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Title: The Banished - A Swabian Historical Tale. In Three Volumes.
Author: Hauff, Wilhelm, 1802-1827
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Banished - A Swabian Historical Tale. In Three Volumes." ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

1. Page scan source:
   http://www.archive.org/details/banishedtrfroml00haufgoog

2. Numbering of chapters is in error starting with chapter XIII.
   The Chapter number XIII. is duplicated; therefore all numbers
   after XIII. are short by one.

3. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                             THE BANISHED:

                                   A

                        SWABIAN HISTORICAL TALE.



                               EDITED BY
                           JAMES MORIER, ESQ.

                       AUTHOR OF HAJII BABA, &c.



                            IN THREE VOLUMES.
                                VOL. I.



                                 LONDON,
                        HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
                        GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
                               *   *   *
                                  1839.



                LONDON: PRINTED BY J. B. NICHOLS AND SON,
                         25, PARLIAMENT STREET.



                            EDITOR'S NOTICE.


The Editor feels that he stands very much in the same position as the
man who plies at the door of the exhibition of some historical picture
or panorama, and who is ready to assure his visitors that the
exhibition is quite worthy their notice, and that they will neither
lose their time nor their money in inspecting it. Although, in this
instance, he really has no other merit than that of being trumpeter to
the show, yet he can in honesty assert, that, what he has been called
upon to read he sincerely approves, and maintains that the translator
of this work merits the approbation and patronage of the public for
having brought to its notice, and adapted to its reading, a story full
of historical interest, of graphic incidents, of good moral tendency,
and true in the illustration of the national manners of Germany in the
sixteenth century.

                                                       J. M.

London, March 25, 1839.



                       THE TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.


The tale of THE BANISHED has been taken from a German work;[1] but
though considerable freedom has been used in the translation from the
original text; the subject matter has been closely followed. It appears
from the preface of M. Hauff, the author of this work, that his aim
was to give an account of an event which took place in his own country,
together with a faithful description of the national manners and
customs of the period of which he treats; and being written at the time
when the author of Waverley was as yet only known as the "Great
Unknown," it would seem that M. Hauff, impelled by the fascination of
his writings, has adopted him as his model, as may be seen from the
following extract from his introductory chapter: "Thanks to the happy
pencil of the renowned novelist, who has painted in such lively colours
the green banks of the Tweed, the Highlands of Scotland, old England's
merry day, and the romantic poverty of Wales, all classes among us read
his admirable works with avidity, rendered into our language in
faithful translations, and realizing to our minds historical events
which happened some six or seven hundred years back. Such is the effect
produced by these writings, that we shall be as well, if not better,
acquainted with the histories of those countries than if we had
investigated them ourselves with the most learned research. The Great
Unknown--having opened the stores of his chronicles, and brought in
review before our wondering eyes image after image, in almost endless
succession--has, by the power of his magic, taught us that we are
likely to become better versed in the details of Scotland's history
than our own; and by its means also has made us feel less intimate with
the religious and secular transactions our own country in past ages,
than with those of the Presbyterians and Episcopalians of Albion.

"But we naturally ask ourselves in what consists the enchantment by
which the great magician has so wonderfully drawn our attention towards
the mountainous district of his own land? Are the Scottish hills
clothed with a hue of brighter green than the Harz or Taunus mountains,
or the heights of the Black Forest? Do the blue waters of the Tweed
reflect a more brilliant colour than the Neckar or Danube; or do its
banks surpass those of the Rhine in beautiful landscape? May be, that
Scotland is gifted with a race of men possessing qualities of greater
interest than we can boast of in Germany; and that the blood which
flowed in the veins of their ancestors was of a deeper hue than that of
Swabians and Saxons of olden times; or again, that their women are more
engaging, and their maidens more beautiful, than the daughters of
Germany?

"We have reason to doubt all these superior advantages, and believe
that the magic of the Great Unknown consists principally in placing
before the reader historical facts which his fertile genius has
faithfully dressed up in the manners and costumes of the day in which
they took place. With the same view our object has been to bring to
light an event of our own country; in which we have been guided by
historical truth alone."

The translator having visited the spot where one of the principal
scenes of the narrative took place, his attention was drawn to the
original work, as giving a faithful description of its locality, and
containing an interesting account of an important occurrence in Swabian
history.

On Whitsunday, 1832, he formed one of a large concourse of people
assembled from all parts of the country, dressed in their gayest
colours and costumes, to join in the procession, which, headed by the
King of Würtemberg in person, with all his family, met for the express
purpose, as is generally the case every year on the same day, to visit
the "Nebelhöhle, or misty cavern, and the rock of Lichtenstein." This
spot, celebrated from the circumstances which the reader will become
acquainted with in the course of the narrative, is situated near the
town of Reutlingen, about thirty miles from Stuttgardt, in a country
full of picturesque beauties, and worthy of itself, as an object of
natural curiosity, to attract the attention of the traveller. The
translator cannot but hope, that when it is better known, which,
through the means of the following pages, he flatters himself may be
the case, that the beaten track pursued by the tourist on the Rhine may
find variety by a visit to the rock of Lichtenstein, and to the
Nebelhöhle; and that he thus may have been the means of producing that
greatest of desiderata to the desultory traveller, viz. "an object."

FOOTNOTE TO THE "TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE":

[Footnote 1: Lichtenstein.]



                              INTRODUCTION


     "His varied life is toss'd on Faction's wave,
      A leader now, and now a party's slave;
      And shall his character a waverer's seem?
      If that's a fault, impute it not to him;
      He play'd a stake, and fortune threw the die;
      So look upon him with a brother's eye.
      We would for him an interest create,
      His own his virtues, and his faults his fate."
                                                   SCHILLER.

The events which are recorded in the following pages, took place in
that part of Southern Germany situated between the mountainous district
of the Alb and the Black Forest. That portion of territory is bounded
by the former on the north-west, by a long chain of hills of unequal
height and breadth, extending southward, whilst the forest, commencing
from the sources of the Danube, stretches uninterruptedly to the banks
of the Rhine. Being composed of woods of black pine, it forms a dark
background to the beautiful picture produced by a luxuriant country,
rich in vineyards and watered by the Neckar, which flows through it.

This country, which is the "Würtemberg" treated of in these volumes,
was originally of small compass. Its previous history, which is
enveloped in darkness, tells us that it rose through various
conflicting struggles to its present position among the neighbouring
states. When we reflect on the time when it was surrounded by such
powerful frontier neighbours as the Stauffens, the Dukes of Teck and
the Counts of Zollern, we are astonished that its name should still
exist as a nation; for the repeated storms of internal as well as
external violence often threatened to erase it from the annals of
history. There was a time, indeed, when the head of the reigning family
was, to all appearance, driven for ever from the halls of his
ancestors. Duke Ulerich von Würtemberg being obliged to fly his country
and seek shelter in painful exile from the fury of his enemies, left
his castles in the possession of foreign masters, his lands being
occupied by their mercenaries. Little more was wanting to complete the
extinction of the name of Würtemberg, than the parcelling out of the
spoil of its blooming fields among the many, or the whole becoming a
province of the house of Austria.

Among the many events related by the Swabians of their country and
their ancestors, there is none more fraught with romantic interest than
the struggles of that period, which are closely connected with the
extraordinary fate of their unfortunate prince. We have attempted to
bring them to life again, as they have been related to us on the
heights of Lichtenstein and the banks of the Neckar, at the risk,
however, of being misapprehended. We shall probably be told that the
character of Ulerich[1] is one not fit to be exhibited in a favourable
point of view in an historical romance. He has been calumniated in many
instances, and it has been even the custom, when reviewing the long
list of Dukes of Würtemberg, to pass over in silence the descendant
between Eberhard[2] and Christoph, and to look upon him with a kind of
horror, as if the troubles of a country were to be attributed solely to
the conduct of its ruler, or that it were better to bury in oblivion
the days of its misfortunes.

It may, however, be a question, whether the condemnation pronounced on
the name of Ulerich, by his bitterest enemy Ulerich von Hutten, has not
been exaggerated; for, to say the least of it, he was too much a party
concerned to be trusted as an impartial judge. The voice which the Duke
and his family raised in vindication of his innocence of the crimes
imputed to him, having been too feeble to withstand the accusations and
calumnies of his enemies, contained in the flagitious publication
"Philippica in Ducem Ulericum," has been silenced by the revolutions of
time.

We have conscientiously compared most of the contemporaneous writers of
that most boisterous period, and have not met with one who absolutely
condemns him. It is but just to keep in view the powerful influence
which time and circumstances produce upon the minds of men. Ulerich von
Würtemberg was brought up under the guardianship of bad counsellors,
who, for the purpose of making him subservient to their views, fostered
the evil propensities of his mind. As he took the reins of government
into his own hands when boyhood is scarcely ripened into youth, justice
at least compels us to make allowances, and though we cannot extenuate
the outrages he committed during the course of his career, we are bound
to look to the noble side of his character, in which we shall discover
strength of mind and undaunted courage, in circumstances of extreme
difficulty.

The year 1519, the date of our narrative, decided his fate and saw the
beginning of his misfortunes. Posterity, however, may date it as the
era of his prosperity; for, having passed through the ordeal of a long
banishment, in which he learnt to know himself, he came out of it a
wiser man and a more powerful Prince. From that period fortune favoured
him, and each Würtemberger has cause to prize the latter years of his
government, esteeming the religious reformation which this prince
effected in his country, as the greatest blessing conferred on his
countrymen.

The public mind, in the year 1519, was still in a state of great
excitement. The insurrection of "poor Conrad,[3]" six years before, had
been partially quelled, though with difficulty. The country people in
many places still shewed symptoms of discontent. The Duke, among his
many failings, had not the method of gaining the affections of his
subjects, for they were oppressed by his men in office, under his own
eye, and burdened with accumulated taxes to satisfy the wants of the
court. The Swabian League, composed of a formidable confederacy of
princes, counts, knights, and free cities of Swabia and Franconia,
formed originally for the mutual protection of their rights, was
treated with contempt by the Duke, particularly owing to his refusal to
become a member of it. His frontier neighbours, therefore, watched his
actions with the eye of enmity, appearing to wait for an opportunity to
let him feel the weight of the power which he had despised. Neither was
the Emperor Maximilian, who reigned at that period; very well inclined
towards him, since he was suspected of having supported the knight Götz
von Berlichingen, for the purpose of avenging himself on the Elector of
Mains.

A coolness had subsisted for some time between him and the Duke of
Bavaria, his brother-in-law, a powerful neighbour, owing to his having
ill-treated his wife Sabina, the Duke's sister. Added to that (and
which hastened his downfall) was the supposed murder of a Franconian
knight who lived at his court. Chronicles of undoubted authority
mention, that the intimacy between Johann yon Hutten and Sabina was
such that the Duke could not behold it with indifference. One day at a
hunt, the Duke taxed him with, and upbraided him for his treacherous
conduct, and calling upon him to defend his life, run him through the
body. The family of Hutten, and particularly Ulerich, Johann's cousin,
raised their voices against the supposed murderer; and their complaints
and the cry of vengeance resounded throughout Germany. The Duchess
also, whose imperious querulous temper had, even as a bride, irritated
the Duke, now broke all ties with him; and flying with the aid of
Dieterich von Spät, appeared before the Emperor as his accuser and
bitterest enemy. Agreements between the contending parties were
concluded and not held; peaceable adjustments of their grievances were
no sooner proposed than broken off again. The Duke's troubles augmented
from month to month; but his proud mind would not bend to submission,
for he believed himself in the right. The Emperor died in the midst of
these altercations. He was a prince who had manifested much forbearance
and mildness of character towards Ulerich, in spite of the many
complaints of his enemies. The Duke lost in him an impartial judge, to
whom he could alone look for aid in his present troubles.

The funeral service for the Emperor was being performed in the Castle
of Stuttgardt, when a messenger suddenly arrived, seeking the Duke,
with the intelligence that some people of the imperial town of
Reutlingen, which lay within his frontier, had slain the administrator
of his woods and forests on the Achalm. The townsfolk had, on some
former occasion, insulted him very keenly. He entertained a bitter
hatred of them; and this circumstance now gave him an opportunity to
satisfy his revenge. Easily excited by anger, he sprang upon his horse,
ordered the drums to beat the alarm throughout the country, besieged
the city, and gaining possession of it, compelled its inhabitants to
swear allegiance to him, whereby the imperial town became part of
Würtemberg.

This was the signal for the Swabian League to assemble their forces,
Reutlingen being a member of the confederacy. Difficult as it might
otherwise have been to summon these princes, counts, and cities
together, they did not hesitate, in the present instance, to obey the
call, for hatred and revenge form a strong cement. In vain did Ulerich
defend his conduct by written proclamations; in vain did he attempt to
justify it in the defence of his rights; the army of the League
assembled in Ulm, and threatened his country with invasion.

Such was the state of affairs in Würtemberg at the commencement of the
year 1519. There was no doubt of the Duke gaining many adherents, could
he have maintained the superiority in the field; but woe to him if he
were discomfited by the League. There was too heavy a debt of revenge
to be paid before he could expect mercy at their hands.

All eyes in Germany looked anxiously to the result of this contest.
They essayed to pierce the curtain of fate, and to prognosticate what
the coming days were likely to bring forth, whether Würtemberg or the
League should remain master of the field. The following pages will
withdraw this curtain, and expose the principal characters, who took a
leading part, in due order; and we trust the eye of the reader will not
turn away too soon fatigued with the narrative.

It surely is not an uninteresting occupation to peruse, in our days, an
historical tale of olden times; and therefore it is our hope, as it has
been our aim, to excite the interest of our readers in one, the events
of which, though they occurred in so secluded a spot as the Swabian
Alb, and in the remote, but delightful, vallies of the Neckar, we trust
that the few hours spent in their perusal will not be thrown away.

Germany is not less rife in romantic events than other countries;
and she can likewise draw largely upon the history of civil strife,
equally interesting to our mind, as those recorded in the pages of more
well-known states. We have, consequently, ventured to unroll an
historical Swabian painting, which, if it does not exhibit the bold
outline of figures, the same enchanting composition of landscape--if
the colouring be less brilliant, and the pencilling less clearly
defined--than the works of other authors, the artist may safely shelter
himself under its historical truth, to make up for the deficiencies of
composition.


FOOTNOTES TO THE "INTRODUCTION":

[Footnote 1: Ulerich von Würtemberg was born in 1487, was invested in
1498 as Duke, with a Co-regency, which he dissolved in his sixteenth
year, and reigned alone from the year 1508. He died in 1550.]

[Footnote 2: Eberhard with the beard was born in 1445, and died 1469.
He was the first Duke of Würtemberg, and founded the University of
Tübingen in 1477. Christoph, born in 1515, and died in 1568, was a
prince whose remembrance is not only blessed in Würtemberg, but also in
all Germany. He was the founder of the constitution of Würtemberg.]

[Footnote 3: So called from the name of a poor peasant, who headed his
oppressed fellow-sufferers, in an insurrection for the redress of their
wrongs, calling themselves the "League of poor Conrad."]



                             THE BANISHED.



                               CHAPTER I.

            What means the drum, that deeply rolls?
              What means this warlike cry?
            I'll to the casement, tho' my soul's
              Misgivings tell me why.
                                          L. UHLAND.

After a succession of gloomy days the imperial town of Ulm, on the 12th
of March 1519, at length was enlivened by a fine bright morning. Mists
from the Danube, which at such a season generally hung heavily over the
town, had on this occasion been dispelled before noon by the sun, and
as it rose, the view of the plain on the opposite side of the river
became gradually clearer and more extended. The narrow, cold streets,
inclosed by their dark gable-ended houses, were also lighted up more
bright than usual, and shone with a brilliancy and cheerfulness which
accorded well with the festive appearance of the town on that day. The
main street, called the Herdbrucker street, leading from the Danube
gate to the town hall, was on this morning thronged with people, whose
heads were so closely packed on either side against the houses (like
stones of a wall) that they left but a narrow passage through the
middle. A hollow murmur, the indication of great expectation, which
issued from the crowd, was only occasionally interrupted by a loud
laugh, caused by the severity of the city guard, celebrated for its
strictness and its antiquity, who, using their long halberds, pushed
back with appropriate rudeness whoever was unfortunate enough to be
squeezed out of his place into the middle of the street; or perchance
by some wag, who, by way of joke, would exclaim, "Here they come, here
they come!" causing disappointment to the anxious assemblage of
spectators.

The throng was still more dense in the spot where the termination of
the Herdbrucker street enters the square before the town hall. It was
there that the different trades were posted; the guild of boatmen, with
their masters at their head, the weavers, the carpenters, the brewers,
all displaying their banners and the emblems of their vocation, were
drawn up, clad in their Sunday dresses and well armed.

But if the multitude in the streets presented a jovial holiday
spectacle, much more was that the case in the lofty surrounding houses.
Well dressed women and young girls crowded the windows, which were
adorned with many-coloured carpets and floating drapery, giving to the
whole an appearance of beautiful paintings set in splendid frames.

The corner bow-window of the house of Hans von Besserer presented the
greatest attraction. Within it stood two young maidens, each strikingly
conspicuous by their uncommon beauty, but so much differing in looks,
height, and dress, that whoever remarked them from the street, might
remain some time in doubt to which to give the preference.

Both appeared to be under eighteen years of age: the tallest of the two
was delicately made; rich auburn hair encircled a fine open forehead,
the vaulted arch of her dark eyebrows, the placid blue eye, the
delicately turned mouth, the soft colour of her cheek, were unrivalled.
She altogether formed a picture, which, among the beauties of the
present day, would not have failed to be distinguished; but in those
times, when a higher colour, upon a face partaking of the form of an
apple, was more admired, it was principally by her graceful demeanor
that she drew attention.

The other, smaller, and possessing in a greater degree the attractive
qualities suited to the times, was one of those thoughtless, merry
beings, who are conscious that they possess the power of pleasing. Her
brilliant fair hair, according to the fashion of the ladles of Ulm,
fell in long braids behind and in ringlets in front, and was partly
covered by a neat white cap, full of small tasteful plaits. Her round
fresh face was ever in motion: her lively eyes, still more restless,
wandered through the crowd below; and her laughing mouth, exhibiting at
every moment a set of beautiful teeth, evidently showed that objects
were not wanting, among the numerous groups and figures of adventurers,
upon which to exercise the playfulness of her wit.

Behind them stood a large, broad-shouldered, elderly man, with deep,
stern features, thick eyebrows, long thin beard, already sprinkled with
grey hairs, and his dress so entirely black, that its hue contrasted
strangely with the rich and lively colours of those about him. He wore
a thoughtful, almost a sorrowful look, scarcely ever relaxing into one
more cheerful, excepting when a momentary gleam of kindness would shoot
through his countenance, like a flash of lightning, at some happy
remark of the merry fair one. This group, so varied in colours and
dress as well as in character, attracted much of the attention of the
bystanders immediately beneath them. Many an eye gazed upon the pretty
girls, whose fascinating appearance helped to beguile the time of the
idle and staring multitude, now growing impatient to witness the sight
for which they were assembled.

The time was now approaching the hour of noon. The crowd became
restless at the long delay, and manifested an increased impatience, by
pressing and pushing upon each other in rather a turbulent manner;
whilst here and there, tired of standing, several of the more sober
members of the trades seated themselves on the ground. When, however,
the report of three guns, fired from the fort on the hill on the
furthermost side of the river, and the sound of the cathedral bells in
deep tones began to echo over the town, order was speedily restored
throughout the anxious ranks.

"They are coming, Bertha, they are coming!" said the fair girl in the
balcony window, and put her arm around the waist of her companion, as
she stretched out her neck to the utmost.

The house of the Herrn von Besserer formed the corner of the forenamed
street, having a window on one side of it looking towards the Danube
gate, and another on the other side commanding a view of the town hall,
by which means the party were in a good position to see the expected
sight.

The space between the two rows of the people was, in the meantime, with
difficulty kept sufficiently open by the town guards. Anxious stillness
now reigned throughout the immense crowd, whilst the deep tolling of
the bells alone broke the silence.

The deadened sound of drums, blended with the shrill clang of trumpets,
was shortly after heard, and a long brilliant train of horsemen moved
slowly through the gate. The appearance of the town drummers and
trumpeters, and the mounted body of the sons of the patricians of Ulm,
was too much of an everyday occurrence to excite any great sensation on
the present occasion; but when the black and white banners of the town,
emblazoned with the imperial eagle, accompanied by flags and standards
of all sizes and colours, came floating in the breeze through the gate,
the spectators then became sure that the long wished-for moment was
arrived.

The curiosity of our two young beauties in the balcony became doubly
excited when they observed the crowd in the lower part of the street
respectfully take off their caps.

Mounted upon a strong bony horse a man approached, whose stately
carriage, affable and open countenance, contrasted strangely with a
deep stern brow, and whose hair and beard were slightly tinged with
grey. He wore a hat pointed at the crown, adorned with many feathers, a
cuirass over a close-fitted red jacket, and leather buskins slashed
with silk, which might have been handsome when new, but by dint of bad
weather and hard work had now assumed an uninterrupted dark-brown
colour,--large heavy riding boots came up to his knees; his only
weapon, a singularly large sword, with a long handle, and without
basket-guard, completed the figure of the warrior. The sole ornament
worn by this man was a long gold chain of massive rings, twisted five
times around his neck, having a medallion of merit of the same metal
attached to it, which hung upon his breast.

"Tell me, quickly, uncle, who is that stately man, who at once looks so
young and so old?" said the fair girl, as she turned her head a little
towards the man in black standing behind her.

"I can tell you, Marie," he answered; "that is George von Fronsberg,
commander of the confederate infantry; an honourable man, did he but
serve a better cause."

"Keep your remarks to yourself, Mr. Würtemberger," she replied, whilst
she playfully threatened him with her finger; "you know that the
maidens of Ulm are staunch confederates."

Her uncle, however, not heeding her reply, proceeded: "That one on the
grey horse is Truchses von Waldburg, second in command. He also owes a
debt of gratitude to our Würtemberg. Behind him come the colonels of
the League. By heaven! they look like hungry wolves seeking for prey."

"Oh! what a set of miserable figures," remarked Marie to her cousin
Bertha, "they surely are not worth the trouble we have taken of
dressing; but hold, who is that young man in black on the brown horse?
just look at his pale countenance, with his fiery black eyes; on his
shield is written, 'I have ventured.'"

"That is the knight Ulerich von Hutten," replied the old man. "May God
forgive his calumny against our Duke. Children! he is a learned, pious
man, but the Duke's bitterest enemy; and I say so, for what is true
must remain true. And there, those are Sickingen's colours. Truly, he
is there himself! Look this way, girls; that is Franz von Sickingen. It
is said he brings a thousand horsemen into the field; that is him, with
the plain cuirass and red feather."

"But tell me, uncle," asked Marie again, "which of them is Götz von
Berlichingen, of whom cousin Kraft has related so much to us; he is a
powerful man, by all accounts, and has a hand of iron; does not he ride
among the burghers?"

"Do not name Götz and the burghers in the same breath," said the old
man, seriously; "he holds for Würtemberg."

The greatest part of the procession had, during this conversation,
passed by under the windows; and Marie remarked, with astonishment, the
indifference and unconcern with which her relation Bertha viewed it.
The usual manner of her cousin was thoughtful; indeed, at times she
appeared in a state of absence to all surrounding objects; but on such
a day as this, to be so perfectly insensible to the brilliancy of the
passing scene, was, in Marie's mind, to be guilty almost of
impropriety.

She was just on the point of upbraiding her, when her attention was
called to a sudden noise in the street. A large, powerful horse was
prancing immediately under their window, having probably taken fright
at the waving ensigns of the trades. The high crest and flowing main of
the steed sheltered the rider's face, and the feathers only of his cap
were visible to the spectators at the window; but the adroitness and
ease with which he managed his horse and kept him under command, proved
him to be a skilful cavalier. In his exertion to quiet him, his
light-brown hair had fallen over his face, and as he threw it back, his
look fell on the bow-window of the corner house.

"Well at last there is a handsome young man," whispered Marie to her
neighbour, so softly and secretly as if she feared to be overheard by
him; "and how polite and courteous he is! Look! I really think he has
saluted us, without knowing who we are."

Marie's curiosity was too much excited at the moment to notice the
sudden change which her remark had produced on her cousin's
countenance, who, to conceal her embarrassment, feigned to pay no
attention to what she said. Bertha had hitherto sat unconcerned,
viewing the passing procession with apparent cold indifference; but
when she recognised the young cavalier, and returned his salutation
with a slight inclination of the head, her cheek was suddenly suffused
with a burning blush, her thoughtful eye was animated into an
expression in which tender love and fearful anticipation predominated;
and though the smile about her mouth might bespeak joy at the sight of
the unexpected apparition, a keen observer could not have failed to
discover, that it betrayed somewhat of pain and regret. Her accustomed
self-possession, however, quickly regained the ascendancy over these
conflicting feelings, and thus her merry cousin, whose quick
penetration at any other moment would have been startled into surprise
at the alteration exhibited on the features of her whom she considered
wanting in tender sentiment, lost the opportunity of rallying her upon
this occasion.

Marie, pulling the old man by the cloak, cried, "Here, quickly,
uncle; tell me who is this with the light-brown scarf trimmed with
silver?--well?"

"Dear child," answered her uncle, "I have never seen him before.
Judging from his colours, he is in no particular service, but he, as
well as many others, wages war against the Duke my Lord for his own
individual pleasure and profit."

"Ah! there is no getting anything out of you," said Marie, and turned
away, annoyed at her uncle's indifference; "you can distinguish all the
old and learned men more than at a hundred yards off; but when one asks
you a question about a young and polite cavalier, you can tell one
nothing. And you too, Bertha, you open your eyes upon the procession
below as if the host were passing. I'll wager you did not see the
handsomest man of all; and thought only of old Fronsberg, when quite a
different set of men rode by."

By the time she had finished these her angry remarks, the principal
part of the procession had reached their station before the town hall;
the few remaining cavalry of the league which came up the street
possessed little interest for the two damsels. When the officers had
dismounted and gone into the town-hall for refreshment, and when the
members of the trades had been dismissed, the people by degrees began
to separate, and then the party in the balcony withdrew also from the
window.

Marie did not appear perfectly pleased. Her curiosity was only half
satisfied. She took care, however, not to let her stern old uncle
remark her disappointment; but when he left the room, she turned to
Bertha, who had retired to the window again, and stood there in deep
thought.

"Well," she said, "after all our anticipated expectations about this
procession, there was nothing worth making such a fuss about. But I
wonder who that handsome young cavalier was? I should like very much to
know his name! How very stupid it was of you, Bertha, not to notice
him; did I not push you when he saluted us? Light-brown hair, very long
and smooth,--friendly dark eyes,--the countenance a little tanned, but
handsome, very handsome! Small mustachios on the upper lip. No; I tell
you----but how red you get again all of a sudden, as if two maidens,
when they are alone, dare not speak of the pretty mouth of a young man.
We often converse upon such topics here in Ulm; but I suppose at your
good aunt's at Tübingen, and your strict father's in Lichtenstein, such
things were never mentioned; but I see you are dreaming again about
something or other, so I must look out for some thorough Ulmer girl
when I want to have a little gossip."

Bertha answered only by a smile, which expressed more than she dared to
utter; and Marie, taking a large bunch of keys which hung on the door,
hummed a song, and went to prepare for dinner. Though she might have
been accused of being rather over curious at the momentary appearance
of a courteous young cavalier, still that did not make her neglectful
of the important duties of a housekeeper.

She skipped out of the room, and left Bertha to her thoughts, which
we also will not disturb, whilst she now recalls to her mind the
endearing remembrance at gone-by days, which the appearance of the
afore-mentioned young cavalier called up at once from the depth of her
faithful heart. She dwelt on that time, when a hasty glance from him
would cheer the passing hours; she pondered on those nights when in her
retired room, undisturbed by her good aunt, she worked that scarf,
whose well-known colours awoke her now as out of a dream. We will not
at present pause to inquire the reason why, when blushing and with
downcast eyes, she asked herself, whether cousin Marie had rightly
described the sweet mouth of her beloved?



                              CHAPTER II.

            And don't your heart now burn
              While hope succeeds to fear?
            Don't even youth return
              To Swabia's land so dear?
                                      J. SCHWAB.

The reader will have learned from the introductory preface the state of
affairs. Duke Ulerich of Würtemberg had brought upon himself the bitter
hatred of the Swabian League, by the obstinacy with which he braved so
many confederated princes and knights, by the furious expression of his
rage and threats of revenge, by the boldness with which he alone bid
them defiance, and last of all by the sudden military occupation of the
imperial town of Reutlingen. These were some of the principal
circumstances which led to the rupture. Others of a more private nature
fostered the bloody thoughts and thirst for revenge and plunder of
those who made a plea of individual insult the cause of uniting their
banners, for the downfall of the Duke and the partition of his
possessions.

The principal officers of the Swabian League were the Duke of Bavaria,
whose object was to procure satisfaction for the ill treatment of his
sister Sabina, Ulerich's wife--the knights of the Huttens to revenge
the supposed murder of the cousin of their ancestor--Dieterich von Spät
and his companions to wash out the disgrace of family insult in
Würtemberg's misfortunes--and to these were added the authorities of
the towns and boroughs, who desired to recover Reutlingen again from
the occupation of Duke Ulerich's troops. They headed the pompous entry
into Ulm we have described in the foregoing pages, and arrived on the
same day from Augsburg, where they had assembled. War was therefore now
inevitable, for it was not to be supposed that they would propose terms
of peace to the Duke, after having proceeded thus far.

But of a much more peaceable and cheerful cast were the ideas of Albert
von Sturmfeder, that "courteous, polite cavalier," who had so highly
awaken Marie's curiosity, and whose unexpected appearance had coloured
the cheeks of Bertha with so deep a red. He scarcely knew himself how
he came to take part in this campaign; for though he was acquainted
with the use of arms, yet he had not been trained to them. Sprung from
a poor but not obscure family of Franconia, he became an orphan at an
early age, and was brought up by his father's brother. A learned
education began even in those days to be considered an ornament to the
nobility, and his uncle, therefore, chose the path of literature for
him. It is not mentioned whether he made much progress in learning in
the university of Tübingen, then in its infancy; thus much, however, is
known, that he took a warmer interest in the daughter of the knight of
Lichtenstein, who lived with her aunt in that town of the Muses, than
in the lectures of the most celebrated doctors. It is also related that
she resisted with pertinacious determination the different attacks
with which many a young student assailed her heart. But although all
kinds of man[oe]uvres to conquer a hard heart were well understood in
those days, (for the youth of ancient Tübingen had, perhaps, studied
their Ovid better than those of the present), neither nocturnal
love-complaints, nor yet furious encounters between rivals to gain
possession of her, could soften the maiden's apparent obduracy. One
only succeeded in winning this heart, and that one was Albert. The
lovers, indeed, divulged to no one when and where the first ray of
tender feeling dawned in their hearts, and far be it from us to wish to
penetrate the veil of mystery of first love, or even to relate things
which we cannot substantiate; we can nevertheless assert this much,
that they had already reached to that degree of love, when true lovers
swear eternal fidelity, amidst the interruptions of external
circumstances, and which, in the painful hour of separation, proved
their only consolation. Her much-loved aunt having died, the knight of
Lichtenstein sent for his daughter to Ulm, for the purpose of finishing
her education there, under the roof of a married sister. Bertha's
nurse, old Rosel, remarked that the burning tears which she shed, and
the longing eyes with which Bertha over and over again looked back as
they left the town, could not have been given alone to the hilly
country to which she was bidding adieu.

Shortly after Bertha's departure, Albert received a communication from
his uncle, in which the question was put to him, whether after four
years' study he was not now learned enough? He readily complied with
this hint, and, without a moment's hesitation, prepared to quit the
university; for since Bertha's absence, the lectures of the learned
doctors, and even the charming valley of the Neckar, were become
hateful to him.

The fresh air from the hills invigorated him with renewed force, as he
rode through the gate of Tübingen towards his home, on a fine morning
in February. In proportion as his bodily frame was braced by the
freshness of the morning, so was his soul raised to that cheerful
elevation of spirits so natural to his age. Youth vainly imagines
itself capable, by its own powers, to bring about its most anxious
wishes, and it is this reliance on self which inspires more confidence
than assistance from others.

When Albert was left to his own thoughts as he paced his lonely way
homewards, the contemplation of his future prospects were wrapped in
mysterious uncertainty, which led his mind to compare his present
position with the clear lake which reflects on its surface the cheerful
objects rising around its banks, but veils the treacherous depth of its
waters by its bright colours.

Such was the feeling of Albert von Sturmfeder as he rode through the
beechwood forest towards his home. This road did not, indeed, lead him
nearer to his beloved; neither could he properly call anything his own
besides the horse which he bestrode, and the ruined castle of his
ancestors. Upon this castle there was a popular joke, which ran thus:--

            A house on three props you'll find:
            Whoever enters in front,
            Has no room to sit behind.

But although he was well aware of his poverty, and was awake to his
needy circumstances, still he knew that with a determined will a
hundred paths were open to him by which he might attain his object, and
that the old Roman saying, _Fortes fortuna juvat_, had never yet
deceived him. The present state of excitement in the country appeared
to afford him an opportunity by which, after some active employment, he
might hope soon to realise the object of his wishes.

The result of the contest which was about to commence, appeared at
that time very uncertain. The Swabian League, though it possessed
experienced commanders and disciplined soldiers, was nevertheless
weakened through disunion. Duke Ulerich, on his side, had enlisted
14,000 Swiss, brave and experienced warriors; he could bring into the
field, out of his own country, numerous and hardy troops, but not so
experienced as the others; and thus stood the state of affairs in
February 1519.

When every one around him was taking an active part, Albert also
determined not to remain an idle spectator: a war, he thought, might
open a path to lead him sooner towards the object of his desire than
any other, and by which he might hope to render himself worthy of
meriting the hand of his beloved.

Neither of the contending parties had, indeed, any claim upon his
heart. People of the country spoke ill of the duke, whilst the views of
the League did not appear to be influenced by the purest motives. But
when he heard that several knights and counts, whose properties
adjoined the duke's, urged by the loud, and, as he thought, just
complaints of the Huttens, against the tyrannical conduct of Ulerich,
had withdrawn their allegiance from him, he was induced to join the
League; being unaware that they had been corrupted by money, and the
seductive prospect of rich plunder, to overrun his country. But the
news of the count of Lichtenstein being in Ulm with his daughter
was, in truth, the mainspring which influenced and confirmed his
determination; for he thought he could not be far wrong if he took the
side on which Bertha's father acted, and therefore tendered his
services to the confederates.

The knights of Franconia, headed by Ludwig von Hutten, approached
Augsburg at the beginning of March, for the purpose of joining Ludwig
von Baiern, and the rest of the members of the League. The army being
collected, their march resembled more a triumphal procession as they
approached the territory of their enemy, than regular military
proceedings.

Duke Ulerich was encamped at Blaubeuren, the frontier town of his
possessions towards Bavaria and Ulm. In the latter place the great
council of war of the League was appointed to deliberate upon the plan
of the campaign, and they then hoped, in a short time, to force the
Würtembergers to a decisive battle. Things having gone thus far,
negotiations for peace were out of the question: war was the watchword,
and victory the only thought of the army.

Albert's heart beat high when he thought that his first trial in the
career of arms would soon be put to the test; but whoever may have been
placed in a similar situation will readily find excuses for him, if
feelings of a more tender nature at times possessed his soul, and made
him forget his dreams of battle and victory.

As the army approached the town, a fresh east wind wafted towards them
the salute of the heavy artillery on the walls, and the sound of all
the bells ringing to welcome their arrival from the opposite side of
the river. He first obtained sight of the lofty cathedral in the
distance, emerging from a fog, which, gradually clearing away as he
drew near, displayed the town with its dark brick houses and high
entrance-towers to his view. At that moment the conflicting doubts and
anxieties which had long assailed his breast oppressed him more than
ever. "Do those walls indeed inclose my beloved? May not her father,
perhaps, contrary to my hopes, be the faithful friend of the duke, and
concealed among his enemies? and if such be the case, dare I, whose
only hope is to gain his good will--dare I stand opposed to him without
blasting my own happiness? And should her father have really taken part
with the enemy, can his daughter possibly be with him? But even were my
best hopes realised, and should she be among the spectators assembled
to witness the entry of the army, shall I find her still true to that
faith she has plighted?" These and many other anxious thoughts passed
through his mind in rapid succession.

The last distressing thought, however, gave way to a pleasing
certainty; for if all kind of disaster were leagued against him
Bertha's fidelity, he felt convinced, remained unaltered. He pressed
the scarf she had given him to his breast; and now, as the Ulm cavalry
fell into the line, their trumpets and cornets playing martial music,
his natural cheerfulness returned, he rose prouder in his saddle, and
as they passed up the gaily adorned streets, his quick eye examined all
the windows of the lofty houses, seeking her alone.

There he perceived her, serious and thoughtful, as she viewed the
passing scene. He fancied her thoughts might be occupied with him, whom
she supposed to be far distant from her. He gave his horse the spur,
which made him bound in the air, and the pavement resound under the
clash of his hoofs. But as she turned towards him, and their eyes met,
and judging by the joyful blush which animated her features, that she
assured him he was recognised and still beloved, then it was that poor
Albert nearly lost all recollection of his situation; for though he
followed the march to the town-hall, so great was his desire to linger
in the neighbourhood of his beloved, that little was wanting to make
him forget all other considerations, and be irresistibly drawn to the
corner house with the bow window.

He had already made the first step in that direction, when he felt his
arm grasped by a powerful hand. "What drives you in this direction,
young man?" said a deep, well-known voice; "this is not the way to the
town-hall. Hallo! I really believe you are faint from fatigue: no
wonder, indeed, that you should be, for the breakfast was a very meagre
one. But never mind, my lad, come along. The Ulmers give good wine, and
we will treat you to some of the best sort, old Remsthaler."

Though the transition from the raptured joy in which his mind for some
moments floated, when he first saw his love, to the bustle before the
town-hall in Ulm, was somewhat sudden, he could not help being thankful
to his friend, old Herrn von Breitenstein, his nearest neighbour on the
frontier of Franconia, for awakening him out of his momentary dream,
and saving him from making a precipitate, foolish step.

He therefore took the advice of the old gentleman in a friendly way,
and with him followed the rest of the knights and nobles, whose
appetites were well sharpened by their long morning ride for the good
mid-day meal, which was prepared for them by the imperial free city in
the town-hall.



                              CHAPTER III.

            The sound or music greets my ear,
              The castle glares with light:
            What means these varied sounds I hear?
              Who banquets here to-night?
                                                SCHILLER.

The saloon of the town-hall, into which the guests were ushered, formed
a large oblong. The walls, and the ceiling, low in proportion to the
size of the room, were wainscoted with brown wood; numerous round
windows, on which were painted the arms of the nobles of Ulm in bright
colors, occupied one side of it; whilst on the walls opposite were
suspended the portraits of renowned burgomasters and councillors of the
town. They were all painted in the same position, that is, the left
hand supported on the hip, the right resting on a table covered with
rich cloth, and looking down on the guests of their descendants with
grave and solemn, aspect. The assembled company crowded in mixed groups
about the table, which being in the form of a horseshoe, occupied
nearly the whole length of the apartment. The brilliant festive costume
of the grand council and patricians, who were to do the honours of the
day in the name of the town, was not in keeping when compared with that
of their guests, who, covered with dust, and clad in leather and steel,
discomposed the silk cloaks and velvet dresses of their entertainers in
no very ceremonious manner, and much to their annoyance.

They waited some time for the Duke of Bavaria, who, having arrived in
Ulm a few days before, had accepted the invitation to this brilliant
feast; but when his page brought an excuse that he could not attend,
the signal by sound of trumpet was given to take places. The rush to
the table in consequence was so impetuous that it was impossible to put
the preconcerted friendly intentions of the council into execution, by
which a citizen of Ulm was to sit between each two of their guests.

Breitenstein secured a seat for Albert at the lower end of the table,
which he said was one of the best places. "I could have put you," said
the old man, "among our seniors, near Fronsberg, Sickingen, Hutten, and
Waldburg at the head of the table, but in such company etiquette and
reserve will infringe upon the more important consideration of
gratifying the cravings of hunger with ease and comfort. We might have
gone further up also, among the Nürnbergers and Augsburgers; there
where the roasted peacock is, which I declare is not a bad place; but I
know you do not like such townsfolk, and therefore brought you here.
Look around you, is it not a capital position? As we do not know the
faces hereabouts it will not be necessary to talk much. On the right we
have a smoking hot pig's head, with a lemon stuck in its mouth; on the
left a magnificent trout biting its tail for joy; and in our front a
roebuck, not to be matched for its tender meat and quantity of fat the
whole length of the table or elsewhere."

Albert thanked him for his kindness, and took a hasty glance at those
immediately about him. On his right sat a good-looking young man about
twenty-five or twenty-six years of age. His neat-combed hair, throwing
out a perfume of some highly-scented ointment, his small beard,
evidently having just gone through the ordeal of warm curling irons,
made Albert suspect, even before he was further convinced of it by his
dialect, that he was a gay Ulmer citizen. The young man, perceiving
himself to be the object of his neighbour's observation, made himself
very officious. He filled Albert's glass from a large silver tankard,
and pledged him to drink to a better acquaintance and good fellowship;
he then offered to help him the best slices of roebuck, hare, pork,
pheasant, and wild duck, which lay before them in great profusion on
large silver dishes.

But neither the officious kindness of his neighbour, nor the uncommon
appetite of Breitenstein, could provoke Albert to eat. His mind was too
much occupied with the beloved object he had seen in entering the town
to follow the example of his neighbours. He sat full of thought,
looking into his tankard, which he still held in his hand; and as the
bubbles on the surface of the sparkling wine dispersed, he fancied he
saw the portrait of his love in the gilded bottom of it. No wonder then
that his sociable friend on his right, seeing how his guest held his
tankard, and refused every dish which he offered him, took him for an
incorrigible wine-bibber. His keen eye, which was fixed upon the object
before him, appeared to point the youth out as one of those perfect
connoisseurs of wine, whose refined taste liked to dwell upon the
quality of the noble beverage.

For the purpose of seconding the good intentions of the grand council,
namely, that of rendering the feast as pleasant as possible to their
guests, the young Ulmer sought all means to discover the weak point of
his neighbour. It was, indeed, contrary to his moderate habits to drink
much wine; but, in the hopes of rendering himself agreeable to Albert,
he thought he would stretch a point this once. He filled his goblet
full, and said, "Don't you think, neighbour, this wine has fire in it,
and is high flavoured? It is not, indeed, Würtemberger wine, such as
you are accustomed to drink in Franconia, but it is real Elfinger, out
of the cellar of the senate, and calls itself eighty years old."

Astonished at this address, Albert put down his tankard, and answered
with a short, "Yes, yes." His neighbour, however, would not let him off
so easily. "It appears, nevertheless," he went on to say, "that it is
not quite the thing you like, but I know a remedy. Holloa, there!" he
called to a servant, "bring a can of Uhlbacher here. Now just taste
this; it grows hard by the castle of Würtemberg. You must pledge me in
this toast: 'A short war and glorious victory.'"

Albert, to whom this conversation was in no wise agreeable, thought to
turn it to something which might lead to a more interesting topic. "You
have much beauty here in Ulm," said he; "at least, in passing through
the town, I remarked many pretty faces at the windows."

"Yes, in truth," answered the Ulmer, "the streets might be paved with
them."

"That would not be amiss," replied Albert, "for the pavement of your
streets is bad indeed. But tell me who lives in that corner house with
the bow-window?" pointing to the situation of it: "if I do not mistake,
two young ladies were looking out of the window as we rode by."

"So! you have remarked them already?" laughed the other: "upon my word,
you have a quick eye, and are a good judge. They are my pretty cousins,
on my mother's side: the little blonde is the daughter of the Herrn von
Besserer, the other is the lady of Lichtenstein, a Würtemberger,
staying with her on a visit."

Albert thanked heaven for having been placed so near a relation of
Bertha, and determined at once to take advantage of his good fortune.
He turned to him, and in the most friendly manner said, "You have a
couple of pretty cousins, Herr von Besserer."

"I call myself Dieterick von Kraft, secretary to the grand council,
with your permission."

"A pair of pretty cousins, Herr von Kraft; do you visit them often?"

"Yes, I do," answered the secretary, "and particularly since the
daughter of Lichtenstein is in the house. Before her arrival, cousin
Marie and I were one heart and soul, but she is somewhat jealous now,
being piqued by the attentions I bestow upon her charming cousin,
Bertha von Lichtenstein, which she thinks belong to her alone."

This confidential communication of the secretary to a perfect stranger,
was not a little surprising to Albert, who very soon discovered that a
certain portion of vanity was one of his weak points, though in other
respects there was much to like in him.

This avowal, however, on the part of his new acquaintance, did not
sound agreeable to Albert's ear, which caused him to press his lips
together, whilst his cheeks assumed a deeper colour.

"Laugh as you will," proceeded the scribe, whose head began to feel the
effects of the wine, to which he was unaccustomed; "if you only knew
how they pull caps about me! My Lichtenstein cousin has, however, a
disagreeable, odd way of showing her friendship; she is so ladylike and
reserved, that one is afraid to joke in her presence, much less to be
as familiar with her as with Marie; but it is just that which renders
her so attractive in my eyes, for if she sends me away ten times, I am
sure to return to her the eleventh:--the reason is," he murmured to
himself, "that her old strict father is present, of whom she is rather
shy; let him but once cross the boundary of Ulm, and I'll soon tame
her."

Finding his new acquaintance so very communicative, Albert resolved to
question him respecting the knight of Lichtenstein's view of the coming
struggle, because that was an essential point, upon which his dearest
hopes turned, and one upon which he had his doubts; but just as he was
about to begin, he was interrupted by the sound of peculiar strange
voices near him. He thought he had heard them before amidst the noise
and clatter of the ghosts, as they recited in a drawling uniform tone a
couple of short sentences, the purport of which he could not well
understand. But now that he heard them repeated close to him, he soon
learnt the subject of their monotonous import. It was the fashion in
those good old times, particularly in the imperial towns, for the
father of the family and his wife, when they entertained company, to
rise about the middle of the repast, go round to each individual guest,
and in a short sentence of customary usage press him to eat and drink.

This fashion was one of such old standing in Ulm, that the grand
council would on no account dispense with it on the present occasion,
and, therefore, appointed the father of a family and his wife, in the
persons of the burgomaster and the oldest of the councillors, to
perform the office.

Having gone round two sides of the table on their "_pressing_" embassy,
it was not to be wondered at, that their voices became, by their
efforts, rather husky, so that at last their friendly exhortation
assumed almost the tone of a threat. A rough voice sounded in Albert's
ear, "Why don't you eat, why don't you drink?" Startling, he turned
round, and beheld a large man with a red face, who had addressed these
words to him, and before he had time to give an answer, a little short
man, with a high shrill voice saluted his ear, on the other side.

           "But eat and drink and take your fill--
            Such is our magisterial will."

"I have long thought it would come to that," said old Breitenstein, as
he took breath for a moment from the vigorous attack he had been making
on a haunch of roebuck; "there he sits and talks, instead of enjoying
the excellent dishes of roast meats, which have been put before us in
such profusion."

"With your permission," said Dieterick von Kraft, interrupting him,
"though the young man eats nothing, he is a lover o£ wine, and a
capital judge of it; I found it out immediately, for he cannot keep his
eyes from the bottom of his cup; therefore do not blame him if he
prefers old Uhlbacher before anything else."

Albert had no idea how he had become the subject of this extraordinary
apology; he was on the point of making an excuse, when another event
drew his attention. Breitenstein had now taken pity upon the pig's head
with the lemon stuck in its mouth, which he very cleverly extracted
from its jaws, and undertook, with great avidity and experienced hand,
its further dissection. Just as he was in the act of swallowing the
first mouthful of one of the choicest bits, the burgomaster came to him
also, with the same exhortation, "Why don't you eat, why don't you
drink?" Breitenstein looked at him with astonishment, but his speaking
organs had no time to exercise their functions; he however nodded his
head, and pointed to the well-polished bone of the haunch of roebuck in
his plate. The little man, also, with the cracked voice, though it
appeared unnecessary, would not be debarred repeating his friendly
exhortation--

           "But eat and drink and take your fill,--
            Such is our magisterial will."

And thus it was in the good old times. At least no one could complain
of being invited to a mere parade dinner. The table soon after assumed
a different appearance. The large dishes and plates were removed, and
were replaced by spacious bowls and large jugs filled with generous
wine. The wine passed freely, and the frequent drinking of healths, at
that time very much the custom in Swabia, soon produced its usual
effects. Dieterick Spät and his companions sang burlesque songs on Duke
Ulerich, and confirmed each oath or bit of coarse wit with a horse
laugh or a deep draught. The Franconian knights called for dice, threw
for the duke's estates, and drank to the taking of the castle of
Tübingen. Ulerich von Hutten and his friends carried on a controversy
in Latin with some Italians about a recent attack on the papal chair,
which a monk of Wittemberg of no reputation had undertaken. The
Nürnbergers, Augsburgers, and some few Ulmers had got together, and
disputed upon the merits of their respective republics; in short, the
room resounded with the din of laughter, singing, quarrelling, and the
clatter of silver and pewter tankards.

But at the upper end of the table a much more becoming and sober
hilarity prevailed. George von Fronsberg, old Ludwig Hutten, Waldburg
Truchses, Franz von Sickingen, and other elderly grave men occupied
seats there.

Hans von Breitenstein, who was a captain of the League, having now
fully satisfied his appetite, turned his eyes in that direction, and
said to Albert, "The noise about us here is not at all agreeable,--what
say you? would you like to be presented to Fronsberg now, as you told
me a few days ago you wished so to be?"

Albert, whose desire it had long been to become acquainted with the
general, gladly accepted the offer, and getting up, followed his old
friend. We will not stay to inquire the reason why his heart beat
quicker on this occasion, why his face assumed a higher colour, or why
his steps, as he approached him, were slower or less firm. Who has not
experienced in his youth similar feelings on being introduced to the
notice of a brilliant character, crowned with glory? Whose darling
self, "I," has not sunk into utter insignificance before the giant-like
idea we have formed of a renowned man! George von Fronsberg was
accounted one of the most famous generals of his day. Italy, France,
and Germany had witnessed his victories, and his name will go down to
posterity in the annuls of the art of war, as the author and founder of
a regular system, by which a body of infantry is trained to fight in
ranks and companies. Tradition and chronicles have brought down the
exploits of this noble personage to our times, and who can help calling
to mind the heroes of Homer, when they read the following description
of this man:--"He had such strength in his limbs, that with the middle
finger of his right hand he could displace the strongest man from his
seat, let him hold himself as firm as he might; he could seize the
bridle of a horse on the full gallop, and stop him; and he could carry
alone, from one place to another, the largest gun and battering ram of
the time." Breitenstein conducted the young man to him.

"Who do you bring us now, Hans?" said George von Fronsberg, as he
noticed the well-grown youth with interest.

"Look at him well, noble sir," answered Breitenstein, "and you will not
fall to recognise the house whence he sprung."

The general regarded him with still greater attention; old Truchses von
Waldburg also run his scrutinizing eye over his person. Albert was
timid and shy before these great men; but whether it was that the
friendly, frank manner of Fronsberg gave him confidence, or whether he
felt how important that moment was to his future prospects, he overcame
the shame of being put out of countenance by the looks of so many
renowned men, and faced them with determination and courage.

"I recognise you at once by that look," said Fronsberg, and gave him
his hand: "you are a Sturmfeder."

"Albert von Sturmfeder," answered the young man: "my father was
Burkhardt Sturmfeder; he fell by your side in Italy: so it has been
told me."

"He was a brave man," said the general, whose eye rested thoughtfully
on Albert's features, "he remained faithful by my side in many a warm
day of battle, and fell covered with glory and honour in defence of my
person. And you," he added, "have you determined to follow his steps?
Methinks you have left your nest somewhat early, for you are scarcely
fledged."

Waldburg, a weather-beaten, hard featured old soldier, interrupted
Fronsberg, and said, with a gruff, surly voice, "I suppose that young
bird is seeking a few flocks of wool to repair the dilapidated family
nest."

This rude allusion to the ruined castle of his ancestors, called up a
crimson blush on the cheek of the young man. He had never been ashamed
of his poverty, but these words sounded so full of scorn and insult
that he felt himself, for the first time, really poor, as he stood
before the more affluent derider of his name. His eye at that moment
passing over Truchses Waldburg, fell on that well-known bow window,
where, thinking he perceived the person of his love, his usual courage
resumed its dominion. "Every struggle has its price. Sir Knight," he
replied; "I have proffered head and arm to the League; the motive of
this step can be but indifferent to you."

"Well, well," answered the other, "we shall see what the arm can do;
but as to the head it cannot be quite so clear, if you take in earnest
what was meant as a mere joke."

The offended youth was about to make an angry reply, when Fronsberg,
taking him kindly by the hand, said, "Just like your father; dear young
man! you will in time become like him, a stinging nettle[1] also,--we
shall require friends whose hearts are in the right place. You will not
be the last thought of, you may rest assured."

These few words, from the lips of a man who had won so high a
reputation among his contemporaries by bravery and experience in war,
produced such an effect on the mind of Albert, that the unguarded
answer which floated on his tongue sank harmless. He withdrew from the
table to a window, partly for the sake of not interrupting the
conversation of the officers, partly to convince himself with greater
certainty, whether the momentary apparition which he had seen was
really his beloved.

When Albert left the table, Fronsberg turned to Waldburg; "That is not
the way, Herr Truchses, to win over a staunch ally to our cause. I'll
wager he has not quitted us with the same zeal he brought with him."

"Do you consider yourself called upon to raise your voice in favour of
that hot-headed youth?" said the other; "it is not at all necessary; he
must learn to take a joke from his superiors."

"With your permission," interrupted Breitenstein, "it is no joke to be
jeer'd on account of unavoidable poverty; but I know you never bore his
father any good will."

"And," continued Fronsberg, "you have no controul over him in any way,
for he has not yet taken the oath of alliance to the League and is
therefore at perfect liberty to go wheresoever he pleases. Should he
serve under your colours, I would advise you not to push him too far,
as he does not appear much inclined to submit to insult or contumely."

Speechless from rage upon being contradicted, which he never in his
life could brook, Truchses first looked at one and then at the other
with such fury, that Ludwig von Hutten, fearful of further strife,
interposed between them, and said, "Come, an end with these old
stories. It is high time to rise from table. It is now getting dark,
and the wine is becoming too powerful for our friends lower down there.
Dieterick von Spät has already drank twice to Würtemberg's death, and
the Franconians have not yet quite settled whether his castles shall be
burnt to the ground or divided among them."

"Let them alone," laughed Waldburg, scornfully, "those gentry may do
and say what they please to-day; Fronsberg will soon bring them to
their senses."

"No," said Ludwig von Hutten, "if any one has a right to talk in such
terms, I am the one, the avenger of my son's blood; but until war be
declared, intemperate conversation must be restrained. My cousin
Ulerich speaks much too violently with the Italians about the monk of
Wittemberg, and when he is out of temper, divulges things which ought
to be kept secret."

Fronsberg and Sickingen now rose from table, and those about them
following their example, the break-up was general.


FOOTNOTE TO CHAPTER III.:

[Footnote 1: The same words which Fronsberg made use of in speaking of
Götz von Berlichingen.]



                              CHAPTER IV.

            The eyes with which I gaze on her
              Can pierce thro' wood and stone:
            They're seated in my heart so true,
            That beats for her alone.
                              WALTHER VON DER VOGELWEIDE.

The small distance which separated the table from the window, to which
Albert had retired, permitted his hearing every word of the dispute
mentioned in the latter part of the last chapter. He rejoiced to
perceive the warm interest which Fronsberg took in him, an
inexperienced orphan; but, at the same time, he could not conceal from
himself that his first step in his military career, had also brought
upon him a formidable, bitter enemy.

The unbending pride of Truchses von Waldburg was so well known in the
army, that Albert had little reason to hope Hutten's mediatory and
conciliatory words would have much effect in soothing the unfavourable
impression, which he feared his warmth in upholding the name of his
family might have created in the mind of the general. And he was well
aware that men of weight and consequence, governed by a violent,
imperious temper, such as Waldburg's, do not readily enter into the
feelings of those who have excited their anger, nor forgive the
ebullition of a generous mind when assailed in its most vulnerable
point.

A slight tap on the shoulder interrupted his thoughts, and as he turned
round, his friendly neighbour at table, the scribe to the grand
council, stood before him.

"I'll bet, you have not looked out for a lodging yet," said Dieterick
von Kraft, "and it might be now somewhat difficult to find one, as it
is getting dark, and the town is very full."

Albert acknowledged he had not thought about it; he hoped however to
find a room in one of the public inns.

"I would not have you be quite so sure of that," answered the other,
"and, should you find a corner in one of those houses, you must reckon
upon being but badly off. But if my lodging would not appear too small
for you, it is very much at your service."

The good secretary of the council pressed Albert with so much
cordiality, that he did not hesitate to take advantage of his
invitation, though he almost feared lest, when the effects of the wine
had passed off, his host might regret his proffered hospitality to him,
a perfect stranger. Dieterick von Kraft, however, appeared rejoiced at
the readiness with which his proposal was accepted, and taking Albert's
arm, with a hearty shake of the hand, led him out of the room.

The square before the town-hall was in the mean time the scene of much
bustle and confusion. The days were still short, and the evening having
broken in upon the dinner-party, torches were lighted, the glare of
which illumined but sparingly the large space, and played on the
windows of the opposite houses, and on the polished helmets and
cuirasses of the knights. Loud calls for horses and attendants sounding
through the town-hall, the clatter of swords, the running here and
there of many men, coupled with the barking of dogs, the neighing and
pawing of impatient horses, formed a scene, which resembled more the
surprise of a military post in the night by an enemy, than the breaking
up of a convivial festival.

Albert remained in the hall in a state of amazement at the sight of so
many jovial faces and powerful figures, who, having mounted their
horses, retired in small groups, singing and springing about in all the
hilarity of youth. This nocturnal, fleeting scene, forcibly impressed
him with the conviction of the uncertainty and changeableness of all
worldly events. These same joyous associates, thought he, would soon be
engaged in the dangerous concerns of war, when many of them, even
before the spring should be fully advanced, would cover the green grass
with their bodies, with no other price offered for their blood than the
tear of a comrade, or the short-lived glory of having fallen before the
enemy as brave men.

His eye turned instinctively to that quarter where he knew the reward
which he hoped would crown the success of his present undertaking
awaited him. He there saw many figures at the window, but soon the
black smoke of the torches, which suddenly, as a cloud, almost covered
the square, veiled the objects so as to give them the appearance of
mere shadows. He turned away in disappointment, saying to himself,
"Such are my prospects also; at one moment the present indeed looks
bright, but in the next, how dark, how uncertain is the prospect of the
future!"

His kind friend roused him from this foreboding frame of mind, with the
question, "Where are your servants with your horses?" Had the spot
where they stood been better lighted, our good Kraft might, perhaps,
have discovered a passing blush upon the cheek of his friend at this
inquiry.

"A young soldier," answered Albert, quickly recovering his composure,
"must learn to look after his own affairs as well as he can, without
the assistance and trouble of servants, and therefore I have not
brought one with me. I have given Breitenstein's groom charge of my
horse."

The scribe of the council applauded the young man for the self-denial
which he exercised; but he could not help making the remark, that when
once in the field he would not be able to assert his independence so
easily. The attention which his companion paid to his own person, his
well-combed hair, his neatly curled beard, convinced Albert that he
spoke from his heart, and the snug comfortable lodging into which he
was introduced did not belie this opinion.

The ménage of Herrn von Kraft was, in fact, a young bachelor's
establishment, for his parents died before he attained the age of
manhood. He had often thought of looking for a partner to share his
comforts with him, but he hesitated to renounce the charm of
independence; an advantage he thought not to be despised, flattered as
he was by being honored and looked upon by the ladies of Ulm as a
desirable match. But ill-natured folks whispered abroad, that it was
principally owing to the decided disinclination of his old nurse and
housekeeper to have a young mistress in the house, which deterred him
from taking so important a step.

Herr Dieterick possessed a large house not far from the cathedral, a
pretty garden on St. Michael's Hill, furniture in high preservation,
large oak chests full of the finest linen, made of the yarn which the
ladies of the house of Kraft, with their female domestics, had for many
generations passed their long winter evenings in spinning; and an iron
chest in the bed-room, containing a large stock of gold florins. As to
his person, he was a good-looking, substantial man, always spruce in
his dress, tight-laced, and proud of the fine linen which he wore: his
deportment in the council was serious and full of business; he was well
conversant in state affairs, as well as in those of his own household;
and being sprung from a good old family, it was no wonder that he was
respected and looked up to by the whole town, and that any pretty young
Ulmer damsel would have thought herself too happy to become mistress of
these united advantages.

Upon a nearer inspection, however, the interior of his friend's
establishment appeared to Albert any thing but enviable. The only
domestic companions of Herr Dieterick were an old grey-headed
man-servant, two large cats, and the above-mentioned unsightly fat
nurse. These four creatures stared at the new guest with large
wondering eyes, which convinced him how little accustomed they were to
receive any increase of guests in the establishment. The cats went
round him mewing with raised backs; the old woman, in a cross manner,
fidgeted her large high round cap, ornamented with gold fringe, out of
its accustomed perpendicular position, and asked whether she should
prepare supper for two? When she heard her question not only affirmed,
but was ordered also (it was not quite clear whether it was an order or
a petition) to prepare the corner room on the second floor for the
stranger, her patience appeared exhausted; she shot a look of fury at
her young master, and left the room rattling a large bunch of keys,
which were suspended from her girdle. The hollow sound of her footstep,
and the noise of the door, as she, in her ill-humour, slammed it after
her, re-echoed through the dead stillness of the spacious corridors.

The old grey-headed servant had in the mean time pushed the table and
two ponderous arm-chairs near the immense stove; and having put a black
box on the table, with two candlesticks and a tankard of wine, he
whispered a few words to his master, and then withdrew. Herr Dieterick
invited his guest to take part in his usual evening amusement of
playing a game of tric-trac, which the black box contained.

Albert was amused at the proposal of his friend, and particularly when
he told him that, since he was twelve years old, he had been in the
habit of playing a game with his nurse every evening.

The dead silence which reigned throughout the house was only broken by
the occasional snuffing of the candles, the ticking of a large wooden
clock in a black case, and the monotonous throw of the dice. Albert
would gladly have heard some other symptoms of life, if it were but the
grumbling of the old nurse, or her footstep sounding again in the
corridors. The game had never possessed any charm for him, and more
particularly at the present moment, when his thoughts were otherwise
occupied. He was oppressed with a lowness of spirits which he could
scarcely control, separated as he now was by a few streets only from
his beloved, and anxious to satisfy his longing desire to see her
again. The unfeigned pleasure which Herr Dieterick appeared to derive
in winning nearly every game, imparted to his good-natured face
something so peculiarly agreeable, that it made up in some measure for
the loss of time.

When the clock struck eight Dieterick led his guest to supper, which
his housekeeper, spite of her ill humour, had prepared in her best
manner, for she spared nothing to keep up the dignity and honour of the
house of Kraft. The secretary again essayed the powers of his
eloquence, with which he sought to season the repast. He talked
concerning passing events, of the coming war, and gave Albert to
understand that his situation put him in possession of state secrets
known only to a select few. But in vain did Albert hope to hear
something about his pretty cousins. He attempted to sound him upon a
subject so nearly allied to his dearest interests, namely, upon the
views of the knight of Lichtenstein in the pending struggle, which he
had failed to elicit at the dinner; but the secretary, whether to
impress Albert with the importance of his confidential situation in the
council, or that he really did not know the intention of Bertha's
father, put on a more consequential and mysterious air than usual, and
the only information he would impart was, that the knight was then in
Ulm with some others of Würtemberg.

This news was at least satisfactory so far as the turn it was likely to
give to his fate. His joy was now for the first time complete, in the
satisfaction of having joined a party which, except for the great names
at the head of it, was otherwise indifferent to him. "And so her father
is also among those assembled here!" thought he. "May I not hope to
have the good fortune to fight by the side of that good man, and prove
myself worthy of my name, and of her I love?" He felt the conviction
that Albert von Sturmfeder would not be the last in a battle.

His host, after supper, conducted him to his bed-room, and took his
leave with a hearty wish for a good night's rest. Albert examined his
room closely, and found it to correspond precisely with the rest of the
gloomy house. The round frames of the windows, warped by age, the dark
woodwork of the walls and ceiling, the large stove projecting far into
the apartment, the enormous bed with a broad canopy and heavy stuff
curtains, gave a dull, nay a melancholy, effect to the whole. But still
every thing was arranged for his comfort. Clean snow-white sheets
invited him within as he threw back the curtains of the bed, the stove
threw out an agreeable warmth, a night lamp was placed in a niche in
the wall, and even a tankard of spiced hot wine, by way of a nightcap,
was not forgotten. He closed the curtains as he got into bed, and
scanned over in his mind the passing events of the day. Having taken
them in their due order as they had occurred, he had reason to be
satisfied with his position; but, when he afterwards fell into the
province of dreaming, they were all heaped up in crowded confusion in
his mind, far beyond the power of unravelling. One object alone was
perfectly clear to him,--it was the portrait of his beloved Bertha.



                               CHAPTER V.

            And is it mere illusion? Say--
              Or will that one so kind, so true,
            To whom my heart and life are due,
              Be to my arms restored this day?
                                             F. HAUG.

Albert was awoke the next morning by a tap at the door. He threw open
the curtains, and perceived that the sun was already high up. The
knocking increased, when, shortly after, his kind host entering,
inquired how his guest had slept, and explained to him the cause of his
early visit. The grand council had determined on the preceding evening
to celebrate the arrival of the confederates by a ball, which was to
take place that very evening in the town-hall. It was his province, as
secretary to the council, to make all the necessary arrangements for
this important affair. He had to secure the services of the town
musicians, and to invite the first families in the name of the senate.
But his first concern would be to hasten to impart this extraordinary
piece of good news to his charming cousins.

He related all this to his guest with an air of great importance, and
assured him he was so full of business that he scarcely knew where his
head was. Albert had only one thought, that of seeing and speaking with
Bertha, and he was so overjoyed in the anticipation of such-unlooked
for happiness, that he gladly would have embraced the bearer of the
good tidings, if prudence had not deterred him from thus exhibiting his
secret feelings.

"I can plainly see," said the scribe, "the pleasure this news gives
you; the love of dancing brightens up your eyes already. I can promise
you a couple of partners, such as you will not find every day. You
shall dance with my cousins; for I am their chaperon on such occasions,
and I will so arrange the matter that you and no other shall be the
first to engage them; they will be enchanted when I promise them the
best dancer in the room." With this he left the apartment, wishing his
friend good morning, cautioning him when he went out of the house not
to forget to notice it, so as to be able to find it again at dinner
time.

Herr Kraft being a near relation of the Herrn von Besserer, was
entitled to free access to his house, and upon this occasion he made an
earlier call than usual.

He found the maidens still at breakfast. Ladies of the present day may
perhaps be shocked at the homely meal which our two belles of Ulm, in
the year 1519, were partaking of when their cousin Dieterick entered
the room. It was not an elegant déjeuné, served up in painted porcelain
in the form of beautiful antique vases, or curious-shaped chocolate
cups; no, the natural grace of Marie and Bertha was not impaired by the
occupation of breakfasting on humble _beer-soup_,[1] at six in the
morning, served up in the brown-coloured jug of that day. Can this
avowal, however, prejudice the attractive qualities of these two
beauties? In the eyes of some it perhaps may; but whoever could have
seen Marie and Bertha, in their pretty little morning caps and neat
clean dresses, would certainly, as cousin Kraft did, have no objection
to partake of the breakfast with them.

"I can see at once, cousin," began Marie, after the usual salutations
of the morning, "that you would like to partake of our soup, because, I
suppose, your old cross nurse has not taken care of you this morning;
but don't flatter yourself that you will get any here, for you deserve
punishment, and must expect----"

"Oh, we have been waiting for you so long," interrupted Bertha.

"Yes, to be sure we have," said Marie, with her usual quick way; "but
don't flatter yourself that we care as much about your society, as to
be informed of the news of what is going on, that's all."

The scribe had been long accustomed to be received by Marie in this
manner. He determined, therefore, to make himself as agreeable as
possible, satisfying her curiosity by giving her all the gossip of the
town, in order to pacify the jealous mood, which he thought he had
excited. He was about to begin, when Marie interrupted him. "We know,"
said she, "that you are too fond of a long story, and as we witnessed
most of your doings in the town-hall yesterday from the balcony, we'll
say nothing touching your drinking bout there, which speaks not much to
your credit; but answer me this question."--She placed herself before
him in an attitude of comic seriousness, and went on: "Dieterick von
Kraft, scribe of the most noble council of state, did you notice among
the confederates, at the dinner given yesterday in the town-hall, a
remarkably distinguished-looking young knight, with long light-brown
hair, a face not so milk-white as your own, but not less handsome; a
small beard, not so carefully combed as yours, but much more beautiful;
a light blue scarf with silver----!"

"Oh, that is no other than my guest," cried cousin Kraft; "he rode a
large brown horse, and wore a blue jacket, slashed at the shoulders,
and turned up with light blue."

"Yes, yes, go on; the very one," said Marie; "we have our particular
reasons for inquiring all about him."

"Well, that is Albert von Sturmfeder," answered the scribe, "a handsome
charming young fellow. It is curious that you should be the first he
noticed in coming into the town." Kraft then related all the
particulars of what had passed at the dinner, how he was at once struck
by the manly figure, the commanding and attractive countenance of the
young man, who, by good luck, became his neighbour at table, and that
the more he knew of him the more he liked him; so much so, that he had
invited him to his house.

Bertha rose from her seat, and went to look for her work-box, turning
her back at the same time upon both her cousins, in order to conceal a
blush which flew to her forehead, and which proved that not one word of
Dieterick's conversation was lost upon her.

"Come, that is very kind of you, cousin," said Marie, as he finished:
"I believe it is the first time you have ventured to have a guest in
your house. I should like to have seen the face of old Sabina, when
master Dieter, as she calls you, brought a stranger home so late at
night."

"Oh," said the scribe, "she resembled the dragon attacking St. George;
but I gave her to understand pretty clearly, that it was not at all
improbable, I might soon bring home one of my pretty cousins----"

"Ah, get away with you, and don't talk nonsense," resumed Marie, as
she tried to withdraw her hand, which he had taken, blushing highly at
the same time. She had never appeared so pretty in his eyes as at this
moment. Bertha's serious face, in proportion as this flirtation
increased, lost its attraction in his estimation, the balance of his
devotion was all in favour of the animated Marie, who now sat before
him in all the bloom of blushing beauty.

Bertha having slipt out of the room, Marie escaped the tender grasp of
Dieterick's hand, and profited by this opportunity to turn the subject
of the conversation.

"There she goes," she said, as she looked after her cousin; "I would
wager she is going to her room to weep again. She cried so violently
yesterday, that it has made me also quite melancholy."

"What is the matter with her?" asked Dieterick, with interest.

"I am as ignorant of the cause of her grief as ever," answered Marie;
"I have asked her over and over again; but she only shakes her head, as
if there was no hope left. 'This unhappy war!' is all she ever gave me
for answer."

"And is old Lichtenstein still determined to take her back to his
castle?"

"Certainly," answered Marie; "you should have heard how the old man
swore yesterday, when the confederates entered! Well, he is devoted to
his Duke, heart and soul, so he may go, with all my heart. As soon as
war is declared, he intends taking his departure with her."

Herr Dieterick appeared very thoughtful; he rested his head upon his
hand, and listened to his cousin in silence.

"And only think," she continued, "yesterday, after the entrance of the
leaguists into the town, she wept more than ever. You know she was
always serious and melancholy; but as if that circumstance were to
decide the fate of the war, she is now quite disconsolate, I don't
believe it is the idea of leaving Ulm that affects her; but I suspect,"
she added, mysteriously, "she has some secret attachment at heart."

"Yes, I have long remarked that," sighed Herr Dieterick; "but how can I
help it?"

"You! how can you help it?" laughed Marie, all signs of sorrow on
Bertha's account vanishing from her face at these words. "No, indeed,
you need not flatter yourself that you are the cause of her suffering.
She was in this state long before you ever saw her."

The worthy secretary was very much put out by this assurance. He
thought in his heart that a farewell from him was the real cause of
Bertha's state, and her care-worn countenance at this moment almost
regained the preponderance in his changeable heart. Marie went on to
deride his conceitedness, when all of a sudden he recollected the main
object of his visit, which he had lost sight of during the
conversation. Marie sprang up with a scream of joy, as her cousin
imparted to her the news of the ball.

"Bertha, Bertha!" she cried out, at the height of her voice, so that
her cousin, startled, and fearing lest some accident had happened,
hastened to her assistance. But before she had scarcely had time to
enter the room, Marie said again, "Bertha, a ball at the town-hall this
evening!"

This news was a happy surprise to her also. "When? are the strangers
invited also?" were her rapid questions, whilst a deep red covered her
cheeks, and a ray of joy shot from her sorrowful eyes, scarcely able to
contain their tears.

Marie and her cousin Kraft were both astonished at Bertha's rapid
change from depression of spirits to sudden joy, and Dieterick could
not help remarking, that he supposed she must be passionately fond of
dancing. But he was equally mistaken in this instance, as he was when
he mistook Albert von Sturmfeder for a connoisseur of wine.

Herr Kraft, supposing his cousins would now wish to occupy themselves
with the important preparation of dress, rather than listen to anything
else he might have to say, took his departure, to fulfil the rest of
his weighty duties. He hastened to give the requisite orders, and to
invite, in person, the principal guests, and higher families. He was
received everywhere as the messenger of good news; for tradition says,
that the pleasure of dancing is not the passion of the present day
only.

His arrangements were soon accomplished. In those days, in order to be
merry and cheerful, it was not absolutely necessary there should be a
long suite of apartments, lighted up with flaming chandeliers, and
furnished with numerous unmeaning things, which encumber the
fashionable apartments of the present age. All was simple. The room in
the town-hall was, from its size, well adapted for the purpose, and the
humble rude-shaped lamps which hung on the walls, had, up to that time,
thrown out light enough to show off the dresses and illumine the pretty
faces of the maidens of Ulm.

But not only had the arrangements of the active scribe succeeded in
everything he had undertaken on this important occasion; he had also in
the course of his visits learned some secret intelligence which had
been confided solely to the committee of the council, and the principal
officers of the League.

Satisfied with the result of his various avocations, he returned home
at noon, when his first step was to inquire after his guest.

Albert had been employed, during the absence of his host, in looking
over a beautifully-written book of chronicles, which he found in his
room. The neat painted figures which formed the first letter of the
chapters, the pictures of fields of battle, and triumphal entries of
victorious troops, delineated with a bold outline, and painted with
peculiar care and labour, and which were dispersed throughout the
volume, had amused him for some time. His mind being full of the
warlike figures he had been examining, induced him to think of his own
weapons, and of polishing his helmet, armour, and the sword which he
had inherited from his father. He accordingly set to work, at the same
time singing sometimes a cheerful, sometimes a serious song, to the
great annoyance of the unmusical organs of Frau Sabina.

Dieterick heard the sounds of his agreeable voice as he walked up
stairs, and he could not resist listening at the door until he had
finished his song. It was one of those touching strains, bordering
almost on the melancholy, which has been brought down to our times, and
is to be heard even now in the mouth of the Swabians. Often and with
pleasure have we listened to those strains on the charming banks of the
Neckar, struck with the beautiful simplicity and lengthened sound of
their harmony.

Albert went on singing:

              Swift as thought
            All our pleasures come to nought!
            The charger yesterday he press'd,
            To-day the death-shot pierced his breast,
            To-morrow opes the chilly grave.

              Such the measure
            Of all earthly bliss and pleasure!
            In that comely cheek of thine,
            The lily and the rose combine;
            But rose and lily fade and die.

              Then resigned
            To God's will, I yield my mind:
            Should the trumpet sound a call,
            Should it be my fate to fall,
            Say "A gallant soldier's gone."

"Really you have a fine voice," said his host, as he entered the
apartment; "but why sing such melancholy songs? I prefer a merry and
cheerful one, such as a young fellow of twenty-eight ought to sing."

Albert put his sword aside, and gave his hand to his friend. "Every one
to his taste," said he, "but I think that to those whose occupation is
war, and whose life is in constant jeopardy, a song which carries
consolation and encouragement to the heart of the soldier, gives death
a milder aspect."

"That's just what I mean, also," said Dieterick; "but what is the use
of being melancholy upon a subject which is certainly the lot of all?
'If you paint the devil on the wall, he will surely appear,' says the
proverb; however, that saying does not hold good as the case now
stands."

"How? is not war decided," asked Albert, with curiosity; "has the
Würtemberger accepted conditions?"

"Conditions? none will be made with him," answered the secretary, with
an air of contempt; "he has lived his longest day as Duke; it is our
turn now to govern. I will let you into a secret," added he, looking
big with importance and mystery, "but it must be strictly between us.
Your hand! You think the Duke has fourteen thousand Swiss with him?
They are scattered to the winds. The messenger we despatched to Zurich
and Bern has returned. All the Swiss at Blaubeuren and on the Alb will
be obliged to return home immediately."

"Return home?" said Albert, with astonishment, "and for what purpose?
Are they at war themselves in their own country?"

"No," was the answer, "they are in profound peace, but have no money.
Believe me, before a week passes over our heads, messengers will arrive
to order the whole army home."

"But will they go? they came to the Duke's assistance of their own
accord; who can order them to leave his colours?"

"That's very easily managed; do you suppose they will disobey the
orders of their magistrates at the risk of the loss of their property,
and imprisonment? Ulerich has too little money to retain them, and they
will not serve him upon mere promises."

"But you cannot call that behaving honourably," remarked Albert, "to
deprive the enemy of the arms with which he wishes to meet you in fair
contest."

"In politics, as we call it," answered the scribe, thinking to
establish his knowledge of state affairs in the mind of the
inexperienced young soldier, "in politics, honour at best is assumed
but for appearance sake; for example, the Swiss will explain to the
Duke, in excuse for deserting him, that it would be against their
conscience to allow their troops to serve against the independence of
the free towns; but the truth is, that we can fill the pockets of the
bears with more gold florins in order to keep them at home, than the
Duke can to assist him."

"Well, after all, let the Swiss desert the Duke," said Albert,
"Würtemberg will still be able of herself to send forth valiant and
ready hearts sufficient to prevent any dog passing the Alb."

"We have thought of an expedient in that case also," replied the
scribe, in explanation; "we will address a letter to the states of
Würtemberg, and warn them against the insufferable government of their
Duke, exhorting them at the same time to cast off their allegiance to
him, and join the League in the laudable undertaking of crushing his
tyrannous conduct."

"How!" cried Albert, with horror, whose generous mind was as yet
unacquainted with the intrigues of politics: "I call that playing the
traitor. Would you force the Duke out of his country by such underhand,
unworthy means, and corrupt his confiding subjects to induce them to
become his bitterest enemies?"

"I believe you have been thinking, all along, that we wish nothing more
than that he should restore Reutlingen again to its former rank of a
town of the empire? But how then is Hutten, with his forty-two
associates, to be remunerated? In what way is Sickingen to satisfy the
demands of his thousand cavalry and twelve thousand infantry, if he
does not get a good slice of the country to pay them? And the Duke of
Bavaria, do you suppose he will not require a share of it also? And we
Ulmers, our frontier borders on Würtemberg----"

"But the Princes of Germany," interrupted Albert, impatiently, "do you
suppose they will quietly look on and see you parcel out his rightful
possession among strangers? The Emperor, surely, will not suffer you to
hunt a Duke of the empire out of his country!"

Herr Dieterick had a ready answer to this question also. "There is no
doubt," said he, "that Charles succeeds his father the Emperor: we
shall then offer to place the country under his protection, and, should
Austria throw her mantle over it, who can resist her power? But what
makes you look so downcast? if you thirst for war, you will readily
find means to gratify your wish. The nobility still hold to the Duke,
and many a one will have his head broken before his castle walls. But
we shall lose our dinner if we go on talking thus, come soon, and we'll
see what old Sabina has provided for us." Upon which the secretary left
the room of his guest with a proud step, as if he himself were already
installed in the office of protector of Würtemberg.

