Imágenes de páginas


conductors. One left his comrades, advanced The Schafloch, or ice cavern, the object of up a rock in one direction, and then, in our expedition, is situated about two-thirds another, came back to his fellow, held a con- up the side of a nearly perpendicular mounsultation in an undertone, moved slowly on, tain, some three thousand feet high, which and after a few minutes repeated the same flanks the valley of the Justis-Thal. A visit

It was plain to us, their victims, to this extraordinary place is amply repaid, that they were ignorant of the route to take. and though the toil and fatigue to reach it Their private conference was merely a council are considerable, they are wonderfully soon of war, and the digressions of the one, a re- forgotten when once you are safely ensconced connoitring expedition. Yet, whenever inter- in front of this spacious vault, especially if rogated, they still persisted that we were in you have, as we had, an ample déjeuner à la the right direction, and that a few minutes fourchette quickly spread out before us by the more would bring us in sight of the cavern. guides. It is unnecessary to give the bill of At last, the little droll, as we called hiin, came fare, or the quantity of good warm things—I up to me and pointed out that the men had mean, of course, of an alcoholic character-we taken the wrong valley ; that we ought to took internally to preserve us against the cold keep on the left side of a ridge of rocks instead that was likely to attack us externally. The of pursuing the right, as we did in obedience reader must now suppose us to have chanted to our guides, and that, if we would trust to the post-prandial grace, and lighted our waxhim, he would conduct us there in a short candles and torches ready for our descent into time. A council of war was now held on our the jaws of this Alpine Gehenna. He must side, at which Crypps declared the men knew also understand that this cavern is by no no more than he did about this region, and means a small one ; the entrance itself is at that, though it was jolly to be in such a plight, I least fifty feet wide by thirty feet high, and it were unwise, considering the ladies, to con- these dimensions rapidly and considerably intinue our expedition further. This idea was crease as the cavern deepens. seconded by myself, and unanimously adopted. We entered first of all a vast vestibule, cut Our decision was then made known to the out of the living stone, but so ruggedly and guides. At first they demurred, asserting unevenly that boulders threatened to fall down that they knew every inch of the ground. from its gigantic ceiling at every step we took. But this would not do for us. We were re- The floor is no less uneven than the ceiling. solved, we told them, not to go a step farther. This hall was still lighted with the light of They then came to a compromise. They , day, but so feebly that the gloom, it ought admitted that they had only been there once properly to be called, was in perfect harmony before in their lives, and that was “ many a with the place, From the vestibule we turned year agone ;” that people never came to see off to the left into a continuation of the chasm such an out-of-the-way place ; and that it was which became dark as Erebus, and in a moment probable the droll—whom they had excluded we experienced a striking difference of temfrom their councils, as other wise corporali- perature. Outside it was a bright, hot July ties exclude men of knowledge from their day ; in the entrance there were a restrained councils—might know something about it, as warmth and a modified cold. We had no he had been accustomed to look after the goats sooner descended into this spacious subterin the forests close by. This was the most ranean gallery than a dull, heavy Cimmerian satisfactory part of their speech. Here was chill seized upon our limbs, and we had need involuntary testimony in favour of the droll ; of all the cloaks, coats, wrappers, and comso, after another conference on our side, in forters we could amass. However, we found which the Frenchman shrugged his shoulders this state of the atmosphere in some degree prodigiously, and the German twisted the ends relieved by the exercise it cost us in clambering of his moustaches convulsively, and the alder- over steep sharp blocks of stone, or every now man declared the exertion and fright he had and then slipping down into an unperceived undergone would make him eat for a month, hole, or nearly wrenching off a foot by jamming we agreed to put ourselves under the leadership it in a narrow cleft of the ground into which of our stunted "ancient," and marched on. we had accidentally trodden.

