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The Pilgrims Of The Rhine by E. Bulwer Lytton

Part 4 out of 5

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music of the bard, stole along the silence. 'Thy love for thy race is
grateful to the stars of night: go, then, son of Osslah, and seek the
meeting of the chiefs and the people to choose a king, and tell them not
to scorn thee because thou art slow to the chase, and little known in
war; for the stars give thee wisdom as a recompense for all. Say unto
the people that as the wise men of the council shape their lessons by the
flight of birds, so by the flight of birds shall a token be given unto
them, and they shall choose their kings. For, saith the star of night,
the birds are the children of the winds, they pass to and fro along the
ocean of the air, and visit the clouds that are the war-ships of the
gods; and their music is but broken melodies which they glean from the
harps above. Are they not the messengers of the storm? Ere the stream
chafes against the bank, and the rain descends, know ye not, by the wail
of birds and their low circle over the earth, that the tempest is at
hand? Wherefore, wisely do ye deem that the children of the air are the
fit interpreters between the sons of men and the lords of the world
above. Say then to the people and the chiefs that they shall take, from
among the doves that build their nests in the roof of the palace, a white
dove, and they shall let it loose in the air, and verily the gods of the
night shall deem the dove as a prayer coming from the people, and they
shall send a messenger to grant the prayer and give to the tribes of
Oestrich a king worthy of themselves.'

"With that the star spoke no more."

Then the friends of Voltoch murmured among themselves, and they said,
"Shall this man dictate to us who shall be king?" But the people and the
warriors shouted, "Listen to the star; do we not give or deny battle
according as the bird flies,--shall we not by the same token choose him
by whom the battle should be led?" And the thing seemed natural to them,
for it was after the custom of the tribe. Then they took one of the
doves that built in the roof of the palace, and they brought it to the
spot where Morven stood, and he, looking up to the stars and muttering to
himself, released the bird.

There was a copse of trees at a little distance from the spot, and as the
dove ascended, a hawk suddenly rose from the copse and pursued the dove;
and the dove was terrified, and soared circling high above the crowd,
when lo, the hawk, poising itself one moment on its wings, swooped with a
sudden swoop, and, abandoning its prey, alighted on the plumed head of
Siror.

"Behold," cried Morven in a loud voice, "behold your king!"

"Hail, all hail the king!" shouted the people. "All hail the chosen of
the stars!"

Then Morven lifted his right hand and the hawk left the prince and
alighted on Morven's shoulder. "Bird of the gods!" said he, reverently,
"hast thou not a secret message for my ear?" Then the hawk put its beak
to Morven's ear, and Morven bowed his head submissively; and the hawk
rested with Morven from that moment and would not be scared away. And
Morven said, "The stars have sent me this bird, that in the day-time when
I see them not, we may never be without a councillor in distress."

So Siror was made king and Morven the son of Osslah was constrained by
the king's will to take Orna for his wife; and the people and the chiefs
honoured Morven the prophet above all the elders of the tribe.

One day Morven said unto himself, musing, "Am I not already equal with
the king,--nay, is not the king my servant? Did I not place him over the
heads of his brothers? Am I not, therefore, more fit to reign than he
is; shall I not push him from his seat? It is a troublesome and stormy
office to reign over the wild men of Oestrich, to feast in the crowded
hall, and to lead the warriors to the fray. Surely if I feasted not,
neither went out to war, they might say, 'This is no king, but the
cripple Morven;' and some of the race of Siror might slay me secretly.
But can I not be greater far than kings, and continue to choose and
govern them, living as now at mine own ease? Verily the stars shall give
me a new palace, and many subjects."

Among the wise men was Darvan; and Morven feared him, for his eye often
sought the movements of the son of Osslah.

And Morven said, "It were better to _trust_ this man than to _blind_, for
surely I want a helpmate and a friend." So he said to the wise man as he
sat alone watching the setting sun,--

"It seemeth to me, O Darvan! that we ought to build a great pile in
honour of the stars, and the pile should be more glorious than all the
palaces of the chiefs and the palace of the king; for are not the stars
our masters? And thou and I should be the chief dwellers in this new
palace, and we would serve the gods of night and fatten their altars with
the choicest of the herd and the freshest of the fruits of the earth."

And Darvan said, "Thou speakest as becomes the servant of the stars. But
will the people help to build the pile? For they are a warlike race and
they love not toil."

And Morven answered, "Doubtless the stars will ordain the work to be
done. Fear not."

"In truth thou art a wondrous man; thy words ever come to pass," answered
Darvan; "and I wish thou wouldest teach me, friend, the language of the
stars."

"Assuredly if thou servest me, thou shalt know," answered the proud
Morven; and Darvan was secretly wroth that the son of the herdsman should
command the service of an elder and a chief.

And when Morven returned to his wife he found her weeping much. Now she
loved the son of Osslah with an exceeding love, for he was not savage and
fierce as the men she had known, and she was proud of his fame among the
tribe; and he took her in his arms and kissed her, and asked her why she
wept. Then she told him that her brother the king had visited her, and
had spoken bitter words of Morven: "He taketh from me the affection of my
people," said Siror, "and blindeth them with lies. And since he hath
made me king, what if he take my kingdom from me? Verily a new tale of
the stars might undo the old." And the king had ordered her to keep
watch on Morven's secrecy, and to see whether truth was in him when he
boasted of his commune with the Powers of night.

But Orna loved Morven better than Siror, therefore she told her husband
all.

And Morven resented the king's ingratitude, and was troubled much, for a
king is a powerful foe; but he comforted Orna, and bade her dissemble,
and complain also of him to her brother, so that he might confide to her
unsuspectingly whatsoever he might design against Morven.

There was a cave by Morven's house in which he kept the sacred hawk, and
wherein he secretly trained and nurtured other birds against future need;
and the door of the cave was always barred. And one day he was thus
engaged when he beheld a chink in the wall that he had never noted
before, and the sun came playfully in; and while he looked he perceived
the sunbeam was darkened, and presently he saw a human face peering in
through the chink. And Morven trembled, for he knew he had been watched.
He ran hastily from the cave; but the spy had disappeared among the
trees, and Morven went straight to the chamber of Darvan and sat himself
down. And Darvan did not return home till late, and he started and
turned pale when he saw Morven. But Morven greeted him as a brother, and
bade him to a feast, which, for the first time, he purposed giving at the
full of the moon, in honour of the stars. And going out of Darvan's
chamber he returned to his wife, and bade her rend her hair, and go at
the dawn of day to the king her brother, and complain bitterly of
Morven's treatment, and pluck the black plans from the breast of the
king. "For surely," said he, "Darvan hath lied to thy brother, and some
evil waits me that I would fain know."

So the next morning Orna sought the king, and she said, "The herdsman's
son hath reviled me, and spoken harsh words to me; shall I not be
avenged?"

Then the king stamped his feet and shook his mighty sword. "Surely thou
shalt be avenged; for I have learned from one of the elders that which
convinceth me that the man hath lied to the people, and the base-born
shall surely die. Yea, the first time that he goeth alone into the
forest my brother and I will fall upon him and smite him to the death."
And with this comfort Siror dismissed Orna.

And Orna flung herself at the feet of her husband. "Fly now, O my
beloved!--fly into the forests afar from my brethren, or surely the sword
of Siror will end thy days."

Then the son of Osslah folded his arms, and seemed buried in black
thoughts; nor did he heed the voice of Orna, until again and again she
had implored him to fly.

"Fly!" he said at length. "Nay, I was doubting what punishment the stars
should pour down upon our foe. Let warriors fly. Morven the prophet
conquers by arms mightier than the sword."

Nevertheless Morven was perplexed in his mind, and knew not how to save
himself from the vengeance of the king. Now, while he was musing
hopelessly he heard a roar of waters; and behold, the river, for it was
now the end of autumn, had burst its bounds, and was rushing along the
valley to the houses of the city. And now the men of the tribe, and the
women, and the children, came running, and with shrieks, to Morven's
house, crying, "Behold, the river has burst upon us! Save us, O ruler of
the stars!"

Then the sudden thought broke upon Morven, and he resolved to risk his
fate upon one desperate scheme.

And he came out from the house calm and sad, and he said, "Ye know not
what ye ask; I cannot save ye from this peril: ye have brought it on
yourselves." And they cried, "How? O son of Osslah! We are ignorant of
our crime."

And he answered, "Go down to the king's palace and wait before it, and
surely I will follow ye, and ye shall learn wherefore ye have incurred
this punishment from the gods." Then the crowd rolled murmuring back, as
a receding sea; and when it was gone from the place, Morven went alone to
the house of Darvan, which was next his own. And Darvan was greatly
terrified; for he was of a great age, and had no children, neither
friends, and he feared that he could not of himself escape the waters.

And Morven said to him soothingly, "Lo, the people love me, and I will
see that thou art saved; for verily thou hast been friendly to me, and
done me much service with the king."

And as he thus spake, Morven opened the door of the house and looked
forth, and saw that they were quite alone. Then he seized the old man by
the throat and ceased not his gripe till he was quite dead; and leaving
the body of the elder on the floor, Morven stole from the house and shut
the gate. And as he was going to his cave he mused a little while, when,
hearing the mighty roar of the waves advancing, and far off the shrieks
of women, he lifted up his head and said proudly, "No, in this hour
terror alone shall be my slave; I will use no art save the power of my
soul." So, leaning on his pine-staff, he strode down to the palace. And
it was now evening, and many of the men held torches, that they might see
each other's faces in the universal fear. Red flashed the quivering
flames on the dark robes and pale front of Morven; and he seemed mightier
than the rest, because his face alone was calm amidst the tumult. And
louder and hoarser became the roar of the waters; and swift rushed the
shades of night over the hastening tide.

And Morven said in a stern voice, "Where is the king; and wherefore is he
absent from his people in the hour of dread?" Then the gate of the
palace opened, and, behold, Siror was sitting in the hall by the vast
pine-fire, and his brother by his side, and his chiefs around him: for
they would not deign to come amongst the crowd at the bidding of the
herdsman's son.

Then Morven, standing upon a rock above the heads of the people (the same
rock whereon he had proclaimed the king), thus spake:--

"Ye desired to know, O sons of Oestrich! wherefore the river hath burst
its bounds, and the peril hath come upon you. Learn, then, that the
stars resent as the foulest of human crimes an insult to their servants
and delegates below. Ye are all aware of the manner of life of Morven,
whom ye have surnamed the Prophet! He harms not man nor beast; he lives
alone; and, far from the wild joys of the warrior tribe, he worships in
awe and fear the Powers of Night. So is he able to advise ye of the
coming danger,--so is he able to save ye from the foe. Thus are your
huntsmen swift and your warriors bold; and thus do your cattle bring
forth their young, and the earth its fruits. What think ye, and what do
ye ask to hear? Listen, men of Oestrich!--they have laid snares for my
life; and there are amongst you those who have whetted the sword against
the bosom that is only filled with love for you all. Therefore have the
stern lords of heaven loosened the chains of the river; therefore doth
this evil menace ye. Neither will it pass away until they who dug the
pit for the servant of the stars are buried in the same."

Then, by the red torches, the faces of the men looked fierce and
threatening; and ten thousand voices shouted forth, "Name them who
conspired against thy life, O holy prophet, and surely they shall be torn
limb from limb."

