THE Devil goes wandering over the earth in many disguises, and that not only to hunt souls; sometimes it is to choose for himself a wife, but when he goes on these expeditions he calls himself "Luxehale."
There was once a very beautiful princess, very proud of her beauty, who had vowed she would never marry any but the handsomest prince. Numbers of princes, who heard the fame of her beauty, came to ask her hand, but directly she saw them she declared they were not handsome enough for her, and drove them out of the city. Her parents were in despair, for there was scarcely any young prince left in the world whom she had not thus rejected.
One day the trumpeters sounded the call by which they were wont to announce the arrival of a visitor.
The princess sat with her mother in an arbour.
"Ah!" said the queen, "there is another come to ask your hand. How I wish he may be the really handsome one you desire, this time!"
"It is all useless, mother; I don't mean to see any more of them--they are all uglier, one than the other."
The queen was about to answer by instancing several noted paragons of manly beauty whom she had rejected like the rest, but the chamberlain came in with great importance just at that moment, to say that the prince who had just arrived appeared to be a very great prince indeed, and that he was in a great hurry, and demanded to see the princess instantly.
The princess was very indignant at this abrupt proposal, and refused absolutely to see him; but at last the queen got her to consent to place herself in a hollow pillar in the great reception-hall, and through a little peephole, contrived in the decorations, take a view of him without his knowing that she did so.
When the princess thus saw the stranger, she was dazzled with the perfection of his form and the surpassing beauty of his countenance, and she could hardly restrain herself from darting from her hiding-place and offering him her hand at once; in order to preserve herself from committing such a mistake, she immediately let herself down through a little trap-door into the room below, where it had been agreed that her mother should meet her.
"Well, what did you think of him?" said the queen, who did not keep her long waiting.
"Oh! I think he might do," said the princess, with an assumed air of indifference, for she was too proud to acknowledge how much she admired him.
The queen was overjoyed that at length she consented to marry, and so put an end to the anxiety she was in to see her established before she died. That she might not take it into her head to go back from what she had said, her parents hastened on the wedding preparations, and the prince seemed very anxious, too, that no delay should occur. As soon as the festivities were over, he handed his bride into a magnificent gold coach, and drove off with her, followed by a retinue which showed he was a very great prince indeed.
Away they rode many days' journey, till at last they reached a palace of greater magnificence than any thing the princess had ever conceived, filled with crowds of servants, who fulfilled her least wish almost before it was uttered, and where every pleasure and every gratification was provided for her in abundance.
The prince took great pleasure in conducting her frequently over every part of the palace, and it was so vast that, after she had been over it many times, there was still much which seemed strange to her; but what was strangest of all was, there was one high door, all of adamant, which the prince never opened, and the only cross word he had spoken to her was once when she had asked him whither it led.
After some time it happened that the prince had to go on a considerable journey, and before he left he confided to his wife the keys of all the apartments in the palace, but she observed the key of the adamant door was not among them, and ventured to ask why it was not.
"Because no one passes through that door but myself; and I advise you not to think any thing more about that door, or you may be sure you will repent it," and he spoke very sternly and positively.
This only whetted her curiosity still more; and she was no sooner sure he was at a safe distance, than she determined to go down and see if some of the keys would not open this door. The first she tried in it showed there was no need of any, for it was unlocked, and pushed open at her touch. It gave entrance to a long underground passage, which received a strange lurid light from the opening at the far end.
The princess pursued the ominous corridor with beating heart; and, when she reached the other end, made the frightful discovery that it was--the entrance to hell!
Without losing a moment, she rushed up-stairs, regained her own apartment, and sat down to contrive her escape, for she now perceived that it was the Devil, disguised as a beautiful prince, that she had married!
As she sat, pursued by a thousand agonizing thoughts, the gentle cooing of two pigeons in a cage soothed her, and reminded her of home.
Her father's fondness had suggested that she should take the birds with her that she might have the means of communicating to him how it fared with her in her married home. Quickly she now wrote a note to tell him of the discovery she had made, and begging him to deliver her. She tied the note to one of the pigeons, and let them fly.
The Devil came back in the same disguise, and was profuse in his caresses; and he never thought of her having opened the door. But all the princess's affection and admiration for him were gone, and it was with the greatest difficulty she contrived to keep up an appearance of the fondness she had formerly so warmly and so sincerely lavished.
Meantime the pigeons went on their way, and brought the note home. The king and queen were having dinner on the terrace, and with them sat a young stranger, named Berthold, conversing with them, but too sad to taste the food before him. He was one of those the princess had rejected without seeing, but as he had seen her, he was deeply distressed at the present separation. The pigeons flew tamely in narrowing circles round the king's head, and, at last, the one which carried the note came fluttering on to the table before him. He would have driven them away, the rather, that they were all distressed and bleeding, and with scarcely a feather left, but the young stranger's eye discovered the note, which was quickly opened and read.
"Oh, help me! What can I do?" exclaimed the king; "give me some counsel. How can I ever reach the Devil's palace--and how could I fight him, if even I did get there?"
"May I be permitted to undertake the deliverance?" asked the stranger.
"Oh, in heaven's name, yes!" cried the king.
"And shall I have your permission to pay my addresses to her when I bring her back?"
"Why, she will be yours--yours of right, if you succeed in rescuing her; altogether yours!"
"That must depend on herself. Nevertheless, if I have your consent to ask her in marriage, that is all I desire."
"Go, and succeed!" devoutly exclaimed the king. "And whatever you stand in need of, be it men or money, or arms, you have but to command, and every thing shall be given you that you require."
But the prince, who knew not what sort of enemy he had to encounter, or which way he had to go, knew not what assistance to ask for, but set out, trusting in God and his own good sense to guide him.
As he passed out of the castle enclosure his eyes were rejoiced to see lying on the ground some of the white feathers of the carrier-pigeons, and then he perceived that, not having been duly matched, they had fought all the way, and that the whole track was marked with their feathers. But as they, of course, had come by the directest course, it led him over steep precipices and wild, unfrequented places; still Berthold pursued his way through all difficulties without losing courage, and ever as he went pondering in his own mind with what arts he should meet the Devil.
He was passing through a desolate stony place, which seemed far from any habitations of men, when he saw a man crouching by the wayside, with his ear close against the rock.
"What are you doing there?" said Berthold.
"I am listening to what is going on in the Devil's house," answered the man, "for my sense of hearing is so fine, it carries as far as that."
"Then come with me," said Berthold; "I will find work for you which shall be well repaid."
So the man left off listening, and walked on behind him.
A little farther on, he observed a man sitting on a ledge of the precipice, with his back to the road, and with all the world before him; and he gazed out into the far distance.
"What are you staring at?" said Berthold.
"I am gazing into the Devil's house," said the man, "for my sight is so sharp, it carries as far as that."
"Then come along with me; I will give your eyes work that shall be well paid." said Berthold.
So the man left off gazing, and turned and walked behind him.
"But stop!" said the prince; "let me have some little proof that you are as clever as you say. If you can see and hear into the Devil's house, let me know what the Devil's wife is doing."
Then the first man crouched down with his ear against the rock; and the second man sat himself astride on a jutting projection of the precipice, and gazed abroad over the open space--Berthold taking care that they should be far enough apart not to communicate with each other.
