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course which was now about to take place, confirmed his staggering courage, and pride supplying what he wanted in resolution, he advanced with tolerable firmness towards the fire, the figures which surrounded it appearing still more wild, fantastical, and supernatural, the more near he approached to the assembly. He was received with a loud shout of discordant and unnatural laughter, which, to his stunned ears, seemed more alarming than a combination of the most dismal and melancholy sounds that could be imagined. "Who art thou ?" said the giant, compressing his savage aud exaggerated features into a sort of forced gravity, while they were occasionally agitated by the convulsion of the laughter which he seemed to suppress.
"Martin Waldeck, the forester," answered the hardy youth;— "and who are you?"
"The King of the Waste and of the Mine," answered the spectre t—" and why hast thou dared to encroach on my mysteries?"
"I came in search of light to rekindle my fire," answered Martin hardily, and then resolutely asked in his turn, " What mysteries are those that you celebrate here?" . .
"We celebrate," answered the complaisant demon, " the wedding of Hermes with the Black Dragon—But take the fire that thou eamest to seek, and begone—no mortal may long look upon us and live."
The peasant struck his spear point into a large piece of blazing wood, which he heaved up with some difficulty, and then turned round to regain his hut, the shouts of laughter being renewed behind him with treble violence, and ringing far down the narrow valley. When Martin returned to the hut, his first care, however much astonished with what he had seen, was to dispose the kindled coal among the fuel so as might best light the fire of his furnace; but after many efforts, and all the exertions of bellows and fire-prong, the coal he had brought from the demon's fire became totally extinct, without kindling any of the others. He turned about and observed the fire still blazing on the hill, although those who had been busied around it had disappeared. As he conceived the spectre had been jesting with him, he gave way to the natural hardihood of his temper, and, determining to see the adventure to an end, resumed the road to the fire, from which, unopposed by the demon, he brought off in the same manner a blazing piece of charcoal, but still without being able to succeed in lighting his fire. Impunity having encreased his rashness, he resolved upon a third experiment, and was as successful as before in reaching the fire; but, when he had again appropriated a peace of burning coal, and had turned to depart, he heard the harsh and supernatural voice which had before accosted him, pronounce these words, " Dare not to return hither a fourth time I"
The attempt to kindle the fire with this last coal having proved as ineffectual as on the former occasions, Martin relinquished the hopeless attempt, and flung himself on his bed of leaves, resolving to delay till the next morning the communication of his supernatural adventure to his brothers. He was awakened from a heavy sleep into which he had sunk, from fatigue of body and agitation of mind, by loud exclamations of surprise and joy. His brothers, astonished at finding the fire extinguished when they awoke, had proceeded to arrange the fuel in order to renew it, when they found in the ashes three huge metallic masses, which their skill (for most of the peasants in the Harz are practical mineralogists) immediately ascertained to be pure gold.
It was some damp upon their joyful congratulations when they learned from Martin the mode in which he had obtained this treasure, to which their own experience of the nocturnal vision induced them to give full credit. But they were unable to resist the temptation of sharing in their brother's wealth. Taking now upon him as head of the house, Martin Waldeck bought lands and forests, built a castle, obtained a patent of nobility, and, greatly to the indignation of the ancient aristocracy of the neighbourhood, was invested with all the privileges of a man of family. His courage in public war, as well as in private feuds, together with the number of retainers whom he kept in pay, sustained him for some time against the odium which was excited by his sudden elevation, and the arrogance of his pretensions.
And now it was seen in the instances of Martin Waldeck, as it has been in that of many others, how little mortals can foresee the effect of sudden prosperity on their own disposition. The evil propensities in his nature, which poverty had checked and repressed, ripened and bore their unhallowed fruit under the influence of temptation and the means of indulgence. As deep calls unto deep, one bad passion awakened another:—the fiend of avarice invoked that of pride, and pride was to be supported by cruelty and oppression. Waldeck's character, always bold and daring, but rendered harsh and assuming by prosperity, soon made him odious, not to the nobles only, but likewise to the lower ranks, who saw, with double dislike, the oppressive rights of the feudal nobility of the empire so remorselessly exercised by one who had risen from the very dregs of the people. His adventure, although carefully concealed, began likewise to be whispered abroad, and the clergy already stigmatized as a wizard and accomplice of fiends, the wretch, who, having acquired so huge a treasure in so strange a manner, had not sought to sanctify it by dedicating a considerable portion to the use of the church. Surrounded by enemies, public and private, tormented by a thousand feuds, and threatened by the church with excommunication, Martin Waldeck, or, as we must now call him, the Baron Von Waldeck, often regretted bitterly the labours and sports of his unenvied poverty. But his courage failed him not under these difficulties, and seemed rather to augment in proportion to the danger which darkened around him, until an accident precipitated his fall.
