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courage here in the busom of harmonious nature, where we are especially and wholly in the hands of a protecting God?"
“ We are at the end !” exclaimed the Bohemian, stepping out into the clear sunshine. The fugitives followed him, and found themselves in a narrow but pleasant valley, surrounded by high snow-covered rocks which cut off this quiet retreat from the rest of the world. A clear, silver fountain, which gushed from a cleft in the rocks, meandered through the vale, while among and upon the rocks, like eyries, were to be seen about ten huts, built of rough branches, and well covered with moss, to secure their inhabitants from the inclemencies of the weather. Men, women, and children, were moving in and about these simple dwellings as quietly and confidently as if they had resided there all their lives. The fire ordered by the Bohemian twirled its smoke up into the clear heavens, and there sat Lotek, assiduously turning a haunch of vension which was roasting before it.
“The morning is fine," said Faith to Oswald after breakfast, as their venerable host seated himself, “and the valley bere is so narrow and close that these huge rocks seem to press upon my heart. Let us therefore walk out a short distance beyond their confines."
“ Venture not too far, my children !” said the pastor, in a warning voice without raising his eyes from his book. My old body is a true and faithful weather prophet, and tells me that we shall have a severe storm to-day. These storms rage much more furiously here than in the plains, and, when they come, every living creature finds it necessary to seek a shelter.”
“ We will soon return,” promised Faith, slipping forth by Oswald's side.
“Mark well the place of entrance to our retreat,” said the porter who opened the outer stone door for them; may be sure to find it again. The passages along the rocks are very similar, and if by mistake you enter a wrong one you may be compelled to wander about all day long."
“Never fear !" answered Oswald. It would ill become a soldier to be unable to remember anything it might be necessary for him to find again.” He then looked at the highest peaks in the vicinity, impressed their relative positions upon his memory, carefully examined the secret door, and thus prepared, they went forth into the clear fresh morning air, and soon became engaged in a conversation of such interest as to render them entirely heedless of the lapse of time.
“I know not how it is,” said Faith, fanning her glowing face with her handkerchief ; "" it is yet mid-winter here, and I am so very warm.".
“ It is incident to the summer of life," said their former guide, who suddenly stood before them as they turned &
especially when the sun of love shines warmly. It is not probable you will have much further occasion to complain of the heat to-day, for a storm is approaching.'
“ With the sky so clear? Impossible !” cried Faith.
“You know nothing of the tricks of the mountain-sprites," said the Bohemian. “ One moment we have sunshine, the next thunder and lightning. That is the way with them. You will do well to return to the valley betimes.”
He passed on and was soon out of sight.
Yet but one quarter of an hour,” begged Faith ; then we will return as fast as we can.
“Who can deny you anything,” said the youth ; when you solicit what should not be granted ?”
They still continued to advance, until they came where the rocks were less compactly clustered, and glimpses of the plain, presenting brilliant winter landscapes, were occasionally obtained through the openings.
“Ah, how much pleasanter it is here than in the pent up valley !" cried Faith, clapping her hands with childish joy.
Oswald suddenly started and listened. “ Did you hear nothing ?” he asked the maiden. “ It sounded like a distant trumpet.”
Yes," said Faith, after listening a moment; “it must be the blast of a trumpet.”
“ It may be our pursuers !" cried Oswald. “ Let us hasten back to our asylum.”
He now turned quickly about with Faith, and, rather bearing than leading her, hastened to retrace the path by which they had come. Before proceeding far on their return, they were met by a colder and sharper wind, and the snow which it blew from the summits of the rocks involved them in a white fleecy cloud.
“ Alas, Oswald, I can no longer see,” complained Faith.
" It is but little better with me,'' answered Oswald, groping after the path to the right, which he supposed to be the one he should take. Still sharper blew the wind as the storm rapidly approached, and the dark gray mountain-clouds lashed the immense rocks with their miglity wings, sending down
If your health
their accumulated snows upon the heads of the poor wanderers. Still more wildly rushed and whistled and howled the winds among the rocks, in strangely horrible tones, and in the midst of the uproar they distinguished the sounds of distant rolling thunder and the fiashes of lightning in the low dark clouds. In this struggle of the elements, all the summits and other landmarks which Oswald had noted to guide his returning steps, had completely dissappeared, and at length he impatiently cried : “I have lost the way. Why was I weak enough to yield to the wishes of a child !”
“ Chide not, dear Oswald,” entreated Faith, submissively. “I will willingly endure every hardship which is suffered with you.'
" That is what distresses me," said Oswald. 6. Were I alone, I should enjoy this storm instead of trembling at it; for nature appears to me most beautiful in anger, and I have already been compelled to expose this brow to many a wild tempest. My anxiety for you troubles me. should be injured by this exposure I should be inconsolable, and have only my own thoughtlessness to blame for it."
A brighter flash and louder report now put it beyond doubt that a terrible storm was at hand. The echoes thundered among the rocks, now nearer and now farther off, until they finally died away in indistinct murmurs.
“ X thunderstorm in winter!" cried the trembling Faith. “ That is doubly horrible.”
“ Who knows that this tempest may not bring a blessing ; and certainly it cannot do much harm here among these old rocks,” said Oswald by way of consoling her, still continuing to advance at random.
“Thank heaven, I hear human voices !" exultingly shouted Faith : and like a doe she skipped towards an eminence with such speed that Oswald could scarcely follow her.
A multitude of people were approaching, sure enough. It was composed of colonel Goes, the detestable Hurka, and a troop of Lichtenstein dragoons, who immediately aimed their arms at the fugitives.
“ Stand !” cried Goes, amid the thunder of the storm, to his son, whom he instantly recognised. Stand, or I command the troops to fire.”
• Father, do no violence !” cried the despairing youth, throwing himself before the maiden, who had sunk upon her knees; “God judges righteously and protects the innocent ! Hear how he warns you with the voice of his thunder !"
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
“ 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.
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. ** That indicates 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."