"What do you see?" he said, when the second man had poised himself to his own satisfaction.
"I see a vast apartment, all of shining crystal, and the Devil lying fast asleep on a ledge of the flaming spar, while the Devil's wife sits with averted face, and weeps."
"And what do you hear?" he said, returning to the first man.
"I hear the Devil snore like the roaring of a wild beast, and I hear great sighs of a soft woman's voice; and every now and then she says, 'Why was I so foolish and haughty, as to send away all those noble princes whom I might have learnt to love? and above all, Berthold, whom I would not see, and who my mother said was better than them all; and I would not see him! If I could but see him now, how I would love him!'"
When Berthold heard that, he could not rest a minute longer, but told them he was satisfied; and hurried on so fast that they could scarce keep up with him.
On they went thus; and presently they saw a man amusing himself with lifting great boulders of rock, which he did so deftly that no one could hear him move them.
"You have a rare talent," said Berthold; "come along with me, and I will pay your service well."
So the man put down a great mass of rock he had in his arms, and walked on behind the prince.
Presently there were no more pigeons' feathers to be seen, and Berthold wrung his hands in despair at losing the track.
"See!" said the man with the sharp sight, "there they lie, all down this steep, and along yonder valley, and over that high mountain! it will take three months to traverse that valley."
"But it is impossible to follow along there at all!" cried all the men. But Berthold said they must find their way somehow.
While they were looking about to find a path to descend by, they saw a great eagle soaring round and round, flapping her wings, and uttering plaintive cries.
"I'll tell you what's the matter," said the man with the sharp hearing: "one of her eggs has fallen down this ledge, and it is too narrow for her to get it out; I can hear the heart of the eaglet beating through the shell."
"Eagle," said the prince, "if I take out your egg, and give it to you, will you do something for me?"
"Oh, yes, any thing!" said the eagle.
"Well, that is a hot, sunny ledge," said the prince; "your egg won't hurt there till we come back--I have seen in my travels some birds which hatch their eggs entirely in the hot sand. Now you take us all on your back, and fly with us along the track wherever you see the pigeons' feathers, and wait a few minutes while we complete our business there, and then bring us back; and then I'll take your egg out of the fissure for you."
"That's not much to do!" said the eagle; "jump up, all of you."
So they all got on the eagle's back, the prince taking care so to arrange his men that the great neck and outstretched wings of the eagle should hide them from the Devil's sight, should he have happened to be outside his house.
It took the eagle only two or three hours to reach the journey's end, and by this time it was night.
"And now it is dark," said Berthold, to the sharp-visioned man, as they alighted from the eagle's back, "you cannot help us any more with your sight."
"Oh, yes; the crystals of the Devil's apartment always glitter with the same red glare by night or day. I see the Devil rolled up in bed fast asleep, and his wife sits on a chair by his side, and weeps."
"And what do you hear?" he said, addressing the first attendant.
"I hear snoring and weeping, as before," said the man addressed.
"Now you, who are so clever at lifting weights without being heard," said the prince, "lift the great door off its hinges."
"That's done," replied the man, a minute later, for he had done it so quietly Berthold was not aware he had moved from the spot.
"Since you have done this so well, I'm sure you'll do the next job. You have now to go up into the Devil's room, and bring the lady down without the least noise; if you show her this token, she will recognize it for her father's device, and will come with you."
The sharp-visioned man told him how he would have to go, for he could see all the inside of the house, lighted up as it was with the glaring crystals. But just as he was about to start,--
"Stop!" cried the man with the sharp ears; "I hear the Devil turn in his bed; our talking must have disturbed him." So they all stood stock still in great fear.
"He seems to be getting up," whispered the man with the sharp sight. "No; now he has turned round and rolled himself up once more."
"And now he is snoring again," continued the other.
"Then we may proceed," replied the prince; and the third attendant went his way so softly that no one heard him go.
"Get up on the eagle's back," said Berthold to the other two, "that we may be ready to start immediately." So the men took their places.
They had hardly done so when the man came back bearing the princess, and at a sign from Berthold sprang with her on to the eagle's neck. The prince got up behind, and away flew the eagle--so swiftly that had he been less collected he might have lost his balance before he had secured his seat.
By daybreak they had reached the spot where the eagle's egg had fallen. Berthold willingly exerted himself to restore her treasure to her, and she was so grateful that she proposed to fly with them home the remainder of the journey--an offer which they gladly accepted.
The Devil was still sleeping and snoring, they were assured by the clever attendants; and away they sped, reaching home just as the king and queen were sitting down to breakfast.
Great was the rejoicing in all the palace. The princess gladly acknowledged Berthold's service by giving him her hand; and to all three attendants high offices were given at court. To the eagle was offered a gold cage and two attendants to wait on her, but she preferred liberty on her own high mountain, and flew away, accepting no reward but a lamb to carry home to her young ones.
When Luxehale woke next morning great was his fury to find that the princess was gone.
"Order out a troop of horse, and send and demolish her palace, and kill all belonging to her, and bring her home again," was the advice of his chamberlain.
"No," replied Luxehale; "I hate violence: I have other ways at command which I find answer better. There are people enough in the world glad enough to follow me willingly. It is not worth while to give myself much trouble with those who resist." And he dressed himself, and walked out.
This time his steps were not directed towards a grand palace. He didn't care particularly about birth or cultivation. There was a cottage situated just above one of the alleys of his pleasure-grounds where lived three beautiful peasant girls with an old father. Luxehale had often listened to their merry laugh and thought how he should like to have one of them for his wife; but he never could find any means of getting at them, as they were very quiet and modest, and never would enter into conversation with any stranger.
As he now walked along he heard their voices in earnest talk.
"It's great nonsense of father selling all the celery, and not letting us have a taste of it!" said one, in a discontented voice.
"Yes, it is; I don't mean to submit to it either," said another.
"Oh, but you wouldn't disobey father!" said the first.
"Well, it's not such a great matter," replied the other; "only a foot of celery !"
Luxehale was very glad when he heard that, for he had never been able to catch them in an act of disobedience before. He placed himself under the celery-bed and watched all the roots. The moment one began to shake, showing that they were pulling it up, Luxehale took hold of the root, and held it hard, so that, instead of their pulling it up, he contrived to drag down the girl who was trying to gather it.
It was the peasant's eldest daughter Lucia; and much surprised was she, after passing through the hole Luxehale had made in the earth, to find herself in the arms of a handsome cavalier, who lavished the greatest care on her! Lucia had never been spoken to by such a good-looking gallant before, and felt much pleased with his attention. She begged him, however, to let her go; but he told her that was impossible. She was his captive, and he never meant to let her go again; but if she would only be quiet and reasonable she would be happier than any queen; that he would take her to a magnificent palace where she would have every thing she desired, and be as happy as the day was long, for he would make her his wife. In fact, he succeeded in dazzling her so with his promises that she began to feel a pleasure in going with him.
