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“ Stand off !” said the band. 6 To the ranks all but Leah. Hear her! Hear her!” and when Carl Benzel obeyed, they received him with loud murmurs, which continued for some time.
Leah turned to the prisoner during the confusion, and Ida could see that her brow flushed and then grew pale alternately more than once before she spoke.
“ Ishmael !” said she, at length, but in a depressed and agitated voice.
« Lo! here am I.”
“What word ?” demanded Ishmael, who looked like a man in a dream.
“ Life, or death.”
6 So be it!" and Leah, after a look, a strange, long look, filled doubtless with the hopes and memories of years, turned away, and advancing into the full blaze of the torches, delivered her testimony.
Her face was as pale as marble ; her eyes fixed; her lips cold and rigid ; she looked like a beautiful statue. “ By the memory
of my oath,” said she, in a calm, clear voice, that betrayed not the slightest tremor, “even I, Leah, the daughter of Adonijah, did hear the words of Ishmael when he spoke the secret into the ear of his paramour.” There was a dead silence for some moments; and then Wolfenstein advanced again to the prisoner.
“ The testimony inclines against you," said he. There was a loud murmur among the band, and some voices cried « To the vote!”
“ The testimony inclines against you,” repeated the baron sternly, and laying an emphasis on the word which had caused the murmur.
« The Jew, if we are
to believe a Christian, whom I know to be a man of honour, has perjured himself; and the Jewess being his daughter, may therefore be at least suspected. We cannot clear your honour as you now stand; for with us, justice does not lean to the side of mercy. Since
opears in so dubious a light, we must demand a pledge for our own safety: let Magdalene take the oaths, and become indeed the wife of
bosom." Magdalene ? Never! Have I not borne her away from her kinsmen, and her people? Have I not steeped her young
life in bitterness; and led her, even at noonday, through the darkness of the shadow of death ? Would'st thou have me do more? Would'st thou have me rob her of the purity of her thoughts, and the integrity of her mind? Would'st thou have me sear with guilt, even as with a seven times heated iron, the wounds of her bleeding heart? Never! Let me die the death, if this cup cannot pass
from Magdalene, though not born to be happy, shall never become base.”
Wolfenstein drew a pistol from his girdle, and Benzel rushed forward.
“ Coward!" shouted he, “ would you slay an innocent man? Turn your weapon on me, for I am arı
armed, and can return the shot!” Ida bent over the wall, regardless of concealment, her eyes, heart, soul, fixed upon the face of her lover. There was no risk of detection, however. The interest of that wild group was turned with such absorbing intensity upon the principal actors, that they would not have started at a thunderbolt.
“ Is he guilty, or not guilty ? " demanded Wolfenstein,
my lips; but Guilty !” cried the band with one voice, that rose like the howl of wolves upon the ear.
“ It is false !” shouted Benzel, drawing a pistol from his belt with one hand, and his sword with the other, “ cowards, it is false. But if you will commit murder, by the holy heavens, there will be at least two victims,” and he levelled his pistol at the head of Wolfenstein.
“ Remove him," said the latter calmly; and after a desperate, but momentary struggle, in which he never ceased to shout “ murder! murder !" Benzel was disarmed, and dragged to the rear.
Ishmael,” said the baron, advancing close to his side, “ a word would save you yet! a single word ! Speak! I know you do not fear death ; but remember Magdalene, how lonely, how friendless she will be. Speak; the pistol is at your ear; cry • hold !' if you would live, if not
“ Fire !” The baron pulled the trigger at the word, and Ishmael fell to the ground a dead man.
THE WATCH OF THE DEAD.
“ WHERE am I?” cried Ida, “ help, mother! I have had such a dream!" It was no dream. lying among the ruins on the outer side of the wall, from which she had fallen senseless, as the pistol-shot rung in her ears. She knew that she must have lain a considerable time, for it was now pitch dark, her limbs were stiff with cold; and the blood was frozen upon her temple, which in her fall had come in contact with one of the stones.
What was she to do? How could she tell that they had removed the dead body ? and if not, could her soul sustain the horror, not of its sight, but of its touch, when groping in the dark, her foot might perhaps plash in the blood of what had but just now been a human being, strong in health, and glorious in youthful beauty?
Another image, however, still more dreadful, presented itself to her imagination. She did not now inquire whether Carl Benzel was or was not leagued in the fellowship of guilt. He had offended, beyond hope of forgiveness, the very wretches whom she had just seen commit a cold-blooded murder, for what it appeared to her, would be reckoned, compared with his, only a venial transgression. Two corpses, by this time, in all probability, burthened the gory earth ; and Ida, as soon as the idea assumed a definite shape in her fancy, instead of shrinking back with double repugnance, sprang suddenly upon the side of the wall, and in an instant was at the top.
The armed array had disappeared ; and the scene of noise and strife and struggling was as silent as the dead, for whom it had become a grave. A single torch was stuck in the earth, beside a long dark formless object; at the further end of which knelt a human figure, the head covered with a black hood, that hung down almost till it touched what appeared to be the subject of her prayers or meditations.
Ida, relieved from her more selfish terrors, crept down the wall, oppressed with a feeling of awe wbich almost seemed to interdict her breathing, and approached the dead body. She hesitated for some time before daring to disturb the mourner ; but at length the silence, anbroken even by a sigh, seemed so terrible, that in a sudden panic she pronounced the name of Magdalene.
It was Magdalene. She raised her head at the voice, and throwing back her hood, disclosed a face so pale, so wan, so death-like-and at the same time so sweet, so pure, so delicately beautiful, that she seemed more like a spirit than a woman.
My poor girl," said Ida, sinking on her knees, and folding her in her arms—“ my poor Magdalene, let me weep with you!"
Magdalene looked strangely in her face ; while an expression almost resembling a smile passed over her girlish features.
Weep,” said she and with me? Oh no