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vassals of Quedlinburg against the Regenstein rock and took it, for all its boasted impregnability. They carried the Graf Albrecht to Quedlinburg, and there they built a great wooden cage for him up in the top stories of the Rathaus, where you may still see it. in this cage the Graf von Regenstein sat gnashing his teeth, and trying to cut his way out with a small knife: they show you the notches in the hard oak. But after twenty mouths the Lady Abbess let the Graf go free,— for indeed he was a most personable man!—under an oath which he made no weak show of keeping.
it is said that the Graf von Regensteln, Raubrltter, proposed himself in marriage to her Grace of Quedlinburg; aud, if he did, she refused him. A Lady Abbess does not marry a Gentleman-Brigand, especially after she has played chess all night with a heavenly messenger.
it would never do for the chief of the Altpoppendorfians, his Worship the Schultheiss, the representative of the village that has such a legend, not to be a leading chess power; and Herr Schmalz. who was in office twenty years ago from this date, was in this respect quite up to the level of his position, He was a small, meagre, lighthaired man. of indefinite complexion, with a little Vandyck beard and a sclssor-hacked flaxen moustache: he wore gold spectacles, and he walked on his toes with an elastic action. This action was the minor cause of his nickname of "Der Springer," which not only means what it seems to the English eye to mean, but also in chess parlance "The Knight." in its metaphorical signification this nickname was no honorable one, for it implied that the Worshipful Schultheiss had advanced through life by the knight's move—a tricky if artistic one. When Knight Schmalz "sprang," his neighbors never
knew exactly where he would laud or over what iiues he would travel: the benevolent or malicious ends of his conduct could not be calculated. The former were discounted by a series of preliminary exasperations; the reverse were rendered doubly obuoxlous by the memory of the kindly sentiments that had preceded them. The fact of it was that Herr Schmalz had a crease in his character, and he would have been a happier man if nature, instead of this moral endowment, had fitted him out with a club-foot or a Cyrano de Bergerac nose. Herr Schmalz had made and inherited money, and had returned to his native Altpoppendorf. where he had accepted the office of Schultheiss on condition that he was not to be disturbed in it for life. This condition was readily granted, as there is no fevered competition for a post of which the chief duties are the conscientious and rectilineal affixing to a wall of governmental and other notices, the equitable distribution of small fines, and the personal inspection of the village open drain; the only emolument, a fairly free hand with postage-stamps and official note-paper. So Herr Schmalz was Worshipful Schultheiss for life, and not very much was asked of him, as you have seen; but Altpoppendorf demanded of him that he should know all about chess. This Herr Schmalz did—there was no gainsaying it, and his Worship the Schultheiss was the embodied law, the walking book of reference, in the great room of the "Silver Board," to which the Golden Eagle had changed its name after the vision of the Lady Abbess of Quedlinburg, and its very gratifying result for the village hostelry.
Frau Schmalz was a lady who very early in her life had been pushed to the margin of the board of Life, and did not seem very likely to get back into play again. Not very likely and not the least anxious. Providence had bestowed on ber its two greatest gifts—incapacity to shine and indifference to shining.
The third and last member, according to the crabbed historian's reckoning, was the one whom the Altpoppendorflan swains placed first and foremost in it—the charming Fraulein Klara Schmalz. And, indeed, on Life's chessboard Klara was of right a queen, for youth and beauty have their immemorial incontestable prerogatives, and all the grace that we seniors can attain to lies in the bow with which we accept our quite secondary position. Klara was delicious in her summer muslins and straw hats; she was equally delicious in her winter homespuns, great red-lined cloaks, and reckless tam-o'-shanters; and countless lyrics on Schlllerian lines, with appropriate similes,—among which that of the Gracious White Chess-queen came forward with the regularity of the cuckoo on a Swiss clock,—fluttered on to the path of tMs fair young thing, Kllirchen, with the dark, wide-open, solemn eyes, as yet half afraid to smile back at Life smiling so gaily at her. She had queen's moves—straightforward practical advances and diagonal flights of sentiment and fancy. For the first, she possessed the grit and solid sense of her nation in a high degree: she would swing up the Brocken like a man. twirling lightly the traditional Wanderstab—pilgrim's staff; and she had banished herself for a year to the kitchens of u great Harz hotel, that when it came to her having a kitchen of her own she might be mistress there, and not a tolerated intrnder. As for those diagonal moves of fancy and sentiment, the girl had looked lightly along one or two of them during the five years of her school life in a small provincial town, where gay Gymuasiasts—mere schoolboys to outward view, but graybeards of the world to their own consciousness—had fluttered and
sighed about the doors of the "Pensiong," and played their innocent pranks that are not, strange as it may seem, taken any account of in the Prussian Criminal Code, of which men say the first article is "Alles 1st verboten,"—"everything is forbidden." And now, one broiling July, Klara was at home for good, waiting for the great move of her life, and praying that Heinrich Hesselbarth might be inspired to play king to her queen.
