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and mothers joined sons and daughters at distant service, or, joy and pride above all, when old and young couples met, and det rleine (baby), was handed over to its grandparents! What handshakings, what frank embraces among middle-aged friends, what explosive welcomes between brothers and sisters, what shy, glad greetings between youth and maid! And then, as they fell into groups together, only to hear them questioning for brothers abroad, for very old folks and babies left at home, giving the news of who was born, betrothed, or wedded; the summary of village gossip, the well-kept bit of scandal. Never surely was any gathering of people more simple and kindlyhearted, more intensely human, more tenderly picturesque.
"Bless me!" an Englishman near us exclaimed, as he watched the members of a scattered family meet and hug. "Bless me; now, what this sort of thing must be to the people 1"
What it really is to the people, was, I think, eloquently told by an announcement three weeks afterwards in the local paper. It came across the Atlantic from emigrant Krcuznachers to all the inhabitants of the Kreis, telling how they had kept Krcuznach Jahrmarkt at its appointed time in the backwoods, how they had sung the old songs, and drunk health to all friends then at the Jahrmarkt at home.
Although Krcuznach cannot boast a single fine building, it has sundry nooks and corners well worth exploring. As, for instance, tbe Heidenmaner (heathen's wall), a great mural fragment which once formed part of a square castle built bv the Romans, and which, by the way, we really heard described by an American visitor, as belonging to "tbe time when the Roman-catholics overran Europe." The Zwingel or Zwinger, also is picturesque, a narrow outlet to the Schlossberg, and formerly the means of communication between the town and its feudal castle. Of the latter, only a few ruins now remain; but a weather-worn stone lion still stands beside them in token of medieval relations between the castle and the town; a lion set up by a Count von Sponheim, in the 13th century, in grateful memory of a citizen who had saved his life in battle at cost of his own.
From the Schlossberg the traveller may go on through the woods, vineyards, and fields, of the high lands till he arrives at the rocky platform of the Rothenfels, a grand mass of porphyry rising almost sheer from the river. The scenery at this point (three miles above Kreuznach), is perhaps the finest in the neighbourhood. At his feet, a thousand feet below, in the valley, are village, railway, and the river, which winds away northwards past Kreuznach down to a point where the Rhine hills shut in the blue distance, Right opposite is a wild jumble of hills, and, looking beyond them, the eye traverses the sunlit cornfields and pastures of the Bavarian Palatinate till it rests on the great grey ridge of the Lemberg. Across a fine curve of the valley to
the left, its blood-red pinnacles crowned with a ruined castle, towers the splendid Rheingrafenstcin. On all sides boulders and rifted walls, blades, needles, spires, and domes of igneous rock, blood-red, purple, or black, according as they stand in shade or sunshine, strangely contrast with their masses of foliage and the smooth green hill slopes. Shadows from passing clouds nicker over the scene, giving fantastic changes of colour to the rocks, and bringing out all the tints of the vegetation from bright greens almost to black; so that the panorama is always changing. And the charm of association heightens the charm of this beautiful country, for close at hand, well guarded by rock and river, stands Ebernburg, the old stronghold of Franz von Sickengen; where Melancthon, Bucer, and other leaders of the German reformation, found rest and shelter; where Ulrich von Hutton set up his printing press, and whence he scattered his political and religious broadsheets through the length and breadth of the land.
A WINTER SCENE.
BY RICHARD HENRY STODDABT.
It is a morn in winter,
The air is white with snow;
And on the chinar branches
The furrowed fields and hill-tops
Like scales of silver fishes,
The bitter wind has banished
The silent nightingale, And the rose, like some coy maiden,
Is muffled in a veil.
Its silver song of summer
And frozen are the livers
No flower-girls in the market,
And the keepers of the roses
No happy guests are drinking
For gone are all the merchants
And gone the dancing women,
Their summer souls have followed
THE ROADSIDE INN. BY 0. I. C.
It was the month of stormy December; so that there was nothing to be wondered at in the fact that it was a rainy, tempestuous day, in the particular district of Italy, in which lies the scene of our story. For, though that beautiful land has blue, bright cloudless skies, yet they can sometimes frown as darkly even as those of foggy, gloomy England, had on this occasion the great heavy slanting rain beat incessantly against the old rude unplastered walls of the lonely Roadside Inn, and poured down in streams off the red tiles that roofed it.
