silent
glee communicated itself to the other two, who watched impatiently for
the happy news that was about to gladden their hearts. Some of the
company now asked Undine for a song. She seemed to be prepared with
one, and sent for her lute, to which she sang as follows:--

The sun gilds the wave,
  The flowers are sweet,
And the ocean doth lave
  The grass at our feet!

What lies on the earth
  So blooming and gay?
Doth a blossom peep forth
  And greet the new day?

Ah, 'tis a fair child!
  She sports with the flowers,
So gladsome and mild,
  Through the warm sunny hours

O sweet one, who brought thee?
  From far distant shore
Old Ocean he caught thee,
  And many a league bore.

Poor babe, all in vain
  Thou dost put forth thy hand
None clasp it again,
  'Tis a bleak foreign land:

The flowers bloom brightly,
  And soft breathes the air,
But all pass thee lightly:
  Thy mother is far!

Thy life scarce begun,
  Thy smiles fresh from heaven,
Thy best treasure is gone,
  To another 'tis given.

A gallant charger treads the dell,
  His noble rider pities thee;
He takes thee home, he tends thee well,
  And cares for thee right gen'rously.

Well thou becom'st thy station high,
  And bloom'st the fairest in the land;
And yet, alas! the purest joy
  Is left on thine own distant strand.

Undine put down her lute with a melancholy smile and the eyes of the
Duke and Duchess filled with tears: "So it was when I found you, my
poor innocent orphan!" said the Duke with great emotion "as the fair
singer said, your best treasure was gone and we have been unable to
supply its place."

"Now let us think of the poor parents," said Undine and she struck
the chords and sang:--

               I

Mother roves from room to room
  Seeking rest, she knows not how,
The house is silent as the tomb,
  And who is there to bless her now?

              II

Silent house! Oh words of sorrow!
  Where is now her darling child?
She who should have cheered the morrow,
  And the evening hours beguiled?

              III

The buds are swelling on the tree,
  The sun returns when night is o'er;
But, mother, ne'er comes joy to thee,
  Thy child shall bless thine eyes no more.

              IV

And when the evening breezes blow,
  And father seeks his own fireside,
He smiles, forgetful of his woe,
  But ah! his tears that smile shall hide.

               V

Father knows that in his home
  Deathlike stillness dwells for aye;
The voice of mirth no more shall come,
  And mother sighs the livelong day.

"O Undine, for God's sake, where are my parents?" cried Bertalda,
weeping. "Surely you know, you have discovered it, most wonderful
woman; else how could you have stirred my inmost heart as you have
done? They are perhaps even now in the room--can it be?"--and her eyes
glanced over the gay assembly, and fixed upon a reigning Princess who
sat next to the Duke. But Undine bent forward to the door, her eyes
overflowing with the happiest tears. "Where are they, the poor anxious
parents?" said she; and the old Fisherman and his wife came out from
the crowd of bystanders. They turned an inquiring eye upon Undine, and
then upon the handsome lady whom they were to call daughter. "There
she is," faltered the delighted Undine, and the aged couple caught
their long-lost child in their arms, thanking God, and weeping aloud.

Affrighted and enraged, Bertalda shrank from their embrace. It was
more than her proud spirit could bear, to be thus degraded; at a
moment, too, when she was fully expecting an increase of splendour,
and fancy was showering pearls and diadems upon her head. She
suspected that her rival had contrived this, on purpose to mortify her
before Huldbrand and all the world. She reviled both Undine and the
old people; the hateful words, "Treacherous creature! and bribed
wretches!" burst from her lips. The old woman said in a half whisper,
"Dear me, she has grown up a wicked woman; and yet my heart tells me
she is my own child." The Fisherman has clasped his hands, and was
praying silently that this girl might not prove to be theirs indeed.
Undine, pale as death, looked from Bertalda to the parents, from the
parents to Bertalda, and could not recover the rude shock she had
sustained, at being plunged from all her happy dreams into a state of
fear and misery, such as she had never known before.

"Have you a soul? Have you indeed a soul, Bertalda?" she exclaimed
once or twice, trying to recall her angry friend to reason, from what
she took for a fit of madness, or a kind of nightmare. But Bertalda
only stormed the louder; the repulsed parents wailed piteously, and
the company began to dispute angrily and to side with one or the
other; when Undine stepped forward, and asked with so much earnest
gentleness to be listened to in her husband's house that all was
hushed in a moment. She took the place which Bertalda had left, at
the head of the table, and as she stood there in modest dignity, the
eyes of all turned toward her, and she said: "You all that cast such
angry looks at each other, and so cruelly spoil the joy of my poor
feast, alas! I little knew what your foolish angry passions were, and
I think I never shall understand you. What I had hoped would do so
much good has led to all this; but that is not my fault, it is your
own doing, believe me; I have little more to say, but one thing you
must hear: I have told no falsehood. Proofs I have none to give,
beyond my word, but I will swear to the truth of it. I heard it from
him who decoyed Bertalda from her parents into the water, and then
laid her down in the meadow where the Duke was to pass."

"She is a sorceress," cried Bertalda, "a witch who has dealings with
evil spirits! she has acknowledged it."

"I have not," said Undine, with a heaven of innocence and
guilelessness in her eyes. "Nor am I a witch--only look at me!"

"Then she lies," cried Bertalda, "and she dares not assert that I was
born of these mean people. My noble parents, I beseech you take me out
of this room, and this town, where they are leagued together to insult
me."

But the venerable Duke stood still, and his lady said, "We must first
sift this matter to the bottom. Nothing shall make me leave the room
till my doubts are satisfied."

Then the old woman came up, made a deep obeisance to the Duchess, and
said, "You give me courage to speak, my noble, worthy lady. I must
tell you, that if this ungodly young woman is my daughter, I shall
know her by a violet mark between her shoulders, and another on the
left instep. If she would but come with me into another room--"

"I will not uncover myself before that country-woman," said Bertalda,
proudly turning away.

"But before me, you will," rejoined the Duchess gravely. "You shall go
with me into that room, young woman, and the good dame will accompany
us." They withdrew together, leaving the party in silent suspense. In
a few minutes they came back; Bertalda was deadly pale, and the
Duchess said, "Truth is truth, and I am bound to declare that our Lady
Hostess has told us perfectly right. Bertalda is the Fisherman's
daughter; more than that, it concerns nobody to know." And the
princely pair departed, taking with them their adopted child, and
followed (upon a sign from the Duke) by the Fisherman and his wife.
The rest of the assembly broke up, in silence or with secret murmurs,
and Undine sank into Huldbrand's arms, weeping bitterly.


XII.--HOW THEY LEFT THE IMPERIAL CITY

There was certainly much to displease the Lord of Ringstetten in the
events of this day; yet he could not look back upon them, without
feeling proud of the guileless truth and the generosity of heart shown
by his lovely wife. "If indeed her soul was my gift," thought he, "it
is nevertheless much better than my own;" and he devoted himself to
the task of soothing her grief, and determined he would take her away
the next morning from a spot now so full of bitter recollections.

They were mistaken, however, in thinking that she had lost in the eyes
of the world by this adventure. So prepared were the minds of the
people to find something mysterious in her, that her strange discovery
of Bertalda's origin scarcely surprised them; while, on the other
hand, everyone that heard of Bertalda's history and of her passionate
behaviour, was moved with indignation. Of this, the Knight and Undine
were not aware; nor would it have given them any comfort, for she was
still as jealous of Bertalda's good name as of her own. Upon the
whole, they had no greater wish than to leave the town without delay.

At daybreak next morning, Undine's chariot was in readiness at the
door, and the steeds of Huldbrand and of his squires stood around it,
pawing the ground with impatience. As the Knight led his fair bride to
the door, a fishing girl accosted them. "We want no fish," said
Huldbrand; "we are just going away." The girl began to sob bitterly,
and they then recognised her as Bertalda. They immediately turned back
into the house with her; and she said that the Duke and Duchess had
been so incensed at her violence the day before, as to withdraw their
protection from her, though not without giving her a handsome
allowance. The Fisherman too had received a liberal gift, and had
departed that evening with his wife, to return to the promontory. "I
would have gone with them," she continued, "but the old Fisherman,
whom they call my father--"

"And so he is, Bertalda," interrupted Undine. "He is your father. For
the man you saw at the fountain told me how it is. He was trying to
persuade me that I had better not take you to Ringstetten, and he let
drop the secret."

"Well then," said Bertalda, "my father--if so it must be--my father
said, 'You shall not live with us till you are an altered creature.
Take courage and come across the haunted forest to us; that will show
that you sincerely wish to belong to your parents. But do not come in
your finery; be like what you are, a fisherman's daughter.' And I will
do as he bids me; for the whole world has forsaken me, and I have
nothing left, but to live and die humbly in a poor hut, alone with my
lowly parents. I do dread the forest very much. They say it is full of
grim spectres, and I am so timid! But what can I do? I came here only
to implore the Lady of Ringstetten's pardon for my rude language
yesterday. I have no doubt you meant what you did kindly, noble Dame;
but you little knew what a trial your words would be to me, and I was
so alarmed and bewildered, that many a hasty, wicked word escaped my
lips. Ah forgive me, forgive me! I am unhappy enough already. Only
consider what I was yesterday morning, even at the beginning of your
feast, and what I am now."

Her words were lost in a flood of bitter tears, and Undine, equally
affected, fell weeping on her neck. It was long before her emotion
would let her speak: at length she said, "You shall go to Ringstetten
with us; all shall be as we had settled it before; only call me Undine
again, and not 'Lady' and 'noble Dame.' You see, we began by being
exchanged in our cradles; our lives have been linked from that hour,
and we will try to bind them so closely that no human power shall
sever us. Come with us to Ringstetten, and all will be well. We will
live like sisters there, trust me for arranging that." Bertalda looked
timidly at Huldbrand. The sight of this beautiful, forsaken maiden
affected him; he gave her his hand and encouraged her kindly to trust
herself to him and his wife. "As to your parents," said he, "we will
let them know why you do not appear;" and he would have said much more
concerning the good old folks, but he observed that Bertalda shuddered
at the mention of them, and therefore dropped the subject. He gave her
his arm, placed first her and then Undine in the carriage, and rode
cheerfully after them; he urged the drivers on so effectually, that
they very soon found themselves out of sight of the city, and beyond
the reach of sad recollections--and the two ladies could fully enjoy
the beautiful country through which the road wound along.

After a few days' travelling, they arrived, one sunny evening, at the
Castle of Ringstetten. Its young lord had much business with his
steward and labourers to occupy him, so that Undine was left alone
with Bertalda. They took a walk on the high ramparts of the castle,
and admired the rich Swabian landscape, which lay far and wide around
them. A tall man suddenly came up, with a courteous obeisance; and
Bertalda could not help thinking him very like the ominous man of the
fountain. The likeness struck her still more, when, upon an impatient
and even menacing gesture of Undine's, he went away with the same
hasty step and shake of the head as before.

"Do not be afraid, dear Bertalda," said Undine, "the ugly man shall
not harm you this time." After which she told her whole history,
beginning from her birth, and how they had been exchanged in their
earliest childhood. At first her friend looked at her with serious
alarm; she thought Undine was possessed by some delirium. But she
became convinced it was all true, as she listened to the
well-connected narrative, which accounted so well for the strange
events of the last months; besides which, there is something in
genuine truth which finds an answer in every heart, and can hardly be
mistaken. She was bewildered, when she found herself one of the actors
in a living fairy tale, and as wild a tale as any she had read. She
gazed upon Undine with reverence; but could not help feeling a chill
thrown over her affection for her; and that evening at supper time,
she wondered at the Knight's fond love and familiarity toward a being,
whom she now looked upon as rather a spirit than a human creature.


XIII.--HOW THEY LIVED IN THE CASTLE OF RINGSTETTEN

As he who relates this tale is moved to the heart by it, and hopes
that it may affect his readers too, he entreats of them one favour;
namely, that they will bear with him while he passes rapidly over a
long space of time; and be content if he barely touches upon what
happened therein. He knows well that some would relate in great
detail, step by step, how Huldbrand's heart began to be estranged from
Undine, and drawn toward Bertalda; while she cared not to disguise
from him her ardent love; and how between them the poor injured wife
came to be rather feared than pitied--and when he showed her kindness,
a cold shiver would often creep over him and send him back to the
child of earth, Bertalda;--all this the author knows, might be dwelt
upon; nay, perhaps it ought to be so. But his heart shrinks from such
a task, for he has met with such passages in real life, and cannot
even abide their shadows in his memory. Perhaps, gentle reader, such
feelings are known to thee also, for they are the common lot of mortal
man. Well is thee if thou hast felt, not inflicted, these pangs; in
these cases it is more blessed to receive than to give. As such
recollections wake up from their cells, they will but cast a soft
shade over the past; and it may be the thought of thy withered
blossoms, once so fondly loved, brings a gentle tear down thy cheek.
Enough of this: we will not go on to pierce our hearts with a thousand
separate arrows, but content ourselves with saying, that so it
happened in the present instance.

Poor Undine drooped day by day, and the others were neither of them
happy; Bertalda especially was uneasy, and ready to suspect the
injured wife, whenever she fancied herself slighted by Huldbrand;
meantime she had gradually assumed the command in the house, and the
deluded Huldbrand supported her openly. Undine looked on, in meek
resignation. To increase the discomfort of their lives, there was no
end to the mysterious sights and sounds that haunted Huldbrand and
Bertalda in the vaulted galleries of the castle; such as had never
been heard of before. The long white man, too well known to him as
Uncle Kühleborn, and to her as the spirit of the fountain, often
showed his threatening countenance to both; but chiefly to Bertalda,
who had more than once been made ill by the fright, and thought
seriously of leaving the castle. But her love for Huldbrand detained
her, and she quieted her conscience by thinking, that it had never
come to a declaration of love between them; and, besides, she would
not have known which way to turn. After receiving the Lord of
Ringstetten's message, that Bertalda was with them, the old Fisherman
had traced a few lines, scarcely legible, from infirmity and long
disuse, saying, "I am now a poor old widower; for my dear good wife is
dead. But, lonely as I am by my fireside, I had rather Bertalda stayed
away than come here. Provided she does not harm my dear Undine! My
curse be upon her if she does." Bertalda scattered these last words to
the winds, but treasured up her father's command that she should not
join him: as is the way with us selfish beings.

One day, when Huldbrand had just ridden out, Undine sent for her
servants and desired them to fetch a large stone and carefully to stop
up the mouth of the magnificent fountain, which played in the centre
of the court. The men objected, that they must then always go down the
valley to a great distance for water. Undine smiled mournfully. "It
grieves me to add to your burdens, my good friends," said she, "I had
rather go and fill my pitcher myself; but this fountain must be
sealed up. Trust me, nothing else will do, and it is our only way of
escaping a much worse evil."

The servants rejoiced at any opportunity of pleasing their gentle
mistress; not a word more was said, and they lifted the huge stone.
They had raised it, and were about to let it down on the mouth of the
spring, when Bertalda ran up, calling out to them to stop: the water
of this fountain was the best for her complexion, and she never would
consent to its being stopped. But Undine, instead of yielding as
usual, kept firmly, though gently, to her resolution; she said that it
behooved her, as mistress of the house, to order all such matters as
appeared best to her, and none but her lord and husband should call
her to account. "Look, oh look!" cried Bertalda, eagerly and angrily,
"how the poor bright water curls and writhes, because you would
deprive it of every gleam of sunshine, and of the cheerful faces of
men, whose mirror it was created to be!" In truth, the spring did
writhe and bubble up wonderfully, just as if someone were trying to
force his way through; but Undine pressed them the more to dispatch
the work. Nor was there much need to repeat her commands. The
household people were too glad at once to obey their gentle lady, and
to mortify the pride of Bertalda, in spite of whose threats and wrath,
the stone was soon firmly fastened down on the mouth of the spring.
Undine bent over it thoughtfully, and wrote on its surface with her
delicate fingers. Something very hard and sharp must have been hidden
in her hand; for when she walked away, and the others came up, they
found all manner of strange characters on the stone, none of which
were there before.

When the Knight came home that evening, Bertalda received him with
tears and complaints of Undine. He looked sternly at his poor wife,
who mournfully cast down her eyes, saying, however, with firmness, "My
lord and husband would not chide the meanest of his vassals, without
giving him a hearing, much less his wedded wife."--"Speak, then; what
was your reason for this strange proceeding?" said the Knight with a
frown. "I would rather tell it you quite alone!" sighed Undine. "You
can say it just as well in Bertalda's presence," replied he. "Yes, if
thou requirest it," said Undine, "but require it not." She looked so
humble, and so submissive in her touching beauty, that the Knight's
heart was melted, as by a sunbeam from happier days. He took her
affectionately by the hand, and led her to his own room, where she
spoke to him as follows.

"You know that wicked Uncle Kühleborn, my dearest lord, and have often
been provoked at meeting him about the castle. Bertalda, too, has been
often terrified by him. No wonder; he is soulless, shallow, and
unthinking as a mirror, in whom no feeling can pierce the surface. He
has two or three times seen that you were displeased with me, that I
in my childishness could not help weeping, and that Bertalda might
chance to laugh at the same moment. And upon this he builds all manner
of unjust suspicions, and interferes, unasked, in our concerns. What
is the use of my reproaching him, or repulsing him with angry words?
He believes nothing that I say. A poor cold life is his! How should he
know, that the sorrows and the joys of love are so sweetly alike, so
closely linked, that it is not in human power to part them. When a
tear gushes out, a smile lies beneath; and a smile will draw the tears
from their secret cells."

She smiled through her tears in Huldbrand's face, and a warm ray of
his former love shot through his heart. She perceived this, pressed
closer to him, and with a few tears of joy she went on.

"As I found it impossible to get rid of our tormentor by words, I had
nothing for it, but to shut the door against him. And his only access
to us was that fountain. He has quarrelled with the other fountain
spirits in the surrounding valleys, and it is much lower down the
Danube, below the junction of some friends with the great river, that
his power begins again. Therefore I stopped the mouth of our fountain,
and inscribed the stone with characters which cripple the might of my
restless uncle; so that he can no longer cross your path, or mine, or
Bertalda's. Men can indeed lift the stone off as easily as ever; the
inscription has no power over them. So you are free to comply with
Bertalda's wish; but indeed, she little knows what she asks. Against
her the wild Kühleborn has a most particular spite, and if some of his
forebodings were to come true, (as they might, without her intending
any harm) O, dearest, even thou wert not free from danger!"

Huldbrand deeply felt the generosity of his noble-minded wife, in so
zealously shutting out her formidable protector, even when reviled by
Bertalda for so doing. He clasped her fondly in his arms, and said
with much emotion, "The stone shall remain; and everything shall be
done as thou wishest, now and hereafter, my sweetest Undine."

Scarce could she trust these words of love, after so dreary an
estrangement; she returned his caresses with joyful but timid
gratitude, and at length said, "My own dear love, as you are so
exceedingly kind to me to-day, may I ask you to promise one thing?
Herein you are like the summer: is he not most glorious when he decks
his brows with thunders, and frowns upon us from his throne of clouds?
So it is when your eyes flash lightning; it becomes you well,
although in my weakness I may often shed a tear at it. Only--if you
would promise to refrain from it when we are sailing, or even near any
water. For there, you see, my relations have a right to control me.
They might relentlessly tear me from you in their wrath, fancying that
there is an insult offered to one of their race; and I should be
doomed to spend the rest of my life in the crystal palaces below,
without ever coming to you; or if they did send me up again--oh
Heaven, that would be far worse! No, no, my best beloved; you will not
let it come to that, if you love your poor Undine."

He solemnly promised to do as she asked him, and they returned to the
saloon, quite restored to comfort and peace. They met Bertalda,
followed by a few labourers whom she had sent for, and she said in a
tone of bitterness that had grown common with her of late, "So, now
your private consultation is over, and we may have the stone taken up.
Make haste, you people, and do it for me." But Huldbrand, incensed at
her arrogance, said shortly and decidedly, "The stone shall not be
touched," and he then reproved Bertalda for her rudeness to his wife;
upon which the labourers walked off, exulting secretly, while Bertalda
hurried away to her chamber, pale and disturbed.

The hour of supper came, and they waited in vain for Bertalda. A
message was sent to her; the servants found her room empty, and
brought back only a sealed letter directed to the Knight. He opened it
with trepidation and read, "I feel with shame that I am only a
fisherman's daughter. Having forgotten it a moment, I will expiate my
crime in the wretched hut of my parents. Live happy with your
beautiful wife!"

Undine was sincerely grieved; she entreated Huldbrand to pursue their
friend at once, and bring her back with him. Alas! there was little
need of entreaty. His passion for Bertalda returned with fresh
violence; he searched the castle all over, asking everyone if they
could tell him in what direction the fair one had fled. He could
discover nothing; and now he had mounted his horse in the court, and
stood ready to set forth, and try the route by which he had brought
Bertalda to the castle. A peasant boy just then came up, saying that
he had met the lady riding toward the Black Valley. Like a shot the
Knight darted through the gate, and took that direction, without
heeding Undine's anxious cries from a window: "To the Black Valley?
oh, not there! Huldbrand, not there! Or take me with you for God's
sake!" Finding it vain to cry, she had her white palfrey saddled in
all haste, and galloped after her husband, without allowing anyone to
attend her.


XIV.--HOW BERTALDA DROVE HOME WITH THE KNIGHT

The Black Valley lay among the deepest recesses of the mountains. What
it is called now none can tell. In those times it bore that name among
the countrymen, on account of the deep gloom shed over it by many high
trees, mostly pines. Even the brook which gushed down between the
cliffs was tinged with black, and never sparkled like the merry
streams from which nothing intercepts the blue of heaven. Now, in the
dusk of twilight, it looked darker still as it gurgled between the
rocks. The Knight spurred his horse along its banks, now fearing to
lose ground in his pursuit, and now again, that he might overlook the
fugitive in her hiding-place, if he hurried past too swiftly. He
presently found himself far advanced in the valley, and hoped he must
soon overtake her, if he were but in the right track. Then again, the
thought that it might be a wrong one roused the keenest anxiety in
his breast. Where was the tender Bertalda to lay her head, if he
missed her in this bleak, stormy night, which was setting in, black
and awful, upon the valley? And now he saw something white gleaming
through the boughs, on the slope of the mountain; he took it for
Bertalda's robe and made for it. But the horse started back, and
reared so obstinately that Huldbrand, impatient of delay, and having
already found him difficult to manage among the brambles of the
thicket, dismounted, and fastened the foaming steed to a tree; he then
felt his way through the bushes on foot. The boughs splashed his head
and cheeks roughly with cold wet dew; far off, he heard the growl of
thunder beyond the mountains, and the whole strange scene had such an
effect upon him, that he became afraid of approaching the white
figure, which he now saw lying on the ground at a short distance. And
yet he could distinguish it to be a woman, dressed in long white
garments like Bertalda's, asleep or in a swoon. He came close to her,
made the boughs rustle, and his sword ring--but she stirred not.
"Bertalda!" cried he; first gently, then louder and louder--in vain.
When at length he shouted the beloved name with the whole strength of
his lungs, a faint mocking echo returned it from the cavities of the
rocks--"Bertalda!" but the sleeper awoke not. He bent over her; but
the gloom of the valley and the shades of night prevented his
discerning her features. At length, though kept back by some boding
fears, he knelt down by her on the earth, and just then a flash of
lightning lighted up the valley. He saw a hideous distorted face close
to his own, and heard a hollow voice say, "Give me a kiss, thou sweet
shepherd!" With a cry of horror Huldbrand started up, and the monster
after him. "Go home!" it cried, "the bad spirits are abroad--go home!
or I have you!" and its long white arm nearly grasped him. "Spiteful
Kühleborn," cried the Knight, taking courage, "what matters it, I know
thee, foul spirit! There is a kiss for thee!" And he raised his sword
furiously against the figure. But it dissolved, and a drenching shower
made it sufficiently clear to the Knight what enemy he had
encountered. "He would scare me away from Bertalda," said he aloud to
himself; "he thinks he can subdue me by his absurd tricks, and make me
leave the poor terrified maiden in his power, that he may wreak his
vengeance upon her. But _that_ he never shall--wretched goblin! What
power lies in a human breast when steeled by firm resolve, the
contemptible juggler has yet to learn." And he felt the truth of his
own words, and seemed to have nerved himself afresh by them. He
thought, too, that fortune now began to aid him, for before he had got
back to his horse again, he distinctly heard the piteous voice of
Bertalda as if near at hand, borne toward him on the winds as their
howling mingled with the thunder. Eagerly did he push on in that
direction, and he found the trembling damsel was just attempting to
climb the mountain's side, in order, at any risk, to get out of these
awful shades.

He met her affectionately and however proudly she might before have
determined to hold out, she could not but rejoice at being rescued by
her much-loved Huldbrand from the fearful solitude, and warmly invited
to return to his cheerful home in the castle. She accompanied him with
scarcely a word of reluctance, but was so exhausted, that the Knight
felt much relieved when they had reached the horse in safety; he
hastened to loose him, and would have placed his tender charge upon
him, and walked by her side to guide her carefully through the
dangerous shades. But Kühleborn's mad pranks had driven the horse
quite wild. Hardly could the Knight himself have sprung upon the
terrified plunging creature's back: to place the trembling Bertalda
upon him was quite impossible; so they made up their minds to walk
home. With his horse's bridle over one arm, Huldbrand supported his
half-fainting companion on the other. Bertalda mustered what strength
she could, in order the sooner to get beyond this dreaded valley, but
fatigue weighed her down like lead, and every limb shook under her;
partly from the recollection of all she had already suffered from
Kühleborn's spite, and partly from terror at the continued crashing of
the tempest through the mountain forests.

At length she slid down from her protector's arm, and sinking on the
moss, she said: "Leave me to die here, noble Huldbrand; I reap the
punishment of my folly, and must sink under this load of fatigue and
anguish."--"Never, my precious friend, never will I forsake you,"
cried Huldbrand, vainly striving to curb his raging steed, who was now
beginning to start and plunge worse than ever: the Knight contrived to
keep him at some distance from the exhausted maiden, so as to save her
the terror of seeing him near her. But no sooner had he withdrawn
himself and the wild animal a few steps, than she began to call him
back in the most piteous manner, thinking he was indeed going to
desert her in this horrible wilderness. He was quite at a loss what to
do: gladly would he have let the horse gallop away in the darkness and
expend his wild fury, but that he feared he might rush down upon the
very spot where Bertalda lay.

In this extremity of distress, it gave him unspeakable comfort to
descry a wagon slowly descending the stony road behind him. He called
out for help: a man's voice replied telling him to have patience, but
promising to come to his aid; soon two white horses became visible
through the thicket, and next the white smock-frock of the wagoner,
and a large sheet of white linen that covered his goods inside. "Ho,
stop!" cried the man, and the obedient horses stood still. "I see well
enough," said he, "what ails the beast. When first I came through
these parts my horses were just as troublesome; because there is a
wicked water-sprite living hard by, who takes delight in making them
play tricks. But I know a charm for this; if you will give me leave to
whisper it in your horse's ear, you will see him as quiet as mine
yonder in a moment."--"Try your charm, if it will do any good!" said
the impatient Knight. The driver pulled the unruly horse's head toward
him, and whispered a couple of words in his ear. At once the animal
stood still, tamed and pacified, and showed no remains of his former
fury but by panting and snorting, as if he still chafed inwardly. This
was no time for Huldbrand to inquire how it had been done. He agreed
with the wagoner that Bertalda should be taken into the wagon, which
by his account was loaded with bales of soft cotton, and conveyed to
the Castle of Ringstetten, while the Knight followed on horseback. But
his horse seemed too much spent by his former violence to be able to
carry his master so far, and the man persuaded Huldbrand to get into
the wagon with Bertalda. The horse was to be fastened behind. "We
shall go down hill," said the man, "and that is light work for my
horses." The Knight placed himself by Bertalda, his horse quietly
followed them, and the driver walked by steadily and carefully.

In the deep stillness of night, while the storm growled more and more
distant, and in the consciousness of safety and easy progress,
Huldbrand and Bertalda insensibly got into confidential discourse. He
tenderly reproached her for having so hastily fled; she excused
herself with bashful emotions, and through all she said it appeared
most clearly that her heart was all his own. Huldbrand was too much
engrossed by the expression of her words to attend to their apparent
meaning, and he only replied to the former. Upon this, the wagoner
cried out in a voice that rent the air, "Now my horses, up with you;
show us what you are made of, my fine fellows." The Knight put out his
head and saw the horses treading or rather swimming through the
foaming waters, while the wheels whirled loudly and rapidly like those
of a water-mill, and the wagoner was standing upon the top of his
wagon, overlooking the floods. "Why, what road is this? It will take
us into the middle of the stream," cried Huldbrand. "No, sir," cried
the driver laughing; "it is just the other way. The stream is coming
into the middle of the road. Look round, and see how it is all
flooded."

In fact, the whole valley was now heaving with waves, that had swollen
rapidly to a great height. "This must be Kühleborn, the wicked sprite,
trying to drown us!" cried the Knight. "Have you no charm to keep him
off, friend?"--"I do know of one," said the driver, "but I can't and
won't make use of it, till you know who I am."--"Is this a time for
riddles?" shouted the Knight; "the flood is rising every moment, and
what care I to know who you are?"--"It rather concerns you, however,
to know," said the driver, "for I am Kühleborn." And he grinned
hideously into the wagon--which was now a wagon no longer, nor were
the horses horses; but all dissolved into foaming waves; the wagoner
himself shot up into a giant Waterspout, bore down the struggling
horse into the flood, and, towering over the heads of the hapless
pair, till he had swelled into a watery fountain, he would have
swallowed them up the next moment.

But now the sweet voice of Undine was heard above the wild uproar;
the moon shone out between the clouds, and at the same instant Undine
came into sight, upon the high grounds above them. She addressed
Kühleborn in a commanding tone, the huge wave laid itself down,
muttering and murmuring; the waters rippled gently away in the moon's
soft light, and Undine alighted like a white dove from her airy
height, and led them to a soft green spot on the hillside, where she
refreshed their jaded spirits with choice food. She then helped
Bertalda to mount her own white palfrey, and at length they all three
reached the Castle of Ringstetten in safety.


XV.--THE TRIP TO VIENNA

For some time after this adventure they led a quiet and peaceful life
in the castle. The Knight was deeply touched by his wife's angelic
goodness, so signally displayed by her pursuing and saving them in the
Black Valley, where their lives were threatened by Kühleborn. Undine
herself was happy in the peace of an approving conscience; besides
that, many a gleam of hope now brightened her path, as her husband's
love and confidence seemed to revive; Bertalda meanwhile was grateful,
modest, and timid, without claiming any merit for being so. If either
of her companions alluded to the sealing up of the fountain, or the
adventures in the Black Valley, she would implore them to spare her on
those subjects, because she could not think of the fountain without a
blush, nor the valley without a shudder. She was therefore told
nothing further; indeed, what would have been the use of enlightening
her? Nothing could add to the peace and happiness which had taken up
their abode in the Castle of Ringstetten; they enjoyed the present in
full security, and the future lay before them, all blooming with fair
fruits and flowers.

The winter had gone by without any interruption to their social
comfort; and spring, with her young green shoots and bright blue
skies, began to smile upon men; their hearts felt light, like the
young season, and from its returning birds of passage, they caught a
fancy to travel. One day as they were walking together near the
sources of the Danube, Huldbrand fell into talk about the glories of
that noble river, how proudly he flowed on, through fruitful lands, to
the spot where the majestic city of Vienna crowned his banks, and how
every mile of his course was marked by fresh grandeur and beauty. "How
delightful it would be to follow his course down to Vienna!" cried
Bertalda; but instantly relapsing into her timid, chastened manner,
she blushed and was silent. This touched Undine, and in her eagerness
to give her friend pleasure, she said: "And why should we not take the
trip?" Bertalda jumped for joy, and their fancy began to paint this
pleasant recreation in the brightest colours. Huldbrand encouraged
them cheerfully, but whispered once to Undine: "But, should not we get
within Kühleborn's power again, down there?"--"Let him come," said
she, laughing; "I shall be with you, and in my presence he durst not
attempt any mischief."

So the only possible objection seemed removed and they prepared for
departure, and were soon sailing along, full of spirit and of gay
hopes. But, O Man! it is not for thee to wonder when the course of
events differs widely from the paintings of thy fancy. The treacherous
foe, that lures us to our ruin, lulls his victim to rest with sweet
music and golden dreams. Our guardian angel, on the contrary, will
often rouse us by a sharp and awakening blow.

The first days they spent on the Danube were days of extraordinary
enjoyment. The further they floated down the proud stream the nobler
and fairer grew the prospect. But, just as they had reached a most
lovely district, the first sight of which had promised them great
delight, the unruly Kühleborn began openly to give signs of his
presence and power. At first they were only sportive tricks, because,
whenever he ruffled the stream and raised the wind, Undine repressed
him by a word or two, and made him again subside at once; but his
attempts soon began again, and again, Undine was obliged to warn him
off; so that the pleasure of the little party was grievously
disturbed. To make things worse, the watermen would mutter many a dark
surmise into each other's ears, and cast strange looks at the three
gentlefolks, whose very servants began to feel suspicion, and to show
distrust of their lord. Huldbrand said to himself more than once,
"This comes of uniting with other than one's like: a son of earth may
not marry a wondrous maid of ocean." To justify himself (as we all
love to do) he would add, "But I did not know she was a maid of ocean.
If I am to be pursued and fettered wherever I go by the mad freaks of
her relations, mine is the misfortune, not the fault." Such
reflections somewhat checked his self-reproaches; but they made him
the more disposed to accuse, nay, even to hate Undine. Already he
began to scowl upon her, and the poor wife understood but too well his
meaning. Exhausted by this, and by her constant exertions against
Kühleborn, she sank back one evening in the boat, and was lulled by
its gentle motion into a deep sleep.

But no sooner were her eyes closed, than everyone in the boat thought
he saw, just opposite his own eyes, a terrific human head rising above
the water; not like the head of a swimmer, but planted upright on the
surface of the river, and keeping pace with the boat. Each turned to
his neighbour to show him the cause of his terror, and found him
looking equally frightened, but pointing in a different direction,
where the half-laughing, half-scowling goblin met his eyes. When at
length they tried to explain the matter to each other, crying out,
"Look there; no, there!" each of them suddenly perceived the other's
phantom, and the water round the boat appeared all alive with ghastly
monsters. The cry which burst from every mouth awakened Undine. Before
the light of her beaming eyes the horde of misshapen faces vanished.
But Huldbrand was quite exasperated by these fiendish tricks and would
have burst into loud imprecations, had not Undine whispered in the
most beseeching manner, "For God's sake, my own lord, be patient now;
remember we are on the water." The Knight kept down his anger, and
soon sank into thought. Presently Undine whispered to him: "My love,
had not we better give up the foolish journey, and go home to
Ringstetten in comfort?" But Huldbrand muttered angrily, "Then I am to
be kept a prisoner in my own castle? and even there I may not breathe
freely unless the fountain is sealed up? Would to Heaven the absurd
connection"--But Undine pressed her soft hand gently upon his lips.
And he held his peace, and mused upon all she had previously told him.