And Morven turned aside, and they saw that he wept bitterly; and he
said,--

"Ye have asked me, and I have answered: but now scarce will ye believe
the foe that I have provoked against me; and by the heavens themselves I
swear, that if my death would satisfy their fury, nor bring down upon
yourselves and your children's children the anger of the throned stars,
gladly would I give my bosom to the knife. Yes," he cried, lifting up
his voice, and pointing his shadowy arm towards the hall where the king
sat by the pine-fire,--"yes, thou whom by my voice the stars chose above
thy brother; yes, Siror, the guilty one! take thy sword, and come hither;
strike, if thou hast the heart to strike, the Prophet of the Gods!"

The king started to his feet, and the crowd were hushed in a shuddering
silence.

Morven resumed:--

"Know then, O men of Oestrich, that Siror and Voltoch his brother, and
Darvan the elder of the wise men, have purposed to slay your prophet,
even at such hour as when alone he seeks the shade of the forest to
devise new benefits for you. Let the king deny it, if he can!"

Then Voltoch, of the giant limbs, strode forth from the hall, and his
spear quivered in his hand.

"Rightly hast thou spoken, base son of my father's herdsman! and for thy
sins shalt thou surely die; for thou liest when thou speakest of thy
power with the stars, and thou laughest at the folly of them who hear
thee: wherefore put him to death."

Then the chiefs in the hall clashed their arms, and rushed forth to slay
the son of Osslah.

But he, stretching his unarmed hands on high, exclaimed, "Hear him, O
dread ones of the night! Hark how he blasphemeth!"

Then the crowd took up the word, and cried, "He blasphemeth! he
blasphemeth against the prophet!"

But the king and the chiefs, who hated Morven because of his power with
the people, rushed into the crowd; and the crowd were irresolute, nor
knew they how to act, for never yet had they rebelled against their
chiefs, and they feared alike the prophet and the king.

And Siror cried, "Summon Darvan to us, for he hath watched the steps of
Morven, and he shall lift the veil from my people's eyes." Then three of
the swift of foot started forth to the house of Darvan.

And Morven cried out with a loud voice, "Hark! thus saith the star, who,
now riding through yonder cloud, breaks forth upon my eyes, 'For the lie
that the elder hath uttered against my servant, the curse of the stars
shall fall upon him.' Seek, and as ye find him so may ye find ever the
foes of Morven and the gods!"

A chill and an icy fear fell over the crowd, and even the cheek of Siror
grew pale; and Morven, erect and dark above the waving torches, stood
motionless with folded arms. And hark!--far and fast came on the
war-steeds of the wave; the people heard them marching to the land, and
tossing their white manes in the roaring wind.

"Lo, as ye listen," said Morven, calmly, "the river sweeps on. Haste,
for the gods will have a victim, be it your prophet or your king."

"Slave!" shouted Siror, and his spear left his hand, and far above the
heads of the crowd sped hissing beside the dark form of Morven, and rent
the trunk of the oak behind. Then the people, wroth at the danger of
their beloved seer, uttered a wild yell, and gathered round him with
brandished swords, facing their chieftains and their king. But at that
instant, ere the war had broken forth among the tribe, the three warriors
returned, and they bore Darvan on their shoulders, and laid him at the
feet of the king, and they said tremblingly, "Thus found we the elder in
the centre of his own hall." And the people saw that Darvan was a
corpse, and that the prediction of Morven was thus verified. "So perish
the enemies of Morven and the stars!" cried the son of Osslah. And the
people echoed the cry. Then the fury of Siror was at its height, and
waving his sword above his head he plunged into the crowd, "Thy blood,
baseborn, or mine!"

"So be it!" answered Morven, quailing not. "People, smite the
blasphemer! Hark how the river pours down upon your children and your
hearths! On, on, or ye perish!"

And Siror fell, pierced by five hundred spears.

"Smite! smite!" cried Morven, as the chiefs of the royal house gathered
round the king. And the clash of swords, and the gleam of spears, and
the cries of the dying, and the yell of the trampling people mingled with
the roar of the elements, and the voices of the rushing wave.

Three hundred of the chiefs perished that night by the swords of their
own tribe; and the last cry of the victors was, "Morven the prophet!
_Morven the king!_"

And the son of Osslah, seeing the waves now spreading over the valley,
led Orna his wife, and the men of Oestrich, their women, and their
children, to a high mount, where they waited the dawning sun. But Orna
sat apart and wept bitterly, for her brothers were no more, and her race
had perished from the earth. And Morven sought to comfort her in vain.

When the morning rose, they saw that the river had overspread the greater
part of the city, and now stayed its course among the hollows of the
vale. Then Morven said to the people, "The star-kings are avenged, and
their wrath appeased. Tarry only here until the waters have melted into
the crevices of the soil." And on the fourth day they returned to the
city, and no man dared to name another, save Morven, as the king.

But Morven retired into his cave and mused deeply; and then assembling
the people, he gave them new laws; and he made them build a mighty temple
in honour of the stars, and made them heap within it all that the tribe
held most precious. And he took unto him fifty children from the most
famous of the tribe; and he took also ten from among the men who had
served him best, and he ordained that they should serve the stars in the
great temple: and Morven was their chief. And he put away the crown they
pressed upon him, and he chose from among the elders a new king. And he
ordained that henceforth the servants only of the stars in the great
temple should elect the king and the rulers, and hold council, and
proclaim war; but he suffered the king to feast, and to hunt, and to make
merry in the banquet-halls. And Morven built altars in the temple, and
was the first who, in the North, sacrificed the beast and the bird, and
afterwards human flesh, upon the altars. And he drew auguries from the
entrails of the victim, and made schools for the science of the prophet;
and Morven's piety was the wonder of the tribe, in that he refused to be
a king. And Morven the high priest was ten thousand times mightier than
the king. He taught the people to till the ground and to sow the herb;
and by his wisdom, and the valour that his prophecies instilled into men,
he conquered all the neighbouring tribes. And the sons of Oestrich
spread themselves over a mighty empire, and with them spread the name and
the laws of Morven. And in every province which he conquered, he ordered
them to build a temple to the stars.

But a heavy sorrow fell upon the fears of Morven. The sister of Siror
bowed down her head, and survived not long the slaughter of her race.
And she left Morven childless. And he mourned bitterly and as one
distraught, for her only in the world had his heart the power to love.
And he sat down and covered his face, saying:--

"Lo! I have toiled and travailed; and never before in the world did man
conquer what I have conquered. Verily the empire of the iron thews and
the giant limbs is no more! I have founded a new power, that henceforth
shall sway the lands,--the empire of a plotting brain and a commanding
mind. But, behold! my fate is barren, and I feel already that it will
grow neither fruit nor tree as a shelter to mine old age. Desolate and
lonely shall I pass unto my grave. O Orna! my beautiful! my loved! none
were like unto thee, and to thy love do I owe my glory and my life!
Would for thy sake, O sweet bird! that nestled in the dark cavern of my
heart,--would for thy sake that thy brethren had been spared, for verily
with my life would I have purchased thine. Alas! only when I lost thee
did I find that thy love was dearer to me than the fear of others!" And
Morven mourned night and day, and none might comfort him.

But from that time forth he gave himself solely up to the cares of his
calling; and his nature and his affections, and whatever there was yet
left soft in him, grew hard like stone; and he was a man without love,
and he forbade love and marriage to the priest.

Now, in his latter years, there arose _other_ prophets; for the world had
grown wiser even by Morven's wisdom, and some did say unto themselves,
"Behold Morven, the herdsman's son, is a king of kings: this did the
stars for their servant; shall we not also be servants to the star?"

And they wore black garments like Morven, and went about prophesying of
what the stars foretold them. And Morven was exceeding wroth; for he,
more than other men, knew that the prophets lied. Wherefore he went
forth against them with the ministers of the temple, and he took them,
and burned them by a slow fire; for thus said Morven to the people: "A
true prophet hath honour, but _I_ only am a true prophet; to all false
prophets there shall be surely death."

And the people applauded the piety of the son of Osslah.

And Morven educated the wisest of the children in the mysteries of the
temple, so that they grew up to succeed him worthily.

And he died full of years and honour; and they carved his effigy on a
mighty stone before the temple, and the effigy endured for a thousand
ages, and whoso looked on it trembled; for the face was calm with the
calmness of unspeakable awe!

And Morven was the first mortal of the North that made Religion the
stepping-stone to Power. Of a surety Morven was a great man!

It was the last night of the old year, and the stars sat, each upon his
ruby throne, and watched with sleepless eyes upon the world. The night
was dark and troubled, the dread winds were abroad, and fast and frequent
hurried the clouds beneath the thrones of the kings of night. And ever
and anon fiery meteors flashed along the depths of heaven, and were again
swallowed up in the grave of darkness. But far below his brethren, and
with a lurid haze around his orb, sat the discontented star that had
watched over the hunters of the North.

And on the lowest abyss of space there was spread a thick and mighty
gloom, from which, as from a caldron, rose columns of wreathing smoke;
and still, when the great winds rested for an instant on their paths,
voices of woe and laughter, mingled with shrieks, were heard booming from
the abyss to the upper air.

And now, in the middest night, a vast figure rose slowly from the abyss,
and its wings threw blackness over the world. High upward to the throne
of the discontented star sailed the fearful shape, and the star trembled
on his throne when the form stood before him face to face.

And the shape said, "Hail, brother! all hail!"

"I know thee not," answered the star; "thou art not the archangel that
visitest the kings of night."

And the shape laughed loud. "I am the fallen star of the morning! I am
Lucifer, thy brother! Hast thou not, O sullen king, served me and mine;
and hast thou not wrested the earth from thy Lord who sittest above, and
given it to me, by darkening the souls of men with the religion of fear?
Wherefore come, brother, come; thou hast a throne prepared beside my own
in the fiery gloom. Come! The heavens are no more for thee!"

Then the star rose from his throne, and descended to the side of Lucifer;
for ever hath the spirit of discontent had sympathy with the soul of
pride. And they sank slowly down to the gulf of gloom.

It was the first night of the new year, and the stars sat each on his
ruby throne, and watched with sleepless eyes upon the world. But sorrow
dimmed the bright faces of the kings of night, for they mourned in
silence and in fear for a fallen brother.

And the gates of the heaven of heavens flew open with a golden sound, and
the swift archangel fled down on his silent wings; and the archangel gave
to each of the stars, as before, the message of his Lord, and to each
star was his appointed charge. And when the heraldry seemed done there
came a laugh from the abyss of gloom, and half-way from the gulf rose the
lurid shape of Lucifer the fiend!

"Thou countest thy flock ill, O radiant shepherd! Behold! one star is
missing from the three thousand and ten!"

"Back to thy gulf, false Lucifer!--the throne of thy brother hath been
filled."

And, lo! as the archangel spake, the stars beheld a young and
all-lustrous stranger on the throne of the erring star; and his face was
so soft to look upon that the dimmest of human eyes might have gazed upon
its splendour unabashed: but the dark fiend alone was dazzled by its
lustre, and, with a yell that shook the flaming pillars of the universe,
he plunged backward into the gloom.

Then, far and sweet from the arch unseen, came forth the voice of God,--

"Behold! on the throne of the discontented star sits the star of Hope;
and he that breathed into mankind the religion of Fear hath a successor
in him who shall teach earth the religion of Love!"

And evermore the star of Fear dwells with Lucifer, and the star of Love
keeps vigil in heaven!

CHAPTER XX.

GLENHAUSEN.--THE POWER OF LOVE IN SANCTIFIED PLACES.--A PORTRAIT OF
FREDERICK BARBAROSSA.--THE AMBITION OF MEN FINDS NO ADEQUATE SYMPATHY IN
WOMEN.

"YOU made me tremble for you more than once," said Gertrude to the
student; "I feared you were about to touch upon ground really sacred, but
your end redeemed all."

