by George Meredith
THE SILVER ARROW
THE LILIES OF
THE RIDE AND THE
THE COMBAT ON
THE PASSAGE OF
THE ENTRY INTO
THE WHITE ROSE CLUB
In those lusty ages when the Kaisers lifted high the golden goblet
of Aachen, and drank, elbow upward, the green-eyed wine of old
romance, there lived, a bow-shot from the bones of the Eleven Thousand
Virgins and the Three Holy Kings, a prosperous Rhinelander, by name
Gottlieb Groschen, or, as it was sometimes ennobled, Gottlieb von
Groschen; than whom no wealthier merchant bartered for the glory of
his ancient mother- city, nor more honoured burgess swallowed
impartially red juice and white under the shadow of his own fig-tree.
Vine-hills, among the hottest sun-bibbers of the Rheingau,
glistened in the roll of Gottlieb's possessions; corn-acres below
Cologne; basalt- quarries about Linz; mineral-springs in Nassau, a
legacy of the Romans to the genius and enterprise of the first of
German traders. He could have bought up every hawking crag, owner and
all, from Hatto's Tower to Rheineck. Lore-ley, combing her yellow
locks against the night-cloud, beheld old Gottlieb's rafts endlessly
stealing on the moonlight through the iron pass she peoples above St.
Goar. A wailful host were the wives of his raftsmen widowed there by
her watery music!
This worthy citizen of Cologne held vasty manuscript letters of the
Kaiser addressed to him:
'Dear Well-born son and Subject of mine, Gottlieb!' and he was easy
with the proudest princes of the Holy German Realm. For Gottlieb was
a money- lender and an honest man in one body. He laid out for the
plenteous harvests of usury, not pressing the seasons with too much
rigour. 'I sow my seed in winter,' said he, 'and hope to reap good
profit in autumn; but if the crop be scanty, better let it lie and
fatten the soil.'
'Old earth's the wisest creditor,' he would add; 'she never
squeezes the sun, but just takes what he can give her year by year,
and so makes sure of good annual interest.'
Therefore when people asked Gottlieb how he had risen to such a
pinnacle of fortune, the old merchant screwed his eye into its wisest
corner, and answered slyly, 'Because I 've always been a student of
the heavenly bodies'; a communication which failed not to make the
orbs and systems objects of ardent popular worship in Cologne, where
the science was long since considered alchymic, and still may be.
Seldom could the Kaiser go to war on Welschland without first
taking earnest counsel of his Well-born son and Subject Gottlieb, and
lightening his chests. Indeed the imperial pastime must have ceased,
and the Kaiser had languished but for him. Cologne counted its
illustrious citizen something more than man. The burghers doffed when
he passed; and scampish leather-draggled urchins gazed after him with
praeternatural respect on their hanging chins, as if a gold-mine of
great girth had walked through the awe-struck game.
But, for the young men of Cologne he had a higher claim to
reverence as father of the fair Margarita, the White Rose of Germany;
a noble maiden, peerless, and a jewel for princes.
The devotion of these youths should give them a name in chivalry.
In her honour, daily and nightly, they earned among themselves black
bruises and paraded discoloured countenances, with the humble hope to
find it pleasing in her sight. The tender fanatics went in bands up
and down Rhineland, challenging wayfarers and the peasantry with staff
and beaker to acknowledge the supremacy of their mistress. Whoso of
them journeyed into foreign parts, wrote home boasting how many times
his head had been broken on behalf of the fair Margarita; and if this
happened very often, a spirit of envy was created, which compelled
him, when he returned, to verify his prowess on no less than a score
of his rivals. Not to possess a beauty-scar, as the wounds received
in these endless combats were called, became the sign of inferiority,
so that much voluntary maiming was conjectured to be going on; and to
obviate this piece of treachery, minutes of fights were taken and
attested, setting forth that a certain glorious cut or crack was
honourably won in fair field; on what occasion; and from whom; every
member of the White Rose Club keeping his particular scroll, and, on
days of festival and holiday, wearing it haughtily in his helm.
Strangers entering Cologne were astonished at the hideous appearance
of the striplings, and thought they never had observed so ugly a race;
but they were forced to admit the fine influence of beauty on
commerce, seeing that the consumption of beer increased almost hourly.
All Bavaria could not equal Cologne for quantity made away with.
The chief members of the White Rose Club were Berthold Schmidt, the
rich goldsmith's son; Dietrich Schill, son of the imperial saddler;
Heinrich Abt, Franz Endermann, and Ernst Geller, sons of chief
burghers, each of whom carried a yard-long scroll in his cap, and was
too disfigured in person for men to require an inspection of the
document. They were dangerous youths to meet, for the oaths,
ceremonies, and recantations they demanded from every wayfarer, under
the rank of baron, were what few might satisfactorily perform, if
lovers of woman other than the fair Margarita, or loyal husbands; and
what none save trained heads and stomachs could withstand, however
naturally manful. The captain of the Club was he who could drink most
beer without intermediate sighing, and whose face reckoned the
proudest number of slices and mixture of colours. The captaincy was
most in dispute between Dietrich Schill and Berthold Schmidt, who, in
the heat and constancy of contention, were gradually losing likeness
to man. 'Good coin,' they gloried to reflect, 'needs no stamp.'
One youth in Cologne held out against the standing tyranny, and
chose to do beauty homage in his own fashion, and at his leisure. It
was Farina, and oaths were registered against him over empty
beer-barrels. An axiom of the White Rose Club laid it down that
everybody must be enamoured of Margarita, and the conscience of the
Club made them trebly suspicious of those who were not members. They
had the consolation of knowing that Farina was poor, but then he was
affirmed a student of Black Arts, and from such a one the worst might
reasonably be feared. He might bewitch Margarita!
Dietrich Schill was deputed by the Club to sound the White Rose
herself on the subject of Farina, and one afternoon in the vintage
season, when she sat under the hot vine-poles among maiden friends,
eating ripe grapes, up sauntered Dietrich, smirking, cap in hand, with
his scroll trailed behind him.
'Wilt thou?' said Margarita, offering him a bunch.
'Unhappy villain that I am!' replied Dietrich, gesticulating
fox-like refusal; 'if I but accept a favour, I break faith with the
'Break it to pleasure me,' said Margarita, smiling wickedly.
Dietrich gasped. He stood on tiptoe to see if any of the Club were
by, and half-stretched out his hand. A mocking laugh caused him to
draw it back as if stung. The grapes fell. Farina was at Margarita's
feet offering them in return.
'Wilt thou?' said Margarita, with softer stress, and slight excess
of bloom in her cheeks.
Farina put the purple cluster to his breast, and clutched them hard
on his heart, still kneeling.
Margarita's brow and bosom seemed to be reflections of the
streaming crimson there. She shook her face to the sky, and affected
laughter at the symbol. Her companions clapped hands. Farina's eyes
yearned to her once, and then he rose and joined in the pleasantry.
Fury helped Dietrich to forget his awkwardness. He touched Farina
on the shoulder with two fingers, and muttered huskily: 'The Club
never allow that.'
Farina bowed, as to thank him deeply for the rules of the Club. 'I
am not a member, you know,' said he, and strolled to a seat close by
Dietrich glared after him. As head of a Club he understood the use
of symbols. He had lost a splendid opportunity, and Farina had seized
it. Farina had robbed him.
'May I speak with Mistress Margarita?' inquired the White Rose
chief, in a ragged voice.
'Surely, Dietrich! do speak,' said Margarita.
'Alone?' he continued.
'Is that allowed by the Club?' said one of the young girls, with a
Dietrich deigned no reply, but awaited Margarita's decision. She
hesitated a second; then stood up her full height before him; faced
him steadily, and beckoned him some steps up the vine-path. Dietrich
bowed, and passing Farina, informed him that the Club would wring
satisfaction out of him for the insult.
Farina laughed, but answered, 'Look, you of the Club! beer-swilling
has improved your manners as much as fighting has beautified your
faces. Go on; drink and fight! but remember that the Kaiser's coming,
and fellows with him who will not be bullied.'
'What mean you?' cried Dietrich, lurching round on his enemy.
'Not so loud, friend,' returned Farina. 'Or do you wish to
frighten the maidens? I mean this, that the Club had better give as
little offence as possible, and keep their eyes as wide as they can,
if they want to be of service to Mistress Margarita.'
Dietrich turned off with a grunt.
'Now!' said Margarita.
She was tapping her foot. Dietrich grew unfaithful to the Club,
and looked at her longer than his mission warranted. She was bright
as the sunset gardens of the Golden Apples. The braids of her yellow
hair were bound in wreaths, and on one side of her head a saffron
crocus was stuck with the bell downward. Sweetness, song, and wit
hung like dews of morning on her grape-stained lips. She wore a
scarlet corset with bands of black velvet across her shoulders. The
girlish gown was thin blue stuff, and fell short over her firm-set
feet, neatly cased in white leather with buckles. There was witness
in her limbs and the way she carried her neck of an amiable, but
capable, dragon, ready, when aroused, to bristle up and guard the
Golden Apples against all save the rightful claimant. Yet her nether
lip and little white chin-ball had a dreamy droop; her frank blue eyes
went straight into the speaker: the dragon slept. It was a dangerous
charm. 'For,' says the minnesinger, 'what ornament more enchants us
on a young beauty than the soft slumber of a strength never yet called
forth, and that herself knows not of! It sings double things to the
heart of knighthood; lures, and warns us; woos, and threatens. 'Tis
as nature, shining peace, yet the mother of storm.'
'There is no man,' rapturously exclaims Heinrich von der
Jungferweide, 'can resist the desire to win a sweet treasure before
which lies a dragon sleeping. The very danger prattles promise.'
But the dragon must really sleep, as with Margarita.
'A sham dragon, shamming sleep, has destroyed more virgins than all
the heathen emperors,' says old Hans Aepfelmann of Duesseldorf.
Margarita's foot was tapping quicker.
'Speak, Dietrich!' she said.
Dietrich declared to the Club that at this point he muttered, 'We
love you.' Margarita was glad to believe he had not spoken of
himself. He then informed her of the fears entertained by the Club,
sworn to watch over and protect her, regarding Farina's arts.
'And what fear you?' said Margarita.
'We fear, sweet mistress, he may be in league with Sathanas,'
'Truly, then,' said Margarita, 'of all the youths in Cologne he is
the least like his confederate.'
Dietrich gulped and winked, like a patient recovering wry-faced
from an abhorred potion.
'We have warned you, Fraulein Groschen!' he exclaimed. 'It now
becomes our duty to see that you are not snared.'
Margarita reddened, and returned: 'You are kind. But I am a
Christian maiden and not a Pagan soldan, and I do not require a body
of tawny guards at my heels.'
Thereat she flung back to her companions, and began staining her
pretty mouth with grapes anew.
THE TAPESTRY WORD
Fair maids will have their hero in history. Siegfried was
Margarita's chosen. She sang of Siegfried all over the house. 'O the
old days of Germany, when such a hero walked!' she sang.
'And who wins Margarita,' mused Farina, 'happier than Siegfried,
has in his arms Brunhild and Chrimhild together!'
Crowning the young girl's breast was a cameo, and the skill of some
cunning artist out of Welschland had wrought on it the story of the
Drachenfels. Her bosom heaved the battle up and down.
This cameo was a north star to German manhood, but caused many
chaste expressions of abhorrence from Aunt Lisbeth, Gottlieb's
unmarried sister, who seemed instinctively to take part with the
Dragon. She was a frail- fashioned little lady, with a face
betokening the perpetual smack of lemon, and who reigned in her
brother's household when the good wife was gone. Margarita's
robustness was beginning to alarm and shock Aunt Lisbeth's sealed
stock of virtue.
'She must be watched, such a madl as that,' said Aunt Lisbeth.
'Ursula! what limbs she has!'