At last, after many groans of despair from This charming pavement—an admirable place Amelia and Julia as we wound up midway of penance for bare-footed pilgrims—continued along rocks, and under rocks by a pathway for about three or four hundred feet, when we liardly safe for a cat, we turned suddenly round came upon a still more delightful flooring of a sharp angle of the mountain, and, to our smooth ice, interrupted here and there by great joy and surprise, the mouth of the cavern projecting noses of rock, and so aumirabiy yaped before us.

inclined as to render it impossible for the most upright of mortals to maintain his equilibrium. the danger of further progress. Having thus It was equally dangerous to attempt to slide ascertained that if either of us ventured farther down this crystal surface, for at the bottom of he would most probably not return by the way it the floor rounded off abruptly into a watery he went, the signal of retreat was given, and gulf, the Tartarean depth of which the guides in about forty minutes after encountering the assured us had never been fathomed.

same amusing difficulties which had enlivened However, we were not to be daunted by the our descent, Æneas-like we gained the upper dread of unfathomable abysses, especially as air,-by no means, as Crypps humorously obto penetrate into the farthest recesses of this served, agreeing with him that cavern was the object of our excursion. Co

Facilis descensus Caverni. lumbus on the Atlantic was our model ; so one after another we put foot on this treach- We then made our way through the Justiserous platform, and happily found that by Thal—it took us four hours, by-the-by—to taking due precaution we need not slide inore our boat, and arrived at Thun shortly after than a yard or so at a time. In this manner sunset, having taken fifteen hours to accomwe eventually arrived on to a ledge of rocksplish what a guide-book facetiously calls—a that broke through the ice, and again we morning's walk.

HARULD KING, stood on terra firma. The darkness and fear passed away, for we had rekindled our LEGENDS OF CHARLEMAGNE'S CITY. extinguished torches and courage, and were

No. VII.-FASTRADA'S RING. prepared to take a full survey of the new stage HILDEGARDE had gone to her God. Her to which we were advanced. Let no one say husband had mourned her, and then raise ! that the sight we now beheld was not worth another to her vacant place. This third wife all the risk and labour we had undergone. of his was Fastrada, daughter of Rudolf, a By the combined light of our torches and Frankish count. She was married to Charles candles, we beheld a vast number of trans- magne at Worms in 783. She had not Hildeparent columns descending from the roof to garde's noble heart, nor her sweet and loving the floor. They were of different dimensions. nature ; but the young bride's dazzling beauty, As they approached the ground they increased liveliness, and wit, made her perfect mistress of considerably in size, assuming the shape and her husband's heart. Her lightest wish was proportions of crystal pavilions. A beautiful his law. Even the squabblings, bickerings, and filigree-work and sometimes a series of trans- feuds with which her petulance filled his court parent pinnacles ornamented the exterior of failed to shake his love and fealty to this these subterranean kiosques, which sparkled spoiled and malicious beauty. Stern as he in the rays of our torches and reflected all was, he humoured her with a criminal weakthe hues of the rainbow. These little palaces, ness which made her doubly capricious and I found by breaking open the side of one of overbearing. Still he was wilfully blind. In them, were hollow, and capable of containing the midst of his dream of love and bliss, death four or five persons. Nothing would do but tore the blooming lady from his arms. She we must improvise a general illumination on drooped and died at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, the largest scale ; so all the available ends of after nine short years of wedlock. Her huswax-candles were brought into requisition, and band's anguish was unutterable. He who the indefatigable Crypps lit up the interior faced death and disaster without flinching, who brilliantly in an incredibly short time. The had borne all other woes with kingly dignity, enchantment was now complete. We might now seemed to have lost his manhood and his have fancied ourselves dropped down into faith. He gave way to such frenzied paroxysms fairy-land but for the darkness, chill, and of despair, that his faithful followers thought silence without.

grief had driven him well-nigh crazy. Night When we had gratified our curiosity suffi- and day he watched beside the corpse ; they ciently in this quarter we proceeded to the could not tear him from it. He seemed to farther end of the cavern, or at least as far | fancy that life must come back to the senseless as we thought it prudent, to ascertain where clay. He called on her name without ceasing; the flooring of ice rounded off into the abyss sometimes he would cry out, “She is not dead, of unfathomable water we heard trickling | but sleeping,” and stare wildly into the blank below. Like a true Briton the Hon. Weldon faces of the living, into the still, white face of Crypps was bent on experimentalising ; so, the dead. He could not be induced to seek having taken some large stones with him, he his lonely pillow, he loathed the sight of food began hurling them into the profound mystery. and drink, and when his paladins besought him Presently a heavy double-bass gurgle issued to let them bury the remains, they actually

