Category Archives: Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué


Friedrich Freiherr De La Motte Fouque’: “The Prince’s Sword”

Excerpt, Friedrich Freiherr De La Motte Fouque’:   “Romantic Fiction.”  1871.

The Prince's Sword2

horseman sprang from his horse, the singer to his feet,and they clasped and embraced each other right lovingly. They had much to tell, for they had been a long while parted ; Leutwald at home in the fair city, under the teaching of the most accomplished minstrels; Adelard with the renowned Count Albert of Bayreuth, who for his beauty and his knightly prowess was surnamed Albert Achilles. With him had the warlike youth lived after his heart’s desire ; and he too had become dear to the German Achilles for his skill in arms, and for many proofs of dauntless contempt of death displayed in hard-fought battles.

   ” So, then, it was a grief to you to leave him ?” asked Leutwald of his friend.

   ” Indeed it was,” answered Adelard ; ” but what could be done ? As soon as the count mustered his troops against our beloved mother, the holy free city of Nuremberg, I made myself ready, fastened my horse to the gate, and then, resolved in mind, and with girded sword, I mounted the stairs to my beloved lord, saying, ‘ You have been a gracious prince to me; but as things are at present, I must use against yourself the skill I learned from you.’ 

    I thought the valiant Achilles would have broken forth in anger, as is sometimes his way, but he smiled quietly to himself. ‘ Thou art a brave fellow ;’ then again a little time he was silent, jingling the large knightly sword, inlaid with gold, which never leaves his side, and spoke : ‘ This sword might one day have made thee a knight. Now, however, it may strike thee after another fashion. See only that thou comest honourably under its stroke ; so will it be for thy good, whether it touch thee with the flat edge or with the sharp —for life or for death.’ Then he dismissed me after his gracious manner ; and as I rode forth, a solemn stillness came on my soul ; but since I reached our own borders, and still more since I have met with you, I have become light-hearted as before. But are you ready here ? It is full time.” 

    ” That we know well,” answered Leutwald. ” Only come you today to the aged Councillor Scharf. There will be a cheerful meal; you will learn what is about to happen ; and be of good heart.”

    Then the two youths embraced joyfully ; and leading the horse after them, approached the city, singing battle-songs with all their heart and voice, through the flowery country . At the house of the venerable councillor Adam Scharf there was an assemblage of the brave citizens of every sort. Some whose hoary heads, bowed down with age, seemed to look forward to their last deed of arms, and close beyond it to an honourable grave ; others who, in the midday of life, moved on with lofty resolve ; others, and many more, with fresh colours on their cheeks and bright hopes in their hearts. 

    Here the two youths, Adelard and Leutwald, were right welcome ; and as every one gladly beheld the latter on account of his graceful songs, so they took no less pleasure in the knightly-trained pupil of their valiant foe, the German Achilles. 

Read the rest of this Antique German Story in Translation in its entirety here!

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué: “War-Song for the Chasseur Volunteers”

Excerpt, “The Book of German Songs from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century.” Translated and Edited by H. W. Dulcken. 1856.

chasseur2

WAR-SONG FOR THE CHASSEUR VOLUNTEERS

1813

.

Up, up, to the merry hunting,

For now the time draws on ;

The strife will quickly follow,

The day begins to dawn.

Up, pass them by, the idle,

And leave them to their rest;

But we will stir us gladly

At our good king’s behest.

.

Our monarch he has spoken,

” Where are my huntsmen true ? “

And we have all arisen,

A gallant work to do.

We will build up a safety

For all our fatherland;

With fervent trust in Heaven,

With strong enduring hand !

.

Sleep calmly now, ye loved ones,

Around our father’s hearth.

While ‘gainst the foeman’s weapons

We boldly issue forth.

O happiness, our dear ones

From danger to defend ;

Let cannon flash—true courage

Will triumph in the end !

.

Some will be home returning

In victory, ere long,

And then will be rejoicing,

And joyful triumph song.

With strength and glad emotion

How ev’ry heart will burn.—

Who falls, a heavenly kingdom

For this on earth shall earn !

.

Afoot, or on our war-steeds.

To the red field will we.

Our God will show us favour;

He greets us graciously.

Ye huntsmen, all and each one.

Charge hotly on the foe ;

While fires of joy are burning,

While yet life’s sun doth glow!

.

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué: “A Sigh”

Excerpt, “German Ballads, Songs, etc., comprising translations from Schiller, Uhland, Burger, Goethe, Korner, Becker, Fouque, Chamisso, etc.” London: Edward Lumley. 1900.a sigh2

 

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué: “Rosaura and her Kinsfolk” 1/4

Excerpt, “Wild Love and Other Tales from the German of De La Motte Fouqué.” London: 1844.