"The false religion always tries to counterfeit the garb, the language,
the aspect of the true," answered the German; "for that reason, I
purposely suffered my tale to occasion that very fear and anxiety you
speak of, conscious that the most scrupulous would be contented when the
whole was finished."

This German was one of a new school, of which England as yet knows
nothing. We shall see hereafter what it will produce.

The student left them at Friedberg, and our travellers proceeded to
Glenhausen,--a spot interesting to lovers; for here Frederick the First
was won by the beauty of Gela, and, in the midst of an island vale, he
built the Imperial Palace, in honour of the lady of his love. This spot
is, indeed, well chosen of itself; the mountains of the Rhinegeburg close
it in with the green gloom of woods and the glancing waters of the Kinz.

"Still, wherever we go," said Trevylyan, "we find all tradition is
connected with love; and history, for that reason, hallows less than
romance."

"It is singular," said Vane, moralizing, "that love makes but a small
part of our actual lives, but is yet the master-key to our sympathies.
The hardest of us, who laugh at the passion when they see it palpably
before them, are arrested by some dim tradition of its existence in the
past. It is as if life had few opportunities of bringing out certain
qualities within us, so that they always remain untold and dormant,
susceptible to thought, but deaf to action."

"You refine and mystify too much," said Trevylyan, smiling; "none of us
have any faculty, any passion, uncalled forth, if we have _really_ loved,
though but for a day."

Gertrude smiled, and drawing her arm within his, Trevylyan left Vane to
philosophize on passion,--a fit occupation for one who had never felt it.

"Here let us pause," said Trevylyan, afterwards, as they visited the
remains of the ancient palace, and the sun glittered on the scene, "to
recall the old chivalric day of the gallant Barbarossa; let us suppose
him commencing the last great action of his life; let us picture him as
setting out for the Holy Land. Imagine him issuing from those walls on
his white charger,--his fiery eye somewhat dimmed by years, and his hair
blanched; but nobler from the impress of time itself,--the clang of arms;
the tramp of steeds; banners on high; music pealing from hill to hill;
the red cross and the nodding plume; the sun, as now glancing on yonder
trees; and thence reflected from the burnished arms of the Crusaders.
But, Gela--"

"Ah," said Gertrude, "_she_ must be no more; for she would have outlived
her beauty, and have found that glory had now no rival in his breast.
Glory consoles men for the death of the loved; but glory is infidelity to
the living."

"Nay, not so, dearest Gertrude," said Trevylyan, quickly; "for my darling
dream of Fame is the hope of laying its honours at your feet! And if
ever, in future years, I should rise above the herd, I should only ask if
_your_ step were proud and _your_ heart elated."

"I was wrong," said Gertrude, with tears in her eyes; "and for your sake
I can be ambitious."

Perhaps there, too, she was mistaken; for one of the common
disappointments of the heart is, that women have so rarely a sympathy in
our better and higher aspirings. Their ambition is not for great things;
they cannot understand that desire "which scorns delight, and loves
laborious days." If they love us, they usually exact too much. They are
jealous of the ambition to which we sacrifice so largely, and which
divides us from them; and they leave the stern passion of great minds to
the only solitude which affection cannot share. To aspire is to be
alone!

CHAPTER XXI.

VIEW OF EHRENBREITSTEIN.--A NEW ALARM IN GERTRUDE'S HEALTH.--TRARBACH.

ANOTHER time our travellers proceeded from Coblentz to Treves, following
the course of the Moselle. They stopped on the opposite bank below the
bridge that unites Coblentz with the Petersberg, to linger over the
superb view of Ehrenbreitstein which you may there behold.

It was one of those calm noonday scenes which impress upon us their own
bright and voluptuous tranquillity. There stood the old herdsman leaning
on his staff, and the quiet cattle knee-deep in the gliding waters.
Never did stream more smooth and sheen than was at that hour the surface
of the Moselle mirror the images of the pastoral life. Beyond, the
darker shadows of the bridge and of the walls of Coblentz fell deep over
the waves, checkered by the tall sails of the craft that were moored
around the harbour. But clear against the sun rose the spires and roofs
of Coblentz, backed by many a hill sloping away to the horizon. High,
dark, and massive, on the opposite bank, swelled the towers and rock of
Ehrenbreitstein,--a type of that great chivalric spirit--the HONOUR that
the rock arrogates for its name--which demands so many sacrifices of
blood and tears, but which ever creates in the restless heart of man a
far deeper interest than the more peaceful scenes of life by which it is
contrasted. There, still--from the calm waters, and the abodes of common
toil and ordinary pleasure--turns the aspiring mind! Still as we gaze on
that lofty and immemorial rock we recall the famine and the siege; and
own that the more daring crimes of men have a strange privilege in
hallowing the very spot which they devastate.

Below, in green curves and mimic bays covered with herbage, the gradual
banks mingled with the water; and just where the bridge closed, a
solitary group of trees, standing dark in the thickest shadow, gave that
melancholy feature to the scene which resembles the one dark thought that
often forces itself into our sunniest hours. Their boughs stirred not;
no voice of birds broke the stillness of their gloomy verdure: the eye
turned from them, as from the sad moral that belongs to existence.

In proceeding to Trarbach, Gertrude was seized with another of those
fainting fits which had so terrified Trevylyan before; they stopped an
hour or two at a little village, but Gertrude rallied with such apparent
rapidity, and so strongly insisted on proceeding, that they reluctantly
continued their way. This event would have thrown a gloom over their
journey, if Gertrude had not exerted herself to dispel the impression she
had occasioned; and so light, so cheerful, were her spirits, that for the
time at least she succeeded.

They arrived at Trarbach late at noon. This now small and humble town is
said to have been the Thronus Bacchi of the ancients. From the spot
where the travellers halted to take, as it were, their impression of the
town, they saw before them the little hostelry, a poor pretender to the
Thronus Bacchi, with the rude sign of the Holy Mother over the door. The
peaked roof, the sunk window, the gray walls, checkered with the rude
beams of wood so common to the meaner houses on the Continent, bore
something of a melancholy and prepossessing aspect. Right above, with
its Gothic windows and venerable spire, rose the church of the town; and,
crowning the summit of a green and almost perpendicular mountain, scowled
the remains of one of those mighty castles which make the never-failing
frown on a German landscape.

The scene was one of quiet and of gloom: the exceeding serenity of the
day contrasted, with an almost unpleasing brightness, the poverty of the
town, the thinness of the population, and the dreary grandeur of the
ruins that overhung the capital of the perished race of the bold Counts
of Spanheim.

They passed the night at Trarbach, and continued their journey next day.
At Treves, Gertrude was for some days seriously ill; and when they
returned to Coblentz, her disease had evidently received a rapid and
alarming increase.

CHAPTER XXII.

THE DOUBLE LIFE.--TREVYLYAN'S FATE.--SORROW THE PARENT OF
FAME.--NIEDERLAHNSTEIN.--DREAMS.

THERE are two lives to each of us, gliding on at the same time, scarcely
connected with each other,--the life of our actions, the life of our
minds; the external and the inward history; the movements of the frame,
the deep and ever-restless workings of the heart! They who have loved
know that there is a diary of the affections, which we might keep for
years without having occasion even to touch upon the exterior surface of
life, our busy occupations, the mechanical progress of our existence; yet
by the last are we judged, the first is never known. History reveals
men's deeds, men's outward character, but _not themselves_. There is a
secret self that hath its own life "rounded by a dream," unpenetrated,
unguessed. What passed within Trevylyan, hour after hour, as he watched
over the declining health of the only being in the world whom his proud
heart had been ever destined to love? His real record of the time was
marked by every cloud upon Gertrude's brow, every smile of her
countenance, every--the faintest--alteration in her disease; yet, to the
outward seeming, all this vast current of varying eventful emotion lay
dark and unconjectured. He filled up with wonted regularity the
colourings of existence, and smiled and moved as other men. For still,
in the heroism with which devotion conquers self, he sought only to cheer
and gladden the young heart on which he had embarked his all; and he kept
the dark tempest of his anguish for the solitude of night.

That was a peculiar doom which Fate had reserved for him; and casting
him, in after years, on the great sea of public strife, it seemed as if
she were resolved to tear from his heart all yearnings for the land. For
him there was to be no green or sequestered spot in the valley of
household peace. His bark was to know no haven, and his soul not even
the desire of rest. For action is that Lethe in which alone we forget
our former dreams, and the mind that, too stern not to wrestle with its
emotions, seeks to conquer regret, must leave itself no leisure to look
behind. Who knows what benefits to the world may have sprung from the
sorrows of the benefactor? As the harvest that gladdens mankind in the
suns of autumn was called forth by the rains of spring, so the griefs of
youth may make the fame of maturity.

Gertrude, charmed by the beauties of the river, desired to continue the
voyage to Mayence. The rich Trevylyan persuaded the physician who had
attended her to accompany them, and they once more pursued their way
along the banks of the feudal Rhine. For what the Tiber is to the
classic, the Rhine is to the chivalric age. The steep rock and the gray
dismantled tower, the massive and rude picturesque of the feudal days,
constitute the great features of the scene; and you might almost fancy,
as you glide along, that you are sailing back adown the river of Time,
and the monuments of the pomp and power of old, rising, one after one,
upon its shores!

Vane and Du-----e, the physician, at the farther end of the vessel,
conversed upon stones and strata, in that singular pedantry of science
which strips nature to a skeleton, and prowls among the dead bones of the
world, unconscious of its living beauty.

They left Gertrude and Trevylyan to themselves; and, "bending o'er the
vessel's laving side," they indulged in silence the melancholy with which
each was imbued. For Gertrude began to waken, though doubtingly and at
intervals, to a sense of the short span that was granted to her life; and
over the loveliness around her there floated that sad and ineffable
interest which springs from the presentiment of our own death. They
passed the rich island of Oberwerth, and Hochheim, famous for its ruby
grape, and saw, from his mountain bed, the Lahn bear his tribute of
fruits and corn into the treasury of the Rhine. Proudly rose the tower
of Niederlahnstein, and deeply lay its shadow along the stream. It was
late noon; the cattle had sought the shade from the slanting sun, and,
far beyond, the holy castle of Marksburg raised its battlements above
mountains covered with the vine. On the water two boats had been drawn
alongside each other; and from one, now moving to the land, the splash of
oars broke the general stillness of the tide. Fast by an old tower the
fishermen were busied in their craft, but the sound of their voices did
not reach the ear. It was life, but a silent life, suited to the
tranquillity of noon.

"There is something in travel," said Gertrude, "which constantly, even
amidst the most retired spots, impresses us with the exuberance of life.
We come to those quiet nooks and find a race whose existence we never
dreamed of. In their humble path they know the same passions and tread
the same career as ourselves. The mountains shut them out from the great
world, but their village is a world in itself. And they know and heed no
more of the turbulent scenes of remote cities than our own planet of the
inhabitants of the distant stars. What then is death, but the
forgetfulness of some few hearts added to the general unconsciousness of
our existence that pervades the universe? The bubble breaks in the vast
desert of the air without a sound."

"Why talk of death?" said Trevylyan, with a writhing smile. "These sunny
scenes should not call forth such melancholy images."

"Melancholy," repeated Gertrude, mechanically. "Yes, death is indeed
melancholy when we are loved!"

They stayed a short time at Niederlahnstein, for Vane was anxious to
examine the minerals that the Lahn brings into the Rhine; and the sun was
waning towards its close as they renewed their voyage. As they sailed
slowly on, Gertrude said, "How like a dream is this sentiment of
existence, when, without labour or motion, every change of scene is
brought before us; and if I am with you, dearest, I do not feel it less
resembling a dream, for I have dreamed of you lately more than ever; and
dreams have become a part of my life itself."

