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Title: Ekkehard. Vol. I (of II) - A Tale of the Tenth Century
Author: Scheffel, Joseph Victor von, 1826-1886
Language: English
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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.

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/ekkehardtaleofte01scheuoft

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



                               COLLECTION

                                   OF

                            GERMAN AUTHORS.

                                VOL. 21.


                           *   *   *   *   *


                  EKKEHARD BY JOSEPH VICTOR SCHEFFEL.


                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.



                               EKKEHARD.

                      A TALE OF THE TENTH CENTURY


                                   BY

                        JOSEPH VICTOR SCHEFFEL.


                         _Authorized Edition_.


                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN

                                   BY

                             SOFIE DELFFS.


                        IN TWO VOLUMES.--VOL. I.



                              LEIPZIG 1872
                          BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ.

           LONDON: SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE & RIVINGTON.
                  CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.
             PARIS: C. REINWALD, 15, RUE DES SAINTS PÉRES.



                           TO HER DEAR FRIEND

                           MRS. EMILY CHAMIER

                    THE ENGLISH VERSION OF THIS BOOK

                              IS DEDICATED

                                   BY

                            THE TRANSLATOR.



                                CONTENTS

                              OF VOLUME I.


Preface of the Translator

The Author's Preface

CHAPTER    I. Hadwig, the Duchess of Suabia

          II. The Disciples of St. Gallus

         III. Wiborad the Recluse

          IV. In the Monastery

           V. Ekkehard's Departure

          VI. Moengal

         VII. Virgilius on the Hohentweil

        VIII. Audifax

          IX. The Woman of the Wood

           X. Christmas

          XI. The old Man of the Heidenhöhle

         XII. The Approach of the Huns

        XIII. Heribald and his Guests

         XIV. The Battle with the Huns



                                PREFACE
                           OF THE TRANSLATOR.


Heine, that sharp-witted and unsparing critic once said that the
relation of translator to author, were about the same as that of a
monkey to a human being,--while G[oe]the, a man of larger mind and more
harmonious nature, compared the translator to a prophet, quoting a
verse from the Koran which says: "God gives a prophet to every nation
in its own tongue."--For sixteen years the following "Tale,"--which
since its first appearance has made and held its place, not only in the
esteem, but in the hearts of the German reading public, and which has
already been translated into several languages,--has waited in vain for
an _English_ "_prophet_" to render it into that tongue, which being
that most akin to the German language, is therefore, also the one best
fitted for this purpose. It is true that the peculiarity of the style,
which in the original is so wonderfully adapted to the matter it
treats, as well as the number of old German words, might have proved a
not inconsiderable difficulty for any but a German translator, and
therefore, it is to be hoped, that the venturesome attempt of a German
girl to render the book into English, may be excused. It need hardly be
said, that with regard to expression she may often have need to appeal
to the indulgence of the reader, but perhaps these defects may at least
in some degree be compensated, by the strict, truthful adherence to the
original, and further it should be observed that great care has been
taken in choosing words of Saxon derivation whenever they were to be
had. Her love for the book, and her admiration for the writer thereof,
have made her spare no trouble in this undertaking, and if she could
but hope to win some friends to "Ekkehard" in an English dress, she
would deem herself amply repaid for the many hours spent over this
work. May her critics "take all in all," and treat her _fairly_!

_Heidelberg, December_, 1871.



                         THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.


This book was written with the firm belief that neither history nor
poetry will lose anything, by forming a close alliance, and uniting
their strength by working together.

For the last thirty years or so, the bequest of our ancestors has been
the subject of universal investigation. A swarm of busy moles have
undermined the ground of the middle-ages in all directions, and
produced by their untiring industry such a quantity of old material, as
to surprise even the collectors themselves. A whole literature,
beautiful and perfect in itself; an abundance of monuments of the
plastic art; a well organized political and social life, lies extended
before our eyes. And yet all the labour and goodwill spent on this
subject, has hardly succeeded in spreading to wider circles, pleasure
and interest in this newly won historical knowledge. The numberless
volumes stand quietly on the shelves of our libraries. Here and there,
well-to-do spiders have begun to spin their cobwebs, and the pitiless,
all-covering dust has come too, so that the thought is hardly
improbable, that all this old German splendour, but just conjured back
into life, may one morning at cockcrow fade away and be buried in the
dust and mouldering rubbish of the Past,--like to that weird cloister
by the lake, the existence of which is only betrayed by the faint low
tinkle of the bell, deep, deep under the waters.

This is not the place to examine how far this result is attributable to
the ways and methods of our scientific men.

The accumulation of antiquarian lore, as well as the accumulation of
gold, may become a passion, which collects and scrapes together for the
sake and pleasure of scraping; quite forgetting that the metal which
has been won, needs to be purified, remelted, and put to use. For else,
what do we attain by it? Merely the being for ever confined within the
narrow limits of the rough material; an equal valuation of the
unimportant and the important; an unwillingness ever to finish and
conclude anything, because here and there some scrap might still be
added, which would lend a new significance to the subject;--and finally
a literature _of_ scholars _for_ scholars, which the majority of the
nation passes by with indifference and while looking up at the blue sky
feel intensely grateful to their Creator, that _they_ need read nothing
of it.--

The writer of this book,--in the sunny days of his youth,--once took a
ramble with some friends through the Roman Campagna. There, they lit on
the remains of an old monument, and amongst other rubbish and
fragments, there lay, half hidden by dark green acanthus leaves, a heap
of mosaïc stones, which, united into a fine picture with graceful
ornaments, had formerly adorned the floor of a grave. Then, there arose
a lively discussion as to what all the dispersed square little stones
might have represented, when they were still united. One, a student of
archæology, took up some of the pieces, to examine whether they were
black or white marble. A second who occupied himself with historical
studies, talked very learnedly about ancient sepulchres;--meanwhile a
third had quietly sat down on the old wall, taken out his sketch-book
and drawn a fine chariot with four prancing steeds, and charioteers,
and around it some handsome Ionic ornaments. He had discovered in a
corner of the floor, some insignificant remains of the old picture;
horses feet and fragments of a chariot wheel, and at once the whole
design stood clearly before his mind, and he dashed it down with a few
bold strokes, whilst the others dealt in words merely ...

This little incident may serve to throw some light on the question, how
one can work with success, at the historical resurrection of the Past.
Surely, this can be done then only, when to a creative, reproducing
imagination are given its full rights; when he who digs out the old
bodies, breathes upon them the breath of a living soul, so that they
may rise and walk about, like the resuscitated dead.

In this sense, the historical novel may become what epic poetry was in
the time of the blooming youth of the nations,--a piece of national
history, in the conception of the artist, who within a certain space,
shows us a series of distinctly-drawn, clearly coloured figures, in
whose individual lives, strivings and sufferings, the life and
substance of the time in which they lived, is reflected as in a mirror.

Erected on the basis of historical studies, and embracing the beautiful
and important part of an epoch, the historical novel may well claim to
be the twin brother of history; and those who, shrugging their
shoulders are inclined to reject the former as the production of an
arbitrary and falsifying caprice, will please to remember, that history
as it is generally written, is also but a traditional conglomeration of
the true and the false, which merely by its greater clumsiness is
prevented from filling up the occasional gaps, as the more graceful
poesy can do.

If all the signs are not deceiving us, our present time is in a
peculiar state of transition.

In all branches of knowledge, the perception is gaining ground, how
intensely our thinking and feeling has been damaged by the supremacy of
the Abstract and of Phraseology. Here and there, efforts are being
made, to return from dry, colourless, hyperbolical abstractions, to the
tangible, living, glowing Concrete; from idle self-contemplation, into
close relation with life and the present, and from hackneyed formulas
and patterns, to an investigating analysis of nature, and a creative
productivity, instead of mere barren criticism.

Who knows, but our grandchildren may yet live to see the day, when
people will speak of many a former colossus of science, with the same
smiling veneration, as of the remains of a gigantic antediluvian
animal; and when one may avow, without fear of being cried down as a
barbarian, that in a jug of good old wine, there is as much wisdom, as
in many a voluminous production of dry dialectics.

To the restitution of a serene, unbiassed view of things, adorned by
poetry, the following work would wish to contribute; taking its
materials out of our German Past.

Amongst the vast collection of valuable matter, enclosed in the big
folios of the "_Monumenta Germaniae_" by Pertz, are the tales of the
monasteries in St. Gall, which monk Ratpert began, and Ekkehard the
younger (called also the fourth, to distinguish him, from three other
members of the cloister, bearing the same name), continued till the end
of the 10th century.

Whoever has painfully tracked his weary road, through the many
unsatisfactory dry-as-dust chronicles of other monasteries, will linger
with real pleasure and inward delight, over these last named annals.
There, one finds, in spite of manifold prejudices and awkwardnesses, an
abundance of graceful and interesting tales, taken from accounts of eye
and ear witnesses. Persons and circumstances are drawn with rough, but
distinct lineaments, whilst a sort of unconscious poetry,--a thoroughly
honest and genuine view of life and the world, as well as a naïve
freshness and originality, puts a stamp of truth and genuineness on
everything that is told; even when persons and events are not strictly
subjected to the laws of time; and when a very tangible anachronism,
causes very slight uneasiness to the chronicler.

Quite unintentionally, these sketches lead one far beyond the
boundaries of the cloister-walls; painting the life and ways, the
education and customs of the _Allemannic_ country,[1] as it then was,
with all the fidelity of a picture painted from nature. Times were
pleasant then in the south-western part of Germany, and everyone who
prefers a striving and healthy, though rough and imperfect strength, to
a certain varnished finish, will feel much sympathy with them. The
beginning of church and state,--whilst a considerable roughness,
tempered by much natural kindliness, still clung to the people in
general; the feudal spirit, so pernicious to all later development, as
yet harmless, in its first stage of existence; no supercilious,
overbearing knighthood, and wanton ignorant priesthood as yet,--but
rough, plainspoken, honest fellows, whose social intercourse frequently
consisted in an extended system of verbal and real injuries, but who,
under their coarse husk, hid an excellent kernel; susceptible of all
good and noble things. Scholars, who in the morning translate Aristotle
into German, and go wolf-hunting in the evening; noble ladies, full of
enthusiasm for the old classics; peasants, in whose memory the old
heathen beliefs of their forefathers still exist, unimpaired and side
by side with the new christian creed,--in short, everywhere primitive
but vigorous life, and conditions under which one feels inclined
without contempt or rational ire, to put up even with sprites and
hobgoblins.

In spite of political discord and a certain indifference towards the
empire, of which Saxony had become the central point, there was much
courage and valour, inspiring even monks in their cells, to exchange
the breviary for the sword, in order to resist the Hungarian invasion;
and although there were many elements opposed to science, serious study
and much enthusiasm for the classics were preserved.

The highly frequented cloister-schools were full of zealous disciples,
and the humane principles taught there, remind one of the best times in
the 16th century. Besides this, the fine arts began to bud,--some
eminent minds rising here and there above the multitude; a general
culture of national history, though mostly dressed up in outlandish
garments.

No wonder then, that the author of this book, when making some other
researches concerning the first stages of the middle-ages, chancing to
meet with those chronicles, felt like a man, who after long wanderings
through a barren unfertile land, comes suddenly upon a comfortable
wayside inn; which, with excellent kitchen and cellar, and a lovely
view from the windows, offers all that heart could desire.

So he began to settle down in that cozy nook, and by diligently
exploring the surrounding land, to gain the best possible knowledge of
the country and people who lived in it.

But the poet meets with a peculiar fate, when trying to acquaint
himself with the old Past. Where others, into whose veins nature has
instilled some "_aqua fortis_,"--as the result of their labours produce
many an abstract theory, and a quantity of instructive deductions,--to
him appear a host of fantastic figures, that, at first surrounded by
floating mists, become always clearer and clearer; and they look at him
with pleading eyes, dance around his couch in midnight hours, and
always whisper to him, "give us a living form."

Thus it was here. Out of the old Latin cloister-tales there arose, like
rocks out of the water, the towers and walls of the monastery of St.
Gall. Scores of grey-headed, venerable friars wandered up and down in
the ancient cross-passages; behind the old manuscripts sat those who
had once written them; the cloister-pupils played merrily in the
courtyard; from the choir rose the solemn chaunts at midnight, and from
the tower the clear sound of the bugle announced the approach of
visitors. But before all other forms, there arose in dazzling beauty,
that noble, haughty Dame, who carried off the youthful master from the
quiet and peace of the cloister of St. Gall, to her rocky castle high
over the Bodensee, there, to teach and propagate the old classics. The
simple account given by the chronicler, of that quiet life, dedicated
to the study of Virgil, is in itself a piece of poetry as beautiful and
genuine as can be found anywhere.

He, however, who is beset by such apparitions cannot exorcise them
otherwise, but by doing their will; trying to condense and fix their
fleeting shapes. And not having read in vain in the old stories, how
"Notker the stutterer," once treated similar visions, viz. by taking a
strong hazel wand and therewith belabouring the spectres, until they
revealed unto him their finest songs,--I also took to my arms, the
steel-pen, and saying good-bye to the old folios which had been the
sources of all these visionary fancies, I betook myself to the ground
which had once been trodden by the Duchess Hadwig, and her
contemporaries.

There, I sat in the venerable library of St. Gallus; took long rows in
little rocking boats over the Bodensee; found a nest for myself under
the old linden-tree at the foot of the Hohentwiel, where a worthy old
Suabian bailiff has at present charge of the ruins of the ancient
fortress, and finally climbed the airy Alpine heights of the Säntis,
where the "_Wildkirchlein_" hangs like an eagle's nest over the green
valley of Appenzell. There, in the wards of the "_Suabian Sea_," mind
and soul filled with the life of bygone generations; the heart
refreshed by warm sunshine and balmy mountain air, I first sketched and
then completed the greater part of this story.

That not much has been said therein, which is not founded on
conscientious historical studies, can be boldly asserted; though
persons and dates have sometimes been dealt with a little freely. The
poet, in order to enhance the inward harmony of his work, may
occasionally take liberties which would be most blameworthy, if
indulged in by the strict historian. And yet the great historian
Macaulay himself says: "I shall cheerfully bear the reproach of having
descended below the dignity of history if I can succeed in placing
before the English of the 19th century, a true picture of the life of
their ancestors."

Following the advice of some competent judges, I have given in an
appendix some proofs and references to the sources out of which I have
taken my materials, in order to satisfy those, who might otherwise be
inclined to treat the subject as a mere fable or idle invention. Those,
however, who do not require these same proofs to believe in the
genuineness of the matter, are requested not to trouble themselves
further with the notes, as they are otherwise of little import, and
would be quite superfluous, if this book did not go out into the world
in the garb of a novel, which is somewhat open to the suspicion of
playing carelessly with facts and truths.[2]

The attacks of the critics will be received with great
imperturbability. "A tale of the 10th century?" will they exclaim. "Who
rideth so late, through night and wind?" And has it not been printed in
the last manual of our national literature, in the chapter treating of
the national novel: "If we ask which epoch in German history might be
best suited to combine the local with the national interests, we must
begin by excluding the middle-ages. Even the times of the Hohenstaufen,
can only be treated in a lyrical style, as all efforts in other
directions, are sure to turn out utter failures."

All the scruples and objections of those who prefer an anatomizing
criticism, to a harmless enjoyment, and who spend all their strength in
trying to force the German spirit into an Alexandrine or Byzantine
form,--these have already been well answered by a literary lady of the
tenth century, viz. the venerable nun Hroswitha of Gandersheim, who
wrote in happy, self-conscious pleasure in her own work, in the preface
to her graceful comedies: "If anybody should derive pleasure, from
these my modest productions, I shall be much pleased thereat; but if on
the contrary, on account of the objectivity displayed therein, or of
the roughness of an imperfect style, it should please no one, then at
least I myself shall take pleasure in that which I have created."

_Heidelberg, February_, 1855.

                                              J. V. SCHEFFEL.



                               EKKEHARD.



                               CHAPTER I.

                     Hadwig, the Duchess of Suabia.


It was almost a thousand years ago. The world knew as yet nothing of
gunpowder or the art of printing.

Over the Hegau there hung a gloomy leaden grey sky, corresponding to
the mental darkness, which, according to general opinion, oppressed the
whole time of the middle ages. From the lake of Constance white mists
floated over the meads, covering up the whole country. Even the tower
of the new church at Radolfszell was thickly enveloped, but the
matinbell had rung merrily through mist and fog like the words of a
sensible man, which pierce the cloudy atmosphere, that fools create.

It is a lovely part of Germany which lies there, between the
Blackforest and the Suabian lake. All those who are not too strict and
particular with poetical similes, may be reminded of the following
words of the poet:


           "Ah fair is the Allemannic land
            With its bright transparent sky;
            And fair is its lake, so clear and blue
            Like a bonny maiden's eye;
            Like yellow locks, the corn-clad fields
            Surround this picture fair:
            And to a genuine German face
            This land one may compare."


--though the continuation of this allegory might tempt one to celebrate
either of the Hegau mountains, as the prominent feature on the face of
this country.

Sternly the summit of the Hohentwiel, with its craggy points and
pinnacles rises into the air. Like monuments of the stormy stirring
Past of our old mother Earth those steep picturesque mountain-pyramids
rise from the plains which were once covered by undulating waves, as
the bed of the present lake is now. For the fish and sea-gulls it must
have been a memorable day, when the roaring and hissing began in the
depths below, and the fiery basaltic masses, made their way, rising out
of the very bowels of earth, above the surface of the waters. But that
was long, long ago, and the sufferings of those, who were pitilessly
annihilated in that mighty revolution, have long been forgotten. Only
the hills are there still to tell the weird tale. There they stand,
unconnected with their neighbours, solitary and defiant; as those, who
with fiery glowing hearts break through the bars and fetters of
existing opinions, must always be. Whether they in their inmost heart
have still a recollection of the glorious time of their youth, when
they greeted this beautiful upper world, for the first time with a
jubilant cry, who knows?

At the time when our story begins, the Hohentwiel was crested already
by stately towers and walls. This fortress had been held during his
lifetime by Sir Burkhard, Duke of Suabia. He had been a valiant knight,
and done many a good day's fighting in his time. The enemies of the
Emperor, were also his, and so there was always work to do. If
everything was quiet in Italy, then the Normans became troublesome, and
when these were fairly subjugated, perhaps the Hungarians would make an
invasion, or some bishop or mighty earl grew insolent and rebellious,
and had to be put down. In this way Sir Burkhard had spent his days
more in the saddle than in the easy-chair, and it was not to be
wondered at, that he had gained for himself the reputation of great
valour and bravery.

In Suabia it was said that he reigned like a true despot; and in far
off Saxony the monks wrote down in their chronicles, that he had been
an almost "invincible warrior."

Before Sir Burkhard was gathered to his forefathers, he had chosen a
spouse for himself, in the person of the young Princess Hadwig,
daughter of the Duke of Bavaria. But the evening-glow of a declining
life is but ill matched with the light of the morning-star. Such a
union is against nature's laws and Dame Hadwig had accepted the old
Duke of Suabia, merely to please her father. It is true that she had
nursed and tended him well, and held his grey hairs in honour; but when
the old man laid himself down to die, grief did not break her heart.

When all was over, she buried him in the vault of his ancestors,
erected a monument of grey sandstone lo his memory, placed an
everburning lamp over his grave, and sometimes, not too often, came
down there to pray.

Thus Dame Hadwig lived now all alone in the castle of Hohentwiel. She
remained in possession of all the landed property of her husband, with
the full rights to do with it what she pleased. Besides this she was
lady patroness of the bishopric of Constance and all the cloisters near
the lake, and the emperor had given her a bill of feoffment signed and
sealed by his own hand, by which the regency of Suabia remained her
own, as long as she kept true to her widowhood. The young widow
possessed a very aristocratic mind and no ordinary amount of beauty.
Her nose however was a trifle short, the lovely lips had a strong
tendency to pout, and in her boldly projecting chin, the graceful
dimple so becoming to women, was not to be found. All those whose
features are thus formed, unite to a clear intellect, a not over
tender heart, and their disposition is more severe than charitable. For
this reason the Duchess in spite of her soft beautiful complexion,
inspired many of her subjects with a sort of trembling awe.--On that
misty day mentioned before, the Duchess was standing at one of her
chamber-windows, looking out into the distance. She wore a steelgrey
undergarment, which fell down in graceful folds on her embroidered
sandals; and over this a tightfitting black tunic, reaching to the
knees. In the girdle, encircling her waist, there glittered a large
precious beryl. Her chestnut brown hair was confined within a net of
gold thread, but round her clear forehead some stray curls played
unrestrainedly. On a small table of white marble, stood a fantastically
shaped vessel of dark green bronze, in which some foreign frankincense
was burning, sending its fragrant white little cloudlets up to the
ceiling. The walls were covered with many-coloured finely woven
tapestry.

There are days when one is dissatisfied with everything and everybody,
and if one were suddenly transported into paradise itself, even
paradise would not give contentment. At such times the thoughts wander
gloomily from this to that subject, not knowing on what to fix
themselves,--out of every corner a distorted face seems grinning at us,
and he who is gifted with a very fine ear, may even hear the derisive
laughter of the goblins. It is a belief in those parts that the
universal contrariety of such days, arises from people having stepped
out of bed with their left foot foremost; which is held to be in direct
opposition to nature.

Under the spell of such a day, the Duchess was labouring just now. She
wanted to look out of the window, and a subtle wind blew the mist right
into her face, which annoyed her. She began to cough hastily, but no
doubt if the whole country had lain before her bathed in sunshine, she
would have found fault with that also.

Spazzo the chamberlain had come in meanwhile and stood respectfully
waiting near the entrance. He threw a smiling complacent look on his
outward equipment, feeling sure to attract his mistress's eye to-day,
for he had put on an embroidered shirt of finest linen and a splendid
sapphire coloured upper-garment, with purple seams. Everything was made
in the latest fashion; and the bishop's tailor at Constance had brought
the articles over only the day before.

The wolf-dog of the knight of Friedingen had killed two lambs of the
ducal herd; therefore Master Spazzo intended to make his dutiful report
and obtain Dame Hadwig's princely opinion, whether he should conclude a
peaceful agreement with the dog's master, or whether he were to bring
in a suit at the next session of the tribunal, to have him fined and
sentenced to pay damages. So he began his well-prepared speech, but
before he had got to the end, he saw the duchess make a sign, the
meaning of which could not remain unintelligible to a sensible man.
She put her forefinger first up to her forehead, and then pointed with
it to the door. So the chamberlain perceived that it was left to his
own wits, not only to find the best expedient with regard to the
lambs,--but also to take himself off as quickly as possible. With a
profound bow he withdrew accordingly.

In clear tones Dame Hadwig called out now: "Praxedis!"--and when the
person thus named did not instantly make her appearance, she repeated
in sharper accents, "Praxedis!"

It was not long before Praxedis with light, graceful steps entered the
closet. Praxedis was waiting-maid to the Duchess of Suabia. She was a
Greek and a living proof, that the son of the Byzantine Emperor
Basilius had once asked the fair Hadwig's hand in marriage. He had made
a present of the clever child, well instructed in music and the art of
the needle, together with many jewels and precious stones, to the
German duke's daughter, and in return had received a refusal. At that
time one could give away human beings, as well as buy and sell them.
Liberty was not everybody's birthright. But a slavery, such as the
Greek child had to endure, in the ducal castle in Suabia, was not a
very hard lot.

Praxedis had a small head with pale delicate features; out of which a
pair of large dark eyes looked into the world, unspeakably sad one
moment and in the next sparkling with merriment. Her hair was arranged
over her forehead in heavy braids, like a coronet. She was very
beautiful.

"Praxedis, where is the starling?" said Dame Hadwig.

"I will bring it," replied the Greek maid; and she went and fetched the
black little fellow, who sat in his cage, with an important impudent
air, as if his existence were filling up a vast gap in the universe.
The starling had made his fortune at Hadwig's wedding-feast. An old
fiddler and juggler had taught him with infinite pains, to repeat a
Latin wedding-speech, and great was the merriment, when at the banquet
the bird was put on the table, to say his lesson, "A new star has risen
on the Suabian firmament, its name is Hadwig. Hail all hail!" and so
forth.

But this was not all the knowledge which the starling possessed.
Besides these rhymes, he could also recite the Lord's prayer. Now the
bird was very obstinate, and had his caprices, as well as the Duchess
of Suabia.

On this particular day, the latter must have been thinking of old
times, and the starling was to deliver the wedding-speech. The
starling, however, had one of his pious moods, and when Praxedis
brought him into the chamber he called out solemnly: "Amen!" and when
Dame Hadwig gave him a piece of gingerbread, and asked him in coaxing
tones: "what was the name of the star on the Suabian firmament, my
pretty one?"--he slowly responded: "Lead us not into temptation." But
when she whispered to him to brighten his memory: "The star's name is
Hadwig, all hail!"--then the starling continuing in his pious strain,
said: "And deliver us from evil."--

"What, do birds even become insolent now?" exclaimed Dame Hadwig
angrily. "Pussy, where art thou?" and she enticed towards her the black
cat, which had long had an evil eye upon the starling, and who crept
near softly, but with glittering eyes.

Dame Hadwig opened the cage, and left the bird to its mercy, but the
starling, although the sharp claws had got hold of him already,
ruffling and tearing his feathers, yet managed to escape, and flew out
at the open window.

In a few moments he had become a mere black speck in the mist.

"Well, now really I might as well have kept him in the cage," said Dame
Hadwig, "Praxedis, what dost thou think?"

"My mistress is always right whatever she does," replied the Greek
maiden.

"Praxedis," continued the Duchess, "go and fetch me my trinkets. I wish
to put on a bracelet."

So Praxedis, the everwilling, went away, and returned with the casket
of jewels. This casket was made of silver; on it a few figures had been
embossed, representing the Saviour as the good Shepherd; St. Peter with
the keys and St. Paul with the sword, and around these, manifold leaves
and twisted ornaments. Probably it had served for the keeping of relics
formerly. Sir Burkhard had once brought it home, but he did not like to
speak about it; for he returned at that time from a feud, in which he
had vanquished and heavily thrown some bishop of Burgundy.

When the Duchess opened the casket, the rich jewels sparkled and
glittered beautifully on their red velvet lining. Looking at such
tokens of remembrance, many old memories came floating up to the
surface again. Amongst other things there lay also the miniature of the
Greek prince Constantine, smooth, pretty and spiritless, it had been
painted by the Byzantine master on a background of gold.

"Praxedis," said Dame Hadwig, "how would it have been, if I had given
my hand to that yellow-cheeked peaknosed prince of yours."

"My liege Lady," was the answer, "I am sure that it would have been
well."

"Well," continued Dame Hadwig, "tell me something about your own dull
home. I should like to know what my entrance into Constantinopolis
would have been like."

"Oh, princess," said Praxedis, "my home is beautiful," and with a
melancholy look her dark eyes gazed into the misty distance--"and such
a dreary sky at least, would have been spared you on the Marmora sea.
Even you would have uttered a cry of surprise, when carried along by
the proud galley, past the seven towers, the glittering masses of
palaces, cupolas, churches, everything of dazzling white marble from
the quarries of Prokonnesos, had first burst on our sight. From the
blue waves the stately waterlily, proudly lifts her snowy petals, here
a wood of dark cypress trees, there the gigantic cupola of the Hagia
Sophia; on one side the long stretched cape of the Golden Horn, and
opposite on the Asiatic shore, another magnificent city. And like a
golden blue girdle, the sea, freighted with its innumerable ships,
encircles this magic sight,--oh, my mistress, even in my dreams far
away here in the Suabian land, I cannot realize the splendour of that
view. And then, when the sun has sunk down, and the sable night steals
over the glittering waves, then everything is bathed in blue Greek
fire, in honour of the royal bride. Now we enter the port. The big
chain which usually bars it, drops down before the bridal ship. Torches
burn on the shore. There stand the emperor's body-guard, the Waragians
with their two edged battle-axes, and the blue-eyed Normans; there the
patriarch with innumerable priests; everywhere one hears music and
shouts of joy, and the imperial prince in the bloom of youth, welcomes
his betrothed, and the royal train direct their steps towards the
palace of Blacharnae ..."

"And all this splendour I have thrown away," sneered Dame Hadwig.
"Praxedis, thy picture is not complete, for on the following day, comes
the patriarch, to hold a sharp discourse with the western Christian,
and to instruct her in all the heresies, which flourish on the barren,
arid soil of your religion, like deadly nightshade and henbane. Then I
am instructed what to believe of their monkish pictures and the decrees
of the Councils of Chalcedon and Nicaea. After him comes the mistress
of the ceremonies, to teach me the laws of etiquette and court-manners;
what expression to wear on my face, and how to manage my train; when
to prostrate myself before the emperor and when to embrace my
mother-in-law. Further, how to treat this favourite with courtesy, and
to use this or that monstrous form of speech, in addressing some
wonderful personage: 'If it please your Eminence, your Highness, your
adorable Greatness!'--Whatever can be called originality and natural
strength is nipped in the bud, and my Lord and Master turns out to be a
painted doll like the rest. Then perhaps some fine morning the enemy
appears before the gates, or the successor is not to the liking of the
blues and greens of the Circus; revolution rages through the streets,
and the German duke's daughter is put into a convent bereft of her
eyesight ... what good does it do her then, that her children were
addressed as their Highnesses when still in the cradle? Therefore,
Praxedis, I did not go to Constantinople!"

"The emperor is the Master of the universe, and his will is for ever
just," said the Greek, "so I have been taught to believe."

"Hast thou ever reflected, that it is a very precious boon, for a man
to be his own master?"

"No," said Praxedis.

The turn which the conversation had taken pleased the Duchess.

"What account of me did your Byzantine painter, who was sent to take my
likeness, carry home, I wonder?"

The Greek maid seemed not to have heard the question. She had risen
from her seat and gone to the window.

"Praxedis," said the Duchess with asperity, "I want an answer."

Thus questioned Praxedis turned round, and faintly smiling said: "that
was a pretty long time ago, but Master Michael Thallelaios did not
speak over well of you. He told us that he had prepared his finest
colours and goldleaves, and that you had been a lovely child, and when
brought before him to be painted, that he had felt as if he must do his
very utmost, and a thrill of awe had come over him, as when he painted
God's holy mother, for the monastery of Athos. But Princess Hadwig had
been pleased to distort her eyes; and when he had ventured to raise a
modest objection, her Grace put out her tongue, held two openspread
hands to her nose, and said in very graceful broken Greek, that this
was the right position to be painted in. The imperial court-painter
profited by the occasion to express his opinion, about the want of
manners and education in German lands, and has vowed never again to try
and paint a German Fräulein. And the emperor Basilius on hearing this
account growled fiercely through his beard ..."

"Let his Majesty growl, as long as he chooses," said the Duchess, "and
pray to Heaven that he may bestow the patience which I then lacked on
others. I have not yet had an opportunity of seeing a monkey, but
according to all that is told about them, by trustworthy men, Master
Michael's pedigree must extend to those members of creation."

Meanwhile she had put on the bracelets. It represented two serpents
twisted together and kissing each other. On the head of each rested a
tiny crown. From the mass of other trinkets, a heavy silver arrow, had
got into her hands and it also left its prison-house for a fairer
abode. It was drawn through the meshes of the golden threaded net.

As if to try the effect of the ornaments, Dame Hadwig now walked with
stately steps through the chamber. Her attitude seemed to challenge
admiration, but the hall was empty; even the cat had slunk away.
Mirrors there were none on the walls, and as for the furniture, its
adaptation to comfort was but small, according to our present views.

Praxedis' thoughts were still busy with the subject just discussed. "My
gracious Mistress," said she, "I nevertheless felt very sorry for him."

"Sorry for whom?"

"For the emperor's son. He said that you had appeared to him in a
dream, and that all his happiness depended upon you."

"Let the dead rest," said Dame Hadwig testily, "I had rather that you
took your guitar and sang me the Greek ditty:


           "Constantine thou foolish lad,
            Constantine leave off thy weeping!"


"The lute is broken, and all the strings torn, since my Lady Duchess
pleased to ..."

"To throw it at the head of Count Boso of Burgundy," said Dame Hadwig.
"That was well done indeed, for who told him to come uninvited to Sir
Burkhard's funeral, and to preach to me, as if he were a saint?--So we
will have the lute mended, and meanwhile, my Greek treasure, canst thou
tell me, why I have donned these glittering ornaments to-day?"

"God is all-knowing," said the Greek maid, "I cannot tell."

After this she was silent. So was Dame Hadwig, and there ensued one of
those long significant pauses generally preceding self-knowledge.
At last the Duchess said: "Well to say the truth I don't know
myself!"--and looking dismally at the floor, added: "I believe I did
it from ennui. But then the top of the Hohentwiel is but a dreary
nest,--especially for a widow. Praxedis, dost thou know a remedy
against dullness?"

"I once heard from a very wise preacher" said Praxedis, "that there are
several remedies. Sleeping, drinking and travelling--but that the best
is fasting and praying."

Then Dame Hadwig rested her head on her lily-white hand, and looking
sharply at the quick-witted Greek, she said: "To-morrow we will go on a
journey."



                              CHAPTER II.

                      The Disciples of St. Gallus.


The next day, the Duchess crossed the Bodensee in the early glow of the
morning-sun, accompanied by Praxedis and a numerous train. The lake was
beautifully blue; the flags floated in the air, and much fun was going
on, on board the ship. And who could be melancholy, when gliding over
the clear, crystal waters; past the green shores with their many towers
and castles; snowy peaks rising in the distance; and the reflection of
the white sails, trembling and breaking in the playful waves?

Nobody knew where the end of the journey was to be. But then they were
accustomed to obey without questioning.

When they approached the bay at Rorschach, the Duchess commanded them
to land there. So the prow was turned to the shore, and soon after she
crossed lightly over the rocking plank and stepped on land. Here the
toll-gatherer, who received the duty from all those who travelled to
Italy, and the market-master, as well as those who held any official
position, came to meet their sovereign; and calling out lustily "Hail
Herro!" "Hail Liebo"[3] waved big branches of mighty fir-trees over
their heads. Graciously returning their salutations, the Duchess walked
through the deferential crowd, which fell back on either side, and
ordered her chamberlain to distribute some silver coins;--but there was
not much time for tarrying. Already the horses which had been secretly
sent on before, in the night, stood ready waiting, and when all were in
the saddle, Dame Hadwig gave the word of command: "To the holy Gallus."
Then her servants looked at each other with wondering eyes, as if
asking, "what business can we have there?" But there was not even time
for an answer, as the cavalcade was already cantering over the hilly
ground towards the monastery itself.

St. Benedict and his disciples knew very well on what places to build
their monasteries. Up-hill and down-hill, wherever you find a large
building, which like a fortress, commands a whole tract of land, or
blocks up the entrance to a valley, or forms the central point of
crossing highways, or that lies buried amongst vineyards, famous for
their exquisite wines,--there the passing tourist,--until the contrary
has been proved to him--may boldly advance the assertion, that the
house in question belongs, or rather belonged formerly to the order of
St. Benedict, for in our days monasteries become scarcer and inns, more
plentiful, which phenomenon may be ascribed to the progress of
civilisation.

The Irish saint Gallus, had also chosen a lovely spot, when pining for
forest-air he settled down in this Helvetian solitude: In a high
mountain-glen, separated by steep hills from the milder shores of the
Bodensee, through which many a wild torrent rushed in mad flight,
whilst on the other side rose the gigantic rocks of the Alpstein, whose
snowcapped peaks disappear in the clouds, there, sheltered by the
mountain, the monastery lay cradled at its foot. It was a strange thing
for those apostles of Albion and Erin, to extend their missions unto
the German continent, but if one examines the matter closely, their
merit in doing so, is not so great as it appears at first sight.

"The taste for visiting foreign lands, is so deeply rooted in the minds
of Britons, that it cannot be eradicated,"--thus wrote as early as in
the times of Charlemagne, a simple, trust-worthy historian. They were
simply the predecessors and ancestors of the present British tourists,
and might be recognized even at a distance by the foreign, curious
shape of their knapsacks. Now and then one of them would settle down
for good somewhere, although the honest natives of the soil did not
always look with favourable eyes on the intruder. Still their greater
pertinacity, the inheritance of all Britons, the art of colonizing and
the mystic veneration which all that is foreign, always inspires in the
lower classes, made their missionary endeavours rather successful. With
other times we have other customs! In the present day the descendants
of those saints are making rail-roads for the Swiss, for good Helvetian
money.

On the spot near the Steinach where once had stood, the simple cell of
the Hibernian hermit, and where he had fought with bears, goblins and
water-fairies, a spacious monastery had been built. Above the lower
shingle-covered roofs of the dwelling and school-houses, the octagon
church-tower rose in all its splendour; granaries, cellars and sheds,
abounded also, and even the merry sound of a mill-wheel might be heard,
for all the necessaries of life had to be prepared within the precincts
of the cloister; so that the monks need not go too far beyond the
boundaries, thereby endangering their souls. A strong wall, with heavy
well-barred gates, surrounded the whole; less for ornament than for
security, since there was many a powerful knight in those times who did
not much heed the last commandment, "do not covet thy neighbours
goods."

It was past the dinner-hour and a deep calm lay over the valley. The
rules of St. Benedict prescribed that at that hour, everybody should
seek his couch, and though on that side of the Alps, the terrible heat
of an Italian sun which forces one into the arms of Morpheus is never
felt, the pious monks nevertheless followed this rule to the letter.

Only the guard on the watch-tower stood upright and faithful as ever,
near the little chamber-window, waging war with the innumerable flies,
buzzing about him. His name was Romeias, and he was noted for keeping a
sharp look out.

Suddenly he heard the tramp of horses' feet in the neighbouring
firwood, to which he listened intently. "Eight or ten horsemen,"
muttered he, and upon this, quickly dropped down the portcullis from
the gate, drew up the little bridge leading over the moat, and then
from a nail in the wall took his horn. Finding that some spiders had
been weaving their cob-webs in it, he gave it a good rubbing.

At that moment the out-riders of the cavalcade became visible on the
outskirts of the pine-wood. When Romeias caught sight of them, he first
gave a rub to his forehead and then eyed the approaching party with a
very puzzled look. "Womenfolk?" he exclaimed aloud, but in that
exclamation there was neither pleasure nor edification.

He seized his horn and blew three times into it, with all his might.
They were rough, uncouth notes that he produced, from which one might
conclude, that neither the muses nor the graces had kindly surrounded
the cradle of Romeias, when he first saw the light of this world at
Villingen in the Blackforest.

Anyone who has often been in a wood, must have observed the life in an
ant-hill. There, everything is well organized; each ant attending to
its business and perfect harmony reigning in all the bustle and
movement. Now you put your stick into it frightening the foremost ants,
and instantly all is wild confusion, and a disorderly running hither
and thither ensues. And all this commotion has been brought about by
one single movement of your stick. Now the sounds coming from the horn
of Romeias, had just the same disturbing effect in the monastery.

The windows of the great hall in the school-house were filled with
young inquisitive faces. Many a lovely dream vanished out of the
solitary cells, without ever coming to an end, and many a profound
meditation of half-awake thinkers as well. The wicked Sindolt who at
this hour used to read the forbidden book of Ovid's "art of love,"
rolled up hastily the parchment leaves and hid them carefully in his
straw mattress.

The Abbot Cralo jumped up from his chair; stretched his arms heavy with
sleep, and then dipping his forefinger into a magnificent silver
washing-basin, standing before him on a stone table, wetted his eyes to
drive away the drowsiness that was still lingering there. After this he
limped to the open bow-window, but when he beheld who it was that had
occasioned all this disturbance, he was as unpleasantly surprised, as
if a walnut had dropt on his head, and exclaimed: "St. Benedict save
us! my cousin the Duchess!"

He then quickly adjusted his habit, gave a brush to the scanty tuft
of hair which his head still boasted of and that grew upwards like a
pine-tree in a sandy desert; put on his golden chain with the cloister
seal on it, took his abbot's staff made of the wood of an apple-tree
adorned with a richly carved handle of ebony, and then descended into
the courtyard.

"Can't you hasten?" called out one of the party outside. Then the abbot
commanded the doorkeeper to ask them what they demanded. Romeias
obeyed.

A bugle now sounded and the chamberlain Spazzo in the capacity of
herald, rode up close to the gate, and called out loudly:

"The Duchess and reigning sovereign of Suabia sends her greeting to St.
Gallus. Let the gates be opened to receive her."

The abbot heaved a deep sigh, then climbed up to Romeias' watch-tower
and leaning on his staff, he gave his blessing, to those standing
outside and spoke thus:

"In the name of St. Gallus, the most unworthy of his followers returns
his thanks for the gracious greeting. But his monastery is no Noah's
ark into which every species of living thing, pure and impure, male and
female may enter. Therefore, although my heart is filled with regret,
to sanction your entrance, is an impossibility. On the last day of
judgment, the abbot is held responsible for the souls of those
entrusted to him. The presence of a woman although the noblest in the
land and the frivolous speech of the children of this world, would be
too great a temptation for those who are bound, to strive first after
the kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness. Do not trouble the
conscience of the shepherd who anxiously watches over his flock. The
canonical laws bar the gate. The gracious Duchess will find at Trojen
or Rorshach a house belonging to the monastery, at her entire
disposal."

Dame Hadwig who had been sitting on horseback impatiently enough
hitherto, now struck her white palfrey with her riding-whip, and
reining it so as to make it rear and step backwards, called out
laughingly:

"Spare yourself all your fine words, Cousin Cralo, for I will see the
cloister."

In doleful accents, the abbot began: "Woe unto him by whom offence
cometh. It were better for him ..."

But his warning speech did not come to an end; for Dame Hadwig,
entirely changing the tone of her voice, sharply said: "Sir Abbot, the
Duchess of Suabia, must see the monastery."

Then the much afflicted man perceived that further contradiction could
scarcely be offered without damaging the future prospects of the
monastery. Yet his conscience still urged him to opposition.

Whenever a person is in a doubtful position, and is uncertain how to
act, it is a great comfort to the vacillating mind, to ask the advice
of others; for that expedient lessens the responsibility, and is a
solid support to fall back upon.

Therefore Sir Cralo now called down: "As you insist so peremptorily, I
must put the case first before the assembled brotherhood. Until then,
pray have patience."

He walked back through the courtyard, inwardly wishing, that a second
great flood might come, and destroy the highway, on which such
unwelcome guests had come. His limping gait was hurried and excited,
and it is not to be wondered at, if the chronicler reports of him, that
he had fluttered up and down the cloister-walk at that critical moment,
like a swallow before a thunder-storm.

Five times the little bell of St. Othmar's chapel, near the great
church rang out now; calling the brothers to the reading-room. The
solitary cross-passages filled quickly with cowl-bearing figures; all
going towards the place of assembly, which, opposite the hexagonal
chief-building, was a simple grey hall, under the peristyle of which a
graceful fountain shed its waters into a metal basin.

On a raised brick-floor, stood the abbot's marble chair; adorned with
two roughly carved lions' heads. With a very pleasurable sensation
the eye, from under these dark arches and pillars, looked out on
the greenness of the little garden in the inner court. Roses and
holly-hocks flourished and bloomed in it; for kind nature even smiles
on those, who have turned their backs on her.

The white habits and dark-coloured mantles, contrasted well with the
stone grey walls, as one after the other, noiselessly entered. A hasty
bend of the head was the mutual greeting. Thus they stood in silent
expectation, while the morning sun came slanting in through the narrow
windows, lighting up their different faces.

They were tried men; a holy senate, well pleasing in God's sight.

He, with the shrunk figure, and sharp-featured pale face, bearing the
traces of much fasting and many night-vigils, was Notker the stutterer.
A melancholy smile played about his lips. The long practice of
asceticism, had removed his spirit from the present. In former times he
had composed very beautiful melodies; but now he had taken a more
gloomy tendency and at night was constantly challenging demons to fight
with him. In the crypt of the holy Gallus he had lately encountered the
devil himself and beaten him so heartily that the latter hid himself in
a corner, dismally howling. Envious tongues said, that Notker's
melancholy song of "_media vita_" had also a dark origin; as the Evil
One had revealed it to him in lieu of ransom, when he lay ignominiously
conquered, on the ground, under Notker's strong foot. Close to him,
there smiled a right-honest, and good-natured face, framed in by an
iron-grey beard. That was the mighty Tutilo, who loved best to sit
before the turning-lathe, and carve exquisitely fine images of ivory.
Some proofs of his skill even now exist, such as the diptychon with the
virgin Mary's ascension, and the bear of St. Gallus. But when his back
began to ache, humming an old song, he would leave his work, to go
wolf-hunting, or to engage in an honest boxing match, by way of
recreation; for he preferred fighting with wicked men, to wrestling
with midnight ghosts and often said to his friend Notker: "he who like
myself, has imprinted his mark on many a Christian, as well as heathen
back, can well afford to do without demons." Then came Ratpert the long
tried teacher of the school, who left his historical books most
unwillingly, whenever the little bell called him to an assembly.
He carried his head somewhat high, yet he and the others, though
their characters differed so much, were one heart and one soul; a
three-leaved cloister shamrock. Being one of the last who entered the
hall, he had to stand near his old antagonist, the evil Sindolt, who
pretending not to see him, whispered something to his neighbour, a
little man with a face like a shrew-mouse, who, puckering up his lips,
tried hard not to smile; for the whispered remark had been: that in the
large dictionary by Bishop Salomon, beside the words "_rabulista_
signifies someone, who cannot help disputing about everything in the
world" some unknown hand, had added, "like Ratpert our great thinker."

Now in the background there towered above the rest, the tall figure of
Sintram the famous calligraphist; whose letters were then the wonder of
the whole cisalpine world, but the greatest of St. Gallus's disciples,
with regard to length of body, were the Scotchmen, who had taken their
stand close to the entrance.

Fortegian and Failan, Dubslan and Brendan and so on; inseparable
compatriots; secretly grumbling over what they considered the neglect
shown them. The sandy-haired Dubduin was also amongst them, who in
spite of the heavy iron penitential chain which he wore, had not been
elected prior. As a punishment for the biting satirical verses, which
he had composed on his German brothers, he had been sentenced to water
the dead peach-tree in the garden for three years.

Notker, the physician, had also joined the assembly. He had but lately
administered the wondrous remedy for the abbot's lame foot; an ointment
made of fish-brain, and wrapping it up, in the fresh skin of a wolf,
the warmth of which was to stretch out the contracted sinews. His
nickname was peppercorn, on account of the strictness with which he
maintained the monastic discipline;--and Wolo who could not bear to
look at a woman or a ripe apple, and Engelbert the founder of the
collection of wild beasts, and Gerhard the preacher, and Folkard the
painter. Who could name them all, the excellent masters, whose names,
when mentioned called up in the next generation of monks, feelings of
melancholy and regret, as they confessed, that such men were becoming
scarcer everyday?

When all were assembled, the abbot mounted his chair, and the
consultation began forthwith. The case however proved to be a very
difficult one.