Margarita was watched; but the spy being neither foe nor friend,
nothing was discovered against her. This did not satisfy Aunt
Lisbeth, whose own suspicion was her best witness. She allowed that
Margarita dissembled well.
'But,' said she to her niece, 'though it is good in a girl not to
flaunt these naughtinesses in effrontery, I care for you too much not
to say—Be what you seem, my little one!'
'And that am I!' exclaimed Margarita, starting up and towering.
'Right good, my niece,' Lisbeth squealed; 'but now Frau Groschen
lies in God's acre, you owe your duty to me, mind! Did you confess
'From beginning to end,' replied Margarita.
Aunt Lisbeth fixed pious reproach on Margarita's cameo.
'And still you wear that thing?'
'Why not?' said Margarita.
'Girl! who would bid you set it in such a place save Satan? Oh,
thou poor lost child! that the eyes of the idle youths may be drawn
there! and thou become his snare to others, Margarita! What was that
Welsh wandering juggler but the foul fiend himself, mayhap, thou
maiden of sin! They say he has been seen in Cologne lately. He was
swarthy as Satan and limped of one leg. Good Master in heaven,
protect us! it was Satan himself I could swear!'
Aunt Lisbeth crossed brow and breast.
Margarita had commenced fingering the cameo, as if to tear it away;
but Aunt Lisbeth's finish made her laugh outright.
'Where I see no harm, aunty, I shall think the good God is,' she
answered; 'and where I see there's harm, I shall think Satan lurks.'
A simper of sour despair passed over Aunt Lisbeth. She sighed, and
was silent, being one of those very weak reeds who are easily
vanquished and never overcome.
'Let us go on with the Tapestry, child,' said she.
Now, Margarita was ambitious of completing a certain Tapestry for
presentation to Kaiser Heinrich on his entry into Cologne after his
last campaign on the turbaned Danube. The subject was again her
beloved Siegfried slaying the Dragon on Drachenfels. Whenever Aunt
Lisbeth indulged in any bitter virginity, and was overmatched by
Margarita's frank maidenhood, she hung out this tapestry as a flag of
truce. They were working it in bits, not having contrivances to do it
in a piece. Margarita took Siegfried and Aunt Lisbeth the Dragon.
They shared the crag between them. A roguish gleam of the Rhine
toward Nonnenwerth could be already made out, Roland's Corner hanging
like a sentinel across the chanting island, as one top-heavy with long
Aunt Lisbeth was a great proficient in the art, and had taught
Margarita. The little lady learnt it, with many other gruesome
matters, in the Palatine of Bohemia's family. She usually talked of
the spectres of Hollenbogenblitz Castle in the passing of the threads.
Those were dismal spectres in Bohemia, smelling of murder and the
charnel-breath of midnight. They uttered noises that wintered the
blood, and revealed sights that stiffened hair three feet long; ay,
and kept it stiff!
Margarita placed herself on a settle by the low-arched window, and
Aunt Lisbeth sat facing her. An evening sun blazoned the buttresses
of the Cathedral, and shadowed the workframes of the peaceful couple
to a temperate light. Margarita unrolled a sampler sheathed with
twists of divers coloured threads, and was soon busy silver-threading
Siegfried's helm and horns.
'I told you of the steward, poor Kraut, did I not, child?' inquired
Aunt Lisbeth, quietly clearing her throat.
'Many times!' said Margarita, and went on humming over her knee
'Her love was a Baron,
A Baron so bold;
She loved him for love,
He loved her for gold.'
'He must see for himself, and be satisfied,' continued Aunt
Lisbeth; 'and Holy Thomas to warn him for an example! Poor Kraut!'
'Poor Kraut!' echoed Margarita.
'The King loved wine, and the Knight loved wine,
And they loved the summer weather:
They might have loved each other well,
But for one they loved together.'
'You may say, poor Kraut, child!' said Aunt Lisbeth. 'Well! his
face was before that as red as this dragon's jaw, and ever after he
went about as white as a pullet's egg. That was something wonderful!'
'That was it!' chimed Margarita.
'O the King he loved his lawful wife,
The Knight a lawless lady:
And ten on one-made ringing strife,
Beneath the forest shady.'
'Fifty to one, child!' said Aunt Lisbeth: 'You forget the story.
They made Kraut sit with them at the jabbering feast, the only mortal
there. The walls were full of eye-sockets without eyes, but phosphorus
instead, burning blue and damp.'
'Not to-night, aunty dear! It frightens me so,' pleaded Margarita,
for she saw the dolor coming.
'Night! when it's broad mid-day, thou timid one! Good heaven take
pity on such as thou! The dish was seven feet in length by four
broad. Kraut measured it with his eye, and never forgot it. Not he!
When the dish- cover was lifted, there he saw himself lying, boiled!
"'I did not feel uncomfortable then," Kraut told us. "It seemed
'His face, as it lay there, he says, was quite calm, only a little
wrinkled, and piggish-looking-like. There was the mole on his chin,
and the pucker under his left eyelid. Well! the Baron carved. All
the guests were greedy for a piece of him. Some cried out for breast;
some for toes. It was shuddering cold to sit and hear that! The
Baroness said, "Cheek!"'
'Ah!' shrieked Margarita, 'that can I not bear! I will not hear
it, aunt; I will not!'
'Cheek!' Aunt Lisbeth reiterated, nodding to the floor.
Margarita put her fingers to her ears.
'Still, Kraut says, even then he felt nothing odd. Of course he
was horrified to be sitting with spectres as you and I should be; but
the first tremble of it was over. He had plunged into the bath of
horrors, and there he was. I 've heard that you must pronounce the
names of the Virgin and Trinity, sprinkling water round you all the
while for three minutes; and if you do this without interruption,
everything shall disappear. So they say. "Oh! dear heaven of mercy!"
says Kraut, "what I felt when the Baron laid his long hunting-knife
across my left cheek!"'
Here Aunt Lisbeth lifted her eyes to dote upon Margarita's fright.
She was very displeased to find her niece, with elbows on the
window-sill and hands round her head, quietly gazing into the street.
She said severely, 'Where did you learn that song you were last
singing, Margarita? Speak, thou girl!'
'The thrush, and the lark, and the blackbird,
They taught me how to sing:
And O that the hawk would lend his eye,
And the eagle lend his wing.'
'I will not hear these shameless songs,' exclaimed Aunt Lisbeth.
'For I would view the lands they view,
And be where they have been:
It is not enough to be singing
For ever in dells unseen !'
A voice was heard applauding her. 'Good! right good! Carol again,
Gretelchen! my birdie!'
Margarita turned, and beheld her father in the doorway. She
tripped toward him, and heartily gave him their kiss of meeting.
Gottlieb glanced at the helm of Siegfried.
'Guessed the work was going well; you sing so lightsomely to-day,
Grete! Very pretty! And that's Drachenfels? Bones of the Virgins!
what a bold fellow was Siegfried, and a lucky, to have the neatest
lass in Deutschland in love with him. Well, we must marry her to
Siegfried after all, I believe! Aha? or somebody as good as
Siegfried. So chirrup on, my darling!'
'Aunt Lisbeth does not approve of my songs,' replied Margarita,
untwisting some silver threads.
'Do thy father's command, girl!' said Aunt Lisbeth.
'And doing his command,
Should I do a thing of ill,
I'd rather die to his lovely face,
Than wanton at his will.'
'There—there,' said Aunt Lisbeth, straining out her fingers; 'you
see, Gottlieb, what over-indulgence brings her to. Not another girl
in blessed Rhineland, and Bohemia to boot, dared say such
words!—than— I can't repeat them!—don't ask me!—She's becoming a
'What ballad's that?' said Gottlieb, smiling.
'The Ballad of Holy Ottilia; and her lover was sold to darkness.
And she loved him—loved him——'
'As you love Siegfried, you little one?'
'More, my father; for she saw Winkried, and I never saw Siegfried.
Ah! if I had seen Siegfried! Never mind. She loved him; but she
loved Virtue more. And Virtue is the child of God, and the good God
forgave her for loving Winkried, the Devil's son, because she loved
Virtue more, and He rescued her as she was being dragged
down—down—down, and was half fainting with the smell of
brimstone—rescued her and had her carried into His Glory, head and
feet, on the wings of angels, before all men, as a hope to little
'And when I thought that I was lost
I found that I was saved,
And I was borne through blessed clouds,
Where the banners of bliss were waved.'
'And so you think you, too, may fall in, love with Devils' sons,
girl?' was Aunt Lisbeth's comment.
'Do look at Lisbeth's Dragon, little Heart! it's so like!' said
Margarita to her father.
Old Gottlieb twitted his hose, and chuckled.
'She's my girl! that may be seen,' said he, patting her, and
wheezed up from his chair to waddle across to the Dragon. But Aunt
Lisbeth tartly turned the Dragon to the wall.
'It is not yet finished, Gottlieb, and must not be looked at,' she
interposed. 'I will call for wood, and see to a fire: these evenings
of Spring wax cold': and away whimpered Aunt Lisbeth.
'I with my playmates,
In riot and disorder,
Were gathering herb and blossom
Along the forest border.'
'Thy mother's song, child of my heart!' said Gottlieb; 'but vex not
good Lisbeth: she loves thee!'
'And do you think she loves me?
And will you say 'tis true?
O, and will she have me,
When I come up to woo?'
'Thou leaping doe! thou chattering pie!' said Gottlieb.
'She shall have ribbons and trinkets,
And shine like a morn of May,
When we are off to the little hill-church,
Our flowery bridal way.'
'That she shall; and something more !' cried Gottlieb. 'But, hark
thee, Gretelchen; the Kaiser will be here in three days. Thou dear
one! had I not stored and hoarded all for thee, I should now have my
feet on a hearthstone where even he might warm his boot. So get thy
best dresses and jewels in order, and look thyself; proud as any in
the land. A simple burgher's daughter now, Grete; but so shalt thou
not end, my butterfly, or there's neither worth nor wit in Gottlieb
'Three days!' Margarita exclaimed; 'and the helm not finished, and
the tapestry-pieces not sewed and joined, and the water not shaded
off.—Oh! I must work night and day.'
'Child! I'll have no working at night! Your rosy cheeks will soon
be sucked out by oil-light, and you look no better than poor tallow
Court beauties—to say nothing of the danger. This old house saw
Charles the Great embracing the chief magistrate of his liege city
yonder. Some swear he slept in it. He did not sneeze at smaller
chambers than our Kaisers abide. No gold ceilings with cornice
carvings, but plain wooden beams.'
'Know that the men of great renown,
Were men of simple needs:
Bare to the Lord they laid them down,
And slept on mighty deeds.'
'God wot, there's no emptying thy store of ballads, Grete: so much
shall be said of thee. Yes; times are changeing: We're growing
degenerate. Look at the men of Linz now to what they were! Would they
have let the lads of Andernach float down cabbage-stalks to them
without a shy back? And why? All because they funk that brigand-beast
Werner, who gets redemption from Laach, hard by his hold, whenever he
commits a crime worth paying for. As for me, my timber and stuffs
must come down stream, and are too good for the nixen under Rhine, or
think you I would acknowledge him with a toll, the hell-dog? Thunder
and lightning! if old scores could be rubbed out on his hide!'
Gottlieb whirled a thong-lashing arm in air, and groaned of law and
justice. What were they coming to!
Margarita softened the theme with a verse:
'And tho' to sting his enemy,
Is sweetness to the angry bee,
The angry bee must busy be,
Ere sweet of sweetness hiveth he.
The arch thrill of his daughter's voice tickled Gottlieb. 'That's
it, birdie! You and the proverb are right. I don't know which is
And keep alive
Than vengeance wake
With that you take.'
