Page images


organs, and bereft us almost of the power of respiration; not a whisper interrupted the dead midnight silence which surrounded us. At length somebody took me by the hand, I started back, my imagination being still the wrestling place of horrid wild phantoms, and my soul divining a thousand dreadful thoughts.

• It is - I,” said the Lieutenant, and I felt at once as if an heavy load had been taken from my breast. Now the Baron began also to speak,......" Where are you?” whispered he ; " Are you still alive ?"

“ We groped about in the dark, and at last found him leaning against the wall.

“ How shall we get out of this cursed residence of horror ?” exclaimed the Lieutenant ;

let us try whether we can find the staircase ; it must be just opposite to us, if I am not mistaken.” Then he began to walk on, and we groped after him, tumbling now and then over loose stones. " I have found the staircase,” cried our fellow adventurer,

« at last, after a long fruitless search, I feel the first step.


ray of joy beamed through our hearts as we were climbing up; but, alas ! it was soon most cruelly damped; the cellar door was locked up, and the blood congealed in our veins when the Lieutenant told it us. We exerted all our strength to force it open, out in vain, it was bolted on the outside. The Lieutenant called as loud as he could for his servant, whom he had left snoring in the hall; we joined our voices with his, calling with all our might, John! John

The hollow echo repeated, in a tremendous awful accent, John! John! but no human footstep would gladden our desponding hearts. Frantic with black despair did we now begin to knock at the massy door till the blood was running down from our hands, and to cry John, John, till Qur voices grew. hoarse...the hollow echo still repeated in an awful tremendous accent our knocking and crying, but no human footstep was heard.

" The fellow sleeps and cannot hear us,” said the Lieutenant, at length with a faint voice, “ Let us sit down and watch him, when he shall come down.

“ We did so, but I had no hope that the servant would come, yet I concealed my apprehension within my

breast. The Lieutenant dissembled to be easy, and began to converse on what we had seen and heard; however his broken accent, the faltering of his speech, and his low voice, betrayed the anxiety of his mind. The Baron and I spoke little, and when we had been sitting about an hour, not one uttered a word more; all was silent around us. Nothing interrupted the death-like stillness of the night, except the violent beating of

“ At length the Lieutenant asked, if we were asleep; however, the anxiety of our minds, and the dreadful apprehensions which assailed 1s, drove far away even the idea of sleep. We sat some hours in that dreadful situation, and it was now about five o'clock in the morning, when the Lieutenant exclaimed, “ I fear we wait in vain for my servant, he .cannot sleep so fast that he should not hear us! but where can he be?” Then he began again to knock violently against the door, but all was in vain. No human footstep was heard, we remained some

H h 2

our hearts:


hours on the staircase, but all our waiting and listening was fruitless, no cheering sound of human footsteps would gladden our desponding hearts.

« I will not torment you by vain apprehensions,” began the Lieu. tenant, at length, however, we seem to be doomed to destruction, yet let us try if we cannot escape some way or other, come down with me into the cellar, there we will have a better chance to espy an outletthan here.

“ We descended with trembling knees, without saying a word, and groped along in the dark a good while, knocking our heads against the damp wall, and the iron doors : alas ! our search seemed to be in yain, and the grim spectre of a lingering death stared us in the face, my feet could support me no longer, and I dropped down weary with anxiety.

I now began to reproach myself for having plunged into the gulph of destruction not only myself, but also him who had been entrusted to my care. The apprehension of being famished in that infernal abode, thrilled my soul with horror, and black despair ; at first I heard the Baron and the Lieutenant still groping about, neither of them uttered a word; the hollow sound of their footsteps re-echoed through the length the sound of the Baron's footsteps died away at a distance, and only one of my companions in destruction remained with me.

“ Where are you?" 'exclaimed the Lieutenant.
" Here I am,” replied I, “ but where is the Baron?"