Ratpert spoke first, and demonstrated from history, in what way the
Emperor Charlemagne had once been enabled to enter the monastery. "In
that instance," he said, "it was presumed that he was a member of the
order, as long as he was within our precincts, and all pretended not to
know who he was. Not a word was spoken of imperial dignity, or deeds of
war, or humble homage. He walked about amongst us like any other monk,
and that he was not offended thereby, the letter of protection, which
he threw over the wall, when departing well proved."

But in this way, the great difficulty,--the person asking for
admittance being a woman,--could not be got rid of. The stricter ones
amongst the brotherhood grumbled, and Notker, the peppercorn, said:
"She is the widow of that destroyer of countries, and ravager of
monasteries, who once carried off our most precious chalice as a
war-contribution, saying the derisive words: 'God neither eats nor
drinks, so what can he do with golden vessels?' I warn you not to unbar
the gate." This advice however did not quite suit the abbot, as he
wished to find a compromise. The debate became very stormy, one saying
this, the other that. Brother Wolo on hearing that the discussion was
about a woman, softly slunk out, and locked himself up in his cell.

At last one of the brothers rose and requested to be heard.

"Speak, Brother Ekkehard!" called out the abbot, and the noisy tumult
was hushed, for all liked to hear Ekkehard speak. He was still young in
years, of a very handsome figure, and he captivated everybody who
looked at him, by his graceful mien and pleasing expression. Besides
this he was both wise and eloquent, an excellent counsellor and a most
learned scholar. At the cloister-school he taught Virgil, and though
the rule prescribed, that none but a wise and hoary man, whose age
would guard him from the abuse of his office, and who by his experience
would be a fit counsellor for all,--should be made custodian, yet the
brothers had agreed that Ekkehard united in himself all the necessary
requirements, and consequently had entrusted him with that office.

A scarcely perceptible smile had played around his lips, whilst the
others were disputing. He now raised his voice and spoke thus: "The
Duchess of Suabia is the monastery's patron, and in such capacity is
equal to a man, and as our monastic rules strictly forbid that a
woman's foot shall touch the cloister-threshold, she may easily be
carried over."

Upon this the faces of the old men brightened up, as if a great load
had been taken off their minds. A murmur of approbation ran through the
assembly, and the abbot likewise was not insensible to the wise
counsel.

"Verily, the Lord often reveals himself, even unto a younger brother!
Brother Ekkehard, you are guileless like the dove, and prudent like the
serpent. So you shall carry out your own advice. I give you herewith
the necessary dispensation." A deep blush overspread Ekkehard's
features, but he quietly bowed his head in sign of obedience.

"And what about the female attendants of the Duchess?" asked the abbot.
But here the assembly unanimously decided that even the most liberal
interpretation of the monastic laws could not grant them admittance.
The evil Sindolt proposed that they should meanwhile pay a visit to the
recluses on Erin-hill, because when the monastery of St. Gallus was
afflicted by a visitation, it was but fair that the pious Wiborad
should bear her share of it. After having held a whispering
consultation with Gerold the steward about the supper, the abbot
descended from his high chair, and accompanied by the brotherhood, went
out to meet his guests. These had meanwhile ridden three times round
the cloister-walls, banishing the ennui of waiting by merry jests and
laughter. The air of "_justus germinavit_," the montonous hymn in
praise of St. Benedict, was struck up by the monks, who were now heard
approaching. The heavy gate opened creaking on its hinges, and out came
the abbot at the head of the procession of friars, who walking, two and
two together, chanted the hymn just mentioned.

Then the abbot gave a sign to stop the singing.

"How do you do, Cousin Cralo?" flippantly cried the Duchess from her
saddle. "I have not seen you for an age! Are you still limping?"

Cralo however replied with dignity: "It is better that the shepherd
should limp than the flock. Be pleased to hear the monastery's decree."
And forthwith he communicated the condition on which she was to enter.

Then Dame Hadwig replied smilingly: "During all the time that I have
wielded the sceptre in Suabia, such a proposition has never been made
to me. But the laws of your order shall be respected. Which of the
brothers have you chosen to carry the Sovereign over the threshold?"
but on casting her sparkling eyes over the ranks of the spiritual
champions and beholding the dark fanatical face of Notker the
stutterer, she whispered to Praxedis: "May be we shall turn back at
once."

"There he stands," said the abbot.

Dame Hadwig following with her eyes the direction which the abbot's
forefinger indicated, then beheld Ekkehard, and it was a long gaze,
which she cast on his tall handsome figure, and noble countenance,
glowing with youth and intellect. "We shall not turn back," was implied
by a significant nod to Praxedis, and before the short-necked
chamberlain, who in most cases was willing enough but was generally too
slow, had dismounted, and approached her palfrey, she had gracefully
alighted and approaching the custodian, she said: "Now then, perform
your office."

Ekkehard had been trying meanwhile to compose an address, which in
faultless Latin was intended to justify the strange liberty he was
about to take,--but when she stood before him, proud and commanding,
his voice failed him, and the speech remained where it had been
conceived,--in his thoughts. Otherwise, however, he had not lost his
courage, and so he lifted up his fair burden with his strong arms, who,
putting her right arm round his shoulder, seemed not displeased with
her novel position.

Cheerfully he thus stepped over the threshold which no woman's foot was
allowed to touch; the abbot walking by his side, and the chamberlain
and vassals following. The serving ministrants swung their censers
gaily into the air, and the monks marching behind in a double file as
before, sung the last verses of the unfinished hymn.

It was a wonderful spectacle, such as never occurred, either before or
after in the monastery's history, and by those prone to useless
moralising many a wise observation might be made, in connexion with the
monk's carrying the duchess; on the relation of church and state in
those times, and the changes which have occurred since,--but these
reflections we leave each one to make for himself.--Natural
philosophers affirm, that at the meeting of animate objects, invisible
powers begin to act, streaming forth and passing from one to the other,
thus creating strange affinities. This theory was proved true at least
with regard to the Duchess and her bearer, for whilst she was being
rocked in his arms, she thought inwardly: "Indeed, never the hood of
St. Benedict has covered a more graceful head than this one," and
when Ekkehard put down his burden with shy deference in the cool
cross-passage, he was struck by the thought, that the distance from the
gate had never appeared so short to him before. "I suppose that you
found me very heavy?" said the Duchess.

"My liege lady, you may boldly say of yourself as it has been written,
'my yoke is easy and my burden is light,'" was the reply.

"I should not have thought, that you would turn the words of Scripture
into a flattering speech. What is your name?"

"They call me Ekkehard."

"Ekkehard, I thank you," said the Duchess with a graceful wave of her
hand.

He stepped back to an oriel window in the cross-passage, and looked out
into the little garden. Was it mere chance that the image of St.
Christopher now rose before his inward eye? He also considered his
burden a light one, when he began to carry the child-stranger through
the water, on his strong shoulder; but heavier and heavier the burden
weighed on his back, and pressing him downwards into the roaring flood,
deep, and deeper still; so that his courage began to fail him, and was
well nigh turned into despair?...

The abbot had ordered a magnificent jug to be brought, and taking it in
his hand, he went himself to the well, filled it and presenting it to
the Duchess said: "It is the duty of the abbot to bring water to
strangers for them to wash their hands, as well as their feet and ..."

"We thank you, but we do not want it," said the Duchess, interrupting
him, in her most decided accents.

Meanwhile two of the brothers had carried down a box, which now stood
open in the passage. Out of this the abbot drew a monk's habit, quite
new and said: "Thus I ordain our monastery's mighty patron, a member of
our brotherhood, and adorn him, with the holy garb of our order."

Dame Hadwig complied, lightly bending her knee, on receiving the cowl
from his hands, and then she put on the garment, which became her well,
being ample and falling in rich folds; for the rule says: "The abbot is
to keep a strict look-out that the garments shall not be too scanty,
but well fitted to their wearers."

The beautiful rosy countenance looked lovely in the brown hood.

"And you must likewise follow the example of your mistress," said the
abbot to the followers of the Duchess, upon which the evil Sindolt
gleefully assisted Master Spazzo to don the garb.

"Do you know," he whispered into his ear, "what this garment obliges
you to? In putting it on, you swear to renounce the evil lusts of this
world, and to lead a sober, self-denying and chaste life in future."

Master Spazzo who had already put his right arm into the ample gown,
pulled it back hastily and exclaimed with terror, "I protest against
this,"--but when Sindolt struck up a loud guffaw, he perceived that
things were not quite so serious and said: "Brother, you are a wag."

In a few minutes the vassals were also adorned with the garb of the
holy order, but the beards of some of the newly created monks,
descended to the girdle, in opposition to the rules, and also they were
not quite canonical as to the modest casting down of their eyes.

The abbot led his guests into the church.



                              CHAPTER III.

                          Wiborad the Recluse.


The one who was least of all delighted, by the arrival of the
unexpected guests, was Romeias the gate-keeper. He had a presentiment,
what part of the trouble was likely to fall to his share, but he did
not yet know the whole of it. Whilst the abbot received the Duchess,
Gerold the steward, came up to him and said:

"Romeias prepare to go on an errand. You are to tell the people on the
different farms, to send in the fowls that are due, before evening, as
they will be wanted at the feast, and besides you are to procure as
much game as possible."

This order pleased Romeias well. It was not the first time that he had
been to ask for fowls, and yeomen and farmers held him in great
respect, as he had a commanding manner of speaking. Hunting was at all
times the delight of his heart, and so Romeias took his spear, hung the
cross-bow over his shoulder, and was just going to call out a pack of
hounds, when Gerold pulled his sleeve and said: "Romeias, one thing
more! You are to accompany the duchess' waiting-women, who have been
forbidden to enter the monastery, to the Schwarza-Thal, and present
them to the pious Wiborad, who is to entertain them as pleasantly as
may be, until the evening. And you are to be very civil, Romeias, and I
tell you there is a Greek maid amongst them with the darkest eyes
imaginable ..."

On hearing this, a deep frown of displeasure darkened Romeias's
forehead, and vehemently thrusting his spear to the ground he
exclaimed: "I am to accompany womenfolk? That is none of the business
of the gate-keeper of St. Gallus's monastery--" but Gerold with a
significant nod towards him, continued: "Well, Romeias, you must try to
do your best; and have you never heard that watchmen, who have
faithfully performed their missions, have found an ample jug of wine in
their room of an evening,--eh, Romeias?"

The discontented face brightened up considerably, and so he went down
to let out the hounds. The blood-hound and the beagle jumped up gaily,
and the little beaver-puppy also set up a joyous bark, hoping to be
taken out likewise; but with a contemptuous kick it was sent back, for
the hunter had nothing to do with fish-ponds and their inhabitants.
Surrounded by his noisy pack of hounds, Romeias strode out of the gate.

Praxedis and the other waiting-women of the Duchess, had dismounted
from their horses and seated themselves on a grassy slope, chatting
away about monks and cowls and beards, as well as about the strange
caprices of their mistress, when Romeias suddenly appeared before them
and said: "Come on!"

Praxedis looked at the rough sports-man, and not quite knowing, what to
make of him, pertly said: "Where to, my good friend?"--

Romeias however merely lifted his spear and pointing with it to a
neighbouring hill behind the woods, held his tongue.

Then Praxedis called out: "Is speech such a rare article in St. Gall,
that you do not answer properly when questioned?"

The other maids giggled, upon which Romeias said solemnly: "May you all
be swallowed up by an earthquake, seven fathom deep."

"We are very much obliged to you, good friend," was Praxedis's reply,
and the necessary preliminaries for a conversation being thus made,
Romeias informed them of the commission he had received, and the women
followed him willingly enough.

After some time the gate-keeper found out, that it was not the hardest
work to accompany such guests, and when the Greek maid, desired to know
something about his business and sport, his tongue got wonderfully
loosened and he even related his great adventure with the terrible
boar, into whose side he had thrown his spear and yet had not been able
to kill it, for one of its feet would have loaded a cart, and its hair
stood up as high as a pine-tree, and its teeth were twelve feet long at
the least. After this he grew still more civil, for when the Greek once
stopped, to listen to the warbling of a thrush, he waited also
patiently enough, though a singing-bird was too miserable a piece of
game for him to give much heed to; and when Praxedis bent down for a
pretty brass-beetle, crawling about in the moss, Romeias politely tried
to push it towards her, with his heavy boot, and when in doing so he
crushed it instead, this was certainly not his intention.

They climbed up a wild, steep wood-path, beside which the
Schwarza-brook flowed over jagged rocks. On that slope the holy Gallus
had once fallen into some thorny bushes, and had said to his companion,
who wanted to lift him up: "Here let me lie, for here shall be my
resting-place and my abode for ever."

They had walked far, before they came to a clearing in the fir-wood,
where leaning against the sheltering rocks stood a simple chapel in the
shape of a cross. Close to it a square little stone-hut was built
against the rock in which but one tiny window with a wooden shutter,
was to be seen. Opposite there stood another hut exactly like it,
having also but one little window.

It was customary at that time for those who inclined to the monastic
life, and who as St. Benedict expressed himself, felt strong enough to
fight with the Devil, without the assistance of pious companions, to
have themselves immured in that way. They were called "Reclausi" that
is Walled-in, and their usefulness and aim in life, may well be
compared to that of the pillar-saints in Egypt. The sharp winds of
winter, and frequent fall of snow, rendered their exposure in the open
air somewhat impossible, but the longing for an anchorite's life, was
nevertheless quite as strong.

Within those four walls on Erin-hill there lived the Sister Wiborad, a
far-famed recluse of her time. She came from Klingnau in Aargau, and
had been a proud and prudish virgin, learned in many an art; besides
being able to recite all the Psalms in the Latin tongue, which she had
learnt from her brother Hitto. She was not however quite opposed to the
idea of sweetening the life of some man or other, but the flower of the
youth at Aargau did not find grace in her eyes; and one day she set out
on a pilgrimage to Rome. There in the holy city her restless mind must
have undergone some great shock, but none of her contemporaries ever
knew in what way. For three entire days her brother Hitto ran up and
down the Forum through the halls of the Colliseum, and the triumphal
arch of Constantine to the four-faced Janus near the Tiber, seeking for
his sister and not finding her, and on the morning of the fourth day,
she walked in by the Salarian gate, carrying her head very high, and
whilst her eyes gleamed strangely she said, that things would not be
right in the world until the due amount of veneration was shown unto
St. Martin.

After returning to her home, she bequeathed all her wealth to the
bishop's church at Constance, on condition that a great festival in
honor of St. Martin, should be held every year on the 11th of November.
Then she went to live in a small house where the holy Zilia had lived
before, and there led a hermit's life, until she grew dissatisfied, and
betook herself to the valley of St. Gallus. The bishop himself
accompanied her, put the black veil on her head with his own hands, and
after leading her into the cell, he laid the first stone with which the
entrance was closed up. Then he pronounced his blessing, imprinting his
seal four times into the lead, which joined the stones together, whilst
the monks who had accompanied him, chaunted sad solemn strains, as if
someone was being buried.

The people thereabout held the recluse in great honour. They called her
a "hard-forged Saint" and on many a Sunday they flocked to the meadow
before her cell, and listened to Wiborad, who stood preaching at her
window, and several women went to live in her neighbourhood, to be
instructed in all the virtues.

"We have arrived at the place of our destination," said Romeias, upon
which Praxedis and her companions looked about in every direction; but
not a human being was to be seen. Only some belated butterflies and
beetles buzzed drowsily in the sunshine and the cricket chirped
merrily, hidden in the grass. The shutter at Wiborad's window was
almost shut, so that but a scanty ray of sunshine could penetrate; and
from within came the monotonous hollow tones of a person chaunting
psalms, with a somewhat nasal sound, breaking the silence without.
Romeias knocked against the shutter with his spear, but this had no
effect on the psalm-chaunting individual inside. Then the gate-keeper
said: "We must try some other way of rousing her attention."

Romeias was rather a rough sort of man, or he would not have behaved as
he did.

He began singing a song, such as he often sang to amuse the
cloister-pupils, when they managed to steal off into his watch-tower,
there to plague him, by pulling his beard or by making all sorts of
absurd noises on his big horn. It was one of those ditties, which from
the time that the German tongue was first spoken, have been sung by the
thousand, on hills and highroads, beneath hedges and woody dells, and
the wind has carried them on and spread them further. The words of this
were as follows:


           "I know an oak-tree fair to see,
            In yonder shady grove,
            There bills and coos the lifelong day
            A beautiful wild dove.

            I know a rock in yonder vale,
            Around which bats are flitting
            There, old and hoary in her nest
            An ugly owl is sitting.

            The wild dove is my heart's delight,
            And with a song I greet it;
            The arrow keep I for the owl
            To kill it when I meet it."


This song had about the same effect, as if Romeias had thrown a heavy
stone against the shutter. Instantly there appeared a figure at the
little window, from the withered and scraggy neck of which, rose a
ghastly woman's head, in whose countenance the mouth had assumed a
rather hostile position towards the nose. A dark veil hid the rest, and
bending out of the little window as far as she could, she cried out
with ominously gleaming eyes: "Art thou come back, Satanas?"

Romeias then advanced a few steps and said complacently: "Nay, the Evil
One does not know such fine songs as Romeias, the monastery's
gate-keeper. Calm yourself Sister Wiborad, I bring you some dainty
damsels, whom the Abbot warmly recommends to your kind reception."

"Take yourselves off, ye deceiving phantoms!" screamed the recluse. "I
know the snares of the Tempter. Hence, begone!"

But Praxedis now approached the window, and humbly dropping a low
curtsey to the old hag, explained to her that she did not come from
hell, but from the Hohentwiel. Showing that the Greek maiden could be a
little deceitful, she added, that she had already heard so much of the
great piety of the far-famed Sister Wiborad, that she had availed
herself of the first opportunity of paying her a visit, though the fact
was, that she had before that day never heard about the cell and its
inhabitant.

After this the wrinkles on Wiborad's forehead began somewhat to
disappear. "Give me thy hand, stranger," said she, stretching her arm
out of the window, which as the sleeve fell back, could be seen in all
its skinny leanness.

Praxedis held up her right hand, and as the recluse touched with her
dry fingers the soft warm hand with its throbbing pulses, she became
slowly convinced, that the young girl was a being of flesh and blood.

Romeias on perceiving this change for the better rolled some big stones
under the window of the cell. "In two hours I shall be back to fetch
you;--God bless you, virgins all," he said aloud and then added in a
whisper to the Greek maid,--"and don't be frightened if she should fall
into one of her trances."

Whistling to his dogs he then quickly strode towards the wood. The
first thirty steps or so, he got on without any impediment; but then he
suddenly stopped; and turning first his shaggy head round, and then the
whole body, he stood leaning on his spear, intently gazing at the spot
before the cell, as if he had lost something there. Yet he had
forgotten nothing.

Praxedis smiled and kissed her hand to the rudest of all gate-keepers.
Then Romeias quickly turned round again, shouldered his spear,--dropped
it, took it up again, then stumbled and finally managed to complete his
retreat, after which he vanished behind the moss-grown stems.

"Oh thou child of the world, groping in darkness," scolded the recluse,
"what meant that movement of thy hand?"

"A mere jest," replied Praxedis innocently.

"A downright sin," cried Wiborad in rough accents, so that Praxedis
started,--and then continuing with her preaching added: "Oh the Devil's
works and delusions! There you cast your eyes slily about until they
enter a man's heart like lightning, and kiss your hands to him as if
that were nothing! Is it nought that he looks back who ought to be
looking forwards? No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking
back, is fit for the kingdom of God. 'A jest?' O give me hyssop to take
away your sin, and snow to wash you clean!"

"I did not think of that," admitted Praxedis deeply blushing.

"That is the misery, that you do not think of so many things;"--then
looking at Praxedis from head to foot she continued, "neither do you
think that wearing a bright green garment, and all such flaring colours
are an abomination unto those, who have banished all worldly thoughts;
and that thy girdle is tied so loosely and negligently round thy waist,
as if thou wert a public dancer. Watch and pray!"

Leaving the window for a few moments, the recluse returned presently,
and held out a coarsely twisted cord.

"I have pity on thee, poor turtle-dove," she said. "Tear off thy silken
finery and receive herewith the girdle of self-denial, from Wiborad's
own hand; and let it be a warning to thee, to have done with all vain
talkings and doings. And when thou feelest the temptation again to kiss
thy hand to the gate-keeper of a monastery, turn thy head eastwards and
chaunt the psalm, 'Oh Lord, deliver me from evil!'--and if even then
peace will not come to thee, then light a wax-candle and hold thy
forefinger over the flame, and thou wilt be saved; for fire alone,
cures fire."

Praxedis cast down her eye.

"Your words are bitter," she said.

"Bitter!" exclaimed the recluse. "Praised be the Lord that my lips do
not taste of sweets! The mouth of saints must be bitter. When Pachomius
sat in the desert, the angel of the Lord came unto him, took the leaves
from a laurel-tree, and writing some holy words of prayer thereon, gave
them to Pachomius and said: 'Swallow these leaves, and though they will
be as bitter as gall in thy mouth, they will make thy heart overflow
with true wisdom.' And Pachomius took the leaves and ate them, and from
that moment his tongue became bitter, but his heart was filled with
sweetness, and he praised the Lord."

Praxedis said nothing, and there ensued a silence which was not
interrupted for some time. The other maids of the Duchess had all
vanished, for when the recluse had handed out her girdle, they nudged
each other and then quietly glided away. They were now gathering
bunches of heather and other autumnal flowers, giggling at what they
had witnessed.

"Shall we also put on such a belt?" said one of them.

"Yes, when the sun rises black," replied the other.

Praxedis had put the cord into the grass.

"I do not like robbing you of your girdle," she now said shyly.

"Oh, the simplicity," exclaimed Wiborad, "the girdle that we wear is no
child's play like the one, that I gave thee. The girdle of Wiborad is
an iron hoop with blunted spikes,--it clinks like a chain and cuts into
the flesh,--thou wouldst shudder at the mere sight of it."

Praxedis gazed towards the wood, as if spying whether Romeias was not
yet to be seen. The recluse probably noticed that her guest did not
feel particularly comfortable, and now held out to her a board, on
which lay about half a dozen of reddish green crab-apples.

"Does time pass by slowly for thee, child of the world?" she
said.--"There, take these, if words of grace do not satisfy thee. Cakes
and sweet-meats have I none, but these apples are fair in the sight of
the Lord. They are the nourishment of the poor."

The Greek maid knew what politeness required. But they were
crab-apples, and after having, with an effort swallowed the half of
one, her pretty mouth looked awry, and involuntary tears started into
her eyes.

"How dost thou like them?" cried the recluse. Then Praxedis feigned as
if the remaining half fell by chance from her hand. "If the Creator had
made all apples as acid as these," she said with a sour-sweet smile,
"Eve would never have eaten of the apple."

Wiborad was offended. "Tis well," said she, "that thou dost not forget
the story of Eve. She had the same tastes as thou, and therefore sin
has come into the world."

The Greek maid looked up at the sky but not from emotion. A solitary
hawk flew in circles over Wiborad's hut. "Oh that I could fly with
thee, away to the Bodensee," she thought. Archly shaking her pretty
head she then enquired: "What must I do, to become as perfect as you
are?"

"To renounce the world entirely," replied Wiborad, "is a grace from
above, which we poor mortals can't acquire by ourselves. Fasting,
drinking of pure water, castigating the flesh and reciting of
psalms,--all these are mere preparations. The most important thing is
to select a good patron-saint. We women are but frail creatures, but
fervent prayer brings the champions of God to our side, to assist us.
Imagine, before this little window, there he often stands in lonely
nights,--he, whom my heart has elected, the valiant Bishop Martin, and
he holds out his lance and shield, to protect me from the raging
devils. An aureole of blue flames crowns his head, flashing through the
darkness like summer-lightning, and as soon as he appears the demons
fly away shrieking. And when the battle is over, then he enters into
friendly communion with me. I tell him all that weighs on my poor
heart;--all the grief which my neighbours cause me, and the wrong which
I suffer from the cloister-folk; and the Saint nods to me and shakes
his curly head, and all that I tell him, he carries to heaven and
repeats it to his friend the Archangel Michael, who keeps watch every
Monday, before the throne of God Almighty. There it comes before the
right ear, and Wiborad the last of the least is not forgotten...."

"Then I shall also choose St. Martin to become my patron-saint,"
exclaimed Praxedis. But this had not been the drift of Wiborad's
praises. She threw a contemptuous half jealous look on the rosy cheeks
of the young girl. "The Lord pardon thee, thy presumption!" cried she
with folded hands "dost thou believe that this can be done with a
flippant word and smooth face? Indeed! Many long years have I striven
and fasted until my face became wrinkled and furrowed,--and he did not
favour me even with one single look! He is a high and mighty Saint and
a valiant soldier of the Lord, who only looks on long tried champions."

"He will not rudely shut his ears against my prayers," exclaimed
Praxedis.

"But thou shalt not pray to him," cried Wiborad angrily. "What has he
to do with thee? For such as thou art, there are other patron-saints. I
will name thee one. Choose thou the pious Father Pachomius for
thyself."

"Him, I don't know," said Praxedis.

"Bad enough, and it is high time for you to make his acquaintance. He
was a venerable hermit who lived in the Theban desert, nourishing
himself with wild roots and locusts. He was so pious that he heard
during his lifetime, the harmony of the spheres and planets and often
said: 'If all human beings would hear, what has blessed my ears, they
would forsake house and land; and he who had put on the right shoe,
would leave the left one behind, and hasten hither.' Now in the town of
Alexandria there was a maid, whose name was Thaïs, and nobody could
tell, which was greater, her beauty or her frivolity. Then Pachomius
said unto himself 'Such a woman is a plague for the whole Egyptian
land,' and after cutting his beard and anointing himself he mounted a
crocodile, which by prayer he had made subservient to himself, and on
its scaly back was carried down the Nile; and then he went to Thaïs, as
if he also were an admirer of hers. His big stick, which was a
palmtree, he had taken with him, and he managed to shake the heart of
the sinner so, as to make her burn her silken robes, as well as her
jewels, and she followed Pachomius, as a lamb does the shepherd. Then
he shut her up in a rocky grave, leaving only a tiny window in it;
instructed her in prayer, and after five years her purification was
completed, and four angels carried her soul up to heaven."

This story did not impress Praxedis very favourably.

"The old hermit with his rough beard and bitter lips is not good enough
for her," she thought, "and therefore I am to take him for myself," but
she did not dare to give utterance to these thoughts.

At this moment the curfew bell began to ring in the monastery, and at
this signal the recluse stepped back into her chamber and closed her
shutter. The hollow sound of psalm-chanting was heard again,
accompanied by the noise of falling strokes. She was flagellating
herself.

Meanwhile Romeias had begun his sport in the distant wood, and thrown
his spear--but he had mistaken the trunk of a felled oak for a young
deer. Angrily he pulled out his weapon from the tenacious wood;--it was
the first time in his life, that such a thing had happened to him.

Before Wiborad's cell total silence reigned for a considerable length
of time, and when her voice was again heard, it was quite altered; the
tones being fuller and vibrating with passion: "Come down unto me, holy
Martin; valiant champion of God; thou consolation of my solitude; thou
light in my darkness. Descend unto me, for my soul is ready to receive
thee and my eyes are thirsting for thee."--

After this there ensued a pause, and then Praxedis started with
terror.--A hollow shriek had come from within. She pushed open the
shutter and looked in. The recluse was prostrated on her knees, her
arms extended beseechingly, and her eyes had a fixed, stony expression.
Beside her lay the scourge.

"For God's sake," cried Praxedis, "what is the matter with you?"

Wiborad jumped up and pressed the hand, which the Greek maid extended
to her, convulsively. "Child of Earth," said she in broken accents,
"that has been deemed worthy to witness the agonies of Wiborad,--strike
thy bosom; for a token has been given. He, the elected of my soul has
not come; offended that his name has been profaned by unholy lips; but
the holy Gallus has appeared to my soul's eye,--he who as yet has never
deigned to visit my cell, and his countenance was that of a sufferer
and his garments were torn, and half burnt. That means that his
monastery is threatened by some great disaster. We must pray that his
disciples may not stumble in the path of righteousness."

Bending her head out of the window she called out, "Sister Wendelgard!"

Then the shutter was opened on the opposite cell and an aged face
appeared. The face belonged to good Dame Wendelgard, who in that
fashion was mourning for her spouse, who had never returned from the
last wars.

"Sister Wendelgard," said Wiborad, "let us sing three times 'Be
merciful to us, oh Lord.'"

But the Sister Wendelgard had just been indulging in loving thoughts of
her noble spouse. She still harboured an unalterable conviction, that
some day he would return to her from the land of the Huns, and she
would have liked best, there and then to leave her cell, to go and meet
him.

"It is not the time for psalm-singing," she replied.

"So much the more acceptable, the voluntary devotion, rises up to
Heaven," said Wiborad, after which she intoned the said psalm, with her
rough unmelodious voice. But the expected response did not come. "Why
dost thou not join me in singing David's song?"

"Because I don't wish to do so," was Sister Wendelgard's unceremonious
reply. The fact was, that during the many years of her seclusion she
had at last grown weary of it. Many thousand psalms had she sung at
Wiborad's bidding, in order to induce St. Martin to deliver her
husband, out of the hands of the infidels; but the sun rose and set
daily--and yet he never came. And so she had begun to dislike her gaunt
neighbour, with her visions and phantasms.

Wiborad however turned her eyes upwards, like one who thinks he can
discover a comet in clear day-light. "Oh thou vessel, full of iniquity
and wickedness!" she cried, "I will pray for thee, that the evil
spirits may be banished from thee. Thine eye is blind as thy mind is
dark."

But the other quietly replied: "Judge not, that thou be not judged. My
eyes are as clear as they were a year ago, when in a moon-shiny night,
they beheld you getting out of your window, and going away Heaven knows
where;--and my mind still refuses to believe, that prayers coming from
such a mouth can work miracles."

Then Wiborad's pale face became distorted, as if she had bitten a
pebble. "Woe to thee, whom the Devil has deluded!" screamed she and a
flood of scolding words streamed from her lips; but her neighbour knew
well how to answer her with similar missiles.

Quicker and quicker the words came, confusing and mixing themselves
together, whilst the rocky walls threw back unharmonious echoes, and
frightened a pair of little owlets, which leaving their cranny nest
flew away screeching ... in truth at the famous quarrel beneath the
portal of the cathedral at Worms, when the two queens[4] were scolding
and upbraiding each other, the volubility and anger exhibited were not
to be compared to that of the pious recluses.

In mute astonishment Praxedis stood listening to the noise, secretly
wishing to interfere and make peace; but then a soft thing fares ill
between two sharp ones.

But now the merry notes of a horn, intermingled with the loud barking
of dogs was heard from the wood, and a moment later, the tall majestic
figure of Romeias could be seen also, approaching slowly.

The second time that he had thrown the spear, it had not hit a tree,
but a magnificent stag of ten antlers, which now hung over his
shoulder; and besides this, he carried fastened to his belt, six hares
which had been caught in snares.

On beholding the fight before him, the sportsman's heart rejoiced
mightily. Without saying a word, he loosened two of the living hares,
and swinging one in each hand, he threw them so dexterously into the
narrow little windows, that Wiborad suddenly feeling the soft fur
brushing past her head, started back with a loud scream. The brave
Sister Wendelgard likewise got a great shock, for her black habit had
loosened itself in the heat of battle, and the wretched little hare,
getting entangled therein, and trying to discover an outlet, caused her
no small fright. So both stopped their scolding, closed the shutters,
and there was silence again on Erin-hill.

"We'll go home," said Romeias to the Greek maid, "for it is getting
late." Praxedis who was not over pleased, either by the quarrelling or
Romeias' way of making peace, had no desire to stay any longer. Her
companions had gone back some time ago, following their own
inclinations.

"Hares must be of small value here, as you throw them away in such an
unmannerly way," she said.

"True, they are not worth much," Romeias rejoined laughingly, "yet the
present deserved thanks at least."

Whilst still speaking, the dormer-window of Wiborad's roof opened;
about half of her gaunt lean figure became visible, and a stone of some
weight, flew over Romeias head, without hitting him. That was her way
of thanking him for the hare.

From this can be seen, that the forms of social intercourse differed
somewhat from the present fashions.

Praxedis expressed her astonishment.

"Oh, such things happen about once a week," explained Romeias. "A
moderate overflow of gall, gives new strength to such old hags, and it
is doing them a kindness, if one helps them to effect such a crisis."

"But she is a saint," said Praxedis shyly.

After first murmuring some unintelligible words in his beard, Romeias
said: "Well, she ought to be thankful if she is one, and I am not going
to tear off her garb of sanctity. But since I was at Constance on a
visit to my mother, I have heard many a tale, that's not quite as it
ought to be. It has not yet been forgotten in those parts, how she had
to defend herself before the bishop on account of this and that which
is none of my business; and the Constance merchants will tell you,
without your asking them, that the recluses near the cathedral have
lent them money, given to them by pious pilgrims, on usurious interest.
It was not my fault, that once, when I was still a boy, I found in a
quarry a strange big pebble. When I knocked it to pieces with my
hammer, there was a toad in the middle, looking very much astonished.
Since then I know what a recluse is like. Snip-snap--trari-trara!"

Romeias accompanied his new friend to the house which lay beyond the
cloister-walls and which was destined to receive her. Before it, the
other maids were standing, and the posy of wild flower's they had
gathered lay on a stone table before the door.

"We must say Good-bye," said the gate-keeper.

"Farewell," said Praxedis.

He then went away, and after going thirty steps suddenly turned
round,--but the sun does not rise twice in one day; least of all for
the keeper of a cloister-gate! No hand was being kissed to him.
Praxedis had entered the house. Then Romeias slowly walked back, and
without troubling himself to ask leave, hastily took up the flowers
from the stone table, and went away. The stag and four hares he brought
to the kitchen. After this he toiled up to his room in the watch-tower,
fastened the nosegay to the wall with the help of a nail, and taking a
piece of charcoal, drew a heart under it, which had two eyes, a long
stroke in lieu of a nose, and a cross-line for a mouth.

He had just finished this, when the cloister-pupil Burkhard came up,
bent upon amusing himself. Romeias seized him with a powerful grasp,
held out the charcoal and placing him before the wall, said: "There,
write the name under it!"

"What name?" asked the boy.

"Hers," commanded Romeias.

"What do I know about her, and her name," testily replied the pupil.

"There one can see again, what is the use of studying," grumbled
Romeias. "Every day the boy sits for eight hours behind his
asses'-skins and does not know the name of a strange damsel!" ...



                              CHAPTER IV.

                           In the Monastery.


Dame Hadwig had meanwhile performed her devotions at the grave of the
holy Gallus. The Abbot was then about to propose a walk in the
cloister-garden, but she asked him, first to show her the treasures of
the church. The mind of woman, however intellectual, ever delights in
ornaments, jewels and fine garments. The Abbot tried hard to dissuade
her from this wish; saying that their's was but a poor little
monastery, and that his cousin, no doubt, had seen far better things on
her travels, or at court, but it was all in vain. So they went to the
sacristy. Here the cupboards were first opened, revealing many purple
chasubles and magnificent priest's garments, with embroidered pictures,
representations of the holy history. Here and there was also some piece
strongly reminding one of Roman heathenism, such as the marriage of
Mercury with Philology. When the cupboards were done with, large boxes
were opened, full of silver lamps, golden crowns, finely wrought frames
for the holy books; and ornaments for the altar. These things had
mostly been brought over the Alps by monks, who tying them round their
knees, had thus slily preserved them from covetous eyes and hands.
Beautiful vessels, in all sorts of curious forms; candlesticks in the
shape of dolphins; golden drinking-cups resting on silver pillars;
censers and many other beautiful articles, altogether a rich treasure.
A chalice made of a single piece of amber, which glistened wonderfully
when held to the light, attracted the Duchess' notice. At the edge a
small piece was broken off.

"When my predecessor Hartmuth was dying," said the Abbot, "that little
bit was powdered and given to him, mixed with wine and honey, to calm
the fever."

In the middle of the amber was a tiny fly, so well preserved, as if it
had but just settled down there. Probably the little insect sitting
contentedly on its blade of grass, in antediluvian times, when the
liquid resin streamed over it, little thought, that it would thus be
bequeathed to far-off generations.

But such dumb testimonials of nature's powers, were little heeded then.
At least the chamberlain Spazzo, who surveyed and examined everything
with a careful eye, was occupied the while with very different ideas.
He thought how much pleasanter it would be to be on war-terms with the
pious monks, and instead of claiming their hospitality as a friend, to
enter arms in hand, and carry all the treasures away. Having witnessed
in his time many a reverse of friendship between the high-born, he was
inwardly speculating on this possibility, and eyeing keenly the
entrance to the sacristy, he murmured to himself: "Coming from the
choir 'tis the first door to the right!"

The Abbot who probably thought likewise that the prolonged examination
of the gold and silver, produced a hankering for their possession,
slily omitted opening the last box, which contained the most
magnificent things of all, and in order to divert their attention from
them urgently proposed, their going into the open air.

So the party directed their steps towards the garden, which occupied a
considerable space, and produced much vegetable and fruit for the
kitchen, as well as useful herbs for medicines.

In the orchard a large portion was divided off and reserved for wild
animals and numerous birds, such as were to be found in the
neighbouring Alps; and rarer ones which had been sent as presents, by
stranger guests from foreign countries.

Dame Hadwig took great pleasure in looking at the rough uncouth bears,
which were funny enough when climbing about on the tree in their
prison. Close to these, a pug-nosed monkey, chained together with a
baboon, played their merry gambols,--two creatures of which a poet of
that time, says that neither one nor the other, possessed a single
trace of the faculty of making itself useful, by which to establish a
claim to its existence.

An old wild goat with bent down head stood immovably within its narrow
boundary, for since it had been carried off from the icy atmosphere of
its snowy mountain peaks and glaciers, the native of the Alps had
become blind;--for it is not every creature that thrives amid low human
habitations.

In another division a large family of thick-skinned badgers was living.
On passing them the evil Sindolt exclaimed laughingly: "Heaven bless
you miserable little beasts, the chosen game of pious monks."

On another side was heard a shrill whistle from a troop of marmots,
which were running quickly to hide themselves in the chinks and
crevices of the artificial rockery, that served as their dwelling. Dame
Hadwig had never beheld such amusing little creatures before. The Abbot
told her of their way of living.

"These animals," said he, "sleep more than any other creature; but when
awake, they show a wonderful sharpness and forethought, for when winter
approaches, they gather up grass and hay wherever they find it, and one
of them lies down on its back, whilst the others put on it everything
they have scraped together, and then they seize it by the tail, and
drag it like a loaded cart into their caverns."[5]

Then Sindolt said to the stout chamberlain Master Spazzo: "What a pity
that you have not become a mountain-rat, that would have been a
pleasant and graceful occupation for you."

When the Abbot had proceeded a few paces, the evil Sindolt began to
give a new sort of explanation: "That is our Tutilo," said he, pointing
to a bear, which had just thrown down one of its companions,--"that the
blind Thieto,"--pointing to the wild goat, and he was just about to
honour the Abbot with some flattering comparison, when the Duchess
interrupted him by saying: "As you are so clever in finding similes,
will you find one for me also?"

Sindolt became embarrassed. Luckily his eye now fell on a beautiful
silver-pheasant, which was in the midst of a troop of cranes, basking
in the sunshine which lighted up its pearly grey feathers.

"There," said Sindolt.

But the Duchess turned round to Ekkehard, who gazed dreamily at the
bustle and life before him.

"What do you think of it?" asked she.

He started up. "Oh, mistress!" said he in soft tones, "who is so
audacious as to compare you to anything that flies or crawls?"

"But if we desire it?"

"Then I only know of one bird," said Ekkehard. "We have not got it, nor
has anyone; in star-lit midnights it flies high over our heads,
brushing the sky with its wings. The bird's name is Caradrion, and when
its wings touch the earth a sick man is healed. Then the bird,
inclining towards the man, opens its beak over his mouth, and taking
the man's sickness unto itself rises up to the sun, and purifies itself
in the eternal light; and the man is saved."

The Abbot's return put a stop to further similes. One of the serving
brothers was sitting on an apple-tree, plucking the apples, and putting
them into baskets. When the Duchess approached the tree, he was going
to descend, but she made him a sign to stop where he was.

Now, the singing of sweet boyish voices was heard. The voices were
those of the younger cloister-pupils who came to do homage to the
Duchess. Children as they were, the little fellows wore already the
monk's habit, and several even the tonsure on their eleven years old
heads. When the procession of the little rosy-cheeked future abbots
came in sight, with their eyes cast down and singing their sequences so
seriously, a slight, mocking smile played round Dame Hadwig's lips, and
with her strong foot, she upset the nearest of the baskets, so that the
apples rolled about enticingly on the ground, in the midst of the boys.
But unabashed they continued their walk; only one of the youngest
wanted to bend down and take up the tempting fruit, which his companion
forcibly prevented, by taking a good hold of his girdle.

Much pleased the Abbot witnessed the young folks' excellent behaviour
and said: "Discipline distinguishes human beings from animals, and if
you were to throw the apples of Hesperides amongst them, they would
remain stedfast."

Dame Hadwig was touched. "Are all your pupils so well trained?" asked
she.

"If you like to convince yourself with your own eyes," said the Abbot,
"you will see that the elder ones know quite as well the meaning of
obedience and submission."

The Duchess nodding an assent, was then led into the outer
cloister-school, in which the sons of noblemen, and those who intended
to join the secular clergy, were educated.

They entered the upper class. In the lecturer's chair stood Ratpert,
the wise and learned teacher who was initiating his pupils into the
mysteries of Aristotle's logic. With bent heads the young scholars sat
before their parchments, scarcely lifting their eyes to look at the
party now entering. The teacher inwardly thought this a good
opportunity to gather some laurels, and called out, "Notker Labeo!"
This was the pearl amongst his pupils, the hope of science, who on a
weakly body carried a powerful head, with an immense protruding
under-lip, the cause of his surname, the symbol of great determination
and perseverance on the stony roads of investigation.

"He will become a great man," whispered the Abbot. "Already in his
twelfth year he said that the world was like a book, and that the
monasteries were the classical passages in it."

The young man in question, let his eyes glide over the Greek text, and
then translated with pompous solemnity the deep intricate meaning
thereof:

"If on a stone or piece of wood, you find a straight line running
through, that is the mutual line of demarcation, of the even surface.
If the stone or wood were to split along that line, then we should
behold two intersections, near the visible chink, where there was only
one line before. Besides this we see two new surfaces, which are as
broad as the object was thick, before one could see the new surface.
From this it appears that this object existed as one whole, before it
was separated."

But when this translation had been well got through, some of the young
logicians put their heads together, and began to whisper, and the
whispers became louder and louder;--even the cloister-pupil Hepidan,
who undisturbed by Notker's capital translation, was employing all his
skill to carve a devil with a double pair of wings, and a long curling
tail, on the bench before him, stopped with his work. Then the teacher
addressed the next boy, with the question: "But how does the surface
become a mutual line of demarcation?" upon which he began to blunder
over the Greek text; but the commotion in the school-benches became
louder still, so that there arose a buzzing and booming like distant
alarm bells. The translation ceased altogether and suddenly the whole
mass of Ratpert's pupils rushed up noisily, towards the Duchess. In the
next moment they had torn her from the Abbot's side, shouting "caught,
caught," and making barricades with the benches, they repeated their
cries: "We have caught the Duchess of Suabia! What shall be her
ransom?"

Dame Hadwig, in the course of her life, had found herself in various
positions, but that she could ever become the prisoner of school-boys
had certainly never entered her head. This having however the charm of
novelty for her, she submitted to her fate with a good grace.

Ratpert the teacher took out of the cupboard a mighty rod, and swinging
it over his head, like a second Neptune, he recited, in a thundering
voice, the verses of Virgil:


     "So far has the conceit, in your pitiful powers, decoyed you,
      That, not awaiting my will, and rousing the heavens and waters,
      Ye have ventured to stir, ye rebellious winds of the ocean?
      _Quos ego_!!"


A renewed shout was the answer. The room was already divided by a wall
of benches and stools, and Master Spazzo was inwardly meditating the
expediency of an attack, and the effect of vigorous blows on the heads
of the ring-leaders. As for the Abbot, he was perfectly speechless, as
this unexpected audacity had quite paralysed his faculties for
the moment. The highborn prisoner stood at the other end of the
school-room, in a niche, surrounded by her fifteen-years-old captors.

"What is the meaning of all this, ye wicked boys?" asked she smilingly.

Then one of the rebels advanced, bent his knee before her and humbly
said: "He who comes as a stranger, is without protection or peace, and
peaceless people are kept prisoners, until they have paid a ransom for
their liberty."

"Do you learn that out of your Greek books?"

"No, mistress, that is German law."

"Very well, then I will ransom myself," said Dame Hadwig, and laughing
merrily, she seized the red-cheeked logician, and drawing him towards
her, wanted to kiss him. He however tore himself away, and joining the
noisy ranks of his companions cried out:

"That coin, we do not understand!"

"What ransom then do you exact?" asked the Duchess who was fast getting
impatient.

"The bishop of Constance was also our prisoner," replied the pupil,
"and he obtained for us three extra holidays in the year, as well as a
feast of bread and meat, and has further secured this to us with his
name and seal."

"Oh gluttonous youth!" said Dame Hadwig. "Then I must at least do as
much for you as the bishop. Have you ever tasted the _Felchen_[6] from
the Bodensee?"

"No!" cried the boys.

"Then you shall receive six fish as an annual present. This fish is
good for young beaks."

"Do you secure this to us with your name and seal?"

"If it must be so, yes."

"Long life to the Duchess of Suabia! All hail!" was now shouted on all
sides. "Hail! she is free." The school-benches were quickly removed,
the passage cleared, and jumping and shouting triumphantly they led
back their prisoner.

In the background the parchment leaves of Aristotle flew up into the
air, as outward signs of joy. Even the corners of Notker Labeo's mouth
turned down into a broad grin, and Dame Hadwig said: "The young
gentlemen were very gracious. Please to put back the rod into the
cupboard, honoured professor."

A continuation of the translation of Aristotle, was not to be thought
of. Who can tell, whether the uproarious outbreak of the pupils, was
not in close connexion with their study of logic? Seriousness is often
a very dry and leafless trunk; else folly would scarcely find room, to
wind her wanton green-leaved tendrils around it ...

When the Duchess accompanied by the Abbot had left the school-room, the
latter said: "There is nothing now left to show you but the library of
the monastery, the well for thirsty souls, the armory with its weapons
of science." But Dame Hadwig was tired and so declined his offer.

"I must keep my word," said she, "and make the donation to your boys
documental. Will you be pleased to have the parchment got ready, that I
may affix my signature and seal."

Sir Cralo conducted his guest to his apartments. On going along the
cross-passage, they passed a small room, the door of which was open.
Close to the bare wall stood a pillar, from the middle of which hung a
chain. Over the portal, in faded colours, was painted a figure which
held a rod in its lean hand. "Him whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth,"
was written under it in capital letters.

