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length arrived at Lucerne. Passing the fine old town, with its towers, and battlements, and open bridges, and richly ornamented balconies, they were preparing to embark in their respective boats, when the Swiss suddenly broke the silence which for a time had been preserved. "We may soon enough be enemies," said he; "at present, let us deal frankly one with another. I am Arnold of Winkelried, a poor knight of Underwalden, who love my country, and would destroy her foes, fairly, in the field." "And we," replied the elder, catching his blunt tone and manner, "are the young Eyloff of Ems, and old John of Hasenberg, knights, and true liegemen to Leopold of Austria; ready to serve him as his soldiers in any country, but his spies in none." "Then we understand each other," said Arnold, "and I shall not inquire why you are in Switzerland." "You shall not need," replied John of Hasenberg; "1 have old friends and companions in arms in Switzerland, and this young knight, my relative, has leisure and curiosity. We are, at present, guests of the lord of Gerisau; but, ere we quit your mountains, may visit the baron of Thornberg, or even attend the annual festival of the lord of Interlaken, at his castle on the lake of Thun." "The last is a gallant and true knight," remarked Arnold; "but tell Peter of Thornberg, that the people of his barony of Enthlibuch are growing weary of his tyranny; and it might bestead the lord of Gerisau if he were reminded, that he is too weak to oppose the Lion league, although he has not yet joined it." "Gerisau is a fief of Austria," was the only reply made by De Hasenberg, as they embarked.
Leaving Lucerne, they were quickly conveyed through the various curves of the lake between its noble and diversified shores, until nearly fronting Gerisau. The romantic residence of Arnold was seen on the opposite side of the lake, peeping from its elevated recess: Arnold even thought he could perceive the handkerchief waving his welcome from the balcony. "It is my daughter Bertha," said he : then turning to the Austrians, he added, "Our countries are not yet at war, and ye are honourable knights. Yonder is my habitation, and should your curiosity lead you to explore the shores of Underwalden, do not, in your way to Stantz, pass, unentered, the door of Arnold of Winkelried." Eyloff, in his youthful feeling, was about to promise; but the tranquil John of Hasenberg prevented it by the usual acknowledgments, made in the most approved manner of the Austrian court; and they separated, if not friends, at least with no hostile feelings towards each other. Turning their prows to different points, the boats soon bore them to their several destinations, the one to the bosom of his happy family, and the other to the little castle of the petty lord of Gerisau. But Eyloff was not content to waste the rest of the day in the monotony of the castle; and, leaving his more aged companion and their host fighting their former battles over their wine of Alsace, he engaged the boatmen, for a few florins, to proceed farther up the lake. Shooting through the narrow passage, leading towards Mont Righi, and following the sudden turn to the right, the young knight passed between the memorable village and meadow, pointed out by Arnold in the morning, through a stupendous mountain portal, worthy of being the entrance to a lake, at once the most classical and most magnificent in Switzerland. In breathless admiration, with feelings such as he had seldom before experienced, he glided over the silent and gloomy lake of Uri, as it reposed in its dark and glassy stillness, closely confined between banks of almost terrific grandeur. On either side, the rocks rose to a fearful height, now thrown into the wildest and most fantastic forms, now shooting up in perpendicular masses of granite, bare and bald, or shagged and bristled with dark forests of fir, or beech, or pine, down to the water's edge; and now hanging their beetling cliffs over the passing voyager, their wildest features rendered yet more savage by the fearful contrast offered, here and there, in the green or golden patch of cultivation, and rude cabin of the adventurous peasant, suspended amidst the crags.
