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The captain gave a loud and scornful laugh.
"Seize the rebel and his bride," shrieked the angry colonel. The captain, nothing loth, motioning his dragoons to follow him and confiding in his superior force, hastened forward, swinging his sword high above his head. The colonel accompanied him and the dragoons followed.
"Save me, my God," cried Oswald, advancing to meet his opponents.
At that moment came a blinding flash of lightning, accompanied by a deafening clap of thunder, and with it rushed down from the highest summit a monstrous mass of stone which caused the earth to tremble as if there had been an earthquake; a short, sharp cry was heard, and the pursuers and pursued were prostrated upon their faces.
The first glance of Oswald's opening eyes, when consciousness returned, was directed in search of poor Faith. She lay near him in a deep swoon. Flying to her aid, he applied snow to her temples and warmed her lips with his kisses. At length she opened her eyes.
"You are yet alive, my Oswald !" cried she, with pious ecstacy, folding her hands as if giving thanks. "The Lord has passed over us in the tempest; but he has remembered us in mercy "
"Pious maiden," said Goes, who stood behind them, leaning like a dying man upon a dragoon. "Pious maiden, so mayest thou speak, out of the fulness of thy pure heart, but the sinner must smite upon his breast and cry, The Lord is just, and in his wrath has executed a righteous judgment ! Yet I may also give thanks for his mercy; for he has only punished the incorrigibly wicked, warning the deluded with the voice of his thunder, and leaving him yet a space for repentance and amendment. Forgive me, my son. I had unlearned to be a man and a father; but will again become one even at this late hour of my life."
"Your goodness restores me to new life, my father," said Oswald, pressing the paternal hand to his lips. His thoughts then instantly recurred to the monster who had allured his father there and stimulated him to the commission of crime; and, catching up his sword from the ground, his death-flashing glance sought the captain.
"He whom you seek is not far off," said Goes, speaking low, so as not to attract the maiden's attention, lest she should be too much shocked. With a trembling hand he directed his son to the enormous rock which, still smoking with the fire of
heaven, lay in the path. The youth shuddered as he turned his head and beheld a naked sword projecting from under the mass, in the grasp of a stiffened hand. The captain's plumed hat lay near, and the surrounding snow was reddened by a small rivulet of blood which came trickling forth.
"Behold the judgment of God, and implore his mercy for your repentant father," said Goes, sinking into the arms of bis son. * 1
Three months later, Frau Rosen was sitting in the little cottage of the weaver's widow in Friedland, with an expression of soft serenity upon her still pale countenance. On either side of her sat Oswald and Faith, each holding one of her hands, and all rejoicing at her convalescence. The rattle of an approaching carriage was heard without, and directly four black horses, attached to the carriage of colonel Goes, trotted up to the cottage door. The merchant Fessel, yet thin and pale from his past illness and sorrows, descended from the carriage and entered the room.
As calamities suffered in common only strengthen the bands by which good hearts are united, so the meeting of these friends evinced increased tenderness and affection; while the memory of the dear departed, which it called up, received the tribute of many tears.
"How stand matters in our good city of Schweidnitz?" at length asked the matron.
'Badly enough, as yet," answered Fessel: "but not so bad as when you left us. I must do the colonel the justice to say, moreover, that he has done everything in his power to mitigate our sufferings, even at great hazard of injuring himself."
"The Lord reward him for it," said Frau Rosen, "and allow it to balance the long account in that book where his sins are recorded."
"I am here as his messenger," continued Fessel; "to conduct you all to the little inn near the rocks of Aldersbach, where he intends to hold a family festival."
"There?" asked Oswald with surprise.
some important, and certainly some joyful purpose."
"He keeps his plans and objects very secret," said Fessel. "I have my conjectures; but can divulge nothing. That it is to be a great festival I know by the extent of the preparations. He has been there with a stone-cutter and gardener from Schweidnitz, since the day before yesterday; and he wishes you all to-day."
Fessel, having returned to his carriage, soon came in again with two large packages, which he delivered to the lovers. Faith hastened to her mother with hers, that they might examine and comment upon its contents together.
Meanwhile, Oswald opened his package and found therein a splendid Danish officer's uniform with all its usual appendages. "The time for these gilded ornaments has long since passed with me," he observed with a feeling of dissatisfaction; "and I do not deem it proper to wear the costume of a station which I intend never again to occupy.'
"He anticipated the objection," said Fessel; "and requests me to beg of you to wear it only this day, for his sake, notwithstanding your own disinclination."
"Ah, Oswald, look!" exclaimed the happy Faith, holding out her present for his examination. "See this beautiful white silken dress and this splendid diamond ornament!"
"It is very beautiful," said Oswald, giving it a careless glance; "but is there no myrtle-wreath with the dress?"
"I have already sought it in vain," answered Faith with a slight blush.