A clatter in the cathedral square brought Gottlieb on his legs to
the window. It was a company of horsemen sparkling in harness. One
trumpeter rode at the side of the troop, and in front a
standard-bearer, matted down the chest with ochre beard, displayed
aloft to the good citizens of Cologne, three brown hawks, with birds
in their beaks, on an azure stardotted field.
'Holy Cross!' exclaimed Gottlieb, low in his throat; 'the arms of
Werner! Where got he money to mount his men? Why, this is daring all
Cologne in our very teeth! 'Fend that he visit me now! Ruin smokes
in that ruffian's track. I 've felt hot and cold by turns all day.'
The horsemen came jingling carelessly along the street in scattered
twos and threes, laughing together, and singling out the maidens at
the gable- shadowed windows with hawking eyes. The good citizens of
Cologne did not look on them favourably. Some showed their backs and
gruffly banged their doors: others scowled and pocketed their fists:
not a few slunk into the side alleys like well-licked curs, and
scurried off with forebent knees. They were in truth
ferocious-looking fellows these trusty servants of the robber Baron
Werner, of Werner's Eck, behind Andernach. Leather, steel, and dust,
clad them from head to foot; big and black as bears; wolf-eyed,
fox-nosed. They glistened bravely in the falling beams of the sun,
and Margarita thrust her fair braided yellow head a little forward
over her father's shoulder to catch the whole length of the grim
cavalcade. One of the troop was not long in discerning the young
beauty. He pointed her boldly out to a comrade, who approved his
appetite, and referred her to a third. The rest followed lead, and
Margarita was as one spell-struck when she became aware that all those
hungry eyes were preying on hers. Old Gottlieb was too full of his
own fears to think for her, and when he drew in his head rather
suddenly, it was with a dismal foreboding that Werner's destination in
Cologne was direct to the house of Gottlieb Groschen, for purposes
only too well to be divined.
'Devil's breeches!' muttered Gottlieb; 'look again, Grete, and see
if that hell-troop stop the way outside.'
Margarita's cheeks were overflowing with the offended rose.
'I will not look at them again, father.'
Gottlieb stared, and then patted her.
'I would I were a man, father!'
Gottlieb smiled, and stroked his beard.
'Oh! how I burn!'
And the girl shivered visibly.
'Grete! mind to be as much of a woman as you can, and soon such
raff as this you may sweep away, like cobwebs, and no harm done.'
He was startled by a violent thumping at the streetdoor, and as
brazen a blast as if the dead were being summoned. Aunt Lisbeth
entered, and flitted duskily round the room, crying:
'We are lost: they are upon us! better death with a bodkin! Never
shall it be said of me; never! the monsters!'
Then admonishing them to lock, bar, bolt, and block up every room
in the house, Aunt Lisbeth perched herself on the edge of a chair, and
reversed the habits of the screech-owl, by being silent when
'There's nothing to fear for you, Lisbeth,' said Gottlieb, with
'Gottlieb! do you remember what happened at the siege of Mainz? and
poor Marthe Herbstblum, who had hoped to die as she was; and Dame
Altknopfchen, and Frau Kaltblut, and the old baker, Hans Topf's
sister, all of them as holy as abbesses, and that did not save them!
and nothing will from such godless devourers.'
Gottlieb was gone, having often before heard mention of the
calamity experienced by these fated women.
'Comfort thee, good heart, on my breast,' said Margarita, taking
Lisbeth to that sweet nest of peace and fortitude.
'Margarita! 'tis your doing! have I not said—lure them not, for
they swarm too early upon us! And here they are! and, perhaps, in
five minutes all will be over!
Herr Je!—What, you are laughing! Heavens of goodness, the girl is
Here a mocking ha-ha! accompanied by a thundering snack at the
door, shook the whole house, and again the trumpet burst the ears with
This summons, which seemed to Aunt Lisbeth final, wrought a strange
composure in her countenance. She was very pale, but spread her dress
decently, as if fear had departed, and clasped her hands on her knees.
'The will of the Lord above must be done,' said she; 'it is impious
to complain when we are given into the hand of the Philistines.
Others have been martyred, and were yet acceptable.'
To this heroic speech she added, with cold energy: 'Let them come!'
'Aunt,' cried Margarita, 'I hear my father's voice with those men.
Aunty! I will not let him be alone. I must go down to him. You will
be safe here. I shall come to you if there's cause for alarm.'
And in spite of Aunt Lisbeth's astonished shriek of remonstrance,
she hurried off to rejoin Gottlieb.
Ere Margarita had reached the landing of the stairs, she repented
her haste and shrank back. Wrapt in a thunder of oaths, she
distinguished: ''Tis the little maiden we want; let's salute her and
begone! or cap your skull with something thicker than you've on it
now, if you want a whole one, happy father!'
'Gottlieb von Groschen I am,' answered her father, 'and the
''S as fond of a pretty girl as we are! Down with her, and no more
drivelling! It's only for a moment, old Measure and Scales!'
'I tell you, rascals, I know your master, and if you're not
punished for this, may I die a beggar!' exclaimed Gottlieb, jumping
'May you die as rich as an abbot! And so you will, if you don't
bring her down, for I've sworn to see her; there 's the end of it,
'I'll see, too, if the laws allow this villany !' cried Gottlieb.
'Insulting a peaceful citizen! in his own house! a friend of your
emperor! Gottlieb von Groschen!'
'Groschen? We're cousins, then! You wouldn't shut out your
nearest kin? Devil's lightning! Don't you know me? Pfennig? Von
Pfennig! This here's Heller: that's Zwanziger: all of us Vons, every
soul! You're not decided? This'll sharpen you, my jolly King
And Margarita heard the ruffian step as if to get swing for a blow.
She hurried into the passage, and slipping in front of her father,
said to his assailant:
'You have asked for me! I am here!'
Her face was colourless, and her voice seemed to issue from between
a tightened cord. She stood with her left foot a little in advance,
and her whole body heaving and quivering: her arms folded and pressed
hard below her bosom: her eyes dilated to a strong blue: her mouth
ashy white. A strange lustre, as of suppressed internal fire,
flickered over her.
'My name 's Schwartz Thier, and so 's my nature!' said the fellow
with a grin; 'but may I never smack lips with a pretty girl again, if
I harm such a young beauty as this! Friendly dealing's my plan o'
'Clear out of my house, then, fellow, and here's money for you,'
said Gottlieb, displaying a wrathfully-trembling handful of coin.
'Pish! money! forty times that wouldn't cover my bet! And if it
did? Shouldn't I be disgraced? jeered at for a sheep-heart? No, I'm
no ninny, and not to be diddled. I'll talk to the young lady!
Silence, out there! all's going proper': this to his comrades through
the door. 'So, my beautiful maiden! thus it stands: We saw you at
the window, looking like a fresh rose with a gold crown on. Here are
we poor fellows come to welcome the Kaiser. I began to glorify you.
"Schwartz Thier!" says Henker Rothhals to me, "I'll wager you odds
you don't have a kiss of that fine girl within twenty minutes,
counting from the hand-smack!" Done! was my word, and we clapped our
fists together. Now, you see, that's straightforward! All I want is,
not to lose my money and be made a fool of—leaving alone that sugary
mouth which makes mine water'; and he drew the back of his hand along
his stubbled jaws: 'So, come! don't hesitate! no harm to you, my
beauty, but a compliment, and Schwartz Thier's your friend and
anything else you like for ever after. Come, time's up, pretty well.'
Margarita leaned to her father a moment as if mortal sickness had
seized her. Then cramping her hands and feet, she said in his ear,
'Leave me to my own care; go, get the men to protect thee'; and
ordered Schwartz Thier to open the door wide.
Seeing Gottlieb would not leave her, she joined her hands, and
begged him. 'The good God will protect me! I will overmatch these
men. Look, my father! they dare not strike me in the street: you they
would fell without pity. Go! what they dare in a house, they dare not
in the street.'
Schwartz Thier had opened the door. At sight of Margarita, the
troop gave a shout.
'Now! on the doorstep, full in view, my beauteous one! that they
may see what a lucky devil I am—and have no doubts about the handing
Margarita looked behind. Gottlieb was still there, every member of
him quaking like a bog under a heavy heel. She ran to him. 'My
father! I have a device wilt thou spoil it, and give me to this
beast? You can do nothing, nothing! protect yourself and save me!'
'Cologne! broad day!' muttered Gottlieb, as if the enormity had
prostrated his belief in facts; and moved slowly back.
Margarita strode to the door-step. Schwartz Thier was awaiting
her, his arm circled out, and his leering face ducked to a level with
his victim's. This rough show of gallantry proved costly to him. As
he was gently closing his iron hold about her, enjoying before hand
with grim mouthridges the flatteries of triumph, Margarita shot past
him through the door, and was already twenty paces beyond the troop
before either of them thought of pursuing her. At the first sound of
a hoof, Henker Rothhals seized the rider's bridle-rein, and roared:
'Fair play for a fair bet! leave all to the Thier!' The Thier, when he
had recovered from his amazement, sought for old Gottlieb to give him
a back-hit, as Margarita foresaw that he would. Not finding him at
hand, out lumbered the fellow as swiftly as his harness would allow,
and caught a glimpse of Margarita rapidly fleeting up the cathedral
'Only five minutes, Schwartz Thier!' some of the troop sung out.
'The devil can do his business in one,' was the retort, and
Schwartz Thier swung himself on his broad-backed charger, and gored
the fine beast till she rattled out a blast of sparkles from the
In a minute he drew up in front of Margarita.
'So! you prefer settling this business in the square.
Good! my choice sweetheart!' and he sprang to her side.
The act of flight had touched the young girl's heart with the
spirit of flight. She crouched like a winded hare under the nose of
the hound, and covered her face with her two hands. Margarita was no
wisp in weight, but Schwartz Thier had her aloft in his arm as easily
as if he had tossed up a kerchief.
'Look all, and witness!' he shouted, lifting the other arm.
Henker Rothhals and the rest of the troop looked, as they came
trotting to the scene, with the coolness of umpires: but they
witnessed something other than what Schwartz Thier proposed. This was
the sight of a formidable staff, whirling an unfriendly halo over the
head of the Thier, and descending on it with such honest intent to
confound and overthrow him, that the Thier succumbed to its force
without argument, and the square echoed blow and fall simultaneously.
At the same time the wielder of this sound piece of logic seized
Margarita, and raised a shout in the square for all true men to stand
by him in rescuing a maiden from the clutch of brigands and ravishers.
A crowd was collecting, but seemed to consider the circle now formed
by the horsemen as in a manner charmed, for only one, a fair slender
youth, came forward and ranged himself beside the stranger.
'Take thou the maiden: I'll keep to the staff,' said this latter,
stumbling over his speech as if he was in a foreign land among old
roots and wolfpits which had already shaken out a few of his teeth,
and made him cautious about the remainder.
'Can it be Margarita!' exclaimed the youth, bending to her, and
calling to her: 'Margarita! Fraulein Groschen!'
She opened her eyes, shuddered, and said: 'I was not afraid! Am I
'Safe while I have life, and this good friend.'
'Where is my father?'
'I have not seen him.'
'And you—who are you? Do I owe this to you?'
'Oh! no! no! Me you owe nothing.'
Margarita gazed hurriedly round, and at her feet there lay the
Thier with his steel-cap shining in dints, and three rivulets of blood
coursing down his mottled forehead. She looked again at the youth,
and a blush of recognition gave life to her cheeks.
'I did not know you. Pardon me. Farina! what thanks can reward
such courage! Tell me! shall we go?'
'The youth eyed her an instant, but recovering himself, took a
rapid survey, and called to the stranger to follow and help give the
young maiden safe conduct home.
