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* The Herrschaften are not in such bright spirits as the sun to-day ! exclaimed our driver, when, finally tired of cracking his whip and shouting to his horses, he found we still sat silent and crest-fallen. He wore the jauntiest costume to be found in Europe, after that of his Hungarian confrère, a short postilion jacket, bound and trimmed with yellow lace, a horn slung across his breast by a bright yellow cord, and a hat shining like looking-glass cocked on one side of his head, while his face expressed everything that is pleasant and jovial.
How can one not be out of spirits when one is crossed by such a stupid set as the people of your town? Why, there is no part of Europe in which they will even believe it possible!
• Well, you see they don't understand much, about here,' he replied, with an air of superiority. “In Italy they manage better; they tie the luggage on behind, or underneath, where it is safe enough. Here they have only one idea—to stick it on the top, and in that way a carriage may be easily upset at a sharp turn. You cannot drive any new idea into these fellows; it is like an echo between their own mountains, whatever is once there, goes on and on and on.'
I showed him the map, and traced before him the difference in the length of the route we should have taken and that we had now to pursue. I don't think he had ever understood a map before, for he seemed vastly pleased at the compliment paid to his intelligence. “Ah! he exclaimed, ‘if we could always go as the crow flies, how quickly we should get to our journey's end; or if we had the Stase-Sattel, as they used to have wasn't that fine !
• The Stase-Sattel,' I replied, "what is that ?'
'What! don't you know about the Stase-Sattel—at that place, Bludenz, there,' and he pointed to it on the map, 'where you were telling me you wanted to have gone, there used to live an old woman named Stase, and folk said she was a witch. She had a wonderful saddle, on to which she used to set herself when she wanted anything, and it used to fly with her ever so high, and quicker than a bird. One day the reapers were in a field cooking their mess, and they had forgotten to bring any salt-and hupf! quick! before the pot had begun to boil she had flown off on her saddle to the salt-mines at Hall, beyond Innsbruck, and back with salt enough to pickle an ox. Another time there was a farmer who had been kind to her, whose crops were failing for the drought. She no sooner heard of his distress than up she flew in her saddle and swept all the clouds together with her broom till there was enough to make a good rainfall. Another time, a boy who had been sent with a message by his master to the next village had wasted all the day in playing and drinking with her; towards dusk he bethought himself that the gates would be shut and the dogs let loose, so that it was a chance if he reached the house alive. But she told him not to mind, and taking him up on her saddle, she carried him up through the air and set him down at home before the sun was an inch lower.'
• And what became of her?' I inquired.
* Became of her! why, she went the way of all such folk. They go on for a time, but God's hand overtakes them at the last. One day she was on one of her wild errands, and it was a Fest-tag to boot. Her course took her exactly over a church spire, and just as she passed, the Wandlungbell* tolled. The sacred sound tormented her so that she lost her seat and fell headlong to the ground. When they came out of church they found her lying a shapeless mass upon the stone step of the churchyard eross. Her enchanted saddle was long kept in the Castle of Landeckmaybe it is there yet; and even now when we want to tell one to go quickly on an errand, we say, “Fly on the saddle of Dame Stase.”
You have had many such folk about here,' I observed seriously, with the view of drawing him out.
Well, yes, they tell many such tales,' he answered; "and if they're not true, they at least serve to keep alive the faith that God is over us all, and that the evil one has no more power than just what He allows. There's another story they tell, just showing that,' he continued. Many years ago there was a peasant (and he lived near Bludenz too) who had a great desire to have a fine large farm-house. He worked hard, and put his savings by prudently; but it wouldn't do, he never could get enough. One day, in an evil hour, he let his great desire get the better of him, and he called the devil in dreiteufelsnament to his assistance. It was not, you see, a deliberate wickedness—it was all in a moment, like. But the devil came, and didn't give him time to reflect.
