Imagens das páginas

the small amount of money left by his took a seat near the bed, and looked on father was exhibited, Rudolph's satis- him with compassionate sympathy. faction was exchanged for fierce anger. When he saw how deeply the old serHe turned upon Daniel with furious vant was agitated, he said tenderlylooks.

s“ Poor Daniel, I feel for yon, but do not “Wretched dog !". exclaimed he, give way to this. You shall go hence grasping the old man's arm with vio- with me to-morrow, your place of caslence—“ all this was known to you! tellan has been given by my brother to You were in the Baron's confidence, his chamberlain, and you would not, I confess this instant—where his money know, live dependent on his bounty. is hid !”

My baronial inheritance will give me The old castellan, terrified at Ru- only, it is true, the means of purchasdolph's violence, sank on his knees be- ing a cottage and a bit of ground, which fore him. “Oh, my lord," cried he, I must till with my own hands. But "why do you thus treat your old ser- what I have I will share with you to vant!"

the end of your days.”. “ The Fiend's servant !” repeated The old man raised himself, though the enraged Baron. ** Tell us, vile with some difficulty, and looking at Huwretch !-where is the money? or bert with earnest and flashing eyes,

," and receiving no immediate an- “ You, and you alone,” cried he, “ shall swer, he struck the old man violently be lord of Runsitten!" in the breast with his foot. The blow “ Silence !” exclaimed Hubert sternstretched Daniel senseless on the ly, and rising, he walked up and down ground, where he lay gasping for the room, apparently struggling to subbreath, while the blood poured from his due thoughts he would not suffer to nose and mouth.

dwell in his mind. “I will away”—he Hubert sprang to his assistance, lift- muttered, “ this very night ed him from the ground, and ordered “ Nay-my lord-you must stay," the servants to carry him to his cham- replied Daniel, beseechingly, you have ber, while Rudolph strode angrily to not yet received your inheritance. and fro, venting his fury in threats and Think you, your brother will fail to dig execrations.

for the treasure buried with the bones of “ I have no need to say,” said Hu- your father, in yonder tower? It bebert, in a tone of grave displeasure, fix. longs, in part, to you. Who knows ing his eyes on his brother, when the that so many years of labor were fruittorrent was exhausted, “ that such cruel less--and that there may not be enough treatment of our father's old servant is to purchase a baronial property, if not unworthy of your name and station. It one so old and stately as Runsitten ?” is disgraceful to humanity!"

IIubert looked doubtfully at the Rudolph surveyed him contemptue speaker. After a silence of a few molousy. * Belike," said he, "you are in ments, Daniel sank back exhausted on league with the old hypocrite, to rob the bed, and closed his eyes. “Was me of my rights !"

your brother's secret known to you beA flush rushed to the brow of the fore ?” he added in a low tone,“ I mean young man, and he mechanically grasp. the secret of his marriage ?" ed bis sword; but dropping it again, “ Yes," replied the young man, “it answered with suppressed emotion- was betrayed to me by one of his ser" Rudolph, that you can hold me capa- vants. I commanded the fellow to be ble of such baseness. proves your own silent, and kept his secret myself; for meanness of soul ; be that consciousness knew I not the power of love ? I do your punishment! I mourn as well as not now repent that I did so; for I would you, the delusions under which our un- not have gained even fortune by a piece fortunate father labored; I have lost of treachery !!! thereby my rightful share in the inhe- Rudolph is like his father," continritance; but my father's last will is sa- ued Daniel, musingly, “but only in his cred! Give me what belongs to me, outward looks. Stern and misanthropiand let me depart in peace!" With cal as was my late lord the Baron, he these words he left the hall.

would never have spurned his father's Hubert immediately went to Daniel's old servant, or driven him away like a apartment, where the old man lay on dog. with curses. God grant he come his bed, still suffering great pain. He not to as fearsul an end !"