'Just then Henker Rothhals bellowed, 'Time's up!' He was answered
by a chorus of agreement from the troop. They had hitherto patiently
acted their parts as spectators, immovable on their horses. The
assault on the Thier was all in the play, and a visible interference
of fortune in favour of Henker Rothhals. Now general commotion
shuttled them, and the stranger's keen hazel eyes read their
intentions rightly when he lifted his redoubtable staff in preparation
for another mighty swoop, this time defensive. Rothhals, and half a
dozen others, with a war-cry of curses, spurred their steeds at once
to ride him down. They had not reckoned the length and good-will of
their antagonist's weapon. Scarce were they in motion, when round it
whizzed, grazing the nostrils of their horses with a precision that
argued practice in the feat, and unhorsing two, Rothhals among the
number. He dropped heavily on his head, and showed signs of being as
incapable of combat as the Thier. A cheer burst from the crowd, but
The foremost of their number was struck flat to the earth by a
fellow of the troop.
Calling on St. George, his patron saint, the stranger began
systematically to make a clear ring in his path forward. Several of
the horsemen essayed a cut at his arm with their long double-handed
swords, but the horses could not be brought a second time to the edge
of the magic circle; and the blood of these warriors being thoroughly
up, they now came at him on foot. In their rage they would have made
short work with the three, in spite of the magistracy of Cologne, had
they not been arrested by cries of 'Werner! Werner!'
At the South-west end of the square, looking Rhinewards, rode the
marauder Baron, in full armour, helm and hauberk, with a single
retainer in his rear. He had apparently caught sight of the brawl,
and, either because he distinguished his own men, or was seeking his
natural element, hastened up for his share in it, which was usually
that of the king of beasts. His first call was for Schwartz Thier.
The men made way, and he beheld his man in no condition to make
military responses. He shouted for Henker Rothhals, and again the men
opened their ranks mutely, exhibiting the two stretched out in diverse
directions, with their feet slanting to a common point. The Baron
glared; then caught off his mailed glove, and thrust it between his
teeth. A rasping gurgle of oaths was all they heard, and presently
'Who was it?'
Margarita's eyes were shut. She opened them fascinated with
horror. There was an unearthly awful and comic mixture of sounds in
Werner's querulous fury, that was like the noise of a complaining
bear, rolling up from hollow-chested menace to yawning lament. Never
in her life had Margarita such a shock of fear. The half gasp of a
laugh broke on her trembling lips. She stared at Werner, and was
falling; but Farina's arm clung instantly round her waist. The
stranger caught up her laugh, loud and hearty.
'As for who did it, Sir Baron,' he cried, is a cheery tone, 'I am
the man! As you may like to know why—and that's due to you and me
both of us—all I can say is, the Black Muzzle yonder lying got his
settler for merry-making with this peaceful maiden here, without her
consent—an offence in my green island they reckon a crack o' the
sconce light basting for, I warrant all company present,' and he
nodded sharply about. 'As for the other there, who looks as if a rope
had been round his neck once and shirked its duty, he counts his wages
for helping the devil in his business, as will any other lad here who
likes to come on and try.'
Werner himself, probably, would have given him the work he wanted;
but his eye had sidled a moment over Margarita, and the
hardly-suppressed applause of the crowd at the stranger's speech
failed to bring his ire into action this solitary time.
'Who is the maiden?' he asked aloud.
'Fraulein von Groschen,' replied Farina.
'Von Groschen! Von Groschen! the daughter of Gottlieb Groschen?—
Rascals!' roared the Baron, turning on his men, and out poured a mud-
spring of filthy oaths and threats, which caused Henker Rothhals, who
had opened his eyes, to close them again, as if he had already gone to
the place of heat.
'Only lend me thy staff, friend,' cried Werner.
'Not I! thwack 'em with your own wood,' replied the stranger, and
fell back a leg.
Werner knotted his stringy brows, and seemed torn to pieces with
the different pulling tides of his wrath. He grasped the mane of his
horse and flung abroad handfuls, till the splendid animal reared in
'You shall none of you live over this night, villains! I 'll hang
you, every hag's son! My last orders were,—Keep quiet in the city,
ye devil's brood. Take that! and that!' laying at them with his bare
sword. 'Off with you, and carry these two pigs out of sight quickly,
or I'll have their heads, and make sure o' them.'
The latter injunction sprang from policy, for at the head of the
chief street there was a glitter of the city guard, marching with
'Maiden,' said Werner, with a bull's bow, 'let me conduct thee to
Margarita did not reply; but gave her hand to Farina, and took a
step closer to the stranger.
Werner's brows grew black.
'Enough to have saved you, fair maid,' he muttered hoarsely.
'Gratitude never was a woman's gift. Say to your father that I shall
make excuses to him for the conduct of my men.'
Whereupon, casting a look of leisurely scorn toward the guard
coming up in the last beams of day, the Baron shrugged his huge
shoulders to an altitude expressing the various contemptuous shades of
feudal coxcombry, stuck one leather-ruffled arm in his side, and
jolted off at an easy pace.
'Amen!' ejaculated the stranger, leaning on his staff. 'There are
Barons in my old land; but never a brute beast in harness.'
Margarita stood before him, and took his two hands.
'You will come with me to my father! He will thank you. I cannot.
You will come?'
Tears and a sob of relief started from her.
The city guard, on seeing Werner's redoubtable back turned, had
adopted double time, and now came panting up, while the stranger bent
smiling under a fresh overflow of innocent caresses. Margarita was
caught to her father's breast.
'You shall have vengeance for this, sweet chuck,' cried old
Gottlieb in the intervals of his hugs.
'Fear not, my father; they are punished': and Margarita related the
story of the stranger's prowess, elevating him into a second
Siegfried. The guard huzzaed him, but did not pursue the Baron.
Old Gottlieb, without hesitation, saluted the astonished champion
with a kiss on either cheek.
'My best friend! You have saved my daughter from indignity! Come
with us home, if you can believe that a home where the wolves come
daring us, dragging our dear ones from our very doorsteps. Come, that
we may thank you under a roof at least. My little daughter! Is she
not a brave lass?'
'She's nothing less than the white rose of Germany,' said the
stranger, with a good bend of the shoulders to Margarita.
'So she's called,' exclaimed Gottlieb; 'she 's worthy to be a man!'
'Men would be the losers, then, more than they could afford,'
replied the stranger, with a ringing laugh.
'Come, good friend,' said Gottlieb; 'you must need refreshment.
Prove you are a true hero by your appetite. As Charles the Great
said to Archbishop Turpin, "I conquered the world because Nature gave
me a gizzard; for everywhere the badge of subjection is a poor
stomach." Come, all! A day well ended, notwithstanding!'
THE SILVER ARROW
At the threshold of Gottlieb's house a number of the chief
burgesses of Cologne had corporated spontaneously to condole with him.
As he came near, they raised a hubbub of gratulation. Strong were
the expressions of abhorrence and disgust of Werner's troop in which
these excellent citizens clothed their outraged feelings; for the
insult to Gottlieb was the insult of all. The Rhinestream taxes were
provoking enough to endure; but that the licence of these free-booting
bands should extend to the homes of free and peaceful men, loyal
subjects of the Emperor, was a sign that the evil had reached from
pricks to pokes, as the saying went, and must now be met as became
burgesses of ancient Cologne, and by joint action destroyed.
'In! in, all of you!' said Gottlieb, broadening his smile to suit
the many. 'We 'll talk about that in-doors. Meantime, I've got a
hero to introduce to you: flesh and blood! no old woman's coin and
young girl's dream-o'day: the honest thing, and a rarity, my masters.
All that over some good Rhine-juice from above Bacharach. In, and
Gottlieb drew the stranger along with him under the carved old
oak-wood portals, and the rest paired, and reverentially entered in
his wake. Margarita, to make up for this want of courtesy, formed
herself the last of the procession. She may have had another motive,
for she took occasion there to whisper something to Farina, bringing
sun and cloud over his countenance in rapid flushes. He seemed to
remonstrate in dumb show; but she, with an attitude of silence,
signified her wish to seal the conversation, and he drooped again. On
the door step she paused a moment, and hung her head pensively, as if
moved by a reminiscence. The youth had hurried away some strides.
Margarita looked after him. His arms were straightened to his
flanks, his hands clenched, and straining out from the wrist. He had
the aspect of one tugging against the restraint of a chain that
suddenly let out link by link to his whole force.
'Farina!' she called; and wound him back with a run. 'Farina! You
do not think me ungrateful? I could not tell my father in the crowd
what you did for me. He shall know. He will thank you. He does not
understand you now, Farina. He will. Look not so sorrowful. So much
I would say to you.'
So much was rushing on her mind, that her maidenly heart became
unruly, and warned her to beware.
The youth stood as if listening to a nightingale of the old woods,
after the first sweet stress of her voice was in his ear. When she
ceased, he gazed into her eyes. They were no longer deep and calm
like forest lakes; the tender-glowing blue quivered, as with a spark
of the young girl's soul, in the beams of the moon then rising.
'Oh, Margarita!' said the youth, in tones that sank to sighs: 'what
am I to win your thanks, though it were my life for such a boon!'
He took her hand, and she did not withdraw it. Twice his lips
dwelt upon those pure fingers.
'Margarita: you forgive me: I have been so long without hope. I
have kissed your hand, dearest of God's angels!'
She gently restrained the full white hand in his pressure.
'Margarita! I have thought never before death to have had this
sacred bliss. I am guerdoned in advance for every grief coming before
She dropped on him one look of a confiding softness that was to the
youth like the opened gate of the innocent garden of her heart.
'You pardon me, Margarita? I may call you my beloved? strive,
wait, pray, hope, for you, my star of life?'
Her face was so sweet a charity!
'Dear love! one word!—or say nothing, but remain, and move not.
So beautiful you are! Oh, might I kneel to you here; dote on you;
worship this white hand for ever.'
The colour had passed out of her cheeks like a blissful western red
leaving rich paleness in the sky; and with her clear brows levelled at
him, her bosom lifting more and more rapidly, she struggled against
the charm that was on her, and at last released her hand.
'I must go. I cannot stay. Pardon you? Who might not be proud of
She turned to move away, but lingered a step from him, hastily
touching her bosom and either hand, as if to feel for a brooch or a
ring. Then she blushed, drew the silver arrow from the gathered
gold-shot braids above her neck, held it out to him, and was gone.
Farina clutched the treasure, and reeled into the street. Half a
dozen neighbours were grouped by the door.
'What 's the matter in Master Groschen's house now?' one asked, as
he plunged into the midst of them.
'Matter?' quoth the joy-drunken youth, catching at the word, and
mused off into raptures; 'There never was such happiness! 'Tis
paradise within, exile without. But what exile! A star ever in the
heavens to lighten the road and cheer the path of the banished one';
and he loosened his vest and hugged the cold shaft on his breast.
'What are you talking and capering at, fellow?' exclaimed another:
'Can't you answer about those shrieks, like a Christian, you that have
just come out of the house? Why, there's shrieking now! It 's a
woman. Thousand thunders! it sounds like the Frau Lisbeth's voice.
What can be happening to her?'
'Perhaps she's on fire,' was coolly suggested between two or three.
'Pity to see the old house burnt,' remarked one.
'House! The woman, man! the woman!'
'Ah!' replied the other, an ancient inhabitant of Cologne, shaking
his head, 'the house is oldest!'
Farina, now recovering his senses, heard shrieks that he recognized
as possible in the case of Aunt Lisbeth dreading the wickedness of an
opposing sex, and alarmed by the inrush of old Gottlieb's numerous
guests. To confirm him, she soon appeared, and hung herself halfway
out of one of the upper windows, calling desperately to St. Ursula for
aid. He thanked the old lady in his heart for giving him a pretext to
enter Paradise again; but before even love could speed him, Frau
Lisbeth was seized and dragged remorselessly out of sight, and he and
the rosy room darkened together.
Farina twice strode off to the Rhine-stream; as many times he
returned. It was hard to be away from her. It was harder to be near
and not close. His heart flamed into jealousy of the stranger.