In the meantime, Bertalda had yielded herself up to many and strange
reflections. She knew something of Undine's origin, but not all! and
Kühleborn in particular was only a fearful but vague image in her
mind; she had not even once heard his name. And as she pondered these
wonderful subjects, she half unconsciously took off a golden necklace
which Huldbrand had bought for her of a travelling jeweller a few days
before; she held it close to the surface of the river playing with
it, and dreamily watching the golden gleam that it shed on the glassy
water. Suddenly a large hand came up out of the Danube, snatched the
necklace, and ducked under with it. Bertalda screamed aloud, and was
answered by a laugh of scorn from the depths below. And now the Knight
could contain himself no longer. Starting up, he gave loose to his
fury, loading with imprecations those who chose to break into his
family and private life, and challenging them--were they goblins or
sirens--to meet his good sword. Bertalda continued to weep over the
loss of her beloved jewel, and her tears were as oil to the flames of
his wrath, while Undine kept her hand dipped into the water with a
ceaseless low murmur, only once or twice interrupting her mysterious
whispers to say to her husband in tones of entreaty, "Dearest love,
speak not roughly to me here; say whatever you will, only spare me
here; you know why!" and he still restrained his tongue (which
stammered with passion) from saying a word directly against her. She
soon drew her hand from under the water, bringing up a beautiful coral
necklace whose glitter dazzled them all. "Take it," said she, offering
it kindly to Bertalda; "I have sent for this, instead of the one you
lost; do not grieve any more, my poor child." But Huldbrand darted
forward, snatched the shining gift from Undine's hand, hurled it again
into the water, and roared furiously, "So you still have intercourse
with them? In the name of sorcery, go back to them with all your
baubles, and leave us men in peace, witch as you are!" With eyes
aghast, yet streaming with tears, poor Undine gazed at him, still
holding out the hand which had so lovingly presented to Bertalda the
bright jewel. Then she wept more and more, like a sorely injured,
innocent child. And at length she said faintly, "Farewell, my dearest;
farewell! They shall not lay a finger on thee; only be true to me,
that I may still guard thee from them. But I, alas! I must be gone;
all this bright morning of life is over. Woe, woe is me! what hast
thou done? woe, woe!" And she slipped out of the boat and passed away.
Whether she went down into the river, or flowed away with it, none
could tell; it was like both and yet like neither. She soon mingled
with the waters of the Danube, and nothing was to be heard but the
sobbing whispers of the stream as it washed against the boat, seeming
to say distinctly, "Woe, woe! Oh be true to me! woe, woe!"

Huldbrand lay flat in the boat, drowned in tears, till a deep swoon
came to the unhappy man's relief, and steeped him in oblivion.


XVI.--OF WHAT BEFELL HULDBRAND AFTERWARDS

Shall we say, Alas, or thank God, that our grief is so often
transient? I speak of such grief as has its source in the wellsprings
of life itself, and seems so identified with our lost friend, as
almost to fill up the void he has left; and his hallowed image seems
fixed within the sanctuary of our soul, until the signal of our
release comes, and sets us free to join him! In truth, a good man will
not suffer this sanctuary to be disturbed; yet even with him, it is
not the first, the all-engrossing sorrow which abides. New objects
will intermingle, and we are compelled to draw from our grief itself a
fresh proof of the perishableness of earthly things: alas, then, that
our grief is transient!

So it was with the Lord of Ringstetten; whether for his weal or woe,
the sequel of this story will show us. At first, he could do nothing
but weep abundantly, as his poor kind Undine had wept when he snatched
from her the beautiful gift, which she thought would have comforted
and pleased them so much. He would then stretch out his hand as she
had done, and burst into tears afresh, like her. He secretly hoped
that he might end by altogether dissolving in tears: and are there not
many whose minds have been visited by the same painfully pleasing
thought, at some season of great sorrow? Bertalda wept with him, and
they lived quietly together at Ringstetten a long while, cherishing
the memory of Undine, and seeming to have forgotten their own previous
attachment. Moreover, the gentle Undine often appeared to Huldbrand in
his dreams; she would caress him meekly and fondly, and depart again
with tearful resignation, so that when he awoke, he doubted whose
tears they were that bedewed his face--were they hers, or only his
own?

But as time went on these visions became less frequent, and the
Knight's grief milder; still he might perhaps have spent the rest of
his days contentedly, devoting himself to the memory of Undine, and
keeping it alive by talking of her, had not the old Fisherman
unexpectedly made his appearance, and laid his serious commands upon
Bertalda, his daughter, to return home with him. The news of Undine's
disappearance had reached him, and he would no longer suffer Bertalda
to remain in the castle alone with its lord. "I do not ask whether my
daughter cares for me or not," said he; "her character is at stake,
and where that is the case, nothing else is worth considering."

This summons from the old man, and the prospect of utter loneliness
amid the halls and long galleries of the castle after Bertalda's
departure, revived in Huldbrand's heart the feeling that had lain
dormant, and as it were buried under his mourning for Undine, namely,
his love for the fair Bertalda. The Fisherman had many objections to
their marriage; Undine had been very dear to the old man and he
thought it hardly certain yet that his lost darling was really dead.
But, if her corpse were indeed lying stiff and cold in the bed of the
Danube, or floating down its stream to the distant ocean, then
Bertalda ought to reproach herself for her death, and it ill became
her to take the place of her poor victim. However, the Fisherman was
very fond of Huldbrand also; the entreaties of his daughter, who was
now grown much more gentle and submissive, had their effect, and it
seems that he did yield his consent at last; for he remained peaceably
at the castle, and an express was sent for Father Heilmann, who in
earlier, happier days had blessed Undine's and Huldbrand's union, that
he might officiate at the Knight's second marriage.

No sooner had the holy man read the Lord of Ringstetten's letter than
he set forth on his way thither, with far greater speed than the
messenger had used to reach him. If his straining haste took away his
breath, or he felt his aged limbs ache with fatigue, he would say to
himself: "I may be in time to prevent a wicked deed; sink not till
thou hast reached the goal, my withered frame!" And so he exerted
himself afresh, and pushed on, without flagging or halting, till late
one evening he entered the shady court of Ringstetten.

The lovers were sitting hand in hand under a tree, with the thoughtful
old man near them; as soon as they saw Father Heilmann, they rose
eagerly and advanced to meet him. But he, scarcely noticing their
civilities, begged the Knight to come with him into the castle. As he
stared at this request, and hesitated to comply, the pious old Priest
said, "Why, indeed, should I speak to you alone, my Lord of
Ringstetten? What I have to say equally concerns the Fisherman and
Bertalda; and as they must sooner or later know it, it had better be
said now. How can you be certain, Lord Huldbrand, that your own wife
is indeed dead? For myself, I can hardly think so. I will not venture
to speak of things relating to her wondrous nature; in truth I have
no clear knowledge about it. But a godly and faithful wife she proved
herself, beyond all about. And these fourteen nights has she come to
my bedside in dreams, wringing her poor hands in anguish, and sighing
out, 'Oh stop him, dear father! I am yet alive! Oh save his life! Oh
save his soul!' I understood not the meaning of the vision till your
messenger came; and I have now hastened hither, not to join but to
part those hands, which may not be united in holy wedlock. Part from
her, Huldbrand! Part from him, Bertalda! He belongs to another; see
you not how his cheek turns pale at the thought of his departed wife?
Those are not the looks of a bridegroom, and the spirit tells me this.
If thou leavest him not now, there is joy for thee no more." They all
three felt at the bottom of their hearts that Father Heilmann's words
were true but they would not yield to them. Even the old Fisherman was
so blinded as to think that what had been settled between them for so
many days, could not now be relinquished. So they resisted the
Priest's warnings, and urged the fulfilment of their wishes with
headlong, gloomy determination, till Father Heilmann departed with a
melancholy shake of the head, without accepting even for one night
their proffered hospitalities, or tasting any of the refreshments they
set before him. But Huldbrand persuaded himself that the old Priest
was a weak dotard; and early next morning he sent to a monk from the
nearest cloister, who readily promised to come and marry them in a few
days.


XVII.--THE KNIGHT'S DREAM

The morning twilight was beginning to dawn, and the Knight lay
half-awake on his couch. Whenever he dropped asleep he was scared by
mysterious terrors, and started up as if sleep were peopled by
phantoms. If he woke up in earnest, he felt himself fanned all around
by what seemed like swans' wings, and soothed by watery airs, which
lulled him back again into the half-unconscious, twilight state. At
length he did fall asleep and fancied himself lifted by swans on their
soft wings, and carried far away over lands and seas, all to the sound
of their sweetest melody. "Swans singing! swans singing!" thought he
continually; "is not that the strain of Death?" Presently he found
himself hovering above a vast sea. A swan warbled in his ear that it
was the Mediterranean; and as he looked down into the deep it became
like clear crystal, transparent to the bottom. This rejoiced him much,
for he could see Undine sitting in a brilliant hall of crystal.

She was shedding tears, indeed, and looked sadly changed since the
happy times which they had spent together at Ringstetten; happiest at
first, but happy also a short time since, just before the fatal sail
on the Danube. The contrast struck Huldbrand deeply; but Undine did
not seem to be aware of his presence. Kühleborn soon came up to her,
and began rating her for weeping. She composed herself, and looked at
him with a firmness and dignity, before which he almost quailed.
"Though I am condemned to live under these deep waters," said she, "I
have brought my soul with me; therefore my tears cannot be understood
by thee. But to me they are blessings, like everything that belongs to
a loving soul." He shook his head incredulously, and said, after a
pause: "Nevertheless, niece, you are still subject to the laws of our
element; and you know you must execute sentence of death upon him as
soon as he marries again, and breaks faith with you."--"To this hour
he is a widower," said Undine, "and loves and mourns me truly."--"Ah,
but he will be bridegroom soon," said Kühleborn with a sneer; "wait a
couple of days only; and the marriage blessing will have been given,
and you must go up and put the criminal to death."--"I cannot!"
answered the smiling Undine. "I have had the fountain sealed up,
against myself and my whole race." "But suppose he leaves his castle,"
said Kühleborn, "or forgets himself so far as to let them set the
fountain 'free,' for he thinks mighty little of those matters."--"And
that is why," said Undine, still smiling through her tears, "that is
why his spirit hovers at this moment over the Mediterranean, and
listens to our conversation as in a dream. I have contrived it on
purpose, that he may take warning." On hearing this Kühleborn looked
up angrily at the Knight, scowled at him, stamped, and then shot
upward through the waves like an arrow. His fury seemed to make him
expand into a whale. Again the swans began to warble, to wave their
wings, and to fly; the Knight felt himself borne high over alps and
rivers, till he was deposited in the Castle of Ringstetten, and awoke
in his bed.

He did awake in his bed, just as one of his squires entered the room,
and told him that Father Heilmann was still lingering near the castle;
for he had found him the evening before in the forest, living in a
shed he had made for himself with branches and moss. On being asked
what he was staying for since he had refused to bless the betrothed
couple? He answered, "It is not the wedded only who stand in need of
prayer, and though I came not for the bridal, there may yet be work
for me of another kind. We must be prepared for everything. Sometimes
marriage and mourning are not so far apart; and he who does not
wilfully close his eyes may perceive it." The Knight built all manner
of strange conjectures upon these words, and upon his dream. But if
once a man has formed a settled purpose, it is hard indeed to shake
it. The end of this was, that their plans remained unchanged.


XVIII.--OF THE KNIGHT HULDBRAND'S SECOND BRIDAL

Were I to tell you how the wedding-day at Ringstetten passed, you
might imagine yourself contemplating a glittering heap of gay objects,
with a black crape thrown over them, through which the splendid
pageant, instead of delighting the eye, would look like a mockery of
all earthly joys. Not that the festive meeting was disturbed by any
spectral apparitions: we have seen that the castle was safe from any
intrusion of the malicious water-sprites. But the Knight, the
Fisherman, and all the guests were haunted by a feeling that the chief
person, the soul of the feast, was missing; and who was she but the
gentle, beloved Undine? As often as they heard a door open, every eye
turned involuntarily toward it, and when nothing ensued but the
entrance of the steward with some more dishes, or of the cupbearer
with a fresh supply of rich wine, the guests would look sad and blank,
and the sparks of gayety kindled by the light jest or the cheerful
discourse, were quenched in the damp of melancholy recollections. The
bride was the most thoughtless, and consequently the most cheerful
person present; but even she, at moments, felt it unnatural to be
sitting at the head of the table, decked out in her wreath of green
and her embroidery of gold, while Undine's corpse was lying cold and
stiff in the bed of the Danube, or floating down its stream to the
ocean. For, ever since her father had used these words, they had been
ringing in her ears, and to-day especially they pursued her without
ceasing.

The party broke up before night had closed in; not, as usual,
dispersed by the eager impatience of the bridegroom to be alone with
his bride; but dropping off listlessly, as a general gloom spread over
the assembly; Bertalda was followed to her dressing-room by her women
only, and the Knight by his pages. At this gloomy feast, there was no
question of the gay and sportive train of bridesmaids and young men,
who usually attend the wedded pair.

Bertalda tried to call up brighter thoughts; she bade her women
display before her a splendid set of jewels, the gift of Huldbrand,
together with her richest robes and veils, that she might select the
gayest and handsomest dress for the morrow. Her maids seized the
opportunity of wishing their young mistress all manner of joy, nor did
they fail to extol the beauty of the bride to the skies. Bertalda,
however, glanced at herself in the glass, and sighed: "Ah, but look at
the freckles just here, on my throat!" They looked and found it was
indeed so, but called them beauty spots that would only enhance the
fairness of her delicate skin. Bertalda shook her head, and replied,
"Still it is a blemish, and I once might have cured it!" said she with
a deep sigh. "But the fountain in the court is stopped up--that
fountain which used to supply me with precious, beautifying water. If
I could but get one jugful to-day!"--"Is that all?" cried an
obsequious attendant, and slipped out of the room. "Why, she will not
be so mad," asked Bertalda in a tone of complacent surprise, "as to
make them raise the stone this very night?" And now she heard men's
footsteps crossing the court; and on looking down from her window, she
saw the officious handmaid conducting them straight to the fountain;
they carried levers and other tools upon their shoulders. "Well, it
is my will to be sure," said Bertalda, smiling, "provided they are not
too long about it." And, elated by the thought that a hint from her
could now effect what had once been denied to her entreaties, she
watched the progress of the work in the moonlit court below.

The men began straining themselves to lift the huge stone;
occasionally a sigh was heard, as someone recollected that they were
now reversing their dear lady's commands. But the task proved lighter
than they had expected. Some power from beneath seemed to second their
efforts, and help the stone upward. "Why!" said the astonished workmen
to each other, "it feels as if the spring below had turned into a
waterspout." More and more did the stone heave, till, without any
impulse from the men it rolled heavily along the pavement with a
hollow sound. But, from the mouth of the spring arose, slowly and
solemnly, what looked like a column of water; at first they thought
so, but presently saw that it was no waterspout, but the figure of a
pale woman, veiled in white. She was weeping abundantly, wringing her
hands and clasping them over her head, while she proceeded with slow
and measured step toward the castle. The crowd of servants fell back
from the spot; while, pale and aghast, the bride and her women looked
on from the window.

When the figure had arrived just under that window, she raised her
tearful face for a moment, and Bertalda thought she recognised
Undine's pale features through the veil. The shadowy form moved on
slowly and reluctantly, like one sent to execution. Bertalda screamed
out that the Knight must be called; no one durst stir a foot, and the
bride herself kept silence, frightened at the sound of her own voice.

While these remained at the window, as if rooted to the spot, the
mysterious visitor had entered the castle, and passed up the
well-known stairs, and through the familiar rooms, still weeping
silently. Alas! how differently had she trodden those floors in days
gone by!

The Knight had now dismissed his train; half-undressed, and in a
dejected mood, he was standing near a large mirror, by the light of a
dim taper. He heard the door tapped by a soft, soft touch. It was thus
Undine had been wont to knock, when she meant to steal upon him
playfully. "It is all fancy!" thought he. "The bridal bed awaits
me."--"Yes, but it is a cold one," said a weeping voice from without;
and the mirror then showed him the door opening slowly, and the white
form coming in, and closing the door gently behind her. "They have
opened the mouth of the spring," murmured she; "and now I am come, and
now must thou die." His beating heart told him this was indeed true;
but he pressed his hands over his eyes, and said: "Do not bewilder me
with terror in my last moments. If thy veil conceals the features of a
spectre, hide them from me still, and let me die in peace."--"Alas!"
rejoined the forlorn one, "wilt thou not look upon me once again? I am
fair, as when thou didst woo me on the promontory."--"Oh, could that
be true!" sighed Huldbrand, "and if I might die in thy embrace!"--"Be
it so, my dearest," said she. And she raised her veil, and the
heavenly radiance of her sweet countenance beamed upon him.

Trembling, at once with love and awe, the Knight approached her; she
received him with a tender embrace; but instead of relaxing her hold,
she pressed him more closely to her heart, and wept as if her soul
would pour itself out. Drowned in her tears and his own, Huldbrand
felt his heart sink within him, and at last he fell lifeless from the
fond arms of Undine upon his pillow.

"I have wept him to death!" said she to the pages, whom she passed in
the ante-chamber; and she glided slowly through the crowd, and went
back to the fountain.


XIX.--HOW THE KNIGHT HULDBRAND WAS INTERRED

Father Heilmann had returned to the castle, as soon as he heard of the
Lord of Ringstetten's death, and he appeared there just after the
monk, who had married the hapless pair, had fled full of alarm and
horror. "It is well," answered Heilmann, when told this: "now is the
time for my office; I want no assistant." He addressed spiritual
exhortations to the widowed bride, but little impression could be made
on so worldly and thoughtless a mind. The old Fisherman, although
grieved to the heart, resigned himself more readily to the awful
dispensation; and when Bertalda kept calling Undine a witch and a
murderer, the old man calmly answered: "The stroke could not be turned
away. For my part, I see only the hand of God therein; and none
grieved more deeply over Huldbrand's sentence, than she who was doomed
to inflict it, the poor forsaken Undine!" And he helped to arrange the
funeral ceremonies in a manner suitable to the high rank of the dead.
He was to be buried in a neighbouring hamlet, whose churchyard
contained the graves of all his ancestors, and which he had himself
enriched with many noble gifts. His helmet and coat of arms lay upon
the coffin, about to be lowered into earth with his mortal remains;
for Lord Huldbrand of Ringstetten was the last of his race.

The mourners began their dismal procession, and the sound of their
solemn dirge rose into the calm blue depths of heaven. Heilmann walked
first, bearing on high a crucifix, and the bereaved Bertalda followed
leaning on her aged father. Suddenly, amid the crowd of mourners who
composed the widow's train, appeared a snow-white figure, deeply
veiled, with hands uplifted in an attitude of intense grief. Those
that stood near her felt a shudder creep over them; they shrank back,
and thus increased the alarm of those whom the stranger next
approached, so that confusion gradually spread itself through the
whole train. Here and there was to be found a soldier bold enough to
address the figure, and attempt to drive her away; but she always
eluded their grasp, and the next moment reappeared among the rest,
moving along with slow and solemn step. At length, when the attendants
had all fallen back, she found herself close behind Bertalda, and now
slackened her pace to the very slowest measure, so that the widow was
not aware of her presence. No one disturbed her again, while she
meekly and reverently glided on behind her.

So they advanced till they reached the churchyard, when the whole
procession formed a circle round the open grave. Bertalda then
discovered the unbidden guest, and half-angry, half-frightened, she
forbade her to come near the Knight's resting-place. But the veiled
form gently shook her head, and extended her hands in humble entreaty;
this gesture reminded Bertalda of poor Undine, when she gave her the
coral necklace on the Danube, and she could not but weep. Father
Heilmann enjoined silence; for they had begun to heap earth over the
grave, and were about to offer up solemn prayers around it. Bertalda
knelt down in silence, and all her followers did the same. When they
rose, lo, the white form had vanished! and on the spot where she had
knelt, a bright silvery brook now gushed out of the turf, and flowed
round the Knight's tomb, till it had almost wholly encircled it; then
it ran further on, and emptied itself into a shady pool which bounded
one side of the churchyard. From that time forth, the villagers are
said to have shown travellers this clear spring, and they still
believe it to be the poor forsaken Undine, who continues thus to twine
her arms round her beloved lord.



V

THE STORY OF RUTH


It came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a
famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to
sojourn in the country of Moab--he and his wife and his two sons. And
the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and
the names of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of
Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued
there.

And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left and her two
sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab: the name of the
one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. And they dwelled
there about ten years.

And Mahlon and Chilion died also, both of them; and the woman was left
of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her
daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab; for
she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his
people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place
where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on
the way to return unto the land of Judah.

And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each to her
mother's house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with
the dead and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each
of you in this house of her husband." Then she kissed them.

And they lifted up their voice and wept; and they said unto her,
"Surely, we will return with thee unto thy people."

And Naomi said, "Turn again, my daughters; why will ye go with me?
Turn again, my daughters, go your way."

And they lifted up their voice and wept again. And Orpah kissed her
mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her.

And she said, "Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people
and unto her gods! Return thou after thy sister-in-law."

And Ruth said, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from
following after thee. For whither thou goest I will go, and where thou
lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my
God: where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried. The Lord
do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."

When Naomi saw that Ruth was steadfastly minded to go with her, then
she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to
Bethlehem.

And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the
city was moved about them, and they said, "Is this Naomi?"

And she said unto them, "Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara
[bitter]; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went
out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty. Why then call
ye me Naomi, seeing that the Lord hath testified against me, and the
Almighty hath afflicted me?"

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with
her, which returned out of the country of Moab; and they came to
Bethlehem in the beginning of barley-harvest.

And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of
the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz.

And Ruth said unto Naomi: "Let me now go to the field and glean ears
of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace."

And Naomi said unto her, "Go, my daughter."

And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers;
and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz,
who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said unto the reapers, "The
Lord be with you!"

And they answered him, "The Lord bless thee!"

Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, "Whose
damsel is this?"

And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, "It
is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country
of Moab. And she said, 'I pray you, let me glean and gather after the
reapers among the sheaves.' So she came, and hath continued even from
the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house."

Then said Boaz unto Ruth, "Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to
glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by
my maidens; let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go
thou after them. Have I not charged the young men that they shall not
touch thee? And when thou art a thirst, go unto the vessels, and drink
of that which the young men have drawn."

Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said
unto him, "Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest
take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?"

And Boaz answered and said unto her, "It hath fully been showed me,
all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law, since the death of
thine husband; and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother and
the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou
knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full
reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou
art come to trust."

Then she said, "Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that
thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto
thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens."

And Boaz said unto her at meal-time, "Come thou hither, and eat of the
bread and dip thy morsel in the vinegar."

And she sat beside the reapers, and he reached her parched corn; and
she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.

And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men,
saying, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not;
and let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave
them that she may glean them, and rebuke her not."

So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had
gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and
went into the city; and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned,
and she brought forth and gave to her that she had reserved after she
was sufficed.

And her mother-in-law said unto her, "Where hast thou gleaned to-day,
and where wroughtest thou? Blessed be he that did take knowledge of
thee!"

And she showed her mother-in-law with whom she had wrought, and said,
"The man's name with whom I wrought to-day is Boaz."

And Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law, "Blessed be he of the Lord,
who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. The
man is near of kin unto us; one of our next kinsmen."

And Ruth the Moabitess said, "He said unto me also, 'Thou shalt keep
fast by my young men until they have ended all my harvest.'"

And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter-in-law, "It is good, my
daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not
in any other field."

So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of
barley-harvest and of wheat-harvest, and dwelt with her mother-in-law.

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said unto her, "My daughter, shall I not
seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz
of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth
barley to-night in the threshing-floor. Wash thyself, therefore, and
anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the
floor; but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have
done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that
thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie; and thou shalt go in and
uncover his feet and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou
shalt do."

And Ruth said unto her, "All that thou sayest unto me I will do." And
she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her
mother-in-law bade her.

And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to
lie down at the end of the heap of corn. And she came softly and
uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned
himself; and behold! a woman lay at his feet. And he said, "Who art
thou?"

And she answered, "I am Ruth, thine handmaid. Spread therefore thy
skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman."

And he said, "Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter; for thou hast
showed more kindness in the latter end than in the beginning; inasmuch
as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my
daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest; for all
the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. And
now it is true that I am thy near kinsman; howbeit, there is a kinsman
nearer than I. Tarry this night, and it shall be, in the morning, that
if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do
the kinsman's part; but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to
thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord
liveth. Lie down until the morning."

And she lay at his feet until the morning. And she rose up before one
could know another.

And he said, "Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor."
Also he said, "Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee and hold it."

And when she held it he measured six measures of barley and laid it on
her.

And she went into the city, and when she came to her mother-in-law she
said, "Who art thou, my daughter?"

And she told her all that the man had done to her; and she said,
"These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, 'Go not
empty unto thy mother-in-law.'"

Then Naomi said, "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the
matter will fall; for the man will not be in rest until he have
finished the thing this day."

Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there. And, behold,
the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by, unto whom he said, "Ho, such a
one! turn aside, sit down here."

And he turned aside, and sat down.

And Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, "Sit ye
down here."

And they sat down.

And he said unto the kinsman, "Naomi, that is come again out of the
country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land which was our brother
Elimelech's; and I thought to advertise thee, saying, 'Buy it before
the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt
redeem it, redeem it; but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me,
that I may know; for there is none to redeem it beside thee, and I am
after thee.'"

And he said, "I will redeem it."

Then said Boaz, "What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi,
thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to
raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance."

And the kinsman said, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine
own inheritance. Redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem
it."

Now this was the manner in former time in Israel, concerning redeeming
and concerning changing, for to confirm all things: a man plucked off
his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour; and this was a testimony in
Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz:

"Buy it for thee." So he drew off his shoe.

And Boaz said unto the elders and unto all the people, "Ye are
witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and
all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's at the hand of Naomi. Moreover,
Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my
wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the
name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the
gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day."

And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said: "We
are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house
like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel;
and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem; and let
thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of
the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman."

So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife.

And Ruth bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, "Blessed be the
Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his
name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of
thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age; for thy daughter-in-law,
which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne
him."

And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse
unto it. And the women, her neighbours, gave it a name, saying, "There
is a son born to Naomi"! and they called his name Obed.



VI

THE GREAT STONE FACE


One afternoon, when the sun was going down, a mother and her little
boy sat at the door of their cottage, talking about the Great Stone
Face. They had but to lift their eyes, and there it was plainly to be
seen, though miles away, with the sunshine brightening all its
features.

And what was the Great Stone Face?

Embosomed amongst a family of lofty mountains, there was a valley so
spacious that It contained many thousand inhabitants. Some of these
good people dwelt in log-huts, with the black forest all around them,
on the steep and difficult hillsides. Others had their homes in
comfortable farmhouses, and cultivated the rich soil on the gentle
slopes or level surfaces of the valley. Others, again, were
congregated into populous villages, where some wild, highland rivulet,
tumbling down from its birthplace in the upper mountain region, had
been caught and tamed by human cunning, and compelled to turn the
machinery of cotton-factories. The inhabitants of this valley, in
short, were numerous, and of many modes of life. But all of them,
grown people and children, had a kind of familiarity with the Great
Stone Face, although some possessed the gift of distinguishing this
grand natural phenomenon more perfectly than many of their neighbours.
The Great Stone Face, then, was a work of Nature in her mood of
majestic playfulness, formed on the perpendicular side of a mountain
by some immense rocks, which had been thrown together in such a
position as, when viewed at a proper distance, precisely to resemble
the features of the human countenance. It seemed as if an enormous
giant, or a Titan, had sculptured his own likeness on the precipice.
There was the broad arch of the forehead, a hundred feet in height;
the nose, with its long bridge; and the vast lips, which, if they
could have spoken, would have rolled their thunder accents from one
end of the valley to the other. True it is, that if the spectator
approached too near, he lost the outline of the gigantic visage, and
could discern only a heap of ponderous and gigantic rocks, piled in
chaotic ruin one upon another. Retracing his steps, however, the
wondrous features would again be seen; and the farther he withdrew
from them, the more like a human face, with all its original divinity
intact did they appear; until, as it grew dim in the distance, with
the clouds and glorified vapour of the mountains clustering about it,
the Great Stone Face seemed positively to be alive.

It was a happy lot for children to grow up to manhood or womanhood
with the Great Stone Face before their eyes, for all the features were
noble, and the expression was at once grand and sweet, as if it were
the glow of a vast, warm heart, that embraced all mankind in its
affections, and had room for more. It was an education only to look at
it. According to the belief of many people, the valley owed much of
its fertility to this benign aspect that was continually beaming over
it, illuminating the clouds, and infusing its tenderness into the
sunshine.

As we began with saying, a mother and her little boy sat at their
cottage-door, gazing at the Great Stone Face, and talking about it.
The child's name was Ernest.

"Mother," said he, while the Titanic visage smiled on him, "I wish
that it could speak, for it looks so very kindly that its voice must
needs be pleasant. If I were to see a man with such a face, I should
love him dearly."

"If an old prophecy should come to pass," answered his mother, "we may
see a man, some time or other, with exactly such a face as that."

"What prophecy do you mean, dear mother?" eagerly inquired Ernest.
"Pray tell me all about it!"

So his mother told him a story that her own mother had told to her,
when she herself was younger than little Ernest; a story, not of
things that were past, but of what was yet to come; a story,
nevertheless, so very old, that even the Indians, who formerly
inhabited this valley, had heard it from their forefathers, to whom,
as they affirmed, it had been murmured by the mountain streams, and
whispered by the wind among the tree-tops. The purport was, that, at
some future day, a child should be born hereabouts, who was destined
to become the greatest and noblest personage of his time, and whose
countenance, in manhood, should bear an exact resemblance to the Great
Stone Face. Not a few old-fashioned people, and young ones likewise,
in the ardour of their hopes, still cherished an enduring faith in
this old prophecy. But others who had seen more of the world had
watched and waited till they were weary, and had beheld no man with
such a face, nor any man that proved to be much greater or nobler than
his neighbours, concluded it to be nothing but an idle tale. At all
events, the great man of the prophecy had not yet appeared.

"O mother, dear mother!" cried Ernest, clapping his hands above his
head, "I do hope that I shall live to see him!"

His mother was an affectionate and thoughtful woman, and felt that it
was wisest not to discourage the generous hopes of her little boy. So
she only said to him, "Perhaps you may."

And Ernest never forgot the story that his mother told him. It was
always in his mind, whenever he looked upon the Great Stone Face. He
spent his childhood in the log-cottage where he was born, and was
dutiful to his mother, and helpful to her in many things, assisting
her much with his little hands, and more with his loving heart. In
this manner, from a happy yet often pensive child, he grew up to be a
mild, quiet, unobtrusive boy, and sun-browned with labour in the
fields, but with more intelligence brightening his aspect than is seen
in many lads who have been taught at famous schools. Yet Ernest had
had no teacher, save only that the Great Stone Face became one to him.
When the toil of the day was over, he would gaze at it for hours,
until he began to imagine that those vast features recognised him, and
gave him a smile of kindness and encouragement, responsive to his own
look of veneration. We must not take upon us to affirm that this was a
mistake, although the Face may have looked no more kindly at Ernest
than at all the world beside. But the secret was, that the boy's
tender and confiding simplicity discerned what other people could not
see; and thus the love, which was meant for all, became his peculiar
portion.

About this time, there went a rumour throughout the valley, that the
great man, foretold from ages long ago, who was to bear a resemblance
to the Great Stone Face, had appeared at last. It seems that, many
years before, a young man had migrated from the valley and settled at
a distant seaport, where, after getting together a little money, he
had set up as a shopkeeper. His name--but I could never learn whether
it was his real one, or a nickname that had grown out of his habits
and success in life--was Gathergold. Being shrewd and active, and
endowed by Providence with that inscrutable faculty which develops
itself in what the world calls luck, he became an exceedingly rich
merchant, and owner of a whole fleet of bulky-bottomed ships. All the
countries of the globe appeared to join hands for the mere purpose of
adding heap after heap to the mountainous accumulation of this one
man's wealth. The cold regions of the north, almost within the gloom
and shadow of the Arctic Circle, sent him their tribute in the shape
of furs; hot Africa sifted for him the golden sands of her rivers, and
gathered up the ivory tusks of her great elephants out of the forests;
the East came bringing him the rich shawls, and spices, and teas, and
the effulgence of diamonds, and the gleaming purity of large pearls.
The ocean, not to be behindhand with the earth, yielded up her mighty
whales, that Mr. Gathergold might sell their oil, and make a profit on
it. Be the original commodity what it might, it was gold within his
grasp. It might be said of him, as of Midas in the fable, that
whatever he touched with his finger immediately glistened, and grew
yellow, and was changed at once into sterling metal, or, which suited
him still better, into piles of coin. And, when Mr. Gathergold had
become so very rich that it would have taken him a hundred years only
to count his wealth, he bethought himself of his native valley, and
resolved to go back thither, and end his days where he was born. With
this purpose in view, he sent a skilful architect to build him such a
palace as should be fit for a man of his vast wealth to live in.

As I have said above, it had already been rumoured in the valley that
Mr. Gathergold had turned out to be the prophetic personage so long
and vainly looked for, and that his visage was the perfect and
undeniable similitude of the Great Stone Face. People were the more
ready to believe that this must needs be the fact, when they beheld
the splendid edifice that rose, as if by enchantment, on the site of
his father's old weather-beaten farmhouse. The exterior was of marble,
so dazzlingly white that it seemed as though the whole structure might
melt away in the sunshine, like those humbler ones which Mr.
Gathergold, in his young play-days, before his fingers were gifted
with the touch of transmutation, had been accustomed to build of snow.
It had a richly ornamented portico, supported by tall pillars, beneath
which was a lofty door, studded with silver knobs, and made of a kind
of variegated wood that had been brought from beyond the sea. The
windows, from the floor to the ceiling of each stately apartment, were
composed, respectively, of but one enormous pane of glass, so
transparently pure that it was said to be a finer medium than even the
vacant atmosphere. Hardly anybody had been permitted to see the
interior of this palace; but it was reported, and with good semblance
of truth, to be far more gorgeous than the outside, insomuch that
whatever was iron or brass in other houses was silver or gold in this;
and Mr. Gathergold's bedchamber, especially, made such a glittering
appearance that no ordinary man would have been able to close his eyes
there. But, on the other hand, Mr. Gathergold was now so inured to
wealth, that perhaps he could not have closed his eyes unless where
the gleam of it was certain to find its way beneath his eyelids.

