The Entire Short Works of George Meredith
Part 2 out of 9
had fought against the Infidel! So one of them pointed to the bed, and
then a torch was lowered, and the fight commenced. Isentrude saw the
sparks fly, and the steel struck till it was shattered; but they fought
on, not caring for wounds, and snorting with fury as they grew hotter.
They fought a whole hour. The poor girl was so eaten up with looking on,
that she let go the curtain and stood quite exposed among them. So, to
steady herself, she rested her hand on the bed-side; and--think what she
felt--a hand as cold as ice locked hers, and get from it she could not!
That instant one of the princes fell. It was Bohmen. Bayern sheathed
his sword, and waved his hand, and the attendants took up the slaughtered
ghost, feet and shoulders, and bore him to the door of the secret
passage, while Bayern strode after--'
'Shameful!' exclaimed Margarita. 'I will speak to Berthold as he
descends. I hear him coming. He shall do what I wish.'
'Call it dreadful, Grete! Dreadful it was. If Berthold would like to
sit and hear--Ah! she is gone. A good girl! and of a levity only on the
Aunt Lisbeth heard Margarita's voice rapidly addressing Berthold. His
reply was low and brief. 'Refuses to listen to anything of the sort,'
Aunt Lisbeth interpreted it. Then he seemed to be pleading, and
Margarita uttering short answers. 'I trust 'tis nothing a maiden should
not hear,' the little lady exclaimed with a sigh.
The door opened, and Lieschen stood at the entrance.
'For Fraulein Margarita,' she said, holding a letter halfway out.
'Give it,' Aunt Lisbeth commanded.
The woman hesitated--''Tis for the Fraulein.'
'Give it, I tell thee!' and Aunt Lisbeth eagerly seized the missive, and
subjected it to the ordeal of touch. It was heavy, and contained
something hard. Long pensive pressures revealed its shape on the paper.
It was an arrow. 'Go!' said she to the woman, and, once alone, began,
bee-like, to buzz all over it, and finally entered. It contained
Margarita's Silver Arrow. 'The art of that girl!' And the writing said:
'By this arrow of our betrothal, I conjure thee to meet me in all
haste without the western gate, where, burning to reveal to thee
most urgent tidings that may not be confided to paper, now waits,
petitioning the saints, thy
Aunt Lisbeth placed letter and arrow in a drawer; locked it; and 'always
thought so.' She ascended the stairs to consult with Gottlieb. Roars of
laughter greeted her just as she lifted the latch, and she retreated
There was no time to lose. Farina must be caught in the act of waiting
for Margarita, and by Gottlieb, or herself. Gottlieb was revelling.
'May this be a warning to thee, Gottlieb,' murmured Lisbeth, as she
hooded her little body in Margarita's fur-cloak, and determined that
she would be the one to confound Farina.
Five minutes later Margarita returned. Aunt Lisbeth was gone. The
dragon still lacked a tip to his forked tongue, and a stream of fiery
threads dangled from the jaws of the monster. Another letter was brought
into the room by Lieschen.
'For Aunt Lisbeth,' said Margarita, reading the address. 'Who can it be
'She does not stand pressing about your letters,' said the woman; and
informed Margarita of the foregoing missive.
'You say she drew an arrow from it?' said Margarita, with burning face.
'Who brought this? tell me!' and just waiting to hear it was Farina's
mother, she tore the letter open, and read:
'Thy old friend writes to thee; she that has scarce left eyes to see
the words she writes. Thou knowest we are a fallen house, through
the displeasure of the Emperor on my dead husband. My son, Farina,
is my only stay, and well returns to me the blessings I bestow upon
him. Some call him idle: some think him too wise. I swear to thee,
Lisbeth, he is only good. His hours are devoted to the extraction
of essences--to no black magic. Now he is in trouble-in prison.
The shadow that destroyed his dead father threatens him. Now, by
our old friendship, beloved Lisbeth! intercede with Gottlieb, that
he may plead for my son before the Emperor when he comes--'
Margarita read no more. She went to the window, and saw her guard
marshalled outside. She threw a kerchief over her head, and left the
house by the garden gate.
By this time the sun stood high over Cologne. The market-places were
crowded with buyers and sellers, mixed with a loitering swarm of
soldiery, for whose thirsty natures winestalls had been tumbled up.
Barons and knights of the empire, bravely mounted and thickly followed,
poured hourly into Cologne from South Germany and North. Here, staring
Suabians, and round-featured warriors of the East Kingdom, swaggered up
and down, patting what horses came across them, for lack of occupation
for their hands. Yonder, huge Pomeranians, with bosks of beard stiffened
out square from the chin, hurtled mountainous among the peaceable
inhabitants. Troopers dismounted went straddling, in tight hose and
loose, prepared to drink good-will to whomsoever would furnish the best
quality liquor for that solemn pledge, and equally ready to pick a
quarrel with them that would not. It was a scene of flaring feathers,
wide-flapped bonnets, flaunting hose, blue and battered steel plates,
slashed woollen haunch-bags, leather-leggings, ensigns, and imperious
boots and shoulders. Margarita was too hurried in her mind to be
conscious of an imprudence; but her limbs trembled, and she instinctively
quickened her steps. When she stood under the sign of the Three Holy
Kings, where dwelt Farina's mother, she put up a fervent prayer of
thanks, and breathed freely.
'I had expected a message from Lisbeth,' said Frau Farina; 'but thou,
good heart! thou wilt help us?'
'All that may be done by me I will do,' replied Margarita; 'but his
mother yearns to see him, and I have come to bear her company.'
The old lady clasped her hands and wept.
'Has he found so good a friend, my poor boy! And trust me, dear maiden,
he is not unworthy, for better son never lived, and good son, good all!
Surely we will go to him, but not as thou art. I will dress thee. Such
throngs are in the streets: I heard them clattering in early this
morning. Rest, dear heart, till I return.'
Margarita had time to inspect the single sitting-room in which her lover
lived. It was planted with bottles, and vases, and pipes, and cylinders,
piling on floor, chair, and table. She could not suppress a slight
surprise of fear, for this display showed a dealing with hidden things,
and a summoning of scattered spirits. It was this that made his brow so
pale, and the round of his eye darker than youth should let it be! She
dismissed the feeling, and assumed her own bright face as Dame Farina
reappeared, bearing on her arm a convent garb, and other apparel.
Margarita suffered herself to be invested in the white and black robes of
the denial of life.
'There!' said the Frau Farina, 'and to seal assurance, I have engaged a
guard to accompany us. He was sorely bruised in a street combat
yesterday, and was billeted below, where I nursed and tended him, and he
is grateful, as man should be-though I did little, doing my utmost--and
with him near us we have nought to fear.'
'Good,' said Margarita, and they kissed and departed. The guard was
awaiting them outside.
'Come, my little lady, and with thee the holy sister! 'Tis no step from
here, and I gage to bring ye safe, as sure as my name's Schwartz Thier!--
Hey? The good sister's dropping. Look, now! I'll carry her.'
Margarita recovered her self-command before he could make good this
'Only let us hasten there,' she gasped.
The Thier strode on, and gave them safe-conduct to the prison where
Farina was confined, being near one of the outer forts of the city.
'Thank and dismiss him,' whispered Margarita.
'Nay! he will wait-wilt thou not, friend! We shall not be long, though
it is my son I visit here,' said Frau Farina.
'Till to-morrow morning, my little lady! The lion thanked him that
plucked the thorn from his foot, and the Thier may be black, but he's not
ungrateful, nor a worse beast than the lion.'
They entered the walls and left him.
For the first five minutes Schwartz Thier found employment for his
faculties by staring at the shaky, small-paned windows of the
neighbourhood. He persevered in this, after all novelty had been
exhausted, from an intuitive dread of weariness. There was nothing to
see. An old woman once bobbed out of an attic, and doused the flints
with water. Harassed by increasing dread of the foul nightmare of
nothing-to-do, the Thier endeavoured to establish amorous intelligence
with her. She responded with an indignant projection of the underjaw,
evanishing rapidly. There was no resource left him but to curse her with
extreme heartiness. The Thier stamped his right leg, and then his left,
and remembered the old woman as a grievance five minutes longer. When
she was clean forgotten, he yawned. Another spouse of the moment was
wanted, to be wooed, objurgated, and regretted. The prison-gate was in a
secluded street. Few passengers went by, and those who did edged away
from the ponderous, wanton-eyed figure of lazy mischief lounging there,
as neatly as they well could. The Thier hailed two or three. One took
to his legs, another bowed, smirked, gave him a kindly good-day, and
affected to hear no more, having urgent business in prospect. The Thier
was a faithful dog, but the temptation to betray his trust and pursue
them was mighty. He began to experience an equal disposition to cry and
roar. He hummed a ballad
'I swore of her I'd have my will,
And with him I'd have my way:
I learn'd my cross-bow over the hill:
Now what does my lady say?
Give me the good old cross-bow, after all, and none of these lumbering
puff-and-bangs that knock you down oftener than your man!
'A cross stands in the forest still,
And a cross in the churchyard grey:
My curse on him who had his will,
And on him who had his way!
Good beginning, bad ending! 'Tisn't so always. "Many a cross has the
cross-bow built," they say. I wish I had mine, now, to peg off that.
old woman, or somebody. I'd swear she's peeping at me over the gable,
or behind some cranny. They're curious, the old women, curse 'em! And
the young, for that matter. Devil a young one here.
'When I'm in for the sack of a town,
What, think ye, I poke after, up and down?
Silver and gold I pocket in plenty,
But the sweet tit-bit is my lass under twenty.
I should like to be in for the sack of this Cologne. I'd nose out that
pretty girl I was cheated of yesterday. Take the gold and silver, and
give me the maiden! Her neck's silver, and her hair gold. Ah! and her
cheeks roses, and her mouth-say no more! I'm half thinking Werner, the
hungry animal, has cast wolf's eyes on her. They say he spoke of her
last night. Don't let him thwart me. Thunderblast him! I owe him a
grudge. He's beginning to forget my plan o' life.'
A flight of pigeons across the blue top of the street abstracted the
Thier from these reflections. He gaped after them in despair, and fell
to stretching and shaking himself, rattling his lungs with loud reports.
As he threw his eyes round again, they encountered those of a monk
opposite fastened on him in penetrating silence. The Thier hated monks
as a wild beast shuns fire; but now even a monk was welcome.
'Halloo!' he sung out.
The monk crossed over to him.
