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And when at length it camė, with joy
He hail'd the bridal day,
They went their willing way.
But when they at the altar stood,
And heard the sacred rite,
A pale sulphureous light.
And when the Youth with holy warmth
Her hand in his did hold, Sudden he felt Donica's hand Grow deadly damp and cold.
And loudly did he shriek, for lo !
A Spirit met his view,
That instant from her earthly frame
Howling the Dæmon filed, And at the side of Eberhard The livid form fell dead.
“Divers Princes and Noblemen being assembled in a beautiful and fair Palace, which was situate upon the river Rhine, they beheld a boat or small barge make toward the shore, drawn by a Swan in a silver chain, the one end fa:tened about her neck, the other to the vessel ; and in it an unknown soldier, a man of a comely personage and graceful presence, who stept upon the shore; which done, the boat guided by the Swan left him, and floated down the river. This man fell afterward in league with a fair gentlewoman, married her, and by her had many children. After some years, the same Swan came with the same barge unto the same place; the soldier entering into it, was carried thence the way he came, left wife, children and family, and was never seen amongst them after.”
“ Now who can judge this to be other than one of those spirits that are named Incubi?” says Thomas Heywood. I have adopted his story, but not his solution, making the unknown soldier not an evil spirit, but one who had purchased happiness of a malevolent being, by the promised sacrifice of his first-born child.
Bright on the mountain's heathy slope
The day's last splendours shine,
Gleam gaily on the Rhine.
And many a one from Waldhurst's walls
Along the river stroll’d,
The evening gales came cold.
So as they stray'd a swan they saw
Sail stately up and strong,
A little boat along,
Whose streamer to the gentle breeze
Long floating flutter'd light, .
There lay reclined a knight.
With arching crest and swelling breast
On sail'd the stately swan, And lightly up the parting tide
The little boat came on.
And onward to the shore they drew,
Where having left the knight, : : The little boat adown the stream
Fell soon beyond the sight.
Was never a knight in Waldhurst's walls
Could with this stranger vie, ..! Was never a youth at aught esteem'd
When Rudiger was by.
Was never a maid in Waldhurst's walls
Might match with Margaret'; Her cheek was fair, her eyes were dark,