“I know what you want,” he said ; "you shall have your house and your barns and your hen-house, and all complete, this very night, without costing you a penny; but when you have enjoyed it long enough, your old worn-out carcass shall belong to me.” The good peasant hesitated; and the devil, finding it necessary to add another bait, ran on, “ And what is more, I'll go so far as to say that if every stone is not complete by the first cockerow, I'll strike out even this condition, and you shall have it out and out.” The peasant was dazzled with the prospect, and could not bring himself all at once to refuse the accomplishment of his darling hope. The devil shook him by the hand as a way of clenching the bargain, and disappeared.
• The peasant went home more alarmed than rejoiced, and fearing above all that his wife should inquire the meaning of all the hammering and blustering and running hither and thither which was to be heard going on in the homestead, for she was a pious God-fearing woman.
• Ile remained dumb to all her inquiries, hour after hour through the night; but at last, towards morning, his courage failed him, and he told her all. She, like a good wife, gave back no word of reproach, but cast
* The bell called in other countries the Elevation bell, is in Germany called the Wundlung, or change-of-the-elements bell. The idiom was worth preserving here, as it depicts more perfectly the solemnity of the moment indicated.
† The threefold invocation, supposed to be supremely efficacious.
about to find a remedy. First she considered that he had done the thing thoughtlessly and rashly, and then she ascertained that at last he had given no actual consent. Finally, deciding matters were not as bad as might be, she got up, and bid him leave the issue to her.
* First she knelt down and commended herself and her undertaking to God and His holy saints; then in the small hours, when the devil's work was nearly finished, she took her lamp and spread out the wick so that it should give its greatest glare, and poured fresh oil upon it, and went out with a basket of grain to feed the hens. The cock, seeing the bright light and the good wife with her basket of food, never doubted but that it was morning, and springing up, he flapped his wings, and crowed with all his might. At that very moment the devil himself was coming by with the last roof-stone. * At the sound of the premature cock-crow he was so much astonished that he didn't know which way to turn, and sank into the ground bearing the stone still in his hand.
• The house belonged to the peasant by every right, but no stone could ever be made to stay on the vacant space. This inconvenience was the penance he had to endure for the desperate game he had played, and he took it cheerfully, and when the rain came in he used to kiss his good wife in gratitude for the more terrible chastisement from which she had saved him.'
The jaunty postilion whipped the horses on as he thus brought his story to a close, or rather cracked his whip in the air till the mountains resounded with it, for he had slackened speed while telling his tale, and the day was wearing on.
“We must take care and not be late for the train,' he observed. "The Herrschaften have had enough of the inn of Oberriet, and don't want to have to spend a night there, and we have no Vorarlberger-geist to speed us now-a-days.'
· Who was he?' I inquired eagerly.
'I suppose you know that all this country round about here is called the Vorarlberg, and in olden time there was a spirit that used to wander about helping travellers all along its roads; when they were benighted it used to go before them with a light; when they were in difficulties, it used to procure them aid ; if one lost his way, it used to direct him aright: till one day a poor priest came by who had been to administer a distant parishioner. His way had lain now over bog, now over torrentbeds. In the roughness of the way the priest's horse had cast a shoe. A long stretch of road lay yet before him, but no forge was near. Suddenly the Vorarlberger-geist came out of a cleft in the rock, silently set to work and shod the horse, and passed on its way as usual with a sigh.
* In Tirol the roofs are frequently made of narrow overlapping planks, weighed down by large stones. Hence the origin of the German proverb, “If a stone fall from the roof, ten to one but it lights on a poor widow ;'--equivalent to our “Trouble never comes alone.'
““ Vergeltsgott !" cried the priest after it.
"“God be praised !” exclaimed the spirit. “Now am I at last set free. These hundred years have I served mankind thus, and till now no man has performed this act of gratitude, the condition of my release.” And since this time it has never been seen again.'
We had now once more reached the banks of the Rhine. The driver of the luggage van held the ferry in expectation of us, and with its team it was already stowed on board. Our horses were next embarked, and then ourselves, as we sat, perched on the carriage. A couple of rough donkeys, a patriarchal goat, and half a dozen wild-looking half-clothed peasants, made up a freight which seemed to tax the powers of the crazy barge to the utmost, and as the three brawny ferrymen pulled it dexterously along the guide rope, the waters of the here broad and rapid river rose some inches through the chinks. All went well, however, and in another half-hour we were again astonishing the factotum of the Oberriet station with a vision of the Gepack' which had puzzled him so immensely the day before.