'Friend!' said he, 'weariness is teaching thee wantonness. Wilt thou
take service for a night's work, where the danger is little, the reward
'As for that,' replied the Thier, 'danger comes to me like greenwood to
the deer, and good pay never yet was given in promises. But I'm bound
for the next hour to womankind within there. They're my masters; as
they've been of tough fellows before me.'
'I will seek them, and win their consent,' said the monk, and so left
'Quick dealing!' thought the Thier, and grew brisker. 'The Baron won't
want me to-night: and what if he does? Let him hang himself--though,
if he should, 'twill be a pity I'm not by to help him.'
He paced under the wall to its farthest course. Turning back, he
perceived the monk at the gateway.
'A sharp hand!' thought the Thier.
'Intrude no question on me,' the monk began; 'but hold thy peace and
follow: the women release thee, and gladly.'
'That's not my plan o' life, now! Money down, and then command me': and
Schwartz Thier stood with one foot forward, and hand stretched out.
A curl of scorn darkened the cold features of the monk.
He slid one hand into a side of his frock above the girdle, and tossed a
bag of coin.
'Take it, if 'tis in thee to forfeit the greater blessing,' he cried
The Thier peeped into the bag, and appeared satisfied.
'I follow,' said he; 'lead on, good father, and I'll be in the track of
holiness for the first time since my mother was quit of me.'
The monk hurried up the street and into the marketplace, oblivious of the
postures and reverences of the people, who stopped to stare at him and
his gaunt attendant. As they crossed the square, Schwartz Thier spied
Henker Rothhals starting from a wine-stall on horseback, and could not
forbear hailing him. Before the monk had time to utter a reproach, they
were deep together in a double-shot of query and reply.
'Whirr!' cried the Thier, breaking on some communication. 'Got her, have
they? and swung her across stream? I'm one with ye for my share, or call
He waved his hand to the monk, and taking hold of the horse's rein, ran
off beside his mounted confederate, heavily shod as he was.
The monk frowned after him, and swelled with a hard sigh.
'Gone!' he exclaimed, 'and the accursed gold with him! Well did a voice
warn me that such service was never to be bought!'
He did not pause to bewail or repent, but returned toward the prison with
rapid footsteps, muttering: 'I with the prison-pass for two; why was I
beguiled by that bandit? Saw I not the very youth given into my hands
there, he that was with the damsel and the aged woman?'
THE RIDE AND THE RACE
Late in the noon a horseman, in the livery of the Kaiser's body-guard,
rode dry and dusty into Cologne, with tidings that the Kaiser was at
Hammerstein Castle, and commanding all convocated knights, barons,
counts, and princes, to assemble and prepare for his coming, on a certain
bare space of ground within two leagues of Cologne, thence to swell the
train of his triumphal entry into the ancient city of his empire.
Guy the Goshawk, broad-set on a Flemish mare, and a pack-horse beside
him, shortly afterward left the hotel of the Three Holy Kings, and
trotted up to Gottlieb's door.
'Tent-pitching is now my trade,' said he, as Gottlieb came down to him.
'My lord is with the Kaiser. I must say farewell for the nonce. Is the
young lady visible?'
'Nor young, nor old, good friend,' replied Gottlieb, with a countenance
somewhat ruffled. 'I dined alone for lack of your company. Secret
missives came, I hear, to each of them, and both are gadding. Now what
think you of this, after the scene of yesterday?--Lisbeth too!'
'Preaches from the old text, Master Groschen; "Never reckon on womankind
for a wise act." But farewell! and tell Mistress Margarita that I take
it ill of her not giving me her maiden hand to salute before parting.
My gravest respects to Frau Lisbeth. I shall soon be sitting with you
over that prime vintage of yours, or fortune's dead against me.'
So, with a wring of the hand, Guy put the spur to his round-flanked
beast, and was quickly out of Cologne on the rough roadway.
He was neither the first nor the last of the men-at-arms hastening to
obey the Kaiser's mandate. A string of horse and foot in serpentine
knots stretched along the flat land, flashing colours livelier than the
spring-meadows bordering their line of passage. Guy, with a nod for all,
and a greeting for the best-disposed, pushed on toward the van, till the
gathering block compelled him to adopt the snail's pace of the advance
party, and gave him work enough to keep his two horses from being jammed
with the mass. Now and then he cast a weather-eye on the heavens, and
was soon confirmed in an opinion he had repeatedly ejaculated, that 'the
first night's camping would be a drencher.' In the West a black bank of
cloud was blotting out the sun before his time. Northeast shone bare
fields of blue lightly touched with loosefloating strips and flakes of
crimson vapour. The furrows were growing purple-dark, and gradually a
low moaning obscurity enwrapped the whole line, and mufed the noise of
hoof, oath, and waggon-wheel in one sullen murmur.
Guy felt very much like a chopped worm, as he wriggled his way onward in
the dusk, impelled from the rear, and reduced to grope after the main
body. Frequent and deep counsel he took with a trusty flask suspended at
his belt. It was no pleasant reflection that the rain would be down
before he could build up anything like shelter for horse and man. Still
sadder the necessity of selecting his post on strange ground, and in
darkness. He kept an anxious look-out for the moon, and was presently
rejoiced to behold a broad fire that twinkled branchy beams through an
'My lord calls her Goddess,' said Guy, wistfully. 'The title's
outlandish, and more the style of these foreigners but she may have it
to-night, an she 'll just keep the storm from shrouding her bright eye
a matter of two hours.'
She rose with a boding lustre. Drifts of thin pale upper-cloud leaned
down ladders, pure as virgin silver, for her to climb to her highest seat
on the unrebellious half-circle of heaven.
'My mind's made up!' quoth Guy to the listening part of himself. 'Out of
this I'll get.'
By the clearer ray he had discerned a narrow track running a white
parallel with the general route. At the expense of dislocating a mile of
the cavalcade, he struck into it. A dyke had to be taken, some heavy
fallows crossed, and the way was straight before him. He began to sneer
at the slow jog-trot and absence of enterprise which made the fellows he
had left shine so poorly in comparison with the Goshawk, but a sight of
two cavaliers in advance checked his vanity, and now to overtake them he
tasked his fat Flemish mare with unwonted pricks of the heel, that made
her fling out and show more mettle than speed.
The objects of this fiery chase did not at first awake to a sense of
being pursued. Both rode with mantled visages, and appeared profoundly
inattentive to the world outside their meditations. But the Goshawk was
not to be denied, and by dint of alternately roaring at them and
upbraiding his two stumping beasts, he at last roused the younger of the
cavaliers, who called to his companion loudly: without effect it seemed,
for he had to repeat the warning. Guy was close up with them, when the
'Father! holy father! 'Tis Sathanas in person!'
The other rose and pointed trembling to a dark point in the distance as
'Not here! not here; but yonder!'
Guy recognized the voice of the first speaker, and cried:
'Stay! halt a second! Have you forgotten the Goshawk?'
'Never!' came the reply, 'and forget not Farina!'
Spur and fleeter steeds carried them out of hearing ere Guy could throw
in another syllable. Farina gazed back on him remorsefully, but the Monk
now rated his assistant with indignation.
'Thou weak one! nothing less than fool! to betray thy name on such an
adventure as this to soul save the saints!'
Farina tossed back his locks, and held his forehead to the moon. All the
Monk's ghostly wrath was foiled by the one little last sweet word of his
beloved, which made music in his ears whenever annoyance sounded.
'And herein,' say the old writers, 'are lovers, who love truly, truly
recompensed for their toils and pains; in that love, for which they
suffer, is ever present to ward away suffering not sprung of love: but
the disloyal, who serve not love faithfully, are a race given over to
whatso this base world can wreak upon them, without consolation or
comfort of their mistress, Love; whom sacrificing not all to, they know
not to delight in.'
The soul of a lover lives through every member of him in the joy of a
moonlight ride. Sorrow and grief are slow distempers that crouch from
the breeze, and nourish their natures far from swift-moving things. A
true lover is not one of those melancholy flies that shoot and maze over
muddy stagnant pools. He must be up in the great air. He must strike
all the strings of life. Swiftness is his rapture. In his wide arms he
embraces the whole form of beauty. Eagle-like are his instincts; dove-
like his desires. Then the fair moon is the very presence of his
betrothed in heaven. So for hours rode Farina in a silver-fleeting
glory; while the Monk as a shadow, galloped stern and silent beside him.
So, crowning them in the sky, one half was all love and light; one,
blackness and fell purpose.
THE COMBAT ON DRACHENFELS
Not to earth was vouchsafed the honour of commencing the great battle of
that night. By an expiring blue-shot beam of moonlight, Farina beheld a
vast realm of gloom filling the hollow of the West, and the moon was soon
extinguished behind sluggish scraps of iron scud detached from the
swinging bulk of ruin, as heavily it ground on the atmosphere in the
first thunder-launch of motion.
The heart of the youth was strong, but he could not view without quicker
fawning throbs this manifestation of immeasurable power, which seemed as
if with a stroke it was capable of destroying creation and the works of
man. The bare aspect of the tempest lent terrors to the adventure he was
engaged in, and of which he knew not the aim, nor might forecast the
issue. Now there was nothing to illumine their path but such forked
flashes as lightning threw them at intervals, touching here a hill with
clustered cottages, striking into day there a May-blossom, a patch of
weed, a single tree by the wayside. Suddenly a more vivid and continuous
quiver of violet fire met its reflection on the landscape, and Farina saw
the Rhine-stream beneath him.
'On such a night,' thought he, 'Siegfried fought and slew the dragon!'
A blast of light, as from the jaws of the defeated dragon in his throes,
made known to him the country he traversed. Crimsoned above the water
glimmered the monster-haunted rock itself, and mid-channel beyond, flat
and black to the stream, stretched the Nuns' Isle in cloistral peace.
'Halt!' cried the Monk, and signalled with a peculiar whistle, to which
he seemed breathlessly awaiting an answer. They were immediately
surrounded by longrobed veiled figures.
'Not too late?' the Monk hoarsely asked of them.
'Yet an hour!' was the reply, in soft clear tones of a woman's voice.
'Great strength and valour more than human be mine,' exclaimed the Monk,
He passed apart from them; and they drew in a circle, while he prayed,
Presently he returned, and led Farina to a bank, drawing from some
hiding-place a book and a bell, which he gave into the hands of the
'For thy soul, no word!' said the Monk, speaking down his throat as he
took in breath. 'Nay! not in answer to me! Be faithful, and more than
earthly fortune is thine; for I say unto thee, I shall not fail, having
grace to sustain this combat.'
Thereupon he commenced the ascent of Drachenfels.
