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the necessity of making it his residence for a few weeks every year. About the same time when he took up his abode there, the justiciary was accustomed to go thither for the purpose of holding baronial courts, and transacting his other official business. When the tale opens he sets out upon his journey to R–sitten, accompanied byfa nephew, the narrator of the tale, a young mån, entirely new to the world, trained somewhat in the school of Werter, romantic, enthusiastic, with some disposition to vanity,+a musician, a poet, and a coxcomb ; upon the whole, however, a very well-disposed lad, with great respect for his granduncle, the justiciary, by whom he is regarded with kindness, but also as a subject of raillery.) The old man carries him along with him, partly to assist in his professional task, partly that he might get somewhat case-hardened by feeling the cold wind of the north whistle about his ears, and undergoing the fatigue and dangers of a wolf-hunt. They reach the old castle in the midst of a snow storm, which added to the dismal character of the place, and which lay piled thick up against the very gate by which they should enter. All knocking of the postilion was in vain; and here we shall let Hoffmann tell his own story.
“The old man then raised his powerful voice: “Francis! Francis where are you then? be moving; we freeze here at the door : the snow is peeling our faces raw ; be stirring;—the devil ' ' A watch-dog at length began to bark, and a wandering light was seen in the lower story of the building,-keys rattled, and at length the heavy folding-doors opened with difficulty. * A fair welcome t'ye in this foul weather l’ said old Francis, holding the lantern so high as to throw the whole light upon his shrivelled countenance, the features of which were twisted into a smile of welcome; the carriage drove into the court, we left it, and I was then for the first time aware that the ancient domestic was dressed in an old-fashioned, Iager-livery, adorned with various loops and braids of lace. Only one pair of grey locks now remained upon his broad white forehead; the lower part of his face retained the colouring proper to the hardy huntsman; and, in spite of the crumpled muscles which writhed the countenance into something resembling a fantastic mask, there was an air of stupid yet honest kindness and good-humour, which glanced from his eyes, played around his mouth, and reconciled you to his physiognomy. “‘Well, old Frank' said my great uncle, as, entering the antechamber, he shook the snow from his pelisse, “well, old man, is all ready in my apartments? Have the carpets been brushed,—the beds properly arranged,—and good fires kept in my room yesterday and to-day ?”—“No !” answered Frank with great composure, “no, worthy sir! not a bit of all that has been done.”—“Good God!” said my uncle, “did not I write in good time,—and do I not come at the exact day? Was ever such a piece of stupidity? And now I must sleep in rooms as cold as ice! —‘Indeed, worthy Mr Justiciary,' said Francis with great solemnity, while he removed carefully with the snuffers a glowing waster from the candle, flung it on the floor, and trod cautiously upon it, “you must know that the airing would have been to no purpose, for the wind and snow have driven in, in such quantities through the broken window-frames: so—’—“What l” said my uncle, interrupting him, throwing open his pelisse, and placing both arms on his sides, “what! the windows are broken, and you, who have charge of the castle, have not had them repaired?'— ‘That would have been done, worthy sir,' answered Francis with the same indifference,’ but people could not get rightly at them on account of the heaps of rubbish and stone that are lying in the apartment.”—“And how, in a thousand devils' names,” said my great uncle, ‘came rubbish and stones into my chamber P’— “God bless you, my young master,’ said the old man, episodically to me, who happened at the moment to sneeze, then proceeded gravely to answer the justiciary, that the stones and rubbish were those of a partition-wall which had fallen in the last great tempest. “What, the devil! have you had an earthquake 2’ said my uncle, angrily. “No, worthy sir,’ replied the old man, “but three days ago the heavy paved roof of the justicehall fell in with a tremendous crash.”) ‘May the devil y said my uncle, breaking out in a passion, and about to let fly a heavy oath; but suddenly checking himself, he lifted submissively his right hand towards heaven, while he moved with his left his fur cap from his forehead, was silent for an instant, then turned to me and spoke cheerfully: “In good truth, kinsman, we had better hold our tongues and ask no further questions, else we shall only learn greater mishaps, or perhaps the whole castle may come down upon our heads. But, Frank,” said he, “how could you be so stupid as not to get another apartment arranged and aired for me and this youth 2 Why did you not put some large room in the upper-story of the castle in order for the courtday?'—‘That is already done,' said the old man, pointing kindly to the stairs, and beginning to ascend with the light. “Now, only think of the old houlet, that could not say this at once,’ said my uncle, while we followed the domestic. We passed through/many long, high, vaulted . flickering light carried by Francis throwing irregular gleaths on the thick darkness; pillars, capitals, and arches of various shapes appeared to totter as we passed them; our own shadows followed us with giant steps, and the singular pictures on the wall, across which these shadows passed, seemed to waver and to tremble, and their voices to whisper amongst the heavy echoes of our footsteps, saying—“Wake us not, wake us not, the enchanted inhabitants of this ancient fabric l’ At length, after we had passed along the range of cold and dark apartments, Francis opened a saloon in which a large blazing fire received us with a merry crackling, resembling a hospitable welcome. I felt myself cheered on the instant I entered the apartment; but my great uncle remained standing in the middle of the hall, looked round him, and spoke with a very serious and almost solemn tone: “This, then, must be our hall of justice l’ Francis raising the light so that it fellupon an oblong whitish patch of the large dark wall, which patch had exactly the size and form of a walled-up or condemned door, said in a low and sorrowful tone, “Justice has been executed here before now.'—“How came you to say that, old man?” said my uncle, hastily throwing the pelisse from his shoulders.-‘The word escaped me,' said Francis, as he lighted the candles on the table, and opened the door of a neighbouring apartment where two beds were comfortably prepared for the reception of the guests. In a short time a good supper smoked before us in the
hall, to which succeeded a bowl of punch, mixed according to the right northern fashion, and it may therefore be presumed none of the weakest, Tired with his journey, my uncle betook himself to bed; but the novelty and strangeness of the situation, and even the excitement of the liquor I had drank, prevented me from thinking of sleep. The old domestic removed the suppertable, made up the fire in the chimney, and took leave of me after his manner with many a courteous bow.