No smoke ascended from the half-fallen chimney, and the closed door and shattered windows, told that either there were no guests inside, or that they had chosen to shut themselves in from the weather in very cheerless darkness. However, it seemed more likely that the place was without guests, for, after all, few would be likely to travel on such a day and on such a road, unless some great necessity indeed compelled them to it; but that such necessity did exist for some person, was proved by the sound of horse's feet borne on the hurricane that swept fiercely by, increasing in clearness and drawing nearer and nearer every moment, until, at length, the rider's head appeared above the high straggling thorn hedge, which ran along before the wayside hostelry.
The horseman, who wore a helmet and plume, now all drenched and forlorn-looking, reined in his horse from his headlong gallop as he approached the small house, and though much injured in appearance by the storm, still looked a young and strikingly handsome man. A soldier, too, he took his drenching lightly, yet to proceed farther on a jaded horse, and in such weather, was not to be thought of while there was shelter, even of unpromising appearance, at hand; so, throwing his bridle over his arm, he looked about for the bell-rope, which usually hangs outside such places in Italy, but finding that it had been removed, either intentionally or accidentally, he struck at the door with his whip four or five times very loudly, beside bestowing on it at the same time as many or more impatient kicks, when at last a female head appeared at one of the upper windows, and a clear, sweet voice demanded:
"What does the signor want, if it is admitance, be cannot have it, the house is completely occupied}"
"Impossible," replied the young man; "you must have room for one more; I am literally wet through. You will not surely refuse me shelter?"
"Madonna!" replied the same voice. "Ma
donna ! I am but B poor, lonely girl, and in gr ea trouble to-day; the Signor Soldato will be so
food as to seek another inn; may all the saints less him!"
"Per Baocho!" exclaimed the soldier, impatiently, "does the Bona dama take me for Km ladro, that she keeps me standing in this deluge, aprite hate e Bio rebenedica f"
There must have been something reassuring in the manner of the young petitioner, for the girl was prevailed on at last, and descending timidly to the door, drew back the bolts to admit him and his wearied horse, for, as in many other Italian inns, the stable formed part of the house, occupying indeed nearly all the ground portion of it, and the tardily-admitted guest drew the poor animal across the paved court, in the midst of the building, to a stall at the other, side of the house.
The interior of the building was large, rambling, and half-ruinous now, although it had formerly been much frequented before new roads had been formed, taking passengers and traffic in quite another direction; so that it was now seldom used; the more particularly, perhaps, that several robberies had from time to time been committed near it. In its more palmy days, it had been kept by a certain Petruccio Russeio and his wife, assisted by an only daughter Juanita. However, the good woman caught _ a malignant fever, such as is seldom met with in Italy, and died; and her husband Petruccio, either with grief or perhaps hard drinking, we will not decide which, was not slow in following her example, leaving their daughter tbe inn and several large vineyards attached to it. It was whispered that Petruccio had been rich in his way, and had also left behind a good sum in ready money, a report which naturally drew many of the young fellows of the neighbourhood around the heiress. Many suitors, who would not have the smallest objection to a little ready money, even if the encumbrance to be taken with it happened to be less pretty and engaging than the innkeeper's orphan. But for some time before her parent's death the girl had made her choice; she loved, and was beloved, by the son of a neighbour, who had been as a brother to her from childhood up, but whose fortune was no longer equal toherown; and this circumstance had made him sensitively timid in his courtship; but, at length, all things were arranged to their mutual satisfaction. And this very day, on which we first made her acquaintance, was to have been her wedding day; but a cruel disappointment had awaited the poor girl; and another reason beside this sad one why she had been so cautious of admitting a stranger was, a report had been spread throughout the country that certain robbers had taken up their abode in a wood not far from the house; so the door was securely barred, and not opened except at the approach of some well-known customer. It is not therefore surprising that the sight of B mounted armed man should frighten the lonely girl, and render her doubtful as to the safety of admitting so dangerous-looking a visitor.
The young soldier's horse was taken from him at the door of the little stable by the only other inhabitant of the place, an old ostler, who had lived there in the good old times; and though now his business was, as may be supposed, little more than a sinecure, still he hung on about the inn basking in the sun in the heat of the day; peering now and then at other times into the deserted stables, as if seeing to the wants of imaginary horses; running, or rather creeping, on messages whereever his young mistress sent him, or indulged in a sort of dreamy siesta such as he had just been taking when roused by the entrance of the young soldier. His small, dark, cunning eyes glistened with wonder at beholding him—eyes which, closely set and of oblique vision, always conveyed an unpleasant sensation to the minds of those who encountered even their casual glance, and the traveller did not escape their malign influence.