In due time, the mansion was finished; next came the upholsterers,
with magnificent furniture; then, a whole troop of black and white
servants, the harbingers of Mr. Gathergold, who, in his own majestic
person, was expected to arrive at sunset. Our friend Ernest,
meanwhile, had been deeply stirred by the idea that the great man, the
noble man, the man of prophecy, after so many ages of delay, was at
length to be made manifest to his native valley. He knew, boy as he
was, that there were a thousand ways in which Mr. Gathergold, with
his vast wealth, might transform himself into an angel of beneficence,
and assume a control over human affairs as wide and benignant as the
smile of the Great Stone Face. Full of faith and hope, Ernest doubted
not that what the people said was true, and that now he was to behold
the living likeness of those wondrous features on the mountain-side.
While the boy was still gazing up the valley, and fancying, as he
always did, that the Great Stone Face returned his gaze and looked
kindly at him, the rumbling of wheels was heard, approaching swiftly
along the winding road.

"Here he comes!" cried a group of people who were assembled to witness
the arrival. "Here comes the great Mr. Gathergold!"

A carriage, drawn by four horses, dashed round the turn of the road.
Within it, thrust partly out of the window, appeared the physiognomy
of a little old man, with a skin as yellow as if his own Midas-hand
had transmuted it. He had a low forehead, small, sharp eyes, puckered
about with innumerable wrinkles, and very thin lips, which he made
still thinner by pressing them forcibly together.

"The very image of the Great Stone Face!" shouted the people. "Sure
enough, the old prophecy is true; and here we have the great man come,
at last!"

And, what greatly perplexed Ernest, they seemed actually to believe
that here was the likeness which they spoke of. By the roadside there
chanced to be an old beggar-woman and two little beggar-children,
stragglers from some far-off region, who, as the carriage rolled
onward, held out their hands and lifted up their doleful voices, most
piteously beseeching charity. A yellow claw--the very same that had
clawed together so much wealth--poked itself out of the coach-window,
and dropt some copper coins upon the ground; so that, though the
great man's name seems to have been Gathergold, he might just as
suitably have been nicknamed Scattercopper. Still, nevertheless, with
an earnest shout, and evidently with as much good faith as ever, the
people bellowed:

"He is the very image of the Great Stone Face!"

But Ernest turned sadly from the wrinkled shrewdness of that sordid
visage, and gazed up the valley, where, amid a gathering mist, gilded
by the last sunbeams, he could still distinguish those glorious
features which had impressed themselves into his soul. Their aspect
cheered him. What did the benign lips seem to say?

"He will come! Fear not, Ernest; the man will come!"

The years went on, and Ernest ceased to be a boy. He had grown to be a
young man now. He attracted little notice from the other inhabitants
of the valley; for they saw nothing remarkable in his way of life,
save that, when the labour of the day was over, he still loved to go
apart and gaze and meditate upon the Great Stone Face. According to
their idea of the matter, it was a folly, indeed, but pardonable,
inasmuch as Ernest was industrious, kind, and neighbourly, and
neglected no duty for the sake of indulging this idle habit. They knew
not that the Great Stone Face had become a teacher to him, and that
the sentiment which was expressed in it would enlarge the young man's
heart, and fill it with wider and deeper sympathies than other hearts.
They knew not that thence would come a better wisdom than could be
learned from books, and a better life than could be moulded on the
defaced example of other human lives. Neither did Ernest know that the
thoughts and affections which came to him so naturally, in the fields
and at the fireside, and wherever he communed with himself, were of a
higher tone than those which all men shared with him. A simple
soul--simple as when his mother first taught him the old prophecy--he
beheld the marvellous features beaming adown the valley, and still
wondered that their human counterpart was so long in making his
appearance.

By this time poor Mr. Gathergold was dead and buried; and the oddest
part of the matter was, that his wealth which was the body and spirit
of his existence, had disappeared before his death, leaving nothing of
him but a living skeleton, covered over with a wrinkled, yellow skin.
Since the melting away of his gold, it had been very generally
conceded that there was no such striking resemblance, after all,
betwixt the ignoble features of the ruined merchant and that majestic
face upon the mountain-side. So the people ceased to honour him during
his lifetime, and quietly consigned him to forgetfulness after his
decease. Once in a while, it is true, his memory was brought up in
connection with the magnificent palace which he had built, and which
had long ago been turned into a hotel for the accommodation of
strangers, multitudes of whom came, every summer, to visit that famous
natural curiosity, the Great Stone Face. Thus, Mr. Gathergold being
discredited and thrown into the shade, the man of prophecy was yet to
come.

It so happened that a native-born son of the valley, many years
before, had enlisted as a soldier, and, after a great deal of hard
fighting, had now become an illustrious commander. Whatever he may be
called in history, he was known in camps and on the battle-field under
the nickname of Old Blood-and-Thunder. This war-worn veteran, being
now infirm with age and wounds, and weary of the turmoil of a military
life, and of the roll of the drum and the clangour of the trumpet,
that had so long been ringing in his ears, had lately signified a
purpose of returning to his native valley hoping to find repose where
he remembered to have left it. The inhabitants, his old neighbours and
their grown-up children, were resolved to welcome the renowned warrior
with a salute of cannon and a public dinner; and all the more
enthusiastically, it being affirmed that now, at last, the likeness of
the Great Stone Face had actually appeared. An aide-de-camp of Old
Blood-and-Thunder, travelling through the valley, was said to have
been struck with the resemblance. Moreover the schoolmates and early
acquaintances of the general were ready to testify, on oath, that, to
the best of their recollection, the aforesaid general had been
exceedingly like the majestic image, even when a boy, only that the
idea had never occurred to them at that period. Great, therefore, was
the excitement throughout the valley; and many people, who had never
once thought of glancing at the Great Stone Face for years before, now
spent their time in gazing at it, for the sake of knowing exactly how
General Blood-and-Thunder looked.

On the day of the great festival, Ernest, with all the other people of
the valley, left their work, and proceeded to the spot where the
sylvan banquet was prepared. As he approached, the loud voice of the
Rev. Dr. Battleblast was heard, beseeching a blessing on the good
things set before them, and on the distinguished friend of peace in
whose honour they were assembled. The tables were arranged in a
cleared space of the woods, shut in by the surrounding trees, except
where a vista opened eastward, and afforded a distant view of the
Great Stone Face. Over the general's chair, which was a relic from the
home of Washington, there was an arch of verdant boughs, with the
laurel profusely intermixed, and surmounted by his country's banner,
beneath which he had won his victories. Our friend Ernest raised
himself on his tiptoes, in hopes to get a glimpse of the celebrated
guest; but there was a mighty crowd about the tables anxious to hear
the toasts and speeches, and to catch any word that might fall from
the general in reply; and a volunteer company, doing duty as a guard,
pricked ruthlessly with their bayonets at any particularly quiet
person among the throng. So Ernest, being of an unobtrusive character
was thrust quite into the background, where he could see no more of
Old Blood-and-Thunder's physiognomy than if it had been still blazing
on the battle-field. To console himself, he turned towards the Great
Stone Face, which, like a faithful and long-remembered friend, looked
back and smiled upon him through the vista of the forest. Meantime,
however, he could overhear the remarks of various individuals, who
were comparing the features of the hero with the face on the distant
mountain-side.

"'Tis the same face, to a hair!" cried one man, cutting a caper for
joy.

"Wonderfully like, that's a fact!" responded another.

"Like! why, I call it Old Blood-and-Thunder himself, in a monstrous
looking-glass!" cried a third. "And why not? He's the greatest man of
this or any other age, beyond a doubt."

And then all three of the speakers gave a great shout, which
communicated electricity to the crowd, and called forth a roar from a
thousand voices, that went reverberating for miles among the
mountains, until you might have supposed that the Great Stone Face had
poured its thunder-breath into the cry. All these comments, and this
vast enthusiasm, served the more to interest our friend; nor did he
think of questioning that now, at length, the mountain-visage had
found its human counterpart. It is true, Ernest had imagined that this
long-looked-for personage would appear in the character of a man of
peace, uttering wisdom and doing good, and making people happy. But,
taking an habitual breadth of view, with all his simplicity, he
contended that Providence should choose its own method of blessing
mankind, and could conceive that this great end might be effected even
by a warrior and a bloody sword, should inscrutable wisdom see fit to
order matters so.

"The general! the general!" was now the cry. "Hush! silence! Old
Blood-and-Thunder's going to make a speech."

Even so; for, the cloth being removed, the general's health had been
drunk amid shouts of applause, and he now stood upon his feet to thank
the company. Ernest saw him. There he was, over the shoulders of the
crowd, from the two glittering epaulets and embroidered collar upward,
beneath the arch of green boughs with intertwined laurel, and the
banner drooping as if to shade his brow! And there, too, visible in
the same glance, through the vista of the forest, appeared the Great
Stone Face! And was there, indeed, such a resemblance as the crowd had
testified? Alas, Ernest could not recognise it! He beheld a war-worn
and weather-beaten countenance, full of energy, and expressive of an
iron will; but the gentle wisdom, the deep, broad, tender sympathies,
were altogether wanting in Old Blood-and-Thunder's visage; and even if
the Great Stone Face had assumed his look of stern command, the milder
traits would still have tempered it.

"This is not the man of prophecy," sighed Ernest, to himself, as he
made his way out of the throng. "And must the world wait longer yet?"

The mists had congregated about the distant mountain-side, and there
were seen the grand and awful features of the Great Stone Face, awful
but benignant, as if a mighty angel were sitting among the hills, and
enrobing himself in a cloud-vesture of gold and purple. As he looked,
Ernest could hardly believe but that a smile beamed over the whole
visage, with a radiance still brightening, although without motion of
the lips. It was probably the effect of the western sunshine, melting
through the thinly diffused vapours that had swept between him and the
object that he gazed at. But--as it always did--the aspect of his
marvellous friend made Ernest as hopeful as if he had never hoped in
vain.

"Fear not, Ernest," said his heart, even as if the Great Face were
whispering him--"fear not, Ernest; he will come."

More years sped swiftly and tranquilly away. Ernest still dwelt in his
native valley, and was now a man of middle age. By imperceptible
degrees, he had become known among the people. Now, as heretofore, he
laboured for his bread, and was the same simple-hearted man that he
had always been. But he had thought and felt so much he had given so
many of the best hours of his life to unworldly hopes for some great
good to mankind, that it seemed as though he had been talking with the
angels, and had imbibed a portion of their wisdom unawares. It was
visible in the calm and well-considered beneficence of his daily life,
the quiet stream of which had made a wide green margin all along its
course. Not a day passed by, that the world was not the better because
this man, humble as he was, had lived. He never stepped aside from his
own path, yet would always reach a blessing to his neighbour. Almost
involuntarily, too, he had become a preacher. The pure and high
simplicity of his thought, which, as one of its manifestations, took
shape in the good deeds that dropped silently from his hand, flowed
also forth in speech. He uttered truths that wrought upon and moulded
the lives of those who heard him. His auditors, it may be, never
suspected that Ernest, their own neighbour and familiar friend, was
more than an ordinary man; least of all did Ernest himself suspect it;
but, inevitably as the murmur of a rivulet, came thoughts out of his
mouth that no other human lips had spoken.

When the people's minds had had a little time to cool, they were ready
enough to acknowledge their mistake in imagining a similarity between
General Blood-and-Thunder's truculent physiognomy and the benign
visage on the mountain-side. But now, again, there were reports and
many paragraphs in the newspapers, affirming that the likeness of the
Great Stone Face had appeared upon the broad shoulders of a certain
eminent statesman. He, like Mr. Gathergold and Old Blood-and-Thunder,
was a native of the valley, but had left it in his early days, and
taken up the trades of law and politics. Instead of the rich man's
wealth and the warrior's sword, he had but a tongue, and it was
mightier than both together. So wonderfully eloquent was he, that
whatever he might choose to say, his auditors had no choice but to
believe him; wrong looked like right, and right like wrong; for when
it pleased him, he could make a kind of illuminated fog with his mere
breath, and obscure the natural daylight with it. His tongue, indeed,
was a magic instrument: sometimes it rumbled like the thunder;
sometimes it warbled like the sweetest music. It was the blast of
war--the song of peace; and it seemed to have a heart in it, when
there was no such matter. In good truth, he was a wondrous man; and
when his tongue had acquired him all other imaginable success--when it
had been heard in halls of state, and in the courts of princes and
potentates--after it had made him known all over the world, even as a
voice crying from shore to shore--it finally persuaded his countrymen
to select him for the Presidency. Before this time--indeed, as soon as
he began to grow celebrated--his admirers had found out the
resemblance between him and the Great Stone Face; and so much were
they struck by it, that throughout the country this distinguished
gentleman was known by the name of Old Stony Phiz. The phrase was
considered as giving a highly favourable aspect to his political
prospects; for, as is likewise the case with the Popedom, nobody ever
becomes President without taking a name other than his own.

While his friends were doing their best to make him President, Old
Stony Phiz, as he was called, set out on a visit to the valley where
he was born. Of course, he had no other object than to shake hands
with his fellow-citizens, and neither thought nor cared about any
effect which his progress through the country might have upon the
election. Magnificent preparations were made to receive the
illustrious statesman; a cavalcade of horsemen set forth to meet him
at the boundary line of the State, and all the people left their
business and gathered along the wayside to see him pass. Among these
was Ernest. Though more than once disappointed, as we have seen, he
had such a hopeful and confiding nature, that he was always ready to
believe in whatever seemed beautiful and good. He kept his heart
continually open, and thus was sure to catch the blessing from on
high, when it should come. So now again, as buoyantly as ever, he went
forth to behold the likeness of the Great Stone Face.

The cavalcade came prancing along the road, with a great clattering of
hoofs and a mighty cloud of dust, which rose up so dense and high that
the visage of the mountain-side was completely hidden from Ernest's
eyes. All the great men of the neighbourhood were there on horseback:
militia officers, in uniform; the member of Congress; the sheriff of
the county; the editors of newspapers; and many a farmer, too, had
mounted his patient steed, with his Sunday coat upon his back. It
really was a very brilliant spectacle, especially as there were
numerous banners flaunting over the cavalcade, on some of which were
gorgeous portraits of the illustrious statesman and the Great Stone
Face, smiling familiarly at one another, like two brothers. If the
pictures were to be trusted, the mutual resemblance, it must be
confessed, was marvellous. We must not forget to mention that there
was a band of music, which made the echoes of the mountains ring and
reverberate with the loud triumph of its strains; so that airy and
soul-thrilling melodies broke out among all the heights and hollows,
as if every nook of his native valley had found a voice to welcome the
distinguished guest. But the grandest effect was when the far-off
mountain precipice flung back the music; for then the Great Stone Face
itself seemed to be swelling the triumphant chorus, in acknowledgment
that, at length, the man of prophecy was come.

All this while the people were throwing up their hats and shouting,
with enthusiasm so contagious that the heart of Ernest kindled up, and
he likewise threw up his hat, and shouted, as loudly as the loudest,
"Huzza for the great man! Huzza for Old Stony Phiz?" But as yet he had
not seen him.

"Here he is, now!" cried those who stood near Ernest. "There! There!
Look at Old Stony Phiz and then at the Old Man of the Mountain, and
see if they are not as like as two twin-brothers!"

In the midst of all this gallant array, came an open barouche, drawn
by four white horses; and in the barouche, with his massive head
uncovered, sat the illustrious statesman, Old Stony Phiz himself.

"Confess it," said one of Ernest's neighbours to him, "the Great Stone
Face has met its match at last!"

Now, it must be owned that, at his first glimpse of the countenance
which was bowing and smiling from the barouche, Ernest did fancy that
there was a resemblance between it and the old familiar face upon the
mountain-side. The brow, with its massive depth and loftiness, and all
the other features, indeed, were boldly and strongly hewn, as if in
emulation of a more than heroic, of a Titanic model. But the sublimity
and stateliness, the grand expression of a divine sympathy, that
illuminated the mountain visage, and etherealised its ponderous
granite substance into spirit, might here be sought in vain. Something
had been originally left out, or had departed. And therefore the
marvellously gifted statesman had always a weary gloom in the deep
caverns of his eyes, as of a child that has outgrown its playthings,
or a man of mighty faculties and little aims, whose life, with all its
high performances, was vague and empty, because no high purpose had
endowed it with reality.

Still, Ernest's neighbour was thrusting his elbow into his side, and
pressing him for an answer.

"Confess! confess! Is not he the very picture of your Old Man of the
Mountain?"

"No!" said Ernest, bluntly, "I see little or no likeness."

"Then so much the worse for the Great Stone Face!" answered his
neighbour; and again he set up a shout for Old Stony Phiz.

But Ernest turned away, melancholy, and almost despondent: for this
was the saddest of his disappointments, to behold a man who might have
fulfilled the prophecy, and had not willed to do so. Meantime, the
cavalcade, the banners, the music, and the barouches swept past him,
with the vociferous crowd in the rear, leaving the dust to settle
down, and the Great Stone Face to be revealed again, with the grandeur
that it had worn for untold centuries.

"Lo, here I am, Ernest!" the benign lips seemed to say. "I have
waited longer than thou, and am not yet weary. Fear not; the man will
come."

The years hurried onward, treading in their haste on one another's
heels. And now they began to bring white hairs, and scatter them over
the head of Ernest; they made reverend wrinkles across his forehead,
and furrows in his cheeks. He was an aged man. But not in vain had he
grown old; more than the white hairs on his head were the sage
thoughts in his mind; his wrinkles and furrows were inscriptions that
Time had graved, and in which he had written legends of wisdom that
had been tested by the tenor of a life. And Ernest had ceased to be
obscure. Unsought for, undesired, had come the fame which so many
seek, and made him known in the great world, beyond the limits of the
valley in which he had dwelt so quietly. College professors, and even
the active men of cities, came from far to see and converse with
Ernest; for the report had gone abroad that this simple husbandman had
ideas unlike those of other men, not gained from books, but of a
higher tone--a tranquil and familiar majesty, as if he had been
talking with the angels as his daily friends. Whether it were sage,
statesman, or philanthropist, Ernest received these visitors with the
gentle sincerity that had characterised him from boyhood, and spoke
freely with them of whatever came uppermost, or lay deepest in his
heart or their own. While they talked together, his face would kindle,
unawares, and shine upon them, as with a mild evening light. Pensive
with the fulness of such discourse, his guests took leave and went
their way; and passing up the valley, paused to look at the Great
Stone Face, imagining that they had seen its likeness in a human
countenance, but could not remember where.

While Ernest had been growing up and growing old, a bountiful
Providence had granted a new poet to this earth. He, likewise, was a
native of the valley, but had spent the greater part of his life at a
distance from that romantic region, pouring out his sweet music amid
the bustle and din of cities. Often, however, did the mountains which
had been familiar to him in his childhood, lift their snowy peaks into
the clear atmosphere of his poetry. Neither was the Great Stone Face
forgotten, for the poet had celebrated it in an ode, which was grand
enough to have been uttered by its own majestic lips. This man of
genius, we may say, had come down from heaven with wonderful
endowments. If he sang of a mountain, the eyes of all mankind beheld a
mightier grandeur reposing on its breast, or soaring to its summit,
than had before been seen there. If his theme were a lovely lake, a
celestial smile had now been thrown over it, to gleam forever on its
surface. If it were the vast old sea, even the deep immensity of its
dread bosom seemed to swell the higher, as if moved by the emotions of
the song. Thus the world assumed another and a better aspect from the
hour that the poet blessed it with his happy eyes. The Creator had
bestowed him, as the last best touch to his own handiwork. Creation
was not finished till the poet came to interpret, and so complete it.

The effect was no less high and beautiful, when his human brethren
were the subject of his verse. The man or woman, sordid with the
common dust of life, who crossed his daily path, and the little child
who played in it, were glorified if he beheld them in his mood of
poetic faith. He showed the golden links of the great chain that
intertwined them with an angelic kindred; he brought out the hidden
traits of a celestial birth that made them worthy of such kin. Some,
indeed, there were, who thought to show the soundness of their
judgment by affirming that all the beauty and dignity of the natural
world existed only in the poet's fancy. Let such men speak for
themselves, who undoubtedly appear to have been spawned forth by
Nature with a contemptuous bitterness; she having plastered them up
out of her refuse stuff, after all the swine were made. As respects
all things else, the poet's ideal was the truest truth.

The songs of this poet found their way to Ernest. He read them after
his customary toil, seated on the bench before his cottage-door, where
for such a length of time he had filled his repose with thought, by
gazing at the Great Stone Face. And now as he read stanzas that caused
the soul to thrill within him, he lifted his eyes to the vast
countenance beaming on him so benignantly.

"O majestic friend," he murmured, addressing the Great Stone Face, "is
not this man worthy to resemble thee?"

The Face seemed to smile, but answered not a word.

Now it happened that the poet, though he dwelt so far away, had not
only heard of Ernest, but had meditated much upon his character, until
he deemed nothing so desirable as to meet this man, whose untaught
wisdom walked hand in hand with the noble simplicity of his life. One
summer morning, therefore, he took passage by the railroad, and, in
the decline of the afternoon, alighted from the cars at no great
distance from Ernest's cottage. The great hotel, which had formerly
been the palace of Mr. Gathergold, was close at hand, but the poet,
with his carpet-bag on his arm, inquired at once where Ernest dwelt,
and was resolved to be accepted as his guest.

Approaching the door, he there found the good old man holding a volume
in his hand, which alternately he read, and then, with a finger
between the leaves, looked lovingly at the Great Stone Face.

"Good evening," said the poet. "Can you give a traveller a night's
lodging?"

"Willingly," answered Ernest; and then he added, smiling, "Methinks I
never saw the Great Stone Face look so hospitably at a stranger."

The poet sat down on the bench beside him, and he and Ernest talked
together. Often had the poet held intercourse with the wittiest and
the wisest, but never before with a man like Ernest, whose thoughts
and feelings gushed up with such a natural freedom, and who made great
truths so familiar by his simple utterance of them. Angels, as had
been so often said, seemed to have wrought with him at his labour in
the fields; angels seemed to have sat with him by the fireside; and,
dwelling with angels as friend with friends, he had imbibed the
sublimity of their ideas, and imbued it with the sweet and lowly charm
of household words. So thought the poet. And Ernest, on the other
hand, was moved and agitated by the living images which the poet flung
out of his mind, and which peopled all the air about the cottage-door
with shapes of beauty, both gay and pensive. The sympathies of these
two men instructed them with a profounder sense than either could have
attained alone. Their minds accorded into one strain, and made
delightful music which neither of them could have claimed as all his
own, nor distinguished his own share from the other's. They led one
another, as it were, into a high pavilion of their thoughts, so
remote, and hitherto so dim, that they had never entered it before,
and so beautiful that they desired to be there always.

As Ernest listened to the poet, he imagined that the Great Stone Face
was bending forward to listen too. He gazed earnestly into the poet's
glowing eyes.

"Who are you, my strangely gifted guest?" he said.

The poet laid his finger on the volume that Ernest had been reading.

"You have read these poems," said he. "You know me, then--for I wrote
them."

Again, and still more earnestly than before, Ernest examined the
poet's features; then turned towards the Great Stone Face; then back,
with an uncertain aspect, to his guest. But his countenance fell; he
shook his head, and sighed.

"Wherefore are you sad?" inquired the poet.

"Because," replied Ernest, "all through life I have awaited the
fulfilment of a prophecy; and, when I read these poems, I hoped that
it might be fulfilled in you."

"You hoped," answered the poet, faintly smiling, "to find in me the
likeness of the Great Stone Face. And you are disappointed, as
formerly with Mr. Gathergold, and Old Blood-and-Thunder, and Old Stony
Phiz. Yes, Ernest, it is my doom. You must add my name to the
illustrious three, and record another failure of your hopes. For--in
shame and sadness do I speak it, Ernest--I am not worthy to be
typified by yonder benign and majestic image."

"And why?" asked Ernest. He pointed to the volume. "Are not those
thoughts divine?"

"They have a strain of the Divinity," replied the poet. "You can hear
in them the far-off echo of a heavenly song. But my life, dear Ernest,
has not corresponded with my thought. I have had grand dreams, but
they have been only dreams, because I have lived--and that, too, by my
own choice--among poor and mean realities. Sometimes even--shall I
dare to say it?--I lack faith in the grandeur, the beauty, and the
goodness, which my own works are said to have made more evident in
nature and in human life. Why, then, pure seeker of the good and
true, shouldst thou hope to find me, in yonder image of the divine?"

The poet spoke sadly, and his eyes were dim with tears. So, likewise,
were those of Ernest.

At the hour of sunset, as had long been his frequent custom, Ernest
was to discourse to an assemblage of the neighbouring inhabitants in
the open air. He and the poet, arm in arm, still talking together as
they went along, proceeded to the spot. It was a small nook among the
hills, with a gray precipice behind, the stern front of which was
relieved by the pleasant foliage of many creeping plants, that made a
tapestry for the naked rocks, by hanging their festoons from all its
rugged angles. At a small elevation above the ground, set in a rich
framework of verdure, there appeared a niche, spacious enough to admit
a human figure, with freedom for such gestures as spontaneously
accompany earnest thought and genuine emotion. Into this natural
pulpit Ernest ascended, and threw a look of familiar kindness around
upon his audience. They stood, or sat, or reclined upon the grass, as
seemed good to each, with the departing sunshine falling obliquely
over them, and mingling its subdued cheerfulness with the solemnity of
a grove of ancient trees, beneath and amid the boughs of which the
golden rays were constrained to pass. In another direction was seen
the Great Stone Face, with the same cheer, combined with the same
solemnity, in its benignant aspect.

Ernest began to speak, giving to the people of what was in his heart
and mind. His words had power, because they accorded with his
thoughts; and his thoughts had reality and depth, because they
harmonised with the life which he had always lived. It was not mere
breath that this preacher uttered; they were the words of life,
because a life of good deeds and holy love was melted into them.
Pearls, pure and rich, had been dissolved into this precious draught.
The poet, as he listened, felt that the being and character of Ernest
were a nobler strain of poetry than he had ever written. His eyes
glistening with tears, he gazed reverentially at the venerable man,
and said within himself that never was there an aspect so worthy of a
prophet and a sage as that mild, sweet, thoughtful countenance, with
the glory of white hair diffused about it. At a distance, but
distinctly to be seen, high up in the golden light of the setting sun,
appeared the Great Stone Face, with hoary mists around it, like the
white hairs around the brow of Ernest. Its look of grand beneficence
seemed to embrace the world.

At that moment, in sympathy with a thought which he was about to
utter, the face of Ernest assumed a grandeur of expression, so imbued
with benevolence, that the poet, by an irresistible impulse, threw his
arms aloft, and shouted:

"Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone
Face."

Then all the people looked, and saw that what the deep-sighted poet
said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled. But Ernest, having finished
what he had to say, took the poet's arm, and walked slowly homeward,
still hoping that some wiser and better man than himself would by and
by appear, bearing a resemblance to the _Great Stone Face_.



VII

THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF JOHN GILPIN

     SHOWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE INTENDED AND CAME SAFE
     HOME AGAIN


John Gilpin was a citizen
  Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
  Of famous London town.

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,
  "Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we
  No holiday have seen.

"To-morrow is our wedding-day,
  And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton
  All in a chaise and pair.

"My sister and my sister's child,
  Myself, and children three,
Will fill the chaise; so you must ride
  On horseback after we."

He soon replied, "I do admire
  Of womankind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear.
  Therefore it shall be done.

"I am a linen-draper bold,
  As all the world doth know,
And my good friend the calender
  Will lend his horse to go."

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said;
  And for that wine is dear,
We will be furnished with our own,
  Which is both bright and clear."

John Gilpin kissed his loving wife;
  O'er joyed was he to find,
That, though on pleasure she was bent,
  She had a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brought,
  But yet was not allowed
To drive up to the door, lest all
  Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stayed,
  Where they did all get in;
Six precious souls, and all agog
  To dash through thick and thin.

Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,
  Were never folks so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath,
  As if Cheapside were mad.

John Gilpin at his horse's side
  Seized fast the flowing mane,
And up he got, in haste to ride,
  But soon came down again;

For saddle-tree scarce reached had he,
  His journey to begin,
When, turning round his head, he saw
  Three customers come in.

So down he came; for loss of time,
  Although it grieved him sore,
Yet loss of pence, full well he knew,
  Would trouble him much more.

'Twas long before the customers
  Were suited to their mind,
When Betty screaming came down stairs,
  "The wine is left behind!"

"Good lack!" quoth he--"yet bring it me
  My leathern belt likewise,
In which I bear my trusty sword
  When I do exercise."

Now Mistress Gilpin (careful soul!)
  Had two stone bottles found,
To hold the liquor that she loved,
  And keep it safe and sound.

Each bottle had a curling ear,
  Through which the belt he drew,
And hung a bottle on each side,
  To make his balance true.

Then over all, that he might be
  Equipped from top to toe,
His long red cloak, well brushed and neat,
  He manfully did throw.

Now see him mounted once again
  Upon his nimble steed,
Full slowly pacing o'er the stones,
  With caution and good heed.

But finding soon a smoother road
  Beneath his well-shod feet,
The snorting beast began to trot,
  Which galled him in his seat.

So, "Fair and softly," John he cried,
  But John he cried in vain;
That trot became a gallop soon,
  In spite of curb and rein.

So stooping down, as needs be must
  Who cannot sit upright,
He grasped the mane with both his hands
  And eke with all his might.

His horse, who never in that sort
  Had handled been before,
What thing upon his back had got
  Did wonder more and more.

Away went Gilpin, neck or nought;
  Away went hat and wig;
He little dreamt, when he set out,
  Of running such a rig.

The wind did blow, the cloak did fly,
  Like streamer long and gay,
Till loop and button failing both,
  At last it flew away.

Then might all people well discern
  The bottles he has slung;
A bottle swinging at each side,
  As hath been said or sung.

The dogs did bark, the children screamed
  Up flew the windows all;
And every soul cried out, "Well done!"
  As loud as he could bawl.

Away went Gilpin--who but he?
  His fame soon spread around;
"He carries weight!" "He rides a race!"
  "'Tis for a thousand pound!"

And still, as fast as he drew near,
  'Twas wonderful to view,
How in a trice the turnpike-men
  Their gates wide open threw.

And now, as he went bowing down
  His reeking head full low,
The bottles twain behind his back
  Were shattered at a blow.

Down ran the wine into the road,
  Most piteous to be seen,
Which made his horse's flanks to smoke
  As they had basted been.

But still he seemed to carry weight
  With leathern girdle braced;
For all might see the bottle necks
  Still dangling at his waist.

Thus all through merry Islington
  These gambols he did play,
Until he came unto the Wash
  Of Edmonton so gay;

And there he threw the Wash about
  On both sides of the way,
Just like unto a trundling mop,
  Or a wild goose at play.

At Edmonton his loving wife
  From the balcony she spied
Her tender husband, wondering much
  To see how he did ride.

"Stop, stop, John Gilpin!--Here's the house!"
  They all at once did cry;
"The dinner waits, and we are tired;"
  Said Gilpin--"So am I!"

But yet his horse was not a whit
  Inclined to tarry there;
For why?--his owner had a house
  Full ten miles off, at Ware.

So like an arrow swift he flew,
  Shot by an archer strong;
So did he fly--which brings me to
  The middle of my song.

Away went Gilpin, out of breath,
  And sore against his will,
Till at his friend's the calender's
  His horse at last stood still.

The calender, amazed to see
  His neighbour in such trim,
Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate,
  And thus accosted him:

"What news? what news? your tidings tell;
  Tell me you must and shall--
Say why bareheaded you are come,
  Or why you come at all?"

Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit,
  And loved a timely joke;
And thus unto the calender
  In merry guise he spoke:

"I came because your horse would come,
  And, if I well forebode,
My hat and wig will soon be here,
  They are upon the road."

The calender, right glad to find
  His friend in merry pin,
Returned him not a single word,
  But to the house went in;

Whence straight he came with hat and wig,
  A wig that flowed behind,
A hat not much the worse for wear,
  Each comely in its kind.

He held them up, and in his turn
  Thus showed his ready wit,
"My head is twice as big as yours,
  They therefore needs must fit.

"But let me scrape the dirt away
  That hangs upon your face;
And stop and eat, for well you may
  Be in a hungry case."

Said John, "It is my wedding-day,
  And all the world would stare,
If wife should dine at Edmonton,
  And I should dine at Ware."

So turning to his horse, he said,
  "I am in haste to dine;
'Twas for your pleasure you came here,
  You shall go back for mine."

Ah, luckless speech, and bootless boast!
  For which he paid full dear;
For, while he spake, a braying ass
  Did sing most loud and clear;

Whereat his horse did snort, as he
  Had heard a lion roar,
And galloped off with all his might,
  As he had done before.

Away went Gilpin, and away
  Went Gilpin's hat and wig:
He lost them sooner than at first;
  For why?--they were too big.

Now Mrs. Gilpin, when she saw
  Her husband posting down
Into the country far away,
  She pulled out half-a-crown;

And thus unto the youth, she said,
  That drove them to the Bell,
"This shall be yours, when you bring back
  My husband safe and well."

The youth did ride, and soon did meet
  John coming back amain;
Whom in a trice he tried to stop,
  By catching at his rein;

But not performing what he meant,
  And gladly would have done,
The frightened steed he frighted more,
  And made him faster run.

Away went Gilpin, and away
  Went postboy at his heels,
The postboy's horse right glad to miss
  The lumbering of the wheels.

Six gentlemen upon the road,
  Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
With postboy scampering in the rear,
  They raised the hue and cry:--

"Stop thief! stop thief! a highwayman!"
  Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that passed that way
  Did join in the pursuit.

And now the turnpike gates again
  Flew open in short space;
The toll-men thinking, as before,
  That Gilpin rode a race.

And so he did, and won it too,
  For he got first to town;
Nor stopped till where he had got up
  He did again get down.

Now let us sing, Long live the king!
  And Gilpin long live he;
And, when he next doth ride abroad,
  May I be there to see!

                   --WILLIAM COWPER



VIII

THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY


I suppose that very few casual readers of the _New York Herald_ of
August 13, 1863, observed, in an obscure corner, among the "Deaths,"
the announcement,--

     "NOLAN. Died, on board U.S. Corvette _Levant_, Lat. 2° 11'
     S., Long. 131° W., on the 11th of May, PHILIP NOLAN."

