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of Kloster-Neuburg. The evening shadows were falling broad and long; and the cuckoo began to sing.
“ Cuckoo! cuckoo !” said the eldest of the two figures, repeating an old German popular rhyme, —
“Cuckoo ! cuckoo !
Tell me true,
"I am Mahomet, the king of the Jews !"
At the same moment he fell in a swoon, and was borne out of the room by the servants. Flemming looked at the lady of the festival, and she was deadly pale. For a moment all was confusion; and the dance and the music stopped. The impression produced on the company was at once ludicrous and awful. They tried in vain to rally. The whole society was like a dead body, from which the spirit has departed. Erelong, the guests had all dispersed, and left the lady of the mansion to her mournful, expiring lamps, and still more mournful reflections.
“ Truly,” said Flemming to the Baron, as they wended their way homeward, “ this seems not like reality ; but like one of the sharp contrasts we find in novels. Who shall say, after this, that there is not more romance in real life than we find written in books?"
“ Not more romance,” said the Baron, but a different romance."
A still more tragic scene had been that evening enacted in Heidelberg. Just as the sun set, two female figures walked along the romantic woodland pathway, leading to the Angel's Meadow, a little green opening on the brow of one of the high hills which see themselves in the Neckar and hear the solemn bells
It was the voice of an evil spirit that spoke in the person of Madeleine; and the pale and shrinking figure that walked by her side, and listened to those words, was Emma of Ilmenau. A young man joined them, where the path turns into the thick woodlands; and they disappeared among the shadowy branches. It was the Polish Count.
The forget-me nots looked up to heaven with their meek blue eyes, from their home in Angel's Meadow. Calmly stood the mountain of All Saints, in its majestic, holy stillness; -the river flowed so far below, that the murmur of its waters was not heard ; — there was not a sigh of the evening wind among the leaves, not a sound upon the earth nor in the air ; - and yet that night there fell a star from heaven!
It was now that season of the
which an old English writer calls the amiable month of June, and at that hour of the day, when, face to face, the rising moon beholds the setting
As yet the stars were few in heaven. But, after the heat of the day, the coolness and the twilight descended like a benediction upon the earth, by all those gentle sounds attended which are the meek companions of the night.
Flemming and the Baron had passed the afternoon at the Castle. They had rambled once more together, and for the last time, over the magnificent ruin. On the morrow they were to part, perhaps forever. The Baron was going to Berlin, to join his sister; and Flemming, driven forward by the restless spirit within him, longed once more for a change of scene, and was to start for the Tyrol and Switzerland. Alas! he never said to the passing hour, "Stay, for thou art fair!” but reached forward into the dark future, with unsatisfied longings and aimless desires that were never still.
As the day was closing, they sat down on the terrace of Elizabeth's Garden. The sun had set beyond the blue Alsatian hills; and on the valley of the Rhine fell the purple mist, like the mantle of the departing prophet from his fiery chariot. Over the castle walls and the trees of the garden rose the large moon ; and between the contending daylight and moonlight there were as yet no shadows. But at length the shadows came, - transparent and faint outlines, that deepened into form. In the valley below only the river gleamed, like steel; and here and there the lamps were lighted in the town. Solemnly stood the leafy linden-trees in the garden near them, their trunks in darkness and their summits bronzed with moonlight; and in his niche in the great round tower, overhung with ivy, like a majestic phantom, stood the gray statue of Louis, with his venerable beard, and shirt of mail,
and flowing mantle ; and the mild, majestic countenance looked forth into the silent night, as the countenance of a seer who reads the stars. At intervals, the wind of the summer night passed through the ruined castle and the trees, and they sent forth a sound as if Nature were sighing in her dreams; and for a moment, overhead, the broad leaves gently clashed together, like brazen cymbals, with a tinkling sound; and then all was still, save the sweet, passionate song of nightingales, that nowhere sing more sweetly than in the gardens of Heidelberg Castle.
The hour, the scene, and the near-approaching separation of the two young friends, had filled their hearts with a pleasant, though at the same time not painless excitement. They had been conversing about the magnificent old ruin, and the ages in which it had been built, and the vicissitudes of time and war, that had battered down its walls, and left it "tenantless, save to the crannying wind.”
“How sorrowful and sublime is the face of that statue yonder!” said Flemming. reminds me of the old Danish hero Beowulf; for careful, sorrowing, he seeth in his son's bower the wine-hall deserted, the resort of the wind, noiseless ; the knight sleepeth ; the warrior lieth in darkness; there is no noise of the harp, no joy in the dwellings, as there was before.”
“ Even as you say," replied the Baron; “but it often astonishes me, that, coming from that fresh green world of yours beyond the sea, you should feel so much interest in these old things ; nay, at times, seem
so to have drunk in their spirit, as really to live in the times of old. For my part, I do not see what charm there is in the pale and wrinkled countenance of the Past, so to entice the soul of a young man.
It seems to me like falling in love with one's grandmother. Give me the Present, — warm, glowing, palpitating with life. She is my mistress; and the Future
stands waiting like my wife that is to be, for whom, to tell the truth, I care very little just Indeed, my friend, I wish you would take more heed of this philosophy of mine; and not waste the golden hours of youth in vain regrets for the past, and indefinite, dim longings for the future. Youth comes but once in a lifetime.”
