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Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine
by Lewis Spence
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The architect was a man of wit and good sense, as courteous as he was clever; but he had one outstanding failing—a love of wagering. Satan, who ever loves to find the joints in an opponent's armour, chose this one weak spot as a point of attack. His host offered him meat and drink, which the Devil declined as not being sufficiently high-seasoned for his taste.

"I have come on a matter of business," said he briskly. "I have heard of you as a sporting fellow, a man who loves his wager. Is that correct?"

The architect indicated that it was, and was all eagerness and attention in a moment.

"Well," said the other, "I have come, in a word, to make a bet with you concerning the cathedral."

"And what is your wager?"

"Why, I'll wager that I bring a stream from Treves to Cologne before you finish the cathedral, and I'll work single-handed, too."

"Done!" said the delighted architect. "But what's the wager?"

"If I win, your soul passes into my possession; if you win, you may have anything you choose." And with that he was gone.

Next day the architect procured the services of all the builders that were to be had on such short notice, and set them to work in real earnest. Very soon the whole town was in a state of excitement because of the unusual bustle. The architect took to dreaming of the wealth, or the fame, or the honour he should ask as his due when the stakes were won. Employing his imagination thus, he one day climbed to the top of the highest tower, which by this time was completed, and as he feasted his eyes on the beautiful landscape spread before him he happened to turn toward the town of Treves, and lo! a shining stream was threading its way to Cologne. In a very short time it would reach the latter city.

The Devil had won!

With a laugh of defiance the architect cast himself from the high tower and was instantly killed. Satan, in the form of a black hound, sprang upon him, but was too late to find him alive.

But his death stopped for many years the progress of the cathedral; it long stood at the same stage of completion as when the brook first flowed from Treves to Cologne.

The Fire-bell of Cologne

In one of the grand towers of Cologne Cathedral hangs a massive bell, some 25,000 lb. in weight. No mellow call to prayer issues from its brazen throat, no joyous chimes peal forth on gala-days; only in times of disaster, of storm and stress and fire, it flings out a warning in tones so loud and clamorous, so full of dire threatenings, that the stoutest hearts quail beneath the sound. Because its awful note is only to be heard in time of terror it is known as the Fire-bell, and a weird tradition relates the story of its founding and the reason for its unearthly sound.

Long ago, when bell-founding was looked upon as an art of the highest importance, and especially so among the Germans, the civic authorities of Cologne made it known that the cathedral was in need of a new bell. There was no lack of aspirants for the honour of casting the bell, and more than one exponent of the art imagined his handiwork swinging in the grand tower of the cathedral, a lasting and melodious monument to its creator's skill.

Among those whose ambitious souls were stirred by the statement of the city fathers was one, a bell-founder named Wolf, a man of evil passions and overbearing disposition, whose heart was firmly set on achieving success. In those days, let it be said, the casting of a bell was a solemn, and even a religious, performance, attended by elaborate ceremonies and benedictions. On the day which Wolf had appointed for the operation it seemed as though the entire populace had turned out to witness the spectacle. Wolf, having prepared the mould, made ready to pour into it the molten metal. The silence was almost oppressive, and on it fell distinctly the solemn words of the bell-founder, as in God's name he released the metal. The bright stream gushed into the mould, and a cheer broke from the waiting crowd, who, indeed, could scarce be restrained till the bell had cooled, such was their curiosity to see the result. At last the earthy mould was removed, they surged round eagerly, and lo! from crown to rim of the mighty bell stretched a gaping crack!

Expressions of disappointment burst from the lips of the people, and to Wolf himself the failure was indeed galling. But his ambitious spirit was not yet completely crushed. "I am not beaten yet," he said boastfully. "I shall make another, and success shall yet be mine."

Another mould was made, once more the people came forth to see the casting of the bell, once more the solemn invocation of God's name fell on awed ears. The glowing metal filled the mould, cooled, and was withdrawn from its earthy prison. Once more cries of disappointment were heard from the crowd; again the massive bell was completely riven!

Wolf was beside himself. His eyes glowed with fury, and he thrust aside the consolations of his friends. "If God will not aid me," he said fiercely, "then the Devil will!"

The crowd shrank back from the impious words; nevertheless on the third occasion they attended in even greater numbers than before.

Again was all made ready for the casting of the huge bell. The mould was fashioned as carefully as on the previous occasions, the metal was heated in the great furnace, and Wolf, pale and sullen, stood ready to release it. But when he spoke a murmur of astonishment, of horror, ran through the crowd. For the familiar words "In the name of God!" he had substituted "In the name of the Devil!" With fascinated eyes the people watched the bright, rushing metal, and, later, the removal of the mould.

And behold! the bell was flawless, perfect in shape and form, and beautiful to look upon!

Wolf, having achieved the summit of his ambition, cared little for the means by which he had ascended. From among a host of competitors he was chosen as the most successful. His bell was to hang in the belfry of Cologne Cathedral, for the envy of other bell-founders and the admiration of future generations.

The bell was borne in triumph through the streets and fixed high in the tower. Wolf requested that he might be the first to try its tone, and his request was granted. He ascended into the tower and took the rope in his hands; the mighty bell swung forth, but ah! what a sound was that! The people pressed their hands over their ears and shuddered; those in the streets hurried to their homes; all were filled with deadly fear as the diabolical bell flung its awful tones over the startled city. This, then, was the result of Wolf's invocation of the Devil.

Wolf himself, high in the cathedral tower, was overcome with the brazen horror of the sound, and, driven mad with remorse and terror, flung himself from the tower and fell, a crushed and shapeless mass, on the ground below.

Henceforth the bell was used only to convey warning in times of danger, to carry a message of terror far and wide across the city, and to remind the wicked at all times of the danger of trafficking with the Evil One.

The Archbishop's Lion

In 957 Cologne was constituted an imperial free city, having as its nominal prince the archbishop of the see, but possessing the right to govern its own affairs. The good bishop of that time acquiesced in the arrangement, but his successors were not content to be princes in name only, and strove hard to obtain a real influence over the citizens. Being for the most part men of unscrupulous disposition, they did not hesitate to rouse commonalty and aristocracy against each other, hoping to step in and reap the benefits of such internecine warfare as might ensue. And, indeed, the continual strife was not conducive to the prosperity of the burghers, but rather tended to sap their independence, and one by one their civil liberties were surrendered. Thus the scheming archbishops increased their power and influence in the city of Cologne. There came a time, however, in the civic history when the limit was overstepped. In the thirteenth century Archbishop Engelbert, more daring and ambitious than any of his predecessors, demanded that the municipal treasure should be given up to him. Not content with taking away the privileges of the burghers, he wished to lay his hands on the public purse as well. This was indeed the last straw, and the sluggish blood of the burghers was at length roused to revolt.

At this time the Burgomaster of Cologne, Hermann Grein by name, was an honest, far-seeing, and diplomatic citizen, who had seen with dismay the ancient liberties of his beloved city destroyed by the cunning of the Archbishop. The latter's bold attempt at further encroachments gave him the opportunity he sought, and with the skill of a born leader Hermann Grein united nobles and commons in the determination to resist their mutual enemy. Feuds were for the time being forgotten, and with a gallant effort the galling yoke of the Archbishop-prince was thrown off, and the people of Cologne were once more free.

Grein performed his civic duties so firmly, albeit so smoothly and gently, that he won the love and respect of all sections of the populace. Old and young hailed him in their hearts as the deliverer of their city from ecclesiastical tyranny. Only Engelbert hated him with a deadly hatred, and swore to be revenged; nor was his resolve weakened when a later attempt to subdue the city was frustrated by the foresight of Grein. It became obvious to the Archbishop that force was unavailing, for the majority of all classes were on the side of liberty, and were likely to remain so while Hermann Grein was at their head. So he made up his mind to accomplish by means of strategy the death of the good old man.

Now there were in the monastery close by Cologne two canons who shared Engelbert's hatred of Grein, and who were only too willing to share in his revenge. And the plan was indeed a cunning one. Belonging to a small collection of animals attached to the monastery was a fierce lion, which had more than once proved a convenient mode of removing the Church's enemies. So it was arranged that the Burgomaster should be asked to meet the Archbishop there. The latter sent a suave message to his enemy saying that he desired to treat with him on matters connected with the civic privileges, which he was disposed to restore to the city, with a few small exceptions. This being the case, would the Burgomaster consent to dine with him at the monastery on a certain date?

The Burgomaster consented heartily, for he was a man to whom treachery was entirely foreign, and therefore not prone to suspect that vice in others; nevertheless he took the simple precautions of arming himself and making his destination known to his friends before he set out. When he arrived at the monastery resplendent in the rich garments countenanced by the fashion of the time, he was told that the Archbishop was in the garden.

"Will you walk in our humble garden with his Highness?" the canons asked the Burgomaster, and he, a lover of nature, bade them lead the way.

The garden was truly a lovely spot, gay with all manner of flowers and fruit; but Grein looked in vain for his host. "His Highness," said the wily canons, "is in the private garden, where only the heads of the Church and their most honoured guests are admitted. Ah, here we are! Enter, noble Burgomaster; we may go no farther."

With that they stopped before a strong iron-bound door, opened it, and thrust the old man inside. In a moment the heavy door had swung to with a crash, and Grein found himself in a narrow, paved court, with high, unscalable walls on every side. And from a dark corner there bounded forth to meet him a huge lion! With a pious prayer for help the Burgomaster drew his sword, wrapped his rich Spanish mantle round his left arm, and prepared to defend himself against his adversary. With a roar the lion was upon him, but with wonderful agility the old man leapt to one side. Again the great beast sprang, endeavouring to get the man's head between its jaws. Again and again Grein thrust valiantly, and in one of these efforts his weapon reached the lion's heart and it rolled over, dead. Weak and exhausted from loss of blood, the Burgomaster lost consciousness.