Nor did he break these promises. She was installed into all the enjoyments of which we have seen the former wife in possession; and as the Devil admired her beauty, and flattered and fondled her, she did not altogether regret her captivity. But when the time came that he had to go upon earth about his business, he brought her all the keys of the place, with the express recommendation that she was never to attempt to open the adamant door; then he plucked a red rose, and placed it in her bosom, as a memorial of him, which he promised should not fade till his return, and departed.
Lucia amused herself very well at first with various occupations and amusements the palace afforded, and which were new to her; but as the days fled by she began to grow weary, and at last, from being tired and out of spirits with her loneliness, she became possessed with so intense a curiosity to see what lay hid behind the adamant door, that she could not resist it.
Accordingly she went down at last, with the bunch of keys in her hand, and with trembling steps made her way up to it. But, without even trying one of the keys, she found her touch pushed it open, and made the terrible discovery, that it was the gate of hell! She turned to escape, and rushed back to her apartment, to weep bitterly over her forlorn condition.
Two or three days later a train of waggons came laden with beautiful presents Luxehale had bought and sent home to amuse her, and she became so interested in turning them all over, that when he returned she was as bright and smiling as if nothing had happened.
Luxehale ran to embrace her, but suddenly observed that the rose had withered on her bosom! When he saw that, he pushed her from him. He had given it to her as a test to ascertain whether she had gone through the adamant door, for the heat of the fire was sure to tarnish it--and now he knew she was in possession of his secret.
"You have opened the adamant door!" he exclaimed, fiercely; and she, seeing him so fierce, thought it better to deny it.
"It is useless to deny it," he replied; "for nothing else would have tarnished that rose." And saying that, he dragged her down to it and thrust her within its enclosure, saying, "You wanted to know what there was behind the adamant door; now you will know all about it."
Luxehale now had to look out for another wife. He at once bethought him of Lucia's sisters, and went pacing up and down under their garden, as before. The two sisters were talking with some warmth.
"I don't see why father should have forbidden us to look through the trellis!" said the voice which had spoken first on the former occasion.
"Nor I," said the other. "And I don't mean to be kept in in that style either," said the other.
Quick as thought the Devil transformed himself into a serpent and worked his way up through the earth to the other side of the trellis, where he waited till the maiden put her head through, as she had threatened. She had no sooner done so than he caught her in his coils and carried her down under the earth. Before she had time to recover from her surprise, he had transformed himself back into the handsome cavalier who had charmed Lucia.
It was the second sister, Orsola; and her opposition to his advances was as easily overcome as Lucia's. She lived in the palace as Lucia had done, and learnt to feel great delight in its pleasures. At last the day came when the Devil had to go upon earth about his business, and he left her with the same charge about the adamant door, and placed a red rose on her breast, which he promised should not fade till his return. After a time her weariness induced Orsola to peep through the fatal door; and the hot blast which escaped as she opened it would have been sufficient to drive her away, but that it came charged with the sound of a familiar voice!
"Lucia!" she screamed, in a voice thrilled with horror.
"Orsola!" returned her unhappy sister, in a tone of agony.
Orsola knew enough. She did not dare venture farther; and as she made her way back to her apartment she saw in the court below the retinue which had escorted her husband back. Assuming as composed a mien as possible, she went out to meet him, and he ran towards her with every appearance of affection--but his eye caught the withered rose.
"You have opened the adamant door," he said, sternly. "There is no help for you; those who once pass it cannot live up above here any more. You must go back, and live there for ever!" And, regardless of her entreaties and cries, he dragged her down, and thrust her into the burning pit.
Luxehale now had to search for another wife, and he determined it should be no other than the third of the sisters. "But," he reflected, as he walked towards her cottage, "now she has no one left to talk to, how shall I manage? Ah, well, I generally find a way to do most things I take in hand--and if I don't catch her I needn't break my heart; there are plenty of girls in the world whom I have arts to enthrall."
But he did hear her voice. As he got near she was singing, very sadly and sweetly, a verse which told her regrets for her sisters, and called on them to return.
"That's all right!" said Luxehale, "she is sure to come to the spot where she last saw her sister. I'll be there!"
So, transforming himself once more into a serpent, he wriggled through the earth and took up his place of observation beside the trellis. He had not been there long, when she actually came up to it, singing the same melancholy strains; and then she stopped to call, "Lucia! Orsola! Lucia! Orsola!" till the woods rang again. Then she seemed to get weary with calling, and she leant against the trellis.
"Ha! she'll soon put her head through now," chuckled Luxehale. And so she did, sure enough; and no sooner did her head appear on the other side than he twisted his coils round her and dragged her down under the earth.
Before she recovered herself he once more appeared as a handsome cavalier.
It was Regina, the youngest and best-conducted of the sisters.
"Let me go! let me go!" she cried, refusing to look at him.
"I thought I heard you calling for your sisters," he replied, soothingly; "don't you want to see them?"
"Oh, yes! tell me where they are."
"I can't tell you where they are," he answered; "and if I did, it would be of no use, because you would not know the way to where they are. But if you come with me, it is possible we may be able to hear something about them some day. One thing is certain, no one else is so likely to be able to hear of them as I."
Regina was terribly perplexed, something within her said she ought not to speak to the stranger gallant. "And yet, on the other hand, if, by going with him, I can do any thing to recover my dear sisters," she thought, "I ought to risk something for that."
When he saw her hesitate, he knew his affair was won; and, indeed, it required little persuasion to decide her now. As they went along he said so many soft and flattering things as to make her forget insensibly about her sisters. But when they got to the palace there were such a number of beautiful things to occupy her attention, so much to astonish her--a poor peasant maid who had never seen any of these fine things before--that she soon got habituated to her new life, and the fact of her having come for her sisters' sake went quite out of her remembrance.
Luxehale was delighted to have brought things so far; and in proportion to the difficulty he had had in winning her, was the satisfaction he felt in being with her; thus he spent a longer time with her than he had with either of the other sisters. But the time came at last when he had to go upon earth about his business; and then he gave her the same charge as the others about the keys and the adamant door, and the rose which was not to fade till his return.
It was not many days either before the desire to see what was hid behind it took possession of her; but as she approached it she already perceived that the air that came from it was dry and heated, and as she really regarded the rose as a token of affection, she was concerned to keep it fair and fresh, so she went back and placed it in a glass of water, and then pursued her investigation of the secret of the adamant door.
She had learnt enough when she had but half opened it, and smelt the stifling fumes of sulphur which issued from the pit it guarded, and would have turned to go, but then her sisters' voices, wailing in piteous accents, met her ear.
"Lucia! Orsola!" she cried.
"Regina!" they replied; and then, courageously advancing farther by the light of the lurid flames, which burnt fitfully through the smoke, now red with a horrid glare, now ashy grey and ghastly, she descried the beloved forms of her sisters writhing and wailing, and calling on her to help them.
She promised to use all her best endeavours to release them, and, in the meantime, bid them keep up their courage as best they might, and be on the look-out to take advantage of the first chance of escape she could throw in their way. With that she returned to her apartment, replaced the rose in her bosom, and looked out for the return of Luxehale. Nor did he keep her long waiting; and when he saw the rose blooming as freshly as at the first he was delighted, and embraced her with enthusiasm. In fact, he was so smiling and well inclined that she thought she could not do better than take advantage of his good humour to carry out the plan she had already conceived.