I happened to observe it, because I was stranded at the old Mission
House in Mackinaw, waiting for a Lake Superior steamer which did not
choose to come, and I was devouring to the very stubble all the
current literature I could get hold of, even down to the deaths and
marriages in the _Herald_. My memory for names and people is good, and
the reader will see, as he goes on, that I had reason enough to
remember Philip Nolan. There are hundreds of readers who would have
paused at that announcement, if the officer of the _Levant_ who
reported it had chosen to make it thus: "Died May 11th, THE MAN
WITHOUT A COUNTRY." For it was as "The Man without a Country" that
poor Philip Nolan had generally been known by the officers who had him
in charge during some fifty years, as, indeed, by all the men who
sailed under them. I dare say there is many a man who has taken wine
with him once a fortnight, in a three years' cruise, who never knew
that his name was "Nolan," or whether the poor wretch had any name at
all.

There can now be no possible harm in telling this poor creature's
story. Reason enough there has been till now ever since Madison's
administration went out in 1817, for very strict secrecy, the secrecy
of honour itself, among the gentlemen of the navy who have had Nolan
in successive charge. And certainly it speaks well for the _esprit de
corps_ of the profession, and the personal honour of its members, that
to the press this man's story has been wholly unknown--and, I think,
to the country at large also. I have reason to think, from some
investigations I made in the Naval Archives when I was attached to the
Bureau of Construction, that every official report relating to him was
burned when Ross burned the public buildings at Washington. One of the
Tuckers, or possibly one of the Watsons, had Nolan in charge at the
end of the war; and when, on returning from his cruise, he reported at
Washington to one of the Crowninshields--who was in the Navy
Department when he came home--he found that the Department ignored the
whole business. Whether they really knew nothing about it, or whether
it was a "_Non mi ricordo_," determined on as a piece of policy I do
not know. But this I do know, that since 1817, and possibly before, no
naval officer has mentioned Nolan in his report of a cruise.

But, as I say, there is no need for secrecy any longer. And now the
poor creature is dead, it seems to me worth while to tell a little of
his story, by way of showing young Americans of to-day what it is to
be A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.

PHILIP NOLAN was as fine a young officer as there was in the "Legion
of the West," as the Western division of our army was then called.
When Aaron Burr made his first dashing expedition down to New Orleans
in 1805, at Fort Massac, or somewhere above on the river, he met, as
the Devil would have it, this gay, dashing, bright young fellow; at
some dinner-party, I think. Burr marked him, talked to him, walked
with him, took him a day or two's voyage in his flat-boat, and, in
short, fascinated him. For the next year, barrack-life was very tame
to poor Nolan. He occasionally availed himself of the permission the
great man had given him to write to him. Long, high-worded, stilted
letters the poor boy wrote and rewrote and copied. But never a line
did he have in reply from the gay deceiver. The other boys in the
garrison sneered at him, because he lost the fun which they found in
shooting or rowing while he was working away on these grand letters to
his grand friend. They could not understand why Nolan kept by himself
while they were playing high-low-jack. Poker was not yet invented. But
before long the young fellow had his revenge. For this time His
Excellency, Honourable Aaron Burr, appeared again under a very
different aspect. There were rumours that he had an army behind him
and everybody supposed that he had an empire before him. At that time
the youngsters all envied him. Burr had not been talking twenty
minutes with the commander before he asked him to send for Lieutenant
Nolan. Then after a little talk he asked Nolan if he could show him
something of the great river and the plans for the new post. He asked
Nolan to take him out in his skiff to show him a canebrake or a
cottonwood tree, as he said, really to seduce him; and by the time the
sail was over, Nolan was enlisted body and soul. From that time,
though he did not yet know it, he lived as A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.

What Burr meant to do I know no more than you, dear reader. It is none
of our business just now. Only, when the grand catastrophe came, and
Jefferson and the House of Virginia of that day undertook to break on
the wheel all the possible Clarences of the then House of York, by the
great treason trial at Richmond, some of the lesser fry in that
distant Mississippi Valley, which was farther from us than Puget's
Sound is to-day, introduced the like novelty on their provincial
stage; and, to while away the monotony of the summer at Fort Adams,
got up, for _spectacles_, a string of courts-martial on the officers
there. One and another of the colonels and majors were tried, and, to
fill out the list, little Nolan, against whom, Heaven knows, there was
evidence enough--that he was sick of the service, had been willing to
be false to it, and would have obeyed any order to march any whither
with anyone who would follow him had the order been signed, "By
command of His Exc. A. Burr." The courts dragged on. The big flies
escaped, rightly for all I know. Nolan was proved guilty enough, as I
say; yet you and I would never have heard of him, reader, but that,
when the president of the court asked him at the close whether he
wished to say anything to show that he had always been faithful to the
United States, he cried out, in a fit of frenzy--

"Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States
again!"

I suppose he did not know how the words shocked old Colonel Morgan,
who was holding the court. Half the officers who sat in it had served
through the Revolution, and their lives, not to say their necks, had
been risked for the very idea which he so cavalierly cursed in his
madness. He, on his part, had grown up in the West of those days, in
the midst of "Spanish plot," "Orleans plot," and all the rest. He had
been educated on a plantation where the finest company was a Spanish
officer or a French merchant from Orleans. His education, such as it
was, had been perfected in commercial expeditions to Vera Cruz, and I
think he told me his father once hired an Englishman to be a private
tutor for a winter on the plantation. He had spent half his youth with
an older brother, hunting horses in Texas; and, in a word, to him
"United States" was scarcely a reality. Yet he had been fed by "United
States" for all the years since he had been in the army. He had sworn
on his faith as a Christian to be true to "United States." It was
"United States" which gave him the uniform he wore, and the sword by
his side. Nay, my poor Nolan, it was only because "United States" had
picked you out first as one of her own confidential men of honour that
"A. Burr" cared for you a straw more than for the flat-boat men who
sailed his ark for him. I do not excuse Nolan; I only explain to the
reader why he damned his country, and wished he might never hear her
name again.

He never did hear her name but once again. From that moment, Sept. 23,
1807, till the day he died, May 11, 1863, he never heard her name
again. For that half-century and more he was a man without a country.

Old Morgan, as I said, was terribly shocked. If Nolan had compared
George Washington to Benedict Arnold, or had cried, "God save King
George," Morgan would not have felt worse. He called the court into
his private room, and returned in fifteen minutes, with a face like a
sheet, to say:

"Prisoner, hear the sentence of the Court! The Court decides, subject
to the approval of the President, that you never hear the name of the
United States again."

Nolan laughed. But nobody else laughed. Old Morgan was too solemn, and
the whole room was hushed dead as night for a minute. Even Nolan lost
his swagger in a moment. Then Morgan added:

"Mr. Marshal, take the prisoner to Orleans in an armed boat, and
deliver him to the naval commander there."

The marshal gave his orders and the prisoner was taken out of court.

"Mr. Marshal," continued old Morgan, "see that no one mentions the
United States to the prisoner. Mr. Marshal, make my respects to
Lieutenant Mitchell at Orleans, and request him to order that no one
shall mention the United States to the prisoner while he is on board
ship. You will receive your written orders from the officer on duty
here this evening. The Court is adjourned without day."

I have always supposed that Colonel Morgan himself took the
proceedings of the court to Washington city, and explained them to Mr.
Jefferson. Certain it is that the President approved them--certain,
that is, if I may believe the men who say they have seen his
signature. Before the _Nautilus_ got round from New Orleans to the
Northern Atlantic coast with the prisoner on board, the sentence had
been approved, and he was a man without a country.

The plan then adopted was substantially the same which was necessarily
followed ever after. Perhaps it was suggested by the necessity of
sending him by water from Fort Adams and Orleans. The Secretary of the
Navy--it must have been the first Crowninshield, though he is a man I
do not remember--was requested to put Nolan on board a government
vessel bound on a long cruise, and to direct that he should be only so
far confined there as to make it certain that he never saw or heard of
the country. We had few long cruises then, and the navy was very much
out of favour; and as almost all of this story is traditional, as I
have explained, I do not know certainly what his first cruise was. But
the commander to whom he was intrusted--perhaps it was Tingey or Shaw,
though I think it was one of the younger men--we are all old enough
now--regulated the etiquette and the precautions of the affair, and
according to his scheme they were carried out, I suppose, till Nolan
died.

When I was second officer of the _Intrepid_, some thirty years after,
I saw the original paper of instructions. I have been sorry ever
since that I did not copy the whole of it. It ran, however, much in
this way--

                          WASHINGTON (with a date, which
                           must have been late in 1807).

     Sir,

     You will receive from Lieutenant Neale the person of Philip
     Nolan, late a lieutenant in the United States army.

     This person on his trial by court-martial expressed, with an
     oath, the wish that he might never hear of the United States
     again.

     The Court sentenced him to have his wish fulfilled.

     For the present, the execution of the order is intrusted by
     the President to this Department.

     You will take the prisoner on board your ship, and keep him
     there with such precautions as shall prevent his escape.

     You will provide him with such quarters, rations, and
     clothing as would be proper for an officer of his late rank,
     if he were a passenger on your vessel on the business of his
     Government.

     The gentlemen on board will make any arrangements agreeable
     to themselves regarding his society. He is to be exposed to
     no indignity of any kind, nor is he ever unnecessarily to be
     reminded that he is a prisoner.

     But under no circumstances is he ever to hear of his country
     or to see any information regarding it; and you will
     especially caution all the officers under your command to
     take care, that, in the various indulgences which may be
     granted, this rule, in which his punishment is involved,
     shall not be broken.

     It is the intention of the Government that he shall never
     again see the country which he has disowned. Before the end
     of your cruise you will receive orders which will give
     effect to this intention.

                          Respectfully yours,
                               W. SOUTHARD, for the
                                    Secretary of the Navy.

If I had only preserved the whole of this paper, there would be no
break in the beginning of my sketch of this story. For Captain Shaw,
if it were he, handed it to his successor in the charge, and he to
his, and I suppose the commander of the _Levant_ has it to-day as his
authority for keeping this man in this mild custody.

The rule adopted on board the ships on which I have met "the man
without a country" was, I think, transmitted from the beginning. No
mess liked to have him permanently, because his presence cut off all
talk of home or the prospect of return, of politics or letters, of
peace or of war--cut off more than half the talk men liked to have at
sea. But it was always thought too hard that he should never meet the
rest of us, except to touch hats, and we finally sank into one system.
He was not permitted to talk with the men, unless an officer was by.
With officers he had unrestrained intercourse, as far as they and he
chose. But he grew shy, though he had favourites: I was one. Then the
captain always asked him to dinner on Monday. Every mess in succession
took up the invitation in its turn. According to the size of the ship,
you had him at your mess more or less often at dinner. His breakfast
he ate in his own state-room--he always had a state-room--which was
where a sentinel or somebody on the watch could see the door. And
whatever else he ate or drank, he ate or drank alone. Sometimes, when
the marines or sailors had any special jollification, they were
permitted to invite "Plain-Buttons," as they called him. Then Nolan
was sent with some officer, and the men were forbidden to speak of
home while he was there. I believe the theory was that the sight of
his punishment did them good. They called him "Plain-Buttons,"
because, while he always chose to wear a regulation army-uniform, he
was not permitted to wear the army-button, for the reason that it bore
either the initials or the insignia of the country he had disowned.

I remember, soon after I joined the navy, I was on shore with some of
the older officers from our ship and from the _Brandywine_, which we
had met at Alexandria. We had leave to make a party and go up to Cairo
and the Pyramids. As we jogged along (you went on donkeys then), some
of the gentlemen (we boys called them "Dons," but the phrase was long
since changed) fell to talking about Nolan, and someone told the
system which was adopted from the first about his books and other
reading. As he was almost never permitted to go on shore, even though
the vessel lay in port for months, his time at the best hung heavy;
and everybody was permitted to lend him books, if they were not
published in America and made no allusion to it. These were common
enough in the old days, when people in the other hemisphere talked of
the United States as little as we do of Paraguay. He had almost all
the foreign papers that came into the ship, sooner or later; only
somebody must go over them first, and cut out any advertisement or
stray paragraph that alluded to America. This was a little cruel
sometimes, when the back of what was cut out might be as innocent as
Hesiod. Right in the midst of one of Napoleon's battles, or one of
Canning's speeches, poor Nolan would find a great hole, because on the
back of the page of that paper there had been an advertisement of a
packet for New York, or a scrap from the President's message. I say
this was the first time I ever heard of this plan, which afterwards I
had enough and more than enough to do with. I remember it, because
poor Phillips, who was of the party, as soon as the allusion to
reading was made, told a story of something which happened at the Cape
of Good Hope on Nolan's first voyage; and it is the only thing I ever
knew of that voyage. They had touched at the Cape, and had done the
civil thing with the English Admiral and the fleet, and then, leaving
for a long cruise up the Indian Ocean, Phillips had borrowed a lot of
English books from an officer, which, in those days, as indeed in
these, was quite a windfall. Among them, as the Devil would order, was
the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," which they had all of them heard of,
but which most of them had never seen. I think it could not have been
published long. Well, nobody thought there could be any risk of
anything national in that, though Phillips swore old Shaw had cut out
the "Tempest" from Shakespeare before he let Nolan have it, because he
said "the Bermudas ought to be ours, and, by Jove, should be one day."
So Nolan was permitted to join the circle one afternoon when a lot of
them sat on deck smoking and reading aloud. People do not do such
things so often now; but when I was young we got rid of a great deal
of time so. Well, so it happened that in his turn Nolan took the book
and read to the others; and he read very well, as I know. Nobody in
the circle knew a line of the poem, only it was all magic and Border
chivalry, and was ten thousand years ago. Poor Nolan read steadily
through the fifth canto, stopped a minute and drank something, and
then began, without a thought of what was coming:

"Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
 Who never to himself hath said,"--

It seems impossible to us that anybody ever heard this for the first
time; but all these fellows did then, and poor Nolan himself went on,
still unconsciously or mechanically--

"This is my own, my native land!"

Then they all saw that something was to pay; but he expected to get
through, I suppose, turned a little pale, but plunged on,

"Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
  As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?--
  If such there breathe, go, mark him well--"

By this time the men were all beside themselves, wishing there was
any way to make him turn over two pages; but he had not quite presence
of mind for that; he gagged a little, coloured crimson, and staggered
on--

"For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name.
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite these titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self--"

and here the poor fellow choked, could not go on, but started up,
swung the book into the sea, vanished into his state-room, "And by
Jove," said Phillips, "we did not see him for two months again. And I
had to make up some beggarly story to that English surgeon why I did
not return his Walter Scott to him."

That story shows about the time when Nolan's braggadocio must have
broken down. At first, they said, he took a very high tone, considered
his imprisonment a mere farce, affected to enjoy the voyage, and all
that; but Phillips said that after he came out of his state-room he
never was the same man again. He never read aloud again unless it was
the Bible or Shakespeare, or something else he was sure of. But it was
not that merely. He never entered in with the other young men exactly
as a companion again. He was always shy afterwards, when I knew
him--very seldom spoke, unless he was spoken to, except to a very few
friends. He lighted up occasionally--I remember late in his life
hearing him fairly eloquent on something which had been suggested to
him by one of Fléchier's sermons--but generally he had the nervous,
tired look of a heart-wounded man.

When Captain Shaw was coming home--if, as I say, it was Shaw--rather
to the surprise of everybody they made one of the Windward Islands,
and lay off and on for nearly a week. The boys said the officers were
sick of salt-junk, and meant to have turtle-soup before they came
home. But after several days the _Warren_ came to the same rendezvous;
they exchanged signals; she sent to Phillips and these homeward-bound
men letters and papers, and told them she was outward-bound, perhaps
to the Mediterranean, and took poor Nolan and his traps on the boat
back to try his second cruise. He looked very blank when he was told
to get ready to join her. He had known enough of the signs of the sky
to know that till that moment he was going "home." But this was a
distinct evidence of something he had not thought of, perhaps--that
there was no going home for him, even to a prison. And this was the
first of some twenty such transfers, which brought him sooner or later
into half our best vessels, but which kept him all his life at least
some hundred miles from the country he had hoped he might never hear
of again.

It may have been on that second cruise--it was once when he was up the
Mediterranean,--that Mrs. Graff, the celebrated Southern beauty of
those days, danced with him. They had been lying a long time in the
Bay of Naples, and the officers were very intimate in the English
fleet, and there had been great festivities, and our men thought they
must give a great ball on board the ship. How they ever did it on
board the _Warren_ I am sure I do not know. Perhaps it was not the
_Warren_, or perhaps ladies did not take up so much room as they do
now. They wanted to use Nolan's state-room for something, and they
hated to do it without asking him to the ball; so the captain said
they might ask him, if they would be responsible that he did not talk
with the wrong people, "who would give him intelligence." So the dance
went on, the finest party that had ever been known, I dare say; for I
never heard of a man-of-war ball that was not. For ladies they had the
family of the American consul, one or two travellers who had
adventured so far, and a nice bevy of English girls and matrons,
perhaps Lady Hamilton herself.

Well, different officers relieved each other in standing and talking
with Nolan in a friendly way, so as to be sure that nobody else spoke
to him. The dancing went on with spirit, and after a while even the
fellows who took this honorary guard of Nolan ceased to fear any
_contretemps_. Only when some English lady--Lady Hamilton, as I said,
perhaps--called for a set of "American dances," an odd thing happened.
Everybody then danced contra-dances. The black band, nothing loath,
conferred as to what "American dances" were, and started off with
"Virginia Reel," which they followed with "Money Musk," which, in its
turn in those days, should have been followed by "The Old Thirteen."
But just as Dick, the leader, tapped for his fiddles to begin, and
bent forward, about to say, in true negro state, "'The Old Thirteen,'
gentlemen and ladies!" as he had said "'Virginny Reel,' if you
please!" and "'Money-Musk,' if you please!" the captain's boy tapped
him on the shoulder, whispered to him, and he did not announce the
name of the dance; he merely bowed, began on the air, and they all
fell to--the officers teaching the English girls the figure, but not
telling them why it had no name.

But that is not the story I started to tell. As the dancing went on,
Nolan and our fellows all got at ease, as I said: so much so, that it
seemed quite natural for him to bow to that splendid Mrs. Graff and
say:

"I hope you have not forgotten me, Miss Rutledge. Shall I have the
honour of dancing?"

He did it so quickly, that Fellows, who was with him, could not
hinder him. She laughed and said:

"I am not Miss Rutledge any longer, Mr. Nolan; but I will dance all
the same," just nodded to Fellows, as if to say he must leave Mr.
Nolan to her, and led him off to the place where the dance was
forming.

Nolan thought he had got his chance. He had known her at Philadelphia,
and at other places had met her, and this was a godsend. You could not
talk in contra-dances as you do in cotillions, or even in the pauses
of waltzing; but there were chances for tongues and sounds, as well as
for eyes and blushes. He began with her travels, and Europe, and
Vesuvius, and the French; and then, when they had worked down, and had
that long talking time at the bottom of the set, he said boldly--a
little pale, she said, as she told me the story years after--

"And what do you hear from home, Mrs. Graff?"

And that splendid creature looked through him. Jove! how she must have
looked through him!

"Home!! Mr. Nolan!!! I thought you were the man who never wanted to
hear of home again!"--and she walked directly up the deck to her
husband, and left poor Nolan alone, as he always was.--He did not
dance again. I cannot give any history of him in order; nobody can
now; and, indeed, I am not trying to.

These are the traditions, which I sort out, as I believe them, from
the myths which have been told about this man for forty years. The
lies that have been told about him are legion. The fellows used to say
he was the "Iron Mask;" and poor George Pons went to his grave in the
belief that this was the author of "Junius," who was being punished
for his celebrated libel on Thomas Jefferson. Pons was not very strong
in the historical line.

A happier story than either of these I have told is of the war. That
came along soon after. I have heard this affair told in three or four
ways--and, indeed, it may have happened more than once. But which ship
it was on I cannot tell. However, in one at least, of the great
frigate-duels with the English, in which the navy was really baptised,
it happened that a round-shot from the enemy entered one of our ports
square, and took right down the officer of the gun himself, and almost
every man of the gun's crew. Now you may say what you choose about
courage, but that is not a nice thing to see. But, as the men who were
not killed picked themselves up, and as they and the surgeon's people
were carrying off the bodies, there appeared Nolan, in his
shirt-sleeves, with the rammer in his hand, and, just as if he had
been the officer, told them off with authority--who should go to the
cock-pit with the wounded men, who should stay with him--perfectly
cheery, and with that way which makes men feel sure all is right and
is going to be right. And he finished loading the gun with his own
hands, aimed it, and bade the men fire. And there he stayed, captain
of that gun, keeping those fellows in spirits, till the enemy
struck--sitting on the carriage while the gun was cooling, though he
was exposed all the time--showing them easier ways to handle heavy
shot--making the raw hands laugh at their own blunders--and when the
gun cooled again, getting it loaded and fired twice as often as any
other gun on the ship. The captain walked forward by way of
encouraging the men, and Nolan touched his hat and said:

"I am showing them how we do this in the artillery, sir."

And this is the part of the story where all the legends agree; the
commodore said:

"I see you do, and I thank you, sir; and I shall never forget this
day, sir, and you never shall, sir."

And after the whole thing was over, and he had the Englishman's
sword, in the midst of the state and ceremony of the quarter-deck, he
said:

"Where is Mr. Nolan? Ask Mr. Nolan to come here."

And when Nolan came, he said:

"Mr. Nolan, we are all very grateful to you to-day; you are one of us
to-day; you will be named in the despatches."

And then the old man took off his own sword of ceremony, and gave it
to Nolan, and made him put it on. The man told me this who saw it.
Nolan cried like a baby, and well he might. He had not worn a sword
since that infernal day at Fort Adams. But always afterwards on
occasions of ceremony, he wore that quaint old French sword of the
commodore's.

The captain did mention him in the despatches. It was always said he
asked that he might be pardoned. He wrote a special letter to the
Secretary of War. But nothing ever came of it. As I said, that was
about the time when they began to ignore the whole transaction at
Washington, and when Nolan's imprisonment began to carry itself on
because there was nobody to stop it without any new orders from home.

I have heard it said that he was with Porter when he took possession
of the Nukahiwa Islands. Not this Porter, you know, but old Porter,
his father, Essex Porter--that is, the old Essex Porter, not this
Essex. As an artillery officer, who had seen service in the West,
Nolan knew more about fortifications, embrasures, ravelins, stockades,
and all that, than any of them did; and he worked with a right
goodwill in fixing that battery all right. I have always thought it
was a pity Porter did not leave him in command there with Gamble. That
would have settled all the question about his punishment. We should
have kept the islands, and at this moment we should have one station
in the Pacific Ocean. Our French friends, too, when they wanted this
little watering-place, would have found it was preoccupied. But
Madison and the Virginians, of course, flung all that away.

All that was near fifty years ago. If Nolan was thirty then, he must
have been near eighty when he died. He looked sixty when he was forty.
But he never seemed to me to change a hair afterwards. As I imagine
his life, from what I have seen and heard of it, he must have been in
every sea, and yet almost never on land. He must have known, in a
formal way, more officers in our service than any man living knows. He
told me once, with a grave smile, that no man in the world lived so
methodical a life as he. "You know the boys say I am the Iron Mask,
and you know how busy he was." He said it did not do for anyone to try
to read all the time, more than to do anything else all the time; and
that he used to read just five hours a day. "Then," he said, "I keep
up my note-books, writing in them at such and such hours from what I
have been reading; and I include in these my scrap-books." These were
very curious indeed. He had six or eight, of different subjects. There
was one of History, one of Natural Science, one which he called "Odds
and Ends." But they were not merely books of extracts from newspapers.
They had bits of plants and ribbons, shells tied on, and carved scraps
of bone and wood, which he had taught the men to cut for him, and they
were beautifully illustrated. He drew admirably. He had some of the
funniest drawings there, and some of the most pathetic, that I have
ever seen in my life. I wonder who will have Nolan's scrap-books.

Well, he said his reading and his notes were his profession, and that
they took five hours and two hours respectively of each day. "Then,"
said he, "every man should have a diversion as well as a profession.
My Natural History is my diversion." That took two hours a day more.
The men used to bring him birds and fish, but on a long cruise he had
to satisfy himself with centipedes and cockroaches and such small
game. He was the only naturalist I ever met who knew anything about
the habits of the house-fly and the mosquito. All those people can
tell you whether they are _Lepidoptera_ or _Steptopotera_; but as for
telling how you can get rid of them, or how they get away from you
when you strike them--why Linnæus knew as little of that as John Foy
the idiot did. These nine hours made Nolan's regular daily
"occupation." The rest of the time he talked or walked. Till he grew
very old, he went aloft a great deal. He always kept up his exercise;
and I never heard that he was ill. If any other man was ill, he was
the kindest nurse in the world; and he knew more than half the
surgeons do. Then if anybody was sick or died, or if the captain
wanted him to, on any other occasion, he was always ready to read
prayers. I have said that he read beautifully.

My own acquaintance with Philip Nolan began six or eight years after
the English war, on my first voyage after I was appointed a
midshipman. It was in the first days after our Slave-Trade treaty,
while the Reigning House, which was still the House of Virginia, had
still a sort of sentimentalism about the suppression of the horrors of
the Middle Passage, and something was sometimes done that way. We were
in the South Atlantic on that business. From the time I joined, I
believe I thought Nolan was a sort of lay chaplain--a chaplain with a
blue coat. I never asked about him. Everything in the ship was strange
to me. I knew it was green to ask questions, and I suppose I thought
there was a "Plain-Buttons" on every ship. We had him to dine in our
mess once a week, and the caution was given that on that day nothing
was to be said about home. But if they had told us not to say anything
about the planet Mars or the Book of Deuteronomy, I should not have
asked why; there were a great many things which seemed to me to have
as little reason. I first came to understand anything about "the man
without a country" one day when we overhauled a dirty little schooner
which had slaves on board. An officer was sent to take charge of her,
and, after a few minutes, he sent back his boat to ask that someone
might be sent him who could speak Portuguese. We were all looking over
the rail when the message came, and we all wished we could interpret,
when the captain asked who spoke Portuguese. But none of the officers
did; and just as the captain was sending forward to ask if any of the
people could, Nolan stepped out and said he should be glad to
interpret, if the captain wished, as he understood the language. The
captain thanked him, fitted out another boat with him, and in this
boat it was my luck to go.

When we got there, it was such a scene as you seldom see, and never
want to. Nastiness beyond account, and chaos run loose in the midst of
the nastiness. There were not a great many of the negroes; but by way
of making what there were understand that they were free, Vaughan had
had their handcuffs, and ankle-cuffs knocked off, and, for
convenience's sake, was putting them upon the rascals of the
schooner's crew. The negroes were, most of them, out of the hold, and
swarming all round the dirty deck, with a central throng surrounding
Vaughan and addressing him in every dialect, and _patois_ of a
dialect, from the Zulu click up to the Parisian of Beledeljereed.

As we came on deck, Vaughan looked down from a hogshead, on which he
had mounted in desperation, and said--

"For God's love, is there anybody who can make these wretches
understand something? The men gave them rum, and that did not quiet
them. I knocked that big fellow down twice, and that did not soothe
him. And then I talked Choctaw to all of them together; and I'll be
hanged if they understood that as well as they understood the
English."

Nolan said he could speak Portuguese, and one or two fine-looking
Kroomen were dragged out, who, as it had been found already, had
worked for the Portuguese on the coast at Fernando Po.

"Tell them they are free," said Vaughan; "and tell them that these
rascals are to be hanged as soon as we can get rope enough."

Nolan "put that into Spanish," that is, he explained it in such
Portuguese as the Kroomen could understand, and they in turn to such
of the negroes as could understand them. Then there was such a yell of
delight, clinching of fists, leaping and dancing, kissing of Nolan's
feet, and a general rush made to the hogshead by way of spontaneous
worship of Vaughan, as the _deus ex machina_ of the occasion.

"Tell them," said Vaughan, well pleased, "that I will take them all to
Cape Palmas."

This did not answer so well. Cape Palmas was practically as far from
the homes of most of them as New Orleans or Rio Janeiro was; that is
they would be eternally separated from home there. And their
interpreters, as we could understand, instantly said, "_Ah, non
Palmas_" and began to propose infinite other expedients in most
voluble language. Vaughan was rather disappointed at this result of
his liberality, and asked Nolan eagerly what they said. The drops
stood on poor Nolan's white forehead, as he hushed the men down, and
said:

"He says, 'Not Palmas.' He says, 'Take us home, take us to our own
country, take us to our own house, take us to our own pickaninnies and
our own women.' He says he has an old father and mother who will die
if they do not see him. And this one says he left his people all sick,
and paddled down to Fernando to beg the white doctor to come and help
them, and that these devils caught him in the bay just in sight of
home, and that he has never seen anybody from home since then. And
this one says," choked out Nolan, "that he has not heard a word from
his home in six months, while he has been locked up in an infernal
barracoon."

Vaughan always said he grew gray himself while Nolan struggled through
this interpretation. I, who did not understand anything of the passion
involved in it, saw that the very elements were melting with fervent
heat, and that something was to pay somewhere. Even the negroes
themselves stopped howling, as they saw Nolan's agony, and Vaughan's
almost equal agony of sympathy. As quick as he could get words, he
said:

"Tell them yes, yes, yes; tell them they shall go to the Mountains of
the Moon, if they will. If I sail the schooner through the Great White
Desert, they shall go home!"

And after some fashion Nolan said so. And then they all fell to
kissing him again, and wanted to rub his nose with theirs.

But he could not stand it long; and getting Vaughan to say he might go
back, he beckoned me down into our boat. As we lay back in the
stern-sheets and the men gave way, he said to me: "Youngster, let that
show you what it is to be without a family, without a home, and
without a country. And if you are ever tempted to say a word or to do
a thing that shall put a bar between you and your family, your home,
and your country, pray God in His mercy to take you that instant home
to His own heaven. Stick by your family, boy; forget you have a self,
while you do everything for them. Think of your home, boy; write and
send, and talk about it. Let it be nearer and nearer to your thought,
the farther you have to travel from it; and rush back to it when you
are free, as that poor black slave is doing now. And for your country,
boy," and the words rattled in his throat, "and for that flag," and he
pointed to the ship, "never dream a dream but of serving her as she
bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand hells. No
matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or who abuses
you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray
God to bless that flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men you
have to do with, behind officers, and government, and people even,
there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her
as you belong to your own mother. Stand by Her, boy, as you would
stand by your mother, if those devils there had got hold of her
to-day!"

I was frightened to death by his, calm, hard passion; but I blundered
out that I would, by all that was holy, and that I had never thought
of doing anything else. He hardly seemed to hear me; but he did,
almost in a whisper, say: "O, if anybody had said so to me when I was
of your age!"

I think it was this half-confidence of his, which I never abused, for
I never told this story till now, which afterward made us great
friends. He was very kind to me. Often he sat up, or even got up, at
night, to walk the deck with me, when it was my watch. He explained to
me a great deal of my mathematics, and I owe to him my taste for
mathematics. He lent me books, and helped me about my reading. He
never alluded so directly to his story again; but from one and another
officer I have learned, in thirty years, what I am telling. When we
parted from him in St. Thomas harbour, at the end of our cruise, I was
more sorry than I can tell. I was very glad to meet him again in 1830;
and later in life, when I thought I had some influence in Washington,
I moved heaven and earth to have him discharged. But it was like
getting a ghost out of prison. They pretended there was no such man,
and never was such a man. They will say so at the Department now!
Perhaps they do not know. It will not be the first thing in the
service of which the Department appears to know nothing!

There is a story that Nolan met Burr once on one of our vessels, when
a party of Americans came on board in the Mediterranean. But this I
believe to be a lie; or, rather, it is a myth, _ben trovato_,
involving a tremendous blowing-up with which he sunk Burr,--asking him
how he liked to be "without a country." But it is clear from Burr's
life, that nothing of the sort could have happened; and I mention this
only as an illustration of the stories which get a-going where there
is the least mystery at bottom.

Philip Nolan, poor fellow, repented of his folly, and then, like a
man, submitted to the fate he had asked for. He never intentionally
added to the difficulty or delicacy of the charge of those who had him
in hold. Accidents would happen; but never from his fault. Lieutenant
Truxton told me that, when Texas was annexed, there was a careful
discussion among the officers, whether they should get hold of Nolan's
handsome set of maps and cut Texas out of it--from the map of the
world and the map of Mexico. The United States had been cut out when
the atlas was bought for him. But it was voted, rightly enough, that
to do this would be virtually to reveal to him what had happened, or,
as Harry Cole said, to make him think Old Burr had succeeded. So it
was from no fault of Nolan's that a great botch happened at my own
table, when, for a short time, I was in command of the _George
Washington_ corvette, on the South American station. We were lying in
the La Plata, and some of the officers, who had been on shore and had
just joined again, were entertaining us with accounts of their
misadventures in riding the half-wild horses of Buenos Ayres. Nolan
was at table, and was in an unusually bright and talkative mood. Some
story of a tumble reminded him of an adventure of his own when he was
catching wild horses in Texas with his adventurous cousin, at a time
when he must have been quite a boy. He told the story with a good deal
of spirit--so much so, that the silence which often follows a good
story hung over the table for an instant, to be broken by Nolan
himself. For he asked perfectly unconsciously:

"Pray, what has become of Texas? After the Mexicans got their
independence, I thought that province of Texas would come forward very
fast. It is really one of the finest regions on earth; it is the Italy
of this continent. But I have not seen or heard a word of Texas for
nearly twenty years."

There were two Texan officers at the table. The reason he had never
heard of Texas was that Texas and her affairs had been painfully cut
out of his newspapers since Austin began his settlements; so that,
while he read of Honduras and Tamaulipas, and, till quite lately, of
California--this virgin province, in which his brother had travelled
so far, and I believe, had died, had ceased to be to him. Waters and
Williams, the two Texas men, looked grimly at each other and tried not
to laugh. Edward Morris had his attention attracted by the third link
in the chain of the captain's chandelier. Watrous was seized with a
convulsion of sneezing. Nolan himself saw that something was to pay,
he did not know what. And I, as master of the feast, had to say:

"Texas is out of the map, Mr. Nolan. Have you seen Captain Back's
curious account of Sir Thomas Roe's Welcome?"

After that cruise I never saw Nolan again. I wrote to him at least
twice a year, for in that voyage we became even confidentially
intimate; but he never wrote to me. The other men tell me that in
those fifteen years he _aged_ very fast, as well he might indeed, but
that he was still the same gentle, uncomplaining, silent sufferer that
he ever was, bearing as best he could his self-appointed
punishment--rather less social, perhaps, with new men whom he did not
know, but more anxious, apparently, than ever to serve and befriend
and teach the boys, some of whom fairly seemed to worship him. And now
it seems the dear old fellow is dead. He has found a home at last, and
a country.

Since writing this, and while considering whether or not I would print
it, as a warning to the young Nolans and Vallandighams and Tatnalls of
to-day of what it is to throw away a country, I have received from
Danforth, who is on board the _Levant_, a letter which gives an
account of Nolan's last hours. It removes all my doubts about telling
this story.