Ere long he was roused from his swoon by the awe-inspiring tones of the alarm-bell and the sound of a multitude of voices. A moment later he recalled his terrible struggle with the lion, and uttered a devout thanksgiving for his escape from death.

Meanwhile the people, growing anxious at his prolonged absence, and fearing that some ill had befallen him, had hastened to the monastery. The two canons, seeing the approaching crowd, ran out to meet them, wringing their hands and exclaiming that the Burgomaster had strayed into the lion's den and there met his death. The angry crowd, in nowise deceived by their pretences, demanded to be shown the lion's den. Arrived there, they broke down the door and, to their great joy, found Grein alive, though wounded and much shaken. They bore him triumphantly through the town, first crowning his hastily improvised litter with flowers and laurels.

As for the monks, their priestly garb could not protect their persons from the wrath of the mob, and they were hanged at the gate of the monastery, which thereafter became known as the 'Priests' Gate.'

The White Horses

The year 1440 was a memorable one throughout Germany, for the great plague raged with fearful violence, leaving blanks in many families hitherto unvisited by death. Among the victims was Richmodis, the beloved wife of Sir Aducht of Cologne, who deeply mourned her loss. The lady was buried with a valuable ring—her husband's gift—upon her finger; this excited the cupidity of the sextons, who, resolved to obtain possession of it, opened the tomb in the night and wrenched off the coffin-lid. Their difficulties, however, were not at an end, for when they tried to possess themselves of the ring it resolutely adhered to the finger of the corpse.

Suddenly, to their horror, the dead body gently raised itself, with a deep sigh, as though the soul of Richmodis regarded this symbol of wifely duty as sacred, and would resist the efforts of the thieves to take it from her.

The dark and hollow eyes opened and met those of the desecrators, and a threatening light seemed to come from them. At this ghastly sight the terrified sextons fled in abject panic.

Richmodis recovered by degrees, and gradually realizing where she was, she concluded that she must have been buried while alive. In her terror she cried aloud for help. But nobody could hear her; it was the lone hour of midnight, when all nature reposes.

Summoning strength, she resolved to make an effort to go to the husband who had placed the ring upon her finger, and getting out of the coffin, she made her way shivering toward their home.

The wind moaned dismally through the trees, and their foliage cast dark, spectral shadows that swayed fitfully to and fro in the weird light of the waning moon as Richmodis staggered along feebly, absorbed in the melancholy thoughts which her terrible experience suggested.

Not a sound, save the soughing of the wind, was heard within God's peaceful acre, for over the wrecks of Time Silence lay motionless in the arms of Death.

The moon's pale rays illumined the buildings when Richmodis arrived at her house in the New Market. She knocked repeatedly, but at first received no response to her summons. After a time Sir Aducht opened the window and looked out, annoyed at the disturbance at such an hour.

He was about to speak angrily when the apparition looked up at him with a tender regard of love and asked him to descend quickly and open the door to receive his wife, nearly exhausted by cold and terror. The bereaved husband refused to believe that the wife whom he had just buried had come back to him, and he declared that he would as soon expect his horses to climb upstairs as believe that his dead wife could return to him alive.

He had hardly uttered the words when the trampling of his two horses on the staircase was distinctly heard. A moment or two later he looked from the casement and saw the steeds at an upper window, and he could doubt no longer. Rushing to the door, he received his shivering wife into his arms. The ring she still wore would have removed all doubts had there been room for such.

Husband and wife spent many years together in domestic happiness, and in memory of that remarkable night Sir Aducht fixed wooden effigies of two horses' heads to the outside of the window, where they still remain for all to see.

The Magic Banquet

Another interesting tale of Cologne deals with the famous magician and alchemist, Albertus Magnus, who at one time dwelt in the convent of the Dominicans, not far from that city. It is recorded that on one occasion, in the depth of winter, Albertus invited William of Holland to a feast which was to be held in the convent garden. The recipients of the curious invitation, William and his courtiers, were naturally much amazed at the terms thereof, but decided not to lose the opportunity of attending such a novel banquet.

In due course they arrived at the monastery, where all was in readiness for the feast, the tables being laid amid the snow. The guests had fortified themselves against the severe weather by wearing their warmest clothing and furs. No sooner had they taken their seats, however, than Albertus, exercising the magic powers he possessed, turned the wintry garden into a scene of summer bloom and loveliness. The heavy furs were laid aside, and the guests were glad to seek the shade of the spreading foliage. Iced drinks were brought to allay their thirst, and a sumptuous banquet was provided by their hosts; thus the hours passed unheeded, till the Ave Maria was rung by the convent-bell. Immediately the spell was broken, and once more snow and ice dominated the scene. The courtiers, who had rid themselves of as much of their clothing as court etiquette would permit, shivered in the bitter blast, and looked the very picture of blank amazement—so much so that William forgot his own suffering and laughed heartily at the discomfiture of his train.

This story has a quaint sequel. To show his approval of the magic feat William granted to the convent a piece of land of considerable extent in the neighbourhood of Cologne, and sent some of his courtiers to present the deed of gift. The hospitable prior, anxious that the members of the deputation should be suitably entertained, drew from the well-furnished cellars of the monastery some choice Rhenish, which so pleased the palates of the courtiers that they drank and drank and did not seem to know when to stop. At length the prior, beholding with dismay the disappearance of his finest vintage, privately begged the magician to put a stop to this drain on the resources of his cellar. Albertus consented, and once more the wine-cups were replenished. Imagine the horror of the courtiers when each beheld ghastly flames issuing from his cup! In their dismay they seized hold of one another and would not let go.

Only when the phenomenon had disappeared did they discover that each held his neighbour by the nose! and such was their chagrin at being seen in this unconventional pose that they quitted the monastery without a word, and never entered it again.

Truenfels

At a place called Truenfels, near the Oelberg, and not very far from Cologne, there lived at one time in the Middle Ages a knight named Sir Balther. His schloss was known as The Mount, and there dwelt with him here his only daughter, Liba, whose great beauty had won for her a vast entourage of suitors. Each was equally importunate, but only one was in any way favoured, Sir Sibert Ulenthal, and at the time the story opens this Sir Sibert had lately become affianced to Sir Balther's daughter.

Now Sir Balther felt an ardent aversion to one of his neighbours, the Bishop of Cologne, and his hatred of this prelate was shared abundantly by various other knights and nobles of the district. One evening it chanced a body of these were gathered together at The Mount; and after Rhenish had circulated freely among them and loosened their tongues, one and all began to vent wrath on the ill-starred Churchman, talking volubly of his avarice and misdeeds in general. But why, cried one of them, should they be content with so tame a thing as scurrilous speech? Were not men of the sword more doughty than men of the robe? he added; and thereupon a wild shout was raised by the revellers, and they swore that they would sally forth instantly and slay him whom they all loathed so passionately.

It happened that, even as they set out, the bishop was returning from a visit to a remote part of his diocese; and being wholly unprepared to cope with a gang of desperadoes like these, he fell an easy prey to their attack. But the Church in medieval days did not take acts of this sort passively, and the matter being investigated, and it transpiring that The Mount had been the rallying ground of the murderers, a band of troops was sent to raze Sir Balther's castle and slay its inmates. The news, meanwhile, reached the fair Liba's fiance, Sir Sibert, and knowing well that, in the event of The Mount being stormed by the avenging party, death or an equally terrible fate might befall his betrothed, the lover felt sad indeed. He hastened to the King and implored his intervention; on this being refused, he proposed that he himself should join the besiegers, at the same time carrying with him a royal pardon for Liba, for what concern had she with her father's crimes? His Majesty was persuaded to give the requisite document to Sir Sibert, who then hied him at full speed to The Mount, there to find the siege going forward. The walls of the castle were strong, and as yet the inmates were showing a good fight; but as day after day went past their strength and resources began to wane, and anon it seemed as though they could not possibly hold out longer. Accordingly the soldiers redoubled their efforts to effect a breach, which being compassed ultimately, they rushed upon the little garrison; and now picture the consternation of Liba when she found that her own lover was among the assailants of her home! Amid the din of battle he called to her loudly, once and again, telling her that he carried a royal pardon for her, and that all she had to do was to forsake her father and follow her betrothed instead. But in the din of battle she did not hear, or mistook the tenor of his words; and ere he could make himself understood the garrison of the castle began to yield, and a moment later the building was in flames. Many of the besieged were burnt to death, but Liba and her father hastened to a little chamber at the base of the schloss, and thence they won to a subterranean passage which was known only to themselves, and which led to a distant place in the surrounding wilds.

Gazing at the blackened ruins, Sir Sibert felt as though henceforth the world held for him no joy whatsoever. He refused to be comforted, so convinced was he that Liba had perished in the terrible fray; but one stormy evening, wandering in the neighbourhood of the castle, he perceived two figures who seemed to him familiar. True, both were haggard and tattered, but as he drew near to them the knight's pulses quickened of a sudden, for he knew that his beloved stood before him. Would she listen to him now? he wondered; or would she still imagine him perfidious, and scorn the aid which he offered? While he was debating with himself the storm increased, and the great peals of thunder sounding overhead made the lover's heart beat faster. He drew the all-important document from within his doublet and approached the pair. "Heart of my heart" ... the words faltered to Sir Sibert's lips, but he got no further; a great flash of lightning descended from on high, and lo! Sir Balther and Liba lay stricken in death.

The broken-hearted lover built a chapel on the spot where his betrothed had fallen, and here he dwelt till the end of his days. It would seem, nevertheless, that those pious exercises wherewith hermits chiefly occupy themselves were not his only occupation; for long after the chapel itself had become a ruin its sight was marked by a great stone which bore an inscription in rude characters—the single word "Liba." Doubtless Sir Sibert had hewn this epitaph with his own hands.