The Lieutenant called him, and I did the same, but we received no answer : at once a sudden hollow noise struck our ears, and at the same time a faint glimmering of light darted from a remote corner of our dungeon : I started up, half frantic with joy, and we pursued the gladdening ray of light; it seemed to come from an opening in the wall. No words can express the rapture we felt when we beheld one of the iron doors half open ; we went through it with hasty steps and entered a long vaulted passage: a faint dawn of light hailed our joyful looks at a great distance from below. We descended a declivity, the, farther we went the more the light increased, at length we reached the end of the avenue, and perceived some steps leading into a spacious apartment, at the entrance of which soine boards on the floor bad given way: we descended the steps, and, who can paint the horror which rushed upon us, when we beheld the Baron lying lifeless in the deep vault, upon some mouldering straw? I leaped down without a moment's hesitation, the Lieutenant did the same, and now we began to shake the Baron till we at length perceived signs of returning life. We continued our endeavours to recal his senses ; he breathed, gave a hollow groan, and opened his eyes : his fainting fit had been the effect of sudden terror, and he had not received the least hurt.

“ He now told us that he had met in the dark with a long narrow passage which he had pursued in a kind of insensibility, tilĩ he had staggered down from an elevated spot, when the boards suddenly giving way, dragged him along into the deep vault.

Looking around we perceived that we were in a spacious cavern, which appeared to have been formerly a kind of stable. High over our heads were two large round holes, grated with strong iron bars, through which the daylight was admitted, and after a closer examina

tion we espied a gloomy outlet in a remote corner, shut up by a wooden door, which we forced open without difficulty: we now descended, through a dark passage, higher and higher, till we at length with rap. ture beheld an outlet which opened into the garden ; we were obliged to cut our way with our hangers, through the underwood and the entangled weeds, and soon came to the court-yard : tears of joy sparkled in our eyes, rays of unspeakable rapture beamed through our hearts, and we praised God for our unexpected deliverance from a lingering death.

The dreary desolated court-yard appeared to us a paradise, the dazzling splendor of the bright morning, and the pure air which we now inhaled, filled our hearts with the strongest sensations of bliss. We congratulated each other on our resurrection from the dreary abode of mortality, where we were doomed to be entombed alive, and shook each other by the hand half frantic with joy.

“ We went now to the hall in search of the Lieutenant's servant; the table and every thing was in the same condition we had left them, but John was not there. We went through the whole gloomy fabric shouting and hollaing, discharging our pistols, but no sound was heard except the hollow echo repeating our shouts and the reports of our pis, tols, in a dismal accent, all over the dreary building.

Very likely he is returned to the inn," said the Lieutenant, “ and we shall find him there."

* We left that dangerous abode of black horror, praising God again and again for our deliverance.

“ As we entered the inn we beheld our landlord, surrounded by a number of villagers, who were come to enquire whether we were returned to the castle. They were very much surprised when we entered the room, and respectfully taking off their hats, told us, that the uproar at the village last night had been more tremendous than ever. Every one was impatient to know the particulars of our adventure, but the Lieutenant having then no inclination of amusing himself with their simplicity, gave them a short answer, and asked the landlord where his servant was.

I have not seen him since yesterday,” replied he.

“ It is impossible," resumed the Lieutenant, « where are the horses?

“ They are in the stable,” replied the landlord, “ I have just been looking after them.”

“. The Lieutenant gave us an apprehensive look, and begged the gaping peasants to look after him, all over the village, and the adjacent places; they were all very willing to do it, and left the inn,

“ It was nine o'clock when we entered the inn, and it struck twelve when our honest villagers returned with the disagreeable news, that they could not find poor John no where."

• The Lieutenant thought it not prudent to remain any longer at that fatal place; the Baron likewise wished to depart, and I too was impatient to be gone. As soon as we had finished our scanty dinner, we departed a second time; the tears started from our landlord's eyes, and from those of the good villagers, when we bade them farewel, after having made them a small present, and they saw us depart

with regret.

