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Title: Wake Not the Dead
Author: Johann Ludwig Tieck
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606821.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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Wake Not the Dead
Johann Ludwig Tieck


"Wilt thou for ever sleep? Wilt thou never more awake, my beloved, but
henceforth repose for ever from thy short pilgrimage on earth? O yet
once again return! and bring back with thee the vivifying dawn of hope
to one whose existence hath, since thy departure, been obscured by the
dunnest shades. What! dumb? for ever dumb? Thy friend lamenteth, and
thou heedest him not? He sheds bitter, scalding tears, and thou
reposest unregarding his affliction? He is in despair, and thou no
longer openest thy arms to him as an asylum from his grief? Say then,
doth the paly shroud become thee better than the bridal veil? Is the
chamber of the grave a warmer bed than the couch of love? Is the
spectre death more welcome to thy arms than thy enamoured consort? Oh!
return, my beloved, return once again to this anxious disconsolate
bosom."

Such were the lamentations which Walter poured forth for his
Brunhilda, the partner of his youthful passionate love; thus did he
bewail over her grave at the midnight hour, what time the spirit that
presides in the troublous atmosphere, sends his legions of monsters
through mid-air; so that their shadows, as they flit beneath the moon
and across the earth, dart as wild, agitating thoughts that chase each
other o'er the sinner's bosom:--thus did he lament under the tall
linden trees by her grave, while his head reclined on the cold stone.

Walter was a powerful lord in Burgundy, who, in his earliest youth,
had been smitten with the charms of the fair Brunhilda, a beauty far
surpassing in loveliness all her rivals; for her tresses, dark as the
raven face of night, streaming over her shoulders, set off to the
utmost advantage the beaming lustre of her slender form, and the rich
dye of a cheek whose tint was deep and brilliant as that of the
western heaven; her eyes did not resemble those burning orbs whose
pale glow gems the vault of night, and whose immeasurable distance
fills the soul with deep thoughts of eternity, but rather as the sober
beams which cheer this nether world, and which, while they enlighten,
kindle the sons of earth to joy and love. Brunhilda became the wife of
Walter, and both being equally enamoured and devoted, they abandoned
themselves to the enjoyment of a passion that rendered them reckless
of aught besides, while it lulled them in a fascinating dream. Their
sole apprehension was lest aught should awaken them from a delirium
which they prayed might continue for ever. Yet how vain is the wish
that would arrest the decrees of destiny! as well might it seek to
divert the circling planets from their eternal course. Short was the
duration of this phrenzied passion; not that it gradually decayed and
subsided into apathy, but death snatched away his blooming victim, and
left Walter to a widowed couch. Impetuous, however, as was his first
burst of grief, he was not inconsolable, for ere long another bride
became the partner of the youthful nobleman.

Swanhilda also was beautiful; although nature had formed her charms on
a very different model from those of Brunhilda. Her golden locks waved
bright as the beams of morn: only when excited by some emotion of her
soul did a rosy hue tinge the lily paleness of her cheek: her limbs
were proportioned in the nicest symmetry, yet did they not possess
that luxuriant fullness of animal life: her eye beamed eloquently, but
it was with the milder radiance of a star, tranquillizing to
tenderness rather than exciting to warmth. Thus formed, it was not
possible that she should steep him in his former delirium, although
she rendered happy his waking hours--tranquil and serious, yet
cheerful, studying in all things her husband's pleasure, she restored
order and comfort in his family, where her presence shed a general
influence all around. Her mild benevolence tended to restrain the
fiery, impetuous disposition of Walter: while at the same time her
prudence recalled him in some degree from his vain, turbulent wishes,
and his aspirings after unattainable enjoyments, to the duties and
pleasures of actual life. Swanhilda bore her husband two children, a
son and a daughter; the latter was mild and patient as her mother,
well contented with her solitary sports, and even in these recreations
displayed the serious turn of her character. The boy possessed his
father's fiery, restless disposition, tempered, however, with the
solidity of his mother. Attached by his offspring more tenderly
towards their mother, Walter now lived for several years very happily:
his thoughts would frequently, indeed, recur to Brunhilda, but without
their former violence, merely as we dwell upon the memory of a friend
of our earlier days, borne from us on the rapid current of time to a
region where we know that he is happy.

But clouds dissolve into air, flowers fade, the sands of the hourglass
run impeceptibly away, and even so, do human feelings dissolve, fade,
and pass away, and with them too, human happiness. Walter's inconstant
breast again sighed for the ecstatic dreams of those days which he had
spent with his equally romantic, enamoured Brunhilda--again did she
present herself to his ardent fancy in all the glow of her bridal
charms, and he began to draw a parallel between the past and the
present; nor did imagination, as it is wont, fail to array the former
in her brightest hues, while it proportionably obscured the latter; so
that he pictured to himself, the one much more rich in enjoyment, and
the other, much less so than they really were. This change in her
husband did not escape Swanhilda; whereupon, redoubling her attentions
towards him, and her cares towards their children, she expected, by
this means, to reunite the knot that was slackened; yet the more she
endeavoured to regain his affections, the colder did he grow,--the
more intolerable did her caresses seem, and the more continually did
the image of Brunhilda haunt his thoughts. The children, whose
endearments were now become indispensable to him, alone stood between
the parents as genii eager to affect a reconciliation; and, beloved by
them both, formed a uniting link between them. Yet, as evil can be
plucked from the heart of man, only ere its root has yet struck deep,
its fangs being afterwards too firm to be eradicated; so was Walter's
diseased fancy too far affected to have its disorder stopped, for, in
a short time, it completely tyrannized over him. Frequently of a
night, instead of retiring to his consort's chamber, he repaired to
Brunhilda's grave, where he murmured forth his discontent, saying:
"Wilt thou sleep for ever?"

One night as he was reclining on the turf, indulging in his wonted
sorrow, a sorcerer from the neighbouring mountains, entered into this
field of death for the purpose of gathering, for his mystic spells,
such herbs as grow only from the earth wherein the dead repose, and
which, as if the last production of mortality, are gifted with a
powerful and supernatural influence. The sorcerer perceived the
mourner, and approached the spot where he was lying.

"Wherefore, fond wretch, dost thou grieve thus, for what is now a
hideous mass of mortality--mere bones, and nerves, and veins? Nations
have fallen unlamented; even worlds themselves, long ere this globe of
ours was created, have mouldered into nothing; nor hath any one wept
over them; why then should'st thou indulge this vain affliction for a
child of the dust--a being as frail as thyself, and like thee the
creature but of a moment?"