Heinrich Hesselbarth, on his side, was only too ready to move. But there were certain obstacles in his way. Only a few days before, old Herr Kautor Garsuch had died. The title of Kantor—or precentor—dates from the days when the village schoolmaster was organist first and pedagogue second: now his educational duties claim his chief attention, and he leads the worship of "unser Herrgott" when he has time or is not on the Brocken. Some predecessor of Kantor Garsuch had quaintly indicated his attitnde towards his double office by inscribing on the gallery door of the church the text, "My mouth shall sing the praises of the Lord," and underneath the words, "Closed during the school examinations and vacations," And of another dimmer predecessor it has been put on record that so little worth did he attach to his sacred duties that he stole from the church a great wooden statue of St. John, and lit the school fire with "Jogli," for the weather was bitter and "Jogli'' seemed to be superflnous, Kantor Garsuch had been an indifferent precentor, a passable schoolmaster, and a chess-player without reproach. Altpoppendorf still speaks in its humid moments of a game that the Herr Kautor and the Worshipful Schultheiss played and drew during one school holidays—a game that Altpoppendorf. in its simple way, tots up to one hundred and seventeen Schoppen, or tankards, and twice that number of
olglit-pfennig cigars. Now Death, the great Springer, whose moves are formulated in no chess annual, had taken old Kantor Garsuch and put him away with all the other captured pieces in the little Friedhof. And Herr Assistant-Kantor Helnrich Hesselbarth hoped to reign in his stead.
When, three years before, Herr Garsuch was considered to have got beyond his work, Helnrich Hesselbarth had been sent down to assist him. Hesselbarth was then a man of twentytwo, nervous and excitable, whose constitution had been too severely tried by over-pressure and under-feeding In boyhood, the rigorous training for his profession, and the exertions of military service. It was perhaps only the excitement of his life that had kept him in it at all, for, with a hysterical nature like bis, there Is no mean of existence between the extremes of absolute vegetation and the hurry-scurry of physical and mental activity. He was of a romantic nature, and probably the science of the future will analyze the romantic tendency as a common rash following and relieving an undue taxation of the nervous system. Certainly creatures of calm, torpid existence exhibit no such symptoms. When he came to Altpoppendorf, the romance of his nature found Its outlet In an admiration that grew to love for the charming Friluleln Klara. Nobly, in the stillness of his room, did he tear his passion to rags, this tall, lean youth, with wild blue eyes and light hair tossed in confusion about a shapely head. Queen Klara, as we know, thought very favorably of him, mentioned him in her "Abendgebet," uud sighed about him to the moon. For marvellous was the contrast of those stormy blue eyes of his with the line, ascetic lines of his face. King Helnrich. too, was the only Intellectual equal of Queen Klara here in this quiet village of Altpoppendorf, which, if It
gave chess to the world, exhausted itself mentally for good and all in the effort.
There was but one obstacle to Hesselbarth's succession to the Kantorship of Altpoppendorf, but that was a serious one. He was a comparatively poor hand at the noble Prussian game. Elsewhere he might have passed muster, but here, on the very temple steps, his miserable inferiority could not escape observation. He was only too conscious of his weakness. He remembered how more than once he had failed ignominiously to solve the' weekly problems preliminary to confirmation set by Herr Garsuch to the upper classes, and what disgraceful defeats he had sustained at the hands of the scholars whom It should have been the pride and privilege of his position to put to a friendly rout. He had no head for the thing, though he had worked at it till his brow was red-hot iron and his feet two blocks of Ice, and he had been obliged to restore his circulation to its normal course by warm footbaths. It was a serious matter for him: it was everything for him. The Worshipful Schultheiss did not indeed appoint the Kantor, but his recommendation had the greatest weight; and would he recommend a man whose knowledge of openings was ludicrous, and to whom he could give a castle? If Hesselbarth was not appointed, he must leave Altpoppendorf: that was nothing. He must leave Klara,—there was desolation In Its most horrid shape! Can you wonder that the poor fellow upbraided the memory of her Grace of Quedllnburg, who had done such an inconsiderate thing for Altpoppendorf, and looked with hostility on her Grace's portrait that hung In the great guestchamber of the Inn?
Helnrich Hesselbarth was sitting, on a sweltering July afternoon, In the halfdismantled schoolhouse of Altpoppendorf n few days after the funeral of old Herr Garsuch, wondering what destiny had in store for him. Blissful dreams alternated with dismal visions, —dreams of Klara and love; visions of unhappy, purposeless exile. A loud rap broke in upon his reflections, and when he went to the door there was Paul Hiemer, grinning over the top of a note from the Schultheiss. Heinrich disliked almost involuntarily this Paul Hiemer, the pride of the school, the infant chess prodigy; and he had never been able to satisfy himself whether this dislike had its foundation in the youth's unctuous manner or in his superior knowledge and employment of chess openings. But to-day, when all Hesselbarth's nerves were fine-wire fllaments, tense and red-hot, the face of the boy jarred him painfully. He took the note without a word, and closed the door sharply upon the astonished messenger.
"Very greatly honored Herr Assistant-Kantor Hesselbarth," ran the note, "can you give me the solution of the following problem?—White, so-and-so; black, so-and-so. White to play and mate in two moves.—Yours, Sehmalz, Schultheiss."
