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fancy, naturally warm and enthusiastic, for ever dwelt on the miraculous circumstance of the beautiful birds, and their magic veils; and often would he run in ecstasy from the hermitage, when the morning cry of the raven echoed along the surface of the pool. His companion, in the meantime, grew daily and even hourly more indisposed. Age came upon him with all its debility; and after the lapse of a few weeks, a grave was dug by Brenno, and the corpse of his venerable friend deposited therein. His remains were interred, at his own particular request, in the spot where he had once beheld his mistress, and the spring flowers were planted upon the turf. The village peasants lamented the death of the good man, and came in crowds to visit his tomb. They thought of his virtues, his numerous acts of benevolence, his pious disposition, and eagerly procured every relic that remained of him. Anticipating the probability of such enthusiasm, Brenno had prepared himself for the event. He cut up the staff of the hermit, and fashioned it into toothpicks; his sandal shoon he converted into talismans of a marvellous quality, and predicted perpetual youth from frequent application to the relics. But this popular enthusiasm soon abated; customers dropped off, and the hermitage was once more a scene of utter solitude. Brenno was not displeased with this return of tranquillity; it gave him leisure to pursue his romantic schemes; and as the time of the equinox was approaching, he wisely considered that a fairy wife would be an agreeable addition to the household furniture of the hermitage. Impressed with this judicious opinion, he made every requisite arrangement, and awaited the annual visit of the swans in'a state of the greatest anxiety.
The long expected season of the equinox at last arrived, and Brenno stationed himself by the side of the pool. It was a fine summer morning; the sun was rising in the heaven, and the early dew yet glistened on the mountain precipices: a thousand feathered choristers welcomed the approach of day, and the lark was singing at heaven's gate his song of gratitude. The beauty
of the scene passed, with all its cheerfulness, into the buoyant heart of Brenno; and his exultations spoke eloquently in bis mantling cheeks. He had waited but a short time in his hiding-place, when from the hills of the west came a luminous but moving appearance in the sky. He gazed at it in triumph-it approached—and discovered in the form of a milk-white swan, with a gossamer veil floating gracefully down its neck, and a tuft of beautiful feathers on its head. It descended from its height; dropt the veil among the rushes that fringed the banks of the pool, and plunged into the waters. On a sudden it arose, and to the fascinated eyes of Brenno disclosed the form of a lovely woman, beaming in all the pride of innocence. A blush was on her countenance, and her blue eye spoke of blandishment and voluptuousness. Her figure was modelled with the most exquisite symmetry; her neck and breast were bare, and rivalled even the snow in whiteness. A transparent robe was thrown negligently across her, but so thin, that every movement of her beautiful limbs was discernible through it. As she sported in ecstasy on the surface of the waters, a strain of music was heard floating gently on the gale: it echoed across the stream, and died away among the distant mountains. The youth was enraptured; he moved gently from his hiding-place, and seized the magic veil. He then bore it to the hermitage, and awaited in an agony of expectation the result of his stratagem. After a short interval, a sound as of approaching footsteps was heard, and the graceful figure of a fairy stood beside him, clad in the lightest attire, and beaming in conscious loveliness. She spoke of the loss she had sustained, and implored his protection until enabled to recover her loss. The heart of the youth melted at the sight of her sorrow; and he volunteered his services in assisting to find the veil. They went out together, they wandered along the banks of the pool; but the magic web was nowhere to be found, and the poor fairy was inconsolable. On returning to the hermitage, she seated herself near the latticed window, and refused every consolation. The
summer breeze fanned her glossy tresses, and as her bosom palpitated with anxiety, and the warm flush of evening glowed on her countenance, her fond admirer thought that he had never yet beheld such exquisite loveliness. In a voice half choked with agitation, he implored her to discard her care, and wait in calmness till the veil should be discovered. The beautiful girl turned round at the expostulation; and as she beheld the fine form of Brenno hanging in fondness over her, the fire of conscious beauty lighted up in her eye, and love took possession of her heart. Her light etherial blood was incapable of lasting grief, and sorrow passed over her countenance, as the night cloud that sails across the full-orbed moon, and obscures its light with but a transient gloom. Hopeless of recovering her veil, she gradually resigned herself to the solitude of her situation; and though a tear sometimes trembled in her eye when she thought of her friends, and wandered in the long summer evenings by the Bath of Beauty, in the hope of regaining her treasure, she moved with a more elastic tread, and smiled on Brenno with more than usual archness.