"Do you know," she said, "I don't like the way in which your people wash my things; they dry them in a hot room. Now I've always been accustomed to dry them on the grass, where the thyme grows, and then they not only get beautifully aired, but they retain a sweet scent of the wild thyme which I have always loved since the days when I was a little, little girl, and my mother used to kiss me when she put on my clean things."
"It shall be done as you like," said Luxehale. "I will order a field of thyme to be got ready immediately, and your things shall always be dried upon it. Is there nothing else, nothing more difficult, I can do for you?"
"Well, do you know," she replied--for this would not have answered her purpose at all--"do you know, I don't fancy that would be quite the same thing either; there is something peculiar about the scent of our grass and our thyme at home which is very dear to me. Wouldn't it be possible to send the things home?"
Luxehale looked undecided.
"It's the only thing wanted to make this beautiful place perfectly delightful," she continued.
He couldn't resist this, and promised she should do as she liked.
Regina then ordered a large box to be made, and packed a quantity of her things into it. But in the night when all slept she went down to the adamant door, and called Lucia.
Both sisters came running out. "One at a time!" she said. "Lucia has been in longest; it will be your turn next." So she took Lucia up with her, and hid her in the box under the clothes, and told her what she had to do. She was to send all the linen back clean at the end of the week, and well scent it with thyme, and to fill up the vacant space with more linen, so that it might not seem to return with less in it than when it went. She told her also, if the porter who carried the box should take into his head to peep in, "all you have to say is, 'I see you!' and you will find that will cure him." Then she went to bed, and slept quietly till morning.
Early next day Luxehale called a porter to carry the box, to whom she overheard him giving secret instructions that, as soon as he had got to a good distance, he should search the box, and let him know what was in it before he sent him up to her for final orders.
Regina told him all about the situation of her father's cottage. "But," she added, "I've had my eye on you a long time--you're not a bad sort of fellow, but you're too curious."
"Why, I've never been where your worship could see me!" answered the porter; "I've always worked in the stables."
"I can see every where!" replied Regina, solemnly. "I can see you in the stables as well as I can see you here, and as well as I shall be able to see you all the way you are journeying; and if an impertinent curiosity should take you to look at my clothes, I shall see you, you may be sure, and shall have you properly punished, so beware!"
The porter planted the chest on his strong shoulders and walked away. He was a devil-may-care sort of fellow, and didn't altogether believe in Regina's power of seeing "every where," and, as his master's injunction to look into the box accorded much better with his own humour than Regina's order to abstain from opening it, before he had got halfway he set it down on the ground, and opened it.
"I see you!" said Lucia, from within; and her voice was so like her sister's that the fellow made no doubt it was Regina herself who really saw him as she had threatened; and, clapping the box to again in a great fright, lifted it on to his shoulders with all expedition.
"I've brought your daughter's linen to be washed!" cried the porter, when he arrived at the cottage, to the father of the Devil's wives, who was in his field "breaking" Indian corn. "I've got a message to carry about a hundred miles farther and shall be back by the end of the week, so please have it all ready for me to take back when I call for it."
The good peasant gave him a glass of his best Küchelberger , and sent him on his way rejoicing.
He had no sooner departed than Lucia started up out of the box of linen, and hastily told her father all the story. The peasant's hair stood on end as he listened, but they felt there was no time to be lost. All the linen Regina had sent, and all that remained in the cottage, was washed and well scented with thyme, and packed smoothly into the box for the porter to take back with him. They had hardly got it all ready when he came to the gate to ask for it.
"Here you are!" said the peasant; and the porter lifted the box on to his strong shoulders, and made the best of his way home.
"What did you find when you looked into the box?" asked the Devil, the first time he could catch the porter alone.
"Oh! nothing whatever but dirty linen," replied he, too much of a braggadocio to confess that he had been scared by a woman's voice.
After receiving this testimony the Devil made no sort of obstacle any more to his wife sending a box home whenever she would, and as soon as she collected sufficient to justify the use of the large chest she ordered the porter to be ready over night, and then went down and called Orsola.
Orsola came quickly enough, and was packed into the linen chest as her sister had been, and with the same instructions. "Only, as I don't mean to stay here much longer behind, there is no reason why we should lose all our best linen, so don't send a great deal back this time, but fill up the box with celery, of which Luxehale is very fond."
The porter, feeling somewhat ashamed of his pusillanimity on the last occasion, determined this time to have a good look into the box, for the effect of his fright had worn off, and he said to himself, "It was only a foolish fancy--I couldn't really have heard it."
So he had hardly got half way when he set the box down, and lifted the lid.
"I see you!" exclaimed Orsola, in a voice so like Regina's that the lid slipped out of his hand, and fell upon the box with a crash which startled Orsola herself. He loaded the box on his shoulders once more, nor stopped again till he reached his destination.
Hearty was the greeting of the two sisters and their father as soon as he was gone; and then they set to work to get the washing done.
"The weather has been so bad," said the father, when the porter returned, "that we could not dry all the linen, please to say to your mistress, but we hope to have it ready to go back with next week's; beg her acceptance, however, of the celery which I have packed into the box in its place."
"Did you look into the box this time?" said Luxehale, as soon as he got the porter alone.
The porter did not like to acknowledge that he had been scared by a woman, and so declared again that there was nothing in the box but linen.
It was more difficult to arrange for her own escape, but Regina had a plan for all. The box had now gone backwards and forwards often enough for the porter to need no fresh directions, so she told him over-night where he would find it in the morning; and he, finding it seem all as usual, loaded it on his shoulders, and walked off with it by the usual path.
He had not performed half the journey when he determined to have a serious look into the box this time, and be scared by no one. Accordingly he lifted the lid, but this time the words,--
"I see you!" came out of the box so unmistakably in Regina's voice, that there was no room for doubt of her power of seeing him, and with more haste than ever he closed it up again, and made the best of his way to the peasant's cottage.
Both sisters and their father greeted Regina as their good angel and deliverer when she stepped out of the box; and they went on talking over all their adventures with no need to make haste, for Regina had brought away with her money and jewels enough to make them rich for the rest of their lives, so that they had no need to work any more at all.
When the porter returned to ask for the linen-chest, the peasant came out with a humorous smile, and bid him tell his master that they had not time to do the washing that week.
"But what shall I tell my mistress?" asked the man.
As he said so, Regina and her sisters came into the room, striking him dumb with astonishment.
"No, you had better not go back to him," she said, compassionating him for the treatment that would have awaited him, had he returned without her; "Luxehale would doubtless vent his fury on you for my absence. Better to stay here and serve us; and you need not fear his power as long as you
After this, Luxehale determined to give up young and pretty wives, since they proved sharp enough to outwit him, as he had before given up rich and titled ones, who were like to have knights and princes to deliver them.
This time he said he would look out for a bustling woman of good common sense, who had been knocked about in the world long enough to know the value of what he had to offer her.
So he went out into the town of Trient, and fixed upon a buxom woman of the middle class, who was just in her first mourning for her husband, and mourned him not because she cared for him, for he had been a bad man, and constantly quarrelled with her, but because, now he was dead, she had no one to provide for her, and after a life of comparative comfort, she saw penury and starvation staring her in the face.