As he consigned his horse to his care, he felt some indefinite suspicion of him as he limped back into the stable with an expression of sly, malicious pleasure on his features, gleaming through the wonder, which, as we have already said, he displayed at first; and naturally too, as soldiers were very rarely seen in the more remote parts of the country, and their accidental appearance was always the occasion of much gossiping speculation.
The young landlady now requested her guest to follow her across the little yard, and then, ascending a broad flight of steps, formed of roughly-cut stone, she led him into the salon, or common dining place of the establishment, along the whole length of which ran a hugh oaken table; while old-fashioned, heavily-formed chairs lay scattered about in all directions, as if it large number of persons had just risen from them. A great dauby oil painting, representing the wedding supper of Galilee, evidently the production of some village Angelo, whose notions of perspective were, to say the least of them, peculiar, covered, if it did not much adorn, one of the walls; an ancestor or predecessor of the fair hostess, having evidently been the original of the Jewish steward, in the picture, who, in the act of pouring out the wine for the wedding company, looked far more like a padrone d'osleria than anyone else in the world.
Taking a rapid survey of this uncomfortablelooking apartment, the young man unbuckled his sword and laid it carelessly on the table, exclaiming, at the same time, with what seemed to be his favonrite expletive:
"Per Baccho, Figlia Mia, now that I have achieved entrance to the garrison it does not seem to be much to boast of. Can I have something to eat ? or is there wood? I should like a fire kindled to dry my wet clothes."
The girl, her gay-coloured peasant dress and bright silver ornaments presenting an almost painful contrast to the sweet tear-stained face half hidden in the apron pressed by her brown dimpled hands to her great black eyes, burst out amid her sobs with the old story:
"Madonna! I am a poor lonely girl, Signor Soldato; and I was to have been so happy today!"
"Poverina," said the good-natured soldier, softly, to her, touched by her genuine distress. "Poverina, I am sorry if I spoke roughly to you. What is it that distresses you so much; why should you not be happy on this and every other day, if anyone could be happy at any time in this ruinous old place P"
"Oh, yes; we could," interrupted poor Juanita, eagerly, " we were so happy here, we were to have been so happy here, Guiseppe and I; he is, but—but I—I have money enough for everything. The old house here, I love it. Guiseppe was to have made it all bright and new."
"Who is Guiseppe i" questioned the young man kindly, and smiling at her simplicity.
"My betrothed, signor," she answered.
"And has he proved false to you, Bella mia i" demanded the soldier, as, drawing near her, he cast his arm round her slight little waist, utterly unable to resist his professional inclination to console so much innocent prettiness in grief; but she quickly withdrew from his embrace and cried, indignantly:
"Do not touch me, Signor Soldato, my Guiseppe is not false to me, but a week ago he
went to S , our nearest great town, to make
purchases for our marriage, and on his return was seized on by the bandits, who have been lurking lately in the wood yonder. And although the good Padre himself went and offered all the ready money I have for his ransom, they refuse to give him up without a great deal more; but," she added, her indignation again welling away in tears, "I will sell all I have to release my poor Guiseppe. And I should not be alone here to-day, I could have plenty up from the village, but I would not suffer anyone to remain with me but old Ninny, the ostler; I would be utterly miserable, as I could not have my betrothed—we, who were to be so happy this very hour 1"
The stranger started slightly on hearing from this simple story the fact that bandits were in such close quarters with him, and silent himself, and apparently thinking deeply, he allowed her to weep on for some minutes also in silence; then, speaking abruptly, he said:
"There, there, Poverina, do not cry so bitterly. It was perhaps, after all, the saints you invoke so often who sent me to your door to-day although you were so anxious to keep me out' There is still hope for you and your Guiseppe* Is that ostler you speak of trustworthy? He struck me as being just about the opposite."
"Oh, I never knew him do anything wrong," replied the poor girl; "I think he loves me; but he is very poor. What can he do in the matter ?—nothing.
"Do you think him strong enough to bear a message for me that will cost him a twohours' ride, and honest enough to deliver it faithfully," asked the soldier. "If you do, bring him here, I have turned the whole thing in my mind, and am almost sure I can assist you and your Guiseppe."
A very sunshine of joy beamed on the young betrothed maiden's face at these words. Snatching her strange guest's hand, she kissed it passionately, and, calling on all the saints to bless and reward him, she rushed from the room.