"Speaking of dreams," said Trevylyan, as they pursued that mysterious
subject, "I once during my former residence in Germany fell in with a
singular enthusiast, who had taught himself what he termed 'A System of
Dreaming.' When he first spoke to me upon it I asked him to explain what
he meant, which he did somewhat in the following words."

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE LIFE OF DREAMS.

"I WAS born," said he, "with many of the sentiments of the poet, but
without the language to express them; my feelings were constantly chilled
by the intercourse of the actual world. My family, mere Germans, dull
and unimpassioned, had nothing in common with me; nor did I out of my
family find those with whom I could better sympathize. I was revolted by
friendships,--for they were susceptible to every change; I was
disappointed in love,--for the truth never approached to my ideal.
Nursed early in the lap of Romance, enamoured of the wild and the
adventurous, the commonplaces of life were to me inexpressibly tame and
joyless. And yet indolence, which belongs to the poetical character, was
more inviting than that eager and uncontemplative action which can alone
wring enterprise from life. Meditation was my natural element. I loved
to spend the noon reclined by some shady stream, and in a half sleep to
shape images from the glancing sunbeams. A dim and unreal order of
philosophy, that belongs to our nation, was my favourite intellectual
pursuit; and I sought amongst the Obscure and the Recondite the variety
and emotion I could not find in the Familiar. Thus constantly watching
the operations of the inner mind, it occurred to me at last that sleep
having its own world, but as yet a rude and fragmentary one, it might be
possible to shape from its chaos all those combinations of beauty, of
power, of glory, and of love, which were denied to me in the world in
which my frame walked and had its being. So soon as this idea came upon
me, I nursed and cherished and mused over it, till I found that the
imagination began to effect the miracle I desired. By brooding ardently,
intensely, before I retired to rest, over any especial train of thought,
over any ideal creations; by keeping the body utterly still and quiescent
during the whole day; by shutting out all living adventure, the memory of
which might perplex and interfere with the stream of events that I
desired to pour forth into the wilds of sleep, I discovered at last that
I could lead in dreams a life solely their own, and utterly distinct from
the life of day. Towers and palaces, all my heritage and seigneury, rose
before me from the depths of night; I quaffed from jewelled cups the
Falernian of imperial vaults; music from harps of celestial tone filled
up the crevices of air; and the smiles of immortal beauty flushed like
sunlight over all. Thus the adventure and the glory that I could not for
my waking life obtain, was obtained for me in sleep. I wandered with the
gryphon and the gnome; I sounded the horn at enchanted portals; I
conquered in the knightly lists; I planted my standard over battlements
huge as the painter's birth of Babylon itself.

"But I was afraid to call forth one shape on whose loveliness to pour all
the hidden passion of my soul. I trembled lest my sleep should present
me some image which it could never restore, and, waking from which, even
the new world I had created might be left desolate forever. I shuddered
lest I should adore a vision which the first ray of morning could smite
to the grave.

"In this train of mind I began to wonder whether it might not be possible
to connect dreams together; to supply the thread that was wanting; to
make one night continue the history of the other, so as to bring together
the same shapes and the same scenes, and thus lead a connected and
harmonious life, not only in the one half of existence, but in the other,
the richer and more glorious half. No sooner did this idea present
itself to me, than I burned to accomplish it. I had before taught myself
that Faith is the great creator; that to believe fervently is to make
belief true. So I would not suffer my mind to doubt the practicability
of its scheme. I shut myself up then entirely by day, refused books, and
hated the very sun, and compelled all my thoughts (and sleep is the
mirror of thought) to glide in one direction,--the direction of my
dreams,--so that from night to night the imagination might keep up the
thread of action, and I might thus lie down full of the past dream and
confident of the sequel. Not for one day only, or for one month, did I
pursue this system, but I continued it zealously and sternly till at
length it began to succeed. Who shall tell," cried the enthusiast,--I
see him now with his deep, bright, sunken eyes, and his wild hair thrown
backward from his brow,--"the rapture I experienced, when first, faintly
and half distinct, I perceived the harmony I had invoked dawn upon my
dreams? At first there was only a partial and desultory connection
between them; my eye recognized certain shapes, my ear certain tones
common to each; by degrees these augmented in number, and were more
defined in outline. At length one fair face broke forth from among the
ruder forms, and night after night appeared mixing with them for a moment
and then vanishing, just as the mariner watches, in a clouded sky, the
moon shining through the drifting rack, and quickly gone. My curiosity
was now vividly excited; the face, with its lustrous eyes and seraph
features, roused all the emotions that no living shape had called forth.
I became enamoured of a dream, and as the statue to the Cyprian was my
creation to me; so from this intent and unceasing passion I at length
worked out my reward. My dream became more palpable; I spoke with it; I
knelt to it; my lips were pressed to its own; we exchanged the vows of
love, and morning only separated us with the certainty that at night we
should meet again. Thus then," continued my visionary, "I commenced a
history utterly separate from the history of the world, and it went on
alternately with my harsh and chilling history of the day, equally
regular and equally continuous. And what, you ask, was that history?
Methought I was a prince in some Eastern island that had no features in
common with the colder north of my native home. By day I looked upon the
dull walls of a German town, and saw homely or squalid forms passing
before me; the sky was dim and the sun cheerless. Night came on with her
thousand stars, and brought me the dews of sleep. Then suddenly there
was a new world; the richest fruits hung from the trees in clusters of
gold and purple. Palaces of the quaint fashion of the sunnier climes,
with spiral minarets and glittering cupolas, were mirrored upon vast
lakes sheltered by the palm-tree and banana. The sun seemed a different
orb, so mellow and gorgeous were his beams; birds and winged things of
all hues fluttered in the shining air; the faces and garments of men were
not of the northern regions of the world, and their voices spoke a tongue
which, strange at first, by degrees I interpreted. Sometimes I made war
upon neighbouring kings; sometimes I chased the spotted pard through the
vast gloom of immemorial forests; my life was at once a life of
enterprise and pomp. But above all there was the history of my love! I
thought there were a thousand difficulties in the way of attaining its
possession. Many were the rocks I had to scale, and the battles to wage,
and the fortresses to storm, in order to win her as my bride. But at
last" (continued the enthusiast), "she _is_ won, she is my own! Time in
that wild world, which I visit nightly, passes not so slowly as in this,
and yet an hour may be the same as a year. This continuity of existence,
this successive series of dreams, so different from the broken
incoherence of other men's sleep, at times bewilders me with strange and
suspicious thoughts. What if this glorious sleep be a real life, and
this dull waking the true repose? Why not? What is there more faithful
in the one than in the other? And there have I garnered and collected
all of pleasure that I am capable of feeling. I seek no joy in this
world; I form no ties, I feast not, nor love, nor make merry; I am only
impatient till the hour when I may re-enter my royal realms and pour my
renewed delight into the bosom of my bright Ideal. There then have I
found all that the world denied me; there have I realized the yearning
and the aspiration within me; there have I coined the untold poetry into
the Felt, the Seen!"

I found, continued Trevylyan, that this tale was corroborated by inquiry
into the visionary's habits. He shunned society; avoided all unnecessary
movement or excitement. He fared with rigid abstemiousness, and only
appeared to feel pleasure as the day departed, and the hour of return to
his imaginary kingdom approached. He always retired to rest punctually
at a certain hour, and would sleep so soundly that a cannon fired under
his window would not arouse him. He never, which may seem singular,
spoke or moved much in his sleep, but was peculiarly calm, almost to the
appearance of lifelessness; but, discovering once that he had been
watched in sleep, he was wont afterwards carefully to secure the chamber
from intrusion. His victory over the natural incoherence of sleep had,
when I first knew him, lasted for some years; possibly what imagination
first produced was afterwards continued by habit.

I saw him again a few months subsequent to this confession, and he seemed
to me much changed. His health was broken, and his abstraction had
deepened into gloom.

I questioned him of the cause of the alteration, and he answered me with
great reluctance,--

"She is dead," said he; "my realms are desolate! A serpent stung her,
and she died in these very arms. Vainly, when I started from my sleep in
horror and despair, vainly did I say to myself,--This is but a dream. I
shall see her again. A vision cannot die! Hath it flesh that decays; is
it not a spirit,--bodiless, indissoluble? With what terrible anxiety I
awaited the night! Again I slept, and the DREAM lay again before me,
dead and withered. Even the ideal can vanish. I assisted in the burial;
I laid her in the earth; I heaped the monumental mockery over her form.
And never since hath she, or ought like her, revisited my dreams. I see
her only when I wake; thus to wake is indeed to dream! But," continued
the visionary in a solemn voice, "I feel myself departing from this
world, and with a fearful joy; for I think there may be a land beyond
even the land of sleep where I shall see her again,--a land in which a
vision itself may be restored."

And in truth, concluded Trevylyan, the dreamer died shortly afterwards,
suddenly, and in his sleep. And never before, perhaps, had Fate so
literally made of a living man (with his passions and his powers, his
ambition and his love) the plaything and puppet of a dream!

"Ah," said Vane, who had heard the latter part of Trevylyan's story,
"could the German have bequeathed to us his secret, what a refuge should
we possess from the ills of earth! The dungeon and disease, poverty,
affliction, shame, would cease to be the tyrants of our lot; and to Sleep
we should confine our history and transfer our emotions."

"Gertrude," whispered the lover, "what his kingdom and his bride were to
the Dreamer art thou to me!"

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE BROTHERS.

THE banks of the Rhine now shelved away into sweeping plains, and on
their right rose the once imperial city of Boppart. In no journey of
similar length do you meet with such striking instances of the mutability
and shifts of power. To find, as in the Memphian Egypt, a city sunk into
a heap of desolate ruins; the hum, the roar, the mart of nations, hushed
into the silence of ancestral tombs, is less humbling to our human vanity
than to mark, as along the Rhine, the kingly city dwindled into the
humble town or the dreary village,--decay without its grandeur, change
without the awe of its solitude! On the site on which Drusus raised his
Roman tower, and the kings of the Franks their palaces, trade now
dribbles in tobacco-pipes, and transforms into an excellent cotton
factory the antique nunnery of Konigsberg! So be it; it is the
progressive order of things,--the world itself will soon be one excellent
cotton factory!

"Look," said Trevylyan, as they sailed on, "at yonder mountain, with its
two traditionary Castles of Liebenstein and Sternfels."

Massive and huge the ruins swelled above the green rock, at the foot of
which lay, in happier security from time and change, the clustered
cottages of the peasant, with a single spire rising above the quiet
village.

"Is there not, Albert, a celebrated legend attached to those castles?"
said Gertrude. "I think I remember to have heard their names in
connection with your profession of taleteller."

"Yes," said Trevylyan, "the story relates to the last lords of those
shattered towers, and--"

"You will sit here, nearer to me, and begin," interrupted Gertrude, in
her tone of childlike command. "Come."

THE BROTHERS.

A TALE.*

* This tale is, in reality, founded on the beautiful tradition
which belongs to Liebenstein and Sternfels.

You must imagine then, dear Gertrude (said Trevylyan), a beautiful summer
day, and by the same faculty that none possess so richly as yourself, for
it is you who can kindle something of that divine spark even in me, you
must rebuild those shattered towers in the pomp of old; raise the gallery
and the hall; man the battlements with warders, and give the proud
banners of ancestral chivalry to wave upon the walls. But above, sloping
half down the rock, you must fancy the hanging gardens of Liebenstein,
fragrant with flowers, and basking in the noonday sun.