Rolandseck and Nonnenwerth

The castle of Rolandseck stands opposite Drachenfels. Below them, on an island in the Rhine, is the convent of Nonnenwerth.

Roland, Charlemagne's nephew, whose fame had spread throughout the world, while riding one day on the banks of the Rhine, sought the hospitality of the Lord of Drachenfels. Honoured at receiving such a distinguished guest, the lord of the castle hastened to welcome him.

The ladies gave the brave knight as cordial a reception as their lord, whose charming daughter seemed deeply impressed by the visitor's knightly deportment. Roland's admiring glances lingered lovingly on the fair maid, who blushed in sweet confusion, and whose tender looks alone betrayed the presence of Cupid, who but waited for an opportunity to manifest his power.

At his host's bidding Roland put off his armour, but even in his own room a vision of maidenly beauty haunted him, thereby showing how subtly the young girl's charms had wound themselves around the knight's heart.

Roland remained for some time with the Lord of Drachenfels, fascinated more and more by the grace and beauty of his winsome daughter. Besides being beautiful, she was a clever needlewoman, and he admired the dexterity with which she embroidered ornamental designs on damask.

Only when asked by her to relate some deeds of daring, or describe the wondrous countries through which he had travelled, would Roland become eloquent. Then he grew enthusiastic, his cheeks glowed, his eyes sparkled, and the enamoured maid would regard her hero with admiration. She evinced a lively interest in his exploits, their eyes would meet, then with a throbbing breast she would resume her work by his side. From this blissful dream Roland was summoned to the wars again.

The brave soldier prepared to depart, but he realized the joys he must renounce. Once more he visited the favourite haunts where they had spent such happy moments. The sound of someone weeping aroused him from his reverie, and he beheld his lady-love seated in an arbour, sobbing bitterly. Each knew the grief which separation must bring. Roland consoled the maiden by promising to return soon, nevermore to part. Only her tears betrayed how deeply the arrow of the winged god had sunk into her heart.

A few days later they were betrothed, after which Roland departed in quest of glory. Many victories were gained by him, and soon the enemy was vanquished. Rejoicings were held to celebrate the event.

But at Drachenfels Castle sad faces and tearful eyes told a tale of sorrow, for it had been announced that Roland was dead. The maid's rosy cheeks grew pale with grief; nothing could console her; for was not her hero departed from her for ever?

In the intensity of her anguish she sought relief in prayer and found a refuge in religion. She entered the convent at Nonnenwerth, resolved to dedicate her life to Heaven, since the joys of earth had fled.

Her afflicted parents reluctantly acquiesced in this proposal. Daily they beheld their daughter waving her hand to them as she entered the chapel.

Suddenly there appeared before the gates of Drachenfels a troop of cavaliers, whose armour shone brilliantly in the sun. Roland had returned home from the wars, crowned with glory, to claim his bride. But when he heard that she had taken the veil his buoyant spirits sank. The Lord of Drachenfels told him that they had believed the report of his death to be true.

A cry of despair broke from the hero of a hundred fights. He crossed the Rhine to the castle of Rolandseck, where he remained for many weeks, abandoned to grief.

Frequently he looked toward the convent which held his beloved. One evening he heard the bells tolling and saw a funeral procession of nuns carrying a coffin to the chapel. His page told him that his love was dead, but Roland had already divined that she who had mourned his supposed death had died through grief for him who was still alive to mourn her death.

Time rolled on and Roland went again to the wars and achieved greater conquests, but at length he fell fighting against the Moors at Roncevaux, dying on the battlefield as he had wished. His valorous deeds and his glorious death were sung by minstrels throughout all Christendom, and his fame will never die.



LEGENDS OF AIX-LA-CHAPELLE

Aix-la-Chapelle was the ancient seat of the Empire of Charlemagne, and many legends cluster around it, several of which have already been noticed in connexion with its great founder. The following legends, however, deal with the town itself, and not with any circumstance connected with the mighty Karl.

The Hunchbacked Musician

In Aix-la-Chapelle dwelt two hunchbacked musicians. Friedel was a lively fellow with a pleasant face and an engaging manner. Heinz had red hair, green eyes, and a malevolent expression. Friedel was a better player than Heinz; that, combined with his agreeable looks, made him a general favourite.

Friedel loved Agathe, the daughter of a rich wine-merchant. The lovers' prospects were not encouraging, for Agathe's father sought a son-in-law from higher circles. The poor musician's plight was rendered desperate by the wine-merchant compelling his daughter to accept a rich but dissipated young man. When the hunchback approached the merchant to declare his feelings toward the maiden, he was met with derision and insult. Full of bitterness, he wandered about, till midnight found him in the fish-market, where the Witches' Sabbath was about to take place. A weird light was cast over everything, and a crowd of female figures quickly gathered. A lady who seemed to be at the head of the party offered the hunchback refreshment, and others handed him a violin, desiring him to play for them. Friedel played, and the witches danced; faster and faster, for the violin was bewitched. At last the violinist fell exhausted, and the dancing ceased. The lady now commanded him to kneel and receive the thanks of the company for his beautiful playing. Then she muttered strange words over the kneeling hunchback.

When Friedel arose his hump was gone.

Just then the clock struck one, everything vanished, and the musician found himself alone in the market-place. Next morning his looking-glass showed him that he had not been dreaming, and in his pocket he found a large sum of money, which made him the equal of the richest in the town. Overjoyed at the transformation, he lost no time in seeking Agathe's house. The sight of his gold turned the scale in his favour, and the wine-merchant consented to his suit.

Now Heinz was inflamed with jealousy, and tried to calumniate his companion by spreading evil stories. Friedel's strange adventure leaked abroad, and Heinz determined to try his fortune likewise. So at the next witch-meeting he hastened to the fish-market, where at the outset everything happened in exactly the same manner. Heinz was requested to play, but his avaricious gaze was fixed on the golden vessels on the table, and his thoughts were with the large reward he would ask. Consequently his playing became so discordant that the indignant dancers made him cease.

Kneeling down to receive his reward, he demanded the valuable drinking-cups, whereupon with scornful and mocking words the lady who was the leader of the band fixed on his breast the hump she had taken from Friedel. Immediately the clock struck one, and all disappeared. The poor man's rage was boundless, for he found himself now saddled with two humps. He became an object of ridicule to the townsfolk, but Friedel pitied him, and maintained him ever after.

The Legend of the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle

In former times the zealous and devout inhabitants of Aix-la-Chapelle determined to build a cathedral. For six months the clang of the hammer and axe resounded with wonderful activity, but, alas! the money which had been supplied by pious Christians for this holy work became exhausted, the wages of the masons were perforce suspended, and with them their desire to hew and hammer, for, after all, men must have money wherewith to feed their families.

Thus the cathedral stood, half finished, resembling a falling ruin. Moss, grass, and wild parsley flourished in the cracks of the walls, screech-owls already discovered convenient places for their nests, and amorous sparrows hopped lovingly about where holy priests should have been teaching lessons of chastity.

The builders were confounded. They endeavoured to borrow here and there, but no rich man could be induced to advance the large sum required. The collections from house to house produced little, so that instead of the much-wished-for golden coins nothing was found in the boxes but copper. When the magistracy received this report they were out of humour, and looked with desponding countenances toward the cathedral walls, as fathers look upon the remains of favourite children.

At this moment a stranger of commanding figure and something of pride in his voice and bearing entered the council chamber and exclaimed: "Bon Dieu! it is said that you are out of spirits. Hem! if nothing but money is wanting, you may console yourselves, gentlemen. I possess mines of gold and silver, and both can and will most willingly supply you with a ton of them."

The astounded magistrates sat like a row of pillars, measuring the stranger from head to foot. The Burgomaster first found his tongue. "Who are you, noble lord," said he, "that thus, entirely unknown, speak of tons of gold as though they were sacks of beans? Tell us your name, your rank in this world, and whether you are sent from the regions above to assist us."

"I have not the honour to reside there," replied the stranger, "and, between ourselves, I beg most particularly to be no longer troubled with questions concerning who and what I am. Suffice it to say I have gold plentiful as summer hay!" Then, drawing forth a leathern pouch, he proceeded: "This little purse contains the tenth of what I'll give. The rest shall soon be forthcoming. Now listen, my masters," continued he, clinking the coin; "all this trumpery is and shall remain yours if you promise to give me the first little soul that enters the door of the new temple when it is consecrated."

The astonished magistrates sprang from their seats as if they had been shot up by an earthquake and rushed pell-mell into the farthest corner of the room, where they rolled and clung to each other like lambs frightened at flashes of lightning. Only one of the party had not entirely lost his wits, and he collected his remaining senses and, drawing his head out of the heap, uttered boldly: "Avaunt, thou wicked spirit!"

But the stranger, who was no less a person than Master Urian, laughed at them. "What's all this outcry about?" said he at length. "Is my offence so heinous that you are all become like children? It is I that may suffer from this business, not you. With my hundreds and thousands I have not far to run to buy a score of souls. Of you I ask but one in exchange for all my money. What are you picking at straws for? One may plainly see you are a mere set of humbugs! For the good of the commonwealth (which high-sounding name is often borrowed for all sorts of purposes) many a prince would instantly conduct a whole army to be butchered, and you refuse one single man for that purpose! Fie! I am ashamed, O overwise counsellors, to hear you reason thus absurdly and citizen-like. What, do you think to deprive yourselves of the kernel of your people by granting my wish? Oh, no; there your wisdom is quite at fault, for, depend on it, hypocrites are always the earliest church birds."

By degrees, as the cunning fiend thus spoke, the magistrates took courage and whispered in each other's ears: "What is the use of our resisting? The grim lion will only show his teeth once. If we don't assent, we shall infallibly be packed off ourselves. It is better, therefore, to quiet him directly."