rosaura

Gloomy, and wrapped in thought, his heart was wounded by the strange caprice of his beloved, the fair Rosaura of Haldenbach. The young captain of horse, Count Julius Wildeck, stood leaning against a window, apart from the cheerful tea-circle, which he seemed almost to have forgotten. The glorious, but disastrous, fate of his ancient house rose up before his afflicted soul. He asked himself how he – the only remaining branch of an ancient house – was to terminate his career, since a long peace had permitted him not even one deed of war, while the future gave little or no prospect of such an opportunity.
A feeling made worse, since the love which had kindled in his knightly heart reached forth to him, not the consolatory myrtle, but almost a garland of thorns. He well knew, that of all the suitors whom riches and beauty drew to Rosaura’s feet, he was the only one to whom a sweet look of her gracious eye was a sufficient reward.
Thus, the more cruelly was he pierced by the lowering harshness, the rigid reserve, which, without any imaginable cause, seemed so often to possess the mind of the maiden against him.
It had happened to him thus today; and so much the more painful was it, since he knew that Rosaura was about to leave home on the following morning, and that he now probably saw her for the last time for many long weeks. It is true she was not to travel to a great distance; she was going with her aunt to one of her estates, which lay not far off among the mountains; but it was well known that during her residence there no one might converse with her.
Every half year she was accustomed to perform this journey, spending the period of her absence in the most rigorous seclusion. It was generally believed that some sad vow or penance of her deceased parents obliged her to such a course; — the more so as she was always observed to look very thoughtful before her departure, and to return home pale, and with the marks of weeping in her eyes.
Julius felt himself only the more strangely attached to his beloved on account of this dark mystery. At one time, it seemed to him that he might be able to remove the hidden sorrow which hung over her; and this very day he had gazed upon her pale angel-form with the deepest love and emotion. But again, her repulsive, and almost hostile, mien stepped in sharply between them, and drove him back into his own deserted being.
Occupied with such thoughts, he had forgotten for the time the presence of those around him, and he whispered to himself. “To what end do we – mistaken offspring of the old heroic race – still live on, when there is no longer any renown in the world for us to earn, and scarcely even one genuine pleasure?”
“We must resort to the chase,” said a deep voice behind him. “That is, and will always be, the fittest pastime for our day.”
Julius looked round astonished. There stood close by him a tall man in antique dress, of noble, almost elegant, form, with keen bright eyes, and a countenance which bore so much of suffering that one could not look upon the heroic pride which so visibly moved over it without a feeling of sympathizing sorrow. The stranger seemed to have been addressing a councilor, who had just left him with an embarrassed smile; then, turning towards Julius, he said to him, with a confident friendly air, “You appear to be entirely of my opinion, Sir Count.”
“Oh, certainly,” replied Julius, half-surprised and half-assenting. “The chase is a kind of knightly pastime, and infinitely better than a carousing party, since some honourable and perilous adventures may be encountered in it; for, of course, the huntsman must not confine himself merely to the pursuit of hares and other timid animals.”
“Bravo! You delight me extremely,” said the old gentleman, seizing Julius’ hand. “And what say you to hunting with us for the next few weeks at my old castle of Finsterborn? This, moreover, is a time which I would not willingly pass without some brave companions. I have, I believe, the honour to address the Count Lobach?”
“With your leave,” replied Julius, “Count Lobach stands yonder.” Looking over, he observed, with painful emotion, his rival (for such the count was) holding at this moment an earnest conversation with Rosaura. Now all the more willing to accept the unexpected invitation, which appeared happily to sever him for a time from town and regiment and the whole circle of his acquaintance, he proceeded composedly.
“I am Count Wildeck; and if your kindness refers not to the name but to the person, I shall have the honour of paying a visit to your castle, if it is not at too great a distance. I do not remember to have heard the name of Finsterborn.”
“My castle is only a few miles distant from hence,” said the stranger, with evident embarrassment; “though it lies certainly somewhat wild and deep among the mountains. I will send one of my huntsmen, however, to conduct you to my little fastness. And you are Count Wildeck! A Count Wildeck still among us in these days! Now, then, Heaven will prosper us. As for me, I am the retired Colonel Haldenbach.
I talk somewhat confusedly; make allowance for me; it is too much for my head. In the morning I shall expect you. In the morning – is it not?”
He squeezed the count’s hand tightly, and with a strange hoarse laugh hastened forth from the door.
Julius remained behind in astonishment. And this was the old Colonel Haldenbach with whom he had conversed! He had heard something before of this strange hermit-like uncle of Rosaura’s. Some people took him for a deeply studious, but very unhappy philosopher; others thought him altogether crazed. His behavior was inexplicable at this time – friendly and attractive, and yet dark and forbidding.
“His fair niece has surely inherited something of this strange temper from him,” murmured Julius ill-humouredly.
Rosaura moved softly past him. “What had you to say with my uncle, Count Wildeck?” whispered she hastily, in a kind and anxious tone. “For God’s sake be quite open and candid with me for this once.”
“Alas! That I have always been,” sighed the kindling youth. “The colonel spoke nothing but what was kind and friendly to me. I am to attend him on a hunting expedition for some days at his castle of Finsterborn.”
Rosaura became deadly pale. She bent her face still nearer to him, and he felt her breath upon his cheek as she pronounced these words: “Tomorrow evening in the prince’s park, at the hermitage.”
She vanished.
Full of joy, and yet withal enveloped as it were in some fearful enigma, Julius returned home.
~~~~~
A warm summer evening rested with golden light over the prince’s park, while Julius, with beating heart, trotted alongside the garden fence on his slender Arabian. Longingly, he watched through the branches of the dark green firs for the appearance of the beloved form. On a sudden Rosaura stepped forth from the neighboring walk.
But, alas! Not alone, but with five or six laughing and chattering companions. In bitter vexation, Julius pulled the reins and struck spurs into his horse’s sides. Unaccustomed to such contumelious treatment, the noble animal gave sudden leaps into the air. The ladies shrieked; and Julius, courteously greeting them, sprang onwards.
“My good Abdul,” said he to his horse, pacifying him at the same time by a few kind strokes on the neck; “Good Abdul, I was a fool to make you suffer for the heartless caprice of a woman. Be not angry, my good horse; it shall not be so again.” As if he understood his rider’s words, the noble grey nickered softly, returning obediently to his light, gentle trot.
Julius, in the first moment of indignation, had thought of hastening back to the town; but recollecting that he should only increase the triumph of his fair tormentor by shewing his resentment, he proudly subdued his swelling heart. He swung himself from the saddle, gave the horse to his page, and walked on with assumed serenity around a tea-table. In a turn of the walk he encountered the merry Princess Alwina with one of her kinswomen on her arm.
After the first salutations had passed, she said to him, softly and quickly. “We have a piece of pastime in hand, in which you must assist us, Count Wildeck. That the Haldenbachs have a very strange family surname we have long known; but Rosaura could never be prevailed upon to tell us what it was.
Nay, she always seemed vexed and embarrassed when the question was put to her; and this has increased our curiosity. But my brother yesterday ascertained, by privately listening, that they call Colonel Haldenbach – when his full name is mentioned – Death-brand. Now, therefore, I beg you will bring into your conversation as many ‘death-brands,’ or again, as many ‘deaths’ and ‘brands’ separately as you possibly can; we will do the same. But Rosaura must know nothing of our plan.”
Julius bowed assent with a smile, and the ladies disappeared in order to approach by another way; so that their jesting bargain with the count might not be suspected. He found Rosaura very pale and serious. She greeted him with such indescribably moving grace – turning her large dark eyes towards him from under her long shaded eyelashes, and again casting them down to the ground with a deep sigh – that he almost repented of the part he had agreed to take in the princess’ sport.
He knew, too, how little Rosaura was accustomed to hear such jesting as this; and the thought of wounding the heart of this pale, sorrowing beauty went to his very soul. But the impossibility of addressing one private word to her, or of receiving any explanation from her in this circle of strangers – and in the presence of so many inquisitive and almost childish faces – roused his vexation afresh.
He began the jest by asking Rosaura whether it would not prove the real death of her beauty, if she allowed so fair a countenance to be exposed to the brand (or burning) of the evening sun. Rosaura evidently connected the two fearful syllables, and looked anxiously around. Then the princess Alwina stepped up with her companions, seating herself opposite to Rosaura. “And, after all, is there not here a ‘death-branch’ among us?”
Julius rejoined in the same style. The others followed; and, as Alwina had planned, “death” and “brand” flexed back and forth so plentifully in their laughing talk that even those who were strangers to the secret found themselves involuntarily recurring to these two syllables. “Death-brand,” and “death” and “brand,” and “brand” and “death,” rang like a multiplied echo through their jesting conversation. Alwina could scarcely refrain from laughing.
But Rosaura became paler and paler; suddenly rising, her tone was serious. “Count Wildeck, two words with you.”
Thereupon, she stepped slowly down a linden avenue. The whole circle was speechless. Julius, half-shuddering, quickly followed her.
Rosaura was slow to speak. “You have truly accomplished a great feat, Sir Count, when you talked of my unhappy uncle and the fearful surname of our race. Only, so it seems, to furnish a little novelty, and to idle away the time at your liking and these agreeable companions. I thank you, Count Wildeck.
Truly I thank you; for, in some respects, I shall pursue my morning’s journey with much more satisfaction; and then I have, by this proof of your candour, considerably enlarged, or rather confirmed, my knowledge of men’s character. You were in the right last night, sure enough. You were as candid with me as I doubt not you have always been.”
The reproaches of his beloved had at first so melted the heart of the youth, that he silently walked beside her with humble, downcast look. But the charge of falsehood raised at once his indignant spirit.
“On my honour, lady,” said he firmly, “what I said to you yesternight was the pure truth. I have never heard your uncle utter a single syllable which acquainted me with the surname of your family. It was told me for the first time within the last quarter of an hour.”
At the recollection of the fearful name, Julius shuddered and stopped. Rosaura lowered her angry look before the bright knightly eye of the youth. Her voice was soft. “I am grieved to have judged you wrongly, Count Wildeck. It would have been doing you an injury, and there – O heavens! I speak distractedly! – But really, if you are indeed devoted to me, go not to my uncle, to Castle Finsterborn tomorrow. Rather, go not there at all. Your hand upon it, Julius.”
She held out to him her fair right hand. For the first time she had called him Julius: Her voice was so touching – so lovingly tender.
“O gracious Heaven!” said the youth softly, and touching the hand of his longed-for angel, “I will indeed do whatever you desire. But permit me one small request: May I pay you one visit during your absence, dear Rosaura?”
“Dear Rosaura!” replied the lady of Haldenbach loftily, while she drew back her hand, — “Dear Rosaura! Truly there is nothing in the world so bold as a young fashionable of our day! And the very little, little request! Pay your visits where you will, Sir Count – only not to me.”
With anger-glowing cheeks she turned herself away, and hastened back to her companions.
Julius followed, beseeching softly. “Only one more word. Shall I go to Finsterborn?”
“On my account,” said Rosaura to herself; and it seemed to the Count as if she spoke it seriously. “On my account to death!”
“Willingly, from my heart,” replied he, touched in the very depth of his spirit; and resolved now to give up all else in the world for the mysterious hunt of the Colonel Haldenbach, surnamed Death-brand.
Gloomy, out of tune, the company dispensed; as Julius received no farewell from his beloved. But as her open carriage, already far before the slow, dejected rider, wound round a bending of the road, it seemed to him as if she waved her handkerchief towards him as an adieu, and at the same time hid her weeping face in her snow-white veil.
To be continued…

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué: “Rosaura and her Kinsfolk” 2/4

Excerpt, “Wild Love and Other Tales from the German of De La Motte Fouqué.” London: 1844.

castle_in_forest2

Towards the evening of the next day, Julius rode pensively through the antique gate of the mountain-town, Waldho. He had before his eyes the vision of the fair Rosaura as she beckoned to him with her white handkerchief. But, again, her scornful temper arose before his mind.
He fancied now, that he had deceived himself in a strangely ridiculous manner by that dear parting salute. He raised his head aloft with sullen fortitude, and looked about for the approach of the huntsman whom the colonel had promised to send hither to meet him.
An old man stepped forth from the doorway of a neighboring hostel, muffled in a dark green cloak, and led after him a small coal-black horse with thick neck, clumsy head, and grizzly mane, but otherwise of a striking and handsome make. The horse snorted, pawed wildly on the ground, and snapped now at the strange horse, now at his own rider. The old man raised his long wrinkled arm threateningly, and the animal was still.
Julius, repressing a shudder which began to creep over him as he looked upon these strange figures, inquired, “Are you the messenger, good friend, whom the Colonel Haldenbach promised to send for me here?”
At your service, sir captain,” said the huntsman, taking off the tall cap from his snow-white head. The evening sunbeams shone red, and almost bloody, upon the scarred and wrinkled visage of the old man. He then swung himself with youthful agility into the saddle of his prancing steed, and dashed along in his rattling career over the uneven pavement so quickly, that Wildeck’s noble Arabian could scarcely, with all his efforts, keep pace with him; while the groom was left far behind.
At first starting it seemed to the Count, whose attention was now fully awakened, that the townspeople looked after him, and shook their heads. Nay, even that some crossed themselves, or stretched out their hands, as if imploring him to stay. But he continued his wild flight, scarcely knowing whither, or wherefore, he went.
By and by the hunter was obliged to ride more slowly, owing to the rough uneven ground over which they passed, and more especially since the road to Finsterborn soon left the beaten track, and led over steep mountain ridges, and again into deep untrodden valleys. The difficulty of the path, over which the wonderful steed of the huntsman trotted with such strange ease, obliged Wildeck and his groom to increase their efforts to follow.
But Julius, remembering his reputation as the boldest and most skilled horseman of his regiment, naturally disdained to check the precipitant haste and fury of the old hunter.
It was already deep twilight, when a sudden turn of the path shewed the dim outline of an old castle straight before them.
“Ho! Valiant guide,” cried Julius, “Is yonder castle, Finsterborn!”
The old man looked round with a solemn gesture, laid his finger on his lips, and shook his head. At the same time it seemed as if an inward shuddering convulsed his whole frame. He now slowly stole along the path which led right under the walls of a moss-grown castle, and along the edge of a deep precipice. It seemed, as if here the old man feared the very echo of his horse’s tread. But from the castle there proceeded the soft sound of a lute; and a female voice sung to it the following words:
“Deck hours of trial stern!
For bloody wounds that burn
From vengeful times remote;
So fearful to discern –
so changelessly devote;
Will ye from your dread behest
How and never more have rest?
Will ye never more forebear?
Ah! No more corpses bring;
And no new suffering.
Wanderer! For thyself beware!
“Good heavens!” exclaimed Julius, “Surely that is Rosaura’s voice!”
A shrill cry sounded from the castle. A lute, thrown from a broken window, flew whizzing down the precipice close by Julius’ head. The old huntsman wildly spurred his steed; and in the renewed flight dashed over rocks and stones through the growing darkness.
