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But upon a nearer approach it is easy to see,
in spite of the bright green ivy which vails it,
that the tower is a very ancient and a very
ruinous structure. Roof and floors are gone,
and the stone stairs have fallen, and lie, a con-
fused heap of masonry, in the basement. The
windows are blank as the eye-sockets of a
skull, and the doorways yawn over their moss-
grown untrodden thresholds with a terrible
suggestion of desolation. The very ivy, which
gives it such a delusive appearance of youth,
can no longer deceive the eye. Its gnarled
and twisted branches cling about the ruin with
a strange resemblance to the withered and
shrunken arms of old age.

Bats and owls are the only tenants of the
tower, and their occupation is left undisputed,
for the good folk of Verzenach are supersti-
tious, and such strange legends are told about
the ruin that it is seldom visited by day, and
never approached after nightfall.

I first made the acquaintance of The Young

1 8 Library, vol. i. p. 28.

Tower while on a sketching tour in the beau
tiful autumn of 184 . I was a stranger to
Verzenach, and had therefore heard nothing
of the reputation which the tower possessed of
being haunted. Had I heard it, it is very
improbable that I should have paid any atten-
tion to the traditions of the superstitious. It
was towards sunset when I saw it, and the
glory of the declining day lent its aid to the
fresh greenery of the ivy, and made the tower
look young indeed, in spite of the signs of age
which were visible from the point of view I
had taken. The rosy light of the sinking
sun, reflected from the glossy leaves of the ivy,
bathed the tower with a strange warm glow,
but could not give life and colour to the dull
gray barrier of mountain behind it, which
threw out the building in strong relief. Sun-
set effects are so fleeting that an experienced
artist loses no time in noting down their
salient points. In less time than it takes
to write this I had pitched my camp-stool,
opened colour-box and sketch-book, and set
about making a hasty memorandum of the

Suddenly a shadow fell across the page on
which I was working. I looked up, and saw
a grave elderly gentleman, leaning on .1 crutch-
handled stick, and watching my operations
with eager and all-absorbing attention. He
made a hurried movement with his hand, as if
to urge me not to lose time, which impressed
me with the notion that he himself was a
painter and knew the necessity for speed.

I obeyed his gesture. But there is a certain
awkwardness in such a silence as ensued, and
I was compelled to speak.

"Can you tell me the name of the ruin?"
I asked him, without looking up.

He drew a long breath like a sigh of extreme
relief, and answered me in a feeble and hollow

" It has ever been called The Young Tower.
Young!" here he gave a dreary ghost of a
laugh "Young! Such a youth as that de-
ceives no eyes! It is old old centuries

" It has all the picturesqueness of age," I

"How can age be picturesque? Decay is
never beautiful, truly. How can the young
admire age? There is no charm in death, and
age is but living death."

I thought it would be kind to divert his
reflections from a channel so melancholy as
this. With that intention I inquired if there
were, as usual, a number of legends connected
with the ruin.



He gave another long sigh of relief, and
immediately, and without invitation, com-
menced the following narrative, which I regret
iquch I cannot give in his exact words, for
they were quaint, forcible, and vivid.

The latest occupant of The Young Tower
was Eberhardt Mulhaus, a studious and retir-
ing man, considerably past middle age. His
life was so simple, and his wants were so few,
that he lived there quite alone, unattended,
and uncompanioned, save by his books. Of
books he had an enormous number, and was
accounted a great scholar by the townsfolk.
He was indeed an indefatigable student, and
had read everything except the human heart.
How little had he learned, therefore, in all his
long years of study and research !

The years had passed him by almost un-
noticed. He seemed to be aware that his hair
had grown whiter and whiter, and that the
hand that turned the page trembled more and
more, and wasted away. His eyes grew dim,
but that is the fate of the student.

While he had been tracing figures in the
sand the tide of his life had crept slowly up to
the full of manhood's prime, and was sinking
slowly to the extreme ebb of old age.

He was solitary, for he made no acquaint-
ances among the people of Verzenach. They
used to see his lamp in his window burning all
night long, as he pored over his books, and
they felt a secret awe of him, and never
dreamed of breaking in upon his solitude.