Scarcely had they given effect to this new disposition and concluded the bargain when a swarm of purses flew into the room through doors and windows. Urian now took leave, but he stopped at the door and called out with a grim leer: "Count it over again for fear I may have cheated you."

The hellish gold was piously expended in finishing the cathedral, but nevertheless, when the building was completed, splendid though it was, the whole town was filled with fear and alarm at the sight of it. The fact was that, although the magistrates had promised by bond and oath not to trust the secret to anybody, one had prated to his wife, and she had made it a market-place tale, so that one and all declared they would never set foot within the walls. The terrified council now consulted the clergy, but the good priests hung their heads. At last a monk cried out: "A thought strikes me. The wolf which has so long ravaged the neighbourhood of our town was this morning caught alive. This will be a well-merited punishment for the destroyer of our flocks; let him be cast to the devil in the fiery gulf. 'Tis possible the arch hell-hound may not relish this breakfast, yet, nolens volens, he must swallow it. You promised him certainly a soul, but whose was not decidedly specified."

The monk's plan was plausible, and the magistrates determined to put the cunning trick into execution. The day of consecration arrived. Orders were given to bring the wolf to the principal entrance of the cathedral, and just as the bells began to ring, the trap-door of the cage was opened and the savage beast darted out into the nave of the empty church. Master Urian from his lurking-place beheld this consecration-offering with the utmost fury; burning with choler at being thus deceived, he raged like a tempest, and finally rushed forth, slamming the brass gate so violently after him that the ring cracked in twain.

This fissure commemorates the priest's victory over the devices of the Devil, and is still exhibited to travellers who visit the cathedral.

A Legend of Bonn

The city of Bonn is one of the most beautiful of all those situated on the banks of the Rhine, and being the birthplace of no less celebrated a composer than Beethoven, it naturally attracts a goodly number of pilgrims every year, these coming from many distant lands to do homage at the shrine of genius. But Bonn and its neighbourhood have older associations than this—associations which carry the mind of the traveller far into the Middle Ages—for hard by the town is Rolandseck; while a feature of the district is the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains), a fine serried range of peaks which present a very imposing appearance when viewed from any of the heights overlooking Bonn itself, and which recall a justly famous legend.

This story tells that in the thirteenth century there lived at a castle in the heart of these mountains a nobleman called Wolfram Herzog von Bergendorf; and being no freebooter like most of the other German barons of the time, but a man of very pious disposition, he was moved during the prime of his life to forsake his home and join a body of crusaders. Reaching Palestine after a protracted journey, these remained there for a long time, Wolfram fighting gallantly in every fray and making his name a terror to the Saracens. But the brave crusader was wounded eventually, and now he set out for Germany, thirsting all the way for a sight of his beloved Siebengebirge, and dreaming of the wind-swept schloss which was his home. As he drew nearer to it he pictured the welcome which his fond Herzogin would give him, but scarcely had the drawbridge been lowered to admit him to his castle ere a fell piece of news was imparted to him. In short, it transpired that his wife Elise had been unfaithful to him during his absence and, on hearing that he was returning, had fled precipitately with her infant son. It was rumoured that she had found refuge in a convent, but Wolfram was quite unable to ascertain his wife's whereabouts, the doors of all nunneries being impassable to men; while even the joy of revenge was denied him, for, try as he might, he could not find out the name of the person who had wronged him. So the Herzog was broken-hearted, and he vowed that henceforth he would live a solitary life within his castle, spending his time in prayer and seeing only his own retainers.

For many years this vow was piously observed, and Wolfram never stirred abroad. In course of time, however, he began to chafe at the restraint, feeling it the more acutely because he was an old soldier and had known the excitement of warfare; and so it came about that he revoked his decision and began to travel about the country as of old. It seemed also, to some of his henchmen, that he was gradually becoming more like his former self, and they sometimes said among themselves that he would marry again and had quite forgotten his wrongs. But the very reverse was the truth, and if Wolfram was growing more cheerful, it was because new hopes of retribution were springing up in his heart. The chance would come, he often told himself; surely the fates would one day confront him with his wife's lover! And one day, as he rode through the village of Gudesburg, these revengeful thoughts were uppermost in his mind. They engrossed him wholly, and he took little heed of the passers-by; but an unexpected stumble on the part of his horse caused him to look up, and of a sudden his eyes blazed like live coals. Here, walking only a few yards away from him, was a youth who bore an unmistakable resemblance to the unfaithful Elise; and dismounting instantly, the Herzog strode up to the stranger, hailed him loudly, and proceeded to question him concerning his identity. The youth was surprised at the anger expressed on the elder man's countenance; and being overawed, he answered all questions without hesitation, unfolding the little he knew about his parentage. Nor had Wolfram's instincts deceived him; the tale he heard confirmed his suspicions, and drawing his sword, he slew the youth in cold blood, denying him even a moment in which to repeat a paternoster.

A rude iron cross, still standing by the road at Gudesburg, is said to mark the place where the ill-starred and unoffending young man met his doom. Possibly this cross was erected by Wolfram himself because he experienced remorse, and felt that he had been unduly hasty in taking life; but be that as it may, the story concludes by asserting that the Herzog once more vowed that he would spend the rest of his days in solitude and prayer, and that henceforth to the end his vow remained unbroken.

The Treasure-seeker

This is a picturesque tale of the consequences of wealth attained by the aid of the supernatural which hangs about the ancient village of Endenich, near Bonn, where at the end of the seventeenth century there dwelt a certain sheriff and his son, Konrad, who was a locksmith by trade. They were poor and had lost everything in the recent wars, which had also ruined Heribert, another sheriff, who with his daughter, the beautiful Gretchen, eked out a frugal but peaceful existence in the same neighbourhood. The two young people fell in love with each other, but Gretchen's father, becoming suddenly and mysteriously very rich and arrogant withal, desired a wealthy or highly placed official as his son-in-law and not a poor lad with no expectations such as Konrad, the locksmith. The lovers were therefore compelled to meet in secret, and it was on one of these occasions that Heribert, surprising them together, attacked Konrad and felled him to the ground in his rage that he should dare to approach his daughter.

Spurred by his love and knowing that he could never hope to win Gretchen without wealth, the unhappy youth decided to barter for gold the only possession left to him—his soul.

Now there lived in the churchyard a Lapp wizard who made such bargains; so in the dead of night Konrad took his way to this dreadful and unfrequented spot and exhorted the sorcerer to come forth. At the third cry a terrible apparition appeared and demanded to know his wishes, to which the terrified Konrad could only reply: "Gold." Thereupon the sorcerer led the way deep into a forest and, pointing mysteriously to a certain spot, disappeared. At this spot Konrad found a chest full of gold and silver coins, and returning to Bonn, he bought a house the splendour of which surpassed that of Heribert, who could no longer refuse his daughter to so wealthy a suitor.

The young wife tried all her arts to solve the mystery of her husband's wealth, and he was at length about to reveal it to her when he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison. Here he was put to torture by the authorities, who suspected him of robbery, and at length he confessed that he had found a treasure, while to his wife he confided the gruesome details, all of which were overheard by his jailers.

He was released, but almost immediately re-arrested on the suspicion that he had killed a Jew named Abraham, who had amassed great sums during the wars as a spy. Tortured again, in his extremity he confessed to the murder and named Heribert as his accomplice, whereupon both men were sentenced to be hanged. Just as this doom was about to be carried out a Jew who had arrived from a far country hurriedly forced his way through the crowd. It was Abraham, who had returned in time to save the innocent.

But his sin did not pass unpunished, for Konrad died childless; he bequeathed his wealth to the Church and charities, in expiation of his sin of having attained wealth by the aid of an evil spirit.

The Miller's Maid of Udorf

Udorf is a little village on the left bank of the Rhine, not far from the town of Bonn, and at no great distance from it stands a lonely mill, to which attaches the following story of a woman's courage and resourcefulness.

Haennchen was the miller's servant-maid, a buxom young woman who had been in his service for a number of years, and of whose faithfulness both he and his wife were assured.

One Sunday morning the miller and his wife had gone with their elder children to attend mass at the neighbouring village of Hersel, leaving Haennchen at the mill in charge of the youngest child, a boy of about five years of age.

On the departure of the family for church Haennchen busied herself in preparing dinner, but had scarcely commenced her task ere a visitor entered the kitchen. This was no other than her sweetheart, Heinrich, whom she had not seen for some time. Indeed, he had earned so bad a reputation as a loafer and an idle good-for-nothing that the miller, as much on Haennchen's account as on his own, had forbidden him the house. Haennchen, however, received her lover with undisguised pleasure, straightway set food before him, and sat down beside him for a chat, judging that the miller's dinner was of small consequence compared with her ill-used Heinrich! The latter ate heartily, and toward the end of the meal dropped his knife, as though by accident.

"Pick that up, my girl," said he.

Haennchen protested good-humouredly, but obeyed none the less. As she stooped to the floor Heinrich seized her by the neck and held another knife to her throat. "Now, girl, show me where your master keeps his money," he growled hoarsely. "If you value your life, make haste."

"Let me go and I'll tell you," gasped Haennchen; and when he had loosened his grip on her throat she looked at him calmly.

"Don't make such a fuss about it, Heinrich," she said pleasantly. "If you take my master's money, you must take me too, for this will be no place for me. Will you take me with you, Heinrich?"

The hulking fellow was taken completely off his guard by her apparent acquiescence, and touched by her desire to accompany him, which he attributed, with the conceit of his kind, to his own personal attractions.

"If I find the money, you shall come with me, Haennchen," he conceded graciously. "But if you play me false—" The sentence ended with an expressive motion of his knife.

"Very well, then," said the maid. "The money is in master's room. Come and I will show you where it is concealed."

She led him to the miller's room, showed him the massive coffer in which lay her master's wealth, and gave him a piece of iron wherewith to prise it open.