Albert did not send the most friendly look after his host as he
withdrew. He replaced his helmet again in the corner, which he had but
an hour ago taken such pleasure in polishing; with sorrow he looked at
his sword, that faithful piece of steel, which his father had proved in
many a hard conflict, and which he had sent to his orphan son from the
field of battle, as his sole legacy. "Fight honourably," was the device
engraved on its blade, and he asked himself, could he now draw it in a
cause, which bore injustice on its front? Instead of the contest being
decided by the military talents of experienced men, and the bravery of
individuals, as he had supposed, he now learned that secret intrigue,
designated by Herr Dieterick "politics," was to settle the question!
Instead of the exhilirating clash of arms, and the prospect of glory,
which had induced him to take part in the struggle, he perceived that
he was to promote the covetous plans of designing men! Would his honour
permit him to assist these low-minded Philistines of townsfolk, in
expelling an ancient princely house from its rights, which his
ancestors had served with willing arm? No, the thought was intolerable;
and to be tutored by this Kraft was still more repugnant to his
feelings.

He could not however long entertain any ill-will against his
kind-hearted host, when he considered that this plan was not concocted
by his own brain, and that men, like this political scribe, when they
get hold of a state secret, or some great political scheme, foster it
as their own, and as such try to instil it into the minds of their
adopted children, as if the wisdom of Minerva had sprung out of their
own thick heads.

He therefore met his friend in good humour, when dinner was announced.
The conversation between them was dull and common-place. The scribe's
thoughts appeared to be occupied with some important project; and
Albert taking a review in his mind of the whole state of affairs as
they stood, consoled himself with the idea that, as the father of
Bertha had sided with the League as he supposed, and such men as
Fronsberg had proffered their services in the same cause, there might
be less reason to doubt the justice of it than he imagined.

            Youth's ever ready with its word; it seizes
            The first that comes to hand, as 'twould a knife:
            And thus ye cry or "shame," or "nobly done,"
            On every thing--all's either good or bad.

These words of the poet well describe the feelings of Albert at this
moment, and the sudden change in his sentiments was also to be
attributed to his inexperienced mind in worldly affairs, acting
as he did alone, without the aid and advice of any tried friend.
Anticipating, therefore, the happy moment of meeting his love at the
ball in the evenings where he would be able to speak with her, and from
her lips have his doubts cleared up respecting her father's intentions,
the gloom with which his mind had been overcast in his conversation
with his friend the secretary gave away to the pleasing prospect of
seeing her again.

FOOTNOTE TO CHAPTER V.:

[Footnote 1: Beer-soup was a mixture of beer, eggs, sugar, cinnamon,
and a little milk, with crums of bread, in quantity according to the
taste.]



                              CHAPTER VI.

           "And in the merry dance, she whispers, to impart,
            In soft accents, the sorrows of her heart."
                                                    L. UHLAND.

If we had ransacked all the pawnbrokers' shops, and attended the
auction of an antiquary's goods, to find "a pocket-book giving a
description of the social pleasures, with the fashionable figure
dances, of the year 1519," we could not have been more fortunate than
in the fund of information which chance has thrown in our way upon that
subject.

Having arrived at that part of the present history which is to treat of
a ball so far back as 1519, a difficulty arose of ascertaining what
were the figures, and how they were danced in those days.

We might, indeed, have simply said, "they danced;" but how easily might
some of our fair readers have made an anachronism, and imagined an old
veteran such as George von Fronsberg, booted and spurred, standing up
in a cotillon. In this embarrassment a very rare book fell in our way,
entitled, "The beginning, origin, and customs of tournaments in the
holy Roman Empire. Frankfort, 1564." We found in these precious pages,
among other well executed wood-cuts, the representation of a ball in
the time of the Emperor Maximilian, which was about a year before the
date of this history.

We may, therefore, take it for granted, that the ball in the town-hall
of Ulm differed in nothing from the explanations afforded by the
above-mentioned drawing, and consequently we shall be able to give a
better idea of the amusements of those days, by giving a description of
the picture, than by our own delineation.

The foreground is occupied by the spectators; and the musicians,
composed of fifers, drummers, and trumpeters, placed in a gallery,
"sound a blast," according to the expression in the tournament book. On
either side, towards the further end of the room, are arranged those
who intend to join in the dance, dressed in rich heavy stuffs. In our
days, we see only two standing colours on such occasions, black and
white, in which the ladies and gentlemen are divided as night and day.
Not so in former times. An extraordinary brilliancy of colours shoot
their rays from the picture. The most beautiful red, from fiery scarlet
to the deepest purple, accompanied by rich deep blue which surprises us
in the paintings of the old masters, form the cheerful colours of their
picturesque drapery and dresses. The centre of the apartment is
occupied by the actual performers. The dance resembles very much the
Polonaise of the present day, in which the gentleman, with his partner,
walk around the room in procession. Four trumpeters, bearing heraldic
flags suspended to their instruments, open the procession, followed by
the first couple. The rank alone of the gentleman entitles him, with
his lady, to the honour of leading; and at each change of the dance,
the next in precedence takes his place. Then come two torch-bearers,
followed by the rest of the dancers in pairs. The ladies walked with
modest and reserved demeanour; and the men placed their feet in a
singular position, as if they were on the point of making a high leap.
Some appear also to stamp with their high heels in time to the music; a
custom even now seen in the Swabian village festivals.

Such was the ball in Ulm. The first blast of the trumpets had sounded
before Albert von Sturmfeder entered the room. His eye flew through the
ranks of the dancers, and soon fell upon his beloved. She was led by a
young Franconian knight of his acquaintance; but she did not appear to
heed the animated conversation which he addressed to her. Her eyes
sought the ground, her look expressed seriousness, bordering on sorrow;
very different from the rest of the female part of the company, who,
floating in all the pleasures of the ball, gave one ear to the music,
the other to their partner; accompanied by inquisitive looks, now to
their acquaintances for the purpose of reading approbation in their
choice of their cavalier, now towards him, to ascertain if his
attention was exclusively taken up with them.

The cornets and trumpets having sounded a finale in lengthened tones,
put an end to the first dance. Dieterick von Kraft having remarked the
arrival of his guest, came to lead him to his cousins, according to his
promise. He whispered to him, that, having himself already engaged
Marie for the next dance, he had asked Bertha's hand for him.

Both the girls had been prepared for the appearance of the interesting
stranger; nevertheless, upon the recollection of the remark she had
made upon him when he passed under her window, Marie's lively features
were covered with a deep blush when he was introduced to them. She was
unable to account to herself for the embarrassment his presence now
produced on her, having only seen him once in her life, and never heard
of him before. Whether it was that she had selected him as the most
striking cavalier in the procession, or whether, among the young
citizens of Ulm, she thought none were to be compared with him in
appearance; such was the effect of this sudden attack on her feelings,
one to which she had hitherto been a stranger, that she had no little
difficulty in endeavouring to conceal her confusion from his
observation.

Though Bertha was timid of betraying the secret of her heart before her
cousin, she had no such feeling to struggle with in regard to Albert.
Their mutual attachment was of long standing and deep-rooted. The first
time she had seen him since their separation in Tübingen was in the
ranks of the confederates, to whom her father was inveterately opposed.
From that moment her peace of mind had vanished. Her soul was troubled
with cruel doubts and misgivings; and all her hopes appeared for ever
blasted. She nevertheless had sufficient command over herself, and for
a moment the weight which oppressed her mind gave way to joy now that
he stood before her; and she returned his salutation with the same
endearing smile which she was wont to do in the days of their unclouded
happiness. And had her cousin not been taken up in concealing her own
state of embarrassment, she could not have failed to discover, in the
tender glance of Bertha's eye, something which expressed more than
common courtesy.

"I bring you Albert von Sturmfeder, my worthy guest," began the scribe
to Marie, "who begs to have the pleasure of dancing with you."

"Were I not already engaged to my cousin Kraft for the next," said
Marie to the young knight, with recovered self-possession, "I would,
with pleasure; but Bertha is disengaged."

"If you are not engaged, may I have that pleasure?" said he, turning to
Bertha.

"I am engaged to you," she answered. Then it was that Albert heard
again, after so long an absence, that voice which had often called him
by the most endearing name; and he dwelt on those eyes which still
looked on him with undiminished fidelity.

The trumpets again sounded throughout the room. The second in command
of the army of the League, Waldburg Truchses, having the precedence in
the coming dance, came forth with his lady: the torch-bearers followed;
the couples arranged themselves, and Albert also, taking Bertha's hand,
placed himself in the ranks. Her eyes now no longer sought the ground,
but were directed solely to him. But in the expression of her
countenance, Albert could plainly perceive, there was something hanging
on her mind indicative of mental suffering. Joy at meeting him again,
which had but a moment before brightened up her features, was now
succeeded by an expression of dejection, which he could in no wise
account for. So much was he struck by the sudden change in her manner,
that he was on the point of upbraiding her, and taxing her unjustly
with an alteration of love towards him. Grieved at the pain he appeared
to suffer, she gently begged him to wait a fitting moment, and then she
would explain every thing. She looked cautiously behind her at
Dieterick and Marie, who were the next couple to them, to see if they
were near enough to overhear her conversation. Finding they were at
some distance, she said, "Ah! Albert, what unlucky star has brought you
into this army?"

"You were that star, Bertha," he replied: "I thought your father would
be on the side of the League, and I am glad not to find myself
mistaken. Can you blame me for having thrown aside the learned books,
and taken to the profession of arms? No other inheritance has fallen to
my lot than the sword of my father. I will put it to usury; and prove
to your father, that he who loves his daughter is not unworthy of her."

"Oh, God! I trust you have not yet sworn allegiance to the League?" she
exclaimed, interrupting him.

"Do not frighten yourself so, dearest; I have not yet fully bound
myself to it, but I intend to do so in a day or two. Will you not allow
your Albert to gain some little fame! What is it that makes you so
anxious about me? Your father is old, and still he goes with us."

"Ah! my father, my father!" Bertha said, in a desponding tone, "he is
indeed--but stop, Albert, stop, Marie notices us. But I must speak with
you to-morrow--I must, should it cost me my happiness. Oh if I but knew
how to manage it."

"But what is it that agitates you in this way, beloved?" asked Albert,
to whom it was inexplicable how Bertha should only think of the danger
that awaited him, instead of being overjoyed at this meeting. "The
danger is not so great as you imagine," he whispered to her: "think
only of the happiness of being together again, that I can press your
hand, and that we can see each other face to face. Enjoy the present
moment, and be cheerful."

"Cheerful? Oh, those times are gone by, Albert. Hear me, and be
firm;--my father is opposed to the League." She said this in a low
subdued tone.

"Good Heavens! what do you say?" cried the young man; and leant towards
Bertha, as if he had not distinctly heard the ill-foreboding words.
"Oh! tell me; is not your father at present in Ulm?"

The poor girl had thought herself strong enough to withstand the shock
she felt at this moment, but it was too powerful; it deprived her of
utterance, and she could scarcely contain her tears. She answered only
by a slight pressure of her hand; and with downcast eyes went to seek
Kraft, led by Albert, in order to gain a little time to combat the
grief she experienced. The strong mind of this young maiden at last
triumphed over the weakness of her nature; and she whispered to her
lover, in a composed tone, "My father is Duke Ulerich's warmest friend;
and so soon as war is declared, he will take me back to Lichtenstein."

The noise of the drums at this instant was deafening; the trumpets
clanged in their fullest tones as they saluted Truchses, who how passed
by the musicians; and, according to the custom of those days, threw
them some pieces of silver, which caused the trumpets to redouble their
deafening sounds.

The whispered conversation of our two lovers was overpowered by the
confounding noise of the instruments; but their eyes had so much the
more to say to each other in this apparent shipwreck of their hopes, so
that they did not notice the observations, which were passed on them by
the surrounding spectators, as being the handsomest couple in the room.
Marie's ear was not shut to the passing remarks of the crowd. She was
too kind-hearted to be envious of her cousin's praise, and consoled
herself with the idea, that, were she in her place, beside the handsome
young man, the couple would not be less attractive. But it was the
animated conversation which Bertha kept up with her partner, that
particularly attracted her attention. Her reserved cousin, who seldom
or ever talked long with any man, now appeared to speak with even more
earnestness than he did. The music and noise, however, hindered Marie
from overhearing the subject of their conversation. This excited
her curiosity to such a degree (a feeling--perhaps, not without
justice--attributed specially to young ladies), that she drew her own
partner nearer to them, for the purpose of listening; but whether it
was by accident or design, that the conversation either dropped or was
kept up in a subdued tone, the nearer she approached, she could not
catch a word of it.

Marie's interest in the young man increased with these obstacles to her
curiosity. Her good cousin Kraft had never appeared so great a bore to
her as now, for all the pretty sayings with which he endeavoured to fix
her attention, were only so many hindrances to her observing the others
more closely. She was therefore glad when the dance was over. She hoped
the next would be more agreeable, with the young knight for her
partner.

Albert came and engaged her, when she sprang with joy to the hand which
he offered; but she deceived herself in finding him the agreeable
partner she had anticipated. Indifferent, reserved, sunk in deep
thought, giving short answers to her questions, it was too clear he was
not the same person who had but a moment before conversed in so
animated a manner with her cousin.

"Was this the courteous knight," thought Marie, "who had saluted them
in so polite a manner, without ever having seen them before? Was it the
same cheerful and merry person whom cousin Kraft had introduced? the
same who had spoken with Bertha so earnestly? or could she--yes, it was
too evident that Bertha had pleased him better than herself--perhaps,
because she was the first to dance with him."

Marie had been little accustomed to see her reserved cousin preferred
before her, which this apparent victory seemed to indicate. Her vanity
was piqued, she felt herself estranged from Bertha, and conceived
herself bound to exert her talents and winning arts to re-establish
herself in her lost rights. She therefore, in her usual merry mood,
carried on the conversation about the coming war, which she contrived
to lengthen out till the end of the dance. "Well," said she, "and how
many campaigns have you gone through, Albert von Sturmfeder?"

"This will be my first," he answered, abruptly, for he was annoyed that
she kept up the conversation, as he wished so much to speak to Bertha
again.

"Your first!" said Marie, in astonishment. "You surely want to deceive
me, for I perceive a large scar on your forehead."

"I got that at the university," he replied.

"How? are you a scholar?" asked Marie, her curiosity still more
excited. "Well, then, I suppose you have visited distant countries,
Padua or Bologna, or perhaps even the heretics in Wittenberg?"

"Not so far as you think," said he, as he turned to Bertha: "I have
never been further than Tübingen."

"In Tübingen?" cried Marie, surprised. This single word, like
lightning, unravelled in a moment every thing in her mind which before
had been obscure. A glance at Bertha, who stood before her with
downcast eyes, her cheeks suffused with the blush of confusion,
convinced her that, on that word, hung the key to a long list of
inferences which had occupied her thoughts. It was now quite clear why
the courteous knight saluted them; the cause of Bertha's tears could be
no other, than that of finding Albert had joined the opposite party;
the earnest conversation between them, and Sturmfeder's reserve to
herself, were satisfactorily explained to her mind. There was no
question of their having long known each other.

Indignation was the first feeling that ruffled Marie's breast. She
blushed for herself, when she felt she had endeavoured to attract the
attention of a young man whose heart was fully occupied by another
object. Ill humour, on account of Bertha's secrecy, clouded her
features. She sought excuse for her own conduct, and found it only in
the duplicity of her cousin. If she had but acknowledged, she said to
herself, the feeling which existed between her and the young knight,
she never would have shown the interest she took in him; he would have
been perfectly indifferent to her; she never would have experienced
this painful confusion.

Marie did not deign to give the unhappy young man another look during
the evening, and he was too much occupied with the painful sensations
of his own mind, to be aware of her ill will towards him. He was also
so unfortunate as to be scarcely able to say another word alone and
unobserved to Bertha. The ball ended, and left him in doubt as to what
her future fate, or the intentions of her father were likely to be. She
seized, however, a favourable moment to whisper to him on the
staircase, when she was going home, begging him to remain in the town
on the morrow, in the hope of finding an opportunity to speak with him.

The two girls went home, both ill at ease with each other. Marie gave
short, snappish answers to Bertha's questions, who, whether it was that
she suspected what was passing in her cousin's mind, or whether she was
overwhelmed by grief, became more melancholy and reserved than ever.

But when they entered their room, silent and cold towards each other,
then it was that they both felt how painful was the interruption of
their hitherto affectionate intercourse. Up to this eventful evening,
they had always assisted each other in all those little services, which
unite young girls in friendship. How different was it now? Marie had
taken the silver pin out of her rich light hair, which fell in long
ringlets over her beautiful neck. She attempted to put it up under her
cap, but unaccustomed to arrange it without Bertha's help, and too
proud to let her enemy, as she now called her cousin in her mind,
notice her embarrassment, she threw it away in a corner, and seized a
handkerchief to tie it up.

Bertha, unconscious of having offended her cousin, could not fail
noticing her change of affection towards her, and felt acutely the
apparent sting of her ruffled temper. She quietly picked up the cap,
and came to render her cousin her usual assistance.

"Away with you, you false one!" said the angry Marie, as she pushed
away the helping hand.

"Dearest Marie, have I deserved this of you?" said Bertha, gently, and
with tenderness. "Oh, if you but knew how unhappy I am, you would not
be so harsh with me."

"Unhappy, indeed!" loudly laughed the other, "unhappy! because the
courteous knight only danced with you once, I suppose."

"You are very hard, Marie," replied Bertha; "you are angry with me, and
will not even tell me the cause of your displeasure."

"Really! so you do not know how you have deceived me? but you cannot
keep your duplicity a secret any longer, which has subjected me to
scorn and confusion. I never could have thought you would have acted so
ungenerously, so falsely by me!"

The wounded feeling of being out-done by her cousin, and as she
thought, despised by Sturmfeder, was again awakened in Marie's mind;
her tears flowed, she laid her heated forehead in her hand, and her
rich locks fell over and hid her face.

Tears are the symptoms of gentle suffering, they say: Bertha had
experienced it, and continued her conversation with confidence. "Marie!
you have accused me of keeping a secret from you. I see you have
discovered that, which I never could have divulged. Put yourself in my
situation--ah! you yourself, cheerful and frank as you are, would never
have confided to me your inmost secret. But I will conceal it no
longer--you have guessed what my lips shunned to express. I love him!
Yes, and my love is returned. This mutual feeling dates much further
back than yesterday. Will you hear me? and I will tell you all."

Marie's tears still flowed on. She made no answer to Bertha's last
question, who now related to her the way in which they became
acquainted with each other in the house of her good aunt in Tübingen;
how she liked him, long before he acknowledged his love of her; and
narrated many endearing recollections of the past--the happy moments
they had spent together, their oath of fidelity at their separation.
"And now," she continued, with a painful smile, "he has been induced to
join the League in this unhappy war, because we were in Ulm, thinking,
very naturally, that my father was embarked in the same cause. He hopes
to render himself worthy of me by the aid of his sword; for he is poor,
very poor. Oh! Marie, you know my father--how good he is, but also how
stern, when any thing runs counter to his opinion. Would he give his
daughter to a man who has drawn his sword against Würtemberg? Certainly
not. This is the cause of all the trouble and grief I suffer. Often
have I wished to unburden my heart to you, but an uncontrollable
feeling closed my lips. But now that you know the whole truth, can you
still be angry with me? shall I lose my friend also, as well as my
beloved?"

Poor Bertha could contain her tears no longer, and wept aloud. Marie,
overpowered by the grief of her friend, embraced her cousin with the
warm affection of a tender heart sympathising in her painful situation,
and all feeling of enmity was in a moment extinguished in her breast.

"In a few days," said Bertha, after a short silence, "my father will
quit Ulm, and I must accompany him. But I must see Albert again, if it
were only for a quarter of an hour. Marie, your ingenuity can easily
find us an opportunity; only for a very short quarter of an hour!"

"But you do not wish to make him desert the good cause?" asked Marie.

"I know not what you call the good cause," replied Bertha. "The Duke's
cause is, perhaps, not less good than yours. You talk thus because you
belong to the League. I am a Würtemberger, and my father is faithful to
his Duke. But shall we girls decide upon the merits of the war? rather
let us think of the means, whereby I may see him again."

Marie had listened with so much interest to the history of her cousin,
that she quite forgot having ever entertained any ill-will towards her.
Besides which, being naturally fond of any thing involved in mystery,
she was glad of an opportunity, such as the present, to exercise her
wits. She felt all the importance and honour of being a confidant, and
consequently determined to spare no pains in serving the lovers in
their critical position.

After a few moments' thought, she said, "I have it; we'll invite him at
once into our garden."

"In the garden!" asked Bertha, fearful and incredulous; "and by whom?"

"His host, good cousin Dieterich himself shall bring him," answered
Marie. "That's a good thought! and he shall not know anything of the
plot; leave that alone to me."

Though Bertha was strong and determined in matters of importance, she
trembled for the result of this rash step. But her bold and cheerful
little cousin knew how to combat her scruples and fears. With renewed
hope, then, in the success of their scheme for the morrow, and their
hearts being restored again to their former mutual confidence, the
girls embraced each other with tender affection, and retired to rest.



                              CHAPTER VII.

            As like a spirit of the air
              She hangs upon his neck,
            In falt'ring tones the lovely fair
              At last essays to speak;
            "And wilt thou, then, thy true love leave
              For ever?"--thus the fair
            Began, when, overcome by grief,
              Her words are lost in air.
                                        SCHUBART.

Albert was sitting in his room, in the forenoon of the day after the
ball, thoughtful and dejected. He had paid a visit to his friend
Breitenstein, from whom he heard little that was consoling to his
hopes. A council of war had been assembled early in the morning, and
war was irrevocably decided upon. Twelve pages were despatched through
the Goecklinger gate to convey the declarations of defiance of the Duke
of Bavaria, the nobility, and assembled states, to the Würtembergers at
Blaubeuren. This news was speedily spread from mouth to mouth through
the streets, and joy at the prospect of marching at last into the
field, was visibly depicted on every countenance. To one alone was the
announcement a terrible blow. Grief drove him from the circle of the
joyous multitude, who adjourned to the wine shops, to celebrate, by
loud carousal, the birthday of the war, and to cast lots for the booty
of anticipated victory. Ah! his lot was already cast! A bloody field of
battle was spread between him and his beloved; she was lost to him for
a length of time, perhaps for ever.

Hurried steps ascending the staircase, roused him out of his melancholy
mood. His friend the scribe put his head in at the door, crying out,
"Good luck, my boy! the dance is about to commence in good earnest.
Have you heard the news? war is announced, and our messengers have been
despatched an hour ago, with the declaration to the enemy."

"I know that already," said his gloomy guest.

"Well, and does not your heart jump more freely? Have you also
heard--no, you could not," continued Dieterich, as he approached him in
confidence--"the Swiss have withdrawn their aid from the Duke."

"How? Have they deserted him?" replied Albert. "Well, then, I suppose
that will put an end to the war."

"I would not be quite certain of that," said the scribe, doubtfully.
"The Duke of Würtemberg is young and bold, and has many knights and
followers at his command. He will not, indeed, run the risk of fighting
a battle in the field, but many fortified castles and cities remain
faithful to his cause. Höllenstein, defended by Stephen von Lichow,
Göppingen, which Philip von Rechberg will not give up at the first
shot, Schorndorf, Rothenberg, Arsperg, but, above all, Tübingen, which
he has strongly fortified, still hold faithful to him. Many a one will
bite the grass before your steed drinks of the water of the Neckar."

"Well, well!" he continued, perceiving this news did not cheer up his
silent guest, "if this warlike message does not please you, you will,
perhaps, lend a willing ear to a more peaceful commission. Tell me,
have you not a cousin somewhere or other?"

"A cousin, yes; but why do you ask?"

"Only think! now I understand the confused conversation I had with
Marie a little while ago. As I came out of the town hall, she winked to
me from her window to come to her, when she desired me to bring my
guest this afternoon into her garden on the Danube. Bertha, who knows
your cousin very well, has something of importance to send to her, and
hopes you will be so kind as to be the bearer of it. Such secrets and
commissions generally consist in mere trifles. I would bet, it is
nothing but a little model of a weaver's loom, or a pattern of fine
wool, or some mysterious secret in the art of cooking; perhaps a few
seeds of some rare flower, for Bertha is a great florist. However, if
these girls pleased you yesterday, you will have no objection to
accompany me to-day."

In the midst of his painful thoughts, on the hour of separation from
his love, Albert could scarce refrain from laughing at the cunning
ingenuity of the girls; he proffered his hand heartily to the welcome
messenger, and prepared to follow his friend.

The garden was situated on the banks of the Danube, about two thousand
paces below the bridge. It was not large, and bore the appearance of
being kept with care and attention. The fruit trees were as yet not
clothed with foliage, neither were the curiously formed flower beds
ornamented with flowers; a long walk of yew trees skirting the bank of
the river, and terminating in a large arbour, formed a pleasing picture
by their bright green colour, and gave sufficient protection to a white
neck and arm, against the piercing rays of a burning sun. The two
girls, awaiting the arrival of the young men, were seated on a
commodious stone bench in the arbour, and had an extended view, up and
down the Danube, through apertures made in the side of it.

Bertha sat there in sorrowful thought, her arm resting on one of the
apertures, and her head, weary from grief and weeping, supported on her
hand. Her dark glossy hair threw out in strong relief her beautiful
white complexion, which sorrow had rendered a deadly pale colour;
sleepless nights had robbed her brilliant blue eye of its usual
animation, and given to it a languishing--perhaps so much the more
interesting--look of melancholy. Beside her sat the rosy Marie, fresh
and plump, a perfect specimen of a merry heart. Her golden tresses,
animated round face, bright hazel eyes, light and lively movements,
were peculiarly striking when compared with the dark locks, oval
careworn countenance, and thoughtful look of her dejected cousin.

Marie appeared to have summoned up her most agreeable mood, expressly
for the purpose of consoling her cousin, or at least to dissipate
her pain. She prattled about indifferent things--she laughed at
and mimicked the gestures and peculiarities of many of their
acquaintances--she tried a thousand little arts, with which nature had
endowed her--but with little success; for only now and then a painful
smile spread over Bertha's beautiful features.

As a last resource, she took to her lute, which stood in the corner.
Bertha was an accomplished performer on this instrument, and Marie
would not have been easily persuaded to play before so expert a
mistress on any other occasion; but now, she hoped to be able to elicit
a smile, at least, if it were only on account of her bad performance.

           "What is Love, I'm ask'd to tell:
              Fain we would his nature know;
            You who've studied it so well,
              Why he pains us, prithee show.
            Joy it brings, if love be there;
            If pain, of love 't is not the spell;--
            Oh, then, I know the name that it should bear."

"Where did you get that old Swabian song?" asked Bertha, who had lent a
willing ear to the music and words.

"It is pretty, is it not? but the remainder is still more so; would you
like to hear it?" said Marie. "A music master, Hans Sacks, taught
it me in Nürnberg. It is not his own composition, but Walther's, the
bird-feeder, who lived and loved a good three hundred years ago. But
listen:

           "How I rightly may divine
              Love's enigma, prithee say.
            'Tis the charm of pow'r to join
              Two hearts, where each must own its sway;
            One heart avails not, each must share
              Its influence: dear mistress mine,
            Say, wilt thou share with me, thou lovely May?

"Well, though you have shared your love equally with the poor young
man," said the playful Marie, "I pity you, from my heart, the painful
burden of its weight. If such be its chains, cousin Kraft, who would
willingly give me a portion of his, must wait awhile, and groan under
the load of carrying the whole charge of it on his own shoulders. But I
see you are again absorbed in thought," she added, "so I must sing you
another of Walther's songs:

           "I know not what has chanced, I ween
              My sight was never on this wise.
            Since in my heart she first was seen,
              I see her still without my eyes.
            What miracle is this? What pow'r
              Enables me, without the aid of sight,
            To see her every day and every hour?

           "Would you then learn the organs and the art,
              By which I see to earth's extremest zone?
            They are the thoughts I nourish in my heart;
              They penetrate through walls of brick and stone;
            And, should these watchers fail, her presence still
              Is evermore, as 't were, before my eyes,
            Seen by my heart, my spirit, and my will."

Bertha praised the song of Walther the birdfeeder, as being consolatory
in separation. Marie agreed with her. "I have one more verse," she
added, smiling:

           "Though she wander'd in Swabia, far and wide,
              Through castles and walls her course he espied.
            O'er the Alb unto Lichtenstein had she gone,
              His eyes would have follow'd through rock and stone."

Marie was going on with her singing, when the garden door opened.
Footsteps were heard in the walk, and the girls rose to receive their
expected visitants.

"Albert von Sturmfeder," began Marie, after the usual salutations were
over, "you will pardon me for having ventured to invite you into my
father's garden; but, as my cousin, Bertha wishes to give you some
commissions, for her friend, I have taken the liberty." She then turned
to Dieterich von Kraft, and said, "We will not interrupt their
conversation; so, come and talk over the ball of last evening." Upon
which she took the hand of her cousin, and led him away down the
yew-tree walk.

Albert seated himself beside Bertha, who laid her head on his breast,
and wept bitterly. His most soothing words were unable to calm her
grief. "Bertha," he said, "you were always so stout-hearted; how can
you thus give up all hope of a happier destiny?"

"Hope?" she replied, sorrowfully: "to our hope, to our happiness, there
is an eternal end."

"But hearken, dearest," replied Albert, who, to cheer up her drooping
spirit, endeavoured to inspire her with courage; "let not this slight
interruption to our hopes throw its chilling influence over the purity
of our love, as if it were to extinguish altogether its bright flame.
All will be well yet. Rather let us put our trust in God, and wait his
almighty will; for I never can believe that He who knows the secret of
our hearts, and has joined them together by the indissoluble tie of
faithful attachment, will not, in his own way, make all things to work
for our good." These consoling words produced a smile upon her
countenance; but it pourtrayed the character of despondency rather than
of hope.

She replied, after a short silence, "Listen to me with attention,
Albert. I must acquaint you with a profound secret, upon which hangs my
father's life. He is as bitter an enemy to the League, as he is the
firm friend of the Duke. He is not come here solely for the purpose of
fetching his daughter home; no, he is using his utmost endeavour to
find out the plans of the enemy, and with money and address to spread
distrust and confusion among them. Do you suppose, then, that such a
determined adversary to the League, would ever consent to give his
daughter to a man who seeks to raise himself by our destruction? to one
who has attached himself to a party, whose object is not justice, but
plunder?"

"Your zeal, Bertha, for the Duke's cause, carries you too far," the
young man interrupted her; "you ought to know that many an honourable
man serves in our army."

"And even if this were the case," she replied, with animation, "still
they are deceived and led away, as you yourself also are."

"How are you so certain of that?" answered Albert, who, though he
suspected she was somewhat right, blushed to find the party he had
espoused should be so vilified by his beloved: "might not your father
be also equally blinded and deceived? How can he serve with such zeal
the cause of that proud ambitious Duke, who murders his nobility,
treads his citizens in the dust, squanders the industry of the land in
riotous living, and allows his peasantry to starve with hunger?"

"Yes, his enemies represent him in this light," she replied; "this army
speaks of him in the same terms; but ask those below, on the banks of
the Neckar, if they do not love their hereditary Prince, though his
hand may lay heavy on them at times? Ask those faithful men who have
rallied around him, whether they are not willing and ready, to shed
their blood for the grand-child of Eberhard, rather than allow that
proud Duke of Bavaria, that rapacious nobility, those needy townsfolk
to tread their land?"

Albert was thoughtfully silent for a time. "But," he asked, "how can
his warmest supporters exculpate him from the murder of Hutten?"

"You are very ready to talk of your honour," Bertha answered, "and will
not suffer the Duke to defend his own. Hutten did not fall by
treachery, as his partisans have given out to the world, but in
honourable fight, in which the Duke's life was equally exposed. I do
not wish to excuse him for all his actions, but it is but just to
remember, that a young man, like him, surrounded by evil advisers, has
not the power always to act wisely. But he is really good, and if you
knew how mild and humane he can be!"

Albert was piqued that Bertha should speak in such glowing terms of the
Duke's virtues, and jealousy for a moment took possession of his soul
and ruffled his temper. He replied with a sarcastic and malignant
smile, "A little more, and you would call him the handsome Duke; who,
for aught I know, if he were aware what an advocate he had in you,
might think it worth his trouble to ingratiate himself in your heart,
and supplant poor Albert."

"I really did not think you capable of such petty jealousy," Bertha
answered, and turned away, with a tear of indignation starting into her
eye, from a feeling of wounded dignity. "Cannot you believe it possible
for the heart of a young girl to beat warm in the cause of her
country?"

"Do not be angry with me," Albert implored, and felt ashamed at the
injustice of his remark; "really, I meant it in joke."

"Can you indulge in a joke at this moment, when our life's happiness is
at stake! My father leaves Ulm to-morrow, war being declared. It will
be long, perhaps very long, before we see each other again--and can you
joke now? Ah! could you have witnessed the many nights I have prayed
God, with burning tears, to incline your heart to our side, to defend
us from the misery and pain of being separated for ever, you certainly
would not have trifled so cruelly with my feelings."

"He has not inclined it to happiness," said Albert, looking about him,
agitated.

"And is it still impossible," said Bertha, as she took his hand, with
the most expressive tenderness, "is it still impossible? Come along
with us, Albert; think how happy my father would be to present a young
warrior to his Duke? He has often said that one gallant sword is of
great price in such times; you will be highly esteemed by him, you will
fight by his side, my heart will not then be torn or divided between
the conflicting parties, my prayers for prosperity and victory, will
not wander in doubtful agitation between the two armies."

"Stop, for heaven's sake, stop!" cried the young man, and covered his
eyes with his hands; for the conquest of conviction beamed from her
looks, the power of truth was encamped on her sweet lips. "Do you wish
to persuade me to become a deserter? I entered but yesterday with the
army, war is this day declared, and shall I ride over to the Duke
to-morrow? Is my honour so indifferent to you?"

"Honour!" Bertha said, "is such honour dearer to you than your love?
How different were his words, when Albert swore eternal fidelity! Well,
then, go and be happier with them than with me! But when the Duke of
Bavaria creates you a knight on the field of battle, for carrying
desolation through our fields, when he decorates the neck of Albert von
Sturmfeder with the chain of honour, for having been the foremost in
crushing Würtemberg's citizens, may the joy of your thoughts not be
troubled then, by having broken the heart of one so true to you--of one
who loved you so tenderly!"

"Dearest," answered Albert, whose breast was torn by conflicting
feelings, "grief does not permit you, to perceive how unjust you are.
But be it so; you conceive that I prefer the glory, which is leading me
onwards, to making a sacrifice of it to love. But hear me. I dare not
come over to your side. I will give in my resignation to the League.
Let those fight and conquer who will; my dream of glory is thus at an
end."

Bertha sent a look of gratitude to heaven for this avowal, and rewarded
the words of the young man by a sweet acknowledgment. "Oh! believe me,"
she said, "I know how much this sacrifice must cost you. But do not let
me see you look so sad, when you cast your eyes at your sword. The sun
will still shine upon our happiness one of these days. I can now bid
you farewell with consolation in my heart, for, whichever way the war
may end, you can appear unconstrained before my father, who will
rejoice to hear of your having made the heavy sacrifice for my sake."

Marie now gave her friends the signal that she was unable to retain the
clerk of the council any longer, which roused them from their absorbing
conversation. Bertha quickly composed herself, and with Albert quitted
the arbour.

"Cousin Kraft wishes to depart," said Marie, "and requires his friend
to accompany him."

"I must indeed go with you, if I wish to find my way home," replied the
young man, who was too well acquainted with the received customs of his
day, not to be aware that he, a stranger, could not remain with the
young ladies, without their cousin being of the party, precious as the
last moments, before a long separation from his love, might be to him.

They proceeded down the garden, the silence only broken by Dieterick,
who expressed his sorrow, in very courteous terms, at the prospect of
his cousin leaving Ulm so soon as the morrow. But Marie, thinking she
discovered something in the look of Albert's eye, which expressed a
wish not yet satisfied, and to the accomplishment of which witnesses
might be unwelcome, drew cousin Kraft on one side, and questioned him
so closely upon a plant, whose leaves were just bursting, that he had
not time to observe what was going on behind his back.

Albert took immediate advantage of the happy moment, and pressed Bertha
once more to his heart. The noise occasioned by her heavy silken dress,
and the clattering of his sword, drew the scribe's attention from his
botanical observations; he looked around, and oh, wonder! he saw his
very reserved cousin in the arms of his guest.

"That was a salute for the dear cousin in Franconia, I suppose?" he
remarked, after he had recovered from his surprise.

"No, Mr. Secretary," answered Albert, with firmness, "it was a salute
for me alone, and from her whom I hope one day to call my own. Have you
anything to say against it, my friend?"

"God forbid! I congratulate you with all my heart," answered Dieterick,
somewhat subdued by the determined look of the young man. "But, by the
powers, I call that an entire case of _veni_, _vidi_, _vici_. I have
been trying my luck with the beauty for more than a quarter of a year,
and I can scarcely boast of one kind look from her during the whole
time."

"Forgive the joke, cousin, which we have played upon you," said Marie;
"be reasonable, and let me explain the matter." She then gave him to
understand, why Albert and he had been invited into the garden, and
begged him to be silent upon the subject before Bertha's father. He was
softened into compliance by the kind look of Marie, upon condition,
that she would submit also to the same ordeal her cousin had just
undergone.

Marie gently repelled his unmannerly request, and, by way of teazing
him, asked him again at the garden door the natural history of a
violet, the first of the season. He was kind enough to give her a long
and learned dissertation upon the subject, without allowing himself to
be interrupted by the noise of a rustling silk dress or clattering
sword. A grateful look from Bertha, a friendly shake of the hand from
Marie, rewarded him at parting; and long floated the veils of the
pretty cousins over the garden hedge, as their eyes followed the path
of the young men.



                              CHAPTER VIII.

           "In the still cloister's solitary grove,
            A maiden walk'd, and thought upon her love;
            The virgin moon, as if in mockery,
            Shed forth her splendour on her misery,
            And the bright lustre of the beams that fell
            Lit up the tears that coursed her cheek so pale."
                                                         L. UHLAND.

During the following days, Ulm resembled a large camp. Instead of the
peaceable peasant, the busy citizens, passing, as in ordinary times,
through the streets with sober tranquil step to their several
avocations, were now to be seen strange figures, with helmets and caps
of iron, carrying lances, cross bows and fire-arms. In lieu of
statesmen in their plain black dresses, proud knights clad in steel,
and wearing helmets adorned with waving plumes, strode about the
squares and market places, accompanied by numerous bands of followers.
Still more animated was this warlike scene without the gates of the
town. In an open space on the banks of the Danube, Sickingen was
exercising his cavalry, whilst, in a large flax-field towards the
village of Soeflingen, Fronsberg was occupied in man[oe]uvring his
infantry.

One fine morning, about three or four days after Bertha von
Lichtenstein had left Ulm with her father, an immense concourse of
people were assembled in the above field, to witness Fronsberg's
infantry going through their evolutions. They looked upon this man,
whose military reputation had long preceded him, with not less interest
than we should, perhaps, were we to see the imperial or royal son of
Mars performing the part of a field marshal. The state of an army
depends in great measure on the character and experience of its leader;
and we are more or less interested in the accounts given in history, or
the public papers, of battles, according to the renown of the general
who fought them. Such might have been the motive, which induced the
inhabitants of Ulm on that morning to quit their narrow streets, to see
the celebrated man of the day, employed in his military occupations.
The dexterity with which he kept his men in solid masses, who before
were accustomed to fight in scattered bodies; the celerity with which
they moved on all sides at his word, or closed together, producing a
formidable array of pikes and fire-arms; his powerful voice, which even
rose above the noise of the drums, and his noble warlike figure, formed
a sight so novel and attractive, that even the citizen most fond of his
ease, was tempted to pass a long forenoon on foot, to enjoy the
spectacle.

The general appeared, on this morning, more cheerful and friendly than
usual. The warm interest which the good people of Ulm took in him, and
which was visibly depicted on every countenance, perhaps produced this
feeling; or perhaps he felt himself happier when engaged in military
exercises, than confined to the cold narrow streets. Whatever might
have been the cause, the crowd took his gay mood in such good part,
that each individual thought himself specially noticed and saluted by
him as he passed, and the cheer, "A gallant man, a brave knight!"
followed his path.

But there was a certain spot, to which his attention appeared to be
more particularly drawn; for, every time he rode by it, he was observed
to salute some one, either with his sword or hand, and to nod
familiarly. Those in the rear of the spectators stood upon tiptoes to
find out the object of his friendly nod, those in front looked
inquisitively at each other, wondering who the favoured one could be,
as none of the assembled citizens thought themselves worthy of the
honor. When Fronsberg passed the same spot again, and repeated his
salutation, an hundred heads were on the stretch to satisfy their
curiosity, and they discovered that it was directed to a tall slim
young man, who stood in the front rank of the spectators. His jacket of
fine cloth, slashed with silk, the high feather in his cap playing in
the morning breeze, his long sword and his scarf or sash, distinguished
him as a man of quality from among his surrounding neighbours, who were
less adorned than he was, and whose diminutive stature and broad faces
did not set them off to the best advantage beside him.

The good townsfolk felt hurt that the young man did not appear
flattered by the high favour conferred on him in their very presence.
His attitude, also, standing there as he did, with sunken head, and his
arms folded across his breast, they thought did not betoken good
breeding, so especially noticed as he was by an old warrior. Besides
which, the salutation of the general seemed to spread confusion over
his countenance, for he returned it by a slight inclination of the head
only, and followed it with a gloomy though friendly look.

"That gentleman must be a strange fellow," said the chief of the Ulm
weavers to his neighbour, a sturdy armourer; "I would give my Sunday
jacket for such a salute from Fronsberg; but he scarcely notices it.
Would it not be the inquiry of the whole town, what has Fronsberg done
to Master Köhler, that he did not return his salute, for they were
lately like two brothers? 'Oh! they are long acquainted,' would be the
answer, 'they knew each other from their youth up.' But it vexes me
much, that so sensible and superior a man should salute such an
apparent coxcomb."

The armourer, a little old fellow, nodded assent to his friend's
remark. "May God punish me, but you are right, Master Köhler. There are
many other people here, whom he might have noticed. The burgomaster is
on the ground, and my godfather Hans von Besserer, who lives in the
corner house, stands among the crowd also,--both as good as that
youngster! If I were his master, I would soon teach him to bend his
head, though he looks to me, as if it would require an emperor to make
him do so. He must be a man of some consequence, for the secretary to
the council, my neighbour in town, who is otherwise an enemy to
receiving guests, has given him a lodging in his own house."

"Kraft?" asked the weaver, astonished; "but stop, there may be
something in it. He must be a young nobleman, or, likely enough, the
son of the burgomaster of Cologne, who intends to join the army also.
Is that not old John, Kraft's servant, standing there?"

"Yes, that's him," said the armourer, whose curiosity was excited by
the weaver's inquiry: "it is him; and I will stand confessor to him, in
spite of the provost of Elchingen." But though the space between the
two citizens and Kraft's servant was small, the smith could not accost
him, on account of the density of the crowd. The important bearing,
however, of the chief of the weavers among his brother tradesmen, for
he was rich, and respected in the town, enabled him to force his way,
and he succeeded in getting possession of John, and forthwith conducted
him to the armourer. Old John, when questioned, could not give them
much information on the subject of their inquiry; all he could say was,
that his master's guest was a Herr von Sturmfeder, and that he could
not have come from any great distance, as he had only one horse, and no
servant. "But my master will get the worst of it," he said, "for our
old Sabina is as furious as a dragon, because he has destroyed the
economy of the house by inviting a stranger, booted and spurred,
without consulting her."

"No offence," interrupted the chief of the weavers, "but your master,
John, is a fool! I would have thrown that old witch--God forgive
me!--long ago out of the window. The gentleman has already arrived at
years of discretion, and why does he allow himself to be treated as if
he were still in swaddling clothes?"

"You have spoken well, Master Köhler," answered the old servant, "but
you don't understand matters properly. Throw her into the street,
indeed! who would take care of the house, then, I should like to know?"

"Who," cried the inflamed weaver, "who? he should take a wife, a
housekeeper, as other Christians and citizens do. Why does he remain a
bachelor, and run after all the young girls in the town? Did I not
catch him, not long ago, saying pretty things to our Katharine? I
should like to have thrown my looms, beams and all, at his worship's
head; but when I recollected, that his good mother had many a good
piece of linen wove by me, I was obliged to take off my cap, and say,
'An humble good evening, and has your honour any commands?' May
the----"

"Upon my word," said John, with a displeased look, "I have always
thought that a gentleman, like my master, the secretary to the grand
council of state, might exchange a word in all honour with your
daughter, without the wicked world----"

"Really! exchange a word! and after vesper bell in March! He will not
marry her, nevertheless; and do you suppose the reputation of my
daughter must not be kept as clean as the white cravat of your master?
I should like to know that!" Master Köhler's voice during this
conversation was raised to so high a pitch as to draw the attention of
the bystanders, and having grasped Old John by the collar, there was no
saying what might have been the consequences, had not the master smith
dragged the querulous couple away by force, and separated them. He
thereby quelled the dispute, but he could not stop the report, which
was speedily circulated through the whole town, that Old John, having
an intrigue in his old age with Master Köhler's young daughter, had
been brought to an account by her angry father, in the open field.

The man[oe]uvres of the infantry were by this time at an end, the crowd
separated, and the young man, who had been the original cause of the
foregoing conversation, was observed to bend his way also towards the
town. His step was slow, and undecided; his face looked paler than
usual, his eyes sought the ground, or wandered occasionally, with an
expression of silent grief, towards the distant blue mountains, the
boundaries of Würtemberg. Albert von Sturmfeder had never felt so
unhappy as in these moments. Bertha had left Ulm with her father; she
had made him swear again to be faithful to his promise, an act which he
unavailingly felt to create a lurking regret in his breast. It had cost
him no small struggle at the time, to consent to her wishes, but the
overwhelming pain at parting from her, and the grief exhibited by the
beloved girl, had mastered every feeling but that of desire to soothe
the agony of her mind. His position was now one of extreme difficulty,
when he calmly considered his future plans. To crush in the bud all
those golden dreams and bright hopes of glory and honour, with which he
thought to render himself worthy the hand of the daughter of
Lichtenstein, was nothing, he felt, compared with the disgrace and
contempt, which he must expect to meet at the hands of men, whose
esteem was dear to him, for having deserted their colours, at a moment
when the struggle was about to commence. How could he give a reason, or
find words sufficiently convincing, to justify his conduct, before that
gallant old friend of his father, Breitenstein? How could he appear
before the noble Fronsberg? Ah, that friendly salute, with which he
appeared to encourage the son of his brave companion in arms, produced
a thousand torments. His father had fallen by his side, and he had
heard him, in his dying moments, bequeath to his orphan child the
renown of his name and a brilliant example, as his sole inheritance.
Before this man, who, mindful of his father's bequest, had kindly
opened to him a path which would lead to the accomplishment of his
parent's wishes, he must now appear in very doubtful light.

Troubled with these gloomy forebodings, he had slowly approached the
gate of the town, when he was suddenly seized by the arm, and turning
around, a man, to appearance a peasant, stood before him.

"What is your business with me?" asked Albert, rather angrily, annoyed
at being disturbed in his musing.

"My answer will depend upon whether you are the person I am looking
for," answered the man. "Tell me, what belongs to _Licht_ and
_Sturm_?"

Albert was astonished at this singular question, and observed him more
closely. He was not very tall, but strongly built, broad-chested, and
of mean appearance. His face, much tanned by the sun, might have passed
as plain and insignificant to a superficial observer, but, upon a
narrower inspection, there was a certain expression about the eyes and
mouth which, in addition to cunning and acuteness, bespoke daring and
audacity. His hair and beard were dark yellow, and smooth; he carried a
long dagger or knife in his leathern girdle; in one hand he held an
axe, in the other a low round leathern cap, such as the Swabian peasant
of the present day wears.

Whilst Albert made these hasty observations, he narrowly watched the
expression of his features.

"Perhaps you did not thoroughly understand me, sir knight," continued
the other, after a short silence; "so I will explain myself more fully.
Let me ask, what should be added to _Sturm_ and _Licht_, to form two
noble names?"

"_Feder_ and _stein_," answered the young man, to whom it was
immediately clear, what was to be understood by the question; "but what
is your business?"

"So you are Albert von Sturmfeder?" said the other; "and I come from
Bertha von----"

"For heaven's sake be silent, friend; mention no names," said Albert;
"tell me quickly, have you got any thing for me?"

"A note, sir," said the peasant; when, unbuckling a broad black leather
band, wound under his knee, he produced a small strip of parchment.

Albert took the parchment with hasty joy; there were a few words
written on it with black shining ink. It appeared to have cost some
trouble to the writer, and proved that the young ladies of 1519 were
not so ready with their pen, to express their tender feelings, as those
of the present day, when every village beauty can write an epistle to
her swain as long as her garter. The chronicle whence we have taken
this history, has happily preserved every word of the confused traces
on the parchment, which Albert's greedy eye now speedily deciphered as
follows:

"Remember your oath--fly bytimes. God conduct thee. Your Bertha----to
eternity."

These few words expressed a pious, tender feeling, dictated by a loving
heart. No wonder then that Albert was for some moments lost in a state
of joyous intoxication. He sent a look of gratitude toward the distant
blue mountains in the direction of Lichtenstein, and thanked his love
for the consolation these lines afforded him, for truly, never had he
stood so much in need of comfort, as at this moment. He was now
convinced, that a being, the dearest that existed in the world to him,
had not forsaken him. His heart resumed its usual cheerfulness, he
proffered his hand to the trusty messenger, thanked him cordially, and
asked him how he came by the strip of parchment.

"Did not I know," he answered, "that that little scrap of paper
contained no evil enchantment, for the young lady smiled most kindly as
she pressed it into my rough hand! I came to Blaubeuren last Wednesday,
where our army is encamped. There is a magnificent high altar in the
convent church there, over which the history of my patron, John the
Baptist, is represented. About seven years ago, when I was in great
distress of mind, and upon the point of suffering an ignominious death,
I made a vow, to perform a pilgrimage to the spot every year about this
time. I have never neglected this duty, having been saved from the
hangman's hand, by a miracle performed by my saint. When I have
finished my prayers, I always go to the abbot to present my offering of
a couple of fine geese or a lamb, or any thing else he may prefer. But,
sir, you will be tired with my gossip."

"No, no,--go on," said Albert; "come, sit down on that bench, beside
me."

"That would not be proper," answered the messenger; "for a common
peasant to place himself beside a gentleman, whom the general took such
notice of before all the people this morning, would be out of all
character: I would rather stand, with your permission." Albert seated
himself on the stone bench by the road side, and the countryman,
leaning on his axe, went on with his story. "I had little inclination
to prosecute my pilgrimage in these unsettled times, but it is said, an
unfulfilled oath is displeasing to the Almighty; so I was obliged to
perform my vow. This year, when I rose from my prayer, and, as usual,
was going to present my offering to the abbot, one of the priests told
me, I could not go to his reverence this time, because many nobles and
knights were waiting on him; but I insisted on it, for I knew the abbot
to be a kind benevolent man, and he would have been displeased, had I
gone away without seeing him. Should you ever visit the convent, don't
forget to notice a long and narrow staircase leading from the high
altar to the dormitory, through a thick wall, which separates it from
the church. There it was that the lady met me. She approached me, a
delicate-formed female, descending the stairs, covered with a long
veil, with breviary and rosary in her hands. I pressed myself close to
the wall, to allow her to pass, but she stood still, and said, 'Well,
Hans, whither are you going?'"

"But how did the lady know you?" Albert interrupted him.

"My sister is her nurse, and----"

"How, is old Rosel your sister?" said the young man.

"Do you know her also?" said the messenger, "only think! but let me
proceed. I was very happy to see her again, for I visited my sister
often in Lichtenstein, and I have known the young lady, ever since she
was taught to walk with the help of her father's sword belt. I should
scarcely have known her again, she is grown so much, but her rosy
cheeks have disappeared, like the snow on the first day of May. I don't
know how it was, but I was so much struck by her looks, that I could
not help asking her if any thing was the matter with her, and whether I
could render her any assistance. She thought for a moment, and then
said, 'Yes, Hans, if you can be discreet you may indeed render me a
very great service!' I promised, and she appointed a meeting after
vespers."

"But how is it, that she is in the convent?" Albert asked; "for
formerly no female foot dared cross its threshold."

"The abbot is a friend of her father's, and as there are so many people
in Blaubeuren at present, she is in greater safety in the convent than
in the town, where strange things come to pass. After vespers,
therefore, when all was quiet, I stole softly into the cloister, and
met her. I cheered her sunken spirits, as well as we peasants know how
to do, when she gave me that strip of parchment, and bid me find you
out."

"I thank you heartily, good Hans," said Albert; "but is that all she
charged you with?"

"No," answered the messenger; "she moreover commissioned me to tell
you, by word of mouth, to be upon your guard, for there was a plot laid
against you."

"Against me?" said Albert; "you must have misunderstood her. Who, and
what can any one have to say about me?"

"Ah, there you ask me more than I can answer," replied the other; "but,
if I dare guess, I believe the League has an eye upon you. The lady
added also, that her father had spoken about it. I saw Fronsberg nod to
you to-day, and honour you like the Emperor's son, to the astonishment
of every one present. Believe me, there is something in the wind, when
such a man beckons in so friendly a manner to another."

Albert was surprised at the plain remark of the simple countryman. He
recollected, however, that Bertha's father, having pryed deeply into
the secrets of the leaders of the League, might have heard something,
which more immediately concerned him; but, whichever way he turned his
thoughts, he could discover no ground upon which Bertha's mysterious
warning could be founded. His mind was torn with doubt and conjecture;
and he abruptly asked the messenger, how he had found him out so soon?

"Without Fronsberg's aid, it had not been such an easy matter," said
he: "I was desired to inquire for you at Dieterick von Kraft's house.
But as I was entering the gate of the town, I saw a large crowd of
people in the field. I thought half an hour would make no great
difference, so I joined the spectators to see the infantry exercise.
Really, Fronsberg has done wonders. Well; it struck me I heard your
name mentioned. I looked round, and saw three old men talking about
you, and pointing to you. I noticed your figure, and followed your
steps; but not certain if I was quite right, I put the enigma of Sturm
and Licht to you."

"You have acted cleverly," said Albert, smiling; "but come to my house,
and get something to eat. When do you go home again?"

Hans considered a moment; at last, he said, with a cunning smile on his
mouth, "No offence, sir; but I have pledged myself to the young lady,
not to quit you before you have taken your leave of the League."

"And then?" asked Albert.

"And then I go direct to Lichtenstein, to give her good news from you.
How she longs to hear the happy tidings! She stands on the rock of the
garden every day, and all day long, to see whether old Hans is coming."

"She shall soon have that pleasure," answered Albert; "I will be off
to-morrow, if possible; and will write to her in the mean time."

"But be cautious what you do," said Hans; "the strip of parchment must
not be longer than the one I brought you, for I must conceal it also
under my knee-band. We cannot be too careful in these times; and no one
will look for it there."

"Let it be so, then," answered Albert, as he rose from his seat. "And
now adieu for the present; come to me at noon at Dieterick von Kraft's
house, it is not far from the cathedral, and any one will shew it you.
If they ask you where you come from, say you are a countryman of mine
from Franconia, because the Ulmers are not well affected towards the
Würtembergers."

"Don't be afraid, sir; you will not have any fault to find with me,"
replied Hans, as he parted from Albert. He looked back at the slim
young man, and thought his sister's foster child, had made no bad
choice in the object of her love.



                              CHAPTER IX.

           "The world and all I'd sacrifice for thee;
            And do it cheerfully--but only flee."
                                                SCHILLER.

Albert felt some uneasiness, at first, as to how his new acquaintance
might behave in Kraft's house. It was not without reason, that he
feared he might betray himself by his dialect or inconsiderate
explanations, which would put him in an awkward position; for, though
it was his firm resolution to quit the service of the League in a few
days, still he did not wish it to be suspected that he was in
correspondence with Würtemberg. Neither could he nor would he betray
the secret of Bertha having sent a messenger to him, should he be
unfortunately discovered. He thought of turning back, looking for the
man, and begging him to leave the town as soon as possible; but when he
recollected that, he must have long since left the place where they had
held their conversation, and that he might in the mean time have
arrived at the house, it appeared to him more advisable to hasten home
to put Hans on his guard, and warn him against committing an
indiscretion.

There was, however, something so peculiar in the sharp eye and the bold
cunning countenance of the man, which gave him reason to hope, that
Bertha, in the hasty choice she had made of the means of communicating
with him, would not have confided her message to uncertain hands.

Albert had scarcely entered Kraft's house, when, at noon, a countryman
from Franconia was announced; and the messenger of his love was shewn
in. Can this man now before me be the same who left me but a few
moments ago, thought Albert, surprised at his appearance, with his back
bent nearly double, his arms hanging lifeless by his body, his eyes
devoid of all animation? He could scarcely believe his eyes and ears,
when he addressed Kraft, who saluted him in pure Franconian dialect,
and answered his many questions with the volubility of a native of that
country. Albert with difficulty repressed a smile at the strange
metamorphosis of his new acquaintance; and was tempted to believe in
the supernatural stories he had heard in his childhood, which described
kind magicians, or gracious fairies, devoting themselves under all
sorts of forms to the service of true lovers, and carrying them safely
through the wiles of fate.

The charm was soon dispelled, when Albert and the messenger were left
alone in the room; and the Swabian peasant had assured him of his being
the same person. But Albert could not conceal his astonishment at the
part he had acted so well.

"I hope you will not think less honourably of me," said the countryman;
"we are often put to our wits to get on in the world: such arts hurt no
one, but assist him who knows how to practise them."

Albert assured him of his confidence, when the messenger urgently
pressed him to think of his immediate departure; and not to forget how
ardently the lady longed to hear the news of it. He added, that he
dared not return home, before he could bring her the positive
intelligence of his having quitted Ulm.

Albert said, he would only wait until the army of the League had
marched, and then return home.

"Oh! then you will not have to remain much longer," said the messenger,
"for, if they do not march to-morrow, they will do so the day after, as
the heart of the country is open before them. I know I can trust you,
sir, therefore I tell you this."

"Is it true then, that the Swiss have deserted the Duke; and that he
will not fight a battle in the field?" asked Albert.

The peasant threw a searching look around the room, carefully opened
the door, to assure himself that no one was listening in the
neighbourhood, and said,

"Sir, I was present at a scene, which I shall never forget, if I live
ninety years. On my way hither, I met large bodies of Swiss on the Alb,
going homewards, recalled by their councils and magistrates. But there
were still eight thousand men at Blaubeuren, all good Würtembergers,
and not a stranger among them."

"And the Duke," Albert interrupted him, "where was he?"

"The Duke treated with the Swiss for the last time at Kirchheim; but
they withdrew from him, because he could not pay them. He then came to
Blaubeuren, where his infantry was encamped. Yesterday morning it was
made known by beat of drum, that all the people should assemble on the
field of the convent by nine o'clock. The assembly was numerous; and
but one feeling ran through the whole. Look ye, sir, Duke Ulerich is a
severe master; and does not understand the manner of winning over the
peasantry. Taxes are oppressive--the injury done to our fields by
hunting is ruinous and galling--and the court squanders what is taken
from us;--but when such a master, though tyrant he be, is in
misfortune, it is quite a different thing. The only feeling now among
us is, that he is our legitimate Duke; and, though unfortunate, he is a
brave man, whom his enemies would drive from his country. A whisper was
no sooner circulated that he wished to fight a battle, than each man
grasped his sword firmer, shook his spear fiercely, and vociferated
loud curses on the League. The Duke then came forward----"

"Did you see him? do you know him?" said Albert, with impatient
curiosity, "Oh! tell me, what is his appearance?"

"Do I know him?" replied the messenger, with a peculiar smile, "truly,
I saw him at a time when the sight of me was not welcome to him. He is
still a young man, about two and thirty years old. His person is
stately and powerful, and it is easy to perceive that he is well
skilled in the use of arms. His eyes sparkle like fire," he added, "and
few there are who can withstand his piercing glance, or penetrate his
thoughts. The Duke stepped into the circle which the armed multitude
had formed, and the stillness of death reigned among them. He said,
with an audible, firm voice, that, seeing himself deserted by his
allies, he knew not where to look for help. Betrayed by those upon
whose aid he had relied,--he was become the sport of his enemies,--for,
without the Swiss, he dare not risk a battle. An hoary-headed old man
then came forward, and said: 'Duke, do you give up all hope before you
have tried the strength of our arms? Look, sir, every man of us is
ready to bleed for you; I have brought my four boys, each with his
spear and knife, and so have many thousands besides. Are you tired of
your country, that you disdain our assistance?' These simple but
patriotic words touched the Duke's heart; he wiped the tears from his
eyes, and gave the old man his hand. 'I don't doubt your courage,' said
he, with a loud voice, 'but we are too few,--death, not victory, will
be our fate. Go to your homes, my good faithful people, and there
remain true to me. I must fly my country, and wander about with bitter
misery for my portion; but, with God's assistance, I hope soon to
return.' So spake the Duke; our people wept, and, grinding their teeth
in anger against his enemies, withdrew in sorrow and despondency."

"And the Duke, what became of him?" asked Albert.

"He rode away from Blaubeuren, it is not known whither. The knights
occupy his castles, to defend them, until he can procure succour."

The appearance of old John, the servant, interrupted the messenger, and
announced that Albert was ordered to attend the council of war, which
was to be held at Fronsberg's quarters at two o'clock. The young man
was not a little astonished at this summons. What could they want with
him at the council of war, of all places? His conscience acquitted him,
indeed, of having given rise to any suspicion of his intentions, but he
was fearful lest his friend Fronsberg might have proposed his being
employed on some service which would compromise his promise to Bertha,
and from which it might be difficult for him to excuse himself
honourably--these were the thoughts which flew through his mind.

"Take care of yourself, sir," said the messenger, as soon as old John
had left the room, "and think of the promise you gave the young lady.
Above all, don't forget what she said to you, namely, to be on your
guard against a plot. Allow me to remain in your house as your servant;
I can look after your horse, and am ready for any other service you may
require."

The offer of the faithful man was accepted with thanks by his new
master, and Hans entered at once into his service, by assisting him to
put on his sword, and arranging his cap properly. He again reminded him
of his oath, and warned him of the plot, on the threshold of the door,
as Albert left his abode.

Albert proceeded towards the house pointed out to him, meditating upon
the incomprehensible summons to the council of war, and the peculiarly
striking warning sent to him by Bertha. When he arrived there, a broad
winding staircase was pointed out to him, at the top of which, in the
first room on the right, he would find the military commanders
assembled. But he was not permitted immediate entrance into this
sanctuary, for, just as he was on the point of opening the door, a
grey-bearded soldier, asking his business, gave him to understand that
he would have to wait at least half an hour before he obtained an
audience, and, taking the young man by the hand, led him through a
narrow passage into a small room, there to exercise his patience
awhile.

Whoever has danced attendance, under the excitement of anxious
expectation, in an anteroom, may well imagine the torment Albert
experienced during that hour of solitary meditation. His heart beat
impatiently to learn the result of his present unexpected position, his
mind was on the stretch, and when he heard a distant door creak on its
hinges, or footsteps in the passage, or when indistinct voices in an
adjoining chamber became plainer, he hoped that rescue was at hand. But
in vain did the doors creak, the approaching footsteps receded, and the
indistinct voices died away into mere whispering sounds. He endeavoured
to beguile time by counting the boards in the floor, and the windows of
the neighbouring houses, when the clear tones of a clock reminded him
of having passed a tedious half hour. He then paced the confined space
of the apartment in nervous agitation, until, his patience being nearly
exhausted, he heard a door open again, and heavy footsteps coming
towards his room. The door opened, and the same old grey-headed soldier
entered, and said, "George von Fronsberg sends you his compliments, and
a can of wine for vespers. The council may still last some time, but,
as it is uncertain how long, you must remain here in the meanwhile."
Saying which, he set the wine on the ledge of the window, for there was
no table, and left the apartment.

Albert followed the old warrior with a look of amazement, for he
thought such treatment unpardonable. He passed more than an hour in
this situation, and still nothing had come to pass. He took a draught
of wine, which he found was not indifferent, but it was out of the
question enjoying his glass in his present painful solitude.

It is a fault common to young people of Albert's years to conceive
themselves of more importance than their station in the world really
warrants. An experienced man will bear with patience, or, at least,
restrain his displeasure, upon feeling himself slighted, whilst the
young man is apt to take fire upon the least hint derogatory to what he
imagines a point of honour. No wonder, then, that Albert, when he was
called to attend the council, after having been kept waiting two long
solitary hours, was not in the best of humours. The old soldier, at
length, having returned, conducted Albert to the council, leading the
way through a narrow passage, with a silence and precaution observed in
cases of a prisoner's presence.

When they came to the door, he turned to Albert, and said, in a
friendly way, "Do not despise the advice of an old man, sir, and put
aside that fierce sullen look of yours; it will be of no service to you
in the presence of the stern men in there."

Around a large unwieldly table sat eight elderly men, who formed the
council of war of the League. Some of them were known to Albert. George
Truchses, Baron of Waldburg, occupied the upper place at the table; on
each side of him sat Fronsberg and Sickingen. He was not acquainted
with the rest, excepting old Ludwig von Hutten; but the chronicle
whence this tale is taken has faithfully transmitted their names to us.
There was Christoph Count of Ortenberg, Alban von Closen, Christoph von
Frauenberg, and Diepold von Stein, aged men, and of repute in the army.

Albert paused at the door as he entered, but Fronsberg beckoned to him
in a kind way to approach. He went up to the table, and faced the
assembly with an open bold look peculiar to him. The members also took
a survey of him, and appeared pleased with his appearance and manly
bearing, for their eyes rested upon him with kindness, whilst some even
encouraged him by a friendly nod.

Truchses von Waldburg at length addressed him. "It has been reported to
us that you have been brought up at the high school in Tübingen; is it
so?"

"Yes, sir knight," answered Albert.

"Are you well acquainted with the neighbourhood of Tübingen?" continued
the other.

Albert blushed when this question was put to him. He thought of his
love, who was now at Lichtenstein, only a few hours (_stunden_) distant
from the university. But he answered composedly, "I have not hunted
much in that neighbourhood; neither have I made many excursions there;
but I am generally acquainted with its locality."

"We have determined," said Truchses, "to send a confidential person
into that neighbourhood to find out what may be the Duke's intentions
upon our approach, and to gain correct information upon the state of
the fortifications of the castle of Tübingen, together with the feeling
of the people of the surrounding country. Such a person, by prudence
and sagacity, may do more harm to the Duke's cause than a hundred
horsemen: we have selected you for this service."

"Me!" cried Albert, in horror.

"You, Albert von Sturmfeder: dexterity and experience are no doubt
requisite in such undertakings: but you must look to that; whatever is
wanting on your part, in the execution of this piece of service, your
head will answer for."

The effect which this order produced on the young man was visibly
depicted on his features. His face turned pale, his eyes became fixed,
his lips firmly pressed together. The warning of Bertha flashed across
his mind, and struck him with increased force; but, however favourable
this opportunity might be to quit the service of the League, he was too
much taken by surprise to be able to decide at that moment.

Truchses fidgeted about in his chair, showing evident symptoms of
impatience at the young man's hesitation to give an answer: "Well," he
cried, "will it come out soon? what are you thinking about so long?"

"Spare me this commission," said Albert, at length, but not without
dread; "I cannot, I dare not undertake it."

The old men looked at each other in astonishment, as if they did not
trust their ears. "You dare not, you cannot," Truchses repeated slowly,
a deep red at the same time mounting up to his eyes, and colouring his
forehead, the forerunner of rising anger.

Albert immediately perceived he had been too hasty in his expression;
he recovered himself, and spoke with more composure: "I proffered my
services to the League for the glory of honourable fight, not to steal
into the enemy's country in the ignominious guise of a spy, to discover
by secrecy and treachery what is not to be obtained openly. It is true,
I am young and inexperienced; but this much I know, that I am
answerable to myself alone for the propriety of my conduct. Who among
you, as a father, would advise his son to commence his military career
in the dishonourable garb of a spy?"

Truchses contracted his dark eyebrows into a frown, and shot a
penetrating glance at the young man, who had ventured to entertain an
opinion so different to his own. "What are you thinking about, sir?" he
cried, "your opinion has nothing to do here; the question is, not
whether your conscience will allow you to execute our orders--it treats
of obedience to our commands, which we insist upon, and which you
_must_ submit to."

"And I will not," replied the young man, with a resolute voice. He felt
his courage increase every moment, in proportion as the insulting tone
of Waldburg excited his anger. He even hoped Truchses might persist in
his offensive manner; for it would strengthen him still more in his
resolve, and fully justify his determination to quit their service.

"Yes, yes!" laughed Waldburg, in sarcastic rage, "to ride about alone
in the enemy's country is certainly a dangerous undertaking. Ha, ha!
These are your fine-spoken gentlemen, proffering head and arm, with
high-sounding words and lofty looks; but, when it comes to the point,
if any service is required of them which is attended with danger, their
hearts fail them. But one generation resembles the other; the apple
does not fall far from its stem; and where there is nothing to be
gained, the Emperor has lost his rights."

"If those words be meant as a reflection on my father," answered
Albert, irritated, "there are witnesses sitting here, who can vouch
that he lives in their memory as a brave man. You think to have
achieved sufficient renown to warrant your taking the liberty of
undervaluing the merits of others."

"Shall such a downy chin prescribe to me what I shall say?" interrupted
Waldburg. "But an end to this trash. I want to know, youngster, whether
or not you will saddle your horse to-morrow, and follow our orders?"

"Truchses von Waldburg," answered Albert, with more composure than he
thought himself master of, "your arrogant language only convinces me
how little you know the way to address a gentleman, who has tendered
his services to the League with honourable motives, and who is the son
of a brave father. You have addressed me in the name of the League, as
president of this council, and have insulted me, as if I were its
greatest enemy. I have, therefore, no other answer to give, than, in
following your orders, to saddle my horse; but I now most decidedly
declare, assuredly no longer in your service. My honour forbids my
remaining under your colours; I therefore pronounce myself henceforth
free and unshackled from you for ever;--farewell."

The young man spoke with vigour and firmness, and turned around to
depart.

"Albert," called Fronsberg, springing from his seat, "son of my
friend!--"

"Not so rash, young man," cried the rest, and cast looks of
disapprobation at Waldburg; but Albert walked out of the apartment
without looking back; the iron latch of the door rang sharply as it
fell; heavy oaken pannels lay between him and the recall of the
better-intentioned members of the council, and separated Albert von
Sturmfeder for ever from the Swabian League.



                               CHAPTER X.

            Oh, when, enveloped in a night of grief,
            Thy wounded heart can nowhere find relief;
            When the sun plunges in the western sea,
            Ah, let the star of love not set to thee.
                                                    P. CONY.

Albert felt much relieved when he got to his room, and reflected on
what had just happened. He rejoiced that the weight which had oppressed
his mind ever since he promised to quit the service of the League, was
now removed, in a way which could not have been more _à propos_, and
which he conceived to be every way honourable to his feelings. He
determined, therefore, without delay, to leave Ulm, letting Truchses
take all the blame of this step to himself.

How rapidly had everything changed in the last four days! how different
were his feelings when he first entered the town, from those which were
about to drive him from its walls! At that time, when the thunder of
cannon, mingling with the deep tolling of the church bells, celebrated
the entrance of the League's troops, and the animating sound of
trumpets saluted his ear, seeming to give applause to the part he had
taken in the coming straggle; how his heart then beat for the
opportunity of proving himself worthy of his love! And when he was
first presented to Fronsberg, how elevated and encouraging was the
thought of emulating the reputation of his father, and reaping praise
under the eye of that great commander! But now, all those bright hopes
were blasted. He had learned the intentions of the League. Excited by
motives of sordid interest and cupidity, their only object was plunder.
He blushed to draw his sword in such a cause:--the brilliancy with
which his youthful imagination had coloured his future prospects was
gone for ever. And then again, how painful the thought of being opposed
to Bertha's father, the faithful friend of the unfortunate Duke,
perchance to encounter him in the struggle. It would break his love's
heart, which beat so true for him. "No!" said he, looking up to heaven,
in gratitude, "all has been ordained for my good. Upon any other who
had stood in my situation this day, destruction might have fallen, but
I have been saved!" In thankfulness for the mercies apparently
vouchsafed to him, he cast away the gloomy forebodings with which his
mind had been haunted; his natural cheerfulness returned, and he sang a
song as merrily as in his former happy mood.

Herr von Kraft beheld him with astonishment, as he entered the room.
"Well, that is curious," said he; "I hastened home to console my guest
in his distress, and find him merrier than ever: how do these two
things rhyme together?"

"Have you never heard, Herr Dieterich," replied Albert, who thought it
advisable to conceal his joy, "have you never heard that one can laugh
in anger and sing in pain?"

"I have certainly heard it, but never witnessed it till this moment,"
answered Kraft.

"Well, and so you have heard of my vexatious affair with the grand
council?" asked Albert. "I suppose it has run through all the streets
already?"

"Oh no!" answered the secretary to the council; "no one knows any thing
of it; for it would not do to trumpet forth your intended secret
embassy to Würtemberg. No, thank God! I have my private sources, and
learn many things the very hour they are done or spoken. But, don't be
offended, if I say that I think you have acted a foolish part."

"Really," answered Albert; "and in what way?"

"Could there have been a better opportunity offered you to distinguish
yourself? To whom would the commanders of the League have been under
greater obligations than to him who----"

"Out with it at once," interrupted Albert--"than to him, you mean, who
would steal into the enemy's country as a spy, worm out their secrets,
and then, like other villains, betray them. I only regret that the name
and honour of my father had not secured for me a higher and brighter
destination."

"Those are scruples which I would not have thought to find in you.
Really, if I were as well acquainted as you are with that
neighbourhood, they should not have asked me a second time."

"You, perhaps, in this country, possess different principles upon this
point from us in Franconia," replied Albert, not without disdain:
"Truchses von Waldburg should have thought of that, and appointed an
Ulmer to the service."

"You remind me now of another subject; the general of the forces! How
could you think of making him your enemy? He will never forgive what
has taken place, you may depend upon that."

"That is the least I care about," answered Albert; "but one thing
annoys me, which is, that I cannot meet that insolent arrogant fellow
at the end of my sword, and prove to him, who has already vilified my
father's name upon other occasions, that the arm which he has this day
thrust from him, is not quite so despicable as he supposes."

"For God's sake," said Kraft, "don't speak so loud; it might come to
his ears. Above all, you must be very cautious what you say, if you
intend still to serve in the army under him."

"I intend soon to free Truchses of my hateful person. With God's will,
I have seen the sun set for the last time in Ulm!"

"And is it really true what I also heard, but which I cannot believe,"
asked Kraft, with astonishment, "that Albert von Sturmfeder would quit
our good cause on account of this trifle?"

"To wound a man's honour is by no means a trifle," replied Albert,
gravely; "at least, according to my mind. But having carefully
reconsidered what you call your good cause, I find I should have to
draw my sword neither in an honourable nor a just one, but only to
satisfy the cupidity of a few unwashed townsfolk."

The unfavourable impression which the last words, in particular, seemed
to make on the secretary, did not escape Albert; he went on to say,
therefore, in a milder tone, taking his hand at the same time, with a
friendly squeeze: "Do not take what I have said amiss, my kind host;
God knows, I did not intend to offend you; but from your own mouth I
have learnt the object of the different parties in this army. You may,
therefore, attribute my actions partly to your own explanations; for
you had already taken the bandage off my eyes."

"You are not quite so wrong, after all, good sir; strange things will
come to pass when once these gentlemen begin to divide that fine
country among themselves. But I have thought, if they go to a certain
spot, you might also claim your mite. It is said,--you must not be
offended with me,--that your house is somewhat dilapidated; therefore
it appeared to me----"

"Nothing more upon that subject," said Albert, hastily, touched by the
kind hint of his well-meaning friend. "The house of my ancestors is
indeed in ruins, the doors hang on their broken hinges, grass grows
upon the drawbridge, and owls inhabit the watch-tower. In fifty years
hence a tower or a bit of a wall may still be standing, to remind the
wanderer, that once upon a time a knighted race dwelt there. But should
the decayed wall fall upon me, and bury the last of my family under its
ruin, no one shall ever say of me--He drew his father's sword in an
unjust cause."

"Every one to his thinking," answered Dieterick; "all this sounds very
fine, but I, for my part, would stretch a point for the sake of
re-establishing my house, and making it habitable. But whether you
change your determination or not, I hope, at all events, you will
remain with me a few days longer."

"I am grateful for your kindness," answered Albert; "but, you see,
under existing circumstances, I have nothing more to do in this town. I
propose leaving it by daybreak tomorrow."

"Well, then, one may send a remembrance to a friend by you, I suppose?"
said the secretary, with a most crafty smile: "of course you ride the
direct road to Lichtenstein?"

The young man blushed up to the forehead. Since Bertha's departure she
had not been the subject of conversation between him and his host, and
therefore his sly question took him so much the more by surprise. "I
perceive," said he, "that you do not understand me yet. You believe I
have only turned my back on the League for the purpose of joining the
enemy? How can you think so ill of me?"

"Ah! away with you," replied the wary scribe; "no one else but my
charming cousin has influenced your conduct. You would have shut an eye
to every thing the League did, had old Lichtenstein been on our side;
but now that you know he belongs to the other party, you think yourself
justified in joining it also."

Albert might defend himself as well as he could; the secretary was too
firmly rooted in his opinion to allow himself to be talked out of it.
Moreover, he thought this step very natural, and saw nothing in it
dishonourable or blamable. With a hearty remembrance to his cousin in
Lichtenstein, he left the room of his guest. But on the threshold of
the door he turned round again, and said, "I had almost forgotten to
mention, that I met George von Fronsberg in the street, who begs you
will go and see him this evening at his house."

Albert had already determined not to depart without taking leave of
Fronsberg, but he felt nervous at appearing before a man whose
intentions towards him were kind, but whose plans he had thwarted. He
buckled on his sword, thinking upon this painful meeting, and was
arranging his cloak, when his attention was drawn to an unusual noise
on the stairs. Heavy steps of a party of men approached his door; he
thought he heard the clatter of swords and halberts on the stone floor
of the ante-room. He stepped quickly towards the door to ascertain the
cause of this visit; but before he reached it, it opened, and by the
light of a few candles he perceived many armed men about to enter. The
same old soldier who had received him when he went to the council of
war, stepped forward.

"Albert von Sturmfeder!" said he to the young man, who retreated a step
in astonishment, "by order of the grand council of war I make you my
prisoner."

"Me--prisoner?" said Albert, with consternation. "Why? what am I guilty
of?"

"That 'a not my affair," answered the old man, surlily, "but probably
you will not be left long in ignorance. Be so good to deliver up your
sword to me, and follow me to the town hall."

"How? give up my sword?" replied the young man in the rage of insulted
pride. "Who are you that dares to demand my weapon? The council must
send men of a different stamp for that purpose before I submit; I know
too well what your profession is."

"For God's sake give up your sword," cried his friend, the secretary,
who forced himself through the crowd to his side, "obey the
order--resistance were vain. You have to do with Truchses," he
whispered: "he is a fearful enemy; do not force him to extremities."

The old soldier, interrupting the secretary, said, "It is perhaps the
first time, sir, you have been arrested; therefore I forgive the hasty
language you have made use of against a man who has slept in the same
tent with your father. You may, however, retain your sword: I well know
its hilt and scabbard, and I have witnessed many a deed of glory
achieved with its blade. It is praiseworthy of you to be jealous of its
falling into other hands. But you must come with me to the town hall,
for it were folly in you to bid defiance to power."

The young man, to whom every thing appeared a dream, submitted quietly
to his fate. He whispered to his friend the secretary to go to
Fronsberg, and inform him of his arrest, and concealing his person as
much as possible under his cloak, to avoid the unpleasant gaze of the
crowd in the streets, followed the old leader, surrounded by his party.



                              CHAPTER XI.

            The iron door upon its hinges creaks,
            A lurid light upon the prison breaks,
            The captive, starting at a footstep's sound,
            Springs from his lonely couch, to gaze around.
                                                      WIELAND.

The troop, surrounding their prisoner, moved on in silence towards the
town hall. A single torch was their only light on the way, and Albert
thanked Heaven that it gave but a feeble glare; for he fancied that
every one who met him must suppose he was being led to prison. But this
was not the only thought which engrossed his mind. This was the first
time in his life he had been in any dilemma, and it was not without
dread that he figured to himself all the horrors of a damp dreary
dungeon, remembering to have visited the one in his old castle. He was
on the point of speaking to his leader on the subject, when it struck
him he might be accused of a childish fear, and therefore he proceeded
in silence.

He was, however, not a little surprised when he was led into a large
handsome room, not very habitable indeed, as its furniture consisted
only of a bedstead, and an uncommon large fire-place, but it was a
palace compared to what his imagination had conjured up. The old
soldier wished his prisoner a good night, and retired with the rest of
his party. A little thin old man then made his appearance; a large
bunch of keys, which hung by his side, rattling like a chain when he
moved, announced him as the gaoler or servant of the town hall. He laid
some large logs of wood in the fire-place, and made a blazing fire; a
cheering companion on a cold night in March. He then spread an ample
woollen covering on the bedstead, and the first word that Albert heard
from him was a friendly invitation to make himself comfortable. He
thanked the old man for his kind attention, though his place of rest
for the night did not offer much to tempt him to repose.