He met her walking in the olive-yard upon the hill whence her husband's chief means had been derived. "And to think that all these fine trees, our fruitful arativo, and our bright green prativo , are to be sold to pay those rascally creditors of my brute of a husband!" she mused as she sat upon the rising ground, and cried. "If he had nothing to leave me, why did he go off in that cowardly way, and leave me here? what is the use of living, if one has nothing to live upon?"
The Devil overheard her, and perceived she was just in the mood for his purpose, but took care to appear to have heard nothing.
"And are you still charitably mourning because the Devil has taken your tyrant of a husband?"
"Not because he has taken him, but because he didn't take me too, at the same time!" answered the woman, pettishly.
"What! did you love the old churl as much as all that?" asked Luxehale.
"Love him! what put that into your head? But I didn't want to be left here to starve, I suppose."
"Come along with me then, and you shan't starve. You shall have a jollier time of it than with the old fool who is dead--plenty to eat and drink, and no lack, and no work!"
"That's not a bad proposition, certainly; but, pray, who are you?"
"I am he who you regretted just now had not taken you. I will take you, if you wish, and make you my wife."
"You the Devil!" exclaimed the woman, eyeing the handsome person he had assumed from head to foot; "impossible, you can't be the Devil!"
"You see the Devil's not so black as he's painted," replied Luxehale. "Believe me that is all stuff, invented by designing knaves to deceive silly people. You can see for yourself if I don't look, by a long way, handsomer and taller than your departed spouse, at all events."
"There's no saying nay to that," responded the widow.
"Nor to my other proposition either," urged Luxehale; and, as he found she ceased to make any resistance, he took her up in his arms, and, spreading his great bat's wings, carried her down to his palace, where he installed her as lady and mistress, much to her own satisfaction.
As she was fond of luxury and ease, and had met with little of it before, the life in the Devil's palace suited her uncommonly well, and yet, though she had every thing her own way, her bad temper frequently found subject for quarrel and complaint.
It was on one occasion when her temper had thus been ruffled, and she had had an angry dispute with Luxehale, who to avoid her wrangling had gone off in a sullen mood to bed, that some one knocked at the door. All the servants were gone to bed, so she got up, and asked who was there.
"I, Pangrazio Clamer of Trient," said a somewhat tremulous voice.
"Pangrazio Clamer of Trient!" returned the widow; "come in, and welcome. But how did you get here?"
"It's a longish story; but, first, how did you get here, and installed here too, it seems? Ah, Giuseppa, you had better have married me!"
"I've forbidden you to talk of that," answered Giuseppa. "Besides, I had not better have married you, for I have married a great prince, who is able to keep me in every kind of luxury, and give me every thing I can wish. You couldn't have done that."
"No, indeed," he sighed.
"Well, don't let's talk any more about that. Tell me how every one is going on in Trient."
"By-and-by, if there is time. But, first, let me tell you about myself, and what brought me here. That's strange enough."
"Well, what was it, then?"
"You know that you refused to have me, because I was poor----"
"I have already forbidden you to allude to that subject."
"You must know, then, that though I worked so hard to try and make myself rich enough to please you, I only got poorer and poorer; while at the same time, there was Eligio Righi, who, though his father left him a good fortune to begin with, kept on getting richer and richer, till he had bought up all the mines and all the olive-grounds, and all the vineyards and mulberry-trees that were to be sold for miles round--yours among the rest."
"Yes; and I often felt tempted to envy him, but I never did. One day he came to me while I was hard at work, and said, 'You know, Pangrazio Clamer, that I am very rich;' and I thought he didn't need to have come and said that to me, who had all the labour in life to keep off envying him, as it was. 'Pangrazio,' says he, 'I am not only rich, but I have every thing I can wish, but one thing; and if I meet any one who will do that one thing, I will take him to share my riches while I live, and make him my heir at my death. I come first to ask you.' 'Tell me what it is,' says I; 'I can't work harder, or fare worse, than I do now, whatever it may be--so I'm your man.' 'Well, then, it's this,' he continued. 'My one great unfulfilled wish through life has been to give the Devil three good kicks, as some punishment for all the mischief he does in the world; but I have never had the courage to make the attempt, and now I have got old, and past the strength for adventures, so if you will do this in my stead, I will put you in my shoes as far as my money is concerned.' Of course, I answered I would set out directly; and, as he had made the road by which men get hither his study, for this very purpose, all through his life, he could give me very exact directions for finding the Devil's abode.
"But, to get here, I had to traverse the lands of three different sovereigns; and, as I had to go to them to get my passport properly in order, they learned my destination, and each gave me a commission on his own account, which I accepted, because if I should fail with Eligio Righi's affair, I should have a chance of the rewards they promised me to fall back on."
"And what were these three commissions?"
"The first king wants to know why the fountain which supplied all his country with such beautiful bright water has suddenly ceased to flow. The second king wants a remedy for the malady of his only son, who lies at the point of death, and no physician knows what ails him. And the third king wants to know why all the trees in his dominions bear such splendid foliage, but bring forth no fruit."
"And you expect me to help you in all this?" said the Devil's wife.
"Well, for our old acquaintance' sake, and the bond of our common home," said Clamer, "you might do that; and for the sake of the nearer bond that might have united us."
"I would have refused you all you ask, to punish you for going back to that story," said Giuseppa, "but I really desire to see old Luxehale get a good drubbing, just now, for he has been very tiresome to-day. I daren't give it him myself, but I'll help you to do it, if you have a mind."
"Never mind the motive, provided you give me the help," replied Clamer. "And will you help me to trick him out of the answers for the three kings, as well as to give him a good drubbing?"
"That will I; for it will be good fun to counter-act some of his mischief."
"How shall we set about it then?"
"I am just going to bed; he is asleep already. You must conceal yourself in the curtains, and bring a big stick with you; and when I make a sign, you must, without a moment's notice, set to and give it him. Will that do for you?"
"Admirably! Only, remember, I have to do it three times, or I shan't get my guerdon."
"And do you think you are certain of getting all Eligio Righi's fortune?" said Giuseppa, earnestly.
"Oh, as sure as fate!" replied Clamer; "he's a man who never goes back from his word. But I must fulfil all he says with equal exactness."
"And when I've helped you with half your labour, I don't see why I shouldn't have half your guerdon."
"Nor I! You'll always find me faithful and true; and what I offered you when I was poor, I offer you with equal heartiness when I have the prospect of being the richest man in Trient."
"When you have done all you have to do, then, will you take me back with you?"
"Nothing would make me happier than your consent to come with me. And when I'm rich enough to be well fed and clothed, you'll find I'm not such a bad-looking fellow, after all."
"Ah, you'll never be so handsome as Luxehale! But then I don't half trust him. One never knows what trick he may take into his head to play one. I think I should have more confidence of being able to manage you."
"Then it's agreed; you come back with me?"
"Yes; I believe it's the best thing, after all. And now we must make haste and set about our business."
She crept up-stairs with soft steps, and Clamer still more softly after her. The Devil was sleeping soundly, and snoring like the roar of a wild beast. Giuseppa stowed Clamer away in the curtains, and went to bed too. When she heard what she reckoned one of the soundest snores, she lifted the bed-curtains, and whispered, "Now's your time!"