On the greenest turf, underneath an oak, there sat three persons, in the
bloom of youth. Two of the three were brothers; the third was an orphan
girl, whom the lord of the opposite tower of Sternfels had bequeathed to
the protection of his brother, the chief of Liebenstein. The castle
itself and the demesne that belonged to it passed away from the female
line, and became the heritage of Otho, the orphan's cousin, and the
younger of the two brothers now seated on the turf.

"And oh," said the elder, whose name was Warbeck, "you have twined a
chaplet for my brother; have you not, dearest Leoline, a simple flower
for me?"

The beautiful orphan (for beautiful she was, Gertrude, as the heroine of
the tale you bid me tell ought to be,--should she not have to the dreams
of my fancy your lustrous hair, and your sweet smile, and your eyes of
blue, that are never, never silent? Ah, pardon me, that in a former
tale, I denied the heroine the beauty of your face, and remember that to
atone for it, I endowed her with the beauty of your mind)--the beautiful
orphan blushed to her temples, and culling from the flowers in her lap
the freshest of the roses, began weaving them into a wreath for Warbeck.

"It would be better," said the gay Otho, "to make my sober brother a
chaplet of the rue and cypress; the rose is much too bright a flower for
so serious a knight."

Leoline held up her hand reprovingly.

"Let him laugh, dearest cousin," said Warbeck, gazing passionately on her
changing cheek; "and thou, Leoline, believe that the silent stream runs
the deepest."

At this moment, they heard the voice of the old chief, their father,
calling aloud for Leoline; for ever when he returned from the chase he
wanted her gentle presence; and the hall was solitary to him if the light
sound of her step and the music of her voice were not heard in welcome.

Leoline hastened to her guardian, and the brothers were left alone.

Nothing could be more dissimilar than the features and the respective
characters of Otho and Warbeck. Otho's countenance was flushed with the
brown hues of health; his eyes were of the brightest hazel: his dark hair
wreathed in short curls round his open and fearless brow; the jest ever
echoed on his lips, and his step was bounding as the foot of the hunter
of the Alps. Bold and light was his spirit; if at times he betrayed the
haughty insolence of youth, he felt generously, and though not ever ready
to confess sorrow for a fault, he was at least ready to brave peril for a
friend.

But Warbeck's frame, though of equal strength, was more slender in its
proportions than that of his brother; the fair long hair that
characterized his northern race hung on either side of a countenance calm
and pale, and deeply impressed with thought, even to sadness. His
features, more majestic and regular than Otho's, rarely varied in their
expression. More resolute even than Otho, he was less impetuous; more
impassioned, he was also less capricious.

The brothers remained silent after Leoline had left them. Otho
carelessly braced on his sword, that he had laid aside on the grass; but
Warbeck gathered up the flowers that had been touched by the soft hand of
Leoline, and placed them in his bosom.

The action disturbed Otho; he bit his lip, and changed colour; at length
he said, with a forced laugh,--

"It must be confessed, brother, that you carry your affection for our
fair cousin to a degree that even relationship seems scarcely to
warrant."

"It is true," said Warbeck, calmly; "I love her with a love surpassing
that of blood."

"How!" said Otho, fiercely: "do you dare to think of Leoline as a bride?"

"Dare!" repeated Warbeck, turning yet paler than his wonted hue.

"Yes, I have said the word! Know, Warbeck, that I, too, love Leoline; I,
too, claim her as my bride; and never, while I can wield a sword, never,
while I wear the spurs of knighthood, will I render my claim to a living
rival,--even," he added, sinking his voice, "though that rival be my
brother!"

Warbeck answered not; his very soul seemed stunned; he gazed long and
wistfully on his brother, and then, turning his face away, ascended the
rock without uttering a single word.

This silence startled Otho. Accustomed to vent every emotion of his own,
he could not comprehend the forbearance of his brother; he knew his high
and brave nature too well to imagine that it arose from fear. Might it
not be contempt, or might he not, at this moment, intend to seek their
father; and, the first to proclaim his love for the orphan, advance,
also, the privilege of the elder born? As these suspicions flashed
across him, the haughty Otho strode to his brother's side, and laying his
hand on his arm, said,--

"Whither goest thou; and dost thou consent to surrender Leoline?"

"Does she love thee, Otho?" answered Warbeck, breaking silence at last;
and his voice spoke so deep an anguish, that it arrested the passions of
Otho even at their height.

"It is thou who art now silent," continued Warbeck; "speak. Doth she
love thee, and has her lip confessed it?"

"I have believed that she loved me," faltered Otho; "but she is of maiden
bearing, and her lip, at least, has never told it."

"Enough," said Warbeck; "release your hold."

"Stay," said Otho, his suspicions returning; "stay,--yet one word; dost
thou seek my father? He ever honoured thee more than me: wilt thou own
to him thy love, and insist on thy right of birth? By my soul and my
hope of heaven, do it, and one of us two must fall!"

"Poor boy!" answered Warbeck, bitterly; "how little thou canst read the
heart of one who loves truly! Thinkest thou I would wed her if she loved
thee? Thinkest thou I could, even to be blessed myself, give her one
moment's pain? Out on the thought! away!"

"Then wilt not thou seek our father?" said Otho, abashed.

"Our father!--has our father the keeping of Leoline's affection?"
answered Warbeck; and shaking off his brother's grasp, he sought the way
to the castle.

As he entered the hall, he heard the voice of Leoline; she was singing to
the old chief one of the simple ballads of the time that the warrior and
the hunter loved to hear. He paused lest he should break the spell (a
spell stronger than a sorcerer's to him), and gazing upon Leoline's
beautiful form, his heart sank within him. His brother and himself had
each that day, as they sat in the gardens, given her a flower; his flower
was the fresher and the rarer; his he saw not, but she wore his brother's
in her bosom!

The chief, lulled by the music and wearied with the toils of the chase,
sank into sleep as the song ended, and Warbeck, coming forward, motioned
to Leoline to follow him. He passed into a retired and solitary walk,
and when they were a little distance from the castle, Warbeck turned
round, and taking Leoline's hand gently, said,--

"Let us rest here for one moment, dearest cousin; I have much on my heart
to say to thee."

"And what is there," answered Leoline, as they sat on a mossy bank, with
the broad Rhine glancing below, "what is there that my kind Warbeck would
ask of me? Ah, would it might be some favour, something in poor
Leoline's power to grant; for ever from my birth you have been to me most
tender, most kind. You, I have often heard them say; taught my first
steps to walk; you formed my infant lips into language, and, in after
years, when my wild cousin was far away in the forests at the chase, you
would brave his gay jest and remain at home, lest Leoline should be weary
in the solitude. Ah, would I could repay you!"

Warbeck turned away his cheek; his heart was very full, and it was some
moments before he summoned courage to reply.

"My fair cousin," said he, "those were happy days; but they were the days
of childhood. New cares and new thoughts have now come on us; but I am
still thy friend, Leoline, and still thou wilt confide in me thy young
sorrows and thy young hopes, as thou ever didst. Wilt thou not,
Leoline?"

"Canst thou ask me?" said Leoline; and Warbeck, gazing on her face, saw
that though her eyes were full of tears, they yet looked steadily upon
his; and he knew that she loved him only as a sister.

He sighed, and paused again ere he resumed. "Enough," said he; "now to
my task. Once on a time, dear cousin, there lived among these mountains
a, certain chief who had two sons, and an orphan like thyself dwelt also
in his halls. And the elder son--but no matter, let us not waste words
on _him_!--the younger son, then, loved the orphan dearly,--more dearly
than cousins love; and fearful of refusal, he prayed the elder one to
urge his suit to the orphan. Leoline, my tale is done. Canst thou not
love Otho as he loves thee?"

And now lifting his eyes to Leoline, he saw that she trembled violently,
and her cheek was covered with blushes.

"Say," continued he, mastering himself, "is not that flower
his--present--a token that he is chiefly in thy thoughts?"

"Ah, Warbeck! do not deem me ungrateful that I wear not yours also;
but--"

"Hush!" said Warbeck, hastily; "I am but as thy brother; is not Otho
more? He is young, brave, and beautiful. God grant that he may deserve
thee, if thou givest him so rich a gift as thy affections!"

"I saw less of Otho in my childhood," said Leoline, evasively;
"therefore, his kindness of late years seemed stranger to me than thine."

"And thou wilt not then reject him? Thou wilt be his bride?"

"And _thy_ sister," answered Leoline.

"Bless thee, mine own dear cousin! one brother's kiss then, and farewell!
Otho shall thank thee for himself."

He kissed her forehead calmly, and, turning away, plunged into the
thicket; then, nor till then, he gave vent to such emotions as, had
Leoline seen them, Otho's suit had been lost forever; for passionately,
deeply as in her fond and innocent heart she loved Otho, the _happiness_
of Warbeck was not less dear to her.

When the young knight had recovered his self-possession he went in search
of Otho. He found him alone in the wood, leaning with folded arms
against a tree, and gazing moodily on the ground. Warbeck's noble heart
was touched at his brother's dejection.

"Cheer thee, Otho," said he; "I bring thee no bad tidings; I have seen
Leoline, I have conversed with her--nay, start not,--she loves thee! she
is thine!"

"Generous, generous Warbeck!" exclaimed Otho; and he threw himself on his
brother's neck. "No, no," said he, "this must not be; thou hast the
elder claim,--I resign her to thee. Forgive me my waywardness, brother,
forgive me!"

"Think of the past no more," said Warbeck; "the love of Leoline is an
excuse for greater offences than thine. And now, be kind to her; her
nature is soft and keen. _I_ know her well; for _I_ have studied her
faintest wish. Thou art hasty and quick of ire; but remember that a word
wounds where love is deep. For my sake, as for hers, think more of her
happiness than thine own; now seek her,--she waits to hear from thy lips
the tale that sounded cold upon mine."

With that he left his brother, and, once more re-entering the castle, he
went into the hall of his ancestors. His father still slept; he put his
hand on his gray hair, and blessed him; then stealing up to his chamber,
he braced on his helm and armour, and thrice kissing the hilt of his
sword, said, with a flushed cheek,--

"Henceforth be _thou_ my bride!" Then passing from the castle, he sped
by the most solitary paths down the rock, gained the Rhine, and hailing
one of the numerous fishermen of the river, won the opposite shore; and
alone, but not sad, for his high heart supported him, and Leoline at
least was happy, he hastened to Frankfort.

The town was all gayety and life, arms clanged at every corner, the
sounds of martial music, the wave of banners, the glittering of plumed
casques, the neighing of war-steeds, all united to stir the blood and
inflame the sense. Saint Bertrand had lifted the sacred cross along the
shores of the Rhine, and the streets of Frankfort witnessed with what
success!

On that same day Warbeck assumed the sacred badge, and was enlisted among
the knights of the Emperor Conrad.

We must suppose some time to have elapsed, and Otho and Leoline were not
yet wedded; for, in the first fervour of his gratitude to his brother,
Otho had proclaimed to his father and to Leoline the conquest Warbeck had
obtained over himself; and Leoline, touched to the heart, would not
consent that the wedding should take place immediately. "Let him, at
least," said she, "not be insulted by a premature festivity; and give him
time, amongst the lofty beauties he will gaze upon in a far country, to
forget, Otho, that he once loved her who is the beloved of thee."

The old chief applauded this delicacy; and even Otho, in the first flush
of his feelings towards his brother, did not venture to oppose it. They
settled, then, that the marriage should take place at the end of a year.