"This apartment is set aside for knights in your situation," said the
old gaoler; "the common people are confined under ground, and are not
so well off."

"Is it long since any one lodged here?" asked Albert, looking around
the room.

"A Herr von Berger was the last; he died on that very bed seven years
ago: God be merciful to his soul! He appeared to be fond of this place,
for he often rises from his coffin at midnight to visit his old
quarters."

"How?" said Albert, smiling, "has he been seen since his death?"

The old man looked fearfully around the room, now faintly lighted by
the dying embers of the fire: he put another log on, and murmured, "Ah,
many strange stories are about."

"Did he die on that covering?" said Albert, whilst an involuntary
shudder came over him.

"Yes, sir," whispered the gaoler, "he breathed his last on that very
covering; God grant he may not have descended lower than purgatory!
That covering is now called his winding-sheet, and this apartment the
knight's death-room!" With this, the old man quietly slipt out of the
room, as if he were afraid the slightest noise might awaken the
departed knight.

"And so I am to sleep on the winding-sheet in the death-room of the
knight," thought Albert, and felt his heart beat quicker, for his nurse
and old servants had often related ghost stories to him in his boyhood.
He was undecided whether he should lay himself on the bed. There was
neither stool nor bench in the room; and the brick paved floor was
still colder and harder than the appointed place of repose; but he
began to feel ashamed of his fears, and at once rolled himself in the
winding-sheet on the death-bed of the knight.

A clear conscience softens a hard bed. Albert said his prayers, and
soon fell asleep. But it did not last long, for he was awoke by strange
noises, which appeared to be in the room. He thought it was a dream; he
took courage--he listened--he listened again: it was no deception--he
heard heavy footsteps in his apartment. The fire at this moment blazed
up, and threw its light upon a large dark figure. The distance of the
fire-place from the bed was not great. The figure moved towards him; he
felt the winding-sheet shake; he was unable to control a momentary
shudder, when a cold hand, endeavouring to remove the covering, fell on
his forehead. He sprang up, and eyeing the figure which stood before
him by the light of the fire, he recognised the well-known features of
George von Fronsberg.

"Is it you, general?" said Albert, who now breathed more freely, and
threw his cloak aside to receive the knight with proper respect.

"Remain, remain where you are," said the other, and gently compelled
him to resume his seat; "I will set myself beside you, and have half an
hour's talk, for it is only just past nine o'clock, and no one is yet
in bed in Ulm, excepting such hot-brained fellows as you, whose heads
require cooling on a hard pillow."

"Oh! how can I merit this kind consideration at your hands," said
Albert, "after having treated your good intentions towards me with
apparent ingratitude?"

"No excuse, my young friend," answered the general, "you are but the
counterpart of your father; just like him, precipitate in praise and
blame, in decision and speech. That he was an honorable man, I know,
and I know also how unhappy his violent temper made him, as well as his
obstinacy, which he called firmness."

"But tell me, dear sir," replied Albert, "could I have acted otherwise
to-day? Did not the conduct of Truchses push me to extremities?"

"You might have acted otherwise, if you had humoured the ways of that
man, who gave you a specimen of his character the other day. You ought
to have known also that there were many present who would not have seen
you imposed upon. But you threw away the good with the bad, or as the
proverb says, 'You threw away the child out of the bathing tub with the
water,' and flew out of the room."

"Age and experience will, I trust, cool my blood in due time," replied
Albert; "I can put up with harshness and severity, when they do not
affect my honour. But premeditated insult, contempt for the misfortunes
of my family, is beyond all bearing. What pleasure could a man of his
high station find in wounding my feelings?"

"His wrath always manifests itself in that way," Fronsberg informed
him; "the more cool and collected he appears outwardly, the more
fiercely he burns within. It was his idea alone to send you to
Tübingen, partly because he knew of no one else who was so well
acquainted with the place, partly because he wished to repair the
injustice he had done you. But you have affronted him by your refusal,
and lowered him in the eyes of the council of war."

"How!" cried Albert, "Truchses himself proposed me? I thought it was
your doing."

"No," answered the General, with a significant smile; "no, I did all I
could to prevent it; but to no purpose, for I could not tell him the
real state of the case. I knew, before you came before us, that you
would decline accepting the office. But do not open your eyes so wide,
as if you would pierce through one's leather jacket, and look into my
heart. I know enough of the history of my young hot-brain!"

Albert felt confused. "Were not my reasons satisfactory?" said he: "is
there any thing more you wish to know, and which you may think
mysterious?"

"There is nothing exactly mysterious; but you should have decided upon
your line of action beforehand, for if you do not wish to be noticed,
you ought not to conduct yourself at balls as if you were afflicted
with St. Vitus' dance, nor visit a couple of pretty girls at three
o'clock in the afternoon. Yes, yes, my son, I know many things," he
added, whilst he good-naturedly threatened with his finger: "I know
also that that impetuous heart of yours beats for Würtemberg."

Albert blushed; and would gladly have avoided the piercing look of the
knight. "Beats for Würtemberg?" he replied: "you do me wrong; you
cannot call that going over to the enemy; upon my honour, I swear----"

"Do not swear," Fronsberg quickly interrupted him: "an oath is an easy
thing to take, but not so easy to be absolved from; it is like an
oppressive chain which we cannot shake off. I am convinced your honour
will not suffer by your actions. Instead of an oath, you must promise
one thing to the League, namely, not to draw your sword against us for
the next fourteen days; and on these conditions only will you be
released from arrest."

"I see you still entertain a false opinion of me," said Albert,
agitated: "I could not have thought it! how unnecessary is that
promise! To whom else should I offer my services? The Swiss have
withdrawn their aid from the Duke, the peasantry have dispersed, the
knights guard the fortresses, and will take care not to let the army of
the League within their walls; the Duke himself has fled----"

"Fled!" cried Fronsberg: "that's not quite so certain;--where did you
hear this? Have you been tampering with any of the members of the
council of war? or is it true, as some maintain, that you carry on a
suspicious correspondence with Würtemberg?"

"Who dares assert that?" cried Albert.

The piercing eye of Fronsberg darted a searching look at Albert. "You
are too young, and I believe too honourable, to be guilty of such a
villanous deed," said he; "and should you even have had such an
intention, we know you would have scarcely quitted the League, but have
remained among us as Würtemberg's spy. This clears you in my mind.
Appearances, however, are against you."

"Am I then so evil spoken against? If you have a particle of regard for
me, tell me who is the wretch that has thus calumniated me," said
Albert, starting up in anger.

"Do not be so violent," replied Fronsberg. "Do you suppose, that if
George von Fronsberg had heard such things spoken of in public, or
believed the report, he would have come to visit you? But there must be
some foundation for the report. A suspicious-looking countryman often
came to old Lichtenstein in the town; he was not at first particularly
noticed among the many assembled here. But it was hinted to us, that
this man, a cunning, crafty fellow, was a confidential messenger from
Würtemberg. Lichtenstein took his departure; and the countryman and his
mysterious occupation were forgotten. He appeared, however, again this
morning, and had a long conversation with you outside the town; and was
seen afterwards in your house. Now what is the meaning of this?"

Albert heard his friend with increasing astonishment. "As true as God
lives," said he, when Fronsberg had finished, "I am innocent. A
countryman came to me this morning----" Albert was silent.

"Well, why are you silent all at once?" asked Fronsberg; "you colour up
to the eyes: what have you to do with this messenger?"

"Ah! I feel ashamed of myself; but you have already guessed every
thing; he only brought me a--a few words from----, my love." The young
man then opened his waistcoat, and produced the strip of parchment
which he had concealed on his person. "There; this is all he brought to
me," said Albert, as he gave it to Fronsberg.

"And is that really all," laughed Fronsberg, after reading the
contents: "poor young fellow! and you know nothing more of that man? Do
you not know who he is?"

"No; he is nothing more to my knowledge than our messenger of love--I
am certain of it!"

"A pretty love messenger, who at the same time pries into our affairs!
Are you not aware that that dangerous man is the fifer of Hardt?"

"The fifer of Hardt?" asked Albert: "this is the first time I have
heard that name; what does it mean?"

"Nobody knows exactly; but he was one of the most formidable leaders in
the insurrection of Poor Conrad, for which he, however, afterwards
obtained pardon; since that time he leads a restless, roving life, and
is now a spy of the Duke of Würtemberg."

"Is he arrested?" inquired Albert, for he involuntarily felt a warm
interest in his new servant.

"No; it is just that which is so incomprehensible; whatever notice we
may have of his being in Ulm, though communicated in the quietest
manner possible, becomes known to him immediately; for example, when we
heard of his being in your stable, and sent secretly to arrest him, he
was not to be found. But I trust to your honour that he comes to you on
no other business. You may be assured of this, however, if it be the
same man I mean, he does not visit Ulm for your sake alone. Should you
ever meet him again, be guarded how you trust such a vagabond. But the
watchman now calls ten o'clock. Lay down again, and dream away your
confinement. But before I go, give me your word about the fourteen
days; and, I can tell you, if you leave Ulm without saying farewell to
old Fronsberg----"

"I will not fail to do so!" cried Albert, touched by the pain which he
perceived his revered friend felt at parting, and which he tried to
smother under a smile. He gave him his hand as a pledge of his promise,
according to the desire of the council of war, upon which the knight
left the room, with long measured steps.



                              CHAPTER XII.

           "Could I but once that face so dear
              Behold before we sever;
            And once again those accents hear,
              Before we part for ever."
                                       C. GRÜNEISEN.

On the following day a horseman, oppressed by the heat of the mid-day
sun, was bending his way over that part of the Swabian Alb which leads
towards Franconia. He was young, more slim than strong built, and rode
a large brown horse; he was well armed with cuirass, dagger, and sword;
some parts of his defensive apparel, such as his helmet, and steel
plates to cover his limbs, hung to his saddle. The striped light blue
and white scarf, which passed across his breast over the right shoulder
(the distinguishing prerogative of high rank in those days), shewed the
young man to be of noble birth.

He had reached the summit of a hill, which afforded a view into the
valley below, and stopping his horse, he turned on one side to enjoy
the beautiful prospect. Before him lay an extended plain, bounded on
each side by wooded heights, through which flowed the green waters of
the Danube; on his right the chain of hills of the Würtemberg Alb; on
his left the distant snow-capped Tyrolean Alps. The blue vault of
heaven encircled the scene, and its soft colouring brought out in
strong relief the dark walls of Ulm, its massive spire, and the whole
extent of the town, which lay at the foot of the mountain.

Noon was announced at this moment by the tolling of the bells of the
cathedral; their solemn tones resounded throughout the town and its
extended plain, until they were lost among the distant mountains.

"The same sounds accompany my departure which greeted my arrival,"
thought the young man: "but how different did I interpret their brazen
voices, when for the first time they reached my ear, and guided me to
my love; and now that I depart disconsolate, and without object, the
same tones follow me! They celebrated the birth of my hope, and now
ring its knell. It is the picture of life!" he added, as he took a last
farewell of the town in the valley beneath, and turned his horse away:
"it is, indeed, the picture of life! These same sounds float over
cradle and coffin; and the bells of the chapel of my house which rang a
merry peal at my baptism, will also accompany the last of the
Sturmfeders to the grave."

The mountain now became steeper; and Albert, whom the reader will have
recognised as the young cavalier, allowed his horse to have his own
way. Upon quitting Ulm, he had determined to return to his home in
Franconia, and there wait events, or at any rate the expiration of the
fourteen days' truce he had promised his friend Fronsberg. His heart
naturally would lead him to Lichtenstein, the contrary way to the path
he was now pursuing; yet he felt he had chosen the one most honourable
to his engagements. The balance, however, between the two was very
equally poised, and had he had a friend to decide for him and convince
him that he was now a free agent to travel whither he pleased, provided
he took no part in the contest for fourteen days, he felt that the bent
of his inclinations would turn the scale in favour of the neighbourhood
of his love. The comparison between his present situation and the
former position which he had held only a few days back, did not tend to
cheer his spirits. Sudden changes--violent emotions--his confinement on
the day before--and, above all, the pain of taking leave of men who had
his welfare at heart, produced recollections which almost unmanned him.

Dieterick von Kraft, above all, bewailed his departure. From the first
moment of their acquaintance in the room of the town hall when they
pledged each other in a bumper, to the last hour when they bid adieu in
a parting cup, that excellent friend had manifested the same
uninterrupted good feeling towards him. And how had he requited his
kindness? Occupied solely with self, he had but partially expressed his
sense of obligation to him; and to the honest, straightforward
Breitenstein, who, as well as Fronsberg, had held him up as their
favourite in the army, what return had he made? Truly there is nothing
more painful to a noble mind than the thought of being ungrateful where
its object is to be esteemed.

Full of these gloomy thoughts, he proceeded some distance on his
journey. Feeling the rays of the March sun oppressive, and the mountain
path becoming more rugged, he determined to repose himself and horse
under the shade of an oak tree. He dismounted, loosened the girths of
his saddle, and let his weary beast make the most of the stunted grass
in the neighbourhood. He stretched himself under the tree, and though
his fatiguing ride and the cool shade invited him to rest, still the
unquiet state of the country, so near the theatre of war, the care of
his horse and of his weapons, kept him awake until he at last sank into
that state between watching and sleep, which the body combats in vain.

V
He might have been about half an hour in this situation, when the
neighing of his horse roused him; he looked about, and perceived a man
with his back towards him, occupying himself with the beast. His first
thought was, that taking advantage of his carelessness, the man
intended to make away with his steed; he sprang upon his legs, drew his
sword, and in a trice was by his side. "Stop, villain! what have you to
do with that horse?" he cried, at the same time taking him by the
collar rather roughly.

"Have you already discharged me from your service, sir?" said the man,
whom Albert immediately recognised as the messenger Bertha had sent to
him. The young man was undecided what line of conduct to pursue; for
Fronsberg's warning made him distrustful of the man, whilst Bertha's
confidence in him recommended him. The countryman continued his
conversation, showing him at the same time a handful of hay; "I guessed
you would not have provided fodder for your journey; and as there is
not much grass to be picked up on the mountains, I brought an armful
with me for the brown horse." So spoke the peasant, and continued
feeding the beast.

"And where do you now come from?" asked Albert, having recovered from
his astonishment.

"Why, you rode away from Ulm in such haste, I was not able to follow
you immediately," he answered.

"Don't tell me a falsehood," said the young man, "otherwise I cannot
trust you any more. You do not come from that town at present."

"Well, I suppose you will not be angry, if I was a little earlier than
you on the road?" said the countryman, and turned away; but the cunning
smile on his countenance did not escape Albert.

"Let my horse alone," said Albert, impatiently. "Come, sit down with me
under that oak, and tell me, without hesitation, why you left the town
so suddenly yesterday evening?"

"It was not with the Ulmers' good will; for they even wanted to induce
me to remain longer with them, and to give me board and lodging
gratis," replied the man.

"Yes, they would have put you in the lowest cell of the prison, where
you would have seen neither sun nor moon, the place appropriated to
spies and such like gentry."

"Excuse me, sir," replied the messenger, "though I might have been
somewhat lower, we should both have been under the same roof."

"Dog of a spy!" cried Albert, with anger burning on his cheek; "would
you place my father's son in the same rank with the fifer of Hardt?"

"What is that you say?" replied the other with menacing tone; "what
name is that you mentioned? do you know the fifer of Hardt?" At these
words he grasped his axe, though perhaps involuntarily. His compact,
broad-chested figure, spite of his low stature, gave him the appearance
of an adversary not to be despised: and many a man, single handed,
would have been staggered at his determined countenance and fierce eye.

But the young man leaped up, threw back his long hair, and met the dark
look of his companion with one full of pride and dignity; he seized his
sword, and said calmly, "What do you mean by placing yourself in that
threatening position? If I do not mistake, you are the man I mentioned,
the mover and leader of those rebellious hounds; away with you or I
will show you how such outcasts ought to be treated!"

The countryman struggled with rage; he threw His axe with a powerful
swing into the tree, and stood unarmed before Albert. "Allow me," said
he, "to give you another piece of advice, namely, never to let your
adversary stand between you and your horse, for if I had taken
immediate advantage of your order to take myself off, I should have had
by far the best of it."

A look at his horse proved the truth of what the man said, and Albert
blushed for his inexperience. He quitted the grasp of his sword, and,
without replying, seated himself again on the ground. The countryman
followed his example, but at a respectable distance, and said, "You are
perfectly justified in being suspicious of me, Albert von Sturmfeder;
but if you knew the pain that the name you have just mentioned gives
me, you would pardon my violent conduct. Yes, I am he who goes by that
name; but I have an abhorrence to be called by it: my friends call me
Hans--my enemies the fifer of Hardt, which they know I so much detest."

"What has that name to do with you?" asked Albert; "why are you called
by it? and why do you dislike it?"

"Why do people call me so?" answered the other: "I came from a village
of the name of Hardt; it lies in the low country, not far from
Nürtingen. I follow the profession of music, and play at fairs and
wakes, and when young people want to dance. For this reason I go by the
appellation of the fifer of Hardt; but as this name was stained with
crime and blood in an evil moment, I have dropped it, and cannot bear
the sound of it any longer."

Albert measured him with a searching look, and said, "I know very well
the evil moment to which you allude: when you peasants rebelled against
your Duke, you were one of the worst among them. Is it not true?"

"I see you are acquainted with the history of an unfortunate man," said
the countryman, with penitent downcast looks: "but you must not believe
that I am still the same person; the Holy One saved me and changed my
way of thinking, so that I may now say, I am an honest man."

"Oh! tell me," interrupted Albert, "what was the cause of the
insurrection? How were you saved? and how is it that you now serve the
Duke?"

"I will spare you this information for a more fitting occasion," he
replied, "for I trust this will not be the last time we meet; allow me
to ask you instead, where does this road lead to? It does not lead to
Lichtenstein!"

"I am not going there," said Albert, dejected; "this way leads to
Franconia, to my old uncle; you can tell the lady my plans, when you go
to Lichtenstein."

"And what are you going to do at your old uncle's? To hunt? you can do
so elsewhere; or perhaps to kill time? you can do that cheap enough
all over the world. Take my advice in a few words," he added, with a
good-humoured smile; "turn your horse's head the other way, and take a
ride with me for a couple of days about Würtemberg. I know the country
well enough to keep you out of harm's way, and though war is declared,
the roads are tolerably safe yet."

The fifer gave him this assurance, in order to encourage him to bend
his steps towards Lichtenstein, which he knew would gratify the wishes
of the lady who had entrusted him with her message of love. He was
fully aware of the possibility there was of falling in with the
patroles of the League, which were scattered over the country; but he
had, at the same time, sufficient confidence in his knowledge of the
unfrequented paths among the mountains, to be able to escape their
vigilance.

"I have given the League my word, not to serve against it for fourteen
days; how can I remain, therefore, in Würtemberg?"

"Do you call that fighting for Würtemberg, if you only travel peaceably
on the roads? In fourteen days, did you say? Do they think the war will
be over in fourteen days? Many a head will be broken against the walls
of Tübingen long after that time. Come with me; it is not against your
oath."

"And what shall I do in Würtemberg?" cried Albert: "shall I go and see
my old companions in arms reaping glory under the walls of the
fortresses? shall I go and meet the colours of the League again, to
which I have bid an eternal farewell? No; I will return to my home in
Franconia, and bury myself among its walls, and dream how happy I might
have been."

"That is a fine determination for a young man of your spirit and
determination? Have you no other interest in Würtemberg than to wish to
storm the tottering castles of the Duke? Well, go, in God's name!"
continued the countryman, looking at Albert with a cunning smile; "but
just try for once whether the ancient castle of Lichtenstein may not be
taken by storm?"

The young man blushed deeply; and said, half angrily, half smiling, "I
don't like your joke."

"I had no intention to joke with my young master," answered his
companion; "I am serious when I wish to persuade you to go there."

"And what to do?"

"Why, to win over the old gentleman, to be sure, and dry the tears of
the young lady, who weeps day and night on your account."

"But how can I go to Lichtenstein? Bertha's father does not know me;
how shall I make his acquaintance?"

"Are you the first knight who has ever demanded free quarters in a
castle, according to the custom of our forefathers? If you will leave
that to me, I will promise to satisfy your scruples."

The young man pondered over his friend's proposal for some time; he
carefully weighed all the reasons for and against it; he considered
whether it was not against his honour, to be in the neighbourhood where
the war would in all probability be carried on, instead of retiring
from the theatre of it. But when he reflected upon the mild manner in
which the commanders of the League had received his retreat from their
cause, and the easy conditions which they had laid on him; but above
all, when he called to his memory the unhappy position of his beloved
Bertha, his inclination to proceed to Würtemberg turned the scale.

"I will see and speak with her once more," thought he to
himself.----"Well, then," he called to the countryman, "if you will
promise never to say a word to me about joining the Würtemberg cause,
and assure me that I shall not be looked upon as a partizan of your
Duke, but merely a guest of Lichtenstein, I will follow you."

"As far as lies in me, I can safely promise you," said his companion;
"but it is impossible for me to answer for what the knight of
Lichtenstein might propose. He is the Duke's warmest friend, and it is
not unlikely he may endeavour to persuade you to join his cause."

"I already know the terms you are upon with him, that you often visited
him in Ulm, and brought him secret intelligence of all kinds. He has
confidence in you, and therefore I wish to put you on your guard, not
to acquaint him with the state of my affairs; for I have my reasons to
keep them as yet unknown to him."

The fifer of Hardt eyed the young man some time with a look of
astonishment. "Where did you learn that I had been the bearer of secret
intelligence to the knight of Lichtenstein? But it signifies little to
me what my persecutors may have told you. I have a debt to pay, and
until it is fully discharged, I call not my life my own. My death, I
hope, will absolve me from my creditor." With these portending words,
he promised to follow Albert's wishes to the letter, and added, "Now
mount your horse, whilst I lead on, and you shall be welcome in the
castle of Lichtenstein."



                             CHAPTER XIII.

            The herdsman says, "If you will trust in me
            And follow boldly, I will bring you free;--
            A secret path there is, to man unknown,
            And trodden by the mountain goat alone."
                                               L. UHLAND.

There were two ways from the spot where Albert had decided upon
following his mysterious guide, leading to the neighbourhood of
Reutlingen, in which the castle of Lichtenstein was situated. One was
the high road from Ulm to Tübingen. It went through the beautiful
Blauthal, or blue valley; when, reaching the town of Blaubeuren, at the
foot of the Alb, it crossed immediately over that mountain, passing the
fortress of Hohen Urach, near the villages of St. John and Pfullingen.
This was the usual and most convenient road for travellers on
horseback, in litters, or carriages; but at the time of our story, when
Albert and the fifer of Hardt had to cross the country, it was not
advisable to choose this route. The troops of the League already
occupied Blaubeuren, their advanced posts stretched as far as Urach,
and any one whom they found on the road, that did not belong to the
army, or acknowledge their party, were rudely handled and otherwise
ill-treated. Albert, therefore, had good reason to avoid this road; and
his companion was too mindful of his own safety to dissuade him from
it.

The other, a mere footpath, and known only to the inhabitants of the
country, passed through thick woods, and deep ravines, where but a few
single detached houses were to be met with, scattered over a distance
of twelve hours (stunden), or between thirty to forty miles. Here and
there the track made a circuit to avoid the high road, and for this
reason possessed the greater advantage of security. It was very
fatiguing, and, indeed, in many places scarcely passable for horses.

The fifer of Hardt chose this route, which his young master joyfully
acceded to, as being the least likely to fall in with the League's
troops. They set forward accordingly, the countryman walking on
Albert's side: in the difficult parts of the path, he carefully led the
horse by the bridle, and showed so much attention generally, for both
man and horse, that Albert by degrees began to lose sight of
Fronsberg's warning, and to look upon his companion as a trustworthy
servant.

They conversed upon different subjects, when the peasant reasoned and
argued in so clear-sighted a manner, upon many things which in general
do not come within the compass of a common countryman's mind, that his
master could not at times control an involuntary smile. He had stories
to relate of every tower and castle they saw in the distance, through
the break of the forest; and the clearness and liveliness with which he
described them, proved that he had been present as musician at many a
marriage feast and village dance; but as often as Albert endeavoured to
turn the conversation to the subject of his own life, and particularly
to that period when the fifer of Hardt played so prominent a part in
the insurrection of Poor Conrad, he either cut it short or turned it to
some other channel, with a facility which bespoke a man of discernment.

In this way they proceeded on their journey, without stopping, except
to refresh man and beast. Hans was well acquainted with the places
where they would find accommodation. He was known everywhere, and
received in a friendly manner, though, as it appeared to Albert, his
appearance excited astonishment at times. He generally had a quarter of
an hour's whisper with the host, during the time that the bustling
hostess would wait on the young knight with bread, butter, and pure
home-made cider; whilst the little boys and girls were lost in
admiration at the tall figure of the guest, with his fine clothes, his
brilliant scarf, and the waving plumes of his cap. After the frugal
meal was finished, the whole family accompanied the travellers to the
door; but, strange to say, the young cavalier could never induce the
good people, upon any account, to accept a remuneration for their
hospitality. When he asked his conductor to solve this riddle, his
answer, "that when they visit Hardt, they always come to my house,"
appeared a mere parry to the question.

They passed the night in one of those solitary houses, where the
hostess, with equal readiness, prepared a bed for her distinguished
guest, and sacrificed, in honour of him, a couple of pigeons for his
supper, served up with a dish of oatmeal.

They pursued their journey the following day in the same manner,
excepting that it struck Albert, his leader appeared more cautious than
on the day before: for, when they came within five hundred paces of a
dwelling, he bid his master stop, whilst he approached it warily; and
not till after he was perfectly satisfied that all was right, did he
make him a sign to follow. In vain did Albert question him, whether the
road was now more dangerous, or whether the troops of the League were
in the neighbourhood? He could not elicit a direct answer.

Towards noon, as the country became more open, and the path descended
into the plain, their route consequently was attended with more danger.
The musician of Hardt, thinking it no longer prudent to approach any
habitation, had provided himself at the last place with a sack of
fodder for the horse, and a sufficient supply of provisions for his
master and himself; he sought the most unfrequented paths, and it
appeared to Albert that they did not follow the first direction, but
had turned sharp to the right.

They halted on the skirt of a shady beechwood, by the side of a clear
stream with fresh grass on its banks, which invited them to repose.
Albert dismounted, whilst his provident guide produced the contents of
his wallet, and set before him a good dinner. After he had looked to
the horse, he placed himself at the feet of the young knight, and set
to eating, with a hearty appetite.

Albert having satisfied his hunger, surveyed the neighbourhood with an
attentive eye. He looked down upon a beautiful broad valley, at the
bottom of which flowed a small rapid rivulet; the surrounding fields,
with inclosed orchards here and there, appeared in high state of
cultivation, a cheerful village reared its head on a hill at the
further end of the valley, and the whole country was of a more pleasing
description than that over which they had passed on the crest of the
mountain.

"We have now quitted the district of the Alb, it seems," said the young
man, as he turned to his companion; "this valley and those hills greet
the eye with much more cheerful effect than the rugged rocks and
deserted meadows we traversed yesterday. The air also feels milder and
warmer here than higher up on the hills, where the wind was so
piercing."

"You have spoken rightly, sir," said Hans, as he carefully put the
remains of their meal into the wallet; "these vallies form part of the
lowland, and that rivulet which you see yonder flows into the Neckar."

"But how comes it that we have gone so much out of the way?" Albert
asked. "I noticed that circumstance when we were on the mountain, but
you would not listen to me then. As far as I know about the situation
of Lichtenstein, this road will take us much too far to the right."

"Well, now I'll tell you the reason," answered the countryman, "why we
have made this circuit. I did not wish to create an unnecessary anxiety
in your mind when we were on the Alb, but at present, with God's will,
we are in safety; for, let the worst come to the worst, we are scarcely
four hours distant from Hardt, where no harm can happen to us."

"In safety," Albert interrupted him in astonishment, "what have we to
fear?"

"The Leaguists, to be sure," replied the musician; "their cavalry
overrun the Alb, and some of them were not a thousand paces from us at
times. For my part, I would not like to fall into their hands, for, as
you well know, they bear me no good will; and perhaps it would not be
quite so pleasant for you to be brought prisoner before old Truchses."

"God defend me from Truchses!" cried Albert. "I would rather allow
myself to be shot on the spot than undergo such disgrace. But what are
they doing here? There is no fortress of Würtemberg in this
neighbourhood, and yet you say they scour the country hereabouts; what
is their object?"

"Look ye, sir! Wicked men are to be found everywhere; a true
Würtemberger would rather let himself be flayed alive than betray the
Duke, after whom the League is now on the search. But Truchses has
secretly offered a bribe of a heap of gold to any one who takes him;
and for this purpose has sent his cavalry out all over the country; the
report is, that many peasants, instigated by money, willingly assist
these bloodhounds in searching all the caverns and holes of the rocks
after their prey."

"Searching after the Duke? I thought he had already fled the country,
or, as others say, has shut himself up in Tübingen with forty knights!"

"Yes, the forty nobles are there, true enough," answered the
countryman, with a knowing look; "the Duke's young son, Christoph, is
also with them; that's as it should be; but where the Duke himself is,
no one can tell. Between you and I, sir, knowing him as well as I do,
nothing but dire necessity will compel him to seek shelter in a
fortress; he is a bold restless man, and prefers the freedom of woods
and mountains to other resources, even if there is danger attending
it."

"So they are searching after him? is it possible he can be in this
neighbourhood?"

"Where he is at present, I know not," answered the fifer of Hardt; "and
I would bet that no one but God alone knows; but where he will be," he
added, and appeared to Albert as if he were inspired with the idea, "I
know where he will be should fate push him to extremities; I know the
spot where his faithful friends will find him in case of need, where
many a true breast will be assembled and form a wall of defence to
protect their lord against his enemies. For though he may be a severe
master, he is still a Würtemberger, and his heavy hand is dearer to us
than the slippery words of Bavaria or Austria."

"And should they happen to fall in with the unfortunate prince, would
they be able to recognise him? Has he not disguised his person? You
described his appearance to me once, particularly his brilliant
commanding eye, so that I almost fancy I see him now before me? Can you
describe his figure to me?"

"As I told you then, he may be eight years older than you," replied the
other; "not quite so tall, but your figures resemble each other so
much, particularly when you are on horseback, that when I look at you
from behind, I say to myself, 'there goes the Duke himself.'"

Albert got up to look after his horse; the conversation of the
countryman had made him anxious for his own safety; and he now thought,
for the first time, that he had acted foolishly in stealing about the
country occupied by an enemy. It would have been particularly
unpleasant to be taken prisoner at this moment; for though there was
certainly nothing against his oath in travelling as he did, provided he
took no active part against the League: still he felt the
disadvantageous light into which he would be thrown were he found in
this neighbourhood, and in company with a man of whom the officers of
the League were suspicious, and indeed were afraid of. To retrace his
steps would, he thought, be imprudent, as it was almost certain the
road would be occupied by the enemy's patroles; the safest way,
therefore, appeared to be to hurry on as fast as possible, and get
beyond reach of their advanced posts.

Albert, to his great dismay, when he came to examine his horse, found
him somewhat lame.

His companion remarked the distress of the young man. After having
looked at his feet, he thought the beast only wanted rest, and
therefore proposed remaining in their present situation for some time
longer, and travel part of the night; for, to Albert's consolation, he
assured him he was sufficiently acquainted with their route to find it
in the dark.

                              CHAPTER XIII.

            Sent by the Suabian League,
              The hunters do not tarry;
            But range the plain, and seek
              To strike a princely quarry.
                                        G. SCHWAB.

The youth resigned himself to his fate, and sought to dissipate time in
the enjoyment of the beautiful prospect which, in proportion as the
countryman led him higher up from the place where they had made their
mid-day meal, presented itself to his view on a much more extended
scale. They stood upon the crest of a rock commanding a large circuit
of the Swabian Alb. An extended panorama spread itself before the
spectators, to Albert's delight, who was so enraptured with the
diversified colouring which the evening gradually threw over the whole,
that he was for a time lost in ecstasy. And, in truth, whoever
possesses a mind sufficiently pure for the enjoyment of the beauties of
nature as existing in the peaceful landscape, the quiet valley, and
lonely dell, such as are to be found in the Rhinegau, let him but mount
the Swabian Alb, and he will be gratified by the sight of scenery which
he will long cherish as among the most charming images in his
remembrance. A range of mountains, so distant as scarcely to be reached
by the eye, skirted the horizon, graduated with soft grey tints and
different shades of blue, whilst a foreground of dark green hills
completed the picture. On the summit of the extended ridge innumerable
castles and towers were conspicuous, placed like watchmen as it were on
these heights to overlook the country. Their remains are now in ruins,
their stately gates and approaches no longer exist, the moats are
filled with rubbish and overgrown with moss, and their halls, once the
scenes of jovial mirth, now tell their tale in mournful silence. At the
moment, however, when Albert and his companion stood on the rock of
Beuren, many of them were to be seen in all the pride of solid and
substantial defence, ranging themselves in array like an unbroken band
of powerful men.

"This Würtemberg is a beautiful country," cried Albert, his eye
wandering from hill to hill; "how bold, how sublime the summit and
declivities of those mountains, how picturesque those rocks and
castles! And when the eye turns to the valley of the Neckar, how truly
charming are those soft hills interspersed with orchards and vineyards,
and watered by gentle streams and rivulets; the whole being blessed by
a mild climate and a good race of people!"

"Yes, indeed," said the countryman, "this is a fine country; but it is
not to be compared to the neighbourhood of Stuttgardt, the true
lowland! There it is a real pleasure to wander about in summer or
spring, on the banks of the Neckar; nature is prolific in all her
bounties of cultivation; the vine grows to a large size and plentiful
on the hills; the boats and rafts on the river float up and down in
cheerful activity; the people are gay and happy at their work; and the
girls sing like larks!"

"Those vallies, on the Rems and Neckar, may indeed possess their
beauties," replied Albert; "but this one at our feet, and those heights
about us, possess also a peculiarly peaceful charm: what is the name of
that tower on the hill yonder? and tell me how are those distant
mountains called?"

The countryman scanned the neighbourhood, and pointed to the most
distant ridge of mountains, which, on account of the mist, was scarcely
visible. "That, between the east and south, is the Rossberg mountain;
in the same direction,' but nearer towards us, those many-pointed rocks
which you see are the heights of Urack: more to the westward, is the
Achalm; not far from which, but you cannot see it from hence, lies the
rock of Lichtenstein."

"There it is," thought Albert to himself, "there, where that small
cloud hovers amidst the evening tints; in that direction, a true heart
beats for me; at this very moment she, perhaps, stands on the pinnacle
of the rock, and looks this way, among that world of mountains. Oh,
that the evening breeze might waft her my remembrance, and that rosy
cloud acquaint her with my vicinity!"

"You see that sharp corner, further in the distance, that is the castle
of Teck; our dukes call themselves Dukes of Teck: it is a strong
fortress. Look to the right, that high steep mountain was once the
residence of a renowned Emperor; and is called Hohenstaufen."

"But what is the name of that castle, near us, which appears to rear
its head out of the deep mist?" asked the young man. "Only observe how
the sun plays on its white walls; how the golden mist seems to rest
about its battlements; and how beautifully the red light illumines its
towers!"

"That is Neuffen, sir; also a strong castle, which the League would be
glad to get possession of."

The sun was fast going down during this conversation. The shades of
evening threw a dark veil from the mountains over the vallies, and
obscured the distant objects. The moon rose pale, and surveyed her
nightly province. The high walls and towers of Neuffen only were
lighted up by the last rays of the sun; and with its departure, Neuffen
was enveloped in darkness; the night air began to whisper through the
trees of the surrounding wood mysterious salutations to the rays of the
rising moon.

"This is the proper time for robbers and travellers fearful of the
light of day, such as we are," said the countryman, as he bridled the
horse; "in an hour hence, the night will, I hope, be dark as coal; and
then, before the sun rises again, no Leaguist dog of a horseman shall
come upon our scent."

"If there is any likelihood of our being attacked," said Albert, "we
had better prepare for the worst; for I am resolved not to allow myself
to be taken for a mere trifle." And taking his cap off, he was
preparing to substitute in its place his helmet, which hung by his
saddle.

"You had better keep on your cap, sir," said the countryman, smiling;
"it will be warmer in the night breeze than your helmet; they will
scarcely look for the Duke in this neighbourhood, and should we meet
them, we two are a match for any four of them."

The young man thought he had betrayed a want of courage; and a feeling
of shame rose in his breast, when he noticed the unconcern of his
conductor, on foot, who had nothing but a thin leathern cap on his
head, and armed only with an axe and knife. He mounted his horse, and
his guide, taking the bridle, led him down the hill.

"You believe, therefore," asked Albert, after a pause, "that the
Leaguist cavalry do not venture thus far?"

"It is not very likely," answered the fifer of Hardt; "because Neuffen
is a strong fort, and contains a good garrison; the Leaguists will,
however, soon besiege it; but vagabonds, such as Truchses' cavalry,
will not venture in small bodies so near an enemy's position."

"Look how clear and beautiful the moon shines!" cried the young man,
whose mind, still dwelling on the sight of the mountains they had left,
admired the fantastic shades of the wood, and the brilliant shining
rocks; "look how the windows in Neuffen glimmer in the moonlight."

"I would much rather she did not shine this night," replied the
countryman, who at times looked anxiously about him; "a dark night
would have suited us better; the moon has betrayed many a brave man.
She now stands directly over the Reissenstein, where a giant once
lived; it will not be long, however, before she goes down."

"What is that you say of a giant, who lived on the Reissenstein?"

"Yes," said Hans, "tradition says that many years back a giant lived on
that spot; there, just where the moon shines on the mountain, stands
his castle, called Reissenstein, or Achalm; it belongs now to the
Helfensteiners; it is built on the declivity of the rock, high up in
the air; and has no nearer neighbours than the clouds, and the moon.
Just opposite the castle, on another eminence, upon which now stands
Heimenstein, is a cavern, in which a giant formerly lived. He possessed
an enormous treasure of gold, and could have lived nobly and in luxury,
had there been other giants and giantesses besides him to keep him
company. He was determined to build a castle, such as other knights
possessed on the Alb. The rock opposite appeared to him the most
convenient spot. He however was a bad architect; he dug out rocks of
the height of a house from the Alb, with his nails, and placed them one
upon another; but, as they always fell, he found his labour was in
vain. He then mounted on the top of the Beuren rock, and cried out in
the valley below for workmen; carpenters, masons, stone-cutters,
blacksmiths, any one who would come and help him should be well paid.
His voice was heard all over Swabia; from Kocher to the lake of
Constance; from the Necker to the Danube; the call brought masters and
workmen from all parts, who came to assist the giant build his
castle.----Keep in the shade here, out of the moonshine, sir," he
added, "your armour shines like silver, and could easily be seen by
some of those bloodhounds.

"Well, to go on with the giant's history; it was curious to see him
sitting in his cavern, in the sunshine, overlooking the progress of the
workmen in building his castle on the top of the rock; masters and
workmen worked merrily, and had their jokes with the giant, who
understood nothing of their art. At last the castle was finished, and
the giant took possession of it; when viewing the valley below from the
uppermost window, where the master and his men were assembled, he
angrily remarked, 'that one nail was wanting in the outside of the
building, and that they had deceived him in reporting it complete.' The
master blacksmith excused himself, and said: 'no one would venture to
perch himself outside the window, to drive the nail in.' The giant
would hear of no excuse; and refused to pay the reckoning until the
nail was in its place. They all returned again to the castle; the most
daring among them swore it was not a feat worth talking of to drive the
nail in; but when they came to look out of the window, and beheld the
great depth of the valley below, with its perpendicular rocks, they
shook their heads, and retired in shame. The master offered a ten-fold
reward to him who would venture on the perilous undertaking; but a long
time elapsed before one bold enough could be found. There was a smart
young fellow among the rest, who loved the master's daughter, and she
loved him; but as he was poor and the master a hard man, he could not
gain his consent to marry her. Taking courage, and thinking this a good
opportunity to be able either to merit his love or to die in the
attempt; for life without her was a burden to him: he went to his
master, her father, and said, 'Will you give me your daughter if I
drive the nail in?' The other thought this a good chance to get rid of
him should he fall into the valley, and answered 'Yes.'

"The youth took the nail and hammer, said a prayer, and prepared to get
outside the window and drive in the nail for the sake of his beloved. A
burst of joy broke from the bystanders, which awoke the giant out of
his sleep, when he asked what was the matter; and, when he heard that a
volunteer was found to drive the nail in, he looked at the young
locksmith for some time, and said: 'You are a fine fellow, and have
more courage than all your milk-hearted companions; come, and I'll
assist you.' He then took him by the nape of the neck, almost crushing
him to atoms, lifted him out of the window in the air, and said, 'drive
in, now--you shall not fall.'

"When the young lover was suspended in the air over the immense depth
below, though held by the iron grasp of the giant's hand, fear came
over him, his sight became dim, giddiness seized his brain, and,
thinking he was on the point of being hurled into the abyss beneath, he
would have cried out 'Ach Allmächtig!' (Oh, Almighty!) but had only
time enough to pronounce, 'Ach Allm,' when the giant secured him from
his perilous situation, and landed him again in safety. From that
moment the mountain has retained the name of the Achalm.

"The lad drove the nail in firmly,--the giant kissed him for his
fortitude,--and a tender hug which he gave him almost cost him his
life,--he then led him to the master, and said: 'Give your daughter to
the brave lad.' He afterwards went to his cavern, took out his money
bag, and paid each his due. But when he came to the bold young
blacksmith, he said, 'Go home, my daring young fellow, fetch your
master's daughter, and take possession of the castle, for it belongs to
you now.'

"His companions all rejoiced at his good fortune; the young blacksmith
went home, and----"

"Hark! did not you hear the neighing of horses?" said Albert, not
feeling quite at his ease, as they were passing through a deep ravine.
The moon still shone bright, the shadows of the trees waved with the
breeze, there was a rustling among the bushes, and he often fancied he
saw dark figures passing in the wood.

The fifer of Hardt stopt, vexed that his companion had interrupted him
in his story, and answered, "I thought so, likewise, just now, but it
is nothing but the noise of the wind among the trees. If we were but on
the other side of the meadow, which is open and as clear as day, we
should regain the wood, and be free from all anxiety, for there it is
dark enough. Give your horse the spur, and trot on; I'll run by your
side."

"But why do you want to get on faster now? do you think there is
anything to be apprehended? Own it, did you not see some figures in the
wood sneaking along not far from us? Do you think they belong to the
League?"

"Well, yes," whispered the countryman, looking round, "it struck me as
if some one was watching us; hurry on, therefore, and let's get out of
this cursed hollow path: a good round trot across the valley will carry
us clear of danger, and then we may bid defiance to it."

Albert looked to his sword, and held the reins firmer in his hand. They
descended in silence the gorge through which the path led, and, by the
light of the moon, he could perceive each motion of his guide, and saw
him raise his axe to his shoulder, and, taking out a knife, which he
had concealed under his jacket, stick it into his girdle.

Just as they were entering the open valley from the hollow way, a voice
was heard in the bush: "That's the fifer of Hardt--seize him! he on the
horse must be the right one."

"Fly, sir, fly," cried the faithful guide, and placed himself in a
position of defence with his axe. Albert drew his sword, and, in a
moment, was attacked by five men, whilst his companion was engaged with
three others hand to hand.

The confined spot where this rencontre took place prevented Albert
profiting by the advantage he otherwise would have had over his
opponents. One of them seized his bridle, but, in the same moment,
Albert's blade fell with such force on his head that he sank to the
ground without a groan; the others, furious at the loss of their
companion, pressed him with increased vigour, calling out to him to
surrender; but, though Albert began to bleed copiously from many wounds
he had already received in his arms and legs, he answered only by fresh
blows.

"Dead or alive," cried one of the combatants, "if the Duke will have it
so, let him take the consequences!" and with these words a heavy blow
on the head, brought Albert von Sturmfeder from his horse to the
ground. His eyes closed in a state of fainting stupor, but he still was
sufficiently conscious, to feel himself raised and carried away, amidst
the sarcastic jeers of his opponents, who appeared to triumph and
rejoice over their royal captive, as they supposed him to be.

He was placed on the ground shortly after, when a horseman galloped up,
dismounted, and spoke to the men who carried him. Albert, having
somewhat recovered from the violence of the stunning blow he had
received, opened his eyes and surveyed the surrounding group. An
unknown figure bent over him, as if to examine his features. "Who have
we here?" said this man: "this is not him we are looking for--leave him
to his fate; we must hurry away without loss of time--alarm is already
spread in Neuffen, and the garrison is on the alert." Falling again
into a state of stupor from excessive weakness, Albert closed his eyes
a second time, his ear only was alive to the confused sound of
indistinct voices, which soon were hushed into dead silence, and he was
left alone. The damp ground of the meadow chilled his limbs, but a
sweet slumber coming to his aid, he sank under it, his beloved Bertha
occupying his last thought.



                              CHAPTER XIV.

            The Swabian League displays her mighty power,
              Her warriors people many a castle wall,
            Her banners wave from many an ancient tower,
              And every city answers to her call.
            Alone, will Tübingen no homage proffer,
            But stand apart, and grim resistance offer.
                                                  G. SCHWAB.

The forces of the Swabian League had advanced in large numbers into
Würtemberg. Uninterrupted success crowned all their undertakings,--its
army became daily more formidable. Hollenstein and the strong castle of
Heidenheim were the first that fell into their hands after a long and
brave defence. The latter was defended by Stephan von Lichow; but with
only a couple of culverins and a handful of men at his command, he
could not hold out against the thousands of the League and the military
experience of a Fronsberg. Göppingen soon after experienced the same
fate. Not less brave than Lichow, Philip von Rechberg distinguished
himself there, and obtained an honourable retreat for himself and
garrison; but his gallant conduct was not able to turn the fate of the
country. Teck, at that time a strong fortified position, was lost
through the imprudence of the garrison. Möckmukh held out the longest;
it possessed a man within its walls, who would have been a match for
twenty of the besiegers, and whose determined resistance was equalled
only by the power of his iron hand. Its walls were, however,
demolished, and Götz von Berlichingen was also reckoned among the
prisoners. Schorndorf could not withstand Fronsberg's cannon; it was
reckoned, of all places, one of the strongest holds, and with it the
rest of the low country belonging to Duke Ulerich fell into the hands
of the League.

The whole of Würtemberg, as far as the neighbourhood of Kirchheim,
being now in the power of the League, the Duke of Bavaria broke up his
camp, for the purpose of besieging Stuttgardt in person. An embassy
from the town met him, however, at Denkendorf, to beg for mercy. The
ambassadors did not attempt to make any excuse before the bitter
enemies of their Duke, nor to shelter themselves under the allegiance
they owed to their hereditary Prince; they merely asserted, that as he,
the cause of the war, was no longer within their walls, they craved
exemption for their town being occupied by the troops of the League.
But this petition found no grace in the stern mind of Wilhelm of
Bavaria and the covetous desires of the other members of the League.
The only answer they received was, that Ulerich's conduct had merited
punishment, and that, as the country had supported him, Stuttgardt
therefore must also open its gates unconditionally.

The townsfolk of the capital being unable to defend themselves against
the powerful forces of the League, were obliged to submit to these hard
terms, and admit a garrison within their walls.

The conquest of the country was, however, far from being complete
with the capture of the capital. The greatest part of the hill
country still held for the Duke, and, judging from the spirit of its
inhabitants, they were not likely to submit to the first summons. This
elevated district was commanded by two fortified places, Urach and
Tübingen;--and so long as they remained firm to the Duke, the
surrounding neighbourhood also determined not to desert his cause. In
Urach, however, the citizens, fearful of the power of the League,
wished to come to terms, whilst the garrison held faithful to their
master. The two parties at last came to blows, in which the brave
commander was killed, and the garrison was then obliged to surrender.

By the middle of April Tübingen, which had been strongly fortified, was
the only place left to the Duke. Ulerich confided the defence of the
castle, with the care of his family and the treasure of his house, to
forty gallant and experienced knights, having under them two hundred of
the bravest of his countrymen. The position of this fortress was
strong, and being well supplied with ammunition and provisions, all
eyes in Germany looked to its fate with anxiety; for, Tübingen being a
town of great repute in those days, it was thought that if it could but
hold out until the Duke relieved it, he might then be able to
re-conquer the country. The League, to frustrate their enemy's last
hope, now marched against it with their whole force. The heavy steps of
armed bodies of men sounded through the forests in their march towards
the place; the vallies of the Neckar trembled under the tread of
cavalry; the artillery, with the baggage and ammunition waggons, and
all the apparatus for a long siege, which was brought with the army,
left deep ruts in the fields as a witness of the coming event.

Albert von Sturmfeder knew nothing of the progress of the war. A deep
but sweet slumber, like a powerful enchantment, suspended the
operations of his faculties for a long time. He suffered no
inconvenience in this state of stupor, but resembled a child who,
sleeping on the breast of its mother, occasionally opens its eyes to
gaze at a world it knows not, and closes them again for a time.
Pleasing dreams of better days soothed his situation, a placid smile
often played upon his pale countenance, and comforted those who nursed
him with tender solicitude.

We will now introduce the reader to the humble cottage, which had
received him with hospitality, and treated him with tender care the day
after he had been wounded.

The morning sun of this day threw its enlivening rays on the round
frame of a small window, and illumined the largest room of a needy
peasant's house. Though the furniture bespoke poverty, cleanliness and
order reigned throughout. A large oaken table stood in one corner of
the room, on two sides of which were placed wooden benches. A carved
chest, painted with bright colours, contained, as was generally the
case in such habitations, the Sunday wardrobe of the inhabitants, and
fine linen spun by themselves; around the dark wainscot of the walls
was a shelf, upon which were ranged well polished cans, goblets, and
smoothing irons, earthen utensils with mottos in verse painted on them,
and all kinds of musical instruments, such as cymbals, hautboys, and a
guitar, hung on the walls. At the further end of the room stood a
bedstead, with cotton curtains, of a coarse texture, ornamented with
figures of large flowers. It was partly concealed from view by a range
of clean linen hanging to air around an earthenware stove, which
projected far into the apartment.

A young girl, of about sixteen or seventeen years of age, sat beside
the bed. She was dressed in that picturesque costume which, with little
difference, has been handed down to our days among our Swabian
peasantry. Her golden hair was uncovered, and fell in two long tresses
plaited with different coloured ribands, over her back. Her cheerful
face was somewhat tanned by the sun, but not so much as to obscure the
lovely youthful colour of her cheeks; a lively blue eye sparkled from
beneath a long eyelash. Plaited full sleeves of white linen covered her
arm down to the hand; a scarlet bodice, laced with a silver chain, and
trimmed with fancy-worked linen, of a finer texture than the sleeves,
sat close to her shape; a short black petticoat fell scarcely below the
knee. This ornamental dress, together with a clean white apron and high
clocked stockings of the same colour, fastened up with pretty garters,
did not appear quite in keeping with the humble furniture of the room,
nor with the week-day costume of a peasant's daughter.

The young girl was busily employed spinning fine thread; at times she
opened the curtains of the bed, and peeped in. But, as if she had been
caught in the act, she quickly closed them again, and smoothed the
folds, so that no one might remark what she had been about.

The door opened, when a little plump elderly woman entered, dressed
much in the same way as the girl, but not so smart. She brought a basin
of hot soup for breakfast, and then arranged the plates on the table.
When she saw her daughter (for such she was) sitting beside the bed,
she was so startled at her appearance, that a little more and she would
have dropped the jug of cider which she also held in her hand.

"For God's sake, what are you thinking about, Barbelle," said she, as
she placed the jug on the table and approached the maiden; "what are
you thinking about, to sit and spin there with your new bodice on? And
she has got her new petticoat on, too, and the silver chain, I declare,
and has taken a clean apron and stockings out of the chest! What a
piece of vanity, you foolish thing! Don't you know that we are poor
folks, and that you are the child of an unfortunate man?"

The daughter patiently allowed her bustling mother to expend her
astonishment; she cast her eyes down, it is true, but there was a
roguish smile on her face, which proved that the lecture did not sink
very deep. "Ah! what's the use of being angry?" she answered; "what
harm can it do to my dress, if I wear it once on a week day? The silver
chain will not suffer, and I can easily wash the apron."

"So! as if we had not washing and cleaning enough? But tell me, what
has put it into your head to make yourself so smart to-day?"

"Ah! don't you know, mother," said the blushing Swabian child, "that
to-day is the eighth day? Did not my father say the gentleman would
awake on the eighth day, if his medicines had their desired effect? And
so I thought----"

"Yes, this is about the time," replied the mother, kindly; "you are
quite right, child: if he awakes and sees everything about him slovenly
and dirty, we shall get into trouble with the father. And I am not fit
to be seen! Go, Barbelle, and fetch me my black jacket and red bodice,
and a clean apron."

"But, mother," said the young one, "you had better go and dress
yourself, while I remain here, for perhaps the gentleman may awake when
you are putting your things on."

"You are right again, girl," replied the mother, and, leaving the
breakfast on the table, retired to adorn her person. Her daughter
opened the window to the fresh morning air, for the purpose, according
to her usual practice, of feeding her pigeons, which were assembled
before the house waiting for their accustomed meal; larks and other
little birds saluting her in full chirping chorus, partook also of her
bounty, which the young girl enjoyed with innocent pleasure.

At this moment the curtains of the bed were opened, when the head of a
handsome young man looked out; we need not say it was Albert von
Sturmfeder.

A slight colour, the first messenger of returning health, played on his
cheeks; his look was as brilliant as ever, and his arm felt as
powerful. He surveyed his situation in astonishment; the room, with its
furniture, were strangers to him; everything about him was a riddle.
Who had bandaged his head? who had put him in this bed? His position
appeared to him like that of one who had passed a jovial night with his
companions, and, having lost his senses, awoke in some out-of-the-way
place.

He observed the girl at the window for some time. He could not keep his
eyes off her, as she was the first object he had seen; for the purpose
of drawing her attention, he made a rustling noise with the curtains as
he threw them further back.

She' started when she heard the noise, and looking round, exhibited, to
Albert's astonishment and delight, the beauty of her countenance, now
slightly tinged with a blush. His sudden apparition appeared for a
moment to deprive her pretty smiling mouth of the power of finding
words to welcome the invalid to returning life. She soon collected
herself, however, and hastened to the bedside, but immediately after
checked her steps, as if she were not quite certain of her patient
being really awake, or whether it were proper to be in the room when he
returned to his senses.

The young man, observing the embarrassment of this beautiful maiden,
was the first to break silence.

"Tell me, where am I? how came I here?" asked Albert. "To whom belongs
this house, in which, it appears, I awake out of a long sleep?"

"Are you really in your senses again?" cried she, clasping her hands
for joy. "Ah! thank God, who would ever have thought it? But you look
at one as if it were true, though you have been so long ill as to make
us very fearful and anxious about you."

"Have I been ill?" inquired Albert, who scarcely understood the dialect
of the Swabian girl. "I have only been a few hours without
consciousness?"

"Eh! what are you thinking about," giggled the girl, and bit the end of
the tress, to suppress a rising laugh; "a few hours, did you say? This
night will just be the ninth that I have been watching you."

The young man could not comprehend what he heard. Nine days, and not
arrived at Lichtenstein, to see Bertha? And with this thought his
recollection of the past returned in full force to his mind; he
remembered having renounced the service of the League,--that he had
determined to visit Lichtenstein,--that he had crossed the Alb by
unfrequented paths, and that he and his leader had been attacked. But
now, when he looked about him, fearful doubts oppressed his mind. Am I
a prisoner, he thought to himself; and immediately put the same
question to his pretty attendant.

She had noticed, with increasing anxiety, the placid countenance of the
young knight, as it became ruffled, and the wild look his features had
suddenly assumed. Fearful he might relapse again into his former
situation, which the languid tone of his voice seemed to indicate, she
hesitated what to do, whether to remain in the room, or call in the
assistance of her mother.

She did not return an answer, and retired towards the door. Her heart
was touched at the distress which appeared to oppress her patient; and
Albert, judging by her silence and the anxious expression of her
countenance, which he construed into an affirmation to his question,
that he was now in the hands of his enemies, exclaimed, "I am a
prisoner then, separated from her without hope, without consolation,
without the possibility of hearing from her perhaps for a long time!"
The shock was too great for his weak state of body to withstand; a tear
stole from his eye.

The girl observed the tear: her anxiety was changed into pity, she
approached nearer, and seating herself again by the bed-side, ventured
to take the hand of the young man. "You must not give way to grief,"
she said, "your honour is well again, and----you can very soon proceed
on your journey," she added, with a cheerful smile.

"Proceed on my journey?" asked Albert, "then I am not a prisoner?"

"Prisoner? no, certainly not; you might have been so, indeed, once or
twice, for the patroles of the League often came to our house, but we
always concealed you, because my father told us not to let any one see
you."

"Your father!" cried the young man, "who is your father? Where am I?"

"Where are you?" answered Barbelle, "why, in Hardt, to be sure."

"In Hardt?" a glance at the walls adorned with musical instruments
convinced him that he was indebted to the man for his life and liberty,
who had been sent to him from Bertha as a guardian angel. "So I am in
Hardt? and your father is the fifer of Hardt, is he not?"

"He does not like to be called by that name," said the girl; "he is
certainly a musician, but he prefers being known by the name of Hans."

"But how did I come here?" inquired Albert.

"Don't you recollect anything about it?" smiled the young girl, and
played with her hair again. She then related, in Swabian dialect, that
after her father had been absent many weeks, he suddenly arrived nine
days ago, in the night, and knocked at the door some time before it
awoke her. Having recognised his voice, she hurried down to let him in.
He was accompanied by four men, carrying a wounded man, covered with
his cloak, whom they brought into the house. When her father withdrew
the cloak from the sick man, and desired her to bring a light, she was
terribly frightened at seeing a person bleeding, and apparently half
dead. He then ordered her to heat the stove immediately, and they
brought the wounded man into the room, and laid him on the bed. His
dress was that of a person of distinction. "My father," added she,
"applied some herbs to his wounds, he also prepared a cordial for him,
for he understands the art of medicine both for man and beast. The
young man was for two days very restless and violent, which caused us
all great anxiety. But after my father had given him a third dose of
medicine he became easy and quiet, and then he said that, on the eighth
morning, the invalid would be himself again, and his prediction has
actually come to pass."

Albert listened to the story of the young girl with much interest; he
was obliged occasionally to interrupt her in her narration, when he did
not exactly understand the expressions she made use of in her Swabian
dialect, or when she described more minutely the herbs with which the
fifer of Hardt had prepared his medicines.

"And where is your father?" he asked.

"How can we know where he is?" she answered, as if she wished to avoid
the question; but, recollecting herself, she added, "I think I may tell
you, because you must be a good friend of his; he is gone to
Lichtenstein."

"To Lichtenstein?" cried Albert, and blushed deeply; "and when will he
come back again?"

"He ought to have been here two days ago, as he told us, if nothing
happened to detain him. Folks say the cavalry of the League are on the
look-out for him."

The mere mention of Lichtenstein seemed to invigorate his weak frame
with renewed strength. He fancied himself strong enough to mount his
horse immediately, and, by the rapidity of his movements, make up for
the time he had lost on the bed of sickness.

His next and most important question, therefore, was to inquire after
his horse; and when he heard it was quite well in the cow-house, he
thought he would be able to set out without further loss of time. He
thanked his kind little nurse for the care she had taken of him, and
asked for his jacket and cloak. She had long since cleaned his clothes,
and carefully washed out all spots of blood; and taking them out of the
carved painted chest, where they had been placed among her Sunday's
attire, spread them out one by one before him, and appeared pleased
with the grateful acknowledgements which he expressed for her
attention. She then hurried out of the room to acquaint her mother with
the joyful news of the young knight's restoration to health and vigour.

We know not whether she told her mother that she had had half an hour's
gossip with the handsome gentleman; we have reason however to doubt it,
for that good lady had learnt from the experience of her youthful days,
and thought it necessary to repeat the warning constantly to her
daughter, that "she should take good care not to speak to a smart young
fellow longer than it would take to repeat an 'Ave Maria.'"



                           	 END OF VOL. I.



              J. B. Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament-street.



                              THE BANISHED.

                                 VOL. II.



                LONDON: PRINTED BY J. B. NICHOLS AND SON,
                         25, PARLIAMENT STREET.



                              THE BANISHED:

                                   A

                        SWABIAN HISTORICAL TALE.


                               EDITED BY

                           JAMES MORIER, ESQ.

                        AUTHOR OF HAJJI BABA, &c.


                            IN THREE VOLUMES.

                                VOL. II.



                                LONDON:
                       HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
                       GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
                                  1839.



                              THE BANISHED.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                              CHAPTER XV.

            Art thou troubled, maiden? Tell me what,--
            Thou speak'st of matters which beseem thee not.
                                                    SCHILLER.

Barbelle went up stairs to her mother, who was still occupied in
adorning her little plump person, to appear before her guest in proper
attire. They then descended together to the kitchen on the ground
floor, which adjoined the apartment of Albert. The attention of the
good matron was more excited by getting a peep at him through a small
window looking into his room, than in preparing a mess of oatmeal
porridge for his mid-day meal. Barbelle was also determined to satisfy
her curiosity in like manner, and standing upon tiptoes, looked over
her mother's shoulders.

She beheld the young man with wondering eyes, and her heart beat
violently for the first time in seventeen years at the sight of his
fine figure. She had been often moved to tears as he lay on the bed of
sickness, insensible, almost lifeless; deeply affected at the pallid
appearance of his fine manly features struggling with death, as she
imagined, she had watched him with the tender anxiety of a pious mind;
but now she felt he was quite a different object to behold. His eye was
reanimated by a beautiful expression, and it struck Barbelle, young
though she was, that she had never seen the like before. His hair fell
no longer in wild disorder over his forehead; it now hung down his neck
arranged with care and combed into neat curls. The colour had returned
to his cheeks, and his lips were as fresh as cherries on the festivals
of Peter and Paul; and how well did his embroidered silk jacket become
him, and the broad white collar which he had put on over his dress! But
the little girl could not comprehend why he was so much occupied with a
certain white and blue silk scarf; she even thought that he pressed it
to his heart and raised it to his lips, full of the devotion which is
paid to some esteemed relic.

The elderly matron had, in the meantime, satisfied her curiosity in the
examination of her guest, and returned to her culinary occupations.
"The gentleman looks like a prince," she said, as she gave the mess of
oatmeal porridge a stir, "what a jacket he has! no Stuttgardt beau can
boast of a finer one. But what is he always doing with that band he
holds in his hand? He never ceases to look at it. Perhaps there is a
spot of blood on it which he cannot get out?"

"No, that's not it!" said Barbelle, who could now look into the room
with greater ease. "But do you know, mother, what I think? he looks at
it with such ardent eyes, that it must certainly be something from his
love."

The matron could scarcely help smiling at the supposition of her child,
but she soon recover her dignity, and replied, "Ah, what do you know
about love! Such a child as you must not think of the like. Get away
from the window, and fetch me a napkin. The gentleman has been
accustomed to good living, so I must put more melted butter in the
porridge." Barbelle left the window rather in a pet. She knew that she
dare not disobey her mother, but nevertheless thought that she was in
the present instance decidedly in the wrong. For, had she not been in
the habit of joining the other girls of the village for a whole year
past, when they talked and sang of their loves and favourites? Had not
some of her companions, who were only a few weeks older than herself
their appropriate sweethearts? and should she alone be debarred from
even speaking on the subject,--not even to know anything about it? No,
it was too bad of her mother; who now forbad her knowing anything about
such affairs, when but a moment before she had not objected to her
standing upon tiptoes to look over her shoulder. But, as it often
happens that prohibition excites transgression, so Barbelle was
determined not to rest satisfied until she had discovered why the young
knight regarded his scarf with such enraptured eyes.

The breakfast of the young man was, in the meantime, ready, wanting
only a can of wine to complete it; this was also soon provided; for,
though the fifer of Hardt was a man of low condition, he was not so
poor that his cellar could not produce a bottle or two upon
extraordinary occasions. The girl carried the wine and bread, whilst
her mother, dressed in her complete Sunday's attire, preceded her
daughter into the room, bearing the dish of oatmeal porridge in both
hands.

Albert had some difficulty to dispense with the ceremonious respect,
which the fifer's wife thought was due to such a distinguished guest.
She had once served in the castle of Neuffen, and knew what good
manners were, and therefore remained on the threshold of the door, with
the smoking hot dish in her hands, until the young man positively
ordered her to approach. Her daughter stood blushing behind the round
plump matron, and her confused countenance was only occasionally
visible to Albert when her mother curtsied very low. She also followed
her mother through the number of requisite ceremonies, but felt,
perhaps, less embarrassment now than she might have done, had she not
had half an hour's previous conversation with their guest.

Barbelle covered the table with a clean cloth, and put the porridge and
wine before Albert, who was to sit on the end of the bench under the
crucifix, which hung on the wall. She then stuck a curiously carved
wooden spoon into it, which, standing unassisted upright, was a proof
that the meal was of the best cooking. When the young man had seated
himself, the mother and daughter also took their places at the table to
partake of the breakfast, but placed themselves at a respectful
distance, not forgetting to put the salt between them and their
distinguished guest, for such was the custom in the good old times.

During the time that each was occupied with their repast, Albert had
sufficient opportunity to make a few passing observations upon his
companions. In the appearance of the stately personage who filled the
situation of honour in the fifer of Hardt's house, self importance and
dignity seemed pre-eminent whilst much kindliness of expression was
marked on her features. Had not her better half been a man of
determined character, and positive in maintaining the upper hand in the
essentials of domestic government, there was something in the bearing
of his wife which indicated, that one less bold might easily have been
brought under her dominion.

In her daughter's countenance, the combined charms of simple unaffected
goodness and innocence beamed forth in all their glory. The purity of
her heart, and kindliness of her feelings, were delineated in the
delicate lines of her features, and the soft modest expression of her
eye bespoke unconsciousness of nature's best gifts. Such was this child
of nature, bred and born in the lonely cottage of a restless intriguing
peasant; Albert could not behold her without admiration, and owned to
himself that, had his heart not been already fully occupied with
another, and the distance between the heir to the name of Sturmfeder
and the lower born daughter of the fifer of Hardt been immeasurably
great, she might have won no insignificant place in it. His eye rested
with peculiar pleasure and interest upon her innocent face, and, had
not her mother been so much occupied with her porridge, she could not
have avoided noticing the blushes of her child, when a stolen look at
the young knight by chance met his glance.

"Now that the platter is empty, is the time to gossip," is a true
saying; which was put in practice as soon as the table cloth was taken
away. Albert had two things particularly at heart. He wished to know
for certain, when the fifer of Hardt would return from Lichtenstein,
because he only awaited intelligence from Bertha to hasten immediately
to her; and, secondly, it was highly necessary for him to learn where
the army of the League was at the present moment. To the first question
he could not expect any further information, than that which the maiden
had already given him, namely, that her father had been absent about
six days, but, having promised to be back on the fifth, she now looked
for his arrival every hour. The good matron shed tears as she bewailed
to her guest how her husband, since the commencement of the war, had
been but a few hours at home; how he had always had the reputation of
being a restless character; and how people rumoured all sorts of
stories about him, which would certainly bring his wife and child into
misfortune and trouble by his dangerous mode of life.

Albert tried all means to console her and stop her tears; and so far
succeeded, as to enable her to answer his questions respecting the army
of the League.

"Ah! sir," she said, "terror and misery are our portion now-a-days! it
is just as if a wild huntsman were riding on the clouds, driving over
the country with his ghost hounds. They have overrun all the low
country, and now the whole force is gone to attack Tübingen."

"So all the fortresses are in their hands?" said Albert, astonished:
"Höllenstein, Schorndorf, Göppingen, Teck, Urach--are they all taken?"

"All of them, I believe; a man from Schorndorf told me that the
confederates were in Höllenstein, Schorndorf, and Göppingen. But I can
tell you for certain about Teck and Urach, as we are only three or four
hours' distance from them." She then related that, on the 3rd of April,
the League's army advanced to Teck; one part of the infantry was posted
before one of the gates of the town, and had a parley with the garrison
about surrendering. Every one flocked to the spot to hear the summons,
and in the meantime the enemy scaled the other gate. But, in the castle
of Urach, there were four hundred ducal infantry, which the citizens
would not admit into the town when the enemy advanced. A battle took
place between them, in which the soldiers were forced into the market
place, where the commander was wounded by a ball, and afterwards run
through the body by a halbert; the town then surrendered to the League.
"It is no wonder," said the fifer of Hardt's wife, as she concluded her
narration, "that they take all the towns and castles; for they have
long falconets and bombarding pieces which shoot balls as large as my
head, breaking down walls and upsetting towers."

Albert could easily foresee from this information, that the journey
from Hardt to Lichtenstein would not be less dangerous, than that which
he had already performed over the Alb, for he knew that he would be
obliged to pass directly between Urach and Tübingen. But, as the army
of the League had been withdrawn from Urach several days back, and the
siege of Tübingen necessarily required a large force, he might hope
there was no post of any importance occupied by the enemy, in the
country through which he would have to travel. He therefore awaited the
arrival of his guide with impatience.

The wound on his head was quite healed; though the blow had been severe
enough to deprive him of his senses for many days, it was not deep,
owing to the feathers of his cap and the thickness of his hair having
blunted the sharpness of the cut. He had recovered also of the wounds
on his legs and arms, and the only inconvenience he suffered from the
result of that unfortunate night, was a debility arising from the loss
of blood, and lying so long upon the bed of sickness. But his
constitution hourly gained strength, his natural buoyancy of spirit
resumed its sway, and his only thought was to proceed onwards to his
destination.

He was, however, compelled to summon up all his spirits, to make the
tedious hours he was still doomed to pass in his present quarters at
all bearable. The daughter of the fifer, perceiving how the prolonged
absence of her father distressed him, did her best to beguile the time
by amusing him with her cheerful conversation. The delay was
nevertheless not without its advantages, for he became acquainted with
the character and life of the Swabian peasant. Their manners and
dialect were quite new to him. His countrymen, the Franconians,
although bordering so near on this part of Würtemberg, were to his mind
a race more subtle and crafty,--in many respects less polished,--than
these. But the kind-hearted honesty of the Swabians, which their looks,
address, and actions bespoke,--their cheerful industry, their
cleanliness and order, giving to poverty a respectable, indeed a
substantial, appearance; in short, everything he saw induced him to
think they possessed more intrinsic good qualities than their shrewder
neighbours.

He was very much taken with the unaffected simplicity of the young
girl's talk. Her mother might scold as much as she liked, and remind
her continually of the high rank of the knight, she was not to be
deterred from entertaining him, and she was particularly bent upon not
giving up her secret plan to ascertain whether she or her mother were
right in their views respecting the white and blue scarf. Upon this
subject she had her own thoughts, arising out of the following
circumstance:

One night when Albert was very ill, she had remained up late to keep
her father company, who was watching by his bed-side. But having fallen
asleep over her work, she was aroused, it might have been about ten
o'clock, by a noise in the room. She saw a man in earnest conversation
with her father, whose features did not escape her notice, although he
tried to conceal them under a large cap. She thought she recognised in
the stranger a servant of the knight of Lichtenstein, who had often
been in the habit of coming in a mysterious way to the fifer of Hardt,
upon which occasion she was always obliged to leave the apartment.

Bent upon knowing what this man had to communicate to her father, she
feigned to be asleep thinking he would not disturb her. She was right
in her conjecture; and heard the stranger speak of a young lady, who
was inconsolable, on account of a certain young man. She had
commissioned him to go to Hardt to ascertain the truth of the report
which had given her great concern, and had determined to acknowledge
every thing to her father respecting her acquaintance with the invalid,
and in case he returned to her with unsatisfactory intelligence, she
would immediately proceed to nurse him herself.

The messenger from Lichtenstein spoke in an under tone, as if afraid of
being overheard; and her father, lamenting the case of the lady,
represented the state of the patient as being likely soon to be
ameliorated, and promised that, when he was decidedly better, he would
immediately convey the consoling news to her himself. The stranger then
cut off a lock of the sick man's hair, folded it up carefully in a
cloth, which he carried under his jacket, and being led out of the room
by her father, took his departure.

The many occupations of the following days, had driven the conversation
of the stranger from the recollection of the fifer's daughter; but when
she witnessed the scene from the kitchen window, it came back in full
force to her mind. She knew that the knight of Lichtenstein had a
daughter, because her aunt had been her nurse, and now was her
attendant. It could be no other than this very lady, who had sent the
servant to inquire about the sick man, and intended to come herself to
nurse him.

All the stories she had ever heard as she sat at the spinning-wheel on
a long winter's evening,--and there were many terrible ones, of king's
daughters in love, of gallant knights sick in prison, saved by the
hands of noble ladies,--came to her remembrance. She did not exactly
know what people of quality thought of love, but she supposed that
sensation must be much the same kind of thing, which girls of her
village felt, when they surrendered their hearts to handsome young
fellows of their own rank in life. With this idea strong in her mind,
she thought how painful must be the situation of the noble lady, living
in the high and distant castle, not to know whether her treasure were
dead or alive, nor to be able to come to him, to see him, and to watch
over him.

These reflections brought tears into her eye, generally so animated and
cheerful. Her heart was touched at the idea of the narrow escape the
lady had run of losing her lover; and supposing her to be the daughter
of a noble, rich knight, she necessarily must be very beautiful, her
imagination led her to fancy her situation to be doubly inconsolable.
But was not the young man to be equally pitied, if not more so? thought
she. Her father had surely ere this imparted to the lady the gratifying
news of her lover's recovery; whilst he, poor man, had not heard one
word from her for many days! Has he not been deprived of his senses
during nine whole days; and since their return been left in anxious
suspense on her account? These circumstances, therefore, left no doubt
upon her mind, of the reason why he cherished the scarf with such
tender regard, and convinced her from whose hands it came, at the same
time that it satisfied her why he constantly pressed it to his heart
and lips. Thinking to give him comfort, she determined to relate to him
what had passed on that night, when she overheard the conversation
between her father and the stranger.

Whilst Barbelle was occupied at her spinning wheel, Albert remarked
that she was not so cheerful as usual, that there was a cast of
seriousness on her countenance, which he had never observed before. Her
mind appeared occupied with a thought that distressed her; nay, he even
perceived a tear in her eye. He was so much struck by the change, as to
wish to know the cause of it. "What have you at heart, girl?" he asked,
just after her mother had left the room. "What makes you all at once so
silent and serious? you even moisten your thread with tears!"

"And can you be gay, sir?" asked Barbelle, and looked at him
inquisitively in the face. "I think I saw something once fall from your
eye also, which moistened that scarf. I am sure it was given you by
your love; and I was just thinking how much I grieved that you were not
by her side."

Albert was taken by surprise at this remark of his young friend, and
blushed deeply, which satisfied her she had made a better guess about
the mysteries of the scarf than her mother had. "You are not far
wrong," he answered, smiling; "but I am not uneasy on that account, as
I hope to see her again very shortly."

"Ah! what joy there will be at Lichtenstein when that happy event comes
to pass," said Barbelle, whose countenance had now resumed its wonted
gaiety.

What could be the meaning of this, thought Albert? could her father
have made known to her the secret of his love? "In Lichtenstein, did
you say? what do you know about me and Lichtenstein?"

"Ah! I rejoice to think of the happiness the noble lady will have when
she sees you again. I have heard how miserable she was when you were
ill."

"Miserable, did you say?" cried Albert, springing upon his feet, and
approaching her; "was she aware of my state? O speak! what do you know
of Bertha? Are you acquainted with her? What has your father said of
her?"

"My father has not said a single word to me; and I should not have
known there was such a person as a lady of Lichtenstein, if my aunt was
not her nurse. But you must not be offended at me, sir, if I listened a
little; look ye, this is the way I know it." She then related how she
became acquainted with the secret; and that her father was probably
gone to Lichtenstein to give the lady comforting intelligence of his
recovery.

Albert was painfully affected at this news. He had all along cherished
the hope that Bertha would have heard of his misfortune and recovery at
the same time, and have been spared much anxiety on his account. He
well knew how the cruel uncertainty of his being safe from the
vigilance of the enemy's patroles, even had his health been restored,
would wear upon her spirits; perhaps affect her health also. Truly his
own misfortune appeared nothing, when he compared it to the distress of
that dear girl. How much had she not gone through in Ulm! how painful
the separation from him! and now scarcely had she enjoyed the thought
of his having quitted the colours of the League, scarcely had she been
able to look forward to a more cheerful futurity, when she was
terrified by the news of his being almost mortally wounded. And all
this she was obliged to suffer in secret, to conceal it from the looks
of her father--without possessing one single soul as a friend, to whose
sympathy she could confide the secret of her heart--and from whom she
might seek consolation. He now felt more than ever how necessary it
became to hasten his departure for Lichtenstein; and his impatience was
inflamed into anger, that the fifer of Hardt, otherwise a cautious and
clever man, should just at this moment remain so long absent.

The maiden guessed his thoughts: "I plainly see you long to be
away--oh, were but my father here to shew you the way to Lichtenstein!
It would be imprudent in you to go alone, for there would be no
difficulty in detecting your not being a Würtemberger by your speech.
Do you know what? I'll run to meet my father, and hurry him home."

"You go to meet him?" said, Albert touched by the proposal of the
good-hearted girl; "do you know whether he be in the neighbourhood? he
may be still some distance from home; and it will be dark in an hour."

"And were it so dark, that I should be obliged to grope my way
blindfolded to Lichtenstein, I'll wager you could not go faster to
your----." Blushing, she cast her eyes down; for although her good
heart induced her to proffer her services as a messenger of love, she
felt confused when she touched upon the tender subject, which had been
made so clear to her this day, and which confirmed her in her former
suspicions.

"But if you volunteer to go to Lichtenstein out of regard for me, there
is no reason why I should not accompany you, rather than remain behind,
to await the arrival of your father. I'll saddle my horse immediately,
and ride by your side; you can shew me the way until I am far enough
not to mistake the rest of it."

The girl of Hardt scarcely knew which way to look, when Albert made
this proposal; and playing with the ends of her long plaits of hair,
said, almost in a whisper, "But it will be so soon dark."

"Well, what does that signify? So much the better, because I shall then
be able to arrive in Lichtenstein by cock-crow," answered Albert; "you
yourself proposed finding the way through the darkness."

"Yes, to be sure, so I could," replied Barbelle, without looking up;
"but you are not strong enough yet to undertake the journey; and he who
has just risen from a sick bed, must not think of travelling six hours
in the night."

"I cannot pay any more attention to that," said Albert; "my wounds are
all healed, and I feel as well as ever I was; so get ready, my good
girl, we will start immediately; I'll go and saddle my horse." He took
the bridle, which hung on a nail on the wall, and went to the door.

"But, sir! hear me, good sir!" cried the girl, in a beseeching tone,
after him: "pray do not think of going now. It would not be proper for
me to travel alone with you in the dark. The people in Hardt are very
censorious, and they would certainly say some ill-natured thing of me
if----; better stay till to-morrow morning, when I will willingly go as
far as Pfullingen with you."

The young man respected her reasons, and replaced in silence the bridle
on the nail. It would certainly have been much more agreeable to him,
if the folks of Hardt had been less inclined to think evil of their
neighbours; but he could not do otherwise than meet the well-meant
scruples of Barbelle in their proper light. He therefore determined to
remain the night waiting the arrival of the fifer of Hardt; should he
not then come, he would mount his horse by daybreak, and set out for
Lichtenstein, under the conduct of his young friend.



                             CHAPTER XVI.

            The whispering breezes fan the day,
              And gently blow around;
            With fragrance passing sweet they play,
              And break with dulcet sound.
            Now, my poor heart, be not oppress'd by fear,
              Those breezes will a better fortune bear.
                                                     L. UHLAND.

But the fifer of Hardt did not return home that night; and as Albert
could no longer restrain his desire to prosecute his journey, he
saddled his horse at break of day. His good hostess, after no small
struggle, allowed her daughter to accompany him. She was afraid lest
such an extraordinary event should furnish conversation, perhaps not to
the credit of her child, for many an evening's gossip in the spinning
occupations of her neighbours, and therefore reluctantly gave her
consent. Upon the consideration, however, of the interest her husband
must have taken in the welfare of the young knight, having treated him
like a son in concealing him in his house, she thought she could not
well refuse him this last piece of service. She accordingly permitted
her daughter to go as his guide, upon the sole condition, that she was
to proceed a quarter of an hour's distance in advance, and wait for him
at a certain milestone.