"I will go to my own room," she said, "and get my little savings, and then we shall be ready to go."

So she slipped away, and her erstwhile sweetheart set to work on the miller's coffer.

"The villain!" said Haennchen to herself when she was outside the room. "Now I know that master was right when he said that Heinrich was no fit suitor to come courting me."

With that she slammed the door to and turned the key, shutting the thief in a room as secure as any prison-cell. He threatened and implored her, but Haennchen was deaf to oaths and entreaties alike. Outside she found the miller's son playing happily, and called him to her. "Go to father as quickly as you can," she said, putting him on the road to Hersel. "You will meet him down there. Tell him there is a thief in the mill."

The child ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, but ere he had gone many yards a shrill whistle sounded from the barred window behind which Heinrich was imprisoned.

"Diether," shouted the robber to an accomplice in hiding, "catch the child and come and stop this wench's mouth." Haennchen looked around for the person thus addressed, but no one was in sight. A moment later, however, Diether sprang up from a ditch, seized the frightened boy, and ran back toward the mill. The girl had but little time in which to decide on a course of action. If she barricaded herself in the mill, might not the ruffian slay the child? On the other hand, if she waited to meet him, she had no assurance that he would not kill them both. So she retired to the mill, locked the door, and awaited what fate had in store for her. In vain the robber threatened to kill the child and burn the mill over her head if she would not open to him at once. Seeing that his threats had no effect, he cast about for some means of entering the mill. His quick eye noted one unprotected point, an opening in the wall connected with the big mill-wheel, a by no means easy mode of ingress. But, finding no other way, he threw the frightened child on the grass and slipped through the aperture.

Meanwhile Haennchen, who from the position of her upper window could not see what was going on, was pondering how she could attract the attention of the miller or any of their neighbours. At last she hit upon a plan.

It was Sunday and the mill was at rest. If she were to set the machinery in motion, the unusual sight of a mill at work on the day of rest would surely point to some untoward happening. Hardly had the idea entered her head ere the huge sails were revolving. At that very moment Diether had reached the interior of the great drum-wheel, and his surprise and horror were unbounded when it commenced to rotate. It was useless to attempt to stop the machinery; useless, also, to appeal to Haennchen. Round and round he went, till at last he fell unconscious on the bottom of the engine, and still he went on rotating. As Haennchen had anticipated, the miller and his family were vastly astonished to see the mill in motion, and hastened home from church to learn the reason for this departure from custom. Some of their neighbours accompanied them. In a few words Haennchen told them all that had occurred; then her courage forsook her and she fainted in the arms of the miller's eldest son, who had long been in love with her, and whom she afterward married.

The robbers were taken in chains to Bonn, where for their many crimes they suffered the extreme penalty of the law.

Rosebach and its Legend

The quiet and peaceful valley of Hammerstein is one of the most beautiful in all Rhineland, yet, like many another lovely stretch of country, this valley harbours some gruesome tales, and among such there is one, its scene the village of Rosebach, which is of particular interest, as it is typical of the Middle Ages, and casts a light on the manner of life and thought common in those days. For many centuries there stood at this village of Rosebach a monastery, which no longer exists, and it was probably one of its early abbots who first wrote down the legend, for it is concerned primarily with the strange events which led to the founding and endowment of this religious house, and its whole tenor suggests the pen of a medieval cleric.

In a remote and shadowy time there lived at Schloss Rosebach a certain Otto, Count of Reuss-Marlinberg of Hammerstein; and this Count's evil deeds had made him notorious far and near, while equally ill-famed was his favourite henchman, Riguenbach by name, a man who had borne arms in the Crusades and had long since renounced all belief in religion. This ruffian was constantly in attendance on his master, Otto; and one day, when the pair were riding along the high-road together, they chanced to espy a bewitching maiden who was making her way from a neighbouring village to the convent of Walsdorf, being minded to enter the novitiate there and eventually take the veil. The Count doffed his hat to the prospective nun, less because he wished to be courteous than because it was his habit to salute every wayfarer he encountered on his domain; and Riguenbach, much amused by Otto's civility to one of low degree, burst into a loud laugh of derision and called after the maiden, telling her to come back. She obeyed his behest, and thereupon the two horsemen drew rein and asked the damsel whither she was bound. "To Walsdorf," she replied; and though Otto himself would have let her go forward as she pleased, the crafty Riguenbach was not so minded. "There are many dangers in the way," he said to the girl; "if you push on now that evening is drawing near you may fall a prey to robbers or wolves, so you had better come to the castle with us, spend the night there, and continue your journey on the morrow." Pleased by the apparently friendly offer, and never dreaming of the fate in store for her, the girl willingly accepted the invitation. That night the people around Schloss Rosebach heard piercing screams and wondered what new villainy was on foot. But the massive stone walls kept their secret, and the luckless maiden never again emerged from the castle.

For a time the Count's crime went unpunished, and about a year later he commenced paying his addresses to Eldegarda, a lady of noble birth. In due course the nuptials of the pair were celebrated. The bride had little idea what manner of man she had espoused, but she was destined to learn this shortly; for on the very night of their marriage an apparition rose between the two.

"Otto," cried the ghost in weird, sepulchral tones, "I alone am thy lawful spouse; through thee I lost all hopes of Heaven, and now I am come to reward thee for thy evil deeds." The Count turned livid with fear, and the blush on Eldegarda's cheek faded to an ashen hue; but the spectre remained with them throughout the night. And night after night she came to them thus, till at last Otto grew desperate and summoned to his aid a Churchman who happened to be in the neighbourhood, the Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux.

Now this Bernard enjoyed no small fame as a worker of miracles, but when Otto unfolded his case to him the Abbot declared straightway that no miracle would be justifiable in the present instance, and that only by repentance and by complete renunciation of the world might the Count be released from his nightly menace. Otto hung his head on hearing this verdict, and as he stood hesitating, pondering whether it were possible for him to forgo all earthly joys, his old henchman, Riguenbach, chanced to enter, and learning his master's quandary, he laughed loudly and advised the Count to eject Bernard forcibly. The Abbot met the retainer's mirth with a look of great severity, and on Riguenbach showing that he was still bent on insolence, the Churchman cried to him: "Get thee behind me, Satan"; whereupon a flame of lightning darted suddenly across the chamber, and the man who had long aided and abetted the Count's wickedness was consumed to ashes.

For a moment Otto stood aghast at the awful fate of his retainer; and now, beholding how terrible a thing is divine vengeance, he began at last to feel truly repentant. He consented to have his marriage annulled without delay, and even declared that he himself would become a monk. At the same time he counselled his wife to take the veil, and they parted, thinking never to see each other again. But one night, ere either of them had taken the irrevocable vows, the Virgin Mary appeared to Abbot Bernard and told him he had acted unwisely in parting the bride and bridegroom in this wise, for was not Eldegarda wholly innocent? The Churchman instantly returned to Otto's presence, and on the following day the Count and his wife were duly remarried. The newly found piety of the penitent found expression in the building and endowment of a religious edifice upon his domains.

So it was, then, that the Abbey of Rosebach was founded, and though the ruthless hand of time has levelled its walls, the strange events to which they owed their being long ago are still remembered and recited in the lovely vale of Hammerstein; for, though all human things must needs perish, a good story long outlives them all.

The Dancers of Ramersdorf

At Ramersdorf every Sunday afternoon the lads and lasses of the hamlet gathered on the village green and danced gaily through the sunny hours. But wild prophecies of the coming end of the world, when the year 1000 should break, were spreading throughout the countryside, and the spirit of fear haunted the people, so that music died away from their hearts and there was no more dancing on the village green. Instead they spent the hours praying in the church for divine mercy, and the Abbot of Loewenburg was well pleased.

The dreaded year came and went, yet the world had not ceased; the sun still rose and set, life went on just the same. So fear passed from the hearts of the people, and because they were happy again the young folk once more assembled to dance the Sundays away on the village green. But the abbot was wroth at this. When the music began he appeared among the villagers, commanding them to cease from their revels and bethink themselves of the House of God. But the lads and lasses laughed, and the music went on as they footed it gaily. Then the abbot was angered; he raised his hands to heaven and cursed the thoughtless crowd, condemning the villagers to dance there unceasingly for a year and a day.

As they heard the dreadful words the young folk tried to stop, but their feet must needs go on to the endless music. Faster and faster in giddy round they went, day and night, rain and shine, throughout the changing seasons, until the last hours of the extra day, when they fell in a senseless heap in the hollow worn by their unresting feet. When they awoke to consciousness all reason had passed from them. To the day of their death they remained helpless idiots. Henceforth the village green was deserted; no more were seen the lads and lasses dancing there on the Sabbath day.

The Loewenburg

Tradition asserts that on the summit of this mountain once stood a castle, of which, however, not the slightest trace can be found at the present day. There is also a story of the lord who dwelt there, Hermann von Heinsberg, with whom, for his sins, the direct line of the family became extinct.

Graf Hermann was possessed by one overmastering passion, that of the chase. The greater part of his life was spent in the dense forests which clothed the valleys and mountains about his castle. Every other interest must, perforce, stand aside. The cornfields, vineyards, and gardens of his vassals were oftentimes devastated in his sport, to the utter ruin of many. If any dared complain he laughed at or reviled them; but if he were in angry mood he set his hounds on them and hunted his vassals as quarry, either killing them outright or leaving them terribly injured. Needless to say, he was well hated by these people, also by his own class, for his character was too fierce and overbearing even for their tolerance. To crown his unpopularity, he was under the ban of the all-powerful Church, for saints' days and Lord's Day alike he hunted to his heart's content, and once, on receiving a remonstrance, had threatened to hunt the Abbot of Heisterbach himself. So he lived, isolated, except for his troop of jaegers, from the rest of mankind. The forest was his world, his only friends the hounds.