There was one bright spot in the past, not
so bright in itself as it was by contrast with
the dark monotony of all other memories,
which had never quite died out of his mind,
though it had grown faint as a star towards
daybreak. He recalled it sometimes with a
dreamy sort of wonder, and whenever he did so
his sympathies for his fellow-creatures seemed
to be stirred, and he looked down from his
lone watch-tower upon the sleeping town that
lay beneath with an unusual interest.

This was the story of the bright remem-

He had been a feeble and delicate child, and
had therefore few, if any, playfellows among
the boys of the town. His one constant com-
panion was a little girl, Gretchen by name,
a gentle, kind-hearted little soul.

Between these two quiet thoughtful children
there sprang up an attachment which was in
truth love, but seemed to their innocent youth
only friendship. One day, as they stood hand
in hand on the little footbridge over a tiny brook
that brawled down to the Rhine from the

j mountains behind the town, they beheld them-
I selves reflected in the water. They were exactly
of the same height.

" You will never grow taller than me, will
you, Eberhardt?" asked little Gretchen. "I
should not like you to be up there above me,
so that I should have to look up, you would
seem farther away. "

He did not answer, but he clasped her hand

" We shall always walk side by side, hand
in hand, for ever, and ever, and ever, shall we
not?" continued little Gretchen.

"For ever, and ever, and ever!" said he,
and then he turned and put his arms round
her neck and kissed her. At this moment a
heavy hand was laid on his shoulder. He
looked up and saw Father Gerome. Father
Gerome was his pastor, confessor, and teacher,
for Eberhardt was intended for the priesthood.
The father was a stern man, ascetic, severe,

" My son," he said, sternly, "the servants
of Heaven have nought to do with folly such
as this. The rebellious spirit must be chas-
tised. Come with me."

Eberhardt never saw Gretchen again. Father

Gerome set him a heavy penance, and took

him away at once to the seminary, where he

remained many years until, indeed, it was

i seen that he was not fitted for holy orders, and

| was too fond of earthly wisdom and secular

I philosophy. But the seclusion of the seminary

had wrought upon him; and when he left its

quiet walls he could not face the stir of life,

and was fain to retire to his tower and dwell

in solitude and seclusion.

The recollection of Gretchen was the faint
gleam that lit up the past of that lonely student
as he sat among his learned books, and grew
more gray and feeble, and bowed his head
lower and lower as Time laid his heavy hand
upon him.

It was one night at the end of the year, as
he sat by his lofty window gazing out at the
cold white stars, and thinking over all that
the astronomers and wise men of old times had
said about them, when he heard a clear, sweet,
childish voice singing under his window.

He flung open the lattice to listen, for there
was a something strangely touching in the
sound, so unusual as it was too. He leaned
his head out in order to hear the words. It
was a hymn that the child was singing such
a hymn as the gray-headed student had sung
as a child standing beside his mother after he
had risen from his knees before her at bed-
time. It was a simple hymn enough, praia-


ing in child-like language the love of the
Saviour, and its surpassing power and beauty.

"What can the poor little thing be doing
up here at such an hour on a wintry night?"
asked the student of himself. He could think
of no solution, and it vexed him, so he closed
the lattice, and turned to his books again.

But the sweet silvery voice was not to be
shut out. It soared to the window, and beat
its wings against the pane, asking for admit-
tance. It stirred the long quiescent sympa- j
thies in the old student's breast, and filled his i
eyes with the dimness of unshed tears. The ;
words of the tome he endeavoured to read in !
order to distract his attention seemed to adapt j
themselves to the melody.

The night was cold, with a keen breeze
from the mountains blowing steadily. Those
mountains were white with the first snows of
the year. Every morning earth was clad in
the white shroud of rime, and seemed like
a fair maiden dead on her bier, until the sun
rose to show that the shroud was really a
diamond-besprinkled vail.

Still the sweet beseeching voice fluttered at
the window, as it fluttered at the student's
heart too, craving for admittance.

He lit a lamp, and descended the winding
stair, and opened the tower-door. There stood
a tiny child, with a mass of golden curls that
looked like a glory, and with soft confiding
blue eyes. The poor little face was white and i
thin, and the poor little feet were bare. Scant j
and worn were the garments of the child-singer,
who still warbled on the simple hymn.