The reader will understand Danforth's letter, or the beginning of it,
if he will remember that after ten years of Nolan's exile everyone who
had him in charge was in a very delicate position. The government had
failed to renew the order of 1807 regarding him. What was a man to do?
Should he let him go? What, then, if he were called to account by the
Department for violating the order of 1807? Should he keep him? What,
then, if Nolan should be liberated some day, and should bring an
action of false imprisonment or kidnapping against every man who had
had him in charge? I urged and pressed this upon Southard, and I have
reason to think that other officers did the same thing. But the
Secretary always said, as they so often do at Washington, that there
were no special orders to give, and that we must act on our own
judgment. That means, "If you succeed, you will be sustained; if you
fail, you will be disavowed." Well, as Danforth says, all that is over
now, though I do not know but I expose myself to a criminal
prosecution on the evidence of the very revelation I am making.

Here is the letter:

                           LEVANT, 2° 2' S. at 131° W.

     DEAR FRED:

     I try to find heart and life to tell you that it is all over
     with dear old Nolan. I have been with him on this voyage
     more than I ever was, and I can understand wholly now the
     way in which you used to speak of the dear old fellow. I
     could see that he was not strong, but I had no idea the end
     was so near. The doctor has been watching him very
     carefully, and yesterday morning came to me and told me that
     Nolan was not so well, and had not left his state-room--a
     thing I never remember before. He had let the doctor come
     and see him as he lay there--the first time the doctor had
     been in the state-room--and he said he should like to see
     me. Oh, dear! do you remember the mysteries we boys used to
     invent about his room in the old _Intrepid_ days? Well, I
     went in, and there, to be sure, the poor fellow lay in his
     berth, smiling pleasantly as he gave me his hand, but
     looking very frail. I could not help a glance round, which
     showed me what a little shrine he had made of the box he was
     lying in. The Stars and Stripes were triced up above and
     around a picture of Washington, and he had painted a
     majestic eagle, with lightnings blazing from his beak and
     his foot just clasping the whole globe, which his wings
     overshadowed. The dear old boy saw my glance, and said, with
     a sad smile, "Here, you see, I have a country!" And then he
     pointed to the foot of his bed, where I had not seen before
     a great map of the United States, as he had drawn it from
     memory, and which he had there to look upon as he lay.
     Quaint, queer old names were on it, in large letters:
     "Indiana Territory," "Mississippi Territory," and "Louisiana
     Territory." I suppose our fathers learned such things: but
     the old fellow had patched in Texas, too; he had carried his
     western boundary all the way to the Pacific, but on that
     shore he had defined nothing.

     "O Captain," he said, "I know I am dying. I cannot get home.
     Surely you will tell me something now?--Stop! stop! Do not
     speak till I say what I am sure you know, that there is not
     in this ship, that there is not in America--God bless
     her!--a more loyal man than I. There cannot be a man who
     loves the old flag as I do, or prays for it as I do, or
     hopes for it as I do. There are thirty-four stars in it now,
     Danforth. I thank God for that, though I do not know what
     their names are. There has never been one taken away: I
     thank God for that. I know by that that there has never been
     any successful Burr, O Danforth, Danforth," he sighed out,
     "how like a wretched night's dream a boy's idea of personal
     fame or of separate sovereignty seems; when one looks back
     on it after such a life as mine! But tell me--tell me
     something--tell me everything, Danforth, before I die!"

     Ingham, I swear to you that I felt like a monster that I had
     not told him everything before. Danger or no danger,
     delicacy or no delicacy, who was I, that I should have been
     acting the tyrant all this time over this dear, sainted old
     man, who had years ago expiated, in his whole manhood's
     life, the madness of a boy's treason? "Mr. Nolan," said I,
     "I will tell you everything you ask about. Only, where shall
     I begin?"

     Oh, the blessed smile that crept over his white face! and he
     pressed my hand and said, "God bless you! Tell me their
     names," he said, and he pointed to the stars on the flag.
     "The last I know is Ohio. My father lived in Kentucky. But I
     have guessed Michigan and Indiana and Mississippi--that was
     where Fort Adams is--they make twenty. But where are your
     other fourteen? You have not cut up any of the old ones, I
     hope?"

     Well, that was not a bad text, and I told him the names in
     as good order as I could, and he bade me take down his
     beautiful map and draw them in as I best could with my
     pencil. He was wild with delight about Texas, told me how
     his cousin died there; he had marked a gold cross near where
     he supposed his grave was; and he had guessed at Texas. Then
     he was delighted as he saw California and Oregon,--that, he
     said, he had suspected partly, because he had never been
     permitted to land on that shore, though the ships were there
     so much. "And the men," said he, laughing, "brought off a
     good deal beside furs." Then he went back--heavens, how
     far!--to ask about the _Chesapeake_, and what was done to
     Barron for surrendering her to the _Leopard_, and whether
     Burr ever tried again--and he ground his teeth with the only
     passion he showed. But in a moment that was over, and he
     said, "God forgive me, for I am sure I forgive him." Then he
     asked about the old war--told me the true story of his
     serving the gun the day we took the _Java_--asked about dear
     old David Porter, as he called him. Then he settled down
     more quietly, and very happily, to hear me tell in an hour
     the history of fifty years.

     How I wished it had been somebody who knew something! But I
     did as well as I could. I told him of the English war. I
     told him about Fulton and the steamboat beginning. I told
     him about old Scott, and Jackson; told him all I could think
     of about the Mississippi, and New Orleans, and Texas, and
     his own old Kentucky. And do you think, he asked who was in
     command of the "Legion of the West." I told him it was a
     very gallant officer named Grant, and that, by our last
     news, he was about to establish his headquarters at
     Vicksburg. Then, "Where was Vicksburg?" I worked that out on
     the map; it was about a hundred miles, more or less, above
     his old Fort Adams and I thought Fort Adams must be a ruin
     now. "It must be at old Vick's plantation, at Walnut Hills,"
     said he: "well, that is a change!"

     I tell you, Ingham, it was a hard thing to condense the
     history of half a century into that talk with a sick man.
     And I do not now know what I told him--of emigration, and
     the means of it--of steamboats, and railroads, and
     telegraphs--of inventions, and books, and literature--of the
     colleges, and West Point, and the Naval School--but with the
     queerest interruptions that ever you heard. You see it was
     Robinson Crusoe asking all the accumulated questions of
     fifty-six years!

     I remember he asked, all of a sudden, who was President now;
     and when I told him, he asked if Old Abe was General
     Benjamin Lincoln's son. He said he met old General Lincoln,
     when he was quite a boy himself, at some Indian treaty. I
     said no, that Old Abe was a Kentuckian like himself, but I
     could not tell him of what family; he had worked up from the
     ranks. "Good for him!" cried Nolan; "I am glad of that. As I
     have brooded and wondered, I have thought our danger was in
     keeping up those regular successions in the first families."
     Then I got talking about my visit to Washington. I told him
     of meeting the Oregon Congressman, Harding; I told him about
     the Smithsonian, and the Exploring Expedition; I told him
     about the Capitol and the statues for the pediment, and
     Crawford's Liberty, and Greenough's Washington: Ingham, I
     told him everything I could think of that would show the
     grandeur of his country and its prosperity; but I could not
     make up my mouth to tell him a word about this infernal
     rebellion!

     And he drank it in and enjoyed it as I cannot tell you. He
     grew more and more silent, yet I never thought he was tired
     or faint. I gave him a glass of water, but he just wet his
     lips, and told me not to go away. Then he asked me to bring
     the Presbyterian "Book of Public Prayer" which lay there,
     and said, with a smile, that it would open at the right
     place--and so it did. There was his double red mark down the
     page; and I knelt down and read, and he repeated with me,
     "For ourselves and our country, O gracious God, we thank
     Thee, that, notwithstanding our manifold transgressions of
     Thy holy laws, Thou hast continued to us Thy marvellous
     kindness," and so to the end of that thanksgiving. Then he
     turned to the end of the same book, and I read the words
     more familiar to me: "Most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy
     favour to behold and bless Thy servant, the President of the
     United States, and all others in authority"--and the rest of
     the Episcopal collect. "Danforth," said he "I have repeated
     these prayers night and morning, it is now fifty-five
     years." And then he said he would go to sleep. He bent me
     down over him and kissed me; and he said, "Look in my Bible,
     Captain, when I am gone." And I went away.

     But I had no thought it was the end. I thought he was tired
     and would sleep. I knew he was happy, and I wanted him to be
     alone.

     But in an hour, when the doctor went in gently, he found
     Nolan had breathed his life away with a smile. He had
     something pressed close to his lips. It was his father's
     badge of the Order of the Cincinnati.

     We looked in his Bible, and there was a slip of paper at the
     place where he had marked the text--

     "They desire a country, even a heavenly: wherefore God is
     not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for
     them a city."

     On this slip of paper he had written:

     "Bury me in the sea; it has been my home, and I love it. But
     will not someone set up a stone for my memory at Fort Adams
     or at Orleans, that my disgrace may not be more than I
     ought to bear? Say on it:

                    "_In Memory of_

                    "PHILIP NOLAN,
     "_Lieutenant in the Army of the United States._

     "He loved his country as no other man has
        loved her; but no man deserved less at
                      her hands."



IX

THE NÜRNBERG STOVE


August lived in a little town called Hall. Hall is a favourite name
for several towns in Austria and in Germany; but this one especial
little Hall, in the Upper Innthal, is one of the most charming
Old-World places that I know, and August for his part did not know any
other. It has the green meadows and the great mountains all about it,
and the gray-green glacier-fed water rushes by it. It has paved
streets and enchanting little shops that have all latticed panes and
iron gratings to them; it has a very grand old Gothic church, that has
the noblest blendings of light and shadow, and marble tombs of dead
knights, and a look of infinite strength and repose as a church should
have. Then there is the Muntze Tower, black and white, rising out of
greenery and looking down on a long wooden bridge and the broad rapid
river; and there is an old schloss which has been made into a
guard-house, with battlements and frescoes and heraldic devices in
gold and colours, and a man-at-arms carved in stone standing life-size
in his niche and bearing his date 1530. A little farther on, but close
at hand, is a cloister with beautiful marble columns and tombs, and a
colossal wood-carved Calvary, and beside that a small and very rich
chapel: indeed, so full is the little town of the undisturbed past,
that to walk in it is like opening a missal of the Middle Ages, all
emblazoned and illuminated with saints and warriors, and it is so
clean, and so still, and so noble, by reason of its monuments and its
historic colour, that I marvel much no one has ever cared to sing its
praises. The old pious heroic life of an age at once more restful and
more brave than ours still leaves its spirit there, and then there is
the girdle of the mountains all around, and that alone means strength,
peace, majesty.

In this little town a few years ago August Strehla lived with his
people in the stone-paved irregular square where the grand church
stands.

He was a small boy of nine years at that time--a chubby-faced little
man with rosy cheeks, big hazel eyes, and clusters of curls the brown
of ripe nuts. His mother was dead, his father was poor, and there were
many mouths at home to feed. In this country the winters are long and
very cold, the whole land lies wrapped in snow for many months, and
this night that he was trotting home, with a jug of beer in his numb
red hands, was terribly cold and dreary. The good burghers of Hall had
shut their double shutters, and the few lamps there were flickered
dully behind their quaint, old-fashioned iron casings. The mountains
indeed were beautiful, all snow-white under the stars that are so big
in frost. Hardly anyone was astir; a few good souls wending home from
vespers, a tired post-boy who blew a shrill blast from his tasseled
horn as he pulled up his sledge before a hostelry, and little August
hugging his jug of beer to his ragged sheepskin coat, were all who
were abroad, for the snow fell heavily and the good folks of Hall go
early to their beds. He could not run, or he would have spilled the
beer; he was half frozen and a little frightened, but he kept up his
courage by saying over and over again to himself, "I shall soon be at
home with dear Hirschvogel."

He went on through the streets, past the stone man-at-arms of the
guard-house, and so into the place where the great church was, and
where near it stood his father Karl Strehla's house, with a sculptured
Bethlehem over the doorway, and the Pilgrimage of the Three Kings
painted on its wall. He had been sent on a long errand outside the
gates in the afternoon, over the frozen fields and broad white snow,
and had been belated, and had thought he had heard the wolves behind
him at every step, and had reached the town in a great state of
terror, thankful with all his little panting heart to see the oil-lamp
burning under the first house-shrine. But he had not forgotten to call
for the beer, and he carried it carefully now, though his hands were
so numb that he was afraid they would let the jug down every moment.

The snow outlined with white every gable and cornice of the beautiful
old wooden houses; the moonlight shone on the gilded signs, the lambs,
the grapes, the eagles, and all the quaint devices that hung before
the doors; covered lamps burned before the Nativities and Crucifixions
painted on the walls or let into the wood-work; here and there, where
a shutter had not been closed, a ruddy fire-light lit up a homely
interior, with the noisy band of children clustering round the
house-mother and a big brown loaf, or some gossips spinning and
listening to the cobbler's or the barber's story of a neighbour, while
the oil-wicks glimmered, and the hearth-logs blazed, and the chestnuts
sputtered in their iron roasting-pot. Little August saw all these
things as he saw everything with his two big bright eyes that had such
curious lights and shadows in them; but he went heedfully on his way
for the sake of the beer which a single slip of the foot would make
him spill. At his knock and call the solid oak door, four centuries
old if one, flew open, and the boy darted in with his beer, and
shouted, with all the force of mirthful lungs, "Oh, dear Hirschvogel,
but for the thought of you I should have died!"

It was a large barren room into which he rushed with so much pleasure,
and the bricks were bare and uneven. It had a walnut-wood press,
handsome and very old, a broad deal table, and several wooden stools
for all its furniture; but at the top of the chamber, sending out
warmth and colour together as the lamp sheds its rays upon it, was a
tower of porcelain, burnished with all the hues of a king's peacock
and a queen's jewels, and surmounted with armed figures, and shields,
and flowers of heraldry, and a great golden crown upon the highest
summit of all.

It was a stove of 1532, and on it were the letters H.R.H., for it was
in every portion the handwork of the great potter of Nürnberg,
Augustin Hirschvogel, who put his mark thus, as all the world knows.

The stove no doubt had stood in palaces and been made for princes, had
warmed the crimson stockings of cardinals and the gold-broidered shoes
of archduchesses, had glowed in presence-chambers and lent its carbon
to help kindle sharp brains in anxious councils of state; no one knew
what it had been or done or been fashioned for; but it was a right
royal thing. Yet perhaps it had never been more useful than it was now
in this poor desolate room, sending down heat and comfort into the
troop of children tumbled together on a wolfskin at its feet, who
received frozen August among them with loud shouts of joy.

"O, dear Hirschvogel, I am so cold, so cold!" said August, kissing its
gilded lion's claws. "Is father not in, Dorothea?"

"No, dear. He is late."

Dorothea was a girl of seventeen, dark-haired and serious, and with a
sweet, sad face, for she had had many cares laid on her shoulders,
even whilst still a mere baby. She was the eldest of the Strehla
family; and there were ten of them in all. Next to her there came Jan
and Karl and Otho, big lads, gaining a little for their own living;
and then came August, who went up in the summer to the high Alps with
the farmers' cattle, but in winter could do nothing to fill his own
little platter and pot; and then all the little ones, who could only
open their mouths to be fed like young birds--Albrecht and Hilda, and
Waldo and Christof, and last of all little three-year-old Ermengilda,
with eyes like forget-me-nots, whose birth had cost them the life of
their mother.

They were of that mixed race, half Austrian, half Italian, so common
in the Tyrol; some of the children were white and golden as lilies,
others were brown and brilliant as fresh-fallen chestnuts. The father
was a good man, but weak and weary with so many to find for and so
little to do it with. He worked at the salt-furnaces, and by that
gained a few florins; people said he would have worked better and kept
his family more easily if he had not loved his pipe and a draught of
ale too well; but this had only been said of him after his wife's
death, when trouble and perplexity had begun to dull a brain never too
vigorous, and to enfeeble further a character already too yielding. As
it was, the wolf often bayed at the door of the Strehla household,
without a wolf from the mountains coming down. Dorothea was one of
those maidens who almost work miracles, so far can their industry and
care and intelligence make a home sweet and wholesome and a single
loaf seem to swell into twenty. The children were always clean and
happy, and the table was seldom without its big pot of soup once a
day. Still, very poor they were, and Dorothea's heart ached with
shame, for she knew that their father's debts were many for flour and
meat and clothing. Or fuel to feed the big stove they had always
enough without cost, for their mother's father was alive, and sold
wood and fir cones and coke, and never grudged them to his
grandchildren, though he grumbled at Strehla's improvidence and
hapless, dreamy ways.

"Father says we are never to wait for him: we will have supper, now
you have come home, dear," said Dorothea, who, however she might fret
her soul in secret as she knitted their hose and mended their shirts,
never let her anxieties cast a gloom on the children; only to August
she did speak a little sometimes, because he was so thoughtful and so
tender of her always, and knew as well as she did that there were
troubles about money--though these troubles were vague to them both,
and the debtors were patient and kindly, being neighbours all in the
old twisting streets between the guard-house and the river.

Supper was a huge bowl of soup, with big slices of brown bread
swimming in it and some onions bobbing up and down: the bowl was soon
emptied by ten wooden spoons, and then the three eldest boys slipped
off to bed, being tired with their rough bodily labour in the snow all
day, and Dorothea drew her spinning-wheel by the stove and set it
whirring, and the little ones got August down upon the old worn
wolfskin and clamoured to him for a picture or a story. For August was
the artist of the family.

He had a piece of planed deal that his father had given him, and some
sticks of charcoal, and he would draw a hundred things he had seen in
the day, sweeping each out with his elbow when the children had seen
enough of it and sketching another in its stead--faces and dogs'
heads, and men in sledges, and old women in their furs, and
pine-trees, and cocks and hens, and all sorts of animals, and now and
then--very reverently--a Madonna and Child. It was all very rough, for
there was no one to teach him anything But it was all life-like, and
kept the whole troop of children shrieking with laughter, or watching
breathless, with wide open, wondering, awed eyes.

They were all so happy: what did they care for the snow outside? Their
little bodies were warm, and their hearts merry; even Dorothea,
troubled about the bread for the morrow, laughed as she spun; and
August, with all his soul in his work, and little rosy Ermengilda's
cheek on his shoulder, glowing after his frozen afternoon, cried out
loud, smiling, as he looked up at the stove that was shedding its head
down on them all:

"Oh, dear Hirschvogel! you are almost as great and good as the sun!
No; you are greater and better, I think, because he goes away nobody
knows where all these long, dark, cold hours, and does not care how
people die for want of him; but you--you are always ready: just a
little bit of wood to feed you, and you will make a summer for us all
the winter through!"

The grand old stove seemed to smile through all its iridescent surface
at the praises of the child. No doubt the stove, though it had known
three centuries and more, had known but very little gratitude.

It was one of those magnificent stoves in enamelled faïence which so
excited the jealousy of the other potters of Nürnberg that in a body
they demanded of the magistracy that Augustin Hirschvogel should be
forbidden to make any more of them--the magistracy, happily, proving
of a broader mind, and having no sympathy with the wish of the
artisans to cripple their greater fellow.

It was of great height and breadth, with all the majolica lustre which
Hirschvogel learned to give to his enamels when he was making love to
the young Venetian girl whom he afterwards married. There was the
statue of a king at each corner, modelled with as much force and
splendour as his friend Albrecht Dürer could have given unto them on
copperplate or canvas. The body of the stove itself was divided into
panels, which had the Ages of Man painted on them in polychrome; the
borders of the panels had roses and holly and laurel and other
foliage, and German mottoes in black letter of odd Old-World
moralising, such as the old Teutons, and the Dutch after them, love to
have on their chimney-places and their drinking cups, their dishes and
flagons. The whole was burnished with gilding in many parts, and was
radiant everywhere with that brilliant colouring of which the
Hirschvogel family, painters on glass and great in chemistry as they
were, were all masters.

The stove was a very grand thing, as I say: possibly Hirschvogel had
made it for some mighty lord of the Tyrol at that time when he was an
imperial guest at Innspruck and fashioned so many things for the
Schloss Amras and beautiful Philippine Welser, the Burgher's daughter,
who gained an Archduke's heart by her beauty and the right to wear his
honors by her wit. Nothing was known of the stove at this latter day
in Hall. The grandfather Strehla, who had been a master-mason, had dug
it up out of some ruins where he was building, and, finding it without
a flaw, had taken it home, and only thought it worth finding because
it was such a good one to burn. That was now sixty years past, and
ever since then the stove had stood in the big desolate empty room,
warming three generations of the Strehla family, and having seen
nothing prettier perhaps in all its many years than the children
tumbled now in a cluster like gathered flowers at its feet. For the
Strehla children, born to nothing else, were all born to beauty; white
or brown, they were equally lovely to look upon, and when they went
into the church to mass, with their curling locks and their clasped
hands, they stood under the grim statues like cherubs flown down off
some fresco.

"Tell us a story, August," they cried, in chorus, when they had seen
charcoal pictures till they were tired; and August did as he did every
night, pretty nearly, looked up at the stove and told them what he
imagined of the many adventures and joys and sorrows of the human
being who figured on the panels from his cradle to his grave.

To the children the stove was a household god. In summer they laid a
mat of fresh moss all round it, and dressed it up with green boughs
and the numberless beautiful wild flowers of the Tyrol country. In
winter all their joys centred in it, and scampering home from school
over the ice and snow they were happy, knowing that they would soon be
cracking nuts or roasting chestnuts in the broad ardent glow of its
noble tower, which rose eight feet high above them with all its spires
and pinnacles and crowns.

Once a travelling peddler had told them that the letters on it meant
Augustin Hirschvogel, and that Hirschvogel had been a great German
potter and painter, like his father before him, in the art-sanctified
city of Nürnberg, and had made many such stoves, that were all
miracles of beauty and of workmanship, putting all his heart and his
soul and his faith into his labours, as the men of those earlier ages
did, and thinking but little of gold or praise.

An old trader, too, who sold curiosities not far from the church, had
told August a little more about the brave family of Hirschvogel, whose
houses can be seen in Nürnberg to this day; of old Veit, the first of
them, who painted the Gothic windows of St. Sebald with the marriage
of the Margravine; of his sons and of his grandsons, potters,
painters, engravers all, and chief of them great Augustin, the Luca
della Robbia of the North. And August's imagination, always quick,
had made a living personage out of these few records, and saw
Hirschvogel as though he were in the flesh walking up and down the
Maximilian-Strass in his visit to Innspruck, and maturing beautiful
things in his brain as he stood on the bridge and gazed on the
emerald-green flood of the Inn.

So the stove had got to be called Hirschvogel in the family, as if it
were a living creature, and little August was very proud because he
had been named after that famous old dead German who had had the
genius to make so glorious a thing. All the children loved the stove,
but with August the love of it was a passion; and in his secret heart
he used to say to himself, "When I am a man, I will make just such
things too, and then I will set Hirschvogel in a beautiful room in a
house that I will build myself in Innspruck just outside the gates,
where the chestnuts are, by the river: that is what I will do when I
am a man."

For August, a salt-baker's son and a little cow-keeper when he was
anything, was a dreamer of dreams, and when he was upon the high Alps
with his cattle, with the stillness and the sky around him, was quite
certain that he would live for greater things than driving the herds
up when the springtide came among the blue sea of gentians, or toiling
down in the town with wood and with timber as his father and
grandfather did every day of their lives. He was a strong and healthy
little fellow, fed on the free mountain air, and he was very happy,
and loved his family devotedly, and was as active as a squirrel and as
playful as a hare; but he kept his thoughts to himself, and some of
them went a very long way for a little boy who was only one among
many, and to whom nobody had ever paid any attention except to teach
him his letters and tell him to fear God. August in winter was only a
little, hungry schoolboy, trotting to be catechised by the priest, or
to bring the loaves from the bake-house, or to carry his father's
boots to the cobbler; and in summer he was only one of hundreds of
cow-boys, who drove the poor, half-blind, blinking, stumbling cattle,
ringing their throat-bells, out into the sweet intoxication of the
sudden sunlight, and lived up with them in the heights among the
Alpine roses, with only the clouds and the snow-summits near. But he
was always thinking, thinking, thinking, for all that; and under his
little sheepskin winter coat and his rough hempen summer shirt his
heart had as much courage in it as Hofer's ever had--great Hofer, who
is a household word in all the Innthal, and whom August always
reverently remembered when he went to the city of Innspruck and ran
out by the foaming water-mill and under the wooded height of Berg
Isel.

August lay now in the warmth of the stove and told the children
stories, his own little brown face growing red with excitement as his
imagination glowed to fever heat. That human being on the panels, who
was drawn there as a baby in a cradle, as a boy playing among flowers,
as a lover sighing under a casement, as a soldier in the midst of
strife, as a father with children round him, as a weary, old, blind
man on crutches, and, lastly, as a ransomed soul raised up by angels,
had always had the most intense interest for August, and he had made,
not one history for him, but a thousand; he seldom told them the same
tale twice. He had never seen a story-book in his life; his primer and
his mass-book were all the volumes he had. But nature had given him
Fancy, and she is a good fairy that makes up for the want of very many
things! only, alas! her wings are so very soon broken, poor thing, and
then she is of no use at all.

"It is time for you all to go to bed, children," said Dorothea,
looking up from her spinning. "Father is very late to-night; you must
not sit up for him."

"Oh, five minutes more, dear Dorothea!" they pleaded; and little rosy
and golden Ermengilda climbed up into her lap. "Hirschvogel is so
warm, the beds are never so warm as he. Cannot you tell us another
tale, August?"

"No," cried August, whose face had lost its light, now that his story
had come to an end, and who sat serious, with his hands clasped on his
knees, gazing on to the luminous arabesques of the stove.

"It is only a week to Christmas," he said, suddenly.

"Grandmother's big cakes!" chuckled little Christof, who was five
years old, and thought Christmas meant a big cake and nothing else.

"What will Santa Claus find for 'Gilda if she be good?" murmured
Dorothea over the child's sunny head; for, however hard poverty might
pinch, it could never pinch so tightly that Dorothea would not find
some wooden toy and some rosy apples to put in her little sister's
socks.

"Father Max has promised me a big goose, because I saved the calf's
life in June," said August; it was the twentieth time he had told them
so that month, he was so proud of it.

"And Aunt Maïla will be sure to send us wine and honey and a barrel of
flour; she always does," said Albrecht. Their aunt Maïla had a châlet
and a little farm over on the green slopes toward Dorf Ampas.

"I shall go up into the woods and get Hirschvogel's crown," said
August; they always crowned Hirschvogel for Christmas with pine boughs
and ivy and mountain-berries. The heat soon withered the crown; but it
was part of the religion of the day to them, as much so as it was to
cross themselves in church and raise their voices in the "O Salutaris
Hostia."

And they fell chatting of all they would do on the Christmas night,
and one little voice piped loud against another's, and they were as
happy as though their stockings would be full of golden purses and
jewelled toys, and the big goose in the soup-pot seemed to them such a
meal as kings would envy.

In the midst of their chatter and laughter a blast of frozen air and a
spray of driven snow struck like ice through the room, and reached
them even in the warmth of the old wolfskins and the great stove. It
was the door which had opened and let in the cold; it was their father
who had come home.

The younger children ran joyous to meet him. Dorothea pushed the one
wooden arm-chair of the room to the stove, and August flew to set the
jug of beer on a little round table, and fill a long clay pipe; for
their father was good to them all, and seldom raised his voice in
anger, and they had been trained by the mother they had loved to
dutifulness and obedience and a watchful affection.

To-night Karl Strehla responded very wearily to the young ones'
welcome, and came to the wooden chair with a tired step and sat down
heavily, not noticing either pipe or beer.

"Are you not well, dear father?" his daughter asked him.

"I am well enough," he answered, dully and sat there with his head
bent, letting the lighted pipe grow cold.

He was a fair, tall man, gray before his time, and bowed with labour.

"Take the children to bed," he said, suddenly, at last, and Dorothea
obeyed. August stayed behind, curled before the stove; at nine years
old, and when one earns money in the summer from the farmers, one is
not altogether a child any more, at least in one's own estimation.

August did not heed his father's silence: he was used to it. Karl
Strehla was a man of few words, and, being of weakly health, was
usually too tired at the end of the day to do more than drink his beer
and sleep. August lay on the wolfskin dreamy and comfortable, looking
up through his drooping eyelids at the golden coronets on the crest of
the great stove, and wondering for the millionth time whom it had been
made for, and what grand places and scenes it had known.

Dorothea came down from putting the little ones in their beds; the
cuckoo-clock in the corner struck eight; she looked to her father and
the untouched pipe, then sat down to her spinning, saying nothing. She
thought he had been drinking in some tavern; it had been often so with
him of late.

There was a long silence; the cuckoo called the quarter twice; August
dropped asleep, his curls falling over his face; Dorothea's wheel
hummed like a cat.

Suddenly Karl Strehla struck his hand on the table, sending the pipe
to the ground.

"I have sold Hirschvogel," he said; and his voice was husky and
ashamed in his throat. The spinning-wheel stopped. August sprang erect
out of his sleep.

"Sold Hirschvogel!" If their father had dashed the holy crucifix on
the floor at their feet and spat on it, they could not have shuddered
under the horror of a greater blasphemy.

"I have sold Hirschvogel!" said Karl Strehla, in the same husky,
dogged voice. "I have sold it to a travelling trader in such things
for two hundred florins. What would you?--I owe double that. He saw it
this morning when you were all out. He will pack it and take it to
Munich to-morrow."

Dorothea gave a low shrill cry:

"Oh, father?--the children--in midwinter!"

She turned white as the snow without; her words died away in her
throat.

August stood, half blind with sleep, staring with dazed eyes as his
cattle stared at the sun when they came out from their winter's
prison.

"It is not true. It is not true!" he muttered. "You are jesting,
father?"

Strehla broke into a dreary laugh.

"It is true. Would you like to know what is true too? that the bread
you eat, and the meat you put in this pot, and the roof you have over
your heads, are none of them paid for, have been none of them paid
for, for months and months; if it had not been for your grandfather I
should have been in prison all summer and autumn, and he is out of
patience and will do no more now. There is no work to be had; the
masters go to younger men: they say I work ill; it may be so. Who can
keep his head above water with ten hungry children dragging him down?
When your mother lived it was different. Boy, you stare at me as if I
were a mad dog. You have made a god of yon china thing. Well--it goes,
goes to-morrow. Two hundred florins, that is something. It will keep
me out of prison for a little and with the spring things may turn--"

August stood like a creature paralysed. His eyes were wide open,
fastened on his father's with terror and incredulous horror; his face
had grown as white as his sister's; his chest heaved with tearless
sobs.

"It is not true! It is not true!" he echoed stupidly. It seemed to him
that the very skies must fall, and the earth perish, if they could
take away Hirschvogel. They might as soon talk of tearing down God's
sun out of the heavens.

"You will find it true," said his father, doggedly, and angered
because he was in his own soul bitterly ashamed to have bartered away
the heirloom and treasure of his race, and the comfort and healthgiver
of his young children. "You will find it true. The dealer has paid me
half the money to-night, and will pay me the other half to-morrow when
he packs it up and takes it away to Munich. No doubt it is worth a
great deal more--at least I suppose so, as he gives that--but beggars
cannot be choosers. The little black stove in the kitchen will warm
you all just as well. Who would keep a gilded, painted thing in a poor
house like this, when one can make two hundred florins by it?
Dorothea, you never sobbed more when your mother died. What is it,
when all is said?--a bit of hardware, much too grand-looking for such
a room as this. If all the Strehlas had not been born fools it would
have been sold a century ago, when it was dug up out of the ground.
'It is a stove for a museum,' the trader said when he saw it. 'To a
museum let it go.'"

August gave a shrill shriek like a hare's when it is caught for its
death, and threw himself on his knees at his father's feet.

"Oh, father, father!" he cried, convulsively, his hands closing on
Strehla's knees, and his uplifted face blanched and distorted with
terror. "Oh, father, dear father, you cannot mean what you say? Send
_it_ away--our life, our sun, our joy, our comfort? we shall all die
in the dark and the cold. Sell _me_ rather. Sell me to any trade or
any pain you like; I will not mind. But Hirschvogel! it is like
selling the very cross off the altar! You must be in jest. You could
not do such a thing--you could not--you who have always been gentle
and good, and who have sat in the warmth here year after year with our
mother. It is not a piece of hardware, as you say; it is a living
thing, for a great man's thoughts and fancies have put life into it,
and it loves us, though we are only poor little children, and we love
it with all our hearts and souls, and up in heaven I am sure the dead
Hirschvogel knows! Oh, listen; I will go and try and get work
to-morrow; I will ask them to let me cut ice or make the paths through
the snow. There must be something I could do, and I will beg the
people we owe money to, to wait; they are all neighbours, they will be
patient. But sell Hirschvogel! oh, never! never! never! Give the
florins back to the vile man. Tell him it would be like selling the
shroud out of mother's coffin, or the golden curls off Ermengilda's
head! Oh, father, dear father! do hear me, for pity's sake!"

Strehla was moved by the boy's anguish. He loved his children, though
he was often weary of them, and their pain was pain to him. But beside
emotion, and stronger than emotion, was the anger that August roused
in him: he hated and despised himself for the barter of the heirloom
of his race, and every word of the child stung him with a stinging
sense of shame.

And he spoke in his wrath rather than in his sorrow.

"You are a little fool," he said, harshly, as they had never heard him
speak. "You rave like a play-actor. Get up and go to bed. The stove is
sold. There is no more to be said. Children like you have nothing to
do with such matters. The stove is sold, and goes to Munich to-morrow.
What is it to you? Be thankful I can get bread for you. Get on your
legs, I say, and go to bed."

Strehla took up the jug of ale as he paused, and drained it slowly as
a man who had no cares.

August sprang to his feet and threw his hair back off his face; the
blood rushed into his cheeks, making them scarlet: his great soft eyes
flamed alight with furious passion.

"You _dare_ not!" he cried, aloud, "you dare not sell it, I say! It
is not yours alone; it is ours--"

Strehla flung the emptied jug on the bricks with a force that shivered
it to atoms, and, rising to his feet, struck his son a blow that
felled him to the floor. It was the first time in all his life that he
had ever raised his hand against any one of his children.

Then he took the oil-lamp that stood at his elbow and stumbled off to
his own chamber with a cloud before his eyes.

"What has happened?" said August, a little while later, as he opened
his eyes and saw Dorothea weeping above him on the wolfskin before the
stove. He had been struck backward, and his head had fallen on the
hard bricks where the wolfskin did not reach. He sat up a moment, with
his face bent upon his hands.

"I remember now," he said, very low, under his breath.

Dorothea showered kisses on him, while her tears fell like rain.

"But, oh, dear, how could you speak so to father?" she murmured. "It
was very wrong."

