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Meantime, the newspapers arrived from the capital, but they said not a word of the rebellion ; in fact they were more than usually dull, not containing even a lie of much interest. All this, however, the Commissioner ascribed to the prudential policy which their own safety dictated to the editors in times of rebellion ; and the longer the silence lasted, so much the more critical (it was inferred) must be the state of affairs, and so much the more prodigious that accumulating arrear of great events which any decisive blow would open upon them. At length, when the general patience began to give way, a newspaper arrived, which, under the head of domestic intelligence, communicated the following disclosures :
6 A curious hoax has been played off on a certain loyal and ancient borough town not a hundred miles from the little river P- On the accession of our present gracious sovereign, and before his person was generally known to his subjects, a wager of large amount was laid by a certain Mr. Von Holster, who had been a gentleman of the bedchamber to his late Highness, that he would succeed in passing himself off upon the whole town and corporation in question for the new prince. Having paved the way for his own success by a previous communication through a clerk in the house of W- & Co., he departed on his errand, attended by an agent for the parties who had betted largely against him. This agent bore the name of Von Hoax; and, by his report, the wager has been adjudged to Von Holster as brilliantly won. Thus far all was well; what follows, however, is still better. Some time ago, a young lady of large fortune, and still larger expectations, on a visit to the capital, had met with Mr. Von H., and had clandestinely formed an acquaintance which had ripened into a strong attachment. The gentleman, however, had no fortune, or none which corresponded
to the expectations of the lady's family. Under these circumstances, the lady (despairing in any other way of obtaining her father's consent) agreed, that, in connection with his scheme for winning the wager, Fitz-Hum should attempt another, more interesting to them both; in pursuance of which arrangement, he contrived to fix himself under his princely incognito at the very house of Mr. Commissioner P—, the father of his mistress; and the result is that he has actually married her with the entire approbation of her friends. Whether the sequel of the affair will correspond with its success hitherto, remains however to be
Certain it is, that for the present, until the prince's pleasure can be taken, Mr. Von Holster has been committed to prison under the new law for abolishing bets of a certain description, and also for having presumed to personate the sovereign.”
Thus far the newspaper. However, in a few days, all clouds hanging over the prospects of the young couple cleared away. Mr. Von Holster, in a dutiful petition to the prince, declared that he had not personated his Serene Highness. On the contrary, he had given himself out both before and after his entry into the town of P- for no more than the Count Fitz-Hum; and it was they, the good people of that town, who had insisted on mistaking him for a prince; if they would kiss his hand, was it for a humble individual of no pretensions whatever arrogantly to refuse? If they would make addresses to him, was it for an inconsiderable person like himself rudely to refuse their homage, when the greatest kings (as was notorious) always listened and replied in the most gracious terms? On further inquiry, the whole circumstances were detailed to the prince, and amused him greatly; but when the narrator came to the final article of the “rebellion” (under which sounding title a friend of Von Holster's had com
municated to him a general combination amongst his creditors for arresting his person), the good-natured prince laughed immoderately, and it became easy to see that no very severe punishment would follow. In fact, by his services to the late prince, Von H. had established some claims upon the gratitude of this, an acknowledgment which the prince generously made at this seasonable crisis. Such an acknowledgment from such a quarter, together with some other marks of favor to Von H., could not fail to pacify the “rebels” against that gentleman, and to reconcile Mr. Commissioner Pig to a marriage which he had already once approved. His scruples had originally been vanquished in the wine-cellar; and there also it was, that, upon learning the total suppression of the insurrection, he drowned all his scruples for a second and a final time.
The town of M— has, however, still occasion to remember the blue landau, and the superb whiskers, from the jokes which they are now and then called on to parry upon that subject. Dr. B-, in particular, the physician of that town, having originally offered five hundred dollars to the man who should notify to him his appointment to the place of court physician, has been obliged solemnly to advertise in the gazette, for the information of the wits in the capital, “ That he will not consider himself bound by his promise, seeing that every week he receives so many private notifications of that appointment, that it would beggar him to pay for them at any such rate.” With respect to the various petitioners, the bakers, the glaciers, the hair-dressers, &c., they all maintain, that though FitzHum may have been a spurious prince, yet undoubtedly the man had so much sense and political discernment that he well deserved to have been a true one.
FROM THE GERMAN.
For more than 150 years had the family of Schroll been settled at Taubendorf, and generally respected for knowledge and refinement of manners superior to its station. Its present representative, the bailiff Elias Schroll, had in his youth attached himself to literature, but, later in life, from love to the country, he had returned to his native village, and lived there in great credit and esteem.
During this whole period of 150 years, tradition had recorded only one single Schroll as having borne a doubtful character; he, indeed, as many persons affirmed, had dealt with the devil. Certain it is that there was still preserved in the house a scrutoire fixed in the wall, and containing some mysterious manuscripts attributed to him, and the date of the year, 1630, which was carved upon the front, tallied with his era. The key to this scrutoire had been constantly handed down to the eldest son through five generations, with a solemn charge to take care that no other eye or ear should ever become acquainted with its contents. Every precaution had been taken to guard against accidents or oversights; the lock was so constructed, that even with the right key it could not be opened without special instructions; and for still greater security the present proprietor had added a padlock of most elaborate workmanship, which
presented a sufficient obstacle before the main lock could be approached.
In vain did the curiosity of the whole family direct itself to this scrutoire. Nobody had succeeded in discovering any part of its contents, except Rudolph, the only son of the bailiff; he had succeeded; at least his own belief was, that the old folio with gilt edges, and bound in black velvet, which he had one day surprised his father anxiously reading, belonged to the mysterious scrutoire; for the door of the scrutoire, though not open, was unlocked, and Elias had hastily closed the book with great agitation, at the same time ordering his son out of the room in no very gentle tone. At the time of this incident Rudolph was about twelve years of age.
Since that time the young man had sustained two great losses in the deaths of his excellent mother and a sister tenderly beloved. His father also had suffered deeply in health and spirits under these afflictions. Every day he grew more fretful and humorsome; and Rudolph, upon his final return home from school in his eighteenth year, was shocked to find him greatly altered in mind as well as in person.
His flesh had fallen away, and he seemed to be consumed by some internal strife of thought. It was evidently his own opinion that he was standing on the edge of the grave, and he employed himself unceasingly in arranging his affairs, and in making his successor acquainted with all such arrangements as regarded his more peculiar interests. One evening as Rudolph came in suddenly from a neighbor's house, and happened to pass the scrutoire, he found the door wide open, and the inside obviously empty. Looking round he observed his father standing on the hearth close to a great fire, in the midst of which was consuming the old black book.
Elias entreated his son earnestly to withdraw, but