Clamer did not wait to be told twice, but raised his stick, and, as Giuseppa lifted the bed-clothes, applied it in the right place, with a hearty good will.
Luxehale woke with a roar of pain, and Clamer disappeared behind the curtains.
"Forgive me, dear lord!" said Giuseppa; "I had such a strange dream, that it woke me all of a start, and I suppose made me knock you."
"What did you dream about?" said Luxehale, thinking to catch her at fault; but Giuseppa had her answer ready.
"I thought I was travelling through a country where all the people were panting for want of water, and as I passed along, they all gathered round me, and desired me to tell them, what had stopped their water from flowing, saying, 'You are the Devil's wife, so you must know!' and when I couldn't tell them, they threw stones at me, so that I seemed to have a hard matter to escape from them."
The Devil burst out into a loud laugh, which absorbed all his ill-humour, as he heard this story, and Giuseppa made a sign to Clamer to pay attention to what was to follow.
"You see, you never tell me any thing," she continued, pretending to cry; "I never know any thing about your business, and, you see, all those people expected I knew every thing my husband knew, as other wives do."
"I didn't suppose you'd care to know any thing about it," replied Luxehale, trying to soothe her; "and really there was nothing to tell! It's an every-day matter. There was a pilgrimage chapel near the city, to which the people used to go in procession every year; and as long as they did that, I never could get past to get at the fountains. But now they have left off the procession, and so I got by, and had the fun of stopping the water."
Clamer winked to Giuseppa, to show he understood what the remedy was, and Giuseppa said no more, so that the Devil very soon fell off to sleep again.
When he began to snore again very soundly, she lifted the bed-clothes, and made the agreed sign to Clamer. Clamer came forward, and applied his stick with a hearty will in the right place, and the Devil woke with a shout of fury.
"Oh, my dear husband!" cried Giuseppa, deprecating his wrath by her tone of alarm; "I have had another dreadful dream!"
"What was it?" growled the Devil.
"I thought I was going through a great city where all the people were in sorrow, and sat with ashes on their heads. And when they saw me pass, they said they sat so because the king's son was at the point of death, and no one could tell what ailed him, and all the doctors were of no use; but that as I was the Devil's wife, I must know all about it. When I couldn't tell them, they began pelting me; as they kept putting fresh ashes on their heads each had a pan of fire by his side, in which they were making, and they actually took the red-hot cinders out of the pan of fire to pelt me with, and my clothes were all on fire; so you may believe if I tried to run away fast--and it is no wonder if I knocked you a little."
The Devil's fancy was more tickled than before with this story, and he laughed fit to split his sides, as she proceeded, so that he forgot all about the beating.
"It is all very well for you to lie there and laugh, but you wouldn't have laughed if you had been treated as I was, I can tell you!" sobbed Giuseppa. "And it's all because you never tell me any thing, as other husbands do."
"Bosh!" answered the Devil; "I should have enough to do, if I told you all the stories like that! Why, it's the commonest thing in the world. That king's son was a good young man, obedient to all the advice of his elders. But after a time he got with bad companions, who introduced him to some of my people. After they had played him a number of tricks, one day one of them took into his head to give him a stunning good illness, to punish him for some luck he had had against them at cards. And that's the history of that--there's nothing commoner in life."
Giuseppa made a sign to know if Clamer had heard all he wanted to know, and, finding he was satisfied, let the Devil go to sleep again.
As soon as he began to snore very soundly, Giuseppa lifted the bed-clothes, and Clamer once more applied his stick. Whether by getting used to the work and therefore less nervous, he really hit him harder, or whether the previous blows had made the Devil more sensitive, he certainly woke this time in a more furious passion than ever, and with so rapid a start that it was all Clamer could do to get out of his sight in time.
"What have you been dreaming now?" he exclaimed, in his most fearful voice. "I declare, I can scarcely keep my hands off you!"
"Don't be angry," answered Giuseppa; "it is I who have had the worst of it. I dreamt I was passing through a country where the trees had given up bearing fruit; and when the people saw me go by, they all came round me, and said, as I was the Devil's wife, I must know what ailed their trees; and when I couldn't tell them, they cut down great branches, and ran after me, poking the sharp, rough points into my sides! You may believe if I tried to run away fast."
The Devil had never had such a laugh since he had been a devil, as at this story, and the whole palace echoed with his merriment.
When Giuseppa found him once more in such good humour, she went on,--
"And why do you do such mischievous things, and make people so savage? It isn't fair that they don't dare to touch you and all their ill-will falls on me."
"As it happens, it's not my doing at all this time; at least, I didn't go out of my way to do it for any sort of fun. It all came about in the regular way of business."
"What do you mean?" pursued Giuseppa, who knew it was necessary to probe the matter to the bottom.
"Why, the king of that country is a regular miser. He is so afraid that any body should get any thing out of their gardens without paying the due tribute to him first, that he has built such high walls round all the orchards, and vine-gardens, and olive-yards, that no sun can get at them. And he is so stingy, he won't pay people to dig round them and manure, and prune, and attend to the property; so how can the fruit grow? As long as he defrauds the poor people of their work, he can have no fruit. It's not my fault at all!
"But, really, I've had enough of this. You'd better go and sleep somewhere else for the rest of the night, for I can't stand being woke up any more. If you do it again, I am sure I shall strangle you--and that would be a pity! Go along, and dream somewhere else--and I hope you may get properly punished before you wake next time!"
Giuseppa desired no command so much; but pretending to cry and be much offended, she got up and went to lie down in another bed till the Devil began to snore soundly again. Then she rose up, and, taking all her fine clothes and jewels, went out softly, and beckoned to Clamer to follow her.
"Suppose the Devil wakes before we get far away?" said Clamer, beginning to get frightened as the time of trial approached.
"Never fear!" answered Giuseppa; "when he gets disturbed like that, he sleeps for a week after it."
Then she clapped her hands, and a number of great birds came flapping round. She helped Clamer on to the back of one, and, loading her jewels on to another, sprang on to a third, and away they flew, while she beckoned to three more to follow behind.
When they came to the first kingdom, Clamer left the strange cortege behind a mountain, and went alone up to the court, to tell the king he was a miser, and that if he gave up his sordid ways and set the people, who were starving for want of work, to pull down half the height of his walls, and to dig, manure, and prune his trees, he would have as good a crop of fruit as any in the world. Then the king acknowledged his fault, and praised Clamer for pointing it out, and gave him a great bag of gold as his reward.
Clamer packed the sack of gold on to the back of one of the birds which were following them, and away they sped again. When they arrived at the second kingdom, Clamer hid his cortége in a pine forest, and went alone to the court, to tell the king that if his son would give up his bad companions, and live according to the advice of his elders, he would be all well again as before. The prince was very much astonished to find that Clamer knew about his bad behaviour, for he had concealed it from his parents and all about him, but this convinced him that he must be right in what he said, so he promised to alter his life and behave according to the wise counsel of his elders in future. From that moment he began to get better; and the king, in joy at his restoration, gave Clamer a great sack of gold, which he laded on to the back of the second bird; and away they flew again.
