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so the priest christened it Matilda, after be. His tongue, however, was bound its mother. After the ceremony, little by the dread of falling into a woman's Matilda was carried back to her mother, weakness, and by the inviolable sanctiand the ladies followed in order to con- ty of his knightly word. Nevertheless, gratulate the new-made mother, and in the moment of matrimonial confibestow upon their god-daughter the ac- dence, the question,
6 Tell me now, customed baptismal boon. At sight of my dear, who was the lady with the the stranger Matilda betrayed some dripping veil,” often was ready to bolt. emotion. She probably felt a mixture | He expected one day or other a full of pleasure and surprise, at the punc- gratification of his curiosity by dint of tuality shewn by the Naiad in the per- cunning or caresses, firmly relying on formance of her engagement. She cast that property of the female heart, in a stolen glance at her husband, who consequence of which it is as little able replied by a smile, which none of the to keep a secret as a sieve of holding bystanders could decypher, and after- water. For this time, however, he was wards affected to take no notice of the mistaken in his calculation. Matilda stranger. The presents now engaged kept the bridle on her tongue, and laid all the mother's attention : a shower of up the riddle in her heart with no less gold was poured upon the nursling from care than the musk-ball in her casket of the liberal hands of its sponsors. Last jewels. of all, the unknown lady came forward Ere the infant had outgrown the wib her boon, and much disappointed leading-strings, the nymph's prophecy the expectations of her associates. They respecting her affectionate mother was looked for a present of inestimable value fulfilled; she was taken ill, and died so from so splendid a personage, especially suddenly, that she had not even time to when they saw her produce, and unfold think of the musk-ball, much less could with great care and method, a silk case, she dispose of it for the advantage of which, as it turned out, contained no- little Matilda, according to the directions thing but a musk-ball, and that not the of her patroness. Siegfried was unforprecious drug, but an imitation, turned tunately absent at a tournament at Augsin box-wood. This she laid very grave- purg, and was on his way homeward as ly upon the cradle, and
gave the mother this melancholy event happened, with a friendly kiss upon the forehead, aud his heart bounding for joy, on account then quitted the apartment.
of a prize he had received from the So paltry a present occasioned a loud hands of the Emperor Frederick himself. whisper through the room, and a laugh As soon as the dwarf on the watchof scorn succeeded. Several shrewd tower was aware of his lord's approach, remarks and sly allusions for the festi- he blew his horn, as usual, to announce vity of a christening has in all ages been his arrival to the people in the castle; semarkable for its effect in brightening but he did not blow a cheerful note, as the wit-entertained the guests at the on former occasions. The mournful expense of the fair stranger. But, as blast smote the knight's heart sore, and the knight and his lady observed a raised up sad apprehensions in his mysterious silence upon the subject, breast : “ Alas! he cries,“ do you hear both the curious and voluble were ob- | those doleful sounds ? it is more unliged to rest satisfied with distant con- grateful to my ears than the screechjectares. No more was seen of the owl's screaming. Hansel proclaims nostranger, nor could any one tell which thing good : I fear it is a death's blast.” way she had vanished. Siegfried was The squires were all dumb with appresecretly tormented to know who the lady hension. they looked their master sorwith the dripping veil, for so, for want rowfully in the face ; at last one took up of a better name, was she entitled, might the word, and spake, “ There goes a single raven croaking to our left hand comported herself haughtily towards the Heaven defend us ! for I am afraid there domestics; she held banquets and cais a corpse in the house.” The knight rousals without number; her friutfulness upon this clapped spurs to his horse, peopled the house with a numerous and galloped over the heath till the progeny. The daughters of the first marsparks flew amain. The drawbridge riage were disregarded, and they very fell; he cast an eager look into the
