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dusky woodlands. “Come out !” he like a maniac trough the wood, until shouted, “and do your worst; be you he stepped upon another toad, which man or devil!” There was no imme- yielded to the pressure ; he lost his diate reply, but listening attentively, footing, fell breathless on the brink the word “ Devil,” whispered at of a declivity, and rolled down the some distance, fell upon his startled shelving side of a deep ravine, where ear, and the unhallowed sound was re- he lay a considerable time, exhausted peated in lower whispers, until it and senseless. melted into distance. “ This is beyond endurance,” he exclaimed, as he When restored to consciousness, he rushed onward ; “ these cursed echoes found himself reposing upon an emwill drive me mad.”_" Mad! Mad! broidered sofa in a baron's hall, of Mad !” replied a host of voices. At antique and curious magnificence, and that moment he heard something rust- the soft rays of the morning sun were ling in the branches, and his foot beaming brightly upon him through struck against some object which ut- the arched and lofty windows. A tered an inarticulate and moaning lovely girl, of nymph-like hues and sound. He stepped hastily back- form, and robed with elegant simpliwards, and looking down, discovered city, stood near his couch. Tresses an enormous toad lying on its back, of the brightest chesnut fell in waving and struggling vainly to regain its legs. luxuriance over her ivory neck and Yielding to a sudden impulse of un- shoulders ; her soft blue eye shot controlable disgust, he plunged the rays as mild as moonbeams upon the point of his stick into the bloated rep- astonished Arnold ; and around her tile, and hurled it into the adjacent bewitching mouth lurked a smile of underwood. The rays of a bright indescribable archness and mystery. moon sell through an opening in the In short, she was the startling resemtrees in the direction where he had blance, the very counterpart, of the thrown the toad, and Arnold shuddered pretty Sphinx-head upon his stick. with horror as he beheld the hideous “ In the name of wonder, where features of the old stick-woman grinning am I ?” exclaimed Arnold, starting at him like Medusa from the spotted from the sofa, and gazing upon the toad. “ Accursed beldam ! Avaunt !” lovely stranger with delight and he shouted; “ am I to be dogged for amazement. “ Have the wheels of ever by this old woman ?” Rushing time rolled back again ? Have the through the underwood, he aimed a romantic splendors of the middle ages blow at her horrid visage, but encoun risen from the dead? Or have I been tered only the pale and streaky stem translated from that hellish forest to of a birch-tree. He laughed aloud an angel's paradise ? Or has my preton discovering the cause of this delu- ty Sphinx been gifted with life and sion, and immediately his ears were motion, like Pygmalion's statue ? Or stunned by the monstrous and reiterat- have I lost my senses? Or,-pardon ed peals of laughter which assailed me, your ladyship !-You are surely him on all sides. “ I am surely be- no carved knob ? I mean, my lady, set by a legion of devils,” thought no ivory Sphinx ? I would say, that the agonized youth, while his hair your lovely features are so mysterious stood erect, and cold drops of per- and Sphinx-like, that I am perplexed spiration rolled down his face as he and amazed beyond expression." listened to this horrid burst of merri “ Return to your couch, good ment. Collecting, by a sudden effort, youth!” replied the smiling fair one ; his scattered energies, he brandished “the fever paroxysms are not over. You his stick, and rushed headlong through are still raving ; but I see symptoms the tangled thicket, shouting, “ Have of amendment. Be seated, I pray at ye all ! Sprites ! Witches ! Ghosts! you, and endeavor to collect your wan. and Devils !” He plunged forward dering faculties. I can assure you."
she continued, “ that there is nothing and the pleasant tales and legends of supernatural about me or my castle, Scandinavia, you will find abundant which is well known in Holstein as resources under my roof." the country residence of the Countess “ Your kindness and condescension Cordula. You approached it last enchant me, lovely Countess! I seek night through my park, which is well no happier fate,” exclaimed the enwooded, and so intersected with rocks raptured Arnold, pressing the hand of and ravines, as to be somewhat dan- his fair hostess to his lips with fervent gerous to night-walkers. Rambling, and deep delight. She acknowledged as is my wont, by sunrise, I discover- her consciousness of his undisguised ed you lying senseless in a deep hol- admiration by a blush and smile of low, near the castle. The stick you such flattering, such thrilling potency, rave about is at your elbow. How it that her intoxicated guest already came into your possession, I know not, ventured to indulge in some audacious but it once belonged to me; and the dreams of the possible consequences Sphinx-head was carved by my page which might ensue from daily and Florestan, who is an ingenious little incessant intercourse with this fascifellow, and amuses himself with carv- nating Countess. Sympathy, love, and ing my features, and applying them to marriage, might follow in natural sucevery thing grotesque and fabulous in cession, and make him the happiest, the animal world.”