~~~~~
Clear shone the lights in Castle Finsterborn, and cast down their bright radiance into the valley, so as almost to dazzle the eyes of the travelers. Bugle-horns were heard from the battlements, sounding forth sweetly inviting airs in full long-drawn tones. “Heaven be praised!” said the strange guide, putting his horse at an easy pace, while he drew a deep breath.
“This hard ride has been rather fatiguing for you, my old friend, has it not?” said Julius good-naturedly.
The huntsman courteously but firmly replied in the negative, though it was easily seen that it was said somewhat in jest, for he could hardly speak for exhaustion. “I am very well pleased, however, to find ourselves at our journey’s end,” added he; “but there are many other reasons for that.”
“And you do well not to send the horse reeking into the stable,” answered Julius. “One can see that you are not only a bold and expert rider, but also a very prudent one. In this way, the hardest riding will not harm a good steed.”
The old man looked round upon Julius, on whose blooming countenance the full light from the castle-windows fell at the moment, and inquired in a strange low voice. “Are you really the Count Wildeck, Sir Count? Count Julius of Wildeck, the only remaining branch of your ancient house, and perhaps the last!” And on Julius replying that it was so, he added: “Now, then, the good God will dispose all for the best.”
They rode along almost close to the brink of a frowning precipice, through the sounding archway, and at last halted in the court-yard, now almost as light as dark with blazing torches and illuminated windows. Haldenbach, who stood waiting at the door, came forward and met his guest with a friendly and courteous greeting.
Julius had held himself prepared to meet with strange things on all sides on his arrival at this castle, but all seemed to go on quite in the usual way. The host entertained his young friend, calmly and cheerfully at a richly served up supper table, and pledged him in the noblest wine, which he drank out of an antique massive goblet.
Both betook themselves to rest, after agreeing to meet at the earliest dawn equipped for the boar-hunt. Only, at bidding Julius good night – as if the evening was not to pass away altogether without something mysterious – the colonel spoke in his ear, in a tone which seemed between earnest and joke. “Lock carefully the door of your chamber, and draw the bolts, too. One cannot always know …”
He went out, leaving the sentence unfinished.
A lofty chamber, hung round with antique tapestry, received the wearied youth. He scarcely thought of the warning of his host, and looked upon it, at the most, as a joke intended to try his courage. So little did he care, that he slept soundly with unfastened door until the rays of the morning sun, falling upon him, awoke him from his slumbers, and he sprung up to prepare himself for the chase. In a short time, he stood ready mounted in the court-yard.
His host stepped to the door. “Did you sleep well, Count Wildeck, last night? – and did you carefully secure the door?”
“I slept extremely well,” Julius laughed. “I neither turned key now drew bolt.”
“The colonel shook his head thoughtfully, but invited the youth, with apparent cordiality, to walk in and join him in his morning draught, preparatory to the hunt.
~~~~~~
The high-arched apartment in which they sat looked somewhat strange and solemn; though, on the whole, it was neither dismal nor yet unlike what such rooms usually are in ancient castles. Though, at first sight, it seemed to the count that of two portraits of armed knights which hung on the wall, one bore a striking resemblance to himself and the other to the colonel; yet he soon dismissed the notion as the deceitful play of some excited fantasy.
What had fixed his attention upon these two pictures more than the others around them, was only that the knight whom he likened was represented as young and very pale, and in the midst of blazing flames; and the other, which appeared to resemble the colonel, was very old, but of a wild, dark red complexion, and encircled by a deep black cloister-arch.
He would have inquired about these two portraits, but Haldenbach interrupted him, saying with a pleasant smile.
“You please me well, young soldier, in that hunting dress of yours; and it pleases me still more that you have only put it on for her chases, and that you did not travel yesterday in it, but in your proper uniform. In this you are unlike too many officers of the present day, who can scarcely leave the garrison, or even the parade, three steps behind them. But they must straightways be changed from head to foot into fashionable citizens.
“I comply not in the least degree with such fashions,” replied Julius; “for to me it is quite insupportable to be without my armour, however, much and eloquently people may talk of the Greeks and Romans not being seen with a sword in time of peace. A hunting-dress, however, is quite agreeable to me. It reminds me of the good old German custom, according to which no freeman was allowed to appear without his blade at his side.
“So spoken after my own heart, young knight. And then you place your sword by your bedside during the night, do you not?”
And on Julius replying that he did, the old man pressingly exhorted him never to leave off this good custom, not even in the midst of hospitality; “and it would be better for many a one,” continued he in an under-tone. “If they were also to fasten the inner bolts of sleeping chamber – all the three bolts, I mean; but indeed I cannot and will not dictate to you, my brave young fellow; and so let us off to the hunt.”
Wildeck’s groom awaited his master in the yard with the noble Abdul, and beside him stood the old huntsman, his companion of yesterday, with a black horse as strange in appearance, though richly and antiquely adorned, as that which he rode on their wild journey.
Wildeck’s groom awaited his master in the yard with the noble Abdul, and beside him stood the old huntsman, his companion of yesterday, with a black horse as strange in appearance, though richly and antiquely adorned, as that which he rode on their wild journey.
“You have your choice,” said the Colonel. “Your horses are tolerably fatigued with their journey; and the powerful far-famed rider Count Julius Wildeck will certainly stand in little fear of the stout, though ill-bred and ungallant, animals which I bring among these mountains, since I, an old invalid, ride one of them every day.”
Julius swung himself, light as a feather, into the saddle of the prancing animal, and soon reined him in so skillfully, that the Colonel, while they both galloped down the descent, cried out to him:
“Thy father well might have called thee Alexander, for truly this mad animal is a kind of Bucephalus! But yet Julius is a world-conquering name, and perhaps falls more pleasantly upon the ladies’ ears. Now for it, my Julius! Today! Today, the boars must bleed!”
The boars bled; and, on the whole, a very knightly hunt was held, from which they did not return until the evening was far advanced. On the way, the Colonel became silent and serious, though he had before shewn himself so cheerful and communicative. When they ascended the stairs he took leave of Julius immediately, excusing himself by saying that over-fatigue must deprive him of the pleasure of entertaining him at the supper-table; adding, too, that probably he might not be better for some days. The old man then hastened to his chamber, which, to Julius’ astonishment, was not only locked within, but was also secured outside by the old scarred huntsman with three strong bolts. The strange servant rattled the bars twice, as if trying whether the fastenings were secure, then walked away silently, shaking his head and sighing.
Julius, thus strangely warned by the remarkable caution of his host, thought again of his inquiry in the morning; he could not, it is true, prevail upon himself to draw the bolts — it looked to him almost like a piece of cowardice; but he turned the key of the lock after he had dismissed his attendant, and, in a very different frame of mind from yesterday, betook himself to rest. “I am not now on out-guard,” said he, smilingly; and endeavoured to compose himself to sleep, in which he at last succeeded.
It might be about midnight when he was awoke by a strange rattling. It seemed to him almost as if a fast-locked door had been broken open. He thought of robbers – but how could they make their way into the moat-and-wall-encompassed castle? Meanwhile, he heard the watchman quietly blowing his horn, and calling out: It was clear moonlight; the dogs were all quiet. He laid himself down again to sleep. Presently, however, he heard plainly the sound of someone groping his way up in the dark along the wall of the winding stone stair. Julius looked round for his good sword. He now heard the figure approach the door, rattle a huge bunch of keys, and begin first to draw the latch, and at last heavily and slowly to turn the lock itself.
Who is there?” cried Julius, throwing himself out of bed, and pulling his cloak over him, while he seized his bright blade. No answer. “Who is there?” cried he a second time. A hoarse hollow laugh.
The door now opened slowly, creaking on its hinges, and in the uncertain glimmer which the moon threw through the painted window, Julius could see a tall figure with wild grey hair, wrapped in a ragged mantle, and holding an ell-long knife in its right hand. The fearful apparition, with a hoarse laugh, advanced quickly towards Julius. “What seekest thou?” cried the latter, grasping his weapon and holding it up before him. “Stand and answer, if thou wouldest not run upon the point of my sword.”
“What sword – what sword?” muttered the old man in a deep hollow voice, as if from a subterraneous dungeon. “You must throw away your sword; I must slay thee, thou young blood. Keep still, I tell you, keep still; then it will give you no pain, for my instrument is admirably sharpened.” Upon this, he stooped down with the knife pointed straight before him, as if he would creep under the sword and reach Julius’ neck.
“Thou frightful being!” cried the youth in wild amazement, “art thou some serpent – some enchanted dragon-form of the ancient time? Begone, in the name of my Saviour, or I cleave thy abominable head!”
“Hoo, hoo!” howled the crazed being; “St. George and the dragon! Hoo, hoo! The dragon must be gone!”
And thereupon he flew out at the door, which shut clanging behind him, and Julius could hear him, half tumbling half springing, rush down the winding stair.
Still and solemn lay the moonbeams around the solitary youth. He now indeed fastened the door with the three-fold bolt; but he could not shut out the terrible shuddering which had seized him. It seemed to him as if he too should go mad, like yonder ghastly apparition. Then he fell on his knees, and prayed fervently to the merciful God; his soul became calm, and he laid himself down smiling as a child in its mother’s arm, and fell into a quiet slumber.
Next morning, he was awoke by the calls and knocks of his groom. The sun was already high in the heavens. The drawn bolts shewed him too plainly that it had not been a dream. He opened; and his servant stepping in, “You appear to have been disturbed, Sir Captain. One would suppose he had been in your chamber?”
Who, then, Christopher?”
“Why, the madman! He went howling through the whole castle. Once he made a noise at the door of my room. When he went away, I listened, and looked after him through the keyhole. The long gallery without was in such bright moonlight that you might have found a pin.
There sat the horror, huddled up so close that his white tangled hair fell far down over his face. But I recognized the worn-out green mantle; and I will wager that it was no other than that ill-visaged old huntsman who made us ride that witch’s gallop hither. None of the people in the castle will speak with me on the subject; but I know the mantle well; and I disliked the old man from the very first. Ah! Good Sir Captain, are we to remain here much longer?”
“I have only three weeks’ leave of absence,” said Julius slowly and thoughtfully; “but we can, perhaps, go sooner. I hope,” added he, raising his voice, “that you are not afraid, Christopher?”
The faithful youth, elevated and ennobled in spirit through many years’ service with his honour-loving master, reddened, and smiled. “God forbid that I should fear!” Julius departed to inquire after the health of his host.
On reaching his chamber, he found the bolts of the door lying broken in pieces on the ground, while the door stood wide open.
While he looked thoughtfully at this strange spectacle, the Colonel stepped forward, deadly pale, but with a gentle smile. “You have been very unpleasantly disturbed last night, have you not, Sir Count?”
Julius answered that he had.
“Now, see, dear Count, I warned you before. There is at present a terrible old maniac in the castle, and, alas! As you see here, even the strongest bolts are as nothing against the force of his madness. I believe you would do better to visit me at another time, for truly you are not safe from him, and unhappily I can in no way get rid of him. Ride home, my dear Wildeck. Ride home!”
“If I am troublesome to you,” replied Julius, somewhat touched; “else it is not in my nature to fly from danger, and even with this disturbance I should be glad to crave your hospitality for two days longer.”
“Thou brave – thou true Wildeck,” sighed the old man. “I can – I dare deny nothing to you; so remain.”
He embraced him, full of deep emotion. At this moment, the scarred hunter approached and said threateningly: “Ah! No doubt it has been told you that it was I who alarmed the whole house last night! But let the Colonel please to have a little care on account of me!” With these words, he passed on, while a strange convulsion passed over his disfigured features. The Colonel shrunk together and remained silent until he was gone.
Then he said, “I must pardon much, very much, in this man; I owe him, indeed, much. Dear Count, do not talk of this affair.”
Thereupon, he sounded a bugle-horn which he carried in his hand; a number of huntsmen assembled (the old scarred man among them, as if nothing had happened), and a numerous party immediately set out for a fresh chase.
To be continued…

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué: “Rosaura and her Kinsfolk” 3/4

Excerpt, “Wild Love and Other Tales from the German of De La Motte Fouqué.” London: 1844.

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In his eager pursuit of a wild boar, our hero had been led far away and alone, over hill and valley, till at last all trace of his prey was lost; he hung his gun upon the branch of an oak, and sat down fatigued among the long grass under its shade.
The straggling sunbeams through the reddened autumnal foliage, the ever-green fir-branches, holding a low soft converse with the breeze, the parting cry of the birds of passage, the heavenly canopy overspread with many-tinted clouds, all conspired to send a deep sadness into his soul.
A kind of feeling which he had been familiar with even from his earliest years, when often, even in the midst of his mirthful sport, and unseen of all the world, warm tears would flow down the cheeks of the otherwise cheerful boy; and now, too, a moist drop sparkled in his eye, and he said to himself:
“These might have been designed to foreshow how cruelly the world would deal with a true heart.” Then he hid burning face in his hands, and sighed. “Rosaura!” The tones of a cittern sounded, nor far distant, in his ears, and he heard plainly sung the following words, in a voice which seemed to be interrupted by violent weeping.
“Wildeck! Thou noble deer so good –
Wildeck! Thou gentle roe;
Why stray’st thou in and out the wood,
Thy heart so full of woe?
Let that a warning to thee tell
Which once thy ancestors befell!
Shun, Wildeck! Shun the dangerous heat,
Bold looks not ever will defeat.”
All was again still.Julius scarce knew if he was awake, or in a dream.He had heard the fearful tale, how once, in ancient times, many of his ancestors, men and women, had been burned to death, through an unaccountable fire breaking out in their own castle, and how his great-great-grandfather alone was saved in a wonderful manner, whereby the noble race of a noble stem was preserved from extinction.
But who in this place could know the tale? Or was it only some popular rhyme brought hither in some accidental way? “But the voice was broken by sobbing! And ah! It sounded so sweet, so lovely!”

Again it was heard nearer —
“Wildeck! The murderer comes this way;
Thou, Wildeck, have a care;
Askest — Who may the murderer be?
‘Tis I, the murderer here!”

Julius sprung up angrily from the ground and grasped his hunting knife. He thought of the fearful huntsman. “But, fool,” whispered he. “It is a woman’s voice that sings. Surely it is but a snatch of some traditionary song on the former misfortunes of our house. But ah! Sing not quite so sweetly – not quite so plainly to be recognized. O Rosaura! And he sank back into his former seat, covering his flowing face with his hands.
Then he heard a rustling waving sound among the grass near him, while the branches of the oak rattled over his head, as if to warn him.He sprung up; the gun which he had entrusted to the noble old tree was gone!
He looked indignantly round – no one could be seen.“A fine huntsman!” said he, mockingly, to himself.“Who takes such care of his arms!And such a weapon, too – the favourite piece of a dear parent!Best stay — I must find it again.By mine honour, I shall not leave this strange mountain till I have recovered it.”
And with keen looks, proper to him both as a soldier and a huntsman, he hastened through the trees, and along the ground, and at last discovered the traces of a light, soft footstep.“Good heavens!” said he with an inward shudder.“It is a woman who has wandered hither and robbed me of my weapon!”