Having reached the rock of Tell, Eyloff, yielding to the advice of the boatmen, abandoned the design of proceeding so far as Altorf. The bay of Fluelen, they said, was sometimes dangerous in the evenings, and the day was fast wearing away; they even thought, that already the golden day-streaks that crossed the dazzling white of the glaciers of the Sureen Alps, were beginning to assume the rich purple hue, lent by the declining sun. "The winds are going up the mountains,'' said one of the boatmen, as they headed homewards, " to bringdown the rain upon us; there will bejluderwetter yet;" and they stretched manfully to their oars. But in despite of their speed, they had scarcely arrived opposite the perilous bay of Brunnen, when the sun disappeared behind Mont Pilate. "Potx tusig!" exclaimed the man who had before spoken, as he looked toward the west, "Pontius has put his black cap on; we shall have a blascht from that quarter too; it's well if we get out of the Uri See, where there's no landing left us, before it comes down." "Cannot we run into Brunnen?" asked the other boatman; " Or Gerisau?" inquired Eyloff. "Neither," replied the first, bluntly: "Pull round yonder promontory, and make for the first smooth spot of Underwalden, it's all that's left us." The wind began now to be evidently felt by the quiet lake, and they had barely weathered the point, when the tempest burst over them in all its violence. Th* blast, like a thing of life, came rushing and raging over the waters; the clouds sent down their torrents with irresistible force and fury; the thunders clashed, and lightnings shot madlyaround them, while the winds and waters, in whirls and eddies from the numerous bluffs and rocky hollowsof the shore, threatened every moment their destruction.
"Make for yon inlet," cried the boatman, as a protracted gleam of lightning showed the place of Arnold's residence. Casting his eyes in the direction pointed out, Eyloff discovered a light skiff, struggling like their own to gain the shore; she was nearer the land, but her peril seemed extreme, and as they approached the frail bark, the flashes of light discovered a female seated in the stern; her long, loose tresses streaming in the storm. Her delicate form wassustained with difficulty, while with one hand she clung to the side of the boat, and with the other grasped the helm. Meantime a well grown lad, her companion, plied his oars with a steady and strong nerve. They were now but a short distance from the shore; lights blazing on the beach and at the house directed their course, and Eyloff almost felt assured of the female's safety, when a gust suddenly coming round from the point below, bearing the waters high before it, struck the light bark on the side, and instantly upset her. The generous boy held by the boat, only to cast his look around to discover where he might succour his sister, but Eyloff had already plunged in, and at the risk of his own life, rescued the lady, just as she was about to sink beneath the waves. With the assistance of the boatmen, they were all safely conveyed to the beach, where the distracted mother stood screaming in her despair. Her daughter was yet insensible, but when borne up the winding path that led to her dwelling, and it became certain that she yet lived, who can depict the transport of the happy parent over her restored child!
The return of Arnold, who had hastened towards home from his business abroad, on the first indications of the approaching storm, was now announced, and he entered, as the grateful matron, after seeing her daughter properly attended to, was pouring out her acknowledgments before the young knight; and when informed of the extent of their obligations to him, the pressure of the hand, the tear that swelled into his manly eye, spoke the fond father's feelings.
An early separation and retirement being expedient, Eyloff was conducted to his chamber, where refreshments were provided him. But he felt, for the first time, perhaps, after a day of such exertion, but little inclined either to eat or sleep, and he lay listening to the roar of the tempest without, and thinking over the last interesting incident. He still seemed to enfold in his arms the youthful beauty he had rescued, and to gaze upon her as if he would infuse, through his eyes, a portion of his own fire into her cold and inanimate form. He asked himself why a little Swiss girl, scarcely seen, should thus produce sensations which the beauties of the Austrian court had failed to excite, and he could not answer; but he could not but remember her mild blue eyes, as, awakening from the sleep of temporary death, they turned upon her deliverer, and thought following thought, he still lay drawing beautiful pictures of the future, and it was not until nature became exhausted that his spirit grew calm; and he sank to rest, lulled by the low and monotonous moaning of the subsiding storm.