the most enviable of human beings. “ Either my senses are the sport of In a glowing tumult of delightful dreams, or this world is altogether an anticipations, he obeyed an invitation enigma,” replied the still bewildered of his hostess to accompany her in a Arnold; “I know very well that I stroll through the castle gardens. live in the nineteenth century, and Here a romantic scene of hills, and that I have studied at the University woods, and waters, met the eye, and of Kiel. Common sense tells me that Arnold recognised, with amazement, there are neither witches, ghosts, nor in the extensive lake, margined with fairies, and yet I could almost swear hanging woods, and dotted with green that ever since yesterday noon, I have islands and temples, a scene connected been the sport and victim of superna- with some floating reminiscences of
If, therefore, noble la- his childhood, or of some vivid dream, dy! you are really no fairy, but, in he could not determine which ; but good faith, the Countess Cordula, and he recollected having gazed, on a gloa human being, I trust you will pardon rious morning, over the hedge which my strange language and deportment, bounded a noble park, with its Gothic and attribute them to the real cause castle, reflected in the mirrored surmy unaccountable transition from the face of a lake. Pleasant footpaths horrors of your park to this splendid meandered through its groves and garhall, and the dazzling presence of its dens, and a cavalier of noble presence lovely owner.”
was ranging with his fair one through “Singular being !” replied the the beauteous landscape. He well blushing Countess, “you have intro- remembered with what curious longduced yourself to me and my castle in ings he had seen and envied the hapso abrupt and original a manner, that py lot of that loving pair ; and now, I feel somewhat curious to become ecstatic thought! he no longer gazed better acquainted with such an oddity. on a forbidden paradise, but walked a If, therefore, your time and engage- bidden guest over this fairy scene by ments permit you to remain here a the side of its beautiful mistress; and few days, I shall be happy to retain this fondest dream of bis juvenile fanyou as a guest, and to share with you cy was realized with a vividness and the summer amusements of my se- abruptness which, to his still bewildercluded residence. If you delight in ed senses, partook of Arabian enmusic and in song, in fine old pictures, chantment. 32
ATHENEUM, VOL. 1. 3d series.
Returning to the castle, the Coun- looked around for some book in a motess led the happy student to her pic- dern garb, and discovered a single ture gallery, which contained some tome in an elegant fancy binding. It rare and admirable specimens of the old was a volume of his favorite Hoffmann, masters. Arnold was no painter, but and opened at the tale of the “Goldhe had a painter's eye for the beautiful en Vase.” This narrative was new to in art and nature, and he gazed with him, and he devoured it with a relish delight upon the works of Raffaelle, so absorbing, that he had no dificulty Titian, Correggio, and Paul Veronese. in tracing a mysterious and startling The Countess pointed out to him some resemblance in his own adventures to matchless portraits painted by these those of the student Anselmo. Suregreat men, and dilated upon their me- ly,” he exclaimed, " that student rits with such grace, spirit, and intel- must be my double, and he, or I, ligence, that the figures seemed to or both of us, are phantasms in the breathe, and almost start from the manner of Callot.” The sudden encanvass, when touched by the wand of trance of the Countess dismounted him this enchantress. One department of from his hobby, and although he felt the gallery was occupied by the pic- a strong impulse to ask her if she tures of a modern German artist, who thought he resembled a phantasm of seemed to have drawn his inspiration Callot, the recollection that she had from the eccentric etchings of the in- attributed his ravings about the imitable Jacques Callot. So wild and Sphinx to temporary derangement, grotesque were his combinations of the gave him a timely check, and the silimaginative and the supernatural, with ver tones of her melodious voice disthe realities and commonplaces of eve- pelled entirely his delusion; he was ry-day life, that Arnold, whose foible again the happiest of men, and the was a vivid and ill-regulated imagina- blissful hours flew by unheeded, like tion, bestowed more earnest and ad- moments. miring attention upon these ingenious Three days had vanished thus decaricatures, than he had devoted to lightfully, and bad appeared to our the costly specimens of the old mas enamored student like a pleasant ters. Recollecting himself, he apolo- summer-night's