Hesselbarth got down his board and set out the pieces. White to play and mate in two moves. it looked easy enough; but in an hour all the blood had gone to Heinrich's head, and he had not yet found the solution.
He pushed back his chair, catching for breath, and went to the window. The heat of the day was overpowering; there was an intolerable buzzing in the stagnant air; burning breaths came in from the torrid harvest-fields; and a Minding glare beat up from the white dust and cobbles of the village street. The great seed-flower beds stretched their rectangles of blazing, torturing color to the quivering horizon. Nowhere in this slake-oven of a world was there rest for aching eyes and hissing brain and panting lungs. And here
on this day of merciless heat he was set to play against destiny, against a black, hostile destiny that had pursued him through the early years of high pressure and semi-starvation, through long night-wrestlings with complicated, uncongenial, unpractical subjects of study, and through the too cruel tortures of the military service. Two moves! Klara, position: those were the two moves. if he could make them, his Life's Problem was solved: the White had beaten the Black for good and all. He went back to the table and sat before the board. But the heat-demon rose up at him and laid its searing fingers on his brain; his eyes swam in a tide of blood; and the chess pieces came confusedly out of a red mist, monstrous, writhing, and distorted semblances of old Herr Kantor Garsuch, of the Worshipful Schultheiss. of the unctuous, grinning Paul Hiemer, of her Grace of Quedlinburg,— all pressing in between him and a sweet, cooling vision of a girlish face with lips half open. . . .
Now the Worshipful Schultheiss had begun this day from a square of the foulest temper, under the influence of which he had sat down and composed a particularly nasty chess problem for the benefit of the person upon whom he should decide to vent his spite. Then an irritating and pressing business matter had brought the Herr Springer on to a second square of foul temper, and caused him to subtract a white pawn from the problem,—which was thus no problem, but a heartless snare,—and to send it to Herr Heinrich Hesselbarth by the hands of Paul Hiemer. "The fraud is so palpable." said the Herr Springer to himself, "that even a good fool like Hesselbarth cannot be taken in by it; and if he is. then he does not have my recommendation, that's all. We have never had an idiot here at Altpoppendorf. ;iud, donnerwetter! we are not going to begin now."
But after bis siesta and bis four o'clock coffee, the Worshipful Schultheiss, springing at a tangent, lit on a benevolent square. He put on his great straw hat and called to his daughter Klara to come with him. They went together down the village street, where the children were languidly resting under dark doorways from the protracted delights of the Long Holidays. The westering sun was lengthening the shadows, and the tired oxen came lumbering in placidly from the fields. it was a peaceful scene; and down from the Harz stole cool evening air-currents, promising invigorating slumbers to sore-tried mortals.
The Worshipful Schultheiss took his way to the schoolhouse and went up the steps to the door on his toe-tips. He knocked, gently, loud, louder; but no answer came. Then he stealthily turned the handle and peered in. He looked back over his shoulder with a smile and beckoned Klara to come up. They stood together for a moment ou the threshold, the little dried-up old man and the fresh young girl. The Asslstant-Kantor had fallen across Mutable with his head upon his arms, the chessboard pushed to one side and the pieces tumbled anyhow on it.
"Hesselbarth," said the Worshipful Schultheiss, pulling off his great straw hat, for the remembrance of the heat of the day came suddenly upon him, "i wanted to explain. it was a little jest, that problem, you know. But. Hesselbarth, Hessel-ba-a-a-r-th!"
There was still no answer. Herr Schmalz smiled again at his daughter, and walked with bis Springer action across the room.
"Hesselbarth," he said, standing over the young man and shaking his shoulder, "it was a little joke, i say."
Heinrich Hesselbarth raised his head
slowly and looked at the Worshipful Schultheiss. There was something in the young man's eye that brought home in a flash to Herr Schmalz's mind the execrable taste of the practical joke, even when connected with the noblest of games.
"Little joke, eh?" said Hesselbarth confusedly. "Why then, that is one of your accursed chess humors, i see. And," he added with a startling grimness, "you want my answer. Well, take it."
He jumped to his feet and caught up the chessboard, from which the pieces went flying in a black and white hail all over the room. Herr Schmalz would have fled, but surprise and fright chained him there, to the consequences of his little jest. Up and up went the board in the Assistant-Kantor's lean, nervous arms; up and up so high and so long that the Worshipful Schultheiss had time to think of all his sins and to repent of the majority of them. Then it reached its zenith and descended with terrible force and rapidity flat on the Herr Springer's bead. The Worshipful Schultheiss went to earth in a heap.
Hesselbarth threw himself down in his chair, shrieking with laughter.
"it looks like one of those Chinese punishments," he gasped, pointing to Herr Schmalz, who was sitting half dazed on the ground with the ruined frame of the chessboard about his neck, and the blood making picturesque little red streaks in his light hair at twenty different points.
"Doesn't it, Kliirchen?" asked Heinrich, for she had come in and was kneeling by her father. "You know; you have seen the pictures. Oh, it is . . . it is . . ."
Then suddenly the grim meaning of the situation dawned on his fevered understanding.
"Kliirchen, love, what have i done?" he cried.