When they arrived at the third kingdom, Clamer hid his retinue in the bed of a dried lake and went alone to the court, to tell the king that if he would order the procession to the pilgrimage chapel to be resumed, the Devil would not be able to get in to stop the fountains. The king at once ordered the grandest procession that had ever been known in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, and all the people went out devoutly praying. Immediately the springs and fountains began to flow again; and the king was so pleased that he gave Clamer a great sack of gold, which he packed on to the back of the third bird; and away they flew again, till they reached the gloomy shades of the Val d'Ombretta, under the cold, steep precipices of the Marmolata .
"Here will be a good place to hide all this treasure," said Giuseppa; "it will never do to take it into Trient all at once. We will bury it here where foot of man seldom falls, and my birds will keep good watch over it and defend it, and yet by their services we shall be able to fetch down any portion of it as we want it."
Clamer saw there was some good in the proposal, but he hardly liked giving up the possession of the treasure to Giuseppa's birds, neither did he like to show any want of confidence.
"Don't you think it an excellent plan?" asked Giuseppa, as she saw him hesitate.
"I think I could stow it away as safely in an old well at home," said Clamer. "This is an uncanny place of evil renown, and I had just as lief have nothing to do with it."
"What's the matter with the place?" asked Giuseppa.
"Oh, you know, the Marmolata was as fertile as any pasture of Tirol once," answered Clamer; "and because the people had such fine returns for their labour from it, they grew careless and impious, and were not satisfied with all the week for working in it, but must needs be at it on Sundays and holidays as well. One Sunday an ancient man came by and chid them for their profanity. 'Go along with your old wives' stories!' said a rich proprietor who was directing the labourers; 'Sunday and working-day is all alike to us. We have sun and rain and a fine soil, what do we want with going to church to pray?' And they sang,--
'Nos ongh el fengh en te tablà,
E i autri sul prà !'
"The old man lifted up his finger in warning, and passed on his way; but as he went it came on to snow. And it snowed on till it had covered all the ground; covered all the hay up to the top; covered over the heads of the labourers and their masters; snowed so deep that the sun has never been able to melt it away again! A curse is on the place, and I had rather have nothing to do with it."
"Oh, I've lived long enough where curses abound to care very little about them," answered Giuseppa, "or I could tell you the real story about that, for you've only got the wrong end of it. But it doesn't do to think of those things. The only way is to laugh at all that sort of thing, and make yourself jolly while you can."
"My story's the right one," replied Clamer, "and you won't laugh me out of believing it."
"Oh, dear no; the right story is much more serious than that! But I lose my patience with people who trouble themselves about those things."
"I don't believe there's any more of the story," continued Clamer, who was dying to hear it, and knew that the best way to get at it was by provoking her. Had he merely begged her to tell it, she would have found a perverse pleasure in disappointing him.
Giuseppa was very easily provoked. "The right story proves itself," she cried, pettishly; and Clamer chuckled aside to see his plan succeed. "Your way of telling it only accounts for the snow; how do you account for the ice?"
"Oh, there's no way of accounting for that," replied Clamer, with a malicious laugh.
"Yes, there is," rejoined Giuseppa, fairly caught. "It wasn't an old man at all who came to give the warning. It was a very young man, for it was no one else but St. John."
"St. John!" cried Clamer; "how could that be?"
"Don't you know any thing, then?" retorted Giuseppa. "Don't you know that there was a time when our Lord and His Apostles went walking over the earth, preaching the Gospel?"
"Yes, of course I know that," replied Clamer, much offended.
"Well, then, in process of travelling they came here just the same as every where else--why shouldn't they? The Apostles had been sent on to prepare a lodging for the night, and St. John, being the youngest and best walker, outstripped the rest, and came by first. But he was so soft and gentle in his warning that the labourers laughed at him, and he went on his way sighing, for he saw that their hearts were hardened.
"Then St. Peter and St. Paul came by----"
"But St. Paul--" interposed Clamer.
"Don't interrupt, but listen," said Giuseppa. "St. Peter and St. Paul, though not younger than the others like St. John, were always in the front in all matters, because of their eagerness and zeal, and the important post which was assigned them in the Church. They came next, therefore; but they, seeing the men working on Sunday, were filled with indignation, and chid them so fiercely that they only made them angry, and they took up stones to throw at them, and drove them out of the ground. One by one the other Apostles all came by and warned them, but none of them seemed to have the right way of getting at their hearts. And they went on working, with a worse sin on them for having been warned.
"Last of all, the Lord Himself came by, and His heart was moved with compassion by the perversity of the people. He saw that all the preaching of all His Apostles had been in vain, and He resolved to save them in another way, and prove them, to see if there was any charity or any good in them at all.
"Instead of threatening and warning, He came leaning on His staff, weary and way-sore.
"'You have a fine Berg-Segen , my friends,' He said, sweetly, as He sat on a great heap of fresh hay placed ready to load the returning wain.
"'Oh, yes! first-rate crops,' replied the rich proprietor, with a look of contempt at the travel-stained garments of the wayfarer; 'but they're not meant to serve as beds for idle fellows who go prowling about the country and live by begging instead of by work, so you just get up and take yourself off!'
"Our Lord looked at him with a piteous glance, but his heart was not softened. 'Move off quicker than that, or you'll taste my stick!' he cried, assuming a threatening attitude.
"Our Lord passed on, without uttering a word of complaint, till He reached the holding of the next proprietor.
"'Where there are such fine pastures there must be fine cattle and a fine store of produce,' He said.
"'Oh, yes, I've plenty of stores!' said the man addressed; 'and that's just why I don't like to have loafing vagabonds about my place; so please to move on quicker than you came.'
"'But I'm weary, my good man, and have come a long journey this day, and have nothing to eat: give me, now, but one sup of milk from your bountiful provision there.'
"'Give!' answered the man; 'I've nothing to give away. I work hard for all I gain, and I don't encourage those who don't work.'
"'But you won't miss the little I ask--and I have travelled very far and am very weary,' replied our Lord, condescending to speak very piteously, to see if He could not by any means move the man's heart.
"'Hola! you there! Domenico, Virgilio, Giacomo, Rocco, Pero! come along here, and throw this fellow out!' shouted the proprietor.
"The men turned with their pitchforks, and drove the wayfarer rudely away, without pity, notwithstanding that His legs trembled with weariness and the way was so steep.
"Our Lord uttered not a word, and hasted on, that He might not increase their condemnation by resistance.
"But the heavens grew black with anger at the sight; the storm-clouds gathered in vengeance; grey and leaden, mass above mass, they thickened over the devoted peak of the Marmolata; the sun ceased to smile, and a horrible darkness fell around.
"Closer and closer lowered the clouds, till they fell, enveloping the mountain-top with white fields of snow.
"'Nay!' cried the Saviour, compassionately; 'Father, stay Thine hand!' And for a moment the convulsion of the angry element was stilled. 'They knew not what they did,' He pleaded; and He passed down the path to the next holding.
"'See,' He said to the proprietor, who was watching the strange storm with some alarm, 'see how terrible are the judgments of God! Give Him praise for the blessing He has poured out on you, and save yourself from His anger.'