dream, when, on the gized to the Countess for this singular fourth morning, he heard with terror preference, and explained it, by ac that the Countess was confined to her knowledging himself an admirer of the apartment by indisposition, and not eccentric tales and visions of Hoff- visible to any one. Arnold's constermann, whose intense sympathy with nation and anxiety were for some time the extravaganzas and capriccios of excessive, but they gradually yielded Callot was abundantly notorious. The to a growing suspicion that the CounCountess replied only by a listed fore- tess was not altogether what she apfinger, and an arch smile, which re- peared. He recollected the story of minded him somewhat disagreeably of the beautiful Melusina, who was af his ivory Sphinx, and he followed her certain periods changed into a serpent, in silence to the fine old gothic libra- and carefully secluded herself when ry, where she desired he would amuse the hour of metamorphosis approachhimself for an hour, and left him to ed. His apprehension of a similar his reflections. These were unfavor catastrophe was so enlivened by the able to study, and while he turned fairy splendor which surrounded him over many curious manuscripts and in this mysterious castle, that he remissals, unconscious of their contents, lapsed headlong into the fancies creathis memory was busily occupied in re- ed by the strong resemblance of the tracing every look and gesture of the Countess to his ivory Sphinx; and, fascinating Cordula. Wearied at forgetting alike the obligations of delength of studying so unprofitably the corum and gratitude, he rushed onantique lore of this curious library, he wards to her private apartment, push
ed aside the opposing servants, and unhappy Arnold felt his heart sink abruptly entered the forbidden cham- within him; his fairy visions vanished, ber. The curtains were closely his lips quivered with dismay, his knees drawn to exclude the glare of day- smote together, his brain began to light, and the yellow rays of a large whirl, and all around him was mist French lamp threw a soft and myste- and confusion. The sublime scenery rious light around the spacious apart- which adorned the walls appeared to ment. The lofty walls were decorat move around him like a panoramic ed with a French landscape paper, on landscape; the pyramids of Memphis which were skilfully depicted the and Saccara, the giant obelisks and wondrous features of Egyptian scene- temples, threw up their awful forms ry. In different compartments were from earth to heaven, and stalked beseen the enormous pyramids and tem- fore him in collossal march, like specples ; the broad and venerable Nile, tral visions of the past. The troubled with here and there a crocodile repos- waters of the Nile began to leave ing in long and scaly grandeur on its their bed, and the scaly monsters margin; and opposite the door was on its banks to cre painted, in high and full relief, the ing jaws around the chamber; while mysterious head of the Sphinx, resting the numerous Sphinxes which adornits vast proportions on the drifted ed it, assuming suddenly the form and sand, and gazing in mild majesty over features of the Countess, pointed their the vestiges of Egyptian grandeur, warning fingers at the frenzied Arlike the surviving monarch of a shat- nold, and with smiles of boding mystered world. The elegant Parisian tery, screamed in his shrinking cars furniture of this apartment was in cor- the fatal questions, “ Who are you? responding taste, and the Countess and who am I?" was reclining upon a couch, supported « Gracious Heaven !” exclaimed the by two large and admirably sculptured agonized student, “I am hedged in Sphinxes, while all the tables and by all the plagues of Egypt. Forchiffoniers were resting on the same bear! in mercy forbear!” he contipleasant-looking monsters. The love- nued in delirious terror, while he coly Cordula looked pale as an ivory vered his aching eyes and throbbing statue ; her lips were flushed with the temples with his hands. “Forbear glow of fever, and there was in her those horrid questions ! I know not eyes a dark and melancholy lustre. who I am.-Would I had never been!” She was reclining on her side, her bo- Rousing, by a desperate effort, his exsom supported by her left arm, and piring energies, he rushed out of the when the agitated youth approached apartment, and fled from the castle to her, she raised the forefinger of her the adjacent wood. Winged wit right hand, and thus addressed him. terror, he bounded through the tan“ Arnold! Arnold! who are you? gled underwood, stumbled over the and who am I?” “My lovely Sphinx!” root of an oak tree, and rolled down exclaimed the bewildered student, the side of a declivity. He lay for “ what do I see and hear ?
