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THE BRACELET S.*
A SKETCH FROM THE GERMAN.
It was late on the evening of a gloomy and bitter day in December, about the middle of the seventeenth century, that Carl Koëcker, a student of Goettingen University, having sipped his last cup of coffee, was sitting thoughtfully in his room, with his feet crossed and resting on the fender of his little fireplace. His eyes were fixed on the fire, which crackled and blazed briskly, throwing a cheerful lustre over his snug study. All the tools of scholar craft lay about him. table by his side lay open various volumes of classic and metaphysic lore, which showed evident marks of service, being much thumbed and fingered ; sundry note books, filled with memoranda of the day's studies, and a case of mathematical instruments. Two sides of the chamber were lined with well-filled book shelves; on one side was the window, and the corresponding one was occupied by a large dusky picture of Martin Luther. All was silent as the most studious German could desire; for the stillness was, so to speak, but enhanced by the whispered tickings of an oldfashioned family watch, suspended over the mantelpiece. As for Carl himself, he was of “goodly look and stature.” His shirt neck lay open, with the spotless collar turned down on each side ; his right hand lay in his bosom, and his left, leaning on the table, supported his
* The subtle schemes resorted to by the Inquisition for the detection and seizure of its victims, are too well known for an intelligent reader to charge any portions of the ensuing narrative with improbability or exaggeration. In a word-all that the wit and power of devils can devise and execute, may wellnigh be believed of the members of that execrable institution..
learning-laden” head. His brow was furrowed with thoughtful anxiety, which, together with his sallow features and long black mustaches, gave him the appearance of a much older man than he really was. As for his thoughts, it were difficult to say whether, at the moment when he is presented to the reader, they were occupied by the mysterious pneumatological speculations of Doctor Von Dunder Profondant, which Carl had been attempting to comprehend in the morning's lecture ; whether his fancy was revelling in recollections of the romantic splendours of last night's opera, or whether they were fixed, with painful interest, on the facts of a seizure made that day in Goettingen by the terrible myrmidons of the Inquisition, on the double charge of heresy and sorcery. The frightful tribunal alluded to was then in the plenitude of its power, and its mysterious and ferocious doings were exciting nearly as much indignation as they had long occasioned consternation. Carl was of a very speculative, abstract turn, and having been early initiated into the gloomy depths of transcendentalism, had begun latterly to turn his thoughts towards the occult' sciences.
About the period when this narrative commences, it was generally understood that a professor of the art diabolic had visited the principal places of Germany, and was supposed to have made several converts among the learned, as well as to have founded secret schools for teaching the principles of his science. The lynxeyed Inquisition soon searched him out, and the unfortunate professor of magic suddenly disappeared, without ever again being heard of. The present object of those holy censors of mankind, the principals of the Inquisition, was to discover the schools he had founded, and
the disciples attending them. Several of the leading students at Goettingen had fallen under suspicion, and Carl Koëcker, it was said, among the number. He was cunning enough, however, to avoid any possible pretext for offence, by saying little-and even that little in disparagement of the objectionable doctrines.
Carl had just set down his coffee pot on the hob, after an abortive effort to extract another cup from it, and was stirring together the glowing embers of his fire, when he was startled by a loud knocking at his door. It is not asserted that the sound caused him to change colour, but that he heard it with a little trepidation, is undeniable. Who, on earth, could be want
Rap, rap, rap! Rap, rap, rap!
Carl gently laid down the poker, but did not move from his seat. He listened-his heart beat quick and hard. I seemed evident that the obstreperous applicant for admission was resolved on effecting his purpose one way or another; for, in a few seconds, the door was shaken, and with some violence. Carl, almost fancying he had been dreaming, started from his seat, and cast an alarmed eye towards the scene of such unseemly interruptions. Ay—the door was really, visibly shaken, and that, too, very impetuously. . Who could it be-and what the matter? Was it one of his cred. itors ? He did not owe five pounds in the world. A fellow-student? The hour was too late, and Carl, besides, of such a reserved and unsocial turn as to have scarce one acquaintance at college on visiting terms A thief ? He would surely effect his entrance more quietly. Were some of his relatives come to Goettingen? was any member of his family ill ? was it merely drunk Jans, the janitor ? Who-who could it be? thought the startled student.