He followed resolutely the scarcely discerned path, and in a short time emerged from the copsewood, and found himself — near to an old grey castle, with steep walls; and if his senses did not deceive him, it was the same as he passed on his journey to Finsterborn with the scarred huntsman.
While he stood musing on this, he suddenly felt his hunting-cap torn from his head, a ball whizzed quickly through it and struck against the nearest fir-tree. He reeled involuntarily back, not knowing rightly whether he was wounded or not. Then fearfully sung a female voice:
“Askest – Who may the murderer be?
‘Tis I, the murderer here.”
Julius bethought himself:The shot had only pierced his cap; he drew it again over his head – and seized his hunting-knife, ready for an attack.There stood over against him a female form, holding in her hand his own gun, which he had but just lost; — snow white was her robe – raven black her wildly flowing tresses – fiercely rolling her dark eye.O Heavens!No doubt remained, it was Rosaura!
She looked menacingly at him once more, and threw his gun. “The murderer here am I.”
A band of females now rushed hastily out of a neighbouring thicket, wrapped Rosaura in a veiled covering, and led her away. Julius heard her weeping bitterly. “I trust, in God’s name,” cried he, “no one means to do her any harm!”
“Be calm, Count Wildeck,” said Rosaura’s aunt, whom he now first recognized among the other ladies. “Rosaura of Haldenbach is in the best and kindest of hands; and if you would do her a real kindness, then depart hence as quickly as possible, and let nothing pass your lips of what has happened to you in these mountains.”
She disappeared with a gracious and earnest farewell. Julius took up his gun, and in deep astonishment pursued his uncertain way towards Finsterborn.
~~~~
The evening darkened as the strayed huntsman wearily ascended a lofty rock, the summit of which was yet glittering in the last golden rays of the setting sun, in order, if possible, to discover from thence some beaten path, or the top of a tower which might serve him as a guide.On reaching the point of the rock, he saw some one already seated there, with his back turned towards him, and his legs dangling over the steep precipice beyond.
Fearing lest, by a too sudden advance, he might dangerously alarm the stranger in his perilous position, Julius remained standing; the other turned round – it was the terrible huntsman.
Quick as lightning he stood on his feet, and with a respectful greeting calmly approached Julius.The latter hardly knew how to conduct himself, alone with this awful being, and on such a dizzy height.The scarred hunter probably read some such apprehension in his countenance.He smiled.“Do not fear, Sir Count.I am not mad.But my master, Colonel Haldenbach, surnamed Death-brand, is so.
I see well enough you think that I speak from a crazed brain; but I will tell you all in order. Only be pleased to sit down by me, for I am tired to death” (and with this he resumed his giddy seat); “or should the good count be somewhat afraid, let him stand. But do not let him charge my old age with unpoliteness.”
Julius, to whom the thought of being taxed with fear was more dreadful than almost any other earthly danger, placed himself in a moment by the side of the old man, who then spoke as follows:
“Five hundred years ago, the noble counts of Wildeck celebrated in their ancestral castle a very joyful harvest feast, and drank wine and mead.They had brought thither their wives and children, and only waited, in order to complete their enjoyment, for the arrival of a knight who was related to their family, by name Haldenbach.
But the knight had already been within the walls of the castle for some time, though they knew it not.He was lurking far below, deep in the dungeon-vaults, whither he had stealthily penetrated by a hidden passage; and because one of the daughters of the house had repulsed his suit with disdainful coldness, he thought he could not otherwise satisfy his revenge than by destroying the whole castle and its inmates.
He set fire, therefore, to all the gates and stairs of the unguarded edifice.All the Wildecks were burned to death, with their wives and children.Save one little boy, whom his nurse, to preserve his beautiful complexion, had carried into the moonlight and sprinkled with dew.That boy was thy progenitor, young hero.
But among the betrayed Wildecks there was one old man, a soothsayer; he stood amid theglowing mass, on the top of the last tottering wall, and sang forth words of strange prophecyin the night wind.He laid a fearful spell upon the race of Haldenbach – that all their descendants should be struck with madness every half year towards the hour of midnight, and that this should last each time for the space of three weeks.
God knows what secret meaning may be signified by those numbers, and this curse is to remain as long as a single Wildeck is alive upon the earth, unless – but the rest of the prophecy was drowned in the storm, and smoke, and flame.The wicked Haldenbach, in the fierce agony of his distracted conscience, could gather no more.
No way of escape is known; and twice a year during these three weeks, all the Haldenbachs are, about midnight, and sometimes also towards the evening hour, smitten with madness. Alas! Even that beautiful young lady Rosaura is regularly seized with this inherited malady; therefore, it was that I rode with you so secretly past her castle. For to see an angel like her clutched by such a demon-fury, this, indeed, is too horrible!”
“But if the last Wildeck were dead!” whispered Julius, while he bent himself forward toward the brink of the precipice.
“Sir Count, you are a Christian,” said the old man solemnly; and Julius rose from his dizzy seat.
“But whence knowest thou this?” said he after some thought. “Whence knowest thou all of this, old man?”
“Colonel Haldenbach,” replied the Huntsman, “once, in a sudden attack of his frenzy, precipitated me from this cliff, which is the cause of my scarred and disfigured countenance. He afterwards, in the agony of his remorse, confessed all to me; and, among other things, he told me that a dark tradition had assigned to his race the surname of “Death-brand,” although the Wildecks themselves knew not how that dreadful calamity came to fall upon their ancestral castle.
And since that time the colonel has more than once found it convenient to make people believe that I am the madman who disturbs the castle:A devilish instinct prompts him even to go about in my clothes.But I have thought it well on my part to inform Count Wildeck, and to save my own honour.”
“I return, nevertheless, to Castle Finsterborn, for this night,” said Julius; “direct me, therefore, thither.”
“Everyone to his own liking,” replied the Hunter, and led the way.
In the wood they met with servants and huntsmen on horse and foot, with torches in their hands, seeking for Colonel Haldenbach. He had returned before the evening had set in, but had suddenly disappeared again, nobody knew whither; and it was feared that in his wild frenzy he had run into the forest.
Julius felt too exhausted by the exertions of the day to render any assistance.He therefore proceeded with the old hunter, and they soon reached the now almost empty castle.When he found himself in his dark bed-chamber, lighted only by the dim light of a single taper, and was about to undress himself , he thought he saw in the mirror the figure of his groom standing behind him, and looking deadly pale.“Christopher, what is the matter!”asked he, appearing paler than usual himself.
The faithful boy, instead of answering, pointed to a dark corner of the room, where the tapestry, suspended in the ancient fashion from the cornice, appeared to be in motion.Julius seized his sword and turned toward the spot.
“For God’s sake, no,” whispered Christopher, and held him by the arm. “I believe the madman is behind.”
A hoarse laugh and whisper in the fearful corner confirmed the supposition, and Julius thought he could detect these words: “Ay, ay! Here the old mad Death-brand hides lurking for the last Wildeck. Only go to sleep first, my young fellow.”
Amazed, and overwhelmed with stupefying horror, Julius rushed after his servant, slammed the door behind him, and reaching the court-yard, called immediately for their horses. The old hunter stood by and praised the count’s determination. Julius told him where to search for his fearful master, and sprung forward as if on wings.
Alas! As he rode past Rosaura’s castle, the crazed song of the unhappy maiden fell upon his ear.
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At Waldho, he met a military attendant, who had been sent to call him back as speedily as possible to his quarters.An unforeseen war had broken out between two neighboring states, and it appeared certain that the sovereign would take part in the contest.All the regiments, therefore, had ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march.
This was balm for Julius’ wounded heart.With far greater joy than he had dared to hope, he rode through the gate of the capital, and surveyed with sparkling looks the cannon and ammunition-wagons just drawn forth from the arsenal, and the soldiers hastening from the armoury with their field-pieces, who, giving vent to their long-suppressed feelings of martial joy, cheered each other on all sides with song and jest.
Julius’ spirit, too, soon revived through the occupation and bustle occasioned by the needful arrangements for his squadron, and the hours flew past like minutes; and yet not so fast but that Rosaura’s sad destiny, endured as it seemed for his sake, called up a sorrowful sigh from his loving bosom.
A great court-day was appointed, when the officers of the guards, who were called out to the field, should all be presented once more, before their departure, to the princesses of the reigning house.
The Princess Alwina, at other times so cheerful, was very pale and still. Julius imagined that the approaching eventful day was the only cause of this. But in passing him, she said, “Count Wildeck, I have some matters of weighty import on which to speak to you. Attend at eleven o’clock tomorrow morning in my antechamber.”
When Julius appeared at the appointed hour, he was immediately admitted. He found the princess in half-suppressed tears. She desired him to be seated opposite to her; and then began to speak in the following manner:
“On that evening at the hermitage, I enticed you, Count Wildeck, into a dangerous — nay, a very fearful piece of raillery. I see, from your countenance, that you have learned by your terrible visit to Finsterborn, the origin of the Haldenbach’s surname. I trust that no bloody tragedy has again taken place there.”
On hearing the Count’s calming reply, she breathed deeply.“God be praised!I was under dreadful apprehensions.You must know, that my wonder at Rosaura’s strange behavior that eveninginduced me to mention the circumstances to my father.He chid me severely, as well as my brother, for our untimely jesting; and he then laid before us the secret archives of the house of Haldenbach, relating to these events, and we have read with horror the whole history.
And, Count Wildeck, it much – very much – concerns you, that you should know the whole from the very foundation.”
“Your Highness,” replied Julius, “I believe I am already fully informed of this whole case of hopeless complicated fate.”
“Hopeless, alas!” replied the Princess; “And the only possibility of deliverance depends upon a condition.”
“I know it, your Highness; perhaps the impending war may bring this condition to its fulfillment, and too happy shall I reckon myself if, while I shed my blood for my prince and father-land, I can at the same time free the race of Haldenbach – so inexpressibly dear to me – from that fearful curse.”
“Now I see clearly, Count Wildeck, that you do not yet know all.Read:I shall come again presently, and ask for your decision.”And laying an old parchment scroll before him, she left him alone.
“By this instrument, we, Conrad of Thiessbach, knight, and Albert of Lahnhoff, gentleman, testify that we have learned the following from the mouth of Sir Wolfgram of Haldenbach, at the hour of his death, when he wrestled almost with despair. God be merciful to his poor soul!
“Sir Wolfgram having, in the fury of the chase, met with a deadly fall from the cliff, summoned us, his hunting companions, to come to him, and related to us, with great lamentation and remorse, all that he had formerly perpetrated against the noble house of Wildeck; which caused our very hair to stand on end with horror.”
Here followed the particulars already related of that horrible deed; but at the passage where the dying old man pronounced the malediction upon the race of Haldenbach, he proceeded thus:
“The soothsayer or prophet added yet farther, that if the family of Wildeck should become extinct, without one of them having first married a daughter of the house of Haldenbach, then the fearful spell should retain its power until the last day, whether a Wildeck should survive or not.
After this, however, it appeared that the prophet, mindful, probably, of his own situation, so soon to appear before the judgment-seat, and of the saying of his Lord, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged,” – was about to add .something consolatory to the race over whom he had pronounced this malediction
But in the mean time his whole mantle became enveloped and pierced through with the fury of the flames which was so horrible to behold, that he, Sir Wolfgram, being unable, in the agony of his conscience, longer to endure the sight, hurried away and buried himself in the forest. After a while he returned, but the tumbling walls had long since buried the old man in the flame and ruins, and Sir Wolfgram, to his great sorrow, knew nothing of the words of hope which he had uttered.
“This we have had officially drawn up by the venerable father Lambert, abbot of the monastery of S. Egidius. If peradventure at some future time it may serve to the use or advantage either of the race of Wildeck or that of Haldenbach. And I, Conrad of Thiessbach, have, as a farther attestation, affixed my seal with my signature; and I, Albert of Lahnhoff, being unable to write, have added a cross under my seal. Given at the castle of Thiessbach, on the 25th day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1293.”
With deep emotion Julius had deciphered the lines of this curiously written document, the spelling as well as the characters of which were to him strange and unusual.It was now as if a voice had called to him direct from the grave of his prophetic ancestor.With high, solemn fortitude, his hands folded in silent prayer, he stood before the parchment.
The princess entered.
“Your highness best knows,” said Julius, “how far it may meet with the approval of my sovereign that I should ask the lady of Haldenbach in marriage, so that she may bear the name of Wildeck before we march.”
“You are just what I expected,” replied the noble Princess; and a beam of pure delight shone from her maidenly eye upon the young knight. “The Prince is informed of all, and he leaves the decision to you. I have written also to Romaura’s aunt. The hour of the dreadful malady has gone by. Hold yourself ready, therefore, to set out at the hour of nine-tomorrow morning. My chamberlain has orders to call for and accompany you; and I will myself be witness to the marriage-rite.”
A gracious nod dismissed him.
Overjoyed in his pure soul, Julius hastened to arrange every thing for the solemn occasion.
In the mild glimmer of the evening hour, Julius halted next day before Rosaura’s castle. The chamberlain entered, in order to prepare for the reception of the solemn bridegroom.
Julius dismounted slowly from his carriage.Already he perceived in the distance the six dapple greys of the Lady Alwina’s carriage trotting through the valley.He knew not whether he should speak to Rosaura before the arrival of the Princess:He scarcely dared to think of it.Then the chamberlain motioned to him to come within the gate, and silently pointed to the castle chapel which stood close by, under a shade of lime-trees.
The aunt of the bride was within, quite alone. With deep emotion the venerable lady took hold of the young man’s, saying “You bring hither a noble sacrifice, Count Wildeck, if it is only in virtue of marriage that it is in your power to bestow upon your spouse the noble name of Wildeck, and thereby provide for her honour and peace.”
“Oh! Is not this beyond measure enough!” whispered the glowing Julius. “Here I solemnly promise to you to perform whatever you may impose upon me, and, next to God, to keep Rosaura purely and faithfully before my eyes, even in the hour of death.”
In sweet sorrow, he knelt down before her. The pious widow breathed a holy kiss on his forehead, and disappeared.
Presently Rosaura entered, pale and beautiful as a saintly alabaster image, wearing a garland of myrtle in her hair, accompanied on one side by the Princess, and on the other by her venerable nurse.
The holy abbot pronounced the marriage-blessing over the wonderful pair, according to the prescribed ritual, visibly moved in all the features of his aged, venerable countenance; for he had been made aware of all that had happened here.
Scarcely audible, but in a silvery, pure, and firm tone, the “Yes” flew over Rosaura’s lips. And now, as Julius turned, with a reverential greeting, toward the door, she beckoned him once more back. “Thou art an angel,” whispered she, and sank weeping into her arms. Then she hid herself in the bosom of the Princess; and more blessed, and yet more agitated with sorrowful emotion, than ever was bridegroom before, Julius hastened homewards through the mist of a calm autumnal night.
To be continued…