Once, on the eve of a holy festival, Hermann set out to hunt in the ancient forest about the base of the Loewenburg. In the excitement of the chase he outstripped his followers, his quarry disappeared, and, overtaken by night, his surroundings, in the dim light, took on such an unfamiliar aspect that he completely lost all sense of direction. Up and down he paced in unrestrained yet impotent anger, feeling that he was under some evil spell. Maddened by this idea, he endeavoured to hack his way through the thick undergrowth, but the matted boughs and dense foliage were as effectual as prison bars. He was trapped, he told himself, in some enchanted forest, for the place seemed more and more unfamiliar. He strove to bring back some recollection of the spot, which surely he must have passed a thousand times. But no—he could not distinguish any feature that seemed familiar. His spirits sank lower and lower, his strength seemed on the point of failing, his brain seemed to be on fire. Round and round he went like some trapped animal; then he threw himself madly upon a mass of tangled underwood and succeeded in breaking through to a more open space. This also seemed unfamiliar, and in the dim light of the stars the tall trees shut him in as if with towers of impenetrable shadow; silence seemed to lay everything under a spell of terror, ominous of coming evil.

Wearied in body and mind, Hermann flung himself down on the sward and quickly fell asleep. But suddenly a plunging in the brushwood aroused him, and with the instinct of the huntsman he sprang up instantly, seizing his spear and whistling to his dogs, which, however, crouched nearer to the earth, their hair bristling and eyes red with fear. Again their master called, but they refused to stir, whining, with eyes strained and fixed on the undergrowth. Then Graf Hermann went forward alone to the spot whence proceeded the ominous sound, his spear poised, ready to strike.

He was about to penetrate into the brushwood when suddenly there emerged from it a majestic-looking man, who seemed as if hotly pursued. He was dressed in ancient garb, carrying a large crossbow in his right hand. A curved hunting-horn hung at his side, and an old-fashioned hunting-knife was stuck in his girdle.

With a stately motion of the hand he waved Hermann aside, then he raised the horn to his lips and blew upon it a terrible blast so unearthly in sound that the forest and mountains sent back echoes like the cry of the lost, to which the hounds gave tongue with a howl of fear. As if in answer to the echoes, there suddenly appeared hundreds of skeleton stags, of enormous size, each bestridden by a skeleton hunter. With one accord the ghostly riders spurred on their steeds, which with lowered antlers advanced upon the stranger, who, with a scream for mercy, sought frenziedly for some means of evading his grisly pursuers.

For the space of an hour the dreadful chase went on, Graf Hermann rooted to the spot with horror, overcome by a sense of helplessness. There in the centre he stood, the pivot round which circled the infernal hunt, unable to stay the relentless riders as with bony hands rattling against their skeleton steeds they encouraged them to charge, gore, and trample the hapless stranger, whose cries of agony were drowned by shrieks of fiendish glee and the incessant cracking of whips. Overcome at last by terror, the count fell senseless, his eyes dazed by the still whirling spectres and their flying quarry. When at last he slowly awaked from his swoon he looked around, fearing to see again the hideous spectacle. All but the stranger, however, had vanished. Graf Hermann shuddered as he looked upon him, and only with difficulty could he summon sufficient courage to address him. Indeed, it was only after the unwonted action of crossing himself that he could speak.

"Who and what are you?" he asked in a hushed tone. But the stranger made no reply, except to sigh mournfully. Again the count asked the question, and again received but a sigh for answer.

"Then in the name of the Most High God I conjure you, speak!" he said the third time.

The stranger turned to him, as if suddenly released from bonds.

"By the power of God's holy name the spell is broken at last. Listen now to me!"

He beckoned Hermann to his side and in strange, stern tones he related the following:

"I am your ancestor. Like you, I loved the chase beyond everything in life—beyond our holy faith or the welfare of any human being, man, woman, or child. To all that stood in my path I showed no mercy. There came a time when famine visited the land. The harvest was destroyed by blight and the people starved. In their extremity they broke into my forests; famished with hunger, they destroyed and carried off the game. Beside myself with rage, I swore that they should suffer for it—that for every head of game destroyed I would exact a human life. I kept my oath. Arming my retainers, servants, and huntsmen, I seized my presumptuous vassals in the dead of night, and dragging them to the castle, I flung them into the deepest dungeons. There for three days I let them starve—for three days also I kept my hounds without food. Meantime my huntsmen had caught a great number of the largest and strongest deer in the forests. At the end of three days the unfortunate wretches were brought out, diminished now by a full hundred. My ready retainers bound them naked to the stags. My best steeds were saddled. Then the kennels were thrown open and the famished hounds rushed forth like a host of demons. Off went the deer like the wind, each with his human burden, the dogs following, and then the horsemen, shouting with glee at the new sport. By nightfall not a stag or his rider was left alive. The hounds in their fury worried and tore at both man and beast, and the last unfortunate wretch met a hideous death on this spot where we now stand."

He paused as if overcome by the memory of his crime.

"God avenged that dreadful deed. That night I died, and I am now suffering the tortures of the damned. Every night I am hunted by my victims, as you have seen. I am now the quarry, hunted from the castle court, on through the forest, to this hidden and haunted spot. Thousands and thousands of times I have suffered this: I endure all the agonies I made them suffer. I am doomed to undergo this to the last day, when I shall be hunted over the wastes of hell by legions of demons."

Again he paused, his eyes terrible with the anguish of a lost soul. He resumed in a sterner tone:

"Take warning by my fate. Providence, kinder to you than to me, has guided you hither to-night that you might learn of my punishment. While you still have time repent of your crimes and endeavour to make amends for the suffering you have inflicted. Remember—the wages of sin is death. Remember me—and my fate!"

The next moment the phantom had faded from view.

Only the hounds were crouching near the count, panting fearfully. All else was silent gloom and night. After a terrible vigil the morning came, and Graf Hermann, now a changed man, returned to his castle in silence, and henceforth endeavoured to profit by the warning and follow the advice of his unhappy ancestor.



CHAPTER IV—DRACHENFELS TO RHEINSTEIN

The Dragon's Rock

Among the many legends invented by the early Christian monks to advance their faith, there are few more beautiful than that attached to the Drachenfels, the Dragon's Rock, a rugged and picturesque mass of volcanic porphyry rising above the Rhine on its right bank. Half-way up one of its pointed crags is a dark cavern known as the 'Dragon's Cave,' which was at one time, in that misty past to which all legends belong, the habitation of a hideous monster, half-beast and half-reptile. The peasants of the surrounding district held the creature in superstitious awe, worshipped him, and offered up sacrifices of human beings at the instigation of their pagan priests. Foremost among the worshippers of the dragon were two warrior princes, Rinbod and Horsrik, who frequently made an onslaught on the Christian people dwelling on the opposite bank of the Rhine, carrying off many captives to be offered as sacrifices to the dragon.

On one such occasion, while, according to their custom, they were dividing their prisoners, the pagan princes quarrelled over one of their captives, a Christian maiden, whose beauty and helpless innocence won the hearts of her fierce captors, so that each desired to possess her, and neither was inclined to renounce his claim. The quarrel became so bitter at length that the princes seized their weapons and were about to fight for the fair spoil. But at this juncture their priests intervened. "It is not meet," said they, "that two noble princes should come to blows over a mere Christian maid. Tomorrow she shall be offered to the dragon, in thanksgiving for your victory." And they felt that they had done well, for had they not averted the impending quarrel, and at the same time gained a victim for their cruel rites? But the heart of Rinbod was heavy indeed, for he truly loved the young Christian maid, and would have given his life to save her from the horrible fate that awaited her. However, the decree of the priests was irrevocable, and no pleadings of his could avail. The girl was informed of the cruel destiny that was to befall her on the morrow, and with a calm mind she sought consolation from Heaven to enable her to meet her fate with courage befitting a Christian.

Early on the following morning she was led with much ceremony to a spot before the Dragon's Cave and there bound to an oak, to await the approach of the monster, whose custom it was to sally forth at sunrise in search of prey. The procession of priests, warriors, and peasants who had followed the victim to the place of sacrifice now climbed to the summit of the crag and watched eagerly for the coming of the dragon. Rinbod watched also, but it was with eyes full of anguish and apprehension. The Christian maid seemed to him more like a spirit than a human being, so calmly, so steadfastly did she bear herself.

Suddenly a stifled cry broke from the lips of the watchers—the hideous monster was seen dragging its heavy coils from the cavern, fire issuing from its mouth and nostrils. At its mighty roar even the bravest trembled. But the Christian maid alone showed no sign of fear; she awaited the oncoming of the dreadful creature with a hymn of praise on her lips. Nearer and nearer came the dragon, and at length, with a horrible roar, it sprang at its prey. But even as it did so the maiden held out her crucifix before her, and the dragon was checked in its onrush. A moment later it turned aside and plunged into the Rhine. The people on the crag were filled with awe at the miraculous power of the strange symbol which had overcome their idol and, descending, hastened to free the young girl from her bonds. When they learned the significance of the cross they begged that she would send them teachers that they might learn about the new religion. In vain their priests endeavoured to dissuade them. They had seen the power of the crucifix, and their renunciation of their pagan creed was complete.

Among the first to adopt the Christian religion was Rinbod; he married the beautiful captive and built a castle for her on the Drachenfels, whose ruins remain to this day.

It seems a pity that such a beautiful legend should have doubts cast upon its authenticity, but it has been conjectured that the word Drachenfels has a geological rather than a romantic significance—being, in fact, derived from Trachyt-fels, meaning 'Trachyte-rock.' This view is supported by the fact that there is another Drachenfels near Mannheim of a similar geological construction, but without the legend. However, it is unlikely that the people of antiquity would bestow a geological name upon any locality.