Albert was affected in taking leave of the kind-hearted matron, who,
out of respect for him, had decked herself out in her best Sunday's
attire. He had placed a gold ducat in the carved chest, as a mark of
gratitude for the attention he had received from her; a considerable
present in those days, and a large sum out of the travelling purse of
Albert von Sturmfeder. It would appear that the fifer of Hardt never
knew a word about this deposit whether it was, that his wife did not
find the piece of gold, or that she did not like to inform him of it,
fearing lest he might return the present to the donor, and thereby
affront him. But so much is certain, that the musician's wife was
shortly after seen in church dressed in a new gown, to the astonishment
and envy of all the women of the neighbourhood, and her daughter
Barbelle wore a beautiful bodice of the finest cloth, trimmed with
gold, which had never been seen before, at the next feast, kept in
commemoration of the dedication of the church. She was always seen to
blush, also, whenever any of her companions felt the texture of the new
bodice and congratulated her upon the acquisition of it. Such was the
effect which a single piece of gold produced in the village of Hardt,
in those good old times!

Albert found his conductor sitting on the appointed milestone. She
jumped up as soon as he arrived, and walked with a quick pace beside
his horse. The girl appeared much more cheerful than the day before.
The fresh air of an April morning had given her cheeks a high colour,
and her eyes sparkled with kindness. Her costume was well adapted for a
long walk, for her short petticoats did not impede her progress. A
basket hung on her arm, as if she were going to market. But neither
vegetables nor fruit were contained in it, which was generally the case
on such occasions; she only carried a large shawl, as a precaution
against April showers. The young man thought to himself, as his
companion walked by his side, what a housekeeper she would make for
some country swain, who should be fortunate enough to possess her for a
wife!

She had inherited much of the vivacity of her father's character. For
in the same way that he beguiled the time of his companion on their
journey over the Alb, by relating stories and pointing out the
principal features of the country, did she draw his attention to the
most beautiful points of view of the surrounding vallies and mountains;
or imparted to him, unsolicited, the popular anecdotes of castles, or
other striking objects.

Choosing the most unfrequented paths, she led her guest only through
two or three villages, and rested awhile after every two hours' walk.
At last, after having made four such stations, a town was seen about a
short half-hour's walk from them; the road parted at the spot of their
last halt, and a foot-path to the left conducted to a village. At this
point of separation, the girl said: "That is Pfullingen which you see
yonder, from whence any child will show you the road to Lichtenstein."

"How! are you going to leave me already?" asked Albert, who was so much
charmed with the cheerful conversation of his companion, that the
thought of parting from her took him by surprise. "Will you not come at
least as far as Pfullingen, where you can rest yourself, and have some
refreshment? You don't intend to return home immediately?"

The girl endeavoured to look merry and unconcerned; but she could not
conceal an expression about her mouth and eye, which betrayed the pain
she felt at parting from her guest, whose presence might have been much
dearer to her than she was, perhaps, altogether aware of. "I must leave
you here, sir," she said, "much as I would willingly go on with you;
but my mother will have it so; I have a cousin in that village on the
hill, where I will remain to-day, and return to Hardt to-morrow. And
now may God and the Holy Virgin protect you, and all the Saints take
you under their care! Remember me to my father, should you meet him;
and," she added with a smile, as she quickly dried a tear, "give my
respects to the lady also whom you love."

"Thanks, many thanks, Barbelle," replied Albert, as he took her hand to
wish her goodbye; "I can never repay your faithful care of me; but when
you get home, look into the carved chest, where you will find something
which will, perhaps, provide you with a new bodice or petticoat for
Sunday. And when you put it on for the first time, and your true love
kisses you, then think of Albert von Sturmfeder."

The young man gave his horse the spur, and trotted across the green
plain towards the town. When he had gone about two hundred paces, he
turned around to have one more look at his young guide. There she stood
on the same spot where he had left her, watching him as he increased
his distance from her, with her hands up to her eyes; but whether to
guard them from the rays of the sun, as she followed him with her look,
or whether to wipe away the tear which stood on the brink of her eyelid
as they parted, Albert could not precisely tell.

He was soon at the gate of the town, and, feeling tired and thirsty,
inquired where the best inn was? He was shown a small gloomy-looking
house, having the sign of a Golden Stag, and a spear and shield, over
the door. A little bare-footed boy led his horse to the stable, whilst
he was received at the entrance by a young, good-natured looking woman,
who conducted him into the room common to all. This was a large dark
apartment, around the walls of which were placed heavy oak tables and
benches. The number of well-polished cans and jugs, placed in regular
order upon shelves, proved that the Stag was much frequented. As it
was, there were already many men seated, drinking wine, although it was
only just mid-day. They scrutinized the distinguished-looking knight
very closely, as he passed their table to the place of honour which was
situated at the top of the room, in a kind of bow window of the shape
of a lantern, with six glass sides; but their conversation was in no
wise interrupted by the appearance of the stranger, for they went on
talking of peace and war, battles and sieges, in the way which
independent citizens were wont to do, Anno Domini 1519.

The hostess appeared pleased with the bearing of her new guest. She
peered at him with a smiling look as she passed him, and when she
brought him a can of old Heppacher wine, and set a silver tankard
before him for his use, her mouth, which was somewhat large, expressed
friendly intentions. She promised to roast a chicken, and prepare a
table for him, if he would wait patiently a little while; in the mean
time, she hoped the wine was to his taste. The bow window, in which
Albert had taken his seat, was a couple of steps higher than the floor
of the room, so that he could easily look down upon and examine the
company. Though he was not accustomed to pass much time in inns and
drinking rooms, he had a peculiar tact in judging of the characters of
men, and from the circumstance of his being more a man of observation
than of talk, he now had an opportunity of putting this talent into
practice.

The party which was sitting around one of the large oak tables,
consisted of ten or twelve men. There did not appear to be much
difference in point of circumstances among them, at the first glance;
large beards, short hair, round caps, dark jackets, were common to them
all; but, upon a closer inspection, three of them were to be
particularised from the rest. One, sitting nearest to Albert, was a
short, fat, good-humoured looking man; his hair, which fell over his
neck, was longer and more carefully combed than his neighbours'; his
dark beard appeared also to be the peculiar object of his attention.
His cloak of fine black cloth, and a felt hat with a pointed crown and
broad brim, which hung on a nail behind him, denoted him to be a man of
some consequence, perhaps holding the rank of counsellor. He appeared
also to drink a better sort of wine than the rest, for he sipped it
with the air of a connoisseur, and when he made a sign that his jug was
empty, by putting on the cover, a fashion peculiar to those days, he
did it with a certain grace and in more polished manner than the
others. He listened to everything that was said with a cunning look,
like one who knew more than he would deign to express upon the present
occasion. He enjoyed also the privilege of patting the waiting maid on
the cheek, or stroking her round plump arm, when she replenished his
can.

Another man, who sat at the opposite end of the table, was not less
distinguished than his fat neighbour, from the rest of the group; every
thing belonging to him was lengthy and gaunt. His face from the
forehead to a long pointed chin, measured at least a good span; his
fingers, with which he was beating time to a song he hummed to himself,
closely resembled the limbs of the spider tribe; and as Albert happened
to bend himself, he discovered two long lanky legs, belonging to the
same personage, stretched under the table. There was something about
the twist of his nose also that expressed self-sufficiency, evidently a
prominent feature of his character, for he invariably contradicted the
rest of the party, whenever they spoke. His manner altogether was that
of one who pretends to unrestrained intimacy with persons of higher
rank in life than himself, but who never feels at ease in their
society. Albert thought it not likely that he belonged to the town of
Pfullingen, for he occasionally inquired of the hostess after his
horse, and forming his opinion upon the whole bearing of this
extraordinary looking person, he supposed him to be a travelling
doctor, who in those days rode about the country, dispatching people
professionally.

The third person who attracted Albert's observation was
ill-conditioned, and raggedly clothed; but there was something quick
and cunning in his appearance, that distinguished him from the
good-humour and tranquillity of his companions, particularly the fat
man. He wore a large plaister over one of his eyes, whilst the look of
the other was bold and sharp. A large walking stick, with an iron spike
at the end, lay beside him, and a well-worn leather back to his coat,
upon which he probably carried a basket or box, prompted the idea of
his being either a messenger, or more likely a travelling pedlar, one
who visits fairs and festivals, bringing wonderful news from distant
lands, remedies for women against mad animals, and all sorts of
coloured ribands and silks for girls.

These three men led the conversation, which only now and then was
interrupted by an expression of astonishment from the rest of the
worthy burghers, or by the noise of the covers of their wine cans.

One subject, among others, appeared the principal point of discussion
between them, and drew the attention of Albert. They spoke of the
undertakings of the League in the low land of Würtemberg. The pedlar
with the leather back related the storming of Möckmühl by the League,
where Götz von Berlichingen had shut himself up with many brave
followers, and where that iron-fisted man was made prisoner.

The counsellor smiled knowingly at this piece of news, and took a long
draught of wine; Raw-bones did not permit the leather back man to
finish his story, but beating time with renewed force with his long
fingers, said, with sepulchral voice, "That's a rank lie, friend! it is
impossible, d' ye see; because Berlichingen understands the art of war,
and is a determined man; I ought to know that; and besides, he alone,
with his iron hand, has in many a battle killed two hundred men as dead
as mice; do you suppose then that such a man would allow himself to be
taken?"

"With your permission," interrupted the fat gentleman, "you are wrong
in what you say, because I know that Götz is, in fact, a prisoner, and
is now confined in Heilbron. He did not surrender himself, however;
neither was his castle of Möckmühl stormed; but when he was marching
out of the gate, the League having promised him and his followers a
free retreat, they fell on him, took him prisoner, and killed many of
his men. That was not fair, and he has been infamously treated."

"I must beg of you, sir," said the thin man, "not to speak of the
League in such terms; I am acquainted with many of the officers, for
example, Herr Truchses von Waldburg is my most intimate friend."

The fat man looked big, and appeared as if he wished to make a reply,
but, upon second thoughts, washed the words which were upon the tip of
his tongue, down his throat with a draught of wine. The other burghers,
however, broke out in a murmur of astonishment at the mention of such a
high acquaintance, and raised their caps out of respect.

"Well, if you are so well acquainted with the movements of the League,
as you pretend to be," said the pedlar, with something of a haughty
mien, "you will be able to give us the last intelligence respecting the
state of Tübingen."

"It whistles out of its last hole," answered the rawbone man; "I was
there but a short time ago, and saw most formidable preparations for
the siege."

"Eh!--what?" whispered the inquisitive burghers among themselves, and
drew nearer, expecting to hear some important news.

The thin man leaned back on his chair, grasped the handle of his sword
with his long fingers, stretched out his legs a yard further, and said,
with an air of triumph, "Yes, yes, my friends, it looks very bad there;
the surrounding places in the neighbourhood have suffered; all the
fruit trees have been cut down, the town and castle furiously
bombarded, the former having already surrendered. Forty knights,
indeed, still defend the castle; but they cannot hold out their
tottering walls much longer!"

"What tottering walls do you talk of?" cried the fat man; "whoever has
seen the castle of Tübingen, must not talk of tottering walls. Are
there not two deep ditches on the side towards the mountains, which no
ladder of the League can scale, and walls twelve feet thick, with high
towers, whence the falconets keep up no insignificant fire, I can tell
you?"

"Battered down, battered down!" cried the thin man, with such a fearful
hollow voice, as made the astonished burghers think they heard the
falling of the towers of Tübingen about their ears: "the new tower,
which Ulerich lately built, was battered down by Fronsberg, as if it
had never stood there."

"But everything is not lost with that," answered the pedlar; "the
knights make sallies from the castle, and many a one has found his bed
in the Neckar. Old Fronsberg had his hat shot from his head, which
makes his ears tingle to this day, I'll be bound."

"There you are wrong again," said the thin man, carelessly; "sallies,
indeed! the besiegers have light cavalry enough, who fight like devils;
they are Greeks; but whether they come from the Ganges or Epirus, I
know not, and are called Stratiots, commanded by George Samares, who
does not allow a dog of them to sally out of their holes."[1]

"He also has been made to bite the grass," replied the pedlar, with a
scornful side glance: "the dogs, as you call them, did make a sally, in
spite of the Greeks, and made their leader prisoner, and----"

"Samares prisoner?" cried the rawbone man, startled out of his
tranquillity; "you are not right again, friend!"

"No?" answered the other, quietly; "I heard the bells toll, as he was
buried in the church of Saint George."

The burghers looked attentively at the thin stranger, to notice the
impression this news would make on him. His thick eyebrows fell so low
that his eyes were scarcely visible; he twisted his long thin
mustachios, and striking the table with his bony hand, said: "And if
they have cut him and his Greeks into a hundred pieces, the besieged
can't help themselves! the castle must fall; and when Tübingen is ours,
good night to Würtemburg! Ulerich is out of the country, and my noble
friends and benefactors will be the masters."

"How do you know that he will not come back again? and then----" said
the cautious fat man, and clapped on the cover of his goblet.

"What! come back again?" cried the other: "the beggar! who says he will
come back again? Who dares say it?"

"What does it signify to us?" murmured the guests; "we are peaceable
citizens; and it is all the same to us who is lord of the land,
provided the taxes are lowered. In a public house a man has a right to
say what he pleases."

The thin man appeared satisfied that none of the company dared return
an angry answer. He eyed each of them with a searching look, when,
assuming a kinder manner, he said, "It was only to put you in mind,
that we do not want the Duke any longer as our master that I speak as I
do; upon my soul, he is rank poison to me; so I'll sing you a
_paternoster_, which a friend wrote upon him, and which pleases me
much." The honest burghers, by their looks, did not appear very curious
to hear a burlesque song upon their unfortunate Duke. The other,
however, having cleared his throat with a good draught, began a few
words of a burlesque parody on the Lord's Prayer, in a disagreeable
hoarse tone of voice--a vulgar song, apparently familiar to the ears of
his audience--for no sooner had he commenced, than the good taste of
the burghers manifested itself by a whisper of disapprobation; some
shrugging their shoulders, others winking at each other; symptoms
sufficiently evident to the thin man, that the burden of his song was
not welcome to their ears. He therefore stopt short, looking around for
encouragement; but, finding none, he threw himself back in his chair,
with a scowl of contempt on his features.

"I know that song well," said the pedlar; "and shame be to him who
would offend the ears of honest men with it. With your permission," he
added, addressing the company, "I'll give you one I think more to your
taste." Encouraged by the rest of the burghers, excepting the thin man,
who squinted at him with scorn, he began:

            Mourn, Würtemberg! thy fallen state,
            Thy drooping pride, thy luckless fate!
            A Quack, whom even dogs despise,
            Presumes to make thy fortunes rise.

Noisy applause and laughter, mingled with the hisses of the thin man,
interrupted the singer. The burghers reached across the table, shook
the pedlar by the hand, praised his song, and begged him to proceed.
The raw bone man said not a word, but looked furiously at the company.
He knew not whether to envy the applause which the songster received,
or to feel offended at the subject of his song. The fat man put on an
air of greater wisdom than usual, and joined in approbation with the
rest. The leather-backed pedlar was going on, encouraged by his
audience:

            Of Nurenberg he, a knife-grinder by trade;
            His friend was a weaver, a man of low grade--

when the thin man, upon hearing these words, and not able to contain
his indignation, flew into a violent rage, and vociferated: "May the
cuckoo stick in your throat, you ragged dog! I know very well who you
mean by the weaver,--my best friend, Herr von Fugger. That such a
vagabond as you should calumniate him!" expressing his anger by a
frightful distortion of his countenance.

But his opponent was in no wise to be daunted, and held his muscular
fist before him, saying, "Vagabond yourself, Mr. Calmus, I know who you
are; and if you don't keep silence, I'll twist those pot-ladle arms of
yours off your half-starved body."

The crest-fallen guest rose immediately, and pronounced his regret to
have fallen into such low company; he paid for his wine, and walked out
of the room with the strut of a man of quality.

FOOTNOTE TO CHAPTER XVI.:

[Footnote 1: The appearance of these Greeks at the siege of Tübingen was
an extraordinary event; they were called Stratiots, and were commanded
by George Samares, from Corona, in Albania. He was buried in the
collegiate church of Tübingen. Crusius says, he was famous for wielding
the lance.]



                             CHAPTER XVII.

            Hope, faith, and confidence are there,
            For all that I esteem are near;
            And yet suspicion finds its way,
            And makes my hopeless mind its prey.
                                             SCHILLER.

When the offensive man left the room, the guests looked at each other
with astonishment; they were in a state of mind similar to that of one
who sees a heavy storm arise, and expects it to burst and overwhelm
him; when, behold, it produces little more than a flash in the pan.
They thanked the man with the leather back for having driven away the
odious stranger, and inquired what he knew of him?

"I know him well," he answered; "he is a worthless, idle fellow, a
travelling doctor, who sells pills to cure the plague; extracts the
worm from dogs, and crops their ears; eases young women of thick necks;
and gives the old ones eyewater, which, instead of healing, makes them
blind. His proper name is Kahlmaüser, or baldmouse; pretending to be a
learned man, he calls himself doctor Calmus. He fastens himself upon
the great, and should one of them call him ass, he fawns upon him as
his best friend."

"But he cannot be upon good terms with the Duke," remarked the
cunning-looking man; "for he abused him in no measured terms."

"Yes, he certainly is not happy with him; and for this reason--the Duke
had a beautiful Danish sporting dog, which had run a thorn deep into
its foot. It was a great favourite of the Duke, who inquired after an
experienced man to cure it; and it so happened that this Kahlmaüser was
on the spot, and tendered his services, with a look full of
consequence. The wretch was fed every day with the best of food in the
castle of Stuttgardt, and the fare was so palatable that he remained
more than a quarter of a-year, doctoring the dog's foot. The Duke one
day called for both doctor and dog, to know and see what had been done.
The quack, it appears, talked a great deal of learned stuff, to which
the Duke paid no attention; but, upon examining the wound himself, he
found the dog's foot worse than ever. He laid hold of the doctor, tall
as he was, led him to the top of the long flight of steps, so contrived
that a horse can mount up to the second story, and threw him headlong
down. He was half dead when he arrived at the bottom, so you may
imagine that since that time, Doctor Calmus does not speak well of the
Duke. He is also said to have been a spy between Hutten and Frau
Sabina, and only undertook the care of the dog for the purpose of
remaining in the castle to carry on intrigues."

"Really! was he in correspondence with Hutten?" said one of the
burghers; "if we had but known that, he should not have come off so
cheaply, the vagabond doctor; for Hutten's amorous intrigue is the
cause of this unhappy war; and it appears that this Kahlmaüser assisted
him in it!"

"_De mortuis nil nisi bonum_,--we ought to spare the dead, say the
Latins," replied the fat man; "the poor devil has paid his crime dear
enough with his life."

"It served him right," cried the other burgher, angrily; "had I been in
the Duke's place I would have done the same; every one must protect his
domestic rights."

"Do not you ride sometimes hunting with the bailiff?" asked the fat
man, with a peculiar crafty smile: "you surely have the best
opportunity to assert your rights; you possess a sword, and could
easily find an oak tree to hang a corpse upon."

A loud laugh from the burghers of Pfullingen apprised the stranger in
the balcony, that the jealous upholder of domestic rights was not so
well able to administer justice in his own house. He coloured up, and
murmured some unintelligible words as he put his can to his mouth.

The pedlar, however, who, as a stranger, thought it not courteous to
join in the laugh, took his part: "Yes, indeed, the Duke was quite in
the right, for he had the power of hanging Hutten upon the spot,
without giving him a chance of his life in fair honourable fight. Is he
not president of the Westphalian chair, and of the secret tribunal,
which gives him the power of dispatching villanous fellows without
further ceremony? Had he not the best proof of his treachery before his
eyes? Have you ever heard a pretty little song upon that subject? I'll
sing a couple of verses, if you like:

            "In the forest he turn'd him to Hutten, to know,
            What't was on his hand that glittered so?"
            "Lord Duke, it is this little ring you see,
            This ring which my sweet love gave to me."

            "Hey, Hans, by my troth thou art nobly drest,
            A chain of gold, too, lies on thy breast."
            "That, too, my true love gave so free,
            A pledge that she would remember me."

"And then it goes on:

            "Oh! Hutten, away! nor spare the goad,
            The Duke's eye rolls with fury wode;
            Away, whilst there is yet time to fly,
            The scabbard is voided, his sword is on high."

The fat man put on a serious face, and said, "I would not advise you to
go on; such songs in public houses, in these times, are dangerous; they
cannot serve the Duke's cause at present. The confederates being round
about us, some one of them might easily overhear it," he added, as he
cast a scrutinizing glance at Albert, "and then Pfullingen might have
to pay another hundred ducats contribution."

"God knows, you are in the right," said the pedlar; "it is no longer
the case, as it used to be, when one could freely speak his mind, and
sing a song over his glass; but now a man must always be on the look
out, to see that a partizan of the Duke's does not sit on one side, or
a Leaguist on the other; but, in spite of Bavarian or Swabian, I'll
sing the last verse:

           "There stands an oak in Schönbuch wood,
            It shoots aloft and it spreads abroad;
            And centuries hence recorded shall be,
            That the Duke hang'd Hutten on that very tree."

When he had finished, the conversation among the burghers sunk into a
whisper, which made Albert suspect they were making comments upon him.
The good-natured hostess also appeared curious to know who she
entertained in the balcony. When she had spread a clean table-cloth
over the round-table, and placed the repast she had prepared before
him, she took her seat on the opposite side, and questioned him, but
with respect and deference, whence he came, and whither he was going?

The young man was not inclined to give her positive information as to
the real object of his journey. The conversation to which he had
listened at the long table, made him cautious in giving an answer to
her leading question, for he felt that in times of civil strife, it was
not less indiscreet than dangerous to declare, in a place like a public
inn, to what party he belonged. Albert's peculiar circumstances at this
moment required him to exercise more than ordinary prudence, and he
merely said, "that he came from Franconia, and was going further into
the country, in the neighbourhood of Zollern." With this general answer
to the question, he cut short any other upon the same subject. But
being now in the neighbourhood of Lichtenstein, he thought he might be
able to learn something of the family from the loquacious landlady of
the Golden Stag. Putting a few questions to her respecting the
different surrounding castles and their inhabitants, in the hope of
gaining his point, she very soon related to him reports which deeply
affected his future prospects; for upon the truth or falsehood of them
seemed, to his ardent mind, to depend his future happiness or misery.

The hostess, fond of a gossip, in less than a quarter of an hour gave
him the history of five or six castles about the country, and among
them of Lichtenstein. The young man drew a deep breath at the sound of
that name, and pushed away the plate from before him, to devote his
whole attention to what she said:

"Well, the owners of Lichtenstein are not poor; on the contrary, they
possess fields and woods in plenty, and not an acre of land is
mortgaged; rather than do so, the old gentleman would allow his beard
to be shaved off, for believe me he prizes it much, and takes a pride
in smoothing it down when people speak to him. He is a severe stern
man, and what he has once determined upon must be done; as the saying
is, should the bow not bend, it must break. He is also one of those who
have continued faithful to the Duke, for which the League will make him
pay dear."

"How is his----, I mean--you said he had a daughter?"

"No," answered the hostess, whilst her cheerful face became clouded of
a sudden, "I certainly said nothing about her, that I am aware of. But
he has a daughter, the good old man; and it had been much better for
him that he went childless to the grave, rather than depart in sorrow
on account of his only child."

Albert could scarcely believe his ears at these words: what reason
could the landlady have to throw out this allusion? "What has happened
to the young lady?" he asked, whilst he in vain sought to appear
indifferent: "you have excited my curiosity; or is it a secret you dare
not divulge?"

The woman of the Golden Stag mysteriously looked around on all sides,
to see that no one was listening; the burghers were quietly taken up
with their own conversation, and paid no attention to them, and there
was no one else in the room who could overhear them. "You, I perceive,
are a stranger," she said, after her scrutiny; "you are travelling
further, and have nothing to do in this neighbourhood, so that I can
communicate to you what I would not confide to every one. The lady who
lives there on the Lichtenstein rock, is a----, a----yes; what the
citizens with us would call, a wicked girl, a----"

"Landlady!" cried Albert.

"Don't speak so loud, worthy sir; the people will notice it. Do you
suppose I would venture to say what I do not know to be certain truth?
Only think, every night as the clock strikes eleven, she lets her lover
into the castle. Is not that wicked enough for a well-bred young lady?"

"Mind what you say! Her lover?"

"Yes, alas! at eleven o'clock in the night, her lover. Is it not a
shame, a disgrace! He is a tall man, and comes to the gate enveloped in
a grey cloak. She has so well arranged it, that all the servants are
out of the way at that hour except the old porter of the gate, who has
assisted her in all her wicked tricks from her childhood. When the
clock strikes eleven in the village, she always comes herself down into
the court, cold as it may be, and brings the keys of the drawbridge,
which she beforehand steals from her father's bed; the old sinner, the
porter, then opens the lock, lets down the bridge, when the man in the
grey cloak hastens to the presence of the young lady."

"And then?" asked Albert, who scarcely had any more breath in his
breast, scarcely any more blood in his cheeks,--"and then?"

"Then she brings food, bread and wine: so much is certain, that the
nightly lover must have an uncommon appetite, for many nights running
he has demolished half a haunch of roebuck, and drank three or four
pints of wine; what else they do, I know not; I guess nothing, I say
nothing; but I suppose," she added, with an upward look to heaven,
"they don't pray."

Albert was angry with himself, after a moment's reflection, for having
doubted for an instant the falsehood of this narration, spun from some
gossipping head; or, should there be any truth in it, it was impossible
that Bertha could act with dishonour to herself. We are told that,
though the passion of love in the young men of the good old times was
not less ardent than in our days, it bore more the character of
idolized respect. It was the custom, in those days, for the lady wooed
to think herself not only not upon an equality, but far superior to her
suitor.

If we look to the romantic tales and love stories in old chronicles, we
shall find many descriptions of enamoured knights allowing themselves
to be cut to pieces on the spot, rather than doubt the faith and purity
of their mistresses. Judging therefore from this fact, it is not
surprising that Albert von Sturmfeder could not bring his mind to think
ill of Bertha, and however puzzling these nocturnal visits appeared to
him, he clearly perceived it had not been proved that her father was
ignorant of the transaction, or that the mysterious man was her lover.
He mentioned these doubts to his hostess.

"Really! you suppose that her father is acquainted with it?" said she;
"not at all--I know it for a certainty, because old Rosel, the young
lady's nurse----"

"Old Rosel said so?" cried Albert, involuntarily: the nurse, being the
sister of the fifer of Hardt, was well known to him. If she had really
said so, the case was no longer to be doubted, for he knew that she was
a pious woman, and devoted to her charge.

"Do you know old Rosel?" she asked, wondering at the warmth with which
her guest inquired after that woman.

"I know her? you forget that I come for the first time to-day in your
neighbourhood; it was only the name of Rosel which struck me."

Albert parried this question, being desirous the woman should not
suspect he was acquainted with the Knight of Lichtenstein or his
family.

"Don't they call her so in your country? Rosel means Rosina with us,
and the old nurse in Lichtenstein goes by that name. But observe, she
is a particular friend of mine, and comes now and then to see me, when
I give her a glass of hot sweet wine, which she loves dearly, and out
of gratitude tells me all the news. What I have told you comes from her
mouth. Old Lichtenstein knows nothing of the nocturnal visits, because
he goes to bed regularly at eight o'clock; and his daughter sends her
nurse every evening at eight o'clock also to her apartment. It struck
the good Rosel, however, a few nights ago, that there must be some
mysterious cause for this conduct. She pretended to go to bed,--and
only think what happened? Scarcely was everything quiet in the castle,
when the young lady, who otherwise never touches a chip of wood, laid
heavy logs on the hearth with her own delicate hands, made a fire,
cooked and roasted the best way she could, got wine out of the cellar,
and bread out of the cupboard, and spread the table in the dining room.
She then opened the window and looked out in the cold dark night, when,
just as the village clock struck eleven, the drawbridge rattled down on
its chains, the nocturnal visitor entered, and went into the dining
room with the young lady. Rosel has often listened in vain to hear the
conversation between them, but the oak doors are very thick, and she
peeped also once through the keyhole, but could only perceive the head
of the stranger."

"Well, is he an old man? What does he look like?"

"Old, indeed? what are you thinking about? She does not look like one
who would put up with an old lover. Rosel told me he was young and
handsome, with a dark beard on his chin and lip, beautiful smooth hair
on his head, and looked very kind and gracious."

"May Satan pluck hair for hair out of his beard!" muttered Albert, as
he passed his hand over his own chin, which was tolerably smooth.
"Woman! are you sure you have really heard all this from old Rosel?
Have you not added more than she told you?"

"God forbid that I should calumniate any one! You don't know me, sir
knight! Rosel told me every word of it, and she suspects a great deal
more, and whispered in my ear things which it does not become a
respectable woman to relate to a young man. And only think how very
wicked the young lady must be; she has had also another lover, to whom
she is unfaithful."

"Another?" asked Albert, to whom the narration appeared to gain more
and more the semblance of truth.

"Yes, another; who according to Rosel's account must be a charming nice
young man. She was with her young mistress in Tübingen, and there was a
Herr von ---- von ----, I believe he was called Sturmfittich; he studied
at the University; they became acquainted with each other there; and
the old nurse declares such a handsome couple was not to be found in
all Swabia. She was over head and ears in love with him, that's true;
and was very unhappy when she parted with him in Tübingen; but now her
false heart is unfaithful to the poor youth, and Rosel really weeps
when she thinks of him; he is handsomer, much handsomer, than her
present lover."

The hostess, who had quite forgotten her household duties in her zeal
to relate the gossip of the neighbourhood, was now called by the fat
man in the drinking room: "Landlady," said he, "how long must I knock
here, before I get another can of wine."

"Coming, coming, sir!" she answered, and flew to the bar to satisfy the
importunate man, and from thence she went to the cellar, and then to
the kitchen, and was all of a sudden so full of business, that her
guest in the bow had sufficient time to ponder over all he had just
heard. He sat there, his hand supporting his head, looking with fixed
eyes into the bottom of his silver tankard; he remained in that
position from the afternoon till the evening; night advanced, and still
he sat at the round table, dead to all the world about him, giving
signs of life only by an occasional deep sigh. The landlady did not
know what to make of him. She had placed herself at least a dozen times
near him, had tried to speak with him, but he only looked at her with a
staring eye, and answered nothing. She at last got very uneasy, for
just in the same way had her good husband of blessed memory gazed at
her when he died, and left her in possession of the Golden Stag.

She consulted the fat man, and he with the leather back gave his
opinion also. The landlady maintained that he must be either over head
and ears in love, or that some one must have bewitched him. She
strengthened her supposition by a terrible history of a young knight,
whom she had seen, and whose whole body became quite stiff from sheer
love, which caused his death.

The pedlar was of a different opinion; he thought that some misfortune
must have happened to the stranger, a circumstance which often befals
those engaged in war, and that, therefore, he was in deep distress. But
the fat man, winking, asked, with a countenance full of cunning
conjecture, what was the growth and age of the wine the gentleman had
been drinking?

"He has had old Heppacher of the year 1480," said the landlady: "it is
the best that the Golden Stag furnishes."

"There we have it," said the wise fat man; "I know the Heppacher of the
year eighty, and such a young fellow cannot stand it; it has got into
his head. Let him alone, with his heavy head upon his hand; I'll bet
that before the clock strikes eight he will have slept his wine out,
and be as fresh as a fish in water."

The pedlar shook his head and said nothing; but the hostess praised the
acknowledged sagacity of the fat man, and thought his supposition the
most probable.

It was now nine o'clock; the daily visitors of the drinking room had
all left it, and the landlady was also on the point of retiring to
rest, as the stranger awoke out of his reverie. He started up, made a
few hasty steps about the room, and at last stood before the hostess.
His look was clouded and disturbed, and the short time which had
elapsed between mid-day and the present moment had so far altered the
features of his otherwise kind, open countenance, as to impart to them
an expression of deep melancholy.

The kind-hearted woman was grieved at his appearance; and calling to
mind the sagacious supposition which the fat man had pronounced as to
the cause of his agitation, she proposed cooking a comfortable supper
and preparing a bed for him; but her kind offices were altogether
unavailing, as he appeared bent upon a rougher pastime for the night.

"When did you say," he inquired with a altering voice, "when did you
say the nocturnal guest went to Lichtenstein? and at what hour did he
depart?"

"He enters at eleven o'clock, dear sir," she replied; "and at the first
cock crow he retires over the drawbridge."

"Order my horse to be saddled immediately, and let me have a guide to
Lichtenstein."

"At this hour of night!" cried the landlady, and clasped her hands
together in astonishment; "you would not start now: you surely cannot
be in earnest."

"Yes, good woman, I am in real earnest; so make haste, for I am in a
hurry."

"You have not been so all day long," she replied, "and you now would
rush over head and ears into the dark. The fresh air, indeed, may do
invalids such as you some good; but don't suppose I'll let your horse
out of the stable this night; you might fall off, or a hundred
accidents might happen to you, and then it would be said, 'where was
the head of the landlady of the Golden Stag, to let people leave her
house in such a state, and at such an hour.'"

The young man did not heed her conversation, having relapsed into the
same melancholy mood as before; but when she finished, and paused to
get an answer, he roused up again, and wondered that she had not yet
put his orders into execution.

While she still hesitated to meet his wishes, and saw he was on the
point of going himself to look after his steed, she thought that, as
her good intentions were unavailable to retain him in her house, it
would be more advisable to let him have his own way. "Bring the
gentleman's horse out," she called to her servant, "and let Andres get
ready immediately, to accompany him part of the way. He is in the right
to take some one with him," she said to herself, "who may be of use to
him in case of need. How much do you owe me, did you say, sir knight?
why, you have had a measure of wine, which makes twelve kreuzers; and
the dinner,--as to that it's not worth talking about, for you ate so
little; indeed you scarcely looked at my fowl. If you give me two more
kreuzers for the feed of your horse, you shall receive the thanks of
the poor widow of the Golden Stag."

Having paid his reckoning in the small current money of the times,
Albert took his leave of his kind landlady, who though her opinion of
him was somewhat changed since he first entered her house, proceeding
from an air of mystery about his character which she could not account
for, still she could not conceal from herself, when he threw himself
into the saddle by the light of a torch, that she had seldom seen a
handsomer youth. She therefore impressed upon the lad who accompanied
him to be very careful, and keep an especial look out upon the
gentleman, "who," she added, "did not appear to be quite right in his
head." Having reached the outer gate of Pfullingen, the guide asked his
new master where he wished to go? and upon his answer, "to
Lichtenstein," took a road to the right, leading to the mountains.
Albert rode on in profound silence; he looked not to the right nor to
the left, neither at the stars over head nor in the distant horizon;
his eye only sought the ground. His mind now was in much the same state
as at that moment when a blow from the hand of an enemy laid him
senseless on the ground. His thoughts stood still, hope no longer
animated him, he had ceased to love and to wish. But at that time, when
he sank, exhausted, on nature's cool carpet, his last thoughts were
cheered with the endearing recollection of his beloved, and his
benumbed lips were still able to pronounce once more her idolized name.

But that light seemed to be extinguished which had hitherto guided his
steps. It appeared as if he had but a short distance still to go in the
dark, in order to seek his peace of mind in a light different to that
he had fondly hoped to find on the Lichtenstein rock. His right hand
went occasionally to his sword, as if to assure himself that at least
this companion was faithful to him, for he now trusted to it alone, as
the important key by which he might open the door that would lead from
darkness to light.

The travellers had long since reached the wood; the path became
steeper, and the horse with difficulty ascended the hill with his
rider, who was, however, unconscious of all surrounding objects. The
night air blew cool, and played with the flowing locks of the young
man,--he felt not its effects; the moon rose and lighted up the road,
which ascended amidst huge masses of rock and tall oaks, under which he
passed,--he noticed them not; time flowed on unobserved by him; hour
followed hour in rapid succession, unheeded by his troubled mind.

It was past midnight when they arrived at the summit of the highest
hill, and having reached the skirts of the wood, they beheld the castle
of Lichtenstein before them, situated upon an insulated perpendicular
rock, rising as if by magic from the depths of darkness, and separated
by a broad chasm from the surrounding country. Its white walls, its
indented rocks, glimmered in the moonlight; it seemed as if the castle
slumbered in the profound tranquillity of solitude, cut off from the
rest of the world.

Albert cast a troubled glance towards it, and sprang from his horse,
which he fastened to a tree, and sat down on a stone covered with moss
directly opposite the castle. The guide stood waiting for further
orders, and asked several times in vain, whether his services were
required any longer.

"How long is it to the first crow of cock?" inquired Albert at last.

"Two hours, sir," was the answer of the lad.

He then gave him a handsome reward for his conduct, and made signs to
him to depart. The boy hesitated to obey him, as if afraid of leaving
the young man in his present state of mind; but, upon his repeating the
sign with impatience, he withdrew with a slow step. He looked back once
before he regained the wood, and observed his silent master still
seated upon the same stone, under an oak, with his hand supporting his
head.



                              CHAPTER XIII.

            This hollow path must be his way,
              It doth to Küssnacht lead,
            So here I will his coming stay,
              And here I'll do the deed.
                                        SCHILLER.

Much has been said and written in all ages upon the folly of jealousy,
but since the days of Uriah the world has nevertheless not grown wiser
upon the subject.

The news which Albert von Sturmfeder had heard from the hostess of the
Golden Stag respecting the nocturnal visits of the stranger to the
castle of Lichtenstein, had created a feeling in his breast to which it
had hitherto been a perfect stranger, and he did not possess sufficient
coolness of blood, to exercise his judgment with calmness and
moderation, upon a subject of such vital importance to his future
prospects. Though he was of an age in which an open generous
disposition places implicit reliance in the honour of others, yet taken
by surprise, as his unsuspicious heart now was, in its dearest
affections, the consequences were likely to become fatal to his
happiness. The anguish attendant upon plighted faith broken, burnt
within him; he could scarcely control the feeling of wounded pride, at
being made the dupe of misplaced confidence; that calm judgment which
teaches us to discriminate between right and wrong forsook his mind,
and the truth was veiled from his sight in an atmosphere of gloomy
foreboding. The fiendish associates, contempt, rage, and revenge,
which, with many others, compose the steps of the ladder of feeling
between love and hatred, now assailed him, and rendered even jealousy a
secondary passion in his breast.

Brooding over these tormenting sensations, he sat upon the moss-covered
stone, insensible to the chill of the night air, and his only thought
was, to meet the nocturnal visitor, and demand an explanation.

When the clock struck two in a village beyond the wood, he observed
lights moving in the windows of the castle. His heart beat in full
expectation; he grasped the hilt of his sword. A few moments after the
lights were visible behind the trellis of the gate, and dogs began to
bark. Albert sprang upon his feet, and threw his cloak aside. He heard
a deep voice very distinctly say, "Good night." The creaking drawbridge
was lowered over the abyss which separates the rock of Lichtenstein
from the country; the gate opened, when a man, his hat falling deep
over his face, and enveloped in a dark cloak, came over the bridge,
directly towards the spot where Albert was standing.

When he had arrived at a few paces from him, the young man called out
in a threatening tone, "Draw, traitor, and defend your life!" and
advanced on him. The man in the cloak stepped back, drawing his sword;
in a moment the two blades met.

"You shall not have me alive," cried the other; "at least I'll sell my
life dear!" and with these words the stranger attacked him vigorously,
proving himself by the rapid and heavy blows which he dealt to be an
experienced swordsman, and no despicable opponent. This was not the
first time Albert had crossed blades in anger; for at the university of
Tübingen he had fought many an honourable duel with success; but now he
had found his match. His adversary pushed him hard, and his attack was
maintained with so masterly a hand, that Albert was compelled to
confine himself solely to his own defence, when, in a last attempt to
settle the affair by one powerful thrust, his arm was suddenly seized
by a strong hand from behind, and in the same moment his sword was
wrested from his grasp. A loud voice, from the person who now held him
fast in both his arms, cried, "Run him through, sir; such assassins
don't deserve a moment's time to say their paternoster."

"You do it, Hans," said the stranger; "I am not the one to take the
life of a defenceless man; run him through with his own sword, and be
quick about it."

"Let me rather do it myself, sir," said Albert, with a firm voice; "you
have robbed me of my love,--what further need have I of life?"

"What is that I hear?" said the stranger, and approached nearer.

"What voice is that?" said the other stranger, who still kept a firm
hold of Albert; "I ought to know its sound." He turned the young man in
his arms, and, as if struck by lightning, he let go his hold. "What on
earth do I see! we might have made a pretty business of it!--but what
unlucky star has brought you to this spot, sir? How could my people
think of letting you depart without my knowledge?"

It was the fifer of Hardt who addressed Albert, and now offered him his
hand. He was not, however, much inclined to return the friendly salute
of a man who but a moment before was going to perform the part of
executioner. Burning with fury, he looked at the man in the cloak, and
then at the fifer: "Do you mean to say," said he, addressing himself to
the latter, "that I ought to have allowed myself to remain a prisoner
in your house, for the purpose of not witnessing your traitorous
designs? Miserable impostor! And you, sir," turning to the other, "as
you value your honour, defend yourself singly, and not fall two upon
one. If you wish to know my name, I am Albert von Sturmfeder, come here
for the express purpose of measuring swords with you, to uphold my
previous claim to the Lady of Lichtenstein, which pretension, perhaps,
may not be unknown to you. I demand my sword back again, having been
wrenched from my hand by an act of treacherous cowardice, and let each
make good his pretensions in honourable fight. With my life alone will
I cease to assert my right."

"Albert von Sturmfeder!" replied his opponent in surprise, but in a
friendly manner. "It appears you must be labouring under some mistake.
Believe me, that, instead of being your enemy I am much interested in
you, and have long wished to see you. Accept my friendship, upon the
word of honour of a man; and do not imagine I visit the castle with the
sinister views you attribute to me."

He stretched out his hand from under his cloak, and offered it to the
astonished youth, who hesitated, however, to take it. The skill with
which he wielded his sword, and the heavy blows he dealt out,
strengthened Albert in his opinion, that his opponent was accustomed to
the use of his weapon; and that he was a man of honourable and generous
character, seemed satisfactorily proved in the frank and unreserved
manner he proffered his hand when he became acquainted with his name.
Under these circumstances therefore he could scarcely forbear trusting
to his word. Still his mind could not in an instant shake off doubts of
being deceived under the specious dealings of the stranger, which made
him undecided to accept, without further reserve, the proffered
friendship of a man whom but the moment before he had looked upon as
his bitterest enemy.

"Who is it that offers me his hand?" demanded Albert; "I have given you
my name, it is but just you tell me yours."

The stranger threw his cloak back, and raising his hat, discovered to
Albert, by the light of the moon, a noble countenance, with a brilliant
sparkling eye, bearing the expression of commanding dignity. "Ask not
my name," said he, whilst a ray of sorrow played about his mouth; "that
I am a man of honour, is sufficient for you to know. I once, indeed,
bore a name which was upon a level with the most honourable in the
world; I once wore the golden spurs, and carried the waving plume of
feathers in my helmet, and, at the sound of my bugle, could assemble
hundreds of my people around me--but now all is lost. One thing alone
remains to me," he added, with indescribable dignity, taking the hand
of the young man with a firm grasp, "I am a man, and carry a sword,--

           'Si fractus illabatur orbis
            Impavidam ferient ruinæ.'"

With these words he drew his hat again over his face, and throwing his
cloak over his person, withdrew, and was soon lost in the wood.

Albert von Sturmfeder stood in dumb astonishment, resting on his sword.
The commanding look of the stranger, his winning benevolent features,
his brave and generous conduct, filled his soul with admiration and
respect. Revenge, which had agitated his breast before he crossed
swords with him, no longer ruffled it, but gave way to the
contemplation of the virtues which his opponent had displayed in his
unexpected rencontre with one, whose life he might have taken in the
just defence of his own person. But what conduced above all to raise
this man higher in Albert's estimation, was the frank and honest manner
in which he had disavowed any clandestine acquaintance with Bertha,
having confirmed it by a gallant defence of his honour, which he seemed
as capable of asserting as he did of wielding his weapon. Such was the
result of this adventure upon the mind of Albert, that he felt it
relieved of a mountain's weight of trouble and anxiety, with which, but
a few moments back, it had been oppressed. The malicious reports of the
hostess of the Golden Stag, which he had too readily given credit to,
now stung him with shame and remorse. He would willingly have risked
every thing at that moment to have gained admittance to the castle, and
thrown himself at the feet of his beloved, to implore her forgiveness
for having given place to a doubt of her faithful attachment.

When we consider the weight and respect which physical qualities
carried with them in those times,--how bravery, even in an enemy, was
prized and admired,--and that the word of a gallant man was held as
sacred as an oath on the altar;--and, if we further recollect how
imposing is the effect of a pleasing outward appearance upon a young,
generous mind, it is not to be wondered that the change in Albert's
feelings was as decided as it was rapid.

"Who is that man?" he asked the fifer, who still stood by him.

"You heard from his own lips that he has no name, and neither do I know
what to call him."

"You don't know who he is," replied Albert, "and still you were present
when we fought? Away with you; you deceive me."

"Indeed not, sir," answered the fifer: "it is true, God knows! that in
these times he has no name. But, if you must know what he is, I can
tell you. He has been driven from his castle by the League, and now
wanders in banishment: he was once a powerful knight in Swabia."

"Poor man! for this reason he conceals his person? Well might he,
indeed, have taken me for an assassin. I recollect his having said he
would sell his life dearly."

"Don't be offended, worthy sir," said the countryman, "that I also took
you for one of those who are lurking about to take his life; I came
therefore to his assistance, and, had I not heard your voice, who knows
how much longer you would have breathed? But what brought you hither at
this hour of the night? and what mishap threw you into the path of the
banished man? Truly, you may think yourself fortunate that he did not
cut you in two, for there are few who can stand before his sword. Some
one, I suspect, has been playing this cruel game with you."

Albert related to his former guide the news he had heard in the Golden
Stag of Pfullingen. He pointed out particularly the evidence of the
nurse, the fifer's sister, which gave it an air of so much probability.

"I thought it would come to that," replied the fifer: "Love has played
many worse tricks, and I don't know what it might not have done to me
in such a case, when I was young. No one is in fault but old Rosel, the
gossip! What business had she to make the hostess of the Golden Stag
her confidant, who cannot keep a secret for a moment?"

"But there must be some truth in the affair," said Albert, whose former
suspicions were again awakened; "for Rosel could never have said it
without some foundation."

"Yes, there is indeed much truth in the report. Everything is as true
as she has related. The servants are sent to bed, and the old spy also.
At eleven o'clock the man appears at the castle,--the drawbridge is let
down,--the doors open,--the young lady receives him and leads him into
the saloon----"

"Well, don't you see?" cried Albert, impatiently, "if all be as you
say, how could that man swear that he had nothing to do with----"

"That he had nothing of any kind to do with the lady, you would say?"
answered the fifer, "without hesitation he can swear to that; but there
is one essential difference in the story, which that old goose Rosel
certainly never knew; namely, that the knight of Lichtenstein always
receives his guest in the saloon, and, as soon as his daughter has
placed before him the refreshments which she has prepared, she
withdraws. The old gentleman remains with the banished man till the
first crow of the cock, when, after having well satisfied his hunger
and thirst, and warmed his weary limbs at the fire, he leaves the
castle in the same way that he entered it."

"Oh, fool that I was not to have thought of all this before! The truth
was close at hand, and I pushed it from me! But cursed be the curiosity
and slanderous spirit of those women, who always fancy they can divine
something extraordinary in the most trifling circumstance, and whose
greatest charm consists in conjecturing improbabilities. But tell me,"
said Albert, after a moment's thought, "it strikes me very odd, that
this banished man should visit the castle every night exactly as the
clock strikes eleven--in what inhospitable neighbourhood does he
reside, which obliges him to seek subsistence here at that unseasonable
hour? Now, mind, I am not to be trifled with!"

The eye of the fifer rested upon Albert with an expression almost
amounting to disdain: "Such gentlemen as you," he answered, "certainly
know little of the pain of banishment; you never experienced the horror
of being obliged to conceal yourself from the hand of the assassin,
shivering in damp caves, living in inhospitable caverns, among the
society of owls, deprived of a warm meal and a cheering glass! But come
with me, if you have an inclination,--the day does not break yet, and
you cannot go to Lichtenstein by night,--and I will lead you to the
habitation of the banished knight. You will not ask me again why he
visits the castle at midnight."

The appearance of the stranger had excited Albert's curiosity to such a
degree, that he willingly accepted the offer of the fifer of Hardt,
more particularly as he then would have the best opportunity of finding
out the truth or falsehood of his assertions. His guide took the bridle
of his horse, and led him down a narrow pathway in the wood. Albert
followed, after he had taken a farewell look at the windows of
Lichtenstein. They moved on in silence, which the young man made no
attempt to break, his thoughts being wholly taken up with the person
whom he was about to visit, and the strange occurrence which had just
taken place. He recollected to have heard somewhere or other that many
staunch partisans of the Duke had been driven from their possessions by
the fury of the League, and he thought that it must have been in the
inn at Pfullingen, where mention had been made of a knight of the name
of Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg, whom the confederates were in search
of. The bravery and extraordinary strength of this man was the common
talk of all Swabia and Franconia; and when Albert recalled to his mind
the powerful figure, the commanding countenance of his late heroic
opponent, he thought it could not possibly be any other than this
knight, one of Duke Ulerich's most faithful followers. The idea of
having had an affair with such a man, and to have measured swords with
him in fair fight, was particularly flattering to the _amour propre_ of
the young man, although the result had been left undecided.

So thought Albert von Sturmfeder on that night. And after a lapse of
many years, when his noble antagonist had been long reinstated in his
rights, and by sound of bugle could as formerly assemble his followers
in hundreds, he reckoned it among his best feat of arms to have stood
his ground before the brave and powerful stranger.

They were now arrived at a small open meadow in the wood, which
terminated in a thick hedge of thorns and briars. The fifer having
secured the horse to a tree off the path, made a gap through the
entangled branches, and gave a sign to Albert to follow. It was not
without difficulty and some danger that he obeyed his leader's
directions, who in many places was obliged to assist him with his hand,
as they proceeded down a narrow footpath into a deep ravine. When they
had descended about eighty feet they came to even ground again, where
the young man expected to find the dwelling of the banished man; but he
was disappointed. His companion then went to a tree of great
circumference, and which was hollow from age, and brought forth two
large torches of pine wood, and striking fire by means of a steel and
flint, and a small bit of sulphur, ignited them.

Albert observed, by the brilliant light of the torches, that they stood
before a large opening which nature had formed in the wall of the rock.
This must be, he thought, the entrance to the habitation of the
stranger, who, as the fifer had expressed himself, had his lodgings
among owls. The man of Hardt took one of the torches, and giving the
other to his companion, said, "The path is dark, and here and there
difficult to trace." With this warning he went on in front, leading
through the dark entrance.

Albert, whose imagination was on the stretch, had expected to be
introduced to a low cavern, short and narrow, like the dwelling of wild
beasts, such as he had seen about the forests of his own country; but
what was his astonishment, when he entered an immense natural cavern,
resembling the lofty halls of a subterranean palace! He had heard in
his boyhood, from a man-servant whose great-grandfather had been
prisoner in Palestine, a story, which had been handed down from
generation to generation in his family, of a boy who had been enticed
by the arts of a wicked magician into a palace under ground, which
surpassed everything in magnificence he had ever seen above it, and
displayed to his view whatever the bold imagination of the east could
fancy of splendour. Golden pillars surmounted by crystal capitals,
arched cupolas studded with emeralds and sapphires, walls of diamonds
dazzling the eye by their numerous refracting rays, were united in this
subterranean habitation of the genii. This story, which had made a deep
impression on his youthful imagination, now came to his recollection,
and appeared to be realised in what he saw before him. He stopped every
moment in fresh surprise, and holding the torch high up, viewed in
amazement and wonder the lofty and majestic vaulted arches which
continued the whole length of the cavern, sparkling and glittering like
thousands of crystals and diamonds. But his astonishment was still more
excited when his leader, turning to the left, conducted him into a
spacious grotto, which fancy might figure to itself the magnificent
saloon of the subterranean palace.

The fifer could not help remarking the powerful impression which this
wonder of nature made on the mind of the young man. He took his torch
from him, and mounting a high jutting rock, illumined more effectually
the greatest part of the grotto.

Brilliant white rocks composed its walls. The bold arched cupola,
formed of innumerable stalactites, from the ends of which hung millions
of small drops of water, reflected the light in all the colours of the
rainbow. The surrounding rocks were thrown together in such happy
confusion, as to give the imagination full scope to fancy it could
discover in their grotesque shapes, here a chapel, having its high
altarpiece ornamented with flowing drapery; there its corresponding
pulpit of rich gothic architecture. An organ even was not wanting to
complete the idea of a subterranean church, and the changing shadows
thrown on the walls by the light of the torches, resembled the solemn
figures of martyrs and holy men placed in niches.

The guide came down again from his position on the rock, after having,
as he thought, sufficiently satisfied the curiosity of his companion.
"This is called the Nebelhöhle, or the Misty Hollow," said he; "it is
little known in the country, excepting to huntsmen and shepherds, and
few venture to enter it, as all kinds of fearful stories are abroad of
ghosts inhabiting its chambers. I would not advise any one who is not
minutely acquainted with its locality to venture down, for there are
deep cavities and subterranean waters, whence no one would see the
light again, if once entangled amidst their intricacies. There are also
secret passages and compartments known only to five individuals now
alive."

"But the banished knight," asked Albert, "where is he?"

"Take the torch, and follow me," replied the other, and led the way
though a side passage. They had proceeded about twenty paces, when
Albert thought he heard the deep tones resembling those of an organ. He
drew the attention of his leader to it.

"That is some one singing," the fifer answered, "the voice sounds
particularly beautiful and full in these caverns. When two or three men
join their voices together, it resembles the full chorus of monks
chanting the _Ora_." The music became still plainer; and as they
approached the spot, the expressive feeling of a beautiful melody was
distinctly heard. They were obliged to bend themselves under the corner
of a rock, as they proceeded, when the voice of the songster sounded
from above, and broke in repeated echo on the indentations of the wall
of rock, until it was lost in the mingled noises of dripping water from
the moist stones, and the murmur of a subterranean waterfall.

"That is the place," said the guide; "above there, in the side of the
rock, is the habitation of the unhappy man. Hearken to his voice! We'll
wait and listen till he has finished, for he never was accustomed to be
interrupted, even when he lived above ground." It was with great
difficulty that they could catch the following words on account of the
great echo and the murmur of falling and rushing water.

            The tow'r from whence my childhood gazed
              Upon the subject fields so fair,
            Now bears a stranger's banner, raised
              Where erst my father's fann'd the air.

            To ruin sink my father's halls,
              The portion of my ancestry;
            O'erthrown and unavenged, the walls
              In earth's deep bosom buried lie.

            O'er fields, where once in happier tide
              My jocund bugle horn I blew,
            The savage foemen fiercely ride:
              A noble quarry they pursue.

            I am their game, the quarry chased;
              The slot-hound follows where he flies,
            Athirst the stag's warm blood to taste,
            Whose antlers[1] are the hunter's prize.

            The murderers have bent their bow,
              They ransack forest, hill, and plain;
            Whilst clad in rags I nightly go
              A beggar on my own domain.

            Where once I rode in lordly state,
              Whilst greeting vassals bow'd the head;
            I fear to tap the cotter's gate,
              And beg in pity's name for bread.

            From my own doors ye thrust me out;
              Yet will I knock while knock I can:
            All is not lost, if heart be stout:
              I bear a sword, I am a man.

            I quail not: tho' my heart should break,
              I will endure unto the end;
            And thus my foes of me shall speak,
              "This was a man, and ne'er would bend."

A deep sigh, which followed the conclusion of the song, gave the
hearers reason to suppose, that the burden of it had not afforded the
unfortunate exile much consolation. A large tear had rolled down the
tanned cheek of the man of Hardt as they stood listening; and Albert
perceived the inward struggle which this good peasant seemed to contend
with in order to compose his mind, and appear before the inhabitant of
the cavern with a cheerful countenance. He requested the young man to
hold his torch awhile; and clambered up the smooth, slippery rock which
led to the grotto whence the sounds they had just heard had issued.
Albert supposed he had gone to acquaint the stranger of his arrival,
but his guide returned with a strong rope in his hand. He descended
half way down the rock again, threw one end of the rope to him, and
desiring him to tie the torches on to it, he pulled them up, and placed
them in a secure corner in the rock. He then assisted his young master
to mount to the spot where he was standing, which he would not have
been well able to accomplish alone. Once up there, they were only a few
paces from the inhospitable abode of the exile.

                           *   *   *   *   *

We have attempted to describe this remarkable cavern according to its
natural formation. Some further observations may be interesting to the
reader. The entrance is about 150 feet in circumference; two paths,
which form two natural excavations, one of 100 feet long, the other 82,
lead from thence, and, taking different directions, meet again in the
interior at the distance of about 200 feet. The place where they join
forms a grotto, whence, on the right towards the north, higher up in
the rock, is another smaller one, the spot to which we have led the
reader, to the dwelling of the exile. The whole length of the cavern,
from the entrance to the innermost point, is about 577 feet.


FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER XVIII.:

[Footnote 1: Referring, probably, to the arms of Würtemberg.]



                              CHAPTER XIX.

            The rugged rocks fantastic forms assume,
            Seen in the darkling of the midnight gloom;
            And the wild evergreens so dimly bright,
            Seem to reflect a kind of lurid light;
            This sight so strange may well our knight amaze,
            He stops, upon the witchery to gaze.
                                                    WIELAND.

The spot to which they had arrived in this large cavern, possessed one
great advantage, that of being perfectly dry. The ground was covered
with rushes and straw; a lamp hung on the side of the rock, which threw
sufficient light on the breadth, and a great part of the length, of the
grotto. Opposite the entrance sat the stranger upon a large bear skin,
and near him stood his sword and a bugle horn; an old hat, and a grey
cloak lay on the ground. A jacket of dark brown leather, and trowsers
of coarse blue cloth, covered his person; an unseemly costume, but
which did not the less set off the powerful shape of his body, and the
noble features of his countenance. He was about thirty-four years old,
and his face might be called still handsome and pleasing, although the
first bloom of youth was worn off by hardship and fatigue, and his
beard having grown wild upon his chin, imparted to his look an air of
severity. Albert made these fleeting remarks as he stopped at the
entrance of the grotto.

"Welcome to my palace, Albert von Sturmfeder," said its inhabitant,
whilst he rose from his bear skin, and offering him his hand, begged
him to take a seat beside him on a deer skin: "you are heartily
welcome," he repeated. "It was no bad thought of our friend the
musician, to introduce you into these lower regions, and bring me such
agreeable society. Hans, thou faithful soul! thou hast been our major
domo and chancellor up to this moment, from henceforth we nominate thee
our head-master of the cellar and purveyor-general. Look behind that
pillar, and thou'lt find the remains of a bottle of good old wine. Take
my beech-wood hunting-cup, the only utensil left us, and fill it up to
the brim, to the honour of our worthy guest."

Albert beheld the exiled man in astonishment; though he might have
expected to find the energies of his mind unsubdued by the storms of
life, still he was prepared to see him brooding over his misfortunes in
sullen melancholy, driven by hard fate to seek shelter in these
inhospitable regions. What, therefore, was his surprise to find him, on
the contrary, cheerful and unconcerned, joking about his situation,
just as if he had been merely overtaken by a storm in hunting, and had
sought shelter from its violence in the grotto! It was a storm, indeed,
more terrible than the fury of the elements which had driven him from
the castle of his ancestors, for he was the prey that had taken shelter
here from the shots of his murderous huntsmen.

"You look at me and my abode with astonishment, my worthy guest," said
the knight: "you, perhaps, expected to hear me bewailing my hard
fate--but of what use would that be? As no one can retrieve my
misfortune in this moment, I think it the wisest plan to put a bold
face upon what I cannot alter. But tell me, am not I as well lodged
here as many princes in their palaces? Have you noticed the halls and
saloons of this my palace? do not the walls shine like silver, and the
vaulted ceilings sparkle as if they were set in pearls and diamonds?
and the pillars, do they not glitter with emeralds, rubies, and all
sorts of precious stones? But here comes Hans, my purveyor, with the
wine. Say, my trusty subject, does that cup contain the whole of our
cellar?"

"Your habitation can boast of water, as clear as crystal," answered the
fifer, who well understood the cheerful mood of his companion; "the
remainder of the wine in the cellar will fill more than three cups,
and--as we have another guest to-day--we may indulge a little. Luckily,
I brought a jug full of good old Uhlbacker from the castle to-night."

"You have done well," said the exiled knight, whilst a ray of joy
flashed from his brilliant eye; "you must not think, Albert von
Sturmfeder, that I am a wine-bibber; but good wine is a noble thing,
and I love to see the full glass circulate in friendly society. Put the
jug down here, worthy master of the cellar, we'll enjoy ourselves, as
in the best days of our prosperity. Here's to you, and the former
splendour of the house of Sturmfeder!"

Albert thanked the knight, and drank. "I wish I could return the
honour, in drinking to your name," he said; "but, as you have already
hesitated to give it me, I will not ask it now, sir knight. But here's
to you, and may you return victorious to the castles of your fathers,
and may your family live and nourish there for ever--huzza!" He
pronounced the last word with a loud voice, and just as he set his cup
down, he was astonished to hear it repeated by many sounds, which
appeared to be voices, coming from the whole length of the grotto:
"What is that?" he said, "are not we alone?"

"Those are my vassals,--spirits," answered the knight, smiling; "or, if
you prefer it, the echo, which responds to your kind wish. I have often
heard," he added, in a more serious tone, "in the days of my
prosperity, the success of my house cheered by hundreds of voices; but
I have never been more pleased, or more affected, than to have it drank
to, by my only guest, and re-echoed among the rocks of these lower
regions. Fill the cup, Hans, and drink, and if you can give us a good
toast, let's have it."

The fifer of Hardt filled the cup, and glanced a significant look at
Albert: "Here's to you, sir, and something which will please you
more,--the Lady of Lichtenstein!"

"Hollo, right so, right so! drink, sir, drink!" cried the exile, and
laughed so heartily, that the cavern appeared to tremble under it.
"Drink out every drop! long may she live, and bloom for you! Well done,
Hans! only look how the blood mounts up in the cheeks of our guest; how
his eyes sparkle, as if he actually kissed her beautiful lips. You need
not be bashful! I also have loved and wooed, and know the state of a
light merry heart of four-and-twenty, on such an occasion!"

"Poor man!" said Albert, touched by a sigh of deep feeling which
accompanied these last words.--"Have you loved and wooed also? and
perhaps been obliged to leave a beloved wife and children to lament and
bewail your present misfortunes!" As he said this he felt his cloak
pulled from behind, when turning around, the countryman winked to him,
as a sign, that it was a subject of all others the most painful to the
knight to hear. Albert immediately saw the effect it produced on his
features; and regretted having been the cause of giving him pain.

With a look of wild despair, and evidently trying to combat his
feeling, he merely said, "Frost in September destroys the beautiful
flower which blossoms in May, and we scarcely know how to account for
it. My children are left in the hands of rough but faithful nurses, who
will, with God's help, take care good of them till their father returns
home again." He was so much affected when he spoke these words, that it
required no small effort to enable him to resume his good humour. "Hans
is witness," he said, after a pause, "how often I have wished to see
you, Albert von Sturmfeder; he told me of your being wounded, on that
occasion when you were surprised by a party of the League, who probably
took you for one of us outcasts; but happily gave you an opportunity to
escape."

"Yes, I had a narrow escape," answered Albert. "I almost believe they
took me for the Duke, for they were on the look out for him at that
time. I would willingly have suffered much greater loss, to be the
instrument of saving him."

"Well, that is saying a good deal; are you aware, that the cut which
was made at you might have cost you your life?"

"He who takes the field," replied Albert, "must settle all his accounts
with the world beforehand. I would certainly prefer falling before the
enemy in the field of battle, surrounded by friends and comrades, that
I might receive from their hands the last offices of regard and love.
But still, to parry the murderer's hand from the Duke, I would have
sacrificed my life, at any time, had it been necessary."

The exile regarded the young man with emotion, and pressed his hand.
"You appear to take great interest in the Duke," he said; "I should
hardly have supposed it; because they say, your heart is with the
League."

"As I know you are a partisan of the Duke," answered Albert; "I trust
you will excuse me if I speak my mind freely. Well, then, I must tell
you, I think the Duke has acted, in many respects, not becoming his
high station; for example, he ought not to have meddled in the affair
of Hutten in the manner he did, whatever might have been his reasons;
and then, the treatment of his wife was excited by violence and an
overbearing spirit; and you must admit, that it was rage and revenge,
and not a just ground for attack, which moved him to take forcible
possession of Reutlingen."

He paused, expecting to hear a remark from the knight, upon what he had
just said; but as he remained silent, Albert continued: "Upon these
reports I formed the idea of the Duke's character when I joined the
ranks of the confederates, among whom he was vilified in still stronger
terms; but, on the other hand, he had a warm advocate in the Lady of
Lichtenstein, who was better acquainted with his virtues than his
enemies, and who you may perhaps have already heard was the principal
cause of my quitting their service. I will not, therefore, say more
upon the subject further than she opened my eyes to the true state of
existing circumstances. In consequence of her information, I gave
myself some trouble to penetrate the ulterior views of the League, and
found they were directed, not only to the dispossessing him of his
dominions and banishing him his country, but, in order to gratify the
real object of their views, they grasped at the partition of his
sovereignty among themselves. With the impression of the injustice of
their intentions strong in my mind, I viewed the Duke's cause in a
light totally different to what I had hitherto done. His character was
raised still higher in my estimation, when I also learnt, that though
urged by the patriotism and love of his people to venture a battle in
defence of his rights, he would not risk the blood of his faithful
Würtembergers in such a hazardous game. And though possessing the power
of extorting money from his subjects to subsidize the Swiss, he rather
preferred exile for the good of his country. These are my reasons for
befriending the ill-used Prince."

The knight, whose eyes had been fixed on the ground, now raised them
upon Albert, and he seemed overpowered with the kind expressions which
he had used towards the Duke. "Truly," he said, "your feelings are pure
and generous, my young friend! I know the Duke as well as I do myself,
and I may venture to say with you, that he rises superior to his
misfortunes, and merits a far better name than report gives of him. Ah!
if he had a hundred hearts such as yours, not a rag of the League's
ensigns would ever float over the castles of Würtemberg;--could I but
persuade you to join his cause! Far be it from me, however, to invite
you to share his misery; it is enough that your sword, and an arm such
as yours, do not belong to his enemies. May your days be happier than
his! may heaven reward your good opinion of an unfortunate man!"

The spirit which breathed throughout the words of the exile, struck
many a corresponding chord in the heart of Albert. He was flattered and
encouraged to hear his own actions thus acknowledged.

The similarity which appeared to exist between the fate of his unknown
friend and the impoverished fortunes of his own house, together with
the prompting of the noble desire to espouse the weakest but honest
cause in the pending struggle, in preference to taking the side of
victorious injustice, were so many irresistible inducements to the
manly mind of Albert to stand by the exile in his present deep
distress.

Inspired by this feeling, he took his hand, and said, "Let no one
henceforth talk to me of the imprudence,--let it not be called folly,--
of sharing the misfortunes of the persecuted! May others partake of the
division of the Duke's fine country, and carouse in the spoils of the
unhappy man's property,--I feel courage enough to suffer with him in
his sufferings; and, when he draws his sword to re-conquer his lost
possessions, I will be the first by his side. Take my hand, sir knight,
as my pledge: let what may happen, I am the Duke's friend from
henceforth, for ever."

A tear of gratitude started in the eye of the exile as he returned the
shake of his hand. "You risk much, but you lose nothing by becoming
Ulerich's friend. The country, beyond these inhospitable regions, is
now in the possession of tyrants and robbers; but here below faithful
hearts still beat true to Würtemberg. Forget for a moment that I am a
poor knight and an exiled man, and figure me to yourself the Prince of
the country, as I am lord of this cavern, with his knight and citizen
standing before him. Ah! as long as these three estates hold firm
together, be they concealed ever so deep in the lap of the earth,
Würtemberg still exists. Fill the cup, Hans, and join your rough hand
to ours; we'll seal the alliance in a bumper!"

Hans replenished the jug and filled the cup, "Drink, noble sirs,
drink," said he; "you cannot pledge yourselves in a more noble wine
than in this Uhlbacher."

The knight having emptied the cup by a long draught, ordered it to be
filled again, and presented it to Albert. "Does not this wine," asked
Albert, "grow about the castle whence Würtemberg's royal blood sprang?
I think the heights about it are called Uhlbacher?"

"You are right," answered the exile; "the hill is generally called the
Rothenberg, at the foot of which the vine grows; the castle stands upon
its summit, built by Würtemberg's ancestors. Oh! the beautiful vallies
of the Neckar, the luxuriant hills of fruit and wine! Gone, gone for
ever!" He uttered these words with a voice which bespoke a heart almost
broken by suffering and grief; he could scarcely conceal the anguish of
his soul, which his inflexible mind had hitherto veiled under the mask
of a forced hilarity.

The countryman knelt beside him, took his hand, and to rouse him from a
state of painful wandering, in which he was lost for some moments,
said, "Be of good cheer, sir; you will return to your country again
happier than you left it."

"You will behold the vallies of your home again," said Albert. "When
the Duke regains his lost rights, and reoccupies the castles of his
ancestors, the vallies of the Neckar, and its richly clothed hills of
vineyards, will echo with the rejoicings of his people, and you also
will be able to join in the jubilee. Banish gloomy thoughts from your
mind, _nunc vino pellite curas_; drink, and let us hope for better
times. I pledge you in this Würtemberg wine,--'to the Duke's happy
return with his faithful followers!'"

These words seemed to reanimate the sunken spirits of the knight, and
like a ray of sunshine shed a smile over his features. "Yes!" he cried,
"sweet is the word which sends comfort to the broken-hearted; it is
like a drop of cold water to refresh the weary wanderer in the desert.
Forget my weakness, my friend; pardon it in a man who otherwise never
gives place to grief.

"But if you had ever looked down from the summit of the Rothenberg,
shaded by its green woods, into the heart of Würtemberg, and beheld the
gentle stream of the Neckar winding its course along its richly
cultivated banks; with its fields of high standing corn waving in the
breeze; the red roofs of its villages peeping out from a forest of
fruit trees, with their industrious inhabitants, consisting of strong
men and beautiful women, busily employed in their gardens or dressing
their vines on the heights; had you surveyed all this, and with my
eyes, and then been compelled to take refuge from the bloodthirsty
hands of ruffians in these inhospitable regions, surrounded by the
benumbing chill of these walls, outlawed, condemned, banished.--Oh! the
thought is terrible! too overwhelming for man's heart to bear!"

Albert, fearful lest the recollection of his past days, and the keen
sense of his present situation, might a second time have too powerful
an effect upon the mind of the exile, sought by changing the subject of
conversation, to divert his mind and calm his thoughts.

"As I suppose you have been often with the Duke," he said, "pray tell
me, now that I am his declared friend, what is his disposition? what is
his appearance? is it true, as is reported, that he is of a very
changeable and capricious temper?"

"No more upon that subject at present, if you please," answered the
exile; "you will soon have an opportunity to judge for yourself when
you see him. We have already spoken enough upon these matters, but you
have said nothing about your own affairs; not a word about the object
of your travels, nor of the beautiful lady of Lichtenstein? You are
silent and look confused when that delicate subject is mentioned. Do
not suppose I wish to be curious when I ask that question; no, it is
solely because I think I can be of use to you."

"From what has passed between us this night," replied Albert, "I have
nothing to conceal from you; secrecy is no longer necessary. It strikes
me, that you must have long known I love Bertha, and that she likewise
is faithful to me?"

The exile answered, smiling, "O yes, there was no mistaking the
symptoms of her feelings, for when you were mentioned her confused look
bespoke the secret of her heart, and the blush which accompanied it was
an evident witness of the truth of it. When she named you it was with a
peculiar tone of voice, as if the strings of her heart sounded in full
accord to that key-note."

"This observation of yours will encourage me to go to Lichtenstein
without further delay. It was my original intention, after I had
quitted the service of the League, to go direct to my home; but as the
Alb is about half way between Franconia and this place, and the desire
I had to see my love once more was uppermost in my thoughts, I
determined to endeavour to accomplish it. This man Hans conducted me
over the Alb; you know the cause which delayed me eight days on my
journey. To-morrow, at day-break, I purpose announcing myself at the
castle, and I trust I shall now appear before the old knight in a more
welcome light than I should otherwise have done, had I not performed my
promise to the League of remaining neutral fourteen days, and now
joined his colours."

"You may be assured of his welcome," said the knight, "particularly if
you go as the friend of the Duke, for he is his faithful and most
devoted adherent. But, may be, he would not trust your word,
unsupported by some introduction, being, so it is said, rather
incredulous, and shy of strangers. You know upon what terms I am with
him. He is the kind-hearted Samaritan to me; and when I creep out of my
hole at night, he nourishes my body with warm food, and my heart with
still warmer consolation for the future. A couple of lines from me will
be better received by him than a passport from the Emperor. Take this
ring, which he and many others know and respect, and wear it in
remembrance of the time we have passed together; it will announce you
as a friend of Würtemberg's good cause." With these words, he took a
broad gold ring from his finger. A large red stone was set in the
middle, upon which was engraved, in the armorial helmet, the three stag
horns,[1] with the bugle, which Albert recognised as the arms of
Würtemberg. Around the ring were the letters, U.D.O.W.A.T. in relievo,
the meaning of which he could not comprehend.

"Udowat? what does that name signify?" he asked. "Is it a parole for
the followers of the Duke?"

"No, my young friend," said the exile. "The Duke has worn this ring
long on his finger; he valued it much; but as I have many other
souvenirs from him, I can best spare it, and could not place it in
worthier hands. The letters mean, Ulerich, Duke of Würtemberg and
Teck."


"I shall value it as long as I live," replied Albert, "as a relic of
the unfortunate Prince whose name it bears, and as a pleasing
remembrance of you, sir knight, and the night we passed together in
this cavern."

"When you come to the drawbridge of Lichtenstein," continued the
knight, "deliver a note which I will write, and this ring, to the first
servant you see, and desire them to be conveyed to the lord of the
castle, when he will certainly receive you as the Duke's own son. But
for the lady, you must use your own passport, for my charm does not
extend to her: a tender squeeze of the hand, or the mysterious language
of the eyes, or perhaps still better, a sweet kiss on her rosy lips,
will serve the purpose. But in order to appear before her as she would
wish to see you, you need some rest, for if you pass the whole night
without sleep, your eyes will be heavy. Therefore follow my example,
stretch yourself on the deer skin, and make a pillow of your cloak. And
you, worthy major domo, grand chamberlain and purveyor, Hans, faithful
companion in misfortune, give this Paladin another glass for his
nightcap, it will soften his deer-skin, and enchant this rocky grotto
into a bed-room. And then may the god of dreams visit him with his
choicest gifts!"

The men drank a good night to each other, and laid themselves to rest,
Hans taking up his position as a faithful dog, at the entrance of the
rocky chamber. Morpheus soon came with light steps to the aid of the
young man, and as he was dropping off to sleep he heard, in a half
doze, the exile saying his evening prayer, and, with pious confidence
in the Disposer of events, imploring him to shower down his almighty
protection on him and his unhappy country.

FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER XIX.:

[Footnote 1: Three stag horns, the two upper ones having four ends and
the lower one three, were the ancient arms of Würtemberg.]



                              CHAPTER XX.

            See that arrowy crag so tapering rise,
              From the depths of that valley so sweet;
            There Lichtenstein's fort rears her head to the skies,
              And smiles on the world at her feet.
                                                      SCHWAB.

When the fifer of Hardt awakened Albert in the morning, the youth was
at first puzzled to recollect where he was, and to recognize the
objects about him; but he soon came to his senses, and the remembrance
of the last evening's occurrences. He returned the hearty shake of the
hand with which the exile saluted him, who said, "Although it would
give me great pleasure to detain you some few days with me, yet I would
rather advise you to proceed at once to Lichtenstein, if you wish to
have a hot breakfast. I cannot, alas! prepare such in my cavern, for we
never dare make a fire, lest the smoke betray our position."

Albert consented to his proposal, and thanked him for his night's
lodging. "I may truly say," he answered, "that I never passed a night
more to my satisfaction, than I have done in this place. A deep-felt,
though melancholy, charm would seem to hallow the society of friends in
such a situation as this, and I would not have exchanged my abode among
these rocky walls, for the most splendid apartment of a ducal palace."

"Yes, indeed, secure from persecution, and among friends, when the
glass circulates freely, banishment has its charms," replied the exile;
"but when I sit here, day after day, in solitude, brooding over my
calamities, my heart yearning for liberty, and my eye wearied with the
sameness of these subterranean splendours, then it is I drink the full
cup of misery. And then again, my ear is deafened with the unceasing
monotonous murmur of these waters, dripping drop after drop from the
rocks! Jealous of their freedom, my imagination follows their course
through the depths below, whence they escape to swell the running
stream, whose gentle ripple, with the note of the cheerful lark, would
seem to join chorus in the universal praise."

"My poor friend, I pity thee! yes, indeed, this solitary life must be
terrible," said Albert.

"Nevertheless," continued the other, raising himself up, "I reckon
myself happy to have found this asylum, with the help of a few trusty
friends. Rather than fall into the hands of my enemies, to be their
sport and laughing-stock, I would descend a hundred fathoms lower,
where the vital air scarce sustains life. And before I would surrender
my liberty, these hands should dig my way into the heart of the earth,
until I reached its centre; there to invoke the curses of heaven upon
my oppressors as a just punishment of the wrongs I endure from the
persecutions of their revengeful designs."

The exile having worked himself up into a state of fury, Albert
involuntarily retreated a pace or two. His figure appeared to gain in
height--all the muscles of his body were on the stretch--his cheeks
glowed with rage--his eyes shot fire, as if they sought an enemy upon
whom to revenge his sufferings; and the loud and violent tone of his
voice; echoed among the rocks the maledictions which issued from his
mouth.

Albert could not but sympathise with the man in giving vent to his
feelings in such a burst of passion; he who was so cruelly persecuted
by his enemies, for his faithful attachment to his lord. "I admire your
strength of mind," said he to the knight; and, as if a sudden thought
had crossed his mind, continued, "will you pardon me for asking you one
question, which perhaps you may deem indiscreet; but since you have
admitted me to your friendship and confidence, I will venture to do so.
Tell me, are you not the celebrated Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg?"

There must have been something particularly strange in this question;
because the gravity which had shaded the knight's countenance
disappeared at once, at the mere mention of this name. He first smiled;
but not able to contain himself, broke out into a loud laugh, in which
Hans considered himself permitted to join.

Albert was unable to comprehend the meaning of the sudden burst of
merriment which his question had occasioned. He felt confused, and
looked for an explanation of it, first at one, then at the other; but
his embarrassment only excited their merry mood still more.

At length the exile said, "Pardon me, worthy guest, for having violated
in an unmannerly way the rights of hospitality; for I ought rather to
have bitten off the end of my tongue than have given you cause to
suppose I had thought you said anything ridiculous; but how comes it
that you take me for Maxx Stumpf? Do you know him?"

"No, I never saw him; but I know him to be a brave knight, whom the
League has expelled from his country, on account of his faithful
adherence to the Duke, and that they are now endeavouring to apprehend
him. Is not yours a similar case?"

"I thank you for comparing me to such a man; but I would not advise you
to fall in his way in the night, upon the same terms as when we met;
for Stumpf, without further to do, would soon have cut you up into
slices fit for cooking. Schweinsberg being a little thick-set fellow,
and a head shorter than me, it was the comparison which made me laugh
so irresistibly. He is, however, an honourable man, and one of the few
to be depended upon who will not desert his master in misfortune."

"So you are not Schweinsberg?" replied Albert; "then I must leave you
without knowing who my friend is."

"Young man!" said the exile, with dignity, "you have found a friend in
me, by your gallant, honourable behaviour; which your open, frank
countenance has confirmed. Let it suffice for you, to have gained this
friend; ask no further questions, one word might perhaps interrupt this
confidential intimacy between us, which is so gratifying to me.
Farewell; think on the banished man without a name, and be assured
that, before two days are over, you shall both hear from me, and know
my name."

In spite of his unseemly dress, the whole demeanour of this man
appeared to Albert to be more that of a Prince dismissing a subject
from his presence, than an unfortunate exile, parting from a friend who
had participated in his afflictions.