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

would waken from her trance, and, as if to bear He had ever loved and respected good Archhim out, corruption seemed to have spared the bishop Turpin as one of the trustiest of his beauty of the dead. He was lean and frightful councillors; but since the prelate had got hold to behold,— wan with grief and fasting of the ring, he would hardly suffer him a moNone dared to meddle with him, he looked so ment out of his sight. This influence became like a phantom from the world of gloom, so so great, that the man of God actually trembled haggard, gaunt, and hollow-eyed ; now raging at the extent of his own secret sway. He had like a maniac at those who would have lured ever exerted it for the weal of church and state, him

away, now plaintively calling on the much- never to forward any private interests of his loved name.

Even good Archbishop Turpin, own; still he foresaw the terrible consequences who heretofore had never spoken in vain, was that might ensue, were the talisman to pass unheeded. Men feared that not only the into other and less scrupulous hands. Long Emperor's reason but his very life was in jeo- and anxious meditation convinced him that he pardy. In this hour of distress the good arch- had best rid himself of the gem and its load of bishop and the sorrowing dwellers in the cares, and thus also prevent others from becompalace wearied Heaven with prayers, and God ing possessed of it. He long sought his opporcame to their aid at last. Turpin slept, and in tunity, and chance favoured him at last.

He the small hours of the night a vision revealed had accompanied the Emperor to bis hunting. to him the secret spell that enthralled his seat, raised on the site of the ruins of Ephen, master, body and soul. He saw the corpse and just beside Aix-la-Chapelle. the watcher, and a ring plaited in the shining The castle stood in the midst of a little lake, tresses that mocked the death-pallor with their One morning Turpin stole away from his masgolden gleam. He knew by intuition that in ter's side, dropped in the ring, and the blue the gem lay the magic bond between the living waters closed on it for ever. From that hour and the dead. He suddenly awoke, fell on his a mystic tie bound Charlemagne to the spot knees, gave glory to God, and stole on tiptoe | He had always liked the city he had created. to the death-chamber. The weary watcher Henceforth he loved it better than any spot on never heeded him; he stooped down over the earth. He never slept out of his hunting-seat, corpse, trembling; he lifted the silken tresses unless imperatively summoned away by the one moment, and the ring was in his hand. most urgent calls of business ; and each return That instant Charlemagne started as from a endeared it more and more. No matter how troubled dream, and, shuddering, faced the far away he had to go, the magic gem, sparsbitter reality. He saw, he owned, that she ling unseen in the waters of Ephen, brought who was the joy of his life was indeed gone him back again. Towards the end of his days from him, and he bore it like a man. the Castle of Ephen was his favourite refuge listened to the holy man's words of resignation, from the cares of state. For whole hours at a threw himself on his bosom, and wept aloud. time he would sit under the shady trees looking These grey-haired men wept together, and of down into the still water. Men said his brain was his own accord, Charlemagne followed the pre- busy recreating the eventful past-the bloody late from the death-chamber. He ordered wars, the glorious triumphs of his prime-ihe Fastrada to be wrapped in purple and gold, and hours of fleeting rapture passed within those carried with unheard-of pomp to Mayence, and very walls with Fastrada by his side. buried there right royally in the abbey church A modern manor-house, called Frankensberg, of St. Alban, where he erected a splendid tomb is built on the old foundations of his castle. to her memory.

No mention is made of his The lake, though hardly larger than a mill-pond, having attended her funeral. Perhaps he

is beautifully still and clear and deep. They could not bear to hear the clay rattle on the say the magic ring yet lies where Turpin cast coffin that held all he loved best on earth. it, buried in the lake's unrufied depths. I

Great was the joy of his people when they saw the spot in the early spring time, and can saw him issue once more from the gloomy por- well excuse my good old author's rapture when tals of his castle, and ride once more through the professor exclaims in rolling long-worded the streets of Frankfort. All the time of his periods, When the bright spring time gladdens infatuation, the neglected business of the state all the land, and trees are green with tender had accumulated, and now he set to work to leaves, and meadows gay with flowers ; when put all to rights. In his gloomy castle of Ingel- nightingales warble in the budding woods heim he plodded through the business of his around, then let the weary wanderer seek this realm, striving to stifle the pangs of bereavement spell-haunted spot, and let him, like Imperial in the manifold cares of state, thus to eaden his Charlemagne, suffer the balm of God's own ceaseless regret for the bewitching woman whom lovely nature to soothe this life's gnawing he could never forget.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]