soon were put out of sight and out of court-yard, where he beheld the sym- mind. The two elder sters were placed bol of a dead body set out before the in a religious establishment in Germadoor; it consisted of a lantern crowned ny. Little Matilda was banished to a with a flag of crape, and with a light; remote corner of the house, and placed moreover all the window-shutters were under the superintendance of a nurse, closed. At the same instant he heard that she might no more intrude upon the lamentation of the household, for her step-mother's notice. As this vain they had just placed Matilda's coffin on woman was utterly averse to all housethe bier. At the head sate the two el- hold affairs, her want of economy rose der daughters, all covered with crape and to such a pitch, that the revenues arising frize. They were silently shedding show- from club-law were inadequate to the ers of tears over their departed mother. expenses, although the knight stretched The youngest was seated at the foot ; his privilege to the utmost. My lady she was as yet incapable of feeling her found herself frequently under the neloss, and so she was employed in strip- cessity of despoiling the repositories of ping, with childish unconcern, the flow- her predecessor. She was obliged to ers that were strewed over the dead body. barter away the rich stuffs, or surrender This melancholy spectacle was too much them on pawn to the Jews. Happening for Siegfried's firmness: he began to sob one day to be in great household distress, and lament aloud, fell upon the ice-cold she rummaged every drawer and coffer corpse, bedewed the wan cheeks with for valuables ; in her search, she stumhis tears, pressed with his quivering lips bled upon a private compartment in an against the pale mouth, and gave him- old escrutoire, and, to her great joy, self up, without reserve, to the bitterness among other articles, fell upon
Matilda's of sorrow. Having laid up his armour casket of jewels. Her greedy eye de in the armoury, he drew his hat deep voured the sparkling diamond rings, the over his eyes, put on a black mourning ear-pendants, bracelets, necklaces, lockcloak, and took his place beside the ets, and the whole trinkets besides. She bier, brooding over his affliction; and took an accurate inventory of the whole at length conferred on his deceased wife stock, examined article by article, and the last honours of a solemn funeral. calculated in idea, how much this glo
It has been remarked by a certain rious windfall would produce. Among great wit, that the most violent feelings other rarities she was aware of the woodare always the shortest in their duration. en musk-ball; she tried to unskrew it, Accordinglythe knight, bowed as he had but it was swelled by the damp. She been to the ground,
felt the load of sor- then poised it on her hand, but finding row grow lighter by degrees, and in a it as light as a hollow nut, she concludshort time entertained serious thoughts ed it was an empty ring-case, and tossed ef repairing his loss by a second wife. it as if worthless lumber out at the The lot of his choice fell upon a brisk window. young damsel, the very antitype of the Little Matilda happened to be playing gentle Matilda. The household of course on the grass-plot immediately below. soon put on a different form. The new Seeing a round body roll along the turf, lady delighted in pomp and parade ; her she grasped with a child's eagerness at extravagance knew no bounds, and she the new plaything ; nor was she a whit
less delighted at this, than her mother- Matilda was a sensible, intelligent in-law at the other prize. It afforded child ; and she had reflection enough to her amusement for several days; she hold her tongue on the subject of godwas so fond of it, that she would not mamma Nicksy. At her return to the part with it out of her own hands. One castle, she asked for needle and thread, sultry summer's noon, the nurse carried which she used for the purpose of sewing her charge to the grotto for coolness ; the musk-ball in the lower tuck of her the child, after a while, asked for her frock. All her thoughts are now turned afternoon's cake; but the nurse had for- towards the fountain. Whenever the gotten to bring it, and did not chuse to weather permitted, she proposed a walk be at the trouble of going back quite to there : her superintendant could deny the house : so, to keep the little one nothing to the coaxing little maid; and, quiet, she went among the bushes to as she seemed to inherit this predilecpluck a handful of blackberries. The tion, the grotto having always been the child meanwhile played with the musk- favourite retreat of her mother, she gras ball, rolling it before her and running tified her wishes so much the more after it: once she rolled it a little too far, | cheerfully. Matilda always contrived and the child'sjoy, in the strictest sense, some pretext for sending away the tumbled into the water. Immediately nurse ; no sooner was her back fairly a female, fresh as the morning, beauti- turned, than dash dropped a pebble