Everything threatened to overturn his slight but lofty structure of
bliss so suddenly shot into the heavens. He had but to remember that
his hand was on the silver arrow, and a radiance broke upon his
countenance, and a calm fell upon his breast. 'It was a plight of her
troth to me,' mused the youth. 'She loves me! She would not trust
her frank heart to speak. Oh, generous young girl! what am I to dare
hope for such a prize? for I never can be worthy. And she is one who,
giving her heart, gives it all. Do I not know her? How lovely she
looked thanking the stranger! The blue of her eyes, the warm-lighted
blue, seemed to grow full on the closing lids, like heaven's
gratitude. Her beauty is wonderful. What wonder, then, if he loves
her? I should think him a squire in his degree. There are squires of
high birth and low.'
So mused Farina with his arms folded and his legs crossed in the
shadow of Margarita's chamber. Gradually he fell into a kind of hazy
doze. The houses became branded with silver arrows. All up the
Cathedral stone was a glitter, and dance, and quiver of them. In the
sky mazed confusion of arrowy flights and falls. Farina beheld
himself in the service of the Emperor watching these signs, and
expecting on the morrow to win glory and a name for Margarita. Glory
and the name now won, old Gottlieb was just on the point of paternally
blessing them, when a rude pat aroused him from the delicious
'Hero by day! house-guard by night! That tells a tale,' said a
The moon was shining down the Cathedral square and street, and
Farina saw the stranger standing solid and ruddy before him. He was
at first prompted to resent such familiar handling, but the stranger's
face was of that bland honest nature which, like the sun, wins
everywhere back a reflection of its own kindliness.
'You are right,' replied Farina; 'so it is!'
'Pretty wines inside there, and a rare young maiden. She has a
throat like a nightingale, and more ballads at command than a piper's
wallet. Now, if I hadn't a wife at home.'
'You're married?' cried Farina, seizing the stranger's hand.
'Surely; and my lass can say something for herself on the score of
brave looks, as well as the best of your German maids here, trust me.'
Farina repressed an inclination to perform a few of those antics
which violent joy excites, and after rushing away and back, determined
to give his secret to the stranger.
'Look,' said he in a whisper, that opens the private doors of a
But the stranger repeated the same word still more earnestly, and
brought Farina's eyes on a couple of dark figures moving under the
'Some lamb's at stake when the wolves are prowling,' he added:
''Tis now two hours to the midnight. I doubt if our day's work be
over till we hear the chime, friend.'
'What interest do you take in the people of this house that you
watch over them thus?' asked Farina.
The stranger muffled a laugh in his beard.
'An odd question, good sooth. Why, in the first place, we like
well whatso we have done good work for. That goes for something. In
the second, I've broken bread in this house. Put down that in the
reckoning. In the third; well! in the third, add up all together, and
the sum total's at your service, young sir.'
Farina marked him closely. There was not a spot on his face for
guile to lurk in, or suspicion to fasten on. He caught the stranger's
'You called me friend just now. Make me your friend. Look, I was
going to say: I love this maiden! I would die for her. I have loved
her long. This night she has given me a witness that my love is not
vain. I am poor. She is rich. I am poor, I said, and feel richer
than the Kaiser with this she has given me! Look, it is what our
German girls slide in their back-hair, this silver arrow!'
'A very pretty piece of heathenish wear!' exclaimed the stranger.
'Then, I was going to say—tell me, friend, of a way to win honour
and wealth quickly; I care not at how rare a risk. Only to wealth, or
high baronry, will her father give her!'
The stranger buzzed on his moustache in a pause of cool pity, such
as elders assume when young men talk of conquering the world for their
mistresses: and in truth it is a calm of mind well won!
'Things look so brisk at home here in the matter of the maiden,
that I should say, wait a while and watch your chance. But you're a
boy of pluck: I serve in the Kaiser's army, under my lord: the Kaiser
will be here in three days. If you 're of that mind then, I doubt
little you may get posted well: but, look again! there's a ripe brew
yonder. Marry, you may win your spurs this night even; who knows?—'S
life! there's a tall fellow joining those two lurkers.'
'Can you see into the murk shadow, Sir Squire?'
'Ay! thanks to your Styrian dungeons, where I passed a year's
"I learnt to watch the rats and mice
At play, with never a candle-end.
They play'd so well; they sang so nice;
They dubb'd me comrade; called me friend!"
So says the ballad of our red-beard king's captivity. All evil has
"When our toes and chins are up,
Poison plants make sweetest cup"
as the old wives mumble to us when we're sick. Heigho! would I
were in the little island well home again, though that were just their
song of welcome to me, as I am a Christian.'
'Tell me your name, friend,' said Farina.
'Guy's my name, young man: Goshawk's my title. Guy the Goshawk!
so they called me in my merry land. The cap sticks when it no longer
fits. Then I drove the arrow, and was down on my enemy ere he could
ruffle a feather. Now, what would be my nickname?
"A change so sad, and a change so bad,
Might set both Christian and heathen a sighing:
Change is a curse, for it's all for the worse:
Age creeps up, and youth is flying!"
and so on, with the old song. But here am I, and yonder's a game
that wants harrying; so we'll just begin to nose about them a bit.'
He crossed to the other side of the street, and Farina followed out
of the moonlight. The two figures and the taller one were evidently
observing them; for they also changed their position and passed behind
an angle of the Cathedral.
'Tell me how the streets cross all round the Cathedral you know the
city,' said the stranger, holding out his hand.
Farina traced with his finger a rough map of the streets on the
'Good! that's how my lord always marks the battlefield, and makes
me show him the enemy's posts. Forward, this way!'
He turned from the Cathedral, and both slid along close under the
eaves and front hangings of the houses. Neither spoke. Farina felt
that he was in the hands of a skilful captain, and only regretted the
want of a weapon to make harvest of the intended surprise; for he
judged clearly that those were fellows of Werner's band on the
look-out. They wound down numberless intersections of narrow streets
with irregular-built houses standing or leaning wry-faced in row, here
a quaint-beamed cottage, there almost a mansion with gilt arms,
brackets, and devices. Oil-lamps unlit hung at intervals by the
corners, near a pale Christ on crucifix. Across the passages they
hung alight. The passages and alleys were too dusky and close for the
moon in her brightest ardour to penetrate; down the streets a slender
lane of white beams could steal: 'In all conscience,' as the good
citizens of Cologne declared, 'enough for those heathen hounds and
sons of the sinful who are abroad when God's own blessed lamp is out.'
So, when there was a moon, the expense of oil was saved to the
Cologne treasury, thereby satisfying the virtuous.
After incessant doubling here and there, listening to footfalls,
and themselves eluding a chase which their suspicious movements
aroused, they came upon the Rhine. A full flood of moonlight
burnished the knightly river in glittering scales, and plates, and
rings, as headlong it rolled seaward on from under crag and banner of
old chivalry and rapine. Both greeted the scene with a burst of
pleasure. The grey mist of flats on the south side glimmered
delightful to their sight, coming from that drowsy crowd and press of
habitations; but the solemn glory of the river, delaying not,
heedless, impassioned-pouring on in some sublime conference between it
and heaven to the great marriage of waters, deeply shook Farina's
enamoured heart. The youth could not restrain his tears, as if a
magic wand had touched him. He trembled with love; and that delicate
bliss which maiden hope first showers upon us like a silver rain when
she has taken the shape of some young beauty and plighted us her fair
fleeting hand, tenderly embraced him.
As they were emerging into the spaces of the moon, a cheer from the
stranger arrested Farina.
'Seest thou? on the wharf there! that is the very one, the tallest
of the three. Lakin! but we shall have him.'
Wrapt in a long cloak, with low pointed cap and feather, stood the
person indicated. He appeared to be meditating on the flow of the
water, unaware of hostile presences, or quite regardless of them.
There was a majesty in his height and air, which made the advance of
the two upon him more wary and respectful than their first impulse had
counselled. They could not read his features, which were mantled
behind voluminous folds: all save a pair of very strange eyes, that,
even as they gazed directly downward, seemed charged with restless
The two were close behind him: Guy the Goshawk prepared for one of
those fatal pounces on the foe that had won him his title. He
consulted Farina mutely, who Nodded readiness; but the instant after,
a cry of anguish escaped from the youth:
'Lost! gone! lost! Where is it? where! the arrow! The Silver
Arrow! My Margarita!'
Ere the echoes of his voice had ceased lamenting into the distance,
they found themselves alone on the wharf.
THE LILIES OF THE VALLEY
'He opened like a bat!' said the stranger.
'His shadow was red!' said Farina.
'He was off like an arrow!' said the stranger.
'Oh! pledge of my young love, how could I lose thee!' exclaimed
the youth, and his eyes were misted with tears.
Guy the Goshawk shook his brown locks gravely.
'Bring me a man, and I 'll stand up against him, whoever he be,
like a man; but this fellow has an ill scent and foreign ways about
him, that he has! His eye boils all down my backbone and tingles at
my finger-tips. Jesu, save us!'
'Save us!' repeated Farina, with the echo of a deadened soul.
They made the sign of the Cross, and purified the place with holy
'I 've seen him at last; grant it be for the last time! That's my
prayer, in the name of the Virgin and Trinity,' said Guy. 'And now
let's retrace our steps: perchance we shall hunt up that bauble of
yours, but I'm not fit for mortal work this night longer.'
Burdened by their black encounter, the two passed again behind the
Cathedral. Farina's hungry glances devoured each footmark of their
track. Where the moon held no lantern for him, he went on his knees,
and groped for his lost treasure with a miser's eager patience of
agony, drawing his hand slowly over the stony kerb and between the
interstices of the thick-sown flints, like an acute-feeling worm.
Despair grew heavy in his breast. At every turning he invoked some
good new saint to aid him, and ran over all the propitiations his
fancy could suggest and his religious lore inspire. By-and-by they
reached the head of the street where Margarita dwelt. The moon was
dipping down, and paler, as if touched with a warning of dawn. Chill
sighs from the open land passed through the spaces of the city. On
certain coloured gables and wood- crossed fronts, the white light
lingered; but mostly the houses were veiled in dusk, and Gottlieb's
house was confused in the twilight with those of his neighbours,
notwithstanding its greater stateliness and the old grandeur of its
timbered bulk. They determined to take up their position there again,
and paced on, Farina with his head below his shoulders, and Guy
nostril in air, as if uneasy in his sense of smell.
On the window-ledge of a fair-fitted domicile stood a flower-pot, a
rude earthen construction in the form of a river-barge, wherein grew
some valley lilies that drooped their white bells over the sides.
The Goshawk eyed them wistfully.
'I must smell those blessed flowers if I wish to be saved!' and he
stamped resolve with his staff.
Moved by this exclamation, Farina gazed up at them.
'How like a company of maidens they look floating in the vessel of
life!' he said.
Guy curiously inspected Farina and the flower-pot, shrugged, and
with his comrade's aid, mounted to a level with it, seized the prize
'There,' he cried, between long luxurious sniffs, 'that chases him
out of the nostril sooner than aught else, the breath of a fresh
lass-like flower! I was tormented till now by the reek of the damned
rising from under me. This is heaven's own incense, I think !'
And Guy inhaled the flowers and spake prettily to them.
'They have a melancholy sweetness, friend,' said Farina. 'I think
of whispering Fays, and Elf, and Erl, when their odour steals through
me. Do not you?'
'Nay, nor hope to till my wits are clean gone,' was the Goshawk's
reply. 'To my mind, 'tis an honest flower, and could I do good service
by the young maiden who there set it, I should be rendering back good
service done; for if that flower has not battled the devil in my nose
this night, and beaten him, my head's a medlar!'
