« VorigeDoorgaan »
Italy, where he died at the age of ninety, in 615; the latter, to found, and end his days at the age of ninety-five, in the famous monastery which has given his name to the neighbouring Swiss Canton.
The descendants of this remnant have kept up the original settlement to this day with the name of Altenstadt, while the first built street of the present thriving town of Feldkirch still retains its appellation of the Neustadt.
It seemed a long stretch ere we again came upon an inhabited spot, but this time there was no mistake, all around were the signs of a prosperous centre, the causeways correctly laid out, new buildings rising on every side, and—I am fain to add—the church dark and closed; in place of the train of worshippers of unsophisticated Altenburg, one solitary figure in mourning weeds was kneeling in the moonlight at a desk such as we often see placed under a cross against the outer wall of churches in Germany.
Before five next morning I was awakened by the pealing organ and hearty voices of the Feldkirch peasants at Mass in the church just opposite my window. I dressed hastily, and descended to take my place among them. It was a village festival, and Mass succeeded Mass at each of the gaily decorated altars, and before them assembled groups in quaint costumes from far and near. As each hour struck a bell sounded, and a relic was brought round to the high altar rails, all the women in the church going up first, and then all the men, to venerate it.
Our first care of the day was to engage our carriage for Innsbruck. We were at the Post hotel, and had the best chance there; for besides its own conveyances, there were those of the post-office, which generally in Germany afford great convenience. Not one was there, however, that would undertake our luggage over the mountain roads. The post-master and his men all declared that at every winding of the passes there would be too great risk of overturning the vehicle. It was in vain that we argued the same amount had often accompanied us over higher mountains in Italy; it was clear they were not prepared for it. There was a service for heavy goods by which it could be sent; there was no other way,
and they did not advise that. They could not ensure any due care being taken of it, or that it should reach its destination within three or four weeks. Four or five hours spent in weighing, measuring, arranging, and arguing, advanced our cause not a whit: there was no plan to be adopted but to return by Oberriet to Rohrsach, cross lake Constance to Lindau, and make our way round by Augsburg, Munich, and Rosenheim !
It was with great reluctance we relinquished the cherished project of visiting the Wallgau and the Illthal and the Prettigau, with their antique little towns, and romantic traditions. Our now hated luggage deposited in a wagon, as the day before, we mounted our rather more presentable, and certainly better horsed vehicle, in no cheerful mood, for besides the disappointinent, there was the mortification which always attaches to a failed project and retraced steps.
* The Herrschaften are not in such bright spirits as the sun to-day! exclaimed our driver, when, finally tired of cracking his whip and shouting to his horses, he found we still sat silent and crest-fallen. He wore the jauntiest costume to be found in Europe, after that of his Hungarian confrère, a short postilion jacket, bound and trimmed with yellow lace, a horn slung across his breast by a bright yellow cord, and a hat shining like looking-glass cocked on one side of his head, while his face expressed everything that is pleasant and jovial.
• How can one not be out of spirits when one is crossed by such a stupid set as the people of your town? Why, there is no part of Europe in which they will even believe it possible !
• Well, you see they don't understand much, about here,' he replied, with an air of superiority. “In Italy they manage better; they tie the luggage on behind, or underneath, where it is safe enough. Here they have only one idea—to stick it on the top, and in that way a carriage may be easily upset at a sharp turn. You cannot drive any new idea into these fellows; it is like an echo between their own mountains, whatever is once there, goes on and on and on.'
I showed him the map, and traced before him the difference in the length of the route we should have taken and that we had now to pursue. I don't think he had ever understood a map before, for he seemed vastly pleased at the compliment paid to his intelligence. “Ah ! he exclaimed, ‘if we could always go as the crow flies, how quickly we should get to our journey's end; or if we had the Stase-Sattel, as they used to have wasn't that fine!
• The Stase-Sattel,' I replied, 'what is that?'