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué: “Rosaura and her Kinsfolk” 4/4

Excerpt, “Wild Love and Other Tales from the German of De La Motte Fouqué.” London: 1844.

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Soon was heard the awakening call to the field. Julius fought, as might have been expected of a loving, and at the same time death-seeking soul – one, too, who scorned to behind his heroic ancestors in heroic deeds. In his deep sense of Rosaura’s affection, he became so penetrated with a heavenly joyfulness, that all warrior hearts flocked around him with martial ardour and devoted confidence.
God wonderfully preserved the life of the young honour-loving hero, and rescued him victoriously from many a threatening danger. From step to step, Count Wildeck rose high in rank; and already, by the beginning of winter, he stood at the head of a regiment of light dragoons.
While the remainder of the army rested in their quarters during the severity of the winter season, the young hero ranged hither and thither with his bold horsemen: Now the back of the enemy – intercepting couriers and destroying transports – now surprising bodies of troops who believed themselves in secure cantonments; again, by a powerful stroke, breaking through outposts and garrisoned stations towards some headquarters. Each time, he returned to the army with victory and fresh booty.
“Wildeck’s dragoons are coming!” was a panic-cry among the enemy’s troops; and friend and foe mentioned with joyous enthusiasm the name of Count Wildeck – for he seemed to all the very pattern of a fearful yet good, a stern yet benign , martial hero. The true soldier always looks upon a noble adversary with the unbiased, nay, even a loving eye.
One day, on his return to the headquarters of the Prince from a successful campaign, with prisoners and trophies of victory, Julius found the following letter from Rosaura – the first which he had received from her fair hand:
“My hero, my protector, my beloved! Thy name resounds from the lips of poets and orators, as well as from the mouths of the people. I had foreseen this long before I avowed my love for thee: then I sighed for war in order that thy inbred nobleness might shine forth. But now, Julius – Count Julius Wildeck – I trust thou doest not court death for the sake of thy poor afflicted spouse? O, do not this, else I should – though not with diminished affection, yet truly with less pride – sign myself,
ROSAURA (OF HALDENBACH), ” Countess of Wildeck.”
Who can picture the ecstasy of the enraptured Julius? He who cannot pour forth the lines from his own heart may leave them unread, and pass them by as an unopened letter.
Alas! The spring brought him a far less cheering message; which he received in the midst of the bustle of a new campaign.
The Princess Alwina wrote to him with her own hand, in the most considerate and forbearing manner; but still the fearful part of the news – that the time of suffering had pressed more heavily upon Rosaura than ever – could not be removed. It was deemed necessary that the Count should be informed of it, because the attack had come suddenly upon the unhappy lady while in the royal castle.
And, as it was generally believed among the household to be a burning fever, the intelligence of such a deadly sickness being conveyed to Julius might have alarmed and unnerved him. Now all was again over. Rosaura herself had written, in faint characters at the close of the letter, a few affectionate consolatory words.
Hitherto Julius’ heart, from the consoling words which the soothsayer was supposed to have uttered, had not been quite void of hope, that the curse had already been removed by means of the priestly blessing. Alas! There now remained only the death of the husband which could deliver Rosaura! Julius prayed fervently to God for a speedy and honourable end, and rode off with a composed courage to the thundering battlefield.

