William Makepeace Thackeray
Part 6 out of 9
The battle was over. Good knight as Sir Gottfried was, his
strength and skill had not been able to overcome Sir Ludwig the
Hombourger, with RIGHT on his side. He was bleeding at every point
of his armor: he had been run through the body several times, and a
cut in tierce, delivered with tremendous dexterity, had cloven the
crown of his helmet of Damascus steel, and passing through the
cerebellum and sensorium, had split his nose almost in twain.
His mouth foaming--his face almost green--his eyes full of blood--
his brains spattered over his forehead, and several of his teeth
knocked out,--the discomfited warrior presented a ghastly
spectacle, as, reeling under the effects of the last tremendous
blow which the Knight of Hombourg dealt, Sir Gottfried fell heavily
from the saddle of his piebald charger; the frightened animal
whisked his tail wildly with a shriek and a snort, plunged out his
hind legs, trampling for one moment upon the feet of the prostrate
Gottfried, thereby causing him to shriek with agony, and then
galloped away riderless.
Away! ay, away!--away amid the green vineyards and golden
cornfields; away up the steep mountains, where he frightened the
eagles in their eyries; away down the clattering ravines, where the
flashing cataracts tumble; away through the dark pine-forests,
where the hungry wolves are howling away over the dreary wolds,
where the wild wind walks alone; away through the plashing
quagmires, where the will-o'-the-wisp slunk frightened among the
reeds; away through light and darkness, storm and sunshine; away by
tower and town, high-road and hamlet. Once a turnpike-man would
have detained him; but, ha! ha! he charged the pike, and cleared it
at a bound. Once the Cologne Diligence stopped the way: he charged
the Diligence, he knocked off the cap of the conductor on the roof,
and yet galloped wildly, madly, furiously, irresistibly on! Brave
horse! gallant steed! snorting child of Araby! On went the horse,
over mountains, rivers, turnpikes, apple-women; and never stopped
until he reached a livery-stable in Cologne where his master was
accustomed to put him up.
But we have forgotten, meanwhile, that prostrate individual.
Having examined the wounds in his side, legs, head, and throat, the
old hermit (a skilful leech) knelt down by the side of the
vanquished one and said, "Sir Knight, it is my painful duty to
state to you that you are in an exceedingly dangerous condition,
and will not probably survive."
"Say you so, Sir Priest? then 'tis time I make my confession.
Hearken you, Priest, and you, Sir Knight, whoever you be."
Sir Ludwig (who, much affected by the scene, had been tying his
horse up to a tree), lifted his visor and said, "Gottfried of
Godesberg! I am the friend of thy kinsman, Margrave Karl, whose
happiness thou hast ruined; I am the friend of his chaste and
virtuous lady, whose fair fame thou hast belied; I am the godfather
of young Count Otto, whose heritage thou wouldst have appropriated.
Therefore I met thee in deadly fight, and overcame thee, and have
wellnigh finished thee. Speak on."
"I have done all this," said the dying man, "and here, in my last
hour, repent me. The Lady Theodora is a spotless lady; the
youthful Otto the true son of his father--Sir Hildebrandt is not
his father, but his UNCLE."
"Gracious Buffo!" "Celestial Bugo!" here said the hermit and the
Knight of Hombourg simultaneously, clasping their hands.
"Yes, his uncle; but with the BAR-SINISTER in his scutcheon. Hence
he could never be acknowledged by the family; hence, too, the Lady
Theodora's spotless purity (though the young people had been
brought up together) could never be brought to own the relationship."
"May I repeat your confession?" asked the hermit.
"With the greatest pleasure in life: carry my confession to the
Margrave, and pray him give me pardon. Were there--a notary-public
present," slowly gasped the knight, the film of dissolution glazing
over his eyes, "I would ask--you--two--gentlemen to witness it. I
would gladly--sign the deposition--that is, if I could wr-wr-wr-wr-
ite!" A faint shuddering smile--a quiver, a gasp, a gurgle--the
blood gushed from his mouth in black volumes . . . .
"He will never sin more," said the hermit, solemnly.
"May heaven assoilzie him!" said Sir Ludwig. "Hermit, he was a
gallant knight. He died with harness on his back and with truth on
his lips: Ludwig of Hombourg would ask no other death. . . . ."
An hour afterwards the principal servants at the Castle of
Godesberg were rather surprised to see the noble Lord Louis trot
into the court-yard of the castle, with a companion on the crupper
of his saddle. 'Twas the venerable hermit of Rolandseck, who, for
the sake of greater celerity, had adopted this undignified
conveyance, and whose appearance and little dumpy legs might well
create hilarity among the "pampered menials" who are always found
lounging about the houses of the great. He skipped off the saddle
with considerable lightness however; and Sir Ludwig, taking the
reverend man by the arm and frowning the jeering servitors into
awe, bade one of them lead him to the presence of his Highness the
"What has chanced?" said the inquisitive servitor. "The riderless
horse of Sir Gottfried was seen to gallop by the outer wall anon.
The Margrave's Grace has never quitted your lordship's chamber, and
sits as one distraught."
"Hold thy prate, knave, and lead us on!" And so saying, the Knight
and his Reverence moved into the well-known apartment, where,
according to the servitor's description, the wretched Margrave sat
like a stone.
Ludwig took one of the kind broken-hearted man's hands, the hermit
seized the other, and began (but on account of his great age, with
a prolixity which we shall not endeavor to imitate) to narrate the
events which we have already described. Let the dear reader fancy,
while his Reverence speaks, the glazed eyes of the Margrave
gradually lighting up with attention; the flush of joy which
mantles in his countenance--the start--the throb--the almost
delirious outburst of hysteric exultation with which, when the
whole truth was made known, he clasped the two messengers of glad
tidings to his breast, with an energy that almost choked the aged
recluse! "Ride, ride this instant to the Margravine--say I have
wronged her, that it is all right, that she may come back--that I
forgive her--that I apologize if you will"--and a secretary
forthwith despatched a note to that effect, which was carried off
by a fleet messenger.
"Now write to the Superior of the monastery at Cologne, and bid him
send me back my boy, my darling, my Otto--my Otto of roses!" said
the fond father, making the first play upon words he had ever
attempted in his life. But what will not paternal love effect?
The secretary (smiling at the joke) wrote another letter, and
another fleet messenger was despatched on another horse.
"And now," said Sir Ludwig, playfully, "let us to lunch. Holy
hermit, are you for a snack?"
The hermit could not say nay on an occasion so festive, and the
three gentles seated themselves to a plenteous repast; for which
the remains of the feast of yesterday offered, it need not be said,
"They will be home by dinner-time," said the exulting father.
"Ludwig! reverend hermit! we will carry on till then." And the cup
passed gayly round, and the laugh and jest circulated, while the
three happy friends sat confidentially awaiting the return of the
Margravine and her son.
But alas! said we not rightly at the commencement of a former
chapter, that betwixt the lip and the raised wine-cup there is
often many a spill? that our hopes are high, and often, too often,
vain? About three hours after the departure of the first
messenger, he returned, and with an exceedingly long face knelt
down and presented to the Margrave a billet to the following
"CONVENT OF NONNENWERTH, Friday Afternoon.
"SIR--I have submitted too long to your ill-usage, and am disposed
to bear it no more. I will no longer be made the butt of your
ribald satire, and the object of your coarse abuse. Last week you
threatened me with your cane! On Tuesday last you threw a wine-
decanter at me, which hit the butler, it is true, but the intention
was evident. This morning, in the presence of all the servants,
you called me by the most vile, abominable name, which heaven
forbid I should repeat! You dismissed me from your house under a
false accusation. You sent me to this odious convent to be immured
for life. Be it so! I will not come back, because, forsooth; you
relent. Anything is better than a residence with a wicked, coarse,
violent, intoxicated, brutal monster like yourself. I remain here
for ever and blush to be obliged to sign myself
"THEODORA VON GODESBERG.
"P.S.--I hope you do not intend to keep all my best gowns, jewels,
and wearing-apparel; and make no doubt you dismissed me from your
house in order to make way for some vile hussy, whose eyes I would
like to tear out. T. V. G."
This singular document, illustrative of the passions of women at
all times, and particularly of the manners of the early ages,
struck dismay into the heart of the Margrave.
"Are her ladyship's insinuations correct?" asked the hermit, in a
severe tone. "To correct a wife with a cane is a venial, I may say
a justifiable practice; but to fling a bottle at her is ruin both
to the liquor and to her."
"But she sent a carving-knife at me first," said the heartbroken
husband. "O jealousy, cursed jealousy, why, why did I ever listen
to thy green and yellow tongue?"
"They quarrelled; but they loved each other sincerely," whispered
Sir Ludwig to the hermit: who began to deliver forthwith a lecture
upon family discord and marital authority, which would have sent
his two hearers to sleep, but for the arrival of the second
messenger, whom the Margrave had despatched to Cologne for his son.
This herald wore a still longer face than that of his comrade who
"Where is my darling?" roared the agonized parent. "Have ye
brought him with ye?"
"N--no," said the man, hesitating.
"I will flog the knave soundly when he comes," cried the father,
vainly endeavoring, under an appearance of sternness, to hide his
inward emotion and tenderness.
"Please, your Highness," said the messenger, making a desperate
effort, "Count Otto is not at the convent."
"Know ye, knave, where he is?"
The swain solemnly said, "I do. He is THERE." He pointed as he
spake to the broad Rhine, that was seen from the casement, lighted
up by the magnificent hues of sunset.
"THERE! How mean ye THERE?" gasped the Margrave, wrought to a
pitch of nervous fury.
"Alas! my good lord, when he was in the boat which was to conduct
him to the convent, he--he jumped suddenly from it, and is
"Carry that knave out and hang him!" said the Margrave, with a
calmness more dreadful than any outburst of rage. "Let every man
of the boat's crew be blown from the mouth of the cannon on the
tower--except the coxswain, and let him be--"
What was to be done with the coxswain, no one knows; for at that
moment, and overcome by his emotion, the Margrave sank down
lifeless on the floor.
THE CHILDE OF GODESBERG.
It must be clear to the dullest intellect (if amongst our readers
we dare venture to presume that a dull intellect should be found)
that the cause of the Margrave's fainting-fit, described in the
last chapter, was a groundless apprehension on the part of that too
solicitous and credulous nobleman regarding the fate of his beloved
child. No, young Otto was NOT drowned. Was ever hero of romantic
story done to death so early in the tale? Young Otto was NOT
drowned. Had such been the case, the Lord Margrave would
infallibly have died at the close of the last chapter; and a few
gloomy sentences at its close would have denoted how the lovely
Lady Theodora became insane in the convent, and how Sir Ludwig
determined, upon the demise of the old hermit (consequent upon the
shock of hearing the news), to retire to the vacant hermitage, and
assume the robe, the beard, the mortifications of the late
venerable and solitary ecclesiastic. Otto was NOT drowned, and all
those personages of our history are consequently alive and well.