Walter raised himself up:--"Let yon worlds that shine in the
firmament" replied he, "lament for each other as they perish. It is
true, that I who am myself clay, lament for my fellow-clay: yet is
this clay impregnated with a fire,--with an essence, that none of the
elements of creation possess--with love: and this divine passion, I
felt for her who now sleepeth beneath this sod."

"Will thy complaints awaken her: or could they do so, would she not
soon upbraid thee for having disturbed that repose in which she is now
hushed?"

"Avaunt, cold-hearted being: thou knowest not what is love. Oh! that
my tears could wash away the earthy covering that conceals her from
these eyes;--that my groan of anguish could rouse her from her slumber
of death!--No, she would not again seek her earthy couch."

"Insensate that thou art, and couldst thou endure to gaze without
shuddering on one disgorged from the jaws of the grave? Art thou too
thyself the same from whom she parted; or hath time passed o'er thy
brow and left no traces there? Would not thy love rather be converted
into hate and disgust?"

"Say rather that the stars would leave yon firmament, that the sun
will henceforth refuse to shed his beams through the heavens. Oh! that
she stood once more before me;--that once again she reposed on this
bosom!--how quickly should we then forget that death or time had ever
stepped between us."

"Delusion! mere delusion of the brain, from heated blood, like to that
which arises from the fumes of wine. It is not my wish to tempt
thee;--to restore to thee thy dead; else wouldst thou soon feel that I
have spoken truth."

"How! restore her to me," exclaimed Walter casting himself at the
sorcerer's feet. "Oh! if thou art indeed able to effect that, grant it
to my earnest supplication; if one throb of human feeling vibrates in
thy bosom, let my tears prevail with thee; restore to me my beloved;
so shalt thou hereafter bless the deed, and see that it was a good
work."

"A good work! a blessed deed!"--returned the sorcerer with a smile of
scorn; "for me there exists nor good nor evil; since my will is always
the same. Ye alone know evil, who will that which ye would not. It is
indeed in my power to restore her to thee: yet, bethink thee well,
whether it will prove thy weal. Consider too, how deep the abyss
between life and death; across this, my power can build a bridge, but
it can never fill up the frightful chasm."

Walter would have spoken, and have sought to prevail on this powerful
being by fresh entreaties, but the latter prevented him, saying:
"Peace! bethink thee well! and return hither to me tomorrow at
midnight. Yet once more do I warn thee, 'Wake not the dead.'"

Having uttered these words, the mysterious being disappeared.
Intoxicated with fresh hope, Walter found no sleep on his couch; for
fancy, prodigal of her richest stores, expanded before him the
glittering web of futurity; and his eye, moistened with the dew of
rapture, glanced from one vision of happiness to another. During the
next day he wandered through the woods, lest wonted objects by
recalling the memory of later and less happier times, might disturb
the blissful idea. that he should again behold her--again fold her in
his arms, gaze on her beaming brow by day, repose on her bosom at
night: and, as this sole idea filled his imagination, how was it
possible that the least doubt should arise; or that the warning of the
mysterious old man should recur to his thoughts?

No sooner did the midnight hour approach, than he hastened before the
grave-field where the sorcerer was already standing by that of
Brunhilda. "Hast thou maturely considered?" inquired he.

"Oh! restore to me the object of my ardent passion," exclaimed Walter
with impetuous eagerness. "Delay not thy generous action, lest I die
even this night, consumed with disappointed desire; and behold her
face no more."

"Well then," answered the old man, "return hither again tomorrow at
the same hour. But once more do I give thee this friendly warning,
'Wake not the dead.'"

All in the despair of impatience, Walter would have prostrated himself
at his feet, and supplicated him to fulfil at once a desire now
increased to agony; but the sorcerer had already disappeared. Pouring
forth his lamentations more wildly and impetuously than ever, he lay
upon the grave of his adored one, until the grey dawn streaked the
east. During the day, which seemed to him longer than any he had ever
experienced, he wandered to and fro, restless and impatient, seemingly
without any object, and deeply buried in his own reflections, inquest
as the murderer who meditates his first deed of blood: and the stars
of evening found him once more at the appointed spot. At midnight the
sorcerer was there also.

"Hast thou yet maturely deliberated?" inquired he, "as on the
preceding night?"

"Oh what should I deliberate?" returned Walter impatiently. "I need
not to deliberate; what I demand of thee, is that which thou hast
promised me--that which will prove my bliss. Or dost thou but mock me?
if so, hence from my sight, lest I be tempted to lay my hand on thee."

"Once more do I warn thee." answered the old man with undisturbed
composure, "'Wake not the dead'--let her rest."

"Aye, but not in the cold grave: she shall rather rest on this bosom
which burns with eagerness to clasp her."

"Reflect, thou mayst not quit her until death, even though aversion
and horror should seize thy heart. There would then remain only one
horrible means."

"Dotard!" cried Walter, interrupting him, "how may I hate that which I
love with such intensity of passion? how should I abhor that for which
my every drop of blood is boiling?"

"Then be it even as thou wishest," answered the sorcerer; "step back."

The old man now drew a circle round the grave, all the while muttering
words of enchantment. Immediately the storm began to howl among the
tops of the trees; owls flapped their wings, and uttered their low
voice of omen; the stars hid their mild, beaming aspect, that they
might not behold so unholy and impious a spectacle; the stone then
rolled from the grave with a hollow sound, leaving a free passage for
the inhabitant of that dreadful tenement. The sorcerer scattered into
the yawning earth, roots and herbs of most magic power, and of most
penetrating odour, so that the worms crawling forth from the earth
congregated together, and raised themselves in a fiery column over the
grave: while rushing wind burst from the earth, scattering the mould
before it, until at length the coffin lay uncovered. The moonbeams
fell on it, and the lid burst open with a tremendous sound. Upon this
the sorcerer poured upon it some blood from out of a human skull,
exclaiming at the same time, "Drink, sleeper, of this warm stream,
that thy heart may again beat within thy bosom." And, after a short
pause, shedding on her some other mystic liquid, he cried aloud with
the voice of one inspired: "Yes, thy heart beats once more with the
flood of life: thine eye is again opened to sight. Arise, therefore,
from the tomb."

As an island suddenly springs forth from the dark waves of the ocean,
raised upwards from the deep by the force of subterraneous fires, so
did Brunhilda start from her earthy couch, borne forward by some
invisible power. Taking her by the hand, the sorcerer led her towards
Walter, who stood at some little distance, rooted to the ground with
amazement.