The old man's heart yearned towards the
child, and grew so tender, that the small
bright speck in memory's dark waste seemed to
burn brighter, fed with unaccustomed Avarmth.
Or was there something in the song that touched
some vibrating chord of recollection?

"Come hither, little one," said the student,
with a tremulous voice.

The child came forward with an innocent
confidence, and placed her tiny cold hand in
his as he held it forth to her. He drew her
inside the tower, and closed the door. Then
he lifted her in his arms and bore her up the
winding stair to his chamber.

The fire had burned low, so he hastened to
replenish it with logs, and then drawing an
easy chair to the fireside, he placed the child
in it, and wrapped her in his furred gown.

" How came you out at such an hour on
such a night, pretty one?" he asked at last,
after he had made the little thing comfortable,
and sat chafing its cold hands between his
withered palms. " How came your parents to

let this little bird wander so far from the nest?
Where dwell your father and mother?"

Her soft blue eyes filled in a moment with
big tears as the child pointed upwards. Her
heart was too full to speak, but the gesture
was eloquent.

" An orphan, my poor babe? Where is your

" I have none now," answered the child.

" Tell me how that is," said the student.

" When they came to bury my mother this
morning I followed them at a distance, and
sat by her grave all day. When the evening
came I went back to the room in which we
used to live, but strangers had come to live

The old man looked at the child's thin face,
and read the story of her young life.

"Your mother was poor, I fear, child."

' ' Yes, she was very poor. She used to sit
at her needlework all day and long, long into
the night, for when sometimes I woke from
the cold I could see her still at work. And a
few mornings ago she did not come to dress
me as she always used to do ; and then I felt
lonely and frightened, and at last I stole out
of bed into the next room, and she was sitting
by the table with her work in her lap, and her
head bent down on her arm, and the candle had
burned into the socket. I would not wake her,
for she must have been terribly weary. But
by-and-by the landlord came for his rent, and
he spoke to her loudly ; but she did not wake,
and he shook her angrily, and then he found
she would never wake again."

"Have you no friends, my poor darling?"
asked the old man, passing his thin hand
caressingly over her curls.

"Only you," was the guileless answer; "except
our Father and the beautiful angels in heaven."

" I will be your friend, poor babe. But
how came you to wander up here?"

" Because you were the only friend I had."

The student gazed wonderingly at the girl
at these words. There was a simple good
faith in the way she spoke that made it im-
possible to doubt her. But what could she
mean by speaking of him as her only friend?

" Tell me," he said at last, "what made you
think I was your friend?"

" Oh ! I forgot I hadn't told you that ; I
thought you would know it. When first my
dear mother taught me to pray I used to kneel
down beside her, and she would tell me all
about the good God, and the Saviour's love,
and all the beautiful things of heaven, and she
used to point up to it through the window.
And as you looked up from our window you



could see this tower, with the light always
shining in the casement. And it was long
ago, when I was a wee, wee thing and some-
how I came to fancy that mother meant that
this was heaven when she pointed up, it seemed
so very high above us, and the light was so
steady and so bright, and never grew dark.
I thought this for a long time, till I got a big
girl, and then my mother found out what I
thought. And then she said to me, ' Ah,
darling, you think what your mother thought
once: that seemed to be heaven to me, long
long ago!' And then she burst into tears;
and afterwards she explained where heaven
really was. But I always thought, in my
heart of hearts, that this tower was heaven. "

" It shall be your home henceforth, little
one. But tell me one thing," said the old
man, in an eager voice " what is your name?"

"Gretchen," said the child.

"They called you after your mother?" he
gasped out.

"Yes, when I was a little baby."

The gray-headed student fell on his knees
beside the child, and kissed her tenderly.
And the sealed fountain of tears was opened in
his heart, and he wept and was comforted.

And from that day the child dwelt with him
in his lonely tower.

He thought little of his books now; his only
study was how to make the child happy in his
gloomy home. He watched over her with in-
finite affection and patience, and would scarcely
suffer her out of his sight for a moment.

Years rolled on, and the child grew to be a
comely maiden, and the student had grown
more gray, and was more than ever bent with
the burden of his age.