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It was a victorious conflict; and two others followed in the spring and summer. Julius escaped unhurt, while many fell around him to whom life was as dear, as death would have been welcome to him. At times, he was tempted to throw himself head-long, as a sacrifice, upon the bayonets of the enemy; but she, for whom he was about to commit the act, deterred him by her consolatory letter, which never left his bosom.
And now the glory of God’s mercy shone upon him again; and he hoped and believed where man’s wisdom alone could see nothing but storm and precipice.
Towards autumn the victorious host had greatly melted away. The ally, for whom the army had first taken the field, proved lukewarm and indifferent, now that the tide of war was raging at a distance from his own territory. In order to a decisive conflict, it was necessary to have a strong reinforcement.
Many valiant country noblemen now rose up, mindful of the fame of their forefathers, and were already collecting into troops experienced archers from the mountains, equipping the poorer ones at their own expense, and placing themselves at their head for the cause of their prince and country.
From all sides were seen such squadrons marching along with the mirthful sounds of horn and trumpet; and there seemed little doubt that, with the aid of these troops, the approaching battle would be the last, and lead to an ultimate peace.
Wildeck – now in the rank of general, and honoured with the special confidence of the captains, and who had already occupied a distinguished place in the council of war – full of youthful eagerness, decided at once for the speediest accomplishment of the intended plan of attack, and assigned to the new auxiliaries some of the most important positions.
It is true that he, having been stationed at another wing of the army, had, as yet, seen nothing of this new troop; but their noble character was sounded abroad everywhere; and already, Wildeck felt within his glowing soul the victoriousness of a people’s might thus nobly be led on.
Among the other generals, no one had any great inclination to be connected with this auxiliary force. Some declared flatly that they were only used to the ancient and common forms of war, and that it would be impossible for them to conform to new modes; some smiled and held their peace; some whispered that they did not profess to be poetical, or at least not poetical enough for such very poetical subordinates.
Others, again, insisted that the auxiliaries should at all events be instructed in the principal points, of the newest military rules, since, in the event of a parade, honour and reputation would be hazarded with such a troop.
On the other hand, however, a wish was expressed by some experienced old warriors, that they might enjoy again their youthful vigour, in order to put themselves at the head of such a noble body of youths; on which, the Prince turned round to Julius with a friendly smile. “With you, General Wildeck, the will seems to be most in unison with the proposed achievements. Hasten, therefore, to the archers; and the newly collected troop shall march out according to the concerted plan, under your command.”
Scarcely has Julius time to inspect all the detachments of his new squadron before the signal of the Prince floated in the morning-dawn of the appointed day, summoning to the attack.
“We shall all get better acquainted with each other in the field,” said he with a friendly voice; and quickly surveying once more, with a bright kindling eye, all the parts of the enemy’s position, he dispatched adjutants and officers to the different detachments, with the order for decampment.
With a joyous huzza, the archers obeyed. To fight under Count Wildeck was what each of them longed for; and an inspiring proclamation, which he issued immediately on his arrival, had kindled the martial fire yet more powerfully in their youthful breasts.
The conflict began. At the head of his young hero-troop, the hero-youth stormed fiercely up the mountain-steep. But the enemy, on the other hand, well knowing the importance of this point of his positions, had posted there the boldest of his troops, led on by one of the most daring, and yet most prudent, of his captains; and the heights were thus rendered well-night inaccessible – not only by a vigorous defense and a fearful shower of balls, but also by several boldly conducted sallies.
Many of the brave archers fell. Sometimes the young warriors stood still, as if stunned by the assault, which, perhaps they did not expect would prove so fierce. But it only required an inspiring word, or even a nod, from their knightly leader, and again the warrior-stream, with loud hurrahs, rushed up the mountain.
Wildeck was seen whenever danger shewed itself most threateningly, and ever he was welcomed with a tremendous “Vivat!” and “Hurrah!” More joyfully than ever the victorious flood rolled up the heights. Sometimes, in galloping along, it seemed to him that he saw the old Colonel Haldenbach of Finsterborn at the head of a troop of young soldiers; and this supposition was soon confirmed, when the first height was stormed, and Julius, who stood looking round him from an elevated spot, saw the scarred huntsman springing quickly towards him, mounted on one of the strange-looking horses which he but too well remembered.
“Sir General,” said the hunter, “Colonel Hadenbach, who leads the detachment No. 3 yonder on the right wing, sends word that the enemy is rapidly advancing full in his front, and inquires whether he should not attempt to shift the whole position, and whether, therefore, he may venture to break out of the line of battle.”
Julius reflected a few moments, making a rapid survey of the place pointed out to him. He then replied: “Let the Colonel act as appears to him most advantageous from his position. Perhaps the victory may be accomplished at one stroke; and for the security of the right wing I will myself provide another way. Only the Colonel must remember that we have scarcely any horse – that the enemy has already shown us several squadron of hussars – and that the ground there must be much flatter and more open. Ride off, then, in God’s name; and salute your brave Colonel from me.”
Thanking him in warlike fashion, the scarred huntsman sprang forward. As soon as Julius had made the necessary preparations for the intended alteration in his battle-array, he rode off himself to the decisive point, having first planted signals from height to height, that he might receive the earliest intelligence from all quarters of the field.
The old, dreadful Haldenbach proved himself indeed dreadful to the enemy, even as a very messenger of death. Already their left wing was in flight. Julius’ adjutants hastened from the centre to the squadrons of the archers, which, by the General’s skillful arrangement, they led on one-by-one, so that the enemy, on this bushy, mountainous region were left in doubt as to which was intended to be the chief point of attack.
“Now is the time!” cried Julius suddenly. “The whole line forward! The columns behind to the attack!”
And the signals sounded from the trumpets, echoing through the valleys the joyous “Hurrah!” of the archers, and the hasty, unarmed fire of the enemy’s cannon. The archers now shot no longer. They had screwed their long hunting-knives, previously prepared for this purpose, upon the end of their guns, to serve instead of bayonets; and now they rushed on to the attack with rejoicing shouts.
In few places could the enemy stand against this unlooked-for attack; and where resistance was made, those able, well-practiced youths speedily overpowered them. The victory on this side was decided: Almost all the enemy’s cannon were taken. Already, the allied cavalry might be seen trotting about far out on the open plain – which was no longer commanded by the enemy’s guns – and forming themselves for an attack on their rear.
Julius had halted — his heart beating high and joyfully with victory – on the last gained height. Haldenbach still continued to chase before him the remains of the defeated host, and was already close to an open space where the enemy’s hussars had stopped, on whom, at Julius’ command, a fire had just been opened from the captured guns. These troops kept moving hither and thither; but, upon the whole, maintained their position, determined, if it were possible, to protect the flying infantry.
The cavalry of their opponents, too, was at a distance, occupied with other and more important matters, so that they were secure from any attack from them.
“Ride off,” said Julius to one of his adjutants, “as speedily as possible , and warn Colonel Haldenbach against these Hussars. He ventures much too far upon the open ground.”
Scarcely had the messenger galloped off, when Haldenbach, full of wild eagerness for the fight, rushed forth upon the wooded plain, and fell, quick as lightning, upon the hussars. Julius glowed with indignation lest a single branch of the day’s victorious garland should be torn away. Looking round upon his officers, he cried out, “We are still two squadrons strong, are we not? It does not depend upon numbers alone. To arms! March!”
And with these words, he sprang forward, holding his drawn sword before him, while close behind him followed the small, but choice, band. With a loud “Hurrah!” they dashed upon the enemy, who, partly over-ridden and hewn down by the rejoicing assailants, fell into wild disorder and took to flight.
Haldenbach’s archers were saved. But the old Colonel himself, wounded and bleeding, was dragged by two of the enemy’s horsemen from his half-mangled horse. Julius spurred on his faithful Abdul once more, and overtook them in a moment. His good sword dispatched one of the hussars; the other, in despair, was about to fire his piece at the prisoner, but Julius wrenched it from his hand. Not, however, without its going off in a different direction, and wounding the brave deliverer himself. With bleeding side, Julius sank upon the neck of his noble charger, and soon fell powerless and fainting on the grass.
On coming to his senses, Julius found himself upon a soft couch in a magnificent apartment of one of the Prince’s hunting castles, situated among the forest mountains. The inquiring looks of the hero were met by those of his adjutants, who informed him that the battle had ended on all sides in a decisive victory; also that the Colonel had been saved, and had been conveyed hither, bleeding only from a slight wound on the head.
Julius pressed, with a thankful smile the hands of the brave men. Tears stood in their eyes. The surgeon turned away: Julius knew well what he had said to them. He wished to ask something farther, but his wounded side prevented this utterance. He motioned the surgeon to approach nearer, and at last he stammered out with difficulty, “How much longer! On your honour and duty!”
“Eight days; or, at most, fourteen,” answered the former, full of earnest sorrow, knowing well the heroic and Christian heart of his general, and seeing how foolish, nay, how sinful, all falsehood and concealment at such a time would be.
Julius raised his hands in serene thankfulness toward heaven. He was to die for his Prince and country, and for Rosaura; and he was to follow, from a victorious battlefield, the renowned heroes of his ancient line. Something like this he had fore-acted in his boyish games with childish eagerness, and had again dreamed of in the sleeping and waking hours of his youth.
The half-yearly period, when the Haldenbachs were seized with the fated madness, was now drawing near. Julius earnestly wished to die before this time, that Rosaura might not once more be subject to these dark, and alas! To her, unmerited terrors. He thought, too, how fearfully such an attack would agitate the old colonel, already suffering from his wound. He called for parchment and pencil, and wrote with a trembling hand these words:
“Day and night two surgeons and three attendants to Colonel Haldenbach. Report to me every three hours.”
The surgeon bowed respectfully, and hastened out to fulfil his orders. Julius sank, almost free from pain, into a calm slumber.
Days and nights came and went, and still the intelligence of the Colonel’s condition was of a soothing nature. The surgeon could not comprehend the reason for the general’s anxious solicitude, and often assured him that the Colonel’s wound was of slight consequence, and might even be considered as good as healed.
At the same time, contrary to all expectation, Julius began to recover; and the joyful countenance of the adjutants, and sometimes even a cheerful smile from the surgeon, seemed to speak more and more of hope. But Julius sighed heavily at the thought. “Alas! Must Rosaura’s day of trial, then, still to be prolonged?”
More than three weeks had now elapsed since that glorious, bloody day; and the looks of the surgeon became every day more cheerful and confident – it happened one day that Colonel Haldenbach, who was now perfectly recovered, sent to ask for an interview with the General; and, if possible, in private.
At first a slight shudder crept through Julius’ frame. He thought of the possibility of the madness breaking out suddenly – of his own debility, and of the irritable state of his disordered imagination. He soon, however, recovered his courage, and complied with the request.
Earnest and solemn, but irradiated as it were with a mildness which Julius had never before seen in his countenance, the old man stepped in.
“Fear not me any longer, my young hero,” said he, in a soft and gentle voice, “for them is now an end of the madness of me and my race. The time has gone by more than twelve hours, and yet not the least symptoms of the malady has shewn itself. Thou hast saved us, my noble Wildeck; but, alas! Whatever hope the physician may entertain, it is so much the more certain that my niece Rosaura must soon be a widow.”
He wept bitterly, but softly. “With that victorious day all remembrance of our fated hour seemed to have passed away. My brave, scarred huntsman, too, fell in my defence, and was buried in the battlefield. But to think that thou, too, must soon be buried!”
His voice faltered, and was lost in a flood of tears, while he covered his aged head with his hands.
But Julius, through whose veins the news of Rosaura’s deliverance had flowed like a healing balsam, raised himself joyfully up, and spoke with unusual vigour.
“Be calm, thou aged hero of Haldenbach – be calm. I shall yet recover! I shall yet live many, many happy years with Rosaura; for the unknown words which my prophetic ancestor added, for the consolation of our race, they are now fulfilled – believe me they are now fulfilled!”
Astonished, and suspended between joy and doubt, the Colonel gazed upon the soul-inspired youth. But all farther explanations were postponed; for an adjutant of the general suddenly entered, and announced that the sovereign was about to visit Count Wildeck. And presently after the gracious Prince appeared.
“I have many things to relate to you, Count Wildeck,” said he, after the first salutations were over. “I begin with that which, to your true and well-approved knightly heart, is the most dear; our land has peace, the most glorious, the most secure peace that we could possibly have achieved. Next, here is a trifle for you,” and he pulled out a star and ribbon of the highest rank in the empire, and placed them on the bed of the wounded knight.
“These, I know your excellency will not be sorry to receive; it follows, too, as a matter of course, that the conqueror of these mountain forests is henceforth my lieutenant-general. But lastly, my courier has just brought me something unusually beautiful. My daughter, Alwina, writes me that the Countess Rosaura is completely freed from her former malady; and here is a letter to you from Rosaura herself, which will tell you why I no longer tremble for the life of my brave Wildeck.”
With eyes kindling with ecstacy, Julius gazed on the dear page, unrolled it, and read as follows:
“The time of the fearful visitation arrived; I had prepared myself for it with humiliation and prayer. But those once so fearful days passed over without sign of change. O Julius! Livest thou? Or is it thy death which has sealed my peace!
“But no! Julius, thou livest! And the curse is nevertheless removed. This was yesternight revealed to me in a vision. Hearken to it!
“Over my mountain castle the heavens opened, and I saw therein thy prophetic ancestor, clothed in a shiny purple robe, broidered with resplendent stars, and he drew towards him my poor once-erring ancestor, Wolfram; and both sang together that all was now over with the fearful curse, for that a Wildeck had shed his own life’s blood in saving the life of a Haldenbach. And then they embraced each other, and were transformed into two glorious seraph forms, moving to and fro, with azure wings, and chanting in harmonious concert.
“Julius, my hero! My expiating deliverer! Julius, thou noble Wildeck! It was assuredly no idle dream – thou livest, and thou hast here, full of inward love, thy faithful spouse,
ROSAURA (OF HALDENBACH) “Countess of Wildeck”
And the good God confirmed the beautiful promise. In joy, peace, and honour, the valiant Julius, now perfectly recovered, returned home; and from his and Rosaura’s happy union sprang numerous sons and daughters, who gave to their house of Wildeck many new blossoms of strength and beauty, even like so many blessed messengers of Heaven.