Months rolled away, and an absent and moody gloom settled upon Otho's
brow. In his excursions with his gay companions among the neighbouring
towns, he heard of nothing but the glory of the Crusaders, of the homage
paid to the heroes of the Cross at the courts they visited, of the
adventures of their life, and the exciting spirit that animated their
war. In fact, neither minstrel nor priest suffered the theme to grow
cold; and the fame of those who had gone forth to the holy strife gave at
once emulation and discontent to the youths who remained behind.

"And my brother enjoys this ardent and glorious life," said the impatient
Otho; "while I, whose arm is as strong, and whose heart is as bold,
languish here listening to the dull tales of a hoary sire and the silly
songs of an orphan girl." His heart smote him at the last sentence, but
he had already begun to weary of the gentle love of Leoline. Perhaps
when he had no longer to gain a triumph over a rival the excitement
palled; or perhaps his proud spirit secretly chafed at being conquered by
his brother in generosity, even when outshining him in the success of
love.

But poor Leoline, once taught that she was to consider Otho her
betrothed, surrendered her heart entirely to his control. His wild
spirit, his dark beauty, his daring valour, won while they awed her; and
in the fitfulness of his nature were those perpetual springs of hope and
fear that are the fountains of ever-agitated love. She saw with
increasing grief the change that was growing over Otho's mind; nor did
she divine the cause. "Surely I have not offended him?" thought she.

Among the companions of Otho was one who possessed a singular sway over
him. He was a knight of that mysterious Order of the Temple, which
exercised at one time so great a command over the minds of men.

A severe and dangerous wound in a brawl with an English knight had
confined the Templar at Frankfort, and prevented his joining the Crusade.
During his slow recovery he had formed an intimacy with Otho, and, taking
up his residence at the castle of Liebenstein, had been struck with the
beauty of Leoline. Prevented by his oath from marriage, he allowed
himself a double license in love, and doubted not, could he disengage the
young knight from his betrothed, that she would add a new conquest to the
many he had already achieved. Artfully therefore he painted to Otho the
various attractions of the Holy Cause; and, above all, he failed not to
describe, with glowing colours, the beauties who, in the gorgeous East,
distinguished with a prodigal favour the warriors of the Cross. Dowries,
unknown in the more sterile mountains of the Rhine, accompanied the hand
of these beauteous maidens; and even a prince's daughter was not deemed,
he said, too lofty a marriage for the heroes who might win kingdoms for
themselves.

"To me," said the Templar, "such hopes are eternally denied. But you,
were you not already betrothed, what fortunes might await you!"

By such discourses the ambition of Otho was perpetually aroused; they
served to deepen his discontent at his present obscurity, and to convert
to distaste the only solace it afforded in the innocence and affection of
Leoline.

One night, a minstrel sought shelter from the storm in the halls of
Liebenstein. His visit was welcomed by the chief, and he repaid the
hospitality he had received by the exercise of his art. He sang of the
chase, and the gaunt hound started from the hearth. He sang of love, and
Otho, forgetting his restless dreams, approached to Leoline, and laid
himself at her feet. Louder then and louder rose the strain. The
minstrel sang of war; he painted the feats of the Crusaders; he plunged
into the thickest of the battle; the steed neighed; the trump sounded;
and you might have heard the ringing of the steel. But when he came to
signalize the names of the boldest knights, high among the loftiest
sounded the name of Sir Warbeck of Liebenstein. Thrice had he saved the
imperial banner; two chargers slain beneath him, he had covered their
bodies with the fiercest of the foe.

Gentle in the tent and terrible in the fray, the minstrel should forget
his craft ere the Rhine should forget its hero. The chief started from
his seat. Leoline clasped the minstrel's hand.

"Speak,--you have seen him, he lives, he is honoured?"

"I myself am but just from Palestine, brave chief and noble maiden. I
saw the gallant knight of Liebenstein at the right hand of the imperial
Conrad. And he, ladye, was the only knight whom admiration shone upon
without envy, its shadow. Who then," continued the minstrel, once more
striking his harp, "who then would remain inglorious in the hall? Shall
not the banners of his sires reproach him as they wave; and shall not
every voice from Palestine strike shame into his soul?"

"Right!" cried Otho, suddenly, and flinging himself at the feet of his
father. "Thou hearest what my brother has done, and thine aged eyes weep
tears of joy. Shall I only dishonour thine old age with a rusted sword?
No! grant me, like my brother, to go forth with the heroes of the Cross!"

"Noble youth," cried the harper, "therein speaks the soul of Sir Warbeck;
hear him, sir, knight,--hear the noble youth."

"Heaven cries aloud in his voice," said the Templar, solemnly.

"My son, I cannot chide thine ardour," said the old chief, raising him
with trembling hands; "but Leoline, thy betrothed?"

Pale as a statue, with ears that doubted their sense as they drank in the
cruel words of her lover, stood the orphan. She did not speak, she
scarcely breathed; she sank into her seat, and gazed upon the ground,
till, at the speech of the chief both maiden pride and maiden tenderness
restored her consciousness, and she said,--

"_I_, uncle! Shall _I_ bid Otho stay when his wishes bid him depart?"

"He will return to thee, noble ladye, covered with glory," said the
harper: but Otho said no more. The touching voice of Leoline went to his
soul; he resumed his seat in silence; and Leoline, going up to him,
whispered gently, "Act as though I were not;" and left the hall to
commune with her heart and to weep alone.

"I can wed her before I go," said Otho, suddenly, as he sat that night in
the Templar's chamber.

"Why, that is true! and leave thy bride in the first week,--a hard
trial!"

"Better than incur the chance of never calling her mine. Dear, kind,
beloved Leoline!"

"Assuredly, she deserves all from thee; and, indeed, it is no small
sacrifice, at thy years and with thy mien, to renounce forever all
interest among the noble maidens thou wilt visit. Ah, from the galleries
of Constantinople what eyes will look down on thee, and what ears,
learning that thou art Otho the bridegroom, will turn away, caring for
thee no more! A bridegroom without a bride! Nay, man, much as the Cross
wants warriors, I am enough thy friend to tell thee, if thou weddest, to
stay peaceably at home, and forget in the chase the labours of war, from
which thou wouldst strip the ambition of love."

"I would I knew what were best," said Otho, irresolutely. "My
brother--ha, shall he forever excel me? But Leoline, how will she
grieve,--she who left him for me!"

"Was that thy fault?" said the Templar, gayly. "It may many times chance
to thee again to be preferred to another. Troth, it is a sin under which
the conscience may walk lightly enough. But sleep on it, Otho; my eyes
grow heavy."

The next day Otho sought Leoline, and proposed to her that their wedding
should precede his parting; but so embarrassed was he, so divided between
two wishes, that Leoline, offended, hurt, stung by his coldness, refused
the proposal at once. She left him lest he should see her weep, and
then--then she repented even of her just pride!

But Otho, striving to appease his conscience with the belief that hers
now was the _sole_ fault, busied himself in preparations for his
departure. Anxious to outshine his brother, he departed not as Warbeck,
alone and unattended, but levying all the horse, men, and money that his
domain of Sternfels--which he had not yet tenanted--would afford, he
repaired to Frankfort at the head of a glittering troop.

The Templar, affecting a relapse, tarried behind, and promised to join
him at that Constantinople of which he had so loudly boasted. Meanwhile
he devoted his whole powers of pleasing to console the unhappy orphan.
The force of her simple love was, however, stronger than all his arts.
In vain he insinuated doubts of Otho,--she refused to hear them; in vain
he poured with the softest accents into her ear the witchery of flattery
and song,--she turned heedlessly away; and only pained by the courtesies
that had so little resemblance to Otho, she shut herself up in her
chamber, and pined in solitude for her forsaker.

The Templar now resolved to attempt darker arts to obtain power over her,
when, fortunately, he was summoned suddenly away by a mission from the
Grand Master of so high import, that it could not be resisted by a
passion stronger in his breast than love,--the passion of ambition. He
left the castle to its solitude; and Otho peopling it no more with his
gay companions, no solitude _could_ be more unfrequently disturbed.

Meanwhile, though, ever and anon, the fame of Warbeck reached their ears,
it came unaccompanied with that of Otho,--of him they had no tidings; and
thus the love of the tender orphan was kept alive by the perpetual
restlessness of fear. At length the old chief died, and Leoline was left
utterly alone.

One evening as she sat with her maidens in the hall, the ringing of a
steed's hoofs was heard in the outer court; a horn sounded, the heavy
gates were unbarred, and a knight of a stately mien and covered with the
mantle of the Cross entered the hall. He stopped for one moment at the
entrance, as if overpowered by his emotion; in the next he had clasped
Leoline to his breast.

"Dost thou not recognize thy cousin Warbeck?" He doffed his casque, and
she saw that majestic brow which, unlike Otho's, had never changed or
been clouded in its aspect to her.

"The war is suspended for the present," said he. "I learned my father's
death, and I have returned home to hang up my banner in the hall and
spend my days in peace."

Time and the life of camps had worked their change upon Warbeck's face;
the fair hair, deepened in its shade, was worn from the temples, and
disclosed one scar that rather aided the beauty of a countenance that had
always something high and martial in its character; but the calm it had
once worn had settled down into sadness; he conversed more rarely than
before, and though he smiled not less often, nor less kindly, the smile
had more of thought, and the kindness had forgot its passion. He had
apparently conquered a love that was so early crossed, but not that
fidelity of remembrance which made Leoline dearer to him than all others,
and forbade him to replace the images he had graven upon his soul.

The orphan's lips trembled with the name of Otho, but a certain
recollection stifled even her anxiety. Warbeck hastened to forestall her
questions. Otho was well, he said, and sojourning at Constantinople; he
had lingered there so long that the crusade had terminated without his
aid: doubtless now he would speedily return,--a month, a week, nay, a
day, might restore him to her side.

Leoline was inexpressibly consoled, yet something remained untold. Why,
so eager for the strife of the sacred tomb, had he thus tarried at
Constantinople? She wondered, she wearied conjecture, but she did not
dare to search further.

The generous Warbeck concealed from her that Otho led a life of the most
reckless and indolent dissipation,--wasting his wealth in the pleasures
of the Greek court, and only occupying his ambition with the wild schemes
of founding a principality in those foreign climes, which the enterprises
of the Norman adventurers had rendered so alluring to the knightly
bandits of the age.

The cousins resumed their old friendship, and Warbeck believed that it
was friendship alone.

They walked again among the gardens in which their childhood had strayed;
they sat again on the green turf whereon they had woven flowers; they
looked down on the eternal mirror of the Rhine,--ah! could it have
reflected the same unawakened freshness of their life's early spring!

The grave and contemplative mind of Warbeck had not been so contented
with the honours of war but that it had sought also those calmer sources
of emotion which were yet found among the sages of the East. He had
drunk at the fountain of the wisdom of those distant climes, and had
acquired the habits of meditation which were indulged by those wiser
tribes from which the Crusaders brought back to the North the knowledge
that was destined to enlighten their posterity. Warbeck, therefore, had
little in common with the ruder chiefs around; he did not summon them to
his board; nor attend at their noisy wassails. Often late at night, in
yon shattered tower, his lonely lamp shone still over the mighty stream,
and his only relief to loneliness was in the presence and the song of his
soft cousin.

Months rolled on, when suddenly a vague and fearful rumour reached the
castle of Liebenstein. Otho was returning home to the neighbouring tower
of Sternfels; but not alone. He brought back with him a Greek bride of
surprising beauty, and dowered with almost regal wealth. Leoline was the
first to discredit the rumour; Leoline was soon the only one who
disbelieved.