"Receive again," said he, "the object of thy passionate sighs: mayest
thou never more require my aid; should that, however, happen, so wilt
thou find me, during the full of the moon, upon the mountains in that
spot and where the three roads meet."

Instantly did Walter recognize in the form that stood before him, her
whom he so ardently loved; and a sudden glow shot through his frame at
finding her thus restored to him: yet the night-frost had chilled his
limbs and palsied his tongue. For a while he gazed upon her without
either motion or speech, and during this pause, all was again become
hushed and serene; and the stars shone brightly in the clear heavens.

"Walter!" exclaimed the figure; and at once the well-known sound,
thrilling to his heart, broke the spell by which he was bound.

"Is it reality? Is it truth?" cried he, "or a cheating delusion?"

"No, it is no imposture; I am really living:--conduct me quickly to
thy castle in the mountains."

Walter looked around: the old man had disappeared, but he perceived
close by his side, a coal-black steed of fiery eye, ready equipped to
conduct him thence; and on his back lay all proper attire for
Brunhilda, who lost no time in arraying herself. This being done, she
cried; "Haste, let us away ere the dawn breaks, for my eye is yet too
weak to endure the light of day." Fully recovered from his stupor,
Walter leaped into his saddle, and catching up, with a mingled feeling
of delight and awe, the beloved being thus mysteriously restored from
the power of the grave, he spurred on across the wild, towards the
mountains, as furiously as if pursued by the shadows of the dead,
hastening to recover from him their sister.

The castle to which Walter conducted his Brunhilda, was situated on a
rock between other rocks rising up above it. Here they arrived, unseen
by any save one aged domestic, on whom Walter imposed secrecy by the
severest threats.

"Here will we tarry," said Brunhilda, "until I can endure the light,
and until thou canst look upon me without trembling as if struck with
a cold chill." They accordingly continued to make that place their
abode: yet no one knew that Brunhilda existed, save only that aged
attendant, who provided their meals. During seven entire days they had
no light except that of tapers: during the next seven, the light was
admitted through the lofty casements only while the rising or setting-
sun faintly illumined the mountain-tops, the valley being still
enveloped in shade.

Seldom did Walter quit Brunhilda's side: a nameless spell seemed to
attach him to her; even the shudder which he felt in her presence, and
which would not permit him to touch her, was not unmixed with
pleasure, like that thrilling awful emotion felt when strains of
sacred music float under the vault of some temple; he rather sought,
therefore, than avoided this feeling. Often too as he had indulged in
calling to mind the beauties of Brunhilda, she had never appeared so
fair, so fascinating, so admirable when depicted by his imagination,
as when now beheld in reality. Never till now had her voice sounded
with such tones of sweetness; never before did her language possess
such eloquence as it now did, when she conversed with him on the
subject of the past. And this was the magic fairy-land towards which
her words constantly conducted him. Ever did she dwell upon the days
of their first love, those hours of delight which they had
participated together when the one derived all enjoyment from the
other: and so rapturous, so enchanting, so full of life did she recall
to his imagination that blissful season, that he even doubted whether
he had ever experienced with her so much felicity, or had been so
truly happy. And, while she thus vividly portrayed their hours of past
delight, she delineated in still more glowing, more enchanting
colours, those hours of approaching bliss which now awaited them,
richer in enjoyment than any preceding ones. In this manner did she
charm her attentive auditor with enrapturing hopes for the future, and
lull him into dreams of more than mortal ecstasy; so that while he
listened to her siren strain, he entirely forgot how little blissful
was the latter period of their union, when he had often sighed at her
imperiousness, and at her harshness both to himself and all his
household. Yet even had he recalled this to mind would it have
disturbed him in his present delirious trance? Had she not now left
behind in the grave all the frailty of mortality? Was not her whole
being refined and purified by that long sleep in which neither passion
nor sin had approached her even in dreams? How different now was the
subject of her discourse! Only when speaking of her affection for him,
did she betray anything of earthly feeling: at other times, she
uniformly dwelt upon themes relating to the invisible and future
world; when in descanting and declaring the mysteries of eternity, a
stream of prophetic eloquence would burst from her lips.

In this manner had twice seven days elapsed, and, for the first time,
Walter beheld the being now dearer to him than ever, in the full light
of day. Every trace of the grave had disappeared from her countenance;
a roseate tinge like the ruddy streaks of dawn again beamed on her
pallid cheek; the faint, mouldering taint of the grave was changed
into a delightful violet scent; the only sign of earth that never
disappeared. He no longer felt either apprehension or awe, as he gazed
upon her in the sunny light of day: it was not until now, that he
seemed to have recovered her completely; and, glowing with all his
former passion towards her, he would have pressed her to his bosom,
but she gently repulsed him, saying:--"Not yet--spare your caresses
until the moon has again filled her horn."

Spite of his impatience, Walter was obliged to await the lapse of
another period of seven days: but, on the night when the moon was
arrived at the full, he hastened to Brunhilda, whom he found more
lovely than she had ever appeared before. Fearing no obstacles to his
transports, he embraced with all the fervour of a deeply enamoured and
successful lover. Brunhilda, however, still refused to yield to his
passion. "What!" exclaimed she, "is it fitting that I who have been
purified by death from the frailty of mortality, should become thy
concubine, while a mere daughter of the earth bears the title of thy
wife: never shall it be. No, it must be within the walls of thy
palace, within that chamber where I once reigned as queen, that thou
obtainest the end of thy wishes,--and of mine also," added she,
imprinting a glowing kiss on the lips, and immediately disappeared.

Heated with passion, and determined to sacrifice everything to the
accomplishment of his desires, Walter hastily quitted the apartment,
and shortly after the castle itself. He travelled over mountain and
across heath, with the rapidity of a storm, so that the turf was flung
up by his horse's hoofs; nor once stopped until he arrived home.

Here, however, neither the affectionate caresses of Swanhilda, or
those of his children could touch his heart, or induce him to restrain
his furious desires. Alas! is the impetuous torrent to be checked in
its devastating course by the beauteous flowers over which it rushes,
when they exclaim:--"Destroyer, commiserate our helpless innocence and
beauty, nor lay us waste?"--the stream sweeps over them unregarding,
and a single moment annihilates the pride of a whole summer.