66 . I was left alone in the wide high hall of chivalry; the hail-storm had ceased to patter, and the wind to howl; the sky was become clear without-doors, and the full moon streamed through the broad transome windows, illumining, as if by magic, all those dark corners of the singular apartment into which the imperfect light of the wax candles and the chimney-fire could not penetrate. As frequently happens in old castles, the walls and roof of the apartment were ornamented—the former with heavy pannelling, the latter with fantastic carving, gilded and painted of different colours. The subjects chiefly presented the desperate hunting matches with bears and wolves, and the heads of the animals, being in many cases carved, projected strangely from the painted bodies, and even, betwixt the fluttering and uncertain light of the moon and of the fire, gave a grisly degree of reality.) Amidst these pieces were hung portraits, as large as life, of knights striding forth in hunting-dresses, probably the chaseloving ancestors)of the present baron. very thing, whether of painting or of carving, showed the dark and decayed colours of times long passed,) and rendered more conspicuous the blank and light-coloured part of the wall before noticed. It was in the middle space betwixt two doors which led off through the hall into side-apartments, and I could now see that it must itself have been a door, built up at a later period, but not made to correspond with the rest of the apartment, either by being painted over or covered with carved work. Who knows not that an unwonted and somewhat extraordinary situation possesses a mysterious power over the human spirit 2/Even the dullest fancy will awake in a secluded valley surrounded with rocks, or within the walls of a gloomy church,)and will be taught to expect, in such a situation, things different from those encountered in the ordinary course of human life. (Conceive too that I was only a lad of twenty years of age, and that I had drunk several glasses of strong liquor,\and it may easily be believed that the knight's hall in which I sat made a singular impression on my spirit. The
stillness of the night is also to be remembered—broken, as it.
was, only by the heavy waving of the billows of the sea, and the solemn piping of the wind, resembling the tones of a mighty organ touched by some passing spirit; the clouds wandering across the moon, drifted along the arched windows, and seemed giant shapes gazing through the rattling casements; in short, in the slight shuddering which o: an unknown world was about to expand itself visibly before me.) This feeling, however silly, only resembled the slight and hot unpleasing shudder with which we read or hear a well-told ghost story. It occurred to me in consequence that I could find no more favourable opportunity for reading the work to which, like most young men of a romantic bias, I was peculiarly partial, and which I happened to have in my pocket. * was “the Ghost Seer' of Schiller: read—and read, and in doing so excited my fancy . more, until I came to that part of the tale which seizes on the imagination with so much fervour, viz. the wedding feast in the house of the Count von B Just at the very moment when I arrived at the passage where the bloody spectre of Gironimo entered the wedding apartment, the door of the knight's hall, which led into an antechamber, burst open with a violent shock;—I started up with astonishment, and the book dropped from my hand; but, as in the same moment all was again still, I became ashamed of my childish terror;—it might be by the impulse of the rushing night-wind, or by some other natural cause that the door was fiang open. “It is nothing,' I said aloud, “my overheated fancy turns the most natural accidents into the supernatural.’ Having thus re-assured myself, I picked up the book and again sat down in the elbow-chair; but then I heard something move in the apartment with measured steps, sighi same time, and sobbing in a manner which seemed to express at once the extremity of inconsolable sorrow, and the most agonizing pain which the human bosom could feel. I tried to believe that this could only be the moans of some animal enclosed somewhere near our part of the house, I reflected upon the mysterious power of the night, which makes distant sounds appear as if they were close beside us, and I expostulated with myself for suffering the sounds to affect me with terror. But as I thus debated the point, a sound like that of scratching mixed with louder and Jeeper sighs, such as could only be extracted by the most aeute mental agony, or during the parting pang of life, was indisputably heard upon the very spot where the door appeared to have been