Bright in the summer noon flashed the array of horsemen; far up the steep
ascent wound the gorgeous cavalcade; the lonely towers of Liebenstein
heard the echo of many a laugh and peal of merriment. Otho bore home his
bride to the hall of Sternfels.

That night there was a great banquet in Otho's castle; the lights shone
from every casement, and music swelled loud and ceaselessly within.

By the side of Otho, glittering with the prodigal jewels of the East, sat
the Greek. Her dark locks, her flashing eye, the false colours of her
complexion, dazzled the eyes of her guests. On her left hand sat the
Templar.

"By the holy rood," quoth the Templar, gayly, though he crossed himself
as he spoke, "we shall scare the owls to-night on those grim towers of
Liebenstein. Thy grave brother, Sir Otho, will have much to do to
comfort his cousin when she sees what a gallant life she would have led
with thee."

"Poor damsel!" said the Greek, with affected pity, "doubtless she will
now be reconciled to the rejected one. I hear he is a knight of a comely
mien."

"Peace!" said Otho, sternly, and quaffing a large goblet of wine.

The Greek bit her lip, and glanced meaningly at the Templar, who returned
the glance.

"Nought but a beauty such as thine can win my pardon," said Otho, turning
to his bride, and gazing passionately in her face.

The Greek smiled.

Well sped the feast, the laugh deepened, the wine circled, when Otho's
eye rested on a guest at the bottom of the board, whose figure was
mantled from head to foot, and whose face was covered by a dark veil.

"Beshrew me!" said he, aloud, "but this is scarce courteous at our revel:
will the stranger vouchsafe to unmask?"

These words turned all eyes to the figure, and they who sat next it
perceived that it trembled violently; at length it rose, and walking
slowly, but with grace, to the fair Greek, it laid beside her a wreath of
flowers.

"It is a simple gift, ladye," said the stranger, in a voice of such
sweetness that the rudest guest was touched by it; "but it is all I can
offer, and the bride of Otho should not be without a gift at my hands.
May ye both be happy!"

With these words, the stranger turned and passed from the hall silent as
a shadow.

"Bring back the stranger!" cried the Greek, recovering her surprise.
Twenty guests sprang up to obey her mandate.

"No, no!" said Otho, waving his hand impatiently. "Touch her not, heed
her not, at your peril."

The Greek bent over the flowers to conceal her anger, and from amongst
them dropped the broken half of a ring. Otho recognized it at once; it
was the broken half of that ring which he had broken with his betrothed.
Alas! he required not such a sign to convince him that that figure, so
full of ineffable grace, that touching voice, that simple action so
tender in its sentiment, that gift, that blessing, came only from the
forsaken and forgiving Leoline.

But Warbeck, alone in his solitary tower, paced to and fro with agitated
steps. Deep, undying wrath at his brother's falsehood mingled with one
burning, one delicious hope. He confessed now that he had deceived
himself when he thought his passion was no more; was there any longer a
bar to his union with Leoline?

In that delicacy which was breathed into him by his love, he had forborne
to seek, or to offer her the insult of consolation. He felt that the
shock should be borne alone, and yet he pined, he thirsted, to throw
himself at her feet.

Nursing these contending thoughts, he was aroused by a knock at his door;
he opened it. The passage was thronged by Leoline's maidens, pale,
anxious, weeping. Leoline had left the castle, with but one female
attendant, none knew whither; they knew too soon. From the hall of
Sternfels she had passed over in the dark and inclement night to the
valley in which the convent of Bornhofen offered to the weary of spirit
and the broken of heart a refuge at the shrine of God.

At daybreak the next morning, Warbeck was at the convent's gate. He saw
Leoline. What a change one night of suffering had made in that face,
which was the fountain of all loveliness to him! He clasped her in his
arms; he wept; he urged all that love could urge: he besought her to
accept that heart which had never wronged her memory by a thought. "Oh,
Leoline! didst thou not say once that these arms nursed thy childhood;
that this voice soothed thine early sorrows? Ah, trust to them again and
forever. From a love that forsook thee turn to the love that never
swerved."

"No," said Leoline; "no. What would the chivalry of which thou art the
boast,--what would they say of thee, wert thou to wed one affianced and
deserted, who tarried years for another, and brought to thine arms only
that heart which he had abandoned? No; and even if thou, as I know thou
wouldst be, wert callous to such wrong of thy high name, shall I bring to
thee a broken heart and bruised spirit? Shalt thou wed sorrow and not
joy; and shall sighs that will not cease, and tears that may not be
dried, be the only dowry of thy bride? Thou, too, for whom all blessings
should be ordained! No, forget me; forget thy poor Leoline! She hath
nothing but prayers for thee."

In vain Warbeck pleaded; in vain he urged all that passion and truth
could urge; the springs of earthly love were forever dried up in the
orphan's heart, and her resolution was immovable. She tore herself from
his arms, and the gate of the convent creaked harshly on his ear.

A new and stern emotion now wholly possessed him; though naturally mild
and gentle, he cherished anger, when once it was aroused, with the
strength of a calm mind. Leoline's tears, her sufferings, her wrongs,
her uncomplaining spirit, the change already stamped upon her face,--all
cried aloud to him for vengeance. "She is an orphan," said he, bitterly;
"she hath none to protect, to redress her, save me alone. My father's
charge over her forlorn youth descends of right to me. What matters it
whether her forsaker be my brother? He is _her_ foe. Hath he not
crushed her heart? Hath he not consigned her to sorrow till the grave?
And with what insult! no warning, no excuse; with lewd wassailers keeping
revel for his new bridals in the hearing--before the sight--of his
betrothed! Enough! the time hath come when, to use his own words, 'One
of us two must fall!'" He half drew his sword as he spoke, and thrusting
it back violently into the sheath, strode home to his solitary castle.
The sound of steeds and of the hunting horn met him at his portal; the
bridal train of Sternfels, all mirth and gladness, were parting for the
chase.

That evening a knight in complete armour entered the banquet-hall of
Sternfels, and defied Otho, on the part of Warbeck of Liebenstein, to
mortal combat.

Even the Templar was startled by so unnatural a challenge; but Otho,
reddening, took up the gage, and the day and spot were fixed.
Discontented, wroth with himself, a savage gladness seized him; he longed
to wreak his desperate feelings even on his brother. Nor had he ever in
his jealous heart forgiven that brother his virtues and his renown.

At the appointed hour the brothers met as foes. Warbeck's vizor was up,
and all the settled sternness of his soul was stamped upon his brow. But
Otho, more willing to brave the arm than to face the front of his
brother, kept his vizor down; the Templar stood by him with folded arms.
It was a study in human passions to his mocking mind. Scarce had the
first trump sounded to this dread conflict, when a new actor entered on
the scene. The rumour of so unprecedented an event had not failed to
reach the convent of Bornhofen; and now, two by two, came the sisters of
the holy shrine, and the armed men made way, as with trailing garments
and veiled faces they swept along into the very lists. At that moment
one from amongst them left her sisters with a slow majestic pace, and
paused not till she stood right between the brother foes.

"Warbeck," she said in a hollow voice, that curdled up his dark spirit as
it spoke, "is it thus thou wouldst prove thy love, and maintain thy trust
over the fatherless orphan whom thy sire bequeathed to thy care? Shall I
have murder on my soul?" At that question she paused, and those who
heard it were struck dumb, and shuddered. "The murder of one man by the
hand of his own brother! Away, Warbeck! _I command_."

"Shall I forget thy wrongs, Leoline?" said Warbeck.

"Wrongs! they united me to God! they are forgiven, they are no more.
Earth has deserted me, but Heaven hath taken me to its arms. Shall I
murmur at the change? And thou, Otho"--here her voice faltered--"thou,
does thy conscience smite thee not? Wouldst thou atone for robbing me of
hope by barring against me the future? Wretch that I should be, could I
dream of mercy, could I dream of comfort, if thy brother fell by thy
sword in my cause? Otho, I have pardoned thee, and blessed thee and
thine. Once, perhaps, thou didst love me; remember how I loved
thee,--cast down thine arms."

Otho gazed at the veiled form before him. Where had the soft Leoline
learned to command? He turned to his brother; he felt all that he had
inflicted upon both; and casting his sword upon the ground, he knelt at
the feet of Leoline, and kissed her garment with a devotion that votary
never lavished on a holier saint.

The spell that lay over the warriors around was broken; there was one
loud cry of congratulation and joy. "And thou, Warbeck?" said Leoline,
turning to the spot where, still motionless and haughty, Warbeck stood.

"Have I ever rebelled against thy will?" said he, softly; and buried the
point of his sword in the earth. "Yet, Leoline, yet," added he, looking
at his kneeling brother, "yet art thou already better avenged than by
this steel!"

"Thou art! thou art!" cried Otho, smiting his breast; and slowly, and
scarce noting the crowd that fell back from his path, Warbeck left the
lists.

Leoline said no more; her divine errand was fulfilled. She looked long
and wistfully after the stately form of the knight of Liebenstein, and
then, with a slight sigh, she turned to Otho, "This is the last time we
shall meet on earth. Peace be with us all!"

She then, with the same majestic and collected bearing, passed on towards
the sisterhood; and as, in the same solemn procession, they glided back
towards the convent, there was not a man present--no, not even the
hardened Templar--who would not, like Otho, have bent his knee to
Leoline.

Once more Otho plunged into the wild revelry of the age; his castle was
thronged with guests, and night after night the lighted halls shone down
athwart the tranquil Rhine. The beauty of the Greek, the wealth of Otho,
the fame of the Templar, attracted all the chivalry from far and near.
Never had the banks of the Rhine known so hospitable a lord as the knight
of Sternfels. Yet gloom seized him in the midst of gladness, and the
revel was welcome only as the escape from remorse. The voice of scandal,
however, soon began to mingle with that of envy at the pomp of Otho. The
fair Greek, it was said, weary of her lord, lavished her smiles on
others; the young and the fair were always most acceptable at the castle;
and, above all, her guilty love for the Templar scarcely affected
disguise. Otho alone appeared unconscious of the rumour; and though he
had begun to neglect his bride, he relaxed not in his intimacy with the
Templar.

It was noon, and the Greek was sitting in her bower alone with her
suspected lover; the rich perfumes of the East mingled with the fragrance
of flowers, and various luxuries, unknown till then in those northern
shores, gave a soft and effeminate character to the room.

"I tell thee," said the Greek, petulantly, "that he begins to suspect;
that I have seen him watch thee, and mutter as he watched, and play with
the hilt of his dagger. Better let us fly ere it is too late, for his
vengeance would be terrible were it once roused against us. Ah, why did
I ever forsake my own sweet land for these barbarous shores! There, love
is not considered eternal, nor inconstancy a crime worthy death."

"Peace, pretty one!" said the Templar, carelessly; "thou knowest not the
laws of our foolish chivalry. Thinkest thou I could fly from a knight's
halls like a thief in the night? Why, verily, even the red cross would
not cover such dishonour. If thou fearest that thy dull lord suspects,
let us part. The emperor hath sent to me from Frankfort. Ere evening I
might be on my way thither."

"And I left to brave the barbarian's revenge alone? Is this thy
chivalry?"

"Nay, prate not so wildly," answered the Templar. "Surely, when the
object of his suspicion is gone, thy woman's art and thy Greek wiles can
easily allay the jealous fiend. Do I not know thee, Glycera? Why, thou
wouldst fool all men--save a Templar."