Okkenfels: A Rash Oath

On a rugged crag overlooking the Rhine above the town of Linz stands the ruined stronghold of Okkenfels. History tells us little or nothing concerning this ancient fortress, but legend covers the deficiency with the tale of the Baron's Rash Oath.

Rheinhard von Renneberg, according to the story, flourished about the beginning of the eleventh century, when the Schloss Okkenfels was a favourite rendezvous with the rude nobility of the surrounding district. Though they were none of them distinguished for their manners, by far the most rugged and uncouth was the Baron von Renneberg himself. Rough in appearance, abrupt in conversation, and inclined to harshness in all his dealings, he inspired in the breast of his only daughter a feeling more akin to awe than affection.

The gentle Etelina grew up to be a maiden of singular beauty, of delicate form and feature, and under the careful tutelage of the castle chaplain she became as good as she was beautiful. Lovers she had in plenty, for the charms of Etelina and the wealth of her noble father, whose sole heiress she was, formed a combination quite irresistible in the eyes of the young gallants who frequented the castle. But none loved her more sincerely than one of the baron's retainers, a young knight of Linz, Rudolph by name.

On one occasion Rheinhard was obliged to set out with his troop to join the wars in Italy, and ere he departed he confided his daughter to the care of the venerable chaplain, while his castle and lands he left in charge of Sir Rudolph. As may be supposed, the knight and the maiden frequently met, and ere long it became evident that Rudolph's passion was returned. The worthy chaplain, who loved the youth as a son, did not seek to interfere with the course of his wooing, and so in due time the lovers were betrothed.

At the end of a year the alarming news reached them that the baron was returning from the wars, bringing in his train a noble bridegroom for Etelina. In despair the lovers sought the old chaplain and begged his advice. They knew only too well that the baron would not brook resistance to his will; for he had ever dealt ruthlessly with opposition. Yet both were determined that nothing should part them.

"I would rather die with Rudolph than marry another," cried the grief-stricken maiden. And indeed it seemed that one or other of these alternatives would soon fall to her lot.

But the wise old priest was planning a way of escape.

"Ye were meant for one another, my children," he said philosophically; "therefore it is not for man to separate you. I will marry you at once, and I know a place where you may safely hide for a season."

It was nearing midnight on the eve of the day fixed for Rheinhard's return, so there was no time to be lost. The three repaired to the chapel, where the marriage was at once solemnized. Taking a basket of bread, meat, and wine, a lamp, and some other necessaries, the old man conducted the newly married pair through a subterranean passage to a cavern in the rock whereon the castle stood, a place known only to himself. Then, having blessed them, he withdrew.

Early on the following morning came the baron and his train, with the noble knight chosen as a husband for Etelina.

Rheinhard looked in vain for his daughter among the crowd of retainers who waited to welcome him. "Where is my little maid?" he asked.

The chaplain answered evasively. The damsel was ill abed, he replied. When the noble lord had refreshed himself he should see her.

Directly the repast was over he hastened to his daughter's apartment, only to find her flown! Dismayed and angry, he rushed to the chaplain and demanded an explanation. The good old man, after a vain attempt to soothe his irate patron, revealed all—all, that is, save the place where the fugitives were concealed, and that he firmly refused to divulge. The priest was committed to the lowest dungeon, a vile den to which access could only be got by means of a trap-door and a rope.

With his own hands the baron swung to the massive trap, swearing a deep oath.

"If I forgive my daughter, or any of her accomplices, may I die suddenly where I now stand, and may my soul perish for ever!"

The disappointed bridegroom soon returned to his own land, and the baron, whose increasing moroseness made him cordially hated by his attendants, was left to the bitterness of his thoughts.

Meanwhile Rudolph and his bride had escaped unseen from the castle rock and now dwelt in the forests skirting the Seven Mountains. While the summer lasted all went well with them; they, and the little son who was born to them, were content with the sustenance the forest afforded. But in the winter all was changed. Starvation stared them in the face. More and more pitiful became their condition, till at length Rudolph resolved to seek the baron, and give his life, if need be, to save his wife and child.

That very day Rheinhard was out hunting in the forest. Imagine his surprise when a gaunt figure, clad in a bearskin, stepped from the undergrowth and bade him follow, if he wished to see his daughter alive. The startled old man obeyed the summons, and arrived at length before a spacious cavern, which his guide motioned him to enter. Within, on a pile of damp leaves, lay Etelina and her child, both half-dead with starvation. Rheinhard's anger speedily melted at the pathetic sight, and he freely forgave his daughter and Rudolph, his hitherto unrecognized guide, and bade them return with him to Okkenfels.

Etelina's first request was for a pardon for the old chaplain, and Rheinhard himself went to raise the heavy trap-door. While peering into the gloom, however, he stumbled and fell headlong into the dungeon below. "A judgment!" he shrieked as he fell, then all was silence.

The bruised remains of the proud baron were interred in the parish church of Linz, and henceforth Etelina and her husband lived happily at Okkenfels. But both they and the old chaplain offered many a pious prayer for the soul of the unhappy Baron Rheinhard.

Oberwoerth

In the middle of the Rhine, a little above Coblentz, lies the island of Oberwoerth, where at one time stood a famous nunnery. Included in the traditional lore of the neighbourhood is a tragic tale of the beautiful Ida, daughter of the Freiherr von Metternich, who died within its walls in the fourteenth century.

Von Metternich, who dwelt at Coblentz, was a wealthy and powerful noble, exceedingly proud of his fair daughter, and firmly convinced that none but the highest in the land was fit mate for her. But Ida had other views, and had already bestowed her heart on a young squire in her father's train. It is true that Gerbert was a high-born youth, of stainless life, pleasing appearance, and gentle manners, and, moreover, one who was likely at no distant date to win his spurs. Nevertheless the lovers instinctively concealed their mutual affection from von Metternich, and plighted their troth in secret.

But so ardent an affection could not long remain hidden.

The time came when the nobleman discovered how matters stood between his daughter and Gerbert, and with angry frowns and muttered oaths he resolved to exercise his paternal authority. "My daughter shall go to a nunnery," he said to himself. "And as for that jackanapes, he must be got rid of at once." He pondered how he might conveniently rid himself of the audacious squire.

That night he dispatched Gerbert on a mission to the grand prior of the Knights-Templars, who had his abode at the neighbouring castle of Lahneck. The unsuspecting squire took the sealed missive and set out, thinking as he rode along how rich he was in possessing so sweet a love as Ida, and dreaming of the time when his valour and prowess should have made their marriage possible. But his dreams would have been rudely disturbed had he seen what was passing at Coblentz. For his betrothed, in spite of her tears and pleadings, was being secretly conveyed to the nunnery of Oberwoerth, there to remain until she should have forgotten her lover—as though the stone walls of a convent could shut out the imaginings of a maid! However, Gerbert knew nothing of this, and he rode along in leisurely fashion, until at length he came to the Schloss Lahneck, where he was at once conducted into the presence of the grand prior of the Knights-Templars.

The grand prior was a man of middle age, with an expression of settled melancholy on his swarthy features. Gerbert approached him with becoming reverence, bent his knee, and presented the missive.

The prior turned his gaze so earnestly on the young man's face that Gerbert dropped his eyes in confusion. A moment later the prior broke the seal and hastily scanned the letter.

"Who mayest thou be, youth?" he asked abruptly.

"Gerbert von Isenburg, sir."

"And thy mother?"

"Guba von Isenburg," was the astonished Gerbert's reply.

The prior seemed to be struggling with deep emotion.

"Knowest thou the purport of this missive?" he said at last.

"It concerns me not," answered Gerbert simply.

"Nay, my son," said the prior, "it doth concern thee, and deeply, too. Know that it is thy death-warrant, boy! The Freiherr has requested me to send thee to the wars in Palestine, and so to place thee that death will be a certainty. This he asks in the name of our ancient friendship and for the sake of our order, to which he has ever shown himself well disposed."

Seeing the dismay and incredulity which were depicted in his listener's face, the prior hastened to read aloud a passage describing von Metternich's discovery of his daughter's love for the humble squire, and Gerbert could no longer doubt that his fate was sealed.

The prior looked at him kindly.

"Gerbert," he said, "I am not going to put the cruel order into execution. Though I lose friendship, the honour of our order, life itself, the son of Guba von Isenburg shall not suffer at my hands. I sympathize with thy passion for the fair Ida. I myself loved thy mother." The impetuous Gerbert started to his feet, hand on sword, at the mention of his mother, whose good name he set before all else; but with a dignified gesture the prior motioned him to his seat.

Then in terse, passionate phrases the elder man told how he had loved the gentle Guba for years, always hesitating to declare his passion lest the lady should scorn him. At length he could bear it no longer, and made up his mind to reveal his love to her. With this intent he rode toward her home, only to learn from a passing page that Guba, his mistress, was to be married that very day to von Isenburg. He gave to the page a ring, bidding him carry it to his mistress with the message that it was from one who loved her greatly, and who for her sake renounced the world. "The ring," he concluded, "is on thy finger, and in thy face and voice are thy mother's likeness. Canst thou wonder that I would spare thy life?"

Gerbert listened in respectful silence. His love for Ida enabled him to sympathize with the pathetic tale unfolded by the prior. Tears fell unchecked from the eyes of both. "And now," said the prior at last, "we must look to thy safety."

"I would not bring misfortune on thee," said Gerbert. "May I not go to Palestine and win my way through with my sword?"

"It is impossible," said the elder man. "Von Metternich would see to it that thou wert slain. Thou must go to Swabia, where a prior of our order will look after thy safety in the meantime."

The same day Gerbert was conveyed to Swabia, where, for a time at least, he was safe from persecution.

The Dance of Death

In the nunnery of Oberwoerth, on a pallet in a humble cell, Ida lay dying. A year had gone past since she had been separated from her lover, and every day had seen her grow weaker and more despondent. Forget Gerbert? That would she never while life remained to her. Wearily she tossed on her pallet, her only companion a sister of the convent. Willingly now would the Freiherr give his dearest possessions to save his daughter, but already she was beyond assistance, her only hope the peace of the grave.