"No, I was right," said August, and his little mouth, that hitherto
had only curled in laughter, curved downward with a fixed and bitter
seriousness. "How dare he? How dare he?" he muttered, with his head
sunk in his hands. "It is not his alone. It belongs to us all. It is
as much yours and mine as it is his."

Dorothea could only sob in answer. She was too frightened to speak.
The authority of their parents in the house had never in her
remembrance been questioned.

"Are you hurt by the fall dear August?" she murmured, at length, for
he looked to her so pale and strange.

"Yes--no. I do not know. What does it matter?"

He sat up upon the wolfskin with passionate pain upon his face; all
his soul was in rebellion, and he was only a child and was powerless.

"It is a sin; it is a theft; it is an infamy," he said slowly, his
eyes fastened on the gilded feet of Hirschvogel.

"Oh, August, do not say such things of father!" sobbed his sister.
"Whatever he does, _we_ ought to think it right."

August laughed aloud.

"Is it right that he should spend his money in drink?--that he should
let orders lie unexecuted?--that he should do his work so ill that no
one cares to employ him?--that he should live on grandfather's
charity, and then dare sell a thing that is ours every whit as much as
it is his? To sell Hirschvogel! Oh, dear God! I would sooner sell my
soul!"

"August!" cried Dorothea, with piteous entreaty. He terrified her, she
could not recognise her little, gay, gentle brother in those fierce
and blasphemous words.

August laughed aloud again; then all at once his laughter broke down
into bitterest weeping. He threw himself forward on the stove,
covering it with kisses, and sobbing as though his heart would burst
from his bosom.

What could he do? Nothing, nothing, nothing!

"August, dear August," whispered Dorothea piteously, and trembling all
over--for she was a very gentle girl, and fierce feeling terrified
her--"August, do not lie there. Come to bed: it is quite late. In the
morning you will be calmer. It is horrible indeed, and we shall die of
cold, at least the little ones; but if it be father's will--"

"Let me alone," said August, through his teeth, striving to still the
storm of sobs that shook him from head to foot. "Let me alone. In the
morning!--how can you speak of the morning?"

"Come to bed, dear," sighed his sister. "Oh, August, do not lie and
look like that! you frighten me. Do come to bed."

"I shall stay here."

"Here! all night!"

"They might take it in the night. Besides, to leave it _now_."

"But it is cold! the fire is out."

"It will never be warm any more, nor shall we."

All his childhood had gone out of him, all his gleeful, careless,
sunny temper had gone with it; he spoke sullenly and wearily, choking
down the great sobs in his chest. To him it was as if the end of the
world had come.

His sister lingered by him while striving to persuade him to go to his
place in the little crowded bedchamber with Albrecht and Waldo and
Christof. But it was in vain. "I shall stay here," was all he answered
her. And he stayed--all the night long.

The lamps went out; the rats came and ran across the floor; as the
hours crept on through midnight and past, the cold intensified and the
air of the room grew like ice. August did not move; he lay with his
face downward on the golden and rainbow hued pedestal of the household
treasure, which henceforth was to be cold for evermore, an exiled
thing in a foreign city in a far-off land.

Whilst yet it was dark his three elder brothers came down the stairs
and let themselves out, each bearing his lantern and going to his work
in stone-yard and timber-yard and at the salt-works. They did not
notice him; they did not know what had happened.

A little later his sister came down with a light in her hand to make
ready the house ere morning should break.

She stole up to him and laid her hand on his shoulder timidly.

"Dear August, you must be frozen. August, do look up! do speak!"

August raised his eyes with a wild, feverish, sullen look in them that
she had never seen there. His face was ashen white: his lips were like
fire. He had not slept all night; but his passionate sobs had given
way to delirious waking dreams and numb senseless trances, which had
alternated one on another all through the freezing, lonely, horrible
hours.

"It will never be warm again," he muttered, "never again!"

Dorothea clasped him with trembling hands.

"August! do you not know me!" she cried, in an agony. "I am Dorothea.
Wake up, dear--wake up! It is morning, only so dark!"

August shuddered all over.

"The morning!" he echoed.

He slowly rose up on to his feet.

"I will go to grandfather," he said, very low. "He is always good:
perhaps he could save it."

Loud blows with the heavy iron knocker of the house-door drowned his
words. A strange voice called aloud through the keyhole:

"Let me in! Quick!--there is no time to lose! More snow like this, and
the roads will be all blocked. Let me in. Do you hear? I am come to
take the great stove."

August sprang erect, his fists doubled, his eyes blazing.

"You shall never touch it!" he screamed; "you shall never touch it!"

"Who shall prevent us?" laughed a big man, who was a Bavarian, amused
at the fierce little figure fronting him.

"I!" said August "You shall never have it! you shall kill me first!"

"Strehla," said the big man, as August's father entered the room,
"you have got a little mad dog here: muzzle him."

One way and another they did muzzle him. He fought like a little
demon, and hit out right and left, and one of his blows gave the
Bavarian a black eye. But he was soon mastered by four grown men, and
his father flung him with no light hand out from the door of the back
entrance, and the buyers of the stately and beautiful stove set to
work to pack it heedfully and carry it away.

When Dorothea stole out to look for August, he was nowhere in sight.
She went back to little 'Gilda, who was ailing, and sobbed over the
child, whilst the others stood looking on, dimly understanding that
with Hirschvogel was going all the warmth of their bodies, all the
light of their hearth.

Even their father now was very sorry and ashamed; but two hundred
florins seemed a big sum to him, and, after all, he thought the
children could warm themselves quite as well at the black iron stove
in the kitchen. Besides, whether he regretted it now or not, the work
of the Nürnberg potter was sold irrevocably, and he had to stand still
and see the men from Munich wrap it in manifold wrappings and bear it
out into the snowy air to where an ox-cart stood in waiting for it.

In another moment Hirschvogel was gone--gone forever and aye.

August stood still for a time, leaning, sick and faint from the
violence that had been used to him, against the back wall of the
house. The wall looked on a court where a well was, and the backs of
other houses, and beyond them the spire of the Muntze Tower and the
peaks of the mountains.

Into the court an old neighbour hobbled for water, and, seeing the
boy, said to him:

"Child, is it true your father is selling the big painted stove?"

August nodded his head, then burst into a passion of tears.

"Well, for sure he is a fool," said the neighbour. "Heaven forgive me
for calling him so before his own child! but the stove was worth a
mint of money. I do remember in my young days, in old Anton's time
(that was your great-grandfather, my lad), a stranger from Vienna saw
it, and said that it was worth its weight in gold."

August's sobs went on their broken, impetuous course.

"I loved it! I loved it!" he moaned. "I do not care what its value
was. I loved it! _I loved it_!"

"You little simpleton!" said the old man, kindly. "But you are wiser
than your father, when all's said. If sell it he must, he should have
taken it to good Herr Steiner over at Sprüz, who would have given him
honest value. But no doubt they took him over his beer, ay, ay! but if
I were you I would do better than cry. I would go after it."

August raised his head, the tears raining down his cheeks.

"Go after it when you are bigger," said the neighbour, with a
good-natured wish to cheer him up a little. "The world is a small
thing after all: I was a travelling clockmaker once upon a time, and I
know that your stove will be safe enough whoever gets it; anything
that can be sold for a round sum is always wrapped up in cotton wool
by everybody. Ay, ay, don't cry so much; you will see your stove again
some day."

Then the old man hobbled away to draw his brazen pail full of water at
the well.

August remained leaning against the wall; his head was buzzing and his
heart fluttering with the new idea which had presented itself to his
mind. "Go after it," had said the old man. He thought, "Why not go
with it?" He loved it better than anyone, even better than Dorothea;
and he shrank from the thought of meeting his father again, his father
who had sold Hirschvogel.

He was by this time in that state of exaltation in which the
impossible looks quite natural and commonplace. His tears were still
wet on his pale cheeks, but they had ceased to fall. He ran out of the
court-yard by a little gate, and across to the huge Gothic porch of
the church. From there he could watch unseen his father's house-door,
at which were always hanging some blue-and-gray pitchers, such as are
common and so picturesque in Austria, for a part of the house was let
to a man who dealt in pottery.

He hid himself in the grand portico, which he had so often passed
through to go to mass or compline within, and presently his heart gave
a great leap, for he saw the straw-enwrapped stove brought out and
laid with infinite care on the bullock-dray. Two of the Bavarian men
mounted beside it, and the sleigh-wagon slowly crept over the snow of
the place--snow crisp and hard as stone. The noble old minster looked
its grandest and most solemn, with its dark-gray stone and its vast
archways, and its porch that was itself as big as many a church, and
its strange gargoyles and lamp-irons black against the snow on its
roof and on the pavement; but for once August had no eyes for it; he
only watched for his old friend. Then he, a little unnoticeable figure
enough, like a score of other boys in Hall, crept, unseen by any of
his brothers or sisters, out of the porch and over the shelving uneven
square, and followed in the wake of the dray.

Its course lay toward the station of the railway, which is close to
the salt-works, whose smoke at times sullies this part of clean little
Hall, though it does not do very much damage. From Hall the iron road
runs northward through glorious country to Salzburg, Vienna, Prague,
Buda, and southward over the Brenner into Italy. Was Hirschvogel going
north or south? This at least he would soon know.

August had often hung about the little station, watching the trains
come and go and dive into the heart of the hills and vanish. No one
said anything to him for idling about; people are kind-hearted and
easy of temper in this pleasant land, and children and dogs are both
happy there. He heard the Bavarians arguing and vociferating a great
deal, and learned that they meant to go too and wanted to go with the
great stove itself. But this they could not do, for neither could the
stove go by a passenger train nor they themselves go in a goods-train.
So at length they insured their precious burden for a large sum, and
consented to send it by a luggage train which was to pass through Hall
in half an hour. The swift trains seldom deign to notice the existence
of Hall at all.

August heard, and a desperate resolve made itself up in his little
mind. Where Hirschvogel went would he go. He gave one terrible thought
to Dorothea--poor, gentle Dorothea!--sitting in the cold at home, then
set to work to execute his project. How he managed it he never knew
very clearly himself, but certain it is that when the goods-train from
the north, that had come all the way from Linz on the Danube, moved
out of Hall, August was hidden behind the stove in the great covered
truck, and wedged, unseen and undreamt of by any human creature,
amidst the cases of wood-carving, of clocks and clock-work, of Vienna
toys, of Turkish carpets, of Russian skins, of Hungarian wines, which
shared the same abode as did his swathed and bound Hirschvogel. No
doubt he was very naughty, but it never occurred to him that he was
so: his whole mind and soul were absorbed in the one entrancing idea,
to follow his beloved friend and fire-king.

It was very dark in the closed truck, which had only a little window
above the door; and it was crowded, and had a strong smell in it from
the Russian hides and the hams that were in it. But August was not
frightened; he was close to Hirschvogel, and presently he meant to be
closer still; for he meant to do nothing less than get inside
Hirschvogel itself. Being a shrewd little boy, and having had by great
luck two silver groschen in his breeches-pocket, which he had earned
the day before by chopping wood, he had bought some bread and sausage
at the station of a woman there who knew him, and who thought he was
going out to his uncle Joachim's châlet above Jenbach. This he had
with him, and this he ate in the darkness and the lumbering, pounding,
thundering noise which made him giddy, as never had he been in a train
of any kind before. Still he ate, having had no breakfast, and being a
child, and half a German, and not knowing at all how or when he ever
would eat again.

When he had eaten, not as much as he wanted, but as much as he thought
was prudent (for who could say when he would be able to buy anything
more?), he set to work like a little mouse to make a hole in the
withes of straw and hay which enveloped the stove. If it had been put
in a packing-case he would have been defeated at the onset. As it was,
he gnawed, and nibbled, and pulled, and pushed, just as a mouse would
have done, making his hole where he guessed that the opening of the
stove was--the opening through which he had so often thrust the big
oak logs to feed it. No one disturbed him; the heavy train went
lumbering on and on, and he saw nothing at all of the beautiful
mountains, and shining waters, and great forests through which he was
being carried. He was hard at work getting through the straw and hay
and twisted ropes; and get through them at last he did, and found the
door of the stove, which he knew so well, and which was quite large
enough for a child of his age to slip through, and it was this which
he had counted upon doing. Slip through he did, as he had often done
at home for fun, and curled himself up there to see if he could anyhow
remain during many hours. He found that he could; air came in through
the brass fretwork of the stove; and with admirable caution in such a
little fellow he leaned out, drew the hay and straw together,
rearranged the ropes, so that no one could ever have dreamed a little
mouse had been at them. Then he curled himself up again, this time
more like a dormouse than anything else; and, being safe inside his
dear Hirschvogel and intensely cold, he went fast asleep as if he were
in his own bed at home with Albrecht, and Christof on either side of
him. The train lumbered on, stopped often and long, as the habit of
goods-trains is, sweeping the snow away with its cow-switcher, and
rumbling through the deep heart of the mountains, with its lamps aglow
like the eyes of a dog in a night of frost.

The train rolled on in its heavy, slow fashion, and the child slept
soundly, for a long while. When he did awake, it was quite dark
outside in the land; he could not see, and of course he was in
absolute darkness; and for a while he was solely frightened, and
trembled terribly, and sobbed in a quiet heart-broken fashion,
thinking of them all at home. Poor Dorothea! how anxious she would be!
How she would run over the town and walk up to grandfather's at Dorf
Ampas, and perhaps even send over to Jenbach, thinking he had taken
refuge with Uncle Joachim! His conscience smote him for the sorrow he
must be even then causing to his gentle sister; but it never occurred
to him to try and go back. If he once were to lose sight of
Hirschvogel how could he ever hope to find it again? how could he ever
know whither it had gone--north, south, east or west? The old
neighbour had said that the world was small; but August knew at least
that it must have a great many places in it; that he had seen himself
on the maps on his school-house walls. Almost any other little boy
would, I think, have been frightened out of his wits at the position
in which he found himself; but August was brave, and he had a firm
belief that God and Hirschvogel would take care of him. The
master-potter of Nürnberg was always present to his mind, a kindly,
benign, and gracious spirit, dwelling manifestly in that porcelain
tower whereof he had been the maker.

A droll fancy, you say? But every child with a soul in him has quite
as quaint fancies as this one was of August's.

So he got over his terror and his sobbing both, though he was so
utterly in the dark. He did not feel cramped at all, because the stove
was so large, and air he had in plenty, as it came through the
fretwork running round the top. He was hungry again, and again nibbled
with prudence at his loaf and his sausage. He could not at all tell
the hour. Every time the train stopped and he heard the banging,
stamping, shouting, and jangling of chains that went on, his heart
seemed to jump up into his mouth. If they should find him out!
Sometimes porters came and took away this case and the other, a sack
here, a bale there, now a big bag, now a dead chamois. Every time the
men trampled near him, and swore at each other, and banged this and
that to and fro, he was so frightened that his very breath seemed to
stop. When they came to lift the stove out, would they find him? and
if they did find him, would they kill him? That was what he kept
thinking of all the way, all through the dark hours, which seemed
without end. The goods-trains are usually very slow, and are many days
doing what a quick train does in a few hours. This one was quicker
than most, because it was bearing goods to the King of Bavaria; still,
it took all the short winter's day and the long winter's night and
half another day to go over ground that the mail-trains cover in a
forenoon. It passed great armoured Kuffstein standing across the
beautiful and solemn gorge, denying the right of way to all the foes
of Austria. It passed twelve hours later, after lying by in
out-of-the-way stations, pretty Rosenheim, that marks the border of
Bavaria. And here the Nürnberg stove, with August inside it, was
lifted out heedfully and set under a covered way. When it was lifted
out, the boy had hard work to keep in his screams; he was tossed to
and fro as the men lifted the huge thing, and the earthenware walls of
his beloved fire-king were not cushions of down. However, though they
swore and grumbled at the weight of it, they never suspected that a
living child was inside it, and they carried it out on to the platform
and set it down under the roof of the goods-shed. There it passed the
rest of the night and all the next morning, and August was all the
while within it.

The winds of early winter sweep bitterly over Rosenheim, and all the
vast Bavarian plain was one white sheet of snow. If there had not been
whole armies of men at work always clearing the iron rails of the
snow, no trains could ever have run at all. Happily for August, the
thick wrappings in which the stove was enveloped and the stoutness of
its own make screened him from the cold, of which, else, he must have
died--frozen. He had still some of his loaf, and a little--a very
little--of his sausage. What he did begin to suffer from was thirst;
and this frightened him almost more than anything else, for Dorothea
had read aloud to them one night a story of the tortures some wrecked
men had endured because they could not find any water but the salt
sea. It was many hours since he had last taken a drink from the
wooden spout of their old pump, which brought them the sparkling,
ice-cold water of the hills.

But, fortunately for him, the stove having been marked and registered
as "fragile and valuable," was not treated quite like a mere bale of
goods, and the Rosenheim stationmaster, who knew its consignees,
resolved to send it on by a passenger-train that would leave there at
daybreak. And when this train went out, in it, among piles of luggage
belonging to other travellers, to Vienna, Prague, Buda-Pest, Salzburg,
was August, still undiscovered, still doubled up like a mole in the
winter under the grass. Those words, "fragile and valuable," had made
the men lift Hirschvogel gently and with care. He had begun to get
used to his prison, and a little used to the incessant pounding and
jumbling and rattling and shaking with which modern travel is always
accompanied, though modern invention does deem itself so mightily
clever. All in the dark he was, and he was terribly thirsty; but he
kept feeling the earthenware sides of the Nürnberg giant and saying,
softly, "Take care of me; oh, take care of me, dear Hirschvogel!"

He did not say, "Take me back;" for, now that he was fairly out in the
world, he wished to see a little of it. He began to think that they
must have been all over the world in all this time that the rolling
and roaring and hissing and jangling had been about his ears; shut up
in the dark, he began to remember all the tales that had been told in
Yule round the fire at his grandfather's good house at Dorf, of gnomes
and elves and subterranean terrors, and the Erl King riding on the
black horse of night, and--and--and he began to sob and to tremble
again, and this time did scream outright. But the steam was screaming
itself so loudly that no one, had there been anyone nigh, would have
heard him; and in another minute or so the train stopped with a jar
and a jerk, and he in his cage could hear men crying aloud, "München!
München!"

Then he knew enough of geography to know that he was in the heart of
Bavaria. He had had an uncle killed in the Bayerischenwald by the
Bavarian forest guards, when in the excitement of hunting a black bear
he had overpassed the limits of the Tyrol frontier.

That fate of his kinsman, a gallant young chamois-hunter who had
taught him to handle a trigger and load a muzzle, made the very name
of Bavaria a terror to August.

"It is Bavaria! It is Bavaria!" he sobbed to the stove; but the stove
said nothing to him; it had no fire in it. A stove can no more speak
without fire than a man can see without light. Give it fire, and it
will sing to you, tell tales to you, offer you in return all the
sympathy you ask.

"It is Bavaria!" sobbed August; for it is always a name of dread
augury to the Tyroleans, by reason of those bitter struggles and
midnight shots and untimely deaths which come from those meetings of
jäger and hunter in the Bayerischenwald. But the train stopped; Munich
was reached, and August, hot and cold by turns, and shaking like a
little aspen-leaf, felt himself once more carried out on the shoulders
of men, rolled along on a truck, and finally set down, where he knew
not, only he knew he was thirsty--so thirsty! If only he could have
reached his hand out and scooped up a little snow!

He thought he had been moved on this truck many miles, but in truth
the stove had been only taken from the railway-station to a shop in
the Marienplatz. Fortunately, the stove was always set upright on its
four gilded feet, an injunction to that effect having been affixed to
its written label, and on its gilded feet it stood now in the small
dark curiosity-shop of one Hans Rhilfer.

"I shall not unpack it till Anton comes," he heard a man's voice say;
and then he heard a key grate in a lock, and by the unbroken stillness
that ensued he concluded he was alone, and ventured to peep through
the straw and hay. What he saw was a small square room filled with
pots and pans, pictures, carvings, old blue jugs, old steel armour,
shields, daggers, Chinese idols, Vienna china, Turkish rugs, and all
the art lumber and fabricated rubbish of a _bric-à-brac_ dealer's. It
seemed a wonderful place to him; but, oh! was there one drop of water
in it all? That was his single thought; for his tongue was parching,
and his throat felt on fire, and his chest began to be dry and choked
as with dust. There was not a drop of water, but there was a lattice
window grated, and beyond the window was a wide stone ledge covered
with snow. August cast one look at the locked door, darted out of his
hiding place, ran and opened the window, crammed the snow into his
mouth again and again, and then flew back into the stove, drew the hay
and straw over the place he entered by, tied the cords, and shut the
brass door down on himself. He had brought some big icicles in with
him, and by them his thirst was finally, if only temporarily,
quenched. Then he sat still in the bottom of the stove, listening
intently, wide awake, and once more recovering his natural boldness.

The thought of Dorothea kept nipping his heart and his conscience with
a hard squeeze now and then; but he thought to himself, "If I can take
her back Hirschvogel then how pleased she will be, and how little
'Gilda will clap her hands!" He was not at all selfish in his love for
Hirschvogel: he wanted it for them all at home quite as much as for
himself. There was at the bottom of his mind a kind of ache of shame
that his father--his own father--should have stripped their hearth and
sold their honour thus.

A robin had been perched upon a stone griffin sculptured on a
house-eave near. August had felt for the crumbs of his loaf in his
pocket, and had thrown them to the little bird sitting so easily on
the frozen snow.

In the darkness where he was he now heard a little song, made faint by
the stove-wall and the window-glass that was between him and it, but
still distinct and exquisitely sweet. It was the robin, singing after
feeding on the crumbs. August, as he heard, burst into tears. He
thought of Dorothea, who every morning threw out some grain or some
bread on the snow before the church. "What use is it going _there_,"
she said, "if we forget the sweetest creatures God has made?" Poor
Dorothea! Poor, good, tender, much-burdened little soul! He thought of
her till his tears ran like rain.

Yet it never once occurred to him to dream of going home. Hirschvogel
was here.

Presently the key turned in the lock of the door; he heard heavy
footsteps and the voice of the man who had said to his father, "You
have a little mad dog; muzzle him!" The voice said, "Ay, ay, you have
called me a fool many times. Now you shall see what I have gotten for
two hundred dirty florins. _Potztausend_! never did _you_ do such a
stroke of work."

Then the other voice grumbled and swore, and the steps of the two men
approached more closely, and the heart of the child went pit-a-pat,
pit-a-pat, as a mouse's does when it is on the top of a cheese and
hears a housemaid's broom sweeping near. They began to strip the stove
of its wrappings: that he could tell by the noise they made with the
hay and the straw. Soon they had stripped it wholly; that too, he
knew by the oaths and exclamations of wonder and surprise and rapture
which broke from the man who had not seen it before.

"A right royal thing! A wonderful and never-to-be-rivalled thing!
Grander than the great stove of Hohen-Salzburg! Sublime! magnificent!
matchless!"

So the epithets ran on in thick guttural voices, diffusing a smell of
lager-beer so strong as they spoke that it reached August crouching in
his stronghold. If they should open the door of the stove! That was
his frantic fear. If they should open it, it would be all over with
him. They would drag him out; most likely they would kill him, he
thought, as his mother's young brother had been killed in the Wald.

The perspiration rolled off his forehead in his agony; but he had
control enough over himself to keep quiet, and after standing by the
Nürnberg master's work for nigh an hour, praising, marvelling,
expatiating in the lengthy German tongue, the men moved to a little
distance and began talking of sums of money and divided profits, of
which discourse he could make out no meaning. All he could make out
was that the name of the king--the king--the king came over very often
in their arguments. He fancied at times they quarrelled, for they
swore lustily and their voices rose hoarse and high; but after a while
they seemed to pacify each other and agree to something, and were in
great glee, and so in these merry spirits came and slapped the
luminous sides of stately Hirschvogel, and shouted to it:

"Old Mumchance, you have brought us rare good luck! To think you were
smoking in a silly fool of a salt-baker's kitchen all these years!"

Then inside the stove August jumped up, with flaming cheeks and
clinching hands, and was almost on the point of shouting out to them
that they were the thieves and should say no evil of his father, when
he remembered, just in time, that to breathe a word or make a sound
was to bring ruin on himself and sever him forever from Hirschvogel.
So he kept quite still, and the men barred the shutters of the little
lattice and went out by the door, double-locking it after them. He had
made out from their talk that they were going to show Hirschvogel to
some great person: therefore he kept quite still and dared not move.

Muffled sounds came to him through the shutters from the streets
below--the rolling of wheels, the clanging of church-bells, and bursts
of that military music which is so seldom silent in the streets of
Munich. An hour perhaps passed by; sounds of steps on the stairs kept
him in perpetual apprehension. In the intensity of his anxiety, he
forgot that he was hungry and many miles away from cheerful, Old World
little Hall, lying by the clear gray river-water, with the ramparts of
the mountains all round.

Presently the door opened again sharply. He could hear the two
dealers' voices murmuring unctuous words, in which "honour,"
"gratitude," and many fine long noble titles played the chief parts.
The voice of another person, more clear and refined than theirs,
answered them curtly, and then, close by the Nürnberg stove and the
boy's ear, ejaculated a single "_Wunderschön_!" August almost lost his
terror for himself in his thrill of pride at his beloved Hirschvogel
being thus admired in the great city. He thought the master-potter
must be glad too.

"_Wunderschön_!" ejaculated the stranger a second time, and then
examined the stove in all its parts, read all its mottoes, gazed long
on all its devices.

"It must have been made for the Emperor Maximilian," he said at last;
and the poor little boy, meanwhile, within, was "hugged up into
nothing," as you children say, dreading that every moment he would
open the stove. And open it truly he did, and examined the brass-work
of the door; but inside it was so dark that crouching August passed
unnoticed, screwed up into a ball like a hedgehog as he was. The
gentleman shut to the door at length, without having seen anything
strange inside it; and then he talked long and low with the tradesmen,
and, as his accent was different from that which August was used to,
the child could distinguish little that he said, except the name of
the king and the word "gulden" again and again. After a while he went
away, one of the dealers accompanying him, one of them lingering
behind to bar up the shutters. Then this one also withdrew again,
double-locking the door.

The poor little hedgehog uncurled itself and dared to breathe aloud.

What time was it?

Late in the day, he thought, for to accompany the stranger they had
lighted a lamp; he had heard the scratch of the match, and through the
brass fretwork had seen the lines of light.

He would have to pass the night here, that was certain. He and
Hirschvogel were locked in, but at least they were together. If only
he could have had something to eat! He thought with a pang of how at
this hour at home they ate the sweet soup, sometimes with apples in it
from Aunt Maïla's farm orchard, and sang together, and listened to
Dorothea's reading of little tales, and basked in the glow and delight
that had beamed on them from the great Nürnberg fire-king.

"Oh, poor, poor little 'Gilda! What is she doing without the dear
Hirschvogel?" he thought. Poor little 'Gilda! she had only now the
black iron stove of the ugly little kitchen. Oh, how cruel of father!

August could not bear to hear the dealers blame or laugh at his
father, but he did feel that it had been so, so cruel to sell
Hirschvogel. The mere memory of all those long winter evenings, when
they had all closed round it, and roasted chestnuts or crab-apples in
it, and listened to the howling of the wind and the deep sound of the
church-bells, and tried very much to make each other believe that the
wolves still came down from the mountains into the streets of Hall,
and were that very minute growling at the house door--all this memory
coming on him with the sound of the city bells, and the knowledge that
night drew near upon him so completely, being added to his hunger and
his fear, so overcame him that he burst out crying for the fiftieth
time since he had been inside the stove, and felt that he would starve
to death, and wondered dreamily if Hirschvogel would care. Yes, he was
sure Hirschvogel would care. Had he not decked it all summer long with
alpine roses and edelweiss and heaths and made it sweet with thyme and
honeysuckle and great garden-lilies? Had he ever forgotten when Santa
Claus came to make it its crown of holly and ivy and wreathe it all
around?

"Oh, shelter me; save me; take care of me!" he prayed to the old
fire-king, and forgot poor little man, that he had come on this
wild-goose chase northward to save and take care of Hirschvogel!

After a time he dropped asleep, as children can do when they weep, and
little robust hill-born boys most surely do, be they where they may.
It was not very cold in this lumber-room; it was tightly shut up, and
very full of things, and at the back of it were the hot pipes of an
adjacent house, where a great deal of fuel was burnt. Moreover,
August's clothes were warm ones, and his blood was young. So he was
not cold, though Munich is terribly cold in the nights of December;
and he slept on and on--which was a comfort to him, for he forgot his
woes, and his perils, and his hunger for a time.

Midnight was once more chiming from all the brazen tongues of the
city when he awoke, and, all being still around him, ventured to put
his head out of the brass door of the stove to see why such a strange
bright light was round him.

It was a very strange and brilliant light indeed; and yet, what is
perhaps still stranger, it did not frighten or amaze him, nor did what
he saw alarm him either, and yet I think it would have done you or me.
For what he saw was nothing less than all the _bric-à-brac_ in motion.

A big jug, an Apostel-Krug, of Kruessen, was solemnly dancing a minuet
with a plump Faenza jar; a tall Dutch clock was going through a
gavotte with a spindle-legged ancient chair; a very droll porcelain
figure of Zitzenhausen was bowing to a very stiff soldier in _terre
cuite_ of Ulm; an old violin of Cremona was playing itself, and a
queer little shrill plaintive music that thought itself merry came
from a painted spinet covered with faded roses; some gilt Spanish
leather had got up on the wall and laughed; a Dresden mirror was
tripping about, crowned with flowers, and a Japanese bonze was riding
along on a griffin; a slim Venetian rapier had come to blows with a
stout Ferrara sabre, all about a little pale-faced chit of a damsel in
white Nymphenburg china; and a portly Franconian pitcher in _grès
gris_ was calling aloud, "Oh, these Italians! always at feud!" But
nobody listened to him at all. A great number of little Dresden cups
and saucers were all skipping and waltzing; the teapots, with their
broad round faces, were spinning their own lids like teetotums; the
high-backed gilded chairs were having a game of cards together; and a
little Saxe poodle, with a blue ribbon at its throat, was running from
one to another, whilst a yellow cat of Cornelis Zachtleven's rode
about on a Delft horse in blue pottery of 1489. Meanwhile the
brilliant light shed on the scene came from three silver candelabra,
though they had no candles set up in them; and, what is the greatest
miracle of all, August looked on at these mad freaks and felt no
sensation of wonder! He only, as he heard the violin and the spinet
playing, felt an irresistible desire to dance too.

No doubt his face said what he wished; for a lovely little lady, all
in pink and gold and white, with powdered hair, and high-heeled shoes,
and all made of the very finest and fairest Meissen china, tripped up
to him, and smiled, and gave him her hand, and led him out to a
minuet. And he danced it perfectly--poor little August in his thick,
clumsy shoes, and his thick, clumsy sheepskin jacket, and his rough
homespun linen, and his broad Tyrolean hat! He must have danced it
perfectly, this dance of kings and queens in days when crowns were
duly honoured, for the lovely lady always smiled benignly and never
scolded him at all, and danced so divinely herself to the stately
measures the spinet was playing that August could not take his eyes
off her till, the minuet ended, she sat down on her own white-and-gold
bracket.

"I am the Princess of Saxe-Royal," she said to him, with a benignant
smile; "and you have got through that minuet very fairly."

Then he ventured to say to her:

"Madame my princess, could you tell me kindly why some of the figures
and furniture dance and speak, and some lie up in a corner like
lumber? It does make me curious. Is it rude to ask?"

For it greatly puzzled him why, when some of the _bric-à-brac_ was all
full of life and motion, some was quite still and had not a single
thrill in it.

"My dear child," said the powdered lady, "is it possible that you do
not know the reason? Why, those silent, dull things are _imitation_."

This she said with so much decision that she evidently considered it a
condensed but complete answer.

"Imitation?" repeated August, timidly, not understanding.

"Of course! Lies, falsehoods, fabrications!" said the princess in pink
shoes, very vivaciously. "They only _pretend_ to be what we are! They
never wake up: how can they? No imitation ever had any soul in it
yet."

"Oh!" said August, humbly, not even sure that he understood entirely
yet. He looked at Hirschvogel: surely it had a royal soul within it:
would it not wake up and speak? Oh dear! how he longed to hear the
voice of his fire-king! And he began to forget that he stood by a lady
who sat upon a pedestal of gold-and-white china, with the year 1746
cut on it, and the Meissen mark.

"What will you be when you are a man?" said the little lady, sharply,
for her black eyes were quick though her red lips were smiling. "Will
you work for the _Konigliche Porcellan-Manufactur_, like my great dead
Kandler?"

"I have never thought," said August, stammering; "at least--that is--I
do wish--I do hope to be a painter, as was Master Augustin Hirschvogel
at Nürnberg."

"Bravo!" said all the real _bric-à-brac_ in one breath, and the two
Italian rapiers left off fighting to cry, "_Benone_!" For there is not
a bit of true _bric-à-brac_ in all Europe that does not know the names
of the mighty masters.

August felt quite pleased to have won so much applause, and grew as
red as the lady's shoes with bashful contentment.

"I knew all the Hirschvogel, from old Veit downwards," said a fat
_grès de Flandre_ beer-jug: "I myself was made at Nürnberg." And he
bowed to the great stove very politely, taking off his own silver
hat--I mean lid--with a courtly sweep that he could scarcely have
learned from burgomasters. The stove, however, was silent, and a
sickening suspicion (for what is such heart-break as a suspicion of
what we love?) came through the mind of August: _Was Hirschvogel only
imitation_?

"No, no, no, no!" he said to himself, stoutly: though Hirschvogel
never stirred, never spoke, yet would he keep all faith in it! After
all their happy years together, after all the nights of warmth and joy
he owed it, should he doubt his own friend and hero, whose gilt lion's
feet he had kissed in his babyhood? "No, no, no, no!" he said, again,
with so much emphasis that the Lady of Meissen looked sharply again at
him.

"No," she said, with pretty disdain; "no, believe me, they may
'pretend' forever. They can never look like us! They imitate even our
marks, but never can they look like the real thing, never can they
_chassent de race_."

"How should they?" said a bronze statuette of Vischer's "They daub
themselves green with verdigris, or sit out in the rain to get rusted;
but green and rust are not _patina_; only the ages can give that!"

"And _my_ imitations are all in primary colours, staring colours, hot
as the colours of a hostelry's sign-board!" said the Lady of Meissen,
with a shiver.

"Well, there is a _grès de Flandre_ over there, who pretends to be a
Hans Kraut, as I am," said the jug with the silver hat, pointing with
his handle to a jug that lay prone on its side in a corner. "He has
copied me as exactly as it is given to moderns to copy us. Almost he
might be mistaken for me. But yet what a difference there is! How
crude are his blues! how evidently done over the glaze are his black
letters! He has tried to give himself my very twist; but what a
lamentable exaggeration of that playful deviation in my lines which in
his becomes actual deformity!"