During the last conversation, the fifer of Hardt had lighted the
torches, and stood waiting at the entrance of the grotto; the knight
pressed a salute on the lips of the young man, and waved him to go. He
departed, unable to account why a man so familiar and friendly in his
address, should, at the same time, inspire him with the idea of being
so much his superior in rank; he had never felt, until this moment, how
an individual, devoid of all the external marks of distinction,
exhibiting outward signs of poverty, rather than the contrary, could
possess a personal influence sufficiently great to subdue vanity and
self-love. Occupied with these thoughts, he retraced his steps through
the cavern. The beauties of nature, which had surprised him and fixed
his attention when he first entered it, had lost their charm to his
eye, and his wonder was no longer excited at the grandeur of the
surrounding objects. His mind was exclusively taken up with the
contemplation of a subject more imposing and instructive than these
rocks, however magnificent they might be. The human mind, rising
superior to the frowns of this world, exemplified so well in the
character of his unknown friend, filled him with admiration, and proved
to him that the dignity of man's nature will force its way through the
garb of poverty and the suffering of persecution, and remain unsullied
amidst the frowns of fate.

A bright day greeted Albert and the fifer of Hardt, as they issued from
the darkness of the cavern into the light of heaven. Albert breathed
more freely in the freshness of the morning air, than he had done
amidst the damp exhalations which streamed from the galleries and
grottos of the subterranean vaults, from which they derive the name of
the misty caverns. He found his horse in the same place, fastened to
the tree, where he had left him the night before, as fresh and lively
as ever; the military weapons attached to the saddle not having
suffered from the night dew, which Albert was fearful might have been
the case. But Hans had had the precaution to cover the beast with a
large coarse cloth, in order to guard against bad weather. The young
man arranged his dress as well as he was able, after such a night's
lodging, whilst the countryman gave his horse a feed of fresh hay. They
then set forward on their journey, and having gone but a few paces, the
tolling of a church bell from the valley below saluted their ears, and
broke the solemn stillness of the morning. Shortly afterwards, another
bell answered, and then three or four more followed, when the number,
increasing to at least twelve, spread their melodious tones over the
heights and vallies. The young man stopt his horse, surprised at this
early chorus of bells: "What means this salutation?" he asked, "is it a
signal that there is a fire in the neighbourhood? or may be to-day is a
holiday? God knows that, since my illness, I have quite lost all
knowledge of time, and can only distinguish Sunday from the other days
of the week by the peasant girls being clad in their best dresses and
clean aprons."

"That is not an uncommon case with many a military man," replied Hans;
"I myself have often been obliged to guess what day it was, when I had
other things in my head, which I regret to say I deemed more important
than hearing mass. But now it is different," he added, with a serious
countenance, and crossed himself, "to-day is Good Friday."

"That reminds me," said the young man, "that this is the first time in
my life that I have not celebrated this day as becomes a Christian; it
also brings with it many happy hours of my youth to my recollection. My
father was then alive; I possessed a tender, good mother, and a dear
young sister. We two children always rejoiced upon the anniversary of
Good Friday, and, though we did not know exactly what it meant, we
remembered that it was only two days from Easter, a season when our
mother invariably gave us some token of her affection. _Requiescant in
pace!_" he added, turning away to conceal a tear; "they are all three
gone."

These last words, which he pronounced in remembrance of his departed
parents, the spontaneous effusion of his affectionate heart, did not
escape the fifer's observation, who raised his cap in respect to the
feelings of his companion. Such had been the restless life of this
extraordinary man from his infancy, that he might have been thought to
be void of all sense of religion; but since his escape from the hand of
the executioner, which he had hinted at in a former conversation with
Albert, and professed to have become a better man, serious thoughts at
times occupied his mind.

Albert having alluded to his own case of receiving a present from his
mother at Easter, the fifer took occasion to say, with a good-natured
smile, "that the time was coming, when he hoped he would also be able
to perform the same office to his own children." But the young man was
offended at this familiarity, and showed symptoms of his displeasure.

"No offence, sir," he replied, and drew his attention to the castle
before them. "Do you see the tower peeping out among the trees?" he
added: "another short quarter of an hour, and we are there."

"From what I could remark yesterday in the dark," said the young man,
"the castle appeared to be erected upon a solitary, steep rock. By
heavens! a bold thought, whoever built it; for no one could attempt to
scale its walls unless he were in league with the devil, and had the
power of flying. It might be bombarded, however, from this spot with
heavy artillery."

"Do you think so? I can tell you, that they have four good match-guns
in the hall, which would return an answer too sharp to any one who
should attempt it. Had you made a careful survey, you must have
observed, that the rock is separated from the mountain by a broad deep
valley, which surrounds it, so that much damage could not be done to
the castle. The only weak side is that nearest the mountain, upon which
the drawbridge is placed. Let but an enemy attempt to plant guns there,
and he would soon see old Lichtenstein's battery hurl them down in the
abyss below, before they had even touched a pane of glass in his
windows. But the great difficulty would be to get guns up this
declivity, and transport them over these cavities, without exposing men
to more danger than that nest is worth."

"You are right," Albert answered; "I should like to know who ever
thought of building a castle upon that rock."

"I'll tell you," replied Hans, who was well acquainted with all the
legends of his country: "once upon a time there lived a fair lady, who
suffered much persecution from her suitors, and did not know how to
escape them. She came to this rock, and saw a large eagle with its
family perched upon the top of it, secure from all interruption. Having
determined to expel the eagle, she built the castle on its nest; and
when everything was complete, drew up the drawbridge, and from the
summit of the tower proclaimed aloud, 'I henceforth devote myself to
God, and forswear the world.' From that day forth no one was able to
annoy her;--but we are arrived. Farewell; perhaps I may see you again
tonight. I am now going about the country, to endeavour to ascertain
what is going on, and will return to the exile in the cavern with what
news I can gather as to the state of the Duke's affairs. Don't forget,
when you come on the bridge, to send the ring and letter to the lord of
the castle; and take care you do not break the seal yourself."

"Don't fear! I thank you for your conduct; salute my kind host of the
cavern for me," said Albert; and, pushing his horse forward, in a few
minutes stood before the fortress of Lichtenstein.

A guard at the gate demanded his business, and called a servant to
deliver the letter and ring to his master. Albert had in the meantime
an opportunity to examine minutely the castle and its environs. Having
only seen it the night before by the dim light of the moon, and too
much occupied with other important subjects to fix his exclusive
attention to its structure, he had not been able to imagine even what
he now viewed with rapture. A perpendicular isolated rock, like the
colossal tower of a cathedral, rising from the valley of the Alb, stood
before him in bold independence. Its position impressed him with the
idea, that it might have been cleft from the surrounding hills by some
violent convulsion of nature, either by an earthquake, or by a deluge
in ancient times, which had washed away the softer materials of the
earth, leaving the solid mass of rock untouched. Even on the south-west
side, where he now stood, the deep ravine which separated the rock from
the nearest part of the adjoining country, was too broad for the
boldest shamoy to venture a spring across, though not so distant as to
baffle the art of man to throw a bridge over. The castle stood on its
summit, like the nest of a bird, perched upon the highest branch of an
oak, or the pinnacle of a lofty tower. Except the tower, which peered
above all, the only apparent habitation was a small fortified apartment
surrounded by many round windows. The numerous loop-holes in the lower
part of the buildings, and several larger embrasures, out of which
peeped the muzzles of guns of the heavy calibre of the time, proved
that it was well guarded, and that, spite of its insignificant size, it
was no contemptible fortress. The enormous foundation walls and
buttresses, which appeared to form part of the rock, and had assumed by
age and weather the same yellowish-brown colour of the mass of stone
upon which they stood, might well convince the beholder of the solidity
of the structure, and its capability to bid defiance to the power of
man and the storms of the elements. A beautiful view presented itself
before Albert, and he thought how much more extended it must be from
the top of the watch-tower.

These observations obtruded themselves upon Albert, as he stood waiting
at the outer gate, which was strongly palisadoed towards the ravine,
and covered the approach to the bridge. He now heard steps approaching;
the gate was thrown open, and the master of the castle appeared himself
to receive his guest. It was the same stern elderly man whom he had
seen several times in Ulm, whose countenance he could not easily
forget; for his dark fiery eye, his pale but noble features, his
likeness to his daughter, had made a lasting impression upon his mind.

"Welcome to Lichtenstein," said the old man, offering his hand, the
grave features of his face giving place to a more kindly expression.
"What are you standing gaping about there, you idle vagabonds?" he said
to his servants, after the first salutation to his visitor; "do you
suppose the gentleman is to lead his horse up into the room? Take him
away to the stable, and bring his weapons into the saloon. I beg
pardon, worthy sir, that these carles should have kept you so long
waiting; but there is no beating sense into their thick heads. Will you
follow me?"

He led on over the bridge, followed by Albert, whose heart beat in full
expectation and longing desire to see and surprise his beloved. But
recollecting the adventures of the preceding night, and the feeling
which first prompted him to come to this spot, he blushed in shame for
having suspected her fidelity. His eye sought all the windows in the
hopes of seeing her; his ear was sharpened to catch if possible the
sound of her voice: but in vain did his eye search the windows; in vain
did his ear listen.

They had now reached the inner gate. It was strongly built, according
to the ancient manner, with a portcullis, and openings above, to throw
down boiling oil and water; and provided with all the other means of
defence made use of in the olden times to repel a besieging enemy,
should he have made himself master of the bridge. But it was not to the
massive walls and fortifications alone which surrounded the castle that
Lichtenstein was indebted for its security; nature claimed her share
also in it. The rock itself formed a principal part of the habitation,
having large roomy stables, and apartments which served as cellars,
hewn out of it. A winding staircase led to the upper part of the
castle, where military defences were likewise not less thought of than
elsewhere. On the landing place, leading to the different rooms, and
generally appropriated in similar habitations to the purposes of
keeping the household utensils, were now to be seen match-guns, large
chests containing shot, and divers other warlike weapons.[1] The old
knight's eye rested with a peculiar expression of pride upon this
singular species of household furniture; and it is a fact that, in
those days, the possessor of heavy artillery was accounted a man of
opulence and wealth, for it was not every one who could afford to
defend his castle with four or six such pieces as were possessed by the
lord of the castle.

Another staircase led to the second story, upon which the knight of
Lichtenstein showed his guest into a fine large saloon, lighted by
several windows. He gave a sign to a servant who had followed them up,
to withdraw.

FOOTNOTE TO CHAPTER XX.:

[Footnote 1: There is a description, in an old chronicle, of
Lichtenstein, as it existed at the end of the sixteenth century, about
sixty years after 1519. It is stated therein, "In the upper story,
there is a remarkable handsome room, surrounded on all sides by
windows, from which may be seen the Asperg. The banished Duke Ulerich
of Würtemberg, who often visited it, came every night to the castle,
and saying, 'The man is here!' was immediately received." A
gamekeeper's house is now built upon the ruins of the old castle, which
still retains its name, and serves on Whitsunday as a place of
rendezvous for the peasantry of the surrounding country, who assemble
in their gayest dresses for dancing and carousal.]



                             CHAPTER XXI.

            The noble spirit of the victim brave
            Affects the knight, he feels that he must save;
            The dews of friendship o'er his eyelids steal,
            His heart no longer can resist th' appeal.
                                                     P. CONZ.

When the two men were left alone in the saloon of Lichtenstein, the old
knight gazed at Albert full in the face, with a scrutinizing eye, as if
to satisfy himself of the honesty of his looks. The noble features of
his visitor convinced him of the purity of his heart, and animated the
old man's eye with a ray of joy. The air of melancholy which habitually
sat on his brow had vanished, he became cheerful, he received Albert as
a father would a son, who had returned from a long journey. A tear at
length stole from his brilliant eye; but it was a tear of joy, for he
pressed the astonished youth to his heart.

"It is not often that I am betrayed into this weakness," he said to
Albert, "but in moments such as these nature gives way, because they
happen seldom. Dare I indeed trust my old eyes? Do the contents of this
letter deceive me? Is the seal really his? and can I believe it? but
why do I doubt! has not nature stampt the impression of her noblest
gifts upon your open forehead? Oh, yes, honesty is too visibly depicted
on your countenance; you cannot deceive me; the cause of my unfortunate
master has gained another friend!"

"If you allude to the cause of the banished Duke, you are not mistaken;
it has found a warm partisan in me. Report has long since reached my
ear of the knight of Lichtenstein being a faithful friend of his, and
with this assurance I should perhaps have presented myself to you ere
this, of my own accord, without the introduction of the unfortunate man
in the cavern."

"Sit down beside me, my young friend," said the old man, who continued
to regard Albert with a look of benevolence, "seat yourself, and listen
to what I say: generally speaking, I am not an admirer of persons who
change their minds. The experience of a long life has taught me to
respect the opinion of others, and to assert that a man who entertains
pure and honest views of a subject, is not therefore to be prejudged by
another, who may think differently. But when a person changes his
colours from real disinterested motives, as you appear to have done,
Albert von Sturmfeder, and turns his back upon prosperity, for the
noble purpose of allying himself to, and aiding the oppressed, in a
just cause, then it is that his virtuous intentions justify his
conduct, and carry along with them the stamp of a noble act."

Albert blushed for himself, when he heard old Lichtenstein praising his
disinterested motives. Was it not for the sake of the beautiful
daughter of the knight, that he had principally been induced to join
his colours? and would he not sink in the esteem of this man, when,
sooner or later, his real motive for embracing his party came to light?
"You are too good," he answered; "the views of a man are often buried
deeper than we at first sight think. But be assured, that though the
step I have taken was dictated partly by a feeling which revolts at the
idea of unjust oppression; I would not have you think too well of me,
because it would give me very great pain, were you afterwards to be
obliged to pronounce an unfavourable opinion upon my actions."

"I love you still more for your frankness," replied the lord of the
castle, and squeezed the hand of his guest: "I can trust to my
knowledge of physiognomy, and maintain, from what I see in yours, that,
though other views may have influenced you, besides the feeling of
justice, you never will be found wanting in honour. Whoever is led by
evil intentions is a coward, and no coward would dare to run his head
against Truchses, the Duke of Bavaria, and the whole Swabian League,
and rise superior to the danger, as you have done."

"What do you know of me," said Albert, with joyful surprise; "have you
ever heard of me before this moment?"

A servant, who opened the door at these words, interrupted the answer
of the old man. He set a breakfast of game and a can full of wine
before Albert, and prepared to wait on the guest; but a hint from his
master made him withdraw. "Don't spare this morning's meal," said he to
the young man; "the first glass, indeed, ought to be drank to the lady
of the house, according to courteous habits; but mine has long departed
this life, and my only daughter, Bertha, who acts in her place, is gone
down to the village church, to hear the sermon and mass on this
holiday. Well, you asked me if I have ever heard of you before? As you
now belong to our party, I may venture to acquaint you with what I
otherwise should have kept secret. When you entered Ulm, I was also in
the town, not only for the purpose of taking my daughter home, who was
residing there, but principally to learn many things, which were
important for the Duke to know. Gold opened all the doors," he added
with a smile, "and unbolted those also of the grand council; by which
means I became acquainted with everything the commanders of the League
had determined upon. When war was declared, I was obliged to leave the
place, but I left faithful men behind me in the town, who informed me
of every circumstance, even the most secret."

"Was not the fifer of Hardt one of them," asked Albert, "whom I found
with the exile?"

"Yes; the same who conducted you over the Alb." Albert started. "I had
daily intelligence of the most secret affairs. Among other things, I
learnt that they had determined to send a trusty spy into the
neighbourhood of Tübingen, to gain intelligence and advertise the
League of our movements. I heard you were selected for that service. I
must tell you honestly, that, though you and your name were indifferent
to me, for I did not know you personally, still I regretted that your
young blood should be employed on that service, for, as sure as you
live, the moment you had passed the Alb in the degrading character of a
spy, so soon would you have been cut to pieces without grace or mercy.
So much more surprising then was the information to me, when I learned
further, that you had refused the service, and had spoken boldly before
your employers. The fact also of your having renounced their party, and
sworn to keep in a state of neutrality for fourteen days, was also made
known to me. How much I rejoice then that you have become our friend
also, I leave you to imagine!"

Nothing could have been more gratifying to Albert's feelings than the
eulogium passed on his conduct by the knight of Lichtenstein. This
moment removed all obstacles which had hitherto interrupted the tie
between him and Bertha. The only wish of his heart, which he at times
thought would never be realised, and had almost given up in despair, he
now might hope would be accomplished, for he unknowingly had gained the
good will of her father. "Yes, I renounced their service," he answered,
"because their intentions outraged my feelings; I became your friend
with heart and soul. When I was seated beside the exiled man in the
cavern, and heard the disgraceful manner in which the lord of the land
and the nobles were treated, I felt the force of his language
strengthen my resolutions. In that moment all doubts and difficulties
were removed from my mind, every thing was as clear as day, my only
desire was, to draw my sword in this cause! And do you think we shall
be called into action soon? How stand the Duke's affairs? You must not
suppose I am come to you to set with my hands across."

"I can well imagine your anxiety to be in the field," said the old
knight; "forty years ago I possessed the same ardour. You are aware,
perhaps, in what state our affairs are at present; more upon the
decline, I fear, than prosperous. The enemy is in possession of the
whole tract of the low country as far up as Urach. Our fate depends
upon one solitary circumstance,----if Tübingen holds out, victory is
ours!"

"The honour of forty knights will, I think, answer for its safety,"
replied Albert, with animation; "the castle is strong, I have never
seen a stronger; the garrison is sufficient for its defence, and forty
men of noble blood will not surrender for a trifle. They cannot--they
dare not. Have they not the children of the duke, and the treasures of
his house, under their protection?--they _must_ hold out."

"It were well if they were all like-minded with you," said the old man.
"Tübingen holds a great stake in her hands. If the Duke can bring
succour to its relief, he will then have a starting point, whence he
will be able to reconquer his country. The place contains large
supplies of munitions of war; and most of the nobility are assembled
within its walls. So long as they remain faithful to his cause, so long
will the feeling of Würtemberg be for the Duke, were he only to possess
the spot upon which he stands; but I fear, I fear for the result."

"How? do you think it likely the knights will surrender? Impossible!"

"You have had but little experience in the ways of the world," replied
the old man; "you are not aware of the many allurements and snares at
work, which may make many a man waver in his allegiance. It is on this
account, that the Duke, being doubtful of the fidelity of some of them
in Tübingen, has sent Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg with a letter to the
garrison written in strong terms, not only urging them to hold the
castle to the last, but to afford him the means of entering therein
himself, being ready to sacrifice his life in its defence, if God
should so ordain it."

"Poor man," said Albert, moved by the consideration of the Duke's hard
fate; "I cannot believe the nobility of the land will act in a manner
unworthy of their rank. His presence among them will encourage their
desponding hopes, sorties will be made, the besiegers will be beaten in
spite of Bavaria and Fronsberg. We'll join them sword in hand, and
drive these Leaguists out of the country."

"Maxx Stumpf is not yet returned," replied the knight of Lichtenstein,
with a look of anxiety; "and the firing has ceased since yesterday.
We hear every shot here on the Lichtenstein; but during the last
twenty-four hours all is as quiet as the grave."

"Perhaps they have ceased firing on account of the holidays; you'll see
that, to-morrow, or Easter Monday, they will re-commence with redoubled
vigour, and make your rocks echo again."

"What is it you say?" replied the other, "on account of the holidays?
To serve the Duke faithfully is a pious undertaking; and the saints in
Heaven would perhaps rather hear the thunder of cannon in a just cause
than that the knights should remain idle. Idleness is the parent of all
vice! But, I trust, when Maxx arrives in the castle, he will rouse them
out of their slumbers."

"Do you mean that the Duke had sent the knight of Schweinsberg to
Tübingen, and that he intended to follow him, because the garrison has
shewn symptoms of surrender? Has he not flown to Mömpelgard, as the
people say? or is he still in the neighbourhood? Oh, that I could see
him, and accompany him!"

A peculiar smile passed rapidly over the stern countenance of the old
man. "You will sec him at the proper moment," he said; "he will be
happy to see you also, for he loves you already. And, if fortune
favours us, you shall also go with him to his castle, I give you my
word. But for the present I must beg you will remain patiently alone
for a short time; some business calls me, but it will be soon finished.
I leave you in the company of some good old wine; make yourself at home
in my house; were it not Good Friday, I would invite you to go out
hunting." The old man pressed Albert's hand once more, and left the
room; and soon after he saw him ride out of the castle towards the
wood.

When the young man found himself alone, he commenced putting his dress
in order, which in consequence of his recent adventures, required some
attention. Whoever has been in the vicinity of the lady of his love,
under Albert's circumstances, will not blame him for taking advantage
of a piece of polished metal, which served as a looking-glass, hanging
on the wall, to arrange his beard and hair. Having brushed his jacket,
and removed all traces of having passed the night underground, he went
into the large saloon, and sought among the many windows which
surrounded it, the one which would give him the best view of the path
leading up to the castle from the church of the village in the valley
below, whither Bertha had gone to hear mass.

Cheering thoughts passed through his mind, in rapid succession, like
bright vapours flying under the blue vault of heaven. He was now on the
spot which had long been the object of his ardent desire to visit; he
viewed the mountains and rocks which Bertha had often spoke about; he
felt a charm in being in the same house which had been the dwelling of
her childhood, and in which she had grown up to woman's estate.

Albert went into the small spot of ground within the walls of the
castle, adorned with flowers, and which assumed the name of garden.
Again his imagination wandered, in the pleasing supposition that it had
been created by her orders; the flowers appeared to speak to him in her
name--he was in the act of bending under a tree to pluck a violet, when
he heard footsteps at the gate. He turned around to observe who it
might be, it was indeed Bertha herself--she stood there wrapt in
surprise and motionless, scarcely trusting her eyes. He flew to her,
and pressed her to his heart; her astonishment at the unexpected
apparition gave way to the conviction that it was really her lover, and
not his spirit that embraced her. They had more to ask each other than
they knew well how to answer in the first transport of joy, for they
could with difficulty convince themselves that it was not a dream, thus
to find themselves in each other's presence without fear or
interruption. Having returned to the house, Bertha said,

"How much have I suffered on your account, dearest Albert; and with
what a heavy heart did I leave Ulm! You had, indeed, sworn to quit the
service of the League; but I had no hopes of seeing you so soon. And
then, when Hans informed me, that, on your journey with him to
Lichtenstein, you had been surprised by the enemy on the road, and
dangerously wounded, my heart was almost broken, at the thought that I
could not go to you and nurse you."

Stung with remorse for having given place to the jealousy which the
story of the hostess of the Golden Stag at Pfullingen had created in
his breast, he sunk in his own estimation before the tender love of
Bertha. He sought to conceal his confusion, and related to her, amidst
the interruption of her numerous questions, all that had happened to
him since their separation; the cause which had favoured his quitting
the service of the League with honour; the particulars of his perilous
escape from the enemy's patrole; the kind care which the fifer's wife
and daughter had taken of him, by which he was enabled to prosecute his
journey to Lichtenstein.

Albert's conscience was too honest not to feel embarrassed at some of
Bertha's scrutinising questions; and when she wished to have her
curiosity satisfied upon the subject of his coming to Lichtenstein at
so strange an hour of the night he scarcely knew what to answer. Her
beautiful eye rested upon him with such an expression of inquisitive
penetration, that, though he would gladly have escaped the reproach of
harbouring a momentary idea of her want of fidelity, he would not for
all the world tell her an untruth.

"I will own," he said, with a confused look, "that I was infatuated by
the hostess at Pfullingen; she told me something about you, which I
could not hear with indifference."

"The hostess? about me?" cried Bertha, smiling; "well, but what brought
you, at that late hour of the night, to this place?"

"Never mind, dearest; we'll not think of it any more. I know I acted
like a fool. The exiled knight has quite convinced me how wrong I was."

"No, no," she replied, earnestly, "I am not going to let you escape
so cheap; what had that chatterbox to say about me? tell me
immediately----"

"Well, then, I give you leave to laugh at me as much as you please: she
told me you had another lover, who came to visit you every night,
whilst your father slept."

Bertha blushed; indignation, and the inclination to smile at a
ridiculous story, contended for the mastery on her expressive features.
"Well, I hope," she replied, "you repelled the calumny with proper
contempt, and left her house immediately. That was the reason, I
suppose, of your arriving here so late, with the intention of passing
the night under our roof."

"I honestly avow, I had no such thought. You know I was not quite
convalescent, so excuse my weakness. I really did not believe her at
first; but when she brought your nurse, old Rosel, to substantiate what
she said, and who moreover lamented that I had been deceived, I----oh,
do not turn away from me, Bertha; do not be angry! I threw myself on my
horse, and rode direct to the castle, for the purpose of exchanging a
word with him who dared to love you."

"And could you believe that?" she answered, with tears starting into
her eyes: "I cannot think that Rosel said any thing of the kind,
though she is fond of a gossip; I am not angry with the hostess, for
she does not know better; but that you, you Albert, should give credit
to so foul a falsehood, and think it necessary to convince yourself,
that----" The tears of the faithful girl flowed in abundance; and the
feeling of mortification choked her further utterance.

Her lover was overcome by the sense of his egregious folly; but he also
felt the consolation, that though he was to be blamed his suspicions
arose purely out of the intensity of his love. "Pardon me this once,
dearest; let me assure you, that the jealousy which tormented me,
unfounded as it was, would never have been inflamed into reality, did
not my whole existence depend upon you."

"He who really loves can never harbour a spark of jealousy, founded
upon such reports," said Bertha, in displeasure; "you hinted something
of the same kind once before in Ulm, which you know hurt me very
deeply. But if you had known me, and loved me with the same unalterable
attachment that I love you, you never could have entertained such
thoughts."

"No, truly, but you must not be unjust," he replied, and took her hand;
"how can you reproach me with not returning your love with the same
ardent sincerity? Was it impossible that one more worthy than Albert
von Sturmfeder might appear, and supplant him in your heart by some
infernal enchantment? Every thing is possible in this world."

"Possible!" interrupted Bertha; and a certain pride, which Albert had
often remarked in the daughter of Lichtenstein, appeared now to animate
her; "possible? if you ever could have entertained such an opinion of
me,--I repeat it, Albert von Sturmfeder,--you have never loved me. A
man must not allow himself to be blown about like a reed; he ought to
stand firm to his opinion; and if he loves, he must have faith also."

"I have not merited such a reproach, from you at least," said the young
man, starting up in great excitement; "I have been, indeed, as you say,
a reed shaken about in the wind, and many a man will despise me----"

"That may be!" she whispered to herself, but not so lightly as to
escape his ear, and cause his displeasure to blaze up into rage.

"Can you upbraid me thus," said he, "you, who are the sole cause of my
vaccilating conduct? Did I not seek you among the friends of the
League; and when I found you, was I not overjoyed? You entreated me to
quit their colours,--I did so; and still more, I came over to your
party, and, though it nearly cost me my life, I held firm to my
determination. I visited your father, who received me as a son; and
rejoiced that I had bound myself to the Duke's cause. But his daughter
compares me to a reed moved by every blast of wind! but once more I
will----for the last time, allow myself to be moved by you; I'll leave
you, as you requite my love thus; in an hour hence, I wish you
farewell." With these last words he girded on his sword; and, taking
his cap, turned to depart.

"Albert," cried Bertha, with the sweetest accent, at the same time
springing up and seizing his hand; her pride, her displeasure, every
trace of ill-will vanished in a moment, and entreating love only beamed
from her eyes, "for God's sake, Albert! I did not mean to speak so
angrily; remain, I will forget every thing; I am ashamed of myself for
having betrayed so unkind a spirit."

But the anger of the young man was not to be appeased in a moment. He
turned away, lest her looks should master his resolution of leaving the
castle. "No!" he cried, "you shall not turn the reed back again; but
you may tell your father the cause which has driven his guest from his
house." The windows trembled with the sound of his voice; he looked
about him with wildness; he tore his hand away from Bertha's grasp;
and, followed by her, he hastily opened the door to fly from her
presence, when an apparition arrested his attention on the threshold
which we shall describe in the next chapter.



                             CHAPTER XXII.

            Prince's favour, April's sky,
            Woman's love, the rose's dye,
            Cards, dice, and weathercocks are still
            Chang'd about, believe't who will.
                                         OLD PROVERB.

The apparition which so opportunely arrested the attention of Albert on
opening the door, was no other than the old nurse, Rosel, hastily
rising from a bent position she had taken up at the keyhole. She was
one of those old servants, who, having been brought up in the family
from her youth, was firmly rooted in it, and now formed one of its
principal branches. Since the death of the Lady of Lichtenstein,
Bertha's mother, she had shewn her attachment to the family in the
assiduous care she had taken in bringing up her charge. Having passed
through the different gradations, from nursery-maid to nurse, from
nurse to housekeeper, she now occupied the more important post of
governess and confidant to her foster-child. Greatly jealous of others,
and ambitious to secure all authority in her own hands, she filled for
many years the different important domestic situations of the castle,
making herself universally necessary in all its concerns. Having gained
an ascendancy over her master, who never found fault with her, at least
before others, she gave out that she was essential in the management of
the domestic affairs of the family, that without her superintendence,
things could not go on right.

Of late, she had not lived on the best terms with her young mistress.
In the days of her childhood and first youth, she had possessed her
whole confidence. Even in Tübingen she was partly in the secret of
Bertha's love; and old Rosel took such an interest in every thing
that related to her child, as she always called her, as to speak
in the first person plural, "_We_ love Albert von Sturmfeder most
tenderly,"--or "_Our_ heart is ready to break in parting from him."

Two circumstances, however, tended to weaken this confidence. The young
lady remarked, that her nurse was too fond of gossiping, that she had
been even watching her movements, and had been twattling with others
about her intimacy with Albert; she, therefore, grew more reserved
towards the old woman, who very soon guessed the cause of it. But when
the journey to Ulm was undertaken, and she had provided herself with a
new woollen-stuff gown, and a superb brocade cap, upon the occasion,
her disappointment knew no bounds upon being ordered to remain at
Lichtenstein. This widened the breach between her and Bertha, for she
attributed the cause of her not accompanying the family to her
mistress.

Confidence between them was not restored after the knight of
Lichtenstein returned with his daughter to the castle from Ulm. Old
Rosel, who always preferred the society of her superiors to that of the
domestics, endeavoured to obtain some information from Bertha about
Albert, hoping thus to re-establish herself in her good graces; but
Bertha, whose heart was then full of the late painful occurrences at
the meeting with her lover, and still suspicious of the discretion of
her nurse, would not satisfy her curiosity. When, therefore, the exile
visited the castle at stated hours every night, and her young lady
secretly prepared his meal, and, as her nurse thought, remained alone
with him for a length of time, she gratified her pique towards her
mistress by opening her heart to the hostess of the Golden Stag at
Pfullingen upon the subject. No wonder, then, that Albert was led to
believe every word he heard; because, having only known the nurse as
the confidant of his love, he was not aware that the intimacy between
her and Bertha had suffered interruption.

She had accompanied her mistress the morning of Albert's arrival, in
her best Sunday's attire, to her pilgrimage to the church. Having
confessed her sins, among which "curiosity" preponderated above the
rest, and received absolution, she returned to Lichtenstein with a
lighter heart and clearer conscience than she had when she left the
castle, sighing under the weight of them. But the words of the father
confessor had not probed so deep in her soul as to root out effectually
her besetting sin, for when she got into her apartment and was occupied
in putting by her rosary and Sunday dress, she heard her young lady and
a man's deep voice in angry conversation together, and she even thought
her mistress was crying.

"Can the nocturnal visitor have come up here in the day time, and taken
advantage of the old man's absence?" she muttered to herself. A natural
feeling of curiosity and sympathy drew her eye and ear involuntarily to
the keyhole, when she overheard the dispute of which we have already
been witnesses.

The young man opened the door so suddenly that she had no time to
retreat, scarcely sufficient to recover her upright figure from her
bending position. But she did not lose her presence of mind in this
awkward predicament, for stopping Albert, and before either of them
could speak, seizing his hands, poured upon him a torrent of words.

"Ay, upon my veracity! Could I ever have thought that my old eyes would
have beheld Albert von Sturmfeder again! And I verily believe you have
grown handsomer and taller than when I last saw you! Who could have
thought it? Look, he stands like a stick at the door! Well, but who is
it that dares speak thus to my dear young lady? It is not my master,
nor any of his servants! Ay! what does one live to see? Young Albert,
it is you who have been upbraiding my child!"

During this rapid flow of exclamations, Albert in vain sought to escape
from the old woman, and though he determined, in the heat of the
moment, to leave the castle, he felt it unseemly to let her suppose he
had been quarrelling with Bertha. He shook off the grasp which the
nurse had of him, and, in spite of her reproachful smile, took the hand
of Bertha, at the same time pressing it to his heart. A glance from her
eye calmed the tumult of his feelings. But a fresh conflict, a new
embarrassment agitated him. His anger indeed subsided, he felt
convinced that Bertha could not entertain that unkindness towards him
which his heated imagination had conjured up--but how to reconcile it
with his honour, to submit to the shame of being subdued by a squeeze
of the hand, or a glance of the eye, before a witness, was a difficulty
in which pride had its share. He blushed for his weakness, in standing
self-convicted before the old woman; and we have often heard that the
feeling of shame, and the embarrassment of getting out of a scrape,
such as Albert's precipitation had drawn him into, without committing
our honour, is apt often to convert a trifling quarrel into a lasting
one, and dissolve ties founded on the basis of tender affection.

Old Rosel perceived with some degree of pleasure the anxiety and sorrow
of her young lady, and would perhaps have gladly taken advantage of her
distress, by way of punishing her for the withdrawal of her confidence,
had not her natural kindness of heart resumed its sway over the
malicious joy which she had given way too. She looked at the young man
full in the face, and said, "You surely don't intend to leave us so
soon, since it is but an hour ago that you arrived at Lichtenstein?
Before you have had your mid-day meal, we will not allow you to depart,
for that would be quite against the custom of the castle; and besides
which, you have probably not yet seen my master?"

It was a great point gained for Bertha's cause to hear Albert speak
again: "I have already spoken to him," he said; "as a proof of it, look
at the two goblets we have emptied together."

"Well," continued the old woman, "but you would not leave his house
without wishing him farewell?"

"No, I ought not certainly, as he desired me to wait for him in the
castle," replied the young man.

"Aye, why would you go away in such a hurry, then?" she said, and
forced him back into the room; "do you call that manners? My master
would wonder, indeed, to think what kind of guest he had entertained.
Whoever comes here by day," she added, with a searching look at Bertha,
"whoever comes by broad daylight, possesses a clear conscience, and
need not _slip away like a thief in the night._"

Bertha blushed, and pressed the hand of her lover, who could not
refrain from smiling, when he thought of the old woman's mistaken
notion respecting the nocturnal visitor, and remarked the reproachful
glance which she threw at her child.

"Yes, yes, as I said," she continued, "you have no occasion to steal
away like a thief in the night. It had been better, perhaps, had you
come sooner. The proverb says, 'judge for yourself, to doubt is
dangerous, and he who seeks peace and quiet, let him remain with his
cow!'--but I say nothing."

"Well, then," said Bertha, "you see he remains here; your proverbs are
misplaced. You know, yourself, they do not always agree with the
subject."

"Really? but they sometimes hit the right nail upon the head, however
disagreeable it may be to the hearer. But repentance and good advice
come too late after the evil has happened. I know well enough, that
ingratitude is the wages of the world, and I can be silent! he who
seeks peace and quiet, let him keep his eyes open, listen, and be
silent."

"Come then, be silent," said Bertha, somewhat displeased; "at any rate
it will be wise of you not to let my father remark that you know Albert
von Sturmfeder; it were not unlikely he might suppose he is come to
Lichtenstein for our sakes alone."

Good and ill humour strove for the mastery in old Rosel's breast. She
was, on the one hand, flattered to be admitted again into her lady's
confidence, by being requested to keep silence before her master, but,
on the other, she still felt annoyed that her young mistress confided
so little of her heart to her. She kept muttering a few indistinct
words to herself, as she put the chairs in their places against the
wall, and took the goblets off the table, wiping the marks which the
wine had left on the slate slab with which the table was inlaid. Albert
had retired to one of the windows, and though he did not feel quite
reconciled to his love, yet he could not mistake a sign she gave him.
He was particularly anxious her father should, as yet, know nothing of
their mutual feeling, for he feared he might attribute to it the
principal motive which had induced him to join Würtemburg's cause, and
thereby lose the favourable opinion he had formed of him. Thinking it
the wisest plan to pacify the old woman, he approached her, and tapping
her gently on the shoulder, said, in a kind manner, "Miss Rosalie, you
have a very pretty cap on, but the riband does not match it properly,
it looks old and faded."

"Eh! what?" she answered in a pet, expecting to be addressed with more
respect: "don't trouble yourself about my cap; every one has enough to
do to sweep before his own door. Look first to yourself and your own
affairs, and then find fault with me and mine. I am a poor woman, and
can't dress like a countess. If all the world were alike, and all rich,
and all sat at the same table together, who would you find to serve up
the eatables and drinkables?"

"I did not mean to affront you," said Albert, and by way of soothing
her, took a silver coin out of his purse, adding, "but Rosalie will do
me a favour by changing her riband: and that my request may not sound
unreasonable, she will not, I hope, refuse to accept a broad piece!"

Who has not seen the sun disperse the mists of a day of October? In
like manner was old Rosel's ill-humour dispelled. The polite manner of
the young knight, who had touched her weak point, by calling her
Rosalie, her favourite name, instead of the familiar one of old Rosel,
and presenting her with a dollar, having the bust of the Duke on one
side, and the arms of Teck on the reverse, were charms too potent for
her to withstand. "Ah, I see you are still the same good friendly
gentleman," she said; whilst, stooping down, she glided the dollar into
a large leather pocket which hung to her side, and carried the hem of
Albert's cloak to her lips: "just so used you to do in Tübingen. When I
stood at the fountain of St. George, or went from the hill down to the
market place, I was sure to hear you call to me,--'Good morning,
Rosalie; and how is your young lady?' And did you not often give me
presents? why at least two thirds of the gown I wear comes from the
bounty and kindness of your honour!"

"Never mind that now, good woman," said Albert, interrupting the old
chatterbox; "But about your master,--you will not----"

"What do you mean?" she replied, half shutting her eyes: "I can pretend
never to have seen you in my life. You may rest assured of that. That
which does not burn I will not inflame!"

With these words she left the room and went down to the first floor, to
attend to her affairs in the kitchen.

Grateful and full of joy, she took the dollar out of her leather
pocket, and looked at it over and over again on both sides. She praised
the liberality of the youth, and regretted that his love had been so
ill requited, for that her young lady was unfaithful to him was a clear
case in her eyes. She stood in the kitchen for some time wrapt in
thought. She doubted within herself whether to let the thing take its
course, or whether it would not be better to give a hint to the young
knight, to apprise him of the nocturnal visitor. "But," she said, "in
time of need comes help; perhaps he will see it himself, and does not
want my advice. Besides, a meddler between two lovers is likely to burn
his own fingers. It will be better to wait and look on, for heat in
counsel and rashness in action engender nothing but harm. Who seeks
peace and quiet, let him keep his eyes open, listen, and be silent!"

Such were the thoughts of the old philosopher in the kitchen. The
lovers had in the mean time made up their differences. Albert was
unable to withstand the entreaties of Bertha, and when she asked him,
in the most tender tone, whether he was still angry with her, he could
not bring his heart to say, yes. Peace was therefore re-established
between them, and, which is seldom the case, in a shorter time than
that which had been taken up in producing the dispute. She listened to
the continuation of his adventures with great interest. It required,
nevertheless, the conviction of his stedfast faith in her love, and in
the word of the exiled man, to restrain his jealousy within due limits;
for when he described his first encounter with his opponent, he
observed a blush on her countenance, which raised a doubt in his mind
whether it expressed joy for his escape from so formidable and
experienced an adversary, or whether it was not occasioned by a lurking
interest she took in the stranger. In relating further his visit to the
exile in the dreary regions of his retreat, and all the circumstances
connected with it, his admiration of the knight's noble mind, his
greatness of soul amidst privations and miseries, tears started into
her eyes, she looked up to Heaven as if in the act of imploring God's
protection upon the unhappy man.

The conversation also which he had had with him, and particularly that
part of it in which the exile addressed him as his friend, extolling
his magnanimity for having pledged his faith to serve Würtemberg,--the
cause of the oppressed and banished,--lighted up the glance of Bertha's
eyes with unusual brilliancy. She gazed on her lover for some time in
silent admiration. The sufferings she had endured since she last saw
him were now effaced by the joy she felt in having him by her side as
the staunch ally of her father. Albert was ashamed to feel his heart
beat quicker at the interest Bertha appeared to take in everything
relating to his new acquaintance. But he had command enough over
himself to conceal his uneasiness from her, whilst his conscience
upbraided him for harbouring the slightest suspicion of her fidelity.

"Albert," she said, "some time hence many a one will envy you this
night's adventure. You may think yourself highly honoured, for it is
not every one that Hans would venture to conduct to the exile."

"You know him, then?" replied the young man, eager to hear from her
what he had failed to elicit from the fifer. "Oh, tell me who he is! I
have seldom seen a man whose features, whose whole bearing, have
acquired such an ascendancy over me? He told me he would at present be
called by no other name than 'the man;' but his arm, whose strength I
have felt, his penetrating look, convince me his name must be renowned
in the world."

"He had a name, indeed, once," she answered, "which could vie with the
most noble in the land. But if he did not tell it you himself, neither
dare I pronounce it, because it would be against my word to do so. You
must exercise your patience a little longer," she added, smiling,
"difficult as it may be to restrain your curiosity."

"But why cannot you tell me," he interrupted her, "are not we one?
Ought we to withhold anything from each other? Come, tell me, who is
the man in the cavern?"

"Do not be angry. Look ye, if it were my secret only, you know I would
not conceal it from you a moment, and you might with justice demand it
of me; but, though I know it would be safe in your keeping, I dare not
tell it,--I cannot break my word."

Though frankness beamed in her countenance, and not a spark of guile
reigned in her heart, her refusal to satisfy Albert's wish irritated
him, and he was on the point of taxing her with duplicity, when the
door burst open, and an immense dog sprang into the room. Albert gave
an involuntary start, having never seen so powerful a beast. The dog
took up a position opposite to him, eyed him with a fierce look, and
began to growl. His voice bore an ominous sound, whilst a row of white
teeth, which he every now and then showed, might have startled the
courage of the bravest man; one word from Bertha was sufficient to
quiet and make it lay down at her feet. She stroked his beautiful head,
from which his sharp eye first glanced inquisitively at her and then at
the stranger. "It does everything but speak," she said, smiling; "it
comes to warn me not to betray my friend."

"I have never seen so beautiful an animal! How proudly it carries his
head, as if he belonged to an emperor or a king."

"It belongs to him, the banished," replied Bertha; "it came to stop my
mouth."

"But why does not the knight keep him with him? Truly, such an arm as
his, supported by a dog of this kind, might defy a host of enemies."

"It is a watchful beast," she answered, "and savage; if he kept it in
the cavern, he would, indeed, be a certain protection. The cavern is so
extensive that a man may remain concealed in its interior without fear
of molestation. But if by chance any one entered it, a dog might easily
betray him, for as soon as it heard a footstep no one could control it;
he would begin to growl and bark, and attract the notice of his
master's enemies; he therefore ordered it to remain here. The dog
understands his duty, and I take care of him. It pines for his master,
and you should see his joy when night comes; he knows then that his
lord will soon visit the castle; and, when the drawbridge falls, and
footsteps are heard in the court, it is impossible to hold him any
longer, he would break a dozen chains to get to his side."

"A beautiful specimen of fidelity!" said her lover; "but exemplified by
the man to whom this dog belongs in a still higher degree. Faithful to
his lord, he prefers banishment and misery rather than betray his
cause. It is a folly in me," Albert added; "I am aware that curiosity
is not seemly in a man, but I long to know who he is."

"Have patience till the night," said the maiden; "when he comes I will
ask him if I may tell you. I doubt not but that he will permit me."

"It is a long time to wait," said Albert; "and really I cannot drive
his image out of my head. If you will not tell me, I'll ask the dog;
perhaps he will be kinder than you."

"Well, try him," said Bertha, laughing; "if he can speak, I'll allow
him to satisfy your curiosity."

"Hearken, you enormous beast," said Albert, turning to the dog, who
looked at him attentively; "tell me, what is your master's name?"

The dog raised himself proudly up, opened his broad jaws, and roared
out, in terrifying tones, "U--U--U!"

Bertha coloured: "Let's have no more of this nonsense," she said, and
called the dog to her; "who would talk to a dog when in Christian
society?"

Albert appeared not to heed her remark. "He said 'U,' good dog; I'll
wager he has been trained to it! It is not the first time he has been
asked what his master's name was?"

Scarcely had he pronounced the last words than the dog repeated his
U--U--U! in a still harsher tone. Bertha coloured again, she made
it come and lay down at her feet, scolding him in displeasure.

"Well, we have it now," said Albert, in triumph; "his master's name is
U!" He recollected that the curious word on the ring which the exile
had given him began with an U. It is extraordinary, thought he. "Is
your master's name, perhaps, Uffenheim? or Uxhüll? or Ulm? or, by the
bye,----"

"Nonsense! the dog has no other note than U. How can you plague
yourself in trying to find out a meaning to it? But here comes my
father. If you wish to conceal our love from him, do not commit
yourself. I'll leave you now, as it would not be right to be found
together."

Albert promised to be discreet, and once more embraced Bertha, an
indulgence which was likely to be the last for some time, should the
presence of her father render it impossible to see her again alone. The
dog appeared to watch the movements of the loving couple with
astonishment, as if he were really gifted with human sense. The first
sound of the horse's feet on the drawbridge was the signal for
separation, when Bertha left the room accompanied by the faithful
animal.



                              CHAPTER XXIII.

            The Duke, so sad, can find no rest,
            And dark reflections fill his breast;
            "How far, alas! from me removed,
            How much is sunk, the land I loved."
                                           G. SCHWAB.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday passed away, and Albert von Sturmfeder
still remained at Lichtenstein. The knight of the castle had invited
him to continue his visit until the war should take some decided turn,
which would afford him an opportunity to render the Duke important
service. We may well suppose how willingly the young man accepted the
invitation.

To be under the same roof with his beloved, always near her,
occasionally to pass a few moments with her alone, and to be loved of
her father, were privileges his fondest dreams had never anticipated.
One circumstance only clouded these delights, and that was, a certain
gloomy anxiety of expression which at times hung about the brow of
Bertha's father. It appeared that he was not satisfied with the news
which he received from the Duke and the theatre of war. Messengers came
to the castle at different times of day, but they arrived and departed
without the knight imparting to his guest the contents of their
despatches. Sometimes Albert thought he even saw the fifer of Hardt in
the dusk of the evening gliding across the bridge. Hoping to get some
information from him, he once hurried down to meet him; but by the time
he reached the bridge, no trace of him was to be found.

Feeling somewhat hurt by being left in total ignorance of the state of
affairs, which he conceived he had a right to be informed of, after the
decided part he had taken, he could not help saying to Bertha, "I have
tendered my services unreservedly to the Duke's friends, in spite of
their cause not being very prosperous. The man in the cavern and the
knight of Lichtenstein have both shewn me much friendship and
confidence, but only up to a certain point. Why should I not know what
is going on at Tübingen? Why should I not be made acquainted with the
Duke's operations? Am I only kept here as a forlorn hope? Why do they
disdain my advice?"

Bertha endeavoured to console him, and succeeded at times by mild
persuasion to drive such thoughts from his mind; but there were moments
when they returned with double force, and particularly when he saw her
father absorbed in the consideration of the state of affairs.

At length, on the evening of Easter day, he could contain himself no
longer, and put a direct question to the old knight, asking him if
their affairs were in danger, what was the state of the Duke's plans,
and whether his services would not be called into action soon? But his
patron, taking him kindly by the hand, answered, "I have long remarked,
that your heart is ready to burst with impatience in consequence of
your being denied a share in our labours and cares; but only have a
little more patience; perhaps one day longer may decide many important
subjects. What is the use of tormenting you with the uncertain
intelligence which our messengers have lately brought? Your ardent
young mind is not fitted to unmask intrigue, or to counteract artifice.
When the crisis approaches upon which we can base our plans with
safety, believe me you shall be a welcome member in council and action.
All you need know at present is, that our circumstances are neither
good nor bad, but that we shall soon be obliged to act with increased
decision."

Albert gave the old man due credit for his reserve, but still he was
anything but satisfied with his answer. He could not even learn the
name of the exile, of whom Bertha had inquired the night preceding,
when he came to the castle as usual, if he would allow her to make him
known to their guest, but the only answer he gave was, "The proper
moment is not yet arrived."

There was still another circumstance which offended Albert's _amour
propre_. He had often made known to the knight of Lichtenstein the
intense interest he took in the welfare of the exile, and what
heartfelt pleasure it would give him to cultivate his further
acquaintance; nevertheless, he had never once been invited to join the
nocturnal visit of the mysterious guest. He was too proud to press the
subject; he waited night after night in the expectation of being called
in to speak to the man, but he waited in vain. He resolved therefore to
see the stranger some night without an invitation, and for this purpose
he sought a fitting opportunity. His room, which he was obliged to
enter every night regularly at eight o'clock, overlooked the valley
below, and was situated immediately opposite to the side on which the
bridge was placed. It was therefore out of the question to see him
coming from this position. The large room on the second floor, which
was not far from his own, was locked every night, and consequently
debarred him from satisfying his curiosity from thence. On the landing
place, to which the doors of the different rooms led, there were indeed
two windows looking towards the bridge, but as they were grated and
stood high, the view from them was confined to the distant country, and
there was no possibility of obtaining a sight of the desired spot.
Nothing was left for him, therefore, than to conceal himself somewhere
in order to gratify his curiosity. On the first floor the plan was
impossible, because the many people living there would subject him to
discovery. But when he examined the gateway and the stables, which were
hewn out of the solid rock, he discovered a niche near the drawbridge,
concealed behind the wings of the gate, which were only shut when an
enemy was before the castle. This was the spot which appeared best
suited to secure him from discovery, and which afforded room enough to
enable him to observe what was going on. On the left of the niche the
drawbridge joined on to the gate, the stairs which led up to the
dwelling rooms were on the right, in front was the entrance passage,
which every one must pass who came into the castle. Albert determined
to slip into this position on the coming night.

At eight o'clock a page brought him his night lamp, and led him, as
usual, to his apartment. The lord of the castle and his daughter kindly
wished him good night. He entered his room, and dismissing his servant,
who generally assisted him to undress, threw himself on his bed in his
clothes. He listened attentively to each hour of the clock as it struck
in the village, and whose sounds were wafted towards him by the
night-breeze. He often closed his eyes, and at times fell into that
state when it requires painful exertion to combat the power of sleep.
His present object was sufficiently important to keep him on the alert,
and prevent him losing the opportunity of satisfying his curiosity. Ten
o'clock had long struck; all was as still as death in the castle. He
jumped up, took off his heavy boots and spurs, threw his cloak over
him, and cautiously opened the door of his room. He held his breath,
fearing to make the least noise; the hinges of the door creaked--he
stopped to listen whether any one had heard the treacherous sound.
Every thing remained quiet; the moon threw a dim light on the landing
place, and Albert thought himself fortunate she had not betrayed him a
second time. He glided softly towards the winding stairs, and stopped
again to listen if all was quiet; he heard nothing but the whistling of
the wind, and the rustling of the oak trees on the further side of the
bridge. He stepped carefully down the stairs. The least noise sounds
louder in the depth and quiet of night than at other times; attention
is awakened at the slightest movement, which would not be noticed in
the day time. If his foot stepped upon a grain of sand, its grating
sound went up the winding stairs, and startled him into the supposition
that the whole house was on the alert. Having arrived at the first
floor, he listened again, and heard nothing but the faint cracking of
the dying embers on the hearth of the kitchen. At last he got to his
destination, an expedition upon which he had expended a whole quarter
of an hour's time, which otherwise was an affair but of a moment. He
placed himself in the niche, and drew the wing of the gate closer to
him, so that it fully covered his position. A fissure in the door was
large enough to enable him to see distinctly every thing that passed.
Nothing appeared to move in the castle, though he thought he heard
light footsteps above him, which he supposed might be those of Bertha.

After waiting a tedious long quarter of an hour, the village clock
struck eleven. This being the appointed time of the nocturnal visit,
Albert directed all his attention to hear the stranger's approach. A
few minutes after he heard the dog bark, when at the same time
a deep voice from the other side of the ditch hailed, and said,
"Lichtenstein!"

"Who comes there?" was answered from the castle.

"The man is there," replied the other voice, which sounded familiar to
his ear as being the one he had heard in the cavern.

The watchman, an old man, came forth from a casemate hewn out of the
rock, and opened the lock of the drawbridge with a large curiously
wrought key. Whilst he was thus employed the dog came bounding down the
stairs, whining and wagging his tail, and jumped upon the old man, as
if to assist him in letting fall the bridge for his master to enter.
Bertha shortly after descended with a lantern, and assisted him with
her light, for it appeared he had some difficulty in opening the lock.

"Make haste, Balthaser," she whispered to the old watchman, "he has
been waiting some time, it is cold outside, and the wind blows keen."

"I have now only to unfasten the chain, worthy lady," he answered; "you
shall soon see how well my bridge falls. I have oiled the hinges, as
you ordered me, so that they do not creek any more, and disturb Mrs.
Rosel out of her slumbers."

The chains rattled in their ascent, the bridge sunk gradually into its
place, and the banished man, enveloped in his coarse cloak, came
across. Though his bearing was deeply engraven on Albert's mind, yet
his strikingly bold features, his commanding eye, his open forehead,
and the agile movements of his limbs, filled the young man anew with
admiration.

The nocturnal guest assisted Balthaser, the doorkeeper, to draw up the
bridge, with a power which appeared almost superhuman. When the old man
had withdrawn to his sleeping place, Albert overheard the following
conversation between the visitor and Bertha.

"Is there any news from Tübingen? Has Maxx Stumpf returned? I read bad
news in your countenance."

"No, sir, he has not yet returned," she replied; "my father expected
him this very night."

"Oh, that the devil would give him heels! I must remain here till he
comes, if it be for a whole day. Ha! a cold night, lady," said the
exile; "the screech owls will be frozen in the cavern, for I left them
crying in most pitiable tones."

"Yes, it is indeed cold," she answered; "I would not go down there,
upon any account; and how dreadful must it be to hear those cries; I
shudder to think of it."

"If young Albert accompanied you, you would have no objections to go,"
answered the other smiling, and chucking the blushing girl under the
chin; "is it not so? You would not hesitate to follow him there, much
as you appear to dread it now."

"Ah! sir," she replied, "how can you talk in that way? Do you know,
I'll not come down again to let you in if you take such liberties."

"Well, but I merely spoke in jest," said the knight, and gently pinched
her glowing cheek; "you know how little opportunity I have in my
dwelling to enjoy a joke. What will you give me to say a good word to
your father, to induce him to make the youth your husband? You are
aware the old gentleman does every thing I ask him; and if I recommend
a son-in-law to him, he would accept him at all hazards."

Bertha opened wide her beautiful eyes, and cast a grateful look at him.
"Dear sir," she answered, "I will not forbid your saying a kind word
for Albert, particularly as my father is well inclined towards him."

"But I shall expect some reward for my trouble. Everything has its
price; so what will you give?"

Bertha cast her eyes to the ground. "A heartfelt thank-ye," she
replied; "but come, sir, my father has been waiting for us a long
time."

She was in the act of leading on, when the knight, taking her by the
hand, detained her. Albert's heart beat so hard as almost to be heard;
he broke out into a violent heat, and then became ice-cold; he laid
hold of the handle of the door, and was on the point of sallying forth
to forbid the promise of a fixed price being given upon any pretext.

"Why are you in such haste?" he heard the man of the cavern say. "Well,
for one kiss only, and I will persuade your father to send for the
priest on the spot, to perform the holy ceremony." He bent his head
towards the offended, blushing girl. Albert saw every thing swimming
before his eyes, and was again on the point of bursting from his place
of concealment, but the determined reply of his lady love checked him
from taking the rash step. She beheld the man with a forbidding look.
"It is impossible your Grace can be in earnest," she said; "otherwise
you now see me for the last time."

"If you knew how much this scornful air becomes you," he answered, with
unaltered kindness, "you would never cease to be in anger. At any rate
I admire your fidelity; for when the heart is deeply engaged with one
object, none other need hope for such a favour. But on your marriage
day I will demand the favour, with the permission of your bridegroom,
and then we'll see who is right."

"That you may do," said Bertha, smiling, whilst she withdrew her hand
from his, and led the way with the light in her hand; "but you had
better prepare yourself for a refusal, for he is not fond of trifling
on this point."

"He is uncommonly jealous," replied the knight, as they proceeded up
stairs. "I could tell you something upon that subject, which took place
between him and me; but I promised silence----"

The sound of their voices died away gradually, and at last became
indistinct to Albert's ear. He breathed freely again. He listened and
remained in his position until he satisfied himself thoroughly that no
one was on the stairs or in the passages, and, taking advantage of the
opportunity, slipped up into his own room much quicker than he had
descended from it. The last words of Bertha and the exile still
resounded in his ears. He blushed to think of his unfounded jealousy,
which had again tormented him this night. Bertha had, unknown to
herself, given him evident proofs of the purity of her heart and
faithful attachment to him; and it was only when he laid his head on
his pillow and fell to sleep, that his mind was eased of the pain of
having unjustly suspected her.

When he left his room the next morning at seven o'clock, the hour which
the family generally assembled at breakfast, Bertha met him on the
landing place with the appearance of having been weeping. She took him
on one side, and whispered, "Tread softly, Albert; the knight of the
cavern is still with us; he has been asleep about an hour; we must not
disturb him."

"The exile!" asked Albert in astonishment, "does he dare remain here
during the day? what has happened? is he unwell?"

"No!" answered Bertha, whilst a fresh tear hung on her eyelid, "no! he
expects a messenger from Tübingen about this time, and is determined to
await him. We begged and prayed him to depart before daybreak, but he
would not listen to our warning, so firm is his resolution to remain at
all hazards."

"But could not the messenger have gone to him in the cavern?" said
Albert; "he runs too great a risk unnecessarily."

"Ah! you don't know him; it is his bane when he once gets a thing into
his head to be obstinately immoveable; and then he is so distrustful of
others, even of his best friends. It was quite impossible for us to
persuade him to leave the castle this morning, because he might have
thought, perhaps, we wished to get rid of him for our own safety. His
principal reason for remaining is, I believe, to consult with my
father, when the messenger arrives."

During this conversation they remained stationary on the landing place,
but Bertha now opened the door of her father's apartment as gently as
possible, and they entered together.

This room, or what would be called in a modern establishment the
gentlemen's room, was distinguished from the saloon on the second floor
from being somewhat smaller. It had a view of the surrounding country
on three sides, through small round windows, now pierced by the sun's
morning rays. The ceiling and walls were wainscoted with dark brown
wood, fancifully inlaid with other coloured woods. A few portraits of
the ancestors of Lichtenstein graced the side of the wall opposite to
the windows, and the tables and furniture shewed that the present
occupier of the castle was a friend of old customs and times, and that
his property would descend to his daughter in the same unaltered state
it had been left by his great-grandfather.

The old knight was seated at a large table in the middle of the room
when they entered. Supporting his long-bearded chin in his hand, he sat
gloomy and motionless, with his eyes fixed on a large goblet which
stood before him. It was not quite evident to Albert whether he had
been sitting up all night over his glass, or whether he was taking a
draught at this early hour of the morning to recruit his strength and
spirits.

He saluted the young man as he approached the table by a slight
inclination of the head, whilst a scarcely visible smile played about
his mouth. He pointed to a goblet on the table and a stool by his side.
Bertha understanding the hint, filled it with wine, and presented it to
her lover, with that grace which marked every thing she did. Albert
seated himself beside the old man, and drank.

The latter drew his chair near to him, and said in a low tone of voice,
"I fear our affairs are in a bad way!"

"Have you had any intelligence?" asked Albert, in the same low tone.

"A peasant told me this morning, that Tübingen had treated with the
League last evening."

"Good heavens!" said Albert, involuntarily.

"Keep quiet, and do not wake him! he will learn it soon enough,"
replied the old man, pointing to the other side of the room.

The young man looked that way. At one of the side windows, looking
towards the deep ravine, sat the exile asleep; his arm, resting on the
ledge of the window, supported his careworn brow. His grey cloak had
partly fallen off his shoulder, and discovered a worn-out leather
jerkin, in which his powerful frame was encased. His curly hair hung
down over his temples in disorder, and a few tufts of his smooth beard
were visible from under his hand. The large dog lay at his feet, his
head resting on his master's foot, looking up at him with faithful eyes
and watching every motion of his features.

"He sleeps," said the old man, and repressed a starting tear. "He
breathes light; oh! that his dreams may be comforting. The reality of
life to him is melancholy indeed! Who can help wishing he may remain
unconscious of it awhile?"

"His is a hard fate!" replied Albert, casting his eye at the sleeping
man. "Driven from house and home--an outcast--a price offered to any
villain who chooses to level his gun at him--under the earth by day,
and by night wandering about like a thief! Truly, it is hard; and all
this because he is faithful to his lord!"

"That man has suffered much in his lifetime," said Lichtenstein, with a
serious look. "I have known him from the days of his childhood, and I
can vouch for his having always wished to do what is right and just.
The means indeed he applied to attain his object were at times not
fitted to further his purpose; on other occasions his intentions were
misunderstood, and he too often allowed himself to be carried away by
the violence of passion--but where lives the man of which this might
not be said? Truly, he has wofully repented himself." He stopt short,
fearing he had said more than he ought before Albert, who asked in vain
to hear something further of his character. The old man sank into
silence and deep thought.

The sun having risen over the mountains and dispersed the mist which
hung about the vallies, invited Albert to the window to enjoy the
splendid view. A lovely valley, surrounded by wooded heights, with
three smiling villages scattered over its surface, and a rapid stream
running through it, lay at the foot of the rock of Lichtenstein. It was
like beholding the earth from a point in the heavens. Leaving the
valley and looking to the wooded heights, his eye rested with delight
upon picturesque groups of rocks and the mountain of the Alb, behind
which rises the castle of Achalm, and forms the boundary of the
immediate surrounding country. Beyond the walls of Achalm, the distant
hills were visible to the right and left. The rock of Lichtenstein,
reaching, as it were, into the clouds, commands an extensive view of
Würtemberg, free and unbroken, into the far lowland. The morning sun
throwing its oblique rays across the landscape, Albert was transported
with the beauty of its scenery.

The fertile fields spread before him, surrounded by the wooded hills,
he compared to variegated carpets, edged, as it were, with borders of
dark green and brown, deriving their different shades and colours from
the tints thrown over them by the dawning day. And then turning to the
country between Lichtenstein and the distant Asperg, he exclaimed,
"What charms for the lover of the picturesque! No continuous
uninterrupted plain to weary the beholder, the eye ranges from hill to
mountain in pleasing variety, and rests on the luxuriant valley, with
its meandering stream gently rippling along in its course."

Albert stood wrapt in delight. He strained his eyes more and more to
see and distinguish each castle and village in the far distance. Bertha
stood beside him, and though she had enjoyed the same view from her
childhood, she now shared his pleasure; she pointed out every place,
and named all the different towers to him. "Where is there another spot
in all Germany which can be compared to this!" said Albert; "I have
seen vast plains, and mounted heights which command perhaps a more
extended view, but such a rich combination of the picturesque and the
sublime it would be difficult to find elsewhere. Look at the rich corn
fields, the woods of fruit trees, and a little lower down there, where
the hill assumes a blueish tinge, that garden of vines! I have never
yet envied a prince; but to stand here, and look over those hills, and
say this is mine, would be the height of my ambition!"

A deep sigh close to them, started the young couple from their
observations. They turned round, and perceived the exile standing at
the window a few paces from them. He appeared to view the country with
a wild look, which made Albert uncertain whether the conversation he
had just had with Bertha, or the thought of his own forlorn state, had
troubled his mind.

He saluted the young man, and offered him his hand, and turning to the
lord of the castle, asked him, "If a messenger had arrived?"
"Schweinsberg is not yet returned," he answered.

The exile retired again to the window in silence. Bertha filled him a
goblet of wine. "Be of good courage," she said, "and don't look in so
disconsolate a manner over the country. Drink this wine, it is good old
Würtemberger, and grows under that blue mountain."

"We cannot remain long melancholy," he answered, and turned to Albert
with a forced smile, "when the sun shines so cheerfully over
Würtemberg, and Heaven's mildness beams in the eye of one of her
fairest maidens? Is it not so, young man? what is the sight of these
hills and vallies, compared to the gleam of such eyes and the fidelity
of true hearts? take your glass, and let us drink to them! Nothing is
irrevocably lost so long as we possess such treasures: here's to 'Good
Würtemberg for ever!'"

"Good Würtemberg for ever," replied Albert, and touched glasses. The
exile was going to say something more, when the old watchman entered
with a face full of importance. "There are two pedlars before the
castle, and demand admittance," he announced.

"It's them! it's them!" cried the exile and old Lichtenstein in the
same breath, and added, "shew them up."

The servant withdrew. An anxious moment followed the announcement. No
one said a word. The knight of Lichtenstein looked as if he could
pierce the door with the eye of impatience. The exile endeavoured to
conceal his anxiety, but the rapid changes on his expressive features
indicated clearly that his whole being was in a state of excitement. At
length footsteps were heard on the stairs approaching the apartment.
The exile, strong as he was, trembled so much that he was obliged to
hold by the table, his body was bent forward, his eye was fixed on the
door, as if he would read his fate on the countenance of the
messengers--the door opened and they entered.



                              CHAPTER XXIV.

            Deserted as thou art, by all forsaken,
              Thy fortunes ruin'd and thy power gone,
            Thou still shalt find fidelity unshaken,
              Although you find it in myself alone.
            Thy humble vassal, 'till the hour of death,
              I'll hail my sovereign with my latest breath.
                                                    L. UHLAND.

Albert's expectation was also raised to the highest pitch. His eye
examined the two men as they entered, and he at once recognised the
fifer of Hardt as one, and the pedlar he had met at the Golden Stag of
Pfullingen as the other. The latter disburthened himself of a pack
which he carried on his back, tore a plaister from his eye, erected
himself from a bent position, which he had assumed for the purpose of
disguise, and stood before the assembled group, the short-set,
strong-built man, with open bold features, which the exile had already
described in the cavern.

"Maxx Stumpf!" cried the exile in a trembling tone of voice, "what
means that gloomy countenance? You bring us good news, don't you? they
will open the gates to us, and with us hold out to the last man?"

Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg looked about him in confusion. "Prepare
for the worst, sir!" he said, "the intelligence I bring you is not
good."

"How?" answered the other, whilst the blush of rage flew into his
cheeks, and the veins of his forehead began to swell, "how, do you mean
they hesitate, they waver? It is impossible! be not precipitate in what
you say, recollect it is of the nobles of the land of whom you speak."

"And still I will say it," Schweinsberg answered, making a step
forward. "In the face of the Emperor and the Empire, I will say they
are traitors."

"Thou liest!" cried the exile with a terrible voice. "Traitors, did you
say? Thou liest! Dost thou dare to rob forty knights of their honour?
Ha! own it, that you lie."

"Would to God I were a knight without honour--a dog that betrays his
master! But the whole forty have broken their oaths--you have lost your
country. My Lord Duke, Tübingen is gone!"

The man, whom these words more immediately concerned, sank in a chair
at the window: he covered his face with his hands, his agitated breast
appeared to seek in vain for breath, his whole frame trembled.

The eyes of all were directed to him, expressive of commiseration and
pain, particularly Albert's, who now for the first time learnt the name
of "the man"--it was him, Duke Ulerich of Würtemberg! Recollections of
the first moment he had met him, of his first visit to the cavern, of
the conversation they had had, and the way which his whole bearing had
surprised him and bound him to his cause, crossed his mind in _one_
rapid flight. It was quite incomprehensible to him, that he had not
long ago made the discovery.

No one dared to break the silence for some time. The heavy breathing of
the Duke only was heard, and his faithful dog, who appeared to partake
of his master's misery, added his pitiable whining to the distressing
scene. Old Lichtenstein at length giving a sign to the knight of
Schweinsberg, they both approached the Duke, and touched his cloak, in
order to rouse him, but he remained immoveable and silent. Bertha had
stood aloof, with tears in her eyes. She now drew near with hesitating
step, put her hand on his shoulder, and, beholding him with a look of
tender compassion, at last took courage to say, "My Lord Duke! it is
still good Würtemberg for ever!"

A deep sigh escaping from his breast, was the only notice he took of
the kind girl's solicitude. Albert then approached him. The expression
which the exile had made use of, when they first met, flashed across
his mind, and he ventured to address the same words now to his
afflicted friend. "Man without a name," said he, "why so downhearted?
Si fractus illabatur orbis, impavidum ferient ruinæ!"[1]

These words acted like a charm upon Ulerich. Whether he had adopted
them as his motto, or whether it was that combination of greatness of
soul, and obstinate contempt of misfortune, which formed his character,
and acquired for him the name of the "Undaunted," he was reanimated, as
if by an electric spark, when he heard them repeated, and from that
moment rose worthy of his name.

"Those are the true words, my young friend," he said at length with a
firm voice, proudly raising his head, his eyes sparkling with their
usual animation, "those are the words. I thank you for bringing them to
my mind. Stand forward, Maxx Stumpf, knight of Schweinsberg, relate the
result of your mission. But first of all, give me another glass,
Bertha!"

"It was last Thursday, when I left you," began the knight: "Hans
disguised me in this garb, and instructed me how to comport myself. I
went to the Golden Stag at Pfullingen, just to try if any one would
recognise me in it, but the hostess brought me a can of wine with all
the indifference she would have done to a perfect stranger she had
never seen before. And a city counsellor, with whom I had exchanged
angry words not a week before in the same room, drank with me,
supposing I had followed the vocation of pedlar from my childhood. That
young man," pointing to Albert, "was also in the room."

The Duke appeared to recover his spirits, and was more cheerful. He
asked Albert whether he had noticed the knight in his garb of pedlar,
and whether he looked the character?

He replied, smiling, "I think he played his part to perfection."

"From Pfullingen I went the same evening to Reutlingen. I entered the
public room of an inn, where I met a tribe of Leaguists, consisting of
citizens, from all parts, who were exulting with the Reutlingeners, for
having torn down the stag horns, the emblems of your house, from their
city gates. Though they abused you and sang burlesque songs at your
expense, still they appeared to fear your name. On Good Friday I
proceeded towards Tübingen. My heart beat high when I descended through
the wood near the castle, and saw the beautiful valley of the Neckar
before me, with the fortified towers and steeples of that place peering
above the hill."

The Duke compressed his lips, turned away, and looked at the distant
country. Schweinsberg paused, sympathising in his master's pain, who
beckoned to him, however, to proceed.

"Descending into the plain, I wandered onward towards Tübingen. The
town had been already occupied by the League some days, the castle
still held out, and only a few troops remained in the camp, which was
pitched on the hill overlooking the valley of Ammer. I determined to
slip into the town, for the purpose of finding out how affairs stood in
the castle. You know the little inn in the upper town, not far from the
church of St. George? I went there, and called for wine. On my way I
learned that the knights of the League often assembled in the same
house, and therefore I considered it the best place to attain my
object."

"You risked a good deal," interrupted the knight of Lichtenstein: "it
was very possible some one might have wished to buy some of your wares,
and then the pedlar in disguise would have been discovered."

"You forget it was a holiday," replied the other, "so that I had a good
excuse not to open my pack, and recommend my goods for sale, according
to the custom of pedlars. But I had sufficient proof of the security of
my disguise, for I sold a box of healing plaster to George von
Fronsberg, God knows, I would gladly have come to blows with him, and
given him an opportunity on the spot to make use of it. They were still
at high mass in the church, and no one in the inn; but I learned from
the master of the house, that the knights in the castle had agreed to a
truce till Easter Monday. When church service was over, many knights
and other men came, as I expected, into the room where I was, for their
morning's potation. I seated myself in a corner on the bench near the
stove, the proper place for people of my condition in the presence of
their superiors."

"Who did you see there?" inquired the Duke.

"I knew some of them by sight, and guessed who others were from their
conversation. There was Fronsberg, Alban von Closen, the Huttens,
Sickingen, and many others. Truchses von Waldburg came in shortly
after. When I saw him enter, I drew my cap deep over my face, for he
cannot have forgotten the whirl I gave him from his horse some fifteen
years ago by a thrust of my lance."

"Did you see Hans von Breitenstein among the rest?" asked Albert.

"Breitenstein?--not that I know; ah! yes, that's his name who will eat
a leg of mutton at a sitting. Well, they began to talk of the siege and
the truce, and some of them whispered to each other, but as I have very
good ears, I heard just what of all things was most essential to know.
Truchses related that he shot an arrow into the castle, with a note
attached to it, addressed to Ludwig von Stadion. It appears that he
must often have practised the same device, for the knights were not
astonished, when he added, that he had received an answer the same day
by similar means."

The Duke's countenance became clouded. "Ludwig von Stadion!" he cried
in agony; "I would have staked castles upon his fidelity! I loved him
so, that I satisfied all his desires, and he is the first to betray
me!"

"The answer said, that he, Stadion, with many others, being tired of
the contest, were more than half inclined to surrender; George von
Hewen, however, threatened to denounce them as traitors."

"I have not merited such friendship from Hewen," said Ulerich. "I was
once offended with him, for having complained that I had not acted
according to his wishes. But how easily are we deceived in the
characters of men! Had any one asked me which of these two I had most
faith in, I would have named Stadion as my trusty friend, and George
von Hewen the doubtful one."

Schweinsberg continued. "The answer also said, that your Grace would
probably attempt to relieve the castle; but if that were impossible,
you would repair to it in person by some secret way. The Leaguists
spoke much upon that subject. They all, however, agreed that it was
essential to bring the garrison to terms without delay, before you
brought relief, or got into the castle; for if you succeeded in the
latter case, they feared the siege might last much longer. After
hearing all this, I did not think it advisable to proceed immediately
to the castle by the secret path, known only to a few, and shew myself
to the garrison, because if Stadion had already gained the upper hand,
I should have been lost. I resolved, therefore, to remain the day in
the town; and if before Saturday morning I heard nothing to alarm me
respecting the spirit of the garrison, then to proceed to my
destination, and send your Grace immediate intelligence. I wandered
about the town and the camp unmolested until noon, seeking as much as
possible always to be near some of the superior officers to assure
myself of my disguise."

"That was on the Friday, the holiday?" Lichtenstein asked.

"Yes; on holy Friday. At three o'clock in the afternoon, George von
Fronsberg, with many other of the principal officers, rode to the city
gate of the castle; and hailed the besieged, inquiring whether they
were building a fortification. I was standing among them; and saw
Stadion come on the wall, and answer, 'No, that were against the terms
of the truce; but I see,' he added, 'you are erecting a fort in the
field.' George von Fronsberg cried, 'If it is so, it is without my
orders. Who are you?' He in the castle answered, 'I am Ludwig von
Stadion;' upon which the Leaguists smiled, and stroked their beards.
Having satisfied the besieged, by overturning a few baskets filled with
earth, which had been placed in the entrenchments to screen their
works, that he had no knowledge of its having been done, Fronsberg then
called to Stadion, and invited him, with other of his party, to come
down and drink together."

"Did they go?" cried the Duke, impatiently, "and forget their honour?"

"There is an open space on the castle hill beyond the ditch, whence the
spectator, having a distant view of the country, can survey the valley
of the Neckar, the Steinlach on the height above, the Alb in the
distance, with many castles and villages, which complete the scenery.
On this spot they placed a table and benches; and the commanders of the
League sat down to drink. The gate of Upper Tübingen was then opened,
the bridge fell over the ditch; when Ludwig von Stadion, with six
others, came forth, bringing with them your Grace's silver covered
jugs, golden goblets, and best wine; and having saluted your enemies
with a shake of the hand, seated themselves to talk over the state of
affairs over a cool tankard."

"May the devil bless them all!" interrupted the old knight of
Lichtenstein, and threw his wine away; but the Duke smiled, and nodded
to Maxx Stumpf to proceed.

"They caroused together till after dusk; and staggered about with
heated heads. I kept near them, so that not one of their traitorous
words escaped my ears. When they broke up, Trachses took Stadion by the
band, 'Brother,' said he, 'you have good wine in your cellar; let us in
soon, that we may help you to drink it out.' The other laughed, shook
him by the hand, and said, 'Time will teach us what to do.' When I saw
how affairs stood, I determined, with God's help, at the risk of my
life, to get into the castle: I therefore left them, and went to the
spot where the secret subterranean way commences. Having succeeded in
entering it unnoticed, and reached the middle, I found the portcullis
down, with a sentry placed there. He levelled his gun at me, when he
heard me coming in the dark, and demanded the parole. I gave, as you
desired me, 'Atempto,' the watch-word of your brave ancestor, Eberhard
with the beard. The fellow opened his eyes wide, drew up the
portcullis, and let me pass. With rapid steps I reached a vault, where
I was obliged to remain a few moments to take a breath of fresh air,
for the narrow passage is close and damp."

"Faithful Maxx! clear your throat with a draught of wine," said
Ulerich; the knight followed his advice, and continued his story with
renewed vigour.

"I heard the sound of many voices in the vault, apparently in
contention, and following its direction, I saw a number of the garrison
sitting round a large cask drinking. There were some of Stadion's
party, with Hewen, and many of his friends. The light of a lamp
illumined their position, and the large goblets which were placed
before them. It was an imposing scene, and put me in mind of a sitting
of the secret tribunal. Having concealed myself behind a cask, I
listened to their conversation. George von Hewen spoke stirring words,
and represented to them the crime of their infidelity; he said there
was no reason why they should surrender; that they were well provided
with provisions for a long siege; that your Grace was assembling an
army for their relief; and that the besiegers were worse off than
themselves."

"Ha! brave Hewen! and what gave they for answer?" said the Duke.

"They only laughed and drank. 'It will be long before he can get an
army together. Where will he find money, unless he plunders?' said one
of the party. Hewen continued: 'But if the Duke cannot succeed so soon
as he expected, we are nevertheless bound by our oath to hold to the
last, or else be held as traitors to our lord and master.' They laughed
and drank again, saying, 'Who dares come forward and call us traitors?'
I then called out from behind my cask, 'I will! You are traitors--false
to your oaths, to the Duke, and your country!' They were terrified and
thunder-struck; Stadion let fall his goblet; when, stepping forward,
having first taken off my disguise, I stood before them, and drew your
letter from under my jerkin: here is a writing from your Duke, said I;
he commands you at your peril to surrender; he is coming himself to
conquer or die under the walls."

"Oh, Tübingen!" said the Duke, with a sigh, "fool that I was to leave
you in such hands. I would give two of my left fingers for your sake!
what did I say, two fingers? I would willingly lose my right hand could
I purchase you with the sacrifice, and with my left lead the way to the
heart of my enemies. And what was the answer to my words--did they not
give any?"

"The false ones eyed me with sullen looks, and appeared not to know
what to do. Hewen, however, repeated his warning to them. Stadion at
last said, You come too late. Twenty-eight knights have determined to
withdraw from the contest, and leave the Duke to settle his affairs
alone with the League. If he returns to the country with an army they
will faithfully stand by him, but they cannot continue to carry on the
war any longer in a state of uncertainty as to the result, seeing that
their opposition to the League has only subjected their houses and
estates to damage and heavy contributions. I then requested to be led
to the hall of the knights, where I would try to discover whether there
were not still left honourable men sufficient to defend the castle. I
reckoned upon the fidelity of the two Berlichingens, and many others,
whose names are familiar to your Grace, as having sworn allegiance to
your colours. But Hewen shook his head, and said I was mistaken in most
of them."

"But Stammheim, Thierberg, Westerstetten, in whose faith I would have
staked my existence--did you see them?" asked the Duke.

"Oh, yes! they were in the cellar with Stadion, and assisted to drink
your wine. They would not allow me to go up into the castle. Even
Hewen, with Freiberg and Heideck, who were with him, dissuaded me from
it, because, they said, the two parties were already much inflamed
against each other, Stadion having the majority of knights, and of the
soldiers also, on his side. 'If I went up,' they added, 'and it should
come to blows in the court of the castle, and in the hall of the
knights, there would be nothing left for them, as the weakest party,
than to fight for life and death. Willingly as they would shed their
last drop of blood for you, they would rather fall before the enemy in
the field of battle than be cut to pieces by their own countrymen and
brothers in arms. Being foiled in every thing, I asked them, as a last
petition, to protect your son, the young Prince Christoph, and your
darling daughter, and preserve the castle to them, when they
surrendered. Some of them consented, others remained silent, and
shrugged up their shoulders. Exasperated, I denounced them as traitors,
and giving them my curses as a Christian knight, challenged any five of
them to fight with me for life and death when the war should be ended.
Upon which I left them, and returned the same way out of the castle
that I entered it."

"Würtemberg's honour is gone! could I have thought it possible!" cried
Lichtenstein. "Forty-two knights, two hundred soldiers, thus to betray
a fortified castle! Our good name is defamed,--futurity will brand with
scorn our nobility, who deserted their Duke's banners. The saying
'faithful and honourable as a Würtemberger' is become a term of
reproach."