Dame Hadwig cast an enquiring look at the Abbot.

"The scourging room!" replied he.

"Is none of the brothers just now liable to punishment?" asked she, "it
might be a warning example."

Then the evil Sindolt's feet twitched as if he had trodden on a thorn.
He turned round as if he had been attracted by a voice calling to him,
and exclaiming, "I am coming," he quickly vanished into the darker
parts of the passage. He well knew why he did so.

Notker the stutterer, after the labour of years, had at last completed
a psalm-book, adorned with dainty drawings. This book the envious
Sindolt had destroyed at night; casting it to pieces, and upsetting a
jug of wine over it. On account of this, he had been sentenced to be
flogged three times, and the last instalment was still due. He knew the
room, and the instruments of penance hanging on the walls well enough,
from the nine-tailed "Scorpion" down to the simple "wasp."

The Abbot hurried on. His state-rooms were richly decorated with
flowers. Dame Hadwig threw herself into the primitive arm-chair, to
rest from the fatigue of all the sight-seeing. She had received many
new impressions within the space of a few hours. There was still half
an hour left before supper.

Had anyone taken the trouble to visit all the cloister-cells, he might
have satisfied himself, that not a single inhabitant thereof had
remained unaffected by the arrival of the high-born guests. Even those
who pass their whole lives in seclusion, feel that they owe homage to
woman.

The hoary Tutilo had remembered with a pang, on the arrival of the
Duchess, that the left sleeve of his habit was adorned with a hole.
Under ordinary circumstances the sleeve would probably have remained
unpatched, until the next great festival, but now there was no time for
delay. So he sat down on his couch, provided with needle and thread,
busily mending the rent. Being once busy with such things he also put
new soles to his sandals; fastening them with nails, and humming a tune
to speed the work. Ratold the thinker, walked up and down in his cell,
with a deep frown on his forehead, hoping that an opportunity would
present itself to praise the virtues of the high-born guest in an
improvised speech, and to heighten the effect of the spontaneous
effusion, he was studying it beforehand. He intended to take the
following lines of Tacitus, "on the Germans," for a text: "They believe
also, that there is something holy about women, and that they have the
gift of seeing into the future. Therefore they never disdain the advice
given by them, and often follow their warnings." This was about all
that he knew of the other sex, but his squirrel-eyes twinkled with the
hope, of being able, from the praise of the Duchess, easily to diverge
to some spiteful criticism on his brethren. Unfortunately the
opportunity to bring in his speech never came, or he did not know how
to seize it.

In another cell, six of the brothers, sat under the huge ivory comb,
which was suspended by an iron chain from the ceiling. This was a very
useful institution established by Abbot Hartmuth. Murmuring the
prescribed prayers, they assisted one another in the careful
arrangement of each others hair. Many an overgrown tonsure was also
restored to a shining smoothness on that day.

While these things were going on in the monastery itself, no less
activity was displayed in the kitchen under the superintendence of
Gerold the steward. And now resounded the tinkling of that bell, the
sounds of which were not heard without a pleasurable sensation, even
by the most pious of the brethren, as it was the signal for the
evening-meal. Abbot Cralo led the Duchess into the refectory. The large
room was divided in the middle by nine pillars, and around fourteen
covered tables, the members of the monastery, priests and deacons stood
assembled, like champions of the church militant. These however did not
pay any great attention to the noble guest.

The duty of reader for that week, before the meals, had to be performed
by Ekkehard the custodian. In honour of the Duchess he had chosen the
45th psalm. He arose and said: "Oh Lord, open my lips, that my mouth
may speak forth thy praise," and all repeated these words in a low
murmur, as a sort of blessing on his reading.

After that he lifted his voice and began reciting the psalm, which
Scripture itself calls a lovely one.

"My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have
made, touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

"Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy
lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

"Gird thy sword upon thy thigh O most mighty, with thy glory and thy
majesty.

"And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and
righteousness.

"Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the
people fall under thee.

"Thy throne, before God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy
kingdom is a right sceptre.

"Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God
hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

"All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes and cassia ..."

The Duchess seemed to understand the latent homage and as if she
herself was being addressed in the words of the psalm, she fastened her
eyes intently on Ekkehard. But the Abbot likewise had noticed this, and
made a sign to interrupt the reading; and thus the psalm remained
unfinished, and everyone sat down, to supper.

Sir Cralo could not however prevent Dame Hadwig's ordering the zealous
reader, to sit down by her side. According to rank, this seat on her
left side, had been destined for the old dean Gozbert; but he for the
last few minutes had been sitting on thorns; for he had once indulged
in a very rough-spoken dispute with Dame Hadwig's late husband,
at the time when the latter carried off the precious chalice, as a
war-contribution. On that account he had also a grudge against the
Duchess, and had no sooner remarked her intention, than he gladly moved
downwards, and pushed the custodian into his seat. Next to Ekkehard
came Spazzo the chamberlain, and after him the monk Sindolt.

The meal began. The steward well knowing that the arrival of stranger
guests, fully sanctioned an enlargement of the accustomed frugal
cloister-fare, had not restricted himself to the ordinary porridge. The
strict bill of fare of the late Abbot Hartmuth was also not adhered to.

To be sure there appeared at first a steaming dish of millet-porridge,
that those, who preferred strictly to adhere to the prescribed rule,
might satisfy their hunger: but after that, one delicacy followed
another in quick succession. Side by side with the roast stag, stood
the delicious bear's ham, and even the beaver of the upper pond, which
had been robbed of its life, in honour of the occasion. Pheasants,
partridges, turtle-doves and a rich collection of smaller birds
followed; as well as an immense quantity of fish of all descriptions,
so that finally every species of animal,--crawling, flying or swimming,
that was good to eat, was represented on the table.

Many an one of the brothers, fought a fierce battle within the depths
of his heart on that day. Even Gozbert the old dean,--after having
stilled the craving of hunger with millet-porridge, and having pushed
aside with a tremendous frown, the roasted stag and bear's ham, as if
it were a temptation of the Evil One,--when afterwards a beautifully
roasted grouse, was put down before him, felt the odour thereof rise
temptingly into his nostrils. And with the savory smell the memories of
his youth came back; when he himself was a first-rate sportsman, fully
two score years ago, and when he went out in the early morning to shoot
the wood-cock, and meet the game-keeper's bright-eyed daughter; and
twice he resisted the half involuntary movement of his arm, the third
time he felt his strength going, and a moment after, one half of the
bird lay before him, and was hastily dispatched.

Spazzo the chamberlain, had watched with an approving nod, the
appearance of the many dishes. A large Rhine-salmon had quickly
disappeared under his hands, and he now cast his eyes about, in search
of something to drink. Then Sindolt, his neighbour, seized a small
stone jug, poured out its contents into a metal cup and said: "Your
health in the choicest wine of the monastery."

Master Spazzo intended to take a copious draught, but scarcely had the
liquid touched his palate, when he put down the goblet hastily, shaking
all over as with the ague, and exclaimed, "then may the Devil be
friar!"

The evil Sindolt had given him a sour cider, made of crab-apples, and
sweetened with the juice of the blackberry. On Master Spazzo's looking
inclined to thank him by a blow, he quickly fetched a jug of the
delicious red "Valtelliner," wherewith to soften his ire. The
"Valtelliner" is a capital wine; in which formerly the Roman Emperor
Augustus, drowned his grief over the lost battle of Varus. By degrees
Master Spazzo's good humour returned; so that without knowing him, he
willingly drank to the health of the Bishop of Chur; to whom the
monastery was indebted for this wine, and Sindolt did not fail to keep
him company.

"What may your patron say to such drinking?" asked the chamberlain.

"St. Benedict was a wise man," replied Sindolt, "therefore he ordained,
that although it had been written, that wine was altogether no drink
for monks, yet as not a single person, at the present day, could be
persuaded of the justness of this observation; and in consequence of
the weakness of the human mind, everyone should be allowed a bottle a
day. No one however is to drink to satiety, for wine will make even the
wisest swerve from the path of wisdom."

"Good," said Spazzo and drained his tumbler.

"On the other hand," continued Sindolt, "those of the brotherhood, in
whose district little or no wine grows, must resign themselves, and
praise the Lord without grumbling."

"Good also," said Spazzo again emptying his goblet.

Meanwhile the Abbot did his best, to entertain his princely cousin. He
first began, to sing the praises of her late husband Sir Burkhard, but
Dame Hadwig's responses were but scanty and cold, so that the Abbot
found out, that everything has its time; especially the love of a widow
for her late spouse. So he changed the conversation, asking her, how
the cloister-schools had pleased her.

"I feel sorry for the poor fellows, who are forced to learn so much in
their early days," said the Duchess. "Is not that a burden for them
under the weight of which they suffer all their lives?"

"Pardon me, noble cousin," replied the Abbot, "if both in the capacity
of friend and relation, I beg you not to indulge in such thoughtless
speech. The study of science is no disagreeable obligation for the
young; rather is it to them like strawberries, the more they eat the
more they want."

"But what can they have to do with the heathen art of logic?" asked
Dame Hadwig.

"That, in proper hands, becomes a weapon to protect God's church," said
the Abbot. "With such arts, heretics were wont to attack believers, but
now we fight them with their own arms; and believe me, good Greek or
Latin is a much finer instrument than our native language, which even
in the hands of the ablest, is but an unwieldy bludgeon."

"Indeed," said the Duchess, "must we still learn from you, what is to
be admired? I have existed until now, without speaking the Latin
tongue, Sir Cousin."

"It would not harm you, if you were still to learn it," said the Abbot,
"and when the first euphonious sounds of the Latin tongue shall
have gladdened your ear, you will admit, that compared to it, our
mother-tongue is but a young bear, which can neither stand nor walk
well, before it has been licked by a classical tongue. Besides much
wisdom, flows from the mouths of the old Romans. Ask your neighbour to
the left."

"Is it so?" asked Dame Hadwig, turning towards Ekkehard, who had
silently listened to the foregoing conversation.

"It would be true, liege lady," said he enthusiastically, "if you still
needed to learn wisdom."

Dame Hadwig archly held up her forefinger: "Have you yourself derived
pleasure from those old parchments?"

"Both, pleasure and happiness," exclaimed Ekkehard with beaming eyes.
"Believe me, mistress, you do well to come to the classics for advice,
in all positions of life. Does not Cicero teach us to walk safely, in
the intricate paths of worldly prudence? Do we not gather confidence
and courage from Livy and Sallust? Do not the songs of Virgil awaken
us to the conception of imperishable beauty? The Gospel is the
guiding-star of our faith; the old classics, however, have left a light
behind them, which like the glow of the evening-sun, sends refreshment
and joy into the hearts of men."

Ekkehard spoke with emotion. Since the day on which the old Duke
Burkhard had asked her hand in marriage, the Duchess had not seen
anyone, who showed enthusiasm for anything. She was endowed with a high
intellect, quick and imaginative. She had learned the Greek language
very rapidly, in the days of her youth, on account of the Byzantine
proposal. Latin inspired her with a sort of awe, because unknown to
her. Unknown things easily impress us, whilst knowledge leads us to
judge things according to their real worth, which is often much less
than we had expected. The name of Virgil besides had a certain magic
about it....

In that hour the resolution was formed in Hadwig's heart to learn
Latin. She had plenty of time for this, and after having cast another
look on her neighbour to the left, she knew who was to be her
teacher....

The dainty dessert, consisting of peaches, melons and dried figs, had
vanished also, and the lively conversation at the different tables,
told of the frequent passing round of the wine-jug.

After the meal, in accordance with the rules of the order, a chapter
out of the lives of the holy fathers, had to be read, for the general
edification.

The day before, Ekkehard had begun a description of the life of St.
Benedict, which had been written by Pope Gregory. The brothers drew the
tables closer together; the wine-jug came to a dead stop, and all
conversation was hushed. Ekkehard continued with the second chapter:
"One day when he was alone, the Tempter approached him; for a small
black bird, commonly called a crow, came and constantly flew around his
head, and approaching so near, that the holy man, might have captured
it with his hand. He, however, made the sign of the cross, and the bird
flew away.

"No sooner however had the bird flown away, when a fiercer temptation
than the holy man had ever yet experienced, assailed him. A
considerable time before, he had beheld a certain woman. This woman,
the Evil One caused to appear before his mental eyes, and to influence
the heart of God's servant, to such a degree, that a devouring love
gnawed at his heart, and he almost resolved, to leave his hermit-life,
so strong was the longing and desire within him.

"But at that moment however, a light from heaven shone on him,
compelling him to return to his better self. And he beheld on one side
a hedge of brambles and nettles, and he undressed and threw himself
into the thorns and stinging nettles, until his whole body was
lacerated.

"And thus the wounds of the skin had healed the wound of the spirit,
and having conquered sin he was saved." ...

Dame Hadwig was not greatly edified by this lecture. She let her eyes
wander about in the hall in search of something to divert her thoughts.
Had the chamberlain, perhaps also disapproved of the choice of the
chapter, or had the wine got into his head?--for suddenly he dashed at
the book and closing it vehemently, so that the wooden covers clapped
audibly, he held up his beaker, saying: "To the health of St.
Benedict." Ekkehard turned a reproachful look on him, but the younger
members of the brotherhood, regarding the toast as serious, had already
echoed it noisely. Here and there a hymn in praise of the holy man was
begun; this time to the tune of a merry drinking song, and loud joyous
voices rang through the hall.

Whilst Abbot Cralo looked about with a somewhat dubious expression, and
Master Spazzo was still busily drinking to the health of the saint with
the younger clergy, Dame Hadwig inclined her head towards Ekkehard and
said in a half whisper:

"Would you be willing to teach me Latin, young admirer of the classics,
if I felt inclined to learn it?"

Then Ekkehard heard an inner voice, whispering like an echo of what he
had read: "throw thyself into the thorns and nettles, and say no!"--but
heedless of the warning voice he replied: "Command and I obey."

The Duchess gazed once more on the young monk with a furtive, searching
look; then turned to the Abbot and talked of indifferent things.

The cloister-inmates did not seem inclined as yet to let this day's
unusual liberty end here. In the Abbot's eyes there was a peculiarly
soft and lenient expression, and the cellarer also never said "nay,"
when the brothers descended with their emptied wine-jugs into the
vaults below.

At the fourth table the old Tutilo began to get jolly, and was telling
his inevitable story of the robbers. Louder and louder his powerful
voice rang through the hall: "One of them turned to fly,--I after him
with my oaken stick,--he throws away spear and shield to the ground,--I
quickly seize him by the throat, force the spear into his hand and cry,
'thou knave of a robber, for what art thou encumbering the world? Thou
shalt fight with me!'" ...

But they had all heard it too often already how he had then in honest
fight split open the scull of his antagonist,--so they eagerly
requested him, to sing some favourite song, and on his giving an
assenting nod, some of them hurried out, presently to return with their
instruments. One of them brought a lute, another a violin with one
string only, a third a sort of dulcimer with metal pegs, which were
played on with a tuning key, and a fourth a small ten-stringed harp.
This last curious-looking instrument was called a psalter, and its
three-cornered shape was held to be a symbol of the Trinity.

When the instruments were tuned, they gave him his baton of ebony.
Smilingly the hoary artist received it, and rising from his seat, gave
them the signal to play a piece of music, which he himself had composed
in his younger days. Gladly the others listened; only Gerold the
steward, became rather melancholy on hearing the melodious sounds, for
he was just counting the emptied dishes and stone jugs, and like a text
to the melody the words vibrated through his mind: "How much this one
day has swallowed up in goods and money?" Softly he beat time with his
sandal-clad foot, until the last note had died away.

At the bottom of the table a silent guest, with a pale olive complexion
and black curls, was sitting. He came from Italy, and had accompanied
the mules loaded with chestnuts and oil, from Lombardy over the Alp. In
melancholy silence, he let the floods of song pass over him.

"Well, Master Giovanni," said Folkard the painter, "has the fine
Italian ear been satisfied? The Emperor Julianus once compared the
singing of our forefathers to the screeching of wild birds, but since
that time we have made progress. Did it not sound lovelier in your ears
than the singing of wild swans?"

"Lovelier--than the singing of swans"--repeated the stranger in dreamy
accents. Then he arose and quietly stole away. Nobody in the monastery
ever read what he wrote down in his journal that evening.

"These men on the other side of the Alp," he wrote, "when they let
their thundering voices rise up to heaven, never can attain to the
sweetness of an artistic modulation. Truly barbarous is the roughness
of their wine-guzzling throats and whenever they attempt by sinking and
then raising their voices, to attain a melodious softness,--all nature
shudders at the sound, and it resembles the creaking of chariot-wheels
on frozen ground." ...

Master Spazzo intending to end well, what he had so well begun, slunk
away to the building in which Praxedis and her companions were
installed, and said: "You are to come to the Duchess, and that at
once." The maidens first laughed at his cowl, and then followed him
into the refectory, as there was no one to hinder their entrance; and
as soon as they became visible at the open door, a buzzing and
murmuring began, as if a dancing and jumping were now to commence, such
as these walls had never before experienced.

Sir Cralo the abbot, however looked at the Duchess, and exclaimed: "My
Lady Cousin!" and he said it with such a touching, woe-begone
expression, that she started up from her reverie. And suddenly she
looked with different eyes than before on the chamberlain and herself,
in their monks habits, as well as on the rows of carousing men. The
faces of the more distant ones were hidden by their projecting hoods,
and it looked as if the wine was being poured down into empty cowls; in
short, the scene altogether with the boisterous music appeared to her
like a mad masquerade, that had lasted too long already.

So she said: "It is time to go to bed;" and then went with her suite
over to the school-house, where she was to rest that night.

"Do you know what would have been the reward of dancing?" asked Sindolt
of one of his fellow monks, who seemed rather sorry at this sudden
termination of their festivity. He stared at him enquiringly. Then
Sindolt made a movement which meant unmistakeably "scourging."



                               CHAPTER V.

                         Ekkehard's Departure.


Early the next morning, the Duchess and her attendants mounted their
steeds, to ride homewards; and when she declined all parting
ceremonies, the Abbot did not press her to the contrary. Therefore
perfect quiet reigned in the monastery, whilst the horses were neighing
impatiently. Only Sir Cralo came over, knowing well, what good manners
demanded.

Two of the brothers accompanied him. One of them carried a handsome
crystal cup with a finely wrought silver foot and cover, in which many
a pretty bit of onyx and emerald was set. The other carried a small jug
of old wine. The Abbot pouring out some into the cup, then wished good
speed to his cousin, begging her to drink the parting-draught with him,
and to keep the cup as a small remembrance.

In case that the present should not be thought sufficient, he had still
another curious piece in the background, which though made of silver,
had a very insignificant appearance, as it bore close resemblance to an
ordinary loaf of bread. This could be opened, and was filled up to the
brim with gold-pieces. Without there being an absolute necessity for
it, the Abbot did not intend to mention this; keeping it carefully
hidden under his habit.

Dame Hadwig took the proffered cup, feigned to drink a little and then
handing it back, said: "Pardon me, dear cousin, what shall a woman do
with that drinking-vessel? I claim another parting gift. Did you not
speak of the wells of wisdom yesterday? Give me a Virgil out of your
library!"

"Always jesting," said Sir Cralo, who had expected a more costly
demand. "What good can Virgil do you, as you do not know the language?"

"As a matter of course, you must give me the teacher with it,"
seriously replied Dame Hadwig.

But the Abbot shook his head in sign of displeasure. "Since what time
are the disciples of St. Gallus given away as parting-gifts?"

Upon this the Duchess resumed: "I suppose you understand me. The
fair-haired custodian shall be my teacher; and three days hence, at the
latest, he and the volume of Virgil shall make their appearance at my
castle! Mind, that the settlement of the disputed land in the
Rhinevalley, as well as the confirmation of the monastery's rights, are
in my hands; and that I am not disinclined, to erect a small cloister
to the disciples of St. Gallus, on the rocks of the Hohentwiel.--And so
farewell, Sir Cousin!"

Then Sir Cralo, with a melancholy look, beckoned to the serving monk,
to carry the chalice back to the treasury. Dame Hadwig gracefully
extended her right hand to him, the mares pawed the ground; Master
Spazzo took off his hat with a flourish,--and the little cavalcade
turned their backs on the monastery, setting out on their way,
homewards.

From the window of the watch-tower, an immense nosegay was thrown into
the midst of the parting guests; in which there shone at least half a
dozen sun-flowers, not to mention innumerable asters; but nobody caught
it, and the horses hoofs passed over it....

In the dry moat outside the gate, the cloister-pupils had hidden
themselves. "Long life to the Duchess of Suabia! Hail! hail!--and she
must not forget to send us the Felchen!" was loudly shouted after her,
as a parting salutation.

"He who as reward for his bad behaviour, obtains three holidays, and
the best fish of the lake, may well shout," said Master Spazzo.

Slowly the Abbot went back to the monastery, and as soon as he got
there, he sent for Ekkehard the custodian.

"A dispensation has come for you. You are to take a volume of Virgil to
the Duchess Hadwig, and become her teacher. 'The old song of Maro may
soften the Scythian customs by their lovely tunes'--is written in
Sidonius. I know that it is not your wish ..." Ekkehard cast down his
eyes, with a heightened colour, "but we must not offend the mighty ones
of this earth. To-morrow, you will set out on your journey. 'Tis with
regret that I lose you, for you were one of the best and most dutiful
here. The holy Gallus will not forget the service which you are
rendering him. Don't omit to cut out the title-page of Virgil, on which
is written the curse on him, who takes the book away from the
monastery."

That which our hearts desire, we gladly suffer to be put on us, as a
duty.

"The vow of obedience," said Ekkehard, "obliges me, to do the will of
my Superior, without fear or delay, without regret or murmur."

He bent his knee before the Abbot, and then went to his cell. It seemed
to him as if he had been dreaming. Since yesterday, almost too much had
occurred for him. It is often so in life. In a long period, time
pursues its monotonous way, but when once we come to a turning-point,
then one change follows another. He prepared himself for the journey.

"What thou hast begun, leave unfinished behind thee; draw back thy hand
from the work it was employed on, and go away with thy heart full of
obedience,"--he scarcely needed to remind himself of this portion of
the rules.

In his cell lay the parchment-leaves of a psalm-book, which had been
written, and illustrated by Folkard's masterly hand. Ekkehard had been
commissioned to finish up the first letter on each page, with the
precious gold-colour, which the Abbot had lately bought from a Venetian
merchant; and by adding faint golden lines at the crowns, sceptres and
swords, as well as at the borders of the mantles, to give the last
touch to the figures.

He took up parchments and colours, and brought them over to his
companion, that he might put the finishing strokes to the work himself.
Folkard was just about, to compose a new picture; David playing the
lute, and dancing before the ark of the Covenant. He did not look up,
and Ekkehard silently left the studio again.

After this he bent his steps to the library, there to fetch the Virgil,
and when he stood all alone in the high-arched hall, amongst the silent
parchments, a feeling of melancholy came over him. Even lifeless
things, when one is about to take leave of them, seem to possess
something of a soul, and to share some of the feelings, which are
moving our own hearts.

The books were his best friends. He knew them all, and knew who had
written them. Some of the handwritings reminded him of companions, whom
death had gathered already.

"What will the new life, which begins to-morrow, bring to me?" he
thought, whilst a solitary tear started into his eye. At that moment
his gaze fell on the small, metal-bound glossary, in which the holy
Gallus, not knowing the German language, had had a translation of the
most familiar words and sentences, written down by the priest of Arbon.
Then Ekkehard bethought himself, how the founder of the monastery, had
once set out, with so little help and preparation, a stranger into
heathen lands; and how his God and his courageous heart, had protected
him in all dangers and sorrows. His spirits rose; he kissed the little
book, took the Virgil from the book-shelf, and then turned to go.

"Whoever carries away this book, shall receive a thousand lashes of
the scourge; may palsy and leprosy attack him," was written on the
title-page. Ekkehard cut it out.

Once more he looked around, as if to take a final leave, of all the
books. At that moment a rustling was heard in the wall, and the large
sketch which the architect Gerung had once drawn, when Abbot Hartmuth
had wanted a new building to be added to the monastery, fell to the
ground, raising a cloud of dust.

Ekkehard did not regard this occurrence in the light of a presentiment
or warning.

On walking along the passage of the upper storey, he passed an open
chamber. This was the snuggery of the old men. The blind Thieto who had
been Abbot before Cralo, until his waning eyesight had forced him to
resign, was sitting there. A window was open, so that the old man could
breathe freely and enjoy the warm sunny air. With him, Ekkehard had
spent many an hour, in friendly converse. The blind man recognized his
step and called him in.

"Where are you going?" asked he.

"Down stairs,--and to-morrow I am going far away. Give me your hand, I
am going to the Hohentwiel."

"Bad,--very bad," muttered the old man.

"Why, father Thieto?"

"The service of women is an evil thing for him, who wishes to remain
good. Court service is worse still. What then are both together?"

"It is my fate," said Ekkehard.

"St. Gallus keep you and bless you. I will pray for you. Give me my
stick."

Ekkehard offered his arm, which was refused however, and seizing his
staff, the blind man rose, and went to a niche in the wall, from which
he took out a small phial and gave it to Ekkehard.

"It's water from the river Jordan, which I took myself. When the dust
of this world has covered your face, and is dimming your eyes, then
bathe them with it. It will not help me any more. Farewell."

In the evening Ekkehard mounted the little hill, which rose behind the
monastery. This was his favourite walk. In the fish-ponds which had
been artificially made there, to supply the necessary fish for the
fast-days, the dark fir-trees were reflected. A gentle breeze ruffled
the surface of the water, in which the fish swam briskly about. With a
smile he gazed at them, thinking, "when shall I taste you again?"

In the fir-wood on the top of the Freudenberg, there was solemn
silence. There he stopped, to enjoy the extensive view before him.

At his feet lay the monastery, with all its buildings and walls. There,
in the court-yard was the well known fountain; the garden was full of
autumnal flowers, and in one long row the windows of the many cells
were presented to his view. He knew each one, and saw also his own.
"May God protect thee, peaceful abode!"

Contemplating the place where we have spent the days of our eager, and
striving youth, works like a magnet on our hearts, which require so
little to feel attracted. He only is poor, to whom the great bustling
life of this world, has not granted time, bodily and mentally to find a
quiet resting-place, a real home.--

Ekkehard raised his eyes. Far away in the distance, like the fair
prospect of a distant future, the Bodensee's placid surface, shone out
like a mirror. The line of the opposite shore, as well as the outlines
of the hills behind it, were covered with a light mist, only here and
there a bright light and the reflection in the water, indicating the
dwelling places of human beings.

"But what does the obscurity behind mean?" He turned round and beheld
the Säntis rising with its horns and pinnacles behind the fir-clad
hills. On the gray and weatherbeaten rocky walls, the warm sunbeams
were contending with the clouds, and lighting up the masses of old
snow, which in its caves and crevices lay awaiting a new winter. Right
over the Kamor, hung a heavy cloud, which widely extended, was
obscuring the sun and throwing a grey and sombre light on the
mountain-peaks around. It began to lighten in the distance ...

"Is that meant as a warning for me?" said Ekkehard. "I don't understand
it. My way is not towards the Säntis."

Full of thoughts, he descended to the valley again.

In the night he prayed at the grave of St. Gallus, and early in the
morning he bid good-bye to all. The volume of Virgil, and the little
bottle of Thieto were packed up in his knapsack, which also held the
few things besides that he possessed.

He, who has not even his own person, his wishes and his desires at his
free disposal, can still less have any worldly possessions and goods.

The Abbot gave him two gold-pieces and some silver coins, as a
travelling penny.

In a ship, laden with corn, he crossed the lake; a favourable wind
filling the sail, and courage and the love of travel swelling his
bosom.

At dinner-time the castle of Constance, as well as the cathedral with
its towers, became more and more distinct.

With a joyous bound, Ekkehard sprang on shore. In Constance he might
have stopped and claimed the hospitality of the Bishop, but this he did
not do. The place was disagreeable to him,--he hated it from the bottom
of his heart. Not on account of its position and scenery, for in that
respect, it may be boldly compared with any town on the lake, but on
account of a man whom he detested.

This was the Bishop Salomon, who had been lately buried, with great
pomp in the cathedral. Ekkehard was a simple-minded, straightforward
and pious man. To become proud and overbearing in the service of the
church, seemed very wrong to him; to combine this with worldly tricks
and knavery highly blamable,--and in spite of wickedness of heart, to
become famous, most strange. Such however had been the Bishop Salomon's
career. Ekkehard well remembered having heard from older companions,
how the young nobleman had forced his way, into the monastery, and
acted as spy; how he had managed to represent himself as indispensable
to the Emperor, until the mitre of an Abbot of St. Gall was exchanged
for that of a Bishop of Constance.

And the fate which had befallen the messengers of the exchequer,--that
was related by the children in the streets. These, the intriguing
prelate, had provoked and insulted so long, till they trying to right
themselves with the sword, had made him prisoner; but though Sir
Erchanger's wife Berchta, tended and nursed him like a Lord, during his
captivity, and begged him for the kiss of peace, and ate out of the
same plate with him, his revenge was not appeased, until the Emperor's
court of law, at Adingen, condemned his enemies to be beheaded.

And the daughter which he had begotten in the early days of his
student-life, was even then Lady Abbess at the cathedral in Zurich.

All this was known to Ekkehard; and in the church where that man was
buried, he did not like to pray.

It may be unjust to transfer the hatred, which is intended for a human
being alone, to the actual spot where he has lived and died, but still
one can understand this feeling. So he shook the dust from his feet,
and walked out of the city-gate, leaving the stripling Rhine, having
but just issued from the lake, on his right hand.

He cut for himself a strong walking stick from a hazel-bush. "Like unto
the rod of Aaron which budded in the temple of God, distinguishing his
race from that of the degenerate Jews, so may this stick, blessed by
God's grace, be my protection against the evil ones on my way,"--he
said in the words of an old blessing on walking sticks.

His heart beat with pleasure, as he briskly walked along.

How full of hope and joy is he, who in the days of his youth, goes out
on unknown paths, to meet an unknown future. With the wide world before
him, a blue sky over-head, and the heart fresh and trusting, as if his
walking-stick must produce leaves and blossoms, wherever he plants it
in the ground, and must bear happiness, in the shape of golden apples
on its boughs. Walk merrily on.--The day will come when thou also, wilt
drag thyself wearily along, on the dusty high-roads, when thy staff
will be but a dry withered stick, when thy face will be pale and worn,
and the children will be pointing their fingers at thee, laughing and
asking: where are the golden apples?...

Ekkehard was truly light-hearted and content. To sing merry songs was
not becoming for a man of his calling; more fitting was the song of
David which he now began:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in
green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters"--and this
may have been registered in heaven, in the same book in which the
guardian-angels of youth put down the merry songs of wandering
scholars, and apprentice-boys.

His path took him through meadows, and past high reeds. A long and
narrow island, called Reichenau, extended itself in the lake. The
towers and cloister-walls were mirrored in the placid waters, and
vine-yards, meadows and orchards testified to the industry of the
inhabitants. About two hundred years ago, the island was but a barren
tract, where damp ground had been inhabited by hideous crawling things,
and poisonous snakes. The Austrian Governor Sintlaz however, begged the
wandering Bishop Pirminius, to come over, and to pronounce a solemn
blessing on the island. Then the snakes went away in great masses,
headed by the scolopendras, ear-wigs and scorpions; toads and
salamanders bringing up the rear. Nothing could resist the curse which
the Bishop had pronounced over them. To the shore, on the spot where
afterwards the castle Schopfeln was built, the swarm directed its
course, and from thence they fell down into the green floods of the
lake; and the fish had a good meal on that day....

From that time the monastery founded by St. Pirmin had thriven and
flourished; a hot-bed of monastic erudition, of considerable repute, in
German lands.


   "Reichenau, emerald isle, thou favourite child of kind nature,
    Rich with the law of science, and all that is pious and godly,
    Rich in thy fruit-bearing trees, and the swelling grapes of thy
      vineyards;
    Proudly, and fair from the waves, the lily lifts its white
      petals,--
    So that thy praise has e'en reached, the misty land of the
      Britons."


Thus sang the learned monk Ermenrich already in the days of Ludwig the
German, when in his abbey of Ellwangen, he was longing for the
glittering waters of the Bodensee.

Ekkehard resolved to pay a visit to this rival of his monastery. On the
white sandy shore of Ermatingen, a fisherman was standing in his boat,
baling out water. Then Ekkehard pointing with his staff towards the
island, said: "Ferry me over there, my good friend."

The monk's habit in those days, generally gave weight to all demands,
but the fisherman crossly shook his head and said: "I will not take
any more of you over, since you fined me a shilling, at the last
session-day."

"Why did they fine you?"

"On account of the Kreuzmann!"

"And who is the Kreuzmann?"

"The Allmann."

"He likewise is unknown to me," said Ekkehard. "What is he like?"

"He is made of metal," grumbled the fisherman, "two spans high, and
holds three water-lilies in his hand. He was standing in the old
willow-tree at Allmannsdorf, and it was good that he stood there; but
at the last session they took him out of the tree, and carried him into
their cloister. So now he stands on that Italian bishop's grave at
Niederzell. What good does he do there?--Does he help dead Saints to
catch fish?"

Then Ekkehard perceived, that the fisherman's Christian faith was as
yet not very strong; and also why the bronze idol had cost him a
shilling's fine. He had sacrificed a kid to him at night-time, in order
that his nets might be well filled with felchen, trout and perch; and
the authorities had punished these heathenish memories, according to
the imperial laws.

"Be sensible, my good fellow," said Ekkehard, "and try to forget the
Allmann. I will restore you a good part of your shilling, if you will
row me over."

"What I say," replied the old man, "shall not be turned round like a
ring on a finger. I will take none of you. My boy may do it if he
likes."

He then whistled through his fingers, which brought his boy, a tall
boatman, who undertook to row him over.

When Ekkehard landed, he directed his steps towards the monastery,
which hidden between fruit-trees and vine-clad hills, stands in the
middle of the island.

The autumn was already advanced, and both old and young, were occupied
with the vintage. Here and there, the hood of a serving brother stood
out in dark contrast to the red and yellow vine-leaves. On the
watch-tower the fathers of the monastery stood assembled in groups,
looking down, and taking pleasure in the busy crowd of grape-gatherers
below. In a large marble vase, which was believed to be one of the
identical vessels, used at the marriage at Cana, the new wine had been
earned about in the procession, to receive the blessing. Merry shouts,
and singing, were heard from all sides.

Unobserved, Ekkehard reached the monastery, and when he was but a few
steps from it, he perceived the heavy tower with its vestibule,
the arches of which are ornamented alternately with red and grey
sand-stone.

In the court all was hushed and silent. A large dog wagged its tail at
the stranger, without giving a single growl, for it knew better than to
bark at a monk's habit. All the brotherhood seemed to have been enticed
into the open air, by the beautiful weather.

Ekkehard now entered the vaulted room for visitors, near the entrance.
Even the door-keeper's chamber next to it, was empty. Open tuns were
standing about; some filled already with the newly pressed wine. Behind
these, near the wall was a stone bench, and Ekkehard feeling tired from
his long walk, the fresh breeze having blown about his head and made
him sleepy, he put his staff against the wall, lay down on the bench,
and soon fell asleep.

As he lay thus, a slow step approached the cool recess. This was the
worthy brother Rudimann, the cellarer. He carried a small stone jug in
his right hand, and had come to fulfil his duty by tasting the new
wine. The smile of a man, contented with himself and with the world,
was on his lips; and his belly had thriven well, like the household of
an industrious man. Over this, he wore a white apron, and at his side
dangled a ponderous bunch of keys.

"As cellarer shall be chosen some wise man of ripe judgment, sober,
and no glutton; no quarreler or fault-finder, no idler and no
spendthrift; but a pious man, who will be to the whole brotherhood like
a father,"--and as far as the weakness of the flesh allowed this,
Rudimann strove to unite in himself the above mentioned qualities. At
the same time he had to perform the unpleasant duty of carrying out the
punishments, and whenever one of the brothers became liable to a
flogging, he tied him to the pillar, and nobody could then complain of
the weakness of his arm. That he, besides this, sometimes uttered
malicious speeches with a malicious tongue, and tried to entertain the
Abbot with insinuations against his fellow-monks,--like the squirrel
Ratatöskr of the Edda, which ran up and down the ash-tree called
Yggdrasil, and repeated the eagle's angry speeches at the top of the
tree, to Niddhögre the dragon at the bottom,--this was none of his
business; and he did it of his own free will.

To-day, however, he wore a very benign and mild expression, the result
of the excellent vintage; and he dipt his drinking vessel into an open
vat, held it towards the window and then slowly sipped its contents,
without once observing the sleeping guest.

"This also is sweet," said he, "though it comes from the northern side
of the hill. Praised be the Lord; who taking the position and wants of
his servants on this island, into due consideration, has given a fat
year after so many meagre ones."

Meanwhile Kerhildis the upper maid-servant, passed the door, carrying a
tub full of grapes to the press.

"Kerhildis," whispered the cellarer, "most trustworthy of all maids,
take my jug, and fill it with wine from the Wartberg, which you will
find over there, that I may compare it with this one."

Kerhildis put down her load, went away and speedily returning, stood
before Rudimann with the jug in her hand. Archly looking up at him, for
he was a head taller than she was, she said: "to your health."

Rudimann took a long pious draught, as a taste so that the new wine ran
down his throat, with a low melodious gurgle.

"It will all be sweet and good," said he, lifting his eyes with
emotion, and that they then fell on the maid-servant's beaming
countenance,'--was scarcely the cellarer's fault, as she had had plenty
of time in which to retire.

So he continued with unction: "But when I look at thee, Kerhildis, my
heart becomes doubly glad, for you also thrive as the cloister-wine
does this autumn, and your cheeks are like the pomegranates, waiting to
be plucked. Rejoice with me, over the goodness of this wine, best of
all maids."

So saying, the cellarer put his arm round the waist of the
dark-eyed maid, who did not resist very long; for what is a kiss at
vintage-time?--and besides she knew Rudimann to be a man of sober
character, who did everything in moderation, as it befitted a cellarer.

The sleeper started up from his slumbers on the stone bench. A peculiar
noise, which could be caused by nothing else, but by a well-meant and
well-applied kiss; struck his ear; and looking through the opening
between the vats, he saw the cellarer's garments covered with flowing
tresses, which could not well belong to that habit. Up he sprang, for
Ekkehard was young and zealous, and moreover accustomed to the strict
discipline of St. Gall. The idea that a man in the holy garb of the
order, could kiss a woman, had never struck him as possible before.

Snatching up his strong hazel-wand, he quickly advanced, and with it
struck a powerful blow at the cellarer, which extended from the right
shoulder to the left hip, and which fitted like a coat made according
to measure,--and before the astonished Rudimann had recovered from the
first shock, there followed a second and third blow of the same
description. He dropped his pitcher, which was shattered to pieces on
the stone floor, whilst Kerhildis fled.

"In the name of the pitcher at the marriage at Cana!" cried Rudimann,
"what is the meaning of this!" and turning round on his assailant, the
two looked into each other's faces for the first time.

"'Tis a present which the holy Gallus sends to St. Pirmin," replied
Ekkehard fiercely, again raising his stick.

"Well, I might have guessed as much," roared the cellarer, "St. Gallish
crab-apples! You may be recognized by your fruits. Rough ground, rough
faith and rougher people! Just wait for the present I shall make thee
in return!"

Looking about for some weapon, and perceiving a good-sized broom, he
took it up, and was just about to attack the disturber of his peace,
when a commanding voice called out from the gate:

"Stop! Peace be with you!"--and a second voice with a foreign accent
exclaimed: "What Holofernes has sprung out of the ground here?"

It was the Abbot Wazmann, who with his friend Simon Bardo, the former
Protospathar of the Greek Emperor, was returning from blessing the new
wine. The noise of the quarrel had interrupted a very learned
discussion of the Greek, on the siege of the town of Haï by Joshua; and
the strategic mistakes of the king of Haï, when he went out at the head
of his army, towards the desert. The old Greek commander who had left
his home, not to lose his strength of body and mind, in the peaceful
state of Byzantium, employed himself very zealously with the study of
tactics, in his leisure hours; and he was jestingly called, "the
Captain of Capernaum," although he had adopted the garb of the Order.

"Make room for the fight," cried Simon Bardo, who had witnessed with
regret the interruption, of the combat by the Abbot. "In my dreams last
night I saw a rain of fiery sparks. That means fighting."

But the Abbot in whose eyes the self-assumed power of younger brothers
was most obnoxious, commanded peace, and desired to hear the case
before him, that he might settle it.

Then Rudimann began his tale, and kept back nothing. "A slight
misbehaviour," murmured the Abbot. "Chapter forty-six, of misbehaviour
during work-time, whilst gardening or fishing, in the kitchen or
cellar. Allemannic law, of that which is done to maids, ... let the
antagonist speak."

Then Ekkehard also told what he had witnessed; and how he had acted on
the impulse of a just and righteous indignation.

"This is complicated," murmured the Abbot. "Chapter seventy: no brother
shall dare to strike a fellow-brother, without the Abbot's sanction.
Chapter seventy-two: of that which is becoming in a monk; and which
leads to eternal felicity, ... How old are you?"

"Twenty-three."

Then the Abbot seriously resumed. "The quarrel is ended. You brother
cellarer, may look on the received blows, as the just retribution, for
your forgetfulness; and you stranger I might well bid to continue your
journey, for the laws say: 'Whenever a stranger-monk, enters a
monastery, he shall be satisfied with everything he meets there,
allowing himself only to reprove mildly, and not making himself
officious in any way.' In consideration of your youth however, as well
as the blameless motive of your action, you shall be allowed to pass an
hour's devotion at the chief-altar of our church, in expiation of your
rashness, and after that you will be welcome as the guest of the
monastery."

The Abbot and his sentence, fared as many an impartial judge has fared
before. Neither of the two were satisfied. They obeyed, but they were
not reconciled. When Ekkehard was performing his expiatory prayers,
many thoughts and reflections on timely zeal, good will and other
people's judgment thereon, crossed his mind. It was one of the first
lessons he learned, from contact with other men. He returned to the
monastery by a little side-door.

What Kerhildis the upper-maid related that evening to her companions,
in the sewing-room at Oberzell, where they had to make a dozen new
monks' habits, by the flickering light of the pinewood, was couched in
such very insulting terms, regarding the disciples of the holy Gallus,
that it had better not be repeated here!...



                              CHAPTER VI.

                                Moengal.


While Ekkehard was performing his compulsory devotions, in the church
at Reichenau, Dame Hadwig had stood on the balcony, looking out into
the distance;--but not on account of the setting sun, for the sun went
to his rest at her back, behind the dark hills of the black-forest, and
Dame Hadwig, looked with eager, expectant eyes towards the lake, and
the path which led from it up to the Hohentwiel. The view however did
not appear to satisfy her, for when the twilight melted into darkness,
she went in, rather discontentedly; ordered her chamberlain to come,
and conversed a long time with him.

Early the next morning Ekkehard stood at the threshold of the cloister,
ready to continue his journey. The Abbot was also up betimes, and was
taking a walk in the garden. The serious look of the judge, was no
longer visible on his face. Ekkehard said good-bye to him. Then the
Abbot with a meaning smile, whispered in his ear: "Happy man, who has
to teach grammar, to such a fair pupil." These words stabbed Ekkehard
to the heart. An old story rose in his memory; for even within
cloister-walls, there are evil, gossiping tongues, and traditional
stories which go round, from mouth to mouth.

"You are probably thinking of the time," replied he tauntingly, "when
you were instructing the nun Clotildis in the act of dialectics, Sir
Abbot."

After this he went down to the boat. The Abbot would much rather have
taken a quantity of pepper for his breakfast, than have had that fact
called up to his mind. "A happy journey!" he called out after his
departing guest.

From that time, Ekkehard had drawn down on himself the enmity of the
monks at Reichenau. This however he little heeded; and was rowed down
the lake, by the same boat-man of Ermatingen.

Dreamily he gazed about from his boat. Over the lake, transparent white
mists were floating, through which the little belfry of Egina's
cloister, Niederzell, peeped out on the left, while on the other side,
the island stretched out its farthest points. A large stone-built
castle could be seen through the willow-bushes, but Ekkehard's eyes
were riveted on a more distant point. Proud and grand, in steep, bold
outlines a rocky mountain-peak rose above the hills on the shore, like
to a mighty spirit, which, ponderous and pregnant with action, towers
over the insignificant objects around. The morning sun was casting
faint gleams of light on the rocky edges and steep walls. A little to
the right, several lower hills of the same shape, stood modestly there,
like sentinels of the mighty one.

"The Hohentwiel," said the boat-man to Ekkehard. The latter had never
before beheld the place of his destination, but he did not need the
boatman's information. Inwardly thinking, "thus must the mountain be,
which she has chosen for her residence."

A deep, earnest expression overspread his features. Mountain-ranges,
extensive plains, water and sky, in fact all that is grand and
beautiful in nature always produces seriousness. Only the actions of
men, sometimes bring a smile to the lips of the looker on. He was
thinking of the apostle John, who had gone to the rocky isle of Patmos,
and who had there met with a revelation.

The boat-man rowed steadily onwards; and they had already come to the
projecting neck of land, on which Radolfszell and a few scattered
houses were situated, when they suddenly came in view of a strange
little canoe. It was simply made of the rough, hollow trunk of a tree;
roofed over and quite covered up with green boughs and water-rushes, so
that the rower inside was invisible. The wind drifted it towards a
thick plantation of water reeds and bulrushes near the shore.

Ekkehard ordered his ferry-man to stop this curious little boat, and in
obedience he pushed his oar into the green covering.

"Ill luck befall you!" called out a deep bass voice from the inside,
"_oleum et operam perdidi_, all my labour lost!--Wild geese and
water-ducks are gone to the Devil!"

A covey of water-fowl, which hoarsely shrieking rose up from the
rushes, corroborated the truth of this exclamation.

After this, the leafy boughs were pushed aside, and a brown
weather-beaten and deeply furrowed countenance, peeped out. The man it
belonged to, was clothed in an old faded priest's robe, which cut off
at the knees, by an unskilled hand, hung down in a ragged fringe. At
his girdle, the owner of the boat wore, instead of a rosary, a quiver
full of arrows; whilst the strung bow lay at the head of the boat.

The individual just described, was about to repeat his cursing, when he
beheld Ekkehard's tonsure and Benedictine garment, and quickly changing
his tone, he cried: "Oho! _salve confrater!_ By the beard of St.
Patrick of Armagh! If your curiosity had left me unmolested another
quarter of an hour, I might have invited you to a goodly repast of the
game of our lake." With a melancholy expression he cast a look at the
covey of wild ducks in the distance.

Ekkehard smilingly lifted his fore-finger: "_Ne clericus venationi
incumbat!_ No consecrated servant of God shall be a sportsman!"