[ocr errors]

“ Amen!" said Hubert cordially. he thought might throw any light on Soon after he left the apartment, having the object of his search. But he found given his word to the castellan, that he nothing: A private drawer was misswould not leave the castle till he had ing, and it occurred to him that this obtained all his rightful property. Go- might have contained the papers he ing to his own chamber, he arranged sought. How, if his father had taken his papers, and having written some it also with him into the tower ? The letters, retired to rest, as the evening more he thought over this probability, was far advanced. Not long after his the more fully convinced he became. departure, a heavy step was heard with- “ I will have the tower searched to-morout; the door was rudely knocked open, row!" was his resolution. He threw and Rudolph entered. Walking up to himself, without undressing, upon his the bed on which Daniel lay, he ad- bed. But instead of sleep, a thousand dressed him in a tone in which his na- wild thoughts crowded on his mind. tural ferocity was as much disguised as What if my brother avails himself of possible, though it betrayed itself in his this very night! Daniel will discover fierce and haughty looks.

all to him! he said to himself again “ If I dealt with you somewhat se- and again, till his brain seemed on fire. verely, old man," said he,“ you have He sprang up, trembling from the exyourself to thank for it. You were cess of his eagerness; snatched the trusted by my father; you must have light, and grasping the bunch of keys known where his money was concealed. with a nervous clutch, passed through You should have instantly discovered the apartments of the castle, and asthis to me, the rightful heir and lord, as cended the steps leading to the tower. soon as I set foot in the castle ; not to Passing along the gallery, he reached my younger brother, ungrateful wretch! the iron door that opened on what was But if you will now faithfully reveal now his father's tomb. With trembling all, I will pardon you, and permit you hands he selected the key, placed it in to remain in this castle for life, a pen- the lock, turned it, and pushed the door sioner on my bounty. Dare not, how- open. The grating sound it made fell ever, to deceive me! if you attempt it

, on the deep silence like a groan. A the rack shall extort confession, and I cold, earth-damp air, as from a newly will have you scourged like a hound opened grave, blew on his face from from my gates."

within. Rudolph stopped and shudderDaniel raised himself partly up, and ed; not that his purpose failed—for is looked in the Baron's face. There was not avarice stronger than superstition ? something appalling in that look; so --but he was at a loss what to do next. cold and unshrinking were those eyes The castle clock struck midnight. Ruthat had before flashed fire.

dolph knelt on the threshold of the "You will act your pleasure with door and bent over, as if eager to devour me," replied he, “but no rack can ex- the secrets of the abyss. În vain-the tort a confession I would not make with rays of the lamp could reach but a short my own free will. It is not within my distance down. knowledge that the late Baron, my mas- Just then the Baron heard a noise as ter, concealed money anywhere. It is of light footsteps behind him; and turnhardly probable ; for his experiments ing his head, saw a tall figure in a white cost him large sums; and I once flowing night dress. It came close to heard him mention that his lady the him; the features were pale and frightBaroness had brought him no great fully distorted; the eyes gleamed with wealth. Perhaps information on this a lurid and unnatural light. subject might be found among his pa- The momentary thrill

of fear Rudolph pers. As to the family jewels and felt, was changed into rage, when he treasures, I was ordered by him to carry saw the intruder was only the poor old them to the tower the last night of his castellan. “ Daniel !” he cried in a life. They are there, with the bones of hoarse whisper—“what do you here? your father. That is all I have to say." Villain ! hound ! you are come to rob

Rudolph stood a few moments, then me! your life shall pay for this !" without speaking a word, turned ab- Daniel burst into a low, scornful ruptly, and quitted the room. He went laugh. “ The hound,” he said, " is immediately to his father's cabinet, and dangerous sometimes !" With a sudcarefully examined all the papers which den and violent thrust he hurled Rudolph into the abyss. A faint cry was heard It was a day of jubilee at the long -a low groan,—and then all was si- deserted castle, when the young baron, lence.

named Rudolph, after his father, arrived,

accompanied by his mother, and his The next morning search was made wife, the fair Alma, whose sweet smile for the Baron Rudolph. His lamp was and gentle manners won the hearts of found still burning on the threshold of all who looked upon her. Nor was the the open door leading into the tower. Baron less popular; bis frankness, corThe bunch of keys was hanging from diality, and kindness to his dependents, the lock. It was evident to all that the with his cheerful spirits, made him young lord had visited the tower in the everywhere welcome. They were renight, had missed his footing, and found ceived with unbounded enthusiasm. a grave among the ruins.