“ The Lieutenant knew the ways through the Black Forest pretty well; he rode by our chaise, leading his servant's horse with one hand, and we reached, without any farther accident, the limits of that dreadful forest. We parted company at the close of the second day, bidding each other a tender adieu.

“ I thank you, gentlemen," said the Lieutenant, as we were getting into our chaise at the door of the inn, “ I thank you for your kind and faithful assistance in the most dreadful adventure of my life; if I should be so fortunate as to get at the bottom of the mystery which hangs over that castle, as I shall endeavour to do, I will take the first opportunity to apprise you of my success.... Farewel, remember now and then the 20th of September, anno 1750, and do not forget your humble friend."

“ The postillion smacked his whip, and we went different roads. On the fifth day we arrived at the castle of Baron R......, the father of my pupil.

“ And here, added Kaffman, my narration is finished. A letter which the Baron wrote me, and a manuscript sent me by the Lieutenant, contains every thing that has happened afterwards. But these. papers you shall not get before your departure.”

“ Though Walfred's curiosity had been spurred very much, yet he could not but consent to his friend's proposal, and spent a fortnight more with him in uninterrupted pleasure.

“ The days rolled swiftly on, shortened by the conversation of his friend, by hunting and other diversions, and he at length was obliged to bid his host adieu. Kaffman thanked him once more for his friendly visit, shook him by the hand, gave him a parting kiss, dropped a gentle tear, and then bade him farewel.

“ Before he parted with his Walfred he gave him the abovementioned manuscript, which he had fortunately traced out the day before Walfred's departure, amongst a number of old musty papers... Kaffnian cleaned it from the dust and gave it to his friend, saying to him,

“ Take, brother, take here the continuation of my tale ; and if thou thiukest the publication of it will amuse and benefit the world, thou art welcome to publish it.”

They then parted, alas ! for ever. Kaffman's wish was accomplished; he had seen once more the faithful friend of his younger days, and soon after went over to that better world, where good men will meet again the friends of their bosom never to part more.

Wal. fred too is awaiting the solemn morn of the resurrection in his grave, and he, before he died, set down in writing, the foregoing narration,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

OW short-sighted are the views of mortals, and how weak is the per

spective which attempts to throw light on the dark shade of futurity, and to open a prospect necessarily bounded by the wisdom, as well as the inercy, of the Great Disposer of events !

In the spring of the year 1777, General Harcourt was appointed to a command in the British army in America; and, on his journey to Ports. mouth, to embark for that continent, a slight indisposition detained him a day at Petersfield.

As he was wholly unaccompanied, he had passed great part of the morning in writing letters to his numerous friends, and directions to those who had the care of his affairs, for their conduct in case of accident to a life which was about to be exposed to peculiar danger; and in a disposition softened by these employments, he rose from his seat, and walked to the window, seeking for some object to call off his attention from considerations which, however natural, he did not think proper to occupy his mind, at a time when the welfare of his country, and his own thirst for glory, had induced him to exchange case, affluence, and safety, for toil, difficulty, and danger.

He had not remained at the window above two minutes, before he saw a very genteel young man, plainly but neatly dressed in a blue frock and white waistcoat, go out of the same inn where he himself rested, and after pausing a few moments, as if irresolute which way to go, pass hastily down the street on one side, and after a very short stay return as quickly on the other, and re-enter the inn, from whence he again sallied in five or six minutes, and repeated his former coursé.

Curiosity, arising from the disturbed and agitated air of this youth, induced the general to attend to his motions for an hour or two, during which time he had made such a number of these excursions, and exhibited such signs of perturbation and distress, that the general could no longer resist his inclination to gain some intelligence which might account for this extraordinary behaviour; and he accordingly ordered his servant to summon the master of the house, under pretence of giving orders for his dinner.

« EelmineJätka »