« ПредишнаНапред »
Am honest and true,
get about your business, hussy : there | ing, as she was drawing water at the is nothing for great idle girls, like you, well, he accidentally passed by her, here ; such sluts should be in the house and his appearance kindled sensations of correction !” After this salutation in her bosom to which it had hitherto she hastily shut the window. Matilda been an entire stranger. She beheld a was not to be so easily repulsed. She young man, whose beauty exceeded the rang till the Megara's head was a second fairest of her dreams. The sparkling of time protruded from the casement, for his eye, the good-humour that lightenthe purpose of retorting upon this inso- ed up his features, his flowing hair, half lence of perseverance a torrent of abuse. concealed by the plumes that over-shaBut before she could upfold her tooth- dowed his soldier's hat, his firm step, less jaws, the young lady had declared and the grace of his whole demeanour, her business. -" Who art thou?" de- acted so powerfully on her heart, that manded the head from above, “ Whence the blood moved with increasing velodost thou come ? And what canst thou city along her veins. She now, for the do ?"-The supposititious gypsey an- first time, felt the degraded station to swered:
which an untoward fate had reduced her, " I ain an orphan, Matilda by name :
and this sentiment was a heavier load I'm a stout girl and nimble,
than the large pitcher. She returned, Can manage the thimble; Cap spin, card, and koit,
deeply musing to the kitchen, and, for And handle the spit; I can stew, bake, and brew;
the first time since she had begun to
exercise her culinary functions, overAud here to serve you."
salted all the soup, an oversight which The housekeeper, softened by the drew down upon her a severe reprimand whimsical recitative of all these impor- from the housekeeper. The handsome tant qualifications, opened her door to knight hovered before her imagination the nut brown virgin, and gave her a day and night: she was continually longshilling in earnest, as kitchen-maid. | ing to see him; and whenever she heard The new hireling plied her business so the sound of his spurs, as he crossed the diligently, that Gertrude, for want of court-yard, she was sure to discover a practice, lost her dexterity at hurling want of water in the kitchen, and ran salicepans at a mark. She still, how- with the pitcher in her hand to the well; ever, retained her morose and querulous though the stately cavalier never once humour; and was sure to find fault with condescended to bestow a glance upon every thing. Nevertheless her subaltern, her. by avoiding all contradiction, by gen- Count Conrad seemed to exist meretleness and patience, saved herself many ly for the purpose of pleasure. He ateffusions of ill-humour.
tended every banquet and rejoicing in About the falling of the first snow, the city, which, from its commerce with the housekeeper had the whole mansion the Venetians, was become rich and luxswept and scoured, the cobwebs brush- urious. One day there was a tiltinged, the windows washed, the floors match at the ring: the next a tournasanded, the shutters opened, and every ment; the third a mayor's feast. Nor thing put in readiness for the reception was there any scarcity of dances at the of her lord, who soon afterwards made town-hall, and in every street. Here his appearance, followed by a long train the noblemen toyed and frolicked with of servants, a troop of horses, and a loud the citizens' daughters; occasionally cry of hounds. The arrival of the presenting them with gold rings and Templar raised little curiosity in Matil- silken stutts. By carnival-time this tuda; her work in the kitchen had grown multof dissipation had arisen to its highso upon her hands, that she had not a est pitch, but Matilda had no share in moment to gape after him. One morn- the festivity: she sate all day in the smoky kitchen, and wept till her pining virgins. No one, indeed, could hope to eyes became sore, constantly bewailing share his lawful love, for he was Temthe caprice of fortune, which heaps a plar; nevertheless he was the object of profusion of the joy of life over her fa- all their good wishes-he was so handfourites, while from others she greedily some, and danced so charmingly. snatches every instant of cheerfulness. Matilda had come to the resolution of Her heart was heavy she knew not why; sallying forth in quest of adventures, on for she had no suspicion that love had this occasion. After she had arranged taken up his abode there. This restless the kitchen, and every thing was quiet inmate, who throws every house where in the house, she retired to her bedhe lodges into confusion, whispered chamber, and, washing away the tawny
, every day a thousand romantic schemes varnish with sweet-scented soap, called into her head, and every night busied the lilies and roses of her complexion her fancy with bewitching dreams. She into new bloom. She then took the was now walking arm in arm with the musk-ball into her hand, and wished for Templar in a delicious garden : now she a new gown, as rich and elegant as fancy was immured in the sanctuary of the could form, with all its appurtenances. cloister; the Count was standing at the On screwing off the top, a piece of silk grate, longing to converse with her, but issued out, expanding itself, and rustling the strict abbess would not grant per
all the while, as if a stream of water was mission : sometimes he was leading her gushing on her lap. On examination it out to open a festive dance. These proved a full dress, fitted up with every enchanting dreams were very often sud- little article: the gown fitted as exactly denly cut short by the jingling of Mo. as if it had been cast on her body. ther Gertrude's bunch of keys, with While she was putting it on, she felt that which it was her custom to rouse the internal exultation, which girls always sleeping household betimes. However experience when they adorn themselves the ideas spun by imagination during for the sake of the other sex, and spread the night, served to amuse her thoughts out their dangerous meshes. Her vaniby day.