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FriedrichdeLaMotteFouque

Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué

Baron De La Motte Fouqué: “The Victor’s Wreath”

Excerpt, “Romantic Fiction,” by Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué.

“The Victor’s Wreath”

An old man return to the valley, where he was allowed to live undisturbed; unable to struggle for his rights, his only son having fallen in the defense of his father’s hearth.

On his way home, the grey-haired knight always passed by a chapel which he had built in better days, and where now lay entombed the body of his brave son.  Then the father would kneel before the door of the lowly building, and offer up a prayer.  He did so on this day; and as he rose from his knees, he looked wistfully through the window; but he in vain tried to see his Sigebald’s tomb, for it stood in a niche in the wall behind the alter.

Leuthold had no means of getting into the chapel, since, in his overpowering grief after the interment of his son, he had flung the key away into the rapid stream of the Bude.  Often had he repented of this, for, poor as he now was, he had not gold enough to have another key made to fit the delicately worked lock; and thus he had shut out himself, his good wife, and his niece Diotwina, Sigebald’s betrothed bride, from the sight of all that remained of him who had been their dearest treasure.

But never had his longing been so intense as on this evening.  He gazed upon the door with keen sorrow.  He had almost entreated it to give way and let him enter, and thought it must grant his prayer; but it remained firm and unmoved, and the rusty lock yielded so little to his repeated efforts, that he became but the more aware of the great strength of the bolts and hinges.

At last, after the old man had rattled for a long while at the door of the burial-place of his son, he turned away, and proceeded to his cottage, with tears in his eyes, and mournfully shaking his head at the recollection of his own rash deed.

He found his wife awaiting him for their late evening meal.  “Where, then, is Diotwina?” he asked.

“Gone to her chamber,” answered the old woman.  “It is today the anniversary of her betrothal to Sigebald, and, as thou knowest, she always spends it in fasting and solitude.”

The knight sighed deeply, and remained silent for a long space; at length he began again, “Home much money have we altogether?”

“Nearly two rix-dollars, but not quite.”

“And the smith asks for a new key…”

“Three gold florins.”

Then the old man sighed again, and looked inquiringly round the room.

“Ah!” said his wife, “there is nought here to sell.  There might be one thing… The smith thought he could readily give two florins for it.”

“Dost thou mean that up yonder?” said the old man, pointing to his sword.

His wife nodded.  But he sprang up hastily, saying, “God forbid!  I may, indeed, never again use my old weapon in this world, but it shall rest honourably at last on my coffin.  My Sigebald in paradise would hardly forgive me if I parted with my noble sword.”

His wife hid her face in her hands, and began to weep, for she could not but remember how often her dead son, when a beautiful joyous child, had played with this sword, and lisped of his future conquests with it.  Then both the old people remained silent, put out the light, and went to bed.

It might have been about midnight when the old man heard wonderful cries and noises sound through the valley; and there shone from the woody heights a light, as of a bright flame, through the shutters of the narrow window of their room.  He would have got up to see what it was, but his wife said, “Keep still, husband; I have heard it for some time past, and I am praying to myself.  It must be a long procession of the wild huntsman.”

“Well,” said Leuthold, “I have often heard the wild huntsman hurry past me by night in the forest, but these are very different sounds.”

“Then it must be some work of the witches,” answered the old woman; “who knows what they are doing up yonder on the Brocken?  I pray thee keep still, and do not give way to foolish thoughts.”

The knight hearkened to his wife:  he lay still, and prayed softly.  But after a while he began again:  “Wife, some one is riding past our window on a grey horse, just as our blessed son used to ride.”

She trembled, and with a low voice asked him to be silent.  But again the old man spoke:  “Dost thou hear how some one on the mountain is crying out, ‘Strike hard!  Hew them down?’  The night-storm almost carries the sounds away.  But just before our Sigebald fell, he would so have called out.”

“If thou wouldst kill me with horror and fright,” said the wife, “or make me go mad, go on with such discourse, – one word more will do it.”

Then Leuthold was silent; and he drove back into his own bosom the thoughts which were stirring and thronging within him.   The wonderful sounds ceased, or were lost in more distant valleys; and towards morning the old couple both fell asleep.

The bright light of day shone again over the mountains.  Leuthold’s wife sat already at her spinning-wheel, and the knight was going forth to work with hatchet and spade in their little garden.  He turned back as he reached the door.  “It is very strange.  When the wild fancies and mysteries of night have once made their way into a man’s brain, he can get no peace from them.  I have been dreaming till break of day of our harvest-feast, as we used to keep it in better days in the castle of our fathers.”

“Strange indeed!” interrupted the wife.  “I too have dreamt of it.  The peasants were thronging in the castle-hall, with their shining scythes, their wives and daughters with rakes adorned with gay ribbons.  The harvest-wreath shone on high against the bright blue summer sky; and, ah! Before them all came my own dear child, a lovely boy, with garlands of corn-flowers wound round him; a wreath, as for a marriage, was on his head, and a large red flower in his bosom.  I know that flower well!”

Her head sank mournfully; and the knight, to turn her from the thought of her only son’s death-wound, said, “the singing was the strangest part of my dream.  Even when I awoke I still heard the hymn which the peasants used to sing as they entered, and now I could almost fancy that the same sound is coming, over the mountain, and descending the woody hill-side; as I opened the door, it seemed to me that the sound came in stronger.”

His wife listened likewise, and rose in silent wonder; she took her husband’s arm to go out and seek whence came these mysterious sounds.  Emboldened now by the cheering morning light, which gilded the stems of the trees, and the dewy grass beneath them; still more emboldened by the solemn strains of the hymn, which drew nearer and near, the sounds of flutes and pipes blending with the voices.

As the old couple went forth from their cottage, a multitude of peasants appeared amongst the trees, with green branches in their hats, and flittering scythes in their hands; some of them also carried halberds and spears.  “Old heavens!” cried the wife of Leuthold, “it is not yet harvest-time.  And whither are they going with their songs and music?  See only how the morning glow colours their scythes.”

“They must have been at some very dreadful hay-making,” murmured the knight; for he knew the red tinge on their weapons much too well to take it, like his wife, for the glow of the morning.

In the meanwhile, the peasants had formed a half-circle round the venerable pair; and while they ended their song with a joyful clashing of their arms, Diotwina stepped forth from among them, approached her astonished parents with a radiant countenance, and spoke thus:  “They who go forth early to pray, do not return without a blessing.  Here at the entrance of the wood I met these brave men, and they desire that from me you should first hear of their noble deed.  They have won back your castle – the country is free – the oppressor dead!”

The old knight gazed around as if yet in his last night’s dream.  Then drew near to him the oldest of the armed band, grey-haired like his lord; and taking gently from his hand the spade, he put in its stead an old silver staff, inlaid with gold, which the ancestors of Leuthold had possessed from remotest times, and which was now recovered with other sacred heir-looms of the family.

Then the men shouted triumphantly the words of Diotwina, “The country is free!  The oppressor dead!”  and again clashed arms and scythes.  It is indeed so,” said the old peasant to the wondering and doubting husband and wife.

“Your brother’s son, Richard, is returned from his crusade, my noble lord, and has brought to pass all these wonders since yesterday evening when he first appeared in the outer court of the castle.  He might well guess how in our hearts we longed after our rightful master, for he spoke to us as if it was a thing decreed and settled long before, till the most irresolute felt it could not be otherwise.

So the alarm-bells rung from the towers, and signal-fires kindled on the hills, and we peasants poured forth in troops, and were quickly marshaled by the young hero, and inspirited by his words.  We scoured through the valleys wherever we caught a glimpse of an armed follower of the count.  At length we stormed the castle, and the count, in his despair, threw himself on his own sword.

The young victor led us on till we came near your abode, and then galloped back to the castle, no doubt that he might have all things prepared for your reception.  If it is now your pleasure to let us escort you back, there are here three gentle well-trained horses out of your own stables, ready to bear you and the noble ladies.”

With outstretched arms the old lord blessed his brave, true-hearted people; the horses were led forward, the honoured knight and the ladies were placed upon them, and they all took the way to the castle with devoutly joyful hearts.

The old peasant walked beside the knight’s horse, and spoke of last night’s fight, and of the wonderful deeds of Richard.  As Leuthold heard with ever-growing joy and surprise of the magnanimity, and skill, and heroic valour of his nephew in many encounters, his heart swelled within him with thankful pride, till, in the eagerness of his delight, at last he exclaimed, loud enough to be heard by all around him.

“Here I pledge my knightly honour and faith, that our brave deliverer shall have for his own that which I hold dearest on earth, my niece Diotwina.  She shall be betrothed to him before God and man.”

He stretched out his right hand towards heaven, as if making a vow.  The troop stopped short in amazement, and gazed upon the eager old man; but his wife turned deadly pale with fright, and at last articulated with difficulty.  “Husband, husband, what hast thou done?  Why this unhappy impatience in they old age?  Look around thee where we are.  Yonder is the chapel where sleeps our only son; and, when he died, thou didst receive the vow of Diotwina to live and die the spotless bride of our Sigebald.  Which vow shall, then, now be broken, hers or thine?”

The old knight, greatly troubled, let fall his hand, and sighed out, “So it is!  Heaven scatters its most precious gifts; and man, in his reckless joy, turns them to his own destruction!”

The whole troop looked sorrowful and affrighted on their repentant lord; but Diotwina opened her sweet lips with an angel-smile.  “Father and mother, be not troubled.  I think our vows are not so very different as you fear.”  Then turning to the old peasant, she continued.  “How know you that your leader last night was Richard?”