Farina followed. He had no hint of the Monk's mission, nor of the part
himself was to play in it. Such a load of silence gathered on his
questioning spirit, that the outcry of the rageing elements alone
prevented him from arresting the Monk and demanding the end of his
service there. That outcry was enough to freeze speech on the very lips
of a mortal. For scarce had they got footing on the winding path of the
crags, when the whole vengeance of the storm was hurled against the
mountain. Huge boulders were loosened and came bowling from above: trees
torn by their roots from the fissures whizzed on the eddies of the wind:
torrents of rain foamed down the iron flanks of rock, and flew off in
hoar feathers against the short pauses of darkness: the mountain heaved,
and quaked, and yawned a succession of hideous chasms.
'There's a devil in this,' thought Farina. He looked back and marked the
river imaging lurid abysses of cloud above the mountain-summit--yea! and
on the summit a flaming shape was mirrored.
Two nervous hands stayed the cry on his mouth.
'Have I not warned thee?' said the husky voice of the Monk. 'I may well
watch, and think for thee as for a dog. Be thou as faithful!'
He handed a flask to the youth, and bade him drink. Farina drank and
felt richly invigorated. The Monk then took bell and book.
'But half an hour,' he muttered, 'for this combat that is to ring through
Crossing himself, he strode wildly upward. Farina saw him beckon back
once, and the next instant he was lost round an incline of the highest
The wind that had just screamed a thousand death-screams, was now awfully
dumb, albeit Farina could feel it lifting hood and hair. In the
unnatural stillness his ear received tones of a hymn chanted below; now
sinking, now swelling; as though the voices faltered between prayer and
inspiration. Farina caught on a projection of crag, and fixed his eyes
on what was passing on the height.
There was the Monk in his brown hood and wrapper, confronting--if he
might trust his balls of sight--the red-hot figure of the Prince of
As yet no mortal tussle had taken place between them. They were arguing:
angrily, it was true: yet with the first mutual deference of practised
logicians. Latin and German was alternately employed by both. It
thrilled Farina's fervid love of fatherland to hear the German Satan
spoke: but his Latin was good, and his command over that tongue
remarkable; for, getting the worst of the argument, as usual, he revenged
himself by parodying one of the Church canticles with a point that
discomposed his adversary, and caused him to retreat a step, claiming
support against such shrewd assault.
'The use of an unexpected weapon in warfare is in itself half a victory.
Induce your antagonist to employ it as a match for you, and reckon on
completely routing him . . .' says the old military chronicle.
'Come!' said the Demon with easy raillery. 'You know your game--I mine!
I really want the good people to be happy; dancing, kissing, propagating,
what you will. We quite agree. You can have no objection to me, but a
foolish old prejudice--not personal, but class; an antipathy of the cowl,
for which I pardon you! What I should find in you to complain of--I have
only to mention it, I am sure--is, that perhaps you do speak a little too
much through your nose.'
The Monk did not fall into the jocular trap by retorting in the same
'Laugh with the Devil, and you won't laugh longest,' says the proverb.
Keeping to his own arms, the holy man frowned.
'Avaunt, Fiend!' he cried. 'To thy kingdom below! Thou halt raged over
earth a month, causing blights, hurricanes, and epidemics of the deadly
sins. Parley no more! Begone!'
The Demon smiled: the corners of his mouth ran up to his ears, and his
eyes slid down almost into one.
'Still through the nose!' said he reproachfully.
'I give thee Five Minutes!' cried the Monk.
'I had hoped for a longer colloquy,' sighed the Demon, jogging his left
leg and trifling with his tail.
'One Minute !' exclaimed the Monk.
'Truly so!' said the Demon. 'I know old Time and his habits better than
you really can. We meet every Saturday night, and communicate our best
jokes. I keep a book of them Down There!'
And as if he had reason to remember the pavement of his Halls, he stood
tiptoe and whipped up his legs.
The Demon waved perfect acquiescence, and continued:
'We understand each other, he and I. All Old Ones do. As long as he
lasts, I shall. The thing that surprises me is, that you and I cannot
agree, similar as we are in temperament, and playing for the long odds,
both of us. My failure is, perhaps, too great a passion for sport, aha!
Well, 'tis a pity you won't try and live on the benevolent principle.
I am indeed kind to them who commiserate my condition. I give them all
they want, aha! Hem! Try and not believe in me now, aha! Ho! . . .
Can't you? What are eyes? Persuade yourself you're dreaming. You can
do anything with a mind like yours, Father Gregory! And consider the
luxury of getting me out of the way so easily, as many do. It is my
finest suggestion, aha! Generally I myself nudge their ribs with the
capital idea--You're above bribes? I was going to observe--'
'Observe, that if you care for worldly honours, I can smother you with
that kind of thing. Several of your first-rate people made a bargain
with me when they were in the fog, and owe me a trifle. Patronage they
call it. I hook the high and the low. Too-little and too-much serve me
better than Beelzebub. A weak stomach is certainly more carnally
virtuous than a full one. Consequently my kingdom is becoming too
respectable. They've all got titles, and object to being asked to poke
the fire without--Honourable-and-with-Exceeding-Brightness-Beaming
Baroness This! Admirably-Benignant-Down-looking Highness That!
Interrupts business, especially when you have to ask them to fry
themselves, according to the rules . . . Would you like Mainz and the
Rheingau? . . . You don't care for Beauty--Puella, Puellae? I have
plenty of them, too, below. The Historical Beauties warmed up at a
moment's notice. Modern ones made famous between morning and night--
Fame is the sauce of Beauty. Or, no--eh?'
'Not quite so fast, if you please. You want me gone. Now, where's
your charity? Do you ask me to be always raking up those poor devils
underneath? While I'm here, they've a respite. They cannot think you
kind, Father Gregory! As for the harm, you see, I'm not the more
agreeable by being face to face with you--though some fair dames do take
to my person monstrously. The secret is, the quantity of small talk I
can command: that makes them forget my smell, which is, I confess,
abominable, displeasing to myself, and my worst curse. Your sort, Father
Gregory, are somewhat unpleasant in that particular--if I may judge by
their Legate here. Well, try small talk. They would fall desperately in
love with polecats and skunks if endowed with small talk. Why, they have
become enamoured of monks before now! If skunks, why not monks? And
Having solemnly bellowed this tremendous number, the holy man lifted his
arms to begin the combat.
Farina felt his nerves prick with admiration of the ghostly warrior
daring the Second Power of Creation on that lonely mountain-top. He
expected, and shuddered at thought of the most awful fight ever yet
chronicled of those that have taken place between heroes and the hounds
of evil: but his astonishment was great to hear the Demon, while Bell was
in air and Book aloft, retreat, shouting, 'Hold!'
'I surrender,' said he sullenly. 'What terms?'
'Instantaneous riddance of thee from face of earth.'
'Good!--Now,' said the Demon, 'did you suppose I was to be trapped into a
fight? No doubt you wish to become a saint, and have everybody talking
of my last defeat . . . . Pictures, poems, processions, with the
Devil downmost! No. You're more than a match for me.'
'Silence, Darkness!' thundered the Monk, 'and think not to vanquish thy
victor by flatteries. Begone!'
And again he towered in his wrath.
The Demon drew his tail between his legs, and threw the forked, fleshy,
quivering end over his shoulder. He then nodded cheerfully, pointed his
feet, and finicked a few steps away, saying: 'I hope we shall meet
Upon that he shot out his wings, that were like the fins of the wyver-
fish, sharpened in venomous points.
'Commands for your people below?' he inquired, leering with chin awry.
'Desperate ruffians some of those cowls. You are right not to
Farina beheld the holy man in no mood to let the Enemy tamper with him
The Demon was influenced by a like reflection; for, saying, 'Cologne is
the city your Holiness inhabits, I think?' he shot up rocket-like over
Rhineland, striking the entire length of the stream, and its rough-
bearded castle-crests, slate-ledges, bramble-clefts, vine-slopes, and
haunted valleys, with one brimstone flash. Frankfort and the far Main
saw him and reddened. Ancient Trier and Mosel; Heidelberg and Neckar;
Limberg and Lahn, ran guilty of him. And the swift artery of these
shining veins, Rhine, from his snow cradle to his salt decease, glimmered
Stygian horrors as the Infernal Comet, sprung over Bonn, sparkled a fiery
minute along the face of the stream, and vanished, leaving a seam of
ragged flame trailed on the midnight heavens.
Farina breathed hard through his teeth.
'The last of him was awful,' said he, coming forward to where the Monk
knelt and grasped his breviary, 'but he was vanquished easily.'
'Easily?' exclaimed the holy man, gasping satisfaction: 'thou weakling!
is it for thee to measure difficulties, or estimate powers? Easily?
thou worldling! and so are great deeds judged when the danger's past!
And what am I but the humble instrument that brought about this wondrous
conquest! the poor tool of this astounding triumph! Shall the sword say,
This is the battle I won! Yonder the enemy I overthrow! Bow to me, ye
lords of earth, and worshippers of mighty acts? Not so! Nay, but the
sword is honoured in the hero's grasp, and if it break not, it is
accounted trusty. This, then, this little I may claim, that I was
trusty! Trusty in a heroic encounter! Trusty in a battle with earth's
terror! Oh! but this must not be said. This is to think too much!
This is to be more than aught yet achieved by man!'
The holy warrior crossed his arms, and gently bowed his head.
'Take me to the Sisters,' he said. 'The spirit has gone out of me! I am
faint, and as a child!'
Farina asked, and had, his blessing.
'And with it my thanks!' said the Monk. 'Thou hast witnessed how he can
be overcome! Thou hast looked upon a scene that will be the glory of
Christendom! Thou hast beheld the discomfiture of Darkness before the
voice of Light! Yet think not much of me: account me little in this
matter! I am but an instrument! but an instrument!--and again, but an
Farina drew the arms of the holy combatant across his shoulders and
The tempest was as a forgotten anguish. Bright with maiden splendour
shone the moon; and the old rocks, cherished in her beams, put up their
horns to blue heaven once more. All the leafage of the land shook as to
shake off a wicked dream, and shuddered from time to time, whispering of
old fears quieted, and present peace. The heart of the river fondled
with the image of the moon in its depths.
'This is much to have won for earth,' murmured the Monk. 'And what is
life, or who would not risk all, to snatch such loveliness from the
talons of the Fiend, the Arch-foe? Yet, not I! not I! say not, 'twas I
Soft praises of melody ascended to them on the moist fragrance of air.
It was the hymn of the Sisters.
'How sweet!' murmured the Monk. 'Put it from me! away with it!'