R. H. B. (To be continued.)
AN ALARMING INCIDENT.
I HAD been spending the autumn in Sweden, as far as the end of October, and had enjoyed first-rate sport; but by that time my forest friends, the hares, black-game, and capercaillie, had grown very rare : ducks and snipe were no longer to be met with in the grass, and among the rushes by the lake; and I was preparing to pack up my traps and to return to England, when I received an invitation from a gentleman who farmed his own small property in one of the valleys towards the west of Ostersund. The hospitable reception I met with, not only from himself and his family, but also in the whole of the surrounding country, determined me on passing at least the early part of the winter at his house ; and having made an arrangement, that proved highly satisfactory to all parties, with his sensible wife, I sent for my tackle and books, and prepared for a thorough Swedish life. I had already made some progress in the language, and I found besides that English was understood in several of the neighbouring families; so that, with the prospect of excellent bear-hunting and plenty of skating and sledging, I looked contentedly on my lot. The house was tolerably well furnished, though I should have preferred fewer stoves and more carpets over the floors, which were kept in a state of the highest polish by the united efforts of the mistress and her two handsome daughters, who seemed to be constantly superintending their maids. By their devotion to household duties also, the meals were admirably served -a point of some importance when one considers how many there were of them, in the parlour alone.
The number of farm-buildings struck me very much when I first began to look about me; but that was not to be wondered at when you remembered that the whole stock of the farm had to be housed for six months of the year. They were nearly all enclosed in a strongly-fenced yard, with gates that were securely fastened during winter ; and although wolves were scarcely ever known to attack a farm-yard, it was necessary to be on the watch against them. I was sometimes reminded of their possible neighbourhood by the look of some of the dogs about Sarafeld, (for so the place was called,) whose progenitors had been wild in the forest; but there were dogs of all breeds, and for all purposes of watching as well as of sport, from the stately Dahlbo hound, somewhat like an English mastiff, to the ugly little Lap hounds, used for tending the reindeer on the fells. My own favourite was one of the newly reclaimed savages, who became extremely fond of me, but whom I seldom took into the forest, as I wanted a good setter, which he was not.
Before I had been long in my winter quarters, however, all the game birds appeared to have retired to their roosts among the thickest branches, in perfect silence, beyond the reach of gun or dog. The stillness was so great of these immense tracts, that a passing sound was carried through the air to an incredible distance; and I recollect how cheerful I used to think it to see an assembly of magpies, clustering round their old nests, apparently in close consultation as to the lawful denizens of those domiciles, which after all they were in the habit of again leaving, till they built new ones in the spring. Often, too, I heard the chattering of the eross-bills, as they flitted among the fir-cones in search of food; or the sound of the axe where woodmen were busy in cutting down the trees. This operation they perform in so slovenly a fashion as to leave the roots and perhaps four feet of the stem standing, which adds greatly to the desolate look of the northern forests.
I was once surprised by hearing a weak quavering voice, apparently quite near me, singing a hymn; but I had walked a considerable distance before I came upon the singer, who proved to be a “root grubber,' or poor old pauper, hired out by the parish to some farmer, for little more than his bare subsistence. He was sitting in the sun, which had partially thawed the snow, among some fir stems that had fallen under the axe during the previous winter, but had lain neglected till they were half imbedded in mosses, heath, and bog-myrtle. The scarlet berries of a mountain-ash shone bright over his head, and had attracted a number of small birds, who seemed not to have a moment to lose in securing their feast. He was a gentle-mannered creature, not likely to frighten them away; with a wistful expression in his eyes, as if he were in the habit of looking at days that lay far down the path he had already trodden, and beyond, that he had still to tread. He told me his master wanted the wood I saw carried home, for burning: it ought, by rights, to have been