ful as an angel, and smiling like one of into the spring, which instantly procured the Graces, appeared in view. The child her the company of her indulgent godstarted, for at first she supposed it was mother. In a few revolutions of the her step-mother, in whose way she ne- year, the little orphan attained the age ver came without a beating or a scolding. of puberty: her charms disclosed themBut the Nymph accosted her in the most selves as the bud of a rose opens its hunengaging terms: “ Be not afraid, my dred leaves, opens in modest dignity little dear, I am thy godmamma : come amid the many-coloured race of vulgar to me : look, here is thy plaything that flowers. She blossomed indeed but in fell into the water.” The sight of this the kitchen-garden ; for she lived unnoenticed the child towards her : the ticed among the servants. she was never Nymph took her up in her arms, pressed suffered to appear at her mother's voher gently to her bosom, kissed her af- luptuous banquets, but was confined to fectionately, and bedewed her face with her chamber, where she employed her- tears. “Poor little orphan,” said she, self in needle-work; and at the close * I have promised to be instead of a of the day found, in the society of the mother to thee, and I will keep my word. Nymph of the Fountain, ample comCome often here to see me. "Thou wilt pensation for the noisy pleasures of always find me in this grotto upon which she was deprived. The Naiad throwing a pebble into the fountain- was not only her companion and conhead. Keep thy musk-ball with the ut- fidante, but likewise her instructress in most care : be sure, never play with it every female accomplishment; and she any more, lest thou lose it; for some was studious to form her exactly after time or other, it will fulfil three of thy the pattern of her virtuous mother. wishes. When thou art grown a little Onedaythe Nymph redoubled her tenoder, I will tell thee more. At present derness : she clasped the charming Mathou wouldst not understand me.” She tilda in her arms, reclined her head upon gave her much good advice besides, her shoulder, and displayed so much suitable to her tender age, and, above melancholy fondness, that the young all things, enjoined her silence. Soon lady could not refrain from letting fall afterwards the nurse returned, and the some sympathising tears upon her hand, Nymph was gone.
as she pressed it in silence against her
lips. The Naiad appeared still more af- Siegfried of Blackpool had degeneratficted at this correspondence of feeling ; ed by this time into a mere woman's “ Alas! my child,” said she, in a tool: he could never satisfy his spendmournful voice, “ thou weepest, and thrift wife with enough of robbery and knowest not wherefore; but thy tears are plunder. When he was not abroad wayominous of thy fate. A sad revolution laying travellers, she prepared a feast, awaits yon fortress upon the hill. Ere invited a number of bacchanalian comthe mower whets his scythe, or the west rades, and kept him in a continued fit of wind whistles over the stubble of the intoxication, that he might not perceive wheat field, all shall be desolate and the decay of his household. When there forlorn. When the maidens of the cas- was a want of money or provisions, Jatle go forth, at the hour of twilight, to cob Fugger's broad-wheeled waggons, fetch water from my spring, and return or the rich bales of the Venetians, afwith empty pitchers, then remember forded a never failing resource. Outthat the calamity is at hand. Preserve raged at these continual depredations, carefully the musk-ball, which will ful- the general congress of the Sivabian alfil three of thy wishes, but do not squan- liance determined upon Siegfried's deder away this privilege heedlessly. Fare struction, since remonstrances and adthee well; we meet no more at this monitions were of no avail. Before he spot.” She then instructed her ward would believe they were in right earnest, in another magic property of the ball, the banners of the confederates were which might be serviceable in time of displayed before his castle-gate, and need. At length her tears and sobs nothing was left him but the resolution stifled her voice, and she was no more to sell his life as dear as possible. The seen. One evening, about the season guns shattered the bastions : on both of corn harvest, the maids that went out sides the cross-bowmen didtheir utmost; for water returned pale and affrighted, it hailed bolts and arrows: a shaft, disa with their pitchers empty; their teeth charged in a luckless moment, when chattered, and every limb quivered as Siegfried's protecting angel had stepped if they were shaken by the shivering fit aside, pierced his vizor, and lodged deep of an ague.“ The lady in white,” they in his brain.