Rising on Farina's back, and stirruping his feet on the thighs of the
youth, he cried aloud: 'I charge ye, whoso ye be, sing not this deed
before the emperor! By the breath of your nostrils; pause! ere ye
whisper aught of the combat of Saint Gregory with Satan, and his victory,
and the marvel of it, while he liveth; for he would die the humble monk
He resumed his seat, and Farina brought him into the circle of the
Sisters. Those pure women took him, and smoothed him, lamenting, and
filling the night with triumphing tones.
Farina stood apart.
'The breeze tells of dawn,' said the Monk; 'we must be in Cologne before
They mounted horse, and the Sisters grouped and reverenced under the
blessings of the Monk.
'No word of it!' said the Monk warningly. 'We are silent, Father!' they
answered. 'Cologne-ward!' was then his cry, and away he and Farina,
THE GOSHAWK LEADS
Morning was among the grey eastern clouds as they rode upon the camp
hastily formed to meet the Kaiser. All there was in a wallow of
confusion. Fierce struggles for precedence still went on in the
neighbourhood of the imperial tent ground, where, under the standard of
Germany, lounged some veterans of the Kaiser's guard, calmly watching the
scramble. Up to the edge of the cultivated land nothing was to be seen
but brawling clumps of warriors asserting the superior claims of their
respective lords. Variously and hotly disputed were these claims, as
many red coxcombs testified. Across that point where the green field
flourished, not a foot was set, for the Kaiser's care of the farmer, and
affection for good harvests, made itself respected even in the heat of
those jealous rivalries. It was said of him, that he would have camped
in a bog, or taken quarters in a cathedral, rather than trample down a
green blade of wheat, or turn over one vine-pole in the empire. Hence
the presence of Kaiser Heinrich was never hailed as Egypt's plague by the
peasantry, but welcome as the May month wherever he went.
Father Gregory and Farina found themselves in the centre of a group ere
they drew rein, and a cry rose, 'The good father shall decide, and all's
fair,' followed by, 'Agreed! Hail and tempest! he's dropped down o'
'Father,' said one, 'here it is! I say I saw the Devil himself fly off
Drachenfels, and flop into Cologne. Fritz here, and Frankenbauch, saw
him too. They'll swear to him: so 'll I. Hell's thunder! will we.
Yonder fellows will have it 'twas a flash o' lightning, as if I didn't
see him, horns, tail, and claws, and a mighty sight 'twas, as I'm a
A clash of voices, for the Devil and against him, burst on this accurate
description of the Evil spirit. The Monk sank his neck into his chest.
'Gladly would I hold silence on this, my sons,' said he, in a
'Speak, Father,' cried the first spokesman, gathering courage from the
looks of the Monk.
Father Gregory appeared to commune with himself deeply. At last, lifting
his head, and murmuring, 'It must be,' he said aloud:
''Twas verily Satan, O my sons! Him this night in mortal combat I
encountered and overcame on the summit of Drachenfels, before the eyes of
this youth; and from Satan I this night deliver ye! an instrument herein
as in all other.'
Shouts, and a far-spreading buzz resounded in the camp. Hundreds had now
seen Satan flying off the Drachenstein. Father Gregory could no longer
hope to escape from the importunate crowds that beset him for
particulars. The much-contested point now was, as to the exact position
of Satan's tail during his airy circuit, before descending into Cologne.
It lashed like a lion's. 'Twas cocked, for certain! He sneaked it
between his legs like a lurcher! He made it stumpy as a brown bear's!
He carried it upright as a pike!
'O my sons! have I sown dissension? Have I not given ye peace?'
exclaimed the Monk.
But they continued to discuss it with increasing frenzy.
Farina cast a glance over the tumult, and beheld his friend Guy beckoning
earnestly. He had no difficulty in getting away to him, as the fetters
of all eyes were on the Monk alone.
The Goshawk was stamping with excitement.
'Not a moment to be lost, my lad,' said Guy, catching his arm. 'Here,
I've had half-a-dozen fights already for this bit of ground. Do you know
that fellow squatting there?'
Farina beheld the Thier at the entrance of a tumbledown tent. He was
ruefully rubbing a broken head.
'Now,' continued Guy, 'to mount him is the thing; and then after the
wolves of Werner as fast as horse-flesh can carry us. No questions!
Bound, are you? And what am I? But this is life and death, lad! Hark!'
The Goshawk whispered something that sucked the blood out of Farina's
'Look you--what's your lockjaw name? Keep good faith with me, and you
shall have your revenge, and the shiners I promise, besides my lord's
interest for a better master: but, sharp! we won't mount till we're out
of sight o' the hell-scum you horde with.'
The Thier stood up and staggered after them through the camp. There was
no difficulty in mounting him horses were loose, and scampering about the
country, not yet delivered from their terrors of the last night's
'Here be we, three good men!' exclaimed Guy, when they were started, and
Farina had hurriedly given him the heads of his adventure with the Monk.
'Three good men! One has helped to kick the devil: one has served an
apprenticeship to his limb: and one is ready to meet him foot to foot any
day, which last should be myself. Not a man more do we want, though it
were to fish up that treasure you talk of being under the Rhine there,
and guarded by I don't know how many tricksy little villains. Horses can
be ferried across at Linz, you say?'
'Ay, thereabout,' grunted the Thier.
'We 're on the right road, then!' said Guy. 'Thanks to you both, I've
had no sleep for two nights--not a wink, and must snatch it going--not
the first time.'
The Goshawk bent his body, and spoke no more. Farina could not get a
word further from him. By the mastery he still had over his rein, the
Goshawk alone proved that he was of the world of the living. Schwartz
Thier, rendered either sullen or stunned by the latest cracked crown he
had received, held his jaws close as if they had been nailed.
At Linz the horses were well breathed. The Goshawk, who had been snoring
an instant before, examined them keenly, and shook his calculating head.
'Punch that beast of yours in the ribs,' said he to Farina. 'Ah! not a
yard of wind in him. And there's the coming back, when we shall have
more to carry. Well: this is my lord's money; but i' faith, it's going
in a good cause, and Master Groschen will make it all right, no doubt;
not a doubt of it.'
The Goshawk had seen some excellent beasts in the stables of the Kaiser's
Krone; but the landlord would make no exchange without an advance of
silver. This done, the arrangement was prompt.
'Schwartz Thier!--I've got your name now,' said Guy, as they were
ferrying across, 'you're stiff certain they left Cologne with the maiden
'Ah, did they! and she's at the Eck safe enow by this time.'
'And away from the Eck this night she shall come, trust me!'
'Or there will I die with her!' cried Farina.
'Fifteen men at most, he has, you said,' continued Guy.
'Two not sound, five true as steel, and the rest shillyshally. 'Slife,
one lock loose serves us; but two saves us: five we're a match for,
throwing in bluff Baron; the remainder go with victory.'
'Can we trust this fellow?' whispered Farina.
'Trust him!' roared Guy. 'Why, I've thumped him, lad; pegged and
pardoned him. Trust him? trust me! If Werner catches a sight of that
snout of his within half-a-mile of his hold, he'll roast him alive.'
He lowered his voice: 'Trust him? We can do nothing without him.
I knocked the devil out of him early this morning. No chance for his
Highness anywhere now. This Eck of Werner's would stand a siege from the
Kaiser in person, I hear. We must into it like weasels; and out as we
Dismissing the ferry-barge with stern injunctions to be in waiting from
noon to noon, the three leapt on their fresh nags.
'Stop at the first village,' said Guy; 'we must lay in provision. As
Master Groschen says, "Nothing's to be done, Turpin, without provender."'
'Goshawk!' cried Farina; 'you have time; tell me how this business was
The only reply was a soft but decided snore, that spoke, like a
voluptuous trumpet, of dreamland and its visions.
At Sinzig, the Thier laid his hand on Guy's bridle, with the words, 'Feed
here,' a brief, but effective, form of signal, which aroused the Goshawk
completely. The sign of the Trauben received them. Here, wurst reeking
with garlic, eggs, black bread, and sour wine, was all they could
procure. Farina refused to eat, and maintained his resolution, in spite
of Guy's sarcastic chiding.
'Rub down the beasts, then, and water them,' said the latter. 'Made a
vow, I suppose,' muttered Guy.
'That's the way of those fellows. No upright manly take-the-thing-as-it-
comes; but fly-sky-high whenever there's a dash on their heaven. What
has his belly done to offend him? It will be crying out just when we
want all quiet. I wouldn't pay Werner such a compliment as go without a
breakfast for him. Not I! Would you, Schwartz Thier?'
'Henker! not I!' growled the Thier. 'He'll lose one sooner.'
'First snatch his prey, or he'll be making, God save us! a meal for a
Kaiser, the brute.'
Guy called in the landlady, clapped down the score, and abused the wine.
'Sir,' said the landlady, 'ours is but a poor inn, and we do our best.'
'So you do,' replied the Goshawk, softened; 'and I say that a civil
tongue and rosy smiles sweeten even sour wine.'
The landlady, a summer widow, blushed, and as he was stepping from the
room, called him aside.
'I thought you were one of that dreadful Werner's band, and I hate him.'
Guy undeceived her.
'He took my sister,' she went on, 'and his cruelty killed her. He
persecuted me even in the lifetime of my good man. Last night he came
here in the middle of the storm with a young creature bright as an angel,
'He's gone, you're sure?' broke in Guy.
'Gone! Oh, yes! Soon as the storm abated he dragged her on. Oh! the
way that young thing looked at me, and I able to do nothing for her.'
'Now, the Lord bless you for a rosy Christian!' cried Guy, and, in his
admiration, he flung his arm round her and sealed a ringing kiss on each
'No good man defrauded by that! and let me see the fellow that thinks
evil of it. If I ever told a woman a secret, I 'd tell you one now,
trust me. But I never do, so farewell! Not another?'
Hasty times keep the feelings in a ferment, and the landlady was
extremely angry with Guy and heartily forgave him, all within a minute.
'No more,' said she, laughing: 'but wait; I have something for you.'
The Goshawk lingered on a fretting heel. She was quickly under his elbow
again with two flasks leaning from her bosom to her arms.
'There! I seldom meet a man like you; and, when I do, I like to be
remembered. This is a true good wine, real Liebfrauenmilch, which I only
give to choice customers.'
'Welcome it is!' sang Guy to her arch looks; 'but I must pay for it.'
'Not a pfennig!' said the landlady.
'Not one !' she repeated, with a stamp of the foot.
'In other coin, then,' quoth Guy; and folding her waist, which did not
this time back away, the favoured Goshawk registered rosy payment on a
very fresh red mouth, receiving in return such lively discount, that he
felt himself bound in conscience to make up the full sum a second time.
