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ous about the respectability of his establishment to be fond of harbouring vagrants; and he gets too much music gratis from his guests to care a great deal about it.
“We must try, however,” said he with a sigh. “Your Jewish dress, Magdalene, will suffice to keep Christians at a distance; but draw down the veil closer, for your beauty, I fancy, is the only property we have between us that can attract cupidity.”
“ It would be uncommon;" continued he, hesitating, as they reached the door; “the accident, I allow, would be altogether uncommon; but if you so happen to have a little money about you."— Without a word of reply, Magdalene put into his hand a purse heavy with gold.
“ Hollo! house! house!” cried Carl Benzel, thundering with hand and foot at the door.
Open, mine host of the Fig Tree, for here are two travellers whom heaven has sent you.” The adjuration was no sooner pronounced than the door sprang to the wall, like the gate of the Forty Thieves at the words, “ Open Sessame !” and a landlord, as jolly as a round belly and an eye twinkling with humour could make him, presented his face.
“ Open indeed!” cried he, “my handsome cavalier, with his pretty little bundle of contraband goods from the banks of the Jordan. Who would not open so late in the evening, and at the tail of such a storm-and a bottle of right Rhenish simmering in the pan, and a glass of Kirschenwasser ready filled, as if by absolute inspiration ! Enter, enter, my gallant traveller; and, if you
find a better supper and a softer bed between the Rhine and the sea, never trust again to the word of Kunz Weiner.” They were speedily seated by a fire glowing with all the rosy good-humour that lit up the face of mine host ; and Carl, while preparations were making for supper, threw around him a look of languid curiosity.
The first thing that struck him was the extreme strength of the windows. Its numerous panes of glass were singularly small, and the wooden bars between so thick as to give the apartment a dungeonlike appearance, that must have been still more apparent in the day-time. It seemed also as if the curtains (not a usual appendage at all in an inn of this class) were drawn with more than common precision; a view of one of the windows being afforded only by the drapery being caught accidentally by the host's foot as he passed, who immediately stopped to adjust it with a care that seemed superfluous. This awakened at once the drowsy attention of our adventurer; and when, the next moment, he saw an immense head raised above the horizon of the opposite table, behind which its wearer appeared to be stretched upon a bench, he started almost in alarm.
The matted locks of this apparition, thick, black, and greasy, hung over his low brow and sunken eyes ; while huge whiskers to correspond, and a hideous beard, at least a foot in length, completed the framework of a face, of which the heavy, lumpish features conveyed an idea of brutality, unredeemed by a single ray of intelligence. Carl's heart sickened beneath the dull, sullen glare with which the stranger looked at him for more than a minute ; and he felt a sensation of relief when the meaningless orbs sunk slowly into their sockets, and the shaggy head disappeared behind the table, resuming its recumbent position, with a sound, half growl half groan. Kunz Weiner appeared to notice the expression of his guest's countenance, and to be vexed that the hilarity, which it was his business to promote, should be disturbed by such a circumstance.
“Dull beast,” grumbled he to himself,“ now will he wallow here till day-break, if his neighbours do not come to fetch him with a hand-barrow. By this cup of Rhenish-hot, spiced, and creaming for very richness-he is not worth the Kirschenwasser that turns . him from a man into a hog!”
“You lie, Kunz!” cried the object of this soliloquy, in a voice which mingled the croak of the raven with the grunt of the animal to which he had been likened; “ you know
you lie, you walking wine-skin ! for I am never sleepy and stupid but when athirst. Had I but as much spirit in me now as dwells in the сир
of Rhenish you brag of, by the Three Kings of Cologne, I would tap that portly barrel of yours with my dagger!”
• To bed, Peter!” said the host, losing temper, yet lowering his voice;" to bed, Peter Schwarz, or you know what must happen!”
“ To bed! Thunder and devils ! why to bed before I have done
work? Answer me that, you lying knave. Come, come, let us have no more slumbering. What is it to be, for I am ready. Here you
have kept me beastly sober for at least twelve hours at a stretch, and I'd as lief be a toad pent up in a rock of the HoheWald !”
“ There, there, in God's name !” said the host hurriedly, and in apparent alarm, “there is drink," and he poured nearly a quart of ardent spirits into an earthen jug: “Go, drink, and be drunk-go, roll and wallow go to the devil if you will, so that you
leave the room !” Peter Schwarz-or, when done into
English, Peter the Black-straightway gathered himself up from the bench, and displaying at all, ill-shaped, ungainly figure, shambled round the table, and clutching the jug, was about to raise it to his lips.
“ Not here, you unmannerly knave,” cried Kunz Weiner. “ To your stye, sir! from which you budge not, if there be virtue in lock and key, till your
friends come to take charge of you.” Peter wheeled slowly about without a word, and walked away, with the half fierce, half sullen air of a bullock ; but when he reached the door
“ I owe you a turn for this, master tapster,” said he, twisting his head round his shoulder, and fixing his meaningless eyes upon mine host; "only wait till I be drunk enough!” and he went out, followed cautiously by his gaoler.
“Let us fly,” said Magdalene, starting up from her stupefaction—" It will be impossible for them to find us in the dark.”
“ The door is bolted and locked,” replied Carl, calmly, “and the key at the girdle of the landlord. Draw your veil still closer ;
the table, and affect to sleep. If our suspicions turn out to be correct, which I shall presently ascertain, it will be time enough to turn to bay. Peter Schwarz is by this time in safe durance ; the landlord will be alone with us in the room ; and him I could slay as easily and suddenly as a fatted calf.”
THE OLD ADAGE OF THE FRYING-PAN AND THE FIRE.
WHEN Kunz Weiner returned to his guests, every trace of discontent had vanished from his smooth brow, and laughter-loving eyes.
“ That dose,” said he, “ will set him to sleep for twelve hours, and then he will be a new man. Our friend Peter is a very good child, but he has this oddity, that whenever taken in his cups, he imagines himself to be deadly sober. And now to our own affairs. By what road, in the name of all the saints, did you travel through the storm that some hours ago shook the whole country?
“ We are from Treves, by the Hohe-Wald.” Kunz started, and looked strangely at the guest, examining him from head to foot with his eye.
“ And how did you get here ? ” said he, in a tone of strong curiosity.
66 We crossed the forest."
6 Oho! Is it so ? ” and the quick glance of Carl Benzel detected his fingers at work in some masonic signal.
“ Come,” said the traveller, “ let us waste no more time. Are not you Kunz Weiner, of the Fig-tree? ”