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sight. He waded on gallantly through the snow, leaning on his trusty staff, and with his empty pannier at his back. The descent, however, was more difficult than he had ever found it before, as the narrow foot-path was now scarcely to be distinguished; and fearing it might be still worse at his return, he made deep marks in the snow, at all the most dangerous passes, to help him to find his way back again. The clock was striking twelve as he entered Mayenfeld, and on repairing first of all to his sister's, he found his brother-in-law lying ill of a fever, and Verena told him, in a sorrowful voice, that she must give up all idea of coming to the wedding, for the doctor seemed to think her husband's illness so serious, that she could not venture to leave him. This was a sad piece of news for Oswald; but he was obliged to hurry away, and finish buying the things which he wanted. By way of making doubly sure, he called again on the chaplain, to remind him of his appointment, and to his great dismay, found that he had begun to repent of his promise, and had taken alarm at the terrible cold, the deep snow, and the storm which seemed to be lowering. For at least an hour, all Oswald's entreaties were unavailing, and not till he had promised to supply the good man's kitchen with a chamois every St. Bridget's day to the end of his life, could he extort from him a reluctant consent to the fulfilment of his engagement. Provoked at the loss of so much precious time, Oswald returned to take some refreshment at his sister's, and then went
to pay his appointed visit to the knight Von Moos.
Oswald was obliged to unpack his cakes, and every thing that he had got in his pannier, to make room for the keg, which was at least a hundred pounds in weight. When he had disposed of this, he laid the other things on the top of it, covered the whole with a cloth, strapped on his load, and took his leave of the knight, with hearty thanks for his costly present; for he was delighted to think that he should be able, on the morrow, to treat his father to a good glass of Mayenfelder-a wine which was famous all over the country; and which old Peter was never backward in doing justice to. When he came out into the street, a violent wind was blowing from the Wallensee, and driving showers of snow through the dark heavy air, and at that very moment the clock struck two. "It will be later than I thought," said
Oswald to himself, " before I can be over the Heuberge, and perhaps it would be better that I should go the round." So saying, he turned the corner, and who should stand before him but black Balz, who had seen him in the morning, and was now lying in wait for him. "So, Bathönier," cried the bully, with a malicious grin, " you are a pretty fellow, indeed, to tell me you wanted to be a soldier, and take the earnest-money from me, and then to break your word, and hide yourself behind a girl's petticoat, and after all, never so much as to ask me to come to your wedding." "You had better not meddle with me now, Balz," said Oswald, fiercely, "for I have no time to lose; but some other day, depend upon it, I shall be ready enough to settle matters with you. You have got your money back again, so I don't see what you have to complain of." 'Come, come, don't be in such a hurry, Mr. Bridegroom," said the recruiter, determined to provoke him; "for once I shall pass things over, though not for your sake, I can tell you, but only to please the Gugelberger *. If it had not been for him, believe me, you would not have come off so well. But one thing I can tell you, that if you do not come this very moment, and drink a flask of wine with me, and, remember, you are to pay for it, may the devil seize me if I do not overtake you on the mountains, and send you
* A branch of the noble house Von Moos still uses the appellation Von Gugelberg, derived from an ancient castle of that name, which formerly stood near Lachen.
speaking, on which the man stopped, and called out, "Where are you going my good fellow, so late, and so heavily laden?" And then seeing who it was, "Why, Bathönier," said he, can it really be you? I thought they said you were going to be married to-morrow, and yet here you are on the road at this time of night." "I must make haste, Hans," cried Oswald, without stopping; "for if I do not get to Stürvis to-night, Elly will fret herself to death." And if a girl ten times prettier than Elly were waiting for me, I would not climb up to Stürvis in such a night as this," murmured the butcher to himself, as he drove his sheep carefully down before him.
Meanwhile, the two mothers were sitting together in Goutta's cottage, terrified at the wind, which whistled wildly through the crevices, and at the snow, which drifted against the window, and rose higher and higher every moment before the door. They talked of all the difficulties Oswald would have to contend with, and his mother thought it would have been better for him to have staid all night in Mayenfeld, than to have attempted to return home in such a dreadful tempest. Elly walked up and down in absolute despair, and after the vesper bell had sounded, her anxiety increased every moment. "I know very well," said she, "he will either be here to-night or never. Oh that I had not begged him so hard to come home this evening!" "Perhaps he may be already with his father, unpacking his things," said
Catherine; 66 come, Elly, let us go and see." When they arrived at Bathönier's house, Peter began grumbling in his old strain, about the village being so far from all the rest of the world, and the inconveniences this gave rise to on such occasions as the present. He did not, however, appear to entertain the slightest uneasiness on his son's account. He was a stout lad, he said, and had often got over the ground safely enough in worse weather than this. Twilight now gave place to night-still no Oswald appeared; and the darker it became out of doors, the paler turned poor Elly's cheeks. "I will go out to meet him," cried she at last; "perhaps I can help him to carry something." "You cannot do him any good," said the father, "for if he has carried his load so far, he will not find it too heavy just at the last; and let him have set off ever so late, you will never be able to get any further than the forest." "But indeed, indeed I cannot stay here," sobbed out the wretched girl; "I must go out to meet him-I must be where he isI ought to be true to him through every thing." Elly," said Catherine; "indeed I will not let you go out in such a storm." "Then I will go to my mother's, and come back again," answered the poor weeping bride
any thing is better than sitting quiet."
She went to her mother's, then came back again to Bathönier's, and so backwards and forwards through the wintry night: her steps grew more hurried, and her face looked more wretched, but still there was nothing heard