"Not much chance the little one will think of my hunger or wet clothes now," muttered the young man to himself, as, smiling, he drew one of the heavy chairs to the window, to await her return and look upon the scene without.
Beyond the road before the house was a deep ravine; so deep that one could scarcely discern the stream which flowed through its depths, even when standing on the edge of its shelving descent. On its opposite side arose a lofty thicklywooded hill, the trees growing closely together, being entangled even in their exuberant untrained growth. Further on, and on each side of this hill arose others, some larger some smaller, but all covered with the same dense wood. The scene was a wild and lonely one, and yet it seemed to possess a charm for the traveller, which held him gazing on it with folded arms until his reverie was disturbed by a slight noise behind him. He turned, thinking it was the girl who had returned, but saw no one; and so fancied the person (whoever it was) had left the room. Yet uneasy, although scarcely knowing why, he stepped out on the landing, and looked down the broad staircase, but could not see a living creature. Impatient with himself for being so fanciful, he returned to the salons, when his eye turned almost instinctively to the table where he had left his sword, and to his dismay discovered that it had been removed, while at the same moment Juanita rushed in, and plunged once more into all her former hopeless trouble, and declaring that she feared the Madonna had entirely deserted her, there could be no message sent. She had searched everywhere for Ninny, and Ninny was nowhere to be found.
All the stories he had ever heard or read of travellers being robbed and murdered in lonely inns flashed through his mind, and for a moment a doubt of the faith of his young landlady crossed it; but only for a moment. One glance at her truthful troubled young face, and he dismissed it as unworthy of himself to entertain. Then his thoughts recurred to the ostler and the strange intuitive distrust he felt of him even at first sight, and he exclaimed aloud, hurriedly: "It was surely that ostler fellow who conserved to remove my sword. Come, come at
once, Poverina, and let us see if he has not also carried off my horse." And in much agitation he rushed from the room.
About two miles from the Inn, a narrow lane —on this day miry beyond description, as it was always rugged and unpleasant to tread— turned to the right from off the high road, and wound upwards among the hills, above the ravine already spoken of, until it ended among some huge boulders of soft, reddish stone, of a species very frequently to be met with in Italy. Nature, or, perhaps in this instance. Nature a little assisted by her ambitious rival, Art, had formed within one of these immense masses of stone an enormous cave or grotto, so large, indeed, that it would be necessary to penetrate far into its interior to enable one to perceive any party, however numerous, that happened to be seated at its farther extremity, unless, as in the present instance, their presence was betrayed by the light of the vast wood-fire, which flashed and shone on the forms of ten or a dozen men, who were seated in various attitudes round a rude table, on which were the remains of a plentiful repast, as well as a number of drinking vessels of sundry shapes and sizes. That their usual occupations were not of the most peaceful character, was rendered evident by the fact that they were all fully armed, though they did not all carry the same description of weapons, either in shape or number: their dress was picturesque in the extreme, suggesting even the idea of studdied effort at effect. Some had short scarlet cloaks thrown carelessly over one shoulder, others were wrapped in gaudy, manycoloured shawls, while all wore high boots, helmets, and grey, lightly floating plumes. That they were discussing some subject of interest, could be easily guessed by the earnest expression of their dark and bearded faces—the flashing eyes gleaming from under their contracted brows, and the ceaseless and violent gestures which accompanied nearly every sentence spoken.