"And look at that," said the gilt Cordovan leather, with a
contemptuous glance at a broad piece of gilded leather spread out on a
table. "They will sell him cheek by jowl with me, and give him my
name; but look! _I_ am overlaid with pure gold beaten thin as a film
and laid on me in absolute honesty by worthy Diego de las Gorgias,
worker in leather of lovely Cordova in the blessed reign of Ferdinand
the Most Christian. _His_ gilding is one part gold to eleven other
parts of brass and rubbish, and it has been laid on him with a
brush--_a brush_--pah! of course he will be as black as a crock in a
few years' time, whilst I am as bright as when I first was made, and,
unless I am burnt as my Cordova burnt its heretics, I shall shine on
forever."

"They carve pear-wood because it is so soft, and dye it brown, and
call it _me_" said an old oak cabinet, with a chuckle.

"That is not so painful; it does not vulgarise you so much as the cups
they paint to-day and christen after _me_," said a Carl Theodor cup
subdued in hue, yet gorgeous as a jewel.

"Nothing can be so annoying as to see common gimcracks aping _me_,"
interposed the princess in the pink shoes.

"They even steal my motto, though it is Scripture," said a
_Trauerkrug_ of Regensburg in black-and-white.

"And my own dots they put on plain English china creatures!" sighed
the little white maid of Nymphenburg.

"And they sell hundreds and thousands of common china plates, calling
them after me, and baking my saints and my legends in a muffle of
to-day; it is blasphemy!" said a stout plate of Gubbio, which in its
year of birth had seen the face of Maestro Giorgio.

"That is what is so terrible in these _bric-à-brac_ places," said the
princess of Meissen. "It brings one in contact with such low,
imitative creatures; one really is safe nowhere nowadays unless under
glass at the Louvre or South Kensington."

"And they get even there," sighed the _grès de Flandre_. "A terrible
thing happened to a dear friend of mine, a _terre cuite_ of Blasius
(you know the _terres cuites_ of Blasius date from 1560). Well, he was
put under glass in a museum that shall be nameless, and he found
himself set next to his own imitation born and baked yesterday at
Frankfort, and what think you the miserable creature said to him, with
a grin? 'Old Pipeclay,' that is what he called my friend, 'the fellow
that bought _me_ got just as much commission on me as the fellow that
bought _you_, and that was all that _he_ thought about. You know it is
only the public money that goes!' And the horrid creature grinned
again till he actually cracked himself. There is a Providence above
all things, even museums."

"Providence might have interfered before, and saved the public money,"
said the little Meissen lady with the pink shoes.

"After all, does it matter?" said a Dutch jar of Haarlem, "All the
shamming in the world will not _make_ them us!"

"One does not like to be vulgarised," said the Lady of Meissen,
angrily.

"My maker, the Krabbetje,[1] did not trouble his head about that,"
said the Haarlem jar, proudly. "The Krabbetje made me for the kitchen,
the bright, clean, snow-white Dutch kitchen, well-nigh three centuries
ago, and now I am thought worthy the palace; yet I wish I were at
home; yes, I wish I could see the good Dutch vrouw, and the shining
canals, and the great green meadows dotted with the kine."

[Footnote 1: Jan Asselyn, called Krabbetje, the Little Crab, born
1610, master-potter of Delft and Haarlem.]

"Ah! if we could all go back to our makers!" sighed the Gubbio plate,
thinking of Giorgio Andreoli and the glad and gracious days of the
Renaissance: and somehow the words touched the frolicsome souls of the
dancing jars, the spinning teapots, the chairs that were playing
cards; and the violin stopped its merry music with a sob, and the
spinet sighed--thinking of dead hands.

Even the little Saxe poodle howled for a master forever lost; and only
the swords went on quarrelling, and made such a clattering noise that
the Japanese bonze rode at them on his monster and knocked them both
right over, and they lay straight and still, looking foolish, and the
little Nymphenburg maid, though she was crying, smiled and almost
laughed.

Then from where the great stove stood there came a solemn voice.

All eyes turned upon Hirschvogel, and the heart of its little human
comrade gave a great jump of joy.

"My friends," said that clear voice from the turret of Nürnberg
faïence, "I have listened to all you have said. There is too much
talking among the Mortalities whom one of themselves has called the
Windbags. Let not us be like them. I hear among men so much vain
speech, so much precious breath and precious time wasted in empty
boasts, foolish anger, useless reiteration, blatant argument, ignoble
mouthings, that I have learned to deem speech a curse, laid on man to
weaken and envenom all his undertakings. For over two hundred years I
have never spoken myself: you, I hear, are not so reticent. I only
speak now because one of you said a beautiful thing that touched me.
If we all might but go back to our makers! Ah, yes! if we might! We
were made in days when even men were true creatures, and so we, the
work of their hands, were true too. We, the begotten of ancient days,
derive all the value in us from the fact that our makers wrought at us
with zeal, with piety, with integrity, with faith--not to win fortunes
or to glut a market, but to do nobly an honest thing and create for
the honour of the Arts and God. I see amidst you a little human thing
who loves me, and in his own ignorant childish way loves Art. Now, I
want him forever to remember this night and these words; to remember
that we are what we are, and precious in the eyes of the world,
because centuries ago those who were of single mind and of pure hand
so created us, scorning sham and haste and counterfeit. Well do I
recollect my master, Augustin Hirschvogel. He led a wise and blameless
life, and wrought in loyalty and love, and made his time beautiful
thereby, like one of his own rich, many-coloured church casements,
that told holy tales as the sun streamed through them. Ah, yes, my
friends, to go back to our masters!--that would be the best that could
befall us. But they are gone, and even the perishable labours of their
lives outlive them. For many, many years I, once honoured of emperors,
dwelt in a humble house and warmed in successive winters three
generations of little, cold, hungry children. When I warmed them they
forgot that they were hungry; they laughed and told tales, and slept
at last about my feet. Then I knew that humble as had become my lot it
was one that my master would have wished for me, and I was content.
Sometimes a tired woman would creep up to me, and smile because she
was near me, and point out my golden crown or my ruddy fruit to a baby
in her arms. That was better than to stand in a great hall of a great
city, cold and empty, even though wise men came to gaze and throngs of
fools gaped, passing with flattering words. Where I go now I know
not; but since I go from that humble house where they loved me, I
shall be sad and alone. They pass so soon--those fleeting mortal
lives! Only we endure--we the things that the human brain creates. We
can but bless them a little as they glide by: if we have done that, we
have done what our masters wished. So in us our masters, being dead,
yet may speak and live."

Then the voice sank away in silence, and a strange golden light that
had shone on the great stove faded away; so also the light died down
in the silver candelabra. A soft, pathetic melody stole gently through
the room. It came from the old, old spinet that was covered with the
faded roses.

Then that sad, sighing music of a bygone day died too; the clocks of
the city struck six of the morning; day was rising over the
Bayerischenwald. August awoke with a great start, and found himself
lying on the bare bricks of the floor of the chamber; and all the
_bric-à-brac_ was lying quite still all around. The pretty Lady of
Meissen was motionless on her porcelain bracket, and the little Saxe
poodle was quiet at her side.

He rose slowly to his feet. He was very cold, but he was not sensible
of it or of the hunger that was gnawing his little empty entrails. He
was absorbed in the wondrous sight, in the wondrous sounds, that he
had seen and heard.

All was dark around him. Was it still midnight or had morning come?
Morning, surely; for against the barred shutters he heard the tiny
song of the robin.

Tramp, tramp, too, came a heavy step up the stair. He had but a moment
in which to scramble back into the interior of the great stove, when
the door opened and the two dealers entered, bringing burning candles
with them to see their way.

August was scarcely conscious of danger more than he was of cold or
hunger. A marvellous sense of courage, of security, of happiness, was
about him, like strong and gentle arms enfolding him and lifting him
upward--upward--upward! Hirschvogel would defend him.

The dealers undid the shutters, scaring the red-breast away; and then
tramped about in their heavy boots and chatted in contented voices,
and began to wrap up the stove once more in all its straw and hay and
cordage.

It never once occurred to them to glance inside. Why should they look
inside a stove that they had bought and were about to sell again for
all its glorious beauty of exterior.

The child still did not feel afraid. A great exaltation had come to
him: he was like one lifted up by his angels.

Presently the two traders called up their porters, and the stove,
heedfully swathed and wrapped and tended as though it were some sick
prince going on a journey, was borne on the shoulders of six stout
Bavarians down the stairs and out of the door into the Marienplatz.
Even behind all those wrappings August felt the icy bite of the
intense cold of the outer air at dawn of a winter's day in Munich. The
men moved the stove with exceeding gentleness and care, so that he had
often been far more roughly shaken in his big brothers' arms than he
was in his journey now; and though both hunger and thirst made
themselves felt, being foes that will take no denial, he was still in
that state of nervous exaltation which deadens all physical suffering
and is at once a cordial and an opiate. He had heard Hirschvogel
speak; that was enough.

The stout carriers tramped through the city, six of them, with the
Nürnberg fire-castle on their brawny shoulders, and went right across
Munich to the railway-station, and August in the dark recognised all
the ugly, jangling, pounding, roaring, hissing railway-noises, and
thought, despite his courage and excitement, "Will it be a _very_ long
journey?" For his stomach had at times an odd sinking sensation, and
his head often felt sadly light and swimming. If it was a very, very
long journey he felt half afraid that he would be dead or something
bad before the end, and Hirschvogel would be so lonely: that was what
he thought most about; not much about himself, and not much about
Dorothea and the house at home. He was "high strung to high emprise,"
and could not look behind him.

Whether for a long or a short journey, whether for weal or woe, the
stove with August still within it was once more hoisted up into a
great van; but this time it was not all alone, and the two dealers as
well as the six porters were all with it.

He in his darkness knew that; for he heard their voices. The train
glided away over the Bavarian plain southward; and he heard the men
say something of Berg and the Wurm-See, but their German was strange
to him, and he could not make out what these names meant.

The train rolled on, with all its fume and fuss, and roar of steam,
and stench of oil and burning coal. It had to go quietly and slowly on
account of the snow which was falling, and which had fallen all night.

"He might have waited till he came to the city," grumbled one man to
another. "What weather to stay on at Berg!"

But who he was that stayed on at Berg, August could not make out at
all.

Though the men grumbled about the state of the roads and the season,
they were hilarious and well content, for they laughed often, and,
when they swore, did so good-humouredly, and promised their porters
fine presents at New Year; and August, like a shrewd little boy as he
was, who even in the secluded Innthal had learned that money is the
chief mover of men's mirth, thought to himself, with a terrible pang:

"They have sold Hirschvogel for some great sum! They have sold him
already!"

Then his heart grew faint and sick within him, for he knew very well
that he must soon die, shut up without food and water thus; and what
new owner of the great fireplace would ever permit him to dwell in it?

"Never mind; I _will_ die," thought he; "and Hirschvogel will know
it."

Perhaps you think him a very foolish little fellow; but I do not.

It is always good to be loyal and ready to endure to the end.

It is but an hour and a quarter that the train usually takes to pass
from Munich to the Wurm-See or Lake of Starnberg but this morning the
journey was much slower, because the way was encumbered by snow. When
it did reach Possenhofen and stop, and the Nürnberg stove was lifted
out once more, August could see through the fretwork of the brass
door, as the stove stood upright facing the lake, that this Wurm-See
was a calm and noble piece of water, of great width, with low wooded
banks and distant mountains, a peaceful, serene place, full of rest.

It was now near ten o'clock. The sun had come forth; there was a clear
gray sky hereabouts; the snow was not falling, though it lay white and
smooth everywhere, down to the edge of the water, which before long
would itself be ice.

Before he had time to get more than a glimpse of the green gliding
surface, the stove was again lifted up and placed on a large boat that
was in waiting--one of those very long and huge boats which the women
in these parts use as laundries, and the men as timber-rafts. The
stove, with much labour and much expenditure of time and care, was
hoisted into this, and August would have grown sick and giddy with the
heaving and falling if his big brothers had not long used him to such
tossing about, so that he was as much at ease head, as feet, downward.
The stove, once in it safely with its guardians, the big boat moved
across the lake to Leoni. How a little hamlet on a Bavarian lake got
that Tuscan-sounding name I cannot tell; but Leoni it is. The big boat
was a long time crossing; the lake here is about three miles broad,
and these heavy barges are unwieldy and heavy to move, even though
they are towed and tugged at from the shore.

"If we should be too late!" the two dealers muttered to each other, in
agitation and alarm. "He said eleven o'clock."

"Who was he?" thought August; "the buyer, of course, of Hirschvogel."
The slow passage across the Wurm-See was accomplished at length: the
lake was placid; there was a sweet calm in the air and on the water;
there was a great deal of snow in the sky, though the sun was shining
and gave a solemn hush to the atmosphere. Boats and one little steamer
were going up and down; in the clear frosty light the distant
mountains of Zillerthal and the Algau Alps were visible;
market-people, cloaked and furred, went by on the water or on the
banks; the deep woods of the shores were black and gray and brown.
Poor August could see nothing of a scene that would have delighted
him; as the stove was now set, he could only see the old worm-eaten
wood of the huge barge.

Presently they touched the pier at Leoni.

"Now, men, for a stout mile and half! You shall drink your reward at
Christmas time," said one of the dealers to his porters, who, stout,
strong men as they were, showed a disposition to grumble at their
task. Encouraged by large promises, they shouldered sullenly the
Nürnberg stove, grumbling again at its preposterous weight, but little
dreaming that they carried within it a small, panting, trembling boy;
for August began to tremble now that he was about to see the future
owner of Hirschvogel.

"If he looks a good, kind man," he thought, "I will beg him to let me
stay with it."

The porters began their toilsome journey, and moved off from the
village pier. He could see nothing, for the brass door was over his
head, and all that gleamed through it was the clear gray sky. He had
been tilted on to his back, and if he had not been a little
mountaineer, used to hanging head-downward over crevasses, and,
moreover, seasoned to rough treatment by the hunters and guides of the
hills and the salt-workers in the town, he would have been made ill
and sick by the bruising and shaking and many changes of position to
which he had been subjected.

The way the men took was a mile and a half in length, but the road was
heavy with snow, and the burden they bore was heavier still. The
dealers cheered them on, swore at them and praised them in one breath;
besought them and reiterated their splendid promises, for a clock was
striking eleven, and they had been ordered to reach their destination
at that hour, and, though the air was so cold, the heat-drops rolled
off their foreheads as they walked, they were so frightened at being
late. But the porters would not budge a foot quicker than they chose,
and as they were not poor four-footed carriers their employers dared
not thrash them, though most willingly would they have done so.

The road seemed terribly long to the anxious tradesmen, to the
plodding porters, to the poor little man inside the stove, as he kept
sinking and rising, sinking and rising, with each of their steps.

Where they were going he had no idea, only after a very long time he
lost the sense of the fresh icy wind blowing on his face through the
brass-work above, and felt by their movements beneath him that they
were mounting steps or stairs. Then he heard a great many different
voices, but he could not understand what was being said. He felt that
his bearers paused some time, then moved on and on again. Their feet
went so softly he thought they must be moving on carpet, and as he
felt a warm air come to him he concluded that he was in some heated
chambers, for he was a clever little fellow, and could put two and two
together, though he was so hungry and so thirsty and his empty stomach
felt so strangely. They must have gone, he thought, through some very
great number of rooms, for they walked so long on and on, on and on.
At last the stove was set down again, and, happily for him, set so
that his feet were downward.

What he fancied was that he was in some museum, like that which he had
seen in the city of Innspruck.

The voices he heard were very hushed, and the steps seemed to go away,
far away, leaving him alone with Hirschvogel. He dared not look out,
but he peeped through the brass-work, and all he could see was a big
carved lion's head in ivory, with a gold crown atop. It belonged to a
velvet fauteuil, but he could not see the chair, only the ivory lion.

There was a delicious fragrance in the air--a fragrance as flowers.
"Only how can it be flowers?" thought August. "It is November!"

From afar off, as it seemed, there came a dreamy, exquisite music, as
sweet as the spinet's had been, but so much fuller, so much richer,
seeming as though a chorus of angels were singing all together. August
ceased to think of the museum; he thought of heaven. "Are we gone to
the Master?" he thought, remembering the words of Hirschvogel.

All was so still around him; there was no sound anywhere except the
sound of the far-off choral music.

He did not know it, but he was in the royal castle of Berg, and the
music he heard was the music of Wagner, who was playing in a distant
room some of the motives of "Parsival."

Presently he heard a fresh step near him, and he heard a low voice
say, close behind him, "So!" An exclamation no doubt, he thought, of
admiration and wonder at the beauty of Hirschvogel.

Then the same voice said, after a long pause, during which no doubt,
as August thought, this newcomer was examining all the details of the
wondrous fire-tower, "It was well bought; it is exceedingly beautiful!
It is most undoubtedly the work of Augustin Hirschvogel."

Then the hand of the speaker turned the round handle of the brass
door, and the fainting soul of the poor little prisoner within grew
sick with fear.

The handle turned, the door was slowly drawn open, someone bent down
and looked in, and the same voice that he had heard in praise of its
beauty called aloud, in surprise, "What is this in it? A live child!"

Then August, terrified beyond all self control, and dominated by one
master-passion, sprang out of the body of the stove and fell at the
feet of the speaker.

"Oh, let me stay! Pray, meinherr, let me stay!" he sobbed. "I have
come all the way with Hirschvogel!"

Some gentlemen's hands seized him, not gently by any means, and their
lips angrily muttered in his ear, "Little knave, peace! be quiet! hold
your tongue! It is the king!"

They were about to drag him out of the august atmosphere as if he had
been some venomous, dangerous beast come there to slay, but the voice
he had heard speak of the stove said, in kind accents, "Poor little
child! he is very young. Let him go: let him speak to me."

The word of a king is law to his courtiers: so, sorely against their
wish, the angry and astonished chamberlains let August slide out of
their grasp, and he stood there in his little rough sheepskin coat and
his thick, mud-covered boots, with his curling hair all in a tangle,
in the midst of the most beautiful chamber he had ever dreamed of, and
in the presence of a young man with a beautiful dark face, and eyes
full of dreams and fire; and the young man said to him:

"My child, how came you here, hidden in this stove? Be not afraid:
tell me the truth. I am the king."

August in an instinct of homage cast his great battered black hat with
the tarnished gold tassels down on the floor of the room, and folded
his little brown hands in supplication. He was too intensely in
earnest to be in any way abashed; he was too lifted out of himself by
his love for Hirschvogel to be conscious of any awe before any earthly
majesty. He was only so glad--so glad it was the king. Kings were
always kind; so the Tyrolese think, who love their lords.

"Oh, dear king!" he said, with trembling entreaty in his faint little
voice, "Hirschvogel was ours, and we have loved it all our lives; and
father sold it. And when I saw that it did really go from us, then I
said to myself I would go with it; and I have come all the way inside
it. And last night it spoke and said beautiful things. And I do pray
you to let me live with it, and I will go out every morning and cut
wood for it and you, if only you will let me stay beside it. No one
ever has fed it with fuel but me since I grew big enough, and it loves
me; it does indeed; it said so last night; and it said that it had
been happier with us than if it were in any palace--"

And then his breath failed him, and, as he lifted his little eager,
pale face to the young king's, great tears were falling down his
cheeks.

Now, the king liked all poetic and uncommon things, and there was that
in the child's face which pleased and touched him. He motioned to his
gentlemen to leave the little boy alone.

"What is your name?" he asked him.

"I am August Strehla. My father is Hans Strehla. We live in Hall, in
the Innthal; and Hirschvogel has been ours so long--so long!"

His lips quivered with a broken sob.

"And have you truly travelled inside this stove all the way from
Tyrol?"

"Yes," said August; "no one thought to look inside till you did."

The king laughed; then another view of the matter occurred to him.

"Who bought the stove of your father?" he inquired.

"Traders of Munich," said August, who did not know that he ought not
to have spoken to the king as to a simple citizen, and whose little
brain was whirling and spinning dizzily round its one central idea.

"What sum did they pay your father, do you know?" asked the sovereign.

"Two hundred florins," said August, with a great sigh of shame. "It
was so much money, and he is so poor, and there are so many of us."

The king turned to his gentlemen-in-waiting. "Did these dealers of
Munich come with the stove?"

He was answered in the affirmative. He desired them to be sought for
and brought before him. As one of his chamberlains hastened on the
errand, the monarch looked at August with compassion.

"You are very pale, little fellow: when did you eat last?"

"I had some bread and sausage with me; yesterday afternoon I finished
it."

"You would like to eat now?"

"If I might have a little water I would be glad; my throat is very
dry."

The king had water and wine brought for him, and cake also; but
August, though he drank eagerly, could not swallow anything. His mind
was in too great a tumult.

"May I stay with Hirschvogel?--may I stay?" he said with feverish
agitation.

"Wait a little," said the king, and asked, abruptly, "What do you wish
to be when you are a man?"

"A painter. I wish to be what Hirschvogel was--I mean the master that
made _my_ Hirschvogel."

"I understand," said the king.

Then the two dealers were brought into their sovereign's presence.
They were so terribly alarmed, not being either so innocent or so
ignorant as August was that they were trembling as though they were
being led to the slaughter, and they were so utterly astonished too at
a child having come all the way from Tyrol in the stove, as a
gentleman of the court had just told them this child had done, that
they could not tell what to say or where to look, and presented a very
foolish aspect indeed.

"Did you buy this Nürnberg stove of this little boy's father for two
hundred florins?" the king asked them; and his voice was no longer
soft and kind as it had been when addressing the child, but very
stern.

"Yes, your majesty," murmured the trembling traders.

"And how much did the gentleman who purchased it for me give to you?"

"Two thousand ducats, your majesty," muttered the dealers, frightened
out of their wits, and telling the truth in their fright.

The gentleman was not present: he was a trusted counselor in art
matters of the king's, and often made purchases for him.

The king smiled a little, and said nothing. The gentleman had made out
the price to him as eleven thousand ducats.

"You will give at once to this boy's father the two thousand gold
ducats that you received, less the two hundred Austrian florins that
you paid him," said the king to his humiliated and abject subjects.
"You are great rogues. Be thankful you are not more greatly punished."

He dismissed them by a sign to his courtiers, and to one of these gave
the mission of making the dealers of the Marienplatz disgorge their
ill-gotten gains.

August heard, and felt dazzled yet miserable. Two thousand gold
Bavarian ducats for his father! Why, his father would never need to go
any more to the salt-baking! And yet, whether for ducats or for
florins, Hirschvogel was sold just the same, and would the king let
him stay with it?--would he?

"Oh, do! oh, please do!" he murmured, joining his little brown
weather-stained hands, and kneeling down before the young monarch, who
himself stood absorbed in painful thought, for the deception so basely
practised for the greedy sake of gain on him by a trusted counsellor
was bitter to him.

He looked down on the child, and as he did so smiled once more.

"Rise up, my little man," he said, in a kind voice; "kneel only to
your God. Will I let you stay with your Hirschvogel? Yes, I will, you
shall stay at my court, and you shall be taught to be a painter--in
oils or on porcelain as you will--and you must grow up worthily, and
win all the laurels at our Schools of Art, and if when you are
twenty-one years old you have done well and bravely, then I will give
you your Nürnberg stove, or, if I am no more living, then those who
reign after me shall do so. And now go away with this gentleman, and
be not afraid, and you shall light a fire every morning in
Hirschvogel, but you will not need to go out and cut the wood."

Then he smiled and stretched out his hand; the courtiers tried to make
August understand that he ought to bow and touch it with his lips, but
August could not understand that anyhow; he was too happy. He threw
his two arms about the king's knees, and kissed his feet passionately;
then he lost all sense of where he was, and fainted away from hunger,
and tire, and emotion, and wondrous joy.

As the darkness of his swoon closed in on him, he heard in his fancy
the voice from Hirschvogel saying:

"Let us be worthy our maker!"

He is only a scholar yet, but he is a happy scholar, and promises to
be a great man. Sometimes he goes back for a few days to Hall, where
the gold ducats have made his father prosperous. In the old house-room
there is a large white porcelain stove of Munich, the king's gift to
Dorothea and 'Gilda.

And August never goes home without going into the great church and
saying his thanks to God, who blessed his strange winter's journey in
the Nürnberg stove. As for his dream in the dealers' room that night,
he will never admit that he did dream it; he still declares that he
saw it all and heard the voice of Hirschvogel. And who shall say that
he did not? for what is the gift of the poet and the artist except to
see the sights which others cannot see and to hear the sounds that
others cannot hear?



X

RAB AND HIS FRIENDS


Four-and-thirty years ago, Bob Ainslie and I were coming up Infirmary
Street from the Edinburgh High School, our heads together, and our
arms intertwisted, as only lovers and boys know how, or why.

When we got to the top of the street, and turned north, we espied a
crowd at the Tron Church. "A dog-fight!" shouted Bob, and was off; and
so was I, both of us all but praying that it might not be over before
we got up! And is not this boy-nature? and human nature too? and don't
we all wish a house on fire not to be out before we see it? Dogs like
fighting; old Isaac says they "delight" in it, and for the best of all
reasons; and boys are not cruel because they like to see the fight.
They see three of the great cardinal virtues of dog or man--courage,
endurance, and skill--in intense action. This is very different from a
love of making dogs fight, and enjoying, and aggravating, and making
gain by their pluck. A boy--be he ever so fond himself of fighting, if
he be a good boy, hates and despises all this, but he would run off
with Bob and me fast enough: it is a natural, and not wicked interest,
that all boys and men have in witnessing intense energy in action.

Does any curious and finely-ignorant woman wish to know how Bob's eye
at a glance announced a dog-fight to his brain? He did not, he could
not see the dogs fighting; it was a flash of an inference, a rapid
induction. The crowd round a couple of dogs fighting, is a crowd
masculine mainly, with an occasional active, compassionate woman,
fluttering wildly round the outside, and using her tongue and her
hands freely upon the men, as so many "brutes;" it is a crowd annular,
compact, and mobile; a crowd centripetal, having its eyes and its
heads all bent downwards and inwards, to one common focus.

Well, Bob and I are up, and find it is not over: a small thoroughbred,
white bull-terrier, is busy throttling a large shepherd's dog,
unaccustomed to war, but not to be trifled with. They are hard at it;
the scientific little fellow doing his work in great style, his
pastoral enemy fighting wildly, but with the sharpest of teeth and a
great courage. Science and breeding, however, soon had their own; the
Game Chicken, as the premature Bob called him, working his way up,
took his final grip of poor Yarrow's throat--and he lay gasping and
done for. His master, a brown, handsome, big young shepherd from
Tweedsmuir, would have liked to have knocked down any man, would
"drink up Esil, or eat a crocodile," for that part, if he had a
chance: it was no use kicking the little dog; that would only make him
hold the closer. Many were the means shouted out in mouthfuls, of the
best possible ways of ending it. "Water!" but there was none near, and
many cried for it who might have got it from the well at Blackfriars
Wynd. "Bite the tail!" and a large, vague, benevolent, middle-aged
man, more desirous than wise, with some struggle got the bushy end of
_Yarrow's_ tail into his ample mouth, and bit it with all his might.
This was more than enough for the much-enduring, much-perspiring
shepherd, who, with a gleam of joy over his broad visage, delivered a
terrific facer upon our large, vague, benevolent, middle-aged
friend--who went down like a shot.

Still the Chicken holds; death not far off. "Snuff! a pinch of
snuff!" observed a calm, highly-dressed young buck, with an eye-glass
in his eye. "Snuff, indeed!" growled the angry crowd, affronted and
glaring. "Snuff! a pinch of snuff!" again observes the buck but with
more urgency; whereon were produced several open boxes, and from a
mull which may have been at Culloden, he took a pinch, knelt down, and
presented it to the nose of the Chicken. The laws of physiology and of
snuff take their course; the Chicken sneezes, and Yarrow is free!

The young pastoral giant stalks off with Yarrow in his
arms--comforting him.

But the Bull Terrier's blood is up, and his soul unsatisfied; he grips
the first dog he meets, and discovering she is not a dog, in Homeric
phrase, he makes a brief sort of _amende_, and is off. The boys, with
Bob and me at their head, are after him: down Niddry Street he goes,
bent on mischief; up the Cowgate like an arrow--Bob and I, and our
small men, panting behind.

There, under the single arch of the South Bridge, is a huge mastiff,
sauntering down the middle of the causeway, as if with his hands in
his pockets: he is old, gray, brindled, as big as a little Highland
bull, and has the Shakespearian dewlaps shaking as he goes.

The Chicken makes straight at him, and fastens on his throat. To our
astonishment, the great creature does nothing but stand still, hold
himself up, and roar--yes, roar; a long, serious, remonstrative roar.
How is this? Bob and I are up to them. _He is muzzled_! The bailies
had proclaimed a general muzzling, and his master, studying strength
and economy mainly, had encompassed his huge jaws in a home-made
apparatus, constructed out of the leather of some ancient _breechin_.
His mouth was open as far as it could; his lips curled up in rage--a
sort of terrible grin; his teeth gleaming, ready, from out the
darkness, the strap across his mouth tense as a bowstring; his whole
frame stiff with indignation and surprise; his roar asking us all
round, "Did you ever see the like of this?" He looked a statue of
anger and astonishment, done in Aberdeen granite.

We soon had a crowd: the Chicken held on. "A knife!" cried Bob; and a
cobbler gave him his knife: you know the kind of knife, worn away
obliquely to a point, and always keen. I put its edge to the tense
leather; it ran before it; and then!--one sudden jerk of that enormous
head, a sort of dirty mist about his mouth, no noise--and the bright
and fierce little fellow is dropped, limp, and dead. A solemn pause:
this was more than any of us had bargained for. I turned the little
fellow over, and saw he was quite dead; the mastiff had taken him by
the small of the back like a rat, and broken it.

He looked down at his victim appeased, ashamed, and amazed; snuffed
him all over, stared at him, and taking a sudden thought, turned round
and trotted off. Bob took the dead dog up, and said, "John, we'll bury
him after tea." "Yes," said I, and was off after the mastiff. He made
up the Cowgate at a rapid swing; he had forgotten some engagement. He
turned up the Candlemaker Row, and stopped at the Harrow Inn.

There was a carrier's cart ready to start, and a keen thin, impatient,
black-a-vised little man, his hand at his gray horse's head, looking
about angrily for something. "Rab, ye thief!" said he, aiming a kick
at my great friend, who drew cringing up, and avoiding the heavy shoe
with more agility than dignity, and watching his master's eye, slunk
dismayed under the cart--his ears down, and as much as he had of tail
down too.

What a man this must be--thought I--to whom my tremendous hero turns
tail. The carrier saw the muzzle hanging, cut and useless, from his
neck, and I eagerly told him the story, which Bob and I always
thought, and still think, Homer, or King David, or Sir Walter alone
were worthy to rehearse. The severe little man was mitigated, and
condescended to say, "Rab, my man, puir Rabbie,"--whereupon the stump
of a tail rose up, the ears were cocked, the eyes filled, and were
comforted; the two friends were reconciled. "Hupp!" and a stroke of
the whip were given to Jess; and off went the three.

Bob and I buried the Game Chicken that night (we had not much of a
tea) in the back-green of his house in Melville Street, No. 17, with
considerable gravity and silence; and being at the time in the Iliad,
and, like all boys, Trojans, we called him Hector of course.

       *       *       *       *       *

Six years have passed--a long time for a boy and a dog: Bob Ainslie is
off to the wars; I am a medical student and clerk at Minto House
Hospital.

Rab I saw almost every week, on the Wednesday and we had much pleasant
intimacy. I found the way to his heart by frequent scratching of his
huge head, and an occasional bone. When I did not notice him he would
plant himself straight before me, and stand wagging that butt of a
tail, and looking up, with his head a little to one side. His master I
occasionally saw; he used to call me "Maister John," but was laconic
as any Spartan.

One fine October afternoon, I was leaving the hospital when I saw the
large gate open, and in walked Rab, with that great and easy saunter
of his. He looked as if taking general possession of the place; like
the Duke of Wellington entering a subdued city, satiated with victory
and peace. After him came Jess, now white from age, with her cart; and
in it a woman, carefully wrapped up--the carrier leading the horse
anxiously, and looking back. When he saw me, James (for his name was
James Noble) made a curt and grotesque "boo," and said, "Maister John,
this is the mistress; she's got a trouble in her breest--some kind o'
an income we're thinkin'."

By this time I saw the woman's face; she was sitting on a sack filled
with straw, her husband's plaid round her, and his big-coat with its
large white metal buttons over her feet.

I never saw a more unforgettable face--pale, serious, _lonely_,
delicate, sweet, without being at all what we call fine. She looked
sixty, and had on a mutch, white as snow, with its black ribbon; her
silvery, smooth hair setting off her dark-gray eyes--eyes such as one
sees only twice or thrice in a lifetime, full of suffering, full also
of the overcoming of it: her eyebrows black and delicate, and her
mouth firm, patient, and contented, which few mouths ever are.

As I have said, I never saw a more beautiful countenance or one more
subdued to settled quiet. "Ailie," said James, "this is Maister John,
the young doctor; Rab's freend, ye ken. We often speak aboot you,
doctor." She smiled, and made a movement, but said nothing; and prepared
to come down, putting her plaid aside and rising. Had Solomon, in all
his glory, been handing down the Queen of Sheba at his palace gate he
could not have done it more daintily, more tenderly, more like a
gentleman, than did James the Howgate carrier, when he lifted down Ailie
his wife. The contrast of his small, swarthy, weather-beaten, keen,
worldly face to hers--pale, subdued, and beautiful--was something
wonderful. Rab looked on concerned and puzzled, but ready for anything
that might turn up--were it to strangle the nurse, the porter, or even
me. Ailie and he seemed great friends.

"As I was sayin' she's got a kind o' trouble in her breest, doctor;
wull ye tak' a look at it?" We walked into the consulting-room, all
four; Rab grim and comic, willing to be happy and confidential if
cause could be shown, willing also to be the reverse, on the same
terms. Ailie sat down, undid her open gown and her lawn handkerchief
round her neck, and without a word, showed me her right breast. I
looked at and examined it carefully--she and James watching me, and
Rab eyeing all three. What could I say? there it was, that had once
been so soft, so shapely, so white, so gracious and bountiful, so
"full of all blessed conditions,"--hard as a stone, a centre of horrid
pain, making that pale face with its gray, lucid, reasonable eyes, and
its sweet resolved mouth, express the full measure of suffering
overcome. Why was that gentle, modest, sweet woman, clean and lovable,
condemned by God to bear such a burden?