"Your book-wisdom does not do for us at the Untersee," called out the
other. "Are you sent hither perhaps, to hold a church examination, with
the parish-priest of Radolfszell?"

"The parish-priest of Radolfszell?" enquired Ekkehard in his turn. "Do
I verily see the brother Marcellus?" He cast a side-look on the
sportsman's right arm, from which the sleeve was turned back, and there
beheld, etched into the flesh, in rough outlines, a picture of our
Saviour, encircled by a serpent, over which stood the words, "_Christus
vindex_."

"Brother Marcellus?" laughed the other pushing his hair back from his
forehead, "_fuimus Troes!_ welcome in Moengal's realm!"

He stepped out of the canoe into Ekkehard's boat, and kissing him on
cheek and forehead he said: "Health to the holy Gallus! And now we will
land together, and you shall be my guest, even without the wild ducks."

"Of yourself, I had conceived a very different idea," said Ekkehard,
and this was not to be wondered at.

Nothing gives a more erroneous idea of persons, than when we come to
the places, where they once lived and worked, there to see fragmentary
bits of their activity; and from the remarks of those left behind, to
form in ourselves an impression of those that are gone. The deepest and
most peculiar part of the character of a man, is frequently unnoticed
by others; even though it be open to the day; and in tradition it
disappears entirely.

When Ekkehard had joined the monastery, the brother Marcellus had
already left it, to assume the priest's office at Radolfszell. Some
neatly written manuscripts, such as Cicero's book on duty, and a Latin
Priscianius with Irish characters between the lines, still kept up the
remembrance of him. His name too was held in great veneration in the
inner cloister-school, where he had been one of the most distinguished
teachers. Besides this, he had led a blameless life, but since that
time, nothing had been heard of him at St. Gall. For these reasons,
instead of the lively sportsman, Ekkehard had expected to find a
serious, meagre and pale-faced scholar.

The shores of Radolfszell were soon reached. A thin silver coin,
stamped on one side only, satisfied the boat-man, and then the two
stepped on shore. A few houses and a handful of fishermen's huts,
surrounded the little church, which holds the remains of St. Radolf.

"We have reached Moengal's dwelling," said the old man. "Be pleased to
enter. It's to be hoped that you will not carry tales about my house,
to the Bishop of Constance, like the deacon of Rheingau, who pretended
that he found the jugs and drinking-horns, of a size, which ought to
have been objectionable, in any century."

They entered into a wainscoted hall. Stag-antlers and bison-horns hung
over the entrance; while spears and fishing-tackle of every
description, ornamented the walls in picturesque confusion. Close to a
reversed tun in one corner, stood a dice-box,--in fact, if it had not
been the abode of the parish-priest, it might have been that of an
imperial gamekeeper.

A few moments later, a jug of somewhat sour wine as well as a loaf of
bread and some butter, were placed on the oak table; and when the
priest returned from an expedition to the kitchen, he held up his habit
like a filled apron, and poured down a shower of smoked fish, before
his guest.

"_Heu quod anseres fugasti, antvogelasque et horotumblum!_ Alas that
you should have frightened away, the wild geese, as well as the ducks
and moor-fowls!" said he, "but when a person has to choose between
smoked fish and nothing, he always chooses the former."

Members of the same fraternity are quickly at their ease with each
other; and a lively conversation was kept up during the meal. But the
old man had far more questions to put, than Ekkehard could well answer.
Of many a one of his former brothers, nothing else was to be told, but
that his coffin had been laid in the vault; side by side with the
others; a cross on the wall, besides an entry in the death-register,
being the sole traces left, that he had ever lived. The stories, jokes
and quarrels, which had been told, thirty years ago, had been replaced
by new ones, and all that had happened lately, did not interest him
much. Only when Ekkehard told him about the end and aim of his journey
he exclaimed: "_Oho confrater!_ how could you cry out against all
sport, when you yourself aim at such noble deer!"

But Ekkehard turned the subject, by asking him: "Have you never felt
any longing for the quiet and study within the cloister-walls?"

At that question the parish-priest's eyes lighted up: "Did Catilina
ever feel any longing for the wooden benches of the senate, after they
had said to him: _excessit, evasit, erupit_?--Young men, like you
cannot understand that. The flesh-pots of Egypt?! _ille terrarum mihi
praeter omnes_ ... said the dog to the kennel, in which he had lain
seven years."

"No, I certainly do not understand you," replied Ekkehard. "What was
it, that created such a change in your views," casting a look at the
sportsman's implements, which were lying about.

"Time," replied the priest, beating his fish on the table to make them
tender, "time and growing experience. But this you need not repeat to
your Abbot. I also was once such a man as you are now, for Ireland
produces pious people, as is well known here. _Eheu_, what a different
being I was when I returned with my Uncle Marcus, from our pilgrimage
to Rome. You should have seen the young Moengal then! The whole world
was not worth a herring to him, whilst psalm-singing, vigils, and
spiritual exercises, were his heart's delight. Thus we entered the
monastery of St. Gallus--for in honour of a countryman, an honest
Hibernian does not mind, going a few miles out of his way,--and finally
I stopped there altogether. Outward property, books, money and
knowledge,--the whole man became the monastery's own, and the Irish
Moengal, was called Marcellus, and threw his uncle's silver and golden
coins out of the window; thus to break down the bridge leading back to
the world. They were fine times I tell you; praying, fasting and
studying, to my heart's content."--

"But then too much sitting is unhealthy, and much knowledge, gives one
a quantity of superfluous work to do. Many an evening I have meditated
like a book-worm, and disputed like a magpie; for there was nothing
which could not be proved. Where the head of St. John the baptist was
buried, and in what language the serpent had spoken to Adam,--all was
investigated and demonstrated, while such ideas, as that human beings
had also received flesh and blood from their Creator, never entered my
head. Ohone, confrater, then there came evil hours for me, such as I
hope may be spared you. The head grew heavy, and the hands restless.
Neither at the writing-desk nor in the church could I find rest or
peace;--hence, hence was the inward cry of my heart. I once said to the
old Thieto, that I had made a discovery. What discovery, quoth he? That
outside the cloister-walls there was fresh air ... Then they forbade me
to go out; but many a night did I steal up to the belfry, to look out
and envy the bats, that could fly over into the pinewoods ...
Confrater, that cannot be cured by fasting and prayer, for that which
is in human nature, must come out."

"The late Abbot at last took pity on me, and sent me here for one year;
but the Brother Marcellus never returned. When I cut down a pine-tree
in the sweat of my brow, and made myself a boat out of it, and struck
down the bird flying in the air, then I began to understand what it
meant to be healthy. Hunting and fishing drive away morbid fancies. In
this way I have performed the priest's duties at Radolfszell for thirty
years, _rusticitate quadam imbutus_,--liable to become a rustic, but
what does it matter? 'I am like the pelican in the wilderness, and,
like the owl, I have built my nest amidst ruins,' says the psalmist,
but I am fresh and strong, and old Moengal does not intend to become a
dead man so soon, and he knows that he is at least secure against one
evil ..."

"And that is?" enquired Ekkehard.

"That St. Peter will not one day give me a blow on the forehead with
the blessed key of heaven, saying, 'Off with you, who have meddled with
vain and useless philosophy!'"

Ekkehard did not reply to Moengal's outpourings. "I suppose," said he,
"that you have often hard work with your ecclesiastical duties.
Hardened hearts, heathendom, and heresy."

"'Tis not so bad, as they make it out to be," said the old man. "To be
sure in the mouths of Bishops and Chamberlains and in the reports of
the session and the synod, it seems terrifying enough, when they
describe the heathenish idolatry, and threaten it with punishment. Here
we have simply the old faith; tracing the Godhead, in tree and river
and on mountain-heights. Everybody in this world must have his book of
revelations, his apocalypse. Now the people hereabouts, have theirs in
the open air; and really, one is capable of high and holy thoughts,
when early in the morning, one stands in the water-reeds and sees the
glorious sun arise. Nevertheless they come to me, on the Lord's day,
and chaunt the mass; and if they were not fined so often, they would
open their hearts to the Gospel, far more readily still. A bumper,
confrater, to the fresh air!"

"Allow me," said Ekkehard, "I will drink to the health of Marcellus the
teacher at the cloister-school, and the learned author of the Irish
translation of Priscianus."

"Very well," laughed Moengal. "But with regard to the Irish
translation, I am afraid that there is a hitch in the matter!"[7]

Ekkehard was very anxious to reach his destination, for anybody who is
close to the end of his journey, is loth to tarry long. "The mountain
stands fast enough," said Moengal, "that won't run away, you may be
sure."

But Moengal's wine, and his ideas of fresh air, had nothing very
tempting for him, who was about to go to a Duchess. So he rose from his
seat.

"I will accompany you to the borders of my district," said the priest,
"for to-day you may still walk by my side, in spite of my torn and
faded garments; but when you are once settled down on yonder mountain,
you will believe yourself transfigured, and that you have become a
grand lord; and on the day that you will pass Radolfszell on horseback,
and will behold old Moengal standing on the threshold, then perhaps,
you will hardly deign to wave your hand to him,--that is the way of the
world. When the 'heuerling' has become big, then it is called
'felchen,' and devours the small ones of its own race."

"It is not fair that you should speak thus," said Ekkehard, kissing his
Irish brother.

Then they set out together, Moengal taking his lime-twigs with him,
therewith to ensnare birds on his return. It was a long distance
through the pine-wood, and no sound was stirring.

Where the trees were less crowded together, they could see the dark
mass of the Hohentwiel, throwing its shadow over them. Moengal's sharp
eyes now looked searchingly along the path, and shaking his head he
muttered: "there's something coming."

They had proceeded a short way, when Moengal seized his companion's
arm, and pointing forward, he said: "these are neither wild ducks nor
animals of the forest!"

At the same moment was heard a sound like the neighing of a horse in
the distance. Moengal sprang aside, glided through the trees, and lying
down on the ground, listened intently.

"Sportsman's folly," muttered Ekkehard to himself, quietly waiting till
Moengal came back and enquired: "brother, do you know whether St.
Gallus is at war with any of the mighty ones in the land?"

"No."

"Then may be that you have offended some one?"

"No."

"Strange," said the old man, "for three armed men are coming towards
us."

"Most likely they are messengers sent by the Duchess, to receive me,"
said Ekkehard, with a proud smile.

"Oho!" muttered Moengal, "you've not hit the mark there. That is not
the livery of the Duchess's vassals. The helmet has no distinguishing
mark, and no one on the Hohentwiel wears a grey mantle!"

He stood still now.

"Forwards," said Ekkehard. "He whose conscience is clear, is protected
by the angels of the Lord."

"Not always, at least in the Hegau," replied the old man. There was no
more time for continuing the dialogue, for the tramp of horses' feet,
and the clattering of arms was heard, and the next moment, three men on
horseback, with closed visors and drawn swords, became visible.

"Follow me!" cried the priest, "_naturate fugam!_" He threw his
lime-twigs on the ground, and tried to drag Ekkehard along with him,
but when he resisted, Moengal sprang into the bushes alone. The thorns
added new rents to the old ones in his well worn garments, but this he
heeded not, and tearing himself free, he escaped into the thicket, with
the agility of a squirrel. He knew the tricks!

"It is he!" called out one of the riders; upon which the others jumped
out of their saddles. Ekkehard stood proudly waiting for them. "What do
you want?"--no answer. Then he seized the crucifix suspended from his
girdle, and was just beginning with "in the name of our Saviour" ...
when he was already thrown on the ground. Rough, strong hands held him
as in a vice; a cord was twisted round his arms, which were then tied
behind his back; a white handkerchief bound over his eyes, so that he
could see nothing, and then the command "forwards" was given.

Surprise and consternation at this strange treatment had quite
paralysed him, so that he advanced with tottering steps, upon which
they took him up, and carried him to the opening of the wood, where
four men were waiting with a sedan-chair.

Into this, they threw their victim and then the train sped onwards;
Ekkehard noticing by the tramp of the horses' feet, that his captors
remained at his side.

Whilst Moengal was fleeing through the wood, the blackbirds and linnets
flew about so confidingly from bough to bough; and the thrushes' clear
notes sounded so tempting, that he forgot all danger, and his heart
upbraided him, for having dropped the lime-twigs.

When even the quail now sang out its "Quakkera! quakkera!"--it sounded
downright provoking, and he turned his steps back towards the spot,
where he had left his companion. Everything was quiet there, as if
nothing had happened. In the distance he could see the sun shining on
the helmets of the departing knights.

"Many that are first, shall be last," said he, shaking his head, and
bending down to pick up his lime-twigs. "He expected to go to a
princess's castle, and a prison opens to receive him. Holy Gallus, pray
for us!"

Further reflections did not trouble Moengal's brains. Such deeds of
violence were as plentiful as primroses in spring-time.

Once a fish swam about in the Bodensee, and could not understand, what
the cormorant meant by coming down on it, and the black diver had
already got it in its beak, and flew away with it, and the fish could
still not understand it.

So it was with Ekkehard, lying with tied hands in the sedan-chair; for
the more he reflected about this sudden change in his fate, the less
could he comprehend it.

Now the idea rose dimly within him, that some friend or relation, of
those messengers of the exchequer, might live in the Hegau, and revenge
their death, on the innocent disciple of St. Gallus; for Solomon who
had occasioned their shameful execution, had once been Abbot of St.
Gall. In that case, Ekkehard had to prepare himself for the worst; as
he well knew, that neither tonsure, nor monk's habit would be any
protection, against having his eyes burnt out, or hands cut off, if it
was a question of revenge.

He thought of dying. With his conscience he was at peace, and death
itself had no terror for him; but yet in his heart there arose the
faint murmur; "why not a year later, after my foot had been set on the
Hohentwiel?"

Now his bearers were moving more slowly, as they were walking uphill.
Into which of their robbers' nests, were they carrying him? They had
ascended for about half an hour, when the tramp of the horses' feet
made a hollow sound, as if they were going over a wooden bridge. Still
everything was quiet; there was no call even of the watchman on the
tower. The decisive moment was close at hand, and Ekkehard now felt new
courage and confidence rising within his heart, as he remembered the
words of the psalmist:

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide
under the shadow of the Almighty.

"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in
Him will I trust."

Another bridge was crossed, then a gate opened and the sedan-chair was
put down; after which they took out their prisoner. His foot touched
the ground; he felt grass, and heard a faint whispering, as if there
were many people around him. At the same time the cords were loosened.

"Take away the bandage from your eyes," said one of his companions. He
obeyed, and--oh heart, do not break with too much happiness!--he stood
in the court-yard on the Hohentwiel.

The wind was rustling in the boughs of the old linden-tree, to which a
tent-like linen cloth was fastened, from which garlands of ivy and
vine-leaves were hanging. All the inhabitants of the fortress were
assembled, and on a stone bench in the midst, sat the Duchess. From her
shoulders the princely mantle of dark purple descended in heavy folds;
a sweet smile softened her haughty features, and now the stately figure
rose, and advanced towards Ekkehard.

"Welcome to Hadwig's domains!"

Ekkehard had as yet scarcely realized his position. He was about to
kneel down before her, but she prevented him, by graciously extending
her hand to him. Throwing aside his grey mantle, the chamberlain
Spazzo, now likewise came forwards, and embraced Ekkehard like an old
friend.

"In the name of our gracious mistress, please to receive the kiss of
peace."

A faint suspicion that he was being played with, crossed Ekkehard's
mind; but the Duchess now called out laughingly: "You have been paid in
your own coin. As you did not allow the Duchess of Suabia, to cross the
threshold of St. Gallus otherwise, it was but fair that she also should
have the man of St. Gall, carried through the gateway into her castle."

Master Spazzo again shook hands with him, and said: "I hope you're not
angry; we were but acting up to our mistress's commands!"--He had first
headed the attack, and was now helping to welcome Ekkehard, doing both
with the same pompous air, for a chamberlain must be flexible, and even
know how to reconcile contradictions.

Ekkehard smiled. "For a mere jest, you have acted your part very
seriously." He remembered how one of the riders had given him a good
thrust between the ribs, with the butt-end of his lance, when they
threw him into the sedan-chair. This had certainly not been the
Duchess's order; but the lancer had once been present, when Luitfried
the nephew of one of the exchequer's messengers, had thrown down the
Bishop Solomon; and from that time had kept the erroneous notion, that
a good blow or kick, was absolutely necessary to throw down anybody
belonging to the church.

Dame Hadwig now took her guest by the hand and showed him her airy
castle with its beautiful view of the Bodensee, and the distant
mountain peaks. Then all the people belonging to the castle, came and
asked for his blessing; amongst them also the lancers; and he blessed
them all.--

The Duchess accompanied him to the entrance of his chamber, where new
clothes and other comforts awaited him; there she told him to rest
himself from the fatigues of the journey; and Ekkehard felt happy and
light-hearted, after his strange adventure.

The following night, it occurred in the monastery of St. Gall, that
Romeias the gate-keeper, without any reason started up from his couch,
and fiercely blew his horn; so that the dogs barked loudly, and
everybody awoke. Yet there was no one asking admittance. The Abbot
concluded, that it was the doing of evil spirits; but at the same time,
ordered Romeias's evening drink, to be reduced to one half, for six
days;--a measure which was based however on very wrong suppositions.



                              CHAPTER VII.

                      Virgilius on the Hohentwiel.


After one has got over the trouble and fatigue of a migration to a new
residence, it is very pleasant work, to make everything around cozy and
comfortable.

No one ought to think it a matter of indifference, in what place he
lives, and what his surroundings are. He whose windows for instance,
look out on a high-way, where carts and carriages are constantly
passing, and on which stones are being ground to pieces, is certainly
oftener visited by gray, dusty thoughts, than by gay many-coloured
fancies.

With regard to situation, Ekkehard might well be contented; for the
ducal castle on the Hohentwiel, was high, airy and lonely enough;--but
still he was not quite satisfied, when on the day after his arrival,
Dame Hadwig showed him his domicile.

It was a spacious chamber, with arched windows supported on pillars,
and was entered by the same passage, which also led to the Duchess's
hall and chambers. Now the impressions which a man takes with him, from
his lonely cloister-cell, are not to be shaken off in one single night,
and Ekkehard reflected how often he might be disturbed in his
meditations, if the tread of armour-clad men, or the softer footstep of
serving maids, were to pass his door; where he might even hear the
mistress of the castle, passing up and down, in her chambers. So he
simply addressed himself to the Duchess saying: "I have a favour to ask
of you, my liege lady."

"Speak," said she mildly.

"Could you not give me besides this grand room, a more distant and
solitary little chamber, no matter whether it be high up under the
roof, or in one of the watch-towers? One great requirement for the
study of science, as well as the exercise of prayer, is perfect quiet,
according to the rules of the cloister!"

On hearing this, a slight frown overshadowed Dame Hadwig's fair brow.
It was not a cloud,--only a cloudlet. "If you wish to be often quite
alone," said she with a satirical smile, "why did you not stay at St.
Gall?"

Ekkehard bowed his head and remained silent.

"Stay," cried Dame Hadwig, "your wish shall be fulfilled. You can look
at the room in which Vincentius, our chaplain lived till his blessed
end. He also had the taste of a bird of prey, and preferred being the
highest on the Hohentwiel, to being the most comfortable. Praxedis, get
the large bunch of keys and accompany our guest."

Praxedis obeyed. The chamber of the late chaplain, was high in the
square tower of the castle. Slowly she ascended the winding staircase,
followed by Ekkehard. The key grated in the long unused lock, and
creaking on its hinges the heavy door swung back. They entered,--but
what a sight was before them!

Where a learned man has lived, it takes some time to destroy all traces
of him. The room in question, of moderate size and with white-washed
walls, contained but little furniture; dust and cobwebs covering
everything. On the oak table in the middle stood a small pot, that had
once served as an inkstand, but the ink had long been dried up. In one
corner stood a stone jug, which in former times had probably held the
sparkling wine. On a rough book-shelf were some books, and close by,
some open parchments;--but oh misery!--a storm had broken the little
window; so Vincentius's room, after his death, had been open to
sunshine and rain, to insects and birds. A flock of pigeons taking
undisputed possession, had snugly settled down, among all the
book-wisdom. On the epistles of St. Paul and Julius Cæsar's Gallic
wars, they had built their nests, and now looked with surprise at the
intruders.

Opposite the door, was written with charcoal on the wall: "Martha,
Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things."--Ekkehard
read it and then asked his lovely guide, "was that the late chaplain's
last will?"

Praxedis laughed merrily. "He was a pleasant and peace-loving man the
late Master Vincentius. 'Comfort and rest are better than many a pound
of silver,' was what he often said. But my lady the Duchess, worried
him a good deal with her questions; one day she was wanting to know
about the stars; the next about herbs and medicine; the day after,
about the Holy Bible and the traditions of the church.--'What have you
studied for, if you cannot tell me anything?'--she would say, and
Master Vincentius's patience was often sorely tried."

Praxedis pointed archly to her forehead.

"'In the middle of Asia,' he often replied, 'there is a black marble
stone; and he who can lift it, knows everything and need not ask any
more questions.' He was from Bavaria, Master Vincentius, and I suppose
that he wrote down, the quotation from Scripture, to console himself."

"Does the Duchess ask so many questions'?" said Ekkehard absently.

"That you will soon find out for yourself," replied Praxedis.

Ekkehard examined the books on the shelves. "I am sorry for the
pigeons, but they will have to go."

"Why?"

"They have spoilt the whole of the first book on the Gallic wars; and
the epistle to the Corinthians is hopelessly and irreparably damaged."

"Is that a great loss?" asked Praxedis.

"A very great loss!"

"Oh, you naughty doves," said Praxedis jestingly. "Come to me, before
yonder pious man drives you out, amongst the hawks and falcons," and
she called the birds which had quietly remained in their niche; and
when they did not come, she threw a ball of white worsted on the table;
the male dove flew towards it, believing that it were a new dove. With
stately steps he approached the white ball, greeting it with a gentle
cooing; and when Praxedis snatched it up, the bird flew on her head.

Then she began to sing softly a Greek melody. It was the song of the
old, yet ever young singer of Teus.


           "Tell me, thou pretty birdie,
            Tell me, from whence thou comest,
            And whence the balmy fragrance
            Which from thy snowy pinions
            Drips down upon the meadow;
            Who art thou? and what wilt thou?"


Ekkehard started up with surprise from the codex, in which he was
reading, and threw an almost frightened look on the young girl. If his
eye had been more accustomed to see natural grace and beauty, it would
probably have rested somewhat longer on the Greek maid. The dove had
hopped upon her hand, and she lifted it up with a bended arm.
Anacreon's old countryman, who out of a block of Parian marble, created
the Venus of Knidos, would have fixed the picture in his memory, if he
had witnessed it.

"What are you singing," asked Ekkehard, "it sounds like a foreign
language."

"Why should it not be foreign?"

"Greek?"--

"And why should I not sing Greek," pertly rejoined Praxedis.

"By the lyre of Homer," exclaimed Ekkehard, full of surprise, "where in
the name of wonder did you learn that; the highest aim of our
scholars?"

"At home," quietly replied Praxedis.

Ekkehard cast another look, full of shy respect and admiration at her.
While reading Aristotle and Plato he had hardly remembered, that any
living persons still spoke the Greek tongue. The idea now dawned upon
him, that something was here embodied before him, that in spite of all
his spiritual and wordly wisdom, was beyond his reach and
understanding.

"I thought I had come as a teacher to the Hohentwiel," said he almost
humbly, "and I find my master here. Would you not now and then deign to
bestow a grain of your mother-tongue on me?"

"On condition that you will not drive away the doves," replied
Praxedis. "You can easily have a grating put up before the niche, so
that they do not fly about your head."

"For the sake of pure Greek"--Ekkehard was beginning to say, when the
door opened, and the sharp voice of Dame Hadwig was heard.

"What are you talking here about doves and pure Greek? Does it take so
much time to look at four walls?--Well, Master Ekkehard, does the den
suit your taste?"

He bowed in the affirmative.

"Then it shall be cleaned and put in order," continued Dame Hadwig. "Be
quick, Praxedis, and see about it,--and to begin with, let us drive
away these doves!"

Ekkehard ventured to put in a word on their behalf.

"Indeed!" said the Duchess, "you desire to be alone, and yet wish to
keep doves! Shall we perhaps hang a lute on the wall, and strew
rose-leaves into your wine? Well, they shall not be driven out; but
they shall appear roasted on our supper-table, this evening."

Praxedis appeared, as if she heard nothing of all this.

"And what was that about the pure Greek?" enquired the Duchess. And
Ekkehard simply told her the favour, he had asked of Praxedis. Upon
this, the frown returned to Dame Hadwig's forehead. "If you are so very
anxious to learn," said she, "you can ask me; for I also speak that
language." Ekkehard made no objection, for in her speech there was a
certain sharpness, which cut off all replies. The Duchess was strict
and punctual in everything. A day or two, after Ekkehard's arrival, she
worked out a plan, for learning the Latin language, and so it was
settled that they should devote one hour each day to the grammar, and
another to the reading of Virgil. This latter was looked forward to
with great pleasure by Ekkehard. He intended to apply the whole of his
faculties to the new study and to summon up all his erudition and
knowledge, in order to make the task easy to the Duchess.

"It is certainly no useless work which the old poets have left behind,"
he said. "How difficult it would be to learn a language, if it were
bequeathed to us, merely through a dictionary, like corn in a sack,
which we should first have to grind into flour, and then to make
into bread. Now the poet puts everything in its right place, and the
whole is clothed in harmonious forms; so that what otherwise would
prove a hard and tough matter for our teeth, we can now drink in like
honey-dew."

To mitigate the bitterness of the grammar, Ekkehard could find no
means. Every day he wrote a task for the Duchess on parchment, and she
proved a very eager and industrious pupil; for each morning when the
sun rose over the Bodensee, and cast its early rays on the Hohentwiel,
she stood already at her window, learning her task; silently or loud as
might be. Once her montonous reciting of _amo_, _amas_, _amat_,
_amamus_ _etc_. reached even Ekkehard's ear in his chamber.

Poor Praxedis was heavily afflicted, as the Duchess to heighten her own
zeal, ordered her to learn always the same task with her, which she
considered a great nuisance. Dame Hadwig, only a beginner herself,
delighted in correcting her handmaiden, and was never so pleased, as
when Praxedis took a substantive for an adjective, or conjugated an
irregular verb as a regular one.

In the evening the Duchess came over to Ekkehard's room, where
everything had to be ready for the reading of Virgil. Praxedis
accompanied her, and as no dictionary was found amongst the books which
Master Vincentius had left behind, Praxedis who was well-versed in the
art of writing, was ordered to begin to make one, as Dame Hadwig did
not know so much of that. "What would be the use of priests and monks,"
said she, "if everybody knew the art belonging to their profession? Let
the blacksmiths wield the hammer, the soldiers the sword, and the
scriveners the pen, and everyone stick to his own business." She had
however well practised writing her name, in capital letters,
artistically entwined; so that she could affix it, to all documents to
which she put her seal, as sovereign of the land.

Praxedis cut up a big roll of parchment, into small leaves; drawing two
lines on each, to make three divisions. After each lesson she wrote
down the Latin words they had learned in one, the German in the next,
and the Greek equivalent in the third column. This last was done by the
Duchess's desire, in order to prove to Ekkehard, that they had acquired
some knowledge, already before he came. Thus the lessons had fairly
begun.

The door of Ekkehard's room, leading into the passage, was left wide
open by Praxedis. He rose and was about to shut it, when the Duchess
prevented him, by saying: "Do you not yet know the world?"

Ekkehard could not understand the meaning of this. He now began to read
and translate the first book of Virgil's great epic poem. Æneas the
Trojan rose before their eyes; how he had wandered about for seven
years on the Tyrian sea, and what unspeakable pains it had cost him to
become the founder of the Roman people. Then came the recital of Juno's
anger, when she went to entreat Aeolus to do her bidding; promising the
fairest of her nymphs to the God of the winds, if he would destroy the
Trojan ships.--Thunder-storms, tempests, and dire ship-wrecks;--the
turbulent waves scattering weapons and armour, beams and rafters, of
what had once been the stately fleet of the Trojans. And the roar of
the excited waves, reach the ears of Neptune himself, who rising from
his watery depths, beholds the dire confusion. The winds of Aeolus are
ignominiously sent home; the rebellious waves settle down; and the
remaining ships, anchor on the Lybian shores ...

So far Ekkehard had read and translated. His voice was full and
sonorous, and vibrating with emotion; for he perfectly understood what
he had read. It was getting late; the lamp was flickering in its
socket, and Dame Hadwig rose from her seat to go.

"How does my gracious mistress like the tale of the heathen poet?"
asked Ekkehard.

"I will tell you to-morrow," was the reply.

To be sure, she might have said it there and then; for the impression
of what she had heard, was already fixed in her mind; but she refrained
from doing so, not liking to hurt his feelings.

"May you have pleasant dreams," she called out as he was departing.

Ekkehard went up to Vincentius's room in the tower, which had been
restored to perfect order; all traces of the doves having been
removed. He wanted to pray and meditate, as he was wont to do in the
monastery, but his head began to burn and before his soul stood the
lofty figure of the Duchess; and when he looked straight at her, then
Praxedis's black eyes, also peeped at him from over her mistress's
shoulders.--What was to become of all this?--He went to the window
where the fresh autumn air cooled his forehead, and looked out at the
dark vast sky, stretching out over the silent earth. The stars twinkled
brightly, some nearer, some farther off, more or less brilliant. He had
never before enjoyed such an extensive view of the starry firmament;
for on the top of the mountains, the appearance and size of things
change much. For a long time he stood thus, until he began to shiver;
and he felt as if the stars were attracting him upwards, and that he
must rise towards them as on wings ... He closed the window, crossed
himself, and went to seek his resting place.

On the next day, Dame Hadwig came with Praxedis to take her grammar
lesson. She had learnt many words and declensions, and knew her task
well; but she was absent withal.

"Did you dream anything?" she asked her teacher when the lesson was
over.

"No."

"Nor yesterday?"

"Neither."

"Tis a pity, for it is said, that, what we dream the first night in a
new domicile comes true. Now confess, are you not a very awkward young
man?" she continued after a short pause.

"I?" asked Ekkehard greatly surprised.

"As you hold constant intercourse with the poets, why did you not
invent some graceful dream, and tell it me? Poetry and dreams,--'tis
all the same, and it would have given me pleasure."

"If such is your command," said Ekkehard, "I will do so the next time
you ask me; even if I have dreamt nothing."

Such conversations were entirely new and mystical for Ekkehard. "You
still owe me your opinion of Virgil," said he.

"Well," returned Dame Hadwig, "if I had been a queen in Roman lands, I
do not know whether I should not have burnt the poem, and imposed
eternal silence on the man ..."

Ekkehard stared at her, full of amazement.

"I am perfectly serious about it," continued she, "and do you wish to
know why?--because he reviles the Gods of his country. I paid great
attention, when you recited the speeches of Juno yesterday. That she,
the wife of the chief of all the Gods, feels a rankling in her mind,
because a Trojan shepherd boy, does not declare her to be the most
beautiful,--and being powerless to call up a tempest at her will, to
destroy a few miserable ships, must first bribe Aeolus by the offer of
a nymph! And then Neptune, who calls himself the king of the seas, and
allows strange winds to cause a tempest in his realms; and only notices
this transgression, when it is well nigh over!--What is the upshot of
all that?--I can tell you, that in a country whose Gods are thus abased
and defamed, I should not like to wield the sceptre!"

Ekkehard could not very readily find an answer. All the manuscripts of
the ancients, were for him stable and immovable as the mountains; and
he was content to read and admire, what lay before him and now such
doubts!

"Pardon me, gracious lady," he said, "we have not read very far as yet,
and it is to be hoped, that the human beings of the Æneid will find
greater favour in your eyes. Please to remember, that at the time when
the Emperor Augustus, had his subjects counted, the light of the world
began to dawn at Bethlehem. The legend says, that a ray of that light
had also fallen on Virgil, which explains why the old Gods could not
appear so great in his eyes."

Dame Hadwig had spoken according to her first impression, but she did
not intend to argue with her teacher.

"Praxedis," said she in a jesting tone, "what may thy opinion be?"

"My powers of thought are not so great," said the Greek maid.
"Everything appeared to me to be so very natural; and that made me like
it. And what has pleased me most, was that Mistress Juno gave Aeolus to
one of her nymphs for a husband; for though he was somewhat elderly, he
was after all, king of the winds, and she must certainly have been well
provided for."

"Certainly,"--said Dame Hadwig, making a sign to her to be silent.
"'Tis well that we have learnt in what way waiting-women can appreciate
Virgil."

Ekkehard was only provoked into 'greater zeal, by the Duchess's
contradiction. With enthusiasm he read, on the following evening, how
the pious Æneas goes out to seek the Lybian land; and how he meets his
mother Venus, dressed in the habit and armour of a Spartan maid; the
light bow hanging over her shoulder, and her fair heaving bosom,
scarcely hidden by the looped-up garment; and how she directs her son's
steps, towards the Lybian princess. Further he read, how Æneas
recognized his Divine mother but too late,--calling after her in vain;
but how she wrapped him up in a mist, so that he could reach the new
town unseen, where the Tyrian queen is building a splendid temple in
honour of Juno. There he stands transfixed with admiration, gazing at
the representation of the battles before Troy; painted by the hand of
the artist; and his soul is refreshed by the recollections of past
battles.

And now Dido, the mistress of the land, herself approaches, urging on
the workmen, and performing her sovereign's duties.


   "And at the gate of the temple, in Juno's honour erected,
    There on her throne sat the queen, surrounded by arms-bearing
      warriors,
    Dealing out justice to all, and dividing the labours amongst them,
    With an impartial hand, allotting his share to each one ..."


"Read that over again," said the Duchess. Ekkehard complied with her
wish.

"Is it written thus in the book?" asked she. "I should not have
objected if you had put in these lines yourself; for I almost fancied I
heard a description of my own government. Yes, with the human beings of
your poet, I am well satisfied."

"It was no doubt easier to describe them, than the Gods," said
Ekkehard. "There are so many men in this world ..."

She made him a sign to continue. So he read on, how the companions of
Æneas came, to implore her protection, and how they sung their leader's
praise; who, hidden by a cloud, stood close by. And Dido opens her town
to the helpless ones; and the wish arises in her, that Æneas their
king, might also be thrown by the raging waves on her shores; so that
the hero feels a great longing to break through the cloud that is
veiling him.

But when Ekkehard began with:


   "Scarce had she uttered this wish, when the veiling cloud, floated
      backwards ..."


a heavy tread was heard, and the next moment, in came Master Spazzo the
chamberlain; wanting to have a look at the Duchess, taking her lesson.
Most likely he had been sitting with the wine-jug before him, for his
eyes were staring vacantly, and the salutation-speech died on his lips.
It was not his fault though; for quite early in the morning, he had
felt his nose burn and itch dreadfully, and that is an unmistakeable
sign, of a tipsy evening to come.

"Stop there," cried the Duchess, "and you Ekkehard continue!"

He read on with his clear expressive voice.


   "Showing Æneas himself, in all the bloom of his beauty,
    High and lofty withal; godlike, for the heavenly mother,
    Having with soft flowing locks, and glorious features endowed him,
    Breathing, into his eyes, sereneness and radiance for ever.
    Like, as the ivory may, by dexterous hands be embellished,
    Or as the Parian stone, encircled by red, golden fillets.
    Then he, addressing the queen, to the wonder of all the
      surrounders,
    Suddenly turnéd, and said: Behold then, him you were seeking,
    Me, the Trojan Æneas, escaped from the Lybian breakers."


Master Spazzo stood there, in utter confusion; whilst an arch smile
played around the lips of Praxedis.

"When you honour us next with your presence," called out the Duchess,
"please to choose a more suitable moment for your entrance; so that we
are not tempted to imagine you to be, 'Æneas the Trojan escaped from
the Lybian breakers!'"

Master Spazzo quickly withdrew, muttering: "Æneas the Trojan? has
another Rhinelandish adventurer forged some mythical pedigree for
himself? Troy?!--and clouds floating backwards?... Wait Æneas the
Trojan; when we two meet, we shall break a lance together! Death and
damnation!"



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                                Audifax.


In those times, there also lived on the Hohentwiel a boy, whose name
was Audifax. He was the child of a bondsman, and had lost both his
parents early in life. He had grown up like a wild mountain-ash, and
the people did not care much about him. He belonged to the castle, as
the house-leek did that grew on the roof; or the ivy which had fastened
its tendrils to the walls. As he grew older he was entrusted with the
care of the goats; and this office he fulfilled faithfully enough;
driving them out and home again, every day. He was a shy and silent
boy, with a pale face, and short-cut fair hair, for only the free-born
were allowed to wear long waving locks.

In the spring, when trees and bushes put forth their new shoots,
Audifax loved to sit in the open air; making himself pipes out of the
young wood, and blowing thereon. It was a doleful, melancholy music,
and Dame Hadwig had once stood on her balcony, listening to it for
hours. Probably the plaintive notes of the pipe had suited her fancy
that day; for when Audifax came home with his goats on the evening, she
told him to ask a favour for himself; and he begged for a little bell
for one of his favourite goats, called blackfoot. Blackfoot got the
little bell, and from that time nothing particular had broken the
monotonous routine of Audifax's life. But with increasing years he
became shyer, and since the last spring he had even given up blowing on
his pipe. It was now late in the autumn, but the sun was shining
brightly still, and he was driving his goats as usual down the rocky
mountain slope; and sitting on a rock, looked out into the distance.
Through the dark fir-trees he could see the glittering surface of the
Bodensee. All around, the trees were already wearing their autumnal
colours, and the winds were playing merrily with the rustling red and
yellow leaves on the ground. Heaving a deep sigh, Audifax after a while
began to cry bitterly.

At that time, a little girl, whose name was Hadumoth, was minding the
geese and ducks belonging to the castle poultry-yard. She was the
daughter of an old maid-servant, and had never seen her father. This
Hadumoth was a very good little girl, with bright red cheeks and blue
eyes; and she wore her hair in two tresses falling down on her
shoulders. The geese were kept in excellent order and training, and
though they would stick out their long necks sometimes, and cackle like
foolish women,--not one of them dared to disobey its mistress; and when
she waved her hazel-wand, they all went quietly and decently along;
refraining from useless noise. Often they picked their herbs in company
with the goats of Audifax; for Hadumoth rather liked the short-haired
goat-herd, and often sat beside him; and the two looked up together at
the blue sky; and the animals soon found out the friendly feelings
between their guardians, and consequently were friendly also.

At that moment Hadumoth was likewise coming down the hill with her
geese, and on hearing the tinkling of the goat-bells, she looked about
for the driver. Then she beheld him sitting on the stone, in his
distress; and going up to him, sat down by his side and said: "Audifax,
what makes thee cry?"

But the boy gave no answer. Then Hadumoth put her arm round his
shoulders, drew his little smooth head towards her and said
sorrowfully: "Audifax, if thou criest, I must cry also."

Then Audifax tried to dry his tears, saying: "Thou needest not cry, but
I must. There is something within me, that makes me cry."

"What is in thee, tell me?" she urged him.

Then he took one of the stones, such as were lying about plentifully,
and threw it on the other stones. The stone was thin and produced a
ringing sound.

"Didst thou hear it?"

"Yes," replied Hadumoth, "it sounded just as usual."

"Hast thou also understood the sound?"

"No."

"Ah, but I understand it, and therefore I must cry," said Audifax. "It
is now many weeks ago, that I sat in yonder valley on a rock. There it
first came to me. I cannot tell thee how, but it must have come from
the depths below; and since then, I feel as if my eyes and ears were
quite changed, and in my hands I sometimes see glittering sparks.
Whenever I walk over the fields, I hear it murmuring under my feet, as
if there were some hidden spring; and when I stand by the rocks, I see
the veins running through them; and down below, I hear a hammering and
digging, and that must come from the dwarfs, of which my grandfather
has told me many a time. And sometimes I even see a red glowing light,
shining through the earth.... Hadumoth, I must find some great
treasure, and because I cannot find it, therefore I cry."

Hadumoth made the sign of the cross, and then said: "Thou must have
been bewitched somehow, Audifax. Perhaps thou hast slept after sunset
on the ground, in the open air; and thus one of the goblins below, has
got power over thee. Wait, I know something better than crying."

She ran up the hill, speedily returning with a small cup full of water,
and a bit of soap, which Praxedis had once given her; as well as some
straws. Then she made a good lather, and giving one of the straws to
Audifax she said: "There, let us make soap-bubbles, as we used to do.
Dost thou remember, when we made them last time, how they always grew
bigger and more beautifully coloured; and how they flew down the
valley, glittering like the rain-bow? And how we almost cried when they
burst?"

Audifax had taken the straw without saying a word, and had blown a fine
bubble, which fresh like a dew-drop was hanging at the end of the
straw; and he held it up into the air to let the sun shine on it.

"Dost thou recollect, Audifax," continued the girl, "what thou saidst
to me once, when we had used up all our soap-water, and it became
night, with the stars all coming out?--'These are also soap-bubbles,'
thou saidst, 'and the good God is sitting on a high mountain, blowing
them, and he can do it better than we can.'" ...

"No, I do not remember that," said Audifax.

He hung down his head again, and began to cry afresh. "What must I do,
to find the treasure?" sobbed he.

"Be sensible," said Hadumoth, "what wilt thou do with the treasure, if
thou couldst find it?"

"I should buy my liberty, and thine also; and all the land from the
Duchess; mountain and all; and I should have made for thee a golden
crown, and for every goat a golden bell, and for myself a flute made of
ebony and pure gold." ...

"Of pure gold," laughed Hadumoth. "Dost thou know, what gold looks
like?"

Audifax pointed with his fingers to his lips. "Canst thou keep a
secret?" She nodded in the affirmative. "Then promise me with your
hand." She gave him her hand.

"Now I will show you, how pure gold looks," said the boy, diving into
his breast-pocket, and pulling out a piece like a good-sized coin, but
shaped like a cup. On it were engraven mystic, half-effaced characters.
It glistened and shone brightly in the sun, and was really gold.
Hadumoth balanced it on her forefinger.

"That I found in yonder field; far over there, after the thunderstorm,"
said Audifax. "Whenever the many-coloured rain-bow descends to us,
there come two angels, who hold out a golden cup, so that its ends
should not touch the rough and rain-drenched ground; and when it
vanishes again, they leave their cups on the fields, as they cannot use
them twice; for fear of offending the rain-bow."

Hadumoth began to believe that her companion was really destined to
obtain some great treasure. "Audifax," said she, giving him back his
rain-bow cup, "this will not help thee. He who wants to find a
treasure, must know the spell. Down in the depth below, they keep a
good watch over their treasures, and don't give up anything, unless
they are forced to do it."

"Oh, yes, the spell!" said Audifax with tearful eyes. "If I only knew
that!"

"Hast thou seen the holy man already?" asked Hadumoth.

"No."

"For some days a holy man has been in the castle, who is sure to know
all spells. He has brought a great book with him, out of which he reads
to the Duchess; in it is written everything; how one conquers all the
spirits in air, earth, water and fire. The tall Friderun told the
men-servants; and that the Duchess had made him come, to strengthen her
power; and to make her remain for ever young and beautiful, and live to
eternity."

"I will go to the holy man then," said Audifax

"They will beat you perhaps," warned Hadumoth.

"They will not beat me," replied he. "I know something which I will
give him, if he tells me the spell."

Meanwhile the evening had set in. The two children arose from their
stony seat; goats and geese were collected; and then, in well organized
troops, like soldiers, were driven up the hill, and into their
respective sheds. That same evening, Ekkehard read out to the Duchess,
the end of the first book of the Æneid, which had been interrupted by
Master Spazzo's untimely entrance.--How Dido greatly surprised by the
hero's unexpected appearance, invites him as well as his companions
into her hospitable halls;--and Dame Hadwig gave an approving nod, at
the following words of Dido:


   "I, by a similar fate, with many a sorrow acquainted,
    Wearily erring about, till I found a home in this country,
    Grief is no stranger to me, and has taught me to help the
      afflicted."


Then Æneas sends back Achates to the ships, that he might bring the
good news to Ascanius; for on him was centred all the care and
affection of his father. But Dame Venus, whose head is rife with new
cunning, wishes to enflame Dido's heart with love for Æneas. So she
removed Ascanius to the distant Idalian groves and gave his form to the
God of love; who divesting himself of his wings, and imitating the
carriage and gait of Ascanius, followed the Trojans sent to fetch him,
and thus appeared before the queen in her palace at Carthago.


   "Often she thus could be found, with her soul in her eyes, gazing
      at him,
    Then too, many a time, she presses him close to her bosom,
    Little knowing, poor queen, to what God she is giving a shelter.
    Bent on his mother's designs, in her heart he effaces the image
    Of Sichæus her spouse; then tries to rekindle her passions,
    Calling up feelings within her, which long had slumber'd
      forgotten."


"Stop a moment," said Dame Hadwig. "This part, I think, is again very
poor, and weakly conceived."

"Poor, and weakly conceived?" asked Ekkehard.

"What need is there of Amor," she said. "Could it not happen without
using cunning and deceit, and without his interference that the memory
of her first husband could be effaced in the heart of a widow?"

"If a God himself made the mischief," said Ekkehard, "then queen Dido's
behaviour is excused, or even justified;--that I believe is the
intention of the poet." Ekkehard probably thought this a very clever
remark, but the Duchess now rose, and pointedly said: "Oh that of
course alters the matter! So she needed an excuse!--really that idea
did not strike me! Good night."

Proudly she stepped through the chamber; her long flowing garments
rustling reproachfully.

"'Tis strange," thought Ekkehard, "but to read Virgil with women, has
certainly its difficulties." Further his reflections did not go ...

The following day he was going over the courtyard, when Audifax the
goat-herd came to him; kissed the hem of his garment, and then looked
up at him, with beseeching eyes.

"What dost thou want?" asked Ekkehard.

"I should like to know the spell," replied Audifax timidly.

"What spell?"

"To lift the treasure, out of the deeps."

"That spell I should like to know also," said Ekkehard laughing.

"Oh, you have got it, holy man," said the boy eagerly. "Have you not
got the great book, out of which you read to the Duchess, in the
evening?"

Ekkehard looked at him sharply. He became suspicious; remembering the
way, in which he had come to the Hohentwiel. "Has anybody prompted
thee,--thus to interrogate me?"

"Yes."

"Who?"

Then Audifax began to cry, and sobbed out, "Hadumoth."

Ekkehard did not understand him. "And who is Hadumoth?"

"The goose-girl," faltered the boy.

"Thou art a foolish boy, who ought to mind his business."

But Audifax did not go.

"You are not to give it me for nothing," said he. "I will show you
something very pretty. There must be many treasures in the mountain. I
know one, but it is not the right one; and I should so like to find the
right one!"