Shortly afterwards did Walter begin to hint to Swanhilda that they
were ill-suited to each other; that he was anxious to taste that wild,
tumultuous life, so well according with the spirit of his sex, while
she, on the contrary, was satisfied with the monotonous circle of
household enjoyments:--that he was eager for whatever promised
novelty, while she felt most attached to what was familiarized to her
by habit: and lastly, that her cold disposition, bordering upon
indifference, but ill assorted with his ardent temperament: it was
therefore more prudent that they should seek apart from each other
that happiness which they could not find together. A sigh, and a brief
acquiescence in his wishes was all the reply that Swanhilda made: and,
on the following morning, upon his presenting her with a paper of
separation, informing her that she was at liberty to return home to
her father, she received it most submissively: yet, ere she departed,
she gave him the following warning: "Too well do I conjecture to whom
I am indebted for this our separation. Often have I seen thee at
Brunhilda's grave, and beheld thee there even on that night when the
face of the heavens was suddenly enveloped in a veil of clouds. Hast
thou rashly dared to tear aside the awful veil that separates the
mortality that dreams, from that which dreameth not? Oh! then woe to
thee, thou wretched man, for thou hast attached to thyself that which
will prove thy destruction."

She ceased: nor did Walter attempt any reply, for the similar
admonition uttered by the sorcerer flashed upon his mind, all obscured
as it was by passion, just as the lightning glares momentarily through
the gloom of night without dispersing the obscurity.

Swanhilda then departed, in order to pronounce to her children, a
bitter farewell, for they, according to national custom, belonged to
the father; and, having bathed them in her tears, and consecrated them
with the holy water of maternal love, she quitted her husband's
residence, and departed to the home of her father's.

Thus was the kind and benevolent Swanhilda driven an exile from those
halls where she had presided with grace;--from halls which were now
newly decorated to receive another mistress. The day at length arrived
on which Walter, for the second time, conducted Brunhilda home as a
newly made bride. And he caused it to be reported among his domestics
that his new consort had gained his affections by her extraordinary
likeness to Brunhilda, their former mistress. How ineffably happy did
he deem himself as he conducted his beloved once more into the chamber
which had often witnessed their former joys, and which was now newly
gilded and adorned in a most costly style: among the other decorations
were figures of angels scattering roses, which served to support the
purple draperies whose ample folds o'ershadowed the nuptial couch.
With what impatience did he await the hour that was to put him in
possession of those beauties for which he had already paid so high a
price, but, whose enjoyment was to cost him most dearly yet!
Unfortunate Walter! revelling in bliss, thou beholdest not the abyss
that yawns beneath thy feet, intoxicated with the luscious perfume of
the flower thou hast plucked, thou little deemest how deadly is the
venom with which it is fraught, although, for a short season, its
potent fragrance bestows new energy on all thy feelings.

Happy, however, as Walter was now, his household were far from being
equally so. The strange resemblance between their new lady and the
deceased Brunhilda filled them with a secret dismay,--an undefinable
horror; for there was not a single difference of feature, of tone of
voice, or of gesture. To add too to these mysterious circumstances,
her female attendants discovered a particular mark on her back,
exactly like one which Brunhilda had. A report was now soon
circulated, that their lady was no other than Brunhilda herself, who
had been recalled to life by the power of necromancy. How truly
horrible was the idea of living under the same roof with one who had
been an inhabitant of the tomb, and of being obliged to attend upon
her, and acknowledge her as mistress! There was also in Brunhilda much
to increase this aversion, and favour their superstition: no ornaments
of gold ever decked her person; all that others were wont to wear of
this metal, she had formed of silver: no richly coloured and sparkling
jewels glittered upon her; pearls alone, lent their pale lustre to
adorn her bosom. Most carefully did she always avoid the cheerful
light of the sun, and was wont to spend the brightest days in the most
retired and gloomy apartments: only during the twilight of the
commencing or declining day did she ever walk abroad, but her
favourite hour was when the phantom light of the moon bestowed on all
objects a shadowy appearance and a sombre hue; always too at the
crowing of the cock an involuntary shudder was observed to seize her
limbs. Imperious as before her death, she quickly imposed her iron
yoke on every one around her, while she seemed even far more terrible
than ever, since a dread of some supernatural power attached to her,
appalled all who approached her. A malignant withering glance seemed
to shoot from her eye on the unhappy object of her wrath, as if it
would annihilate its victim. In short, those halls which, in the time
of Swanhilda were the residence of cheerfulness and mirth, now
resembled an extensive desert tomb. With fear imprinted on their pale
countenances, the domestics glided through the apartments of the
castle; and in this abode of terror, the crowing of the cock caused
the living to tremble, as if they were the spirits of the departed;
for the sound always reminded them of their mysterious mistress. There
was no one but who shuddered at meeting her in a lonely place, in the
dusk of evening, or by the light of the moon, a circumstance that was
deemed to be ominous of some evil: so great was the apprehension of
her female attendants, they pined in continual disquietude, and, by
degrees, all quitted her. In the course of time even others of the
domestics fled, for an insupportal horror had seized them.

The art of the sorcerer had indeed bestowed upon Brunhilda an
artificial life, and due nourishment had continued to support the
restored body: yet this body was not able of itself to keep up the
genial glow of vitality, and to nourish the flame whence springs all
the affections and passions, whether of love or hate; for death had
for ever destroyed and withered it: all that Brunhilda now possessed
was a chilled existence, colder than that of the snake. It was
nevertheless necessary that she should love, and return with equal
ardour the warm caresses of her spell-enthralled husband, to whose
passion alone she was indebted for her renewed existence. It was
necessary that a magic draught should animate the dull current in her
veins and awaken her to the glow of life and the flame of love--a
potion of abomination--one not even to be named without a curse--human
blood, imbibed whilst yet warm, from the veins of youth. This was the
hellish drink for which she thirsted: possessing no sympathy with the
purer feelings of humanity; deriving no enjoyment from aught that
interests in life and occupies its varied hours; her existence was a
mere blank, unless when in the arms of her paramour husband, and
therefore was it that she craved incessantly after the horrible
draught. It was even with the utmost effort that she could forbear
sucking even the blood of Walter himself, reclined beside her.
Whenever she beheld some innocent child whose lovely face denoted the
exuberance of infantine health and vigour, she would entice it by
soothing words and fond caresses into her most secret apartment,
where, lulling it to sleep in her arms, she would suck form its bosom
the war, purple tide of life. Nor were youths of either sex safe from
her horrid attack: having first breathed upon her unhappy victim, who
never failed immediately to sink into a lengthened sleep, she would
then in a similar manner drain his veins of the vital juice. Thus
children, youths, and maidens quickly faded away, as flowers gnawn by
the cankering worm: the fullness of their limbs disappeared; a sallow
line succeeded to the rosy freshness of their cheeks, the liquid
lustre of the eye was deadened, even as the sparkling stream when
arrested by the touch of frost; and their locks became thin and grey,
as if already ravaged by the storm of life. Parents beheld with horror
this desolating pestilence devouring their offspring; nor could simple
or charm, potion or amulet avail aught against it. The grave swallowed
up one after the other; or did the miserable victim survive, he became
cadaverous and wrinkled even in the very morn of existence. Parents
observed with horror this devastating pestilence snatch away their
offspring--a pestilence which, nor herb however potent, nor charm, nor
holy taper, nor exorcism could avert. They either beheld their
children sink one after the other into the grave, or their youthful
forms, withered by the unholy, vampire embrace of Brunhilda, assume
the decrepitude of sudden age.