'I scarce know whether as a devout Christian I should listen to
that, friend,' Farina mildly remonstrated. 'Lilies are indeed emblems
of the saints; but then they are not poor flowers of earth, being
transfigured, lustrous unfadingly. Oh, Cross and Passion! with what
silver serenity thy glory enwraps me, gazing on these fair bells! I
look on the white sea of the saints. I am enamoured of fleshly
anguish and martyrdom. All beauty is that worn by wan-smiling faces
wherein Hope sits as a crown on Sorrow, and the pale ebb of mortal
life is the twilight of joy everlasting. Colourless peace! Oh, my
beloved! So walkest thou for my soul on the white sea ever at night,
clad in the straight fall of thy spotless virgin linen; bearing in thy
hand the lily, and leaning thy cheek to it, where the human rose is
softened to a milky bloom of red, the espousals of heaven with earth;
over thee, moving with thee, a wreath of sapphire stars, and the
solitude of purity around!'
'Ah!' sighed the Goshawk, dandling his flower-pot; 'the moon gives
strokes as well's the sun. I' faith, moon-struck and maid-struck in
one! He'll be asking for his head soon. This dash of the monk and the
minstrel is a sure sign. That 's their way of loving in this land:
they all go mad, straight off. I never heard such talk.'
Guy accompanied these remarks with a pitiful glance at his
'Come, Sir Lover! lend me a help to give back what we've borrowed
to its rightful owner. 'S blood! but I feel an appetite. This
night-air takes me in the wind like a battering ram. I thought I had
laid in a stout four-and-twenty hours' stock of Westphalian Wurst at
Master Groschen's supper-table. Good stuff, washed down with superior
Rhine wine; say your Liebfrauenmilch for my taste; though, when I
first tried it, I grimaced like a Merry-Andrew, and remembered roast
beef and Glo'ster ale in my prayers.'
The Goshawk was in the act of replacing the pot of lilies, when a
blow from a short truncheon, skilfully flung, struck him on the neck
and brought him to the ground. With him fell the lilies. He glared
to the right and left, and grasped the broken flower-pot for a return
missile; but no enemy was in view to test his accuracy of aim.
The deep-arched doorways showed their empty recesses the windows
'Has that youth played me false?' thought the discomfited squire,
as he leaned quietly on his arm. Farina was nowhere near.
Guy was quickly reassured.
'By my fay, now! that's a fine thing! and a fine fellow! and a
fleet foot! That lad 'll rise! He'll be a squire some day. Look at
him. Bowels of a'Becket! 'tis a sight! I'd rather see that, now,
than old Groschen 's supper-table groaning with Wurst again, and
running a river of Rudesheimer! Tussle on! I'll lend a hand if
there's occasion; but you shall have the honour, boy, an you can win
This crying on of the hound was called forth by a chase up the
street, in which the Goshawk beheld Farina pursue and capture a
stalwart runaway, who refused with all his might to be brought back,
striving every two and three of his tiptoe steps to turn against the
impulse Farina had got on his neck and nether garments.
'Who 'd have thought the lad was so wiry and mettlesome, with his
soft face, blue eyes, and lank locks? but a green mead has more in it
than many a black mountain. Hail, and well done! if I could dub you
knight, I would: trust me!' and he shook Farina by the hand.
Farina modestly stood aside, and allowed the Goshawk to confront
'So, Sir Shy-i'the-dark! gallant Stick-i'the-back! Squire
Truncheon, and Knight of the noble order of Quicksilver Legs! just
take your stand at the distance you were off me when you discharged
this instrument at my head. By 'r lady! I smart a scratch to pay you
in coin, and it's lucky for you the coin is small, or you might reckon
on it the same, trust me. Now, back!'
The Goshawk lunged out with the truncheon, but the prisoner
displayed no hesitation in complying, and fell back about a space of
'I suppose he guesses I've never done the stupid trick before,'
mused Guy, 'or he would not be so sharp.' Observing that Farina had
also fallen back in a line as guard, Guy motioned him to edge off to
the right more, bawling, 'Never mind why!'
'Now,' thought Guy, 'if I were sure of notching him, I'd do the
speech part first; but as I'm not—throwing truncheons being no
honourable profession anywhere—I'll reserve that. The rascal don't
quail. We'll see how long he stands firm.'
The Goshawk cleared his wrist, fixed his eye, and swung the
truncheon meditatively to and fro by one end. He then launched off
the shoulder a mighty down-fling, calmly, watching it strike the
prisoner to earth, like an ox under the hammer.
'A hit!' said he, and smoothed his wrist.
Farina knelt by the body, and lifted the head on his breast.
'Berthold! Berthold!' he cried; 'no further harm shall hap to you,
'You ken the scapegrace?' said Guy, sauntering up.
''Tis Berthold Schmidt, son of old Schmidt, the great goldsmith of
'St. Dunstan was not at his elbow this time!'
'A rival of mine,' whispered Farina.
'Oho!' and the Goshawk wound a low hiss at his tongue's tip.
'Well! as I should have spoken if his ears had been open: Justice
struck the blow; and a gentle one. This comes of taking a flying
shot, and not standing up fair. And that seems all that can be said.
Where lives he?'
Farina pointed to the house of the Lilies.
'Beshrew me! the dog has some right on his side. Whew! yonder he
lives? He took us for some night-prowlers. Why not come up fairly,
and ask my business?
Smelling a flower is not worth a broken neck, nor defending your
premises quite deserving a hole in the pate. Now, my lad, you see
what comes of dealing with cut and run blows; and let this be a
warning to you.'
They took the body by head and feet, and laid him at the door of
his father's house. Here the colour came to his cheek, and they wiped
off the streaks of blood that stained him. Guy proved he could be
tender with a fallen foe, and Farina with an ill-fated rival. It was
who could suggest the soundest remedies, or easiest postures. One
lent a kerchief and nursed him; another ran to the city fountain and
fetched him water. Meantime the moon had dropped, and morning, grey
and beamless, looked on the house-peaks and along the streets with
steadier eye. They now both discerned a body of men, far down,
fronting Gottlieb's house, and drawn up in some degree of order. All
their charity forsook them at once.
'Possess thyself of the truncheon,' said Guy: 'You see it can
damage. More work before breakfast, and a fine account I must give of
myself to my hostess of the Three Holy Kings!'
Farina recovered the destructive little instrument.
'I am ready,' said he. 'But hark! there's little work for us
there, I fancy. Those be lads of Cologne, no grunters of the wild.
'Tis the White Rose Club. Always too late for service.'
Voices singing a hunting glee, popular in that age, swelled up the
clear morning air; and gradually the words became distinct.
The Kaiser went a-hunting,
With his bugle-horn at springing morn,
The Kaiser trampled bud and thorn:
And the dew shakes green as the horsemen rear,
And a thousand feathers they flutter with fear;
And a pang drives quick to the heart of the deer;
For the Kaiser's out a-hunting,
Ta, ta, ta, ta,
Ta-ta, tra-ra, tra-ra!
the owner of the truncheon awoke to these reviving tones, and
uttered a faint responsive 'Tra-ra!'
'Hark again!' said Farina, in reply to the commendation of the
Goshawk, whose face was dimpled over with the harmony.
The wild boar lay a-grunting,
And, boom! comes the Kaiser to hunt up me?
Or, queak! the small birdie that hops on the tree?
O birdie, and boar, and deer, lie tame!
For a maiden in bloom, or a full-blown dame,
Are the daintiest prey, and the windingest game,
When Kaisers go a-hunting,
Ha, ha, ha, ha,
Ha-ha, tra-ra, tra-ra!
The voices held long on the last note, and let it die in a forest
''Fore Gad! well done. Hurrah! Tra-ra, ha-ha, tra-ra! That's a
trick we're not half alive to at home,' said Guy. 'I feel friendly
with these German lads.'
The Goshawk's disposition toward German lads was that moment
harshly tested by a smart rap on the shoulder from an end of German
oak, and a proclamation that he was prisoner of the hand that gave the
greeting, in the name of the White Rose Club. Following that, his
staff was wrested from him by a dozen stout young fellows, who gave
him no time to get his famous distance for defence against numbers;
and he and Farina were marched forthwith to the chorusing body in
front of Gottlieb Groschen's house.
Of all the inmates, Gottlieb had slept most with the day on his
eyelids, for Werner hung like a nightmare over him. Margarita lay and
dreamed in rose-colour, and if she thrilled on her pillowed silken
couch like a tense-strung harp, and fretted drowsily in little leaps
and starts, it was that a bird lay in her bosom, panting and singing
through the night, and that he was not to be stilled, but would
musically utter the sweetest secret thoughts of a love-bewitched
maiden. Farina's devotion she knew his tenderness she divined: his
courage she had that day witnessed. The young girl no sooner felt
that she could love worthily, than she loved with her whole strength.
Muffed and remote came the hunting-song under her pillow, and awoke
dreamy delicate curves in her fair face, as it thinned but did not
banish her dream. Aunt Lisbeth also heard the song, and burst out of
her bed to see that the door and window were secured against the
wanton Kaiser. Despite her trials, she had taken her spell of sleep;
but being possessed of some mystic maiden belief that in cases of
apprehended peril from man, bed was a rock of refuge and fortified
defence, she crept back there, and allowed the sun to rise without
her. Gottlieb's voice could not awaken her to the household duties she
loved to perform with such a doleful visage. She heard him open his
window, and parley in angry tones with the musicians below.
'Decoys!' muttered Aunt Lisbeth; 'be thou alive to them, Gottlieb!'
He went downstairs and opened the street door, whereupon the
scolding and railing commenced anew.
'Thou hast given them vantage, Gottlieb, brother mine,' she
complained; 'and the good heavens only can say what may result from
A silence, combustible with shuffling of feet in the passage and on
the stairs, dinned horrors into Aunt Lisbeth's head.
'It was just that sound in the left wing of Hollenbogenblitz,' she
said: 'only then it was night and not morning. Ursula preserve me!'
'Why, Lisbeth! Lisbeth!' cried Gottlieb from below. 'Come down!
'tis full five o' the morning. Here's company; and what are we to do
without the woman?'
'Ah, Gottlieb! that is like men! They do not consider how
different it is for us!' which mysterious sentence being uttered to
herself alone, enjoyed a meaning it would elsewhere have been denied.
Aunt Lisbeth dressed, and met Margarita descending. They exchanged
the good-morning of young maiden and old.
'Go thou first,' said Aunt Lisbeth.
Margarita gaily tripped ahead.
'Girl!' cried Aunt Lisbeth, 'what's that thing in thy back hair?'
'I have borrowed Lieschen's arrow, aunt. Mine has had an
'Lieschen's arrow! An accident! Now I will see to that after
'Tra-ra, ta-ta, tra-ra, tra-ra,' sang Margarita.
'The wild boar lay a-grunting,
'A maiden's true and proper ornament! Look at mine, child! I have
worn it fifty years. May I deserve to wear it till I am called! O
Margarita! trifle not with that symbol.'
'"O birdie, and boar, and deer, lie tame!"
I am so happy, aunty.'
'Nice times to be happy in, Margarita.'
"Be happy in Spring, sweet maidens all,
For Autumn's chill will early fall."
So sings the Minnesinger, aunty; and
'"A maiden in the wintry leaf
Will spread her own disease of grief."
I love the Minnesingers! Dear, sweet-mannered men they are! Such
lovers! And men of deeds as well as song: sword on one side and harp
on the other. They fight till set of sun, and then slacken their
armour to waft a ballad to their beloved by moonlight, covered with
stains of battle as they are, and weary!'
'What a girl! Minnesingers! Yes; I know stories of those
Minnesingers. They came to the castle—Margarita, a bead of thy cross
is broken. I will attend to it. Wear the pearl one till I mend this.
May'st thou never fall in the way of Minnesingers. They are not like
Werner's troop. They do not batter at doors: they slide into the house
'Lisbeth! Lisbeth!' they heard Gottlieb calling impatiently.