A month had now elapsed, and found the fairy the uncomplaining victim of Brenno. She was by this time reconciled to her solitude, and never thought of her companion without a sentiment of affection for the delicacy that had respected her situation. As she was one evening wandering with him on the banks of the pool, the conversation grew more than usually animated, and the fairy, in answer to the tender expostulations of Brenno, informed him that her name was Zoe, and that she was the daughter of the celebrated Grecian princess, Calista of Zante : that she was paying her annual visit to the Bath of Beauty when she lost her veil; and that her privilege of immortal youth would cease, until it was recovered. The sun had by this time sunk behind the western hills, and the bright moon came up in her virgin splendor. The heart of Brenno was softened at the sight, and he pointed out the scene to his companion. « This, love," he exclaimed, “is the
soft, the beauteous hour, for ever hallowed in remembrance. It was on an evening sweet, holy as this, that you first smiled on me in fondness. That smile hath never passed away; it visits me like an angel of heaven, in the night season, and soothes my lonely hours. May I hope, my girl, that the time will come, when your affection will not speak in smiles alone, but in the honeyed words of love?" He ceased, and turned on the blushing countenance of the fairy a look of the most impassioned admiration. She reverted her face from his gaze; but in the soft expression of her blue eye he read all that could plead in his behalf. His frame trembled with emotion, his blood rioted in delirious ecstasy, and, clasping Zoe in his arms, he imprinted a warm kiss on her cheek, the first that man had ever imprinted there. Warmed by the affection of her lover, the blushing girl confessed her affection, and promised, if he would quit for ever the dreary solitude of the Swan's Pool, to bind herself irrevocably to him.
Every requisite was now arranged for their departure. The superstition of the neighbouring peasants had furnished the soldier with ample sufficiency for his travels, and he prepared for his return home. On reaching the town of Meussau, in Swabia, he was recognized by his companions; and the report was carried to the reverend fathers of the town, that the valiant Brenno, escaped from the massacre of his countrymen, was returning in triumph to the scene of his nativity. The fat bailiffs of the town came out in procession to meet
and amid the sound of trumpet and the roll of drums, Brenno and his beautiful Zoe were escorted home. The old mother welcomed her son as one that had arisen from the grave, and received his virgin bride with expressions of the deepest admiration.
The evening before the intended nuptials, when the bridal festivity was preparing, and the light tones of music echoed through the vaulted apartments, the fair Zoe busied herself with her mother-in-law in arranging her dress for the ceremony.
« Oh that I had but the light Grecian veil!” she exclaimed with a sigh; "then
indeed should I be viewed with envy." “Grieve not yourself about that," replied the talkative old lady; “ it is safe in my possession: my son desired me, from some unaccountable reason, to secrete it from your notice; but promise to conceal it from him, and I will restore it to its right owner. Zoe was struck dumb with astonishment; indignation at the hypocrisy of Brenno, and joy at the discovery of her veil, prevented her reply. But when she received the veil from the hands of the good matron, she threw open the window, and as the magic robe floated gracefully down her fair form, it assumed the appearance of a milk-white swan, and
sailed far away into the blue distant horizon.
The old lady in her turn now stared with astonishment. She tore the few hairs that time had yet left on her head, and when ber son returned to claim his beautiful bride, taxed him with sullying the honour of his family, by marrying a she-devil in disguise. After a lengthy harangue, her enthusiasm for devotion so far conquered her reason, that she concluded by the most convincing of all arguments, a sound box on the ear. The son retorted the angry expostulations of his mother, and the noise of the quarrel brought all the neighbours in a hurry to the door. “My son,” shrieked the pious matron, " has leagued himself with a she-devil!" “ A she-devil !” exclaimed a little fat bailiff, “Heaven defend us all!" “She was a Grecian lady,"returned the disappointed Brenno. “A she-devil," persisted the mother. “A Grecian lady,” resumed the son. Whoever she is," said the indignant bailiff,“ it is clear that she has escaped the clutches of the most Holy Inquisition; but whether she be a male or female Beelzebub, or even Moloch himself, Mother Church will conjure her back again."--"But what shall purify the character of our house,” returned the pious matron," that my son has for ever sullied? A house that was prior to the flood, and was intimately acquainted with the patriarchs. A house that
The little fat bailiff here interrupted her expostulations, and, with a face of reyerential purity, adjusted his wig, and informed the dis