Ekkehard's attention was roused. "Show me what thou knowest." Audifax
pointed downwards; and Ekkehard going out of the court-yard followed
him down the hill. On the back of the mountain, where one beholds the
fir-clad Hohenstoffeln and Hohenhöwen, Audifax quitted the path, and
went into the bushes, towards a high wall of grey rocks.

Audifax pushed aside the opposing branches, and tearing away the moss,
showed him a yellow vein, as broad as a finger, running through the
grey stone. The boy then managed to break off a bit of the yellow
substance, which stuck in the chinks of the rock, like petrified drops.
In the bright gold-coloured mass, small opal crystals, in reddish white
globules, were scattered.

Closely examining it, Ekkehard looked at the detached piece, which was
unknown to him. It was no precious stone; the learned men in later
years, gave it the name of Natrolith.

"Do you see now, that I know something?" said Audifax.

"But what shall I do with it?" enquired Ekkehard.

"That you must know better than I. You can have them polished, and
adorn your great books with them. Will you now give me the spell?"

Ekkehard could not help laughing at the boy. "Thou oughtest to become a
miner," he said, turning to go.

But Audifax held him fast by his garment.

"No, you must first teach me something out of your book."

"What shall I teach you?"

"The most powerful charm."

An inclination to allow himself an innocent joke, now came into
Ekkehard's serious mind. "Come along with me then, and thou shalt have
the most powerful charm."

Joyfully Audifax went with him. Then Ekkehard laughingly told him the
following words out of Virgil:


   "Auri sacra fames, quid non mortalia cogis pectora?"


With stubborn patience, Audifax repeated the foreign words, over and
over again, until he had fixed them in his memory.

"Please to write it down, that I may wear it on me," he now entreated.

Ekkehard wishing to complete the joke, wrote the words on a thin strip
of parchment, and gave it to the boy; who gleefully hiding it in his
breast-pocket, again kissed his garment, and then darted off; with
innumerable mad gambols, outrivalling the merriest of his goats.

"This child holds Virgil in greater honour, than the Duchess," thought
Ekkehard to himself.

At noon-tide Audifax was again sitting on his rock; but this time there
were no tears glistening in his timid eyes. For the first time, after a
long while, his pipe was taken out, and the wind carried its notes into
the valley, where they reached his friend Hadumoth; who came over at
once, and gaily asked him: "Shall we make soap-bubbles again?"

"I will make no more soap-bubbles," said Audifax, and resumed his
pipe-blowing; but after a while, he looked about carefully, and then
drawing Hadumoth quite close to him, he whispered in her ear, his eyes
glistening strangely: "I have been to see the holy man. This night we
will seek the treasure. Thou must go with me." Hadumoth readily
promised.

In the servants' hall, the supper was finished; and now they all rose
from their benches at the same time, and arranged themselves in a long
file. At the bottom stood Audifax and Hadumoth, and it was the latter
who used to say the prayers, before these rough, but well-meaning
folks. Her voice was rather trembling this time.

Before the table had been cleared, two shadows glided out, by the yet
unlocked gate. They belonged to Hadumoth and Audifax; the latter going
on before. "The night will be cold," he said to his companion, throwing
a long-haired goat's skin over her.

On the southern side where the mountain wall is steepest, there was an
old rampart. Here Audifax stopped, as it afforded them a shelter
against the keen night-wind of autumn. He stretched out his arm and
said: "I think this must be the place. We have yet to wait a long time,
till midnight."

Hadumoth said nothing. The two children sat down side by side. The moon
had risen, and sent her trembling light, through airy, scattered
cloudlets. In the castle some windows were lighted up; they were again
reading out of their Virgil. Everything was quiet and motionless
around; only at rare intervals, the hoarse shriek of an owl was heard.
After a long while, Hadumoth timidly said: "How will it be, Audifax?"

"I don't know," was the answer. "Somebody will come and bring it; or
the earth will open, and we must descend; or ..."

"Be quiet, I am frightened."

After another long interval, during which Hadumoth had slumbered
peacefully, her head resting on Audifax's bosom,--the latter, rubbing
his eyes hard, to drive away sleepiness, now awakened his companion.

"Hadumoth," said he, "the night is long, wilt thou not tell me
something?"

"Something evil has come into my mind," replied she. "There was once a
man, who went out in the early morning, at sunrise, to plough his
field; and there he found the gold-dwarf, standing in a furrow and
grinning at him, who spoke thus: 'take me with you. He who does not
seek us, shall have us; but he who seeketh us, we strangle him ...'
Audifax, I am so frightened."

"Give me thy hand," said Audifax, "and have courage."

The lights on the castle had all died out. The hollow bugle-notes of
the watchman on the tower, announced midnight. Then Audifax knelt down,
and Hadumoth, beside him. The former had taken off his wooden shoe from
his right foot, so that the naked sole touched the dark earth. The
parchment strip he held in his hand, and with a clear firm voice he
pronounced the words, the meaning of which he did not understand,


   "Auri sacra fames, quid non mortalia cogis pectora."


He remembered them well. And on their knees the two remained, waiting
for that which was to come. But there came neither dwarf nor giant, and
the ground did not open either. The stars over their heads, glittered
coldly, and the chill night-air blew into their faces ... Yet a faith
so strong and deep, as that of the two children, ought not to be
laughed at, even if it cannot remove mountains, or bring up treasures
from the deep.

Now a strange light was seen on the firmament. A shooting star, marking
its way by a trailing line of light, fell down; followed by many
others. "It is coming from above," whispered Audifax, convulsively
pressing the little maiden to his side. "_Auri sacra fames_ ..." he
called out once more into the night. Then the golden lines crossed each
other; and soon one meteor after another became extinguished, and
everything in the sky, was again quiet as before.

Audifax looked with anxious eyes around; then he rose sorrowfully, and
said in faltering tones: "'Tis nothing; they have fallen into the lake.
They grudge us everything. We shall remain poor."

"Hast thou said the words, which the holy man gave thee, quite right?"

"Exactly so as he taught me."

"Then he has not told thee the right spell. Probably he wants to find
the treasure for himself. Perhaps he has put a net in the place where
the stars fell down ..."

"No, I don't believe that," said Audifax. "His face is mild and good,
and his lips are not deceitful."

Hadumoth was thoughtful.

"Perhaps he does not know the right words?"

"Why not?"

"Because he has not got the right God. He prays to the new God. The old
Gods were great and strong also."

Audifax pressed his fingers on the lips of his companion. "Be silent."

"I am no longer afraid," said Hadumoth. "I know someone else, who knows
all about spells and charms."

"Who is it?"

Hadumoth pointed to a steep dark mountain, opposite. "The woman of the
wood," replied she.

"The woman of the wood?" repeated Audifax aghast. "She, who made the
great thunder-storm, when the hailstones fell as big as pigeon's eggs,
into the fields; and who has eaten up the count of Hilzingen, who never
returned home?"

"Just on account of that. We will ask her. The castle will still be
closed for some hours, and the night is cold."

The little goose-girl had become bold and adventurous; for her sympathy
with Audifax was great, and she wanted so much to help him to the
fulfilment of his wishes. "Come," said she eagerly, "if thou art
frightened in the dark wood, thou canst blow on thy pipe; and the birds
will answer thee, for it will soon be dawn."

Audifax did not raise any further objection. So they walked on
northwards, through the dark fir-wood. They both knew the path well.
Not a human creature was stirring about; only an old fox, lying in
ambush, for some rabbit or partridge, caught sight of them and was as
little satisfied with their appearance, as they had been with the
shooting stars.

Foxes also, have to bear their disappointments in life; therefore it
drew in its tail, and hid itself in the bushes.

The two children had gone on for about an hour, when they reached the
top of the Hohenkrähen. Hidden amongst trees, there stood a small stone
hut, before which they stopped. "The dog is sure to bark," said
Hadumoth. But no dog was heard. They approached nearer and saw that the
door stood wide open.

"The woman of the wood is gone," they said. But on the high rock on the
Hohenkrähen, a small fire was still faintly burning; and dark shadows
could be seen gliding about it. Then the children crept along the steep
path leading up to the rock.

The first gleam of the coming dawn, was already visible over the
Bodensee. The path was very narrow, and a projecting piece of rock,
over which a mighty oak-tree spread out its branches hid the fire from
their view. There, Audifax and Hadumoth cowered down, and peeped round
the corner. Then they saw, that some big animal had been killed. A
head, apparently that of a horse, was nailed to the stem of the oak;
and weapons as well as a quantity of bones, lay scattered about; while
a vase filled with blood, stood beside the fire.

Around a roughly hewn piece of rock, serving as table, a number of men
were sitting. On it, stood a big kettle of beer, out of which they
filled and refilled their stone jugs.

At the foot of the oak, sat a woman, who was certainly not so lovely,
as the Allemannic virgin Bissula; who inflamed the heart of the Roman
statesman Ausonius, in spite of his age, to such a degree that he went
about in his prefecture, spouting poetry in her praise: "her eyes are
blue as the colour of the Heavens, and like gold is her wavy hair.
Superior to all the dolls of Latium, is she, a child of the barbarians;
and he who wants to paint her, must blend the rose with the lily."[8]
The woman on the Hohenkrähen was old and haggard.

The men were looking at her; whilst the dawn was evidently spreading in
the east. The mists hanging over the Bodensee, began to move, and now
the sun was casting his first ray on the hills, burnishing their tops
with gold. The fiery ball itself had just risen on the horizon, when
the woman jumped up; the men following her example. She swung a bunch
of mistletoe and fir-tree branches over her head, and then dipping it
into the vase, three times sprinkled the bloody drops towards the sun;
three times also over the men, and then poured out the contents of the
vase, at the foot of the tree.

The men all seized their jugs, and rubbing them in a monotonous way,
three times on the smooth surface of the rock, to produce a strange
humming noise, lifted them together towards the sun, and then drained
them at one draught. The putting them down again, sounded like one
single blow, so simultaneous, was the movement. After this everyone put
on his mantle, and then they all went silently down hill.

It was the first night of November.

When all had become quiet again, the children stepped out of their
hiding-place, and confronted the old woman. Audifax had taken out the
slip of parchment,--but the hag snatching up a brand out of the fire,
approached them with a threatening look; so that the children hastily
turned round, and fled down the hill, as fast as their feet could carry
them.



                              CHAPTER IX.

                         The Woman of the Wood.


Audifax and Hadumoth had returned to the castle on the Hohentwiel,
without anybody having noticed their having made this nightly
expedition. They did not speak of their adventures, even to each other;
but Audifax brooded over them night and day. He became rather negligent
in his duties, so that one of his flock got lost in the hilly ground
near where the Rhine flows out of the Bodensee. So Audifax went to look
for the goat; and after spending a whole day in the pursuit, he
triumphantly returned with the truant, in the evening.

Hadumoth welcomed him joyfully; delighted at his success, which saved
him from a whipping. By and by, the winter came, and the animals
remained in their respective stalls. One day the two children were
sitting alone before the fire-place in the servant's hall.

"Dost thou still think of the treasure and the spell?" said Hadumoth.

Then Audifax drew closer to her and whispered mysteriously. "The holy
man has after all got the right God."

"Why so?" asked Hadumoth. He ran away to his chamber where, hidden in
the straw of his mattress, were a number of different stones. He took
out one of these and brought it to her.

"Look here," he said. It was a piece of grey mica-slate, containing the
remains of a fish; the delicate outlines of which, were clearly
visible. "That's what I have found at the foot of the Schiener
mountain, when I went to look for the goat. That must come from the
great flood, which Father Vincentius, once preached about; and this
flood, the Lord of Heaven and Earth sent over the world, when he told
Noah to build the big ship. Of all this, the woman of the wood knows
nothing."

Hadumoth became thoughtful. "Then it must be her fault, that the stars
did not fall into our lap. Let us go and complain of her, to the holy
man."

So they went to Ekkehard, and told him all that they had beheld that
night on the Hohenkrähen. He listened kindly to their tale, which he
repeated to the Duchess in the evening. Dame Hadwig smiled.

"They have a peculiar taste, my faithful subjects," said she.
"Everywhere handsome churches have been erected, in which the Gospel is
preached to them. Fine church-music, great festivals and processions
through the waving corn-fields, with cross and flag at their head,--all
this does not content them. So they must needs sit on their
mountaintops in cold, chilly nights, not understanding what they're
about, except that they drink beer. 'Tis really wonderful. What do you
think of the matter, pious Master Ekkehard?"

"It is superstition," replied he, "which, the Evil One sows in weak and
rebellions hearts. I have read in our books about the doings of the
heathens, how they perform their idolatrous rites in dark woods; by
lonely wells and even at the graves of their dead."

"But they are no longer heathens," said Dame Hadwig. "They are all
baptized and belong to some parish-church. But nevertheless some of the
old traditions still live among them; and though these have lost their
meaning, they yet run through their thoughts and actions, as the Rhine
does in winter, flowing noiselessly on, under the icy cover of the
Bodensee. What would you do with them?"

"Annihilate them," said Ekkehard. "He who forsakes his christian faith
and breaks the vows of his baptism, shall be eternally damned."

"Not so fast, my young zealot!" continued Dame Hadwig. "My good Hegau
people are not to lose their heads, because they prefer sitting on the
cold top of the Hohenkrähen, on the first night of November, to lying
on their straw-mattresses. For all that, they do their duties well
enough, and fought under Charlemagne against the heathenish Saxons, as
if everyone of them had been a chosen combatant of the Church itself."

"With the Devil there can be no peace," cried Ekkehard hotly. "Are you
going to be lukewarm in your faith, noble Mistress?"

"In reigning over a country," returned she with a slight sarcasm in her
voice--"one learns a good deal that is not written down in books. Don't
you know that a weak man is often more easily defeated by his own
weakness, than by the sharpness of the sword? When the holy Gallus one
day visited the ruins of Bregenz, he found the altar of St. Amelia
destroyed, and in its place three metal idols erected; and around the
great beer-kettle the men sat drinking; for this is a ceremony which is
never omitted when our Suabians wish to show their piety in the old
fashion. The holy Gallus did not hurt a single man amongst them; but he
cut their idols to pieces, threw them into the green waves of the lake,
and made a large hole into their beer-kettle. On this very spot he
preached the Gospel to them, and when they saw that no fire fell down
from the Heavens to destroy him, they were convinced that their Gods
were powerless, and so became converted. So you see that to be sensible
is not to be lukewarm." ...

"That was in those times," began Ekkehard, but Dame Hadwig continued:
"And now the Church has been established from the source of the Rhine
to the North Sea, and far stronger than the ancient castles of the
Romans, a chain of monasteries, fortresses of the christian faith, runs
through the land. Even into the recesses of the Black-forest the Gospel
has penetrated; so why should we wage war so fiercely against the
miserable stragglers of the olden times?"

"Then you had better reward them," said Ekkehard bitterly.

"Reward them?" quoth the Duchess. "Between the one and the other, there
is still many an expedient left. Perhaps it were better if we put a
stop to these nightly trespasses. No realm can be powerful in which two
different creeds exist, for that leads to internal warfare, which is
rather dangerous, as long as there are plenty of outward enemies.
Besides, the laws of the land have forbidden them these follies, and
they must find out, that our ordinances and prohibitions are not to be
tampered with in that way."

Ekkehard did not seem to be satisfied yet; a shadow of displeasure
being still visible on his countenance.

"Tell me," continued the Duchess, "what is your opinion of witchcraft
in general?"

"Witchcraft," said Ekkehard seriously, taking a deep breath, which
seemed to denote the intention of indulging in a longer speech than
usual--"witchcraft is a damnable art, by which human beings make
treaties with the demons inhabiting the elements, whose workings in
nature are everywhere traceable; rendering them subservient by these
compacts. Even in lifeless things there are latent living powers, which
we neither hear nor see, but which often tempt careless and unguarded
minds, to wish to know more and to attain greater power, than is
granted to a faithful servant of the Lord. That is the old sorcery of
the serpent; and he, who holds communion with the powers of darkness,
may obtain part of their power, but he reigns over the Devils by
Beelzebub himself, and becomes his property, when his time is at an
end. Therefore witchcraft is as old as sin itself, and instead of
the one true faith, the belief in the Trinity reigning paramount,
fortune-tellers and interpreters of dreams, wandering actors and
expounders of riddles, still infest the world; and their partisans are
to be found above all among the daughters of Eve."

"You are really getting polite!" exclaimed Dame Hadwig.

"For the minds of women," continued Ekkehard, "have in all times been
curious and eager to attain forbidden knowledge. As we shall proceed
with our reading of Virgil, you will see the excess of witchcraft
embodied in a woman, called Circe, who passed her days, singing, on a
rocky headland. Burning chips, of sweet-scented cedar-wood, lighten up
her dark chambers, where she is industriously throwing the shuttle, and
weaving beautiful tapestry; but outside in the yard, is heard the
melancholy roaring of lions and tigers, as well as the grunting of
swine, which were formerly men, whom by administering to them her
potent magic philters, she has changed into brutes."

"I declare, you are talking like a book," said the Duchess pointedly.
"You really ought to extend your study of witchcraft. To-morrow you
shall ride over to the Hohenkrähen and examine, whether the woman of
the wood is a Circe also. We give you full authority to act in our
name, and are truly curious to ascertain what your wisdom will decree."

"It is not for me to reign over a people and to settle the affairs of
this world," replied he evasively.

"That will be seen," said Duchess Hadwig. "I do not think that the
power of commanding has ever embarrassed anyone, least of all a son of
the Church."

So Ekkehard submitted; the more readily, as the commission was a proof
of confidence on her part. Early on the next morning he rode over to
the Hohenkrähen on horseback, taking Audifax with him, to show him the
way.

"A happy journey, Sir Chancellor!" called out a laughing voice behind
him. It was the voice of Praxedis.

They soon reached the old hag's dwelling, which was a stone hut, built
on a projecting part of the high rock, about half way up. Mighty oaks
and beech-trees spread their boughs over it, hiding the summit of the
Hohenkrähen. Three high stone steps led into the inside, which was a
dark, but airy chamber. On the floor, there lay heaps of dried herbs,
giving out a strong fragrance. Three bleached horses' skulls grinned
down fantastically from the walls; whilst beneath them hung the huge
antlers of a stag. In the door-post was cut a double, intricate
triangle; and on the floor, a tame wood-pecker, and a raven with
cropped wings, were hopping about.

The inhabitant of this abode, was seated beside the flickering fire on
the hearth; sewing some garment. By her side stood a high, roughly hewn
weather-beaten stone. From time to time, she bent down to the hearth,
and held out her meagre hand over the coals; for the cold of November
was beginning to be felt, especially on the mountains. The boughs of an
old beech-tree came almost into the room through the window. A faint
breeze was stirring them; and the leaves being withered and sere,
trembled and fell off; a few of them falling right into the chamber.

The woman of the wood was old and lonely; and suffering probably from
the cold.

"There you are lying now, despised and faded and dead," she said to the
leaves--"and I am like you." A peculiar expression now came to her old
wrinkled face. She was thinking of former times, when she also had been
young and blooming, and had had a sweetheart of her own. But his fate
had driven him far away from his native fir-woods. Plundering Normans,
coming up the Rhine, robbing and burning wherever they came, had
carried him off as a prisoner, like so many others; and he had staid
with them more than a year, and had become a seaman, and in the rough
sea-air he had got to be rough and hard also. When at last they gave
him his liberty, and he returned to his Suabian woods, he still carried
with him the longing for the North-Sea, and pined for his wild sailor
life. The home-faces were no longer pleasant to his eyes; those of the
monks and priests least of all; and as misfortune would have it, in the
heat of passion he slew a monk who had upbraided him, so that he could
no longer remain in his home.

The thoughts of the old woman were constantly recurring that day, to
the hour when he had parted from her for ever. Then, the servants of
the judge led him to his cottage in the wood of Weiterdingen, and
exacted six hundred shillings from him, as a fine for the man he had
slain. Then he had to swear a great oath, that beside his cottage and
acre, he had nothing left, either above or underground.

After that he went into his house, took a handful of earth, and threw
it with his left hand over his shoulder, at his father's brother, in
sign that his debt was thus to pass on to this his only remaining
relation by blood. This done, he seized his staff, and dressed in his
linen shirt, without shoes or girdle, he jumped over the fence of his
acre, for such was the custom of the "_Chrene Chruda_,"[9] and thus he
became a homeless wanderer, free to go out into the wilderness. So he
went back to Denmark to his own Northmen and never returned any more.
All that had ever reached her, was a dark rumour that he had gone over
with them to Seeland, where the brave sea-kings, refusing to adopt the
christian faith with its new laws, had founded a new home for
themselves.

All this had happened long, long ago; but the old woman remembered it
all, as if it were but yesterday, that she had seen her Friduhelm going
away from her for ever. Then she had hung up a garland of vervain at
the little chapel of Weiterdingen, shedding many tears over it; and
never had another lover been able to efface his image from her heart.
The cold dreary November weather, reminded her of an old Norman song,
which he had once taught her and which she now hummed to herself:


   "The evening comes, and winter is near,
    The hoar-frost on fir-trees is lying;
    Oh book, and cross and prayers of monk--
    How soon shall we all be a dying.

    Our homes are getting so dusky and old
    And the holy wells desecrated,
    Thou god-inhabited, beautiful wood,
    Wilt thou, even thou be prostrated?

    And silent we go, a defeated tribe,
    Whose stars are all dying and sinking,
    Oh Iceland, thou icy rock in the sea,
    With thee, our fates we'll be linking.

    Arise and receive our wandering race,
    Which is coming to thee, and bringing
    The ancient Gods, and the ancient rights,
    To which our hearts are still clinging.

    Where the fiery hill is shedding its light,
    And the breakers are shorewards sweeping,
    On thee thou defiant end of the world!
    Our last long watch, we'll be keeping."


Ekkehard meanwhile had got down from the saddle, and tied his horse to
a neighbouring fir-tree. He now stepped over the threshold, shyly
followed by Audifax.

The woman of the wood threw the garment she had been working at, over
the stone, folded her hands on her lap, and looked fixedly at the
intruder in his monk's habit, but did not get up.

"Praised be Jesus Christ," said Ekkehard, by way of greeting, and also
to avert any possible spell. Instinctively he drew in the thumb of his
right hand, doubling his fingers over it, being afraid of the evil eye
and its powers. Audifax had told him how people said, that with one
look she could wither up a whole meadow. She did not return his
greeting.

"What are you doing there," began Ekkehard.

"I am mending an old garment that is getting worn," was the answer.

"You have been also gathering herbs?"

"So I have. Are you an herb-gatherer? Here are many of them, if you
wish for any. Hawk-weed and snail-clover, goats-beard and mouse-ear, as
well as dried wood-ruff."

"I am no herb-gatherer," said Ekkehard. "What use do you make of those
herbs?"

"Need you be asking what is the use of herbs?" said the old woman.
"Such as you, know that well enough. It would fare ill with sick people
and sick hearts, and with our protection against nightly sprites, as
well as the stilling of lover's longings, if there were no herbs to be
had!"

"And have you been baptized?" continued Ekkehard.

"Aye, they will have baptized me, likely enough." ...

"And if you have been baptized," he said raising his voice, "and have
renounced the devil with all his works and allurements, what is the
meaning of all this?" He pointed with his stick towards the horses'
skulls on the wall, and giving a violent push to one, caused it to fall
down on the floor, where it broke to pieces, so that the white teeth
rolled about on the ground.

"The skull of a horse," quietly replied the old woman, "which you have
shivered to pieces. It was a young animal, as you may see by the
teeth."

"And you like to eat horse-flesh?"

"It is no impure animal, nor is it forbidden to eat it."

"Woman!" cried Ekkehard approaching her closer, "thou exercisest
witchcraft and sorcery!"

Then she arose and with a frowning brow and strangely glittering eyes,
she said: "You wear a priest's garment, so you may say this to me; for
an old woman has no protection against such as you. Otherwise it were a
grave insult which you have cast on me, and the laws of the land punish
those that use such words." ...

During this conversation, Audifax had remained timidly standing at the
door, but when the raven now made its way towards him, he was afraid
and ran up to Ekkehard; from thence he saw the stone by the hearth, and
walked up to it; for the fear even of twenty ravens would not have
prevented him from examining a curious stone. Lifting the garment which
was spread over it, he beheld some strange, weather-beaten figures
carved on it.

At that moment Ekkehard's eye fell also on the stone. It was a Roman
altar, and had doubtless been erected on those heights by cohorts, who
at the command of their Emperor had left their camp in luxurious Asia,
for the inhospitable shores of the Bodensee. A youth, in a flowing
mantle and with Phrygian cap, was kneeling on a prostrate bull,--the
Persian God of light, Mithras; who gave new hope and strength to the
fast sinking faith of the Romans.

An inscription was nowhere visible. For a considerable time Ekkehard
stood examining it; for with the exception of a golden coin bearing the
head of Vespasian, which had been found in the moor at Rapperswyl, by
some dependants of the monastery, and some carved stones among the
church treasures, his eye had never before beheld any carving of the
olden times; but from the shape and look of the thing, he guessed at
its being some silent witness of a bygone world.

"Whence comes the stone?" asked he.

"I have been questioned more than enough now," defiantly said the old
woman. "Find an answer for yourself."

The stone might have said a good deal for itself, if stones were gifted
with speech, for a goodly piece of history often clings to such old and
weather-beaten ruins. What do they teach us? That the races of men,
come and go like the leaves; that spring produces and autumn destroys,
and that all their thinkings and doings, last but a short span of time.
After them, there come others, talking in other tongues and creating
other forms. That which was holy before, is then pulled down and
despised, and that which was condemned, becomes holy in its place. New
Gods mount the throne,--and it is well if their altars are not erected
on the bodies of too many victims....

Ekkehard saw another meaning in the stone's being in the hut of the
woman of the wood.

"You worship that man on the bull!" he cried vehemently. The old woman
took up a stick standing by the fire-place, and with a knife made two
notches in it. "Tis the second insult you have offered me," she said
hoarsely. "What have we to do with yonder stone image?"

"Then speak out. How is it that the stone comes to be here?"

"Because we took pity on it," replied she. "You, who wear the tonsure
and monk's habit, probably will not understand that. The stone stood
outside, on yonder projecting rock, which must have been a consecrated
spot, on which many have knelt probably, in the olden times. But in the
present days nobody heeded it. The people here about, dried their
crab-apples, or split their wood on it; just as it suited them; and the
cruel rain has been washing away the figures. 'The sight of the stone
grieves me,' said my mother one day. It was once something holy, but
the bones of those, who have known and worshipped the man on it, have
long been bleached white,--and the man in the flowing mantle looks as
if he were freezing with the cold. So we took it up, and placed it
beside the hearth, and it has never harmed us as yet. We know how the
old Gods feel, when their altars are shattered; for ours also have been
dethroned. You need not begrudge its rest to the old stone."

"Your Gods?" said Ekkehard, "who are your Gods?"

"That you ought to know best, for you have driven them away, and
banished them into the depths of the lake. In the floods below,
everything has been buried. The ancient rights and the ancient Gods! We
can see them no more, and know but the places where our fathers have
worshipped them, before the Franks and the cowl-bearing men had come.
But when the winds are shaking the tops of yonder oak-tree, you may
hear their wailing voices in the air; and on consecrated nights, there
is a moaning and roaring in the forest, and a shining of lights; whilst
serpents are winding themselves round the stems of the trees; and over
the mountains you hear a rustling of wings, of despairing spirits, that
have come to look at their ancient home."

Ekkehard crossed himself.

"I tell it thus as I know it," continued the old woman. "I do not wish
to offend the Saviour, but he has come as a stranger into the land. You
serve him in a foreign tongue, which we cannot understand. If he had
sprung up from our own ground, then we might talk to him, and should be
his most faithful worshippers, and maybe things would then fare better
in Allemannia."

"Woman!" cried Ekkehard wrathfully, "we will have thee burned ..."

"If it be written in your books that trees grow up, to burn old woman
with, very well. I have lived long enough. The lightning has lately
paid a visit to the woman of the wood,"--pointing to a dark stripe on
the wall,--"the lightning has spared the old woman."

After this she cowered down before the hearth, and remained there
motionless like a statue. The flickering coals threw a fitful, varying
light on her wrinkled face.

"Tis well," said Ekkehard as he left the chamber. Audifax was very glad
when he could see the blue sky again over his head. "There they sat
together," said he pointing upwards.

"I will go and look at it, whilst thou goest back to the Hohentwiel,
and sendest over two men with hatchets. And tell Otfried the deacon of
Singen to come and bring his stole and mass-book with him."

Audifax bounded away, whilst Ekkehard went up to the top of the
Hohenkrähen.

In the castle on the Hohentwiel, the Duchess had been sitting meanwhile
taking her midday meal. She had often looked about, as if something
were missing. The meal was soon over, and when Dame Hadwig found
herself alone with Praxedis she began:

"How dost thou like our new teacher, Praxedis?"

The Greek maid smiled.

"Speak," said the Duchess in a commanding voice.

"Well I have seen many a schoolmaster before this, at
Constantinopolis," said Praxedis flippantly.

Dame Hadwig threatened her with her finger, "I shall have to banish
thee from my sight, if thou indulgest in such irreverent speeches. What
hast thou to say against schoolmasters?"

"Pardon me," said Praxedis. "I did not mean any offence. But whenever I
see such a bookman, wearing such a very serious expression, and
assuming such an important air, drawing out of his manuscript some
meaning which we have already nearly guessed; and when I see how he is
bound up in his parchments, his eyes seeing nothing but dead letters,
having scarcely a look to spare for the human beings around him,--then
I always feel strongly tempted to laugh. When I am in doubt whether
pity would be the proper feeling, I take to laughing. And he certainly
does not require my pity, as he knows so much more, than I do."

"A teacher must be serious," said the Duchess. "Seriousness belongs to
him, as the snow does to our Alps."

"Serious,--ah well! in this land where the snow covers the
mountain-peaks, everything must be serious," resumed the Greek maid.
"If I were only as learned as Master Ekkehard to be able to express all
that I want to say! I mean that one can learn many things jestingly,
without the sweat-drops of hard labour on one's brow. All that is
beautiful ought to please, and be true, at the same time. I mean that
knowledge is like honey, which can be got at in different ways. The
butterfly hovers over the flowers and finds it; but such a learned
German appears to me like a bear, who clumsily puts his paws into a
bee-hive and then licks them. I for my part don't admire bears."

"Thou art a frivolous minded maiden and not fond of learning. But how
does Ekkehard please thee otherwise,--I think him very handsome."

Praxedis looked up at her mistress. "I have never yet looked at a monk,
to see whether he were handsome."

"Why not?"

"Because I thought it quite unnecessary."

"Thou givest queer answers to-day," said Dame Hadwig, getting up from
her seat. She stepped to the window and looked out northwards; where
from the dark fir-trees rose the heavy mass of the steep, rocky
Hohenkrähen.

"The goat-boy has just been here, and has told some of the men to go
over," said Praxedis.

"The afternoon is mild and sunny," observed the Duchess. "Tell them to
saddle the horses and we will ride over, and see what they are doing.
Ah--I forgot that thou complainedst of the fatigue of riding, when we
returned from St. Gallus. So I will go there alone ..."

Ekkehard meanwhile had inspected the scene of the nightly revel, of
which but few traces remained. The earth around the oak-tree was still
wet and reddish looking, and a few coals and ashes indicated where the
fire had been.

With astonishment he beheld here and there, hanging in the branches of
the oak, small wax effigies of human limbs. There were feet and hands,
as well as images of cows and horses,--offerings for the recovery of
sick men and beasts, which the superstitious peasantry, preferred
hanging up on old consecrated trees, to placing them on the altars of
churches.

Two men, with hatchets, now came up.

"We have been ordered to come here," they said.

"From the Hohentwiel?" asked Ekkehard.

"We belong to the Duchess, but we live yonder on the Hohenhöwen; where
you can see the smoke rise from the charcoal-pile."

"Good," said Ekkehard. "You are to cut down this oak for me."

The men looked at him. Embarrassment was visible in their faces.

"Begin at once, and make haste, for before nightfall, the tree must be
felled to the ground."

Then the two men walked up to the oak. With gaping mouths they stood
before the magnificent tree. One of them let his axe fall.

"Don't you know the spot, Chomuli?" quoth he to his companion.

"How should I know it, Woveli?"

The former pointed towards the east, and lifting one of his hands to
his mouth, imitated the act of drinking. "On account of that,
Chomuli."

Then the other looked downhill where Ekkehard was standing, and winking
cunningly with one eye, said: "We know nothing, Woveli."

"But he will know, Chomuli."

"That remains to be seen," was the reply.

"It is really a sin and a shame," continued the other. "That oak is at
least two hundred years old, and has lived to witness many a bright
May- and Autumn-fire. I really can't do it."

"Don't be a fool," said his companion making the first stroke. "The
more readily we hew away at the tree, the less yonder monk will
believe, that we have sat under its branches in nightly worship.
Remember the shilling fine! A man must be cautious, Woveli!"

This last remark did not fail to have its effect. "Yes, a man must be
cautious," he repeated aiming a blow at the tree of his devotion. But
ten days ago, he had hung up a wax effigy himself, in order to cure his
brown cow of fever.

The chips flew about, and keeping regular time, their blows quickly
followed each other.

The deacon of Singen had also arrived with stole and mass-book.
Ekkehard beckoned to him to go with him into the hut of the woman of
the wood. She was still sitting motionless as before, beside her
hearth. A sharp gust of wind, entering as the door opened, extinguished
her fire.

"Woman of the wood," called out Ekkehard imperiously, "put your house
in order and pack up your things, for you must go!"

The old woman seized her staff and cut a third notch. "Who is it, that
is insulting me for the third time," growled she, "and who wishes to
cast me out of my mother's house, like a stray dog?"

"In the name of the Duchess of Suabia," continued Ekkehard solemnly,
"and on account of your practising heathenish superstitions, and
nightly idolatries, I banish you herewith from house and home; and bid
you leave the land. Your chair shall be placed before the door of your
hut, and you shall wander restlessly about, as far as the sky is blue,
and christians visit the church; as far as the falcon flies on a day of
Spring when the wind is carrying him along, faster than his wings. No
hospitable door shall be opened to you; no fire be lighted to give you
warmth; and may the wells deny you water, until you have renounced the
powers of darkness, and made your peace with the almighty God; the
judge of the living and dead."

The woman of the wood had listened to him, without showing great
emotion.

"An anointed man, will insult thee three times under thy own roof,"
muttered she, "and thou shalt make a sign on thy staff, in witness of
this; and with that same staff, thou shalt go out towards the setting
sun, for they will not give thee sufficient ground, to rest thy head
upon. Oh mother! My mother!"

She then scraped her scanty belongings together, making a bundle of
them; and taking her staff, prepared herself to go. The heart of the
deacon of Singen was touched. "Pray God through his servants to have
mercy on you, and perform some christian penance," he said, "so that
you may find forgiveness."

"For that, the woman of the wood is too old," she replied. Then she
called her wood-pecker, which flew about her head; the raven followed,
with a scared frightened look, and she had already opened the door and
cast back one last look on the walls and fire-place, the herbs and
horses' skulls, when she struck her stick violently on the threshold;
so as to make the stone flags resound. "Be cursed ye dogs!" cried she;
then followed by her birds, took the path leading into the woods, and
disappeared.


   "And silent we go, a defeated tribe,
    Whose stars are all dying and sinking,
    Oh Iceland, thou icy rock in the sea,
    With thee, our fates we'll be linking!"


was her low chaunt; slowly dying out, among the leafless trees.

Ekkehard now put on the stole; and the deacon of Singen carrying the
mass-book before him, they proceeded through chamber and closet. The
walls were sanctified by the sign of the cross, so as to banish the
evil spirits for ever; and finally, with prayers, he pronounced the
mighty exorcism over the place.

The pious work had lasted long; and when the deacon took off Ekkehard's
stole, the cold sweat-drops stood on his brow; as he had never before
heard such impressive words. Just when all was over, the tramping of
horses' feet was heard.

It was the Duchess, accompanied by one servant only. Ekkehard went out
to meet her; and the deacon directed his steps homewards.

"You were so long away, that I had to come hither myself, to see how
you had settled everything," graciously called out the Duchess.

The two wood-cutters had in the meanwhile finished their job, and made
their retreat by the back of the hill. They stood in awe of the
Duchess. Ekkehard then told her about the life and doings of the woman
of the wood, and how he had driven her away.

"You are very severe," said Dame Hadwig.

"I thought I was very mild," replied Ekkehard.

"Well, we approve of that which you have done. What do you intend to do
with the deserted hut," casting a hasty look at the stone walls.

"The power of the evil spirits has been banished and exorcised," said
Ekkehard. "I mean to consecrate it as a chapel to St. Hadwig."

The Duchess looked at him with a well pleased expression.

"How did you hit upon that idea?"

"The thought struck me just now, ... the oak I have had cut down."

"We will examine that spot; and I think that we shall approve also, of
the felling of the oak."

She climbed the steep path, leading up to the top of the Hohenkrähen,
accompanied by Ekkehard.

There lay the oak on the ground; its mighty branches almost preventing
their further ascent. A flat stone, but a few paces in circumference,
crowned the top of the strangely shaped hill. They were standing on the
rocks, which formed a declivitous wall beneath their feet. It was a
giddy height, on which was neither stone nor tree for support, and the
two figures stood out picturesquely, against the blue sky; the monk in
his dark garment and the Duchess, wrapped up in her bright coloured
mantle. Silently they stood thus; looking at the splendid view before
them. In the depth below, the plain lay stretched out before them,
through the green meadows of which, the river Aach ran in serpentine
lines. The roofs and gables of the houses in the valley, looked like
tiny dots on a map. Opposite rose darkly, the proud, well-known peak of
the Hohentwiel; blue, flat mountain-ridges rising like walls, behind
the mighty one; hiding the Rhine after its escape from the Bodensee.

The Untersee with the island of Reichenau lay bathed in light; and in
the far off distance, the faint outlines of gigantic mountains were
visible, through transparent clouds. They became clearer and clearer as
the sun sank down, a golden glow surrounding them like a halo of glory
... the landscape becoming softer, shadows and glittering lights
melting into each other ...

Dame Hadwig was touched, for her noble heart could feel and appreciate
nature's beauty and grandeur. But the feelings lie very close to each
other, and at that moment, a certain tenderness, pervaded her whole
being. Her looks from the snowy Alpine peaks fell on Ekkehard. "He is
going to consecrate a chapel to St. Hadwig," something whispered within
her, over and over again.

She advanced a step, as if she were afraid of becoming giddy, and
putting her right arm on Ekkehard's shoulder, leaned heavily on him;
her sparkling eyes looking intently into his. "What is my friend
thinking about?" said she in soft accents.

Ekkehard who had been lost in thought started.

"I have never before stood on such a height," said he, "and I was
reminded of the passage in Scripture: 'Afterwards the devil, taking him
up into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world
in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him: All this will I give
Thee, and the glory of them, if thou wilt worship me. But Jesus
answered and said unto him: Get thee behind me Satan, for it is
written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou
serve.'"

With a strange look the Duchess stepped backwards; the light in her
eyes changing, as if she would have liked to push the monk down into
the abyss.

"Ekkehard!" cried she, "you are either a child--or a fool!"

Then she turned round, and hastily and displeased descended the path.
Mounting her horse, she rode back to the Hohentwiel, at a gallop, so
furious, that her servant could scarcely follow her.

Ekkehard full of consternation, remained where he was. He passed his
hand over his eyes, as if to remove a mist from before them.

When late at night he sat in his tower on the Hohentwiel, thinking of
all that had happened that day, he beheld a distant gleam of fire. He
looked out and saw that the fiery blaze, arose from the fir-trees on
the Hohenkrähen. The woman of the wood, had been paying her last visit
to the future chapel of St. Hadwig.



                               CHAPTER X.

                               Christmas.


The evening on the Hohenkrähen, cast a gloom also over the following
days. Misunderstandings are not easily forgiven; least of all by him
who has caused them.

For this reason, Dame Hadwig spent some days in a very bad humour, in
her own private apartments. Grammar and Virgil had both a holiday. With
Praxedis, she took up the old jest about the schoolmasters at
Constantinople; seeming now to enjoy it much better. Ekkehard came to
ask whether he were to continue his lessons. "I have got a toothache,"
said the Duchess. Expressing his regret, he attributed it to the rough
autumnal weather.

Every day, he asked several times how she was, which somewhat
conciliated the Duchess.

"How is it," said she to Praxedis, "that a person can be of so much
more real worth, than he appears outwardly to possess?"

"That comes from a want of gracefulness," replied the Greek maid. "In
other countries I often found the reverse; but here, people are too
lazy, to manifest their individuality by every movement or word. They
prefer thinking, to acting; believing that the whole world must be able
to read on their foreheads, what is passing within."

"But we are generally so industrious," said Dame Hadwig, complacently.

"The buffaloes likewise work the live-long day," Praxedis had almost
said,--but she finally contented herself, with merely thinking it.

Ekkehard all this time, felt quite at his ease; for the idea, that he
had given an unsuitable answer to the Duchess, never struck him. He had
really been thinking of that parable in Scripture and failed to see,
that in reply to the timid expression of a friendly liking, it might
not always be quite the right thing, to quote Scripture. He reverenced
the Duchess; but far more as the embodied idea of sublimity, than as a
woman. That sublime beings demand adoration, had never struck him; and
still less that even the sublimest personage, is often perfectly
satisfied with simple affection. That Dame Hadwig was out of spirits,
he noticed however, but he contented himself by making the general
observation, that the intercourse with a Duchess was rather more
difficult than that with the brotherhood at St. Gall.

Amongst the books which Vincentius had left behind, were the Epistles
of St. Paul, which he now studied. Master Spazzo during those days, put
on a still haughtier mien than usual, when he passed him. Dame Hadwig
soon found out, that it were better, to return to the old order of
things.

"It was really a grand sight, which we had, that evening, from the
Hohenkrähen," said she one day to Ekkehard. "But do you know our
weather-signs on the Hohentwiel? Whenever the Alps appear very distinct
and near, the weather is sure to change. So we have had some bad
weather since. And now we will resume our reading of Virgil."

Upon this, Ekkehard, highly pleased, went to fetch his heavy
metal-bound book; and so their studies were resumed. He read and
translated to them, the second book of the Æneid, about the downfall of
Troy, the wooden horse and the fearful end of Laocoon. Further, of the
nightly battle; Cassandra's fate, and Priamus' death; and finally
Æneas' flight with the aged Anchises.

With evident sympathy, Dame Hadwig listened to the interesting tale.
Only, with the disappearance of Æneas' spouse Kreüsa, she was not quite
satisfied.

"That, he need not have told so lengthily to Queen Dido," she said,
"for I doubt much, whether the living woman was overpleased, that he
had run after the lost one so long. Lost is lost."

And now the winter was drawing near. The sky became dreary and leaden,
and the distance shrouded with mists. First the mountain peaks round
about, put on their snow-caps; and then valley and fields followed
their example. Small icicles fastened on the rafters under the roofs;
with the intention of quietly remaining there, for some months; and
the old linden-tree in the courtyard, had for some time, like a careful
and economical man, who disposes of his worn-out garments to the
Hebrews,--shaken down its faded leaves to the winds. They made up a
good heap; which was soon scattered in all directions, by the merry,
gambolling breezes. The bare branches of the tree, were often crowded
with cawing rooks, coming from the neighbouring woods, and eagerly
watching for a bone or crumb, from the kitchen of the castle. Once,
there was one amongst the sable brotherhood, whose flight was heavy, as
its wings were damaged; and on beholding Ekkehard, who chanced to go
over the courtyard, the raven flew screeching away. It had seen the
monk's habit before, and had no reason to like it.

The nights of winter, are long and dark. Now and then, appear the
northern lights; but far brighter than these, in the hearts of men, is
the remembrance of that night, when angels descended to the shepherds
in the fields, greeting them with:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards
men."--

On the Hohentwiel they were preparing for Christmas, by getting ready
all sorts of presents. The year is long, and numbers many a day, in
which people can show each other little kindnesses; but the Germans
like having one especial day, set aside for that, in particular.
Therefore, before all other nations, they keep up the custom of making
Christmas presents. The good heart has its own peculiar rights.

During that time, Dame Hadwig had almost put aside the grammar
entirely; taking to sewing and embroidery. Balls of gold-thread and
black silk, lay about in the women's apartments; and when Ekkehard once
came in unawares, Praxedis rushed up, and pushed him out of the door
whilst Dame Hadwig, hid some needle-work in a basket.

This aroused Ekkehard's curiosity, and he arrived at the not
unreasonable conclusion, that some present was being made for him.
Therefore he thought about returning the kindness; intending to exert
his utmost powers and abilities for that purpose. So he sent word to
his friend and teacher, Folkard, at St. Gall, to send him parchment,
colours and brushes, as well as some precious ink; which request was
speedily fulfilled. Then Ekkehard sat up many an hour at night, in his
tower; pondering over a Latin composition, which he wanted to dedicate
to the Duchess, and which was to contain, some delicate homage.

But all this was not so easy, as he had thought. Once he began, at the
creation of the world; intending to proceed in daring flight, to the
beginning of Dame Hadwig's reign in Suabia; but he had already written
some hundred hexametres and had only got as far as King David; and the
work would probably have taken him, three years to complete. Another
time he tried to number up, all the women, who either by their strength
or their beauty, had influenced the fate of nations; such as Queen
Semiramis and the virgin Amazons; the heroic Judith and the tuneful
Sappho;--but to his great regret he found out, that by the time his pen
had worked its way to the Duchess; it would have been quite impossible,
to find anything new to say in her praise. So he went about much
downcast and distressed.

"Have you swallowed a spider, pearl of all professors?" enquired
Praxedis one day, on meeting him in the aforesaid mental condition.

"You may well be jesting," said Ekkehard sadly;--and under the seal of
secrecy, he confided his griefs to her.

"By the thirty-six thousand volumes; in the library at
Constantinopolis!" exclaimed she, "why, you are going to cut down a
whole forest of trees, when a few flowers are all that's wanted. Why
don't you make it simple and graceful,--such as your beloved Virgil
would have made it?" After this she ran away, and Ekkehard crept back
to his chamber. "Like Virgil?" he mused. But in the whole of the Æneid,
there was no example of a similar case. He read some cantos, and
dreamily sat thinking over them, when a good idea suddenly struck him.
"I've got it!" cried he. "The beloved poet himself, is to do homage to
her!" He then wrote a poem, as if Virgil had appeared to him, in his
solitude; expressing his delight, that his poetry was living again in
German lands; and thanking the high-born lady, for thus befriending
him. In a few minutes it was ready.

This poem Ekkehard now wished to write down on parchment; adorned by
some handsome illustrations. So he composed the following picture. The
Duchess, with crown and sceptre, sitting on her throne, accosted by
Virgil in white garments; who inclining his bay-crowned head, advances
towards her. He is leading Ekkehard,--who modestly walking by his side,
as the pupil with the master, is likewise humbly bowing before her.