'What a man!' sighed the landlady, as she watched the Goshawk lead off
along the banks; 'courtly as a knight, open as a squire, and gentle as a
A league behind Andernach, and more in the wintry circle of the sun than
Laach, its convenient monastic neighbour, stood the castle of Werner, the
Robber Baron. Far into the South, hazy with afternoon light, a yellow
succession of sandhills stretched away, spouting fire against the blue
sky of an elder world, but now dead and barren of herbage. Around is a
dusty plain, where the green blades of spring no sooner peep than they
become grimed with sand and take an aged look, in accordance with the
ungenerous harvests they promise. The aridity of the prospect is
relieved on one side by the lofty woods of Laach, through which the sun
setting burns golden-red, and on the other by the silver sparkle of a
narrow winding stream, bordered with poplars, and seen but a glistening
mile of its length by all the thirsty hills. The Eck, or Corner, itself,
is thick-set with wood, but of a stunted growth, and lying like a dark
patch on the landscape. It served, however, entirely to conceal the
castle, and mask every movement of the wary and terrible master. A
trained eye advancing on the copse would hardly mark the glimmer of the
turrets over the topmost leaves, but to every loophole of the walls lies
bare the circuit of the land. Werner could rule with a glance the
Rhine's course down from the broad rock over Coblentz to the white tower
of Andernach. He claimed that march as his right; but the Mosel was no
hard ride's distance, and he gratified his thirst for rapine chiefly on
that river, delighting in it, consequently, as much as his robber nature
boiled over the bound of his feudal privileges.
Often had the Baron held his own against sieges and restrictions, bans
and impositions of all kinds. He boasted that there was never a knight
within twenty miles of him that he had not beaten, nor monk of the same
limit not in his pay. This braggadocio received some warrant from his
yearly increase of licence; and his craft and his castle combined,
made him a notable pest of the region, a scandal to the abbey whose
countenance he had, and a frightful infliction on the poorer farmers
The sun was beginning to slope over Laach, and threw the shadows of the
abbey towers half-way across the blue lake-waters, as two men in the garb
of husbandmen emerged from the wood. Their feet plunged heavily and
their heads hung down, as they strode beside a wain mounted with straw,
whistling an air of stupid unconcern; but a close listener might have
heard that the lumbering vehicle carried a human voice giving them
directions as to the road they were to take, and what sort of behaviour
to observe under certain events. The land was solitary. A boor passing
asked whether toll or tribute they were conveying to Werner. Tribute,
they were advised to reply, which caused him to shrug and curse as he
jogged on. Hearing him, the voice in the wain chuckled grimly. Their
next speech was with a trooper, who overtook them, and wanted to know
what they had in the wain for Werner. Tribute, they replied, and won the
title of 'brave pigs' for their trouble.
'But what's the dish made of?' said the trooper, stirring the straw with
'Tribute,' came the answer.
'Ha! You've not been to Werner's school,' and the trooper swung a sword-
stroke at the taller of the two, sending a tremendous shudder throughout
his frame; but he held his head to the ground, and only seemed to betray
animal consciousness in leaning his ear closer to the wain.
'Blood and storm! Will ye speak?' cried the trooper.
'Never talk much; but an ye say nothing to the Baron,'--thrusting his
hand into the straw--'here's what's better than speaking.'
'Well said!--Eh? Liebfrauenmilch? Ho, ho! a rare bleed!'
Striking the neck of the flask on a wheel, the trooper applied it to his
mouth, and ceased not deeply ingurgitating till his face was broad to the
sky and the bottle reversed. He then dashed it down, sighed, and shook
'Rare news! the Kaiser's come: he'll be in Cologne by night; but first he
must see the Baron, and I'm post with the order. That's to show you how
high he stands in the Kaiser's grace. Don't be thinking of upsetting
Werner yet, any of you; mind, now!'
'That's Blass-Gesell,' said the voice in the wain, as the trooper trotted
on: adding, ''gainst us.'
'Makes six,' responded the driver.
Within sight of the Eck, they descried another trooper coming toward
them. This time the driver was first to speak.
'Tribute! Provender! Bread and wine for the high Baron Werner from his
vassals over Tonnistein.'
'And I'm out of it! fasting like a winter wolf,' howled the fellow.
He was in the act of addressing himself to an inspection of the wain's
contents, when a second flask lifted in air, gave a sop to his curiosity.
This flask suffered the fate of the former.
'A Swabian blockhead, aren't you?'
'Ay, that country,' said the driver. 'May be, Henker Rothhals happens to
be with the Baron?'
'To hell with him! I wish he had my job, and I his, of watching the
yellow-bird in her new cage, till she's taken out to-night, and then a
jolly bumper to the Baron all round.'
The driver wished him a fortunate journey, strongly recommending him to
skirt the abbey westward, and go by the Ahr valley, as there was
something stirring that way, and mumbling, 'Makes five again,' as he put
the wheels in motion.
'Goshawk!' said his visible companion; 'what do you say now?'
'I say, bless that widow!'
'Oh! bring me face to face with this accursed Werner quickly, my God !'
gasped the youth.
'Tusk! 'tis not Werner we want--there's the Thier speaking. No, no,
Schwartz Thier! I trust you, no doubt; but the badger smells at a hole,
before he goes inside it. We're strangers, and are allowed to miss our
Leaving the wain in Farina's charge, he pushed through a dense growth of
shrub and underwood, and came crouching on a precipitous edge of shrouded
crag, which commanded a view of the stronghold, extending round it, as if
scooped clean by some natural action, about a stone'sthrow distant, and
nearly level with the look-out tower. Sheer from a deep circular basin
clothed with wood, and bottomed with grass and bubbling water, rose a
naked moss-stained rock, on whose peak the castle firmly perched, like a
spying hawk. The only means of access was by a narrow natural bridge of
rock flung from this insulated pinnacle across to the mainland. One man,
well disposed, might have held it against forty.
'Our way's the best,' thought Guy, as he meditated every mode of gaining
admission. 'A hundred men an hour might be lost cutting steps up that
steep slate; and once at the top we should only have to be shoved down
While thus engaged, he heard a summons sounded from the castle, and
scrambled back to Farina.
'The Thier leads now,' said he, 'and who leads is captain. It seems
easier to get out of that than in. There's a square tower, and a round.
I guess the maiden to be in the round. Now, lad, no crying out--You
don't come in with us; but back you go for the horses, and have them
ready and fresh in yon watered meadow under the castle. The path down
'Man!' cried Farina, 'what do you take me for?--go you for the horses.'
'Not for a fool,' Guy rejoined, tightening his lip; 'but now is your time
to prove yourself one.'
'With you, or without you, I enter that castle!'
'Oh! if you want to be served up hot for the Baron's supper-mess, by all
'Thunder!' growled Schwartz Thier, 'aren't ye moving?'
The Goshawk beckoned Farina aside.
'Act as I tell you, or I'm for Cologne.'
'Traitor!' muttered the youth.
'Swearing this, that if we fail, the Baron shall need a leech sooner than
'That stroke must be mine!'
The Goshawk griped the muscle of Farina's arm till the youth was
compelled to slacken it with pain.
'Could you drive a knife through a six-inch wood-wall? I doubt this wild
boar wants a harder hit than many a best man could give. 'Sblood! obey,
sirrah. How shall we keep yon fellow true, if he sees we're at points?'
'I yield,' exclaimed Farina with a fall of the chest; 'but hear I nothing
of you by midnight--Oh! then think not I shall leave another minute to
chance. Farewell! haste! Heaven prosper you! You will see her, and die
under her eyes. That may be denied to me. What have I done to be
refused that last boon?'
'Gone without breakfast and dinner,' said Guy in abhorrent tones.
A whistle from the wain, following a noise of the castlegates being flung
open, called the Goshawk away, and he slouched his shoulders and strode
to do his part, without another word. Farina gazed after him, and
dropped into the covert.
'Bird of lovers! Voice of the passion of love! Sweet, deep, disaster-
toning nightingale!' sings the old minnesinger; 'who that has not loved,
hearing thee is touched with the wand of love's mysteries, and yearneth
to he knoweth not whom, humbled by overfulness of heart; but who,
listening, already loveth, heareth the language he would speak, yet
faileth in; feeleth the great tongueless sea of his infinite desires
stirred beyond his narrow bosom; is as one stript of wings whom the
angels beckon to their silver homes: and he leaneth forward to ascend to
them, and is mocked by his effort: then is he of the fallen, and of the
fallen would he remain, but that tears lighten him, and through the tears
stream jewelled shafts dropt down to him from the sky, precious ladders
inlaid with amethyst, sapphire, blended jasper, beryl, rose-ruby, ether
of heaven flushed with softened bloom of the insufferable Presences: and
lo, the ladders dance, and quiver, and waylay his eyelids, and a second
time he is mocked, aspiring: and after the third swoon standeth Hope
before him with folded arms, and eyes dry of the delusions of tears,
saying, Thou hast seen! thou hast felt! thy strength hath reached in thee
so far! now shall I never die in thee !'
'For surely,' says the minstrel, 'Hope is not born of earth, or it were
perishable. Rather know her the offspring of that embrace strong love
straineth the heavens with. This owe we to thy music, bridal
nightingale! And the difference of this celestial spirit from the
smirking phantasy of whom all stand soon or late forsaken, is the
difference between painted day with its poor ambitious snares, and night
lifting its myriad tapers round the throne of the eternal, the prophet
stars of everlasting time! And the one dieth, and the other liveth; and
the one is unregretted, and the other walketh in thought-spun raiment of
divine melancholy; her ears crowded with the pale surges that wrap this
shifting shore; in her eyes a shape of beauty floating dimly, that she
will not attain this side the water, but broodeth on evermore.
'Therefore, hold on thy cherished four long notes, which are as the very
edge where exultation and anguish melt, meet, and are sharpened to one
ecstasy, death-dividing bird! Fill the woods with passionate chuckle and
sob, sweet chaplain of the marriage service of a soul with heaven! Pour
out thy holy wine of song upon the soft-footed darkness, till, like a
priest of the inmost temple, 'tis drunken with fair intelligences!'
Thus the old minstrels and minnesingers.
Strong and full sang the nightingales that night Farina held watch by the
guilty castle that entombed his living beloved. The castle looked itself
a denser shade among the moonthrown shadows of rock and tree. The meadow
spread like a green courtyard at the castle's foot. It was of lush deep
emerald grass, softly mixed with grey in the moon's light, and showing
like jasper. Where the shadows fell thickest, there was yet a mist
of colour. All about ran a brook, and babbled to itself. The spring
crocus lifted its head in moist midgrasses of the meadow, rejoiced with
freshness. The rugged heights seemed to clasp this one innocent spot as
their only garden-treasure; and a bank of hazels hid it from the castle
with a lover's arm.