The boat containing the amazed young Count--for he knew not the
cause of his father's anger, and hence rebelled against the unjust
sentence which the Margrave had uttered--had not rowed many miles,
when the gallant boy rallied from his temporary surprise and
despondency, and determined not to be a slave in any convent of any
order: determined to make a desperate effort for escape. At a
moment when the men were pulling hard against the tide, and Kuno,
the coxswain, was looking carefully to steer the barge between some
dangerous rocks and quicksands which are frequently met with in the
majestic though dangerous river, Otto gave a sudden spring from the
boat, and with one single flounce was in the boiling, frothing,
swirling eddy of the stream.
Fancy the agony of the crew at the disappearance of their young
lord! All loved him; all would have given their lives for him; but
as they did not know how to swim, of course they declined to make
any useless plunges in search of him, and stood on their oars in
mute wonder and grief. ONCE, his fair head and golden ringlets
were seen to arise from the water; TWICE, puffing and panting, it
appeared for an instant again; THRICE, it rose but for one single
moment: it was the last chance, and it sunk, sunk, sunk. Knowing
the reception they would meet with from their liege lord, the men
naturally did not go home to Godesberg, but putting in at the
first creek on the opposite bank, fled into the Duke of Nassau's
territory; where, as they have little to do with our tale, we will
But they little knew how expert a swimmer was young Otto. He had
disappeared, it is true; but why? because he HAD DIVED. He
calculated that his conductors would consider him drowned, and the
desire of liberty lending him wings, (or we had rather say FINS, in
this instance,) the gallant boy swam on beneath the water, never
lifting his head for a single moment between Godesberg and Cologne--
the distance being twenty-five or thirty miles.
Escaping from observation, he landed on the Deutz side of the
river, repaired to a comfortable and quiet hostel there, saying he
had had an accident from a boat, and thus accounting for the
moisture of his habiliments, and while these were drying before a
fire in his chamber, went snugly to bed, where he mused, not
without amaze, on the strange events of the day. "This morning,"
thought he, "a noble, and heir to a princely estate--this evening
an outcast, with but a few bank-notes which my mamma luckily gave
me on my birthday. What a strange entry into life is this for a
young man of my family! Well, I have courage and resolution: my
first attempt in life has been a gallant and successful one; other
dangers will be conquered by similar bravery." And recommending
himself, his unhappy mother, and his mistaken father to the care of
their patron saint, Saint Buffo, the gallant-hearted boy fell
presently into such a sleep as only the young, the healthy, the
innocent, and the extremely fatigued can enjoy.
The fatigues of the day (and very few men but would be fatigued
after swimming wellnigh thirty miles under water) caused young Otto
to sleep so profoundly, that he did not remark how, after Friday's
sunset, as a natural consequence, Saturday's Phoebus illumined the
world, ay, and sunk at his appointed hour. The serving-maidens of
the hostel, peeping in, marked him sleeping, and blessing him for a
pretty youth, tripped lightly from the chamber; the boots tried
haply twice or thrice to call him (as boots will fain), but the
lovely boy, giving another snore, turned on his side, and was quite
unconscious of the interruption. In a word, the youth slept for
six-and-thirty hours at an elongation; and the Sunday sun was
shining and the bells of the hundred churches of Cologne were
clinking and tolling in pious festivity, and the burghers and
burgheresses of the town were trooping to vespers and morning
service when Otto awoke.
As he donned his clothes of the richest Genoa velvet, the
astonished boy could not at first account for his difficulty in
putting them on. "Marry," said he, "these breeches that my blessed
mother" (tears filled his fine eyes as he thought of her)--"that my
blessed mother had made long on purpose, are now ten inches too
short for me. Whir-r-r! my coat cracks i' the back, as in vain I
try to buckle it round me; and the sleeves reach no farther than my
elbows! What is this mystery? Am I grown fat and tall in a single
night? Ah! ah! ah! ah! I have it."
The young and good-humored Childe laughed merrily. He bethought
him of the reason of his mistake: his garments had shrunk from
being five-and-twenty miles under water.
But one remedy presented itself to his mind; and that we need not
say was to purchase new ones. Inquiring the way to the most
genteel ready-made-clothes' establishment in the city of Cologne,
and finding it was kept in the Minoriten Strasse, by an ancestor of
the celebrated Moses of London, the noble Childe hied him towards
the emporium; but you may be sure did not neglect to perform his
religious duties by the way. Entering the cathedral, he made
straight for the shrine of Saint Buffo, and hiding himself behind a
pillar there (fearing he might be recognized by the archbishop, or
any of his father's numerous friends in Cologne), he proceeded with
his devotions, as was the practice of the young nobles of the age.
But though exceedingly intent upon the service, yet his eye could
not refrain from wandering a LITTLE round about him, and he
remarked with surprise that the whole church was filled with
archers; and he remembered, too, that he had seen in the streets
numerous other bands of men similarly attired in green. On asking
at the cathedral porch the cause of this assemblage, one of the
green ones said (in a jape), "Marry, youngster, YOU must be GREEN,
not to know that we are all bound to the castle of his Grace Duke
Adolf of Cleves, who gives an archery meeting once a year, and
prizes for which we toxophilites muster strong."
Otto, whose course hitherto had been undetermined, now immediately
settled what to do. He straightway repaired to the ready-made
emporium of Herr Moses, and bidding that gentleman furnish him with
an archer's complete dress, Moses speedily selected a suit from his
vast stock, which fitted the youth to a T, and we need not say was
sold at an exceedingly moderate price. So attired (and bidding
Herr Moses a cordial farewell), young Otto was a gorgeous, a noble,
a soul-inspiring boy to gaze on. A coat and breeches of the most
brilliant pea-green, ornamented with a profusion of brass buttons,
and fitting him with exquisite tightness, showed off a figure
unrivalled for slim symmetry. His feet were covered with peaked
buskins of buff leather, and a belt round his slender waist, of the
same material, held his knife, his tobacco-pipe and pouch, and his
long shining dirk; which, though the adventurous youth had as yet
only employed it to fashion wicket-bails, or to cut bread-and-
cheese, he was now quite ready to use against the enemy. His
personal attractions were enhanced by a neat white hat, flung
carelessly and fearlessly on one side of his open smiling
countenance; and his lovely hair, curling in ten thousand yellow
ringlets, fell over his shoulder like golden epaulettes, and down
his back as far as the waist-buttons of his coat. I warrant me,
many a lovely Colnerinn looked after the handsome Childe with
anxiety, and dreamed that night of Cupid under the guise of "a
bonny boy in green."
So accoutred, the youth's next thought was, that he must supply
himself with a bow. This he speedily purchased at the most
fashionable bowyer's, and of the best material and make. It was of
ivory, trimmed with pink ribbon, and the cord of silk. An elegant
quiver, beautifully painted and embroidered, was slung across his
back, with a dozen of the finest arrows, tipped with steel of
Damascus, formed of the branches of the famous Upas-tree of Java,
and feathered with the wings of the ortolan. These purchases being
completed (together with that of a knapsack, dressing-case, change,
&c.), our young adventurer asked where was the hostel at which the
archers were wont to assemble? and being informed that it was
at the sign of the "Golden Stag," hied him to that house of
entertainment, where, by calling for quantities of liquor and beer,
he speedily made the acquaintance and acquired the good will of a
company of his future comrades, who happened to be sitting in the
After they had eaten and drunken for all, Otto said, addressing
them, "When go ye forth, gentles? I am a stranger here, bound as
you to the archery meeting of Duke Adolf. An ye will admit a youth
into your company 'twill gladden me upon my lonely way?"
The archers replied, "You seem so young and jolly, and you spend
your gold so very like a gentleman, that we'll receive you in our
band with pleasure. Be ready, for we start at half-past two!" At
that hour accordingly the whole joyous company prepared to move,
and Otto not a little increased his popularity among them by
stepping out and having a conference with the landlord, which
caused the latter to come into the room where the archers were
assembled previous to departure, and to say, "Gentlemen, the bill
is settled!"--words never ungrateful to an archer yet: no, marry,
nor to a man of any other calling that I wot of.
They marched joyously for several leagues, singing and joking, and
telling of a thousand feats of love and chase and war. While thus
engaged, some one remarked to Otto, that he was not dressed in the
regular uniform, having no feathers in his hat.
"I dare say I will find a feather," said the lad, smiling.
Then another gibed because his bow was new.
"See that you can use your old one as well, Master Wolfgang," said
the undisturbed youth. His answers, his bearing, his generosity,
his beauty, and his wit, inspired all his new toxophilite friends
with interest and curiosity, and they longed to see whether his
skill with the bow corresponded with their secret sympathies for
An occasion for manifesting this skill did not fail to present
itself soon--as indeed it seldom does to such a hero of romance as
young Otto was. Fate seems to watch over such: events occur to
them just in the nick of time; they rescue virgins just as ogres
are on the point of devouring them; they manage to be present at
court and interesting ceremonies, and to see the most interesting
people at the most interesting moment; directly an adventure is
necessary for them, that adventure occurs: and I, for my part, have
often wondered with delight (and never could penetrate the mystery
of the subject) at the way in which that humblest of romance
heroes, Signor Clown, when he wants anything in the Pantomime,
straightway finds it to his hand. How is it that,--suppose he
wishes to dress himself up like a woman for instance, that minute a
coalheaver walks in with a shovel-hat that answers for a bonnet; at
the very next instant a butcher's lad passing with a string of
sausages and a bundle of bladders unconsciously helps Master Clown
to a necklace and a tournure, and so on through the whole toilet?
Depend upon it there is something we do not wot of in that
mysterious overcoming of circumstances by great individuals: that
apt and wondrous conjuncture of THE HOUR AND THE MAN; and so, for
my part, when I heard the above remark of one of the archers, that
Otto had never a feather in his bonnet, I felt sure that a heron
would spring up in the next sentence to supply him with an
And such indeed was the fact: rising out of a morass by which the
archers were passing, a gallant heron, arching his neck, swelling
his crest, placing his legs behind him, and his beak and red eyes
against the wind, rose slowly, and offered the fairest mark in the
"Shoot, Otto," said one of the archers. "You would not shoot just
now at a crow because it was a foul bird, nor at a hawk because it
was a noble bird; bring us down yon heron: it flies slowly."
But Otto was busy that moment tying his shoestring, and Rudolf, the
third best of the archers, shot at the bird and missed it.
"Shoot, Otto," said Wolfgang, a youth who had taken a liking to the
young archer: "the bird is getting further and further."
But Otto was busy that moment whittling a willow-twig he had just
cut. Max, the second best archer, shot and missed.
"Then," said Wolfgang, "I must try myself: a plague on you, young
springald, you have lost a noble chance!"
Wolfgang prepared himself with all his care, and shot at the bird.
"It is out of distance," said he, "and a murrain on the bird!"
Otto, who by this time had done whittling his willow-stick (having
carved a capital caricature of Wolfgang upon it), flung the twig
down and said carelessly, "Out of distance! Pshaw! We have two
minutes yet," and fell to asking riddles and cutting jokes; to the
which none of the archers listened, as they were all engaged, their
noses in air, watching the retreating bird.
"Where shall I hit him?" said Otto.
"Go to," said Rudolf, "thou canst see no limb of him: he is no
bigger than a flea."