In the strict manner of the excellent Folkard, he first drew the
sketch. He remembered a picture in a psalm-book, representing the young
David, before King Abimelech. Thus, he arranged the figures. The
Duchess, he drew two fingers breadth higher than Virgil; and the
Ekkehard of the sketch, was considerably shorter than the heathen poet.
Budding Art, lacking other means, expressed rank and greatness,
outwardly.

With the figure of Virgil, he succeeded tolerably well; for they had
always used ancient pictures as models, for their drawings at St. Gall;
and assumed a stereotype way of executing both drapery and outline.
Likewise he succeeded with his own portrait; in so far as he managed to
draw a figure in a monk's habit, wearing a tonsure; but a terrible
problem for him, was the representation of a queenly woman's form, for
as yet no woman's picture, not even God's holy Mother, had received
admittance, amongst the monastery's paintings. David and Abimelech,
which he was so well accustomed to, were of no help to him here, for
the regal mantle scarcely came down to their knees; and he knew not how
to draw it any longer. So, care once more resumed its seat on his
forehead.

"Well, what now?" quoth Praxedis, one day.

"The poem is finished," replied Ekkehard. "Now something else is
wanting."

"And what may that be?"

"I ought to know, in what way, women's garments cling to their tender
limbs," said he in doleful accents.

"You are really saying quite wicked things, ye chosen vessel of
virtue," scolded Praxedis. But Ekkehard then made his difficulties
known to her, in a clearer way, upon which the Greek maid, made a
movement with her hand, as if to open his eyes.

"Open your eyes," she said, "and look at the living things around you."

The advice was simple enough, and yet entirely novel to one, who had
acquired all his skill in art in his solitary cell. Ekkehard cast a
long and scrutinizing look at his counsellor. "It avails me nothing,"
said he, "for you do not wear a regal mantle."

Then the Greek took pity on the doubt-beset artist. "Wait," said she,
"the Duchess is down stairs in the garden, so I can put on her ducal
mantle, and you will be helped." She glided out, and after a few
minutes reappeared, with the purple mantle, hanging negligently from
her shoulders. With slow measured steps, she walked through the
chamber. On a table stood a metal candlestick, which she seized, and
held up like a sceptre; and thus with head thrown back, she stood
before the monk.

He had taken out his pencil and parchment. "Turn round, a little more
towards the light," said he, beginning at once to draw eagerly.

Every time however, when he looked at his graceful model, she darted a
sparkling look at him. His movements became slower, and Praxedis looked
towards the window. "But, as our rival in the realm," began she with an
artificially raised voice, "is already leaving the courtyard,
threatening to take us by surprise; we command you on pain of losing
your head, to finish your drawing within the next minute."

"I thank you," said Ekkehard, putting down his pencil.

Praxedis stepped up to him, and bending forwards, looked at what he had
done. "What shameful treason!" exclaimed she, "why, the picture has no
head!"

"I merely wanted the drapery," said Ekkehard.

"Well you have forfeited a great piece of good fortune," continued
Praxedis in her former tone. "If you had faithfully portrayed the
features, who knows, whether we should not have made you Patriarch of
Constantinople, in sign of our princely favour."

Steps were now heard outside. Praxedis quickly tore off the mantle from
her shoulders, so that it dropped on her arm; just as the Duchess was
standing before them.

"Are you again learning Greek?" said she reproachfully to Ekkehard.

"I have shown him the precious sardonyx, in the clasp of my mistress's
mantle;--it is such a beautifully cut head," said Praxedis. "Master
Ekkehard has much taste for antiquities, and he was greatly pleased
with the stone ..."

Even Audifax made his preparations for Christmas. His hope of finding
treasures being greatly diminished,--he now stuck more to the actual
things around him. Often he descended at night-time, to the shores of
the river Aach, which slowly flowed on towards the lake. Close to the
rotten little bridge, stood a hollow willow-tree; before which, Audifax
lay in ambush, many an hour; his raised stick directed towards the
opening in the tree. He was on the look-out for an otter. But no
philosopher trying to fathom the last cause of Being, ever found his
task such a difficult one, as Audifax did his otter-hunting; for from
the hollow tree, there was still many a subterranean outlet to the
river, which the otter knew, and Audifax did not. And often when
Audifax, trembling with cold, said: "Now it must come,"--he would hear
a noise far up in the river, caused by his friend the otter putting its
snout out of the water, to take a good breath of air; and when Audifax
softly crept up to the place from whence the sound had come, the otter
was lying on its back, and floating comfortably down the river.

In the kitchen on the Hohentwiel, there was great bustle and
activity;--such as there is in the tent of a commander-in-chief, on the
eve of a battle. Dame Hadwig herself stood amongst the serving maidens.
She did not wear her ducal mantle, but a white apron; and stood
distributing flour and honey for the gingerbread. Praxedis was mixing,
ginger, pepper and cinnamon, to flavour the paste with.

"What shape shall we take?" asked she. "The square with the serpents?"

"No, the big heart is prettier," said Dame Hadwig. So the gingerbread
was made in the shape of hearts, and the finest was stuck with almonds
and cardamom, by the Duchess's own hand.

One morning Audifax entered the kitchen, half frozen with cold, and
crept up to the fire-place. His lips trembled as in a fever; but he
seemed to be merry, and in high spirits. "Get ready, my boy," said
Praxedis, "for this afternoon, thou must go to the forest and hew down
a fir-tree."

"That is none of my business," proudly said Audifax, "but I will do it,
if you will also do me a favour."

"And what does Master goat-herd desire?" asked Praxedis.

Audifax ran out, and on returning, triumphantly held up, a dark-brown
otter's skin; glossy and soft to the touch.

"Where did you get that from?" asked Praxedis.

"I caught it myself," replied Audifax, looking with sparkling eyes at
his booty. "You are to make a fur-cap out of it for Hadumoth."

The Greek maid, who liked the boy well, promised to fulfil his request.

The Christmas-tree was brought home, and adorned with apples and
wax-lights. The Duchess arranged everything in the great hall. A man
from Stein on the Rhine, had arrived and brought a basket, tightly sewn
up in linen. He said that it was from St. Gall, and destined for Master
Ekkehard. Dame Hadwig had the basket put unopened on the table with the
other gifts.

Christmas-Eve had arrived. All the inhabitants of the castle were
assembled, dressed in their best; for on that day, there was to be no
separation, between masters and servants. Ekkehard read to them the
story of Christ's nativity; and then they all went, two and two, into
the great hall. There the Christmas-tree, with its many candles,
lighted up the room splendidly. The last to enter were Audifax and
Hadumoth. A little bit of tinsel, with which the nuts had been gilt,
lay on the threshold. Audifax took it up. "That has fallen off, from
the wings of the Christ-child," whispered Hadumoth.

On large tables, the presents for the serving people, were laid out; a
piece of linen, or cloth, and some cakes. They rejoiced at the
generosity of their mistress, which was not always so manifest. Beside
the share allotted to Hadumoth, verily lay the fur-cap. She cried, when
Praxedis kindly betrayed the giver to her. "I have got nothing for
thee, Audifax," said she.

"It is instead of the golden crown," whispered he.

Men and maid-servants then offered their thanks to the Duchess, and
went down again to the servants' hall. Dame Hadwig taking Ekkehard by
the hand, led him to a little table apart. "This is meant for you,"
said she.

Between the almond-covered, gingerbread heart and the basket; there lay
a handsome, velvet priest's cap, and a magnificent stole. Fringe and
grounding were of gold thread, and embroideries of black silk,
interwoven with pearls, ran through the latter; which was worthy indeed
of a bishop.

"Let me see, how it becomes you," said Praxedis, and in spite of their
ecclesiastical character, she put the cap on his head, and threw the
stole over his shoulders. Ekkehard cast down his eyes. "Splendid,"
exclaimed she, "you may offer your thanks!"

Shyly Ekkehard put down the consecrated gifts; and then drawing the
parchment roll from out his ample garment, he timidly presented it to
the Duchess. Dame Hadwig held it unopened in her hand. "First we must
open the basket," she said. "The best"--smilingly pointing to the
parchment,--"must come last."

So they cut open the basket. Buried in hay, and well-preserved by
winter's cold,--there lay a huge mountain-cock. Ekkehard lifted it up.
With outspread wings, it measured above six feet. A letter accompanied
this magnificent piece of feathered game.

"Read it aloud!" said the Duchess, whose curiosity was aroused.
Ekkehard breaking the clumsy seal then read as follows:


           "To the venerable Brother Ekkehard on the Hohentwiel,
            through Burkard the cloister-pupil, from Romeias the
            gate-keeper.

"If there were two of them, one would be for you; but as I have not
been lucky enough to get two, this one is not for you, and yours will
come later. It is sent to you, on account of not knowing her name; but
she was with the Duchess in the monastery on that day, and wore a dress
of the colour of the green wood-pecker; and her tresses were fastened
round her head.

"For her,--the bird; on account of continual thinking, on the part of
him who shot it, of the walk to the recluses. It must be well macerated
and roasted, because otherwise tough. In case of other guests, she is
herself to eat the white flesh on the back-bone, because that is the
best; the brown often having a resinous taste.

"With it, I wish her all blessings and happiness. To you venerable
brother, likewise. If on your castle were wanting a watchman, porter or
gamekeeper, you might recommend Romeias to the Duchess; who, on account
of being mocked at by the steward, and of the complaints of that
dragon, Wiborad, would gladly change his service. Practice in the
office of gate-keeper, both giving admittance, and pitching out of
strange visitors, can be testified to. The same with regard to hunting.
He is already now looking towards the Hohentwiel, as if a cord were
drawing him thither.--Long life to you and to the Lady Duchess.
Farewell!"


A merry peal of laughter followed the reading of this curious epistle.
Praxedis had blushed all over. "That is a bad reward," angrily
exclaimed she, "that you write letters in other people's name, to
insult me!"

"Stop," said Ekkehard, "why should the letter not be genuine?"

"It would not be the first, that was forged by a monk," was Praxedis'
bitter reply. "Why need you laugh at that rough sportsman? He was by no
means so bad!"

"Praxedis, be reasonable!" urged the Duchess. "Look at that
mountain-cock,--that has not been shot in the Hegau; and Ekkehard
writes a somewhat different hand. Shall we give the petitioner a place
on the Hohentwiel?"

"Pray don't!" cried Praxedis eagerly. "Nobody is to believe that----"

"Very well," said Dame Hadwig, in a tone bespeaking silence. She then
opened Ekkehard's parchment-roll. The painting at the beginning had
succeeded pretty well; and any doubt of its meaning, was done away
with, by the superscription of the names: Hadwigis, Virgilius and
Ekkehard. A bold initial, with intricate golden arabesques headed the
poem.

The Duchess was highly pleased. Ekkehard had never before given her any
proof of his skill in art. Praxedis looked with an arch smile at the
purple mantle, which the Duchess wore on the picture, as if she could
tell something more about it.

Dame Hadwig made a sign to Ekkehard, to read and explain the poem. So
he read out the following verses; which rendered into English are as
follows:


   "In nightly silence sat I once alone,
    deciphering some parchments old and deep;
    When suddenly, a bright unearthly light,
    Lit up my room. 'T was not the moon's pale ray,
    And then, a radiant figure did I see.
    Immortal smiles were playing round his mouth,
    And in his rich and sable-coloured locks,
    He wore a crown of everlasting bay.

    And with his finger pointing to the book,
    He then spoke thus; 'Be of good cheer, my friend,
    I am no spirit, come to rob thy peace,
    I merely came to wish thee all that's good.
    All that which the dead letters here relate,
    I once have written with my own heart's blood:
    The siege of Troy, and then Æneas' flight
    The wrath of Gods, and splendid Roma's birth.

    Almost a thousand years have since gone by.
    The singer died,--his nation died with him.
    My grave is still; but seldom do I hear
    The distant shouts, at merry vintage time
    Or roar of breakers from the Cape Misene.
    Yet lately was I call'd up from my rest,
    By some rough gale, which coming from the North
    Brought me the tidings, that in distant lands,
    Æneas' fate was being read again;
    And that a noble princess, proud and fair
    Had kindly deigned, to dress my epic song
    In the bold accents of her native tongue.

    We once believed, the land beyond the Alps
    Was peopled by a rough, uncultured race;--
    But now at home we long have been forgot,
    And in the stranger land we live again.
    Therefore I come, to offer you my thanks;
    The greatest boon, a minstrel can obtain
    It is the praise from noble woman's lip.

    Hail to thy mistress, who in union rare,
    Has strength and wisdom, in herself enshrined,
    And like Minerva in the ranks of Gods,
    In steel-clad armour sitteth on the throne,
    Fair patron yet of all the peaceful arts.
    Yet many years may she the sceptre wield,
    Surrounded by a strong and loving race.
    And when you listen to the foreign strains,
    Like armour rattling, and the clash of steel,--
    Then think of me, it is Italia's voice,
    'Tis Virgil greets the rock of Hohentwiel.'

    Thus spoke he, waved his hand and disappear'd.
    But I wrote down, still on that very night
    What he had said; and to my mistress now
    I shyly venture to present these leaves,
    A humble gift, from faithful Ekkehard."


A short pause ensued, after he had finished the reading of his poem.
Then the Duchess approached him with outstretched hand, "Ekkehard I
thank you." They were the same words, which she had once said to him in
the cloister courtyard at St. Gall; but the tones were still milder
than at that time; her eyes sparkled and her lips wore a wondrous
smile, like that of sweet-eyed fairies, which is said to be followed by
a shower of delicious roses.

Then turning to Praxedis she continued, "and thee I ought to condemn to
ask his pardon on thy very knees, for having but lately spoken with so
little veneration of learned and ecclesiastical men." But the Greek
maiden's eyes sparkled archly, well knowing that without her help and
advice, the shy monk would scarcely have been able to attain this
success.

"In future I will give him all the reverence that's due," said she. "I
will even weave him a garland if you desire it."

After Ekkehard had gone up to his little chamber, the two women still
sat up together, and the Greek maid fetched a basin filled with water;
some pieces of lead and a metal spoon. "The lead-melting of last year,
has prophesied well," said she. "We could then, not quite understand,
what the strange shape was, which the lead assumed in the water;--but
now I am almost sure that it resembled a monk's cowl; and that, our
castle can now boast off."

The Duchess had become thoughtful. She listened to hear whether
Ekkehard might not be returning.

"It is nothing but an idle amusement," said she.

"If it does not please my mistress," said the Greek, "then she might
order our teacher to entertain us with something better. His Virgil, is
no doubt a far better oracle, than our lead; when opened on a
consecrated night, with prayers and a blessing. I wonder now, what part
of his epic would foretell to us, the events of the coming year."

"Be silent," said the Duchess. "He spoke but lately so severely on
witchcraft; he would laugh at us ..."

"Then we shall have to content ourselves with the old way," returned
Praxedis; holding the spoon with the lead in it over the flame of the
lamp. The lead melted and trembled; and muttering a few unintelligible
words, she poured it into the water; the liquid metal making a hissing
sound.

Dame Hadwig, with seeming indifference, cast a look at it, when
Praxedis held the basin up to the light. Instead of dividing into
fantastic shapes, the lead had formed a long pointed drop. It glimmered
faintly in Dame Hadwig's hand.

"That is another riddle, for time to solve," laughed Praxedis. "The
future, this time closely resembles a pine-cone."

"Or a tear," said the Duchess seriously, leaning her head on her right
hand.

A loud noise from the ground-floor, interrupted the further
investigation of the omen. Giggling and screams of the maid-servants,
rough sounds of male voices, interspersed with the shrill tones of a
lute, were heard in dire confusion, coming up the passage. Respectfully
but beseechingly, the flying troop of the maids stopped at the
threshold. The tall Friderun could scarcely refrain from scolding; and
little Hadumoth was crying audibly. A groping, fumbling step was heard
behind them, and presently there appeared an uncouth figure, wrapt in a
bearskin; with a painted mask, in the form of a bear's snout; snarling
and growling like a hungry bruin, seeking for its prey. Now and then,
this apparition drew some inharmonious sounds from a lute, which was
hanging over his shaggy shoulders, suspended on a red ribbon; but as
soon as the door of the hall was thrown open, and the rustling dress of
the Duchess was heard approaching, the nightly phantom turned round,
and slowly tumbled back into the echoing passage.

The old housekeeper then began; telling their mistress, how they had
sat merrily together, rejoicing over their presents, when the monster
had come in upon them, and had first executed a dance, to his own
lute's playing, but how he had afterwards blown out the candles,
threatening the frightened maidens with kisses and embraces; finally
becoming so wild and obstreperous, that they had all been obliged to
take flight.

Judging from the hoarse laughter of the bear, there was strong reason
for suspecting Master Spazzo's being hidden under the shaggy fur; who
after embibing a considerable quantity of wine, had concluded his
Christmas frolics in that way.

Dame Hadwig appeased her exasperated servants, and bade them go to bed.
From the yard however was soon heard another cry of surprise. There
they all stood in a group; steadfastly looking up at the tower; for the
terrible bear had climbed up, and was now promenading on the top of it,
lifting his shaggy head up to the stars, as if he wanted to send a
greeting to his namesake in the firmament;--the great bear.

The dark figure stood out in clear outlines against the pale starry
sky, and his growls sounded weirdly through the silent night; but
no mortal was ever told, what the luminous stars revealed to the
wine-clouded brains of Master Spazzo the chamberlain.

At the same midnight hour, Ekkehard knelt before the altar of the
castle chapel, softly chaunting the Christmas-matins, as the church
rules prescribed.



                              CHAPTER XI.

                     The old Man of the Heidenhöhle.


The remainder of the winter passed by monotonously; and in consequence
swiftly enough. They prayed and worked; read Virgil and studied the
grammar, every day. Dame Hadwig had quite given up asking dangerous
questions. During the Carnival, the neighbouring nobility came to pay
their respects to the Duchess. Those of Nellenburg and of Veringen; the
old Count of Argengau with his daughters, the Guelphs from over the
lake, and many others; and in those days there was much feasting,
accompanied by more drinking. After that, it became lonely again on the
top of the Hohentwiel.

March had come, and heavy gales blew over the land. On the first
starlight night, a comet was seen in the sky; and the stork which lived
comfortably on the castle-gable, had flown away again, a week after its
return. At all these things, people shook their heads. Further, a
shepherd, driving his flock past the hill, told how he had met the
army-worm,[10] which was a sure sign of coming war.

A strange, uncomfortable feeling took possession of all minds. The
approach of an earthquake is often felt at a considerable distance;
here, by the stopping of a spring; there, by the anxious flying about
of birds; and in the same way the danger of war makes itself felt
beforehand.

Master Spazzo who had bravely sat behind the wine-jug in February, now
walked about with a downcast expression. "You are to do me a favour,"
said he one day to Ekkehard. "I have seen a dead fish in my dream,
floating on its back. I wish to make my last will. The world has become
old and is left standing on its last leg; and that also will soon give
way. Good-bye then Firnewine! Besides we are not very far off from the
Millenium; and have lived merrily enough. Perhaps the last years count
double. At any rate, mankind cannot go on much longer in that way.
Erudition has gone so far, that in this one castle of Hohentwiel, more
than half a dozen books lie heaped up; and when a fellow gets a good
thrashing, he goes up to court and makes his complaint, instead of
burning down his enemy's house, over his head. With such a state of
affairs, the world must naturally soon come to an end."

"Who is to be your heir, if all the world is to perish," was Ekkehard's
reply.

A man of Augsburg, coming to the Reichenau, also brought evil tidings.
Bishop Ulrich had promised a precious relic to the monastery--the right
arm of the holy Theopontus, richly set in silver and precious stones.
He now sent word that as the country was unsafe at present, he could
not risk sending it.

The Abbot ordered the man to go to the Hohentwiel; there to inform the
Duchess of the state of things.

"What is the good news?" asked she, on his presenting himself.

"There's not much good in them. I would rather take away better ones
from here. The Suabian arrier-ban is up in arms; horses and riders, as
many as have a sword and shield hanging on their walls, are ready. They
are again on the road, between the Danube and the Rhine."

"Who?"

"The old enemies from yonder. The small fellows with the deep-set eyes
and blunt noses. A good deal of our meat will again be ridden tender
under the saddle this year."

He drew out of his pocket a strangely shaped small horse-shoe, with a
high heel to it. "Do you know that?--A little shoe, and a little steed,
a crooked sabre, and arrows fleet;--as quick as lightning, and never at
rest; oh Lord, deliver us from this pest!"

"The Huns?" exclaimed the Duchess, in startled tones.

"If you prefer to call them Hungarians, or Hungry-ones,--'tis the same
to me," said the messenger. "Bishop Pilgrim sent the tidings from
Passau to Freising; whence it reached us. They have already swum over
the Danube, and will be falling like locusts into the German lands; and
as quick as winged Devils. 'You may sooner catch the wind on the plain,
or the bird in the air,' is an old saying with us. May the plague take
their horses!--I for myself, only fear for my sister's child at Passau;
the fair little Bertha." ...

"It is impossible!" said Dame Hadwig. "Can they have forgotten already,
what answer the messengers of the Exchequer, returned them: 'we have
iron and swords and five fingers to our hands?' In the battle on the
Inn, their heads were made acquainted with the truth of these words."

"Just for that very reason," said the man. "He who has been beaten
once, likes to come back and beat the enemy in his turn. The messengers
of the Exchequer, in reward for their bravery, have had their heads cut
off;--so who will like taking their places in the foremost ranks?"

"We likewise know the path, which has been trodden by our ancestors,
going to meet the enemy," proudly returned the Duchess.

She dismissed the man from Augsburg with a present. Then she sent for
Ekkehard.

"Virgil will have to rest a while," said she, telling him of the danger
that was threatening from the Huns. This state of things was by no
means pleasant. The nobles had forgotten, in their many personal feuds,
how to act and stand up together; whilst the Emperor, of Saxon origin
and not over fond of the Suabians, was fighting in Italy, far away from
the German frontier. So the passage to the Bodensee was open to the
invaders; whose mere name caused a terror wherever it was pronounced.
For years their tribes swarmed like will-o'-the-wisps, through the
unsettled realm, which Charlemagne had left in the hands of unqualified
successors. From the shores of the North-Sea, where the ruins of Bremen
spoke of their invasion, down to the southern point of Calabria, where
the natives had to pay a ransom for each head,--fire and plunder marked
their way.

"If they are not ghosts which the pious Bishop Ulrich has seen," said
the Duchess, "they are certain to come to us also; so what is to be
done? To meet them in open battle?--Even bravery is folly, when the
enemy is too numerous. To obtain peace, by paying tribute and ransom,
thus driving them over to our neighbours' territory?--Others have done
that before, but we have other ideas of honour and dishonour. Are we to
barricade ourselves on the Hohentwiel, and leave the land at their
mercy, when we have promised our protection to our subjects?--never!
What do you advise?"

"My knowledge does not extend to such matters," sorrowfully replied
Ekkehard.

The Duchess was excited. "Oh schoolmaster," cried she reproachfully,
"why has Heaven not made you a warrior? Many things would be better
then!"

Ekkehard, deeply hurt, turned to go. The words had entered his heart
like an arrow, and remained there. The reproach had some truth in it,
so it hurt him all the more.

"Ekkehard," called out Dame Hadwig, "you must not go. You are to serve
the country with your knowledge, and what you do not know as yet, you
may learn. I will send you to some one who is well versed in these
matters. Will you undertake this mission for me?"

Ekkehard had turned round again. "I never have been unwilling to serve
my mistress," said he.

"But then you must not be frightened, if he gives you but a rough and
unfriendly reception. He has suffered many a wrong from past
generations; and he does not know the present. Neither must you be
shocked, if he should appear very old and fat to you."

He had listened attentively: "I do not quite understand you ..."

"Never mind," said the Duchess. "You are to go over to Sipplingen
to-morrow; close to Ueberlingen, where the rocky shore shelves down
into the lake. These caverns were made, in the olden times, to serve as
hiding-places. When you see the smoke of a fire rising out of the hill,
go to that spot. There you will find the person I want you to see; and
you must then speak with him about the Huns."

"To whom is my mistress sending me?" enquired Ekkehard, eagerly.

"To the old man of the Heidenhöhle," replied Dame Hadwig. "One does not
know any other name for him hereabouts.--But stop," continued she, "I
must give you the watchword, in case of his refusing you admittance."

She opened a cupboard, and searching about amongst her trinkets and
other small things, took out a tiny slate, on which were scrawled a few
letters. "That you are to say to him, besides giving him my kindest
greetings."

Ekkehard looked at the slate. It contained only the two insignificant
Latin words, "_neque enim!_"--nothing else.

"That has no meaning," said he.

"Never mind, the old man knows well, what it means for him."

Before cockcrow the next morning, Ekkehard passed out of the gate on
the Hohentwiel, on horseback. The fresh morning air blew about his
head, over which he now drew his hood. "Why has Heaven not made you a
warrior; many things would be better then." These words of the Duchess
accompanied him, like his own shadow. They were for him a spur to
courageous resolutions. "When danger comes, she shall not find the
schoolmaster, sitting behind his books," thought he.

His horse went on at a good pace. In a few hours, he rode over the
woody hills, that separate the Untersee from the lake of Ueberlingen.
At the ducal tenement of Sernatingen, the blue mirror of the lake lay
stretched out before his eyes. There he left his horse in the care of
the steward, and continued the path leading along the shore, on foot.

At a projecting point, he stopped a while, to gaze at leisure at the
fine view before him. The eye, here meeting with no obstacle, could
glance over the waters to the distant Rhætian Alps, which like a
crystal wall, rise heavenwards; forming the background of the
landscape.

Where the rocks of red sandstone steeply arise out of the lake, the
path mounted upwards. Steps, hewn in the rocks, made the ascent easier.
Here and there, apertures serving as windows, broke the uniformity of
the walls; indicating by their deep shadows, the places, where in the
times of the Roman supremacy, unknown men, had dug these caverns as an
asylum, in the same way as the catacombs.

The ascent was fatiguing enough. Now he had reached a level, only a few
steps in circumference, on which young grass was growing. In front,
there was an entrance into the rock, about the height of a man. Out of
this, there now rushed, violently barking, a huge black dog, which
stopping short about two paces from Ekkehard, held itself ready with
teeth and fangs to fly at him; keeping its eyes steadily fixed on the
monk, who could not move, without risk of the dog's attacking him. His
position was certainly not an enviable one; retreat being impossible,
and Ekkehard not carrying arms about him. So he remained immovable,
facing his enemy; when at an opening, there appeared the head of a man,
with grey hair, piercing eyes, and a reddish beard.

"Call back the dog!" cried Ekkehard.

A few moments afterwards, the grey-haired man appeared at the entrance,
armed with a spear.

"Back, Mummolin!" cried he.

The huge animal reluctantly obeyed; and not until the old man had
threatened it with his spear, did it retreat growling.

"Your dog ought to be killed, and hung up nine feet over your door,
until it fell to pieces," said Ekkehard angrily. "It nearly made me
fall over into the lake," turning round, and beholding the lake lying
at his feet, from the perpendicular height.

"In the Heidenhöhlen the common laws have no force," defiantly replied
the old man. "With us, 'tis--keep off two steps, or we split your
skull."

Ekkehard wanted to go on.

"Stop there," continued the stranger, barring the passage with his
spear. "Not so fast if you please. Where are you going to?"

"To the old man of the Heidenhöhle."

"To the old man of the Heidenhöhle?" angrily repeated the other. "Have
you no more respectful term for that personage, you yellow-beaked
cowl-bearer?"

"I know no other name," replied Ekkehard somewhat abashed. "My greeting
is, _neque enim_."

"That sounds better," said the old man in a softer tone. "From whence
do you come?"

"From the Hohentwiel. I am to tell you ..."

"Stop, I am not he whom you seek. I am merely his servant Rauching. I
will announce you."

Considering the appearance of those barren, rocky walls and the black
dog, this formality seemed somewhat out of place. Ekkehard was kept
waiting some time. It was as if preparations for his reception were
being made. At last Rauching made his reappearance. "Be pleased to
enter." So they walked along a dark passage that widened at the end,
admitting them into a chamber, which had been hewn in the rocks by
human hands, high and spacious, with an arched ceiling. A rough
panelling partly covered the walls. The openings for the windows were
wide and airy; showing a piece of the lake and hills, like a picture in
a frame. Some bright, warm sunbeams streamed in, lighting up the
otherwise dark chamber. Here and there, traces of stone-benches were
visible; while a high-backed chair, likewise of stone, and resembling a
bishop's seat in old churches, stood beside the window. In it a figure
was seated. It was a strange, human form, of mighty dimensions. The
huge head rested heavily between the broad shoulders; forehead and
cheeks were deeply furrowed. Round his temples were a few scanty white
curls; whilst his mouth was almost entirely toothless,--signs which
spoke of the wondrous age of the man. Round his shoulders hung a cloak
of undecided colour, the back of which, hidden by the chair, was no
doubt threadbare enough; the seams showing here and there, many a
patch. He wore a pair of coarse boots, and by his side lay an old hat,
with a dusty old trimming of fox's fur. In a niche in the wall, stood a
chess-board with carved ivory pieces. A game seemed just to have been
finished; the king mated by a knight, and two bishops ...

"Who comes to the forgotten one?" asked the old man, in a trembling
voice. Then Ekkehard bowing his head before him, told his name, and who
had sent him there.

"You have brought an evil watchword with you. Do people still speak of
Luitward of Vercelli?"

"Whose soul be damned," added Rauching.

"I have never heard anything about him," said Ekkehard.

"Tell him, Rauching, who Luitward of Vercelli was. It would be a pity
if he were to die in the memory of men."

"He was the greatest rascal, that ever the sun shone upon," was
Rauching's reply.

"Tell him also, what is the meaning of _neque enim_."

"There is no gratitude in this world; and of an Emperor's friends, even
the best is a traitor."

"Even the best is a traitor," murmured the old man, lost in thought.
His eye now fell on the chessboard. "Ah yes," muttered he faintly,
"checkmated, mated by bishops and knights" ... he clenched his fist,
and made a movement as if to rise; then falling back with a deep sigh,
he raised his shrivelled hand to his forehead, resting his heavy head
on it.

"The headache" ... said he, "the cursed headache!"

"Mummolin!" cried Rauching.

With bounding steps the black dog came in; and on seeing the old man
with bent-down head, he whiningly crept up to him, and licked his
forehead. "'Tis well," said the old man, after a while, lifting himself
up again.

"Are you ill?" kindly asked Ekkehard.

"Ill?" rejoined he,--"may be that it is a sort of illness! I have been
visited by it such a long time, that it seems quite like an old
acquaintance. Have you ever had the headache? I advise you, never to go
out to battle, when you are attacked by a headache; and by no means to
conclude a peace. It may cost you a realm, that headache ..."

"Could not some physician" ... began Ekkehard.

"The wisdom of physicians, has in this case, long come to an end. They
have done their best for me," pointing to his forehead, where two old
scars crossed each other.

"Look here!--If they want you to try that remedy, you must not do so.
In my younger days they hung me up by the feet;--then they made some
cuts in my head; thus taking away some blood, and part of my
intellects, without helping me. At Cremona (Zedekias was the name of
the Hebrew sage), they consulted the stars, and placed me on a
mulberry-tree at midnight. It was a long exorcism with which they drove
the headache into the tree, but it did not help me. In the German
lands, they ordered me to take powdered crabs' eyes, mixed with the
dust of St. Mark's grave; and a draught of wine from the lake after it:
all in vain! Now I've got used to it. The worst is licked away by
Muramolin's rough tongue. Come here my brave Mummolin, who has never
betrayed me yet ..."

He stopped, almost breathless, and caressed the dog.

"My message" ... Ekkehard was beginning--, but the old man waved his
hand to him and said: "Have patience yet awhile; 'tis not well to speak
with an empty stomach. You must be hungry. Nothing is more awful and
more holy than hunger--said that dean of yore, when his friend and
guest, ate up five of the six trouts before him; leaving only the
smallest on the plate. He who has had something to do with the world,
does not easily forget that saying. Rauching, prepare our meal."

So Rauching went into a neighbouring closet, which had been fitted up
as a kitchen. The provisions were kept in different niches, and a few
moments later, a white wreath of smoke curled up, from the rocky
chimney. Shortly after, the cooking was done. A stone slab served as
table. The crowning piece of the frugal repast was a pike; but the pike
was old; moss growing on its head, and its flesh was tough, as leather.
A jug of reddish looking wine, was also brought by Rauching; but _that_
had grown on the Sippling hills, a vintage which still enjoys the
reputation of being the most sour of all the sour wines produced on the
lake. Rauching waited upon them during the meal.

"Well, what may your business be?" asked the old man, when the meagre
repast was ended.

"Evil tidings; the Huns are invading the country. Their hoofs will soon
be treading the Suabian ground."

"Good!" cried the old man. "That serves you right. Are the Normans also
approaching?"

"You speak strangely," said Ekkehard.

The eyes of the old man lighted up. "And if enemies were to spring up
around you, like mushrooms, you have deserved it well; you and your
masters. Rauching, fill the glass; the Huns are coming,--_neque enim!_
Now you will have to swallow the soup, which your masters have salted
for you. A great and proud empire had been founded, extending from the
shores of the Ebro, to the Raab in the Danish land, into which not a
rat could have entered, without faithful watchmen catching it. And
this, the great Emperor Charlemagne ..."

"God bless him," exclaimed Rauching.

"... left behind him; strong and powerful. The tribes which had once
put a stop to the Roman supremacy, were all united as they ought to be;
and in those days, the Huns slily kept behind their hedges on the
Danube, the weather not being favourable for them; and as soon as they
tried to move, their wooden camp-town in Pannonia, was destroyed to the
last chip, by the brave Franks. Later, the great ones in Germany, began
to feel sorely, that not every one of them could be the master of the
world; so each one must needs establish a government in his own
territory. Sedition, rebellion and high-treason, well suited their
tastes; and so they dethroned the last of Charlemagne's descendants,
who held the reins of the world.--The representative of the unity
of the realm has become a beggar; who must eat unbuttered
water-gruel;--and now, your lords who preferred Arnulf the bastard and
their own arrogance, have got the Huns on their heels, and the old
times are coming back, as King Attila had them painted. Do you know the
picture in the palace at Milan?...

"There the Roman Emperor was painted sitting on the throne, with
Scythian princes lying at his feet; till one day King Attila, chancing
to ride by, gave a long and stedfast look at the picture, and
laughingly said: 'quite right; only I'll make a small alteration.' And
he had his own features, given to the man on the throne; those kneeling
before him, pouring out bags of tributary gold,--being now the Roman
Cæsars ... The picture is still to be seen."

"You are thinking of bygone tales," said Ekkehard.

"Of bygone tales?" exclaimed the old man. "For me there has been
nothing new, these last forty years, but want and misery. Bygone
tales! 'Tis well for him, who still remembers them, in order that he
may see how the sins of the fathers, are visited on the children and
children's children. Do you know why Charlemagne shed tears once
in his life?--When they announced to him, the arrival of the Norman
sea-robbers: 'as long as I live,' said he, ''tis mere child's play, but
I grieve for my grandsons.'"

"As yet we have still an Emperor and a realm," said Ekkehard.

"Have you still one?" said the old man, draining his glass of sour
Sippling wine, and shivering after it, "well I wish him joy. The
corner-stones are dashed to pieces; and the building is crumbling away.
With a clique of presumptuous nobles, no realm can exist. Those who
ought to obey are lording it over the others; and he who ought to
reign, must wheedle and flatter, instead of commanding. Methinks, I
have heard of one, to whom his faithful subjects, sent the tribute in
pebbles, instead of silver, and the head of the count who was sent to
collect it, lay beside the stones, in the bag. Who has avenged it?" ...

"The Emperor is fighting and gathering laurels in Italy," rejoined
Ekkehard.

"Oh Italy! Italy!" continued the old man. "That will still become a
thorn in the German flesh. That was the only time the great Charles
..."

"Whom God bless," exclaimed Rauching.

"... allowed himself to be entrapped. It was a sad day, on which they
crowned him at Rome; and no one has chuckled so gleefully, as he on St.
Peter's chair. He was in want of us,--but what have we ever had to do
in Italy? Look there! Has that mountain-wall been erected heavenwards,
for nothing?--All that, which lies on the other side, belongs to those
in Byzantium; and it is all right so; for Greek cunning is better there
than German strength; but later generations have found nothing better
to do than to perpetuate the error of Charlemagne. The good example he
left them, they have trampled upon; and whilst there was plenty to do
in the East and North, they must needs run off to Italy, as if the
great magnet lay behind the Roman hills. I have often thought about it,
what could have driven us, in that direction; and if it was not the
Devil himself, it can only have been the good wine."

Ekkehard had become saddened by the old man's speeches, who, seeming to
feel this, said: "Do not regard what a buried man tells you. We here in
the Heidenhöhlen, cannot make it any better; but the truth has many a
time taken up her abode in caverns; whilst ignorance was striding at a
great pace through the land."

"A buried man?" said Ekkehard enquiringly.

"You may for all that, drink a bumper with him," jestingly replied the
mysterious stranger. "It was necessary that I should die before the
world; for the headache and the rascals had brought me into discredit.
You need not therefore, stare at me so, little monk. Sit down here on
the stone bench, and I will tell you about it and you can make a song
of it, to play on the lute ... There once lived an Emperor, who had few
happy days; for his realm was large, and he himself was big and stout,
and the headache tormented him; ever since the day that he mounted the
throne. Therefore he took unto himself a chancellor, who had got a fine
head, and could think better than his master; for he was thin and
meagre like a pole, and had no headache. The Emperor had raised him
from obscure birth, for he was only the son of a blacksmith; and he
bestowed favours on him, doing all that his chancellor advised him to
do. Aye, he even concluded a miserable peace with the Normans; for his
counsellor told him, that this matter was too insignificant; and that
he had more important things to do, than to worry himself about a
handful of pirates. At the same time, the chancellor went to the
Emperor's spouse, and beguiled her weak heart; playing on the lute
before her. Besides this he carried off by force, the daughters of some
noble Allemannians; and finally joined in a league, with the Emperor's
enemies. And when the Emperor at last called together a great diet, to
remedy the state of affairs, his gaunt chancellor was among the
foremost who spoke against him. With the words, '_neque enim_,' he
began his speech, and then he proved to them, that they must dethrone
their Emperor; and he spoke so venomously and treacherously against the
peace with the Normans, which he had himself concluded,--that they all
fell off from their master, like withered leaves when the autumn winds
are shaking the tree. And they cried that the time for the stout ones
was at an end; and then and there they dethroned him; so that he who
had entered Tribur, with a threefold crown on his head, had nothing
when he went away that he could call his own, but what he wore on his
back; and at Mainz he sat before the Bishop's castle, glad when they
presented him with a dish of soup. The brave chancellor's name was
Luitward of Vercelli. May God reward him according to his deserts, and
the Empress Richardis and the rest of them, likewise."--

"But when later the people in Suabia took pity on the poor outlaw, and
gave him a little bit of land, whereby to earn a scanty livelihood; and
when they thought of sending an army to fight for his rights, Luitward
dispatched murderers against him. It was a wild night for the tenement
of Neidingen; the storm was breaking the branches of the trees, and the
shutters were rattling violently. The dethroned Emperor not being able
to sleep on account of the headache, had mounted on the roof, to let
the storm cool his burning forehead, when they broke in to murder him.
It is not a very pleasant feeling I can tell you, to sit in the cold
night-air on the roof, with a heavy aching head, and hear how people
are regretting downstairs, that they cannot strangle you, or hang you
over the draw-well." ...

"He who has lived to hear that, had better die at once. The stout
Meginhard at Neidingen, had fallen down from a tree and was killed just
at the right time; so that they could lay him on the bier, and spread
the news in the country that the dethroned Emperor had paid his tribute
to grim King Death. They say that it was a fine procession, when they
carried him to the Reichenau. The Heavens are said to have opened,
casting a ray of light on the bier; and the funeral must have been
touching indeed, when they buried him on the right side of the altar.
'That he had been stript of his honour, and bereft of his kingdom, was
a trial imposed from above, to cleanse and purify his soul, and as he
bore it patiently, it is to be hoped that the Lord rewarded him, with
the crown of eternal life; to comfort him for the earthly crown which
he had lost' ... thus they preached in the cloister-church, not knowing
that he, whom they imagined they had buried, was at that same hour
entering the solitude of the Heidenhöhlen; laden with all his trifling
belongings; and leaving behind him a curse on the world." ...

The old man laughed. "Here it is safe and quiet enough, to think of old
times. Let's drink a bumper to the dead! And Luitward has been cheated
after all; for though his Emperor wears an old hat instead of a golden
crown, and drinks the sour juice of the Sippling grape, instead of the
sparkling Rhinewine, he is still alive; whilst the meagre ones and all
their race are dead, long ago. And the stars will prove right after
all, in prophesying at his birth, that he would leave this false world,
in the roar of battle. The Huns are coming! Oh, come thou also soon,
thou joyful end!"

Ekkehard had listened with the utmost attention. "Oh Lord, how
wonderful are Thy ways," he exclaimed, attempting to kneel down and
kiss the old man's hands; but he prevented him, saying: "All these
things have been done away with, long ago. Take an example ..."

"Germany has greatly wronged you, and your race," Ekkehard was
beginning to say, but the old man interrupted him, saying: "Germany! I
do not bear her a grudge. May she prosper and nourish, undisturbed by
enemies; and find some ruler who will make her powerful again; and who
is not plagued with the headache when the Normans come back; and not
have a chancellor whose name is Luitward of Vercelli. But those who
have divided his garments amongst them; and cast lots for his vesture."
...

"May Heaven punish them with fire and brimstone," said Rauching in the
background.

"And what answer shall I give to my mistress?" asked Ekkehard, after
having finished his beaker.

"With regard to the Huns?" said the old man. "I believe that is simple
enough. Tell the Duchess to go into the woods, and to see what the
hedgehog does, when an enemy is coming too near. It curls itself up
into a ball, and presents its prickles; and he who lays hands on it, is
wounded. Suabia has got plenty of lances. Let them do the same.--You
monks will also not be the worse for carrying the spear. And if your
mistress wishes to know still more; then you may tell her the adage
which rules in the Heidenhöhlen. Rauching, what is it?"

"Keep two steps off, or we'll break your head," he replied.

"And if there should be a question of peace, then tell her, that the
old man of the Heidenhöhle once concluded a bad one, and that he would
never do so again; although his headache were as bad as ever; and
that he would much rather saddle his own horse, at the sound of the
war-trumpet,--if you outlive his last ride, you may say a mass for
him."

The old man had spoken with a strange excitement. Suddenly his voice
broke off; his breath became short, almost groaning, and bending his
head, he said: "it is coming on again."

Rauching hastily presented him with a draught of water; but the
oppression did not subside.

"We must try the remedy," said Rauching. From a corner of the chamber,
he rolled forwards a heavy block of stone, about a man's height,
bearing some traces of sculpture, which they had found in the cavern; a
mystic monument, belonging to former inhabitants. He placed it upright
against the wall. It appeared as if a human head bearing a bishop's
mitre, had once been represented on it. Rauching now seized a thick,
knotty stick, and placing another in the hands of the old man, began
thrashing away at the stone image, and pronouncing slowly and solemnly
the following words. "Luitward of Vercelli! Traitor and adulterer,
_neque enim!_ Ravisher of nuns, and foul rebel, _neque enim!_" Heavily
fell the blows, and a faint smile lighted up the withered features of
the old man. He arose and began striking away at it also, with feeble
arms.

"It has been written, that a bishop must lead a blameless life," said
he in the same tone as Rauching,--"take this for the peace with the
Normans! This for the seduction of the Empress Richardis, _neque enim!_
This for the diet at Tribur, and that for the election of Arnulf!
_neque enim!_"

The cavern rang with the resounding blows; the stone image standing
immovable, under the fierce attacks. The old man became more and more
relieved; warming himself by giving vent to the old hatred, which for
years had nourished his miserable life.

Ekkehard did not quite understand the meaning of what he saw. He began
'to feel uncomfortable and so took his leave.

"I trust you have been enjoying yourself, at the expense of the old
fool up there," said the steward of Sernatingen to him, when he brought
out his saddled horse. "Does he still believe, that he has lost a crown
and a kingdom? Ha, ha!"

Ekkehard rode away. In the beech-wood, the new green leaves were
sprouting forth, telling of the coming Spring. A young monk from the
Reichenau was going the same road. Bold and gay, like the clashing of
arms, his song floated through the solitary wood:


   "Arise ye men of Germany, ye warriors gay;
    With warlike song, and watchman's call, drive sleep away!
    At ev'ry hour make the round, from gate to wall,
    Lest unawares the enemy, upon you fall.
    From walls and towers then be heard, _eia vigila!_
    The echoes all repeating, _eia vigila!_"


It was the song which the night-guards sang at Mutina in Italy, while
the Huns were attacking the town in which the Bishop resided. The monk
had stood himself on guard at the gate of St. Geminianus, three years
ago, and well knew the hissing of the Hunnic arrows; and when a
presentiment of new battles, is so to say in the air, the old songs
rise again in the minds of men.



                              CHAPTER XII.

                       The Approach of the Huns.


"The old man is right," said Dame Hadwig, when Ekkehard reported to
her, the result of his mission. "When the enemy threatens,--prepare,
and when he attacks us,--beat him; that is so simple that one really
need not ask anyone's advice. I believe that the habit of long thinking
and wavering in critical moments, has been sown by the enemy, like
weeds in the German lands. He who doubts, is near falling; and he who
misses the right moment for action, often digs his own grave. We will
get ready."

The exciting and dangerous position, put the Duchess into high spirits;
just as trout delight in the turbulent waters, rushing over rocks and
stones; while they sicken in a still lake. An example of courage and
energy given by one in power, is never lost on inferiors. So they were
all busy, making preparations for the reception of the enemy. From the
tower on the Hohentwiel, visible at a great distance, the war-flag
floated forth upon the air; and through the woods and fields, unto the
remotest farm-steads, hidden in lonely mountain-glens, the war-trumpet
was heard; calling together all those capable of bearing arms; poverty
alone freeing anyone from the military service. Every man possessing
more than two acres of land, was obliged to place himself under arms,
and to present himself at the first call. The Hohentwiel was to be
head-quarters; nature herself having made it a fortress. Swift
messengers were riding on horseback through the Hegau; and people began
stirring everywhere in the land. Behind the dark fir-woods, the
charcoal-burners had formed a corps. "This will do," said one of them,
swinging a heavy poker over his head, as if about to strike down an
enemy. "I will also fight with the rest of them."

At the doors of the priests, and at those of the old and sick, the
messengers also knocked. Those who could not fight, were to pray for
the others.--This decree resounded through the land; reaching also the
monastery in St. Gall.

Ekkehard, likewise went to the peaceful little island of Reichenau, as
the Duchess had desired. This mission would have been highly
distasteful to him, if the reason for it had been a different one. He
was to bring an invitation to the brotherhood, to come to the
Hohentwiel, in case of danger.