"We could, indeed, once boast of the truth of the saying, 'faithful as
a Würtemberger,'" said Duke Ulerich, whilst a tear fell on his beard.
"When my ancestor Eberhard once upon a time rode towards Worms, and sat
at table with the electors, counts and lords, each prided himself upon
the pre-eminence of his own country. One boasted of his wine,--another
spoke of his fruits,--a third of his game,--whilst a fourth talked of
the metals which his mountains produced,--but, when it came to Eberhard
with the Beard to speak, he said, 'I know nothing of your treasures,
but this I know, that if I seek shelter in a humble peasant's cot, in
the most secluded spot, tired and oppressed with fatigue, I am sure to
find a faithful Würtemberger at hand, upon whose lap I can lay my head
in safety and sleep in peace.' They all wondered in astonishment, and
said, 'Count Eberhard is right, and long live the faithful
Würtemberger!' But in these times behold, when the Duke traverses a
wood, they lie in wait to kill him; and, if he places his faith in his
nobles for the defence of his castles, scarcely does he turn his back
but they treat with the enemy. May the cuckoo take such faith! But go
on, Maxx, I am the man to drink the dregs of the cup without the fear
of seeing the bottom of it."

"Well, it's soon said. I remained in Tübingen until I had convinced
myself of its surrender. Yesterday, being Easter Monday, they came to
terms; they drew up the articles in writing, and proclaimed throughout
the streets by a herald, that, at five o'clock in the evening, the
garrison would march out. Prince Christoph, your young son, retains the
castle and administration of Tübingen, but in the service and under the
guardianship of the League; and as for the rest of the country, it is
said, that it will be divided among the knights. I have experienced
many misfortunes in life,--I killed a friend at a tilting bout,--I have
lost a dear child, and had my house burnt,--but, as true as God and his
saints are gracious to me, I never felt so much pain as at that moment
when I saw the banner of the League hoisted in lieu of your Grace's,
and their red cross cover Würtemberg's stag horns, and bugle."

So spake Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg. The sun had risen, during his
narration, high above the mountains, having dispelled the mists,
leaving only a slight vapour on the heights of the Asperg. It hung upon
the horizon like a thin veil, and heightened the beauty of the scenery
in its immediate neighbourhood. Drest in the soft verdure of spring,
combined with the darker foliage of the woods, ornamented with cheerful
villages and stately castles, Würtemberg lay spread before the eye of
the beholder, in all the glory of the opening day. The unhappy Prince
surveyed the scene with dejected looks. Nature had blessed him with a
constancy of courage, and a heart which even grief and misery were
unable to subdue; he possessed such control over his feelings that few
were able to discern his inward suffering; and when calamity overtook
him, then it was that the energies of his vigorous mind were most
fertile in resources, and prompted him to immediate action.

In this truly heart-rending moment, when his last hope fell with the
loss of his sole remaining castle, he concealed from his friends around
him the painful conflict with which he was struggling. His feeling
might be compared to the repentant son standing by the death-bed of a
beloved mother, whose solicitude and anxiety for his welfare through
life he had slighted, whose tender care of him in infancy he had
forgotten, and the sacrifices she had imposed on herself to satisfy all
his selfish wishes, even to the straitening of her own circumstances
to meet the demands of his riotous living, he had treated with
ingratitude, deeming them nothing more than his due. But now that her
endearing eye no longer beholds him,--now that the ear is closed which
was wont to listen to his wishes and complaints,--now that those hands
no longer feel his last pressure,--then it is that repentance assails
his heart,--then it is that his guilty conscience upbraids him with the
bitter reproach of ingratitude and neglect of God's commandment,--to
love, honour, and cherish father and mother.

Such was the anguish of self-condemnation which at this moment
oppressed the breast of Ulerich of Würtemberg as he viewed his country,
now to all appearance lost to him for ever. His noble nature, which he
had too often abused in the blandishments of a brilliant court, and
whose finer feelings had been deadened by the poisonous flattery of
false friends, now upbraided him; not so much for being the author of
his own personal misfortunes as for entailing on his country the
distress attendant upon the occupation of it by his enemies.

Having stood for some time at the window, his mind harassed with these
thoughts, he turned to his friends, who noticed in pleasing
astonishment the calm expression of his countenance. They had dreaded
his first burst of rage and violence, which they expected he would vent
upon the treacherous conduct of his nobility. Instead of which, though
he could not conceal the intensity of suffering he was struggling with,
he was composed and resigned, and his features exhibited a mildness and
resignation which they had scarcely ever seen before.

"Maxx," said he, "how have they acted towards the people of the
country?"

"Like robbers," he answered: "they wantonly desolate the vineyards, cut
down the fruit trees, and burn them at the guard houses; Sickingen's
cavalry ride through the corn fields and tread down what they cannot
consume; they ill treat the women, and extort money from the men. The
people every where begin to murmur; and should the present drought
continue, followed by a failing harvest, a time when the poor people
will be called upon to pay the heavy expenses of the war which the
league's administration will exact, misery and poverty will then be at
its height."

"Oh, what villains!" cried the Duke, "they who boasted, with high
sounding words, that they came to free Würtemberg of her tyrant, and to
liberate her people from oppression now commit abominations even worse
than Turks. But I vow that if God will assist me, and his holy saints
be merciful to my soul, I will return to the wasted vallies of the
Neckar and its vineless banks, with the scythe of vengeance, cut down
their ranks like sheaves of corn, and, as a revengeful vine dresser,
tread and crush them under foot. I will avenge myself of all the
calamities they have brought on me and my country, so help me God!"

"Amen!" responded the knight of Lichtenstein. "But before you venture
to the rescue of your country, you must first withdraw from it, for a
season. No time is to be lost, if you would escape unmolested."

The Duke considered awhile, and then answered, "You are right, I will
go to Mömpelgard, where I shall be able to make arrangements, and, I
trust, collect men sufficient to venture to make a blow. Come here,
thou faithful dog, thou wilt follow me into the misery of banishment.
Thou knowest not what it is to break an oath or forfeit thy faith."

"Here stands another, who also knows nothing of treachery," said
Schweinsberg, and approached the Duke. "I will accompany you to
Mömpelgard, if you do not disdain my services."

The knight of Lichtenstein, animated by the same generous feeling, next
said:. "Take me also with you, Duke! my feeble arm indeed is not worth
much in the field, but my voice in council may still be heard."

Bertha's eyes lighted up more brilliantly than ever, as she beheld her
lover, whose cheeks glowed with the ardour of youth, and whose looks
bespoke the fire of his noble spirit.

"My Lord Duke," said he, "I proffered hand and arm in your service,
when we met in the cavern, when I knew not who you were, and you did
not refuse them. I aspire not to have a voice in council--but as you
value a heart which beats faithful to you, an eye that will watch over
you when you sleep, or an arm that will stand between you and your
enemies, take me with you, and let me follow your fortune."

The noble feelings which had at first attached the young man to the
"man without a name," now animated his breast, and the consideration of
the Duke's misfortune, which he bore with such dignified magnanimity,
added to the encouraging glance of his beloved, fed the flame of
enthusiasm and devotion to the Duke's cause, and irresistibly threw him
at his feet.

The old knight of Lichtenstein looked at his young guest with the
joyous pride of a father; the Duke beheld him with emotion, and taking
his hand, raised him from his knee and kissed his forehead.

"Where such hearts beat for us," said he, "we have still fortresses and
walls to shelter us, and cannot bewail our poverty. You possess my love
and esteem, Albert von Sturmfeder; you shall accompany me; I accept
your faithful service with joy. Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg, I shall
require your aid in more important business than to protect my body; I
have a commission for you to execute in Hohentwiel and Switzerland. I
cannot accept your company, good and faithful Lichtenstein. I honour
you as a father, for your kindness to me has been such. You opened your
door to me every night. I will repay it. When I return to my country,
with God's help and will, your voice shall be the first in council."

The Duke's eye fell upon the fifer of Hardt, who stood aloof in humble
retirement. "Come here, thou faithful man!" he called to him, and gave
him his right hand, "you once were guilty of a great crime, but you
have repented of it sincerely, and by faithful service regained my
confidence."

"To attempt another's life is not so soon expiated," said the peasant,
with downcast looks: "I am still in your grace's debt, but I will
requite it when the time comes."

"Go to your home--such is my will--follow your occupations as
heretofore. Perhaps you may be able to collect some faithful hearts in
our cause by the time we return to our country. And you, lady! how can
I reward your kindnesses? You deprived yourself many a night of rest,
to open the door for me and shelter me against treachery! Do not blush
so, as if you had some great sin to confess, this being the moment to
act. Venerable father," said he, turning to the knight of Lichtenstein,
"I appear before you as the intercessor of a couple of loving hearts.
You will not disdain the son-in-law whom I propose to you?"

"I do not understand you, gracious Lord," said the knight, looking with
astonishment at his daughter.

The Duke took Albert's hand, and led him to the old man. "This young
man loves your daughter, and she is not indifferent to him,--what think
you of making them a happy couple? But what means that frown of
displeasure? Is he not high born, a gallant antagonist, the strength of
whose arm I have already experienced, and now become my support in the
hour of need?"

Bertha cast her eyes down, her face was suffused with blushes, she
trembled for the reply of her father, who looked sternly at the young
man. "Albert," said he, "I have had a high opinion of you since the
first moment I saw you; it had been, perhaps, not so favourable, had I
been aware of the object which brought you to my house."

The youth was about to make an answer, but the Duke interrupted him.
"You forget that it was I who sent him to you with my seal and
letter--he came not of his own accord. But what are you thinking of so
long? I will adopt him as my son, and reward him with a property which
will make you proud to call him your son-in-law."

"Do not trouble yourself further upon this point, my Lord Duke," said
Albert, indignantly, when he noticed the indecision of the knight of
Lichtenstein. "It shall never be said of me, that the heir of the
Sturmfeders begged for a wife, and obtruded his importunity to gain the
consent of a father against his free will. My name is too dear to me to
resort to such means." He was about to leave the room in displeasure,
but the old knight held him by the hand: "Hot-headed youth," he cried,
"restrain your impetuosity? there, take her, she is yours, but--you
must not think of leading her home, so long as an enemy's banner floats
over the towers of Stuttgardt. Be faithful to the Duke, help him to
return to his country, and if you continue true to his cause, the day
that you enter the gates of the capital, when Würtemberg shall see her
ensigns floating again over the pinnacles of her castles, my daughter
from that moment shall be yours, and you shall then become my cherished
son-in-law."

"And on that day," spoke the Duke, "the bride will blush more
beautifully than ever, when the merry bells peal from the towers, and
the marriage procession moves to the church. I will then approach the
bridegroom, and demand the reward to which I claim a right. But now, my
good friend, give her the bridal kiss, which is probably not the first,
embrace her once more, and then you belong to me, until that happy day
when we enter Stuttgardt. Let's drink, my friends, to the health of the
happy couple."

A smile mingled with the tears of Bertha, which gleamed in her
beautiful eyes. She filled the goblet to the brim, and having tasted
the wine, a custom in those days done by the cup-bearers at courts,
presented it first to the Duke, with a look so full of gratitude and
lovely grace, that he thought Albert the happiest man in the world, and
that many a one would not have hesitated to risk his life in order to
gain a gem of her worth.

The men took each their goblet, waiting for a toast, which the Duke
should give after his fashion. But Ulerich von Würtemberg, casting a
long farewell look at his country, which he was about to quit, felt a
tear start in his eye, which forced him to tear himself away from the
painful view. "I now turn my back," said he, "upon objects which are
dear to me, but, please God! I'll see them again in better days. Do not
bewail my fate, but be of good cheer: as long as the Duke and his
trusty friends are united, our good cause is not lost. 'Here's to good
Würtemberg for ever!'"

FOOTNOTE TO CHAPTER XXIV.:

[Footnote 1: If a crushed world should fall in upon him, the ruins
would strike him undismayed.]



                              CHAPTER XXV.

            In Swabia did thy princely father reign
              Beloved, and all did glad allegiance yield;
            And of the people, many now remain
              Who fought beneath thy banners in the field.
            Sure memory cannot be in Swabia dead.
              Towards Swabia let us then our footsteps turn,
            And as we the Black Forest's mazes tread,
              Reviving hopes will in our bosoms burn.
                                                   L. UHLAND.

So hot a summer as that of the year 1519, had scarcely ever been known
in Würtemberg. The whole country had submitted to the power of the
League, and its inhabitants now hoped their troubles were at an end.
But the original intentions of its chiefs only began now to be fully
developed, and it was evident that the mere reoccupation of Reutlingen
was not the sole object for which they had coalesced. They were still
to be indemnified for their expenses, and to be requited for their
services. Some were for dividing Würtemberg equally among themselves,
others proposed to sell it to Austria, whilst a third party insisted
upon keeping it under the administration of Ulerich's children, subject
to their own guardianship. They quarrelled about the possession of the
country, to which none of them could found the slightest claims.
Disunion and party spirit spread their baneful effects among them, now
that they had satisfied their revenge in driving the legitimate lord
from his dominions. The expenses of the war were to be met, and there
was no one who could or would pay. The knights held this a favourable
opportunity to declare themselves independent. Citizens and peasants
were drained of their money by continual forced contributions, their
fields were desolated and trodden under foot, and they saw no prospect
of recovering their losses. Neither would the clergy contribute to the
expenses of the war; so that the result of it was only dispute and
violence. Many a heart felt how cruelly their legitimate prince had
been persecuted, and bitterly repented having driven him into
banishment, far from the land of his fathers. And when they compared
his system of government with that of their present rulers, they found
they had not bettered themselves by the change; on the contrary, they
were much worse off than before. But they were too much under
subjection to venture to publish their grievances.

The discontent of the people did not escape the government of the
League. Their ears were not shut to "much strange and wicked talk," as
we read in old official documents. They tried to gain adherents to
their cause by rigorous measures. They spread lies concerning the Duke;
one of which was, that he had cut a boy of noble blood in halves, of
the name of Wilhelm von Janowitz. It made a great noise at the time,
but when he was pointed out some time afterwards to a Swiss, as the man
of whom the enemies of Ulerich had spread the report, he gave for
answer, "He must indeed have been a good carpenter who put the boy so
well together again." The priests were ordered to announce from the
pulpit, that whoever spoke favourably of the Duke was to be put in
prison, and those who supported or assisted him were to lose their
eyes, and perhaps their heads.

Ulerich had many faithful friends among the country people, who
secretly gave him intelligence how things were going on in Würtemberg.
He remained in Mömpelgard with the men who had followed him in his
misfortune, waiting a favourable moment to return to his country. He
wrote to many Princes, imploring their assistance, but none would
bestir themselves in his behalf. He petitioned also the Electors,
assembled for the purpose of electing a new Emperor. The only aid they
rendered him was to oblige the new Emperor to add an additional clause
to his contract, favourable to Würtemberg and the Duke,--but he paid no
attention to it. Though he felt himself thus deserted by all the world,
he did not give way to despondency, but set all his energies at work to
recover his lost country by the resources of his own mind. Many
circumstances appeared to favour his project: the League, having
satisfied themselves that no one would dare shelter the exile in the
country, disbanded most of their troops, composed chiefly of
lansquenet, retaining only weak garrisons in the towns and castles; and
in Stuttgardt itself, the capital, there remained but few infantry
under their banners.

These measures of the League, however, were the cause of creating a
formidable enemy to themselves, in a quarter they did not suspect, but
which very soon contributed essentially to produce a change in the
Duke's favour. This enemy were the common foot soldiers, or the
lansquenet. This body of men, collected together from all ends and
corners of the empire, and composed of all nations, generally offered
their services to those who paid them best. The cause for which they
were to fight was perfectly indifferent to them. Being a licentious
set, and difficult to be restrained even by severity of discipline,
they indemnified themselves by robbery, murder, plunder, and forcibly
exacting contributions, if they were not regularly paid. George von
Fronsberg had been the first to keep them in some measure in
subordination, and by the renown of his name, by daily exercise, and
unbending severity, succeeded in forming them into something like an
army. He divided them into regular companies and brigades, appointed
special officers to each, and taught them to move and fight in columns
and masses. These men now shewed that they came from a good school, for
when the League disbanded them they did not, as formerly, separate
and spread over the country, seeking service individually, but
confederating together, formed twelve companies, chose their own
commanders from among themselves, and appointed their general in the
person of a man who went by the name of _Long Peter_. Being exasperated
against the League, and living upon plunder and forced contributions,
they became the dread of the whole country. Anarchy had spread its
baneful spirit throughout Würtemberg to such a degree, that no one was
able to resist their depredations. The party of the League was
enfeebled by continual disunion, and was too much employed with its own
affairs to think of freeing the impoverished land of this formidable
band. The knights, being at variance with each other, remained shut up
in their castles, looking on with indifference at the state of affairs.
The garrisons of the towns were weak, and not able to repel them by
force. The citizens and peasantry, when they were not hard pressed by
these marauders, treated them civilly, being equally averse to the
government of the League, whom no one now favoured; it was even said
they were not disinclined to reinstate the Duke, by the assistance of
the same arms that had dethroned him.

On a fine morning of the month of August this body was assembled, and
encamped in a meadow of a valley touching the boundary of Baden. Tall
black firs and pines encompassed the spot on three sides, and formed
part of the Black Forest, with the rivulet called the Würm running
through it. Partly under the shade of the wood, partly stretched out
among the bushes of the meadow, the little army was distributed about
in different groups, taking their rest. At the distance of about two
hundred paces were to be seen advanced posts of armed men on the
look-out, whose shining lances and lighted matches inspired dread and
awe to the by-passer. In the middle of the valley, under the shade of a
large oak tree, sat five men, round an out-spread cloak, which served
them for a table, where they were playing at a game of cards, called to
this day lansquenet. These men were distinguished from the rest of
their companions by a broad red scarf, hanging down over the shoulder
and breast; but their dress had otherwise much the same ragged worn-out
appearance with the others. Some of them wore helmets, others large
felt hats, bound with iron, and all of them leather jerkins, of every
possible shade and colour, which long service in rain, dust, and
bivouacing had imparted to them. Upon a closer inspection, there were
two things which particularly distinguished them from the rest of their
comrades. They had neither gun nor pike, which were the ordinary
weapons of the lansquenet, but wore rapiers of uncommon length and
breadth. They also carried in their hats and helmets, in fashion with
the nobility and leaders of armies of those days, cock's tail feathers
of various colours, assuming to themselves the rank of superiority.

These five men, particularly one who was seated with his back to the
tree, appeared much interested in the game which they were playing. He
wore a hat with a brim of the breadth of a good sized millstone,
trimmed with dingy gold lace, and ornamented in front with a gilt
portrait of Saint Peter, out of which sprang two enormous red cock's
feathers. His language was a compound of French, Italian, and
Hungarian, put together in such strange mixture, that he was scarcely
intelligible to those to whom he addressed himself. No one knew what
country gave him birth; but he commanded a certain respect among his
comrades from the fact of his having served in most of the armies of
Europe, and been in nearly all the campaigns of his day; and as he
generally prefaced most of his phrases with oaths which he had picked
up in the countries he had passed through, and which he pronounced
after his own fashion, he thought to render himself thereby of more
consequence among those over whom he had assumed the title of general.
His beard was dressed in the Hungarian fashion, for being twisted up
with pitch, it stuck out on both sides from under his nose a whole
span's breadth in the air, much like two iron spikes.

"_Canto cacramento!_" cried this man, with a threatening bass voice,
"the little knave is mine; I'll cut him with the king of spades!"

"It's mine, with your permission," cried his neighbour, "and the king
into the bargain; there's the queen of spades!"

"Morbleu!" vociferated the other, in a rage; "do you want to take the
trick from your commander, Captain Löffler? For shame, for shame! he is
a rebel who dares do that. May my soul be punished, but you want to
take the command away from me." The general, for such he was, frowned
furiously, pushed his hat off his ears, and discovered a large red scar
on his forehead, which heightened the savage appearance of his look.

"There is no military discipline at play," General Peter, "answered the
other. You may order us captains to blockade a town, and raise
contributions, but at play one man is as good as another."

"You are mutinous, a rebel against the authorities! Thunder and
lightning! were it not against my honour, I would cut you into a
hundred pieces;--but play on."

"There's an ace," said one. "Here's a quart," said another. "I cut with
the ten," exclaimed a third. "And here's the knave,--who can take him?"
said the fourth player.

"I can," cried the large man; "there's the king,--Morbleu! the trick is
mine."

"Where did you get the king?" said a little thin man, with a cunning
face, small searching eyes, and shrill voice, "didn't I see it at the
bottom of the pack when you dealt. He has cheated! Long Peter has
cheated, by all the saints!"

"Muckerle, captain of the eighth company! I advise you to hold your
tongue," said the general; "_Bassa manelka!_ I don't take a joke,--the
mouse should not play with the lion."

"And I say it again,--where did you get the king? I'll prove you false
before the pope and the king of France, thou foul player."

"Muckerle," replied the general, drawing his sword deliberately out of
its scabbard, "pray another Ave Maria and a Gratias, for as soon as the
game is over you are a dead man."

The other three men were roused from a state of indifference at these
angry words. They sided with the little captain, and gave the general
to understand clearly that they thought he was capable of the imputed
meanness. He, however, looked big, and full of importance, and swore he
had not cheated. "If the holy Peter, my gracious patron, who I carry on
my hat, could speak, he would bear me witness, as true as I am a
Christian lansquenet, that I have not played false!"

"He played fair," said a strange voice, which appeared to issue from
the tree. The men crossed themselves to defend them from an evil
spirit, the gallant general even turned pale, and let drop his cards;
when a peasant stept forward from behind the tree, armed with a dagger,
and having a guitar slung over his shoulder with a leathern strap. He
beheld the group with an undaunted eye, and said, "That gentleman did
not cheat; I saw all the cards that were dealt to him."

"Ah! you are a fine fellow," said the general, much pleased; "as I am
an honest lansquenet, what you say is all right."

"But how is this?" said the little captain, with a sharp look, "how did
this peasant get here without being announced by the piquet? He is a
spy, and deserves to be hung."

"Don't be astonished, Muckerle, he is no spy; come and sit down by me,
my friend, you are a musician, I see, by your instrument hanging over
your shoulder, like a Spaniard going to serenade his love."

"Yes, sir! I am a poor musician; your guard allowed me to pass when I
came through the wood. I saw you playing, and I ventured to look on."

The commanders of this free corps not being accustomed to hear
themselves addressed in such polite terms, took a liking to the
peasant, and invited him courteously to seat himself among them; for
they had learned in the military service of foreign countries that
kings and princes often went about in the guise of minstrels.

The general filled a cup of wine out of a pewter bottle, offered it to
the little captain, and said, with a good-natured smile, "Muckerle,
what I drink shall be my death, if I don't forget everything that has
passed between us! an end to strife and quarrel. We won't play any
more, gentlemen: I love a song and the sound of the guitar--what say
you to some music?"

The men agreed, and threw the cards aside. The peasant tuned his
instrument, and asked what he should sing.

"Give us a song upon card-playing!" cried one of the party.

The musician considered awhile, and sung the following upon the game of
lansquenet, which they had just been playing.

           "Cinque, quatre, and ace
            Bring many a man to disgrace;
            Quatre, and cinque, and tré
            Make many to cry well-a-day;
            An ace, a seize, and a deuce
            Make many an empty house;
            A quatre, a trois, and cinque
            Cause many pure water to drink;
            A cinque, a trois, and quatre
            Make parents' and children's eyes water;
            From cinque, and quatre, and seize,
            Miss Catherine and Miss Elize
            Must long unmarried remain,
            Unless from your play you refrain."

Long Peter and his associates praised his singing, and reached him the
flask with their thanks. "May God bless you!" said the singer, as he
returned the bottle; "I wish you luck in your campaign. If I don't
mistake, you are the commanders of the League, and are on your march to
the enemy. May I ask who you are going against?"

The men looked and smiled at each other, but the general answered him:
"you are quite in the wrong. We did, indeed, serve the League formerly,
but we are now free and our own masters, ready to assist any one who
wants us."

"This will be a good year for the Swiss, for it is said the Duke will
return to his country with their assistance," said the peasant.

"May the Swiss be hunted by wolves," said the general, "for having
treated him so ill! The good Duke set all his hopes upon them, and,
_diavolo maledetto_! did they not desert him in Blaubeuren?"

"Yes, it was too bad," said Captain Muckerle; "but when one looks at
the circumstance in its proper light, it served him half right, because
he should have known them better. May the devil take them all!"

"They were the Duke's last resource," replied the musician; "but if he
had trusted to such men as you, the League would still be at Ulm."

"You have spoken a true word there, my hearty friend!" said the
captain. "He ought to have preferred the lansquenets before those Swiss
dogs. And if he trusts to them now, I know what will happen. I say it
again: he should take lansquenets. Is it not so, Magdeburger?"

"That's my opinion also," said the Magdeburger: "no other than
lansquenets can seat the Duke upon his chair again. The Swiss only know
how to use their long halberds; that's all their art. But you ought to
see us load our guns, how we lay them in the fork, and fire them with a
match. No one can come near us in that man[oe]uvre. The Swiss take half
an hour to fire their guns, but we only half of a quarter."

"With all respect, gentlemen of this noble corps," said the peasant,
raising his cap respectfully, "the Duke should certainly have thrown
himself upon your bounty. But the League rewarded you too well for the
poor Duke to be able to crave your assistance."

"Rewarded, did you say?" cried the captain of the fifth company, and
laughed; "yes, those Swabian dogs would have melted gold out of lead if
they could! But I say they paid us ill, and if his grace the Duke will
take me, my services are at his command."

"You are right, Staberl," said the general, and stroked his beard.
"_Morbleu!_ the cat likes to have his back stroked:--if the Duke pays
well, the whole corps will join him."

"Well, you shall soon see that," said the peasant, with a cunning
smile; "have you had an answer to your message to the Duke?"

The general's whole countenance became as red as fire at this question.
"_Mordelement!_ Who are you, child of man, who knows my secret? Who
told you I had sent to the Duke?"

"Did you, Peter, send to him? What secret have you between each other
that we should not know? Tell us immediately," said the Magdeburger.

"Well, I thought it was my duty to think for you all again, as I always
have done, and sent a man to the Duke in our name, and with our
compliments, to know if he required our services? Our terms were, half
a broad piece a man per month, and for us generals and captains a gold
florin, with four measures of old wine."

"Those are no bad terms: a gold florin a month! none of us will object
to them. Have you had an answer from the Duke?" said the Magdeburger.

"Not yet," said the general. "But, _bassa manelka!_ tell me, how do you
come to know my secret, peasant, or I'll cut off your ear, and pin it
to my hat? Tell me immediately, or off it comes."

"Long Peter," cried the little captain Muckerle, "let him go in peace,
for God's sake! he is a resolute man, and possesses the art of
witchcraft. I recollect his face as well as if it was but to-day, when
we had orders to arrest him in Ulm, and were sent to look for him at
the stable of Herrn von Kraft, the clerk of the council, where he
resided. He was a spy, and was able to make himself smaller and
smaller, not bigger than a sparrow, and flew away from us."

"What!" cried the gallant general, and edged away from the peasant; "is
this the man? Why did not the magistrates of Ulm order all the sparrows
to be shot, because a Würtemberger spy had turned himself into one?"

"That's him," whispered Muckerle; "that's the fifer of Hardt; I knew
him as soon as I saw him."

The general and his companions did not recover their astonishment for
some time. They beheld the man of whom many wonderful stories had been
related with mingled curiosity and apprehension. Hans was clever
enough, however, to understand what they whispered to each other,
without the appearance of remarking the state of surprise he had
created among them. At length, Long Peter, the official organ of the
rest, took heart, twisted his whiskers, and, taking off his enormous
hat, thus addressed the fifer of Hardt: "Pardon us, worthy companion,
and highly respected fifer of Hardt, that we have treated you with so
little ceremony; but how could we know who it was we had among us? be
many times welcome; I have long wished to see so renowned a man as the
fifer of Hardt, who had the power of flying away from Ulm like a
sparrow in the middle of the day."

"Let's have done with those old stories," interrupted the fifer,
hastily. "I heard this day from the Duke, who desired me to find you
out, to know if you were still inclined to join him upon the terms he
has proposed."

"_Canto cacramento!_ he is a good man! a gold ducat a month and four
measures of wine daily! Long may he live!" cried the general.

"When will he come?" asked captain Löffler. "Where shall we meet him?"

"This very day, if no ill luck attends him. He was to advance upon
Heimsheim this morning, where the garrison is weak, and, when he has
taken it, he will come on this way."

"Look! there rides a man in armour, to all appearance a knight!" The
men looked towards the end of the valley, and remarked a helmet and
armour shining in the sun, with a horse occasionally visible. The fifer
of Hardt jumped up and climbed the oak, whence he could overlook the
valley with greater ease. The horseman was too distant from him to be
able to recognise his features, but he thought he knew the scarf which
he wore, and that it was the person he had been expecting to appear.

"What do you see?" said the men; "is it one riding by chance through
the wood, or do you think he comes from the Duke?"

"That's him with the white and blue scarf," said the fifer; "that's his
long hair, and his seat on horseback. Oh, precious youth, welcome back
to Würtemberg! He observes your advanced post, and rides towards it;
only look how the fellows present their lances and spread out their
legs!"

"Yes, yes, the lansquenet knows the arts of war; no one dare pass the
spot where the commanders are, without knowing his business," said the
general.

"Stop! they are calling to him; he speaks to them; they point this way;
he comes!" cried the fifer, who came down from the tree with a joyful
countenance.

"_Diavolo maledetto! bassam terendete!_ They won't let him ride alone,
I hope? Ah! I see one of them has hold of his bridle 1 How? It is
really a knight that comes!

"A nobleman as good as any in the empire," answered the fifer; "the
friend and favourite of the Duke." Upon hearing this they all stood up,
for, though they fancied themselves men of importance and rank, they
were aware of their being only lansquenets, and bound to pay proper
respect to their superiors. The general seated himself again, with an
air of gravity, at the foot of the oak--stroked his beard to make it
shine--arranged his hat with the cock's feathers properly--supported
his hand on his enormous sword--and in this manner awaited the arrival
of the stranger.



                           	 END OF VOL. II.



              J. B. Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament-street.



                              THE BANISHED.

                               VOL. III.



                LONDON: PRINTED BY J. B. NICHOLS AND SON,
                         25, PARLIAMENT STREET.



                              THE BANISHED:

                                   A

                        SWABIAN HISTORICAL TALE.


                               EDITED BY

                           JAMES MORIER, ESQ.

                        AUTHOR OF HAJJI BABA, &c.


                            IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOL. III.



                                LONDON:
                       HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
                       GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
                                  1839.



                              THE BANISHED.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

            The Duke at length is coming,
            The battle field's not far;
            For vanquish'd is the foeman,
            And he brings the spoils of war.
                                          G. SCHWAB.

A knight in armour, his horse being led between two of the lansquenet
from the outpost, now approached the place where Long Peter, their
general, and the other men, were assembled. Though he had drawn the
vizor of his shining helmet over his face, the fifer of Hardt thought
he recognised him as the man he expected, by the plates and cuish of
steel which encased his muscular limbs, the plumes which waved high in
the breeze, and the well known scarf which crossed over his coat of
mail. And he was not mistaken, for one of the men who led his horse
advanced to the General, and acquainted him that the noble "Knight of
Sturmfeder" wished to speak to the leaders of the lansquenet.

Long Peter answered in the name of the rest, "tell him he is welcome,
and that Peter Hunzinger the General, Staberl of Vienna, Conrad the
Magdeburger, Balthaser Löffler, and the brave Muckerle, all well
appointed Captains, are ready to receive and hear him. May my soul be
punished, but he has a beautiful suit of armour, and an helmet
fit for King Francis; and as to his steed, I have never seen a
finer--_Morbleu_, how well he stands on his four legs!"

The men kept at a respectful distance from the stranger, who now
approached, but shewed no inclination to dismount. Raising his vizor,
he spoke to one of the men, and discovered his handsome friendly
countenance. "Is not that Hans, the musician?" said he, to the men. "I
have a word to say to him first."

The general made a sign to the fifer to approach the young knight, who
immediately dismounted from his horse. "Welcome in Würtemberg, noble
sir," said the man of Hardt, and returned a hearty shake of Albert von
Sturmfeder's hand: "what news do you bring? The Duke's cause prospers,
if I can judge from the expression of your countenance."

"Come on one side," he replied, in anxious haste. "How fares it in
Lichtenstein? Have you a letter or a couple of lines for me? O give it
quickly!"

The fifer smiled at the impatience of the lovesick youth; "I have
neither letter nor line. The lady is well, and the old knight also;
that is all I know."

"How!" replied the other, "nothing, not even a message? I am sure she
did not let you depart without something for me!"

"When I took my leave of the lady the day before yesterday, she said,
'Tell him to hasten the entrance into Stuttgardt;' and when she spoke,
became as red in the face as you are at present."

"We'll soon be there, with God's will!" he answered. "But how has she
passed the long summer? I have only heard from her three times since we
parted. Were you often in Lichtenstein, Hans?"

"Dear sir," answered the fifer, "have patience, and I will relate every
thing, in length and breadth, on the march: for the present, be
satisfied with the assurance, that so soon as the old knight hears you
are advancing to Stuttgardt, he will set out from Lichtenstein with
your bride, for he does not doubt of your overpowering the garrison.
Have you succeeded in taking Heimsheim?"

"We have: I rode through the gates with twelve horsemen, before they
were aware of our coming. Though the garrison were somewhat stronger
than us, they were dispirited and dissatisfied. I treated with them in
the Duke's name, and made them believe that he was coming up with a
large body of troops, upon which they surrendered: thus far are we in
Würtemberg. But in what state is the road before us?"

"Open, into the heart of the country, open. I have important news for
the Duke from the knight of Lichtenstein, namely, that the men in power
are out of the land, do you know----"

"Is it the meeting they now hold at Nördlingen you mean?" interrupted
Albert. "Oh! yes, we know it, for it was that news which determined the
Duke to commence operations."

"Well, when the cats are away, the mice will play," said the fifer;
"the garrisons are every where careless. None of the League think any
more of the Duke, their attention being wholly taken up with the
meeting at Nördlingen, where it will be decided, whether Austria, or
Bavaria, or Prince Christoph, or the Leaguist towns Augsburg and Aalen,
Nürnberg, and Bopfinger, will reign over us."

"What long faces they will make," exclaimed Albert, smiling, "when they
hear that the chair about which they are quarrelling is already
possessed:

           'The frog jumps into the muddy pool,
            Tho' he may set upon a golden stool!'

says the proverb; they may shoulder their guns and give up governing
now. And the Würtembergers, what are their feelings towards the Duke at
present? Do you believe many will come to his assistance?"

"He may reckon upon the citizens and peasantry," replied the fifer.
"How it stands with the knights, I don't know; for when I asked the old
man of Lichtenstein, he shrugged up his shoulders and muttered a couple
of curses: I fear that matter is not so well as it should be. But
citizens and peasants hold to a man for their Prince. Many
extraordinary signs have appeared, which encourage the people. Lately
in the valley of the Rems a stone fell from the sky, on one side of
which a stag's horn and the following words were engraved, 'Here's to
good Würtemberg for ever,' and on the reverse, in Latin, 'Long live
Duke Ulerich.'"

"Did you say it fell from the sky?"

"So it was said. The peasantry were overjoyed at it, but the officers
of the League put the magistrate of the place where it had fallen into
prison, and wanted to extort from him the name of the person who had
engraved the letters. And when it was proclaimed, upon pain of severe
punishment, that no one was to speak of the Duke, the men only laughed,
and said, 'We dream of him now.' They all wish him back again, and
would rather be oppressed by their legitimate Lord than be flayed by
strangers."

"That's as it should be," said Albert. "The Duke and his cavalry may be
here in a few hours. His intention is, to cut his way straight through
the country to Stuttgardt. The capital once ours, the rest will soon
follow. But how is it with these lansquenets--will they join us?"

"I had almost forgotten them," said Hans, "we had better go to them;
else they will become impatient if we keep them waiting. You must be
cautious how you treat them, for they are proud fellows, and have no
small idea of their own importance. By winning these five to our
interests, the whole twelve companies are sure to follow. With their
General, Long Peter, mind and be very civil and courteous."

"Which is Long Peter?"

"The big man, sitting under the oak; he with the stiff mustachios and
hat of distinction on his head. He is the commander in chief."

"I will talk to him, and follow your advice," Albert answered, and
proceeded towards them. The long conversation which they had held had
somewhat displeased the men, and little Muckerle in particular eyed the
ambassador of the Duke with a penetrating glance. But when the young
knight appeared among them his noble demeanour disconcerted them, they
became shy and embarrassed before him, so much so, that the courteous
words which he addressed to them soon had the desired effect of
bringing them over to the Duke's cause. They listened to him in
respectful silence.

"Most experienced general and brave commanders of the assembled
lansquenet," said Albert, "the Duke of Würtemberg having approached the
boundary of his country, and captured Heimsheim, is determined in the
same way to recover his whole dukedom."

"May my soul be punished, but he is right!" said Long Peter; "I would
do the same."

"He has already experienced the courage and military science of the
lansquenet, when they fought on the side of his enemies, and he trusts
they will manifest the same bravery in his cause, promising upon his
princely word, faithfully to fulfil the engagements he has proposed."

"A pious man," murmured the commanders among themselves, with approving
nods; "a gold florin a month, and, _morbleu_! four measures of wine a
day for the superior officers."

The general rose from his seat, saluted him by uncovering his
bald head, and said, though often interrupted by many coughs of
embarrassment, "We thank you, most noble sir; we agree--we'll join
you. We'll give back to the Swabian League what they gave us, that we
will--hard usage. The very best and most courageous, as well as the
most excellent of men, have they dismissed, as if they did not value
our services. There stands, for example, Captain Löffler: if there is a
braver lansquenet in all Christendom, I'll allow my skin to be peeled
off and walk about in my bones the rest of my life! Look at Staberl of
Vienna: the sun and moon have never shone upon his equal! And the
Magdeburger there, no Turk ever fought like him; and as for little
Muckerle, though he does not look it, he is the best shot in the
world, and can hit the bull's eye in the target at forty paces. I
won't say anything of myself; self praise does not sound well. But,
_bassa manelka_! I have served in Spain and Holland--and, _canto
cacramento_--also in Italy and Germany! _Morbleu!_ Long Peter is known
in every army. May my soul be punished, when I and the others get
behind the Swabian dogs, _diavolo maledetto_, they'll take to their
hareskin, and be off as fast as their heels can carry them!"

This was the longest speech Long Peter had ever made; and when many
years after he sealed the renown of the German lansquenet with his
death before Pavia, his companions, in relating to their young comrades
the events of his life, always mentioned this moment as the most
glorious of his career. He was described as standing before his
audience, leaning upon his long sword, his large hat with the red
feathers cocked over his ear, the right hand resting upon his side, and
his legs spread out, wanting nothing to complete his pretensions to a
regular general than a better jerkin and the chain of honour.

The commanders, after the flattering speech of their general, invited
their new guest to pass their army in review. The hollow sound of
enormous drums soon roused the men from their rest. They appeared still
to be under the influence of Fronsberg's military genius and strict
discipline, by the activity they displayed in forming themselves, in a
few moments, into three great circles, each composed of four companies.
To an eye accustomed, as in our times, to the rapid but steady
movements of regiments, and the beautiful appearance of their
uniformity of dress, the sight of this heterogeneous multitude would
cause surprise if not ridicule. Though the lansquenets were generally
clothed according to their own taste, there was still a semblance of an
attempt to uniformity after the fashion of those days. For the most
part they wore jerkins of leather setting tight to the body, or leather
waistcoats with arms of coarse cloth, and enormous wide trousers tied
under the knee, and falling by their own weight a little below it. The
legs were covered with coarse stockings of a light colour, and the feet
with shoes of untanned leather. A hat, leather or metal cap, probably
articles of plunder rather than of purchase, covered the head; and the
bearded faces of these men, many of whom had served twenty years in all
the armies and under every climate in Europe, gave them a very bold and
martial appearance. They were armed with a dagger and halberd, and some
with guns, which were fired with a match.

Standing with outstretched legs, and foot to foot meeting, they
presented a bold front; and Albert's military spirit rejoiced at the
sight of these experienced warriors, who, however, were well aware,
that in single combat they had no confidence, but formed in mass they
were formidable even to a more numerous enemy.

The commanders had carefully retained all the man[oe]uvres and words of
command of their former leader. They walked into the middle of one of
the circles, followed by their new acquaintance, when the deep and
loud-toned voice of Long Peter gave the word "Attention! face about."

The celerity with which the order was obeyed by turning around facing
inwards, proved they had not forgotten their lesson. They listened to
the proposals of the Duke of Würtemberg which the commanders addressed
to them, and manifested by a murmur which ran through the ranks, that
they were satisfied with the terms, and would serve his cause with the
same zeal as they had not long since served against it. They were then
put through several man[oe]uvres, which they performed with an address
that astonished Albert, who thought the art of war of his day would
never be surpassed as long as the world existed. But he deceived
himself. His error of judgment was, however, pardonable, for in the
same way did our grandfathers hold the heroes of Frederick the Great in
estimation, as the _ne plus ultra_ of military discipline, and did not
anticipate the ridicule of their descendants on the subject of
perruques and long gaiters. And may not the time come, when the _good
old times_ of 1839 will also have their share of ridicule? Certainly
such elegant laced-up figures as are seen now-a-days among military
men, were not the fashion among the lansquenet and their commanders,
A. D. 1519.

About an hour after, it was announced from the advanced posts, that
they had perceived at the further end of the valley, in the
neighbourhood of the road leading from Heimsheim, the glittering of
arms, and when they put their ears close to the ground, they heard
distinctly the trampling of many horses.

"That's the Duke," cried Albert; "bring me my horse; I will ride and
meet him."

The young man galloped away through the wood, to the admiration of the
bystanders, who were astonished at the activity he displayed in
throwing himself upon his steed, encumbered as he was with his heavy
armour. Helmets with high plumes and shining lances were shortly after
seen moving among the bushes of the valley. As they approached, the
cavalry issued from the wood, seen first breast high among the
underwood, and then their whole figures were visible on a small height,
where the whole body assembled. The joy of the fifer of Hardt was
indescribable when he got a sight of the gallant band, headed by the
Duke. He took the general by the hand, and pointed to them with an air
of triumphant satisfaction.

"Which is the Duke?" asked Long Peter; "is that him on the black piebald
horse?"

"No, that is the noble knight Von Hewen: the banner-bearer of
Würtemberg:--but, no, am I mistaken? I declare Albert von Sturmfeder
carries it!"

"That's a great honour! _Morbleu_, he is only five-and-twenty, and
carries the flag! In France the only man who is entitled to that
privilege is the constable, the next man to the king in honour. In that
country it is called the standard, and is made all of gold. But which
is Duke Ulerich?"

"Do you see that man in a green cloak, with the black and red feathers
in his helmet? he that rides next to the banner, mounted on a black
horse, and is speaking to the young knight. He points this way. That's
the Duke."

The body of cavalry was composed of about forty men, mostly noblemen
and their servants, who the Duke, in his banishment, had assembled
together, or appointed to meet him on the boundary of his country, when
his plans were ripe for an invasion. They were all well mounted and
armed. Albert von Sturmfeder carried Würtemberg's banner; next to him
rode the Duke in complete armour. When they came within about two
hundred paces of the lansquenet, Long Peter, in a loud voice, said to
his people, "Attention, my people. When his Grace is near enough, and I
raise my hat off my head, let every one cry, 'Vivat Ulericus!' lower
the colours, and you, drummers, rattle upon your sheep-skins like
thunder and lightning! Give us the animating flourish of the drum as at
the storming of a fortress! _Bassa manelka_, beat away till the
drumsticks break--that's the way the brave lansquenet salute a prince."

This short speech had the desired effect. The Duke's praises were
murmured through the warlike band; they shook their halberds, stamped
their fire-arms clattering on the ground, the drummers prepared their
drums and sticks to obey their general's orders in full vigour; and
when Albert von Sturmfeder, the standard-bearer of Würtemberg, sprang
forward, followed by Duke Ulerich, majestic as in the best days of his
power, with bold dignified countenance, Long Peter uncovered his head
in respectful submission, the preconcerted signal was instantly obeyed,
the drummers executed their military music, the colours were lowered in
salute, and the whole body of the lansquenet vociferated a loud and
cheering "Vivat Ulericus!"

The peasant of Hardt remained at a distance, not heeding the salute,
for his whole soul appeared concentred in his eye, which was fixed on
his lord in the intoxication of joy. The Duke stopped his horse, and
looked about him in the dead silence which afterwards succeeded. The
fifer then came forward, knelt down, holding his stirrup for him to
dismount, and said, "Here's to good Würtemberg for ever!"

"Ha! are you there, Hans, my trusty companion in misfortune, the first
to salute me in Würtemberg? I expected my nobles would have been the
foremost to greet my arrival in my country, my chancellor and my
council--where are the dogs? Where are the representatives of my
estates? will they not welcome me to my home? Is no one here to hold my
stirrup but this peasant?"

The followers of the Duke hastened around him in surprise when they
heard these cutting words. They scarcely knew whether he was in
earnest, or whether it was a mere sarcastic joke over his own
misfortunes. His mouth, appeared to smile, but his eye bespoke anger,
and his voice sounded stern and commanding. They looked at each other
in doubtful apprehension as to the meaning of this burst of passion,
when the fifer of Hardt replied,

"For this once a peasant only assists your Grace on Würtemberg ground;
but despise not a true heart and a willing hand. The others will soon
come, when they hear the Duke treads his native land again."

"Do you think so?" said Ulerich, with a bitter smile, as he swung
himself from his horse; "do you think they'll come? Hitherto we have
little reason to flatter ourselves; but I'll knock at their doors, and
let them know that the old gentleman is there, and will have admittance
to his house! Are these the lansquenets who have agreed to serve me?"
he continued, attentively observing the little army; "they appear well
armed, and in good condition. How many men are there?"

"Twelve companies, your Grace," answered Peter the general, who still
stood without his hat, in a state of embarrassment, twisting his
mustachios occasionally. "Nothing but well-trained men. May my soul be
punished--pardon my oath--but the king of France has no better
soldiers!"

"Who are you?" asked the Duke, looking with astonishment at the large
heavy figure of the general, with his immense sword and red face.

"I am a lansquenet of my own order, and am called Long Peter, but now
the well-appointed general of the assembled----"

"What, general! this folly must have an end. You may be a very brave
man, but you are not made to command. I will be your general
henceforth," said the Duke, "and my knights will be named as your
captains."

"_Bassa manelka!_--I am sorry I swore, but permit an old soldier to say
a word to your Grace. What you propose would be against our terms of a
gold florin a month, and four measures of wine a-day. There stands, for
example, Staberl of Vienna, not a braver man under the sun----"

"Very good, very good, old man! we'll not talk of the gold florin and
wine now," replied the Duke. "The captains shall retain their present
commands, but I command you. Have you any ammunition?"

"Yes, to be sure," said the Magdeburger; "we have plenty, which belonged
to your Grace, and which we brought away from Tübingen. Each man has
eighty rounds."

"Very well," answered the Duke; "George von Hewen and Philip von
Rechberg, do you divide the men, and each take six companies. Let their
captains remain with their men, and assist their commanders. Ludwig von
Gemmingen, I appoint you to command all the infantry. And now we'll
march direct for Leonberg. Rejoice, my faithful standard bearer," said
the Duke, as he mounted, "with God's assistance we'll be in Stuttgardt
tomorrow."

The troop of cavalry, with the Duke at their head, led the way. Long
Peter stood fixed in the same place, with his hat and its cock's
feathers in his hand, observing the horsemen.

"That is a Prince, indeed!" he said to the other commanders who stood
beside him. "What a powerful voice he has; and when he rolls his eyes
about it makes one quake for fear! I thought he would have swallowed
me, head and all, when he asked me who I was."

"I felt much in the same state as if hot water had been poured over
me," said the Magdeburger. "This man is more to be dreaded than the
Emperor in Vienna."

"Our reign has been but a short one," said Captain Muckerle; "our
dignity has not lasted long."

"Fool! so much the better. Dignity only brings cares, says the proverb;
our people don't submit readily to our orders--_diavolo!_--for one of
them laughed at me in my face only this day. Things will go much better
when the knights lead us: and we shall receive a gold florin and four
measures of wine; that's our principal business." So said Peter.

"I think so too," said the Magdeburger; "and we have to thank Long
Peter for our good fortune. Long may he live!"

"Thank you," said the general; "but I tell you, the Duke will set the
League in flames again, _morbleu!_ and when he draws his sword, he
alone will hunt them out of the country. And did you hear how he cursed
his council, chancellor, and nobles? I would not like to be in their
skins."

The conversation of the veterans was now interrupted by the rolling of
the drums, which no longer sounded at their command. Long Peter had
been so often accustomed, during his many campaigns, to the
vicissitudes of fortune, by being raised and lowered suddenly in rank,
that he was not disconcerted by his present loss of command. He very
quietly deprived his large hat of its ornamental cock's feather; he
laid aside his red scarf and long sword, the emblems of his dignity,
and shouldered his halberd. "May my soul be punished, but mine is a
hard case, who but yesterday was in supreme command, and am now obliged
to go back into the ranks," said he, as he took his place among his
comrades. "But by Saint Peter, my holy patron and brother lansquenet,
every thing is for the best in this world." His companions shook him by
the hand, and agreed with him in his sentiments. It did his brave heart
good to hear them approve of his conduct, the short time he had wielded
the command over them. The three knights, their newly appointed
leaders, mounted and put themselves at the head of their brigades; the
lansquenets arranged themselves in the common order of march, and,
Ludwig von Gemmingen ordering the drums to beat the advance, the little
army broke up their camp, and set forward.



                             CHAPTER XXVII.

            The summit of the wall is gain'd
              All in the silent night,
            And now the fortress is attain'd!
              We do not fear the light.
            Now, let us sound the battle cry,
              And be it "Death or victory!"
                                          SCHILLER.

Duke Ulerich appeared before the gate of Stuttgardt, called the Red
Hill Gate, on the night previous to the holiday of the Assumption of
the Virgin Mary. Having captured the little town of Leonberg on his
way, he prosecuted his march on the capital without further
interruption. The news of his being in the country spread through the
land like wild-fire, and judging by the numbers that joined his
colours, as well as by the joy with which he was everywhere received,
he had reason to suppose the people would rejoice to see their
legitimate Prince re-established in his rights, and the hateful
government of the League abolished.

The intelligence of his advance had reached Stuttgardt, and had caused
much difference of feeling amongst its inhabitants. The nobility
scarcely knew what they had to expect from the Duke; the shameful
surrender of Tübingen being an event of too recent a date to leave them
wholly without fear of his wrath. But the recollection of the brilliant
court of Ulerich von Würtemberg and the merry days they had formerly
passed under his sway, compared to the oppressions the League had
inflicted on them, led them to incline to submission. Not a few,
however, among them had reason to dread his return. The citizens could
scarcely restrain their joy; and, quitting their houses, assembled in
groups about the streets, talking over coming events. They cursed the
League in strong terms, but silently, clenching their fists in their
pockets, and were beyond measure patriotically inclined, and full of
pugnacious propensities. Calling to mind the illustrious ancestors of
their exiled Prince, whose name of Würtemberg they themselves bore;
they reckoned up the many noble lords sprung from the same family,
under whom they and their fathers had lived happily, and whose glorious
deeds had spread their country's fame abroad. But the most important
topic of their conversation was, that upon them depended, in a great
measure, the decision of the struggle between the League and the Duke,
as the whole country would now look upon the Stuttgardters as the
fuglemen in the contest. They were, however, no way inclined of
themselves to create an insurrection against the garrison of the
League, whom they still feared, but they whispered to each other:
"Brother, wait a little, and we'll soon have an opportunity to show
those Leaguists what we Stuttgardters are made of."

The insurrectionary spirit of the burghers did not escape the notice of
Christoph Schwarzenberg, the Leaguist governor. He perceived, but too
late, the mistake that had been committed in disbanding the army. He
applied to the representatives of his party assembled at Nördlingen for
assistance, but gave them no hope of holding Stuttgardt unless they
sent immediate relief. Scarcely had he time to make some feeble
preparations for defence, when the rapid advance of the Duke checked
his ardour. Perceiving he could not trust the citizens, that the nobles
would not stand by him, and aware that the garrison was not strong
enough even to ensure the safety of the gates of the city, he absconded
in the night with the state council to Esslingen. Their flight was so
sudden and secret, that their families even were ignorant of it, and no
one in the town suspected the intentions of the governor and his
senate. The partisans of the League, therefore, never dreaming of the
desertion of their chiefs, treated the news of the approach of the Duke
with indifference, for they did not believe the report of his being in
the immediate neighbourhood.

The market-place in those days stood in the heart of the city. But even
then two considerable suburbs, the Saint Leonhard and the field of
tournament, were built around the town, provided with outer ditches,
walls, and strong gates, which gave them also the appearance of
fortified cities. They were separated from the old town which possessed
its own walls and gates, and its inhabitants looked down with contempt
on those of the suburbs. The market-place was the spot where the
burghers were accustomed to assemble, according to the fashion of olden
times when any extraordinary occurrence took place; and therefore, on
the eventful evening before the day of the Assumption of the Virgin,
the citizens streamed in crowds to this central point. Though every man
in those days carried arms with impunity, which gave to an assembled
multitude a fearful appearance, still the honest burghers of Stuttgardt
would not have dared to utter, in the day-time, what they now ventured
to do in the dusk. Had many of them been asked their opinion of the
Duke in the forenoon, they would have answered, "What do I care about
him? I am a peaceable citizen:" but upon this occasion, they raised
their voices, I and cried, "We'll open the gates to the Duke! away with
the Leaguists! Würtemberg for ever!"

The moon shone bright on the assembled crowd, which waved to and fro in
restless motion, whilst a confused murmur seemed to indicate indecision
as to what was to be done, perhaps because no one was bold enough to
put himself forward on the occasion. Many heads looked out of the
windows of the gable-ended houses which surrounded the market-place;
they were the wives and families of the congregated citizens, listening
with intense anxiety to what was going on: for it must be observed that
the Stuttgardt ladies were in those days equally given to curiosity as
they now are, and in their hearts pitied the Duke.

The hum of voices became louder and louder, whilst the feeling which
ran through the crowd became more distinct. The cry "let's drive; the
soldiers from the gates, and open them to the Duke," passed from mouth
to mouth, when a tall, meagre-looking man was seen to spring up on a
stone bank which surrounded the fountain, whence he overlooked the
assemblage of burghers. He flourished his long arms about in the air,
opened his large mouth, and hallooed with all his might to obtain a
hearing. The noise about him having partially subsided, a few detached
words and sentences were heard by the immediate bystanders. "What! do
the honourable burghers of Stuttgardt intend to break the oath which
they have sworn to the League? To whom do you want to open the
gates--to the Duke? He can't have a very strong force with him, for he
has no money to pay them, and he will make you open your purses. If you
surrender to him, you will have ten thousand florins to pay. Do you
hear? ten thousand florins, I say!"

"Who is that lanky fellow?" the citizens asked one another. "He's
right," said one of them, "we shall have to pay handsomely."--"Is he a
citizen, that man up there?"--"Who are you?" said one of the boldest;
"how do you know we shall have to pay?"

"I am the renowned Doctor Calmus," said the speaker, with solemn voice,
"and am quite sure of it. And who do you want to drive away? The
Emperor, the Empire, the League? Will you run your heads against so
many rich lords? and why? for Duke Utz, who only throws dust in your
eyes! Do you forget his oppressive game laws, the least part of his
tyranny? He has no more money left; he is a beggar, and has squandered
everything in Mömpelgard----"

"Make him keep silence!" cried the burghers: "What is that to you? you
are not one of our citizens; away with the bald-headed mouse,--kill
him,--throw him into the fountain to feed the fish!--Long live the
Duke!"

Doctor Calmus raised his voice again, but was overpowered by the loud
shouts of the bystanders.

At this moment another troop of burghers arrived in great haste from
the suburbs. "The Duke is before the Red Hill gate," they cried, "with
cavalry and infantry. Where is the governor and his council? He will
fire into the town if the gates be not instantly opened! Away with the
Leaguists!--Who is a good Würtemberger?"

The tumult increased. Perceiving the crowd still undecided, another
speaker mounted the bank: he was a comely-looking man, who, for a
moment, imposed on the crowd by his outward appearance. "Consider,
honourable men," he cried: "what will the illustrious council of the
League say if you----"

"Out with the illustrious council!" they answered, "away with him, tear
him down, him with the rose-coloured cloak and smooth hair, he is an
Ulmer--at him, he is an Ulmer!"

But before they could put their threats into execution, a powerful man
stept up between the two orators, knocked the Doctor over with his
right hand, and the Ulmer with his left, waving his cap in the air to
obtain a hearing. "Silence! that is Hartman," whispered the burghers,
"he understands the world; listen to what he says!"

"Hear me!" said he: "the governor and his council are nowhere to be
found, they have fled, and left us in the lurch; we'll therefore seize
these two, and keep them as hostages. And now to the Red Hill gate; our
true Duke stands before it: it is better to open the gate of our own
accord than that he should use force to do so. Who's a good
Würtemberger, let him follow me."

He descended from his position, and was joyfully received by the crowd.
The two advocates of the League were bound and led away before they had
time to look about them. The stream of burghers now flowed from the
marketplace through the upper gate and over the broad ditch of the old
town leading to the field of tournament, and, passing the
fortification, arrived at the Red Hill gate. The Leaguist troops, who
occupied it, were soon overpowered, the gate was opened, the drawbridge
fell, and laid over the town ditch.

The leader of the Duke's infantry had, during these occurrences in the
town, stationed his best troops at this gate, as it was doubtful what
steps the League would take at the approach of the Duke. Ulerich
himself had examined the post. In vain did Albert von Sturmfeder
endeavour to persuade him that the garrison of Stuttgardt was too weak
to make any formidable resistance, in vain did he represent to him the
desire the burghers had to see him again, and would willingly open the
gates, the Duke looked darker than the night, pressed his lips
together, and gnashed his teeth in anger.

"You don't understand these things," he muttered to the young man; "you
don't know the world; they are all false; never trust any one but
yourself. They accommodate themselves to every change of wind. But I
have them this once under my thumb. Do you suppose I have been obliged
to turn my back upon my country to no purpose?"

Albert was unable to comprehend the Duke's meaning. He had seen him
firm in misfortune, yea even mild and gentle, and in speaking of the
many beneficent plans for the good of his people, which he intended to
put into execution when he returned to his country, he had seldom
manifested any violent fits of passion in talking of his enemies, and
scarcely ever betrayed any ill will towards his subjects, who had
deserted him. But whether it was the sight of his country that awakened
the feeling of vexation stronger in him than usual, whether he was
irritated that the nobility and representatives of his estates had not
come forward to welcome his arrival after he had passed the boundary of
Würtemberg; whatever was the cause, his spirits were no longer cheerful
and buoyant. His look appeared as if troubled by a thirst for revenge,
and a certain severity and harshness in giving his opinion, struck
those about him as indications of alteration in his temper. Albert von
Sturmfeder, in particular, could not account for this new turn in
Ulerich's manner.

The town had been summoned more than half an hour. The time which had
been given was nearly expired, and still no answer had arrived. The hum
of voices was heard in the town, and a restless moving about the
streets, shewing that the besieged were doubtful whether their terms
would be accepted or not.

The Duke rode up to the lansquenets, who were resting on their halberds
and match guns, headed by their leaders, who were each occupied in
preserving discipline among their men. Albert remarked the countenance
of the Duke by the light of the moon. The veins of his of his forehead
were swollen beyond their common size, his cheeks being deeply flushed,
and his eyes sparkled like fire.

"Hewen! get the scaling ladders ready," said the Duke with a stern
voice. "Thunder and lightning! I stand before my own house, and they
will not let me in. The trumpets shall sound once more, when, if they
don't open the gates instantly, I'll fire the town and burn it to the
ground."

"_Bassa manelka!_ that's what I like," said Long Peter to his comrade,
who stood in the front rank near the Duke. "The ladders are going to be
brought, we'll climb up like cats, and drive those fellows from the
walls, and then the musqueteers will pepper them properly, _canto
cacramento_!"

"Ah! yes," said the Magdeburger, "and then we'll sally into the town,
set fire to all corners--plunder--burst open the doors--that's the fun
for us lansquenets!"

"For God's sake, my Lord Duke," said Albert, who had heard his last
words, and had observed the rapacious spirit which animated the
soldiers, "only wait a short quarter of an hour longer; recollect it is
your own capital. They are most likely still deliberating."

"What have they got to consult so long about?" replied Ulerich with ill
humour: "their rightful lord stands before his own gate, and demands
admittance. My patience is already exhausted. Spread my banner to the
light of the moon, Albert; let the trumpets sound; summon the town once
more for the last time; and if the gates are not opened by the time I
have counted thirty after the last word, by the holy Hubertus, I'll
storm the walls. Be quick! Albert."

"O sir! consider your town, your best town! Having lived so long in
it, would you now give it to the flames? Give them a little more time."

"Ha!" laughed the Duke in anger, and struck the armour of his breast
with his steel glove, which sounded through the stillness of the night,
"I see you are not inclined to enter Stuttgardt, and merit your wife
thereby. But no more words now, at the risk of my displeasure, Albert
von Sturmfeder. Obey my order quickly: unfurl my banner, let the
trumpet sound! sound and frighten the dogs out of their sleep, that
they may know a Würtemberger stands here, and will enter his house in
spite of the Emperor and Empire. I say, summon them again, Sturmfeder!"

The young man obeyed the order in silence, and riding close up to the
ditch, unfurled Würtemberg's banner. The rays of the moon appeared to
welcome it back to its country, and shone full upon it, whereby the
four fields with their charges were plainly exhibited to view. On a
large flag of red silk were wove the arms of Würtemberg, with its
escutcheon and four fields. In the first were the stag horns of
Würtemberg, in the second the balls of Teck, the third had the
storming flag of the empire, which belonged by right to the Duke as
banner-bearer of the empire, and in the fourth were the fish of
Mömpelgard: the whole being surmounted by the crown and the bugle of
Urach. The strong arm of the young man could scarcely hold the heavy
flag in the breeze. He was attended by three trumpeters, who now
sounded their wild tones before the closed gate.

A window above it opened, and a voice asked their business. Albert von
Sturmfeder answered, "Ulerich, by the grace of God Duke of Würtemberg
and Teck, Count of Urach and Mömpelgard, summons for the second and
last time his city of Stuttgardt, to open its gates willingly and
instantly to him, else he will storm the walls and treat the town as an
enemy."

During the time Albert was delivering his message, a confused noise as
of a crowd in motion mingled with voices in the streets was heard,
which approaching nearer and nearer, at length broke out into tumult
and shouting.

"May my soul be punished, if they are not about to make a sortie!" said
Long Peter, loud enough to be heard by the Duke.

"Perhaps you are right," answered the Duke, turning abruptly to the
startled lansquenet: "close in together, present your pikes, and have
the matches ready, that we may receive them as they deserve."

The whole line retreated some distance from the ditch, leaving only the
three first companies at the point where the drawbridge fell. A wall of
pikes bristled in formidable array against a sudden attack, the guns
were presented and the match held at the touchhole ready to fire. The
dead stillness of expectation which reigned without the walls was
broken by the tumultuous noise within the town. The drawbridge fell,
but no enemy sallied forth to repel the invaders: three old grey-headed
men alone proceeded through the gate, bearing the arms of the city,
with its keys.

When the Duke saw the peaceable mission approach, he rode towards them
in a friendly manner, followed by Albert. Two of these men appeared to
be councillors or magistrates: they bent their knee before their lord
and master, and tendered him the proofs of their submission. He gave
them to his attendants, and said to the ambassadors, "You have kept us
waiting somewhat long outside: truly we should very shortly have
mounted the walls, and have lighted up your town with our own hands,
and made your eyes smart with the smoke of it. Why did you keep us
waiting so long?"

"Oh, my Lord!" said one of the old men, "as far as the burghers were
concerned they were ready to open the gates instantly; but we have some
few principal members of the League still among us, who held long and
dangerous speeches to the people to instigate them to rebellion against
your grace. That is the true cause of the delay."

"Ha! who are those men?" said the Duke. "I hope you have taken care not
to let them escape, for I would like to say a word to them."

"God forbid, your highness! we know our duty to our lord, and therefore
seized them immediately and put them in confinement. Is it your wish to
see them?"

"To-morrow morning in the castle, I'll examine them. Send to the
executioner at the same time; perhaps it will be requisite to take
their heads off."

"Prompt justice, just what they deserve," said a shrill croaking voice
behind the two burghers.

"Who is it that interrupts me?" said the Duke, when looking around, an
extraordinary figure of diminutive size stepped forward, carrying a
hump with which nature had ornamented his back, and which was concealed
under a black silk cloak. His well-combed grey locks were covered by a
small pointed hat; a pair of eyes, which bespoke cunning and intrigue,
sparkled under bushy grey eyebrows; and a thin moustache, which sprung
out from under an eagle-like nose, gave him much the appearance of a
feline animal. An expression of fawning courteousness lay upon his
wrinkled features, and when he uncovered his head at the Duke's salute,
Albert felt an insuperable disgust and a peculiar abhorrence at the
sight of him.

The Duke, when he noticed the little man, called to him in a friendly
way: "Ha! Ambrosius Bolland, our chancellor! are you still alive? You
might have made your appearance before now, methinks, for you must have
known we were in our country again; but you are, notwithstanding,
welcome to us."

"Most illustrious Duke!" answered the chancellor, Ambrosius Bolland, "I
have been laid up with a violent fit of gout, which would scarcely
allow me to leave my house; pardon me, therefore, your----"

"Very well, very well," said the Duke, smiling, "I'll soon cure you of
the gout. Come to us in the castle to-morrow morning; it is our
pleasure at present to ride through the town. Forwards, my faithful
banner-bearer!" he turned to Albert, with gracious demeanour, "you have
kept your word honestly as far as the gates of Stuttgardt; I will
reward your faithful service. By Saint Hubertus, the bride is yours
according to justice and right. Carry my flag before me, we'll plant it
on my castle, and tread the Leaguist banner in the dust! Gemmingen and
Hewen, you are my guests for the night; we'll see if the lords of the
Swabian League have left us any of our old wine."

Thus rode Duke Ulerich, surrounded by his knights, who had followed him
in his train through the gates of his capital. The burghers received
him with loud _vivas_, and the pretty damsels in the windows waved
their white handkerchiefs, to the annoyance of their mothers, who
thought these salutations were directed to the handsome young knight
carrying the Duke's banner, and who, as seen by the light of their
torches, recalled to their minds St. George, the dragon-killer.



                              CHAPTER XVIII.

            Oh, may the deeds of those no more,
              The glory that they won,
            The sire's spirit hovering o'er,
              So stimulate the son,
            That this day's setting sun may see
              Of no degenerate clay are we.
                                              P. CONZ.

When Albert von Sturmfeder viewed the old castle of Stuttgardt the next
morning, it did not exhibit the same form which it has in our days, the
present one having been built by the Duke's son, Prince Christoph. The
residence of the former Dukes of Würtemberg stood in the same place;
and differed little in plan and appearance from Christoph's work,
except that it was for the most part built of wood. Being surrounded by
broad and deep ditches, over which a bridge led to the town, a large
open space in front served in early times as a tilt-yard for the gay
court of Ulerich, whose powerful hand had often rolled many a knight in
the arena. The interior also of the building bespoke the customs and
usages of the times. High and vaulted halls occupied the lower part of
the castle, and were generally used in rainy weather as a place for
manly exercises, having space sufficient to admit of the largest lance
being wielded without hindrance. Old chronicles mention the size of
these halls as being spacious enough to contain between two and three
hundred persons at table. A broad stone staircase, capable of admitting
two horsemen to ride abreast, and made for that purpose, led to the
upper apartments, where the splendour of the rooms, the grandeur of the
hall of the knights, and the richly ornamented galleries used for
dancing and play, corresponded with the exterior appearance of the
castle.

Albert viewed with an eye of astonishment the extravagant splendour of
the palace. When he compared the establishment of his ancestors with
what he now saw, how small and confined they seemed to him! He
recollected the stories he had heard of the brilliancy of Ulerich's
court, on the occasion of his magnificent marriage, when seven thousand
guests, from all parts of the German empire, caroused in this castle,
in whose vaulted halls and spacious court-yards all kinds of games and
merrymaking were held for a whole month; and a numerous assembly of
noblemen, with all the greatest beauties of the day, kept up the merry
dance till late at night. He looked down into the garden of the castle,
which, from its beauty, was called Paradise. His fancy peopled the
shaded walks and summerhouses, which were scattered about it, with the
joyous throng of gallant knights and stately ladies, enjoying
themselves with mirth and song. But alas! how deserted and empty were
they now; and when he compared their present state with the picture his
imagination had created, what a lesson of this world's vanity did it
not give! The guests of the marriage feast, the brilliant merry court,
all are vanished, said he to himself; the princely bride is flown, the
brilliant circle of women by whom she was surrounded scattered to the
four winds; knights and counts, who once feasted in these halls, have
deserted their prince; the tender pledges of his marriage now in a
distant land, in the hands of his enemies; and the lord of the castle
is left alone to brood in solitude over his misfortunes, and think only
of revenge; and who knows how long he will be allowed to remain in the
house of his ancestors; who knows whether his enemies will not get the
upper hand again, and, overpowering him, drive him into misery twofold
greater than what he has already experienced.

The young soldier attempted in vain to repress these gloomy thoughts,
which the contrast between the splendour of the surrounding objects and
the misfortunes of the Duke involuntarily awakened in his mind. In vain
he summoned to his aid the portrait of that beloved being, whom he
hoped soon to call his own for ever; in vain he painted, in the most
glowing colours, to his imagination, all the charms of domestic
happiness in her company; he was still unable to shake off the gloomy
ideas which the sight of the castle had produced on his mind. Whatever
was the cause of it, whether it was the Duke's lofty character, which
he had so nobly manifested in misfortune, and which had created so deep
a feeling of admiration in the breast of the young man, or whether
nature had gifted him with an extraordinary perception into future
events, he remained riveted to the spot in deep thought. Persuaded that
the Duke's affairs were any thing but prosperous, he felt himself in
duty bound to warn him against some unforeseen impending danger which
irresistibly haunted his mind.

"Why so much wrapped in thought, young man?" asked an unknown voice
behind him, and roused him from his reverie: "I should have thought
Albert von Sturmfeder had reason to be of good cheer."

Albert turned round in surprise, and cast his eyes upon the chancellor,
Ambrosius Holland. If this man had struck Albert the night before, as
being peculiarly forbidding by his officious courteousness, his
cat-like sneaking manner, he was now more confirmed in his dislike,
when he remarked the deformity of his person, rendered more conspicuous
by an overladen finery of dress. His dark-yellow shrivelled-up face,
with an eternal hypocritical smile upon it, his green eyes peeping out
under long grey eyelashes, his highly inflamed eyelids, and scanty
beard, contrasted strangely with a red velvet cap, and a gown made of
bright yellow silk, which hung over his hump. Under the gown he wore a
grass-green dress, slashed with rose-coloured silk, his knee-bands
being of the same material, fastened with enormous rosettes. His head
was stuck close between his shoulders, and the red cap, which he
carried on it, appeared to belong equally to the hump. It was a great
joke of the executioner of Stuttgardt, that of all heads, that of the
chancellor Ambrosius Bolland would appear to be the most difficult to
cut off.

This was the man who looked up at Albert von Sturmfeder with a
courteous smile. He addressed him with smooth words, "Perhaps you don't
know me, my much esteemed young friend: I am Ambrosius Bolland, the
chancellor of his highness. I come to wish you a good morning."

"I thank you," said Albert; "and esteem it a great honour, if you have
put yourself out of your way on my account."

"Honour to whom honour is due! you are the pattern and crown of our
young knighthood! Truly, you who have stood by my master so faithfully
in his necessity and dangers have a claim to my most inward thanks, and
my particular respect."

"You might have bought your compliments much cheaper had you joined us
at Mömpelgard," replied Albert, who was offended by the adulation of
the flatterer. "There is no necessity to speak of fidelity; it were
better to reprove the want of it."

A momentary ray of anger shot from the green-eyed chancellor, but he
soon regained his fawning manner. "To be sure, I am of the same
opinion. For my part, I was so crippled with gout, I could not travel
to Mömpelgard; but now, what little power heaven has left me shall be
devoted with redoubled zeal to the Duke's service."

He paused a moment, expecting an answer; but Albert was silent, and
eyed him with a glance which he did not well know how to interpret.
"Well, but you will now be able to enjoy your prosperity," continued
the chancellor; "of course it is nothing more than you deserve, and the
Duke has well chosen his favourite. Will you allow Ambrosius Bolland
also to acknowledge his sense of your services? Are you an amateur of
curious arms? Come to my dwelling in the market-place, and choose what
most pleases you out of my armoury. If you are a lover of rare books, I
have a whole chest full, much at your disposal, and pray select any you
may fancy, as is the custom among friends. Come and dine with me
sometimes; my niece keeps house for me, a pretty girl of seventeen
years; only I must beg of you--hi! hi! hi!--not to look at her too
close."

"Don't be afraid; I am already engaged."

"So? ah, that's acting like a Christian; it's very praiseworthy. It is
not always that we find such virtue among the youth of the present day.
I was quite certain that Sturmfeder was a pattern of virtue. But what I
wanted to say was, that we--being the only two as yet who compose the
Duke's court--we must keep together, and not allow any one to be
appointed without our consent. Do you understand me? hi! hi!--one hand
washes the other. But we can talk over that some other time. You will
honour me with a visit sometimes?"

"When my time will allow me, Chancellor Ambrosius Bolland."

"I would willingly remain longer in your society, for your presence
does my heart good; but I must now to the Duke. He is going to sit in
judgment this morning on two prisoners who tried to excite the people
to rebellion against him last night. Who would bet that Beltler was not
already appointed."

"Beltler!" asked Albert, "who is he?"

"He is the executioner, most worthy young friend."

"For heaven's sake! the Duke surely will not stain the first day of his
new government with blood!"

The chancellor smiled bitterly, and answered: "You do honour again to
your excellent heart, but you are not fit to sit in a court of criminal
justice. Examples must be made. One of them," he continued, with a soft
voice, "will be beheaded because he belongs to the nobility, and the
other, being a low fellow, will be hanged. God bless you, my dear
friend!"

With these words the chancellor departed, treading with light step the
long gallery which led to the Duke's apartment. Albert followed him
with a look of contempt and disdain. He had heard that this man
formerly, either by prudence, or, perhaps, rather by an unwarrantable
exercise of artful cunning, had gained great influence over Ulerich: he
had often heard the Duke himself speak of the great confidence he had
in his cleverness in state affairs. He knew not why, but he feared for
the Duke should he put too much faith in the chancellor, for he thought
he could read intrigue and falsehood in his eye.

Just as he saw the hump and flowing yellow cloak turn the corner at
the end of the gallery, a voice whispered to him: "Don't trust that
yellow-faced hypocrite!" It was the fifer of Hardt, who had stolen to
his side unnoticed.

"How! are you there, Hans?" cried Albert, and gladly proffered his
hand. "Are you come to the castle to visit us? that's very kind; you
are more heartily welcome than that humpbacked knave; but what have you
to say of him that I should beware of?"

"He is a false man, and I have warned the Duke not to follow his
advice, which made him very angry with me. He puts his whole confidence
in him."

"But what did he say? Have you seen him this morning?" asked Albert.

"I went to take my leave of him, for I am going home to my wife and
child. The Duke appeared moved at first, spoke of the days of his
exile, and asked me to mention any act of grace he could confer upon
me. But I merited none, for what I have done for him was only paying
off an old debt. I asked him at last, not being able to think of
anything else, to allow me the liberty to shoot my fox without being
punished as a poacher. He laughed, and said I might do it, but that was
no act of grace, I must demand something else. Well, I took courage,
and said, I beg of your grace not to put too much confidence in the
crafty chancellor, for it is my opinion he is false at heart."

"That's just what I think," cried Albert; "he looked as if he wanted to
spy into my most inward thoughts with those green eyes of his; but what
answered the Duke?"

"'You understand nothing upon such subjects,' was his reply, and became
angry; and added, 'you may be a faithful and sure guide among clefts
and caverns, but the chancellor understands state intrigues better than
you.' It may be," added the fifer, "that I am wrong in my conjectures;
I hope so, for the Duke's sake. So now farewell, sir; may God protect
you! Amen."

"Will you really go, and not remain for my wedding?" said Albert. "I
expect the knight of Lichtenstein and his daughter here to-day. Stay a
day or two longer: you were our messenger of love, and ought not to
desert us at this happy moment."

"Of what use can a poor man like me be at the wedding of a knight? I
might, indeed, sit among the musicians, and take part in the music in
honour of the happy event; but others can do it as well as me, and my
house requires my presence."

"Well then, farewell," said Albert; "give my salutations to your wife
and Barbelle, and visit us often in Lichtenstein. God be with you!"

A tear filled the eye of the young man as he gave the peasant a hearty
parting shake of the hand, for he had always found him an honest
trustworthy man, a faithful servant of the Duke, a bold companion in
danger, and cheerful society in misfortune. He was about asking many
questions concerning the mysterious life which this man followed, for
he was particularly curious to know the cause of his extraordinary
attachment to the Duke, but he suppressed them out of delicacy to his
feelings. The natural greatness of mind which characterised the fifer
of Hardt, though he were a common peasant, awed him into silence
touching those subjects which his friend had always appeared to wish to
avoid.

"But, I have one thing more to say," said Hans, as he was going: "do
you know that your old friend and future cousin-in-law, von Kraft, is
here?"

"The scribe to the council? how did he come here? he's a Leaguist!"

"He is here, nevertheless, and not in the most agreeable position--for
he is in prison. Yesterday evening, when the people assembled in the
market place, in consequence of the Duke's arrival, it appears he
addressed them in favour of the League."

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Albert, "was that Dieterich Kraft, the
scribe? I must go instantly to the Duke, who now sits in judgment upon
him, or the chancellor will have his head off. Good bye!"

The young man hurried along the corridor to the Duke's apartment. He
had been in the habit in Mömpelgard of having immediate access to him
at all times of day, and, therefore, the porter now respectfully opened
the door. He entered in a hasty manner, to the astonishment of the
Duke, who was somewhat displeased; but the chancellor masked his
hypocrisy, as usual, under a smile of mildness.

"Good morning, Sturmfeder," said the Duke, who sat at a table, dressed
in a green coat embroidered in gold, with a green hunting cap on his
head; "I hope you have slept well in our castle. What brings you thus
early to us? we have important business."

The eyes of the young man had in the mean time anxiously looked about
the room, and there discovered the scribe of the Ulmer council standing
in a corner. He was as pale as death; his hair, which was wont to
be combed with great care, hung in disorder over his neck, and a
rose-coloured gown which he wore over a black coat was torn to tatters.
His eyes met Albert's with a most pitiable look, and he then glanced
upwards, as much as to say, "it is all over with me." Near him stood
other men: one of whom, tall and meagre, he thought to have seen
before. The prisoners were guarded by Peter, the brave Magdeburger, and
Staberl of Vienna. They stood at their post with outstretched legs,
their halberds resting on the floor, upright as candles.

"I say, we have important business at present," continued the Duke;
"but why do you look so intent upon him with the rose-coloured gown? he
is a hardened sinner; the sword is being sharpened for his neck!"

"Will your highness allow me but one word," replied Albert. "I know
that man, and would stake all I possess in the world, that he is a
peaceable subject; and positively not a criminal who deserves death."

"By Saint Hubertus, that is a bold speech! You have changed your
nature, methinks: my chancellor, the worthy jurist, has put himself
forward like a young warrior; and you, my young soldier, would assume
the advocate. What say you to that, Ambrosius Bolland?"

"Hi! hi! I adorned my person by way of letting your highness have a
joke, for I know, of old date, you are fond of a little fun; and our
dear good Sturmfeder, for the sake of adding to it, plays the part of a
jurist. Hi! hi! hi! but all he may say or do, he cannot save him in the
rose-coloured gown. High treason! he must lose his head, poor fellow!"

"Mr. Chancellor," cried Albert, glowing with anger, "the Duke can
witness, that I was never accustomed to play the buffoon. I don't wish
to rival any person in this sort of character; but I never play or make
sport with the life of a fellow creature! I am seriously in earnest,
when I pledge my life for the noble Dieterich von Kraft, scribe to the
council of Ulm, now present before you. I hope my bail will be taken."

"How?" said Ulerich, "is he the elegant gentleman, your host in Ulm, of
whom you have often spoke to me. I regret that he committed himself so
far as to be taken in the act of creating an insurrection, under very
suspicious circumstances."