What! don't you know about the Stase-Sattel-at that place, Bludenz, there,' and he pointed to it on the map, 'where you were telling me you wanted to have gone, there used to live an old woman named Stase, and folk said she was a witch. She had a wonderful saddle, on to which she used to set herself when she wanted anything, and it used to fly with her ever so high, and quicker than a bird. One day the reapers were in a field cooking their mess, and they had forgotten to bring any salt-and hupf! quick! before the pot had begun to boil she had flown off on her saddle to the salt-mines at Hall, beyond Innsbruck, and back with salt enough to pickle an ox. Another time there was a farmer who had been kind to her, whose crops were failing for the drought. She no sooner heard of his distress than up she flew in her saddle and swept all the clouds together with her broom till there was enough to make a good rainfall. Another time, a boy who had been sent with a message by his master to the next village had wasted all the day in playing and drinking with her; towards dusk he bethought himself that the gates would be shut and the dog3 let loose, so that it was a chance if he reached the house alive. But she told him not to mind, and taking him up on her saddle, she carried him up through the air and set him down at home before the sun was an inch lower.'
* And what became of her ?' I inquired.
· Became of her! why, she went the way of all such folk. They go on for a time, but God's hand overtakes them at the last. One day she was on one of her wild errands, and it was a Fest-tag to boot. Her course took her exactly over a church spire, and just as she passed, the Wandlungbell* tolled. The sacred sound tormented her so that she lost her seat and fell headlong to the ground. When they came out of church they found her lying a shapeless mass upon the stone step of the churchyard
ller enchanted saddle was long kept in the Castle of Landeckmaybe it is there yet; and even now when we want to tell one to go quickly on an errand, we say, "Fly on the saddle of Dame Stase.”
"You have had many such folk about here,' I observed seriously, with the view of drawing him out.
Well, yes, they tell many such tales,' he answered; "and if they're not true, they at least serve to keep alive the faith that God is over us all, and that the evil one has no more power than just what He allows. There's another story they tell, just showing that,' he continued. “Many years ago there was a peasant (and he lived near Bludenz too) who had a great desire to have a fine large farm-house. He worked hard, and put his savings by prudently; but it wouldn't do, he never could get enough. One day, in an evil hour, he let his great desire get the better of him, and he called the devil in dreiteufelsnament to his assistance. It was not, you see, a deliberate wickedness—it was all in a moment, like. But the devil came, and didn't give him time to reflect. “I know what you want,” he said; “you shall have your house and your barns and your hen-house, and all complete, this very night, without costing you a penny; but when you have enjoyed it long enough, your old worn-out carcass shall belong to me.” The good peasant hesitated ; and the devil, finding it necessary to add another bait, ran on, And what is more, I'll go so far as to say that if every stone is not complete by the first cockcrow, I'll strike out even this condition, and you shall have it out and out.” The peasant was dazzled with the prospect, and could not bring himself all at once to refuse the accomplishment of his darling hope. The devil shook him by the hand as a way of clenching the bargain, and disappeared.
“The peasant went home more alarmed than rejoiced, and fearing above all that his wife should inquire the meaning of all the hammering and blustering and running hither and thither which was to be heard going on in the homestead, for she was a pious God-fearing woman.
• He remained dumb to all her inquiries, hour after hour through the night; but at last, towards morning, his courage failed him, and he told her all. She, like a good wife, gave back no word of reproach, but cast about to find a remedy. First she considered that he had done the thing thoughtlessly and rashly, and then she ascertained that at last he had given no actual consent. Finally, deciding matters were not as bad as might be, she got up, and bid him leave the issue to her.
* The bell called in other countries the Elevation bell, is in Germany called the Wandlung, or change-of-the-elements bell. The idiom was worth preserving here, as it depicts more perfectly the solemnity of the moment indicated.
+ The threefold invocation, supposed to be supremely efficacious.