[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

KATE GALTON MEANS SO I tried to show her the sort of kindness I used

to appreciate most highly myself.” Kate had secured the bait! She knew that “ It's impossible that I can stay more than she had done so as soon as she saw that the ten days longer, Kate,” John Galton said in a girl's desire pointed to remaining with her, for vexed tone. she had fathomed that Theo was a pet daughter “ And it would be miserable without you,” who could move her parents to consent to any his wife replied calmly. plan. The sole difficulty now was to win her “ It would be miserable for me, dear.

But husband's consent to the retention of the cage if you have set your heart on giving this young in which the bait was to be placed. For rooms lady a treat, you shall stay—if you care to stay in Piccadilly let at their full value in 1851, and here without me. John Galton was a man who gave thought as “I should renew a good many acquaintances, to the disbursement of his cash.

for Aunt Glaskill is in town—she may be very It was not alone for the sake of luring useful to my daughter when she is grown up," Harold Ffrench into her net that the pretty Mrs. Galton replied pensively, but promptly. spider with the nut-brown hair made use of “ Haversham will seem duller than ever to the fresh young country fly. Mrs. Galton you after such a taste of your old life.” wanted an excuse, a fair and valid excuse She opened her eyes with a little stae of with which neither man nor woman could inquiry and astonishment. quarrel, for remaining in London and enjoying “Haversham dull to me?" herself as much as was seemly; therefore she “There, I didn't mean to say it, Kate. I converted herself into a chaperone and appealed | don't think that you find it dull, dear, and it to John Galton's good-heartedness on behalf of would be confoundedly hard,” he continued, her interesting young friend.

deferding her against himself as it were, “if “I have been to call on that pretty Miss you, who are not much more than a girl yourLeigh this morning, John,” she said to her self, mightn't want a change sometimes : you husband while they were at dinner on the shall stay here and enjoy yourself with Miss evening of the day on which Hope told a flat- Theo Leigh, and as soon as I have set things tering tale to Theo. “Poor child! she looked going on the land, I'll come back to you." so doleful at the idea of going back to Hough- He got up and kissed her as he said it, but ton so soon that I couldn't help asking her to I fear that the promise contained in his last come and stay with us here when her father sentence robbed her response of a little of its

warmth. “ When is he going back ?"

“I haven't said much about my own con“In five or six days."

nections heretofore, John," she said, virtuously, “ We shall not be long after him ; in ten “but I often think that it is almost a pity that days at the latest I shall go back ; I don't like we should drift away from them altogether. leaving the place for longer : things get ne- Aunt Glaskill's countenance will be a good glected when the master is away.”

thing for Katy when she is grown up, and "John ! that's awkward in the extreme : Aunt Glaskill won't be ill pleased at my taking I have asked her, and she has accepted the in- a pretty girl like Theo Leigh to her house." vitation.”

“ Take her by all means and please Lady “ Take her down to the Grange with you, Glaskill, but my daughter won't want the counthen."

tenance of an old paint-pot when she's grown * She won't thank me for that alteration in

up, thank God.the programme ; really it's


awkward.” “ Then you really think that I had better Mrs. Galton put down her knife and fork remain ?” and rested her elbow on the table and her “ Certainly, if you wish to do so.”. head on her hand in very weariness and vexa- “Not unless you wish it too, John : I had tion of spirit.

rather be made downright rude to a dozen “Very awkward indeed,” she repeated. “I Miss Leighs than displease you." forgot when I was talking to her that I had " I would not have my wife rude to anyvirtually done with London life. I remembered body; no, Kate, you have asked this young the days when I was a young girl myself, and | lady to stay with you, and you must not dis

goes back.”