"I am dying, sister," she said to her attendant. "Nevermore shall I see my dear Gerbert—ah! nevermore."

"Hush," murmured the nun gently, "stranger things have happened. All may yet be well." And to divert the dying maid's attention from her grief she recited tales of lovers who had been reunited after many difficulties.

But Ida refused to be pacified.

"Alas!" she said, "I am betrothed, yet I must die unwed."

"Heaven forbid!" cried the pious nun in alarm. "For then must thou join in the dance of death."

It was a popular belief in that district that a betrothed maiden who died before her wedding was celebrated must, after her death, dance on a spot in the centre of the island whereon no grass or herb ever grew—that is, unless in the interval she took the veil. Every night at twelve o'clock a band of such hapless maidens may be seen dancing in the moonlight, doomed to continue their nocturnal revels till they meet with a lover. And woe betide the knight who ventures within their reach! They dance round and round him and with him till he falls dead, whereupon the youngest maid claims him for her lover. Henceforth she rests quietly in her grave and joins no more in the ghostly frolic.

This weird tradition Ida now heard from the lips of the nun, who herself claimed to have witnessed the scenes she described.

"I beseech thee," said the sister, "do but join our convent, and all will yet be well."

"I die," murmured Ida, heeding not the words of her companion. "Gerbert—we shall meet again!"

Gerbert, her lover, heard the sad news in his dwelling-place on the shores of Lake Constance, and returned to Oberwoerth with all speed. A week had elapsed ere he arrived, and Ida's body was already interred in the vaults of the convent.

It was a night of storm and darkness. No boatman would venture on the Rhine, but Gerbert, anxious to pay the last respects to the body of his beloved, was not to be deterred. With his own hands he unmoored a vessel and sailed across to Oberwoerth. Having landed at that part of the island furthest from the convent, he was obliged to pass the haunted spot on his way thither. The circular patch of barren earth was said to be a spot accursed, by reason of sacrilege and suicide committed there. But such things were far from the thoughts of the distraught knight.

Suddenly he heard a strange sound, like the whisper of a familiar voice—a sound which, despite its quietness, seemed to make itself heard above the fury of the storm. Looking up, he beheld a band of white-robed maidens dancing in the charmed circle. One of them, a little apart from the others, seemed to him to be his lost Ida. The familiar figure, the grace of mien, the very gesture with which she beckoned him, were hers, and he rushed forward to clasp her to his heart. Adroitly she eluded his grasp and mingled with the throng. Gerbert followed with bursting heart, seized her in his arms, and found that the other phantoms had surrounded them. Something in the unearthly music fascinated him; he felt impelled to dance round and round, till his head reeled. And still he danced with his phantom bride, and still the maidens whirled about them. On the stroke of one the dancers vanished and the knight sank to the ground, all but dead with fatigue. In the morning he was found by the kindly nuns, who tended him carefully. But all their skill and attention were in vain; for Gerbert lived only long enough to tell of his adventure to the sisterhood. This done, he expired with the name of his beloved spirit-bride upon his lips.

Stolzenfels: The Alchemist

Alchemy was a common pursuit in the Middle Ages. The poor followed it eagerly in the vain desire for gold; the rich spent their wealth in useless experiments, or showered it on worthless charlatans.

Thus it came about that Archbishop Werner of Falkenstein, owner of the grim fortress of Stolzenfels and a wealthy and powerful Churchman, was an amateur of the hermetic art, while his Treasurer, who was by no means rich, was also by way of being an alchemist. To indulge his passion for the bizarre science the latter had extracted many a golden piece from the coffers of his reverend master, always meaning, of course, to pay them back when the weary experiments should have crystallized into the coveted philosopher's stone. He had in his daughter Elizabeth a treasure which might well have outweighed the whole of the Archbishop's coffers, but the lust for gold had blinded the covetous Treasurer to all else.

One night—a wild, stormy night, when the wind tore shrieking round the battlements of Stolzenfels—there came to the gate a pilgrim, sombre of feature as of garb, with wicked, glinting eyes. The Archbishop was not at that time resident in the castle, but his Treasurer, hearing that the new-comer was learned in alchemical mysteries, bade him enter without delay. A room was made ready in one of the highest towers, and there the Treasurer and his pilgrim friend spent many days and nights. Elizabeth saw with dismay that a change was coming over her father. He was no longer gentle and kind, but morose and reserved, and he passed less time in her company than he was wont.

At length a courier arrived with tidings of the approach of the Archbishop, who was bringing some noble guests to the castle. To the dismay of his daughter, the Treasurer suddenly turned pale and, brushing aside her solicitous inquiries, fled to the mysterious chamber. Elizabeth followed, convinced that something had occurred to upset her father seriously. She was too late—the door was locked ere she reached it; but she could hear angry voices within, the voices of her father and the pilgrim. The Treasurer seemed to be uttering bitter reproaches, while ever and anon the deep, level voice of his companion could be heard.

"Bring hither a virgin," he said. "The heart's blood of a virgin is necessary to our schemes, as I have told thee many times. How can I give thee gold, and thou wilt not obey my instructions?"

"Villain!" cried the Treasurer, beside himself. "Thou hast taken my gold, thou hast made me take the gold of my master also for thy schemes. Wouldst thou have me shed innocent blood?"

"I tell thee again, without it our experiments are vain."

At that moment the door was flung open and the Treasurer emerged, too immersed in his anxious thoughts to perceive the shrinking form of Elizabeth. She, when he had gone from sight, entered the chamber where stood the pilgrim.

"I have heard thy conversation," she said, "and I am ready to give my life for my father's welfare. Tell me what I must do and I will slay me with mine own hand."

With covetous glance the pilgrim advanced and strove to take her hand, but she shrank back in loathing.

"Touch me not," she said, shuddering.

A look of malice overspread the pilgrim's averted face.

"Come hither at midnight, and at sunrise thy father will be rich and honoured," he said.

"Wilt thou swear it on the cross?"

"I swear it," he returned, drawing a little crucifix from his bosom, and speaking in solemn tones.

"Very well, I promise." And with that she withdrew.

When she had gone the alchemist pressed a spring in the crucifix, when a dagger fell out.

"Thou hast served me well," he said, chuckling. Then, replacing the crucifix in his breast, he entered the adjoining room, prised up a stone from the floor, and drew forth a leathern bag full of gold. This, then, was the crucible into which the Archbishop's pieces had gone. "I have found the secret of making gold," pursued the pilgrim. "To-morrow my wealth and I will be far away in safety. The fools, to seek gold in a crucible!"

Meanwhile preparations were afoot for the reception of the Archbishop. Elizabeth, full of grief and determination, supervised the work of the serving-maids, while her father anxiously wondered how he should account to his master for the stolen pieces of gold.

The Archbishop was loudly hailed on his arrival. He greeted his Treasurer kindly and asked after the pretty Elizabeth. When her father presented her he in turn introduced her to his guests, and many a glance of admiration was directed at the gentle maid. One young knight, in particular, was so smitten with her charms that he was dumb the whole evening.

When Elizabeth retired to her chamber her father bade her good-night. Hope had again arisen in his breast.

"To-morrow," he said, "my troubles will be over." Elizabeth sighed.

At length the hour of midnight arrived. Taking a lamp, the girl crossed the courtyard to where the alchemist awaited her coming. She was not unseen, however; the young knight had been watching her window, and he observed her pass through the courtyard with surprise. Fearing he knew not what harm to the maid he loved, he followed her to the pilgrim's apartment, and there watched her through a crack in the door.

The alchemist was bending over a crucible when Elizabeth entered.

"Ah, thou hast come," he said. "I hope thou art prepared to do as I bid thee? If that is so, I will restore the gold to thy father—his own gold and his master's. If thou art willing to sacrifice thine honour, thy father's honour shall be restored; if thy life, he shall have the money he needs."

"Away, wretch!" cried Elizabeth indignantly. "I will give my life for my father, but I will not suffer insult." With a shrug of his shoulders the alchemist turned to his crucible.

"As thou wilt," he said. "Prepare for the sacrifice."

Suddenly the kneeling maid caught up the alchemist's dagger and would have plunged it into her heart; but ere she could carry out her purpose the knight burst open the door, rushed into the room, and seized the weapon. Elizabeth, overcome with the relief which his opportune arrival afforded her, fainted in his arms.

While the young man frantically sought means to restore her the pilgrim seized the opportunity to escape, and when the maid came to herself it was to find the wretch gone and herself supported by a handsome young knight, who was pouring impassioned speeches into her ear. His love and tenderness awakened an answering emotion in her heart, and that very night they were betrothed.

When the maiden's father was apprised of her recent peril he, too, was grateful to her deliverer, and yet more grateful when his future son-in-law pressed him to make use of his ample fortune.

The pilgrim was found drowned in the Rhine, and the bag of gold, which he had carried away in his belt, was handed over to the Archbishop, to whom the Treasurer confessed all.

And the good Archbishop, by way of confirming his forgiveness, gave a handsome present to Elizabeth on her marriage with the knight.

The Legend of Boppard

Maidens had curious ways of revenging themselves on unfaithful lovers in medieval times, as the following legend of Boppard would show.

Toward the end of the twelfth century there dwelt in Boppard a knight named Sir Conrad Bayer, brave, generous, and a good comrade, but not without his faults, as will be seen hereafter.

At that time many brave knights and nobles were fighting in the Third Crusade under Frederick the First and Richard Coeur-de-Lion; but Sir Conrad still remained at Boppard. He gave out that the reason for his remaining at home was to protect his stronghold against a horde of robbers who infested the neighbourhood. But there were those who ascribed his reluctance to depart to another cause.

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