ty was fully gratified, as she took a surLove knows no dangers; the ena- vey of her dress, and she was perfectly moured Matilda formed project after content with herself. Accordingly she project, till at last she fell upon a scheme did not defer a moment longer the to realise the fondest of her dreams. execution of her stratagem,
She She had still her godmother the Naiad's thrice whirled round the magic ball, musk-ball safe: she had never felt any saying, desire to open it, and make an essay of
In sleep profund, its power to gratify her wishes. She
Each eye be drown'd. now resolved to try the experiment. The Instantly a deep slumber fell upon all the citizens of Augspurg had, about this household, not excepting the vigilant time, prepared a sumptuous banquet, in housekeeper and the Janus at the door. compliment to the Emperor Frede- Matilda glided in a moment out of the ric, on the birth of his son, Prince Max- house, passed unseen along the streets, imilian. The rejoicings were to continue and stepped into the ball-room with the three days. Innumerable nobles and air of one of the Graces. The charmprelates were invited. Each day there ing new figure raised great admiration was a tournament, and a rich prize for among the company; and along the lofty the victor : each evening the most beau- gallery which encircled the ball-room, tiful damsels danced with the knights there arose a general whisper. Some till break of day. Count Conrad did not admired the elegance of the stranger's fail to attend these festivities ; each time person, others the fashion of her dress, he was the favourite of the matrons and others enquired who she was, and whence
she came; but on these points no one door, than she turned her musk-ball could satisfy his neighbour's curiosity. thrice round, and repeated the spell : Among the noble knights, who crowded
Behiod me, nigbt, befure me, day,
That none bebold my secret way. to take a peep at the unknown damsel, the Templar was far from hindmost. By these means she got to her chamber, He was by no means a woman-hater ; in spite of the Baron's sentinels, who and, though an exact connoisseur in the did not catch a glimpse of her, though sex, he thought he had never seen a they were hovering in every street. No sweeter person nor a more happy coun- sooner had she shut the door behind her, tenance. He approached, and engaged than she locked up the silken apparel her to dance. She modestly presented safe in her box, put on her greasy cook's her hand, and danced with enchanting dress, and resumed her ordinary occuelegance. Her nimble feet scarce touched pations. The old housekeeper, who had the floor, and the ease and gracefulness been rattling up the rest of the servants of her movements set every eye in rap- with her bunch of keys, finding Matilda ture. Count Conrad paid his heart for stirring so early, bestowed an ungracious his partner. He no more quitted the compliment on her diligence. fair dancer. He said as many fine things Never had any day appeared so teand pushed his suit with as much zeal dious to the knight, as that which sucand earnestness, as the most enamoured ceeded the ball. Every hour seemed a of our heroes of romance, for whom the week: his heart was in perpetual agitaworld becomes too narrow a stage, the tion between longing impatience and moment they are goaded on by malicious apprehension, lest the inscrutable beauCupid. Matilda was as little mistress of ty should fail in her engagement, for her own heart : she conquered, and was Suspicion, the train-bearer of Love, vanquished in her turn. Her first essay allowed his thoughts as little repose as in love was crowned with success equal the wind did the Hag that was flying on to her fondest wishes. It was not in the tower. At the approach of evening her power