"Certainly," croaked Ambrosius, "a _crimen lesæ majestatis!_"

"Permit me, sir, to speak," said Albert. "I have studied law long
enough to know, that in this case it is absurd to talk of treason. The
governor and council of the League were still in the town last night,
consequently Stuttgardt was in the power of the enemy, and the scribe,
who is in no wise a subject of his highness, did not act differently
from any other Leaguist soldier, who takes the field against the Duke
by the orders of his superiors."

"Ei, youth, youth! How nicely it accommodates itself to circumstances!"
said the chancellor; "but my worthy friend, you must know that so soon
as the Duke summoned the town, and had the _animum possidentis_, every
thing within its walls belonged to him. Therefore, any conspiracy
against his royal person, becomes high treason immediately. The
prisoner Dieterich von Kraft held very dangerous language to the
people."

"Impossible! it is quite contrary to his manner and principles. My Lord
Duke, it cannot be!"

"Albert!" said the Duke in earnest, "we have had much patience in
hearing what you have to say; but it can do your friend no good. Here
is the protocol. The chancellor had examined witnesses before I came,
and every thing is proved as clear as day. We must make an example. The
chancellor is perfectly right; therefore I cannot hold out any act of
grace in the prisoner's favour."

"But allow me to ask him and the witnesses one question--only a few
words," said Albert.

"That is against all forms of justice," said the chancellor; "I must
protest against it; it is an infringement on my office."

"Let it be, Ambrosius," said the Duke. "He may ask a question, with all
my heart, of the poor sinner, who has no chance of escape."

"Dieterich von Kraft," said Albert, addressing the prisoner, "how came
you to be in Stuttgardt?"

The forlorn scribe, whom death seemed already to have made his prey,
turning his eyes towards him, his teeth chattering from fear, was
scarcely able to mutter a word in answer. "I was sent here by the
council of Ulm, as secretary to the governor."

"How was it that you appeared before the burghers of Stuttgardt,
yesterday evening?" said Albert.

"The governor ordered me to remind them of their duty and oath, should
there, perchance, be an insurrection against the League."

"Don't you perceive, he was only acting under orders?" said Albert,
turning to the Duke. "Who took you prisoner?" he continued with the
examination.

"The man standing beside you."

"Did you take this gentleman into custody? then you must have heard
what he said; what did he say?" said Albert to the man.

"Yes, I heard what he said," answered the burgher; "he had spoken but
six words, when burghermaster Hartmann threw him down from the bank. I
remember what they were, namely: 'Recollect, my friends, what will the
illustrious council of the League say!' That was all, and then Hartmann
took him by the collar. But there stands Doctor Calmus, who made a
longer speech."

The Duke roared with laughter, first looking at Albert and then at the
chancellor, who turned pale, and was so disconcerted, that he could
scarcely muster up courage to join in his master's hilarity. "Were
those all the dangerous words he spoke--is this the charge of high
treason--'What would the council of the League say?' Poor Kraft! These
few words have brought your neck within a hair's breadth of the
executioner's sword. We have often heard our friends say, 'What will
folks think, when they hear the Duke is in the country again?'
therefore, I will not punish him. What think you of it, Sturmfeder?"

"I know not what reason you could have had," said Albert, addressing
the chancellor, with anger beaming in his eyes, "to have pushed the
case to such lengths, and advised the Duke to these harsh measures;
which, instead of healing past grievances, would only cause the cry of
'tyrant' to be raised everywhere against him. If you have acted from an
overheated zeal of duty, you have this once surpassed the bounds of
discretion."

The chancellor was silent, and satisfied himself by throwing a furious
glance at the young man. The Duke stood up, and said, "You must not
blame my little adviser for his zeal in my cause, which has perhaps
made him act with too much severity in this instance. There, take your
rose-coloured friend with you, give him a glass to expel his ghastly
fear, and then let him go wherever he will. And you, dog of a doctor,
as for you, who are not worthy of the title of dog doctor, a Würtemberg
gallows is too good for you. You will be hung one of these days, so I
will not give myself the trouble to do it at present. Long Peter, order
your men to bind that fellow on an ass, with his face to the tail, and
lead him through the town, and thence let him be sent to Esslingen, to
his wise counsellors, to whom he and his beast belong. Away with him!"

The features of the wretched doctor, who had hitherto sat in fear of
death, soon cheered up by this happy change in his fate; he breathed
more freely, and made a low bow. Peter, Staberl, and the Magdeburger,
laid hold of him with savage joy, hoisted him on their broad shoulders,
and bore him away.

The scribe of Ulm shed tears of joy, and, impelled by gratitude, wanted
to kiss the Duke's cloak; but he turned away, and waved to Albert to
withdraw his friend.



                              CHAPTER XXIX.

            Stop! stay thy hand, and hear my prayer,--
              Ah, do not let it be:
            You cannot, must not, will not dare
              A deed unworthy thee.
                                                SCHILLER.

The scribe of the grand council of Ulm did not appear to have
sufficiently recovered from his state of terror to answer the many
questions his preserver put to him as they passed along the passages
and galleries. He trembled in all his limbs, his knees shook, and he
often looked back with a feeling of apprehension, lest the Duke should
have repented of his act of grace, and the unmerciful chancellor in the
yellow gown should sneak after him, and suddenly pounce upon him.
Having reached Albert's apartment, he sank exhausted in a chair, and it
was some time before he could collect his thoughts to be able to answer
his friend.

"Your politics, cousin, had well nigh played you a sorry trick," said
Albert; "but what possessed you to set yourself up as a popular speaker
in Stuttgardt? And, above all, how could you think of quitting your
comfortable establishment in Ulm, the assiduous care of your old nurse
Sabina, and fly the vicinity of the charming Marie, to come here in the
service of the governor?"

"Ah! she it was who sent me into the jaws of death; she is the cause of
all my trouble. Ah! that I had never left my dear Ulm! All my
misfortunes began with my first step over our boundary."

"Did Marie persuade you?" Albert asked; "have you not succeeded in the
object of your desires? Has she discarded you, and did you out of
desparation--"

"God forbid! Marie is as good as my bride; that's my calamity. When you
left Ulm, I had a dispute with Mrs. Sabina, the nurse which determined
me to demand Marie's hand of my uncle. I was accepted; but, the girl's
head being completely turned by your military mania, nothing would
satisfy her but that I must first encounter the dangers and hardships
of a campaign, and become a man like you. Not until then would she
marry me. Oh, merciful Heaven!"

"So now you are formally in the field against Würtemberg? What a bold
spirit that girl has!"

"Yes, I am in the field; I shall never in my life forget what I have
gone through! My old John and I were obliged to march with the army of
the League. What pain and trouble? often compelled to ride eight hours
a day. My dress was disordered, everything full of dust and filth; my
coat of mail squeezed me to death. I could stand it no longer; and as
old John ran back to Ulm, I asked for a place as writer on the staff,
hired a litter and two stout horses to carry my baggage, which made my
case more bearable."

"Then you were carried into the field like dogs to the hunt," said
Albert. "Have you been in an action?"

"Oh! yes; at Tübingen, I was in the thick of it. Not twenty paces from
me a man was killed as dead as a mouse. I shall never forget the fright
I was in, if I live eighty years. After we had perfectly subdued the
whole country, I was appointed to the honourable situation of secretary
to the governor in Stuttgardt. We lived quietly, and in peace, until
the restless Duke returned once more to disturb us. Oh! had I but
followed my own wish, and joined the representatives of the League at
Nördlingen! but I feared the fatigue of the journey."

"But why did you not depart with the governor when we arrived? He is
now quietly seated in Esslingen, until we hunt him out of it."

"He deserted us shamefully," said Kraft; "and intrusted everything to
my head, which has nearly suffered for it. I had not the least idea the
danger was so imminent, and allowed myself to be seduced by Doctor
Calmus to speak to the people, and warn them against breaking their
oath to the League. Had I but succeeded, it would have made a noise in
the world, and I should have stood high in Marie's estimation. But the
Würtembergers are barbarians, and void of all decent manners. They did
not even let me say a word, but threw me down, and treated me like a
common vagabond. Just look at my cloak, it is torn to tatters! I regret
it, for it cost me four gold florins, and Marie maintains that rose
colour becomes the complexion of my face to perfection."

Albert scarcely knew whether to laugh at the folly of his friend the
scribe, or admire the stoical composure with which he lamented his torn
gown, when he had but a moment before narrowly escaped losing his head.
He was going to ask some other questions about his adventures, when an
extraordinary noise was heard under the window in the open space before
the castle; he looked out, and beckoned to Dieterich von Kraft to come
and witness a spectacle of fallen greatness.

Doctor Calmus was being paraded through the town. He was seated on an
ass, with his face towards the tail. The lansquenets had dressed him
out in a ridiculous manner, with a painted leather cap, at the top of
which was stuck a large cock's feather. Two drummers led the
procession, on either side, the Magdeburger, Staberl of Vienna, the
late Captain Muckerle, and the brave general, marched with solemn pace,
every now and then pricking the animal with the ends of their halberts
to quicken his pace. An immense crowd of people swarmed around him,
pelting him with eggs and mud.

The scribe looked down upon his unfortunate companion in distress with
pity, and sighed, "It's hard to be obliged to ride upon an ass in that
fashion, but it's better than being hanged." He turned from the scene,
and looked towards another side of the square. "Who comes here?" he
asked the young knight; "that's just the kind of thing I went to the
field in."

His friend looked round, and perceived a train of travellers with a
litter in the middle. An old man on horseback brought up the rear of
the party, which now moved towards the castle. Albert observing them
more closely, cried out, in wild joy, "It's them! it's them! it is her
father, and she is in the litter!" One spring took him out of the room,
to the great astonishment of the scribe. "Who can it be? what father?"
said he. He returned to the window, and looking out, he saw the
cavalcade stop on the drawbridge, and in the same moment his friend fly
through the gate. Dieterich then observed him to open the door like a
madman, a lady in a veil stepped out of the litter, and when she threw
it back, to his great surprise he recognised his cousin Bertha von
Lichtenstein. "But only see; he kisses her in the public street," said
the scribe to himself, shaking his head, "I have never seen such joy
before! But, alas! there goes the father to the litter; what angry eyes
he will make! how he will stamp and swear! but no, he nods kindly to my
friend; he dismounts, he embraces him.--Well, that's very curious, I
must say!"

The scribe could scarcely believe his eyes, and to convince himself
that he was not deceived, left the room, and went into the gallery,
where he perceived the old knight of Lichtenstein coming up the stairs,
leading Albert by his right hand, and Cousin Bertha by the left. He
thought a great alteration for the better had taken place in her
beautiful features, since the time they had made such a deep impression
on his heart, and still lived in his recollection.

He had seen her for the first time in Ulm, when she appeared to him
like a messenger from a fairy land, so dignified was the expression of
her eyes, majesty sat upon her brow, and her whole countenance bespoke
a mind far above the common stamp of mortals. The scribe had often
puzzled his mind in the attempt to unravel the mystery by which she had
gained such influence over him. The damsels of Ulm possessed perhaps
cheeks fresher and more plump, eyes more lively, a more attractive
smile, and perhaps greater brilliancy of youth. But there was a
something in Bertha which he could not account for, which inspired him
with awe. Was it the dark eyelashes, which, like a veil, fell over her
eyes, and concealed the starting tear? Was it the delicately compressed
lip, upon which was encamped the expression of painful grief? or the
rapid change of colour upon her features, which appeared to betray
suffering of some acute feeling--perhaps of love? Marie's cheerfulness,
her easy manners, a certain art of teasing, which imparted life and
good will to all around her, had long since driven her cousin's image
from his heart; but now that he came again in contact with the
influence of the lady of Lichtenstein, poor Dieterich von Kraft felt
all his old wounds bleed afresh. What was the power which worked in so
different a manner upon his feelings was a question beyond his
comprehension. Though there was the same dignity, the same expression,
which commands the respect and admiration of the beholder, her eye was
now animated with placid joy, a pleasing smile played on her lips, and
her cheeks bloomed with unalloyed happiness. Dieterich von Kraft had
made these observations in speechless astonishment, when the old knight
first noticed him. "Do my eyes deceive me?" he cried, "Dieterich von
Kraft, my nephew! What brings you to Stuttgardt? Perhaps you come to
the wedding of my daughter with Albert von Sturmfeder? But how you
look! What's the matter with you? How pale and miserable your whole
appearance, and your clothes hang about your body all in rags! What has
happened?"

The scribe eyed his rose-coloured gown in despair and dismay, and
blushed; "God knows!" he said, "I am ashamed to shew myself before any
decent person. These cursed Würtembergers, these vine-dressers and
contemptible shoemakers, have mangled me in this way. Verily, and in
truth, the whole illustrious League has been attacked and insulted in
my individual person!"

"You ought to be thankful, cousin, that it was no worse," said Albert,
as he led the travellers into his apartment; "only think, father, last
night, when we stood before the gates, he was exciting the burghers to
rebellion against us, for which the chancellor wanted to have his head
this morning. It was with very great difficulty I could persuade the
Duke to pardon him; and now he complains of the Würtembergers having
torn his cloak."

"With your gracious permission," said Mrs. Rosel, the old nurse, and
curtsied three times to the scribe, "if my assistance is agreeable,
I'll mend the gown, so that you shall not know it has been torn. The
proverb says,

           'If the young man his new gown has torn,
            The old woman can mend it fit to be worn.'"

Dieterich von Kraft accepted the offer with many thanks. He retired to
a window with old Rosel, when she pulled out of her large leather
pocket all the necessary articles for the purpose of repairing his
damages. She entertained him upon the inexhaustible subject of
housekeeping, particularly upon the important science of dressing
certain dishes not to be found in Mrs. Sabina's catalogue of cookery.
At a distance from this couple, at the other end of the room, sat
Bertha and Albert, engaged in the confidential whisperings of love.
Neither Johannes Thethingerus, nor Johannes Bezius, neither Gabelkofer
nor Crusius, though we have to thank them for much important
information of old times, have mentioned what these two lovers had to
say to each other on that morning. Thus much we know, however, that
satisfaction rested upon Bertha's features, expressive of her joy at
the near approach of the happy moment to complete her union with
Albert.

The reader will thank us if we lead him from a scene of so little
historical interest, and of which every one is supposed to know more or
less, to follow the path of the knight of Lichtenstein. Having left his
daughter to the care of Albert, and his nephew to the ingenious hand of
Mrs. Rosel, he himself repaired to the apartment of the Duke. Age had
imprinted on his countenance an air of gravity, which at this hour
appeared to have received an additional stamp of painful thought,
amounting almost to despondency. This man had inherited his love for
the house of Würtemberg from his ancestors. Habit and inclination had
bound him to the sovereigns who had presided over Würtemberg during the
course of his long life. The misfortunes and calumnies which, had been
heaped upon Ulerich, had not had the effect of shaking the faithful
heart of the old man in the Duke's cause. On the contrary, they tended
only to draw the ties of friendship tighter. With the joy of a
bridegroom who hastens to the wedding, and with the strength and
vivacity of youth, he undertook the long and fatiguing journey from his
castle to Stuttgardt, when he heard the Duke had taken Leonberg, and
had advanced to the capital. Having entertained no doubt of the Duke's
success, he was not deceived in his calculation, and he arrived at
Stuttgardt the morning after the establishment of the new authority.

The news which Albert imparted to him as they proceeded up stairs, was
not calculated to excite the joy of the old man. "The Duke," he
whispered to him, "the Duke does not appear to be inclined to act with
prudence; God knows what his intentions may be respecting the
government of the country, for he let fall some extraordinary
sentiments on the road, which I fear will not be improved in the hands
of his chancellor, Ambrosius Bolland." The mere mention of this name
was sufficient to raise great uneasiness in the breast of the knight of
Lichtenstein. He was acquainted with Bolland; and though he knew him to
be expert, and particularly well versed in state affairs, and capable
of executing any intricate piece of service, yet he was a man who had
often played a deep, if not a false game. "Should the Duke give his
confidence to this man, and follow his council, may God be merciful to
him! The country is a mere bit of parchment in the eyes of Ambrosius,
to be turned and twisted according to his whim. He'll know how to shape
and fashion it preparatory to meeting the Duke's eye; but he'll keep
the pen in his own hand. But, as old Rosel would say, 'Any fool can cut
out; the art is to sew the garment together.'" Thus thought the knight
of Lichtenstein, in passing along the gallery. He seized his long white
beard in anger; whilst his heart beat with zeal in the cause of
Würtemberg.

He was immediately admitted to the presence of the Duke, whom he found
in deep; consultation with Ambrosius. The latter was seated, holding a
large swan's pen in one hand and a parchment in the other, which was
written over with black, red, and blue ink, in many neat columns. The
Duke was playing with a piece of sealing wax, which he held in his
hand; and appeared in a state of indecision, first casting a
penetrating glance at the chancellor, and then looking at the wax, as
if it were destined to seal some important document. They were both so
deeply immersed in their occupation, that Lichtenstein stood some
minutes in the room, contemplating with intense interest the noble
features of the Duke, without being remarked. The various sensations
which were agitating him were plainly visible upon his countenance and
in his expressive eyes. The frown upon his forehead, giving place in
rapid succession to a milder expression, bespoke a mind hesitating
between an act of severity and one of grace, whilst his companion,
presenting him with the pen which he held in his hand, sat before him
like the tempter. He turned and moved about like the serpent; and the
eternal hypocritical smile, which his little green eyes could with ease
convert into the expression of humility when his master looked at him
sharply, appeared to urge him to taste the forbidden fruit.

"I cannot comprehend," said the chancellor with an insinuating tone of
voice, "why your Grace will not do it! Did Cæsar hesitate to pass the
Rubicon? A great man must use strong measures. The present age and
futurity will laud your courage in having burst asunder the chains
which now bind your hands."

"Are you so sure of that, Ambrosius Bolland?" replied the Duke, with a
look of doubt. "Will it not be said, Duke Ulerich was a tyrant: he
abrogated the old order of things, which was held sacred by his
forefathers; and, having broken the contract which he himself
established, treated his country as an enemy, and trod under foot the
laws which----"

"Permit me," interrupted the other: "the only question is, who is to be
master--the Duke or the country? If the country is to govern, the case
is different; for then pacts, contracts, clauses, and such like, are
necessary. The nobles, clergy, and commons, would be the masters, and
your grace--a mere cypher; but if you hold the reins in your own hand,
and wield your own will unrestricted, from that moment you become the
source of all law. The sword is now in your hand,--you are lord and
master; therefore, away with the old law--here is a new one--take the
pen, and, in God's name, sign."

The Duke remained some time in doubtful suspense, agitated between
conflicting struggles of conscience. At length, as if impelled by some
evil genius, he said, "Am not I Würtemberg itself? the country and laws
are concentrated in my person--I will sign!" He stretched out his hand
to receive the pen from the chancellor, when he felt his arm arrested.
He looked around in surprise, and met the placid but stern eye of the
knight of Lichtenstein.

"Ha! welcome, my faithful Lichtenstein; I will be ready to speak with
you instantly, only let me sign this parchment."

"Allow me, your grace," said the old man: "having promised me a voice
in your council, may I look at the first ordinance which you are about
to issue to your country."

"With your most noble permission," said Ambrosius Holland, hastily,
"delay were dangerous: the citizens of Stuttgardt are already
assembled, and it is requisite to read the proclamation without loss of
time."

"The thing is not so very pressing, after all," said the Duke, "that we
cannot impart the contents to our friend. We have accordingly
determined," he added, addressing Lichtenstein, "to administer a new
oath of fidelity, making the people swear allegiance to us, under a
fresh contract and different laws. The old ones are null and void from
henceforth."

"Is that your determination?" replied the knight of Lichtenstein; "and
have you maturely considered what will be the consequences of this act?
Did you not swear but a few years ago to the Tübingen compact?"

"Tübingen!" cried the Duke with a terrible voice, his eyes flashing the
fire of indignation; "Tübingen! mention that word no more! In that vile
city were centred all my hopes, my country, my children,--ha! and on
that spot was I betrayed and sold. I begged, I implored them to hold
out to the last; I was ready to share my property, my blood with them
in its defence; but no! they would not hear of Ulerich, nor listen to
his voice. They preferred the new order of things; they suffered me to
linger in the misery of banishment, and caused the name of Würtemberg
to become the contempt and derision of all the world. But now that I am
lord and master again, with my sword in my hand, I'll not allow it to
be wrenched a second time from my grasp. If they have forgotten their
oath, by Saint Hubertus, my memory is also equally treacherous. The
Tübingen compact, did you say? May dire necessity confound every thing
connected with that name!"

"But recollect, your grace!" said Lichtenstein, staggered at this burst
of passion; "think of the impression such a step will make throughout
the country. At this moment you have only Stuttgardt and its
neighbourhood in your possession; whereas Urach, Asperg, Tübingen, and
Göppingen, have all Leaguist garrisons. Will the country people; stand
by you to drive them out, when they become acquainted with the new
ordinance to which they are to swear allegiance?"

"I maintain it," said the Duke; "did the country stand by me when I was
forced to turn my back upon Würtemberg? No! they saw me hunted down
like a wild beast, and sided with the League!"

"Pardon me, my Lord Duke," replied the old man; "but that is not the
case. I recollect well that day in Blaubeuren. Who held to you on that
occasion, when the Swiss deserted you? who implored you not to leave
the country? who offered to sacrifice their lives in your cause? It was
eight thousand Würtembergers! Have you forgotten that day?"

"Ay-ay! most worthy sir," said the chancellor, who was aware what an
impression these remarks were likely to make on Ulerich; "ay! but
that's nothing to the purpose. Besides, we have not to legislate upon
what took place at that time, but upon the actual state of affairs. The
country has completely absolved itself of the former oath, by swearing
allegiance to the usurpations of the League. His grace is now to be
considered in the light of a new Lord, having subdued the country by
force of arms; and, therefore, as the League instituted their own
peculiar measures, the Duke has a right to follow their example. A new
Lord gives new laws. He has the privilege at all times to govern
according to his own will and pleasure. Shall I dip the pen in the ink,
gracious sir?"

"Sir Chancellor!" said Lichtenstein, with a determined voice, "though I
have all possible respect for your learning and foresight, you advance
that which is positively false, and your counsel is dangerous. The
question now is, to ascertain who it is that the people love. The
League, by their violent measures, have estranged the public mind from
them; this was therefore precisely the most favourable moment for the
Duke to appear in the country, for all hearts are with him; but if you
repel the good feeling of the people by insidious measures, if you
attempt to destroy the ancient laws and institutions, and build upon
their ruins your own invented constitution, oh, beware! beware of the
consequences, and remember that the love of the people is the only
powerful support upon which you can rely."

The Duke stood with folded arms, deep in thought, and made no answer.
With so much more warmth did the chancellor reply: "Hi! hi! hi! where
did you concoct that pretty little speech, my most worthy and highly
honoured sir? Love of the people, did you say? The Romans, in their
day, knew very well what that meant. Nothing but soap bubbles, soap
bubbles! I thought you possessed more acuteness. To whom does the
country belong? Here! here stands Würtemberg, personified in the Duke!
it belongs to him, he has inherited it; and besides which, he has now
conquered it. The people's love? Bah! it resembles April weather! Had
it been so strong as you talk of, would they have sworn allegiance to
the League?"

"The Chancellor is right!" cried the Duke, starting from his thoughtful
mood. "You may mean well, Lichtenstein, but this once you are in the
wrong. It was my forbearance which caused me to be driven from my
country; now that I am returned, they shall feel that I am the master.
The pen, Chancellor;--I say, it's my will and pleasure, and they shall
obey!"

"Oh! my Lord!" said Lichtenstein, "do not commit yourself in the heat
of passion: wait till your blood cools. Assemble the states, make any
alterations in the constitution you may think proper--only not at this
moment--not as long as the League possesses a foot of land in
Würtemberg. This rash act may prejudice your cause. Consent to a short
delay."

"Indeed!" interrupted the chancellor, "and let them by degrees come
round to the old state of things? Do you suppose, when once the
representatives are assembled and talk over their affairs, they will
concede to your reform with good will? Hi! hi! force will be requisite
to compel them, and that's what will create hatred. Strike the iron
whilst it's hot. Or is it your grace's pleasure, to stand again humbly
under the yoke, and be forced to bend to circumstances?"

The Duke did not answer, but snatching the pen and parchment
impatiently out of the chancellor's hands, cast a hasty and penetrating
look, first at him and then at the knight, and, before the latter could
hinder him, signed his name. Old Lichtenstein remained in speechless
consternation; his head sunk over his breast. The chancellor glanced a
triumphant look at him and at the Duke. Ulerich seized a silver
hand-bell, which was on the table, and rang violently. A page entered,
and asked his commands.

"Are the citizens assembled?" asked the Duke.

"Yes, your grace! they are assembled on the meadow near to Cannstadt.
Six companies of the lansquenet also are moving in that direction."

"The lansquenet! Who ordered them?"

The chancellor trembled when he heard this last question. "It was only
for the sake of keeping order," said he, "I thought of it, because in
such cases it is generally the custom to have armed men by way of
precaution----"

The Duke waved to him to be silent. An expression in the look of the
knight condemnatory of this rash act, met the Duke's eye, and caused
him to blush. "It has been done without my permission," said he;
"but----if we now recall them, it would create suspicion. However, it
is of no great consequence. Bring me my red cloak and hat;--quick!"

The Duke stept to the window, and looked out in silence. The chancellor
appeared uncertain whether his master was angry or not, and did not
venture to speak; whilst the knight of Lichtenstein continued wrapt in
deep anxious thought. They remained some time in this state, until the
entrance of attendants interrupted the silence. Four pages entered the
apartment, one carrying the cloak, another the hat, a third a gold
chain, and the fourth the military sword of the Duke. They robed him in
his ducal mantle of purple velvet, trimmed with ermine. His hat was
then presented to him, carrying the black and yellow colours of the
house of Würtemberg in rich waving plumes, bound together by a clasp of
gold, set in precious stones, the value of which was worth a seigniory.
The Duke covered his head with his hat. His powerful figure appeared
more dignified in this dress than it did before, and his open majestic
forehead, with his brilliant eye sparkling from beneath the flowing
feathers, inspired awe in those around him. He desired the pages to
place the gold chain over his neck; then, buckling on his sword, gave a
sign to the chancellor to follow.

The knight of Lichtenstein still uttered not a word. He had observed
these preparations with a troubled countenance, and turned away from
the scene. The Duke made a slight inclination of the head to his old
friend as he passed him in going towards the door, followed by the
strange figure of the Chancellor Ambrosius Bolland, who strutted with
magisterial step. He did not think it necessary to salute the old man,
his master not having done so, but satisfied his malice by casting a
crafty triumphant look at the spot where he was standing, accompanied
by a scornful smile, which played about his toothless mouth. The Duke
stopt on the threshold of the door, and, looking back, his better
nature appeared to get the mastery of him; he returned to Lichtenstein,
to the astonishment and confusion of the chancellor.

"Old man, and faithful friend," said he, trying in vain to conceal a
deep emotion which agitated him, "you were my only friend in my
troubles, and I have experienced your tried fidelity on a hundred
different occasions,--proofs sufficient to convince me of your
attachment to Würtemberg. I feel this step the most important of my
life, and, perhaps, the most hazardous; but where the stake is high we
must risk the more."

The knight of Lichtenstein raised his venerable head, with tears in his
eyes. He seized Ulerich's hand, and said, "Remain, for God's sake!
follow my advice only this once! My hair is grey,--I have lived long,
and known and loved you since your thirteenth year." At this moment the
drums of the lansquenet sounded in the courtyard, the impatient
stamping of horses echoed through the vaulted halls, and the heralds
blew their trumpets to proclaim the taking the oath of fidelity.

"Jacta alea esto! was Cæsar's motto," said the Duke, with animated
countenance. "I am now going to cross my Rubicon. But give me your
blessing, old man,--advice is too late."

The knight cast his eyes around, evidently suffering from intense
agony; his voice refused utterance to his feelings, and he pressed the
Duke's right hand to his heart in token of bestowing his blessing. The
chancellor, observing a momentary hesitation in the Duke to quit his
friend, stretched forth his long withered arm from under his cloak, and
pointed to the roll of parchment. He looked like the tempter who had
succeeded in dragging another victim after him in chains. Ulerich von
Würtemberg tore himself away, and went to hear the oath of allegiance
administered.



                              CHAPTER XXX.

            No furnace ever blazed so bright,
              Nor glow'd the burning brand
            With half so powerful a light,
              As love of fatherland.
                              _An old popular Song._

The apprehensions of the knight of Lichtenstein were not so totally
void of foundation as Ambrosius Bolland had represented them to be. A
large portion of the country had, indeed, joined the Duke, arising
partly from, the predilection of the people in favour of the hereditary
house of Würtemberg, but in a great measure from the oppressions of the
League, who had forcibly compelled them to submit to their rule. Many
were, at first, induced to join his standard, and declare for
Würtemberg, when they heard that victory followed Ulerich's path; but
the new oath of allegiance, by which all ancient laws were to be
abrogated, and the report that the refractory were to be compelled by
force to subscribe to these forms, had the effect, at least, of not
adding to the Duke's popularity,--a defect, in such doubtful
undertakings as the present, often felt too late to be remedied. Urach,
Göppingen, and Tübingen were still in the hands of the League, having
powerful garrisons in each. Dieterich Spät, the Duke's bitterest enemy,
was established in Urach. He recruited so many men in a few days, that
he not only kept his district in subjection, but was enabled to make
incursions into the country which had submitted to the Duke. The report
was also spread that the assembly of the League at Nördlingen had
separated, each member hurrying home to re-organize a fresh army to
meet Ulerich a second time in the field.

The Duke, in the meanwhile, appeared nowise concerned in the midst of
the unsettled state of the country. Ambrosius Bolland was his sole
counsellor, with whom he transacted business with closed doors. Many
messengers were observed to arrive and depart, but no one could learn
what was going on. Judging from the Duke's cheerful mood, it was
thought in Stuttgardt that affairs were in a prosperous state; for when
he rode through the streets, followed by a brilliant suite, saluting
all the pretty females, and joking and laughing with his attendants who
rode by his side, every one said, "Duke Ulerich is as merry as he was
before the days of 'the Poor Conrad insurrection.'" He established his
court in its former magnificence. Though it was no longer the point of
reunion of the Bavarian, Swabian, and Franconian counts and nobles, nor
the gay assemblage of princesses who formerly attracted such a splendid
train of blooming beauties around them, there was still no lack of
handsome women and gay-dressed knights to adorn his court. The
atmosphere of the town appeared also to impart additional lustre to the
beauties of Stuttgardt at that time, for, when they congregated in the
saloons and halls of the castle, the assembly had more the character of
a select choice of the fairest belles of the land than one of ordinary
occurrence.

The dance and tournament were re-established in all their former
spirit. Feast followed feast in such rapid succession that Ulerich
seemed to wish to make up for the time he had lost in the misery of
banishment. Not the least of these gay doings was the wedding of Albert
von Sturmfeder with the heiress of Lichtenstein.

The old knight was some time before he could make up his mind to put
his promise into execution, not that he had any objection to the choice
of his daughter, for he loved his future son-in-law with the affection
of a father; he even felt his younger days revive again as it were in
his own person, and could not forget the disinterested sacrifice Albert
had made in sharing the exile of the Duke; but, like as the horizon of
Ulerich's affairs was enveloped in darkness, so was the old man's brow
clouded by anxious misgivings, apprehensive lest circumstances should
not long remain in the state they were. He was deeply hurt also that
the Duke, who gave his confidence exclusively to the crafty chancellor,
did not admit him to his council in the many weighty matters now in
agitation. Indecision and anxiety of mind, had caused him to put off
the day of joy; but, moved by the expressive eyes of his daughter, in
which he thought to read a gentle reproach, and the entreaties of
Albert, he at last consented to their importunities, and fixed a day,
to which the Duke acquiesced; but would allow of no one making the
necessary arrangements for the wedding but himself. Amidst the success
which had hitherto attended him, Ulerich did not forget those nights
when old Lichtenstein proved his attachment to him by his assiduous
attention to his wants, and when the delicate frame of his daughter
braved storm and cold to receive him at the gate of the castle, and
prepare warm food to cheer him when he came from the cavern. Neither
was the sacrifice which the bridegroom had made for his sake
obliterated from his memory. His noble mind was fully alive to the
fidelity, love, and sacrifices they had each so fully manifested, and,
therefore, he wished to prove his sense of gratitude to them. The
knight and his daughter had hitherto been his guests at the castle. He
now completely furnished a house for them near the collegiate church,
and, on the evening before the nuptials, he delivered the key of it to
the lady of Lichtenstein, begging her to make use of it whenever she
came to Stuttgardt.

The day at length arrived,--a day which Albert had once thought far
distant, but to which his most longing desire had ever been, constantly
directed. When he rose on that morning he recalled to his mind all the
circumstances which had happened to him since his heart had been
engaged, and was astonished to think how differently things had come to
pass to what he could have at first imagined. Who would ever have
supposed, when he rode through the beech wood towards his home, that
the happiness of possessing his beloved Bertha was not so distant as he
then had reason to fear? When he joined the League's army, in
opposition to the Duke, the very last thing that could have entered his
mind would have been that this same man, his enemy at that time, should
be the instrument of completing his happiness! He could now contemplate
in cheerful serenity the agitations of those days when he, with
difficulty, stole a moment to whisper a word to his beloved for fear of
her father, the avowed enemy of the League, And he thought of that hour
in Marie's garden, the most painful he had ever experienced, when he
took leave of Bertha, thinking she was lost to him for ever, whereas
this day was to bind them eternally together. Every word she had ever
spoken to him rushed to his recollection,--he was wrapped in admiration
of her firm trust in Providence, who she was persuaded would order all
things to work for their good. Though at that time their hopes, their
prospects, were veiled in a dark uncertain futurity, she did not
despond, but inspired her lover with courage when they took their
parting embrace.

The train of these thoughts was interrupted by a modest tap at the
door;--it was Dieterich von Kraft, who entered the room, dressed in his
very best.

"How?" cried the scribe of the grand council of Ulm, and clasped his
hands in astonishment,--"How? I hope you do not intend to be married in
that jacket. It is nine o'clock already; the passages and stairs of the
castle swarm with wedding guests, shining in silks and satins, and you,
the principal performer in the piece, are looking unconcerned out of
the window, instead of preparing yourself for the happy event?"

"There lies the whole concern," replied Albert, smiling, and pointing
to his dress on the bed, "cap and feathers, mantle and jacket, all of
the best quality and make; but God knows, I have not yet thought of
hanging the tawdriness on my back. This jacket which I have on is
dearer to me than all the rest; I have worn it in worse times, but
still in very happy days."

"Yes, yes! I know it well; you wore it when you were with me in Ulm,
and I don't forget how jealous Marie made me when she described it to
me in glowing terms. But do you call that new dress tawdry? By Jove, I
should be happy to possess such smart things the rest of my life! Only
look at this white vest, embroidered in gold, and the blue velvet
mantle: I have never seen anything more brilliant! truly, your choice
has been made with great taste, and the dress matches the colour of
your hair to perfection."

"The Duke presented me with it," said Albert, beginning to dress
himself; "it would have been much too expensive for my slender
finances."

"The Duke is really a splendid man; and now for the first time since I
have been here do I perceive that we were too hard upon him in Ulm.
There is some difference between life in such a city as this and that
in our town. The court of the Duke of Würtemberg sounds much grander
than the townhall of Ulm. Still I would not like to be in his skin;
you'll see, cousin, his fortunes will go down-hill again with him."

"That's the burden of your old song, Dieterich: do you recollect how
big you talked about your politics at that time in Ulm, expatiating how
you intended to govern Würtemberg? How stands the case now?"

"Well, has it not turned out as I said?" replied the scribe, with a
sagacious look; "I recollect, as if it were but yesterday, that I
prophesied the Swiss would return home; that we should gain the hearts
of the country people, and that the citizens would open the gates to
us."

"Yes, yes! and you helped to accomplish all this," laughed Albert,
"when you were carried to the field in a litter: but you also
prophesied that the Duke would never be able to return to his country,
and now you see he sits quietly and unmolested in his castle."

"Not so quiet as you may think. For your sake and his, I wish with all
my heart he may hold his country. The war has done me no good, for the
great men take everything for themselves, only leaving us subordinates
the honour of having our heads cut off in the cause of the League. But
though I wish him success, believe me, his affairs are not in the
prosperous state you imagine. The governor and council who fled to
Esslingen upon your arrival have petitioned the Emperor and Empire for
assistance; the League is again in motion; and a fresh army is already
assembling at Ulm."

"All talk,--nothing else," replied Albert; "I know for certain, that a
reconciliation may take place between the Duke and Bavaria."

"Yes; but there is a great difference between _may_ and _will_ take
place: thereby hangs many a difficult crotchet to unravel. But what do
I see? you are not going to put that old rag of a scarf over your new
wedding dress? they will not match together, my dear cousin."

The bridegroom regarded the scarf with a look of intense interest. "You
don't understand," he replied, "why I set such a value upon it. It was
Bertha's first present; she worked it secretly by night, in her room,
when the news came that she was soon to leave Tübingen. It was my only
consolation when I was absent from her, and therefore I will not fail
to wear it on the happiest day of my life."

"Well, do as you please, in God's name, wear it! And now put on your
cap, and be quick with the mantle, for they are beginning to ring the
bells of the church. Beware of making the bride wait too long!"

The friendly scribe stood before the young man again, and minutely
examined his dress with the eye of a connoisseur. He drew a buckle a
little tighter here, he altered a plait of his mantle there, raised a
feather of his cap higher, and having satisfied himself that nothing
was wanting to adorn the person of the bridegroom, he thought his tall,
manly figure, his fine head, and animated eye, were worthy the love of
his pretty cousin. "I declare," said he, "you look as if you were
created especially for a bridegroom. I would like Marie to see you now;
poor girl, she would certainly be troubled with giddiness for a week!
But come, come; I feel proud in being your companion upon this
occasion, though I shall be fourteen days later in Ulm than I ought to
be."

Albert blushed,--his heart beat quicker,--when he left the room. Joy,
expectation, the fulfilment of year-long wishes assailed his feelings,
as he followed his friend Dieterich through the galleries to the
apartment where the assembled company awaited his arrival. The doors
opened,--and Bertha stood in all the brilliancy of her beauty,
surrounded by many women and maidens, whom the Duke had invited to form
the nuptial procession.

When she perceived her lover enter the room, and met his glance, modest
confusion spread a deep blush over her features, as she returned his
salutation. The intoxicating joy of this moment would have led Albert
to impress a morning salute of love upon her lips, but he was
restrained by the strict manners of the times upon such occasions to
observe a serious distant demeanour. A bride, according to etiquette,
was not permitted to touch the hand of the bridegroom before the priest
had joined them together, nor were they allowed to approach each other
within six paces. To look even exclusively at her future husband before
the ceremony was performed was deemed indecorous. She observed,
therefore, the precise rule of remaining with cast-down looks, modest
and demure, with her hands crossed before her. Such were the customs of
the olden times of the country.

To any other person in a similar situation, the position in which she
stood might have imparted to the beholder a stiff and awkward
appearance; but as nature endows her choicest daughters under all
circumstances, whether in grief or joy, with a charm of interest which
attracts even the most superficial observer, so did Bertha, on the
present occasion, give to the restrained attitude of a bride in those
days, an ease and grace which elicited the admiration of the
surrounding spectators. The soft blush which rested on her features,
the smile playing about her delicate-formed mouth, the brilliancy of
her dark blue eyes, shooting their rays through the dark long
eyelashes, like the rising sun dispersing the morning mist, formed a
picture of unaffected loveliness, fit for the pencil of the artist.

The Duke entered the room, leading the knight of Lichtenstein by the
hand. His eye rapidly passed through the circle of ladies, and he
decidedly gave to Bertha the palm of beauty. "Sturmfeder," said he,
taking him aside, "this day rewards you for many services. Do you
recollect that night, when you first visited me in the cavern, and did
not know who I was? Hans, the fifer, gave us a toast, 'the lady of
Lichtenstein, long may she bloom for you!' she is yours now, and what
is not less true, the toast you gave is also fulfilled, for we are
again established in the castle of our fathers."

"May your grace enjoy your prosperity as long as I hope to be happy by
the side of Bertha. But I am indebted to your interference and kindness
for this day, for without it her father perhaps----"

"Honour for honour!" interrupted Ulerich: "you stood by us faithfully
when we first set out to reconquer our country, and therefore we have
assisted you in gaining possession of your best wishes. We will
represent your father this day; and as such you will not refuse us to
kiss your beautiful wife on the forehead after church."

Albert thought of that night when he was concealed behind the gate of
Lichtenstein, and overheard the Duke's conversation with his love. It
ended by his promise to remind her of his claim to a salute on this
day, to which she would not consent then. "Where you please," he
replied, "on her lips, if you prefer it, my Lord Duke; you have long
since merited it by your generous intercession."

"Who is to accompany you to the altar?" said the Duke.

"Maxx Stumpf and the Ulmer scribe, a cousin of Lichtenstein."

"What, that smart little fellow, whose head my chancellor wanted to
have off? Well, then, on your left you'll be supported by the most
elegant of men; and on your right by the bravest in all Swabia. I wish
you joy, young man; but take my advice, and lean to him on the right,
rather than to the other; for if you have him for a friend, you need
fear nothing in the world, even if you were as jealous as a Turk. But
here comes the right one," he added, as the knight entered the room;
"look how his broad sturdy figure shews among the crowd; and how
splendidly he has dressed himself! He wore that old faded green mantle
at our wedding with Sabina Lobesau, A.D. 1511."

"I don't understand much about dress," replied the brave knight of
Schweinsberg, catching the Duke's last words, "neither do I know much
about dancing, so you will excuse me; but if the bridegroom will break
a lance with me this evening in a tilt, I am his man!"

"So you want to break a couple of his ribs out of pure tenderness and
courtesy," said the Duke, laughing: "that's what I call a bridegroom's
companion of the right sort. But stop, Albert; I would advise you to
hold to your left-hand companion now, for the Ulmer will do you no
harm."

The folding doors were at this instant thrown open; when the persons
composing the Duke's court were seen stationed along the galleries.
Pages of honour led the procession, carrying long burning wax candles,
followed by a brilliant train of noble dames and maidens, who had been
invited to the ceremony. They were clad in rich stuffs, embroidered in
gold and silver, each carrying a large nosegay in one hand and a lemon
in the other. The bride was led between George von Hewen and Rheinhardt
von Gemmingen, followed by a numerous body of knights and nobles, with
Albert von Sturmfeder in the middle, having Maxx Stumpf on his right,
and the scribe to the Ulmer council, Dieterich von Kraft, on his left.
His whole bearing appeared to be animated by a spirit of elevated joy,
his eyes beamed with happiness, and his step was that of a conqueror.
His flowing hair, and the waving plumes of his cap, were conspicuously
prominent above the heads of those surrounding him. The crowd beheld
him as he passed with admiration, the men praising his tall, manly
figure and noble gait; and the young girls whispering to each other
their remarks upon his fine features and brilliant eyes.

The procession proceeded in this way from the gate of the castle to the
church, passing through a broad open space which separated them. The
close-packed heads of the worthy citizens of Stuttgardt were all on the
stretch to get a sight of the bride and bridegroom as they passed, who,
judging by the murmur of applause and admiration which followed them
into the church, were flattered by the reception they received.

Among the numerous spectators, a sprightly, plump countrywoman and her
daughter seemed particularly anxious to get a sight of the happy.
couple. The woman kept curtseying every moment, to the great amusement
of the surrounding citizens, who had only paid this attention to the
Duke and the bride. She kept up an earnest conversation with her
daughter at the same time, who, however, did not appear to heed much
what she said. Neither did she seem to be interested in the train of
females with their rich dresses, her anxiety being simply to get a
glimpse of the bride. As she approached, the young girl's cheeks
assumed a deeper red; her red bodice rose and sunk violently, her
beating heart appearing likely to break the silver chain with which it
was laced. She looked stedfastly at Bertha, and was apparently
surprised at the transcendant beauty of the bride, which caused her an
involuntary deep sigh. "That's her!" she cried, with peculiar emphasis,
hastily concealing her face behind her mother from the gaze of the
people about her, who looked astonished at her exclamation.

"Yes, that's her, Barbelle; she is wonderful pretty," whispered the
round matron to her daughter, and made a low curtsey; "but now look out
for the gentleman."

The girl did not appear to require that piece of advice, for her
attention had been long directed to the side whence he was to come. "He
comes, he comes!" she heard her neighbours say, "that's him in the
white vest and blue mantle, just before the Duke." She saw him; one
look only did she dare to cast at him; the blush on her cheek vanished;
she trembled, and a tear fell upon her red bodice. When he had passed,
she ventured to raise her head again, and look towards him; but it was
with an expression of countenance that appeared to indicate more than
mere admiration or curiosity.

The procession having by this time entered the church, the spectators
crowded to the doors to get in; and in a moment the place which they
had occupied was empty. The countrywoman, however, still remained
looking at the smart dressed townsfolks, in admiration of their brocade
caps, jackets embroidered in gold, and short petticoats. The sight of
so much finery awakened in her mind the desire of possessing a dress of
the same splendour and shew, only she thought she would not have it cut
so low about the neck and shoulders.

Upon turning round, she was startled to see her pretty child concealing
her blooming face under her hands. She could not conceive what had
happened to the girl; and taking her by both hands, and pulling them
down, she observed her weeping most bitterly: "What ails you,
Barbelle?" she said, somewhat angrily, but still not without interest,
"what makes you cry? did'nt you see him? you ought to be ashamed of
yourself! Who ever saw the like? I say, why do you cry?"

"I don't know, mother," she whispered, trying in vain to stop her
tears; "I have such a pain in my heart, I don't know why."

"Come, adone with it, I say! or we shall be too late in the church.
Hark! how they are playing and singing? Come along, or else I'll not
look at you again!" With these words she dragged the girl towards the
church. Barbelle followed; and covered her eyes with her white apron,
lest the townsfolk should laugh at her. But the deep sighs which she
was unable to suppress, made people think she was labouring under some
acute suffering. The sounds of the organ and chorus of voices ceased
just as they arrived at the entrance of the church. The round matron
was aware that the marriage ceremony was now to begin, and therefore
endeavoured to push her way through the crowd; but in vain, for as
often as she thought to squeeze her plump person into the body of the
church, she was sure to be pushed back again with abusive words.

"Come, mother," said the girl, "let's go home. We are poor people,
they'll not let us in; come away."

"What? the church is made for every one, poor or rich!" said her
mother, indignantly; "make a little room, if you please, we can't see
any thing!"

"What?" said the man, whom she addressed, turning to her his
well-tanned face, with an immense bushy beard, "what! away with you!
we'll not let any one pass. We are his most gracious highness's
lansquenet; and our captain has ordered us not to let one soul of you
go up to the holy altar. _Morbleu!_ I am sorry to swear in the church;
but I say, away with you!"

Staberl of Vienna, who was on the spot, interceded for the little girl,
but would not consent to her mother entering the church. "Come here, my
dear," he called her, "you can see very well here. There; now the
priest is putting the ring on her finger, and joins their hands. If you
will give me a kiss, I'll get you a better place;" and with these
words, without waiting for an answer, he stretched out his hand towards
Barbelle. She screamed aloud, and ran away, followed by her mother, who
vented imprecations on townsfolk in general, and the unmannerly
lansquenet.



                              CHAPTER XXXI.

            At last I hold thee in my arms,
              My best beloved, my own!
            Bestowed on me from war's alarms,
              Preserved for me alone.
                                              L. UHLAND.

Duke Ulerich of Würtemberg was fond of a good table, and when the glass
circulated freely in good society, he was not the first to give the
signal to break up. At the wedding feast of Bertha von Lichtenstein he
remained true to his habits. When the ceremony was finished in the
church, the procession returned to the castle much in the same form as
it entered, except that the bride and bridegroom walked hand in hand.
The company then separated, and wandered about the pleasure-garden of
the castle, where they amused themselves among the shrubberies and
artificial walks, some looking at the deer and roebucks in the
inclosures, others admiring the bears in the dry ditches. At twelve
o'clock the trumpets sounded to dinner, which was held in the
tournament-hall, a place large enough to entertain many hundred people.
This hall was the pride and ornament of Stuttgardt. It was full an
hundred paces long; one side of it, looking to the garden, was occupied
by numerous large windows, through which the cheerful rays of the sun,
piercing the many-coloured glass, illumined this immense apartment,
which, by its vaulted roof and numerous pillars, resembled more the
interior of a church than a place for festive joy. Galleries extended
round the three other sides, hung with rich tapestry, a space being
appropriated to the musicians and trumpeters, whilst spectators,
assembled to witness the princely feast, occupied the remainder. On
other occasions, such as when a tournament took place, these galleries
were set apart for the ladies and judges; when, instead of the clang of
drinking utensils, the hall resounded with the applauses of the
spectators, the heavy blows of swords, the cracking of lances, the
whizzing of spears, amidst the laughter and cries of the combatants.

On this day a display of beautiful women and gallant men of all classes
had been invited to celebrate the nuptials of the Duke's friend and
favourite. They were seated around tables which groaned under loads of
good cheer. The fiddlers in the galleries flourished their fiddlesticks
merrily; the cheeks of the trumpeters were swelled to the fullest
stretch; the drummers' sticks beat heavily on their skins; and the
spectators who were admitted in the other part of the galleries, joined
chorus with shouting and hallooing when the company drank a toast. At
the upper end of the room sat the Duke upon a throne, under a canopy.
His hat was pushed off his forehead, he looked around him with an air
of satisfaction, and did not spare the bottle. On his right, at the
side of the table, sat Bertha, who was no longer obliged to submit to
the ceremonious restraint of cast-down eyes, and keeping at a
respectable distance from the bridegroom. Her glance and the expression
of her features bespoke happiness. She looked at her husband, who sat
opposite to her, and she could scarcely convince herself her being
actually a wife was not all a dream, and that the name she had borne
eighteen years was changed to that of Sturmfeder. She smiled as often
as she regarded him, for it appeared to her that he had already assumed
the direction of her conduct. "He is my head," she said to herself,
playfully, "my lord, my master!"

And her thoughts were really verified, for Albert felt all the
importance and responsibility of his new position in society. It seemed
to him as if the young people already paid him more respect than
heretofore, and that the old knights treated him more upon an equality
since he had become the head of a family, and stood no longer alone in
the world. The notions in the good old times were somewhat different to
those in the present day respecting the marriage state, for the
designation of nobles and citizens was invariably supposed to include
that of wife and children, leaving the state of celibacy to monks
alone.

The knight of Lichtenstein, Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg, and the
chancellor, were seated near the Duke, and the scribe to the Council of
Ulm was not far from them, being allowed that honour in consequence of
his having been the companion of the bridegroom at the wedding. The
eyes of the men soon began to sparkle from the effects of the wine, and
the cheeks of the ladies to assume a deeper red, when the Duke gave a
signal to his headman, and the dinner was removed. The poor people were
not forgotten on this occasion; as was always the case on similar
rejoicings, the remains of the dinner were taken to the court yard of
the castle, and delivered over to them. Pastry and fruit were next
brought in, and the wine jugs were replenished by a better sort of the
generous liquor for the use of the men, whilst Spanish sweet wine was
served to the ladies in small silver cups. This was the moment when,
according to the customs of the time, presents were presented to the
new-married couple: large baskets were placed beside Bertha to receive
them, and when the fiddlers and other musicians had re-tuned their
instruments, and began a solemn march, a long brilliant procession
moved forward in the hall. Pages of honour led the train, carrying
embossed gold tankards and female ornaments of jewelry, as gifts from
the Duke to the happy couple.

"May these tankards," said Ulerich, addressing them, "filled with
generous liquor, circulate at the marriage feast of your children, and
remind you of a man whom both of you served with truth and fidelity in
his misfortune, of a Prince who in prosperity forgets not his faithful
friends."

Albert was astonished at the value of the presents. "Your Grace's
generosity overpowers us," he replied; "love and fidelity claim no
reward but the approval of conscience, else they would be too often the
price of venality."

"Yes, truly, unless they spring from a source unadulterated by the
alloy of all selfish motives, they are but pearls fit only to be thrown
to swine," replied the Duke, casting a look of reproof down the length
of the table. "We rejoice the more, therefore, to reward your
disinterested fidelity, when all seemed to be lost to us. But look,
your bride is in tears! I think I know their cause; they are produced
by the remembrance of our late painful fate, which I have now recalled
to her mind. But away with these tears; they are unpropitious to the
day of your wedding. With permission! of your husband," said he,
turning to Bertha, "I will now claim payment of an old debt."

Bertha blushed, and cast an anxious look at Albert, fearing the
repetition of a liberty which had once highly offended her. He,
however, well knew what the Duke meant, for the scene which he had
witnessed behind the door was still fresh in his recollection. Amused
with the idea of rallying the Duke and his wife upon the subject, he
said, "My lord Duke, my wife and I being now one body and one soul, she
has my permission to liquidate the debt which I know she owes you."

"Answered as a fine young fellow," returned Ulerich, goodnaturedly;
"and I have no doubt that many of our ladies here at table would have
no objection to require payment of a similar debt from your handsome
mouth; but my demand being addressed solely to the rosy lips of your
wife, it refers to her alone."

With these words, he rose and approached Bertha, who looked at her
husband in a state of confusion and agitation. "My lord Duke," she
said, in a low tone of voice, and holding her head away, "I meant it
only in joke--I beseech you!" But Ulerich would not be deterred from
his purpose, and wrung his debt with interest from her pretty mouth.

The knight of Lichtenstein during this scene looked angrily, first at
the Duke and then at his daughter, fearing his son-in-law might perhaps
take umbrage at the liberty, as Ulerich von Hutten had done in a
similar case. The chancellor appeared to enjoy a malicious pleasure
upon the occasion, at the expense, as he thought, of the young man's
feelings. "Hi! hi! hi! I'll empty my glass to your good health," said
he to him. "A pretty woman is an excellent petitioner in necessity; I
wish you prosperity, dear and most worthy sir;--hi! hi! hi! there is no
harm done in the presence of the husband."

"No doubt of it," replied Albert, calmly; "and so much the more
innocent because I was present when my wife promised his Grace this
proof of her gratitude. The Duke himself proposed to intercede for us
with her father to make me his son-in-law, stipulating for this reward
on the day of our nuptials."

The Duke started in surprise at these words, and Bertha blushed again,
when she thought of the scene which had occasioned the promise. Neither
of them, however, contradicted him, deeming it perhaps unseemly, or
rather impossible, to charge him with an untruth, or, what was more
likely, suspecting they had been overheard.

The Duke could not forbear asking him aside how he came to know the
circumstance. Albert acquainted him with it in a few words.

"You are a strange fellow," whispered the Duke, smiling; "what would
have been the consequence had I committed the trespass?"

"As I did not know you at that time," replied the other as softly, "I
should have run you through on the spot, and hung your body on the
nearest oak."

The Duke bit his lips and felt annoyed; but he took his friend's hand,
and said, "You would have been perfectly justified, and we should have
been justly carried off in our sins. But look, they are bringing more
offerings to the bride."

The attendants of the knights and nobles who had been invited to the
wedding, appeared, carrying all kinds of curious household utensils,
stuffs for wearing apparel, and such like. It being known in Stuttgardt
that the feast was given in honour of the Duke's favourite, an embassy
of burghers, worthy respectable men, dressed in black, with swords by
their sides, short hair and long beards, had been appointed to offer
their presents and congratulations upon the occasion. One carried an
embossed silver goblet, another a large jug of the same metal
ornamented with inlaid medallions and filled with wine. They first
approached the Duke in great respect and bowed, and then turned to
Albert von Sturmfeder.

The man who bore the goblet, having saluted the bridegroom with a
cheerful smile on his countenance, said:

            May joy attend the wedded pair,
            And bliss increasing be their share!
            Accept this gift from Stuttgardt's town,
            And length of days your union crown.
            'Tis generous wine that cheers the soul,
            So come, my comrade, fill the bowl.

The other burgher then filled the goblet with wine from the jug he
carried, and whilst his companion drank it out, pronounced:

            A cask full stands before your door,
            The best of Stuttgardt's wine in store;
            And force of body, strength of soul,
            Lie deep within the brimful bowl:
            Then drain the cup and find them there,
            So Stuttgard has obtained her prayer.

Having finished his draught, and replenished the goblet, he repeated
the following lines:

            Be this your toast when you carouse,
            "Long live the Duke and all his house."
            Drain to the dregs, then, fill the wine,
            "To Sturmfeder and Lichtenstein;"
            And may we hope that, as you drink,
            You will on Stuttgardt's burghers think.

Albert gave the men both his hands and thanked them for their
acceptable presents; Bertha saluted their wives, and the Duke also
received them graciously. They laid the silver jug and the goblet in
the basket along with the other gifts, retiring respectfully and with
solemn step out of the hall. But the burghers were not the only ones to
tender their congratulations and manifest their regard for the Duke, in
this marked attention to his favourite. Scarcely had they taken their
departure, when a disturbance was observed at the door where the
lansquenet were on guard, which attracted the notice of the Ulerich.
Men's voices were heard swearing and ordering the crowd to obedience to
their commands, among which were mingled the voices of women, and one
in particular the loudest and most violent was recognized by some of
the company at the upper end of the table.

"I declare that is the voice of our Rosel," whispered old Lichtenstein
to his son-in-law: "what can her business be about?"

The Duke despatched one of his pages to find out the cause of the
noise, and received for answer that some countrywomen were trying to
force their way into the hall to present their gifts to the new married
couple in spite of the lansquenet, who would not permit them to enter,
only because they were common people. Ulerich gave orders immediately
to admit them, for, having been pleased with the conduct of the
burghers, he promised himself some amusement from the peasants. The
attendants having made room for them to pass, Albert, to his
astonishment, recognized the wife of the fifer of Hardt, and her pretty
daughter, led by her cousin, Mrs. Rosel.

When he was passing from the castle to the church, he thought he
recognised the lovely features of the girl of Hardt among the crowd;
but more important considerations having engrossed his whole attention,
this fleeting apparition was obliterated from his mind. He acquainted
the company who the women were, and to whom they belonged. The girl
excited great interest, from her being the child of that man whose
marvellous actions in the service of the Duke had often been a subject
of mystery, and whose fidelity and assistance in time of need
contributed essentially to Ulerich's return to his country. The girl
had the fair hair, the open forehead, and much the same features of her
parent; but the sharp cunning eye, the bold and powerful bearing of the
father, were softened into a playful kindliness and natural gaiety
which shed a charm around the retiring modesty of his child. As such
Albert had known her, when he was in the fifer of Hardt's house, but
she now appeared disconcerted before so many persons of rank; it struck
him also that her countenance betrayed dejection and sorrow, feelings
he had not discovered before on her beautiful features.

Her mother, knowing what good manners were, courtesied all the way up
from the entrance door till she arrived at the Duke's chair. The blush
of anger still rested upon the wan cheeks of Mrs. Rosel, who felt
herself highly aggrieved and insulted by the lansquenet, namely by the
Magdeburger and Casper Staberl, who had called her an old withered
stick. Before she could compose herself, and present the family of her
brother in respectful form to her master, the fifer's wife had already
taken the hem of the Duke's mantle and pressed it to her lips. "Good
day, my Lord Duke," she said, with deep reverence, "how are you since
you have been in Stuttgardt? my husband sends you his compliments. But
we don't come to the Duke, no, it is to the knight there," she added,
as if recollecting herself, pointing to Albert; "we have brought a
wedding present for his wife. There she sits, Barbelle, as large as
life."

Mrs. Rosel, confounded at the unceremonious conduct of her
sister-in-law before such an august audience, checked her loquacity by
saying, "I most humbly beg pardon of your grace, for having brought
these people here,--they are the wife and daughter of the fifer of
Hardt; pray do not take it ill, your highness, the woman means well, I
assure you."

The Duke was more amused with the excuses of Mrs. Rosel than with the
blunt language of her sister. "How is your husband?" said he to the
countrywoman, "will he visit us soon? why did he not come with you?"

"He has his reasons, sir," she replied; "if war breaks out, he'll
certainly not stay at home, for then he may be of some use; but in
peaceable times, why he thinks it is not becoming to eat cherries with
great folks."

The naïveté of the plump matron almost drove Mrs. Rosel to desperation:
she pulled her by the petticoat, and by the long tails of hair, but to
no purpose. The wife of the fifer went on talking, to the great
amusement of the Duke and his guests, whose irresistible laughter,
which her answers elicited, appeared only to increase her happiness and
good humour. Barbelle in the meantime, playing with the handle of a
little basket she held in her hand, scarcely ventured occasionally to
raise her eyes to look at that face which she had beheld with such
tender sympathy when she nursed Albert during the long period of his
fever. The impression which those days had left on her mind still
remained in all its vigour, and the sight of him who had unawares made
an inroad into the recesses of her heart, made her fearful of meeting
his eye. She heard him say to his wife, "That is the kind girl who
nursed me when I lay ill in her father's house, and who conducted me
part of the way to Lichtenstein."

Bertha turned to her, and took her hand with great kindness. The girl
trembled, and her cheeks assumed a deep blush. She opened her little
basket, and presented a piece of beautiful linen, with a few bundles of
flax, as fine and soft as silk. She attempted in vain to speak, but
kissing the hand of the young bride, a tear fell upon her nuptial ring.

"Eh, Barbelle!" scolded Mrs. Rosel, "don't be so timid and nervous.
Gracious young lady,--I would say gracious madame,--have compassion on
her; she comes but seldom into the presence of quality folks. There is
no one so good who has not two dispositions, says the proverb; the girl
can be otherwise as merry and cheerful as larks in spring."

"I thank you, Barbelle," said Bertha: "your linen is very acceptable
and very fine. Did you spin it yourself?"

The girl smiled through her tears, and nodded a yes! to speak at that
moment appeared to her impossible. The Duke liberated her from this
embarrassment only to place her in another still greater. "The fifer of
Hardt has truly a very pretty child," he cried, and beckoned to her to
approach nearer, "well grown and lovely to behold! only look,
chancellor, how well the red bodice and short petticoat become her.
Could not we, Ambrosius Bolland, issue an edict for all the beauties in
Stuttgardt to adopt this neat dress?"

The chancellor's countenance became distorted into a hideous smile: he
examined the blushing maiden from head to foot with his little green
eyes; and said, "Certainly, a very good reason could be given, by which
an ell might be spared in the length of petticoats, for, as your grace
a few years back ordered the weights and measures to be reduced, you
have also the right, by all the rules of logic, to shorten the dress of
females. But nothing would be gained by it, for--hi! hi! hi! you would
see that what was cut off from the bottom, our beauties would be
obliged to add above. And who knows whether the ladies would willingly
agree to that? They belong to the genus of peacocks, who, you know,
don't like to shew their legs."

"You are right, Ambrosius;" the Duke laughed; "nothing escapes a
learned man! But tell me, my dear, have you got a sweetheart?"

"Ah! what? your grace!" interrupted the round matron, sharply. "Who
would talk about such like things to a child! She is a very good girl,
your highness."

The Duke paid no attention to this remark; he enjoyed the embarrassment
which was visibly manifest in the chaste features of the innocent girl,
who sighed softly, and, playing with the ends of the coloured ribands
of her plaited hair, sent an involuntary look to Albert, which seemed
to claim his kind offices in her present perplexity, and then suddenly
cast her eyes down to the ground. The Duke, alive to every thing that
was passing, laughed aloud, in which he was joined by the rest of the
men. "Young woman," he said to Bertha, "you may now with justice take
part in the jealousy of your husband; if you had seen what I just saw,
you might imagine and interpret all kind of things."

Bertha smiled, and, sympathising with Barbelle in her embarrassment,
felt how painful the taunts of the men must be to her. Whispering to
old Rosel, she told her to take the mother and daughter away. The
Duke's sharp eye remarked this also, which his merry mood attributed to
jealousy on the part of Bertha. She however unclasped a beautiful
cross, set in gold and red stones, which she wore on her neck, attached
to a chain, and presenting it to the astonished girl, said, "I thank
you with all my heart, my dear Barbelle, for your kindness to my
husband; remember me to your father, and come often to us here and in
Lichtenstein. What say you, would you like to be in my service? I would
endeavour to make you happy, and you would live with your aunt Rosel."

The girl was evidently perplexed at this unexpected proposal. She
appeared to combat her feelings, and an assent to it seemed to be
struggling through an innocent smile on her countenance, only to be
withdrawn again by some other contending feeling. "I thank you very
much, gracious lady," she at last uttered, and kissed Bertha's hand,
"but I must stay at home; my mother is getting old and wants my
assistance. May the Lord, with all his saints, watch over you, and the
holy Virgin be gracious to you! May you live in health and be happy
with your husband; he is a good, kind gentleman!" Bending down again to
kiss Bertha's hand, she then withdrew with her mother and aunt.

"Hearken," called the Duke after them, "if your mother ever consents to
give you a husband, bring him to me, and I'll fit you out, my pretty
fifer's child!"

By this time it was four o'clock, and the Duke rising from table was
the signal for the spectators to quit the galleries, which were
immediately furnished with cushions and carpets, and arranged for the
reception of the ladies. The tables were removed from the body of the
hall, when lances, swords, shields, helmets, and the whole apparatus
for tilting were brought in, converting this spacious apartment, which
had been but a moment before the scene of festive joy, into a place for
the exercise of manly games.

In the present day the education of the fair sex gives them a superior
claim to intellectual knowledge and accomplishment over those of the
times we narrate. The interest they now take in learned discussion and
political argument, and the thirst for novelty which induces many to
crowd the rooms of the scientific lecturer, would seem, in some
instances, to intrude on the more important duty of domestic
employment. Not so was the time of the Swabian matrons and young women
occupied. The charge of the house was their sole vocation; but, upon
occasions such as the present, their delight was to witness the manly
exercise of men, whose bloody strifes were even not unwelcome to their
sight. Many a beautiful eye flashed with the noble desire of belonging
to a brave combatant. Deep blushes adorned many a cheek, not so much
from the fear of seeing her beloved in danger as to witness his retreat
from the scene of action, when it was attended with disgrace, or when
his arm wielded his sword less powerfully than his antagonist.

Horses were even brought into the hall on this evening, and Bertha had
the joy to see her husband obtain a second applause for having made
George von Hewen stagger two different times in his saddle. Duke
Ulerich von Würtemberg was the bravest combatant of his day, and an
ornament to the order of knighthood. History relates of him that, on
the day of his own wedding, he overthrew eight of the strongest knights
of Swabia and Franconia.

After the tilting had lasted some time, the company adjourned to the
hall of the knights for dancing, when the victors of the different
games had the precedence in the ball, in all respects similar to the
one we have already described. The Duke appeared to have pinned all
anxiety and care of the future upon the hump of his chancellor, who sat
in a window like a demon of evil destiny, looking upon the surrounding
scene with bitter smiles. Raging under an envious feeling of spite, by
being debarred from joining in the pleasures of the evening in
consequence of the deformity of his person, he remained in his position
in sullen silence.

At the end of the last dance Ulerich, the crown of the feast, proposed
a parting toast to the young and beautiful bride, but neither he nor
Albert could find her in any part of the room. The whisperings and
smiles of the ladies betrayed the secret of her having been led away by
six of the handsomest maidens, who accompanied her to her dwelling,
and, as the custom of those days would have it, to perform the
mysterious services of waiting maids.

"Sic transit gloria mundi!" said the Duke, smiling; "but look, Albert,
your nuptial companions, with twelve others, are approaching with
torches to illumine your path home. But first empty a goblet with us.
Cupbearer, go bring us some of our best," he added, addressing the
attendants.

Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg and Dieterich von Kraft now drew near with
torches in their hands, and offered themselves to conduct Albert to his
house. Twelve young men followed, each with a torch, to do honour
likewise to the bridegroom, for that was also the ceremony used on such
occasions. The Duke's cup-bearer brought a full goblet of wine, when
having, according to custom, first tasted it himself, he presented it
to his master, and then to Albert von Sturmfeder.

Ulerich looked at his friend for a time, evidently moved by a feeling
of affection for him. "You have kept your word," said he: "when I was
deserted by all the world, dwelling in misery under the earth, you made
yourself known to me, when those forty traitors surrendered my castle,
and not a spot of Würtemberg was left that I could call my own. You
followed me out of the country,--you often consoled me and pointed to
this day. Remain, my friend, for who knows what the next day may bring
forth. I can now command hundreds who will cry, 'Long live Ulerich!'
nevertheless, that shout is far less dear to me than the toast which
you gave me in the cavern, and which was re-echoed through its vaults.
I'll repeat it, and give it you back again. May you live happy with
your wife,--may your offspring blossom and prosper for ever,--and may
Würtemberg never fail in hearts as bold in prosperity and faithful in
adversity as yours has proved itself!"

The Duke drank, whilst a tear glistened in his eye. The guests cheered
and shouted his praise,--the torch-bearers arranged themselves in
order,--and Albert von Sturmfeder, led by his two companions, and
followed by the rest, was conducted in procession out of the castle to
the house of his bride.



                             CHAPTER XXXII.

            Hast thou not seen by times the cloudless sky
              Sudden illumined by the lightning flash,
            And its still, still silence, broken horribly
              By the loud music of the thunder crash?
            To this we might man's happiness compare,--
            To day 'tis present, and to-morrow----where?
                                                   SCHILLER.

The path which the most celebrated novelists of our days generally
tread, in their relation of events of ancient and modern times, may be
found without the aid of any beacon, and has a direct and fixed
limit:--it is the journey of a hero going to a wedding. Let the road be
ever so rugged, let him even venture to loiter his time improvidently
and inconsistently on his way, he will be induced in the end to hasten
his steps so much more rapidly to redeem the lost ground; and so, when
an author has at length conducted his reader to the bridal chamber,
after having made his hero undergo all the necessary fatigues of his
journey with becoming fortitude and resolution, he shuts the door in
your face, and closes the book. We might in the same way have ended our
story with the gay doings in the castle of Stuttgardt, or included the
reader in the torchlight procession of the bridegroom, and conducted
him out of our book; but the higher claims of truth and history,
together with the interest we have taken in some of the leading
characters, compel us to request the reader's patience to accompany us
a few steps further, beyond the limit of the bridal-chamber. He will
have to bewail with us the destiny of one, who, having begun his career
in the midst of misfortune, progressively advanced towards the
completion of his best wishes by the energy of his noble mind, until at
length his impetuous spirit hurled him again into the depths of misery.
His headstrong obstinacy had well nigh involved all his friends in his
own sad fate: one alone of them, whose sense of gratitude had
indissolubly attached him to the fortunes of his benefactor, preferred
rather to risk his life in his service than to desert him in the hour
of distress.

Nature's warning voice, which teaches us to be prepared against a
reverse of fortune in our happiest days, runs through the world's
history. It is acknowledged by the many, unheeded by the majority, and
followed by the few. In all times a troubled spirit has pervaded the
habitations of our earth; and, though its influence has been often
felt, man has vainly thought to deaden it in the noise of mirth.
Ulerich von Würtemberg had heard this warning voice many a night, when
he lay on his couch sleepless from a troubled mind. Often times he had
started up, thinking he heard the noise of armed men, or the heavy
tread of an army approaching nearer and nearer the spot; and, though he
convinced himself it was but the night breeze playing through the
towers of his castle, a fearful impression still haunted his mind, that
his fate was destined to some other awful change. The warnings of his
old and tried friend Lichtenstein would often whisper its voice to his
mind; in vain he sought to smother it by calling to his aid the artful
advice of his chancellor, by which he tried to palliate his own conduct
and quiet his conscience. But that faithful monitor upbraided him with
having acted without due circumspection and caution since his return to
his capital. His enemies, it was well known, had re-assembled a
powerful force, with which they threatened the country, and were
approaching into the heart of Würtemberg. The imperial town of
Esslingen presented itself as a very favourable starting point for
their undertakings; being but a short distance from the capital, nearly
in the centre of the country: as soon, therefore, as the army of the
League could open its communication with it, it became a formidable
stronghold, to favour and cover their incursions into Würtemberg. The
country people in many places received the Leaguists favourably, for
the Duke, by his new regulations, which he had made them swear to, had
rendered them distrustful of his intentions. The Würtembergers, from
time immemorial, being attached to ancient customs and privileges,
handed down through successive generations, regard their old laws and
ordinances as so many golden words, though they may scarcely understand
their import, or seldom consider whether some reform would not be
advantageous.

The peaceable character of the peasant, generally so universal
throughout the country, fostered by the tranquil occupations of
domestic and agricultural affairs, would lead to a supposition that
political strifes were subjects indifferent to their minds; but it was
far otherwise: on the occasion of any change or reform in the usages of
their ancient laws and customs, which interfered with their ideas of
government, they manifested an obstinate caprice, with an ardour and
enthusiasm quite out of keeping, and foreign to their ordinary
inoffensive dispositions.

The Duke had experienced this love of old institutions in his people,
when he some few years back, by the advice of his council, for the
purpose of bettering his finances, made an alteration in the public
weights and measures. An organised insurrection of peasants, entitled,
"The League of Poor Conrad," had made him reflect, and caused the
Tübingen compact, which restored the old law, to be introduced. This
feeling of attachment to long standing habits was also manifested
towards him personally in a very touching manner, when the League
entered the country with the intention of expelling the head of the
ancient house of their prince. Their fathers and grandfathers having
lived under the sway of the Dukes and Counts of Würtemberg, they were
filled with dismay and consternation, when a foreign army entered their
country to deprive them of their hereditary prince. Their hatred and
revenge was excited against the League and their governors; and, though
they were compelled by force to submit to their rule, they proved their
love to their Lord in many instances of violence towards his enemies.

When their hereditary prince, therefore, a Würtemberger, first
returned from exile, the people flocked around him, under the
impression that affairs would go on as heretofore. Under his sway they
were willing to pay the taxes, to redeem all the state debts, and
perform the service done in soccage. There was no murmuring about hard
treatment, provided it was done according to ancient usage, and by
their legitimate master. But now, the old laws having been expunged by
the new oath of fidelity to which they were called upon to swear, the
taxes being no longer levied according to old custom, and the whole
system being changed, it was no wonder that the people looked upon the
Duke as a new master, foreign to their habits, and loudly demanded a
return to former rights. They consequently lost all faith in him; not
because his hand lay heavier upon them than heretofore; not because he
required considerably more from their purses than formerly, but because
they regarded the new order of things with a suspicious eye.

A prince, particularly when he lends his ear to such a man as Ambrosius
Bolland, seldom learns the true tone of public opinion, and therefore
cannot judge whether the measures which his council place before him
have been wisely considered. In the present instance, however, the
discontent of his people did not escape the penetrating eye of the
Duke. He remarked, that he could no more depend upon them, in the event
of an extreme difficulty, than he could upon the nobility of the
country, who, since his return, had remained neutral spectators of the
state of affairs.

He endeavoured to screen from public notice the uneasiness which these
observations caused him; and for this purpose he assumed an extravagant
tone of gaiety, which often succeeded to blind himself, and make him
forget the precipice upon which he stood: and for the sake of
instilling confidence into the people, and into the army which he had
assembled in and about Stuttgardt, he determined to revenge himself
with double interest upon the League, for the depredations they had
committed in excursions from Esslingen. He beat and repulsed them
indeed, and wasted their territory; but when he returned in victory
from his expedition, he could not conceal from himself, that,
considering his own slender resources, the fortune of war might go
against him, when once the army of his enemies should be brought into
the field. His apprehensions were soon verified; for the rapid advance
of the League's troops towards the capital threatened the stability of
Ulerich's present doubtful position. Upon the turn of a battle, which
now seemed inevitable, depended his very existence.

Little or nothing was known in Stuttgardt of a summons which had been
sent to the Duke from the League. The court lived in its usual round of
gaiety; tranquillity and joy reigned in the town; when all of a sudden,
on the 12th, of October, the lansquenets which the Duke had encamped
near Cannstadt, a short distance from the capital, came into the town
in confusion, with the intelligence that they had been driven in by a
large force of the League. The inhabitants of Stuttgardt were now
convinced that an important crisis was at hand; they conjectured that
the Duke must long since have been aware of this threatening attack,
for he immediately assembled his officers, drew in his troops, which
were scattered about in quarters in the villages surrounding the
capital, passed his army in review, amounting to upwards of ten
thousand men, on the same evening; and in the night marched with a
large body of infantry, to reinforce the posts which a division of the
lansquenet still occupied between Esslingen and Cannstadt.

The departure of all the men, young and old, who could carry arms,
caused many a beautiful eye to weep that night, when they marched out
of Stuttgardt with the Duke, to the field of battle; but the wailing of
the women and young maidens was drowned in the warlike noise of the
marching army, resembling the sobs of a child amidst the raging of the
elements. Bertha's grief, though almost overpowering, was silent, as
she accompanied her husband to the door, where his servants awaited him
and her father with their horses. They had enjoyed the first days of
their marriage alone and in quiet, mutually engaged in the affectionate
offices of each other's happiness. Dreaming little of the future, they
thought themselves safe in the haven of uninterrupted love; and whilst
they lived but for themselves, the whisperings, the mysterious
disquietude which agitated the public mind, were unheeded by them.
Having been long accustomed to see the knight of Lichtenstein serious
and thoughtful, they did not attribute the alteration which his
features had of late assumed, to any cause beyond the natural anxiety
he was known to feel in the present state of the Duke's affairs.
Neither did they, for the same reason, apprehend any immediate disaster
to disturb their happiness, although they remarked a certain air of
fearful anticipation and despair which at times clouded his brow. The
old man witnessed the happiness of his children, and participated in
it; and, not wishing to interrupt their bliss unnecessarily, he
concealed from them his uneasiness upon the state of affairs; but at
length the threatening crisis approached. The Duke of Bavaria had
advanced into the heart of the country, and the call to arms startled
Albert out of the embrace of his beloved wife.

Nature had gifted her with a strength of mind, and a superiority of
character, which entered into every transaction of her life, and exists
only in that purity of soul which commits its dearest interests into
the hands of a higher Power, with implicit confidence. Aware of what
was due to the honour of her husband's name, and the relationship in
which he stood to the Duke, she repressed her grief, and the only
sacrifice which the infirmity of her nature offered for the many
dangers to which her beloved husband would necessarily be exposed, was
an involuntary flood of tears.

"I cannot believe, dearest Albert, that we are never to see each other
again!" she said, whilst a forced smile illumined her beautiful face:
"we have but just begun to live; heaven will not cut us off in the bud
of a happy existence; I can, therefore, part from you in tranquillity,
in the conviction that you will soon be restored to me."

Albert kissed her soft weeping eye, which dwelt upon him so full of
tenderness, and whose glance inspired him with consolation and
fortitude. In this distressing moment he thought not of the danger he
was going to encounter, his only concern was the consideration of the
affliction of the beloved being he held in his arms, should he be left
on the field of battle. The mere thought of the painful existence she
would then lead in solitude, and in the remembrance of the few days of
their bliss, unmanned him. He pressed her in his arms, as if to drive
away these agonizing ideas from his mind; he gazed with intense love
upon her endearing eye, seeking to obliterate the heart-rending
feelings of the moment; but his heart, though rent by the afflicting
struggle of separation, was inspired with hope and confidence. He at
length forced himself from her embrace.

The two knights joined the Duke at the gate leading to Cannstadt. The
night was dark, only enlivened by the dim light of the first quarter of
the moon and the host of stars. Albert observed the Duke to look
gloomy, and wrapped in deep thought. His eyes were cast down, as if to
avoid observation, and he rode on in profound silence, after he had
saluted them hastily with his hand.

There is something peculiarly solemn and striking in the night march of
an army. By day, the sun, a cheerful country, the sight of many
comrades, the change of scenery, invite the soldier to beguile time by
conversation and the merry song; and, because outward impressions
forcibly engage the attention, little is thought among them of the
object of the march, of the uncertainty of war, or of futurity, which
is veiled to no one more than to the military man. Very different is a
march by night. The hollow sound of the tread of the troops, the
regular pacing of horses, their snorting, the clatter of arms, only
break the stillness of night, whilst the mind, no longer able to dwell
on surrounding objects, impressed by these monotonous sounds, becomes
thoughtful and serious; joking and laughter cease to cheer the march,
loud talk sinks into whispering, and thought, no longer occupied with
indifferent subjects, is taken up with speculations upon what is likely
to be the result of the campaign.

Such was the complexion of the march of that night, gloomy, and
uninterrupted by any shout of animating joy. Albert rode by the side of
the old knight of Lichtenstein, occasionly casting an anxious look at
him, for he sat in his saddle as if bent down by grief, with an
expression of thoughtfulness on his countenance, more strongly marked
than he had ever noticed before. Animation seemed almost suspended, and
nothing gave indication of life in him, but an occasionally deep-drawn
sigh, or when his keen eye was raised in contemplation of the pale
moon.

"Do you think we shall have a skirmish tomorrow?" whispered Albert to
him, after a time.

"Skirmish!--we shall have a battle," was the short answer.