"Here goes for his right eye!" said Otto; and stepping forward in
the English manner (which his godfather having learnt in Palestine,
had taught him), he brought his bowstring to his ear, took a good
aim, allowing for the wind and calculating the parabola to a
nicety. Whiz! his arrow went off.
He took up the willow-twig again and began carving a head of Rudolf
at the other end, chatting and laughing, and singing a ballad the
The archers, after standing a long time looking skywards with their
noses in the air, at last brought them down from the perpendicular
to the horizontal position, and said, "Pooh, this lad is a humbug!
The arrow's lost; let's go!"
"HEADS!" cried Otto, laughing. A speck was seen rapidly descending
from the heavens; it grew to be as big as a crown-piece, then as a
partridge, then as a tea-kettle, and flop! down fell a magnificent
heron to the ground, flooring poor Max in its fall.
"Take the arrow out of his eye, Wolfgang," said Otto, without
looking at the bird: "wipe it and put it back into my quiver."
The arrow indeed was there, having penetrated right through the
"Are you in league with Der Freischutz?" said Rudolf, quite amazed.
Otto laughingly whistled the "Huntsman's Chorus," and said, "No, my
friend. It was a lucky shot: only a lucky shot. I was taught
shooting, look you, in the fashion of merry England, where the
archers are archers indeed."
And so he cut off the heron's wing for a plume for his hat; and the
archers walked on, much amazed, and saying, "What a wonderful
country that merry England must be!"
Far from feeling any envy at their comrade's success, the jolly
archers recognized his superiority with pleasure; and Wolfgang and
Rudolf especially held out their hands to the younker, and besought
the honor of his friendship. They continued their walk all day,
and when night fell made choice of a good hostel you may be sure,
where over beer, punch, champagne, and every luxury, they drank to
the health of the Duke of Cleves, and indeed each other's healths
all round. Next day they resumed their march, and continued it
without interruption, except to take in a supply of victuals here
and there (and it was found on these occasions that Otto, young as
he was, could eat four times as much as the oldest archer present,
and drink to correspond); and these continued refreshments having
given them more than ordinary strength, they determined on making
rather a long march of it, and did not halt till after nightfall at
the gates of the little town of Windeck.
What was to be done? the town-gates were shut. "Is there no
hostel, no castle where we can sleep?" asked Otto of the sentinel
at the gate. "I am so hungry that in lack of better food I think I
could eat my grandmamma."
The sentinel laughed at this hyperbolical expression of hunger, and
said, "You had best go sleep at the Castle of Windeck yonder;"
adding with a peculiarly knowing look, "Nobody will disturb you
At that moment the moon broke out from a cloud, and showed on a
hill hard by a castle indeed--but the skeleton of a castle. The
roof was gone, the windows were dismantled, the towers were
tumbling, and the cold moonlight pierced it through and through.
One end of the building was, however, still covered in, and stood
looking still more frowning, vast, and gloomy, even than the other
part of the edifice.
"There is a lodging, certainly," said Otto to the sentinel, who
pointed towards the castle with his bartizan; "but tell me, good
fellow, what are we to do for a supper?"
"Oh, the castellan of Windeck will entertain you," said the man-at-
arms with a grin, and marched up the embrasure; the while the
archers, taking counsel among themselves, debated whether or not
they should take up their quarters in the gloomy and deserted
"We shall get nothing but an owl for supper there," said young
Otto. "Marry, lads, let us storm the town; we are thirty gallant
fellows, and I have heard the garrison is not more than three
hundred." But the rest of the party thought such a way of getting
supper was not a very cheap one, and, grovelling knaves, preferred
rather to sleep ignobly and without victuals, than dare the assault
with Otto, and die, or conquer something comfortable.
One and all then made their way towards the castle. They entered
its vast and silent halls, frightening the owls and bats that fled
before them with hideous hootings and flappings of wings, and
passing by a multiplicity of mouldy stairs, dank reeking roofs, and
rickety corridors, at last came to an apartment which, dismal and
dismantled as it was, appeared to be in rather better condition
than the neighboring chambers, and they therefore selected it as
their place of rest for the night. They then tossed up which
should mount guard. The first two hours of watch fell to Otto, who
was to be succeeded by his young though humble friend Wolfgang;
and, accordingly, the Childe of Godesberg, drawing his dirk, began
to pace upon his weary round; while his comrades, by various
gradations of snoring, told how profoundly they slept, spite of
their lack of supper.
'Tis needless to say what were the thoughts of the noble Childe as
he performed his two hours' watch; what gushing memories poured
into his full soul; what "sweet and bitter" recollections of home
inspired his throbbing heart; and what manly aspirations after fame
buoyed him up. "Youth is ever confident," says the bard. Happy,
happy season! The moonlit hours passed by on silver wings, the
twinkling stars looked friendly down upon him. Confiding in their
youthful sentinel, sound slept the valorous toxophilites, as up and
down, and there and back again, marched on the noble Childe. At
length his repeater told him, much to his satisfaction, that it was
half-past eleven, the hour when his watch was to cease; and so,
giving a playful kick to the slumbering Wolfgang, that good-humored
fellow sprung up from his lair, and, drawing his sword, proceeded
to relieve Otto.
The latter laid him down for warmth's sake on the very spot which
his comrade had left, and for some time could not sleep. Realities
and visions then began to mingle in his mind, till he scarce knew
which was which. He dozed for a minute; then he woke with a start;
then he went off again; then woke up again. In one of these half-
sleeping moments he thought he saw a figure, as of a woman in
white, gliding into the room, and beckoning Wolfgang from it. He
looked again. Wolfgang was gone. At that moment twelve o'clock
clanged from the town, and Otto started up.
THE LADY OF WINDECK.
As the bell with iron tongue called midnight, Wolfgang the Archer,
pacing on his watch, beheld before him a pale female figure. He
did not know whence she came: but there suddenly she stood close to
him. Her blue, clear, glassy eyes were fixed upon him. Her form
was of faultless beauty; her face pale as the marble of the fairy
statue, ere yet the sculptor's love had given it life. A smile
played upon her features, but it was no warmer than the reflection
of a moonbeam on a lake; and yet it was wondrous beautiful. A
fascination stole over the senses of young Wolfgang. He stared at
the lovely apparition with fixed eyes and distended jaws. She
looked at him with ineffable archness. She lifted one beautifully
rounded alabaster arm, and made a sign as if to beckon him towards
her. Did Wolfgang--the young and lusty Wolfgang--follow? Ask the
iron whether it follows the magnet?--ask the pointer whether it
pursues the partridge through the stubble?--ask the youth whether
the lollipop-shop does not attract him? Wolfgang DID follow. An
antique door opened, as if by magic. There was no light, and yet
they saw quite plain; they passed through the innumerable ancient
chambers, and yet they did not wake any of the owls and bats
roosting there. We know not through how many apartments the young
couple passed; but at last they came to one where a feast was
prepared: and on an antique table, covered with massive silver,
covers were laid for two. The lady took her place at one end of
the table, and with her sweetest nod beckoned Wolfgang to the other
seat. He took it. The table was small, and their knees met. He
felt as cold in his legs as if he were kneeling against an ice-well.
"Gallant archer," said she, "you must be hungry after your day's
march. What supper will you have? Shall it be a delicate lobster-
salad? or a dish of elegant tripe and onions? or a slice of boar's-
head and truffles? or a Welsh rabbit a la cave au cidre? or a
beefsteak and shallot? or a couple of rognons a la brochette?
Speak, brave bowyer: you have but to order."
As there was nothing on the table but a covered silver dish,
Wolfgang thought that the lady who proposed such a multiplicity of
delicacies to him was only laughing at him; so he determined to try
her with something extremely rare.
"Fair princess," he said, "I should like very much a pork-chop and
some mashed potatoes."
She lifted the cover: there was such a pork-chop as Simpson never
served, with a dish of mashed potatoes that would have formed at
least six portions in our degenerate days in Rupert Street.
When he had helped himself to these delicacies, the lady put the
cover on the dish again, and watched him eating with interest. He
was for some time too much occupied with his own food to remark
that his companion did not eat a morsel; but big as it was, his
chop was soon gone; the shining silver of his plate was scraped
quite clean with his knife, and, heaving a great sigh, he confessed
a humble desire for something to drink.
"Call for what you like, sweet sir," said the lady, lifting up a
silver filigree bottle, with an india-rubber cork, ornamented with
"Then," said Master Wolfgang--for the fellow's tastes were, in
sooth, very humble--"I call for half-and-half." According to his
wish, a pint of that delicious beverage was poured from the bottle,
foaming, into his beaker.
Having emptied this at a draught, and declared that on his
conscience it was the best tap he ever knew in his life, the young
man felt his appetite renewed; and it is impossible to say how many
different dishes he called for. Only enchantment, he was
afterwards heard to declare (though none of his friends believed
him), could have given him the appetite he possessed on that
extraordinary night. He called for another pork-chop and potatoes,
then for pickled salmon; then he thought he would try a devilled
turkey-wing. "I adore the devil," said he.
"So do I," said the pale lady, with unwonted animation; and the
dish was served straightway. It was succeeded by black-puddings,
tripe, toasted cheese, and--what was most remarkable--every one of
the dishes which he desired came from under the same silver cover:
which circumstance, when he had partaken of about fourteen
different articles, he began to find rather mysterious.
"Oh," said the pale lady, with a smile, "the mystery is easily
accounted for: the servants hear you, and the kitchen is BELOW."
But this did not account for the manner in which more half-and-
half, bitter ale, punch (both gin and rum), and even oil and
vinegar, which he took with cucumber to his salmon, came out of the
self-same bottle from which the lady had first poured out his pint
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Voracio," said his arch
entertainer, when he put this question to her, "than are dreamt of
in your philosophy:" and, sooth to say, the archer was by this time
in such a state, that he did not find anything wonderful more.
"Are you happy, dear youth?" said the lady, as, after his
collation, he sank back in his chair.
"Oh, miss, ain't I?" was his interrogative and yet affirmative
"Should you like such a supper every night, Wolfgang?" continued
the pale one.
"Why, no," said he; "no, not exactly; not EVERY night: SOME nights
I should like oysters."
"Dear youth," said she, "be but mine, and you may have them all the
year round!" The unhappy boy was too far gone to suspect anything,
otherwise this extraordinary speech would have told him that he was
in suspicious company. A person who can offer oysters all the year
round can live to no good purpose.
"Shall I sing you a song, dear archer?" said the lady.
"Sweet love!" said he, now much excited, "strike up, and I will
join the chorus."
She took down her mandolin, and commenced a ditty. 'Twas a sweet
and wild one. It told how a lady of high lineage cast her eyes on
a peasant page; it told how nought could her love assuage, her
suitor's wealth and her father's rage: it told how the youth did
his foes engage; and at length they went off in the Gretna stage,
the high-born dame and the peasant page. Wolfgang beat time,
waggled his head, sung wofully out of tune as the song proceeded;
and if he had not been too intoxicated with love and other
excitement, he would have remarked how the pictures on the wall, as
the lady sung, began to waggle their heads too, and nod and grin to
the music. The song ended. "I am the lady of high lineage:
Archer, will you be the peasant page?"