"And thou, cruel, wouldst thou leave me?" said the Greek, weeping. "How
shall I live without thee?"

The Templar laughed slightly. "Can such eyes ever weep without a
comforter? But farewell; I must not be found with thee. To-morrow I
depart for Frankfort; we shall meet again."

As soon as the door closed on the Templar, the Greek rose, and pacing the
room, said, "Selfish, selfish! how could I ever trust him? Yet I dare
not brave Otho alone. Surely it was his step that disturbed us in our
yesterday's interview? Nay, I will fly. I can never want a companion."

She clapped her hands; a young page appeared; she threw herself on her
seat and wept bitterly.

The page approached, and love was mingled with his compassion.

"Why weepest thou, dearest lady?" said he. "Is there aught in which
Conrad's services--services!--ah, thou hast read his heart--_his
devotion_ may avail?"

Otho had wandered out the whole day alone; his vassals had observed that
his brow was more gloomy than its wont, for he usually concealed whatever
might prey within. Some of the most confidential of his servitors he had
conferred with, and the conference had deepened the shadow of his
countenance. He returned at twilight; the Greek did not honour the
repast with her presence. She was unwell, and not to be disturbed. The
gay Templar was the life of the board.

"Thou carriest a sad brow to-day, Sir Otho," said he; "good faith, thou
hast caught it from the air of Liebenstein."

"I have something troubles me," answered Otho, forcing a smile, "which I
would fain impart to thy friendly bosom. The night is clear and the moon
is up, let us forth alone into the garden."

The Templar rose, and he forgot not to gird on his sword as he followed
the knight.

Otho led the way to one of the most distant terraces that overhung the
Rhine.

"Sir Templar," said he, pausing, "answer me one question on thy knightly
honour. Was it thy step that left my lady's bower yester-eve at vesper?"

Startled by so sudden a query, the wily Templar faltered in his reply.

The red blood mounted to Otho's brow. "Nay, lie not, sir knight; these
eyes, thanks to God! have not witnessed, but these ears have heard from
others of my dishonour."

As Otho spoke, the Templar's eye resting on the water perceived a boat
rowing fast over the Rhine; the distance forbade him to see more than the
outline of two figures within it. "She was right," thought he; "perhaps
that boat already bears her from the danger."

Drawing himself up to the full height of his tall stature, the Templar
replied haughtily,--

"Sir Otho of Sternfels, if thou hast deigned to question thy vassals,
obtain from them only an answer. It is not to contradict such minions
that the knights of the Temple pledge their word!"

"Enough," cried Otho, losing patience, and striking the Templar with his
clenched hand. "Draw, traitor, draw!"

Alone in his lofty tower Warbeck watched the night deepen over the
heavens, and communed mournfully with himself. "To what end," thought
he, "have these strong affections, these capacities of love, this
yearning after sympathy, been given me? Unloved and unknown I walk to my
grave, and all the nobler mysteries of my heart are forever to be
untold."

Thus musing, he heard not the challenge of the warder on the wall, or the
unbarring of the gate below, or the tread of footsteps along the winding
stair; the door was thrown suddenly open, and Otho stood before him.
"Come," he said, in a low voice trembling with passion; "come, I will
show thee that which shall glad thine heart. Twofold is Leoline
avenged."

Warbeck looked in amazement on a brother he had not met since they stood
in arms each against the other's life, and he now saw that the arm that
Otho extended to him dripped with blood, trickling drop by drop upon the
floor.

"Come," said Otho, "follow me; it is my last prayer. Come, for Leoline's
sake, come."

At that name Warbeck hesitated no longer; he girded on his sword, and
followed his brother down the stairs and through the castle gate. The
porter scarcely believed his eyes when he saw the two brothers, so long
divided, go forth at that hour alone, and seemingly in friendship.

Warbeck, arrived at that epoch in the feelings when nothing stuns,
followed with silent steps the rapid strides of his brother. The two
castles, as you are aware, are scarce a stone's throw from each other.
In a few minutes Otho paused at an open space in one of the terraces of
Sternfels, on which the moon shone bright and steady. "Behold!" he said,
in a ghastly voice, "behold!" and Warbeck saw on the sward the corpse of
the Templar, bathed with the blood that even still poured fast and warm
from his heart.

"Hark!" said Otho. "He it was who first made me waver in my vows to
Leoline; he persuaded me to wed yon whited falsehood. Hark! he, who had
thus wronged my real love, dishonoured me with my faithless bride, and
thus--thus--thus"--as grinding his teeth, he spurned again and again the
dead body of the Templar--"thus Leoline and myself are avenged!"

"And thy wife?" said Warbeck, pityingly.

"Fled,--fled with a hireling page. It is well! she was not worth the
sword that was once belted on--by Leoline."

The tradition, dear Gertrude, proceeds to tell us that Otho, though often
menaced by the rude justice of the day for the death of the Templar,
defied and escaped the menace. On the very night of his revenge a long
and delirious illness seized him; the generous Warbeck forgave, forgot
all, save that he had been once consecrated by Leoline's love. He tended
him through his sickness, and when he recovered, Otho was an altered man.
He forswore the comrades he had once courted, the revels he had once led.
The halls of Sternfels were desolate as those of Liebenstein. The only
companion Otho sought was Warbeck, and Warbeck bore with him. They had
no topic in common, for on one subject Warbeck at least felt too deeply
ever to trust himself to speak; yet did a strange and secret sympathy
re-unite them. They had at least a common sorrow; often they were seen
wandering together by the solitary banks of the river, or amidst the
woods, without apparently interchanging word or sign. Otho died first,
and still in the prime of youth; and Warbeck was now left companionless.
In vain the imperial court wooed him to its pleasures; in vain the camp
proffered him the oblivion of renown. Ah! could he tear himself from a
spot where morning and night he could see afar, amidst the valley, the
roof that sheltered Leoline, and on which every copse, every turf,
reminded him of former days? His solitary life, his midnight vigils,
strange scrolls about his chamber, obtained him by degrees the repute of
cultivating the darker arts; and shunning, he became shunned by all. But
still it was sweet to hear from time to time of the increasing sanctity
of her in whom he had treasured up his last thoughts of earth. She it
was who healed the sick; she it was who relieved the poor; and the
superstition of that age brought pilgrims from afar to the altars that
she served.

Many years afterwards, a band of lawless robbers, who ever and anon broke
from their mountain fastnesses to pillage and to desolate the valleys of
the Rhine,--who spared neither sex nor age, neither tower nor hut, nor
even the houses of God Himself,--laid waste the territories round
Bornhofen, and demanded treasure from the convent. The abbess, of the
bold lineage of Rudesheim, refused the sacrilegious demand. The convent
was stormed; its vassals resisted; the robbers, inured to slaughter, won
the day; already the gates were forced, when a knight, at the head of a
small but hardy troop, rushed down from the mountain side and turned the
tide of the fray. Wherever his sword flashed fell a foe; wherever his
war-cry sounded was a space of dead men in the thick of the battle. The
fight was won, the convent saved; the abbess and the sisterhood came
forth to bless their deliverer. Laid under an aged oak, he was bleeding
fast to death; his head was bare and his locks were gray, but scarcely
yet with years. One only of the sisterhood recognized that majestic
face; one bathed his parched lips; one held his dying hand; and in
Leoline's presence passed away the faithful spirit of the last lord of
Liebenstein!

"Oh!" said Gertrude, through her tears; "surely you must have altered the
facts,--surely--surely--it must have been impossible for Leoline, with a
woman's heart, to have loved Otho more than Warbeck?"

"My child," said Vane, "so think women when they read a tale of love, and
see _the whole heart_ bared before them; but not so act they in real
life, when they see only the surface of character, and pierce not its
depths--until it is too late!"

CHAPTER XXV.

THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.--A COMMON INCIDENT NOT BEFORE
DESCRIBED.--TREVYLYAN AND GERTRUDE.

THE day now grew cool as it waned to its decline, and the breeze came
sharp upon the delicate frame of the sufferer. They resolved to proceed
no farther; and as they carried with them attendants and baggage, which
rendered their route almost independent of the ordinary accommodation,
they steered for the opposite shore, and landed at a village beautifully
sequestered in a valley, and where they fortunately obtained a lodging
not often met with in the regions of the picturesque.

When Gertrude, at an early hour, retired to bed, Vane and Du-----e fell
into speculative conversation upon the nature of man. Vane's philosophy
was of a quiet and passive scepticism; the physician dared more boldly,
and rushed from doubt to negation. The attention of Trevylyan, as he sat
apart and musing, was arrested in despite of himself. He listened to an
argument in which he took no share, but which suddenly inspired him with
an interest in that awful subject which, in the heat of youth and the
occupations of the world, had never been so prominently called forth
before.

"What," thought he, with unutterable anguish, as he listened to the
earnest vehemence of the Frenchman and the tranquil assent of Vane, "if
this creed were indeed true,--if there be no other world,--Gertrude is
lost to me eternally, through the dread gloom of death there would break
forth no star!"

That is a peculiar incident that perhaps occurs to us all at times, but
which I have never found expressed in books, namely, to hear a doubt of
futurity at the very moment in which the present is most overcast; and to
find at once this world stripped of its delusion and the next of its
consolation. It is perhaps for others, rather than ourselves, that the
fond heart requires a Hereafter. The tranquil rest, the shadow, and the
silence, the mere pause of the wheel of life, have no terror for the
wise, who know the due value of the world.

"After the billows of a stormy sea,
Sweet is at last the haven of repose!"

But not so when that stillness is to divide us eternally from others;
when those we have loved with all the passion, the devotion, the watchful
sanctity of the weak human heart, are to exist to us no more! when, after
long years of desertion and widowhood on earth, there is to be no hope of
reunion in that INVISIBLE beyond the stars; when the torch, not of life
only, but of love, is to be quenched in the Dark Fountain, and the grave,
that we would fain hope is the great restorer of broken ties, is but the
dumb seal of hopeless, utter, inexorable separation! And it is this
thought, this sentiment, which makes religion out of woe, and teaches
belief to the mourning heart that in the gladness of united affections
felt not the necessity of a heaven! To how many is the death of the
beloved the parent of faith!

Stung by his thoughts, Trevylyan rose abruptly, and stealing from the
lowly hostelry, walked forth amidst the serene and deepening night; from
the window of Gertrude's room the light streamed calm on the purple air.

With uneven steps and many a pause, he paced to and fro beneath the
window, and gave the rein to his thoughts. How intensely he felt the ALL
that Gertrude was to him! how bitterly he foresaw the change in his lot
and character that her death would work out! For who that met him in
later years ever dreamed that emotions so soft, and yet so ardent, had
visited one so stern? Who could have believed that time was when the
polished and cold Trevylyan had kept the vigils he now held below the
chamber of one so little like himself as Gertrude, in that remote and
solitary hamlet; shut in by the haunted mountains of the Rhine, and
beneath the moonlight of the romantic North?

While thus engaged, the light in Gertrude's room was suddenly
extinguished; it is impossible to express how much that trivial incident
affected him! It was like an emblem of what was to come; the light had
been the only evidence of life that broke upon that hour, and he was now
left alone with the shades of night. Was not this like the herald of
Gertrude's own death; the extinction of the only living ray that broke
upon the darkness of the world?

His anguish, his presentiment of utter desolation, increased. He groaned
aloud; he dashed his clenched hand to his breast; large and cold drops of
agony stole down his brow. "Father," he exclaimed with a struggling
voice, "let this cup pass from me! Smite my ambition to the root; curse
me with poverty, shame, and bodily disease; but leave me this one solace,
this one companion of my fate!"

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