At length strange surmises and reports began to prevail; it was
whispered that Brunhilda herself was the cause of all these horrors;
although no one could pretend to tell in what manner she destroyed her
victims, since no marks of violence were discernible. Yet when young
children confessed that she had frequently lulled them asleep in her
arms, and elder ones said that a sudden slumber had come upon them
whenever she began to converse with them, suspicion became converted
into certainty, and those whose offspring had hitherto escaped
unharmed, quitted their hearths and home--all their little
possessions--the dwellings of their fathers and the inheritance of
their children, in order to rescue from so horrible a fate those who
were dearer to their simple affections than aught else the world could
give.

Thus daily did the castle assume a more desolate appearance; daily did
its environs become more deserted; none but a few aged decrepit old
women and grey-headed menials were to be seen remaining of the once
numerous retinue. Such will in the latter days of the earth be the
last generation of mortals, when childbearing shall have ceased, when
youth shall no more be seen, nor any arise to replace those who shall
await their fate in silence.

Walter alone noticed not, or heeded not, the desolation around him; he
apprehended not death, lapped as he was in a glowing elysium of love.
Far more happy than formerly did he now seem in the possession of
Brunhilda. All those caprices and frowns which had been wont to
overcloud their former union had now entirely disappeared. She even
seemed to doat on him with a warmth of passion that she had never
exhibited even during the happy season of bridal love; for the flame
of that youthful blood, of which she drained the veins of others,
rioted in her own. At night, as soon as he closed his eyes, she would
breathe on him till he sank into delicious dreams, from which he awoke
only to experience more rapturous enjoyments. By day she would
continually discourse with him on the bliss experienced by happy
spirits beyond the grave, assuring him that, as his affection had
recalled her from the tomb, they were now irrevocably united. Thus
fascinated by a continual spell, it was not possible that he should
perceive what was taking place around him. Brunhilda, however, foresaw
with savage grief that the source of her youthful ardour was daily
decreasing, for, in a short time, there remained nothing gifted with
youth, save Walter and his children, and these latter she resolved
should be her next victims.

On her first return to the castle, she had felt an aversion towards
the offspring of another, and therefore abandoned them entirely to the
attendants appointed by Swanhilda. Now, however, she began to pay
considerable attention to them, and caused them to be frequently
admitted into her presence. The aged nurses were filled with dread at
perceiving these marks of regard from her towards their young charges,
yet dared they not to oppose the will of their terrible and imperious
mistress. Soon did Brunhilda gain the affection of the children, who
were too unsuspecting of guile to apprehend any danger from her; on
the contrary, her caresses won them completely to her. Instead of ever
checking their mirthful gambols, she would rather instruct them in new
sports: often too did she recite to them tales of such strange and
wild interest as to exceed all the stories of their nurses. Were they
wearied either with play or with listening to her narratives, she
would take them on her knees and lull them to slumber. Then did
visions of the most surpassing magnificence attend their dreams: they
would fancy themselves in some garden where flowers of every hue rose
in rows one above the other, from the humble violet to the tall
sunflower, forming a parti-coloured broidery of every hue, sloping
upwards towards the golden clouds where little angels whose wings
sparkled with azure and gold descended to bring them delicious cakes
or splendid jewels; or sung to them soothing melodious hymns. So
delightful did these dream in short time become to the children that
they longered for nothing so eagerly as to slumber on Brunhilda's lap,
for never did they else enjoy such visions of heavenly forms. They
were they most anxious for that which was to prove their
destruction:--yet do we not all aspire after that which conducts us to
the grave--after the enjoyment of life? These innocents stretched out
their arms to approaching death because it assumed the mask of
pleasure; for, which they were lapped in these ecstatic slumbers,
Brunhilda sucked the life-stream from their bosoms. On waking, indeed,
they felt themselves faint and exhausted, yet did no pain nor any mark
betray the cause. Shortly, however, did their strength entirely fail,
even as the summer brook is gradually dried up: their sports became
less and less noisy; their loud, frolicsome laughter was converted
into a faint smile; the full tones of their voices died away into a
mere whisper. Their attendants were filled with horror and despair;
too well did they conjecture the horrible truth, yet dared not to
impart their suspicions to Walter, who was so devotedly attached to
his horrible partner. Death had already smote his prey: the children
were but the mere shadows of their former selves, and even this shadow
quickly disappeared.

The anguished father deeply bemoaned their loss, for, notwithstanding
his apparent neglect, he was strongly attached to them, nor until he
had experienced their loss was he aware that his love was so great.
His affliction could not fail to excite the displeasure of Brunhilda:
"Why dost thou lament so fondly," said she, "for these little ones?
What satisfaction could such unformed beings yield to thee unless thou
wert still attached to their mother? Thy heart then is still hers? Or
dost thou now regret her and them because thou art satiated with my
fondness and weary of my endearments? Had these young ones grown up,
would they not have attached thee, thy spirit and thy affections more
closely to this earth of clay--to this dust and have alienated thee
from that sphere to which I, who have already passed the grave,
endeavour to raise thee? Say is thy spirit so heavy, or thy love so
weak, or thy faith so hollow, that the hope of being mine for ever is
unable to touch thee?" Thus did Brunhilda express her indignation at
her consort's grief, and forbade him her presence. The fear of
offending her beyond forgiveness and his anxiety to appease her soon
dried up his tears; and he again abandoned himself to his fatal
passion, until approaching destruction at length awakened him from his
delusion.

Neither maiden, nor youth, was any longer to be seen, either within
the dreary walls of the castle, or the adjoining territory:--all had
disappeared; for those whom the grave had not swallowed up had fled
from the region of death. Who, therefore, now remained to quench the
horrible thirst of the female vampire save Walter himself? and his
death she dared to contemplate unmoved; for that divine sentiment that
unites two beings in one joy and one sorrow was unknown to her bosom.
Was he in his tomb, so was she free to search out other victims and
glut herself with destruction, until she herself should, at the last
day, be consumed with the earth itself, such is the fatal law to which
the dead are subject when awoke by the arts of necromancy from the
sleep of the grave.