"I'll follow you to the devil!" said Wolfgang.
"Come," replied the lady, glaring wildly on him, "come to the
chapel; we'll be married this minute!"
She held out her hand--Wolfgang took it. It was cold, damp,--
deadly cold; and on they went to the chapel.
As they passed out, the two pictures over the wall, of a gentleman
and lady, tripped lightly out of their frames, skipped noiselessly
down to the ground, and making the retreating couple a profound
curtsy and bow, took the places which they had left at the table.
Meanwhile the young couple passed on towards the chapel, threading
innumerable passages, and passing through chambers of great extent.
As they came along, all the portraits on the wall stepped out of
their frames to follow them. One ancestor, of whom there was only
a bust, frowned in the greatest rage, because, having no legs, his
pedestal would not move; and several sticking-plaster profiles of
the former Lords of Windeck looked quite black at being, for
similar reasons, compelled to keep their places. However, there
was a goodly procession formed behind Wolfgang and his bride; and
by the time they reached the church, they had near a hundred
The church was splendidly illuminated; the old banners of the old
knights glittered as they do at Drury Lane. The organ set up of
itself to play the "Bridesmaid's Chorus." The choir-chairs were
filled with people in black.
"Come, love," said the pale lady.
"I don't see the parson," exclaimed Wolfgang, spite of himself
"Oh, the parson! that's the easiest thing in the world! I say,
bishop!" said the lady, stooping down.
Stooping down--and to what? Why, upon my word and honor, to a
great brass plate on the floor, over which they were passing, and
on which was engraven the figure of a bishop--and a very ugly
bishop, too--with crosier and mitre, and lifted finger, on which
sparkled the episcopal ring. "Do, my dear lord, come and marry
us," said the lady, with a levity which shocked the feelings of her
The bishop got up; and directly he rose, a dean, who was sleeping
under a large slate near him, came bowing and cringing up to him;
while a canon of the cathedral (whose name was Schidnischmidt)
began grinning and making fun at the pair. The ceremony was begun,
and . . . .
As the clock struck twelve, young Otto bounded up, and remarked the
absence of his companion Wolfgang. The idea he had had, that his
friend disappeared in company with a white-robed female, struck him
more and more. "I will follow them," said he; and, calling to the
next on the watch (old Snozo, who was right unwilling to forego his
sleep), he rushed away by the door through which he had seen
Wolfgang and his temptress take their way.
That he did not find them was not his fault. The castle was vast,
the chamber dark. There were a thousand doors, and what wonder
that, after he had once lost sight of them, the intrepid Childe
should not be able to follow in their steps? As might be expected,
he took the wrong door, and wandered for at least three hours about
the dark enormous solitary castle, calling out Wolfgang's name to
the careless and indifferent echoes, knocking his young shins
against the ruins scattered in the darkness, but still with a
spirit entirely undaunted, and a firm resolution to aid his absent
comrade. Brave Otto! thy exertions were rewarded at last!
For he lighted at length upon the very apartment where Wolfgang had
partaken of supper, and where the old couple who had been in the
picture-frames, and turned out to be the lady's father and mother,
were now sitting at the table.
"Well, Bertha has got a husband at last," said the lady.
"After waiting four hundred and fifty-three years for one, it was
quite time," said the gentleman. (He was dressed in powder and a
pigtail, quite in the old fashion.)
"The husband is no great things," continued the lady, taking snuff.
"A low fellow, my dear; a butcher's son, I believe. Did you see
how the wretch ate at supper? To think my daughter should have to
marry an archer!"
"There are archers and archers," said the old man. "Some archers
are snobs, as your ladyship states; some, on the contrary, are
gentlemen by birth, at least, though not by breeding. Witness
young Otto, the Landgrave of Godesberg's son, who is listening at
the door like a lackey, and whom I intend to run through the--"
"Law, Baron!" said the lady.
"I will, though," replied the Baron, drawing an immense sword, and
glaring round at Otto: but though at the sight of that sword and
that scowl a less valorous youth would have taken to his heels, the
undaunted Childe advanced at once into the apartment. He wore
round his neck a relic of St. Buffo (the tip of the saint's ear,
which had been cut off at Constantinople). "Fiends! I command you
to retreat!" said he, holding up this sacred charm, which his mamma
had fastened on him; and at the sight of it, with an unearthly yell
the ghosts of the Baron and the Baroness sprung back into their
picture-frames, as clowns go through a clock in a pantomime.
He rushed through the open door by which the unlucky Wolfgang had
passed with his demoniacal bride, and went on and on through the
vast gloomy chambers lighted by the ghastly moonshine: the noise of
the organ in the chapel, the lights in the kaleidoscopic windows,
directed him towards that edifice. He rushed to the door: 'twas
barred! He knocked: the beadles were deaf. He applied his
inestimable relic to the lock, and--whiz! crash! clang! bang!
whang!--the gate flew open! the organ went off in a fugue--the
lights quivered over the tapers, and then went off towards the
ceiling--the ghosts assembled rushed away with a skurry and a
scream--the bride howled, and vanished--the fat bishop waddled back
under his brass plate--the dean flounced down into his family
vault--and the canon Schidnischmidt, who was making a joke, as
usual, on the bishop, was obliged to stop at the very point of his
epigram, and to disappear into the void whence he came.
Otto fell fainting at the porch, while Wolfgang tumbled lifeless
down at the altar-steps; and in this situation the archers, when
they arrived, found the two youths. They were resuscitated, as we
scarce need say; but when, in incoherent accents, they came to tell
their wondrous tale, some sceptics among the archers said--"Pooh!
they were intoxicated!" while others, nodding their older heads,
exclaimed--"THEY HAVE SEEN THE LADY OF WINDECK!" and recalled the
stories of many other young men, who, inveigled by her devilish
arts, had not been so lucky as Wolfgang, and had disappeared--for
This adventure bound Wolfgang heart and soul to his gallant
preserver; and the archers--it being now morning, and the cocks
crowing lustily round about--pursued their way without further
delay to the castle of the noble patron of toxophilites, the
gallant Duke of Cleves.
THE BATTLE OF THE BOWMEN.
Although there lay an immense number of castles and abbeys between
Windeck and Cleves, for every one of which the guide-books have a
legend and a ghost, who might, with the commonest stretch of
ingenuity, be made to waylay our adventurers on the road; yet, as
the journey would be thus almost interminable, let us cut it short
by saying that the travellers reached Cleves without any further
accident, and found the place thronged with visitors for the
meeting next day.
And here it would be easy to describe the company which arrived,
and make display of antiquarian lore. Now we would represent a
cavalcade of knights arriving, with their pages carrying their
shining helms of gold, and the stout esquires, bearers of lance and
banner. Anon would arrive a fat abbot on his ambling pad,
surrounded by the white-robed companions of his convent. Here
should come the gleemen and jonglers, the minstrels, the
mountebanks, the party-colored gipsies, the dark-eyed, nut-brown
Zigeunerinnen; then a troop of peasants chanting Rhine-songs, and
leading in their ox-drawn carts the peach-cheeked girls from the
vine-lands. Next we would depict the litters blazoned with
armorial bearings, from between the broidered curtains of which
peeped out the swan-like necks and the haughty faces of the blond
ladies of the castles. But for these descriptions we have not
space; and the reader is referred to the account of the tournament
in the ingenious novel of "Ivanhoe," where the above phenomena are
described at length. Suffice it to say, that Otto and his
companions arrived at the town of Cleves, and, hastening to a
hostel, reposed themselves after the day's march, and prepared them
for the encounter of the morrow.
That morrow came: and as the sports were to begin early, Otto and
his comrades hastened to the field, armed with their best bows and
arrows, you may be sure, and eager to distinguish themselves; as
were the multitude of other archers assembled. They were from all
neighboring countries--crowds of English, as you may fancy, armed
with Murray's guide-books, troops of chattering Frenchmen,
Frankfort Jews with roulette-tables, and Tyrolese, with gloves and
trinkets--all hied towards the field where the butts were set up,
and the archery practice was to be held. The Childe and his
brother archers were, it need not be said, early on the ground.
But what words of mine can describe the young gentleman's emotion
when, preceded by a band of trumpets, bagpipes, ophicleides, and
other wind instruments, the Prince of Cleves appeared with the
Princess Helen, his daughter? And ah! what expressions of my
humble pen can do justice to the beauty of that young lady? Fancy
every charm which decorates the person, every virtue which
ornaments the mind, every accomplishment which renders charming
mind and charming person doubly charming, and then you will have
but a faint and feeble idea of the beauties of her Highness the
Princess Helen. Fancy a complexion such as they say (I know not
with what justice) Rowland's Kalydor imparts to the users of that
cosmetic; fancy teeth to which orient pearls are like Wallsend
coals; eyes, which were so blue, tender, and bright, that while
they run you through with their lustre, they healed you with their
kindness; a neck and waist, so ravishingly slender and graceful,
that the least that is said about them the better; a foot which
fell upon the flowers no heavier than a dew-drop--and this charming
person set off by the most elegant toilet that ever milliner
devised! The lovely Helen's hair (which was as black as the finest
varnish for boots) was so long, that it was borne on a cushion
several yards behind her by the maidens of her train; and a hat,
set off with moss-roses, sunflowers, bugles, birds-of-paradise,
gold lace, and pink ribbon, gave her a distingue air, which would
have set the editor of the Morning Post mad with love.
It had exactly the same effect upon the noble Childe of Godesberg,
as leaning on his ivory bow, with his legs crossed, he stood and
gazed on her, as Cupid gazed on Psyche. Their eyes met: it was all
over with both of them. A blush came at one and the same minute
budding to the cheek of either. A simultaneous throb beat in those
young hearts! They loved each other for ever from that instant.
Otto still stood, cross-legged, enraptured, leaning on his ivory
bow; but Helen, calling to a maiden for her pocket-handkerchief,
blew her beautiful Grecian nose in order to hide her agitation.
Bless ye, bless ye, pretty ones! I am old now; but not so old but
that I kindle at the tale of love. Theresa MacWhirter too has
lived and loved. Heigho!
Who is yon chief that stands behind the truck whereon are seated
the Princess and the stout old lord, her father? Who is he whose
hair is of the carroty hue? whose eyes, across a snubby bunch of a
nose, are perpetually scowling at each other; who has a hump-back
and a hideous mouth, surrounded with bristles, and crammed full of
jutting yellow odious teeth. Although he wears a sky-blue doublet
laced with silver, it only serves to render his vulgar punchy
figure doubly ridiculous; although his nether garment is of salmon-
colored velvet, it only draws the more attention to his legs, which
are disgustingly crooked and bandy. A rose-colored hat, with
towering pea-green ostrich-plumes, looks absurd on his bull-head;
and though it is time of peace, the wretch is armed with a
multiplicity of daggers, knives, yataghans, dirks, sabres, and
scimitars, which testify his truculent and bloody disposition. 'Tis
the terrible Rowski de Donnerblitz, Margrave of Eulenschreckenstein.