But his heart was young. It seemed as
though it had been torpid until the love for
the child warmed it into life, and that now it
was fifty years younger than he. It was a young
man's heart in an old man's body. The embers
of love that had smouldered in his breast for
so long had been fanned into flame.

How fair was the girl now! Fair and straight
as a young poplar, graceful as a fawn, with a
voice like the first songs of the birds in spring.
She was the very embodiment of life and sun-
shine. Her presence filled the old tower with
warmth and sweetness.

The old man loved her loved her passion-
ately. The fatherly affection which he bestowed
on her as a child ripened into the ardent devo-
tion of a lover as he beheld her maturing into
a beautiful woman. lie had hoarded the pas-
sions of youth in his heart, and, though the

casket was old and worn, the passions, like true
gold, were immortal, and possessed eternal

It was not long ere the old man discovered
what was the real nature of his regard for
Gretchen. It was revealed to him by jealousy.

It was impossible, closely as she kept to the
old tower, and few as were her acquaintances,
still it was impossible for a girl of her beauty
to fail to have lovers and admirers. All the
youths of Verzenach were enamoured of her
beauty and her goodness.

Among them was one on whom Gretchen
looked with secret favour. He was the son of
the chancellor of Verzenach, a handsome and
gallant youth. When two people love each
other, it is impossible that they can be long
before they discover the sweet secret. It was
so with Gretchen and Max. Gretchen, like a
discreet maiden, at once told her "adopted"
father, as she called the old student, to his
bitter vexation and inward grief.

Then, for the first time, the old man's eyes
were opened to the real nature of his love for
her to the hopelessness of his passion its
folly, its anguish. At the thought of her be-
coming another's his cup of misery overflowed,
and his grief was so intense, that the lovely
Gretchen, who did not suspect the real cause,
was so touched by his sorrow that she deter-
mined never to leave him while he lived. She
told him so; and he groaned inwardly to think
that it was gratitude, not such love as he thirsted
for, which prompted her. But he accepted
the sacrifice. His devouring passion made
him selfish, and it was a consolation to think,
that if she could not be his, she would never
be another's.

Ah, the bitterness of the parting between
Gretchen and Max! It is not to be described.
Mad with despair, the poor young man rushed
away to the wars, and perished gloriously as
the leader of a forlorn hope the victim of a
hope yet more forlorn. Half of Gretchen's life
perished with him. A premature old age fell
upon her, and people wondered to see how she
was changed. Hers was a beauty, they said
and especially the women that fades rapidly.
They did not know that a broken heart ages
beauty. But the old man saw no change in

His life was a long torture. "Oh, my youth,
my lost youth!" he sighed all day long. And
all the night he pored over books of dark lore
and forbidden arts, in the hope of discovering
the secret whereby age can repurchase the van-
ished years, and renew its youth.

He essayed over and over again, to summon



the Evil One, who had endowed Faust with a
second springtime of life, but in vain.

At length one night he was aware of the
presence of a stranger in his chamber, although
doors and windows were bolted and barred.
Terror mingled with joy as he watched a tall
figure coming towards him from the darkness
of the farther end of the room.

His mysterious visitant was clad in the dress
of a notary. Obedient to the old man's gesture,
he sat himself beside the fire, the warmth of
which he seemed to enjoy excessively. Stoop-
ing over it, and rubbing his hands together, he
glanced out of the corners of his eyes at the

It seemed to the old man that neither of
them spoke aloud, but that their conversation
was carried on by unuttered thoughts.

"You would be young again?" was the
mysterious stranger's first communication.

The old man bowed his head.

"You need not trouble to do that," came
from the stranger's brain to his, "I can read
your thoughts. The thing you require is no
light matter. The cost is great."

The old man shuddered.

"There be cheaper means," the stranger
conveyed to him. "We can work your purpose
by a charm. For that charm I shall require
the head of a woman of a woman who loves
you. Oh ! I see you will not have that mode
of procedure. Well, I will bestow renewed
youth on you at the price specified in this
document," here he laid a parchment before
the old man. "In three months from this
time your youth shall be renewed if you sign
that. You object to the delay? I cannot
manage the affair in less time. You agree!
Then in three months be it!"

How slowly those three months stole on!
How feverish and anxious did the student
become ! How pale and weary grew the maiden,
who was dying of the wound that killed her
lover !

