« AnteriorContinuar »
THE ROBBER OF THE RHINE.
BOOK II.-CHAPTER I.
THE TRAVELS OF IDA.
The art of subdividing a work into books is a very valuable one.
Volumes by no means answer the same purpose ; for every author, or at least
bookseller, knows that to conclude even a portion of the narrative at the end of any volume but the last is death to the speculation. A work labouring under this misfortune is known at a glance, by the circumstance of a single volumein all probability the first-presenting every appearance of extensive circulation, while the rest are as clean and pure as if they had never entered this dirty world at all. A book is another thing. Occurring, as it may, and doth in the instance now before the reader's eyes, in the middle of a volume, it is like a landing-place in a stair of more than one flight, on which the upwardbound may pause for a minute to breathe, and curse by his gods the steepness of the last, or look forward with hope to the easier ascent of the next. He cannot throw down the book as he would a volume. Peradventure the work hath been borrowed from a circulating library, and must therefore be read through, or the money lost. At all events, he must be a reader wofully deficient in courage and endurance who would stop in the middle of a volume.
In the present case the break enables us to turn back our eyes-following the rebellious glances of the reader-to the very commencement of the story; and affords us a fair opportunity of endeavouring to beguile his discontent by seducing his thoughts into another channel, although running parallel, as we confess it does, with the former, and both destined to meet at last.
When Carl Benzel, after his fantastic duel with Wolfenstein (characteristic, we are sorry to say, of the follies of a similar kind still practised in Germany), was rushing in desperation along the road, he saw a handkerchief, it may be remembered, waved to him from a carriage. This he afterwards concluded to be a signal from Ida—and he was right. After the handkerchief had been withdrawn, and her eyes had fallen beneath the keen, cold glance of her mother, the young lady began to ask herself for what purpose she had been guilty of the indecorum. When Carl had left her a rejected and disconsolate maiden at the window-for she had not strength for some moments to retire, although she shut the sash–there entered into her feelings more of bitterness than she had ever felt before. She could have married Wolfenstein, could it have been done on the instant, without a sigh; or she could have taken the vows of a nun, could they have been concentrated into a single word, without a tear.
But when, after some time, she saw all things prepared for the road, and knew that her late interview