She now began to fix her blood-thirsty lips on Walter's breast, when
cast into a profound sleep by the odour of her violet breath he
reclined beside her quite unconscious of his impending fate: yet soon
did his vital powers begin to decay; and many a grey hair peeped
through his raven locks. With his strength, his passion also declined;
and he now frequently left her in order to pass the whole day in the
sports of the chase, hoping thereby to regain his wonted vigour. As he
was reposing one day in a wood beneath the shade of an oak, he
perceived, on the summit of a tree, a bird of strange appearance, and
quite unknown to him; but, before he could take aim at it with his
bow, it flew away into the clouds; at the same time letting fall a
rose-coloured root which dropped at Walter's feet, who immediately
took it up and, although he was well acquainted with almost every
plant, he could not remember to have seen any at all resembling this.
Its delightfully odoriferous scent induced him to try its flavour, but
ten times more bitter than wormwood it was even as gall in his mouth;
upon which, impatient of the disappointment, he flung it away with
violence. Had he, however, been aware of its miraculous quality and
that it acted as a counter charm against the opiate perfume of
Brunhilda's breath, he would have blessed it in spite of its
bitterness: thus do mortals often blindly cast away in displeasure the
unsavoury remedy that would otherwise work their weal.

When Walter returned home in the evening and laid him down to repose
as usual by Brunhilda's side, the magic power of her breath produced
no effect upon him; and for the first time during many months did he
close his eyes in a natural slumber. Yet hardly had he fallen asleep,
ere a pungent smarting pain disturbed him from his dreams; and.
opening his eyes, he discerned, by the gloomy rays of a lamp, that
glimmered in the apartment what for some moments transfixed him quite
aghast, for it was Brunhilda, drawing with her lips, the warm blood
from his bosom. The wild cry of horror which at length escaped him,
terrified Brunhilda, whose mouth was besmeared with the warm blood.
"Monster!" exclaimed he, springing from the couch, "is it thus that
you love me?"

"Aye, even as the dead love," replied she, with a malignant coldness.

"Creature of blood!" continued Walter, "the delusion which has so long
blinded me is at an end: thou are the fiend who hast destroyed my
children--who hast murdered the offspring of my vassels." Raising
herself upwards and, at the same time, casting on him a glance that
froze him to the spot with dread, she replied. "It is not I who have
murdered them;--I was obliged to pamper myself with warm youthful
blood, in order that I might satisfy thy furious desires--thou art the
murderer!"--These dreadful words summoned, before Walter's terrified
conscience, the threatening shades of all those who had thus perished;
while despair choked his voice.

"Why," continued she, in a tone that increased his horror, "why dost
thou make mouths at me like a puppet? Thou who hadst the courage to
love the dead--to take into thy bed, one who had been sleeping in the
grave, the bed-fellow of the worm--who hast clasped in thy lustful
arms, the the corruption of the tomb--dost thou, unhallowed as thou
art, now raise this hideous cry for the sacrifice of a few lives?--
They are but leaves swept from their branches by a storm.--Come, chase
these idiot fancies, and taste the bliss thou hast so dearly
purchased." So saying, she extended her arms towards him; but this
motion served only to increase his terror, and exclaiming: "Accursed
Being,"--he rushed out of the apartment.

All the horrors of a guilty, upbraiding conscience became his
companions, now that he was awakened from the delirium of his unholy
pleasures. Frequently did he curse his own obstinate blindness, for
having given no heed to the hints and admonitions of his children's
nurses, but treating them as vile calumnies. But his sorrow was now
too late, for, although repentance may gain pardon for the sinner, it
cannot alter the immutable decrees of fate--it cannot recall the
murdered from the tomb. No sooner did the first break of dawn appear,
than he set out for his lonely castle in the mountains, determined no
longer to abide under the same roof with so terrific a being; yet vain
was his flight, for, on waking the following morning, he perceived
himself in Brunhilda's arms, and quite entangled in her long raven
tresses, which seemed to involve him, and bind him in the fetters of
his fate; the powerful fascination of her breath held him still more
captivated, so that, forgetting all that had passed, he returned her
caresses, until awakening as if from a dream he recoiled in unmixed
horror from her embrace. During the day he wandered through the
solitary wilds of the mountains, as a culprit seeking an asylum from
his pursuers; and, at night, retired to the shelter of a cave; fearing
less to couch himself within such a dreary place, than to expose
himself to the horror of again meeting Brunhilda; but alas! it was in
vain that he endeavoured to flee her. Again, when he awoke, he found
her the partner of his miserable bed. Nay, had he sought the centre of
the earth as his hiding place; had he even imbedded himself beneath
rocks, or formed his chamber in the recesses of the ocean, still had
he found her his constant companion; for, by calling her again into
existence, he had rendered himself inseparably hers; so fatal were the
links that united them.

Struggling with the madness that was beginning to seize him, and
brooding incessantly on the ghastly visions that presented themselves
to his horror-stricken mind, he lay motionless in the gloomiest
recesses of the woods, even from the rise of sun till the shades of
eve. But, no sooner was the light of day extinguished in the west, and
the woods buried in impenetrable darkness, than the apprehension of
resigning himself to sleep drove him forth among the mountains. The
storm played wildly with the fantastic clouds, and with the rattling
leaves, as they were caught up into the air, as if some dread spirit
was sporting with these images of transitoriness and decay: it roared
among the summits of the oaks as if uttering a voice of fury, while
its hollow sound rebounding among the distant hills, seemed as the
moans of a departing sinner, or as the faint cry of some wretch
expiring under the murderer's hand: the owl too, uttered its ghastly
cry as if foreboding the wreck of nature. Walter's hair flew
disorderly in the wind, like black snakes wreathing around his temples
and shoulders; while each sense was awake to catch fresh horror. In
the clouds he seemed to behold the forms of the murdered; in the
howling wind to hear their laments and groans; in the chilling blast
itself he felt the dire kiss of Brunhilda; in the cry of the
screeching bird he heard her voice; in the mouldering leaves he
scented the charnel-bed out of which he had awakened her. "Murderer of
thy own offspring," exclaimed he in a voice making night, and the
conflict of the element still more hideous, "paramour of a blood-
thirsty vampire, reveller with the corruption of the tomb!" while in
his despair he rent the wild locks from his head. Just then the full
moon darted from beneath the bursting clouds; and the sight recalled
to his remembrance the advice of the sorcerer, when he trembled at the
first apparition of Brunhilda rising from her sleep of death;--namely,
to seek him at the season of the full moon in the mountains, where
three roads met. Scarcely had this gleam of hope broke in on his
bewildered mind than he flew to the appointed spot.

