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In a few minutes she saw the light above her head; but it instantly disappeared, and a man leaped to the ground beside her.
“Stay friend," said she, “I would speak with you." The stranger grasped a pistol in his belt, and at the same moment she felt her eyes blinded with the glare of a dark lantern.
“ Who are you?” demanded he, sternly.
“ A friend to him for whom you bear a letter. He follows the Dallheimers on the same route. If you ride hard for six hours to-morrow morning you will overtake him.”
“ That is not in my commission,” replied he. “I have already done all that I promised.”
“ To whom did you promise ? ”
“ What is that to you, my pretty lass ? know the baron of Wolfenstein ? it was to him I promised.”
“ I know the baron well ; but I should not have suspected him of any kindness of this sort to his friend. Come from where it may, however, it will be welcome. Give me the letter, I undertake to deliver it.”
“ Let me see you at Aix-la-Chapelle then; there is my
address; the letter is locked up in my portmanteau. But you will, of course, pay the postage thus far? Come, I will not be unreasonable ; nay, you resist so just a demand
“ Give me the letter first. I will pay no postage till
you deliver it into my hand.” “ But then-I may depend upon your honesty ?”
" You may: I shail be with you early in the morning."
The next morning Liese packed up her moveables in
a small bundle ; and taking leave of her native village, without knowing, and perhaps without caring, whether she should ever see it again, set out to visit the stranger at his lodgings in Aix-la-Chapelle. So far as she could observe him in the dark, he had not been in livery when she saw him; but servants are not always in one dress, and although a bold, manly-looking fellow, there was nothing in his air or manner which could falsify the old woman's impression of his rank. The house indicated in the card, however, was so handsome a building, that she paused in some perplexity before ringing the bell. Her new friend, as she understood, had travelled alone.
He did not, therefore, live with his master, and it was preposterous to suppose that he could lodge in so elegant a mansion at his own charge. Who should she ask for, was her next reflection; and as the handle of the bell sprung from her hand, she was half tempted to run away.
“ Have the goodness to walk in, mademoiselle,” said the lackey who opened the door, bowing to the ground. Mademoiselle walked in, and was conducted through a suite of splendid apartments to a smaller one, where her companion of the preceding evening awaited her, sipping coffee, and turning over the leaves of the journals. He was a man nearer forty than thirty years of age, and of a rough and weather-beaten appearance. His manner, however, was good, and almost dignified; and Liese felt as if she was in the presence of one of the magnates of the land.
The paper, it appeared — for it was not in the form of a letter, but was merely a few lines traced with a pencil on the blank leaf of a book-was dropped from a carriage, as the stranger passed. It was inscribed “ With haste, for love of courtesy or gain;" and being at any rate in his way to Aix-la-Chapelle, he determined to take charge of it. Meeting soon after on the road his friend the baron of Wolfenstein, and mentioning the subject to him, the latter, being deeply interested in the parties, exacted a promise that he would use every reasonable exertion to discover the person to whom the document was addressed, and place it in his hands. The contents were as follows.
“ Can you explain the enigma in your
conduct? If so, I will not be unjust. When I saw you from the carriage window, you were in an agitation that could not be referred to any ordinary calamity. I am on my way to my mother's house at Treves.
Whether Liese paid the postage or not; what was the nature of her conversation with her new friend; whether she succeeded in delivering the above epistle to Carl Benzel ; and sundry other matters connected with the present interview, we must defer treating of till another period of the history. At present we can only mention, consistently with our plan, that the pretty dealer in eggs and withholder of kisses, was never more seen in the market of Aix-la-Chapelle.
THE TRAVELS OF CARL BENZEL.
LIESE's account of the hospitality of her father-land was not altogether correct. The feeling, possibly, may have existed, but the practice was modified by circumstances. Some were too poor, and some too timid, to extend a welcome to the wandering minstrel ; and some, stripped of the greater part of their means in the late troubles, growled over the remainder with the jealousy of a hungry mastiff. Carl Benzel, however, although suffering strange vicissitudes, never found himself in absolute want. There was something in his appearance which commanded the respect of many, and conciliated the affections of more; and it generally happened with him, as with all others in calamity, that the churlishness of the men was amply made up
for by the benevolence of the women. His dress and manner presented so striking a contrast to his ostensible rank in society, that he was more frequently the object of curiosity as well as sympathy; but, for the most part, it must be confessed that he was allowed to pass merely as one who paid reasonably well with his music for the entertainment afforded him. In Germany, even on the borders, music is always an article that is worth money ; and Carl, whose way of life had been somewhat of the wildest, was well acquainted with the songs likely to please the ear of the peasants. His own taste, indeed, seemed to assort marvellously well with theirs. Lays of unfortunate love, and premature death, and barbarous mothers, and bloody-minded guardians, were his staple commodities; and, mingling with them, came the wild fantastic legends that people the rocks and forests of his native country with the most original of hobgoblins. The state of mind which gave forth, spontaneously and habitually, such strains, was clearly depicted in his countenance. A deep melancholy sat on his high pale brow; but the eyes beneath were lighted up by fitful gleams of enthusiasm that might have seemed the effect of the poet's inspiration. His Bible, in the intervals of song, was rarely out of his hand; and at times he was accustomed to read it aloud, with such comments as a heated imagination supplied, for the edification of those who would rather have listened to the ballad of the Wild Huntsman, or the Erl King. Whether in singing or lecturing, however, his singularly fine and mellow vofce procured him a willing audience; and long after he had passed through the wild district of the Eifel, the dreams of many a mountain-maid were haunted by this remarkable stranger, who had appealed to the strongest sensibilities of a German woman, in his joint character of minstrel and apostle. Even the dress of our adventurer was well calculated to attract observation; being characteristic not only of the country and the times, but of the individual. It consisted of a hussar cap with a gold band, a dark brown frock, and military boots that