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PETRARCH CROWNED AT THE CAPITOL.
He bends him down before the shrine,
And I would rather have that crown,
BLOWING THISTLES FOR MARRIAGE OMENS.
Among the various customs which have survived the lapse of ages, that of thistle blowing” is practised in some parts of the country. The down of thistles is of beautiful texture, and it may challenge comparison with the web of the spider, or the dainty gossamer in dew. The seed being completely ripe, the down easily ascends. A favorable afternoon is chosen by village maidens to walk by the hedges where the thistles grow. They cast lots with wild flowers, and the first takes her chance in the choice of a thistle, which she blows as indicative of her future good or ill in the marriage state. If the down easily separates from the crown of the flower, her state will be prosperous; but if she, with much effort, cannot extricate the down, her state will be replete with domestic and personal trial. Trivial as this custom appears to an enlightened sense, it is relied on by those, into whose hearts education has not spread, with punctilious and anxious fidelity.
The demon tempts thee and thy fate is sealed."
Towards the close of the twelfth century, there was living in one of those strong holds, then so prevalent in Germany, a serf of the name of Hugo Strall, who owned the Baron Griffenburgh von Rauchdenfeldt, the possessor of the castle, as his lord.
The potency, and almost super-human and reckless bravery, of this baron, had rendered him no less venerated by his vassals, than feared by his neighbouring barons, many of whom enlisted under his banner, and obeyed his call to arms; his word was law among his serfs, who joyfully obeyed his mandates; but there was one amidst the crowded throng, which swelled his halls, whose stubborn nature could not brook command, to whom the bonds of slavery were death.
Strall lived only in the anticipation of freedom : many were the plans he had invented for the purpose of putting this his all-ruling power into execution ; but they all had proved abortive. At length an opportunity arrived for the consummation of his long.cherished hopes. Being sent on a mission of importance to a distant province, he set out, with a determination never to return; and, spurring his horse, he left the animal to pursue its own way, unconscious where it would lead him.
Hugo had not wandered long, before he found himself on the borders of a large and thickly.wooded forest, and perceiving the clouds of night fast gathering, without any hope of obtaining a shelter for the night in the habitation of man, he dismouvted, and, tying his horse to a tree, struck into the thickest part of the forest, where, having found a shelter formed by the spreading branches of a fir, he threw himself upon the ground, but not to sleep. A glare of intense light, which emanated from a steep and rugged mountain, at no great distance, roused him from his recumbent posture, and, starting hastily from the ground, he proceeded to ascertain the cause of this phenomenon.
Great was his surprise and terror, on discovering it to proceed from an illuminated halo, which suriounded a figure of gigantic stature and supernatural aspect, busily occupied in excavating the earth within the circle, into the cavity of which he cast a large quantity of glittering coin, and again replacing the earth, both light and figure disappeared, leaving the terrified Strall immoveable at the sight he had beheld. After a pause of some time, and when his reason returned, Hugo determined to exhume the hidden treasures of the demon, *
Scarcely had the rising sun dispelled the clouds of night, when, by the help of his stiletto, Strall contrived to dig deep enough to perceive the golden treasure, which, having secured, he returned to his horse, and set off at a brisk pace, well pleased with the adventure of the night.
Years had rolled away, and with them the happiness of Strall; for, though slavery had formerly been the bane of his existence, he then enjoyed a more perfect felicity than in his present elevated station. He was no longer recognized as Hugo Strall, the serf ;-he had gained his freedom ;-- he had bought honors ;-he had built the strong and almost impregnable castle of Gunensdorf, from which he derived his title ; and numbers of vassals now crowded his halls. Still he was despised by his nobles, on account of the meanness of his birth; and, as he could not join in the society of his equals he became a haughty, proud, and solitary man.
Years again passed, and the Baron von Gunensdorf asked of the Lord of Rauchdenfeldt the hand of his only daugh. ter ; he, however, met with a refusal. This denial roused his dormant energies, and he determined to revenge himself on the father, for his obstinate contempt of the proffered alliance.
The night was dark and stormy—the whole face of heaven
• There was formerly a tradition in the interior of Germany, that whenever money or gold was lost, it fell into the possession of the deyil.
was arrayed in awful grandeur-the increasing roar of the thunder struck terror into the stoutest hearts, whilst the faint glare of lightning occasionally discovered to the view a cavalier, attended by a small retinue, making their way
with speed for the castle of Rauchdenfeldt.
Suddenly, on turning an angle of the forest, a party of horsemen emerged from the thicket, which bounded the beaten track, and rushed furiously on the small but gallant band. “ Dastards and murdercus villains !” cried the cavalier, “I am the Baron Rauchdenfeldt.” He was only answered with a bitter scowl by the leader of the assailants, whom he now recognized as his former vassal, Hugo Strall.
Fired by the ingratitude of the serf, and his murderous design, the baron fought with desperate energy, but he stood alone ; his few retainers lay stretched upon the ground, whilst his savage opponent pressed upon him with redoubled fury.— The baron fell
The nobles, indignant at the assassination of the Baron Griffenburgh, combined together for the purpose of taking vengeance on the murderer, and accordingly, mustering all their serfs, besieged the castle of Gunensdorf.
For three days the castle was defended with obstinate success ; but, towards the close of the fourth, the besiegers effected an entrance, by scaling the walls. The garrison capitulated, but the Baron von Gunensdorf, fearing the just vengeance of his fierce antagonists, mounted his horse, and having gained a secret postern, known only to himself, made his escape.
It was midnight when the fugitive found himself at the entrance of that same forest, where he had, years ago, seen the demon, and frorn whence his wealth, his title, and his guilt, had sprung; unknowing what course to take, he at length resolved once more to visit the demon's glen.
He app oached the spot, when he again beheld the spirit standing upon a pile of newly raised earth, which lay at the edge of a deep abyss ; he grinned horribly at the sight of the baron, whilst he shouted, -" Hugo, thou art mine!"
Thine !” answered the terrified Hugo. “ Yes ; you have possessed my gold, and by that I claim thee."
“ How ? thou black and cursed spirit of hell !" cried the baron, “ tell me.”
" Where is Griffenburgh von Rauchdenfeldt ?"
The wretched baron answered not, but sunk, terrified, upon the ground, when his savage antagonist rushed upon his victim, and dragged him into the newly excavated abyss.—The earth closed over them. This is the tradition of the demon's victim.
PIOUS GALLANTRY. A young gentleman and lady sitting in the same pew in a church, the youth, in the course of the sermon, read something in the eyes of the lady which made a deeper impression on his mind than the lecture of the preacher. As love, although blind, is never at a loss for an expedient, he presented the maiden, whose charms had attracted his notice, with the fifth verse of the Second Epistle of St. John:
“ Now, I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another."
After reading this passage, the lady, in reply, promptly referred her suitor to the sixteenth verse of the first chapter of Ruth :
“ Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee ; for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God shall be my God.”
glance of that infant's eye.