This animated discussion was carried on not in one but in many dialects of Italian, thus showing they were natives of different parts of Italy— nay, some even of other countries altogether. One young man who sat facing the entrance to the cave, with long, curling black hair, black eyes, and slight, active frame, was a Neapolitan; another, lower down, at the side of the table, of weaker build, and whose face was nearly hidden by his immense beard and moustache, playing with the hilt of his dagger and casting half-distrustful, half-ferocious glances round him, most probably a Roman; while a tall, large-boned, heavy-looking man, with blond-complexion and bushy light hair, was certainly an Austrian from the Venetian States—in short, every State in the beautiful fallen country seemed to have its representative in this lawless band, who were indeed a company of ihe robbers called " Sqrassatory"—those horrible human birds of prey who carry pillage and murder on their course wherever they pass or rest, the terror of travel lers and the scourge of the poor, peaceful villagers, near which they take up their abode. But the most remarkable personage in the assembly was a man, who, sitting apart from the rest, took no part in their conversation, unless directly appealed to by his comrades, which they occasionally did and with a certain deference, which marked him as one whose authority they in some sort acknowledged. His appearance was a singular one for a native Italian. He was of middle height, stoutly built, broad-shouldered and thick-necked; his features massive and rather repulsive, while his eyes were small and had that reddish hue which gives the human eye the savage glare of those of a wild beast; his forehead was low, but broad, and what completed the singularity of his aspect was the quantity of tawny red hair which hung in thick tresses like a matted mane upon his broad shoulders. Yet, although thus silent, he had been closely observant of each particular speaker, as if watching the moment when he would consider itwelltointefereinthe argument; at length it came; and, starting froml.ia listless posture, he gave a rapid and piercing glance around him at the faces of his companions. When having thus fixed their attention on himself, he began to speak forcibly and clearly, and, as a matter of course, gesticulating violently, after the manner of his countrymen. As he spoke, the attention of his hearers became fixed on his discourse, for nature had gifted him with that species of rough, fiery eloquence which always moves the herd; and even the restless Neapolitan became steady as he proceeded, unless when he occasionally grasped his dagger in the excitement of his interest. The Roman's shifting glances, too, became fixed, and even the stolid German leant forward with protruded neck and open mouth, as though to swallow what he listened to. And yet the matter which had called forth all this excitement and eloquence would seem to us cold northerns a very poor one, but
The cold in clime are cold in blood,
and these fiery-natured outlaws discussed the ransom to be taken for a poor vine-dresser, the betrothed of a poor maiden, the owner of a little village hostelry, with as much heat as we would think it necessary to bestow—aye, and far more —on the most impoitant interests of our lives. When their chief had ceased speaking, a complete silence fell for full three minutes upon the entire assembly, and then the spell was broken by the Roman saying, "All this is very fine what you say, Podesta, but if we set this fellow free for what we can get, as you advise, and shift our quarters, where you promise us such rich booty, it will be for you we shall burn our fingers more than for ourselves: we fight and you snatch nearly all the gain."
"Diavolo, you suspect always!" replied the man, hotly. Will it lie better, think you, for me than for you when these accursed soldiers surround us, as I have certain information they mean to do in three days from this time, and enclose us in these hills like foxes in a trap .' Put it to the vote: there are eleven men here; I shall have nothing to do in the matter; settle it between you. Hands up, comrades! Aye or no—do we take what we can from this peasant fellow and let him off, or stay paltering here like so many old women pattering aves—to be shot down like dogs, or sent to the galleys for life?"
"Let the poor devil go," growled the Austrian, in his deep, guttural tones.
The men at the end of the table made no sign, and, indeed, through the whole thing seemed to be mere machines in the hands of those who sat above, but the Neapolitan, restless all through and eager for excitement, exclaimed: "Let us have him before us once more, and decide according to his answers to our questions—what we shall do," and, as a sort of middle course, the amendment was carried unanimously.
Then one of the bandits rose, and, disappearing for a short time in an inner recess of the cave, reappeared, leading their poor captive, with his arms pinioned closely, and his feet so bound that he could merely shuffle awkwardly along by his gaoler's side. Yet even with these disadvantages, he was a manly, good-looking fellow enough; and, although he must have suffered a good deal during the past week, both in mind and body, the fire of his dark eyes remained unquenched, and he faced his captors boldly.
"Well, fellow," demanded the Roman, when he had reached the table, before which he was ordered to stand, "do you still remain obstinate—do you still refuse to use your influence with this close-fisted betrothed of yours to induce her to pay the just amount of your ransom r"
"I do not know what you call just, signor," replied the young man, "but I know in the sum offered to you by our good Padre, she offered all the money my poor Juanita possesses in the whole world—she can give no more."
"By the ripe lips of Hebe, I caught a glimpse of her as she awaited the result of the Padre mission," laughed the chief loudly, "and, all in tears as she was, the damsel seemed a dainty one. Pity her purse is not heavier, to satisfy the demands of these signors, or that these signors have not more pity for the love-troubles of such an Arcadian pair I"
"Pshaw! by the gods, all this has lasted too long I" exclaimed a fierce-looking man, who spoke for the first time. "If she has not more money, she has vineyards; let her raise what we demand on them and redeem her bridegroom if she wants him; it seems to me her love is but a cold love after all!"
"Not so," said the captive, calmly and firmly, "I would take the money from my betrothed freely, for I know I could give her no greater joy, but I will not suffer her to be entirely robbed