'The moon will tell me,' mused Farina; 'the moon will signal me the hour!
When the moon hangs over the round tower, I shall know 'tis time to
The song of the nightingales was a full unceasing throb.
It went like the outcry of one heart from branch to branch. The four
long notes, and the short fifth which leads off to that hurried gush of
music, gurgling rich with passion, came thick and constant from under the
At first Farina had been deaf to them. His heart was in the dungeon with
Margarita, or with the Goshawk in his dangers, forming a thousand
desperate plans, among the red-hot ploughshares of desperate action.
Finally, without a sense of being wooed, it was won. The tenderness of
his love then mastered him.
'God will not suffer that fair head to come to harm!' he thought, and
with the thought a load fell off his breast.
He paced the meadows, and patted the three pasturing steeds.
Involuntarily his sight grew on the moon. She went so slowly. She
seemed not to move at all. A little wing of vapour flew toward her; it
whitened, passed, and the moon was slower than before. Oh! were the
heavens delaying their march to look on this iniquity? Again and again
he cried, 'Patience, it is not time!' He flung himself on the grass. The
next moment he climbed the heights, and was peering at the mass of gloom
that fronted the sky. It reared such a mailed head of menace, that his
heart was seized with a quivering, as though it had been struck. Behind
lay scattered some small faint-winkling stars on sapphire fields, and a
stain of yellow light was in a breach of one wall.
He descended. What was the Goshawk doing? Was he betrayed? It was
surely now time? No; the moon had not yet smitten the face of the
castle. He made his way through the hazel-bank among flitting
nightmoths, and glanced up to measure the moon's distance. As he did so,
a first touch of silver fell on the hoary flint.
'Oh, young bird of heaven in that Devil's clutch!'
Sounds like the baying of boar-hounds alarmed him. They whined into
He fell back. The meadow breathed peace, and more and more the
nightingales volumed their notes. As in a charmed circle of palpitating
song, he succumbed to languor. The brook rolled beside him fresh as an
infant, toying with the moonlight. He leaned over it, and thrice
waywardly dipped his hand in the clear translucence.
Was it his own face imaged there?
Farina bent close above an eddy of the water. It whirled with a strange
tumult, breaking into lines and lights a face not his own, nor the
moon's; nor was it a reflection. The agitation increased. Now a wreath
of bubbles crowned the pool, and a pure water-lily, but larger, ascended
He started aside; and under him a bright head, garlanded with gemmed
roses, appeared. No fairer figure of woman had Farina seen. Her visage
had the lustrous white of moonlight, and all her shape undulated in a
dress of flashing silver-white, wonderful to see. The Lady of the Water
smiled on him, and ran over with ripples and dimples of limpid beauty.
Then, as he retreated on the meadow grass, she swam toward him, and
taking his hand, pressed it to her. After her touch the youth no longer
feared. She curved her finger, and beckoned him on. All that she did
was done flowingly. The youth was a shadow in her silver track as she
passed like a harmless wave over the closed crocuses; but the crocuses
shivered and swelled their throats of streaked purple and argent as at
delicious rare sips of a wine. Breath of violet, and ladysmock, and
valley-lily, mingled and fluttered about her. Farina was as a man
working the day's intent in a dream. He could see the heart in her
translucent, hanging like a cold dingy ruby. By the purity of his nature
he felt that such a presence must have come but to help. It might be
Margarita's guardian fairy!
They passed the hazel-bank, and rounded the castlecrag, washed by the
brook and, beneath the advancing moon, standing in a ring of brawling
silver. The youth with his fervid eyes marked the old weather-stains and
scars of long defiance coming into colour. That mystery of wickedness
which the towers had worn in the dusk, was dissolved, and he endured no
more the almost abashed sensation of competing littleness that made him
think there was nought to do, save die, combating single-handed such
massive power. The moon shone calmly superior, like the prowess of
maiden knights; and now the harsh frown of the walls struck resolution to
his spirit, and nerved him with hate and the contempt true courage feels
when matched against fraud and villany.
On a fallen block of slate, cushioned with rich brown moss and rusted
weather-stains, the Water-Lady sat, and pointed to Farina the path of the
moon toward the round tower. She did not speak, and if his lips parted,
put her cold finger across them. Then she began to hum a soft sweet
monotony of song, vague and careless, very witching to hear. Farina
caught no words, nor whether the song was of days in dust or in flower,
but his mind bloomed with legends and sad splendours of story, while she
sang on the slate-block under sprinkled shadows by the water.
He had listened long in trance, when the Water-Lady hushed, and stretched
forth a slender forefinger to the moon. It stood like a dot over the
round tower. Farina rose in haste. She did not leave him to ask her
aid, but took his hand and led him up the steep ascent. Halfway to the
castle, she rested. There, concealed by bramble-tufts, she disclosed the
low portal of a secret passage, and pushed it open without effort. She
paused at the entrance, and he could see her trembling, seeming to wax
taller, till she was like a fountain glittering in the cold light. Then
she dropped, as drops a dying bet, and cowered into the passage.
Darkness, thick with earth-dews, oppressed his senses. He felt the
clammy walls scraping close on him. Not the dimmest lamp, or guiding
sound, was near; but the lady went on as one who knew her way. Passing a
low-vaulted dungeon-room, they wound up stairs hewn in the rock, and came
to a door, obedient to her touch, which displayed a chamber faintly
misted by a solitary bar of moonlight. Farina perceived they were above
the foundation of the castle. The walls gleamed pale with knightly
harness, habergeons gaping for heads, breastplates of blue steel,
halbert, and hand-axe, greaves, glaives, boar-spears, and polished spur-
fixed heel-pieces. He seized a falchion hanging apart, but the lady
stayed his arm, and led to another flight of stone ending in a kind of
corridor. Noises of laughter and high feasting beset him at this point.
The Lady of the Water sidled her head, as to note a familiar voice; and
then drew him to a looped aperture.
Farina beheld a scene that first dazzled, but, as it grew into shape,
sank him with dismay. Below, and level with the chamber he had left, a
rude banqueting-hall glowed, under the light of a dozen flambeaux, with
smoking boar's flesh, deer's flesh, stone-flagons, and horn-beakers. At
the head of this board sat Werner, scarlet with furious feasting, and on
his right hand, Margarita, bloodless as a beautiful martyr bound to the
fire. Retainers of Werner occupied the length of the hall, chorusing the
Baron's speeches, and drinking their own healths when there was no call
for another. Farina saw his beloved alone. She was dressed as when he
parted with her last. The dear cameo lay on her bosom, but not heaving
proudly as of old. Her shoulders were drooped forward, and contracted
her bosom in its heaving. She would have had a humbled look, but for the
marble sternness of her eyes. They were fixed as eyes that see the way
of death through all earthly objects.
'Now, dogs!' cried the Baron, 'the health of the night! and swell your
lungs, for I'll have no cat's cry when Werner's bride is the toast. Monk
or no monk's leave, she's mine. Ay, my pretty one! it shall be made
right in the morning, if I lead all the Laach rats here by the nose.
Thunder! no disrespect to Werner's bride from Pope or abbot. Now, sing
out!--or wait! these fellows shall drink it first.'
He stretched and threw a beaker of wine right and left behind him, and
Farina's despair stiffened his limbs as he recognized the Goshawk and
Schwartz Thier strapped to the floor. Their beards were already moist
with previous libations similarly bestowed, and they received this in
sullen stillness; but Farina thought he observed a rapid glance of
encouragement dart from beneath the Goshawk's bent brows, as Margarita
momentarily turned her head half-way on him.
'Lick your chaps, ye beasts, and don't say Werner stints vermin good
cheer his nuptial-night. Now,' continued the Baron, growing huskier as
he talked louder: 'Short and ringing, my devil's pups:--Werner and his
Bride! and may she soon give you a young baron to keep you in better
order than I can, as, if she does her duty, she will.'
The Baron stood up, and lifted his huge arm to lead the toast.
'Werner and his Bride!'
Not a voice followed him. There was a sudden intimation of the call
being echoed; but it snapped, and ended in shuffling tones, as if the
hall-door had closed on the response.
'What 's this?' roared the Baron, in that caged wild beast voice
Margarita remembered she had heard in the Cathedral Square.
No one replied.
'Speak! or I'll rot you a fathom in the rock, curs!'
'Herr Baron!' said Henker Rothhals impressively; 'the matter is, that
there's something unholy among us.'
The Baron's goblet flew at his head before the words were uttered.
'I'll make an unholy thing of him that says it,' and Werner lowered at
them one by one.
'Then I say it, Herr Baron!' pursued Henker Rothhals, wiping his
frontispiece: 'The Devil has turned against you at last. Look up there--
Ah, it's gone now; but where's the man sitting this side saw it not?'
The Baron made one spring, and stood on the board.
'Now! will any rascal here please to say so?'
Something in the cruel hang of his threatening hatchet jaw silenced many
in the act of confirming the assertion.
'Stand out, Henker Rotthals !'
Rotthals slid a hunting-knife up his wrist, and stepped back from the
'Beast!' roared the Baron, 'I said I wouldn't shed blood to-night. I
spared a traitor, and an enemy----'
'Look again!' said Rothhals; 'will any fellow say he saw nothing there.'
While all heads, including Werner's, were directed to the aperture which
surveyed them, Rothhals tossed his knife to the Goshawk unperceived.
This time answers came to his challenge, but not in confirmation. The
Baron spoke with a gasping gentleness.
'So you trifle with me? I'm dangerous for that game. Mind you of Blass-
Gesell? I made a better beast of him by sending him three-quarters of
the road to hell for trial.' Bellowing, 'Take that!' he discharged a
broad blade, hitherto concealed in his right hand, straight at Rothhals.
It fixed in his cheek and jaw, wringing an awful breath of pain from him
as he fell against the wall.
'There's a lesson for you not to cross me, children!' said Werner,
striding his stumpy legs up and down the crashing board, and puffing his
monstrous girth of chest and midriff. 'Let him stop there awhile, to
show what comes of thwarting Werner!--Fire-devils! before the baroness,
too!--Something unholy is there? Something unholy in his jaw, I think!
--Leave it sticking! He's against meat last, is he? I'll teach you who
he's for!--Who speaks?'
All hung silent. These men were animals dominated by a mightier brute.