to keep the sympathy of her he equipped himself for the ball, with feelings concealed beneath the cloak greater magnificence than the preceding of female reserve. The enraptured knight day; the three golden rings the ancient soon perceived that he was no hopeless badge of nobility, all beset with dialover; his chief anxiety arose from his monds, sparkled in the front of his entire ignorance of his charming part- dress. He was the first at the rendezner ; and how to prosecute his suit, un- vous of pleasure, where, having stationed Jess he could discover where she lived. himself so as to command the entrance, But on this subject all enquiries were he scrutinized every one who came in in vain : she eluded every question, and with the keen eyes of an eagle, expectafter all his efforts he could only obtain ing, with all the eagerness of impatience, a promise that she would make her ap- the arrival of his dulcinea. The evening pearance at the next night's ball. He star was already advanced high in the thought to outwit her, in case she should horizon, before the young lady could forfeit her word, by posting all his ser- find time to retire to her chamber, and vants to watch her home, for he supposed consider what she should do: whether her to be of Augspurg, while the com- she should extort a second wish from the pany, from his unremitting attention, musk-ball, or reserve it for some more cor cluded she was a lady of the Count's important occurrence of life. The faithacquaintance.
ful counsellor, Reason, advised the latThe dawn had already peeped, before ter; but Love enjoined the former with she could find an opportunity of slipping such impetuosity, that Reason was quite away from the knight, and quitting the silenced, and soon withdrew altogether. room. But no sooner had she passed the Matilda wished for a dress of rose-co
loured sattin, most sumptuously bedeck- without disguise how we may be united ed with jewels. The complaisant musk- according to the rites of holy mother ball exerted its powers: the apparel church, that so our marriage may abide
, exceeded the lady's expectation; she in the sight of God and man.” performed, in high spirits, the rites of The knight answered seriously and the toilette, and, by the help of the without guile : “ You speak as becomes talisman, arrived at the spot where she a discreet and virtuous maiden ; I will was so ardently expected, without hav- therefore solve your difficulty without ing been beheld by mortal eye. She fraud or deceit, and satisfy your question. appeared far more charming than before. You must know that at the time of my The heart of Conrad bounded for joy at reception into the order my brother the first glimpse of her person. A pow- William, the heir of the family was er, as irresistible as the central attraction alive. Since his decease I have obtained of the globe, hurried him towards her a dispensation from my vow, as the last through the vortex of dancers; and as remaining branch of the house, and am he had now almost given up all hopes at liberty to quit the profession of knightof seeing her again, he was unable to hood whenever I please. But never till breathe forth the effusions of his glad- the moment I saw you, has almighty ness. In order to gain time to recover love taken possession of my heart: from bimself, and to hide his confusion, he that instant I felt an entire change withled her out to dance, when every couple in my bosom; and I am firmly persuaded immediately made way for the charming that you, and no other, are allotted me by pair. The beautiful stranger, hand in Heaven as my wedded bride. If therehand with the noble knight, floated fore you do not refuse me your hand, along, light as the goddess of spring nothing from this moment forward but upon the pinion of Zephyr.