'We come, Gottlieb!' and in a low murmur Margarita heard her say:
'May this day pass without trouble and shame to the pious and the
Margarita knew the voice of the stranger before she had opened the
door, and on presenting herself, the hero gave her a guardian-like
'One may see,' he said, 'that it requires better men than those of
Werner to drive away the rose from that cheek.'
Gottlieb pressed the rosy cheek to his shoulder and patted her.
'What do you think, Grete? You have now forty of the best lads in
Cologne enrolled to protect you, and keep guard over the house night
and day. There! What more could a Pfalzgrafin ask, now? And
voluntary service; all to be paid with a smile, which I daresay my
lady won't refuse them. Lisbeth, you know our friend. Fear him not,
good Lisbeth, and give us breakfast. Well, sweet chuck, you're to
have royal honours paid you. I warrant they've begun good work
already in locking up that idle moony vagabond, Farina—'
'Him? What for, my father? How dared they! What has he done?'
'O, start not, my fairy maid! A small matter of breakage, pet! He
tried to enter Cunigonde Schmidt's chamber, and knocked down her pot
of lilies: for which Berthold Schmidt knocked him down, and our friend
here, out of good fellowship, knocked down Berthold. However, the
chief offender is marched off to prison by your trusty guard, and
there let him cool himself. Berthold shall tell you the tale himself:
he'll be here to breakfast, and receive your orders, mistress
The Goshawk had his eye on Margarita. Her teeth were tight down on
her nether lip, and her whole figure had a strange look of
awkwardness, she was so divided with anger.
'As witness of the affair, I think I shall make a clearer
statement, fair maiden,' he interposed. 'In the first place, I am the
offender. We passed under the window of the Fraulein Schmidt, and
'twas I mounted to greet the lilies. One shoot of them is in my helm,
and here let me present them to a worthier holder.'
He offered the flowers with a smile, and Margarita took them,
radiant with gratitude.
'Our friend Berthold,' he continued, 'thought proper to aim a blow
at me behind my back, and then ran for his comrades. He was caught,
and by my gallant young hero, Farina; concerning whose character I
regret that your respected father and I differ: for, on the faith of a
soldier and true man, he's the finest among the fine fellows I've yet
met in Germany, trust me. So, to cut the story short, execution was
done upon Berthold by my hand, for an act of treachery. He appears to
be a sort of captain of one of the troops, and not affectionately
disposed to Farina; for the version of the affair you have heard from
your father is a little invention of Master Berthold's own. To do him
justice, he seemed equally willing to get me under the cold stone; but
a word from your good father changed the current; and as I thought I
could serve our friend better free than behind bars, I accepted
liberty. Pshaw! I should have accepted it any way, to tell the
truth, for your German dungeons are mortal shivering ratty places. So
rank me no hero, fair Mistress Margarita, though the temptation to
seem one in such sweet eyes was beginning to lead me astray. And now,
as to our business in the streets at this hour, believe the best of
'I will! I do!' said Margarita.
'Lisbeth! Lisbeth!' called Gottlieb. 'Breakfast, little sister!
our champion is starving. He asks for wurst, milk-loaves, wine, and
all thy rarest conserves. Haste, then, for the honour of Cologne is
Aunt Lisbeth jingled her keys in and out, and soon that harmony
drew a number of domestics with platters of swine flesh, rolls of
white wheaten bread, the perpetual worst, milk, wine, barley-bread,
and household stores of dainties in profusion, all sparkling on
silver, relieved by spotless white cloth. Gottlieb beheld such a
sunny twinkle across the Goshawk's face at this hospitable array, that
he gave the word of onset without waiting for Berthold, and his guest
immediately fell to, and did not relax in his exertions for a full
half-hour by the Cathedral clock, eschewing the beer with a wry look
made up of scorn and ruefulness, and drinking a well-brimmed health in
Rhine wine all round. Margarita was pensive: Aunt Lisbeth on her
guard. Gottlieb remembered Charles the Great's counsel to Archbishop
Turpin, and did his best to remain on earth one of its lords dominant.
'Poor Berthold!' said he. ''Tis a good lad, and deserves his seat
at my table oftener. I suppose the flower-pot business has detained
him. We'll drink to him: eh, Grete?'
'Drink to him, dear father!—but here he is to thank you in
Margarita felt a twinge of pity as Berthold entered. The livid
stains of his bruise deepened about his eyes, and gave them a wicked
light whenever they were fixed intently; but they looked earnest; and
spoke of a combat in which he could say that he proved no coward and
was used with some cruelty. She turned on the Goshawk a mute
reproach; yet smiled and loved him well when she beheld him stretch a
hand of welcome and proffer a brotherly glass to Berthold. The rich
goldsmith's son was occupied in studying the horoscope of his fortunes
in Margarita's eyes; but when Margarita directed his attention to Guy,
he turned to him with a glance of astonishment that yielded to cordial
'Well done, Berthold, my brave boy! All are friends who sit at
table,' said Gottlieb. 'In any case, at my table:
"'Tis a worthy foe
Forgives the blow
Was dealt him full and fairly,"
says the song; and the proverb takes it up with, "A generous enemy
is a friend on the wrong side"; and no one's to blame for that, save
old Dame Fortune. So now a bumper to this jovial make-up between you.
Lisbeth! you must drink it.'
The little woman bowed melancholy obedience.
'Why did you fling and run?' whispered Guy to Berthold.
'Because you were two against one.'
'Two against one, man! Why, have you no such thing as fair play in
this land of yours? Did you think I should have taken advantage of
'How could I tell who you were, or what you would do?' muttered
Berthold, somewhat sullenly.
'Truly no, friend! So you ran to make yourself twenty to two? But
don't be down on the subject. I was going to say, that though I
treated you in a manner upright, 'twas perhaps a trifle severe,
considering your youth: but an example's everything; and I must let
you know in confidence, that no rascal truncheon had I flung in my
life before; so, you see, I gave you all the chances.'
Berthold moved his lips in reply; but thinking of the figure of
defeat he was exhibiting before Margarita, caused him to estimate
unfavourably what chances had stood in his favour.
The health was drunk. Aunt Lisbeth touched the smoky yellow glass
with a mincing lip, and beckoned Margarita to withdraw.
'The tapestry, child!' she said. 'Dangerous things are uttered
after the third glass, I know, Margarita.'
'Do you call my champion handsome, aunt?'
'I was going to speak to you about him, Margarita. If I remember,
he has rough, good looks, as far as they go. Yes: but thou, maiden,
art thou thinking of him? I have thrice watched him wink; and that,
as we know, is a habit of them that have sold themselves. And what is
frail womankind to expect from such a brawny animal?'
'And oh! to lace his armour up,
And speed him to the field;
To pledge him in a kissing-cup,
The knight that will not yield!
I am sure he is tender, aunt. Notice how gentle he looks now and
'Thou girl! Yes, I believe she is madly in love with him. Tender,
and gentle! So is the bear when you're outside his den; but enter it,
maiden, and try! Thou good Ursula, preserve me from such a fate.'
'Fear not, dear aunt! Have not a fear of it! Besides, it is not
always the men that are bad. You must not forget Dalilah, and Lot's
wife, and Pfalzgrafin Jutta, and the Baroness who asked for a piece of
poor Kraut. But, let us work, let us work!'
Margarita sat down before Siegfried, and contemplated the hero.
For the first time, she marked a resemblance in his features to
Farina: the same long yellow hair scattered over his shoulders as that
flowing from under Siegfried's helm; the blue eyes, square brows, and
regular outlines. 'This is a marvel,' thought Margarita. 'And Farina!
it was to watch over me that he roamed the street last night, my best
one! Is he not beautiful?' and she looked closer at Siegfried.
Aunt Lisbeth had begun upon the dragon with her usual method, and
was soon wandering through skeleton halls of the old palatial castle
in Bohemia. The woolly tongue of the monster suggested fresh horrors
to her, and if Margarita had listened, she might have had fair excuses
to forget her lover's condition; but her voice only did service like a
piece of clock-work, and her mind was in the prison with Farina. She
was long debating how to win his release; and meditated so deeply, and
exclaimed in so many bursts of impatience, that Aunt Lisbeth found her
heart melting to the maiden. 'Now,' said she, 'that is a well-known
story about the Electress Dowager of Bavaria, when she came on a visit
to the castle; and, my dear child, be it a warning. Terrible, too!'
and the little woman shivered pleasantly. 'She had—I may tell you
this, Margarita—yes, she had been false to her wedded husband.—You
understand, maiden; or, no! you do not understand: I understand it
only partly, mind. False, I say——'
'False—not true: go on, dear aunty,' said Margarita, catching the
'I believe she knows as much as I do!' ejaculated Aunt Lisbeth;
'such are girls nowadays. When I was young-oh! for a maiden to know
anything then —oh! it was general reprobation. No one thought of
confessing it. We blushed and held down our eyes at the very idea.
Well, the Electress! she was—you must guess. So she called for her
caudle at eleven o'clock at night. What do you think that was? Well,
there was spirit in it: not to say nutmeg, and lemon, and peach
kernels. She wanted me to sit with her, but I begged my mistress to
keep me from the naughty woman: and no friend of Hilda of Bayern was
Bertha of Bohmen, you may be sure. Oh! the things she talked while
she was drinking her caudle.
Isentrude sat with her,'and said it was fearful!—beyond blasphemy!
and that she looked like a Bible witch, sitting up drinking and
swearing and glaring in her nightclothes and nightcap. She was on a
journey into Hungary, and claimed the hospitality of the castle on her
way there. Both were widows. Well, it was a quarter to twelve. The
Electress dropped back on her pillow, as she always did when she had
finished the candle. Isentrude covered her over, heaped up logs on
the fire, wrapped her dressing-gown about her, and prepared to sleep.
It was Winter, and the wind howled at the doors, and rattled the
windows, and shook the arras—Lord help us! Outside was all snow, and
nothing but forest; as you saw when you came to me there, Gretelchen.
Twelve struck. Isentrude was dozing; but she says that after the
last stroke she woke with cold. A foggy chill hung in the room. She
looked at the Electress, who had not moved. The fire burned feebly,
and seemed weighed upon: Herr Je!—she thought she heard a noise. No.
Quite quiet! As heaven preserve her, says slip, the smell in that
room grew like an open grave, clammily putrid. Holy Virgin! This
time she was certain she heard a noise; but it seemed on both sides of
her. There was the great door leading to the first landing and
state-room; and opposite exactly there was the panel of the secret
passage. The noises seemed to advance as if step by step, and grew
louder in each ear as she stood horrified on the marble of the hearth.
She looked at the Electress again, and her eyes were wide open; but
for all Isentrude's calling, she would not wake. Only think! Now the
noise increased, and was a regular tramp-grate, tramp-screw sound-
coming nearer and nearer: Saints of mercy! The apartment was choking
with vapours. Isentrude made a dart, and robed herself behind a
curtain of the bed just as the two doors opened. She could see
through a slit in the woven work, and winked her eyes which she had
shut close on hearing the scream of the door-hinges—winked her eyes
to catch a sight for moment—we are such sinful, curious
creatures!—What she saw then, she says she shall never forget; nor I!
As she was a living woman, there she saw the two dead princes, the
Prince Palatine of Bohemia and the Elector of Bavaria, standing front
to front at the foot of the bed, all in white armour, with drawn
swords, and attendants holding pine-torches. Neither of them spoke.
Their vizors were down; but she knew them by their arms and bearing:
both tall, stately presences, good knights in their day, and 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 surface.'
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
'By this arrow of our betrothal, I conjure thee to meet me in
haste without the western gate, where, burning to reveal to
most urgent tidings that may not be confided to paper, now
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
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 from?'
'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
the words she writes. Thou knowest we are a fallen house,
the displeasure of the Emperor on my dead husband. My son,
is my only stay, and well returns to me the blessings I
him. Some call him idle: some think him too wise. I swear
Lisbeth, he is only good. His hours are devoted to the
of essences—to no black magic. Now he is in trouble-in
The shadow that destroyed his dead father threatens him.
our old friendship, beloved Lisbeth! intercede with
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
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
'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
'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
'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
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
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
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
'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 me sheep!'
