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SHOWING HOW SOCIETY CREATES ROGUES IN ORDER TO
It was late in the morning before Madame Dallheimer and her daughter awoke; and when they did so, they could hardly imagine, for some time, that the events of the preceding day had been anything more than a dream. The apartment was quite as comfortable as a bed-room in an inn of the second class, and a smaller chamber adjoining afforded them every convenience for the toilet. The windows were not barred; nor, in short, was there apparently the slightest circumstance which could give rise to the suspicion that they were prisoners in the stronghold of a robber.
Soon after they were up, breakfast was brought to them by the girl who had served supper the evening before. She was a coarse, vulgar, country wench, but simple and good-natured, and, as it seemed, without the remotest idea that she was made a party in any illegal transaction.
“ Are we at liberty to resume our journey ?” asked Madame Dallheimer, half tempted to believe that there was some mistake.
“ Madame ?” said the girl, staring —“Oh no, certainly not, without the master's commands.”
“ Can we see the master ?”
“ Madame ? You don't know my master's name ! He! he!—that is odd. Well, his name is Buckler, Johann Buckler. You must be a stranger in these parts."
“ Buckler !" cogitated Madame Dallheimer, “I never heard the name before. Do you know what he means to do with us ?”
“ Nay, madame, how should I? I should have thought,” she added, examining, with a look of perfect simplicity, the beautiful face of Ida —“ but no, the master has got a wife already, whom he dearly loves.” The girl then retired, and left them alone till dinnertime.
The perplexity of the prisoners increased every moment, and their terror diminished. It was evident that nothing like violence was contemplated, but that their liberty would be bought and sold like an article of
The idea was consoling to persons who had abundance of wealth at their disposal; and yet they could not help at times feeling a qualm of fear come over them as they remembered that they were in the hands of such men as Peter the Black and his comrades. The “master” they acquitted of ferocity, at least in its external indications; but he was but one man in a numerous band, and who could tell how far his power or influence extended over the rest ?
This day passed away, and then another. The almost unconscious hopes that the mother had formed, from reflecting that the baron Wolfenstein must be in
the same neighbourhood, and would probably hear of so important a capture as that of travellers who journeyed in their own carriage, attended by an armed escort, began gradually to die away. He had been in haste, she remembered with a sigh, to get to Mayence; and even if the reports of the abduction had reached his ears, it would have been impossible for him to suspect that the sufferers were his friends. He was no doubt, ere now, at the place of his destination, and occupied in arranging his affairs, so as to be able to lay the state of his property and heart before her at the same time.
Madame Dallheimer, however, was deceived. The baron was too generous and high-minded not to feel an interest in the heroines of the romantic reports which already, it seemed, had begun to fly about the country, whether they were strangers or not; and the following epistle, put into the trembling hands of the ladies by the servant girl, will, we trust, redeem his character with the reader:
My dear Madame Dallheimer, “ How little did I know that you, and your angelic daughter, were the wandering damsels, with whom public rumour is so busy, who were spirited away by the demons of the mountain! My sympathy being excited by the story, although I believed that the parties were strangers, I could not determine on leaving the scene of the melodrama till I had ascertained whether it were possible for me to be of any service. In the course of my inquiries I learnt sufficient to convince me that I ought to have a much stronger interest in the fate of the fair victims than that inspired by the calamities of strangers; and throwing myself upon the generosity of the outlaws—who really possess a kind of grotesque honour (!)-I am allowed to visit you in your cell, and endeavour to mediate between you and the avarice of your captors.
“It now only remains for me to receive your permission also; when I shall immediately fly to offer you my condolence-my purse-my life itself, if necessary. “ Believe me to be, my dear Madame Dallheimer,
It is needless to say with what delight this epistle was perused and reperused by her to whom it was addressed, or with what eagerness the permission was given which the writer, with a politeness that seemed to be rather ill-timed, had thought it necessary to solicit. Madame Dallheimer began to think that every thing had happened for the best, and she confidently reckoned that, before reaching Mayence, the affair would be completely arranged between her daughter and the baron.
Wolfenstein at length made his appearance, and Madame Dallheimer, in the fulness of her joy, met him at the door and threw herself in his arms—calculating, possibly, on the effect of example on Ida. The baron, however, instead of anticipating a similar indulgence from the daughter, bowed gravely, and then advancing slowly raised her hand to his lips. There was something, notwithstanding, in this mode of salutation which pleased both ladies. With the mother it was timidity, respect, devotion ; with Ida, it was the homage of a man of gallantry, who did not love.
After the first condolences, griefs, regrets, and then hopes and congratulations, were over, Wolfenstein could not help expressing his amazement at the comparative comfort in which he found them lodged.
“ When I first saw the building,” said he, “I expected to find you in a subterranean dungeon ; for no human being could have imagined that the chambers above ground had even a roof to cover them. Come, come, my dear madame, matters might have been much worse. Suppose yourself in a country inn, detained by a storm, and you will be quite comfortable; and, as for he ransom, you can set it down as merely a little extravagance in the bill.”
6 Since we have now a friend in whom we can confide,” replied madame, “ to cheer and sustain us, my daughter and I will cease to murmur.
But can you give me any idea how long our imprisonment is to last? Mine host, so far from being in a hurry to present his bill, has as yet not even seen his guests. His name, they tell us, is Buckler—Johann Buckler. What is he?--but that is a foolish question.”
“ He is the renowned Schinderhannes.” Ida grew pale, and Madame Dallheimer uttered an exclamation of terror.
“ You need be under no apprehension,” said the baron;" at least no additional apprehension. There is, as I mentioned in my note, a kind of rude honour among these men, notwithstanding their unlawful profession; and if the affair of the ransom is properly managed, you will leave the district under the passport of Schinderhannes himself.” Madame Dallheimer looked anxiously towards Ida.
“ The outlaw," said he, understanding the glance, “ is lately married to a woman of great beauty and commanding talent. But even were this not the case, your daughter would have nothing to fear, unless for