Report says he is a suitor for the hand of the lovely Helen. He
addresses various speeches of gallantry to her, and grins hideously
as he thrusts his disgusting head over her lily shoulder. But she
turns away from him! turns and shudders--ay, as she would at a
Otto stands gazing still, and leaning on his bow. "What is the
prize?" asks one archer of another. There are two prizes--a velvet
cap, embroidered by the hand of the Princess, and a chain of
massive gold, of enormous value. Both lie on cushions before her.
"I know which I shall choose, when I win the first prize," says a
swarthy, savage, and bandy-legged archer, who bears the owl gules
on a black shield, the cognizance of the Lord Rowski de Donnerblitz.
"Which, fellow?" says Otto, turning fiercely upon him.
"The chain, to be sure!" says the leering archer. "You do not
suppose I am such a flat as to choose that velvet gimcrack there?"
Otto laughed in scorn, and began to prepare his bow. The trumpets
sounding proclaimed that the sports were about to commence.
Is it necessary to describe them? No: that has already been done
in the novel of "Ivanhoe" before mentioned. Fancy the archers clad
in Lincoln green, all coming forward in turn, and firing at the
targets. Some hit, some missed; those that missed were fain to
retire amidst the jeers of the multitudinous spectators. Those
that hit began new trials of skill; but it was easy to see, from
the first, that the battle lay between Squintoff (the Rowski
archer) and the young hero with the golden hair and the ivory bow.
Squintoff's fame as a marksman was known throughout Europe; but who
was his young competitor? Ah? there was ONE heart in the assembly
that beat most anxiously to know. 'Twas Helen's.
The crowning trial arrived. The bull's eye of the target, set up
at three-quarters of a mile distance from the archers, was so
small, that it required a very clever man indeed to see, much more
to hit it; and as Squintoff was selecting his arrow for the final
trial, the Rowski flung a purse of gold towards his archer, saying--
"Squintoff, an ye win the prize, the purse is thine." "I may as
well pocket it at once, your honor," said the bowman with a sneer
at Otto. "This young chick, who has been lucky as yet, will hardly
hit such a mark as that." And, taking his aim, Squintoff
discharged his arrow right into the very middle of the bull's-eye.
"Can you mend that, young springald?" said he, as a shout rent the
air at his success, as Helen turned pale to think that the champion
of her secret heart was likely to be overcome, and as Squintoff,
pocketing the Rowski's money, turned to the noble boy of Godesberg.
"Has anybody got a pea?" asked the lad. Everybody laughed at his
droll request; and an old woman, who was selling porridge in the
crowd, handed him the vegetable which he demanded. It was a dry
and yellow pea. Otto, stepping up to the target, caused Squintoff
to extract his arrow from the bull's-eye, and placed in the orifice
made by the steel point of the shaft, the pea which he had received
from the old woman. He then came back to his place. As he
prepared to shoot, Helen was so overcome by emotion, that 'twas
thought she would have fainted. Never, never had she seen a being
so beautiful as the young hero now before her.
He looked almost divine. He flung back his long clusters of hair
from his bright eyes and tall forehead; the blush of health mantled
on his cheek, from which the barber's weapon had never shorn the
down. He took his bow, and one of his most elegant arrows, and
poising himself lightly on his right leg, he flung himself forward,
raising his left leg on a level with his ear. He looked like
Apollo, as he stood balancing himself there. He discharged his
dart from the thrumming bowstring: it clove the blue air--whiz!
"HE HAS SPLIT THE PEA!" said the Princess, and fainted. The
Rowski, with one eye, hurled an indignant look at the boy, while
with the other he levelled (if aught so crooked can be said to
level anything) a furious glance at his archer.
The archer swore a sulky oath. "He is the better man!" said he.
"I suppose, young chap, you take the gold chain?"
"The gold chain?" said Otto. "Prefer a gold chain to a cap worked
by that august hand? Never!" And advancing to the balcony where
the Princess, who now came to herself, was sitting, he kneeled down
before her, and received the velvet cap; which, blushing as scarlet
as the cap itself, the Princess Helen placed on his golden
ringlets. Once more their eyes met--their hearts thrilled. They
had never spoken, but they knew they loved each other for ever.
"Wilt thou take service with the Rowski of Donnerblitz?" said that
individual to the youth. "Thou shalt be captain of my archers in
place of yon blundering nincompoop, whom thou hast overcome."
"Yon blundering nincompoop is a skilful and gallant archer,"
replied Otto, haughtily; "and I will NOT take service with the
Rowski of Donnerblitz."
"Wilt thou enter the household of the Prince of Cleves?" said the
father of Helen, laughing, and not a little amused at the
haughtiness of the humble archer.
"I would die for the Duke of Cleves and HIS FAMILY," said Otto,
bowing low. He laid a particular and a tender emphasis on the word
family. Helen knew what he meant. SHE was the family. In fact
her mother was no more, and her papa had no other offspring.
"What is thy name, good fellow," said the Prince, "that my steward
may enroll thee?"
"Sir," said Otto, again blushing, "I am OTTO THE ARCHER."
THE MARTYR OF LOVE.
The archers who had travelled in company with young Otto gave a
handsome dinner in compliment to the success of our hero; at which
his friend distinguished himself as usual in the eating and
drinking department. Squintoff, the Rowski bowman, declined to
attend; so great was the envy of the brute at the youthful hero's
superiority. As for Otto himself, he sat on the right hand of the
chairman; but it was remarked that he could not eat. Gentle reader
of my page! thou knowest why full well. He was too much in love to
have any appetite; for though I myself when laboring under that
passion, never found my consumption of victuals diminish, yet
remember our Otto was a hero of romance, and they NEVER are hungry
when they're in love.
The next day, the young gentleman proceeded to enroll himself in
the corps of Archers of the Prince of Cleves, and with him came his
attached squire, who vowed he never would leave him. As Otto threw
aside his own elegant dress, and donned the livery of the House of
Cleves, the noble Childe sighed not a little. 'Twas a splendid
uniform 'tis true, but still it WAS a livery, and one of his proud
spirit ill bears another's cognizances. "They are the colors of
the Princess, however," said he, consoling himself; "and what
suffering would I not undergo for HER?" As for Wolfgang, the
squire, it may well be supposed that the good-natured, low-born
fellow had no such scruples; but he was glad enough to exchange for
the pink hose, the yellow jacket, the pea-green cloak, and orange-
tawny hat, with which the Duke's steward supplied him, the homely
patched doublet of green which he had worn for years past.
"Look at you two archers," said the Prince of Cleves to his guest,
the Rowski of Donnerblitz, as they were strolling on the
battlements after dinner, smoking their cigars as usual. His
Highness pointed to our two young friends, who were mounting guard
for the first time. "See yon two bowmen--mark their bearing! One
is the youth who beat thy Squintoff, and t'other, an I mistake not,
won the third prize at the butts. Both wear the same uniform--the
colors of my house--yet wouldst not swear that the one was but a
churl, and the other a noble gentleman?"
"Which looks like the nobleman?" said the Rowski, as black as
"WHICH? why, young Otto, to be sure," said the Princess Helen,
eagerly. The young lady was following the pair; but under pretence
of disliking the odor of the cigar, she had refused the Rowski's
proffered arm, and was loitering behind with her parasol.
Her interposition in favor of her young protege only made the black
and jealous Rowski more ill-humored. "How long is it, Sir Prince
of Cleves," said he, "that the churls who wear your livery permit
themselves to wear the ornaments of noble knights? Who but a noble
dare wear ringlets such as yon springald's? Ho, archer!" roared
he, "come, hither, fellow." And Otto stood before him. As he
came, and presenting arms stood respectfully before the Prince and
his savage guest, he looked for one moment at the lovely Helen--
their eyes met, their hearts beat simultaneously: and, quick, two
little blushes appeared in the cheek of either. I have seen one
ship at sea answering another's signal so.
While they are so regarding each other, let us just remind our
readers of the great estimation in which the hair was held in the
North. Only nobles were permitted to wear it long. When a man
disgraced himself, a shaving was sure to follow. Penalties were
inflicted upon villains or vassals who sported ringlets. See the
works of Aurelius Tonsor; Hirsutus de Nobilitate Capillari;
Rolandus de Oleo Macassari; Schnurrbart; Fresirische Alterthumskunde,
"We must have those ringlets of thine cut, good fellow," said the
Duke of Cleves good-naturedly, but wishing to spare the feelings of
his gallant recruit. "'Tis against the regulation cut of my archer
"Cut off my hair!" cried Otto, agonized.
"Ay, and thine ears with it, yokel," roared Donnerblitz.
"Peace, noble Eulenschreckenstein," said the Duke with dignity:
"let the Duke of Cleves deal as he will with his own men-at-arms.
And you, young sir, unloose the grip of thy dagger."
Otto, indeed, had convulsively grasped his snickersnee, with intent
to plunge it into the heart of the Rowski; but his politer feelings
overcame him. "The count need not fear, my lord," said he: "a lady
is present." And he took off his orange-tawny cap and bowed low.
Ah! what a pang shot through the heart of Helen, as she thought
that those lovely ringlets must be shorn from that beautiful head!
Otto's mind was, too, in commotion. His feelings as a gentleman--
let us add, his pride as a man--for who is not, let us ask, proud
of a good head of hair?--waged war within his soul. He
expostulated with the Prince. "It was never in my contemplation,"
he said, "on taking service, to undergo the operation of hair-
"Thou art free to go or stay, Sir Archer," said the Prince
pettishly. "I will have no churls imitating noblemen in my
service: I will bandy no conditions with archers of my guard."
"My resolve is taken," said Otto, irritated too in his turn. "I
will . . . . "
"What?" cried Helen, breathless with intense agitation.
"I will STAY," answered Otto. The poor girl almost fainted with
joy. The Rowski frowned with demoniac fury, and grinding his teeth
and cursing in the horrible German jargon, stalked away. "So be
it," said the Prince of Cleves, taking his daughter's arm--"and
here comes Snipwitz, my barber, who shall do the business for you."
With this the Prince too moved on, feeling in his heart not a
little compassion for the lad; for Adolf of Cleves had been
handsome in his youth, and distinguished for the ornament of which
he was now depriving his archer.
Snipwitz led the poor lad into a side-room, and there--in a word--
operated upon him. The golden curls--fair curls that his mother
had so often played with!--fell under the shears and round the
lad's knees, until he looked as if he was sitting in a bath of
When the frightful act had been performed, Otto, who entered the
little chamber in the tower ringleted like Apollo, issued from it
as cropped as a charity-boy.