"How! do you really believe that the army of the League is strong
enough now to attempt to stand its ground against us? It's impossible!
Duke William must have possessed wings to have brought up his Bavarians
so soon, and we know that Fronsberg is still undecided as to his
intentions. I don't believe they have many more than six thousand men."

"Twenty thousand," answered the old knight, in an under tone of voice.

"By heavens! I had no idea of that," replied the young man in
astonishment. "We shall certainly have hard work, if that be the case;
but we have well trained and experienced troops, and the League's army
cannot boast of an eagle eye compared to the Duke's, not even excepting
Fronsberg's. With such an advantage on our side, do you not think the
chances are in our favour?"

"No," was the answer of the old man.

"Well, I'll not give up all hope. We have also a still greater
advantage in our cause: we fight for our country, whereas the views of
the League are mercenary. That circumstance alone will inspire our
troops with courage. The Würtembergs will defend their father-land."

"That is just what I least depend upon," answered Lichtenstein. "Had
not the Duke been obstinate in forcing the country to swear to the new
oath of allegiance, the case would be far different, he would have had
the hearts of the people with him; but now, force alone compels them to
fight under his banners. The result is dubious."

"I admit what you say to be true, and that the Duke has lost much by
the imprudence of his measures," replied Albert; "but I have great
faith in the honest patriotism of the Swabians, and, in spite of
everything he has done, they will not desert their hereditary Prince in
the hour of need, and in the defence of his lawful rights. Where do you
think we shall meet the enemy? Where shall we take up a position?"

"The lansquenets have thrown up a few redoubts at Untertürkheim,
between Esslingen and Cannstadt, and have three thousand five hundred
men there; we shall join them tonight."

The old man was silent, and they rode on for some time side by side,
without speaking.

"Hearken, Albert!" he began again; "I have often looked death in the
face, and am old enough not to fear to stand in such a predicament
again. We are all liable to the common lot of mortals. If anything
happens to me, console my dear child, Bertha!"

"Father!" cried Albert, grasping his hand, "pray do not think of such
things; you will still live long and happy with us!"

"Perhaps so," replied the old man, with a firm voice, "perhaps not. It
were folly in me to beg of you not to risk yourself too much in the
battle; you would not follow my advice; but I pray you to think of
your young wife, and do not rush into danger blindly, and without good
reason. Promise me this."

"I promise! here is my hand; where duty calls me, I cannot shrink from
it; unnecessarily I'll not expose myself; but you, also, my dear
father, must give me the same promise."

"We'll not talk about that at present. If I, by chance, am called out
of this life to-morrow, my last will, which I have placed in the Duke's
hands, will be fulfilled. Lichtenstein will pass into your possession,
and you will be invested with the property. My name will die with me in
the country; may yours live in its remembrance so much the longer!"

The young man was overcome at these last words of his high-minded,
venerable father: he endeavoured to answer him, but the rush of painful
thoughts to his mind prevented all utterance. A known voice at the
moment called him by name. It was the Duke's. He pressed the hand of
his wife's parent, and rode in haste to Ulerich.

"Good morning, Sturmfeder!" said the Duke, who appeared more cheerful;
"I say good morning, for I hear the cock crow in the village. How did
you leave your wife? was she very much overcome when you last saw her?"

"She wept," answered Albert; "but she uttered not a word of complaint."

"Just like her, by Saint Hubertus! we have seldom seen so much
fortitude in a woman. If the night were not quite so dark, I would like
to see in your eye whether your heart is tuned to the battle, and if
you are inclined to close with the Leaguists?"

"Show me but the path I am to follow, and you'll not find me swerve
from it, though it lead into the thickest of the battle. Does your
grace imagine, that, during the few days of my marriage, I have so
totally forgotten the lesson I learnt of you, namely, never to lose
courage in prosperity or adversity?"

"You are right--impavidum ferient ruinæ; we expected nothing less
from our faithful banner-bearer; but another must perform that office
to-day. I have selected you for a more important service. You will take
these hundred and sixty cavalry by our side, choose one of them to show
you the way, and trot on direct to Untertürkheim. It is possible the
road may not be open, as the Leaguists from Esslingen may have come
down to dispute the passage with us. How would you act under such
circumstances?"

"I would throw myself with my hundred and sixty horsemen among them,
and cut my way through; that is to say, if their whole force were not
in the neighbourhood. If I found them too strong, I would cover my
position, until you came up with reinforcements."

"You have well said, spoken like a valiant swordsman, and if you deal
your blows as heavily on them as you did on me at Lichtenstein, you'll
cut through six hundred Leaguists. The people I have given you are
staunch. They are composed of the butchers, saddlers, and blacksmiths
of Stuttgardt and the surrounding towns. I know them in many a hard
fight. Brave, and able to sever the skull down to the breast bone, they
will follow you, sword in hand, wherever you may lead them, when once
they are well inclined towards you; let them have but one good blow at
the brain, no doctor's hand need attempt a cure. That's the right sort
of Swabian cut."

"Am I to take post at Untertürkheim?"

"You will find there the lansquenet under George von Hewen and
Schweinsberg encamped on a hill. The watchword is, 'Ulerich for
ever!' Tell them they must keep the position till five o'clock; before
day-break I shall be with them with six thousand men, and then will
await the Leaguists. Farewell, Albert!"

The young man returned the salute by bowing respectfully, and putting
himself at the head of the gallant band, trotted down the valley with
them. The men were powerful figures, broad shouldered and well limbed,
whose animated fearless looks beheld their young leader with
satisfaction, as he placed himself in their front, and appeared
honoured by his command. Having run his eye rapidly through the ranks,
he selected one whose penetrating eye and intelligent countenance
seemed to point him out as the fittest person to act the part of guide.
He immediately called him to his side, and gave him the necessary
directions. They approached the foot of the Rothenberg, on the summit
of which stood the hereditary castle of the house of Würtemberg,
commanding an extended view over the valley of the Neckar. It was but
faintly illumined by the glimmer of the stars, and Albert could not
distinctly distinguish its form, though he kept his eyes fixed upon its
towers and walls. He recollected that night in the cavern, when the
Duke spoke in sorrow of the castle of his ancestors, and described the
country seen from its towers as abounding in corn, wine, and fruit, all
of which he once could call his own. The young man sank into reflection
upon the unhappy fate of the Duke, which now again appeared to contend
with him for the possession of his patrimony. He dwelt upon the
extraordinary mixture in his character, the foundation of which was
truly great, but was too often disturbed by rage, malice, and unbending
pride. "If you look between those two trees, you will be able to
distinguish the points of the towers of Untertürkheim," said the man,
who was conducting him on the road. "The road is much more level now,
and if we push on, we shall soon be there."

Albert spurred his horse, and the rest following his example, soon
gained sight of the village. A double line of lansquenet was stationed
outside of it, who at their approach presented their halberds in
fearful array, whilst the red glimmer of burning matches was seen
scattered about in many points, like the glow-worm sparkling in the
night.

"Who comes there?" cried a deep voice from the ranks: "Give the
watch-word!"

"Ulericus for ever," answered Albert von Sturmfeder: "who are you?"

"Good friends!" answered Maxx Stumpf Schweinsberg, stepping out of the
ranks of the lansquenet, and riding towards the young man. "Good
morning, Albert; you have kept us waiting somewhat long. We have been
all night upon our legs, anxiously expecting a reinforcement, for in
the wood there over against us it does not look pleasant, and if
Fronsberg had been aware of his advantage, he might have overpowered us
long ago."

"The Duke is coming up with six thousand men," replied Sturmfeder, "and
will be here in two hours at furthest."

"Six thousand only, did you say? by Saint Nepomuk, that's not enough!
we have but three thousand five hundred here, so that all we can muster
in the field will make little more than nine thousand. Are you aware
that the Leaguists are over twenty thousand strong? What artillery does
the Duke bring with him?"

"I don't know--it was only just arrived when we departed," replied
Albert.

"Well, come, and let the men dismount, and take some rest," said Maxx
Stumpf; "they'll have work enough this day."

The cavalry dismounted, and laid down to rest. The lansquenet also were
permitted to fall out of their ranks, leaving strong piquets on the
heights, and on the Neckar. Maxx Stumpf gave all the necessary
directions for the remainder of the night; and Albert von Sturmfeder,
rolling himself in his cloak, also laid down to repose himself from the
fatigues of the past twenty-four hours, and refresh himself for the
coming strife. The stillness of the morning, broken only by the
monotonous tone of the sentry's call, soon lulled him to sleep, with
the last thought directed in prayer to God, into whose hands he
resigned himself and his beloved wife.



                             CHAPTER XXXIII.

            Enveloped in the smoke,
              Both man and horse are hidden;
            Away they now have broke,
              Now down the hill have ridden:
            Across the Neckar springs the steed so good,
              And in the valley is the fight renew'd.
                                                  G. SCHWAB.

Albert was roused a little before break of day by the roll of drums,
calling the little band to arms. A small border of light was visible on
the horizon, the advanced guard of day, when the troops of the Duke
were seen coming up in the distance. The young man put on his helmet
and armour, mounted his horse, and, at the head of his men, waited to
receive the Duke. The stern features of Ulerich had lost none of their
thoughtful expression, though all traces of gloom had disappeared from
them. From his eyes beamed a warlike fire, and his countenance bespoke
courage and determination. Clad entirely in steel, he wore a green
cloak, trimmed with gold, over his heavy armour, whilst the colours of
his house waved in the large floating plumes of his helmet. The rest of
his dress differed in nothing from that of the knights and nobles about
him, who, all clad in polished steel, "up to the eyes," formed a circle
around the Duke. They saluted Hewen, Schweinsberg, and Sturmfeder in a
friendly way, and made inquiries about the position of the enemy.

Nothing was as yet to be seen of the troops of the League, except on
the border of the wood towards Esslingen, where a few straggling
out-posts were observed to be stationed. The Duke determined to quit
the height which the lansquenet occupied, and take up a position in the
plain beneath. His army being much inferior in cavalry to the League,
who, according to the reports of spies, could muster three thousand
horses, he hoped the flanks of this position, having the Neckar on one
side and a thick wood on the other, which he intended to take up in the
valley, would make up for the deficiency in numbers.

Though the opinion of Lichtenstein, with many others, was against this
plan, fearing the army would be exposed to the fire of artillery from
the surrounding heights, Ulerich would not be dissuaded from it, and
ordered the army to march accordingly. Having arranged his order of
battle close to the town of Türkheim, he there awaited his enemy.
Albert von Sturmfeder was directed to remain near him with the cavalry,
which had been entrusted to his command, to be ready to strike a
decisive blow, and at the same time to form his body guard; whilst
Lichtenstein, with four-and-twenty other knights, joined themselves to
this mounted body of burghers, ready to support them in the event of an
attack of cavalry. In those days a battle was often an affair of so
many single-handed combats. The knights who followed an army seldom
fought in solid masses; but with a quick eye, they marked out an
adversary from among the ranks of the enemy, rode at him, and fought
him with lance and sword. Such a band of gallant men, headed by old
Lichtenstein, was that which now closed with Albert's troop. The Duke
himself, burning with the desire of wielding his powerful arm, and
proving the renown of his far-famed prowess in single combat, was only
controlled in this romantic idea by the pressing exhortations of his
friends. A most extraordinary figure was seen to keep his station by
the side of the Duke, in appearance more like a tortoise on horseback,
than a human being. A helmet, with a large feather, protruded high
above a small body, upon the back of which sat an arched coat of mail.
The little horseman's knees were bent high up on the saddle, whilst his
hand kept a fast hold of the pummel. The closed vizor of the unknown
knight concealed his face from Albert's observation; who, curious to
ascertain who the ridiculous looking warrior might be, rode up to the
Duke to satisfy himself, and said:

"Upon my word, your highness has provided yourself with a marvellous
looking animal as a guide. Only observe his withered legs, his
trembling arm, the enormous helmet between his shoulders;--who may this
pigmy be?"

"Don't you recognize the hump?" asked the Duke, laughing. "Just observe
the extraordinary coat of mail he has on; it is for all the world like
a large nutshell, to protect his back, in case he has to run for it. He
is my faithful chancellor, Ambrosius Bolland."

"By the holy Virgin! what an unjust opinion I have formed of him,"
replied Albert; "I never thought he would have drawn a sword or mounted
a horse, and there he sits upon a beast as big as an elephant, and
carries a sword as long as himself. I never should have given him
credit for so martial a spirit."

"Do you suppose it is his own free-will which impels him to attend me
in the field? No, I have been obliged by force to make him follow me.
Having pushed me to extremities against my will, in order to satisfy
his wicked intentions, which I fear has placed me upon the brink of a
precipice, he shall partake of the soup himself which he has cooked for
me. He wept when I insisted on his coming with me; complaining of his
gout, and other infirmities, saying his nature was not military; but I
made him buckle on his armour, and put him on a horse, the most fiery
beast in my stable. He shall have the bitters as well as the sweets of
his counsel."

During this discourse the knight of the hump threw open his vizor, and
discovered his pale affrighted countenance. The eternal hypocritical
smile had vanished, his piercing little eyes had swollen beyond their
ordinary size, and assumed a staring look, turning slowly and timidly
from side to side; a cold perspiration sat upon his forehead, and his
voice had softened down into a trembling whisper. "For the mercy of
God, most worthy Albert von Sturmfeder, most beloved friend and
benefactor," said he, "pray say a good word for me to our obdurate
master, that he may release me from this masquerading gambol. The ride
in this heavy armour has most cruelly tormented me, the helmet presses
on my brain, setting all my thoughts on the dance, and my knees are
bent with the gout. Pray, pray do! say a kind word for your humble
servant, Ambrosius Bolland; I will certainly repay it ten-fold."

The young man turned away in disgust, from the cowardly sinner. "My
Lord Duke," said he, whilst a blush of high-minded scorn and contempt
coloured his cheeks, "permit him to go. The knights have drawn their
swords, and pressed their helmets firmer on their foreheads; the people
shake their spears, impatient for the signal of attack; why, then,
should a coward be counted among the ranks of men?"

"He remains, I say," replied the Duke, with a stern voice; "the first
step he makes to the rear, I'll cut him down from his horse. The devil
sat upon your blue lips, Ambrosius Bolland, when you advised us to
despise our people, and subvert the laws of the land. This day, when
the balls whiz and swords clatter, shall you know whether your counsel
has proved of advantage to us or not."

The chancellor's eyes beamed with rage, his lips trembled, and his
whole countenance was fearfully distorted. "I only gave you my
advice,--why did you follow it?" said he; "you are the Duke and master;
you gave the orders for swearing the oath of allegiance,--how could I
help it?"

The Duke, in anger at these words, turned his horse with such velocity
towards him, that the chancellor, expecting his last moment was come,
bent himself down in trepidation on his horse's mane. "By our princely
honour," he cried, with a terrible voice, his eyes flashing fire, "we
are astonished at our own forbearance. You took advantage of the
blindness of our anger, when first we re-entered our capital; you knew
too well how to ingratiate yourself into our confidence. Had we not
followed your counsel, thou serpent, we should have had twenty thousand
Würtemberg hearts as a wall to defend their Prince. Oh! my Würtemberg!
my Würtemberg! Had I but followed the advice of my old friend! There is
indeed a charm in the love of my people!"

"Away with these thoughts," said the old knight of Lichtenstein. "We
are on the eve of battle; all is not yet lost; we have still time to
repair the wrongs we have committed. You are surrounded by six thousand
Würtembergers, and, by heavens! they will be victorious, if you lead
them with confidence to the enemy. We are all friends here, my Lord!
forgive your enemies; dismiss your chancellor, who can be of no service
to you, he cannot use a sword."

"No! remain by my side, thou tortoise! dog of a scribe!" said the Duke.
"Seated in your office, you wrote laws with your own hand, and despised
my people, you shall now witness how they can fight; how a Würtemberger
can conquer or----die. Ha! do you see them on the height there? do you
see the flag with the red cross? there's the banner of Bavaria; how
their arms glisten in the dawn of the morning, and their helmet plumes
wave in the breeze! Good morning, gentlemen of the Swabian League; that
is a sight for a Würtemberger! how my heart gladdens at it!"

"Look! they are preparing their artillery," interrupted Lichtenstein;
"you must not remain on this spot, my Lord, your life is in danger; go
back, go back; send us your orders from yonder tree, (pointing to one
at a distance,) where you will be in safety; this position belongs to
us alone."

The Duke turned to him, and answered, with an air of proud dignity,
"Where did you ever hear that a Würtemberger retreated when the enemy
had sounded the attack? My ancestors never knew what fear was, and
their posterity shall also, like them, never betray the motto,
'Fearless and true!' Observe how the brow of the mountain becomes
darker and darker with their numerous bodies of men. Do you see that
white cloud on yonder hill, tortoise? do you hear it crack? that's the
thunder of artillery, that pours into our ranks. If you have a clear
conscience at this moment, make up your accounts with this world; for
no one would give a penny for your life."

"Let us say a prayer," said Maxx von Schweinsberg, "and then at them,
in God's name."

The Duke piously raised his hands and eyes towards heaven, and his
companions following his example, they said their prayers, imploring
the aid of the Almighty in the justice of their cause. This was the
general custom of the good old times, before the battle commenced. The
thunder of the enemy's artillery contrasted terribly with the deep
silence which reigned about this group, now engaged in soliciting God's
protection. Each appeared deeply impressed with the solemnity of the
few moments which were perhaps left to them in this world, except the
chancellor Ambrosius Bolland, who clasped his hands, whilst his eyes
were not directed in faith to heaven, but wandered to the enemy's
heights. His trembling body, as he observed the fire and smoke of each
gun from the League, proved that his soul was not leaning upon Him who
makes his sun to shine upon the good and upon the evil.

When Ulerich von Würtemberg and those around him had finished their
solemn duty, he drew his sword, which was immediately followed by the
rest, and in a moment a thousand blades glittered in the sun. "The
lansquenet are already engaged," said he, casting his eagle eye rapidly
down the valley. He now issued his orders with a cool determined voice,
and, addressing George von Hewen, directed him to support them with a
thousand infantry. Turning then to Schweinsberg, he said, "Take eight
hundred men to the skirt of the wood, and remain there till further
directions. Reinhart von Gemmingen, march with your division, and take
position in the middle space between the wood and the Neckar. And you,
Albert von Sturmfeder, remain here with your brigade of cavalry, and be
ready to advance at a moment's notice. And now may God be with you all,
my friends! Should we be destined not to see each other again in this
world, we shall meet the sooner in the next." He saluted them by
lowering his immense sword. The knights returned it, and advanced with
their respective bodies of men towards the enemy, rending the air with
loud vivas of "Ulerich for ever!"

The army of the League having taken up the ground which the Duke's men
had shortly before occupied, saluted their enemy from the mouths of
several pieces of heavy ordnance, moving slowly down into the valley,
with the apparent intention of crushing them by superior numbers. At
the moment when their last division had quitted this position, the Duke
turned to Albert von Sturmfeder, and said, "Do you see those guns on
the height?"

"Yes, and they are supported by a very few men apparently," he
answered.

"Fronsberg supposes that because we cannot fly over to him, it would be
impossible to take his pieces. But there is a path in the wood there,"
said the Duke, pointing with his hand, "which leads to the left, into a
field, which field skirts the hill. If you advance cautiously with your
cavalry, and follow the path, you will get almost into the rear of the
enemy. And if you succeed, pull up your horses a moment to give them
wind, and then gallop up the hill, and their artillery is ours."

Albert bowed to him at parting, whilst the Duke gave him his hand.
"Farewell, young man," said he; "it grieves us to send so young a
married man upon such dangerous service; but we know of none other
better calculated or more determined than yourself to perform it."

The cheeks of the young hero glowed with ardour when he heard these
words, and his eyes bespoke confidence in the bold enterprise he was
about to undertake. "I thank you, my lord, for this new proof of your
consideration," he replied; "you do me a greater kindness than if you
had endowed me with one of your most valuable estates. Farewell,
father," turning to old Lichtenstein, "remember me to my beloved wife."

"I don't mean to let you go alone," replied the old knight, smiling:
"I'll accompany you. Under your conduct----"

"No, remain with me, old friend," entreated the Duke; "do you wish me
to follow the chancellor's counsel in the field also? He might lead me
into a much worse scrape than he has already done. Stay by my side, old
man; make a hasty farewell with your son, for there is not a moment to
lose."

The old knight pressed the hand of the young man, who returned it
smiling, and, in a cheerful mood, placed himself at the head of his
gallant band, when he galloped away with the Stuttgardt burghers,
leading them towards the enemy in this critical moment, crying,
"Ulerich for ever!" Having reached the skirt of the wood, he had a
moment's leisure to run his eye over the field of battle. The
Würtembergers were in very good position, their flanks being covered by
the wood and the Neckar, and their centre arranged in such a manner as
to be able to repel any serious charge of cavalry. It was therefore
evident, that any alteration in their present line of battle would
subject them to extreme danger. The great disadvantage under which they
laboured was the fact of their being inferior to their enemy by
two-thirds of the number of combatants and though the Leaguists were
unable to bring their whole force into action at once, in consequence
of the confined space of the valley, their superiority of numbers
compensated for the want of room to man[oe]uvre in, which consideration
alone required the most strenuous exertions of Ulerich's small band to
maintain their ground. They, indeed, with such fearful odds against
them, kept their line unbroken, and their courage appeared to rise
still higher as their ranks began to thin. But, though the brave
Swabians valiantly disputed every inch of ground, it was to be
apprehended lest, by dint of renewed attacks by fresh troops, they
would ultimately be forced to give way.

These fleeting observations which Albert had been enabled to make,
convinced him that upon some daring piece of service depended the
success of the day. The energies of his mind rose in proportion to the
difficulties he had to contend with. He felt that Ulerich's destiny was
now in his keeping, and that one bold stroke, such as he was about to
undertake, would decide the fate of the contest.

His troop having now reached the wood, they proceeded through it in
silence and with caution, aware of the advantage which infantry possess
over cavalry under such circumstances. But they arrived at the point
leading to the field which the Duke had described, without molestation.
To the right beyond the wood the battle raged in full fury. The cheers
of the attacking part, the roar of artillery and small arms, the noise
of the drums, echoed terribly through its trees.

The hill lay before them, from the summit of which several pieces of
heavy artillery played upon the ranks of the Würtembergers. The path to
the top of it, leading up from the side of the wood, being of gentle
ascent, Albert was astonished at the quick eye of the Duke in having
discovered the only weak part of the enemy's position, every other
point of it being unassailable, at least by cavalry. The guns, as far
as he could observe from the place where he stood, were not supported
by any considerable force, and, therefore, as soon as the horses had
rested a few moments, Albert sounded the charge, and, putting himself
at their head, galloped up the hill in gallant style, and reached the
summit in an instant, calling to the enemy to surrender. The
consternation of the Leaguist troops in thus finding their enemies
suddenly among them, paralysed all their means of defence; whilst the
brave butchers, saddlers, and blacksmiths of Stuttgardt, taking
advantage of their confusion, dealt out the true Swabian cut on the
heads of their adversaries, and in a short time reduced the covering
party to a small number. Albert threw a triumphant look down the plain
towards the Duke; he heard the exulting shouts wafted to him from the
throats of many thousand Würtembergers, and saw them advance with
renewed courage, being now relieved from the galling fire of the
artillery on the hill.

He was obliged, however, to check this momentary joy of victory, in
consideration of his retreat, the second and most difficult operation
of the gallant undertaking; for the Leaguists, having observed the
sudden cessation of their artillery, had ordered a powerful body of
cavalry to charge the hill. As there was no time to bring away the
captured guns, he quickly ordered his men to fill them with stones and
earth, rendering them by this means unserviceable, and then casting his
eye towards the line of retreat, he perceived he would have to contend
with difficulties he had not anticipated. To retrace the path through
the wood by which, he had advanced was his first thought, for, were it
even occupied by the enemy's cavalry, he would meet them upon equal
terms. But, to his dismay, as he was about to put it into execution, he
observed that a large body of the Leaguist infantry had already gained
the wood to cut off his passage through it, rendering it thereby
impossible for him to join his comrades by that road. To attempt to cut
through the enemy's army with only one hundred and sixty horsemen,
would seem to be absolute madness. The only alternative left to him,
therefore,--and it was one more likely to lead to death than
deliverance,--was to make direct for the Neckar, which flowed between
him and his friends, and pass it by swimming across. Desperate as this
only resource of escape was, he determined to act upon it without loss
of time, and once having gained the banks of the river, he thought the
passage of it might be easily accomplished. By these means he might
hope to join the Duke; though it was but a forlorn hope. Five hundred
men of the Leaguist cavalry had by this time reached the foot of the
hill upon which he stood. He thought he recognized Truchses von
Waldburg at their head, and rather than surrender to him, he would
willingly have suffered death.

He gave the signal to his gallant Würtembergers to follow him down the
side of the hill which led to the banks of the river. They staggered at
the fearful expedient, for it was scarcely to be expected that a fifth
part of them would escape, so steep was the descent, and besides which,
between the hill and the river stood a large body of the enemy's
infantry, ready to receive them. But their gallant young leader,
throwing open his vizor, discovered to them his noble countenance,
beaming with the inspiration of heroic magnanimity. The whole troop
were animated by the same bold spirit, and when they recollected they
had seen him but a few weeks back leading a beautiful maiden to the
altar, and that he had left this endearing object behind him, for the
sake of his Duke and country, they vociferated in loud shouts the
practices of their several vocations. "At them!" cried the butchers,
"we'll slaughter them like oxen;" "And we'll hammer them like hot
iron," cried the blacksmiths; and the saddlers vociferated "They
shall be beat as soft as leather." "Ulerich for ever!" cried their
bold-hearted leader, who putting spurs to his horse, was the first to
gallop down the dangerous declivity. The enemy's cavalry could scarcely
believe their eyes when they arrived at the top of the hill, in
expectation of capturing their daring adversaries, and saw them hotly
engaged with their infantry at the bottom of it. This bold step of
Albert's cost many a brave man his life: many were thrown from their
horses, and fell into the hands of the Leaguists; but the major part,
arriving safely at the foot of the hill, were engaged hand to hand with
the enemy, and the helmet plumes of their leader were seen to wave high
in the midst of the fray. The ranks of the infantry were soon broken by
the impetuous charge of the Würtembergers, who now pushed for the bank
of the Neckar, and following their leader, dashed into the water to
cross it. Though his horse was a powerful beast he had not strength
sufficient to bear the weight of his rider, clad in armour, nor to stem
its stream, at present swollen beyond its ordinary height by heavy
rains. He was on the point of sinking, calling to his men not to think
of him, but to push on to the Duke, and give him his last farewell,
when at this critical moment two gallant blacksmiths, having
disencumbered themselves of their horses, seized the young knight, one
by his arms, and the other taking his horse's bridle, landed him in
safety on the opposite bank.

The Leaguists sent many a shot after their flying enemy, but
fortunately they fell harmless. In the sight of both armies, this
daring band continued its further route unmolested to the Duke. Having
passed a deep ford, not far from the spot where Ulerich was stationed,
they were received with loud shouts of joy and applause by their
companions.

Though a considerable part of the enemy's artillery had been rendered
unserviceable by the no less bold than rapid attack of Albert von
Sturmfeder, such was the unhappy fate of Duke Ulerich, that even this
brilliant feat of arms could not avert the spell which seemed to hang
over his destiny. The strength of his people began to fail under
renewed attacks of superior numbers. In spite of the experience and
bravery of the lansquenets, who gave proofs of the honesty of their
promises to the Duke, and though they continued to uphold their
accustomed warlike character, and did not cede an inch of ground, the
loss they had sustained obliged their commanders to form them into
circles to repel the charges of cavalry. The line of battle being
thereby broken, the vacant spaces were but feebly filled up and
sustained by the country people, badly armed, and worse soldiers,
having been brought into the field in haste, and almost without
discipline. At this critical moment intelligence arrived of the Duke of
Bavaria having suddenly surprised and taken possession of Stuttgardt,
that a fresh army was coming up in the rear, and was scarcely a quarter
of an hour's distance off. This news was a death-blow to the Duke's
hopes, who now perceived there was nothing left to him but flight or
death to prevent his falling into the hands of his enemies. What was to
be done in this emergency? His followers advised him to throw himself
into the hereditary castle of the house of Würtemberg, and there remain
until he could find an opportunity secretly to escape. He turned his
eyes towards the place, his last resource, which, lighted up by the
brilliancy of the day, seemed to look down in stern majesty upon the
valley, where the descendant of him who raised it had staked his last
hope in one desperate conflict. But when he saw the red flag playing in
the morning breeze over the towers and walls of his castle, he turned
pale, and pointing to it, was unable to give utterance to the painful
feelings which the sight occasioned. The knights directing their
attention to it, discovered a black smoke issuing from all corners, a
proof that the victorious flag had been planted on its pinnacle amidst
the flames lighted up by an avenging enemy. Würtemberg now burnt at
every point, and her unhappy master witnessed the spectacle in ghastly
despair. Both armies also noticed the burning castle. The Leaguists
saluted the event with loud shouts of exulting joy, whilst the courage
of the Würtembergers sank in proportion, and viewed the sad sight as
the setting sun of the Duke's prosperity.

The drums of the army advancing in the rear were now heard distinctly
approaching towards them; the armed peasantry, in many places, began to
give way, when Ulerich said, in a firm, voice, addressing those
immediately about him, "Whoever means honourably by us, follow me,
we'll cut our way through their hosts, or fall in the attempt. Take my
banner in your hand, valiant Sturmfeder, and charge their ranks with
us." Albert seized the flag of Würtemberg, the Duke placed himself by
his side, the knights and burghers on horseback surrounded them, and
prepared to open a passage for their lord. The Duke pointed to a weak
position in the enemy's line, which appeared the one most favourable to
ensure the success of the daring project; if the attempt failed, all
was lost. Albert volunteered for the desperate post of honour of
leading the determined band; but the old knight of Lichtenstein,
beckoning to him not to quit the Duke's side, placed himself boldly in
front, and directing one more glance to his lord and son, closed his
vizor, and cried, "Forwards! Here's to good Würtemberg for ever!"

About two hundred horsemen composed the resolute band, which moved on
in a trot, arranged in the form of a wedge. The chancellor Ambrosius
Bolland's heart beat lighter when they departed, for the Duke, amidst
the anxieties of the moment, had quite lost sight of him, and he now
held council with himself how he could most conveniently dismount from
his long-legged steed. The noble beast, however, with upstanding ears
and restless motion had noticed the departure of the cavalry. So long
as they moved on in gentle trot, he remained tolerably quiet. But when
the trumpets sounded the attack, and the gallant crew broke into a
gallop with Würtemberg's banner waving high above the helmet plumes,
this appeared to be the moment which the chancellor's high metaled
steed had been anticipating, for with the rapidity of a bird, he
stretched over the plain in the track of the other horsemen. His rider,
almost deprived of his senses, and his hand seizing the pummel of his
saddle in a state of convulsion, attempted to halloo, but the rapidity
with which he cut through the air hindered all further utterance.
Though the Duke and his friends had gained some considerable distance
from him, the chancellor soon overtook, and then passing them, found
himself, much against his will, the leading man in the desperate
encounter which was about to take place. The attention of the enemy was
riveted to the extraordinary figure of the chancellor, which appeared
more like an ape in armour than a warrior on horseback, and before they
could make out what he was, his steed had carried him into the midst of
their ranks. The spectacle was so highly ridiculous, that the
Würtembergers, notwithstanding this moment was for them one of life or
death, broke out into loud laughter, which, spreading confusion among
the troops of the League, composed of those of Ulm, Gmünd, Aulen,
Nürnberg, and other imperial cities, allowed the overpowering weight of
the two hundred horses, carrying the chancellor along with them, to
break through, and gain the rear of their enemies. They pushed on their
march in haste, and before the Leaguist cavalry could be sent in
pursuit, the Duke, with his followers, had already gained a long start,
and turned off the field of battle by a side path.

The mounted burghers having covered the retreat of the Duke, he
effected his escape with a few faithful adherents, whilst they directed
their route towards Stuttgardt. The enemy's cavalry only came up with
them just as they had reached the gates of the city, when great was
their disappointment not to capture either the Duke or any of his
principal partisans, whom they expected to find among them. Ambrosius
Bolland was their only prize. He, more dead than alive from excessive
fright and fatigue, was not able to dismount from his elevated position
without assistance. After having peeled his body of its unaccustomed
covering, the Leaguists vented their rage and disappointment upon the
unfortunate man, by beating him and other ill-usage; for they
attributed to his supposed bravery, which appeared to them to exceed
all they had ever witnessed, the loss of a thousand gold florins, set
as a reward upon the capture of the Duke. And so it happened that the
gallant chancellor, not like his master beaten in battle, was beaten
after it.



                              CHAPTER XXXIV.

            Think on the many gallant deeds
            _One_ valiant hand has done,
            And follow where your country needs,
              Where a hero's grave is won.
            Here, here they flee! pursue the way they go:
            The light of heaven shows our flying foe.
                                                 L. UHLAND.

The Duke and his followers passed the night after the day of the
decisive battle in a narrow deep ravine of a wood, which, being
surrounded by high rocks and thick underwood, offered a safe retreat
for the moment, and is called, to this day, "Ulerich's cavern," by the
people of the country. It was the fifer of Hardt who appeared again as
a saviour in their flight, and led them to this place, known only to
the peasantry and shepherds of the neighbourhood. The Duke determined
to repose in this secluded spot, and, as soon as the following day
broke, to continue his flight towards Switzerland. He would have
preferred continuing his route under cover of the night, as being more
favourable to elude the vigilance of his enemies. The fate of the
disastrous day having given them full possession of the country again,
it seemed next to impossible to escape through their numerous patroles,
which would now scour the country to intercept his retreat. Delay was
therefore dangerous; but the horses being unable to proceed after the
heat and fatigue of the battle, he was compelled by necessity to run
the risk of taking a short rest.

The party seated themselves around a small fire. Sleep soon came to the
Duke's aid, and for awhile made him forget that he had again lost his
dukedom. The knight of Lichtenstein also slept. Maxx Stumpf von
Schweinsberg, resting his arms on his knees, concealed his face in both
hands, and it was uncertain whether he dosed, or whether he was
sorrowing over the fate of his unhappy master, which the day's battle
had so cruelly decided. Albert von Sturmfeder, though almost
overpowered with fatigue, resisted the power of sleep, and, being the
youngest of the party, volunteered to keep watch. Beside him sat his
faithful friend, the fifer of Hardt, his eyes fixed steadfastly on the
fire, and appeared to concentrate his thoughts in the words of a song,
whose melancholy strain he hummed to himself with a soft suppressed
voice. When the fire blazed up occasionally a little brisker, he cast a
sorrowful look at the Duke, to see if he still slept, and then
recommenced the same lamentable dirge.

"You are singing a very melancholy strain, Hans!" said Albert, whose
attention was excited by the peculiar tones of the song: "it sounds
like a death song or mourning dirge; I can't listen to it without
shuddering."

"Death may knock at every man's door at any moment," replied the fifer,
looking still more gloomily at the fire; "I like to occupy my mind upon
such subjects, for it often strikes me, I would prefer going out of
this world with similar thoughts in my mind."

"But how is it you think more upon death at this moment than at other
times, Hans? You were always a merry fellow at harvest time; and your
guitar never failed being heard at a wake. You certainly never sang a
death-song on such occasions."

"My happiness is gone," he answered, and pointed to the Duke; "all my
anxieties and troubles have been in vain. His star is set, and I----I
am his shadow; therefore nothing is left for me. If I had not a wife
and child, I would willingly die this very night."

"You were, indeed, his faithful shadow," said the young man, moved at
these words: "I have always admired your fidelity. Listen, Hans! it
will perhaps be some time before we see each other again; and having
now time and opportunity to converse together, tell me, if it be not
too much to ask, what has bound you so close and exclusively to the
fortunes of the Duke?"

The man was silent a few minutes, and trimmed the burning embers of the
fire. A troubled look beamed in his eyes, leaving Albert in doubt
whether he had not touched upon a subject which was painful to his
friend, whose countenance he thought was tinged with a passing blush.
"That question," he at length replied, "refers to a certain occurrence,
which I never willingly speak about. But you are right, sir, in your
conjecture, and it appears to me also that we shall not meet again for
some time; therefore I will satisfy your curiosity. Have you ever heard
of the insurrection called, 'Poor Conrad'?"

"O, yes!" replied Albert, "the report spread far beyond Franconia. Was
it not an insurrection of the peasantry? It was said, they wanted even
to take the Duke's life!" I----

"You are perfectly right, the affair of Conrad was a bad thing. About
seven years ago many men among us peasantry were dissatisfied with our
landlords; great distress prevailed throughout the country, in
consequence of the failure of the crops. The rich had squandered all
their money; the poor had long since no more left, but still we were
obliged to pay heavy taxes without end, in order to satisfy the
exorbitant demands of the Duke's court, where every luxury was carried
on in the midst of an impoverished country."

"Did your representatives accede to these extravagant demands?"
inquired the young man.

"They did not always venture to say no; for, the Duke's purse having an
enormous large hole in it, they had no other means of repairing it than
by the sweat of our brow. Many, therefore, struck work, because, said
they, 'the corn which we sow, does not grow for our bread, and the wine
we make, does not flow into our casks.' They then thought, as nothing
more could be taken from them than their lives, that they would live
merrily and without care, and calling themselves counts of 'no home,'
spoke of their many castles on the 'hungry mountain,' of their wealthy
possessions in 'the land of famine' and on the banks of the 'river of
beggary.' This was the origin of the insurrection named 'The League of
Poor Conrad.'"

The fifer of Hardt laid his head in his hand in deep thought, and was
silent.

"But you promised to relate to me your adventures with the Duke," said
Albert.

"I had nearly forgotten that," he answered: "well," he continued,
"persecution was at length brought to such a pass, that even the
weights and measures were decreased in size and quantity, so that the
Duke and his courtiers might be the gainers at our expense. We paid the
same for a less quantity. The consequence of this species of tyranny
gave rise to a circumstance which, commencing at first in mere joke,
became a source of bitter hatred and revenge. Many could not bear the
thought of this act of flagrant injustice, by which every one else had
full weight and measure, whilst we alone, the peasantry, were the
sufferers. Poor Conrad carried the weights into the valley of the Rems,
and made a proof by water."

"A proof by water,--what's that?" asked the young man.

"Ha!" laughed Hans, "that is an easy way of proving a thing. A stone of
a pound weight was paraded to the sound of drum and fife to the banks
of the Kerns, and they said, 'if it swims, the Duke is right; if it
sinks, the peasant is right.' The stone sank, and Poor Conrad armed
himself. All the peasants then rose in the vallies of the Rems and
Neckar, and throughout all the country up to Tübingen far over the Alb,
and demanded the old laws. The members of the diet were assembled and
harangued them, but all to no purpose, they would not disperse."

"But you--what part did you take? You; don't say a word about
yourself," said Albert.

"That's said in a very few words," replied Hans: "I was one of the most
violent among them. Never being much inclined to work, and having been
inhumanly punished for transgressing the game laws, I joined Poor
Conrad, and soon became as desperate as Gaispeter and Bregenzer. The
Duke, seeing that the insurrection was becoming dangerous, came himself
to Schorndorf. We had been called to that place for the purpose of
swearing allegiance. Many hundreds appeared, but all armed. Ulerich
addressed us himself; but we would not hear him. The marshal of the
empire then stood up, and raising his gold staff said, 'He who holds to
Duke Ulerich von Würtemberg, let him come over to his side!' Gaispeter
also stepping upon a large stone, cried, 'He who holds to Poor Conrad
of Hungry Hill, come over here!' The Duke stood alone among his
servants, deserted by his people: we, the opposite party, remained with
the beggar."

"Oh, what a shameful transaction," cried Albert, moved by a feeling of
the injustice which caused it, "but more particularly so in those who
allowed it to go to such lengths! I'll be bound Ambrosius Bolland, the
chancellor, was mostly to blame in it."

"You are not far wrong," replied the fifer; "but hear me. When the Duke
saw that all was lost, he threw himself on his horse. We crowded about
him, but no one was bold enough to touch his person, for we were
staggered by his commanding look. 'What is it you want, you scum of the
earth?' he cried, and giving his horse the spur, made him bound in the
air, by which three men were knocked down. This awakened our fury; the
people laid hold of the horse's reins, they thrusted at him with their
spears, and I so far forgot myself as to seize him by the mantle,
crying, 'Shoot the villain dead!'"

"Was that you, Hans?" cried Albert, and eyed him with a look of horror.

"That was I," he uttered slowly and in a subdued tone, evidently
suffering from the recollection of the deed. "But the Duke escaped from
us, and assembled a force which we were not able to contend with, and
we surrendered unconditionally. Twelve leaders of the insurrection were
conducted to Schorndorf, tried and condemned; I was one of them. When I
was in prison, with leisure to think of the wrong I had done, and
contemplate the approach of death, I shuddered at myself, and was
ashamed of being associated with such miserable fellows as the other
eleven were."

"But how were you saved?" asked Albert.

"In the way I have already related to you in Ulm; by a miracle. We
twelve were conducted to the market-place, for the purpose of being
beheaded. The Duke was seated in front of the town-hall, and ordered us
to be brought before him again. My eleven companions threw themselves
on their knees, causing the noise of their chains to resound through
the air, crying for mercy in pitiable tones. He fixed his eyes upon
them for some time, and then, observing that I alone remained silent,
said, 'Why do not you beg for pardon also?' 'My Lord,' I answered, 'I
know what I deserve: may God hare mercy on my soul!' Without saying a
word, he looked at us some time longer, and then made a sign to the
executioner. We were brought up to the scaffold according to our ages;
and I being the youngest, was the last. I remember little more of that
terrible moment; but I shall never forget the frightful sound of the
axe when it severed the heads from the bodies of the culprits."

"For God's sake, say no more on the subject!" Albert requested; "but
pass on to the rest of the story."

"Nine heads were stuck upon the points of spears, when the Duke cried,
'Ten shall bleed, but two shall be pardoned. Let dice be brought: he
who throws the lowest number in three throws, loses his head.' The
dice-box was given to me first, but I said, 'I have forfeited my life,
and I will not gamble for it.' The Duke said, 'Well; I'll throw for
you.' The box was then handed to the other two. They shook the dice
with cold trembling hand, and threw. One counted nine, and the other
fourteen; the Duke then seized the box, and shook it. He looked at me
hard in the face, but I did not tremble. He threw, and covered the dice
with his hand. 'Beg for mercy,' said he, 'there is still time.' 'I pray
you to pardon the rash act,' I answered, 'but I beg not for mercy,
because I don't deserve it.' He raised his hand; and behold, he counted
eighteen! The effect it produced on me was indescribable; I thought the
Duke sat in God's stead in judgment. I fell upon my knees, and vowed to
live and die in his service. The tenth man was beheaded, and two of us
saved."

Albert had listened to the tale of the fifer of Hardt with increasing
interest, and when he finished it, and noticed his bold expressive eyes
filled with tears, he could not resist taking him by the hand, saying,
"Truly, you have been guilty of a heavy crime against the Lord of your
country, but you have also expiated it dearly by being brought so near
to death. The terror of immediate death, whilst the sword of vengeance
is hanging over a guilty head, must indeed be tenfold more appalling
when the culprit is obliged to witness the execution of so many
acquaintances, awaiting the slow approach of his own last moment along
with them; but you have faithfully atoned to your prince for laying
your hand upon his person, by a life of fidelity, sacrifices, and risks
of all kinds in his cause. And how often have you liberated him from
danger, perhaps saved his life! Truly you have richly redeemed your
debt."

The poor man, when he had finished his story, relapsed into gloomy
thought, with his eyes fixed on the fire; and had it not been, that an
occasional sad smile passed over his countenance when Albert spoke to
him, he had all the appearance of being totally unconscious of what was
going on around him. "Do you mean," said he, "that I could ever
sufficiently repent, and redeem the crime of which I have been guilty?
No; such debts are not so easily liquidated, and a redeemed life must
be devoted to the service of him who has saved it. To wander among
mountains, getting intelligence from an enemy's camp, and finding out
places of concealment, are but trifling services, sir, and cannot
satisfy the mind under such circumstances. I feel convinced that I must
die for him one of these days; and then I pray you take care of my wife
and child."

A tear fell on his beard; but, as if ashamed of his weakness, he
hastily wiped it away, and continued: "Could but the sacrifice of my
life ward off the impending danger which surrounds him--could my death
erase that unfortunate oath of allegiance, which he has imposed on the
country, and replace him in the hearts of his people; I would willingly
die in that hour!"

The Duke awoke. He raised himself up, and surveyed the surrounding
rocks and trees, with his companions seated around the faint glimmering
of burning embers, with astonishment, as if he had been transported by
magic to this wild spot. Covering his face with his hands, and then
gazing about him again, to convince himself whether the appearance of
these objects were reality or not, he first glanced at one and then at
another with painful feelings. "I have this day lost my country again,"
said he, "but that event has not given me so much trouble as I feel at
this moment, for I dreamt I re-possessed it, and saw it in higher bloom
than ever. Alas, it was but a dream!"

"You must not be ungrateful, sir," said Maxx Stumpf von Schweinsberg,
raising himself from his bent position: "be not unthankful for nature's
kindness. Think how much more miserable you would have been, if in
sleep, which should give you renewed strength to bear the burden of
your misfortunes, you had still felt the weight of them. When you laid
down to rest, you were overcome by the fatal result of the day, but now
your features assume a kindlier and milder appearance; have we not,
then, cause to be thankful for your soothing dream?"

"I would I had never seen the day again!" replied Ulerich. "Oh, that I
could have been lost in the pleasures of that same dream for centuries,
and then have come to life again,--it was so beautiful, so consoling!"

He laid his head on his hand, and appeared oppressed with grief. The
conversation roused the knight of Lichtenstein. He was acquainted with
the character of Ulerich, and knew the necessity of not allowing him to
give way to his feelings, and, particularly at this critical moment,
not to let him brood over the terrible loss he had sustained; he
therefore drew nearer to him, and said:

"Well, sir, perhaps you will tell us what you dreamt of? It may,
perchance, afford your friends some consolation also; for you must
know, I have faith in dreams, especially when they occupy our minds in
hours of importance, and are fraught with destiny; I believe they are
sent from above to raise our hopes, and arm us with fortitude."

The Duke remained silent some time longer, apparently pondering over
the last words of his old friend. He then began, "My brother-in-law,
William of Bavaria, has burnt the castle of my ancestors this day, as a
proof of his friendship. The Würtembergers have been established there
from time immemorial, and the country which we possess takes its name
from the same castle. He seems to have fired it with the torch of
death, and with its flames to have wished to exterminate the arms, the
remembrance, nay, even the very name of Würtemberg, from the face of
the earth. He has partially succeeded; for my only son, young
Christoph, is in a distant land; my brother, George, has no child; and
I--I have been beaten and driven out; they have repossessed my country,
and where can I look to the hope of returning to it again?"

Ulerich was again silent. His mind appeared occupied with a subject too
great for utterance. A peaceful serenity lay on the features of the
unfortunate Prince, and an unusual expression beamed in his eyes as he
directed them upwards to heaven. His companions looked at him in awful
expectation of hearing some important communication resulting from his
dream.

"Listen further," he continued: "I gazed on the charming valley of the
Neckar. The river flowed on in its accustomed gentle winding blue
stream. The valley and hills appeared lovely, and more luxuriant than
ever. The woods on the heights and the meadows assumed the aspect of
one continued garden, spreading their rich green vineyards from hill to
hill, and in the valley below full-bearing fruit trees without number
completed the blooming scene. I stood enchanted and riveted to the
view; the sun shone with greater splendour than usual, the blue vault
of heaven was lighted up more brilliantly than I had ever witnessed it,
and all nature seemed dressed in brighter colours than mortal eye had
ever beheld. When I raised my intoxicated eye, and gazed upon the
valley of the Neckar, I beheld a castle pleasantly situated on the
summit of a hill which rose from the banks of the river, with the rays
of the morning sun playing upon its walls. The sight of this peaceful
habitation rejoiced my heart, for there were no ditches or high
defences, no towers or battlements, no portcullis nor drawbridge, to
remind the beholder of the contentions of men, and of the uncertain
history of mortals.

"And as I was wrapped in astonishment and delight in the contemplation
of the peaceful aspect of the valley and the unguarded castle, I turned
round, and beheld the walls of my castle no longer to exist. Here, at
least, my dream did not deceive me, for yesterday I saw the battlements
fall, and the watch-tower sink, over which my banner had formerly
floated. No stone of Würtemberg was more to be seen, but in its place
stood a temple, ornamented with pillars and cupola, such as is to be
found in Rome and Greece. Meditating how all this change could have
come to pass, I observed some men in foreign costume, not far from me,
inspecting the country.

"One of these men, in particular, drew my attention. He led a beautiful
youth by the hand, and pointed out to him the valley which lay at their
feet, the surrounding mountains, the river, the towns and villages in
the neighbourhood, and in the distance. Upon a closer inspection, I
observed the man had the features of my brother George, and it struck
me that he must belong to the race of my ancestors, and be a true
Würtemberger. He descended with the boy from the hill into the valley
below, followed by the other man at a respectful distance. I stopped
the last man, and asked him who the other person was that had described
the country to the lad; 'That was the King,' said he, and followed the
rest."

The Duke was silent, and looked inquisitively at the knights, as if to
hear their opinion. No one answered for some time, at length the knight
of Lichtenstein said, "I am now sixty-five years old, and have seen and
heard much in the world; many things come to pass which astonish the
human mind, but in which a pious man may distinguish the finger of God.
Believe me, that dreams also are of his sending, as nothing happens
upon earth without some reason. As there were seers and prophets in
ancient times, why should not the Lord send one to his saints in our
days, to open the dark gates of futurity to the mind of an unfortunate
man through the channel of a dream, and give him an insight into coming
happier days? Despond not, therefore, my lord! The enemy has burnt your
castle--in one day you have lost a dukedom; but your name will
nevertheless not become extinct, and your remembrance will not be
washed out from Würtemberg's history."

"A King----" said the Duke, thoughtfully, "I dare not presume, now that
I am an outcast, to think of a King springing from my race. Is it not
possible that Satan may tempt us with such dreams, for the purpose of
deceiving us afterwards more cruelly?"

"But why have doubts of futurity?" said Schweinsberg, smiling. "Could
any one of your noble ancestors have thought their family would have
become Dukes of the country, and their beautiful land have borne the
name of Würtemberg? Let your dream console you, which has been given as
a hint of the destiny awaiting your family. Believe that your name is
destined to nourish in distant, very distant times, in the land of your
forefathers, and that in remote ages the Princes of Würtemberg will
bear the features of your generation."

"Well, then, I will hope so," replied Ulerich von Würtemberg; "I will
continue to hope, that the country will still hold to us, dark as our
present lot may appear. May our grand-children never experience such
hard times as we have, and may it ever be said they are--fearless."

"And faithful!" added the fifer of Hardt, with emphasis, as he rose
from his seat. "But it is high time, my Lord Duke, to set out. The dawn
of morn is not far distant; we must pass the Neckar at all hazards
before daylight."

They all rose, and buckled on their arms. The horses being brought
forward, they mounted, and the fifer of Hardt went on before to lead
the way out of the place of concealment. The escape of the Duke was
attended with considerable danger, for the enemy sought all possible
means to take him prisoner. To gain the road by which he might elude
the vigilance of his enemies, it was absolutely necessary to repass the
Neckar; and to accomplish this in safety was no easy matter. Heavy
rains had swollen the river to such a degree, that it appeared next to
impossible to pass it on horseback by swimming. The bridges, for the
most part, were occupied by the troops of the League. But Hans had
taken the precaution to ascertain by the aid of faithful friends, that
the bridge of Köngen was still open, having been given to understand
that the enemy had thought it needless to guard it, as, being so near
Esslingen and their own camp, they never dreamt the Duke would venture
to come that way. This path, therefore, Ulerich chose as the safest,
though it still appeared attended with great danger, and the party set
out towards the Neckar in deep silence, and with caution.

When they reached the fields beyond the wood, the dawn of morning
tinged the horizon; and having gained a better road, they rode on at a
brisk pace, and soon got a sight of the glimmering of the Neckar, not
far from the high vaulted bridge which they were to pass. At this
moment Albert, happening to look round, perceived a considerable number
of horsemen coming towards them. He immediately made it known to his
companions, who, counting above twenty-five horses, felt assured they
could be no other than a party of cavalry of the League; the Duke's men
having been dispersed, it was not likely any stragglers were in this
neighbourhood.

These men, however, appeared not to remark the Duke's small retinue. To
gain the bridge with the least possible delay, before they were hailed
and questioned by this party, was of the utmost importance. The fifer
of Hardt hastened on before, the Duke and his faithful knights followed
in full trot, and as they increased their distance from the Leaguists,
each felt lighter at heart, for they all were less anxious about their
own lives than to secure the escape of Ulerich.

Having reached the bridge, and arrived on the middle of it, which was
highly arched, twelve men sprang forward from behind the walls, armed
with spears, swords, and guns, arresting the Duke's further progress.
Perceiving he was discovered, he made a sign to his followers to
retreat. Lichtenstein and Schweinsberg, being the two last, turned
their horses, to retrace their steps, but to their dismay found
themselves hemmed in by the cavalry they had first seen, who had
galloped up in their rear, and at this instant occupied the entrance to
the bridge.

It was still too dark to be able to distinguish the enemy with
precision, who were, however, not backward in making themselves known.
"Surrender yourself, Duke of Würtemberg," cried a voice, which appeared
familiar to the knights; "you have no chance of escape."

"Who are you, to whom Würtemberg should surrender?" answered the Duke,
with a furious voice, whilst he drew his sword; "you are no knight, for
you don't sit on horseback."

"I am Doctor Calmus," replied the other, "and am ready to return the
many kind acts I have received from you. I am a knight, for you
yourself created me a donkey knight, and in return I will now dub you
the knight without horse. Dismount, I say, in the name of the most
illustrious League."

"Give me room, Hans," whispered the Duke, with a suppressed voice to
the fifer, who stood between him and the doctor, with his axe raised to
his shoulder in attitude of defence, "just stand on one side. Close in,
my friends: we'll fall on them suddenly, and perhaps may succeed in
cutting through." Albert was the only one who heard this order, for the
other two knights were ten paces at least in their rear, already
engaged with the Leaguist cavalry, who were unable to force their way
past the gallant men to get at the Duke. Albert, therefore, closed with
the Duke, with the intention of making a rush with him through the
ranks of his opponents; but the doctor, perceiving it, called out to
his people, "At him, my men! that's him in the green cloak; take him,
dead or alive!" pushing forward at the same time to the attack. He
carried a spear of unusual length, and made a thrust at Ulerich, which
might have been fatal, for it was still dark, and the Duke did not
remark it immediately; but the quick-sighted Hans parried the thrust of
the renowned Doctor Calmus, which was on the point of piercing the
breast of his master, and with one blow of his axe felled him to the
ground, where he lay sprawling among his companions. They were
staggered at the deadly blow of the countryman, who, wielding his axe
high in the air, drove them back a few paces. Albert took advantage of
this moment to possess himself of the Duke's cloak, which he threw over
his own shoulders, and whispered to him to give his horse the spur, and
force him over the breastwork of the bridge. Ulerich cast a look at the
high swollen waters of the Neckar, and then up to heaven, in doubtful
despair. Escape appeared hopeless. The fearful leap was his only choice
between life or death, or falling into the hands of his enemies. A
circumstance, however, arrested his attention for a moment before he
decided upon it.

The enemy, with outstretched spears, advanced on the Duke. The fifer
still kept his ground, though wounded and bleeding in many places,
beating them down with his axe. His eyes flashed fire, his bold
features carried the expression of joyful animation, and the smile
about his mouth did not indicate despair; no, his noble soul feared not
the approach of death, he rather looked to it in proud anticipation, as
the reward for all the troubles and dangers he had taken upon himself.
As he cut one of his opponents to the ground with his right hand, the
halberd of another pierced his breast, that true breast, which even in
death proved a faithful shield to his unhappy prince, for whom a more
gallant heart never beat: he staggered, and sank to the ground. Casting
his dying eye upon his master, "My lord Duke, we are quits," were his
last words, which he uttered with a smile upon his countenance, and
fell lifeless at his feet.

The Leaguists passing over his body, pressed hard upon the Duke, with
the cry of exultation when Albert threw himself in the midst, his sword
dealing destruction among his enemies. He was the last and only
remaining defence of Duke Ulerich of Würtemberg; had he been
overpowered, imprisonment or death to his friend and benefactor were
unavoidable. The Duke, therefore, turned to the only means of escape; a
desperate one indeed. He cast a painful look at the corpse of that man
who had sealed his fidelity with his death, and turning his powerful
war-horse on one side, gave him the spur that made him spring in the
air, and with one desperate leap he cleared the breastwork of the
bridge, carrying his princely rider down into the waters of the Neckar.

Albert ceased to defend himself. His eye was fixed solely on the Duke.
The horse and rider plunged deep into the river; but the powerful
beast, combating the eddies and current, soon appeared on its surface,
carrying his master down the stream with the apparent ease and safety
of a boat. All this was the affair of a few moments. Some of the
Leaguists were for following him along the banks of the river, to seize
the bold knight when he landed; but one of them nearest Albert cried,
"Let him swim, he is not the right one; here is the prize, in the green
cloak,--seize him." Albert, looking up to heaven in grateful
thanksgiving for the escape of the Duke, and dropping his sword,
surrendered to the Leaguists. They surrounded him, and willingly
allowed him to dismount, to pay the last painful offices to the corpse
of that man who had been their fearful opponent. Albert took his hand,
with which he still kept a firm grasp of his blood-stained axe; it was
icy cold. He felt his heart, to discover if there was still life in it;
the deadly thrust of the spear had but too faithfully done its office.
That eye once so bold was now lifeless, that mouth which bespoke an
unbending cheerful mind was closed, the features rigid; but still the
smile, that last dying salute with which he greeted his master, played
upon his lips. Albert's tears fell on his faithful friend, as he
pressed for the last time the cold hand of the fifer of Hardt; he
closed his eyes, and, throwing himself upon his horse, followed his
enemies to their camp.



                             CHAPTER XXXV.

            Happy the soldier, all his perils o'er,
              In peace returning to his native place,
            When those who love him meet him at the door,
              And gaze with rapture on the wish'd-for face.
                                                  SCHILLER.

After a march of three hours, the troop of the Leaguists' soldiers,
with their prisoner in the midst, approached their camp. Though they
did not venture to talk aloud, it was easy to perceive, by their
countenances, how great was their exultation at their supposed triumph
and prize, and it did not escape the acute observation of Albert that
the whisper among them referred to the reward they were likely to gain
for the person of the Duke. A feeling of satisfaction filled the breast
of the young man, in the hope that his unhappy Prince might gain time
to escape his enemies by the diversion the bold sacrifice he had made
of himself in his favour. But the thought which now gave him the
greatest uneasiness was the distress his beloved wife would experience,
when she became acquainted with the result of the battle. Though he had
informed her, through the medium of faithful messengers, of his having
escaped unhurt in the bloody conflict, she was still ignorant of the
unfortunate turn in the Duke's fate; still less could she know his own.
He could well imagine her state of mind, when, among the prisoners
brought into Stuttgardt, neither her father nor husband were found of
the number. The thought was agonising to his mind, rendered doubly so
amidst the taunts of those who now led him as a prisoner to the
presence of his enemies. These, and a thousand other painful feelings,
chilled his joy in having been the saviour of his friend.

Could he hope to be liberated a second time by the League, as he had
been in Ulm? Taken with arms in his hand,--known as the most zealous
friend of the Duke,--his only prospect was a long imprisonment, and
harsh treatment. The arrival at the advanced posts of the camp
interrupted these gloomy thoughts. One of the troop which guarded him
was sent on before to acquaint the commanders of the League of their
prisoner, and to receive their orders respecting the place where he was
to be brought. This was a painful quarter of an hour for Albert. He
wished of all things, if possible, to speak to Fronsberg, hoping that
this noble friend of his father might still retain a kindly feeling
towards him, and, at least, judge him more favourably than Truchses von
Waldburg and many others, who he well knew to be inimical towards him.

The man returned with orders to conduct the prisoner as quietly as
possible, and without ceremony, to the large tent in which the officers
generally held their council of war. For this purpose they turned off
by a side path, and the soldiers begged Albert to close the vizor of
his helmet, that he might pass unknown, till he arrived before the
council. He willingly complied with this request, for nothing was more
painful to his feelings than to be exposed to the gaze of the curious
or exulting multitude. Numerous serving men were assembled here, whose
different costumes and badges of distinction led Albert to suppose a
large assemblage of nobles and knights were congregated in the tent.

The news that a troop of infantry had taken a man of distinction
prisoner, appeared to have preceded his arrival, for when Albert threw
himself from his saddle, the people crowded around him, and, with looks
of curiosity, tried to get a sight of his features through the
apertures of his vizor. A page of honour with difficulty made his way
through the multitude, having been sent, "in the name of the commanders
of the League," to open a road by which the prisoner could reach the
tent. Three of the men who had taken him were ordered to follow; their
joy was unbounded, and they thought of nothing less than receiving
immediately the gold florins which had been offered as the price for
the person of the Duke of Würtemberg.

The inner curtain of the tent being drawn up, Albert walked in boldly
and with a firm, step, looking round upon the men who were to decide
upon his fate. Many known faces were among the number, who eyed him
with inquisitive penetrating looks. The scowling glance and inimical
front of Truchses von Waldburg were still fresh in his memory, and the
scornful exulting expression of the features of this man did not augur
him any good. Sickingen, Alban von Closen, Hutten, all sat before him
as at that time when he bid the League an eternal farewell. But when he
beheld that noble figure, those dignified features of Fronsberg, which
were deeply engraven on his grateful heart, he felt self convicted in
his own estimation. It was not contempt or triumphant joy which sat
upon his features,--no, it was an expression of sorrowing
thoughtfulness, with which an honourable man receives a valiant
conquered enemy.

Albert now stood before these men, when Truchses von Waldburg
began:--"The Swabian League has at last the honour of seeing the
illustrious Duke of Würtemberg before them. The invitation which you
sent to us was certainly much too courteous, but----"

"You are mistaken," answered Albert, raising the vizor of his helmet at
the same time. The members of the League started when they beheld the
fine countenance of the young knight, as if they had seen Minerva's
shield and Medusa's head.

"Ha! traitors! base villains! dogs!" cried Truchses to the three
soldiers; "what cub do you bring here in the place of the Duke? The
very sight of him excites my bile! Tell me quickly what has become of
him--speak!"

The soldiers turned pale. "Is he not the right one?" they asked. "That
was him with the green cloak."

Truchses trembled with rage, his eyes darted fire, he would have
executed the soldiers upon the spot, and talked of hanging them; but
the rest of the knights compelled him to curb his violence; and Hutten,
pale with anger also, but more composed than the other, asked, "Where
is Doctor Calmus? let him come forward, to give an account of himself,
for he volunteered to arrest the Duke."

"Ah, sir!" replied one of the soldiers, "his account is already
settled; he lies dead on the bridge of Köngen."

"Killed?" cried Sickingen, "and the Duke fled! relate the circumstance,
villains!"

We placed ourselves in ambush near the bridge, as the doctor ordered
us. It was still dark, when we heard the tread of horses approach the
bridge, and at the same time perceived the signal which our cavalry on
the other side of it had agreed to make as soon as the Duke's party
issued from the wood. "Now is the time," cried the doctor; "we
instantly got up and occupied the exit from the bridge. As far as we
could distinguish, four horsemen and a peasant formed the party. The
two hindermost turned back and engaged our cavalry, whilst the other
two, and the peasant, attacked us.

"We stretched out our lances, the doctor calling to them to surrender;
but they paid no attention to the summons, and fell on us with
determined fury. The man in the green mantle was pointed out as the
prize, and we should soon have had him had it not been for the
peasant,--if it was not, indeed, the very devil himself,--who with his
axe felled the doctor and two of our comrades in a trice. One of our
party revenged our leader's life by running the peasant through the
body with his halbert, which encouraged us to renew our attack on the
man in the green mantle. His companion sprang his horse over the bridge
into the Neckar, and swam down the river. Having subdued the man who
was our principal object, we let the other go, and brought the prisoner
with us."

"That was Ulerich, and no other," cried Alban von Klosen. "Ha! to jump
over the bridge into the river! no other man in the whole world would
have dared to do so."

"We must follow him," Truchses exclaimed; "the whole of the cavalry
must start immediately and hunt the banks of the river,--I myself will
go----"

"Oh! sir," replied one of the soldiers, "you are too late; we left the
bridge three hours ago, so that he will have got a long start, and, as
no one knows the country better than he does, there is no chance of
finding him."

"Fellow! do you mean to prescribe to me what to do?" cried Truchses in
fury: "You allowed him to escape, and you shall be answerable for it.
Call the guard--I'll have you hung at once!"

"Pray be just," said Fronsberg. "It was not the poor fellows' fault;
they would have been too happy to have earned the money which was set
on the Duke's head. The doctor was the cause of his escape, and you
have already heard he is not alive to answer for it."

"It was you, therefore, who represented the person of the Duke," said
Truchses, turning to Albert, who had calmly looked on during this
scene. "You are always coming in my way, with your milk face. The devil
employs you everywhere, when you are least wanted. This is not the
first time that you have crossed my plans."

"No," replied Albert, "for when you fell upon the Duke, as you
supposed, at Neuffen, it was I who crossed your path there also; and it
was I whom your men cut down that night."

The knights were astonished to hear this, and looked inquisitively at
Truchses. He reddened, but whether from anger or shame it was not
known, and said, "What are you chattering about Neuffen? I know nothing
about that affair. I only regret that when they cut you down you had
ever risen again to appear before me this day a second time. But as it
is, I rejoice to have you in my clutches. You have proved yourself the
bitterest enemy of the League; you have acted in the service of the
exiled Duke both openly and secretly, thereby sharing his offence
against us and the whole empire. Beside these crimes, you have been
taken this day with arms in your hands. You are therefore guilty of
high treason against the most illustrious League of Swabia and
Franconia."

"Your charges are highly ridiculous," replied the young man, in a tone
of defiance: "you made me swear to remain neuter between the two
parties for fourteen days, to which I faithfully adhered, so true as
God is my witness. You have no right to require an account of my
conduct since that time, for I was no longer bound to you: and as to
what you say of my being taken with arms in my hand, I would ask you,
noble knights, who among you would not defend his life to the last when
he was attacked by six or eight men? I demand then, as my right, the
treatment becoming the rank of knighthood; and therefore I am ready to
swear to a six weeks' neutrality. You cannot require more of me."

"Would you prescribe laws to us?" said Truchses. "You have learned a
good lesson, indeed, from the Duke. I think I hear him speaking; but
not one step shall you take to your friends before you own where that
old fox, your father-in-law, is, and the road the Duke has taken."

"The knight of Lichtenstein was taken prisoner by your cavalry," he
replied; "but the road which the Duke has taken, I know not; and I am
ready to give my word of honour upon it."

"To be treated as a knight, indeed!" said Truchses, with a sarcastic
laugh; "there you deceive yourself altogether. You must first prove
where you won the golden spur! No; such criminals as you, are,
according to our laws, thrown into the lowest dungeons; and so I will
commence with you."

"I think that unnecessary," interrupted Fronsberg. "I will answer for
Albert von Sturmfeder that he has a right to the golden spurs; besides
which, he saved the life of a noble belonging to the League. You cannot
forget the evidence of Dieterich von Kraft, how, through the
intercession of this knight, he was saved from an ignominious death,
and was even set at liberty. He has a right, therefore, to the same
treatment by us."

"I know you have always spoken a word for him, your darling child,"
rejoined Truchses; "but this once it is of no avail. He must be sent to
the tower of Esslingen this very moment."

"I will stand bail for him," said Fronsberg. "I possess the right of a
voice in council with the rest. Let it pass to the vote what is to be
done with the prisoner. In the mean while, let him be conducted to my
tent."

Albert cast a look of heartfelt gratitude at his kind noble friend, for
having a second time saved him from a threatened danger. Truchses
muttered an order to the guards to follow the orders of Fronsberg, who
led their prisoner through the narrow paths of the camp to the tent of
the commander of the infantry.

Shortly after he had arrived at his destination, the man to whom he was
so highly indebted stood before him, but Albert could not find words to
express his sense of gratitude and respect. Fronsberg smiled at his
embarrassment, and embraced him. "No thanks, no excuses," said he. "Did
I not already anticipate all this when we took leave of each other in
Ulm? But you would not believe me, and were determined to bury yourself
among the ruins of the castle of your ancestors. I do not blame you;
for believe me the campaigns and storms of many wars have not yet
hardened my heart so much as to make me forget the power of love."

"My friend, my father!" exclaimed Albert, blushing with joy.

"Yes, I am truly your father,--the friend of your father. I have often
thought of you with pride, even when you stood opposed to me in the
enemy's ranks. Your name, young as you are, will always be mentioned
with respect; for fidelity and courage in an enemy are always highly
esteemed by a man of honour. Most of us rejoice that the Duke has
escaped, for what could we have done with him? Truchses might perhaps
have committed a rash step, which we all might have had cause to
repent."

"And what is my fate to be?" asked Albert. "Am I to remain long in
prison? Where is the knight of Lichtenstein? Oh, my poor wife! may I
not see her?"

Fronsberg smiled mysteriously. "That will be difficult to manage," said
he. "You will be sent to a fortress under safe escort, and given over
to a guard, who will have orders to watch you strictly, and from whose
charge you will not escape so easily. But, be of good cheer; the knight
of Lichtenstein will accompany you, and both of you must swear to a
year's neutrality and imprisonment."

Fronsberg was now interrupted by three men, who stormed his tent;--it
was Breitenstein and Dieterich von Kraft, leading the knight of
Lichtenstein between them.

"Do I see you again, my brave lad?" cried Breitenstein, as he took
Albert's hand. "You have played me a pretty trick; your old uncle made
me promise, upon my soul, to make something out of you, which would do
honour to the League, but you deserted to the enemy, cutting and
slashing at us, and nearly gained the victory yesterday by your
hot-brained, desperate attack on our artillery!"

"Every one to his taste," replied Fronsberg; "he did honour to his
friends, even in the enemy's ranks."

The knight of Lichtenstein embraced his son. "He is in safety," he
whispered to him. Their eyes beamed with joy, in having both been
instrumental in saving their unhappy Prince. The old knight discovered
the green mantle which still hung on the shoulders of his son, and
said, in astonishment, a tear of joy starting to his eye, "Ah, now I
understand how everything has come to pass; they mistook you for the
Duke. What would have become of him but for your courage and presence
of mind in the critical moment? Your bravery and foresight have
achieved more than any of us, and, though we are prisoners, we are
still conquerors! Come to my heart, thou most noble son!"

"And Maxx von Stumpf Schweinsberg!" asked Albert, "what has become of
him? is he a prisoner also?"

"He cut his way through the enemy,--for who could withstand his arm? My
old bones are powerless, I am of no more use; but he has joined the
Duke, and will be of more assistance to him than fifty horsemen. But I
did not see the fifer,--tell me, how did he come out of the fray?"

"As a hero," replied Albert, agitated by a feeling of deep regret at
the recollection of him; "he was run through the body by a lance, and
his corpse lies on the bridge."

"Dead!" cried Lichtenstein, and his voice trembled. "His was indeed a
faithful soul,--may it rest in peace! His actions were noble, and he
died true to his master, as all should do."

Fronsberg now approached them, and interrupted their conversation. "You
appear much cast down," said he; "but be of good cheer and consolation,
noble sir! the fortune of war is changeable, and your Duke will, in all
probability, once more return to his native country. Who knows if it is
not better that we should send him to foreign parts again for a short
time? Put by your helmet and armour; your fight at breakfast time will
not have spoiled your appetite for mid-day's meal. Seat yourself beside
us. About noon I expect the guardian, who is to have charge of you in
your confinement; until then, let's be cheerful."

"That's a proposition we can readily satisfy," cried Breitenstein.
"Dinner is ready, gentlemen: you and I have not dined together, Albert,
since that day in the townhall of Ulm. Come, and we'll make up for lost
time."

Hans von Breitenstein seated himself with Albert next to him; the
others followed his example; the servants brought the dinner, and wine
made the knight of Lichtenstein and his son forget, for a time, their
unfortunate situation of being in the enemy's camp, and the uncertainty
of their fate, which, according to Fronsberg's assurance, was to be an
imprisonment of long duration. Towards the end of the repast Fronsberg
was called away, but he soon returned, and said, with a serious
countenance, "Willingly as I would wish to enjoy your society some time
longer, my friends, I am sorry to compel you to break up. The guard is
without into whose charge I must deliver you, and I would advise you to
lose no time, if you would arrive at the fortress of your confinement
before dark."

"I trust our guard is one of our own rank,--a knight?" asked
Lichtenstein, whilst his face assumed a gloomy, indignant frown. "I
hope proper attention will be paid to our rights, and that we shall
have an escort fitting our station."

"No knight will accompany you," said Fronsberg, "but a fitting escort,
of which you shall convince yourself." With these words he raised the
curtain of his tent, discovering to the astonished father and son the
lovely features of Bertha. She flew into the arms of her enraptured
husband. Her venerable father, speechless from joy and surprise, kissed
his child on her forehead, and pressed the hand of the honest Fronsberg
in token of heartfelt gratitude.

"That is your guardian," said the latter; "and the castle of
Lichtenstein the place of your confinement. I can see already, in your
eyes," addressing himself to Bertha, "that you will not be too severe
with the young man, and that the old man will not have to complain. But
let me advise you, my pretty daughter, to have a watchful eye to your
prisoners; don't let them out of the castle, for fear of their
rejoining the cause of certain people. Your pretty head will answer for
their actions!"

"But, dear sir," replied Bertha, whilst she drew her beloved closer to
her, and smiled playfully at the stern commander, "recollect he is my
head,--so how can I command him?"

"That is just the reason why you should take care not to lose it again.
Bind him fast with the knot of love,--let him not escape, for he easily
changes his colours; of which we have had proofs sufficient."

"I only wore one colour, my fatherly friend!" replied the young man,
looking at his beautiful wife, and pointing to the scarf which he wore,
"only one, and to this I remained faithful."

"Well, then! remain true to it for the future," said Fronsberg, and
gave him his hand to depart. "Farewell! your horses are before the
tent: may you arrive happily at your destination, and think sometimes,
in friendship, of old Fronsberg."

Bertha took leave of this worthy man with tears of grateful thanks in
her eyes; the men also were overcome when they took his hand, for they
were well aware that, without his kind interference, their fate might
have been of a very different stamp. George von Fronsberg followed the
happy party with his eye until they turned the corner of the long lane
of tents. "He is in good hands," said he, as he turned to Breitenstein.
"Truly the blessing of his father rests upon him. Not a better or more
beautiful wife, and more honourable son, will be found in all Swabia."

"Yes, yes!" replied Hans von Breitenstein, "but he has not to thank his
own wits or foresight for it. He who seeks to better his fortune,
let him conduct a wife home. I am fifty years old, and still on the
look-out for a partner; and you, also, Dieterich von Kraft, are you not
upon the same scent?"

"Not at all,--quite the contrary,--I am already provided," he replied,
as if awoke out of a dream; "when one sees such a couple, we know what
is next to be done. I am going to put myself, this very hour, into my
sedan, on my journey to Ulm, there to conduct my cousin Marie to my
home. Farewell, my friends!"

                           *   *   *   *   *

When the Swabian League had reconquered Würtemberg, they re-established
their government, and reigned over the whole country, as in the summer
of 1519. The partisans of the exiled Duke were compelled to swear
neutrality, and were banished to their respective castles. Albert von
Sturmfeder and his family were included in this mild destiny, living
retired on the Lichtenstein; and a new life of peaceable domestic
happiness fell to the lot of the loving couple.

Often when they stood at the window of the castle, overlooking
Würtemberg's beautiful fields, they would think of their unfortunate
Prince, who also once viewed his country from the same spot. It
reminded them of the chain of events of their own history, and of the
extraordinary means by which their union had been brought about; and
which they did not fail to acknowledge, would perhaps not have happened
so soon, had their fate been otherwise ordained. But they felt the joy
of their existence incomplete when they thought of the founder of their
happiness, living in the misery of banishment far from his country.

Some years after the fatal battle, the Duke succeeded in re-conquering
Würtemberg. The stern lesson of adversity and misfortune brought him
back a wiser Prince and a happier man. He re-established the ancient
rights and laws of the land, and won the hearts of his people by
judicious measures. He enforced the preaching of holy doctrines, and by
his example recommended the practice of them. The religious principles
he had imbibed in foreign lands, and which had afforded him the only
consolation amidst his sufferings, he now infused into the laws of his
country, as the only sure foundation-stone of a people's happiness.
Albert and his pious wife plainly discovered the finger of a merciful
God watching over the fate of Ulerich von Würtemberg. They blessed Him
who thus veils futurity from the eye of mortals, and, as in the present
instance, turns dark into light to those who seek his guidance and
protection in faith.

The name of Lichtenstein in Würtemberg became extinct at the death
of the old knight; but he lived long enough to see his blooming
grand-children attain the age of bearing arms. And in this way
generation after generation pass over the face of the earth, new comers
thrusting out old ones, and after a short lapse of fifty or an hundred
years, the fame of honest men and faithful hearts is forgotten. The
rushing stream of time drowns the voice of their remembrance, and only
a few brilliant names float down the tide of history and play upon its
surface in partial glittering light. Far more happy is the man whose
actions carry their own silent worth along with them, finding their
reward alone in the purity of conscience, and passing through life
without courting the praise or flattery of the times in which he lived,
nor living for the applause of after ages. The name of the fifer of
Hardt and his actions, have come down to us in simple garb, through the
medium of successive generations of shepherds in the neighbourhood of
the "Misty Cavern." They relate the deeds of the man who concealed his
unfortunate Duke among its deep recesses, as they conduct the stranger
through their gloomy paths, and talk of the romantic events of
Ulerich's life. The writer of history disdains such stories as unworthy
of his pen; but they are not the less credible. When recounted on the
spot, such as on the heights of Lichtenstein, where the Duke came every
night at a stated hour to the castle, and when the place is pointed out
on the bridge of Köngen, whence the undaunted man took the fearful leap
into the deep waters below for life or death, we listen to the details
with believing ears.

The old castle of Lichtenstein has long since fallen into ruin. A
huntsman's house now occupies its foundations, light and airy, like a
castle in the air, which imagination builds upon the ruins of
antiquity. Würtemberg's fields spread themselves before the enchanted
eye, rich and blooming as formerly, when Bertha by the side of her
lover gazed upon them, and the most unhappy of her princes cast a
farewell glance on his country from Lichtenstein's windows. The
subterranean apartments of the castle, which received the exile, are
still to be seen, in all their pride and glory; and the murmuring
streams, gushing through the mysterious depths at the foot of the rock,
would seem to relate events long since buried in oblivion.

It is a delightful custom of the inhabitants of the country, and also
of the stranger from distant parts, to visit Lichtenstein and Ulerich's
cavern on Whitsunday. Many hundreds of Swabia's children are attracted
to these mountains on that day. They descend into the heart of the
earth, whose crystal walls, lighted up by thousands of wax tapers, are
made to reflect their sparkling beauties in numberless fantastic forms;
they fill the cavern with the sound of the merry song, and listening to
its echoes, which are accompanied by the melodious murmur of the
running streams in the depth below, enjoy the wonders of nature's handy
work. Having satisfied their curiosity, they return to the light of
day, more pleased than ever with the glories of sunshine and the
comfort of earth's blessings. Ascending the road leading to the heights
of Lichtenstein, they arrive on its summit, where the men, surrounded
by their wives and families, with the glass in the hand, overlook the
distant fields, displayed to their view in all the lovely colours of
the setting sun, and, with grateful hearts, thank heaven for the
blessings of their father-land. The halls of Lichtenstein resound again
with music, dancing, and the merry song, and the echo from its rocks
seems to inspire the jovial guests with recollections of the former
inmates of the castle, and with them to gaze upon good old Würtemberg.
But whether the spirit of the lady of Lichtenstein, with that of Albert
and the old knight, inspires them, or whether the faithful musician of
Hardt quits his grave, and, as he was wont to do during his life,
mounts up to the castle to cheer it with music and song, we know not.
Often have we reposed on these rocks on a still summer's evening,
enjoying the landscape, talking over the good old times, witnessing the
sun's descent, and observing the castle, standing alone and solitary,
lighted up by its last rays. Then it was we fancied we could
distinguish, among the rustling of the trees, the sound of known
voices, floating on the gentle breeze, wafting to our ears their
salutations, and recounting the events of their past lives and actions.
We have frequently experienced such like feelings, presenting to our
imagination images, which fancy would realize before our eyes, and
salute our ears with the whisper of their romantic tales, until at
length we verily believed them to be,--the spirits of Lichtenstein.



                                THE END.



              J. B. Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament-street.





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