“What other could it have been, noble lady?  He wore the colours of our master’s house, and its badge on his scarf and shield!  Then his words, and gestures, and way of riding, were all quite and entirely after the fashion of our lord.  He gave the war-cry of the family with his loud soldier’s voice each time that his horse dashed amongst the enemy.  Ay, and oftentimes he repeated to us that we were fighting under a branch of the old tree.  Who could it have been but the young lord, Richard?  It is true no one saw his face, for he wore his vizor always closed.”

“Now, then, let me relate what befell me last night,” said Diotwina, with a distinct voice and earnest look, “and give good heed to me, for I speak the simple truth, as befits a simple maiden.  I stood at my window, and watered, partly with fresh water, partly with my tears, a bright blooming myrtle, which in my happy days was to make my bridal wreath.  It was still flourishing and beautiful to behold, but my hopes of earthly bliss were withered for ever.

A noise at my door roused me from these and like thoughts.  I could distinctly hear a step on the stairs; it was light and soft, but with a clanging sound as of armour.  My father and mother were long since asleep, and it was midnight; a cold shudder crept over me.  Then the door was half opened, and an armed hand was extended, holding the scarf which I had worked for my betrothed, and which had been laid in his coffin.  A voice – it was that of Sigebald – spoke from without.  “It is I.  Can I enter without causing thee to die of terror?’

“Enter, in God’s name,’ I answered, trembling with fright, and longing desire to see him.  Then a pale, armed figure with open visor walked slowly and solemnly into the room.  I well knew his noble features, and yet I had not the courage to look into his face so as to discern whether his eyes were hollow as those of a corpse, or mildly beaming as of yore.

‘Dost thou yet need the myrtle-wreath for thy wedding-day?’ he asked gently.

I shook my head.

‘Never more wilt though need it?’

I again shook my head.

‘Ah!’ continued he, caressingly and with tenderness as when yet alive, ‘then weave me a victor’s wreath, my own dear bride.  For see, it has been granted me to complete the work of vengeance in this pale mortal body; and when it again lies down on its bier, it will take the wreath along with it.’

I diligently wove and wove till all the branches were woven in a bright wreath.  My betrothed stood at the door silently watching me.  When my work was done, he bent a knee before me; I placed the wreath on his helmet; and as he went forth, he looked back and spoke.  ‘Fear not, sweet love, if the noise of arms reaches you from the valley.  God has given the victory into my hands.’

Then he greeted me so tenderly that all my awe vanished, and I smiled after him as formerly, when he left me to go forth to a gay tournament.  It was not till I saw him on his grey steed passing so lightly and rapidly through the darkness, that dread came upon me again.  You now know your deliverer, dear parents, and your true, vassals.  If you will grant my prayer, and open the chapel and the tomb, I doubt not but that the myrtle-wreath on my bridegroom’s helmet will give token of the truth of my words.”

They all looked at each other in silence and doubt:  There arose, indeed, in many minds the thought that Diotwina’s pure spirit had been bewildered by the strange events of the night and a fearful dream; but when they recalled how calmly she had met them on leaving her cottage, this thought could no longer remain.  Then they remembered that their leader, after he had assembled them, had disappeared for a while, and returned with a wreath on his helmet.

Diotwina’s request was granted – the chapel was opened, the fears of his mother lest the beloved remains should be irreverently disturbed being quieted by the promise of the vassals to keep guard over the spot till the fastenings to the door were again carefully closed.  But as now the rusty hinges offered a strong resistance, it seemed that a faithless doubt destroyed in all hearts the belief in the apparition.

Diotwina’s smile alone gave confirmation to her words.  The lid of the tomb was at length removed, and there lay the young hero in full armour, a calm smile on his countenance, and on his helmet the myrtle-wreath woven by his bride.  Then all fell on their knees, and thanked and praised God.  Diotwina joyfully accomplished her own and her uncle’s vow – she remained the faithful bride of Sigebald to her death, dwelling near to the chapel in a small house.

Richard, when many years afterwards he returned home, inherited the old knight’s possessions, and consecrated this dwelling as a nunnery; under whose shelter the chapel of Sigebald long remained in holy repute, and the object of many a pilgrimage.

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Celebrating: Friedrich Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué

Introduction, Sintram and His Companions by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque with foreword by Charlotte M Yonge.

 

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Four tales are, it is said, intended by the Author to be appropriate to the Four Seasons: the stern, grave “Sintram”, to winter; the tearful, smiling, fresh “Undine”, to Spring; the torrid deserts of the “Two Captains”, to summer; and the sunset gold of “Aslauga’s Knight”, to autumn. Of these two are before us.
The author of these tales, as well as of many more, was Friedrich, Baron de la Motte Fouque, one of the foremost of the minstrels or tale-tellers of the realm of spiritual chivalry—the realm whither Arthur’s knights departed when they “took the Sancgreal’s holy quest,”—whence Spenser’s Red Cross knight and his fellows came forth on their adventures, and in which the Knight of la Mancha believed, and endeavoured to exist.
La Motte Fouque derived his name and his title from the French Huguenot ancestry, who had fled on the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His Christian name was taken from his godfather, Frederick the Great, of whom his father was a faithful friend, without compromising his religious principles and practice.
Friedrich was born at Brandenburg on February 12, 1777, was educated by good parents at home, served in the Prussian army through disaster and success, took an enthusiastic part in the rising of his country against Napoleon, inditing as many battle-songs as Korner. When victory was achieved, he dedicated his sword in the church of Neunhausen where his estate lay. He lived there, with his beloved wife and his imagination, till his death in 1843.
And all the time life was to him a poet’s dream. He lived in a continual glamour of spiritual romance, bathing everything, from the old deities of the Valhalla down to the champions of German liberation, in an ideal glow of purity and nobleness, earnestly Christian throughout, even in his dealings with Northern mythology, for he saw Christ unconsciously shown in Baldur, and Satan in Loki.
Thus he lived, felt, and believed what he wrote, and though his dramas and poems do not rise above fair mediocrity, and the great number of his prose stories are injured by a certain monotony, the charm of them is in their elevation of sentiment and the earnest faith pervading all. His knights might be Sir Galahad—

“My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.”

Evil comes to them as something to be conquered, generally as a form of magic enchantment, and his “wondrous fair maidens” are worthy of them. Yet there is adventure enough to afford much pleasure, and often we have a touch of true genius, which has given actual ideas to the world, and precious ones.
This genius is especially traceable in his two masterpieces, Sintram and Undine. Sintram was inspired by Albert Durer’s engraving of the “Knight of Death,” of which we give a presentation. It was sent to Fouque by his friend Edward Hitzig, with a request that he would compose a ballad on it. The date of the engraving is 1513, and we quote the description given by the late Rev. R. St. John Tyrwhitt, showing how differently it may be read.

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“Some say it is the end of the strong wicked man, just overtaken by Death and Sin, whom he has served on earth. It is said that the tuft on the lance indicates his murderous character, being of such unusual size. You know the use of that appendage was to prevent blood running down from the spearhead to the hands. They also think that the object under the horse’s off hind foot is a snare, into which the old oppressor is to fall instantly.
The expression of the faces may be taken either way: both good men and bad may have hard, regular features; and both good men and bad would set their teeth grimly on seeing Death, with the sands of their life nearly run out. Some say they think the expression of Death gentle, or only admonitory (as the author of “Sintram”); and I have to thank the authoress of the “Heir of Redclyffe” for showing me a fine impression of the plate, where Death certainly had a not ungentle countenance—snakes and all.
I think the shouldered lance, and quiet, firm seat on horseback, with gentle bearing on the curb-bit, indicate grave resolution in the rider, and that a robber knight would have his lance in rest; then there is the leafy crown on the horse’s head; and the horse and dog move on so quietly, that I am inclined to hope the best for the Ritter.”
Musing on the mysterious engraving, Fouque saw in it the life-long companions of man, Death and Sin, whom he must defy in order to reach salvation; and out of that contemplation rose his wonderful romance, not exactly an allegory, where every circumstance can be fitted with an appropriate meaning, but with the sense of the struggle of life, with external temptation and hereditary inclination pervading all, while Grace and Prayer aid the effort.
Folko and Gabrielle are revived from the Magic Ring, that Folko may by example and influence enhance all higher resolutions; while Gabrielle, in all unconscious innocence, awakes the passions, and thus makes the conquest the harder.
It is within the bounds of possibility that the similarities of folk- lore may have brought to Fouque’s knowledge the outline of the story which Scott tells us was the germ of “Guy Mannering”; where a boy, whose horoscope had been drawn by an astrologer, as likely to encounter peculiar trials at certain intervals, actually had, in his twenty-first year, a sort of visible encounter with the Tempter, and came off conqueror by his strong faith in the Bible.
Sir Walter, between reverence and realism, only took the earlier part of the story, but Fouque gives us the positive struggle, and carries us along with the final victory and subsequent peace. His tale has had a remarkable power over the readers. We cannot but mention two remarkable instances at either end of the scale. Cardinal Newman, in his younger days, was so much overcome by it that he hurried out into the garden to read it alone, and returned with traces of emotion in his face.
And when Charles Lowder read it to his East End boys, their whole minds seemed engrossed by it, and they even called certain spots after the places mentioned. Imagine the Rocks of the Moon in Ratcliff Highway!
May we mention that Miss Christabel Coleridge’s “Waynflete” brings something of the spirit and idea of “Sintram” into modern life?
“Undine” is a story of much lighter fancy, and full of a peculiar grace, though with a depth of melancholy that endears it. No doubt it was founded on the universal idea in folk-lore of the nixies or water-spirits, one of whom, in Norwegian legend, was seen weeping bitterly because of the want of a soul.
Sometimes the nymph is a wicked siren like the Lorelei; but in many of these tales she weds an earthly lover, and deserts him after a time, sometimes on finding her diving cap, or her seal-skin garment, which restores her to her ocean kindred, sometimes on his intruding on her while she is under a periodical transformation, as with the fairy Melusine, more rarely if he becomes unfaithful.
There is a remarkable Cornish tale of a nymph or mermaiden, who thus vanished, leaving a daughter who loved to linger on the beach rather than sport with other children. By and by she had a lover, but no sooner did he show tokens of inconstancy, than the mother came up from the sea and put him to death, when the daughter pined away and died. Her name was Selina, which gives the tale a modern aspect, and makes us wonder if the old tradition can have been modified by some report of Undine’s story.
There was an idea set forth by the Rosicrucians of spirits abiding in the elements, and as Undine represented the water influences, Fouque’s wife, the Baroness Caroline, wrote a fairly pretty story on the sylphs of fire. But Undine’s freakish playfulness and mischief as an elemental being, and her sweet patience when her soul is won, are quite original, and indeed we cannot help sharing, or at least understanding, Huldbrand’s beginning to shrink from the unearthly creature to something of his own flesh and blood.
He is altogether unworthy, and though in this tale there is far less of spiritual meaning than in Sintram, we cannot but see that Fouque’s thought was that the grosser human nature is unable to appreciate what is absolutely pure and unearthly.
See Sidebar/German Stories in Translation for links to Ebooks: “Sintram and his Companions,” “Undine,” “The Two Captains,” and “Aslauga’s Knight.”

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Friedrich Heinrich Karl Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué

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