On his arrival, Walter found the old man seated there upon a stone as
calmly as though it had been a bright sunny day and completely
regardless of the uproar around. "Art thou come then?" exclaimed he to
the breathless wretch, who, flinging himself at his feet, cried in a
tone of anguish:--"Oh save me--succour me--rescue me from the monster
that scattereth death and desolation around her.

"Wherefore a mysterious warning? why didst thou not rather disclose to
me at once all the horrors that awaited my sacrilegious profanation of
the grave?"

"And wherefore a mysterious warning? why didst thou not perceivest how
wholesome was the advice--'Wake not the dead.'

"Wert thou able to listen to another voice than that of thy impetuous
passions? Did not thy eager impatience shut my mouth at the very
moment I would have cautioned thee?"

"True, true:--thy reproof is just: but what does it avail now;--I need
the promptest aid."

"Well," replied the old man, "there remains even yet a means of
rescuing thyself, but it is fraught with horror and demands all thy
resolution."

"Utter it then, utter it; for what can be more appalling, more hideous
than the misery I now endure?"

"Know then," continued the sorcerer, "that only on the night of the
new moon does she sleep the sleep of mortals; and then all the
supernaturural power which she inherits from the grave totally fails
her. 'Tis then that thou must murder her."

"How! murder her!" echoed Walter.

"Aye," returned the old man calmly, "pierce her bosom with a sharpened
dagger, which I will furnish thee with; at the same time renounce her
memory for ever, swearing never to think of her intentionally, and
that, if thou dost involuntarily, thou wilt repeat the curse."

"Most horrible! yet what can be more horrible than she herself is?--
I'll do it."

"Keep then this resolution until the next new moon."

"What, must I wait until then?" cried Walter, "alas ere then, either
her savage thirst for blood will have forced me into the night of the
tomb, or horror will have driven me into the night of madness."

"Nay," replied the sorcerer, "that I can prevent;" and, so saying, he
conducted him to a cavern further among the mountains. "Abide here
twice seven days," said he; "so long can I protect thee against her
deadly caresses. Here wilt thou find all due provision for thy wants;
but take heed that nothing tempt thee to quit this place. Farewell,
when the moon renews itself, then do I repair hither again." So
saying, the sorcerer drew a magic circle around the cave, and then
immediately disappeared.

Twice seven days did Walter continue in this solitude, where his
companions were his own terrifying thoughts, and his bitter
repentance. The present was all desolation and dread; the future
presented the image of a horrible deed which he must perforce commit;
while the past was empoisoned by the memory of his guilt. Did he think
on his former happy union with Brunhilda, her horrible image presented
itself to his imagination with her lips defiled with dropping blood:
or, did he call to mind the peaceful days he had passed with
Swanhilda, he beheld her sorrowful spirit with the shadows of her
murdered children. Such were the horrors that attended him by day:
those of night were still more dreadful, for then he beheld Brunhilda
herself, who, wandering round the magic circle which she could not
pass, called upon his name till the cavern reechoed the horrible
sound. "Walter, my beloved," cried she, "wherefore dost thou avoid me?
art thou not mine? for ever mine--mine here, and mine hereafter? And
dost thou seek to murder me?--ah! commit not a deed which hurls us
both to perdition--thyself as well as me." In this manner did the
horrible visitant torment him each night, and, even when she departed,
robbed him of all repose.

The night of the new moon at length arrived, dark as the deed it was
doomed to bring forth. The sorcerer entered the cavern; "Come," said
he to Walter, "let us depart hence, the hour is now arrived:" and he
forthwith conducted him in silence from the cave to a coal-black
steed, the sight of which recalled to Walter's remembrance the fatal
night. He then related to the old man Brunhilda's nocturnal visits and
anxiously inquired whether her apprehensions of eternal perdition
would be fulfilled or not. "Mortal eye," exclaimed the sorcerer, "may
not pierce the dark secrets of another world, or penetrate the deep
abyss that separates earth from heaven." Walter hesitated to mount the
steed. "Be resolute," exclaimed his companion, "but this once is it
granted to thee to make the trial, and, should thou fail now, nought
can rescue thee from her power."

"What can be more horrible than she herself?--I am determined:" and he
leaped on the horse, the sorcerer mounting also behind him.

Carried with a rapidity equal to that of the storm that sweeps across
the plain they in brief space arrived at Walter's castle. All the
doors flew open at the bidding of his companion, and they speedily
reached Brunhilda's chamber, and stood beside her couch. Reclining in
a tranquil slumber; she reposed in all her native loveliness, every
trace of horror had disappeared from her countenance; she looked so
pure, meek and innocent that all the sweet hours of their endearments
rushed to Walter's memory, like interceding angels pleading in her
behalf. His unnerved hand could not take the dagger which the sorcerer
presented to him. "The blow must be struck even now:" said the latter,
"shouldst thou delay but an hour, she will lie at daybreak on thy
bosom, sucking the warm life drops from thy heart."

"Horrible! most horrible!" faltered the trembling Walter, and turning
away his face, he thrust the dagger into her bosom, exclaiming--"I
curse thee for ever!--and the cold blood gushed upon his hand. Opening
her eyes once more, she cast a look of ghastly horror on her husband,
and, in a hollow dying accent said--"Thou too art doomed to
perdition."

"Lay now thy hand upon her corpse," said the sorcerer, "and swear the
oath."--Walter did as commanded, saying, "Never will I think of her
with love, never recall her to mind intentionally, and, should her
image recur to my mind involuntarily, so will I exclaim to it: be thou
accursed."

"Thou hast now done everything," returned the sorcerer;--"restore her
therefore to the earth, from which thou didst so foolishly recall her;
and be sure to recollect thy oath: for, shouldst thou forget it but
once, she would return, and thou wouldst be inevitably lost. Adieu--we
see each other no more." Having uttered these words he quitted the
apartment, and Walter also fled from this abode of horror, having
first given direction that the corpse should be speedily interred.