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
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
'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
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 east-hill orchard.
'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 youth exclaimed:
'Father! holy father! 'Tis Sathanas in person!'
The other rose and pointed trembling to a dark point in the
distance as he vociferated:
'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
'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
'On such a night,' thought he, 'Siegfried fought and slew the
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
'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
'Great strength and valour more than human be mine,' exclaimed the
He passed apart from them; and they drew in a circle, while he
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
'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
Crossing himself, he strode wildly upward. Farina saw him beckon
back once, and the next instant he was lost round an incline of the
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
'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
'Laugh with the Devil, and you won't laugh longest,' says the
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
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 again—'
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 again.'
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
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
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 instrument!'
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 did this!'
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 is.'
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 broad day.'
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
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' purpose.'
'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 sinner.'
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
'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
'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 tempest.
'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
At Linz the horses were well breathed. The Goshawk, who had been
snoring an instant before, examined them keenly, and shook his
'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 yesternoon, now?'
'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
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 can.'
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
'Goshawk!' cried Farina; 'you have time; tell me how this business
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,
'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
'Sir,' said the landlady, 'ours is but a poor inn, and we do our
'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
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, and sorrowful—'
'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
'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 cheek.
'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
'No more,' said she, laughing: 'but wait; I have something for
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
'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
'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 page!'
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 and peasantry.
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
'But what's the dish made of?' said the trooper, stirring the straw
with his sword-point.
'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
'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 himself.
'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
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 way.'
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 again.'
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 winds easy.'
'Man!' cried Farina, 'what do you take me for?—go you for the
'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 means.'
'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 a bride.'
'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
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
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 tremulous leaves.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
'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
While all heads, including Werner's, were directed to the aperture
which surveyed them, Rothhals tossed his knife to the Goshawk
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
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 angry posture.
'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
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
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
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
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
'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
'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 part friends.'
'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,' sang Guy.
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 wall.
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 quiet.
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 sharp work.'
'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 stripped.
'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
'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
'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?'
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 the shell!'
'Lisbeth! Lisbeth! poor Lisbeth; we will return to her.
Instantly,' cried Margarita.
'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
'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
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 folly!'
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 again.'
On the road they met Gottlieb Groschen, hastening to the camp.
Dismay rumpled the old merchant's honest jowl. Farina drew rein
'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 with disgust.
'Are you in company with that pestilent animal, that curse of
'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
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 hope.
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 in the garden for
the angry Club, and somewhat appeased them on their arrival with
bumpers of the best Scharzhofberger. After a refreshing halt, three
boats were hired. On their passage to the river, they encountered a
procession of monks headed by the Archbishop of Andernach, bearing a
small figure of Christ carved in blackthorn and varnished: said to
work miracles, and a present to the good town from two Hungarian
'Are ye for Cologne?' the monks inquired of them.
'Direct down stream!' they answered.
'Send, then, hither to us Gregory, the conqueror of Darkness, that
he may know there is gratitude on earth and gratulation for great
deeds,' said the monks.
So with genuflexions the travellers proceeded, and entered the
boats by the Archbishop's White Tower. Hammerstein Castle and
Rheineck they floated under; Salzig and the Ahr confluence; Rolandseck
and Nonnenwerth; Drachenfels and Bonn; hills green with young vines;
dells waving fresh foliage. Margarita sang as they floated. Ancient
ballads she sang that made the Goshawk sigh for home, and affected the
Club with delirious love for the grand old water that was speeding
them onward. Aunt Lisbeth was not to be moved. She alone held down
her head. She looked not Gottlieb in the face as he embraced her.
Nor to any questioning would she vouchsafe reply. From that time
forth, she was charity to woman; and the exuberant cheerfulness and
familiarity of the men toward her soon grew kindly and respectful.
The dragon in Aunt Lisbeth was destroyed. She objected no more to
The Goshawk quickly made peace with his lord, and enjoyed the
commendation of the Kaiser. Dietrich Schill thought of challenging
him; but the Club had graver business: and this was to pass sentence
on Berthold Schmidt for the crime of betraying the White Rose into the
hands of Werner. They had found Berthold at the Eck, and there
consented to let him remain until ransom was paid for his traitorous
body. Berthold in his mad passion was tricked by Werner, and on his
release, by payment of the ransom, submitted to the judgement of the
Club, which condemned him to fight them all in turn, and then endure
banishment from Rhineland; the Goshawk, for his sister's sake,
interceding before a harsher tribunal.
THE ENTRY INTO COLOGNE
Seven days Kaiser Heinrich remained camped outside Cologne. Six
times in six successive days the Kaiser attempted to enter the city,
and was foiled.
'Beard of Barbarossa!' said the Kaiser, 'this is the first
stronghold that ever resisted me.'
The warrior bishops, electors, pfalzgrafs, and knights of the
Empire, all swore it was no shame not to be a match for the Demon.
'If,' said the reflective Kaiser, 'we are to suffer below what poor
Cologne is doomed to undergo now, let us, by all that is savoury,
reform and do penance.'
The wind just then setting on them dead from Cologne made the
courtiers serious. Many thought of their souls for the first time.
This is recorded to the honour of Monk Gregory.
On the seventh morning, the Kaiser announced his determination to
make a last trial.
It was dawn, and a youth stood before the Kaiser's tent, praying an
Conducted into the presence of the Kaiser, the youth, they say,
succeeded in arousing him from his depression, for, brave as he was,
Kaiser Heinrich dreaded the issue. Forthwith order was given for the
cavalcade to set out according to the rescript, Kaiser Heinrich
retaining the youth at his right hand. But the youth had found
occasion to visit Gottlieb and Margarita, each of whom he furnished
with a flash,[flask ?] curiously shaped, and charged with a
As the head of the procession reached the gates of Cologne,
symptoms of wavering were manifest.
Kaiser Heinrich commanded an advance, at all cost.
Pfalzgraf Nase, as the old chronicles call him in their humour, but
assuredly a great noble, led the van, and pushed across the
Hesitation and signs of horror were manifest in the assemblage
round the Kaiser's person. The Kaiser and the youth at his right hand
were cheery. Not a whit drooped they! Several of the heroic knights
begged the Kaiser's permission to fall back.
'Follow Pfalzgraf Nase!' the Kaiser is reported to have said.
Great was the wonderment of the people of Cologne to behold Kaiser
Heinrich riding in perfect stateliness up the main street toward the
Cathedral, while right and left of him bishops and electors were
The Kaiser advanced till by his side the youth rode sole.
'Thy name?' said the Kaiser.
He answered: 'A poor youth, unconquerable Kaiser! Farina I am
'Thy recompense?' said the Kaiser.
He answered: 'The hand of a maiden of Cologne, most gracious Kaiser
'She is thine!' said the Kaiser.
Kaiser Heinrich looked behind him, and among a host grasping the
pommels of their saddles, and reeling vanquished, were but two erect,
a maiden and an old man.
'That is she, unconquerable Kaiser!' Farina continued, bowing low.
'It shall be arranged on the spot,' said the Kaiser.
A word from Kaiser Heinrich sealed Gottlieb's compliance.
Said he: 'Gracious Kaiser and master! though such a youth could of
himself never have aspired to the possession of a Groschen, yet when
the Kaiser pleads for him, objection is as the rock of Moses, and
streams consent. Truly he has done Cologne good service, and if
Margarita, my daughter, can be persuaded—'
The Kaiser addressed her with his blazing brows.
Margarita blushed a ready autumn of rosy-ripe acquiescence.
'A marriage registered yonder!' said the Kaiser, pointing upward.
'I am thine, murmured Margarita, as Farina drew near her.
'Seal it! seal it!' quoth the Kaiser, in hearty good humour; 'take
no consent from man or maid without a seal.'
Farina tossed the contents of a flask in air, and saluted his
beloved on the lips.
This scene took place near the charred round of earth where the
Foulest descended to his kingdom below.
Men now pervaded Cologne with flasks, purifying the atmosphere. It
became possible to breathe freely.
'We Germans,' said Kaiser Heinrich, when he was again surrounded by
his courtiers, 'may go wrong if we always follow Pfalzgraf Nase; but
this time we have been well led.' Whereat there was obsequious
The Pfalzgraf pleaded a susceptible nostril.
'Thou art, I fear, but a timid mortal,' said the Kaiser.
'Never have I been found so on the German Field, Imperial Majesty!'
returned the Pfalzgraf. 'I take glory to myself that this Nether reek
'Even that we must combat, you see!' exclaimed Kaiser Heinrich;
'but come all to a marriage this night, and take brides as soon as you
will, all of you. Increase, and give us loyal subjects in plenty. I
count prosperity by the number of marriages in my empire!'
The White Rose Club were invited by Gottlieb to the wedding, and
took it in vast wrath until they saw the, Kaiser, and such excellent
stout German fare present, when immediately a battle raged as to who
should do the event most honour, and was in dispute till dawn:
Dietrich Schill being the man, he having consumed wurst the length of
his arm, and wine sufficient to have floated a St. Goar salmon; which
was long proudly chronicled in his family, and is now unearthed from
among the ancient honourable records of Cologne.
The Goshawk was Farina's bridesman, and a very spiriting bridesman
was he! Aunt Lisbeth sat in a corner, faintly smiling.
'Child!' said the little lady to Margarita when they kissed at
parting, 'your courage amazes me. Do you think? Do you know? Poor,
sweet bird, delivered over hand and foot!'
'I love him! I love him, aunty! that's all I know,' said
Margarita: 'love, love, love him!'
'Heaven help you!' ejaculated Aunt Lisbeth.
'Pray with me,' said Margarita.
The two knelt at the foot of the bride-bed, and prayed very
different prayers, but to the same end. That done, Aunt Lisbeth
helped undress the White Rose, and trembled, and told a sad nuptial
anecdote of the Castle, and put her little shrivelled hand on
Margarita's heart, and shrieked.
'Child! it gallops!' she cried.
''Tis happiness,' said Margarita, standing in her hair.
'May it last only!' exclaimed Aunt Lisbeth.
'It will, aunty! I am humble: I am true'; and the fair girl
gathered the frill of her nightgown.
'Look not in the glass,' said Lisbeth; 'not to-night! Look, if you
She smoothed the White Rose in her bed, tucked her up, and kissed
her, leaving her as a bud that waits for sunshine.
The shadow of Monk Gregory was seen no more in Cologne. He entered
the Calendar, and ranks next St. Anthony. For three successive
centuries the towns of Rhineland boasted his visits in the flesh, and
the conqueror of Darkness caused dire Rhenish feuds.
The Tailed Infernal repeated his famous Back-blow on Farina. The
youth awoke one morning and beheld warehouses the exact pattern of his
own, displaying flasks shaped even as his own, and a Farina to right
and left of him. In a week, they were doubled. A month quadrupled
them. They increased.
'Fame and Fortune,' mused Farina, 'come from man and the world:
Love is from heaven. We may be worthy, and lose the first. We lose
not love unless unworthy. Would ye know the true Farina? Look for
him who walks under the seal of bliss; whose darling is for ever his
young sweet bride, leading him from snares, priming his soul with
celestial freshness. There is no hypocrisy can ape that aspect. Least
of all, the creatures of the Damned! By this I may be known.'
Seven years after, when the Goshawk came into Cologne to see old
friends, and drink some of Gottlieb's oldest Rudesheimer, he was
waylaid by false Farinas; and only discovered the true one at last, by
chance, in the music-gardens near the Rhine, where Farina sat, having
on one hand Margarita, and at his feet three boys and one girl, over
whom both bent lovingly, like the parent vine fondling its grape
bunches in summer light.