"Alas!" sighed Oswald, "then the most acceptable present is wanting. My dearest hope for to-day is at once annihilated."
"Murmur not against your father, my dear brother-inlaw," begged Fessel. "I will be answerable that he means well with you and our little Faith."
"It is well!" said Oswald, taking his package under his arm and retiring to dress; but he ought not to have forgotten the myrtle-wreath !"
Panting and foaming, the four black steeds drew up before the little inn at Aldersbach, which was now gaily decorated with evergreens. The happy old colonel stood in the door, ready to receive them. Oswald assisted Faith, and Fessel his mother-in-law, to alight. Goes advanced to the latter and clasped her hand. "You have lost much through us," he sorrowfully said, can you forgive ?"
"Should I else deserve to be called a christian?" answered the matron.
"May God reward your kindness!" said the colonel, leading her into the house, in the largest room of which several protestant officers of the imperial army were assembled. Oswald then entered with Faith, in all her youthful beauty, which was much heightened by her rich dress. "Yes,
"Ha, what a charming maiden!" exclaimed Goes.
my son, her appearance would excuse thy choice, if indeed it needed an excuse."
"I cannot share any part of the satisfaction which seems to be so general," said Oswald with forced gaiety, "as it is impossible for me to feel comfortable in a dress which is unsuited to my station and calling."
"It is exactly suited to your station," said the colonel with solemnity, handing a folded paper to him. It was a major's commission in the Danish service.
"This is wholly contrary to my wish," exclaimed Oswald with surprise, as he perceived the nature of the document. "I have laid down the sword for ever!"
"That cannot be done with safety at present in any part of Europe, my dear Oswald," said Goes. "In these rough times a man must bear the sword, if he would not be compelled to bow his neck under it; nor is there any prospect that it will soon be otherwise. You have repeatedly shown, that you will never be able to reconcile yourself to the humble and submissive condition of a burgher. Whenever occasion has offered, you have unhesitatingly drawn that sword with which you have professedly wished to have nothing more to do. I most heartily rejoice at it, because of the evidence it affords that my blood *flows in your veins; but at the same time it proves your unfitness for the counter and yard-stick. You must again serve,it is required both for your honour and mine. To serve the emperor would be against your conscience. I have therefore sought out a service which, as matters now stand, cannot be objectionable to either of us. A permanent peace has been concluded between the emperor and the king of Denmark. All these considerations were well weighed by me before I applied in your name for the honourable appointment which you surely will not now reject."
"You are right," cried Oswald. "You see farther than I do, and I gratefully receive the commission from your paternal hands."
'My application alone would not have met with such ready success," continued Goes. "For that, you have to thank one whose friendship and patronage you literally conquered at Dessau,―the duke of Friedland. He wrote himself to Copenhagen in your behalf; and the mediator who brought about the treaty of Lubeck could hardly be refused so small a request by the king of Denmark."
"Honour to the lion!" jocosely exclaimed Frau Rosen.
"Those large wild beasts generally have some generosity about them."
"All is in readiness!" said the host, entering the room and throwing open the doors.
"Give your arm to Faith, my son, and follow this man," said Goes. The lovers looked at each other with some surprise, and obeyed the command. After them came the matron, supported by Goes and Fessel. The officers followed.
The procession entered directly among the rocks, and at length, magnificently gilded by the evening sun, the eventful mass of stone which had been detached and overthrown by the lightning, shone upon them with a far different and more friendly aspect than when it had last met their view. hung around with evergreens and adorned with flowery garlands; and upon the most conspicuous part of it a medallion had been cut out, with these words engraved upon it: "The lightning of heaven here punished and warned." Underneath was cut out the day of the month and the year. In front of the huge mass stood an altar, built of the fragments which were shivered from it when it fell. An old pastor waited at the altar, in his clerical robes and with opened book. On each side of him stood Fessel's children, holding wreaths of flowers.
"What can all this mean?" whispered Faith to Oswald, in sweet confusion, while the colonel placed the missing myrtle wreath upon her blond locks.
"Unite this pair in marriage, reverend father," cried the colonel, with gushing tears, leading the lovers to the altar.
Mild toleration has spread its dove-like wings over the states of Austria for many long years since the period above referred to, the colony alluded to is no longer to be found among the rocks of Aldersbach,-and the silver rivulet again meanders in silent solitude through the concealed valley. The huge rock hurled down by the lightning's stroke yet lies, a lasting monument, in the middle of the road, and the medallion may yet be recognised. Time has effaced the inscription, and the guide who now conducts the curious visitor knows only a legend of an English gentleman, who atoned for his desire to view a thunder-storm among the rocks by being very nearly crushed by the fall of this rifted fragment. In memory of his imminent danger, and in gratitude for his almost miraculous preservation, he is said to have caused the medallion to be carved in the