There, he found everything already in a state of excitement. The
brothers were promenading beside the fountain, in the mild spring air;
but not one of them was seriously thinking of enjoying the fine weather
and blue sky. They were talking of the evil times, and holding counsel,
what was to be done. The idea of leaving their quiet cells, did not
appear to please them at all.

"St. Mark," one of them had said, "will protect his disciples, and by
striking the enemy with blindness, cause them to ride past; or he will
raise the waves of the Bodensee, to devour them, as the Red Sea
swallowed up the Egyptians."

But old Simon Bardo replied: "This calculation is not quite safe; and
when a place is not fortified by towers and walls, a retreat might
after all, be the better plan. Wherever a shilling's worth is still to
be got, no Hun will ride by, and if you put a gold piece on the grave
of a dead man, his hand will grow out of the earth to seize it."

"Holy Pirminius!" said the gardener, in doleful accents, "who then is
to mind the fruits and vegetables in the garden, if we must go?"

"And the chickens," said another, whose chief delight was in the
poultry-yard,--"have we then, bought the three dozen turkeys merely for
the enemy?"

"If one were to write an impressive letter to them," proposed a
third,--"they surely cannot be such barbarians, as to harm God and His
saints."

Simon Bardo, with a pitying smile, then said: "Thou hadst better
become a shepherd, and drink a decoction of camomile,--thou who wouldst
write impressive letters to the Huns! Oh, that I had brought my old
firework-maker Kedrenus with me, over the Alps! Then we should cast a
light on the enemy, far brighter than the mild moonshine in the
flower-garden, which called up such tender recollections in the soul
of Abbot Walafrid. We should then sink ships; and command the whole
shore with our long fire-tubes. Hurrah! How they would be scattered
to the winds, when our missiles would be flying through the air like
fiery dragons, pouring down a rain of burning naphta. But what does
any of you, know about such fire! Oh Kedrenus, thou paragon of
firework-makers!"

Ekkehard had entered the monastery, and asked for the Abbot. A serving
brother showed him up to his apartments; but he was neither there, nor
was he to be seen anywhere else.

"He will most likely be in the armoury," said a monk passing by. So the
serving brother led Ekkehard to the armoury, which was situated high up
in the tower. There, quantities of arms and harness were heaped up;
with which the monastery provided its warriors for the arrier-ban.
Abbot Wazmann stood there, hidden by a cloud of dust. He had had the
armour taken down from the walls, to examine it. Dust and cobwebs bore
witness to its having rested for a long while. During the examination,
the Abbot had not forgotten to provide for himself. His upper garment
lay on the ground before him; and in its place, he had donned a coat of
mail, with the help of a fair-haired cloister-pupil. He was now
stretching out his arms, to see whether it fitted him tightly and
comfortably.

"Come nearer!" cried he, on seeing Ekkehard. "The reception is fitted
to the times!"

Ekkehard then communicated the Duchess's invitation, to him.

"I should have asked for this, myself," replied he, "if you had not
come." He had seized a long sword, and made a cut in the air with it;
so that Ekkehard started back a pace or two. From the swift, whizzing
sound which it produced, one could guess that the hand which held it,
was not unaccustomed to its use.

"Yes, 'tis getting serious," said he. "Down in Altdorf in the
Shussenthal, the Huns have already effected their entrance; and we
shall soon see the flames of Lindau, reflected in the water. Do you
wish to choose a suitable armour for yourself also? This one, with the
shoulder-strap, will defeat every blow or thrust as well, as the finest
linen shirt, ever spun by a virgin in holy nights."

Ekkehard courteously declined the offer, and then went down,
accompanied by the Abbot; who seemed to enjoy his coat of mail
thoroughly. Throwing his brown habit over it, like a true champion of
the Lord, he made his appearance amongst the anxious brotherhood still
assembled in the garden.

"St. Mark appeared to me this night, pointing to the Hohentwiel," cried
the Abbot. "Thither, thou shalt bring my remains, to save them from
desecration by the hands of the heathen," he said. "Be up and get
ready! With prayers and fasting your souls have fought to the present
moment with the Evil One; but now your fists are to prove that you are
warriors indeed; for those who come, are the sons of the Devil. Witches
and demons begot them in the Asiatic deserts. All their doings are vile
wickedness, and when their time comes, they will all go back to hell!"

During this appeal, even the most careless of the brothers became
convinced that danger was near. A murmur of approbation ran through the
ranks; for the cultivation of science had not yet made them so
effeminate, but that they looked on a warlike expedition, as a very
desirable pastime.

With his back leaning against an apple-tree, stood Rudimann the
cellarer; an ominous frown on his forehead. Ekkehard went up to him,
wishing to embrace him, as a sign that a general calamity was wiping
out the old quarrel; but Rudimann, waving him off, said: "I know what
you mean." Then drawing a coarse thread out of the seam of his garment,
he threw it to the ground, and placed his foot on it.

"As long as a Hunnic horse is treading German ground, all enmity shall
be torn out of my heart, as this thread is out of my garment; but if we
both outlive the coming battles, we will take it up again, as it were
meet." After these words he turned round, and descended into the
cellar, there to attend to important business. In due order, the large
tuns lay there in the arched vaults; and not one of them gave back a
hollow sound, when struck. Rudimann had ordered some masons, and now
had a small antichamber, which generally served for the keeping of
fruit and vegetable, arranged, as if it were the cloister-cellar. Two
small casks, and one larger one, were put there. "If the enemy finds
nothing, he becomes suspicious," said the cellarer to himself, "and if
the Sipplinger choice wine, which I sacrifice, only does its duty, many
a Hun will find some difficulty in continuing his journey."

The masons had already got ready the square stones, to wall up the
inner cellar-door,--when Rudimann once more stepped in. Walking up to
an old rotten-looking tun, he tapped it; and filling a small jug,
emptied this with a most melancholy expression; and then, folding his
hands as in prayer, he said: "May God protect thee, noble red wine of
Meersburg!"--A solitary tear stood glistening in his eye ...

In all parts of the monastery, busy hands were preparing for the coming
danger. In the armoury, the harness and arms were being divided.
Unfortunately there were many heads, and but few helmets. Then, the
leather-work was in a somewhat dilapidated condition, and stood in
great need of repair.

In the treasury, the Abbot was superintending the packing up of
precious articles, and holy relics. Many heavy boxes were thus filled.
The golden cross with the holy blood; the white marble vase, which had
once held the wine at the marriage of Cana; coffins with the remains of
martyrs; the Abbot's staff, and the golden pixes,--all were carefully
packed up, and brought over to the ships. Some, were also carrying off
the heavy green emerald, weighing fully twenty-eight pounds.

"The emerald, you may leave behind," said the Abbot.

"The parting gift of the great Emperor Charles?--The rarest jewel of
the cathedral? Another such the bowels of the earth do not contain?"
asked the serving brother.

"I know a glass-maker in Venetia, who can easily make another, if the
Huns should carry this one away," carelessly replied the Abbot. So they
put the jewel back into the cupboard.

Before evening had set in, everything was ready for the departure. Then
the Abbot commanded the brothers to assemble in the courtyard. All
appeared, with the exception of one.

"Where is Heribald?" asked he.

Heribald was a pious monk, whose ways had many a time cheered up a
desponding brother. In his infancy, his nurse had let him fall on the
stone floor, and from that time, he had had a weakness of the brain; a
certain softness,--but he possessed an excellent heart, and took as
much delight in God's beautiful world, as any stronger-minded being.

So they went to look for Heribald, and found him up in his cell. The
yellow and grey cloister-cat, seemed to have offended him in some way;
for he had fastened the cord which generally served him as a girdle,
round its body; and hung it up on a nail in the ceiling. The poor old
animal hung thus suspended in the air; screeching and mewing pitifully;
whilst Heribald rocked it gently to and fro, talking Latin to it.

"Come on Heribald!" called out his companions. "We must leave the
island."

"Let him fly, who will," replied the idiot. "Heribald won't go away."

"Be good, Heribald, and follow us; the Abbot commands you."

Then Heribald pulled off his shoe, and held it out to the brothers.
"The shoe was already torn last year," said he. "Then Heribald went to
the camerarius and said: 'give me my yearly portion of leather, that I
may make myself a new pair of shoes.' But the camerarius replied:
'if thou didst not tread thy shoes all awry, then they would not
tear,'--and so he refused the leather. Upon this, Heribald complained
of the camerarius to the Abbot, but he said: 'a fool, as thou art, can
well go barefoot.' Now Heribald has no decent shoes to put on; and he
will not go amongst strangers with his torn ones."

Such sound reasons could not well be argued away; so the brothers
seized him, intending to carry him off by force; but no sooner had they
reached the passage, than Heribald broke away from them, and rushed as
quick as lightning to the church and from thence up the stairs, that
led to the belfry. When he had reached the very top, he drew up the
small wooden ladder after him; so that there was no possibility of
getting at him.

They reported to the Abbot, how matters stood. "Well, then we must
leave him behind," said he. "Children and fools, are protected by a
guardian-angel of their own."

Two large barges lay waiting at the shore, to receive the fugitives.
They were strong, well-built ships; furnished with oars and masts. In
some smaller boats, the serving people, and all others who lived on the
Reichenau, sailed, with all their chattels and belongings. The whole
looked a strange medley.

One bark, filled by the maid-servants, and commanded by Kerhildis the
upper maid, had already steered off; without its crew knowing what
place they were bound for; but fear, this time was stronger than their
curiosity to see the moustaches of strange warriors.

And now the brotherhood was approaching the shore; presenting a strange
sight. The greater part were armed; some chaunting the litany, others
carrying the coffin of St. Mark; the Abbot with Ekkehard walking at the
head of the cloister-pupils. They all cast back a sorrowful look
towards the home where they had spent so many years; and then they went
on board.

No sooner had they fairly started, than all the bells began to ring
merrily. The weak-minded Heribald, was ringing a farewell-greeting to
them. Afterwards, he appeared on the top of the cathedral-tower, and
called down with a powerful voice "_dominus vobiscum_," and here and
there, one of the monks responded in the accustomed way: "_et cum
spiritu tuo_."

A keen breeze was curling the waves of the lake, which had only lately
thawed. Numerous, large iceblocks were still floating about, so that
the ships often had great difficulty in proceeding.

The monks who were taking care of St. Mark's coffin, anxiously cowered
down, when the waves sometimes entered their boat; but bold and erect
Abbot Wazmann's tall figure towered above the rest; his habit
fluttering in the wind.

"The Lord is at our head," said he, "as He was in the fiery pillar
before the people of Israel. He is with us on our flight, and He will
be with us, in the hour of our happy return."

In a clear, moonshiny night the monks of the Reichenau ascended the
Hohentwiel, where they found everything prepared for their reception.
In the small castle-church, they deposited the coffin of their saint;
six of the brothers being ordered to stay beside it; watching and
praying.

The courtyard, on the next morning, was transformed into a bustling
bivouac. Some hundred armed vassals, were already assembled, and from
the Reichenau, ninety more combatants were added to their numbers. They
were all eagerly preparing, for the coming contest. Already before
sunrise, the hammering of the blacksmiths, awakened the sleepers.
Arrows and lances were being made. Near the fountain in the yard, stood
the big grinding-stone, on which the rusty blades were sharpened. The
old basketmaker of Weiterdingen, had also been fetched up; and was
sitting with his boys under the great linden-tree; covering the long
boards destined for shields, with a strong platting of willow branches.
Over this, a tanned skin was fastened, and the shield was complete.
Round a merry fire, others were seated, melting lead, to make sharp
pointed missiles for the slings. Bludgeons and heavy clubs of ash were
also hardened in the flames. "If one of these knocks at the skull of a
heathen," said Rudimann swinging a heavy club over his head, "it is
sure to be admitted."

All who had served before in the arrier-ban, were put under the command
of Simon Bardo, the Greek fieldmarshal. "A man who wants to pass his
old days peaceably, must come to Germany," he had jestingly said to the
Duchess; but in reality the clatter of arms, strengthened his mind,
like old Rhinewine. With an untiring zeal, he drilled the unexperienced
men, in the use of arms; and every day for many an hour, the stone
flags of the courtyard resounded with the heavy, regular tramp of
the monks, who in closed ranks, were being taught the art of a
spear-attack. "With you, one could verily knock down walls, when once
your blood is up," said the old soldier with an approving nod.

Those of the younger men, who possessed a good eye and flexible sinews,
were enlisted among the archers. These also, practised industriously,
shooting at a target. Once, a loud cry of delight was heard in the
courtyard, where the jolly fellows had manufactured a straw figure,
wearing a crown of owl's feathers, and holding a six-corded whip in its
hand. A small piece of red cloth in the shape of a heart, fastened in
front, was the mark.

"Attila the King of the Huns!" cried the archers, "who can hit him
right in the heart?"

"Boasting is easy enough," said Dame Hadwig, who was looking down from
her balcony; "but though on an evil bridal night, Death felled him, his
spirit is still living in the world; and I fear, that even those coming
after us, will yet have trouble enough, to banish his dread memory."

"If they could only shoot away at him, as well as they do now down
there," said Praxedis, when a triumphant shout was heard. The
straw-figure tottered and fell; an arrow having hit the heart.

Ekkehard came up to the hall. He had exercised with the others, and his
face glowed with the unwonted exertion; whilst the helmet had left a
red stripe on his forehead. In the excitement of the moment, he had
forgotten to leave his lance, outside the door.

With evident pleasure Dame Hadwig stood looking at him. He was no
longer the timid teacher of Latin. Bowing his head before the Duchess,
he said: "Our brothers in the Lord, from the Reichenau, bid me tell you
that a great thirst is besetting their ranks."

Dame Hadwig laughed merrily. "Let them put a tun of cool beer in the
courtyard. Until the Huns are all driven out of the country, our
cellarer is not to complain about the emptying of his tuns." Then
pointing at the bustling life in the courtyard, she added: "Life after
all, brings us richer and more manifold pictures than all poets can
paint. You were hardly prepared for such a change of things, eh?"

But Ekkehard would allow nothing approaching a slight, to come near his
beloved Virgilius.

"Allow me," said he, leaning on his spear, "all that we now see, you
will find word for word in the Æneïd; as if there was to be nothing new
under the sun. Would you not fancy that Virgil stood here on this
balcony, looking down on yonder busy crowd;--when he sang, at the
beginning of the war in Latium:


   "Yonder the shields for the head, are with willowy branches
      surrounded;
    Others the armour of ore, are to shining polish restoring,
    There, the protecting greaves, of glittering silver are forged.
    Sickle and plough for the time, are dishonoured and wholly
      forgotten,
    All are busily mending the rusty swords of their fathers;
    bugles are heard in the land, and the watch-word to all is now
      given."


"Yes, that really fits the situation wonderfully well," said Dame
Hadwig, "but can you also predict, the issue of the coming battles,
from your epic,"--she was going to ask; but in times of such busy
confusion, 'tis somewhat difficult to speak about poetry. At that
moment the steward came in, to report that all the meat was eaten up;
and to ask whether he might kill two more oxen.

After a few days, Simon Bardo's men were so well drilled, that he could
let them pass muster before the Duchess;--and it was time, for they had
already been disturbed in their rest, last night. A bright red light
was illuminating the sky, far over the lake. Like a fiery cloud, the
dread sign hung there for several hours; the conflagration being
probably far off in Helvetia. The monks began to dispute about it. Some
said that it was a heavenly apparition; a fiery star, sent as a warning
unto all Christendom. Others said that there must be a great
conflagration in the Rhine-valley; and one brother, gifted with a
particularly fine nose, even pretended to perceive the smell of
burning. It was long past midnight, when the red light died out.

On the southern declivity of the mountain, there was a moderate sized
grove, where the first spring-flowers were blooming already, while the
snow was still lying in the nooks and crevices of the valleys. This was
to be the place for the mustering. Dame Hadwig was seated on her noble
palfrey, surrounded by a small troop of well-armed knights, who had
also joined the party on the Hohentwiel; the Barons of Randegg, of
Hoewen and the gaunt Friedinger. The Abbot from Reichenau, was likewise
proudly sitting, on his ambling-nag; a well-mounted champion of the
Lord. Master Spazzo the chamberlain, was taking great pains to equal
him, with regard to carriage and movements, which were both highly
aristocratic and knightly. Ekkehard who was likewise to have
accompanied the Duchess on horseback, had declined the honour; that he
might not raise envy in the hearts of the other monks.

And now the outer castle-gate slowly opened on its heavy hinges, and
out strode the archers; who with the cross-bow-men, headed the march.
Amidst the merry sounds of music, they walked on in closed ranks;
Audifax, with a very serious expression, being amongst the
horn-blowers, in the capacity of bagpiper. Suddenly, Simon Bardo
ordered a signal to be given; at the sound of which the ranks swiftly
deployed; skirmishing about, like a swarm of wild bees. They had soon
occupied every bush and hedge in the neighbourhood.

Then there came the troop of monks, firmly treading the ground, with
helmets and armour under their habits; the shields hanging on their
backs. With couched lances, they were a redoubtable force. Their flag
floated merrily, high in the air; a red cross in a white field. They
marched on as regularly, as if they had been soldiers these many years;
for with strong-minded men, mental discipline, is an excellent
preparation for the warrior's life. Only one in the left wing, was not
able to keep pace with the others; his lance protruding beyond the
straight line preserved by his companions. "It is not his fault," said
Abbot Wazmann to the Duchess. "He copied a whole mass-book, in the
space of six weeks, so that he has got the writing-cramp in his hand."

Ekkehard was marching in the right wing, and when his troop passed the
Duchess, he caught a look from the radiant eyes, which could scarcely
have been intended for the whole corps.

Divided into three bodies, then came the vassals and bondsmen. Their
musical instruments were huge bulls' horns; emitting strange, uncouth
sounds, and many a singular looking weapon was seen that day, which had
already been used under the great Emperor Charles. Some of them were
merely armed with a heavy bludgeon.

Master Spazzo with his sharp eyes meanwhile looked down into the
valley. "'Tis well that we are all together, and well prepared; for I
verily believe that we shall soon get some work to do," said he,
pointing downwards in the direction, where the roofs of Hilzingen were
peeping out from the wooded dells. A dark line was seen approaching.
Then Simon Bardo ordered his troops to stop, and after casting a
searching look in that direction, said: "these are not Huns, for they
are not on horseback." Still, taking all needful precaution, he
commanded his archers to occupy the foot of the hill.

As the ranks of the strangers approached, the garb of St. Benedict
became visible. A golden cross, in lieu of a standard, was towering
above the lances, and the "_Kyrie eleison_," was now heard quite
plainly. "My brothers!" exclaimed Ekkehard. Then the ranks of the
Reichenau monks broke up, and running down the hill with shouts of
delight, they soon met, and were joyfully embracing each other. To meet
again in the hour of danger, makes the heart doubly glad. Arm in arm
with those of the Reichenau, the stranger guests now ascended the hill,
headed by their Abbot, Cralo. On a heavy cart in the rear-guard, they
were transporting the blind Thieto.

"May God bless you, most noble cousin," said the Abbot bowing his head
before the Duchess. "Who would have thought half a year ago, that we
should return your call, with the whole of the brotherhood? But the God
of Israel says, 'let my people leave their home, so that they may
remain faithful unto me.'"

Dame Hadwig held out her hand to him, with visible emotion. "Yes, these
are times of trial," said she. "Be welcome!"

Thus fortified by the new-comers, the troop betook themselves back
again, behind the protecting walls of the Hohentwiel. Praxedis had
descended into the courtyard. There she stood under the linden-tree,
gazing at the men as they came in. Those of St. Gall had all arrived,
yet her eyes were still riveted on the door, as if there were still
someone missing. He, however, whom her eyes sought, was not amongst the
last entering guests either.

In the castle, they were busying themselves to make room for the
new-comers. For the number of men, now assembled, the space was but
scanty. In the round, principal tower, there was an airy hall, in which
they heaped up straw, for a temporary nights quarter. "If things go on
in this way," grumbled the steward, whose head was nearly turned with
all the demands that were being made on him,--"we shall soon have the
whole priesthood of Europe, up here."

Kitchen and cellar gave all they could. In the hall downstairs, monks
and warriors were sitting, noisily taking their meal. Dame Hadwig had
invited the two Abbots as well as those of noble birth amongst her
guests, into her own reception room. There was a great deal to be
discussed, and the questions and answers, quickly given and often
crossing each other, made a strange confusion of voices.

As soon as an opportunity offered, Abbot Cralo told them about the fate
of his monastery.

"This time," he began, "the danger came upon us almost unawares.
Scarcely had one spoken of the Huns, when the ground was already
resounding, with the tramp of their horses hoofs. 'Sharp,' was the word
now. The pupils of the cloister-school, I hastily sent over to the
fortress of Wasserburg. Aristotle and Cicero will probably get somewhat
dusty; the boys catching fish in the Bodensee, instead of studying the
classics,--if they do not get more serious work to do. The old teachers
fled with them over the water, in good time. We others had made
ourselves a sort of stronghold, as a refuge. Where the Sitter-brook
rushes through the narrow, fir-grown valley, we found an excellent
hiding-place, which we thought no heathenish bloodhound would ever
sniff out. There, we built ourselves a strong house, with towers and
walls; and we consecrated it to the holy Trinity,--who I trust will
protect it.

"We had scarcely finished it, when the messengers from the lake came,
crying: 'fly, the Huns are coming!' Then there came others from the
Rhine valley, and 'fly!' was again the word. The sky was already dyed
red, from conflagrations and camp-fires; the air was filled with the
shrieks of people flying and the creaking of retreating cartwheels. So
we also set out. Gold and jewels; St. Gallus' and St. Othmar's coffins,
in fact all our treasures were first safely hidden; the books being
carried off before to the Wasserburg, by the boys. So we left the
monastery; not thinking much about eating and drinking; some scanty
provisions, only having been brought to our retreat in the wood,
beforehand. Thither we now went in great haste. Only on the road, the
brothers perceived that we had left the blind Thieto behind in his
cell; but nobody ventured to return for him, as the ground was so to
say, already burning under our feet. Thus we remained for several days
quietly hidden in our firwood; often jumping up at night, to seize our
arms, fancying the enemy were outside; but it was but the rushing of
the Sitter, or the rustling of the wind in the tree-tops. One evening
however, a clear voice, demanded admittance; and on opening the door,
in came Burkhard, the cloister-pupil; haggard and tired to death. Out
of friendship for Romeias the cloister-watchman, he had remained
behind, without our noticing it. He was the bearer of evil tidings. The
terror of that which he had seen, had turned some of the hairs on his
young head, quite grey."--Abbot Cralo's voice here began to tremble. He
stopped a moment to take a draught of wine. "The Lord be merciful to
all christian departed ones," said he with emotion. "His blessing be
with them, and may He let them rest in peace."

"Amen," said the others.

"Of whom are you thinking?" asked the Duchess. Praxedis had left her
place and gone behind her mistress's chair, where she stood
breathlessly watching Abbot Cralo's lips.

"It is only when a man is dead and gone," continued the Abbot, taking
up again the thread of his tale, "that the remaining ones appreciate
his value. Romeias, the best of all watchmen, did not leave the
monastery with us. 'I will keep my post to the last,' said he. He then
barred and locked all the gates; hid all that was valuable, and went
his round on the walls; accompanied by Burkhard the cloister-pupil. The
remaining time he kept watch on the tower; his arms by his side. Soon
after we had left, a large body of Huns on horseback, carefully prying
about, approached the walls. Romeias gave the ordinary bugle sounds,
and then quickly running to the other end of the courtyard, blew the
horn again there; as if the monastery were still occupied, and well
prepared. 'Now the time has come, for us to depart also,' said he to
the pupil. He had fastened an old withered nosegay to his helmet,
Burkhard told us; and thus the two went over to the blind Thieto, who,
being loth to leave his accustomed corner, was placed on two spears,
and thus carried away. Letting themselves out by a secret little gate,
they fled up the Schwarzathal.

"Already the Huns had sprung from their horses, and had begun to
climb the walls, and when they saw that nothing stirred, they swarmed
in like flies on a drop of honey. Romeias meanwhile, quietly walked on
with his hoary burden. 'Nobody shall say of the cloister-watchman,'
said he, 'that he quickened his step, to please a pack of heathenish
blood-hounds.' Thus he tried to encourage his young friend; but only
too soon, the Huns were on their track. Wild cries came up the valley,
and soon after, the first arrows whizzed through the air. So they
reached the rock of the recluses; but here, even Romeias was
surprised;--for as if nothing uncommon had happened, Wiborad's hollow
psalm-singing was heard as usual. In a heavenly vision, her speedy
suffering and death had been revealed to her, and even the pious
Waldramm, could not persuade her to fly. 'My cell is the battle-field
on which I have fought against the old enemy of mankind, and like a
true champion of the Lord, I will defend it to the last breath,' said
she; and so she remained quite alone in that desolate spot, when all
others left it. As the cloister's refuge in the firwood was too far to
be reached, Romeias picked out a remote little hut, and in it carefully
deposited the blind Thieto; letting him in by the roof. Before leaving
him, he kissed the old man, and then told the cloister-pupil to fly,
and save himself.

"'You see something may happen to me,' he said, 'and so you must tell
those in the refuge, to look after the blind one.' Burkhard in vain
besought him to fly likewise; quoting Nisus and Euryalus, who had
also fled into the woods, before the greater numbers of the Volskian
horse-men. 'I should have to run too fast,' replied Romeias, 'and that
would make me too warm, and give me pains in the chest. Besides I
should like to speak a word or two with the children of the Devil.'

"He then went up to Wiborad's cell, and knocking at the shutter, called
out: 'Give me thy hand old dragon; we will make peace now,' upon which
Wiborad stretched out her withered right hand. Finally, Romeias blocked
up the narrow passage of the Schwarzathal with some huge stones, and
then taking his shield from his back, and holding his spears ready, he
seized his big bugle-horn, to blow once more on it. With flying hair he
thus stood behind his wall, expecting the enemy. At first the sounds
were fierce and warlike, but by degree they became softer and sweeter,
until an arrow, flying right into the opening, produced a sharp
dissonance. The next moment, a whole shower of arrows covered him and
stuck fast in his shield; but he shook them off like rain-drops. Here
and there, one of the Huns, climbed up the rocks to get at him, but
Romeias's spears, fetched them down quickly. The attack became fiercer
and louder, but undaunted, Wiborad was still chaunting her psalm:

"'Destroy them in Thy anger, oh Lord. Destroy them that they do no more
exist, so that the world knows that God is reigning in Israel, and over
the whole earth, Sela.' ...

"So far Burkhard had witnessed the fighting; then he had turned and
fled. On hearing his account in the refuge, we were all very much
grieved, and sent out a troop that very night, to look after the blind
Thieto. Perfect quiet reigned on the hill of the recluses, when they
reached it. The moon was shining on the bodies of the slain Huns, and
amongst them, the brothers found also ..."

Here the recital was interrupted by loud sobs. Praxedis was with
difficulty supporting herself, on the back of the Duchess's chair, and
was weeping bitterly.

"... There they found the dismembered body of Romeias," continued the
Abbot. "His head was hewn off and carried away by the enemy. He lay on
his shield; the faded flowers which had adorned his helmet, tightly
clutched in his hand. May God reward him: for he, whose life was lost
in doing his duty, is surely worthy to enter heaven. Wiborad's shutter
was knocked at in vain, and the tiles of her roof were mostly broken.
So one of the brothers climbed up, and on looking down, beheld the
recluse lying in her blood, before the little altar of her cell. Three
wounds were visible on her head; which proved that the Lord had deemed
her worthy to die a martyr's death, by the hands of the heathen."

Everyone was too much moved to speak. Dame Hadwig also, was deeply
touched.

"I have brought you the veil of the martyr," said Sir Cralo,
"consecrated by the blood of her wounds. You might hang it up, in the
castle-church. Only Thieto, the blind one, had remained unharmed.
Undiscovered by the enemy, he was found soundly sleeping in the little
hut by the rock. 'I have been dreaming that an eternal peace had come
over the world,' said he to the brothers, when they awoke him. But even
in our remote little valley, we were not to have peace much longer; as
the Huns found their way to us also. That was a swarming, piping and
snorting, such as had never been heard before in the quiet firwood. Our
walls were strong, and our courage likewise; but hungry people soon get
tired of being besieged. The day before yesterday our provisions were
eaten up; and when the evening came, we saw a pillar of smoke rise from
our monastery. So we broke through the enemy, in the middle of the
night; the Lord being with us and our swords helping likewise. And so
we have come to you,"--with a bow towards the Duchess, "homeless and
orphaned, like birds whose nest has been struck by lightning; and
bringing nothing with us, but the tidings that the Huns, whom the Lord
destroy, are following on our heels." ...

"The sooner they come, the better," defiantly said the Abbot of the
Reichenau, raising his goblet.

"Here's to the arms of God's own champions," said the Duchess, ringing
her glass, against his.

"And revenge for the death of the brave Romeias," added Praxedis in a
low voice and with tears in her eyes, when her glass vibrated against
that of the gaunt Fridinger.

It was getting late. Wild songs and warlike cries, were still
resounding in the hall on the first floor. The young monk who had come
to the Reichenau from Mutina in Italy, had again struck up his
sentinel's song.

The opportunity for valiant deeds, was no longer very far off.



                             CHAPTER XIII.

                        Heribald and his Guests.


On the little island of Reichenau, it was silent and lonely after the
departure of the inhabitants of the cloister. The weak-minded Heribald
was lord and master of the whole place, and was much pleased with his
solitude. For hours he now sat on the shore, throwing smooth pebbles
over the waves, so that they danced merrily along. When they sank at
once, he scolded them loudly.

With the poultry in the yard, which he fed very regularly, he also
talked a good deal. "If you are very good, and the brothers do not
return," he once said, "Heribald will preach you a sermon."--In the
monastery itself, he also found plenty of amusement, for in a single
day of solitude, a man can hatch a good many useful ideas. The
camerarius had angered him, by refusing to give him the necessary
shoe-leather; so Heribald went up to the cell of the camerarius,
smashed to pieces his large, stone water-jug, as well as his three
flower-pots, and then opening the straw mattress, he took out some of
the straw, and put in the broken crockery instead. Having achieved this
feat, he lay down on it, and on feeling the hard and sharp-edged
contents tolerably unpleasant, he smiled contentedly and betook himself
to the Abbot's apartments.

Towards the Abbot he also bore a grudge, as he was indebted to him for
many a sound whipping; but in his rooms, everything was locked up, and
in excellent order. So nothing was left to him, but to cut off one of
the legs of the cushioned easy-chair. Having done this, he cunningly
placed it back in its old place, as if nothing whatever had happened.
"That will break down nicely with him, when he comes home, and sits
comfortably on it. 'Thou shalt castigate the flesh,' says St. Benedict.
But Heribald has not cut off the chair's foot.--The Huns have done it."

The duty of prayer and psalm-singing he performed regularly, as the
rules of the order prescribed. The seven times for prayer each day,
the solitary man strictly adhered to, as if he could be punished
for missing them; and he descended also every night into the
cloister-church, there to hold the midnight vigil.

At the same hour, when his brothers were carousing in the hall of the
ducal castle with the monks of St. Gall, Heribald was standing in the
choir. The dark, dreary shadows of night enveloped the aisle, in which
the everlasting lamp was dimly burning; but fearlessly and with a clear
voice, Heribald intoned the first verse: "Oh Lord, deliver me from
evil"--and then sang the third psalm, which David had once sung, when
he fled before his son Absalon. When he came to the place where the
antiphon was to fall in, according to custom, he stopped, waiting for
the responses. Everything remained silent and still, however. Heribald
passed his hand over his forehead, and said: "Ah, I forgot! They
are all gone, and Heribald is alone." Then he wanted to sing the
forty-ninth psalm, as the nightly service required,--when the
everlasting lamp went out, a bat having extinguished it with its wings.
Outside, storm and rain were raging. Heavy drops fell on the roof of
the church, and beat against the windows. Heribald began to shudder.

"Holy Benedict," exclaimed he, "be pleased to see that it is not
Heribald's fault, that the antiphon was not sung." He then rose and
walked with careful steps through the dark aisle. A shrill wind
whistled through a little window of the crypt under the high-altar,
producing a howling sound; and as Heribald advanced, a draught caught
his garment. "Art thou come back, thou hellish tempter?" said he, "must
I fight thee once more?"

Undauntedly he stepped back to the altar and seized a wooden crucifix,
which the Abbot had not had taken away. "In the name of the Holy
Trinity, I defy thee, Satanas. Come on, Heribald awaits thee!" With
unabated courage he thus stood on the altar-steps; but though the wind
continued to howl dismally, the Devil did not appear.

"He still remembers the last time," smilingly said the idiot. About a
year ago the Evil One had appeared to him in the shape of a big dog,
barking furiously at him; but Heribald had attacked him with a pole;
and had aimed his blows so well, that the pole broke.

Then Heribald screamed out a number of choice invectives, in the
direction where the wind was moaning; and when even after this, nothing
came to tempt him, he replaced the crucifix on the altar, bent his
knees before it, and then went back to his cell, murmuring the "_Kyrie
eleison_." There he slept the sleep of the just until late in the
morning. The sun was already high in the heavens, when Heribald was
complacently walking up and down, before the monastery. Since the time,
when he had enjoyed an occasional holiday at school, he had seldom had
an opportunity of resting himself. "Idleness is the soul's worst
enemy," St. Benedict had said, and in consequence strictly ordered his
disciples, to fill up the time which was not claimed by devotional
tasks, by the work of their hands. Heribald, not knowing any art or
handicraft, had been employed in cutting wood and in rendering similar
useful, but tiring services;--but now, he paced up and down with
crossed arms before the heaped up log-wood; looking up smilingly at one
of the cloister-windows.

"Why don't you come down, Father Rudimann, and make Heribald cut the
wood? You, who used to keep such excellent watch over the brothers; and
who so often called Heribald a useless servant of the Lord, when he
looked at the clouds, instead of handling the axe. Why don't you attend
to your duty?"

Not even an echo gave answer to the half-witted creature's query; so he
drew out some of the under logs, thus making the whole pile fall
noisily down. "Tumble down if you like," continued he in his soliloquy,
"Heribald has got a holiday, and is not going to put you up again.--The
Abbot has run away, and the brothers have run away also; so it serves
them right, if everything tumbles down."

After these laudable achievements, Heribald directed his steps to the
cloister-garden. Another project now occupied his mind. He intended to
cut a few delicate lettuces for his dinner, and to dress them a good
deal better than they would ever have been done, during the time of the
father head-cook's superintendance. Temptingly the vision rose before
him, how he would not spare the oil-jug, and would pitilessly cut to
pieces some of the biggest onions; when a cloud of dust rose on the
opposite shore and the forms of horses and riders became visible.

"Are you there, already?" said the monk, making the sign of the cross
and then mumbling a hasty prayer; but a few moments later, his face had
resumed its customary smile of contentment.

"Strange wanderers and pilgrims are to meet with a christian reception,
at the gate of any house of the Lord," murmured he. "I will receive
them."

A new idea now crossed his brain, and again passing his hand over his
forehead, he exclaimed: "Have I not studied the history of the
ancients, in the cloister-school, and learned how the Roman Senators
received the invading Gauls?--Dressed in their mantles, the ivory
sceptre in their hands, the venerable men sat in their chairs,
immovable like bronze idols. Ah well, the Latin teacher shall not have
told us in vain, that this was a most worthy reception. Heribald can do
the same!"

A mild imbecility may be an enviable dower, now and then in life. That,
which appears black to others, seems to the half-witted, blue or green,
and if his path be zig-zag, he does not notice the serpents hidden in
the grass; and the precipice into which the wise man inevitably falls,
he stumbles over, without even perceiving the threatening danger....

A curule chair not being just then in the monastery, Heribald pushed a
huge oak stem towards the gate which led into the court-yard. "For what
end have we studied secular history, if we cannot even take counsel by
it?" said he, seating himself quietly on his block, in expectation of
that which was to come.

Opposite on the near shore, a troop of horsemen had stopped. With their
reins slung round their arms, and their arrows ready fastened on their
bows, they had gone on ahead, to reconnoitre the land.' When no
ambuscade came out from behind the willows bordering the lake, they
stopped a while to rest their horses. Then the arrows were put back
into their quivers; the crooked sabres taken between the teeth, and
pressing the spurs into the horses sides, they went into the lake.
Quickly the horses crossed the blue waves. Now the foremost men had
touched the land, and jumping from their saddles, shook themselves
three times, like a poodle coming out of its bath, and then with
piercing, triumphant shouts they approached the monastery.

Like an image of stone, Heribald sat at his post, gazing undauntedly at
the strange figures before him. As yet he had never passed a sleepless
night, musing over the perfection of human beauty, but the faces which
now met his view, struck him as being so very ugly, that he could not
suppress a startled, "Have mercy upon us, oh Lord!"

Partly bent, the strange guests were sitting in their saddles; their
shrunk, meagre little bodies dressed in beasts' skins. From their
square-shaped skulls, black, shaggy hair hung down in wild disorder;
and their unshapely yellow faces, glistened as if they had been
anointed with tallow. One of the foremost had enlarged his
coarse-lipped mouth considerably, by a voluntary cut at the corners,
and from their small, deep-set eyes they looked out suspiciously at the
world.

"To make a Hun, one need only give a square shape to a lump of clay,
put on a smaller lump for a nose, and drive in the chin"--Heribald was
just thinking, when they stood before him. He did not understand their
hissing language, and smiled complacently, as if the whole gang did not
regard him in the least. For a while they kept staring with unbounded
astonishment, at this puzzling specimen of humanity,--as critics are
apt to do at a new poet, of whom they do not as yet know, in what
pigeonhole of ready made judgments they are to put him. At last one of
them beheld the bald place on Heribald's pate, and pointing at it with
his sabre,--upon which the others raised a hoarse laugh,--he seized his
bow and arrow to aim at the monk. But now Heribald's patience had come
to an end, and a feeling of Allemannic pride coming over him as he
confronted this rabble, he jumped up calling out: "By the tonsure of
St. Benedict, the crown of my head shall not be mocked at, by any
heathenish dog!" He had seized the reins of one of the foremost riders,
and snatching away his sabre, was just going to assume an aggressive
attitude, when quicker than lightning, one of the Huns threw a noose
over his head and pulled him down. Then they tied his hands to his
back, and were already raising their death-bringing arms, when a
distant tramping was heard, like the approach of a mighty army. This
occurrence for the moment completely drew off their attention from the
idiot. They threw him like a sack against his oak-trunk, and quickly
galloped back to the shore. The whole body of the Hunnic legion had now
arrived on the opposite shore. The vanguard, by a shrill whistle, gave
the signal that all was safe. At one of the extremities of the island,
overgrown with reeds, they had spied a ford, which could be crossed on
horseback with dry feet. This they showed to their friends, who now
swarmed over like wild bees; many hundred horsemen. Their united forces
had availed nothing against the walls of Augsburg and the Bishop's
prayers; so, divided into several troops, they now ravaged the land.
Their faces, figures and manner of sitting on horseback were all alike,
for with uncultivated races, the features are mostly cast in one mould;
indicating that the vocation of the individual lies in conforming
itself to the mass, instead of contrasting with it.

In the orchards and gardens, where the monks used to recite their
breviaries, Hunnic arms now glistened for the first time. In serpentine
lines, their armed ranks now came up towards the monastery; a wild din
of music, a mixture of cymbals and violins, preceded them; but the
sounds were shrill and sharp, as the ears of the Huns were large, but
not sensitive, and only those, who from some reason or other were unfit
for the duties of a warrior, became musicians.

High over their heads floated their standard, showing a green cat in a
red field, around which some of the chieftains were gathered; Ellak's
and Hornebog's tall figures towering above the rest.

Ellak, with clear features and a straight nose, very unlike that of a
Hun, had had a Circassian mother, to whom he was indebted for his pale
intelligent face with penetrating eyes. He represented the ruling
intellect of the mass. That the old world must be ploughed afresh with
fire and sword, and that it was better to be the plough-man, than to
serve as manure, was his deep-rooted conviction. Hornebog, lean and
lank of figure, wore his long black hair in two solitary curls, one at
each side. Above these, rose the glittering helmet, adorned with two
widely spread out eagles' wings, the emblem of Hunnic horsemanship. To
him the saddle served as home, tent and palace. He shot the bird
flying, and with his sabre could sever the head of an enemy from its
trunk, while galloping past. At his side, hung the six-corded whip, an
ingenious symbol of executive power.

On the backs of the horses belonging to the chieftains, beautifully
woven carpets, as well as chasubles were hanging; a clear proof that
they had already paid visits to other monasteries. The booty was
transported in several waggons, and a considerable and motley crowd of
followers closed the train.

In a cart drawn by mules, amongst copper camp-kettles and other
kitchen-utensils, an old wrinkled woman was sitting. She was shading
her eyes with her right hand, looking towards the sun, in the direction
where the mountain peaks of the Hegau rose into the air. She knew them
well, for the old hag, was the woman of the wood. Banished by Ekkehard,
she had wandered away into stranger lands; vengeance being her first
thought when she awoke in the morning, and her last before she fell
asleep in the evening. Thus she came as far as Augsburg. At the foot of
the hill on which the wooden temple of the Suabian Goddess Zisa had
once stood, the Huns' camp-fires were burning, and with them she
remained.

On a prancing black steed, by the side of the old woman, a young maiden
was gaily riding along. Her skirts were looped up, and she also, seemed
to feel herself perfectly at home in the saddle. Under her short little
nose, there was a lovely pair of red lips; her dark eyes were bright
and sparkling, and her long raven hair hung down in wavy tresses,
interwoven with red ribbons, which merrily floated in the air, like the
streamers of a ship. Over her loose bodice, bow and arrow were hanging,
and thus she managed her horse, a true Hunnic Artemis. This was Erica,
the flower-of-the-heath. She was not of Hunnic origin, having been
picked up as an abandoned child, by some Hunnic riders on the Pannonian
heaths. Thus she had accompanied the Huns and had grown up, hardly
knowing how. Those whom she liked, she caressed, and those who
displeased her, she bit in the arm. Botund the old Hunnic chieftain had
loved her, and was killed for this reason by Irkund the young one. But
when Irkund wanted to enjoy the fruit of this deed, Zobolsus' sharp
lance did him the same service which Irkund had rendered Botund,
without the latter asking for it. Thus Erica's fate had been varied,
new ways! new countries! and new loves!--and she had become part and
parcel of her troop. She was its good spirit and was held in high
veneration.

"As long as the flower-of-the-heath, blooms in our ranks, we shall
conquer the world," said the Huns. "Forwards."

Meanwhile, poor Heribald was still lying in his fetters at the
monastery gate. His meditations were very sad. A big gad-fly, which he
could not drive away with his bound hands, was buzzing round his head.
"Heribald has behaved with dignity," thought he. "Like one of the old
Romans he has sat at the gate to receive the enemy, and now he is lying
bound on the stones, and the gad-fly may sit on his nose quite
unmolested. That is the reward of dignified behaviour. Heribald will
never again be dignified! Amongst hedgedogs, dignity is a most
superfluous thing."

Like a mountain-torrent when the flood-gate has been removed, the
Hunnic tide now streamed into the cloister-yard. At this spectacle, the
good Heribald began to feel really uncomfortable. "Oh, Camerarius,"
continued he in his meditation, "and if thou wouldst refuse me the next
time even the shirt and habit, besides the shoe-leather, then should I
fly nevertheless, a naked man!"

Some of the vanguard then reported to Ellak in what state they had
found the solitary monk. He made a sign for them to bring the prisoner
up before him, upon which they loosened his cords, set him on his feet,
and indicated the direction in which he was to go, by heavy blows.
Slowly the poor wretch advanced, emitting a complaining grunt.

An unspeakably satirical smile played round the Hunnic chieftain's
lips, when the idiot at last stood before him. Negligently dropping his
horse's reins on its neck, he turned round. "See, what a representative
of German art and science looks like," called he out to Erica.

On his numerous piratical expeditions, Ellak had required a scanty
knowledge of the German language. "Where are the inhabitants of this
island?" asked he in a commanding voice.

Heribald pointed over to the distant Hegau.

"Are they armed?"

"The servants of God are always armed, for the Lord is their shield and
sword."

"Well said," laughed the Hun. "Why hast thou remained behind?"

Heribald became embarrassed. He had too much pride to betray the true
reason, viz. his torn shoes, so he replied: "Heribald is curious, and
wanted to see what the sons of the Devil were like."

Ellak translated the monk's polite speech to his companions, who struck
up a loud guffaw.

"You need not laugh," cried Heribald angrily. "We know very well what
you are! Abbot Wazmann has told us."

"I shall have thee killed," said Ellak carelessly.

"That will only serve me right," returned Heribald. "Why did I not fly
with the others?"

Ellak, casting a searching look at the queer fellow, was struck with
another idea. He made a sign to the standard-bearer, who approached,
swinging in the air his flag with the green cat, which had once
appeared to King Attila in his youth. In a dreamy mood, he was sitting
in his uncle Rugilas' tent, reflecting whether he had not better become
a Christian and serve God and science, when the cat came in. Amongst
the treasures of Rugilas, it had found the golden imperial globe, which
had made part of the booty at Byzantium; this it held in its paws and
played with it, rolling it about on the floor. And an inward voice said
to Attila: "Thou shalt not become a monk, but thou shalt play with the
globe of the universe, as the cat does with that golden bauble." Then
he became aware that Kutka, the god of the Huns, had appeared to him,
and so he swang his sword in the direction of the four quarters of the
world,--let his finger-nails grow, and became what he was destined to
become, Attila, King of the Huns, the scourge of God!...

"Kneel down, miserable monk," cried Ellak, "and worship him, whom thou
seest in this flag!"

But Heribald stood immovable.

"I don't know him," said he with a hollow laugh.

"Tis the God of the Huns!" angrily cried the chieftain. "Down on thy
knees cowlbearer, or" ... he pointed to his sword.

Heribald laughed once more, and putting his forefinger to his forehead,
said: "If you think that Heribald is so easily imposed upon, you are
vastly mistaken. It has been written, when God created Heaven and
Earth, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, He said: let there
be light! Now if God were a cat he would not have said: let there be
light! Heribald will not kneel down ..."