Is love, then, a mere passion—an excitement? Is it not rather a mystic affinity existing in kindred hearts, latent, perhaps, till circumstances bring them within the sphere of its mysterious agency? Is the beautiful apologue all fable, that the souls of those individuals of either sex, intended for each other, receive, at their formation, the impress of their destiny, and, however widely separated at their birth, know and recognize each other when they meet? If sympathy be a mere word among mortals, how is it that one shall wander among the beautiful and polished, the pure and unsophisticated of foreign lands, surrounded by all that can excite the senses or satisfy the taste, and yet return to find a kindred soul in the ordinary circle of home; while another shall leave behind, unregarded, those whom association, whom similarity of habits, tastes, opinions, even prejudices, might render objects of preference, to seek, in some distant corner of the universe, his mystic partner in a stranger, an alien in language, manners, opinions; in a word, in all but love?
Eyloff, for one so young, had seen much in the world, and his education and breeding had been suitable to his station, among the highest in Austria. Bertha was not unused to society; she had accompanied her parents in many of their visits to the gentry of the neighbouring districts, and her father's mansion was the seat of hospitality. Eyloff was not a libertine: his native nobleness oi mind, his inherent good principles, his studies and martial exercises, had, as yet, kept him free from the vices of the age, the offspring of ignorance, of idleness, and luxury. Bertha, reared under the eyes of the noblest of fathers, the best of mothers, and surrounded by examples only of virtue, was the purest among the pure daughters of Switzerland. It was not, therefore, rustic bashfulness, nor the consciousness of evil thoughts, that, when Eyloff and Bertha met at breakfast, threw over their deportment, the air of reserve and embarrassment. Was it not that the mystic powers had met and commingled? Were not two kindred souls at length about to fulfil their destiny? 'I am devoted to adore this maiden,' humbly breathed the spirit of Eyloff; 'but oh! dare I hope to gain so rich a prize? let me not offend her by the arrogance of even a too ardent gaze.' 'Behold,' whispered the throbbing hcartof Bertha,' here is the youth I am fated to love; yet ah! will he regard the poor Swiss girl? Hide, maidenly reserve, hide from him, the dangerous secret, lest its knowledge disgust him, and turn him from me for ever.'
It was a lovely morning. The sun was rising bright and beautiful over the enchanting scene around them, and the repast of the little family was taken, with their guest, on a green terrace before the house, commanding the most interesting prospect. Yet Eyloff had never been less attentive to the sublime and beautiful of inanimate nature. When they arose from table, however, and he followed the happy family through the romantic grounds, he could not but admire the rich and varied landscape, asit was spread out before him, of mountain, and lake, and valley and wood; the eminences covered with vines, crowned with majestic firs, or dark with pines; while the sunny slopes were glowing with golden grain, the orchards smiled, and the pomegranate and mulberry, the fig and almond, blossomed: nor is it probable that the jessamine, the lilac, and the eglantine received the less attention from Eyloff, because he was told they had been planted by Bertha.
'No!' exclaimed Eyloff, involuntarily, as they were returning towards the house,'war must not blight such scenes.' The effects of the expression were immediate; the fair lids of the maiden fell pensively over her eyes as she bent them to the ground, while the chest of the boy, her brother, swelled, his eyes flashed fire, and his hand seemed already to grasp the sword. The meek matron only looked at her husband, but with one of those looks which, at such moments, she often cast upon him; looks, in which might be traced the fond mother and the devoted wife; and all of woman, and something of angel. Arnold paused for a space, while a fearful sternness settled on his brow, and he stood in his family as Junius Brutus might have stood, when all was to be sacrificed for country. The young knight hastened to dispel the cloud his allusion had called down, and he was at length successful.
When Eyloff's visit closed—and it was protracted to the extreme verge of decorum—need it be said that the youth and maid separated mutually pleased and interested? Could it be otherwise? Eyloff in form, as in mind, was all that woman might wish to look upon or listen to; and Bertha, with her fair and innocent face; her pure brows and clear intelligent eyes; her rich yellow hair, braided and broached in the fashion of the maidens of Hasli; her bodice admirably adapted to her perfect form, and every part of her dress