Again did the terrific Brunhilda repose within her grave; but her
image continually haunted Walter's imagination, so that his existence
was one continued martyrdom, in which he continually struggled, to
dismiss from his recollection the hideous phantoms of the past; yet,
the stronger his effort to banish them, so much the more frequently
and the more vividly did they return; as the night-wanderer, who is
enticed by a fire-wisp into quagmire or bog, sinks the deeper into his
damp grave the more he struggles to escape. His imagination seemed
incapable of admitting any other image than that of Brunhilda: now he
fancied he beheld her expiring, the blood streaming from her beautiful
bosom: at others he saw the lovely bride of his youth, who reproached
him with having disturbed the slumbers of the tomb; and to both he was
compelled to utter the dreadful words, "I curse thee for ever." The
terrible imprecation was constantly passing his lips; yet was he in
incessant terror lest he should forget it, or dream of her without
being able to repeat it, and then, on awaking, find himself in her
arms. Else would he recall her expiring words, and, appalled at their
terrific import, imagine that the doom of his perdition was
irrecoverably passed. Whence should he fly from himself? or how erase
from his brain these images and forms of horror? In the din of combat,
in the tumult of war and its incessant pour of victory to defeat; from
the cry of anguish to the exultation of victory--in these he hoped to
find at least the relief of distraction: but here too he was
disappointed. The giant fang of apprehension now seized him who had
never before known fear; each drop of blood that sprayed upon him
seemed the cold blood that had gushed from Brunhilda's wound; each
dying wretch that fell beside him looked like her, when expiring, she
exclaimed,--"Thou too art doomed to perdition"; so that the aspect of
death seemed more full of dread to him than aught beside, and this
unconquerable terror compelled him to abandon the battle-field. At
length, after many a weary and fruitless wandering, he returned to his
castle. Here all was deserted and silent, as if the sword, or a still
more deadly pestilence had laid everything waste: for the few
inhabitants that still remained, and even those servants who had once
shewn themselves the most attached, now fled from him, as though he
had been branded with the mark of Cain. With horror he perceived that,
by uniting himself as he had done with the dead, he had cut himself
off from the living, who refused to hold any intercourse with him.
Often, when he stood on the battlements of his castle, and looked down
upon desolate fields, he compared their present solitude with the
lively activity they were wont to exhibit, under the strict but
benevolent discipline of Swanhilda. He now felt that she alone could
reconcile him to life, but durst he hope that one, whom he so deeply
aggrieved, could pardon him, and receive him again? Impatience at
length got the better of fear; he sought Swanhilda, and, with the
deepest contrition, acknowledged his complicated guilt; embracing her
knees as he beseeched her to pardon him, and to return to his desolate
castle, in order that it might again become the abode of contentment
and peace. The pale form which she beheld at her feet, the shadow of
the lately blooming youth, touched Swanhilda. "The folly," said she
gently, "though it has caused me much sorrow, has never excited my
resentment or my anger. But say, where are my children?" To this
dreadful interrogation the agonized father could for a while frame no
reply: at length he was obliged to confess the dreadful truth. "Then
we are sundered for ever," returned Swanhilda; nor could all his tears
or supplications prevail upon her to revoke the sentence she had
given.

Stripped of his last earthly hope, bereft of his last consolation, and
thereby rendered as poor as mortal can possibly be on this side of the
grave. Walter returned homewards; when, as he was riding through the
forest in the neighbourhood of his castle, absorbed in his gloomy
meditations, the sudden sound of a horn roused him from his reverie.
Shortly after he saw appear a female figure clad in black, and mounted
on a steed of the same colour: her attire was like that of a huntress,
but, instead of a falcon, she bore a raven in her hand; and she was
attended by a gay troop of cavaliers and dames. The first salutations
bring passed, he found that she was proceeding the same road as
himself; and, when she found that Walter's castle was close at hand,
she requested that he would lodge her for that night, the evening
being far advanced. Most willingly did he comply with this request,
since the appearance of the beautiful stranger had struck him greatly;
so wonderfully did she resemble Swanhilda, except that her locks were
brown, and her eye dark and full of fire. With a sumptous banquet did
he entertain his guests, whose mirth and songs enlivened the lately
silent halls. Three days did this revelry continue, and so
exhilarating did it prove to Walter that he seemed to have forgotten
his sorrows and his fears; nor could he prevail upon himself to
dismiss his visitors, dreading lest, on their departure, the castle
would seem a hundred times more desolate than before hand his grief be
proportionally increased. At his earnest request, the stranger
consented to stay seven, and again another seven days. Without being
requested, she took upon herself the superintendence of the household,
which she regulated as discreetly and cheerfully as Swanhilda had been
wont to do, so that the castle, which had so lately been the abode of
melancholy and horror, became the residence of pleasure and festivity,
and Walter's grief disappeared altogether in the midst of so much
gaiety. Daily did his attachment to the fair unknown increase; he even
made her his confidant; and, one evening as they were walking together
apart from any of her train, he related to her his melancholy and
frightful history. "My dear friend," returned she, as soon as he he
had finished his tale, "it ill beseems a man of thy discretion to
afflict thyself on account of all this. Thou hast awakened the dead
from the sleep of the grave and afterwards found,"---"what might have
been anticipated, that the dead possess no sympathy with life. What
then? thou wilt not commit this error a second time."

"Thou hast however murdered the being whom thou hadst thus recalled
again to existence--but it was only in appearance, for thou couldst
not deprive that of life which properly had none. Thou hast, too, lost
a wife and two children: but at thy years such a loss is most easily
repaired. There are beauties who will gladly share thy couch, and make
thee again a father. But thou dreadst the reckoning of hereafter:--go,
open the graves and ask the sleepers there whether that hereafter
disturbs them." In such manner would she frequently exhort and cheer
him, so that, in a short time, his melancholy entirely disappeared. He
now ventured to declare to the unknown the passion with which she had
inspired him, nor did she refuse him her hand. Within seven days
afterwards the nuptials were celebrated, and the very foundations of
the castle seemed to rock from the wild tumultuous uproar of
unrestrained riot. The wine streamed in abundance; the goblets circled
incessantly; intemperance reached its utmost bounds, while shouts of
laughter almost resembling madness burst from the numerous train
belonging to the unknown. At length Walter, heated with wine and love,
conducted his bride into the nuptial chamber: but, oh! horror!
scarcely had he clasped her in his arms ere she transformed herself
into a monstrous serpent, which entwining him in its horrid folds,
crushed him to death. Flames crackled on every side of the apartment;
in a few minutes after, the whole castle was enveloped in a blaze that
consumed it entirely: while, as the walls fell in with a tremendous
crash, a voice exclaimed aloud--"Wake not the dead!"



THE END



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