He clasped his throat, and shook the board with a jump, as he squeaked,
rather than called, a second time 'Who spoke?'
He had not again to ask. In this pause, as the Baron glared for his
victim, a song, so softly sung that it sounded remote, but of which every
syllable was clearly rounded, swelled into his ears, and froze him in his
'The blood of the barons shall turn to ice,
And their castle fall to wreck,
When a true lover dips in the water thrice,
That runs round Werner's Eck.
'Round Werner's Eck the water runs;
The hazels shiver and shake:
The walls that have blotted such happy suns,
Are seized with the ruin-quake.
'And quake with the ruin, and quake with rue,
Thou last of Werner's race!
The hearts of the barons were cold that knew
The Water-Dame's embrace.
'For a sin was done, and a shame was wrought,
That water went to hide:
And those who thought to make it nought,
They did but spread it wide.
'Hold ready, hold ready to pay the price,
And keep thy bridal cheer:
A hand has dipped in the water thrice,
And the Water-Dame is here.'
The Goshawk was on his feet. 'Now, lass,' said he to Margarita, 'now is
the time!' He took her hand, and led her to the door. Schwartz Thier
closed up behind her. Not a man in the hall interposed. Werner's head
moved round after them, like a dog on the watch; but he was dumb. The
door opened, and Farina entered. He bore a sheaf of weapons under his
arm. The familiar sight relieved Werner's senses from the charm. He
shouted to bar the prisoners' passage. His men were ranged like statues
in the hall. There was a start among them, as if that terrible noise
communicated an instinct of obedience, but no more. They glanced at each
other, and remained quiet.
The Goshawk had his eye on Werner. 'Stand back, lass!' he said to
Margarita. She took a sword from Farina, and answered, with white lips
and flashing eyes, 'I can fight, Goshawk!'
'And shall, if need be; but leave it to me now, returned Guy.
His eye never left the Baron. Suddenly a shriek of steel rang. All fell
aside, and the combatants stood opposed on clear ground. Farina, took
Margarita's left hand, and placed her against the wall between the Thier
and himself. Werner's men were well content to let their master fight it
out. The words spoken by Henker Rothhals, that the Devil had forsaken
him, seemed in their minds confirmed by the weird song which every one
present could swear he heard with his ears. 'Let him take his chance,
and try his own luck,' they said, and shrugged. The battle was between
Guy, as Margarita's champion, and Werner.
In Schwartz Thier's judgement, the two were well matched, and he
estimated their diverse qualities from sharp experience. 'For short work
the Baron, and my new mate for tough standing to 't!' Farina's summary
in favour of the Goshawk was, 'A stouter heart, harder sinews, and a good
cause. The combat was generally regarded with a professional eye, and
few prayers. Margarita solely there asked aid from above, and knelt to
the Virgin; but her, too, the clash of arms and dire earnest of mortal
fight aroused to eager eyes. She had not dallied with heroes in her
dreams. She was as ready to second Siegfried on the crimson field as
tend him in the silken chamber.
It was well that a woman's heart was there to mark the grace and glory of
manhood in upright foot-to-foot encounter. For the others, it was a mere
calculation of lucky hits. Even Farina, in his anxiety for her, saw but
the brightening and darkening of the prospect of escape in every attitude
and hard-ringing blow. Margarita was possessed with a painful
exaltation. In her eyes the bestial Baron now took a nobler form and
countenance; but the Goshawk assumed the sovereign aspect of old heroes,
who, whether persecuted or favoured of heaven, still maintained their
stand, remembering of what stuff they were, and who made them.
'Never,' say the old writers, with a fervour honourable to their
knowledge of the elements that compose our being, 'never may this bright
privilege of fair fight depart from us, nor advantage of it fail to be
taken! Man against man, or beast, singly keeping his ground, is as fine
rapture to the breast as Beauty in her softest hour affordeth. For if
woman taketh loveliness to her when she languisheth, so surely doth man
in these fierce moods, when steel and iron sparkle opposed, and their
breath is fire, and their lips white with the lock of resolution; all
their faculties knotted to a point, and their energies alive as the
daylight to prove themselves superior, according to the laws and under
the blessing of chivalry.'
'For all,' they go on to improve the comparison, 'may admire and delight
in fair blossoming dales under the blue dome of peace; but 'tis the rare
lofty heart alone comprehendeth, and is heightened by, terrific
splendours of tempest, when cloud meets cloud in skies black as the
sepulchre, and Glory sits like a flame on the helm of Ruin'
For a while the combatants aired their dexterity, contenting themselves
with cunning cuts and flicks of the sword-edge, in which Werner first
drew blood by a keen sweep along the forehead of the Goshawk. Guy had
allowed him to keep his position on the board, and still fought at his
face and neck. He now jerked back his body from the hip, and swung a
round stroke at Werner's knee, sending him in retreat with a snort of
pain. Before the Baron could make good his ground, Guy was level with
him on the board.
Werner turned an upbraiding howl at his men. They were not disposed to
second him yet. They one and all approved his personal battle with Fate,
and never more admired him and felt his power; but the affair was
exciting, and they were not the pillars to prop a falling house.
Werner clenched his two hands to his ponderous glaive, and fell upon Guy
with heavier fury. He was becoming not unworth the little womanly
appreciation Margarita was brought to bestow on him. The voice of the
Water-Lady whispered at her heart that the Baron warred on his destiny,
and that ennobles all living souls.
Bare-headed the combatants engaged, and the headpiece was the chief point
of attack. No swerving from blows was possible for either: ward, or
take; a false step would have ensured defeat. This also induced caution.
Many a double stamp of the foot was heard, as each had to retire in turn.
'Not at his head so much, he'll bear battering there all night long,'
said Henker Rothhals in a breathing interval. Knocks had been pretty
equally exchanged, but the Baron's head certainly looked the least
vulnerable, whereas Guy exhibited several dints that streamed freely.
Yet he looked, eye and bearing, as fresh as when they began, and the
calm, regular heave of his chest contrasted with Werner's quick gasps.
His smile, too, renewed each time the Baron paused for breath, gave
Margarita heart. It was not a taunting smile, but one of entire
confidence, and told all the more on his adversary. As Werner led off
again, and the choice was always left him, every expression of the
Goshawk's face passed to full light in his broad eyes.
The Baron's play was a reckless fury. There was nothing to study in it.
Guy became the chief object of speculation. He was evidently trying to
wind his man.
He struck wildly, some thought. Others judged that he was a random
hitter, and had no mortal point in aim. Schwartz Thier's opinion was
frequently vented. 'Too round a stroke--down on him! Chop-not slice!'
Guy persevered in his own fashion. According to Schwartz Thier, he
brought down by his wilfulness the blow that took him on the left
shoulder, and nigh broke him. It was a weighty blow, followed by a thump
of sound. The sword-edge swerved on his shoulder-blade, or he must have
been disabled. But Werner's crow was short, and he had no time to push
success. One of the Goshawk's swooping under-hits half severed his right
wrist, and the blood spirted across the board. He gasped and seemed to
succumb, but held to it still, though with slackened force. Guy now
attacked. Holding to his round strokes, he accustomed Werner to guard
the body, and stood to it so briskly right and left, that Werner grew
bewildered, lost his caution, and gave ground. Suddenly the Goshawk's
glaive flashed in air, and chopped sheer down on Werner's head. So
shrewd a blow it was against a half-formed defence, that the Baron
dropped without a word right on the edge of the board, and there hung,
feebly grasping with his fingers.
'Who bars the way now?' sang out Guy.
No one accepted the challenge. Success clothed him with terrors, and
gave him giant size.
'Then fare you well, my merry men all,' said Guy. 'Bear me no ill-will
for this. A little doctoring will right the bold Baron.'
He strode jauntily to the verge of the board, and held his finger for
Margarita to follow. She stepped forward. The men put their beards
together, muttering. She could not advance. Farina doubled his elbow,
and presented sword-point. Three of the ruffians now disputed the way
with bare steel. Margarita looked at the Goshawk. He was smiling calmly
curious as he leaned over his sword, and gave her an encouraging nod.
She made another step in defiance. One fellow stretched his hand to
arrest her. All her maidenly pride stood up at once. 'What a glorious
girl!' murmured the Goshawk, as he saw her face suddenly flash, and she
retreated a pace and swung a sharp cut across the knuckles of her
assailant, daring him, or one of them, with hard, bright eyes,
beautifully vindictive, to lay hand on a pure maiden.
'You have it, Barenleib!' cried the others, and then to Margarita: 'Look,
young mistress! we are poor fellows, and ask a trifle of ransom, and then
'Not an ace!' the Goshawk pronounced from his post.
'Two to one, remember.'
'The odds are ours,' replied the Goshawk confidently.
They ranged themselves in front of the hall-door. Instead of accepting
this challenge, Guy stepped to Werner, and laid his moaning foe length-
wise in an easier posture. He then lifted Margarita on the board, and
summoned them with cry of 'Free passage!' They answered by a sullen
shrug and taunt.
'Schwartz Thier! Rothhals! Farina! buckle up, and make ready then,'
He measured the length, of his sword, and raised it. The Goshawk had not
underrated his enemies. He was tempted to despise them when he marked
their gradually lengthening chaps and eyeballs.
Not one of them moved. All gazed at him as if their marrows were
freezing with horror.
'What's this?' cried Guy.
They knew as little as he, but a force was behind them irresistible
against their efforts. The groaning oak slipped open, pushing them
forward, and an apparition glided past, soft as the pallid silver of the
moon. She slid to the Baron, and put her arms about him, and sang to
him. Had the Water-Lady laid an iron hand on all those ruffians, she
could not have held them faster bound than did the fear of her presence.
The Goshawk drew his fair charge through them, followed by Farina, the
Thier, and Rothhals. A last glimpse of the hall showed them still as old
cathedral sculpture staring at white light on a fluted pillar of the
THE PASSAGE OF THE RHINE
Low among the swarthy sandhills behind the Abbey of Laach dropped the
round red moon. Soft lengths of misty yellow stole through the glens of
Rhineland. The nightingales still sang. Closer and closer the moon came
into the hushed valleys.
There is a dell behind Hammerstein Castle, a ring of basking sward,
girdled by a silver slate-brook, and guarded by four high-peaked hills
that slope down four long wooded corners to the grassy base. Here, it is
said, the elves and earthmen play, dancing in circles with laughing feet
that fatten the mushroom. They would have been fulfilling the tradition
now, but that the place was occupied by a sturdy group of mortals, armed
with staves. The intruders were sleepy, and lay about on the inclines.