See how melancholy he looks, now that the operation is over!--And
no wonder. He was thinking what would be Helen's opinion of him,
now that one of his chief personal ornaments was gone. "Will she
know me?" thought he; "will she love me after this hideous
Yielding to these gloomy thoughts, and, indeed, rather unwilling to
be seen by his comrades, now that he was so disfigured, the young
gentleman had hidden himself behind one of the buttresses of the
wall, a prey to natural despondency; when he saw something which
instantly restored him to good spirits. He saw the lovely Helen
coming towards the chamber where the odious barber had performed
upon him,--coming forward timidly, looking round her anxiously,
blushing with delightful agitation,--and presently seeing, as she
thought, the coast clear, she entered the apartment. She stooped
down, and ah! what was Otto's joy when he saw her pick up a
beautiful golden lock of his hair, press it to her lips, and then
hide it in her bosom! No carnation ever blushed so redly as Helen
did when she came out after performing this feat. Then she hurried
straightway to her own apartments in the castle, and Otto, whose
first impulse was to come out from his hiding-place, and, falling
at her feet, call heaven and earth to witness to his passion, with
difficulty restrained his feelings and let her pass: but the love-
stricken young hero was so delighted with this evident proof of
reciprocated attachment, that all regret at losing his ringlets at
once left him, and he vowed he would sacrifice not only his hair,
but his head, if need were, to do her service.
That very afternoon, no small bustle and conversation took place in
the castle, on account of the sudden departure of the Rowski of
Eulenschreckenstein, with all his train and equipage. He went away
in the greatest wrath, it was said, after a long and loud
conversation with the Prince. As that potentate conducted his
guest to the gate, walking rather demurely and shamefacedly by his
side, as he gathered his attendants in the court, and there mounted
his charger, the Rowski ordered his trumpets to sound, and
scornfully flung a largesse of gold among the servitors and men-at-
arms of the House of Cleves, who were marshalled in the court.
"Farewell, Sir Prince," said he to his host: "I quit you now
suddenly; but remember, it is not my last visit to the Castle of
Cleves." And ordering his band to play "See the Conquering Hero
comes," he clattered away through the drawbridge. The Princess
Helen was not present at his departure; and the venerable Prince of
Cleves looked rather moody and chap-fallen when his guest left him.
He visited all the castle defences pretty accurately that night,
and inquired of his officers the state of the ammunition,
provisions, &c. He said nothing; but the Princess Helen's maid
did: and everybody knew that the Rowski had made his proposals, had
been rejected, and, getting up in a violent fury, had called for
his people, and sworn by his great gods that he would not enter the
castle again until he rode over the breach, lance in hand, the
conqueror of Cleves and all belonging to it.
No little consternation was spread through the garrison at the
news: for everybody knew the Rowski to be one of the most intrepid
and powerful soldiers in all Germany,--one of the most skilful
generals. Generous to extravagance to his own followers, he was
ruthless to the enemy: a hundred stories were told of the dreadful
barbarities exercised by him in several towns and castles which he
had captured and sacked. And poor Helen had the pain of thinking,
that in consequence of her refusal she was dooming all the men,
women, and children of the principality to indiscriminate and
The dreadful surmises regarding a war received in a few days
dreadful confirmation. It was noon, and the worthy Prince of
Cleves was taking his dinner (though the honest warrior had had
little appetite for that meal for some time past), when trumpets
were heard at the gate; and presently the herald of the Rowski of
Donnerblitz, clad in a tabard on which the arms of the Count were
blazoned, entered the dining-hall. A page bore a steel gauntlet on
a cushion; Bleu Sanglier had his hat on his head. The Prince of
Cleves put on his own, as the herald came up to the chair of state
where the sovereign sat.
"Silence for Bleu Sanglier," cried the Prince, gravely. "Say your
say, Sir Herald."
"In the name of the high and mighty Rowski, Prince of Donnerblitz,
Margrave of Eulenschreckenstein, Count of Krotenwald, Schnauzestadt,
and Galgenhugel, Hereditary Grand Corkscrew of the Holy Roman
Empire--to you, Adolf the Twenty-third, Prince of Cleves, I, Bleu
Sanglier, bring war and defiance. Alone, and lance to lance, or
twenty to twenty in field or in fort, on plain or on mountain, the
noble Rowski defies you. Here, or wherever he shall meet you, he
proclaims war to the death between you and him. In token whereof,
here is his glove." And taking the steel glove from the page, Bleu
Boar flung it clanging on the marble floor.
The Princess Helen turned deadly pale: but the Prince, with a good
assurance, flung down his own glove, calling upon some one to raise
the Rowski's; which Otto accordingly took up and presented to him,
on his knee.
"Boteler, fill my goblet," said the Prince to that functionary,
who, clothed in tight black hose, with a white kerchief, and a
napkin on his dexter arm, stood obsequiously by his master's chair.
The goblet was filled with Malvoisie: it held about three quarts; a
precious golden hanap carved by the cunning artificer, Benvenuto
"Drink, Bleu Sanglier," said the Prince, "and put the goblet in thy
bosom. Wear this chain, furthermore, for my sake." And so saying,
Prince Adolf flung a precious chain of emeralds round the herald's
neck. "An invitation to battle was ever a welcome call to Adolf of
Cleves." So saying, and bidding his people take good care of Bleu
Sanglier's retinue, the Prince left the hall with his daughter.
All were marvelling at his dignity, courage, and generosity.
But, though affecting unconcern, the mind of Prince Adolf was far
from tranquil. He was no longer the stalwart knight who, in the
reign of Stanislaus Augustus, had, with his naked fist, beaten a
lion to death in three minutes; and alone had kept the postern of
Peterwaradin for two hours against seven hundred Turkish janissaries,
who were assailing it. Those deeds which had made the heir of
Cleves famous were done thirty years syne. A free liver since he
had come into his principality, and of a lazy turn, he had neglected
the athletic exercises which had made him in youth so famous a
champion, and indolence had borne its usual fruits. He tried his
old battle-sword--that famous blade with which, in Palestine, he had
cut an elephant-driver in two pieces, and split asunder the skull of
the elephant which he rode. Adolf of Cleves could scarcely now lift
the weapon over his head. He tried his armor. It was too tight for
him. And the old soldier burst into tears, when he found he could
not buckle it. Such a man was not fit to encounter the terrible
Rowski in single combat.
Nor could he hope to make head against him for any time in the
field. The Prince's territories were small; his vassals
proverbially lazy and peaceable; his treasury empty. The
dismallest prospects were before him: and he passed a sleepless
night writing to his friends for succor, and calculating with his
secretary the small amount of the resources which he could bring to
aid him against his advancing and powerful enemy.
Helen's pillow that evening was also unvisited by slumber. She lay
awake thinking of Otto,--thinking of the danger and the ruin her
refusal to marry had brought upon her dear papa. Otto, too, slept
not: but HIS waking thoughts were brilliant and heroic: the noble
Childe thought how he should defend the Princess, and win LOS and
honor in the ensuing combat.
And now the noble Cleves began in good earnest to prepare his
castle for the threatened siege. He gathered in all the available
cattle round the property, and the pigs round many miles; and a
dreadful slaughter of horned and snouted animals took place,--the
whole castle resounding with the lowing of the oxen and the squeaks
of the gruntlings, destined to provide food for the garrison.
These, when slain, (her gentle spirit, of course, would not allow
of her witnessing that disagreeable operation,) the lovely Helen,
with the assistance of her maidens, carefully salted and pickled.
Corn was brought in in great quantities, the Prince paying for the
same when he had money, giving bills when he could get credit, or
occasionally, marry, sending out a few stout men-at-arms to forage,
who brought in wheat without money or credit either. The charming
Princess, amidst the intervals of her labors, went about
encouraging the garrison, who vowed to a man they would die for a
single sweet smile of hers; and in order to make their inevitable
sufferings as easy as possible to the gallant fellows, she and the
apothecaries got ready a plenty of efficacious simples, and scraped
a vast quantity of lint to bind their warriors' wounds withal. All
the fortifications were strengthened; the fosses carefully filled
with spikes and water; large stones placed over the gates,
convenient to tumble on the heads of the assaulting parties; and
caldrons prepared, with furnaces to melt up pitch, brimstone,
boiling oil, &c., wherewith hospitably to receive them. Having the
keenest eye in the whole garrison, young Otto was placed on the
topmost tower, to watch for the expected coming of the beleaguering
They were seen only too soon. Long ranks of shining spears were
seen glittering in the distance, and the army of the Rowski soon
made its appearance in battle's magnificently stern array. The
tents of the renowned chief and his numerous warriors were pitched
out of arrow-shot of the castle, but in fearful proximity; and when
his army had taken up its position, an officer with a flag of truce
and a trumpet was seen advancing to the castle gate. It was the
same herald who had previously borne his master's defiance to the
Prince of Cleves. He came once more to the castle gate, and there
proclaimed that the noble Count of Eulenschreckenstein was in arms
without, ready to do battle with the Prince of Cleves, or his
champion; that he would remain in arms for three days, ready for
combat. If no man met him at the end of that period, he would
deliver an assault, and would give quarter to no single soul in the
garrison. So saying, the herald nailed his lord's gauntlet on the
castle gate. As before, the Prince flung him over another glove
from the wall; though how he was to defend himself from such a
warrior, or get a champion, or resist the pitiless assault that
must follow, the troubled old nobleman knew not in the least.
The Princess Helen passed the night in the chapel, vowing tons of
wax-candles to all the patron saints of the House of Cleves, if
they would raise her up a defender.
But how did the noble girl's heart sink--how were her notions of
the purity of man shaken within her gentle bosom, by the dread
intelligence which reached her the next morning, after the defiance
of the Rowski! At roll-call it was discovered that he on whom she
principally relied--he whom her fond heart had singled out as her
champion, had proved faithless! Otto, the degenerate Otto, had
fled! His comrade, Wolfgang, had gone with him. A rope was found
dangling from the casement of their chamber, and they must have
swum the moat and passed over to the enemy in the darkness of the
previous night. "A pretty lad was this fair-spoken archer of
thine!" said the Prince her father to her; "and a pretty kettle of
fish hast thou cooked for the fondest of fathers." She retired
weeping to her apartment. Never before had that young heart felt
That morning, at nine o'clock, as they were going to breakfast, the
Rowski's trumpets sounded. Clad in complete armor, and mounted on
his enormous piebald charger, he came out of his pavilion, and rode
slowly up and down in front of the castle. He was ready there to
meet a champion.
Three times each day did the odious trumpet sound the same notes of
defiance. Thrice daily did the steel-clad Rowski come forth
challenging the combat. The first day passed, and there was no
answer to his summons. The second day came and went, but no
champion had risen to defend. The taunt of his shrill clarion
remained without answer; and the sun went down upon the wretchedest
father and daughter in all the land of Christendom.
The trumpets sounded an hour after sunrise, an hour after noon, and
an hour before sunset. The third day came, but with it brought no
hope. The first and second summons met no response. At five
o'clock the old Prince called his daughter and blessed her. "I go
to meet this Rowski," said he. "It may be we shall meet no more,
my Helen--my child--the innocent cause of all this grief. If I
shall fall to-night the Rowski's victim, 'twill be that life is
nothing without honor." And so saying, he put into her hands a
dagger, and bade her sheathe it in her own breast so soon as the
terrible champion had carried the castle by storm.
This Helen most faithfully promised to do; and her aged father
retired to his armory, and donned his ancient war-worn corselet.
It had borne the shock of a thousand lances ere this, but it was
now so tight as almost to choke the knightly wearer.
The last trumpet sounded--tantara! tantara!--its shrill call rang
over the wide plains, and the wide plains gave back no answer.