death shall part us.” “ Consider well At the conclusion of the dance, Count what you propose," replied Matilda, Conrad conducted his partner into the “ lest repentance overtake you. Those contiguous apartment, under the pretext who marry in haste, have commonly of offering her some refreshment. Here, leisure to repent. I am an entire stranin the tone of a well-bred courtier, he ger : you know nothing of my rank or said a thousand flattering things, as he station ; whether I am your equal in had done the day before; but the cold lan- birth and dignity, or whether a borrowguage of politeness insensibly kindling ed lustre dazzles your eyes. It is unbeinto the language of the heart terminated coming a man of your rank to promise in a passionate and earnest declaration any thing lightly: but a nobleman's of love. Matilda hearkened with bashful engagements should be held inviolable.” gladness: her beating heart and glowing Here Count Conrad eagerly seized her cheeks betrayed her inward emotions ; hand, pressed it close to his heart, and and when she was pressed for a verbal in the warmth of his affection exclaimdeclaration, she modestly said: “ I am ed, “ Yes, I pledge my knightly honour, not displeased, noble knight, with what and engage my soul's salvation, were you have expressed of affection both you the meanest man's daughter, and but to-day and before : I am unwilling to a pure and undefiled virgin, I will receive believe that your purpose is to deceive you for my wedded wife, and raise you me by false insinuations. But how can to high honour." 1
participate of the wedded love of a On this he pulled a diamond ring Templar, who must have taken the vow from his finger, and gave it her as the of perpetual celibacy. Sulve me this ledge of his truth ; and took in return paradox, or you will find that you might the first kiss from her chaste untasted as well have uttered your smooth lan- lips, and thus proceeded : “ That you guage to the winds: therefore explain may entertain no suspicion of my pur
pose, I invite you three days hence to | The founder of the feast lost his chearmy house, where I will appoint my fulness by perceptible gradations, and friends.--knights, nobles, and prelates, in spite of all his exertions it was not -to be witnesses of our union.” in his power to enliven his guests with
Matilda resisted this proposal with the spirit of mirth. The leaven of all her might : she was not satisfied at spleen soon soured the sweet cake of the galloping rate at which the knight's social joy, and in the banquetting room love proceeded; but determined to prove there prevailed a silence as dead as at the constancy of his affection. He did a funeral feast. The musicians, who not cease to press her to consent, but had been summoned for the evening she said neither no or yes. The com- ball, were discharged; and for this time pany did not break up before the dawn the banquet ended without one tuneful of day. Matilda vanished ; and the sound, in the house that had always knight, who had not enjoyed one wink before been the mansion of joy. of sleep, summoned the vigilant house- The disconcerted guests stole away at keeper betimes, and gave her orders to an unusually early hour; the knight prepare a sumptuous feast.
longed for the solitude of his bed-chamAs the dread skeleton figure with the ber; he was impatient for an opportuniscythe traverses palaces and cottages, ty to runinate at liberty on the tickleness mowing down whatever falls in his way, of love. While his reflections were enso old Gertrude, having her inexorable gaged by the melancholy subject, he fist armed with the slaughtering knife, tossed and tumbled to and fro on his paced through the poultry-yard and hen- bed: with the most intense exertion of pens, dispensing life and death among thought, he could not determine what the domestic fowls. The upsuspecting conclusion to draw from the absence of tenants of the court fell by dozens before his mistress. The blood boiled in his her burnished blade, flapped their wings veins ; and ere be had closed an eye, in agony for the last time, and hens, the sun peeped in through his curtains. doves, and stupid capons, yielded up The servants found their master in a their lives in heaps. Matilda had so violent paroxyism of fever, wrestling many fowls to pluck, draw, and skewer, with wild fancies. This discovery threw that she was obliged to give up her the whole family into the most violent night's rest : yet she did not grudge her consternation: the men of medicine labour, well knowing that the banquet tripped up and down stairs, exhibited was all on her account. The hour ap- solemn faces, and wrote recipes by the proached; the cheerful host flew to re- yard : in the apothecary's shop the ceive every guest as he arrived, and every mortars were all set going as if they had time the knocker sounded, he imagined been chining for morning prayer. But the beautiful stranger was at the door: not one of the physicians fell upon the but when it was opened, some reverend herb Eye-balm, which alone allays longprelate's paunch, matron's gravity, oring in love ; as to their balsams of life, solemn office-bearer's visage, strutted and essence of pearls, the patient rejected in. Though the guests were assembled, them all; he would hearken to no plan the sewer lingered long before he served of diet, he conjured the leeches not to up the dishes. Sir Conrad still waited plague him, but to allow the sand of his for the charming bride ; but at last, hour-glass to run out quietly, without when she did not appear, he was reluc- hastening its pace, by shaking with tantly obliged to give the signal for din- their officious hands.
When the guests were seated, For seven long days did secret chagrin there appeared one cover too much ; gnaw Count Conrad's heart; the roses but no one could guess who it was that of his cheeks were all withered; the fire had dishonoured the knight's invitation of his eyes was extinguished; the breath