some time stunned and dizzy with the pose to me an enigma which it is impos- shock, but gradually recovered his sible to solve. Do you think I am senses, and resumed his flight. After one of Callot's phantasms ? or, do you running with headlong speed for some take me for Edipus himself ?” hours, he looked up, and to his infinite
“ Arnold ! Arnold !” continued the amazement, found himself within a Countess, in tremulous tones and evi- mile of the Holstein gate of Hamdent anxiety, " if you could solve my burg, and the ivory knob-stick in his enigma, I should expire before you; hand. Slackening his pace to a sober and yet my cruel destiny compels me walk, and gazing at the pretty Sphinx, to ask, Who are you?' and who am he began to commune with himsell.
At these dreadful words, the Surely the events of the last three
days cannot have been a dream? No, and this laughing little Sphinx a deliimpossible! They were far too lively cious episode. The Countess Corduand circumstantial for a vision. But, la; her matchless beauty and accomif no dream, my Holstein Countess plishments ; her stately castle, with its must be well known in Hamburg. I books and pictures, woods and waterswill make diligent search, and on the what delightful materials! But that spot.” He began immediately to horrible Egyptian chamber with its question every passenger he met where dancing pyramids; and those gaping the Countess Cordula resided ; but no crocodiles and chattering Sphinxesone had ever heard the name, or knew Faugh! the recollection turns my the stately baronial castle he describ- brain. And those cursed enigmas, ed so minutely, and the vehement lan- Who are you ? and, Who am I?–Dear guage, flushed cheeks, and sparkling incomprehensible Countess !" sighed eyes of the questioner, excited amongst the still enamored student, “could I the more thinking passengers a suspi- wish to solve these fatal questions at cion that he had drunk too deeply at the risk of thy precious existence ! the maddening fount of poetry and ro- No, my sweet Cordula !-Vision, or
“ Alas !” soliloquized the no vision! I shall never forget thee, disappointed Arnold, “ if such a coun and never cease to love thee." tess and such a castle are unknown, my strange adventure must indeed On the following morning he hired have been a dream, and the less I say an apartment in the suburb, overlookof it the better, lest my friends should ing the Holstein road. The house pronounce me a visionary, and my was in the centre of a pleasant garden, prospects in life be blasted hy a nick- and commanded a view of the road
I would give one of my ears,' and passengers without exposure to he continued, as he strolled towards the dust and noise. He chose this the city, “if I could banish that fatal situation in the latent hope that the enigma from my memory.-- Who are Countess had deceived him by an asyou ?'—Who I am indeed is more than sumed name, and that he might some I can tell. I am the natural son of day be so fortunate as to see her somebody, but whether of a prince or equipage on the road to or from Hama pedlar, I could never learn. The burg. The utmost efforts of his unquestion would have puzzled Edipus derstanding had been unable to reach himself. However, what has been an entire conviction that his late admay be again, and I have always the venture had been a dream, and the pleasant consciousness that I am possi- intense eagerness with which he hegan bly a prince incog., like a metamorphos- and pursued the story of his life, tended king in a fairy tale. The enchant- ed only to increase his delusion. ment may be broken some day by a Prefixing the title of “ Adventures word, and I may find myself all at of a Student, a Romance of Real Life, once betrothed to a princess, and heir in the manner of Callot and Hoffmann," apparent to a throne. But whatever he compressed into a single chapter I may turn out to be according to the every precious incident as comparaflesh, I should like very much to know tively unworthy of his authorship; and, what I am in spirit and in truth; and, plunging with mad delight into the above all, whether I am a poet. Cer- episode of “ The Sphinx,” he detailtainly my imagination is very prone to ed, in glowing and impassioned lantake wing, and fly away with me ; and guage, his adventures in the haunted I have been often told that I am ab- wood, and mysterious castle of the sent and eccentric. Surely these are Countess. He wrote the earlier porindisputable tokens of a genius for po- tion of this episode in the form and etry and romance. By Heaven, i'll language of fiction, but the longer be write a book! My own life and ad- wrote, the more confirmed was his ventures will make an admirable epic, belief in the truth of his romance; and