Again!--but when its notes died away, there was only a mournful, an
awful silence. "Farewell, my child," said the Prince, bulkily
lifting himself into his battle-saddle. "Remember the dagger.
Hark! the trumpet sounds for the third time. Open, warders!
Sound, trumpeters! and good St. Bendigo guard the right."
But Puffendorff, the trumpeter, had not leisure to lift the trumpet
to his lips: when, hark! from without there came another note of
another clarion!--a distant note at first, then swelling fuller.
Presently, in brilliant variations, the full rich notes of the
"Huntsman's Chorus" came clearly over the breeze; and a thousand
voices of the crowd gazing over the gate exclaimed, "A champion! a
And, indeed, a champion HAD come. Issuing from the forest came a
knight and squire: the knight gracefully cantering an elegant
cream-colored Arabian of prodigious power--the squire mounted on an
unpretending gray cob; which, nevertheless, was an animal of
considerable strength and sinew. It was the squire who blew the
trumpet, through the bars of his helmet; the knight's visor was
completely down. A small prince's coronet of gold, from which rose
three pink ostrich-feathers, marked the warrior's rank: his blank
shield bore no cognizance. As gracefully poising his lance he rode
into the green space where the Rowski's tents were pitched, the
hearts of all present beat with anxiety, and the poor Prince of
Cleves, especially, had considerable doubts about his new champion.
"So slim a figure as that can never compete with Donnerblitz," said
he, moodily, to his daughter; "but whoever he be, the fellow puts a
good face on it, and rides like a man. See, he has touched the
Rowski's shield with the point of his lance! By St. Bendigo, a
The unknown knight had indeed defied the Rowski to the death, as
the Prince of Cleves remarked from the battlement where he and his
daughter stood to witness the combat; and so, having defied his
enemy, the Incognito galloped round under the castle wall, bowing
elegantly to the lovely Princess there, and then took his ground
and waited for the foe. His armor blazed in the sunshine as he sat
there, motionless, on his cream-colored steed. He looked like one
of those fairy knights one has read of--one of those celestial
champions who decided so many victories before the invention of gun
The Rowski's horse was speedily brought to the door of his
pavilion; and that redoubted warrior, blazing in a suit of
magnificent brass armor, clattered into his saddle. Long waves of
blood-red feathers bristled over his helmet, which was farther
ornamented by two huge horns of the aurochs. His lance was painted
white and red, and he whirled the prodigious beam in the air and
caught it with savage glee. He laughed when he saw the slim form
of his antagonist; and his soul rejoiced to meet the coming battle.
He dug his spurs into the enormous horse he rode: the enormous
horse snorted, and squealed, too, with fierce pleasure. He jerked
and curveted him with a brutal playfulness, and after a few
minutes' turning and wheeling, during which everybody had leisure
to admire the perfection of his equitation, he cantered round to a
point exactly opposite his enemy, and pulled up his impatient
The old Prince on the battlement was so eager for the combat, that
he seemed quite to forget the danger which menaced himself, should
his slim champion be discomfited by the tremendous Knight of
Donnerblitz. "Go it!" said he, flinging his truncheon into the
ditch; and at the word, the two warriors rushed with whirling
rapidity at each other.
And now ensued a combat so terrible, that a weak female hand, like
that of her who pens this tale of chivalry, can never hope to do
justice to the terrific theme. You have seen two engines on the
Great Western line rush past each other with a pealing scream? So
rapidly did the two warriors gallop towards one another; the
feathers of either streamed yards behind their backs as they
converged. Their shock as they met was as that of two cannon-
balls; the mighty horses trembled and reeled with the concussion;
the lance aimed at the Rowski's helmet bore off the coronet, the
horns, the helmet itself, and hurled them to an incredible
distance: a piece of the Rowski's left ear was carried off on the
point of the nameless warrior's weapon. How had he fared? His
adversary's weapon had glanced harmless along the blank surface of
his polished buckler; and the victory so far was with him.
The expression of the Rowski's face, as, bareheaded, he glared on
his enemy with fierce bloodshot eyeballs, was one worthy of a
demon. The imprecatory expressions which he made use of can never
be copied by a feminine pen.
His opponent magnanimously declined to take advantage of the
opportunity thus offered him of finishing the combat by splitting
his opponent's skull with his curtal-axe, and, riding back to his
starting-place, bent his lance's point to the ground, in token that
he would wait until the Count of Eulenschreckenstein was helmeted
"Blessed Bendigo!" cried the Prince, "thou art a gallant lance: but
why didst not rap the Schelm's brain out?"
"Bring me a fresh helmet!" yelled the Rowski. Another casque was
brought to him by his trembling squire.
As soon as he had braced it, he drew his great flashing sword from
his side, and rushed at his enemy, roaring hoarsely his cry of
battle. The unknown knight's sword was unsheathed in a moment, and
at the next the two blades were clanking together the dreadful
music of the combat!
The Donnerblitz wielded his with his usual savageness and activity.
It whirled round his adversary's head with frightful rapidity. Now
it carried away a feather of his plume; now it shore off a leaf of
his coronet. The flail of the thrasher does not fall more swiftly
upon the corn. For many minutes it was the Unknown's only task to
defend himself from the tremendous activity of the enemy.
But even the Rowski's strength would slacken after exertion. The
blows began to fall less thick anon, and the point of the unknown
knight began to make dreadful play. It found and penetrated every
joint of the Donnerblitz's armor. Now it nicked him in the
shoulder where the vambrace was buckled to the corselet; now it
bored a shrewd hole under the light brissart, and blood followed;
now, with fatal dexterity, it darted through the visor, and came
back to the recover deeply tinged with blood. A scream of rage
followed the last thrust; and no wonder:--it had penetrated the
Rowski's left eye.
His blood was trickling through a dozen orifices; he was almost
choking in his helmet with loss of breath, and loss of blood, and
rage. Gasping with fury, he drew back his horse, flung his great
sword at his opponent's head, and once more plunged at him,
wielding his curtal-axe.
Then you should have seen the unknown knight employing the same
dreadful weapon! Hitherto he had been on his defence; now he began
the attack; and the gleaming axe whirred in his hand like a reed,
but descended like a thunderbolt! "Yield! yield! Sir Rowski,"
shouted he, in a calm, clear voice.
A blow dealt madly at his head was the reply. 'Twas the last blow
that the Count of Eulenschreckenstein ever struck in battle! The
curse was on his lips as the crushing steel descended into his
brain, and split it in two. He rolled like a log from his horse:
his enemy's knee was in a moment on his chest, and the dagger of
mercy at his throat, as the knight once more called upon him to
But there was no answer from within the helmet. When it was
withdrawn, the teeth were crunched together; the mouth that should
have spoken, grinned a ghastly silence: one eye still glared with
hate and fury, but it was glazed with the film of death!
The red orb of the sun was just then dipping into the Rhine. The
unknown knight, vaulting once more into his saddle, made a graceful
obeisance to the Prince of Cleves and his daughter, without a word,
and galloped back into the forest, whence he had issued an hour
The consternation which ensued on the death of the Rowski, speedily
sent all his camp-followers, army, &c. to the right-about. They
struck their tents at the first news of his discomfiture; and each
man laying hold of what he could, the whole of the gallant force
which had marched under his banner in the morning had disappeared
ere the sun rose.
On that night, as it may be imagined, the gates of the Castle of
Cleves were not shut. Everybody was free to come in. Wine-butts
were broached in all the courts; the pickled meat prepared in such
lots for the siege was distributed among the people, who crowded to
congratulate their beloved sovereign on his victory; and the
Prince, as was customary with that good man, who never lost an
opportunity of giving a dinner-party, had a splendid entertainment
made ready for the upper classes, the whole concluding with a
tasteful display of fireworks.
In the midst of these entertainments, our old friend the Count of
Hombourg arrived at the castle. The stalwart old warrior swore by
Saint Bugo that he was grieved the killing of the Rowski had been
taken out of his hand. The laughing Cleves vowed by Saint Bendigo,
Hombourg could never have finished off his enemy so satisfactorily
as the unknown knight had just done.
But who was he? was the question which now agitated the bosom of
these two old nobles. How to find him--how to reward the champion
and restorer of the honor and happiness of Cleves? They agreed
over supper that he should be sought for everywhere. Beadles were
sent round the principal cities within fifty miles, and the
description of the knight advertised, in the Journal de Francfort
and the Allgemeine Zeitung. The hand of the Princess Helen was
solemnly offered to him in these advertisements, with the reversion
of the Prince of Cleves's splendid though somewhat dilapidated
"But we don't know him, my dear papa," faintly ejaculated that
young lady. "Some impostor may come in a suit of plain armor, and
pretend that he was the champion who overcame the Rowski (a prince
who had his faults certainly, but whose attachment for me I can
never forget); and how are you to say whether he is the real knight
or not? There are so many deceivers in this world," added the
Princess, in tears, "that one can't be too cautious now." The fact
is, that she was thinking of the desertion of Otto in the morning;
by which instance of faithlessness her heart was wellnigh broken.
As for that youth and his comrade Wolfgang, to the astonishment of
everybody at their impudence, they came to the archers' mess that
night, as if nothing had happened; got their supper, partaking both
of meat and drink most plentifully; fell asleep when their comrades
began to describe the events of the day, and the admirable
achievements of the unknown warrior; and turning into their
hammocks, did not appear on parade in the morning until twenty
minutes after the names were called.
When the Prince of Cleves heard of the return of these deserters he
was in a towering passion. "Where were you, fellows," shouted he,
"during the time my castle was at its utmost need?"
Otto replied, "We were out on particular business."
"Does a soldier leave his post on the day of battle, sir?"
exclaimed the Prince. "You know the reward of such--Death! and
death you merit. But you are a soldier only of yesterday, and
yesterday's victory has made me merciful. Hanged you shall not be,
as you merit--only flogged, both of you. Parade the men, Colonel
Tickelstern, after breakfast, and give these scoundrels five
You should have seen how young Otto bounded, when this information
was thus abruptly conveyed to him. "Flog ME!" cried he. "Flog
"Not so, my father," said the Princess Helen, who had been standing
by during the conversation, and who had looked at Otto all the
while with the most ineffable scorn. "Not so: although these
PERSONS have forgotten their duty" (she laid a particularly
sarcastic emphasis on the word persons), "we have had no need of
their services, and have luckily found OTHERS more faithful. You
promised your daughter a boon, papa; it is the pardon of these two
PERSONS. Let them go, and quit a service they have disgraced; a
mistress--that is, a master--they have deceived."
"Drum 'em out of the castle, Ticklestern; strip their uniforms from
their backs, and never let me hear of the scoundrels again." So
saying, the old Prince angrily turned on his heel to breakfast,
leaving the two young men to the fun and derision of their
The noble Count of Hombourg, who was taking his usual airing on the
ramparts before breakfast, came up at this juncture, and asked what
was the row? Otto blushed when he saw him and turned away rapidly;
but the Count, too, catching a glimpse of him, with a hundred
exclamations of joyful surprise seized upon the lad, hugged him to
his manly breast, kissed him most affectionately, and almost burst
into tears as he embraced him. For, in sooth, the good Count had
thought his godson long ere this at the bottom of the silver Rhine.