Now and then two got up, and there rang hard echoes of oak. Again all
were calm as cud-chewing cattle, and the white water ran pleased with
It may be that the elves brewed mischief among them; for the oaken blows
were becoming more frequent. One complained of a kick: another demanded
satisfaction for a pinch. 'Go to,' drawled the accused drowsily in both
cases, 'too much beer last night!' Within three minutes, the company
counted a pair of broken heads. The East was winning on the West in
heaven, and the dusk was thinning. They began to mark, each, whom he had
cudgelled. A noise of something swiftly in motion made them alert. A
roebuck rushed down one of the hills, and scampered across the sward.
The fine beast went stretching so rapidly away as to be hardly distinct.
'Sathanas once more!' they murmured, and drew together.
The name passed through them like a watchword.
'Not he this time,' cried the two new-comers, emerging from the foliage.
'He's safe under Cologne--the worse for all good men who live there! But
come! follow to the Rhine! there 's work for us on the yonder side, and
'Why,' answered several, 'we 've our challenge with the lads of
Leutesdorf and Wied to-day.'
'D' ye see this?' said the foremost of the others, pointing to a carved
ivory white rose in his cap.
'Brothers!' he swelled his voice, 'follow with a will, for the White Rose
is in danger!'
Immediately they ranked, and followed zealously through the buds of young
bushes, and over heaps of damp dead leaves, a half-hour's scramble, when
they defiled under Hammerstein, and stood before the Rhine. Their leader
led up the river, and after a hasty walk, stopped, loosened his hood, and
'Now,' said he, strapping the bundle to his back, 'let me know the hound
that refuses to follow his leader when the White Rose is in danger.'
'Long live Dietrich!' they shouted. He dropped from the bank, and waded
in. He was soon supported by the remainder of the striplings, and all
struck out boldly into mid-stream.
Never heard history of a nobler Passage of the Rhine than this made
between Andernach and Hammerstein by members of the White Rose Club,
bundle on back, to relieve the White Rose of Germany from thrall and
They were taken far down by the rapid current, and arrived panting to
land. The dressing done, they marched up the pass of Tonnistein, and
took a deep draught at the spring of pleasant waters there open to
wayfarers. Arrived at the skirts of Laach, they beheld two farmer
peasants lashed back to back against a hazel. They released them, but
could gain no word of information, as the fellows, after a yawn and a
wink, started off, all heels, to make sure of liberty. On the shores of
the lake the brotherhood descried a body of youths, whom they hailed, and
were welcomed to companionship.
'Where's Berthold?' asked Dietrich.
He was not present.
'The more glory for us, then,' Dietrich said.
It was here seriously put to the captain, whether they should not halt at
the abbey, and reflect, seeing that great work was in prospect.
'Truly,' quoth Dietrich, 'dying on an empty stomach is heathenish, and
cold blood makes a green wound gape. Kaiser Conrad should be hospitable,
and the monks honour numbers. Here be we, thirty and nine; let us go!'
The West was dark blue with fallen light. The lakewaters were growing
grey with twilight. The abbey stood muffled in shadows. Already the
youths had commenced battering at the convent doors, when they were
summoned by the voice of the Goshawk on horseback. To their confusion
they beheld the White Rose herself on his right hand. Chapfallen
Dietrich bowed to his sweet mistress.
'We were coming to the rescue,' he stammered.
A laugh broke from the Goshawk. 'You thought the lady was locked up in
the ghostly larder; eh!'
Dietrich seized his sword, and tightened his belt.
'The Club allows no jesting with the White Rose, Sir Stranger.'
Margarita made peace. 'I thank you all, good friends. But quarrel not,
I pray you, with them that save me at the risk of their lives.'
'Our service is equal,' said the Goshawk, flourishing, 'Only we happen to
be beforehand with the Club, for which Farina and myself heartily beg
pardon of the entire brotherhood.'
'Farina!' exclaimed Dietrich. 'Then we make a prisoner instead of
uncaging a captive.'
'What 's this?' said Guy.
'So much,' responded Dietrich. 'Yonder's a runaway from two masters: the
law of Cologne, and the conqueror of Satan; and all good citizens are
empowered to bring him back, dead or alive.'
'Dietrich! Dietrich! dare you talk thus of the man who saved me?' cried
Dietrich sullenly persisted.
'Then, look!' said the White Rose, reddening under the pale dawn; 'he
shall not, he shall not go with you.'
One of the Club was here on the point of speaking to the White Rose,--
a breach of the captain's privilege. Dietrich felled him unresisting
to earth, and resumed:
'It must be done, Beauty of Cologne! the monk, Father Gregory, is now
enduring shame and scorn for lack of this truant witness.'
'Enough! I go !' said Farina.
'You leave me?' Margarita looked tender reproach. Weariness and fierce
excitement had given a liquid flame to her eyes and an endearing darkness
round their circles that matched strangely with her plump youth. Her
features had a soft white flush. She was less radiant, but never looked
so bewitching. An aspect of sweet human languor caught at the heart of
love, and raised tumults.
'It is a duty,' said Farina.
'Then go,' she beckoned, and held her hand for him to kiss. He raised it
to his lips. This was seen of all the Club.
As they were departing with Farina, and Guy prepared to demand admittance
into the convent, Dietrich chanced to ask how fared Dame Lisbeth.
Schwartz Thier was by, and answered, with a laugh, that he had quite
forgotten the little lady.
'We took her in mistake for you, mistress! She was a one to scream! The
moment she was kissed--mum as a cloister. We kissed her, all of us, for
the fun of it. No harm--no harm! We should have dropped her when we
found we had the old bird 'stead of the young one, but reckoned ransom,
ye see. She's at the Eck, rattling, I's wager, like last year's nut in
'Lisbeth! Lisbeth! poor Lisbeth; we will return to her. Instantly,'
'Not you,' said Guy.
'No!' said Guy.
'Gallant Goshawk! best of birds, let me go!'
'Without me or Farina, never! I see I shall have no chance with my lord
now. Come, then, come, fair Irresistible! come, lads. Farina can
journey back alone. You shall have the renown of rescuing Dame Lisbeth.'
'Farina! forget not to comfort my father,' said Margarita.
Between Margarita's society and Farina's, there was little dispute in the
captain's mind which choice to make. Farina was allowed to travel single
to Cologne; and Dietrich, petted by Margarita, and gently jeered by Guy,
headed the Club from Laach waters to the castle of the Robber Baron.
THE BACK-BLOWS OF SATHANAS
Monk Gregory was pacing the high road between the Imperial camp and
suffering Cologne. The sun had risen through interminable distances of
cloud that held him remote in a succession of receding mounds and thinner
veils, realm beyond realm, till he showed fireless, like a phantom king
in a phantom land. The lark was in the breast of morning. The field-
mouse ran along the furrows. Dews hung red and grey on the weedy banks
and wayside trees. At times the nostril of the good father was lifted,
and he beat his breast, relapsing into sorrowful contemplation. Passed-
any citizen of Cologne, the ghostly head sunk into its cowl. 'There's a
black raven!' said many. Monk Gregory heard them, and murmured, 'Thou
hast me, Evil one! thou hast me!'
It was noon when Farina came clattering down from the camp.
'Father,' said he, 'I have sought thee.'
'My son!' exclaimed Monk Gregory with silencing hand, 'thou didst not
well to leave me contending against the tongues of doubt. Answer me not.
The maiden! and what weighed she in such a scale?--No more! I am
punished. Well speaks the ancient proverb:
"Beware the back-blows of Sathanas!"
I, that thought to have vanquished him! Vanity has wrecked me, in this
world and the next. I am the victim of self-incense. I hear the demons
shouting their chorus--"Here comes Monk Gregory, who called himself
Conqueror of Darkness!" In the camp I am discredited and a scoff; in the
city I am spat upon, abhorred. Satan, my son, fights not with his fore-
claws. 'Tis with his tail he fights, O Farina!--Listen, my son! he
entered to his kingdom below through Cologne, even under the stones of
the Cathedral Square, and the stench of him abominably remaineth,
challenging the nostrils of holy and unholy alike. The Kaiser cannot
approach for him; the citizens are outraged. Oh! had I held my peace in
humbleness, I had truly conquered him. But he gave me easy victory, to
inflate me. I shall not last. Now this only is left, my son; that thou
bear living testimony to the truth of my statement, as I bear it to the
Farina promised, in the face of all, he would proclaim and witness to his
victory on Drachenfels.
'That I may not be ranked an impostor!' continued the Monk. 'And how
great must be the virtue of them that encounter that dark spirit! Valour
availeth nought. But if virtue be not in' ye, soon will ye be puffed to
bursting with that devil's poison, self-incense. Surely, my son, thou
art faithful; and for this service I can reward thee. Follow me yet
On the road they met Gottlieb Groschen, hastening to the camp. Dismay
rumpled the old merchant's honest jowl. Farina drew rein before him.
'Your daughter is safe, worthy Master Groschen,' said he.
'Safe?' cried Gottlieb; 'where is she, my Grete?'
Farina briefly explained. Gottlieb spread out his arms, and was going to
thank the youth. He saw Father Gregory, and his whole frame narrowed
'Are you in company with that pestilent animal, that curse of Cologne!'
'The good Monk--,' said Farina.
'You are leagued with him, then, sirrah! Expect no thanks from me.
Cologne, I say, is cursed! Meddling wretches! could ye not leave Satan
alone? He hurt us not. We were free of him. Cologne, I say, is cursed!
The enemy of mankind is brought by you to be the deadly foe of Cologne.'
So saying, Gottlieb departed.
'Seest thou, my son,' quoth the Monk, 'they reason not!'
Farina was dejected. Willingly would he, for his part, have left the
soul of Evil a loose rover for the sake of some brighter horizon to his
No twinge of remorse accompanied Gottlieb. The Kaiser had allotted him
an encampment and a guard of honour for his household while the foulness
raged, and there Gottlieb welcomed back Margarita and Aunt Lisbeth on the
noon after his meeting with Farina. The White Rose had rested at Laach,
and was blooming again. She and the Goshawk came trotting in advance of
the Club through the woods of Laach, startling the deer with laughter,
and sending the hare with her ears laid back all across country. In vain
Dietrich menaced Guy with the terrors of the Club: Aunt Lisbeth begged of
Margarita not to leave her with the footmen in vain. The joyous couple
galloped over the country, and sprang the ditches, and leapt the dykes,
up and down the banks, glad as morning hawks, entering Andernach at a
round pace; where they rested at a hostel as capable of producing good
Rhine and Mosel wine then as now. Here they had mid-day's meal laid out
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