" Gretchen," the old man would say, "do
you not think I grow younger? Does there
not seem to be much less difference between
our ages than there used to be?"

And Gretchen, who was sadly conscious that
she was growing a year older every day, sighed
and said, " Yes, it was so. He spoke truth ! "

As the end of the three months drew near
he could not rise from his couch. But he per-
suaded himself that he was but passing like
a butterfly through a torpid stage before com-
ing out in all the freshness of renewed youth.

He had counted the days carefully. At

length the dawn of the last Jay of the three
months came. He called Gretchen to him,
that she might be a witness of the glorious

" Sit beside me, heart's delight!" he said to
her in a faint whisper.

She looked into his face and, behold, there
was a change there. She started !

" Ha! you see it then? Oh joy, joy!"

She clasped his hand, and said softly " I see
it!" and wept.

"It comes at last, then! Oh, youth! re-
gretted, wasted, longed-for youth, do you return
to me at last ? Welcome, welcome, long-absent !
Yes, it is here it is here! This, this is re-
newed youth!"

With those words he sprang from the pillow,
flung up his arms in ecstacy, and fell back

The change which Gretchen had seen and
recognized was the change that comes before
death !

What was there for her to live for now?
She flung herself on the student's body, and
with one long sob breathed her last.

While the old man was telling me this strange
legend, I had not attempted to begin my sketch,
for I was too much interested.

The sun was still sinking slowly, flinging
lengthening shadows toward the east. The
shadow of my companion fell, as I told you,
upon my note-book with the decline of the
sun it had lengthened, until it stretched along
the sward before me towards the ruined tower.

All at once the shadow vanished. I looked
round to see what the old man was doing.
There was not cover enough within a hundred
yards to conceal a rabbit. But he had van-
ished !

I have never made a sketch of The Young


Love is like a lamb, and love is like a lion ;
Fly from love, he fights ; fight, then does he fly on ;
Love is all on fire, and yet is ever freezing ;
Love is much in winning, yet is more in leesing :

Love is ever sick, and yet is never dying ;
Love is ever true, and yet is ever lying ;
Love <lnt>,s doat in liking, and is mad in loathing;
Love indeed is anything, yet indeed is nothing.






Dear Yesterday, glide not so fast;

Oh, let me cling

To thy white garments floating past :
Even to shadows which they cast

I cling, I cling.

Show me thy face

Just once, once more. A single night
Cannot have brought a loss or blight
Upon its grace.

Nor are they dead whom thou dost bear,

Robed for the grave ;
See what a smile their red lips wear :
To lay them living wilt thou dare

Into a grave?

I know, I know,
I left thee first. Now I repent;
I listen now; I never meant

To have thee go.

Just once, once more, tell me that word

Thou hadst for me.
Alas ! although my heart was stirred,
I never fully knew or heard

It was for me.

O Yesterday,

My Yesterday, thy sorest pain
Were joy, couldst thou but come again,

Sweet Yesterday.


All red with joy the waiting west;

O little swallow,

Canst thou tell me which road is best?
Cleaving high air, with thy soft breast

For keel, O swallow,

Thou must o'erlook
My seas, and know if I mistake :
I would not the same harbour make

Which Yesterday forsook.

I hear the swift blades dip and plash

Of unseen rowers;

On unknown lands the waters dash :
Who knows how it be wise or rash

To meet the rowers?

"Premi! Premi/" 1
Venetia's boatmen lean and cry;
With voiceless lips, I drift and lie

Upon the twilight sea.

1 The cry of the gondoliers in Venice whenever they
approach a corner of the canals.

The swallow sleeps. Her last low call

Had sound of warning.
Sweet little one, whate'er befall,
Thou wilt not know that it was all

In vain, thy warning.

I may not borrow
A hope, a help. I close my eyes ;
Cold wind blows from the Bridge of Sighs;

Kneeling, I wait To-morrow.

H. H
VENICE, May 30, 1869.



"They ate and slept, good folks what then?
Why then they ate and slept again." PHIOR.

la one of those small towns, situated no
matter where, which, by some fortunate cir-
cumstance in past times, have been elevated
from the rank of village to that of Royal Bor-
ough, I passed some of my early years.

The place might be about a mile in length,

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 17 of 75)