* First she knelt down and commended herself and her undertaking to God and His holy saints; then in the small hours, when the devil's work was nearly finished, she took her lamp and spread out the wick so that it should give its greatest glare, and poured fresh oil upon it, and went out with a basket of grain to feed the hens. The cock, seeing the bright light and the good wife with her basket of food, never doubted but that it was morning, and springing up, he fapped his wings, and crowed with all his might. At that very moment the devil himself was coming by with the last roof-stone. * At the sound of the premature cock-crow he was so much astonished that he didn't know which way to turn, and sank into the ground bearing the stone still in his hand.
* The house belonged to the peasant by every right, but no stone could ever be made to stay on the vacant space. This inconvenience was the penance he had to endure for the desperate game he had played, and he took it cheerfully, and when the rain came in he used to kiss his good wife in gratitude for the more terrible chastisement from which she had saved him.'
The jaunty postilion whipped the horses on as he thus brought his story to a close, or rather cracked his whip in the air till the mountains resounded with it, for he had slackened speed while telling his tale, and the day was wearing on.
'We must take care and not be late for the train,' he observed. "The Herrschaften have had enough of the inn of Oberriet, and don't want to have to spend a night there, and we have no Vorarlberger-geist to speed us now-a-days.
Who was he?' I inquired eagerly. 'I suppose you know that all this country round about here is called the Vorarlberg, and in olden time there was a spirit that used to wander about helping travellers all along its roads ; when they were benighted it used to go before them with a light; when they were in difficulties, it used to procure them aid; if one lost his way, it used to direct him aright: till one day a poor priest came by who had been to administer a distant parishioner. His way had lain now over bog, now over torrentbeds. In the roughness of the way the priest's horse had cast a shoe. A long stretch of road lay yet before him, but no forge was near. Suddenly the Vorarlberger-geist came out of a cleft in the rock, silently set to work and shod the horse, and passed on its way as usual with a sigh.
* In Tirol the roofs are frequently made of narrow overlapping planks, weighed down by large stones. Hence the origin of the German proverb, “If a stone fall from the roof, ten to one but it lights on a poor widow;'--equivalent to our 'Trouble never comes alone.'
"“ Vergeltsgott !” cried the priest after it.
"“God be praised !” exclaimed the spirit. “Now am I at last set free. These hundred years have I served mankind thus, and till now no man has performed this act of gratitude, the condition of my release.” And since this time it has never been seen again.'
of the crazy
We had now once more reached the banks of the Rhine. The driver of the luggage van held the ferry in expectation of us, and with its team it was already stowed on board. Our horses were next embarked, and then ourselves, as we sat, perched on the carriage. A couple of rough donkeys, a patriarchal goat, and half a dozen wild-looking half-clothed peasants, made up a freight which seemed to tax the powers barge to the utmost, and as the three brawny ferrymen pulled it dexterously along the guide rope, the waters of the here broad and rapid river rose some inches through the chinks. All went well, however, and in another half-hour we were again astonishing the factotum of the Oberriet station with a vision of the “Gepack' which bad puzzled him so immensely the day before,
R. II. B. (To be continued.)
AN ALARMING INCIDENT.
I HAD been spending the autumn in Sweden, as far as the end of October, and had enjoyed first-rate sport; but by that time my forest friends, the hares, black-game, and capercaillie, had grown very rare: ducks and snipe were no longer to be met with in the grass, and among the rushes by the lake; and I was preparing to pack up my traps and to return to England, when I received an invitation from a gentleman who farmed his own small property in one of the valleys towards the west of Ostersund. The hospitable reception I met with, not only from himself and his family, but also in the whole of the surrounding country, determined me on passing at least the early part of the winter at his house; and having made an arrangement, that proved highly satisfactory to all parties, with his sensible wife, I sent for my tackle and books, and prepared for a thorough Swedish life. I had already made some progress in the language, and I found besides that English was understood in several of the neighbouring families; so that, with the prospect of excellent bear-hunting and plenty of skating and sledging, I looked contentedly on my lot. The house was tolerably well furnished, though I should have preferred fewer stoves and more carpets over the foors, which were kept in a state of the highest polish by the united efforts of the mistress and her two handsome daughters, who seemed to be constantly superintending their maids. By their devotion to household duties also, the