A proclamation by the reigning duke of Brunswick had invited to a solemn tournament all German nobles of free and honourable descent, and Martin Waldeck, splendidly armed, accompanied by his two brothers, and a gallantly equipped retinue, had the arrogance to appear among the chivalry of the province, and demand permission to enter the lists. This was considered as filling up the measure of his presumption. A thousand voices exclaimed, "We will have no cinder-sifter mingle in our games of chivalry." Irritated to frenzy, Martin drew his sword and hewed down the herald, who, in compliance with the general outcry, opposed his entry into the lists. A hundred swords were unsheathed, to avenge what was in those days re -garded as a crime only inferior to sacrilege, or regicide. Waldeck, after defending himself like a lion, was seized, tried on the spot by the judges of the lists, and condemned, as the appropriate punishment for breaking the peace of his sovereign, and violating the sacred person of a herald-at-arms, to have his right hand struck from his body, to be ignominiously deprived of the honour of nobility, of which he was unworthy, and to be expelled from the city. When he had been stripped of his arms, and sustained the mutilation imposed by this severe sentence, the unhappy victim of ambition was abandoned to the rabble, who followed him with threatsand outcries levelled alternately against the necromancer and oppressor, which at length ended in violence. His brothers (for his retinue were fled and dispersed) at length succeeded in rescuing him from the hands of the populace, when, satiated with cruelty, they had left him half dead through loss of blood, and through the outrages he had sustained. They were not permitted, such was the ingenious cruelty of their enemies, to make use of any other means of removing him, excepting such a collier's cart as they had themselves formerly used, in which they deposited their brother on a truss of straw, scarcely expecting to reach anyplace of shelter ere death should release him from his misery.
When the Waldecks, journeying in this miserable manner, had approached the verge of their native country, in a hollow way, between two mountains, they perceived a figure advanced towards them, which at first sight seemed to be an aged man. But as he approached, his limbs and stature increased, the cloak fell from his shoulders, his pilgrim's staff was changed into an uprooted pine-tree, and the gigantic figure of the Harz demon passed before them in his terrors. When he came opposite to the cart which contained the miserable Waldeck, his huge features dilated into a grin of unutterable contempt and malignity, as he asked the sufferer, " How like you the fire Mv coals have kindled?" The power of motion, which terror suspended in his two brothers, seemed to be restored to Martin by theenergy of his courage. He raised himself on the cart, bent his brows, and, clenching his fist, shook it at the spectre with a ghastly look of hate and defiance. The goblin vanished with his usual tremendous and explosive laugh, and left Waldeck exhausted with this effort of expiring nature.
The terrified brethren turned their vehicle toward the towers of a convent, which arose in a wood of pine-trees beside the road. They were charitably received by a bare-footed and long-bearded capuchin, and Martin survived only to complete the first confession he had made since the day of his sudden prosperity, and to receive absolution from the very priest, whom precisely on that day three years, he had assisted to pelt out of the hamlet of Morgenbrodt. The three years of precarious prosperity were supposed to have a mysterious correspondence with the number of his visits to the spectral fire upon the hill.
The body of Martin Waldeck was interred in the convent where he expired, in which his brothers, having assumed the habit of the order, lived and died in the performance of acts of charity and devotion. His lands, to which no one asserted any claim, lay waste until they were reassumed by the emperor as a lapsed fief, and the ruins of the castle, which Waldeck had called by his own name, are still shunned by the miner and forester as haunted by evil spirits. Thus were the miseries attendant upon wealth, hastily attained and ill-employed, exemplified in the fortunes of Martin Waldeck.
THE HAUNTED RUIN.
In days of yore, a lovely mansion stood
It was a place of strength, albeit no hand
Though all unfed by water, round it, for command
Remembered not; now rioting weeds and sand
Its aspect spoke desertion; even the air
Bore in their voice the accents of despair—
Abandonment and desolation there
Save when, but for a moment, from some tower,
A falling fragment broke their despot power.
The summer birds that sing in brake and tree.
Awakening earthly halleluias, ne'er Created mirth around, though cheerily
The bright sun shone on morning gossamer, And dewy leaves were glancing bonnily
Upon the forest boughs, so green and fair :—
That shadowy forms were seen, and spectre men,
In white, walked to and fro, as one again
A HEBREW MELODY.
By the rivers of Babel, in exile forlorn,
O Zion, we sat in despair: Yea, we wept for the home from which we were torn, And the temple of God that was there. And our harps all unstrung On the willow-trees hung, For their tones now could only awaken Gloomy thoughts of a grave, Or the life of a slave, And the land of our fathers forsaken.