"'What have I to do with the misfortunes of others? Every thing goes right with me.'
"'But it may not always. Be wise betimes, and render praise to God.'
"'What do I know about God?' answered the man; 'I've enough to do with taking care of the earth; I don't want to puzzle my head about heaven!'
"'All good gifts are from heaven.' replied the Lord, faintly; and He sank upon the ground exhausted.
"'See!' cried a woman who had come out with her husband's dinner, 'see, He has fallen; will you do nothing to restore Him?' And she ran to raise Him up.
"'Let Him lie.' said her master, pushing her roughly away; 'it were better the earth were rid of such idle fellows.'
"He had filled up the measure of his iniquity. 'Hard and icy as his heart has been, so shall his pasture be!' proclaimed the Angel of Judgment. And as he spread his arms abroad, the clouds fell over the sides of the mountain; the cold blast turned them into ice, and it became a barren glacier for evermore.
"But the angels carried the Lord to the place the Apostles had prepared for Him. And the woman who had pitied Him alone escaped and recorded the story."
A shudder had fallen over Clamer, and he seemed hardly inclined to break the silence which reigned around. There was not a bird to chirp a note, nor a leaf to flutter, nor a blade of grass to gladden the eye. Meantime they had reached the Fassathal, which, though so fruitful farther along, is scarcely more smiling at its east end.
"Were it not well, Pangrazio," urged Giuseppa, "to bury our treasure here, before we get nearer the habitations of men? Ah!" she added, "I see what it is, it is not of the weird neighbourhood that you are shy, it is that you trust not me! you think if my birds guard the treasure you will have less control over it than I!"
"Oh, no!" answered Clamer, ashamed to have been found out; "it is not that; but there are as many weird warnings rife here as concerning the Marmolata. Does not the Feuriger Verräther  haunt this place? and does not the Purgametsch conceal a village which was buried for its sins? Is it not just here that lurk the Angane and the Bergostanö ?"
"Really, I can undertake to defend you against all these chimerical fancies," replied Giuseppa, scornfully; "but if you don't feel any confidence in me, it is absurd our attempting to live together."
"It is not that--I have told you it is not that!" cried Clamer.
"Then shall we do it?" urged she. Thus driven, Clamer could not choose but give in; and Giuseppa sent her monster birds to conceal the treasure they bore, in the hole she pointed out high up in the rocks, and remain in guard over it.
This done they sped over the pleasant Fleimserthal and Cembrathal to Trient.
Eligio Righi received his returning envoy with a hearty welcome, and listened without wearying to his frequent repetition of the tale of his adventures. The part where he described the manner in which he had administered the chastisement on the Devil was what delighted him most, and the account of the roaring of the Devil with the pain.
Moreover, he kept his word, and opened his house and his purse to Clamer, who shared every thing as if it had been his own, and even obtained his sanction to bring home his wife, though he durst not tell him how he obtained her.
Giuseppa had now not only a fine house and broad lands, and plenty of servants and clothes, and every thing she wished for, but she had only to send one of her birds to the treasury in the Fassathal to supply all her caprices as well as wants--yet she was always complaining and quarrelling. Pangrazio often found her quite unbearable; but he remembered she was his wife, and he forgave her, though the more he gave in, the more unreasonable she got.
In the meantime, it must not be supposed that Luxehale had never awaked. True, he slept on for a good week, as Giuseppa had predicted, but that over, he woke up in a pretty passion at finding she had escaped.
With all her evil temper, Giuseppa had suited him very well; he rather enjoyed an occasional broil, it was much more to his taste than peace and amity--and besides, he was sure always to get the best of it. So he determined that this time, instead of going in search of a new wife, he would get the old one back.
"Those who come to me in the way she did," he reflected, "don't escape so easily. The others I more or less deceived. They came with me thinking I was one of their own sort; but she followed me with her eyes open--she knew all about me before she came. Besides, they hated the place the moment they found out where they were, but she knew what it was, and yet liked it all along. No, I don't think she's of the sort that go back in thorough earnest."
So he dressed himself up in his best, put a plume in his hat and a flower in his button-hole, and went off to Trient. He had not watched the house where Giuseppa lived many days before he heard her voice raised to that angry key he knew so well.
"That'll do for me," he said, rubbing his hands. "It's all going on right."
"What do you want more?" he heard Clamer plead. "If there is any thing I can do to please you, I will do it!"
"You are a fool! and there's nothing in you can please me," screamed Giuseppa, too angry to be pacified; "you're not like Luxehale. Why did you ever take me away from him? He was something to look at!"
"It's going on all right!" said Luxehale, chuckling.
"Why did you come away?" said Pangrazio, quietly.
"I didn't know what I was about! Would that I had never done it!" she added.
"Oh, don't say that!" replied Pangrazio, imploringly. But instead of being won by his kindness she only grew the more noisy, till at last Pangrazio could stand it no longer, and he went out to avoid growing angry.
"Now is my time!" said the Devil; and he slipped round to the window. Giuseppa was still fretting and fuming, and invoking Luxehale at the top of her voice.
"Here I am!" said Luxehale. "Will you come back with me, and leave this stupid loafer?"
"What you there!" cried Giuseppa, rushing to the window, and kissing him. "Of course I'll go with you. Take me away!"
"All right; jump down!" said Luxehale, helping her over the window-sill. Giuseppa threw herself into his arms, and away they walked. Arrived outside the town, Luxehale lifted her up, spread his black bat's wings, and carried her off.
"Go through the Fleimserthal and the Fassathal," said Giuseppa; "I've got something to show you there."
"Any thing to please you!" answered Luxehale.
"Oh, it's not to please me!" cried Giuseppa, taking offence.
"Now don't begin again; it won't do with me!" replied Luxehale, with a sternness he had never before exercised. "Mind, I don't mean to allow any more of it."
"Oh, if that's to be it," said Giuseppa, "I'll go back again to Pangrazio."
"No, you won't!" replied Luxehale; "you don't go back any more, I'll take good care of that! And now, what did you want to come by the Fassathal for?"
"Only because it's the way I passed with Pangrazio, and it renewed a sweet memory of him."
"That won't do for me! What was the real reason?"
"What will you give me if I tell you?"
"Nothing. But if you don't tell me, I shall know how to make you."
Giuseppa's courage failed her when she heard him talk like this. She knew she had given herself to him of her own will, and so she belonged to him, and she could not help herself; and now, the best course she could think of was to tell him of the treasure, and trust to the good humour it would put him in, for he was very avaricious, to get her forgiveness out of him.
Clamer came back from a walk outside the town--where he had gone to get cool after his wife's scolding--just in time to see Luxehale spread his wings and fly away with Giuseppa in his arms. He called to her, but she did not hear him; and all he could do was to stand watching them till they were out of sight.
He came back so gloomy and dejected that his friend Eligio Righi was quite distressed to see him. He was so sympathizing, indeed, that Pangrazio could not forbear telling him the whole story. "Then, if that is so, you need not regret being quit of her," moralized his sage friend: "she was no wife for an honest man. And as for the treasure, you have enough without that. It was but ill-gotten gain which came to you for knowledge obtained from such a source."