Rap, rap, rap, rap! Rap, rap, rap!
Carl almost overthrew the chair he was standing by, snatched up his little lamp, and stole to the door. “ Who the d—1 is without, there?" he inquired, an
grily, but not very firmly, with one hand hesitatingly extended towards the door handle, and the other holding his lamp; the flame of which, by-the-way, he fancied flickered oddly.
“Who is without there?” he asked again, for his first question had received no answer.
Rap, rap, rap, rap, rap! Rap, rap, rap “ In the devil's name, who are you ?"
“Who am I ?” replied a husky and somewhat hollow voice from without. " Who am I, i'faith? Let me in! Let me in! Mercy-you could not be more uncivil, or perchance affrighted, if I were Jans Curpurse, or the spirit of the Hartz mountains. Let me in, Carl Koöcker, I say—let me in!" “Let you in! Der teufel!"
Come, come-open the door!" • Who are you? Who the d- are you, I say?" continued Carl, pressing his right hand and knee against the door.
Let me in at once, Carl Koëcker-let me in, I say, or it may fare fearfully with you !",
“ Mein Gott !” exclaimed the confounded student, looking askance at his lamp, as though he expected to find a confidential adviser in it. The knocker, however, recommenced operations with such astounding rapidity and violence, that Carl, in a momentary fit of fear and confusion, unguardedly opened the door. A tide of objurgatory expressions gushed up to his tongue, when some one suddenly slipped through the door past Carl, made his way to the fireplace, and sat down in the armchair which had been recently occupied by the student. This was done with the easy matter-offact air of the most intimate acquaintance. Carl Koëcker still held the handle of the door, staring open eyed and open mouthed at the stranger, with unutterable amazement.
“Good Carl, prithee, now, shut the door-for 'ris bitter cold,” exclaimed the unbidden guest, in a familiar tone, dragging his seat close to the fire, and rubbing together his shrivelled fingers, to quicken the circulation,
“ Come, Carl ! shut the door, and sit down here,” continued the stranger, entreatingly: Carl, completely bewildered, obeyed, and sat down in a chair opposite the stranger.
The latter seemed not unlike a Jew pedler. He was small in stature, but of sinewy make. He wore a short, coarse, drab-coloured coat or tunic, with double rows of huge horn buttons. His vest was of the same material, and cut; and, as was usual in those days with itinerant venders of valuable articles, he had a broad leathern girdle about his waist, with a pouch on the inside. His short, shrunk, curved legs were enveloped in worsted overalls, soiled and spattered with walking in the mud. Removing a broadbrimmed hat, he disclosed a fine bald head fringed round the base with a few straggling gray hairs." His face was wrinkled and of a parchment hue; and his sparkling black eyes peered on the student with an expression of keen and searching inquisitiveness. Carl, in his excitement, almost fancied the stranger's eyes to glare on him with something like a swinish voracity. He shuddered; and was but little more reconciled to the strange figure before him, when a furtive glance had assured him that at least the feet were not cloven !
When he allowed himself to dwell for a few moments on the strange circumstances in which he was placed -alone-near midnight, with nobody knew whom-a thief, a murderer, a wizard-a disguised satellite of the infernal Inquisition—a devil, for aught he knewwhen, in a word, he gazed at the strange intruder, sitting quietly and silently by the fire, with the air rather of host than guest, and reflected how far he was out of hearing or assistance, if aught of violence human or supernatural should be offered—it was no trifling effort that enabled hiin to preserve a tolerable show of calm-,
" Heighho!" grunted the old man, in a musing tone,