The Prince of Cleves, who had come to the breakfast-parlor window,
(to invite his guest to enter, as the tea was made,) beheld this
strange scene from the window, as did the lovely tea-maker
likewise, with breathless and beautiful agitation. The old Count
and the archer strolled up and down the battlements in deep
conversation. By the gestures of surprise and delight exhibited by
the former, 'twas easy to see the young archer was conveying some
very strange and pleasing news to him; though the nature of the
conversation was not allowed to transpire.
"A godson of mine," said the noble Count, when interrogated over
his muffins. "I know his family; worthy people; sad scapegrace;
ran away; parents longing for him; glad you did not flog him; devil
to pay," and so forth. The Count was a man of few words, and told
his tale in this brief, artless manner. But why, at its
conclusion, did the gentle Helen leave the room, her eyes filled
with tears? She left the room once more to kiss a certain lock of
yellow hair she had pilfered. A dazzling, delicious thought, a
strange wild hope, arose in her soul!
When she appeared again, she made some side-handed inquiries
regarding Otto (with that gentle artifice oft employed by women);
but he was gone. He and his companion were gone. The Count of
Hombourg had likewise taken his departure, under pretext of
particular business. How lonely the vast castle seemed to Helen,
now that HE was no longer there. The transactions of the last few
days; the beautiful archer-boy; the offer from the Rowski (always
an event in a young lady's life); the siege of the castle; the
death of her truculent admirer: all seemed like a fevered dream to
her: all was passed away, and had left no trace behind. No trace?--
yes! one: a little insignificant lock of golden hair, over which
the young creature wept so much that she put it out of curl;
passing hours and hours in the summer-house, where the operation
had been performed.
On the second day (it is my belief she would have gone into a
consumption and died of languor, if the event had been delayed a
day longer,) a messenger, with a trumpet, brought a letter in haste
to the Prince of Cleves, who was, as usual, taking refreshment.
"To the High and Mighty Prince," &c. the letter ran. "The Champion
who had the honor of engaging on Wednesday last with his late
Excellency the Rowski of Donnerblitz, presents his compliments to
H. S. H. the Prince of Cleves. Through the medium of the public
prints the C. has been made acquainted with the flattering proposal
of His Serene Highness relative to a union between himself (the
Champion) and her Serene Highness the Princess Helen of Cleves.
The Champion accepts with pleasure that polite invitation, and will
have the honor of waiting upon the Prince and Princess of Cleves
about half an hour after the receipt of this letter."
"Tol lol de rol, girl," shouted the Prince with heartfelt joy.
(Have you not remarked, dear friend, how often in novel-books, and
on the stage, joy is announced by the above burst of insensate
monosyllables?) "Tol lol de rol. Don thy best kirtle, child; thy
husband will be here anon." And Helen retired to arrange her
toilet for this awful event in the life of a young woman. When she
returned, attired to welcome her defender, her young cheek was as
pale as the white satin slip and orange sprigs she wore.
She was scarce seated on the dais by her father's side, when a huge
flourish of trumpets from without proclaimed the arrival of THE
CHAMPION. Helen felt quite sick: a draught of ether was necessary
to restore her tranquillity.
The great door was flung open. He entered,--the same tall warrior,
slim, and beautiful, blazing in shining steel. He approached the
Prince's throne, supported on each side by a friend likewise in
armor. He knelt gracefully on one knee.
"I come," said he in a voice trembling with emotion, "to claim, as
per advertisement, the hand of the lovely Lady Helen." And he held
out a copy of the Allgemeine Zeitung as he spoke.
"Art thou noble, Sir Knight?" asked the Prince of Cleves.
"As noble as yourself," answered the kneeling steel.
"Who answers for thee?"
"I, Karl, Margrave of Godesberg, his father!" said the knight on
the right hand, lifting up his visor.
"And I--Ludwig, Count of Hombourg, his godfather!" said the knight
on the left, doing likewise.
The kneeling knight lifted up his visor now, and looked on Helen.
"I KNEW IT WAS," said she, and fainted as she saw Otto the Archer.
But she was soon brought to, gentles, as I have small need to tell
ye. In a very few days after, a great marriage took place at
Cleves under the patronage of Saint Bugo, Saint Buffo, and Saint
Bendigo. After the marriage ceremony, the happiest and handsomest
pair in the world drove off in a chaise-and-four, to pass the
honeymoon at Kissingen. The Lady Theodora, whom we left locked up
in her convent a long while since, was prevailed upon to come back
to Godesberg, where she was reconciled to her husband. Jealous of
her daughter-in-law, she idolized her son, and spoiled all her
little grandchildren. And so all are happy, and my simple tale is
I read it in an old, old book, in a mouldy old circulating library.
'Twas written in the French tongue, by the noble Alexandre Dumas;
but 'tis probable that he stole it from some other, and that the
other had filched it from a former tale-teller. For nothing is new
under the sun. Things die and are reproduced only. And so it is
that the forgotten tale of the great Dumas reappears under the
WHISTLEBINKIE, N.B., December 1.
REBECCA AND ROWENA.
A ROMANCE UPON ROMANCE.
BY MR. MICHAEL ANGELO TITMARSH.
THE OVERTURE.--COMMENCEMENT OF THE BUSINESS.
Well-beloved novel-readers and gentle patronesses of romance,
assuredly it has often occurred to every one of you, that the books
we delight in have very unsatisfactory conclusions, and end quite
prematurely with page 320 of the third volume. At that epoch of
the history it is well known that the hero is seldom more than
thirty years old, and the heroine by consequence some seven or
eight years younger; and I would ask any of you whether it is fair
to suppose that people after the above age have nothing worthy of
note in their lives, and cease to exist as they drive away from
Saint George's, Hanover Square? You, dear young ladies, who get
your knowledge of life from the circulating library, may be led to
imagine that when the marriage business is done, and Emilia is
whisked off in the new travelling-carriage, by the side of the
enraptured Earl; or Belinda, breaking away from the tearful
embraces of her excellent mother, dries her own lovely eyes upon
the throbbing waistcoat of her bridegroom--you may be apt, I say,
to suppose that all is over then; that Emilia and the Earl are
going to be happy for the rest of their lives in his lordship's
romantic castle in the North, and Belinda and her young clergyman
to enjoy uninterrupted bliss in their rose-trellised parsonage in
the West of England: but some there be among the novel-reading
classes--old experienced folks--who know better than this. Some
there be who have been married, and found that they have still
something to see and to do, and to suffer mayhap; and that
adventures, and pains, and pleasures, and taxes, and sunrises and
settings, and the business and joys and griefs of life go on after,
as before the nuptial ceremony.
Therefore I say, it is an unfair advantage which the novelist takes
of hero and heroine, as of his inexperienced reader, to say good-by
to the two former, as soon as ever they are made husband and wife;
and I have often wished that additions should be made to all works
of fiction which have been brought to abrupt terminations in the
manner described; and that we should hear what occurs to the sober
married man, as well as to the ardent bachelor; to the matron, as
well as to the blushing spinster. And in this respect I admire
(and would desire to imitate,) the noble and prolific French
author, Alexandre Dumas, who carries his heroes from early youth
down to the most venerable old age; and does not let them rest
until they are so old, that it is full time the poor fellows should
get a little peace and quiet. A hero is much too valuable a
gentleman to be put upon the retired list, in the prime and vigor
of his youth; and I wish to know what lady among us would like to
be put on the shelf, and thought no longer interesting, because she
has a family growing up, and is four or five and thirty years of
age? I have known ladies at sixty, with hearts as tender and ideas
as romantic as any young misses of sixteen. Let us have middle-
aged novels then, as well as your extremely juvenile legends: let
the young ones be warned that the old folks have a right to be
interesting: and that a lady may continue to have a heart, although
she is somewhat stouter than she was when a school-girl, and a man
his feelings, although he gets his hair from Truefitt's.
Thus I would desire that the biographies of many of our most
illustrious personages of romance should be continued by fitting
hands, and that they should be heard of, until at least a decent
age.--Look at Mr. James's heroes: they invariably marry young.
Look at Mr. Dickens's: they disappear from the scene when they are
mere chits. I trust these authors, who are still alive, will see
the propriety of telling us something more about people in whom we
took a considerable interest, and who must be at present strong and
hearty, and in the full vigor of health and intellect. And in the
tales of the great Sir Walter (may honor be to his name), I am sure
there are a number of people who are untimely carried away from us,
and of whom we ought to hear more.
My dear Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York, has always, in my mind,
been one of these; nor can I ever believe that such a woman, so
admirable, so tender, so heroic, so beautiful, could disappear
altogether before such another woman as Rowena, that vapid, flaxen-
headed creature, who is, in my humble opinion, unworthy of Ivanhoe,
and unworthy of her place as heroine. Had both of them got their
rights, it ever seemed to me that Rebecca would have had the
husband, and Rowena would have gone off to a convent and shut
herself up, where I, for one, would never have taken the trouble
of inquiring for her.
But after all she married Ivanhoe. What is to be done? There is
no help for it. There it is in black and white at the end of the
third volume of Sir Walter Scott's chronicle, that the couple were
joined together in matrimony. And must the Disinherited Knight,
whose blood has been fired by the suns of Palestine, and whose
heart has been warmed in the company of the tender and beautiful
Rebecca, sit down contented for life by the side of such a frigid
piece of propriety as that icy, faultless, prim, niminy-piminy
Rowena? Forbid it fate, forbid it poetical justice! There is a
simple plan for setting matters right, and giving all parties their
due, which is here submitted to the novel-reader. Ivanhoe's
history MUST have had a continuation; and it is this which ensues.
I may be wrong in some particulars of the narrative,--as what
writer will not be?--but of the main incidents of the history, I
have in my own mind no sort of doubt, and confidently submit them
to that generous public which likes to see virtue righted, true
love rewarded, and the brilliant Fairy descend out of the blazing
chariot at the end of the pantomime, and make Harlequin and
Columbine happy. What, if reality be not so, gentlemen and ladies;
and if, after dancing a variety of jigs and antics, and jumping in
and out of endless trap-doors and windows, through life's shifting
scenes, no fairy comes down to make US comfortable at the close of
the performance? Ah! let us give our honest novel-folks the
benefit of their position, and not be envious of their good luck.
No person who has read the preceding volumes of this history, as
the famous chronicler of Abbotsford has recorded them, can doubt
for a moment what was the result of the marriage between Sir
Wilfrid of Ivanhoe and Lady Rowena. Those who have marked her
conduct during her maidenhood, her distinguished politeness, her
spotless modesty of demeanor, her unalterable coolness under all
circumstances, and her lofty and gentlewomanlike bearing, must be
sure that her married conduct would equal her spinster behavior,
and that Rowena the wife would be a pattern of correctness for all
the matrons of England.
Such was the fact. For miles around Rotherwood her character for
piety was known. Her castle was a rendezvous for all the clergy
and monks of the district, whom she fed with the richest viands,
while she pinched herself upon pulse and water. There was not an
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