A Hunnic rider, who had stealthily approached the monk, now pulled his
garment, and whispered in an excellent Suabian dialect in his ear:
"countryman, I would kneel down, if I were in your place. They are
dangerous people." The warner's real name was Snewelin, and his
birthplace was Ellwangen in Riesgau, but in the course of time he had
dropt his Suabian nationality and had become a Hun; which
transformation had rather improved his outward fortunes. When he spoke,
his voice had something windy about it, which was caused by his having
lost four front-teeth, besides several back ones; and this had been the
principal reason why he had became a Hun. In his younger days namely,
when he was still earning a peaceful livelihood in the capacity of
cart-driver of the Salvator convent, he had been sent northwards, with
a cart-load of choice Neckar-wine, to the great market at Magdeburg; a
well armed escort, accompanying him. To that town, the priests of the
heathenish Pomeranians and Wends, always resorted to buy their
libation-wine, and Snewelin made an excellent bargain, when he sold his
wine to the white-bearded upperpriest of the three-headed God Triglaff,
for the great temple at Stettin. But afterwards, he remained sitting
over the wine with the white-bearded heathen, who, being a great friend
of the Suabian nectar, soon became enthusiastic, singing the praises of
his native land, and saying that the world was infinitely more advanced
in their parts, between the Oder and the Spree. He tried moreover to
convert Snewelin to the worship of Triglaff the three-headed one, and
to that of the black and white Sun-god Radegast, as well as to
Radomysl, the Goddess of lovely thoughts,--but this was rather too
much for the man of Ellwangen. "You infamous heathenish swindler,"
exclaimed he, first upsetting the wine-table, and then flying at
him--as the young knight Siegfried did at the wild, long-bearded dwarf
Alberich,--he wrestled with him, and at one strong tug pulled out the
half of his grey beard. But his antagonist, calling on Triglaff to help
him, dealt him a blow on the mouth with his iron-plated staff, which
for ever destroyed the beauty of his teeth; and before the toothless
Suabian cart-driver had recovered from the blow, his white-bearded
antagonist had vanished, so that he could not take revenge on him. But
when Snewelin walked out of the gates of Magdeburg, he shook his fists
northwards, and said: "we two shall meet again, some day!"

In his native town, he was much laughed at on account of his lost
teeth, and so, to escape the continual ridicule, he went amongst the
Huns, hoping that perhaps some day, when these should direct their
steps northwards, he would be able to settle a heavy account with the
three-headed Triglaff and all his worshippers.

Heribald, however, did not heed the curious horseman's warning. The
woman of the wood had meanwhile got down from her cart, and approached
Ellak. With a sinister grin she looked at the monk. "I have read in the
stars, that by the hands of such bald-headed men, evil will befall us,"
cried she. "To prevent the coming danger, you ought to hang up this
miserable creature before the cloister-gate, with his face turned
towards yonder mountains!"

"Hang him up," echoed many voices in the crowd, the pantomime of the
old woman, having been understood. Ellak once more turned his head
towards Erica. "This monster has also got principles," said he
tauntingly. "It would save his life, and yet he refuses to bend his
knees. Shall we have him hanged, flower-of-the-heath?"

Heribald's life was hanging on a very slender thread. Round about, he
saw nothing but stern pitiless faces; his courage began to fail him,
and the tears came into his eyes; but in the hour of danger, even the
most foolish are often guided by a happy instinct. Like a star, the
red-cheeked face of Erica shone before him, and with frightened steps
he quickly approached her. To kneel before her, was not such a
difficult task to him; her sweet looks inspiring him with confidence.
With outstretched arms he implored her assistance.

"There!" cried the flower-of-the-heath, "the man of the island is by no
means so foolish as he looks. He prefers kneeling to Erica, instead of
the green and red flag." She smiled graciously on the pitiful
suppliant, and jumping from the saddle, she patted him as if he were
some half wild animal. "Don't be afraid," said she, "thou shalt live,
poor old black-coat!" and Heribald could read in her eyes, that she
meant what she said. He pointed to the woman of the wood, who had
frightened him most. Erica shook her head; "she shall not harm
thee." Then Heribald briskly ran to the wall, near which lilacs and
spring-roses were already blooming, and hastily tearing off some of
their branches, he presented them to the Hunnic maiden.

A loud shout of delight rang through the cloister-yard. "Hail to the
flower-of-the-heath," cried they all, clashing their arms together.

"Why don't you shout likewise," whispered the man from Ellwangen into
Heribald's ear. So he also raised his voice to a hoarse "hurrah!" with
tears glistening in his eyes.

The Huns had unsaddled their horses, and very much resembled a pack of
hounds, which, in the evening at the end of the sport, are waiting for
the entrails of the deer which has been killed. Here and there, one is
pulling at the cord that restrains him,--there another is barking
fiercely with impatience. With similar feelings the Huns stood before
the monastery. At last Ellak gave the signal, that the pillage might
begin. In wild disorder they then ran forwards, up the staircase, and
along the passage into the church. Confused cries, of expected booty
and disappointed hopes, resounded everywhere. Then they examined the
cells of the brotherhood, but here also, nothing was found, except the
scanty furniture.

"Show us the treasury," said they to Heribald, who complied with this
wish willingly enough, as he well knew that all that was precious had
been taken away. Only a few plated candlesticks, and the big emerald of
coloured glass, was still there.

"Miserable convent! The set of beggars!" called out one, giving a kick
with his iron-clad foot to the false jewel, so that it became cracked.
Heribald was rewarded by sundry heavy blows, so he stole sorrowfully
away, as soon as an opportunity offered.

In the cross-passage he met Snewelin, who accosted him, with:
"countryman, I am an old wine-merchant, tell me where your cellar may
be?" Heribald led him down and chuckled contentedly when he saw that
the chief entrance had been walled up. With a knowing look he winked at
the fresh lime, as if to say, that he well knew its secret. The man of
Ellwangen without much ado, now cut off the seals on one of the tuns,
tapped it and filled his helmet. This he raised to his lips, and took a
long, long draught. "Oh Hahnenkamm and Heidenheim!"[11] exclaimed he,
shivering as with the ague, "for this beverage, I verily need not have
become a Hun!" He then ordered his companions to carry up the vats, but
Heribald stepping forwards, pulled his gown, and anxiously said: "Allow
me, good man, but what am I to drink when you are gone away?"

Snewelin laughingly reported the monk's scruples to the others. "The
fool must keep something," they said, putting back the smallest tun
unopened. This kindness touched Heribald so much, that he fervently
shook hands with them.

Upstairs in the court-yard, a wild shouting was now heard. Some, who
had searched the church, I had also lifted a grave-stone, from under
which a bleached skull grinned at them, out of its dark cowl. This
spectacle frightened even the Huns. Two of the gang went up to the
belfry, the steeple of which was adorned with a gilt weathercock,
according to custom. Whether they took it to be the protecting God of
the monastery, or imagined it to be real gold, they climbed up the
roof, and audaciously sitting there, tried to bring the cock down with
their lances. But now a sudden giddiness came over them. One, let his
raised arm sink;--a stagger,--a cry; and he fell down, quickly followed
by the other. With broken necks they lay in the cloister-yard.

"A bad omen," said Ellak to himself. The Huns uttered a dismal howl,
but a few moments later, the accident was entirely forgotten. The
sword had ravished so many of their companions from their side; so
what mattered two more, or less? The bodies were carried into the
cloister-garden. With the logs which Heribald had upset in the early
morning, a funeral-pile was erected; the books which had been left in
the libraries, were thrown down from the windows, and were made use of
in filling up the gaps between the logs,--an excellent burning
material!

Ellak and Hornebog were walking together through the ranks. Squeezed in
between the logs, a neatly written manuscript with shining golden
initials, peeped out. Hornebog, drawing his sword, pierced the
parchment with it, and presented it to his companion, stuck on the
point of the blade.

"What do these hooks and chickens' feet mean, Sir Brother?" asked he.

Ellak took the manuscript, and glanced over some of its pages. He also
knew Latin.

"Western wisdom," replied he. "A man, named Boëthius, wrote it, and it
contains many fine things about the comfort of Philosophy."

"Phi--losophy," slowly repeated Hornebog, "what does that mean, Sir
Brother?"

"It does not mean a fair woman, nor yet firewater either," was Ellak's
reply. "It will be difficult to describe it in the Hunnic language ...
but if a man does not know wherefore he is in the world, and stands on
his head to find out the reason, that is near about what they call
Philosophy in these western lands. He, who comforted himself with it,
in his tower at Pavia, was after all killed for it." ...

"And that served him right!" exclaimed Hornebog. "He, who holds a sword
in his hand, and feels a horse between his thighs, knows why he is in
the world; and if we did not know the reason better than those, who
smear such hooks on asses' skins, then _they_ would be on our heels at
the Danube, and our horses would not drink their fill out of the
Suabian sea."

"Don't you think, that it is very lucky that such trash is made?"
continued Ellak, throwing back the manuscript on to the funeral-pile.

"Why so?" asked Hornebog.

"Because the hand which guides the pen is never fit to handle the sword
so as to make a good gash in the flesh; and when once the nonsense
which is concocted by one single head, is written down, then at least a
hundred others will muddle their brains with it. A hundred blockheads
more make a hundred soldiers less, which is clearly enough our
advantage, whenever we choose to make an invasion. 'As long as they
write books and hold synods in the West, my children may safely carry
their tents forwards!' that's what the great Attila himself said."

"Praised be the great Attila!" said Hornebog, reverently, when a voice
called out, "Let the dead rest!" and with dancing steps, Erica came
towards the two chieftains. She had mustered the cloister-booty, and an
altar-cloth of red silk, finding grace in her eyes, she put it on like
a mantle; the corners lightly thrown back over her shoulders.

"How do I look?" said she, turning her little head complacently about.

"The flower-of-the-heath does not require any tinsel belonging to
Suabian idolators, to please us," sternly replied Ellak. Upon this, she
jumped up at him, to pat and stroke his lank black hair, and then
called out, "come along, the meal is ready prepared."

Then they went all three to the court-yard. All the hay which could be
found, the Huns had strewn about, lying down on it and waiting for the
repast. With crossed arms, Heribald stood in the background, looking
down at them. "The heathenish dogs cannot even sit down like
Christians, when they are about to eat their daily bread," he thought,
taking good care, however, not to utter his thoughts aloud. The
experience of former blows, had taught him silence.

"Lie down blackcoat, thou mayest eat also," cried Erica, making a sign
to him to follow the example of the others. He looked at the man of
Ellwangen, who was lying there with crossed legs, as if he had never
known what it was to sit otherwise. So Heribald tried to follow his
example; but he very soon got up again, as this position seemed too
undignified to him. So he fetched a chair out of the monastery, and sat
down upon it.

A whole ox had been roasted on a spit, and whatever else they had found
in the cloister-kitchen, served to complete the repast; and they fell
to, ravenously. The meat was cut off with their short sabres, the
fingers serving as knife and fork. In the middle of the court-yard, the
big wine-tun stood upright, everyone taking as much as he liked. Here
and there, a finely wrought chalice was used as a drinking cup.
Heribald also, had as much wine as he wished for, but when with inward
contentment he was just beginning to sip at it, a half gnawed bone flew
at his head. With a sorrowful look of surprise, he gazed up, and beheld
that many another met with the same fate. To throw bones at each other,
was a Hunnic custom, which served as dessert.

When the wine was beginning to tell on them, they began a rough and
unmelodious singing. Two of the younger horsemen sang an old song in
honour of King Attila, in which it was said, that he had not only been
a conqueror with the sword, but also a conqueror of hearts. Then
followed a taunting verse, on a Roman Emperor's sister, who, charmed
with him by hearsay, fell in love with him at a distance, and offered
her heart and hand to him, which however he refused.

The chorus which followed it, strongly resembled the screeching of owls
and the croaking of toads. When this was finished, some of the men
approached Heribald, and made him understand that he also was expected
to give them a song. He began to refuse, but this availed him nothing.
So he sang in an almost sobbing voice, the antiphon in honour of the
holy cross, beginning with the "_sanctifica nos_."

With mute astonishment, the drunken men, listened to the long-drawn
notes of the old church-music, which sounded like the voice of the
preacher in the wilderness. With rising anger, the woman of the wood,
sitting beside the copper-kettle, heard it. Grasping her knife, she
stealthily approached Heribald from behind, and seizing his hair,
wanted to cut off his curls,--the greatest insult that could be offered
to a consecrated head. But Heribald vigorously pushed her back, and
chanted on, nothing daunted, which mightily pleased the assembly, so
that they gave a shout of delight. Cymbals and violins also resounded
again, and now Erica, who had become tired of the monotonous chant,
approached Heribald. With a look that combined both archness and pity,
she seized him by the arm, and drawing him into the midst of the wild
dance which was now beginning, she called out. "Singing must always be
followed by dancing!" Heribald did not know what to do, while the
flower-of-the-heath was all eagerness to begin. "It matters little
whether Heribald dances or not, it will be only another small link in
the chain of abominations," he finally thought; so he bravely stamped
the ground with his sandal-clad feet, his habit flying about him.
Tighter and tighter he pressed the Hunnic maiden's waist, and who knows
what might still have happened, if she had not, with heightened colour
and panting bosom, finally stopt herself. Giving her partner a little
parting slap in the face, she ran off to the chieftains, who with
serious faces were looking on at the frolics.

The shouts were dying out now; the fumes of the wine being danced off.
So Ellak gave the order to burn the dead. In a moment's time, the whole
troop were seated on horseback, and riding in closed ranks to the
funeral-pile. The horses of the two deceased men, were then stabbed by
the eldest amongst the Huns, and laid beside their late masters bodies.
Calling out some monstrous conjurations, he lifted the firebrand and
lighted the pile. Boëthius' "comfort of Philosophy," pinelogs,
manuscripts and corpses vied with each other, which could burn the
brightest, and a mighty pillar of flames and smoke, rose up to the sky.

With wrestling, warlike exercises and races, the memory of the dead was
celebrated. The sun had sunk far down in the west, and so the whole
body of Huns entered the monastery, there to pass the night.--

It was on the Thursday before Easter, when all this happened on the
island of Reichenau. The tidings of this invasion soon reached the
fishermen's huts around Radolfszell. When Moengal, the parish-priest,
held the early morning-service, he still counted six of his flock, but
in the afternoon, there were only three; including himself.

Gloomily he sat in the little room in which he had once hospitably
entertained Ekkehard, when the pillar of smoke from the Hunnic
funeral-pile rose into the air. It was dense and black enough for him
to suppose the whole monastery to be in flames, and the scent of
burning came over the lake.

"Hihahoi!!" cried Moengal, "_jam proximus ardet Ucalegon_, already it
is burning at neighbour Ucalogon's! Then it is time for me also to get
ready. Out with ye now, my old Cambutta!"

Cambutta, however, was no serving maid, but a huge bludgeon, a real
Irish shilelah, and Moengal's favourite weapon. The chalice and
ciborium, he packed up and put into his leathern game-bag. This was all
he possessed of gold or silver. Then he called his hounds, his hawk and
two falcons together, and giving them all the meat and fish his pantry
boasted, he said: "Children, eat as much as ever you can, so that
nothing is left for those cursed plagues, when they come!"

The vat in the cellar, he knocked to pieces, so that the sparkling wine
streamed forth. "Not a drop of wine shall the devils drink, in
Moengal's house." Only the jug which contained the vinegar, was left in
its place. On the fresh, delicious butter in the wooden tun, he emptied
a basket full of ashes. His fishing-tackle and other sporting-utensils
he buried in the ground; then he smashed the windows, and strewed the
fragments about in the room. Some he even put into the chinks of the
floor, with the points turned upwards,--all in honour of the Huns! Hawk
and falcons then received their liberty. "Farewell!" cried he, "and
keep near, for soon you will get dead heathens to pick!"

So his house was put in order. Hanging the game-bag, as well as a
Hibernian canteen, over his shoulders, with two spears in his hands,
and Cambutta fastened on his back,--thus old Moengal walked out of his
parsonage, which had been his home for so many years; a valiant
champion of the Lord!

He had already gone on a few paces through the smoke-darkened
atmosphere, when he suddenly stopped short, saying: "Wait a bit, I have
forgotten something."

So he quickly retraced his steps, murmuring: "The yellow-faced rascals
shall at least find some written words of welcome."

Arrived at his door, he drew a piece of red chalk from his pocket, and
therewith wrote in large Irish characters a few words on the grey
sandstone slab over the portal. Later rains have washed them away, and
nobody has ever read them, but no doubt it was a significant greeting,
which old Moengal left behind him in Irish runes.--Quickening his pace,
he then took the direction of the Hohentwiel.



                              CHAPTER XIV.

                       The Battle with the Huns.


Good Friday had come; but the anniversary of our Saviour's death, was
not kept on the Hohentwiel this time, in the silent way which the
prescriptions of the church require. By the arrival of old Moengal all
doubts about the enemy's approach were dispersed. Late in the night a
war-council was held, at which it was determined that they should go
out to meet the Huns in open battle.

The sun rose drearily on that day; soon being hidden again in mist. A
fierce gale was blowing over the land, chasing the clouds along, so
that they sank down on the distant Bodensee, as if water and air were
to mingle together. Now and then, a solitary sun-beam struggled
through. It was the as yet undecided battle which Spring was waging
against the powers of Winter. The men had already risen, and were
preparing for a serious day's work.

In his closet, up in the watch-tower, Ekkehard was silently pacing up
and down, his hands folded in prayer. A highly honourable commission
had devolved on him. He was to preach a sermon to the united forces
before they went out to battle, and so he was now praying for strength
and inspiration, that his words might be like sparks, kindling the
warlike flame in each breast. Suddenly the door opened, and in came the
Duchess, unaccompanied by Praxedis. Over her morning-dress she had
thrown an ample cloak, to protect herself against the cool air; perhaps
also that she might not be recognized by the stranger guests, while
going over to the watch-tower. A faint blush mantled on her cheeks,
when she thus stood alone, opposite her youthful teacher.

"You are also going out to battle, to-day?" asked she.

"Yes, I go with the others," replied Ekkehard.

"I should despise you, if you had given me any other reply," said she,
"and you have justly presumed, that for such an expedition, it would
not be necessary to ask my leave. But have you not thought of saying
Good-bye?" added she, in low reproachful accents.

Ekkehard was embarrassed. "There are many nobler and better men leaving
your castle to-day. The Abbots and knights will surround you;--how then
could I think of taking a special leave of you, even if ..." his voice
broke off.

The Duchess looked into his eyes. Neither said a word.

"I have brought you something which is to serve you in battle,"
said she after a while, drawing out a precious sword with a rich
shoulder-belt, from under her mantle. A white agate adorned the hilt.
"It is the sword of Sir Burkhard, my late husband. Of all the arms he
possessed, he valued this the most. 'With that blade one could split
rocks, without breaking it,' he said many a time. You will wear it
to-day with honour."

She held out the sword to him; Ekkehard received it in silence. His
coat-of-mail he had already put on under his habit. Now he buckled on
the shoulder-belt, and then seized the hilt with his right hand, as if
the enemy were already facing him.

"I have got something else for you," continued Dame Hadwig. On a silk
ribbon, she wore a golden locket round her neck. This she now drew
forth. It was a crystal, covering an insignificant looking splinter of
wood.

"If my prayers should not suffice, then this relic will protect you. It
is a splinter of the holy cross, which the Empress Helena discovered.
Wherever this relic is, wrote the Greek patriarch who attested its
genuineness, there will be peace, happiness and pure air.--May it now
bring a blessing to you in the coming battle."

She leaned towards him, to hang the jewel round his neck. Quickly he
bent his knees to receive it; but it had long been hanging round his
neck, and still he knelt before her. She passed her hand lightly over
his curly hair, and there was a peculiarly soft and half sad expression
on the usually haughty countenance.

Ekkehard had bent his knee at the name of the holy cross, but now he
felt as if he must kneel down a second time before her, who was
thus graciously thinking of him. A budding affection requires some time
to understand itself clearly, and in matters of love, he had not
learned to reckon and count, as in the verses of Virgil, or he
might have guessed, that she who had taken him away from his quiet
cloister-cell,--that she who on that evening on the Hohenkrähen, had
looked on him so tenderly, and now again on the morning of battle, was
standing before him, as Dame Hadwig was at that moment, might well have
expected some words out of the depth of his heart,--perhaps even more
than words only.

His thoughts quickly followed each other, and all his pulses were
throbbing. When on former occasions anything like love had stirred his
heart, then the reverence for his mistress had driven it back, nipping
it in the bud, as the cold winds of March wither and blight the early
spring-flowers. At this moment however, he was not thinking of that
reverence, but rather how he had once carried the Duchess boldly over
the cloister-yard. Neither did he think of his monastic vow, but he
felt as if he must rush into her arms, and press her to his heart with
a cry of delight. Sir Burkard's sword seemed to burn at his side.
"Throw aside all reserve, for only the bold will conquer the world."
Were not these words to be read in Dame Hadwig's eyes?

He stood up; strong, great and free,--she had never seen him look so
before, ... but it lasted only a second. As yet not one sound betraying
his inward struggle had escaped his lips, when his eye fell on the
dark, ebony cross, which Vincentius had once hung up on the wall. "It
is the day of the Lord, and thou shalt open thy lips to-day before his
people,"--the remembrance of his duty drove away all other thoughts....

There once came a frost, on a bright summer-morning, and grass and
leaves and blossoms became black and seared, before the sun rose over
them....

Shyly as in former times, he took Dame Hadwig's hand. "How shall I
thank my mistress?" said he in broken accents.

She cast a searching look at him. The soft expression had vanished, and
the old sternness had returned to her brow, as if she meant to say: "if
you don't know how, I am not going to tell you," but she said nothing.
Still Ekkehard held her hand in his. She drew it back.

"Be pious and brave," said she, turning to leave the chamber. It
sounded like mockery....

Scarcely longer than a person needs to say the Lord's prayer, had the
Duchess been with him, but far more had happened in that time, than he
knew of.

He resumed his walk up and down his small abode. "Thou shalt deny
thyself and follow the Lord," thus St. Benedict's rules began, and
Ekkehard felt almost proud of the victory he had won; but Dame Hadwig
had gone away with wounded feelings; and if a haughty mind believes
itself to be disdained, evil days must follow.

It was the seventh hour of the morning, and in the court-yard on the
Hohentwiel they were all attending divine service, before setting out.
The altar had been erected under the old linden-tree, and on it were
placed the sacred relics, to comfort the hearts of all believers. The
court-yard was entirely filled with armed men, standing in close,
orderly groups, just as Simon Bardo had arranged them. Like the roll of
distant thunder arose the introductory chaunts of the monks. The Abbot
of Reichenau, wearing the black pall with the white cross, celebrated
high-mass.

After him, Ekkehard mounted the altar-steps. With deep emotion his eye
glided over the crowded assembly; once more the remembrance of how he
had but a short while ago, stood face to face with the Duchess in the
solitary chamber, passed through his mind,--and then he read the gospel
of the suffering and death of our Saviour. As he read on, his voice
became always clearer and more distinct, and when he had finished, he
first kissed the book and then handed it to the deacon, for him to put
it back on its silk cushion. For a moment he looked up heavenwards, and
then began his sermon.

The assembly listened to his words with breathless attention.

"Almost a thousand years have come and gone," cried he, "since the Son
of God, bent his head on the cross, saying: 'it is finished!' but we
have not yet prepared our souls to receive the redemption, for we have
lived in sin, and the offences which we have committed through the
hardness of our hearts, cry out against us, towards Heaven. Therefore a
time of affliction has come upon us; glittering swords are raised
against us; heathenish monsters have invaded the christian territories.

"But instead of angrily enquiring, 'how long will the Lord forbear,
before He interferes and delivers our beloved homes from the hands of
such heathenish idolaters,' let everybody strike his own bosom and say:
on account of our sins this chastisement has been sent upon us. And if
ye would be delivered from them, think of our Saviour's painful death,
and as he took up his cross, bearing it himself to the place of skulls,
seize the sword, and choose your own Golgotha!" ...

Pointing over to the shores of the lake, he poured out words of comfort
and prophecy, strong and powerful, as the lion's call in the desert.

"The times are coming of which it has been written: 'And when the
thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
and shall go out to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters
of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the
number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up, on the
breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and
the beloved city: and fire came down from God, out of heaven, and
devoured them. And the devil that deceived them, was cast into the lake
of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and
shall be tormented day and night, for ever and ever.'[12]

"And all this, which the seer beheld and revealed at Patmos, is for us
a promise of the victory that is to come, if we go out with purified
hearts, to meet the enemy. Let them come, on their swift horses; what
does it matter? The Lord has marked them as the children of the devil,
therefore their face is but a mockery of the human countenance. They
can destroy the harvest on our fields, and desecrate our altars, but
they cannot resist the powerful arms of those, whom God himself has
inspired. Therefore keep in mind, that we Suabians, must always be in
the foremost ranks, when the fatherland has to be defended; and if in
other times, it would be a dire sin in the eyes of the Lord, to buckle
on the sword on His holy day,--to-day He will bless our weapons, and
send down his saints to assist us, and fight Himself in our ranks; He
the Lord of hosts, who sends down his destroying lightnings, and opens
the bowels of earth itself, when the right time has come."

With choice examples of glorious warlike deeds Ekkehard then tried to
inspire his auditors; and many a hand fiercely grasped the spear, and
many a foot was lifted impatiently from the ground, when he spoke of
Joshuah, who with the Lord's help had conquered thirty-one kings, on
the other side of the Jordan;--and of Gideon, who with loud sounding
trumpets, entered the camp of the Midianites, and drove them before him
unto Bethesda and Tebbath;--and of the sally of the men of Bethulia,
who after Judith's glorious deed, smote the Assyrians with the edge of
the sword.

But at the end, he quoted the words, which Judas Maccabæus, had spoken
to his people, when they erected their camp at Emaus, before going out
to fight the army of King Antiochus. "Arm yourselves and be valiant
men, and see that ye be in readiness against the morning, that ye may
fight with these nations, that are assembled together against us to
destroy us and our sanctuary."

For a moment, after he had ended, there was perfect silence, but soon
arose a great stir among the men, and a rattling and clashing of arms
was heard. Swords and shields were knocked together, spears lifted and
badges waved in the air; all, as signs of hearty approval, according to
old custom. "Amen," was repeated from all sides, whilst the whole
assembly fell on their knees, as the high-mass was reaching its close.
The wooden rattles, instead of the usual church-bells, thrilled them
with awe. Everyone who had not yet taken the holy sacrament, went up to
the altar, to receive it. But now from the watch-tower was suddenly
heard the cry, "to arms! to arms! the enemy is coming! A dark mass of
riders and horses are moving towards us from the lake!" and now there
was no longer any possibility of keeping back the eager men, who were
all pressing towards the gate; Abbot Wazmann having scarcely time to
pronounce a blessing over them.

So, in our days does the fisher-man of the north, run out of the church
on a Sunday, at the time when the shoals of herrings are approaching.
"The fish are coming," cries the watch-man on the shore, and the moment
afterwards, every man is hurrying away, towards the boats. Forsaken and
alone, stands the clergyman,--so his devotions are also at an end and
he seizes the nets likewise to wage war upon the scaly tribe.

Thirsting for the coming battle, the troops left the court-yard;
each heart swelling with the soul-stirring conviction, that a great
and important moment was at hand. The monks of St. Gall, mustered
sixty-four, those of the Reichenau ninety, and of the arrier-ban men,
there were above five hundred. Close by the standard of the cross of
the brotherhood of St. Gall, walked Ekkehard. It was a crucifix, veiled
in black crape, with long black streamers; as the monastery's banner
had been left behind.

On the balcony stood the Duchess, waving her white handkerchief.
Ekkehard, turning round, looked up at her, but her eyes evaded his, and
the parting salutation was not meant for him.

St. Mark's coffin had been carried down to the lower castle-gate, by
some of the serving brothers. Everyone touched it with the points of
his lance and sword, and then silently passed on.

In the wide plain, stretching out towards the lake, Simon Bardo drew up
his troops, and one could see how pleased the old field-marshal was,
that his scar-covered breast again wore the accustomed mail, instead of
the monk's habit. His head was covered by a strangely shaped, pointed
steel morion; his broad, jewel-set girdle, as well as the gilt handle
of his sword, indicated the ancient general.

"You read the classics, on account of the grammar," said he to the
Abbots, "but I have learnt my _handicraft_ from them. With the military
advice of Frontinus and Vegetius, one may still achieve something even
now-a-days. First we will try the battle-array of the Roman legions;
for in that position one can best await the enemy, and see what he
means to do. Afterwards, we are still at liberty to change our tactics,
for affairs will not be settled between us in half an hour."

The light corps of the archers and sling-bearers were ordered to occupy
the border of the wood, where they would be sheltered by the fir-trees,
against any attack on horseback. "Take low aims," said he, "for even if
you should merely hit the horse instead of the rider, it is always
something." At the sound of the bugle, the troop advanced to execute
his commands. As yet, nothing was to be seen of the enemy.

The men of the arrier-ban, he arrayed in two close ranks. With levelled
lances they slowly advanced; a space of a few steps remaining between
the two files. The knight of Randegg, and the gaunt Friedinger,
commanded them.

The monks, Simon Bardo collected into one compact body, placing them in
the rear.

"Why this?" asked Abbot Wazmann, inwardly hurt, at losing the honour of
heading the attack. But Bardo, experienced in war, smilingly replied:
"Those are my Triarians; not because they are veteran soldiers, but
because they are fighting for their own warm nests. To be driven out of
house and home and bed, makes swords cut deepest, and spears thrust
fiercest. Don't be afraid, the tug of war, will yet draw the disciples
of St. Benedict into the strife."

The Huns had left the monastery of Reichenau at early dawn. The
provisions were all consumed, the wine drunk, and the cloister
pillaged; so, their day's work was done. Heribald's forehead lost many
a wrinkle, when the last of the Hunnic riders had passed out of the
cloister-gate. He threw after them a golden coin which the man from
Ellwangen, had secretly thrust into his hand. "Countryman, if thou
shouldst hear that a mishap has befallen me," said Snewelin, "I trust
that thou wilt let a dozen masses be read for my poor soul. I have
always befriended you and your fellow-monks, and how I have fallen
amongst the heathens, I scarcely can understand myself. The soil of
Ellwangen is unfortunately too rough and stony, for producing saints."

Heribald, however, would have nothing to do with him. In the garden, he
shovelled up the bones and ashes of the burnt Huns and their horses,
throwing them into the lake, whilst the Huns were still visible on the
other side. "No heathen dust shall remain on the island," said he. Then
he went to the cloister-yard, and thoughtfully stared at the place,
where he had been forced to dance on the day before.

Meanwhile, the Huns were riding through the dark fir-wood towards the
Hohentwiel. But as they were thus cantering along, heedless of all
danger, here and there a horse began to stagger, and arrows and other
sharp missiles flew into their ranks, sent by invisible hands. The
vanguard began to slacken rein and to halt; but Ellak, giving the spurs
to his horse, cried out: "Why do you care for the stinging of gnats?
forwards, the plain is a better field of battle!"

A dozen of his men were ordered to stay behind, in order to protect the
baggage and camp followers, against their hidden enemies. The ground
echoed with the tramp of the advancing horde, and as soon as they
reached the plain, they spread their ranks, and uttering a wild howl,
advanced to meet the approaching column of the arrier-ban.

Far ahead rode Ellak, accompanied by the Hunnic standard-bearer, who
was waving the green and red flag over his head. Uttering a piercing
cry, the chieftain now lifted himself high in the saddle, and then shot
off the first arrow, thus opening the battle according to old custom;
and now the bloody fight began in good earnest. Little availed it to
the Suabian warriors, that they stood firm and immovable like a wall of
lances; for although the horses recoiled before it, a shower of arrows
were sent at them from the distance. Half raised in the stirrups, with
the reins hanging over their horses necks, the Huns took aim, and
generally their arrows hit the mark.

Others, came on from the sides, and woe to the wounded, if his
companions did not take him into the centre.

Then the light troops intended to come out of the fir-wood, and attack
the Huns from behind. The sound of the bugle again collected them
together; they advanced,--but quick as thought, their enemies' horses
were turned round, and a shower of arrows greeted them. They staggered,
only a few advanced, but these also were thrown back, so that finally
Audifax was left alone, bravely marching along. Many an arrow whizzed
round his head, but without minding them, or once looking back, he blew
his bag-pipe, as was his duty. Thus he came right into the midst of the
Hunnic riders. But now his piping stopped suddenly, for in passing, one
of the Huns had thrown a noose over his head. Trying hard to resist,
Audifax looked around, but not a single man of his troop was to be
seen. "Oh Hadumoth!" cried he mournfully. The rider took pity on the
brave fair-haired boy; so instead of splitting his head, he lifted him
up into the saddle, and galloped away to the place where the Hunnic
train had stopped, under the shelter of a hill. With erect figure, the
woman of the wood stood on her cart, intently gazing at the raging
battle. She had dressed the wounds of the first Huns who fell,
pronouncing some powerful charms over them, to stop the bleeding.

"Here I bring you someone to clean the camp-kettles!" cried the Hunnic
rider, throwing the boy over, so that he fell right into the cart, and
at the feet of the old woman.

"Welcome, thou venomous little toad," cried she fiercely, "thou shalt
get thy reward sure enough, for having shown the way up to my house, to
that cowl-bearer!" She had recognized him at once, and dragging him
towards her, tied him fast to the cart.

Audifax remained silent, but scalding tears fell from his eyes. He did
not cry though on account of being taken prisoner, but he cried from
another heavy disappointment. "Oh Hadumoth!" sighed he again. Yesterday
at midnight he had sat together with the young goose-driver, hidden in
a corner of the fire-place. "Thou shalt become invulnerable," Hadumoth
had said, "for I will give thee a charm against all weapons!" She had
boiled a brown snake, and anointed his forehead, shoulders and breast
with its fat. "To-morrow evening I shall wait for thee in this same
corner, for thou wilt surely come back to me, safe and sound. No metal
can do anything, against the fat of a snake." Audifax had squeezed her
hands, and had gone out so joyously into battle,--and now!...

The fighting was still going on in the plain, and the Suabian
combatants not being used to battle, began to get tired already. With
an anxious expression Simon Bardo was watching the state of affairs;
and with an angry shake of the head, he grumbled to himself: "the best
strategy is lost on these Centaurs, who come and go, and shoot at a
distance, as if my threefold flanks stood there only to amuse them. It
would really be well, if one were to add a chapter to Emperor Leo's
book on tactics, treating of the attack of the Huns."

He now approached the monks, and dividing them again into two bodies,
ordered the men of St. Gall to advance on the right, and those of
Reichenau, on the left; then wheeling about, so that the enemy, having
the wood at his back, was shut in by a semicircle. "If we do not
surround them, they will not let us get at them," cried he, flourishing
his broad sword in the air. "So now to the attack!"

A wild fire was gleaming in all eyes; and on the point of starting,
they all dropt down on their knees; each took up a clod of earth, and
threw it over his head that he might be consecrated and blessed by his
native earth; and then they rushed on to battle. Those of St. Gall
struck up the pious war-song of "_media vita_." Notker the stutterer,
once passed through the ravines of the Martistobel, in his native land,
when a bridge was just being built over the yawning precipice. The
workmen were hanging suspended over the giddy height, and at that
sight, the idea rose in his soul, how in our life we are always walking
on the edge of the abyss of Death, and so he composed those verses. Now
they served as a sort of magic song, which was to protect them, and
bring death to their enemies. Solemn, sounded its strains from the lips
of the men going into battle:


   "Though yet we live, by Death we are surrounded,
    And ever near, his messengers are staying.
    Whom could we choose, to help us in great danger,
    But Thee, oh Lord! The judge of all the living!
    Almighty God!"


And from the other wing the monks of the Reichenau were singing:


   "Long our fathers for Thy coming panted,
    And Thou redeemedst them from sin and sorrow,
    Up to Thy throne arose their wailing voices,
    And Thou didst not reject their tears and prayers,
    Thou Lord of hosts!"


And from both sides, was then heard together:


   "Forsake us not, when our strength is failing,
    He our staff, when courage is departing,
    Oh, not to bitter Death, give up Thy children,
    Almighty God, in whom we all are trusting,
    Merciful God, great God of all the Heavens,
    Oh Lord forsake us not! Have mercy on us!"


Thus they stood in close combat. With unmitigated surprise the Huns had
beheld the approaching columns. Howls, and the hissing, devilish cry of
"hui! hui!" was their response to the "_media vita_." Ellak likewise,
now divided his horsemen for a regular attack, and the fighting
continued fiercer than ever. The Hunnic horsemen soon broke through the
ranks of the small body of the monks of St. Gall, and a close fight
then began. It was strength, wrestling with swiftness, German
awkwardness, against Hunnic cunning.

The earth of the Hegau was then dyed red, with the blood of many a
pious man. Tutilo, the strong, was slain. He had pulled down a Hun from
his horse by the feet, and swinging the wry-faced wretch through the
air, split his skull against a stone; but a moment afterwards, an arrow
pierced the temple of the hoary warrior. Like the victorious hymns of
the heavenly host, it sounded through his wounded brain,--then he fell
down on his slain foe. Sindolt the wicked, atoned for many a bad trick
which he had played his brothers in former times, by the death-wound in
his breast; and nothing did it avail Dubslan the Scot, that he had made
a vow to St. Minwaloius, to go bare-foot to Rome, if he would protect
him in this battle,--for he also was carried dead out of the tumult.

When the blows rained down on the helmets like hail-stones on
slate-roofs, old Moengal drew his hood over his head, so that he could
look neither to the right nor to the left; then throwing away his
spear, he cried, "out with thee now, my old Cambutta." Unbuckling his
beloved shilalah, which had accompanied him, fastened to his back, he
now stood like a thrasher on the barn-floor. For some time a horseman
had capered around him. "_Kyrie eleison_" sang out the old man,
breaking the horses' skull at one blow. With both feet the rider jumped
to the ground: grazing Moengal's arm with his crooked sabre. "Heigho,"
exclaimed he, "in spring 'tis a good thing to be bled; but take care,
little surgeon!" aiming a blow at him, as if he wanted to strike him
ten fathom deep into the ground. But the Hun evaded the blow, and
whilst doing so, the helmet fell off and disclosed a soft and rosy
face, framed in by long wavy tresses, interwoven with red ribbons.
Before Moengal could think of aiming another blow, his antagonist
jumped up at him like a tiger-cat; the young, fresh face approached
his, affording him as it were in his old days an opportunity of culling
a kiss from coral lips; but the moment after, he received a sharp bite
on his cheek. Clasping his assailant, he felt a soft and slender
waist. "Take thyself away, goblin," cried he. "Has hell sent out her
she-devils also?" Here, another bite, for the sake of symmetry, saluted
him on the left cheek. He started back, but before he had raised his
bludgeon again, Erica had jumped on a horse which had lost its rider,
and gaily laughing she rode away, swift as a dream that vanishes at
cockcrow....

In the middle of the arrier-ban fought Master Spazzo the chamberlain,
heading a troop. The slow advance had rather pleased him, but when the
fight seemed to come to no conclusion, and men were clinging to each
other, like the hounds to the deer in a chase,--then it became rather
too much for him. A dreamy, pensive mood came over him in the midst of
the raging battle, and only when a passing rider pulled off his helmet,
as an acceptable booty, was he roused from his meditations, and when
the same, renewing the experiment, tried to drag off his mantle, he
cried out angrily: "is it not yet enough, thou marksman of the Devil?"
dealing him at the same time a thrust with his long sword, which pinned
the Hun's thigh to his own horse. Master Spazzo then thought of giving
him the deathblow, but on looking into his face, he found it so very
ugly, that he resolved to bring him home to his mistress, as a living
memento of the battle. So he made the wounded man his prisoner. His
name was Cappan, and putting his head under Master Spazzo's arm, in
sign of submission, he grinned with delight, showing two rows of
shining white teeth, when he perceived that his life had been spared.

Hornebog had led his troops against the brothers of the Reichenau. Here
also, grim Death was reaping a rich harvest. The cloister-walls
glistened in the distance over the lake, like an appeal to the
combatants to exert their utmost strength; and many a Hun who came
within reach of their swords, found out that he was treading on Suabian
ground, where heavy blows are as plentiful as wild strawberries in
summer. But the ranks of the brothers also were considerably thinned.
Quirinius the scrivener was resting for ever from the writing-cramp,
which had caused the spear in his right hand to tremble. Beside
him, there fell Wiprecht the astronomer, and Kerimold the master of
salmon-fishing, and Witigowo the architect;--who knows them all? the
nameless heroes, who met a glorious end, on that day!

Only one of the monks had reason to be grateful to a Hunnic arrow, and
that was brother Pilgeram. He was born at Cologne on the Rhine, and had
carried his thirst of knowledge, as well as a mighty goitre to St.
Pirmin's isle; where he was one of the most learned and most pious
monks; but his goitre increased and he became hypochondriac over the
ethics of Aristotle, so that Heribald had often said to him: "Pilgeram
I pity thee." But now a Hunnic arrow pierced the excrescence on his
throat. "Farewell, friend of my youth!" cried he on sinking down; but
the wound was not dangerous, and when his consciousness returned, he
felt his throat as well as his head considerably lightened, and from
that moment, he never opened Aristotle again.

Round the standard of St. Gall, a select body of men had rallied. The
black streamers still floated in the air from the image on the cross;
but the contest was doubtful. With word and action, Ekkehard encouraged
his companions not to give way, but it was Ellak himself who fought
against them. The bodies of slain men and horses cumbered the ground in
wild disorder. He, who survived had done his duty, and when all are
brave, no single heroic deed can claim its special share of glory. Sir
Burkhard's sword had received a new baptism of blood in Ekkehard's
hands, but in vain had he fiercely attacked Ellak the chieftain; for
after having exchanged a few blows and thrusts, they were separated
again by other combatants. Already the cross, towering on high, began
to stagger, aimed at by unceasing arrows, when a loud cry of surprise
rang through the ranks; for from the hill on which stood the tower of
Hohenfriedingen, two unknown horsemen in strange looking armour, came
galloping at full speed towards the scene of battle. Heavily one of
them, who was of mighty bulk, sat on his steed. Both shield and harness
were of antiquated shape, but the faded golden ornaments indicated the
high birth, of the wearer. A golden band encircled his helmet, from
which a tuft of red feathers waved. His mantle fluttering in the wind,
and his lance levelled, he looked like a picture of the olden times;
like King Saul in Folkard's psalm-book riding to meet David. Close by
his side rode his companion, a faithful vassal, ready to succour and
protect him.

"Tis the archangel Michael!" cried some in the christian ranks, and
with this their strength rallied. The sun was shining brightly on the
strange rider's arms,--like an omen of victory,--and a few moments later
the two were in the midst of the battle. He, with the gilt armour was
looking about for a worthy antagonist, which he soon found, for when
the Hunnic chieftain's keen eyes had spied him out, his horse's head
was turned towards him. The spear of the stranger knight passed
harmlessly by him, missing its aim; and Ellak's sword was already
raised to deal him the death blow, when the vassal threw himself
between the two. His broad sword merely struck the enemy's horse, so,
bending his head forwards, to catch the blow meant for his master, the
faithful shield-bearer found his death.

With a loud, clattering sound Ellak's horse fell to the ground, but
before the sound had quite died out, the Hun had already recovered his
feet. The unknown knight raised his mace, to break his enemy's head,
but Ellak, with his left foot placed tightly on the body of his dead
courser, pressed back the raised arm with his sinewy hands, trying at
the same time to pull him down. Then, face to face, the two mighty ones
began wrestling, so that those around them ceased fighting, to look on.

With a cunning movement, Ellak now seized his short sword, but just
when he lifted his arm, his antagonist's mace came down slowly but
heavily on his head. Yet his hand still dealt the thrust, and then
lifting it up to his forehead, over which the blood was running in
streams, Ellak reeled back on his war-horse, on which a moment later
the Hunnic chieftain angrily gave up the ghost.

"Here, sword of God and St. Michael!" triumphantly rose again the joint
cry of monks and arrier-ban-men! Rallying their strength, they rushed
on to one last despairing attack. The knight in the gilt armour was
still the foremost in the fight. The death of their leader, caused such
a panic to the Huns, that they turned round, and sped away in wild,
disorderly flight.

The woman of the wood, had already perceived the unfavourable turn
which the battle was taking. Her horses were ready harnessed, and
casting one last angry glance at the victorious monks and the rocky
mountain which had once been her home, she drove on the horses at a
quick pace, in the direction of the Rhine, followed by the rest of the
train. "To the Rhine!" was the watch-word of the flying Huns. Hornebog
was the last, who, unwillingly turned his back on the battle-field, and
the Hohentwiel.

"Farewell, till next year!" cried he tauntingly.

The victory was gained; but he, whom they believed to be the archangel
Michael, sent to their rescue, now let his heavy head sink down on his
horse's neck. Reins and arms, had both fallen from his hands, and
whether the cause was the last thrust of the Hunnic chieftain, or
suffocation in the heat of the battle, he was lifted down from his
horse, a dead man. On opening his visor, a happy smile was still
visible on his wrinkled old face, and from that hour the headache of
the old man of the Heidenhöhlen, had ceased for ever.

A black dog ran about searching on the battlefield, till he found the
old man's body. Dismally howling he then licked his forehead; Ekkehard
standing near, with a tear in his eye, saying a prayer for the welfare
of his soul....

The conquerors returned to the Hohentwiel, their helmets adorned with
green fir-twigs, and leaving twelve of the brothers behind, to watch
the dead on the battle-field. Of the Huns, one hundred and eighty had
fallen in battle, whilst the Suabian arrier-ban had lost ninety six;
those of the Reichenau eighteen, and those of St. Gall twenty, besides
the old man and Rauching his bondsman.

With a handkerchief tied round his face, Moengal stalked over the
field, using his shilalah like a staff. One by one he examined the
dead. "Hast thou not seen a Hun amongst them, who in reality is a
Hunnic woman?" asked he of one of the watchkeeping brothers.

"No," was the reply.

"Then I may as well go home," said Moengal.



                               FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: The _Allemannic_ land or _Allemannia_ as it was then
called, consisted of part of the present Würtemberg, Baden and
Lothringen; where a dialect, called "_Allematmisch_" has been preserved
to the present day.]

[Footnote 2: These notes, for the greatest part have been omitted, as
being of no possible interest to the English reader.]

[Footnote 3: Old German words.]

[Footnote 4: Chriemhilde and Brunhilde.]

[Footnote 5: This fable has its origin in the "_historia naturalis_" of
Plinius.]

[Footnote 6: A peculiar kind of fish in the Bodensee.]

[Footnote 7: This it had, surely enough; for when lately a learned son
of the emerald isle, paid a visit to the library of St. Gallus, there
to inspect the work of his pious countryman, he soon burst into a merry
laugh, and then the Rector of Dublin, translated some of the Irish
comments as follows:

"God be thanked that it is getting dark!" "St. Patrick of Armagh
release me from this book-writing." "Oh, that I had a glass of good old
wine beside me" etc.]

[Footnote 8: Ausonius. Idyll. 7.]

[Footnote 9: The curious custom, that by this act, called the "_Chrene
Chruda_," the debt passed on to the next relation by blood, who was
able to pay it, is described in Merkel's "_lex Salica_." The origin of
"_Chrene Chruda_" has not yet been sufficiently explained.]

[Footnote 10: A kind of caterpillars, migrating in large numbers.]

[Footnote 11: Places notorious for their sour bad wines.]

[Footnote 12: Revelation XX, 7.]



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