Bonfires, illuminations, dances and feasts Hubert consulted with legal authority attested the delight of the peasantry and as to what he should do, and at their retainers, who came in crowds to proffer advice a letter was despatched to the their homage to the new lord, and to widow of Baron Rudolph, informing her the Baroness, whom all pronounced an that, as his marriage had been contract- angel of beauty and condescension. ed without the knowledge of his father Among the household servants, who or any member of his family, it could first appeared in the presence of their not give her son any claim to the inherit- new master, the white-haired castellan, ance of Runsitten. Hubert, however, then ninety years of age, and tottering offered to allow his brother's son a year- as he walked, came to deliver up the ly pension sufficient for his support, on keys, and the account books. As he condition of his mother's written pro- extended his tremulous hands with the mise that he should never advance a instruments of office, he gazed earnestly claim to the estates. The widow was on the young Baron. “How like his too poor to think of a lawsuit, and un- father!" he murmured with a sigh; certain of the prospect of success, “ and yet not like-he is so mild" should it be attempted; she therefore “ Should I not be mild towards you, prudently acceded to the proposition, my aged friend ?" asked Rudolph, and sent the promise required.

kindly Hubert was now undisputed lord of Again the old man sighed deeply, and Runsitten. He had the tower partially begged permission to withdraw. He pulled down, the rubbish removed, and was evidently exhausted. The Baron the bodies of his father and brother inter- dismissed him, and then asked if there red with solemnity and pomp. Among were any others among the people who the ruins were found not only the fami- had served his father. The old gamely jewels, etc., but the whole of his mo- keeper, the only survivor, presented ther's fortune in money, as well as bonds himself. He was questioned, and told for a considerable sum.

many anecdotes of the late Baron. The young Baron could never endure “ You must remain near my person," Ito live at Runsitten. The sight of the said Rudolph, "and you shall have an place where his father and brother had addition to your salary. Now, as we met their death in so frightful a manner, have finished our business, you may filled him with horror. Having settled show me the castle.” his affairs and left the castle in the Highly honored was old Kurt at this -charge of old Daniel, he fixed his home request. Taking the keys, he conin a distant part of Germany, where, ducted his master from room to room, married to the woman he loved, he rose giving a brief history of each, and of to great honors, and a place of authori- those who had been the occupants in ty in the state.

former years.

" And these stairs ?" asked Rudolph, Thirty years had passed away ; Ba- opening a door upon a steep flight of ron Hubert of Runsitten, who had been steps, “whither do they lead ?” long a widower, died, leaving no chil- “We have never used this part of the dren. In his last will he recognized his castle, since the departure of our late brother's son as his rightful heir, and lord, the_Baron Hubert," answered gave directions where he was to be Kurt. “But if it please you, we will found with his mother, who was yet ascend.” living.

They entered a long gallery, at the end of which was an iron plated door, ghost may not walk to-night.” Rudolph now walled up. The game-keeper made a sign that he should be silent. stopped before this door, and silently Just then a light rustling was heard. nodded, with a significant look at his Both were at the door of the cabinet. master. Rudolph examined it more The moon shone brightly through the closely. There were streaks of blood arched window of the gallery, and on the wall.

threw a line of silver light upon the “What does this mean?” inquired floor. The door by which they had he. Kurt looked, and started back in entered stood open. A figure was equal surprise, when he saw the crim- slowly advancing. As it approached, son stains.

Kurt opened his lanthorn. The light "Saint Michel keep us !" exclaimed fell full on his face, and both instantly he, looking fearfully about him. “I recognized Daniel, the aged castellan. know not whence come these streaks of He had the aspect of a sleep-walker, blood, if not from the spirit that haunts and it was evident that his senses were this place ?"

closed to any external impression. He “A spirit ?" repeated the Baron. did not observe the light from the

“ Yes—my lord. For many years lanthorn, nor the two persons, who, in this part of the castle has been haunted. the eagerness of curiosity, had pressed Since Baron Hubert left us, the castel- close to him. His eyes were wide open lan has kept it carefully locked up, and and fixed rigidly, but there was no look no one has ever entered the gallery. of intelligence or consciousness. His He always chided us for saying it was whole appearance-with his livid palehaunted. But could we not hear with ness, his scattered white hairs, his tremour ears? The servants' hall is just ulous, faltering motion--all denoting under this; and often, late at night, we too plainly that this feeble old man, could hear the spirit walking up and trembling on the verge of human existdown the gallery, groaning, and scratch- ence, was the prey of some recollection ing on the wall."

horrible enough to overcome physical Rudolph smiled incredulously; but weakness-was scarcely less appalling after a few moments another train of than a spectral apparition, to those who thought seemed awakened, and he beheld him. looked very grave. “Hear me, Kurt,” With slow and faltering steps, he -at length he said. “I am determined traversed the gallery, and cowered down to unravel this mystery, and shall need by the walled up door. The Baron and your assistance. Say not a word to Kurt followed. any person, but have ready my sword Rudolph !" said the old castellan, in and pistols in my chamber to-night.” low and plaintive tones: “ Thy son is