I got her away to bed. "May Rab and me bide?" said James. "_You_ may;
and Rab, if he will behave himself." "I'se warrant he's do that,
doctor;" and in slank the faithful beast. I wish you could have seen
him. There are no such dogs now. He belonged to a lost tribe. As I
have said, he was brindled and gray like Rubislaw granite; his hair
short, hard, and close, like a lion's; his body thick set like a
little bull--a sort of compressed Hercules of a dog. He must have
been ninety pounds' weight, at the least; he had a large blunt head;
his muzzle black as night, his mouth blacker than any night, a tooth
or two--being all he had--gleaming out of his jaws of darkness. His
head was scarred with the records of old wounds, a sort of series of
fields of battle all over it; one eye out, one ear cropped as close as
was Archbishop Leighton's father's; the remaining eye had the power of
two; and above it, and in constant communication with it, was a
tattered rag of an ear, which was forever unfurling itself, like an
old flag; and then that bud of a tail, about one inch long, if it
could in any sense be said to be long, being as broad as long--the
mobility, the instantaneousness of that bud were very funny and
surprising, and its expressive twinklings and winkings, the
intercommunications between the eye, the ear, and it, were of the
oddest and swiftest.

Rab had the dignity and simplicity of great size; and having fought
his way along the road to absolute supremacy, he was as mighty in his
own line as Julius Cæsar or the Duke of Wellington, and had the
gravity of all great fighters.

You must have often observed the likeness of certain men to certain
animals, and of certain dogs to men. Now, I never looked at Rab
without thinking of the great Baptist preacher, Andrew Fuller. The
same large, heavy, menacing, combative, sombre, honest countenance,
the same deep inevitable eye, the same look--as of thunder asleep, but
ready--neither a dog nor a man to be trifled with.

Next day, my master, the surgeon, examined Ailie. There was no doubt
it must kill her, and soon. It could be removed--it might never
return--it would give her speedy relief--she should have it done. She
curtsied, looked at James, and said, "When?" "To-morrow," said the
kind surgeon--a man of few words. She and James and Rab and I retired.
I noticed that he and she spoke little, but seemed to anticipate
everything in each other. The following day, at noon, the students
came in, hurrying up the great stair. At the first landing-place, on a
small well-known blackboard, was a bit of paper fastened by wafers,
and many remains of old wafers beside it. On the paper were the
words--"An operation to-day. J.B. _Clerk_."

Up ran the youths, eager to secure good places: in they crowded, full
of interest and talk. "What's the case?" "Which side is it?"

Don't think them heartless; they are neither better nor worse than you
or I; they get over their professional horrors, and into their proper
work--and in them pity--as an _emotion_, ending in itself or at best
in tears and a long-drawn breath, lessens, while pity as a _motive_,
is quickened, and gains power and purpose. It is well for poor human
nature that it is so.

The operating theatre is crowded; much talk and fun, and all the
cordiality and stir of youth. The surgeon with his staff of assistants
is there. In comes Ailie: one look at her quiets and abates the eager
students. That beautiful old woman is too much for them; they sit
down, and are dumb, and gaze at her. These rough boys feel the power
of her presence. She walks in quickly, but without haste; dressed in
her mutch, her neckerchief, her white dimity short-gown, her black
bombazine petticoat, showing her white worsted stockings and her
carpet-shoes. Behind her was James with Rab. James sat down in the
distance, and took that huge and noble head between his knees. Rab
looked perplexed and dangerous; forever cocking his ear and dropping
it as fast.

Ailie stepped up on a seat, and laid herself on the table as her
friend the surgeon told her; arranged herself, gave a rapid look at
James, shut her eyes, rested herself on me, and took my hand. The
operation was at once begun; it was necessarily slow; and
chloroform--one of God's best gifts to his suffering children--was
then unknown. The surgeon did his work. The pale face showed its pain,
but was still and silent. Rab's soul was working within him; he saw
that something strange was going on--blood flowing from his mistress,
and she suffering; his ragged ear was up, and importunate; he growled
and gave now and then a sharp impatient yelp; he would have liked to
have done something to that man. But James had him firm, and gave him
a _glower_ from time to time, and an intimation of a possible
kick;--all the better for James, it kept his eye and his mind off
Ailie.

It is over: she is dressed, steps gently and decently down from the
table, looks for James; then, turning to the surgeon and the students,
she curtsies--and in a low, clear voice, begs their pardon if she has
behaved ill. The students--all of us--wept like children; the surgeon
happed her up carefully--and, resting on James and me, Ailie went to
her room, Rab following. We put her to bed. James took off his heavy
shoes, crammed with tackets, heel-capt and toe-capt, and put them
carefully under the table, saying, "Maister John, I'm for nane o'yer
strynge nurse bodies for Ailie. I'll be her nurse, and I'll gang aboot
on my stockin' soles as canny as pussy." And so he did; and handy and
clever, and swift and tender as any woman, was that horny-handed,
snell, peremptory little man. Everything she got he gave her: he
seldom slept; and often I saw his small shrewd eyes out of the
darkness, fixed on her. As before, they spoke little.

Rab behaved well, never moving, showing us how meek and gentle he
could be, and occasionally, in his sleep, letting us know that he was
demolishing some adversary. He took a walk with me every day,
generally to the Candlemaker Row; but he was sombre and mild; declined
doing battle, though some fit cases offered, and indeed submitted to
sundry indignities; and was always very ready to turn, and came faster
back, and trotted up the stair with much lightness, and went straight
to that door.

Jess, the mare, had been sent, with her weather-worn cart, to Howgate,
and had doubtless her own dim and placid meditations and confusions,
on the absence of her master and Rab, and her unnatural freedom from
the road and her cart.

For some days Ailie did well. The wound healed "by the first
intention;" for as James said, "Oor Ailie's skin's ower clean to
beil." The students came in quiet and anxious, and surrounded her bed.
She said she liked to see their young, honest faces. The surgeon
dressed her, and spoke to her in his own short kind way, pitying her
through his eyes, Rab and James outside the circle--Rab being now
reconciled, and even cordial, and having made up his mind that as yet
nobody required worrying, but, as you may suppose, _semper paratus_.

So far well: but, four days after the operation, my patient had a
sudden and long shivering, a "groosin'," as she called it. I saw her
soon after; her eyes were too bright, her cheek coloured; she was
restless, and ashamed of being so; the balance was lost; mischief had
begun. On looking at the wound, a blush of red told the secret: her
pulse was rapid, her breathing anxious and quick, she wasn't herself,
as she said, and was vexed at her restlessness. We tried what we
could; James did everything, was everywhere; never in the way, never
out of it; Rab subsided under the table into a dark place, and was
motionless, all but his eye, which followed every one. Ailie got
worse; began to wander in her mind, gently; was more demonstrative in
her ways to James, rapid in her questions, and sharp at times. He was
vexed, and said, "She was never that way afore; no, never." For a time
she knew her head was wrong, and was always asking our pardon--the
dear, gentle old woman: then delirium set in strong, without pause.
Her brain gave way, and then came that terrible spectacle--

     "The intellectual power, through words and things,
      Went sounding on its dim and perilous way."

she sang bits of old songs and Psalms, stopping suddenly, mingling the
Psalms of David and the diviner words of his Son and Lord, with homely
odds and ends and scraps of ballads.

Nothing more touching, or in a sense more strangely beautiful, did I
ever witness. Her tremulous, rapid, affectionate, eager, Scotch
voice--the swift, aimless, bewildered mind, the baffled utterance, the
bright and perilous eye; some wild words, some household cares,
something for James, the names of the dead, Rab called rapidly and in
a "fremyt" voice, and he starting up surprised, and slinking off as if
he were to blame somehow, or had been dreaming he heard; many eager
questions and beseechings which James and I could make nothing of, and
on which she seemed to set her all, and then sink back ununderstood.
It was very sad, but better than many things that are not called sad.
James hovered about, put out and miserable, but active and exact as
ever; read to her when there was a lull, short bits from the Psalms,
prose and metre, chanting the latter in his own rude and serious way,
showing great knowledge of the fit words, bearing up like a man, and
doating over her as his "ain Ailie." "Ailie, ma woman!" "Ma ain bonnie
wee dawtie!"

The end was drawing on: the golden bowl was breaking; the silver cord
was fast being loosed--that _animula blandula, vagula, hospes,
comesque_, was about to flee. The body and the soul--companions for
sixty years--were being sundered, and taking leave. She was walking
alone, through the valley of that shadow, into which one day we must
all enter--and yet she was not alone, for we know whose rod and staff
were comforting her.

One night she had fallen quiet, and as we hoped, asleep; her eyes were
shut. We put down the gas and sat watching her. Suddenly she sat up in
bed, and taking a bed-gown which was lying on it rolled up, she held
it eagerly to her breast--to the right side. We could see her eyes
bright with a surprising tenderness and joy, bending over this bundle
of clothes. She held it as a woman holds her sucking child; opening
out her night-gown impatiently, and holding it close, and brooding
over it, and murmuring foolish little words, as over one whom his
mother comforteth, and who sucks and is satisfied. It was pitiful and
strange to see her wasted dying look, keen and yet vague--her immense
love.

"Preserve me!" groaned James, giving way. And then she rocked back and
forward, as if to make it sleep, hushing it, and wasting on it her
infinite fondness. "Wae's me, doctor; I declare she's thinkin' it's
that bairn." "What bairn?" "The only bairn we ever had; our wee Mysie,
and she's in the Kingdom, forty years and mair." It was plainly true:
the pain in the breast, telling its urgent story to a bewildered,
ruined brain, was misread and mistaken; it suggested to her the
uneasiness of a breast full of milk and then the child; and so again
once more they were together and she had her ain wee Mysie in her
bosom.

This was the close. She sank rapidly: the delirium left her; but as,
she whispered, she was "clean silly;" it was the lightening before the
final darkness. After having for some time lain still--her eyes shut,
she said "James!" He came close to her, and lifting up her calm,
clear, beautiful eyes, she gave him a long look, turned to me kindly
but shortly, looked for Rab but could not see him, then turned to her
husband again, as if she would never leave off looking, shut her eyes,
and composed herself. She lay for some time breathing quick, and
passed away so gently, that when we thought she was gone, James, in
his old-fashioned way, held the mirror to her face. After a long
pause, one small spot of dimness was breathed out; it vanished away,
and never returned, leaving the blank clear darkness of the mirror
without a stain. "What is our life? it is even a vapour, which
appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

Rab all this time had been full awake and motionless; he came forward
beside us: Ailie's hand, which James had held, was hanging down, it
was soaked with his tears; Rab licked it all over carefully, looked at
her, and returned to his place under the table.

James and I sat, I don't know how long, but for some time--saying
nothing: he started up abruptly, and with some noise went to the
table, and putting his right fore and middle fingers each into a shoe,
pulled them out, and put them on, breaking one of the leather
latchets, and muttering in anger, "I never did the like o' that
afore!"

I believe he never did; nor after either. "Rab!" he said roughly, and
pointing with his thumb to the bottom of the bed. Rab leapt up and
settled himself; his head and eye to the dead face. "Maister John,
ye'll wait for me," said the carrier; and disappeared in the darkness,
thundering downstairs in his heavy shoes. I ran to a front window;
there he was, already round the house, and out at the gate, fleeing
like a shadow.

I was afraid about him, and yet not afraid; so I sat down beside Rab,
and being wearied, fell asleep. I awoke from a sudden noise outside.
It was November, and there had been a heavy fall of snow. Rab was _in
statu quo_; he heard the noise too, and plainly knew it, but never
moved. I looked out; and there, at the gate, in the dim morning--for
the sun was not up--was Jess and the cart--a cloud of steam rising
from the old mare. I did not see James; he was already at the door,
and came up the stairs and met me. It was less than three hours since
he left, and he must have posted out--who knows how?--to Howgate, full
nine miles off; yoked Jess, and driven her astonished into town. He
had an armful of blankets and was streaming with perspiration. He
nodded to me, spread out on the floor two pairs of clean old blankets
having at their corners, "A.G., 1794," in large letters in red
worsted. These were the initials of Alison Græme, and James may have
looked in at her from without--himself unseen but not unthought
of--when he was "wat, wat, and weary," and after having walked many a
mile over the hills, may have seen her sitting, while "a' the lave
were sleepin';" and by the firelight working her name on the blankets
for her ain James's bed.

He motioned Rab down, and taking his wife in his arms, laid her in the
blankets, and happed her carefully and firmly up, leaving the face
uncovered; and then lifting her, he nodded again sharply to me, and
with a resolved but utterly miserable face, strode along the passage,
and downstairs, followed by Rab. I followed with a light; but he
didn't need it. I went out, holding stupidly the candle in my hand in
the calm frosty air; we were soon at the gate. I could have helped
him, but I saw he was not to be meddled with, and he was strong, and
did not need it. He laid her down as tenderly, as safely, as he had
lifted her out ten days before--as tenderly as when he had her first
in his arms when she was only "A.G."--sorted her, leaving that
beautiful sealed face open to the heavens; and then taking Jess by the
head, he moved away. He did not notice me, neither did Rab, who
presided behind the cart.

I stood till they passed through the long shadow of the College, and
turned up Nicholson Street. I heard the solitary cart sound through
the streets, and die away and come again; and I returned, thinking of
that company going up Libberton Brae, then along Roslin Muir, the
morning light touching the Pentlands and making them like on-looking
ghosts; then down the hill through Auchindinny woods, past "haunted
Woodhouselee"; and as daybreak came sweeping up the bleak Lammermuirs,
and fell on his own door, the company would stop, and James would take
the key, and lift Ailie up again, laying her on her own bed, and,
having put Jess up, would return with Rab and shut the door.

James buried his wife, with his neighbours mourning, Rab inspecting
the solemnity from a distance. It was snow, and that black ragged hole
would look strange in the midst of the swelling spotless cushion of
white. James looked after everything; then rather suddenly fell ill,
and took to bed; was insensible when the doctor came, and soon died. A
sort of low fever was prevailing in the village, and his want of
sleep, his exhaustion, and his misery, made him apt to take it. The
grave was not difficult to reopen. A fresh fall of snow had again made
all things white and smooth; Rab once more looked on, and slunk home
to the stable.

And what of Rab? I asked for him next week of the new carrier who got
the goodwill of James's business, and was now master of Jess and her
cart. "How's Rab?" He put me off, and said rather rudely, "What's
_your_ business wi' the dowg?" I was not to be so put off. "Where's
Rab?" He, getting confused and red, and intermeddling with his hair,
said, "'Deed, sir, Rab's deid." "Dead! what did he die of?" "Weel,
sir," said he, getting redder, "he didna exactly dee; he was killed. I
had to brain him wi' a rack-pin; there was nae doin' wi' him. He lay
in the treviss wi' the mear, and wadna come oot. I tempit him wi' kail
and meat, but he wad tak naething, and keepit me frae feedin' the
beast, and he was aye gur gurrin', and grup gruppin' me by the legs. I
was laith to make awa wi' the auld dowg, his like wasna atween this
and Thornhill--but, 'deed, sir, I could do naething else." I believed
him. Fit end for Rab, quick and complete. His teeth and his friends
gone, why should he keep the peace, and be civil?



XI

PETER RUGG, THE MISSING MAN[2]


Sir--Agreeably to my promise, I now relate to you all the particulars
of the lost man and child which I have been able to collect. It is
entirely owing to the humane interest you seemed to take in the
report, that I have pursued the inquiry to the following result.

You may remember that business called me to Boston in the summer of
1820. I sailed in the packet to Providence, and when I arrived there I
learned that every seat in the stage was engaged. I was thus obliged
either to wait a few hours or accept a seat with the driver, who
civilly offered me that accommodation. Accordingly I took my seat by
his side, and soon found him intelligent and communicative.

When we had travelled about ten miles, the horses suddenly threw their
ears on their necks, as flat as a hare's. Said the driver, "Have you a
surtout with you?" "No," said I; "why do you ask?" "You will want one
soon," said he; "do you observe the ears of all the horses?" "Yes, and
was just about to ask the reason." "They see the storm-breeder, and we
shall see him soon." At this moment there was not a cloud visible in
the firmament. Soon after a small speck appeared in the road. "There,"
said my companion, "comes the storm-breeder; he always leaves a Scotch
mist behind him. By many a wet jacket do I remember him. I suppose the
poor fellow suffers much himself, much more than is known to the
world." Presently a man with a child beside him, with a large black
horse, and a weather-beaten chair, once built for a chaise body,
passed in great haste, apparently at the rate of twelve miles an hour.
He seemed to grasp the reins of his horse with firmness, and appeared
to anticipate his speed. He seemed dejected, and looked anxiously at
the passengers, particularly at the stage-driver and myself. In a
moment after he passed us, the horses' ears were up and bent
themselves forward so that they nearly met. "Who is that man?" said I;
"he seems in great trouble." "Nobody knows who is he, but his person
and the child are familiar to me. I have met them more than a hundred
times, and have been so often asked the way to Boston by that man,
even when he was travelling directly from that town, that of late I
have refused any communication with him, and that is the reason he
gave me such a fixed look." "But does he never stop anywhere?" "I have
never known him to stop anywhere longer than to inquire the way to
Boston; and, let him be where he may, he will tell you he cannot stay
a moment, for he must reach Boston that night."

We were now ascending a high hill in Walpole, and as we had a fair
view of the heavens, I was rather disposed to jeer the driver for
thinking of his surtout, as not a cloud as big as a marble could be
discerned. "Do you look," said he, "in the direction whence the man
came, that is the place to look; the storm never meets him, it follows
him." We presently approached another hill, and when at the height,
the driver pointed out in an eastern direction a little black speck as
big as a hat. "There," said he, "is the seed storm; we may possibly
reach Polley's before it reaches us, but the wanderer and his child
will go to Providence through rain, thunder, and lightning." And now
the horses, as though taught by instinct, hastened with increased
speed. The little black cloud came on rolling over the turnpike, and
doubled and trebled itself in all directions. The appearance of this
cloud attracted the notice of all the passengers; for after it had
spread itself to a great bulk, it suddenly became more limited in
circumference, grew more compact, dark, and consolidated. And now the
successive flashes of chain lightning caused the whole cloud to appear
like a sort of irregular network, and displayed a thousand fantastic
images. The driver bespoke my attention to a remarkable configuration
in the cloud; he said every flash of lightning near its centre
discovered to him distinctly the form of a man sitting in an open
carriage drawn by a black horse. But in truth I saw no such thing. The
man's fancy was doubtless at fault. It is a very common thing for the
imagination to paint for the senses, both in the visible and invisible
world.

In the meantime the distant thunder gave notice of a shower at hand,
and just as we reached Polley's tavern the rain poured down in
torrents. It was soon over, the cloud passing in the direction of the
turnpike toward Providence. In a few moments after, a
respectable-looking man in a chaise stopped at the door. The man and
child in the chair having excited some little sympathy among the
passengers, the gentleman was asked if he had observed them. He said
he had met them; that the man seemed bewildered, and inquired the way
to Boston; that he was driving at great speed, as though he expected
to outstrip the tempest; that the moment he had passed him a
thunderclap broke distinctly over the man's head and seemed to envelop
both man and child, horse and carriage. "I stopped," said the
gentleman, "supposing the lightning had struck him, but the horse only
seemed to loom up and increase his speed, and, as well as I could
judge, he travelled just as fast as the thunder cloud." While this
man was speaking, a peddler with a cart of tin merchandise came up,
all dripping; and, on being questioned, he said he had met that man
and carriage, within a fortnight, in four different States; that at
each time he had inquired the way to Boston; and that a thunder shower
like the present had each time deluged him, his wagon and his wares,
setting his tin pots, etc., afloat, so that he had determined to get
marine insurance done for the future. But that which excited his
surprise most was the strange conduct of his horse, for that, long
before he could distinguish the man in the chair, his own horse stood
still in the road and flung back his ears. "In short," said the
peddler, "I wish never to see that man and horse again; they do not
look to me as if they belonged to this world."

This is all that I could learn at that time; and the occurrence soon
after would have become with me like one of those things which had
never happened, had I not, as I stood recently on the doorstep of
Bennett's Hotel in Hartford, heard a man say, "There goes Peter Rugg
and his child! he looks wet and weary, and farther from Boston than
ever." I was satisfied it was the same man that I had seen more than
three years before; for whoever has once seen Peter Rugg can never
after be deceived as to his identity. "Peter Rugg!" said I, "and who
is Peter Rugg?" "That," said the stranger, "is more than anyone can
tell exactly. He is a famous traveller, held in light esteem by all
inn-holders, for he never stops to eat, drink, or sleep. I wonder why
the Government does not employ him to carry the mail." "Ay," said a
bystander, "that is a thought bright only on one side. How long would
it take, in that case, to send a letter to Boston? For Peter has
already, to my knowledge, been more than twenty years travelling to
that place." "But," said I, "does the man never stop anywhere, does
he never converse with anyone? I saw the same man more than three
years since, near Providence, and I heard a strange story about him.
Pray, sir, give me some account of this man." "Sir," said the
stranger, "those who know the most respecting that man say the least.
I have heard it asserted that heaven sometimes sets a mark on a man,
either for judgment or trial. Under which Peter Rugg now labours I
cannot say; therefore I am rather inclined to pity than to judge."
"You speak like a humane man," said I, "and if you have known him so
long, I pray you will give me some account of him. Has his appearance
much altered in that time?" "Why, yes; he looks as though he never
ate, drank, or slept; and his child looks older than himself; and he
looks like time broke off from eternity and anxious to gain a
resting-place." "And how does his horse look?" said I. "As for his
horse, he looks fatter and gayer, and shows more animation and
courage, than he did twenty years ago. The last time Rugg spoke to me
he inquired how far it was to Boston. I told him just one hundred
miles. 'Why,' said he, 'how can you deceive me so? It is cruel to
deceive a traveller. I have lost my way. Pray direct me the nearest
way to Boston.' I repeated it was one hundred miles. 'How can you say
so?' said he. 'I was told last evening it was but fifty, and I have
travelled all night.' 'But,' said I, 'you are now travelling from
Boston. You must turn back.' 'Alas!' said he, 'it is all turn back!
Boston shifts with the wind, and plays all around the compass. One man
tells me it is to the east, another to the west; and the guide-posts,
too, they all point the wrong way.' 'But will you not stop and rest?'
said I; 'you seem wet and weary.' 'Yes,' said he, 'it has been foul
weather since I left home.' 'Stop, then, and refresh yourself.' 'I
must not stop, I must reach home to-night, if possible, though I
think you must be mistaken in the distance to Boston.' He then gave
the reins to his horse, which he restrained with difficulty, and
disappeared in a moment. A few days afterwards I met the man a little
this side of Claremont, winding around the hills in Unity, at the
rate, I believe, of twenty miles an hour."

"Is Peter Rugg his real name, or has he accidentally gained that
name?" "I know not, but presume he will not deny his name; you can ask
him, for see, he has turned his horse and is passing this way." In a
moment a dark-coloured, high-spirited horse approached, and would have
passed without stopping, but I had resolved to speak to Peter Rugg, or
whoever the man might be. Accordingly. I stepped into the street, and
as the horse approached I made a feint of stopping him. The man
immediately reined in his horse. "Sir," said I, "may I be so bold as
to inquire if you are not Mr. Rugg? for I think I have seen you
before." "My name is Peter Rugg," said he; "I have unfortunately lost
my way; I am wet and weary, and will take it kindly of you to direct
me to Boston." "You live in Boston, do you, and in what street?" "In
Middle Street." "When did you leave Boston?" "I cannot tell precisely;
it seems a considerable time." "But how did you and your child become
so wet? it has not rained here to-day." "It has just rained a heavy
shower up the river. But I shall not reach Boston to-night if I tarry.
Would you advise me to take the old road, or the turnpike?" "Why, the
old road is one hundred and seventeen miles, and the turnpike is
ninety-seven." "How can you say so? you impose on me; it is wrong to
trifle with a traveller; you know it is but forty miles from
Newburyport to Boston." "But this is not Newburyport; this is
Hartford." "Do not deceive me, sir. Is not this town Newburyport, and
the river that I have been following the Merrimac?" "No, sir; this is
Hartford, and the river the Connecticut." He wrung his hands and
looked incredulous. "Have the rivers, too, changed their courses as
the cities have changed places? But see, the clouds are gathering in
the south, and we shall have a rainy night. Ah, that fatal oath!" He
would tarry no longer. His impatient horse leaped off, his hind flanks
rising like wings--he seemed to devour all before him and to scorn all
behind.

I had now, as I thought, discovered a clue to the history of Peter
Rugg, and I determined, the next time my business called me to Boston,
to make a further inquiry. Soon after I was enabled to collect the
following particulars from Mrs. Croft, an aged lady in Middle Street,
who has resided in Boston during the last twenty years. Her narration
is this: The last summer a person, just at twilight, stopped at the
door of the late Mrs. Rugg. Mrs. Croft, on coming to the door,
perceived a stranger, with a child by his side, in an old,
weather-beaten carriage, with a black horse. The stranger asked for
Mrs. Rugg, and was informed that Mrs. Rugg had died, at a good old
age, more than twenty years before that time. The stranger replied,
"How can you deceive me so? do ask Mrs. Rugg to step to the door."
"Sir, I assure you Mrs. Rugg has not lived here these nineteen years;
no one lives here but myself, and my name is Betsey Croft." The
stranger paused, and looked up and down the street and said, "Though
the painting is rather faded, this looks like my house." "Yes," said
the child, "that is the stone before the door that I used to sit on to
eat my bread and milk." "But," said the stranger, "it seems to be on
the wrong side of the street. Indeed, everything here seems to be
misplaced. The streets are all changed, the people are all changed,
the town seems changed, and, what is strangest of all, Catharine Rugg
has deserted her husband and child." "Pray," said the stranger, "has
John Foy come home from sea? He went a long voyage; he is my kinsman.
If I could see him, he could give me some account of Mrs. Rugg."
"Sir," said Mrs. Croft, "I never heard of John Foy. Where did he
live?" "Just above here, in Orange-Tree Lane." "There is no such place
in this neighbourhood." "What do you tell me! Are the streets gone?
Orange-Tree Lane is at the head of Hanover Street, near Pemberton's
Hill." "There is no such lane now." "Madam! you cannot be serious. But
you doubtless know my brother, William Rugg. He lives in Royal
Exchange Lane, near King Street." "I know of no such lane; and I I am
sure there is no such street as King Street in this town." "No such
street as King Street? Why, woman! you mock me. You may as well tell
me there is no King George. However, madam, you see I am wet and
weary. I must find a resting place. I will go to Hart's tavern, near
the market." "Which market, sir? for you seem perplexed; we have
several markets." "You know there is but one market, near the town
dock." "Oh, the old market. But no such man as Hart has kept there
these twenty years."

Here the stranger seemed disconcerted, and muttered to himself quite
audibly: "Strange mistake! How much this looks like the town of
Boston! It certainly has a great resemblance to it; but I perceive my
mistake now. Some other Mrs. Rugg, some other Middle Street." Then
said he, "Madam, can you direct me to Boston?" "Why, this is Boston,
the city of Boston. I know of no other Boston." "City of Boston it may
be, but it is not the Boston where I live. I recollect now, I came
over a bridge instead of a ferry. Pray what bridge is that I just came
over?" "It is Charles River Bridge." "I perceive my mistake; there is
a ferry between Boston and Charlestown, there is no bridge. Ah, I
perceive my mistake. If I was in Boston, my horse would carry me
directly to my own door. But my horse shows by his impatience that he
is in a strange place. Absurd, that I should have mistaken this place
for the old town of Boston! It is a much finer city than the town of
Boston. It has been built long since Boston. I fancy Boston must lie
at a distance from this city, as the good woman seems ignorant of it."
At these words his horse began to chafe, and strike the pavement with
his fore feet; the stranger seemed a little bewildered, and said "No
home to-night," and, giving the reins to his horse, passed up the
street, and I saw no more of him.

It was evident that the generation to which Peter Rugg belonged had
passed away.

This was all the account of Peter Rugg I could obtain from Mrs. Croft;
but she directed me to an elderly man, Mr. James Felt, who lived near
her, and who had kept a record of the principal occurrences for the
last fifty years. At my request she sent for him; and, after I had
related to him the object of my inquiry, Mr. Felt told me he had known
Rugg in his youth; that his disappearance had caused some surprise;
but as it sometimes happens that men run away, sometimes to be rid of
others, and sometimes to be rid of themselves; and as Rugg took his
child with him, and his own horse and chair; and as it did not appear
that any creditors made a stir, the occurrence soon mingled itself in
the stream of oblivion; and Rugg and his child, horse and chair, were
soon forgotten. "It is true," said Mr. Felt, "sundry stories grew out
of Rugg's affair, whether true or false I cannot tell; but stranger
things have happened in my day, without even a newspaper notice."
"Sir," said I, "Peter Rugg is now living. I have lately seen Peter
Rugg and his child, horse and chair; therefore I pray you to relate to
me all you know or ever heard of him." "Why, my friend," said James
Felt, "that Peter Rugg is now a living man I will not deny; but that
you have seen Peter Rugg and his child is impossible, if you mean a
small child, for Jenny Rugg, if living, must be at least--let me
see--Boston Massacre, 1770--Jenny Rugg was about ten years old. Why,
sir, Jenny Rugg if living must be more than sixty years of age. That
Peter Rugg is living is highly probable, as he was only ten years
older than myself; and I was only eighty last March, and I am as
likely to live twenty years longer as any man." Here I perceived that
Mr. Felt was in his dotage, and I despaired of gaining any
intelligence from him on which I could depend.

I took my leave of Mrs. Croft, and proceeded to my lodgings at the
Marlborough Hotel.

If Peter Rugg, thought I, has been travelling since the Boston
Massacre, there is no reason why he should not travel to the end of
time. If the present generation know little of him, the next will know
less, and Peter and his child will have no hold on this world.

In the course of the evening I related my adventure in Middle Street.
"Ha!" said one of the company, smiling, "do you really think you have
seen Peter Rugg? I have heard my grandfather speak of him as though he
seriously believed his own story." "Sir," said I, "pray let us compare
your grandfather's story of Mr. Rugg with my own." "Peter Rugg, sir,
if my grandfather was worthy of credit, once lived in Middle Street,
in this city. He was a man in comfortable circumstances, had a wife
and one daughter, and was generally esteemed for his sober life and
manners. But unhappily his temper at times was altogether
ungovernable, and then his language was terrible. In these fits of
passion, if a door stood in his way he would never do less than kick a
panel through. He would sometimes throw his heels over his head, and
come down on his feet, uttering oaths in a circle. And thus, in a
rage, he was the first who performed a somerset, and did what others
have since learned to do for merriment and money. Once Rugg was seen
to bite a tenpenny nail in halves. In those days everybody, both men
and boys, wore wigs; and Peter, at these moments of violent passion,
would become so profane that his wig would rise up from his head. Some
said it was on account of his terrible language; others accounted for
it in a more philosophical way, and said it was caused by the
expansion of his scalp, as violent passion, we know, will swell the
veins and expand the head. While these fits were on him, Rugg had no
respect for heaven or earth. Except this infirmity, all agreed that
Rugg was a good soft of a man; for when his fits were over, nobody was
so ready to commend a placid temper as Peter.

"It was late in autumn, one morning, that Rugg, in his own chair, with
a fine large bay horse, took his daughter and proceeded to Concord. On
his return a violent storm overtook him. At dark he stopped in
Menotomy (now West Cambridge), at the door of a Mr. Cutter, a friend
of his, who urged him to tarry overnight. On Rugg's declining to stop,
Mr. Cutter urged him vehemently. 'Why, Mr. Rugg,' said Cutter, 'the
storm is overwhelming you; the night is exceeding dark; your little
daughter will perish; you are in an open chair, and the tempest is
increasing.' '_Let the storm increase_,' said Rugg, with a fearful
oath, '_I will see home to-night, in spite of the last tempest! or may
I never see home_.' At these words he gave his whip to his
high-spirited horse, and disappeared in a moment. But Peter Rugg did
not reach home that night, nor the next; nor, when he became a missing
man, could he ever be traced beyond Mr. Cutter's in Menotomy. For a
long time after, on every dark and stormy night, the wife of Peter
Rugg would fancy she heard the crack of a whip, and the fleet tread of
a horse, and the rattling of a carriage, passing her door. The
neighbours, too, heard the same noises, and some said they knew it was
Rugg's horse; the tread on the pavement was perfectly familiar to
them. This occurred so repeatedly that at length the neighbours
watched with lanterns, and saw the real Peter Rugg, with his own horse
and chair, and child sitting beside him, pass directly before his own
door, his head turning toward his house, and himself making every
effort to stop his horse, but in vain. The next day the friends of
Mrs. Rugg exerted themselves to find her husband and child. They
inquired at every public house and stable in town; but it did not
appear that Rugg made any stay in Boston. No one, after Rugg had
passed his own door, could give any account of him; though it was
asserted by some that the clatter of Rugg's horse and carriage over
the pavements shook the houses on both sides of the street. And this
is credible, if, indeed, Rugg's horse and carriage did pass on that
night. For at this day, in many of the streets, a loaded truck or team
in passing will shake the houses like an earthquake. However, Rugg's
neighbours never afterward watched again; some of them treated it all
as a delusion, and thought no more of it. Others, of a different
opinion, shook their heads and said nothing. Thus Rugg and his child,
horse and chair, were soon forgotten; and probably many in the
neighbourhood never heard a word on the subject.

"There was indeed a rumour that Rugg afterward was seen in
Connecticut, between Suffield and Hartford, passing through the
country like a streak of chalk. This gave occasion to Rugg's friends
to make further inquiry. But the more they inquired, the more they
were baffled. If they heard of Rugg one day in Connecticut, the next
day they heard of him winding around the hills in New Hampshire; and
soon after, a man in a chair, with a small child, exactly answering
the description of Peter Rugg, would be seen in Rhode Island,
inquiring the way to Boston.

"But that which chiefly gave a colour of mystery to the story of Peter
Rugg was the affair at Charlestown bridge. The toll-gatherer asserted
that sometimes, on the darkest and most stormy nights, when no object
could be discerned about the time Rugg was missing, a horse and
wheelcarriage, with a noise equal to a troop, would at midnight, in
utter contempt of the rates of toll, pass over the bridge. This
occurred so frequently that the toll-gatherer resolved to attempt a
discovery. Soon after, at the usual time, apparently the same horse
and carriage approached the bridge from Charlestown square. The
toll-gatherer, prepared, took his stand as near the middle of the
bridge as he dared, with a large three-legged stool in his hand. As
the appearance passed, he threw the stool at the horse, but heard
nothing except the noise of the stool skipping across the bridge. The
toll-gatherer on the next day asserted that the stool went directly
through the body of the horse, and he persisted in that belief ever
after. Whether Rugg, or whoever the person was, ever passed the bridge
again, the toll-gatherer would never tell; and when questioned, seemed
anxious to waive the subject. And thus Peter Rugg and his child, horse
and carriage, remain a mystery to this day."

This, sir, is all that I could learn of Peter Rugg in Boston....

[Footnote 2: From Jonathan Dunwell of New York, to Mr. Herman Krauff.]





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