[ocr errors]



Yo. 2

you know."

appoint her. Katy and I will try to get on “ Or the girl herself, for that matter. Is without you, but it will be dull work.”

she a beauty ?As you will ; of course, if you think it No : too dark; but there is something right that I should stay, I will do so ; and, attractive about her, something very attractive John ?

indeed ; otherwise I shouldn't take all this “ Well, what is it now?

trouble to cultivate Harold's possible fancy. I “ About a brougham ? It won't do to risk shall call on Lady Glaskill to-morrow and Miss Leigh's evening dresses in common cabs, secure her co-operation.”

“ Is she bent on marrying Harold off also ?" “Oh, won't it; well, dear, as I shall not be “Oh, no; doesn't care for him a bit; believes here, you can please yourself as to where you him to be all bad, an utterly irreclaimable like to send when you want a carriage for the selfish man, who is rightly dealt with in being night."

wifeless and homeless. She isn't his aunt, you “With a young lady on my hands—a young know; she was my mother's sister, no relation lady towards whom my fastidious cousin Harold to Harold at all.” inclines most kindly,—I shall want a carriage “ Where has your aunt pitched her tent for other things besides night-work.”

this year? I didn't know she was in town." “Do you think there is anything in that “ In Wilton Place; but we won't speak quarter with Ffrench, then ? He denied it when about it any more, for when I remember that I chatfed him."

you won't be with me, all the edge of the pleasure “Of course he denied it, and you must not I should otherwise feel is taken off.” .chaff him,' as you call it ; how can I tell “ I will run up as often as I can," John whether or not there is anything in it yet? Galton said, heartily ; “in fact, when I have That remains to be seen. I think that there is set things going I may as well come up altoa very fair chance of Theo Leigh marrying if gether.” she is brought out properly ; marrying well

, which promise of happiness struck Mrs. even if she does not marry Harold, which is Galton speechless for a minute or two; but more than probable."

after a time her powers of eloquence returned, “ It would be different if you had a town and she enlarged with a wifely interest on the house and town connection, Kate. However, short-comings of his farm- bailiff-a man whom you mean it so kindly that I hope your plan she “never trusted farther than she could see," will succeed, though I don't think much of it ' she said—and on the general and proverbial myself. You can't do much for a girl when dishonesty and laziness of the Haversham you're living in lodgings and don't entertain.” labourers.

an uvfortunate topic to “ My friends can do a great deal for her. have chosen if she desired to have her husband's Lady Glaskill (I was under hier auspices when 'society in town. The upshot of it was, that he I met you, remember, John) is always very declared the fact to be “that they were not kind to aspirants in anything, and she sees a be trusted, unless they knew they were liable great many people. But about the brougham ?to the inspection of the master every hour of “ You must have it, I suppose.”

the day; farming won't do itself, and of course “ And will you see about it, dear ?

I have more interest in seeing it well done than Yes ; a single one will do, won't it?”

any one else.

Ah ! well, I shan't give them 'No, John, no ; were I alone concerned 1 such another spell of their own way for some should infinitely prefer a single one, because time to come.

- because I do infinitely prefer it ; but sup- It was a most unfortunate topic to have posing we are invited to any party at Richmond chosen, this one which had terminated in such or Greenwich, and asked to give any one a lift a decision. And so Kate thought, it is to be home, my inability to do so might stop an hoped. offer. No, there must be room for a third in The days passed quickly, and the call was the brougham, and it must be very dark, and ' made on Lady Glaskill, and a rapturous consent the horse I should like to be black or grey and to Theo's goivg to Mrs. Galton came up from a very high stepper. Of course you'll send up Mrs. Leigh, and the brougham was placed at Rogers and Williams, so that I shall have my Mrs. Galton's absolute disposal; and the happy own liver ies.”

husband went home to superintend the ripen“Why, you're regularly going in for a town ing of his crops and other things appertaining establishinent, Kate ; but you mean it so to his occupation—and the young fly walked kindly, little woman, that you shall have your confidingly into the spider's net, which was in OW!) way about it. I hope Ffren:h won't dis- process of renovaton, almost of reconstruction; appoint you after all.”

and still Harold Ffrench kept out of the way. I hope he will not,” she said dryly.

The apartments which Mrs. Galton occupied

It was


« AnteriorContinuar »