The old man was proud of the con- heir of Runsitten! Rudolph, it is old fidence, and promised obedience and Daniel, who brings thee the tidings! silence. They then left the gallery. Give answer, Rudolph !" He listened

Evening came. After supper the a moment, applying his ear to the wall! Baron retired to his apartment, on the _“ Alas! he cannot answer !" groaned plea of having some business to tran- he. “ They have built up the door; I sact, and found the game-keeper had ful- cannot go to him!” And with a moan filled his orders, and was in waiting of anguish, he began to scratch on the By eleven all was silence throughout wall. The blood streamed from his the castle. The Baron and his attend- fingers, but he seemed unconscious of ant went softly up the stairs into the pain, and continued to scratch, as if he gallery—and entered a closet opening hoped to tear asunder the iron plates of into it, which contained a few worm- the door. eaten books and papers. Kurt carried • We must rouse him!” cried the a dark lanthorn. They seated them- young Baron, and shouted to the Case selves here, and pushing open the door, iellan—" Daniel!--Daniel! what do awaited the appearance of the expected you here!" spirit.

The aged man sprang to his feet, and It struck midnight, and yet all was uttered a shriek that rang through the still as death. The old man grew im- vaulted gallery. At the same instant, patient. “It is past the hour,” he stretching out his arms towards the whispered to his lord; “perhaps the sound, he fell forward heavily upon the

[ocr errors]

floor. They lifted him up; he was Thus ended the tradition, which speechless ; his eyes rolled widely, and added but another brief chapter to the in a few moments he had breathed his record of woes that spring from the evil last.

passions of men. The fable of the rocke Among the old castellan's papers bound sufferer, fed upon coutinually by was found a written confession of his “Heaven's winged hound,” is but emblecrime, and something like a picture of matic of the punishment of the criminal, the horrible remorse that had tortured successful in eluding human justice. him for so many years.



My unfortunate friend P. has lost the it in his misty excursions beyond the thread of his life, by the interposition of limits of sanity. long intervals of partially disordered reason. The past and present are jum- London, February 29, 1845. bled together in his mind, in a man- MY DEAR FRIEND: ner often productive of curious results ; Old associations cling to the mind and which will be better under- with astonishing tenacity. Daily cusstood after a perusal of the following tom grows up about us like a stone-wall, letter, than from any description that I and consolidates itself into almost as could give. The poor fellow, without materialan entity as mankind's strongest once stirring from the little white-wash- architecture. It is sometimes a serious ed, iron-grated room, to which he al- question with me, whether ideas be not ludes in his first paragraph, is never- really visible and tangible, and endowtheless a great traveller, and meets, in ed with all the other qualities of matter. bis wanderings, a variety of personages Sitting as I do, at this moment, in my who have long ceased to be visible to hired apartment, writing beside the any eye save his own. In my opinion, hearth, over which hangs a print of all this is not so much a delusion, as a Queen Victoria-listening to the mufpartly wilful and partly involuntary fled roar of the world's metropolis, and sport of the imagination, to which his with a window at but five paces distant, disease has imparted such morbid ener- through which, whenever I please, I can yy that he beholds these spectral scenes gaze out on actual London-with all and characters with no less distinctness this positive certainty, as to my wherethan a play upon the stage, and with abouts, what kind of notion, do you somewhat more of illusive credence. think, is just now perplexing my brain ? Many of his letters are in my posses- Why-would you believe it ?-lhat, all sion, some based upon the same vagary this time, I am still an inhabitant of that as the present one, and others upon wearisome little chamber,—that whitehypotheses not a whit short of it in ab- washed little chamber—that little chamsurdity. The whole form a series of ber with its one small window, across correspondence, which should fate sea- which, for some inscrutable reason of sonably remove my poor friend from taste or convenience, my landlord had what is to him a world of moonshine, I placed a row of iron bars-that same promise myself a pious pleasure in edit- little chamber, in short, whither your ing for the public eye. P. had always kindness has so often brought you to a hankering after literary repu on, visit me! Will no length of time, or and has made more than one unsuccess. breadth of space, enfranchise me from ful effort to achieve it. It would not be that unlovely abode? I travel, but it a little odd, if, after missing his object seems to be like the snail, with my while seeking it by the light of reason, house upon my head. Ah, well! I he should prove to have stumbled upon am verging, I suppose, on that period of

« AnteriorContinuar »