in his brain. Great dismay fell upos reported, “ is sitting beside the well
, his party at the loss of their undaunted uttering deep sighs, and wringing her leader the cowardly hoisted a white hands in great attiction.” Of this evil fag; the courageous tore it down agair omen most of the squires armour-bearers from the tower : the enemy, concluding made mock, declaring it to be all illu- from these appearances, that discot sion and women's prate. Curiosity, and confusion prevailed within the for however, carried several out to examine seized the opportunity for making th whether the report was true or false. assault; they clambered over the walls They saw the same apparition; never- carried the gates, let down the draw theless they mustered up courage to ap- bridge, and smote every living thin proach the fountain, but as they came that came in the way with the edge near the phantom was gone. Many their sword: they did not spare even th interpretations were attempted, but no extravagant wife, the author of the ca one fell upon the true import of the sign; lamity, nor her helpless children, f Matilda alone was privy to it; but she the allies were as much exasperat held her peace, in compliance with the against the freebooting nobility, as t strenuous injunction of the Naiad. She French mob against their feudal seis repaired, dejected, to her chamber, neurs, since the fall of despotism. T where she sate alone, in fearful expec- castle was ransacked, then set on fi tation of the things that were to come to and levelled with the ground, so th pass.
not one stone was left on another,
During the alarm of the siege, Matil- joined a company of carriers on their da barricaded the door of her apartment way to Augspurg.' In her forlorn situain the best manner she was able, and tion, she had no other resource than to took post at her little window in the seek a place in some family : but, as it roof of her house ; and having observed was not the season for hiring servants, the issue of the affair from this advan- it was a long time before she could find tageous station, and finding that bolts employment. and bars were not likely to afford her Count Conrad of Swabeck, a knight any farther security, she put on her of the order of knights templars, chanveil
, and then turned her musk-ball cellor and champion of the diocese of thrice round, at the same time repeat-Augspurg, had a palace in that city, ing the words her friend the Na:ad had where he usually resided in winter. taught her:
During his absence Gertrude, the houseBehind me, night, before me, day,
keeper, bore sovereign sway in the That none behold my secret way.
mansion. Gertrude, like many other She now came down stairs in perfect worthy persons of her sex and calling, confidence, and passed unperceived had engrafted the failing of an inexorathrough the confusion of slaughter. She ble scold upon the virtue of unremittdid not quit her paternal residence withing industry. Her failing was so much out deep sorrow of heart, which was much more notorious throughout the city, than aggravated by her being utterly at a loss her virtue, that few servants offered their which was to take. She hastened from services, and none had been able to stay the scene of carnage and desolation, till out their time with her. She raised such her delicate feet absolutely refused to an alarm, wherever she moved, that the serve her any longer. The falling of maids dreaded the rattling of her keys as night, together with extreme weariness, much as children do hobgoblins. Sauceconstrained her to take up her lodging pans and heads suffered alike for her at the foot of an oak, in the open fields. ill-humours; when no projectiles were As soon as she had seated herself on the within reach, she would wield her bunch cold turf, her tears began to flow, and of keys in her brawny arm, and beat she made no attempt to restrain them. the sides and shoulders of her subalterns She turned aside her head to take a fare- black and blue. Every description of an well view, and to breathe her last bless- ill-conditioned woman was summed up ing on the place where she had passed with, “ in short, she is as bad as Gerthe years of her childhood. As she trude, the Count's housekeeper.” One lifted her eyes, behold the sky appeared day she had administered her office of all blood-red: from this sign she con- correction so rigorously, that all the cluded that the residence of her forefa- household decamped with one consent : thers had become a prey to the flames. it was at this conjuncture that the gentle She turned away her face from this hor- Matilda approached to offer her services. nid spectacle, heartily wishing for the But she had taken care to conceal her hour when the sparkling stars should elegant shape, by fastening a large lump grow dim, and the dawn peep from the on her left shoulder, as if she had been east. Ere the morning dew had settled crooked; her beautiful auburn hair was in big round tears on the grass, she pro- covered with a large coarse cap ; and ceeded on her wandering pilgrimage. she had anointed her face and hands, in She arrived betimes at her village, where imitation of the gypsies, with juice of a compassionate housewife took her in, walnut husks. Mother Gertrude, who, and recruited her strength with a slice on hearing the bell ring, poked her head of bread and a bowl of milk. With this out at the window, was no sooner aware woman she bartered her clothes in ex- of the singular figure at the door, than change for meaner apparel, and then she exclaimed, in her shrill tone, “Go,