“ Therefore," said Flemming, “let us so enjoy it as to be still young when we are old. For my part, I grow happier as I grow older. When I compare my sensations and enjoyments now with what they were ten years ago, the comparison is vastly in favor of the present. Much of the fever and fretfulness of life is over.
The world and I look each other more calmly in the face. My mind is more self-possessed. It has done me good to be somewhat parched by the heat and drenched by the rain of life.”
“ Now you speak like an old philosopher," answered the Baron, laughing. “But you deceive yourself. I never knew a more restless, feverish spirit than yours. Do not think you have gained the mastery yet. You are only riding at anchor here in an eddy of the stream; you will soon be swept away again in the mighty current and whirl of accident. Do not trust this momentary calm. I know you better than you know yourself.
There is something Faust-like in you; you would fain grasp the highest and the deepest, and reel from desire to enjoyment, and in enjoyment languish for desire.
When a momentary change of feeling comes over you, you think the change permanent, and thus live in constant self-deception.”
“I confess,” said Flemming, “there may be some truth in what you say. There are times when my soul is restless; and a voice sounds within me, like the trump of the archangel, and thoughts that were buried, long ago, come out of their graves. At such times my favorite occupations and pursuits no longer charm
The quiet face of Nature seems to mock
erly and serene, and cares so little whether the heart of her child breaks or not, that at times I almost lose my patience. About that, too, she cares so little, that, out of sheer obstinacy, I become good-humored again, and then she smiles.”
“I think we must confess, however,” continued Flemming, “ that all this springs from our own imperfection, not from hers. How beautiful is this green world which we inhabit! See yonder, how the moonlight mingles with the mist! What a glorious night is this ! Truly, every man has a Paradise around him, until he sins, and the angel of an accusing conscience drives him from his Eden. And even then there are holy hours, when this angel sleeps, and man comes back, and, with the innocent eyes of a child, looks into his lost Paradise again, -into the broad gates and rural solitudes of Nature. I feel this often. We have much to enjoy in the quiet and retirement of our own thoughts. Boisterous mirth and loud laughter are not my mood. I love that tranquillity of soul, in which we feel the blessing of existence, and which in itself is a prayer and a thanksgiving. I find, however, that, as I grow older, I love the country less and the town more."
“Yes,” interrupted the Baron ; "and presently you will love the town less and the country more. Say at once, that you have an undefined longing for both; and prefer town or country according to the mood you are in. I think a man must be of a very quiet and happy nature, who can long endure the country; and, moreover, very well contented with his own insignificant person, very self-complacent, to be continually occupied with himself and his own thoughts. To say the least, a town life makes one more tolerant and liberal in one's judgment of others. One is not eternally wrapped up in self-contemplation; which, after all, is only a more holy kind of vanity.”
In conversation like this, the hours glided away ; till at length, from the Giant's Tower, the castle clock struck twelve, with a sound that seemed to come from the Middle Ages. Like watchmen from their belfries, the city clocks answered it, one by one. Then distant
“ There certainly are seasons,” replied the Baron, “ when Nature seems not to sympathize with her beloved children. She sits there so eternally calm and self-possessed, so very moth
and muffled sounds were heard. Inarticulate words seemed to blot the foggy air, as if written on wet paper.
These were the bells of Handschuhsheimer, and of other villages on the broad plain of the Rhine and among the hills of the Odenwald ; mysterious sounds, that seemed not of this world.
Beneath them, in the shadow of the hills, lay the valley, — fathomless, black, impenetrable. Above were the cloistered stars, that, nun-like, walk the holy aisles of heaven. The city was asleep in the valley below; all asleep and silent, save the clocks, that had just struck twelve, and the veering, golden weathercocks, that were swimming in the moonlight, like golden fishes in a glass vase. And again the wind of the summer night passed through the old castle and the trees, and the nightingales recorded under the dark, shadowy leaves, and the heart of Flemming was full.
When he had retired to his chamber, a feeling of utter loneliness came over him. The night before one begins a journey is always a dismal night; for, as Byron says,
people are pleasant ! as was the case with those that Flemming was now leaving. No wonder he was sad and sleepless. Thoughts came and went, and bright and gloomy fancies, and dreams and visions, and sweet faces looked under his closed eyelids, and vanished away, and came again, and again departed. He heard the clock strike from hour to hour, and said, "Another hour is gone." At length the birds began to sing ; and ever and anon the cock crew. He arose, and looked forth into the gray dawn; and before him lay the city he was so soon to leave, all white and ghastly, like a city that had arisen from its grave.
* All things must change," said he to the Baron, as he embraced him, and held him by the hand. • Friends must be torn asunder, and swept along in the current of events, to see each other seldom, and perchance no more. For ever and ever in the eddies of time and accident we whirl away. Besides which, some of us have a perpetual motion in our wooden heads, as Wodenblock had in his wooden leg ; and like him we travel on, without rest or sleep, and have hardly time to take a friend by the hand in passing; and at length are seen hurrying through some distant land, worn to a skeleton, and all unknown."
“In leaving even the most unpleasant people
And places, one keeps looking at the steeple!”
and how much more so when the place and