Anne of Geierstein; Or, The Maiden of the Mist. Volume 2 (of 2)Walter Scott
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FORTY-EIGHT VOLUMES VOLUME XLIV.
The Introductory Essays and Notes by ANDREW LANG to this Edition of the Waverley Novels are Copyright
KING RENE. Drawn and Etched by R. de Los Rios.]
ANNE OF GEIERSTEIN
SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART.
WITH INTRODUCTORY ESSAY AND NOTES BY ANDREW LANG
JOHN C. NIMMO
14, KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh
LIST OF ETCHINGS.
PRINTED BY F. GOULDING, LONDON.
VOLUME THE SECOND.
KING RENE. Drawn and Etched by R. de Los Rios (p. 213) Frontispiece
THE SECRET TRIBUNAL. Drawn and Etched by R. de Los Rios To face page 32
ARTHUR BEFORE THE QUEEN. Drawn and Etched by R. de Los Rios 112
THE DEFIANCE. Drawn and Etched by R. de Los Rios 182
THE FUNERAL OF THE QUEEN. Drawn and Etched by R. de Los Rios 288
ANNE OF GEIERSTEIN; OR, THE MAIDEN OF THE MIST.
What! will the aspiring blood of Lancaster Sink in the ground?
_1st Carrier._ What, ostler!--a plague on thee, hast never an eye in thy head? Canst thou not hear? An 'twere not as good a deed as drink to break the pate of thee, I am a very villain--Come, and be hanged--Hast thou no faith in thee?
_Gadshill._ I pray thee, lend me thy lantern, to see my gelding in the stable.
_2d Carrier._ Nay, soft, I pray you--I know a trick worth two of that.
_Gadshill._ I prithee lend me thine.
_3d Carrier._ Ay, when? Canst tell?--Lend thee my lantern, quotha? Marry, I'll see thee hanged first. _Henry IV._
The social spirit peculiar to the French nation had already introducedinto the inns of that country the gay and cheerful character ofwelcome upon which Erasmus, at a later period, dwells with strongemphasis, as a contrast to the saturnine and sullen reception whichstrangers were apt to meet with at a German caravansera. Philipsonwas, therefore, in expectation of being received by the busy, civil,and talkative host--by the hostess and her daughter, all softness,coquetry, and glee--the smiling and supple waiter--the officious anddimpled chambermaid. The better inns in France boast also separaterooms, where strangers could change or put in order their dress, wherethey might sleep without company in their bedroom, and where theycould deposit their baggage in privacy and safety. But all theseluxuries were as yet unknown in Germany; and in Alsace, where thescene now lies, as well as in the other dependencies of the Empire,they regarded as effeminacy everything beyond such provisions as wereabsolutely necessary for the supply of the wants of travellers; andeven these were coarse and indifferent, and, excepting in the articleof wine, sparingly ministered.
The Englishman, finding that no one appeared at the gate, began tomake his presence known by calling aloud, and finally by alighting,and smiting with all his might on the doors of the hostelry for a longtime, without attracting the least attention. At length the head of agrizzled servitor was thrust out at a small window, who, in a voicewhich sounded like that of one displeased at the interruption, ratherthan hopeful of advantage from the arrival of a guest, demanded whathe wanted.
"Is this an inn?" replied Philipson.
"Yes," bluntly replied the domestic, and was about to withdraw fromthe window, when the traveller added,--
"And if it be, can I have lodgings?"
"You may come in," was the short and dry answer.
"Send some one to take the horses," replied Philipson.
"No one is at leisure," replied this most repulsive of waiters; "youmust litter down your horses yourself, in the way that likes youbest."
"Where is the stable?" said the merchant, whose prudence and temperwere scarce proof against this Dutch phlegm.
The fellow, who seemed as sparing of his words as if, like thePrincess in the fairy tale, he had dropped ducats with each of them,only pointed to a door in an outer building, more resembling that of acellar than of a stable, and, as if weary of the conference, drew inhis head, and shut the window sharply against the guest, as he wouldagainst an importunate beggar.
Cursing the spirit of independence which left a traveller to his ownresources and exertions, Philipson, making a virtue of necessity, ledthe two nags towards the door pointed out as that of the stable, andwas rejoiced at heart to see light glimmering through its chinks. Heentered with his charge into a place very like the dungeon vault of anancient castle, rudely fitted up with some racks and mangers. It wasof considerable extent in point of length, and at the lower end two orthree persons were engaged in tying up their horses, dressing them,and dispensing them their provender.
This last article was delivered by the ostler, a very old lame man,who neither put his hand to wisp or curry-comb, but sat weighing forthhay by the pound, and counting out corn, as it seemed, by the grain,so anxiously did he bend over his task, by the aid of a blinking lightenclosed within a horn lantern. He did not even turn his head at thenoise which the Englishman made on entering the place with twoadditional horses, far less did he seem disposed to give himself theleast trouble, or the stranger the smallest assistance.
In respect of cleanliness, the stable of Augeas bore no smallresemblance to that of this Alsatian _dorf_, and it would have been anexploit worthy of Hercules to have restored it to such a state ofcleanliness as would have made it barely decent in the eyes, andtolerable to the nostrils, of the punctilious Englishman. But this wasa matter which disgusted Philipson himself much more than those of hisparty which were principally concerned. They, _videlicet_ the twohorses, seeming perfectly to understand that the rule of the place was"first come first served," hastened to occupy the empty stalls whichhappened to be nearest to them. In this one of them at least wasdisappointed, being received by a groom with a blow across the facewith a switch.
"Take that," said the fellow, "for forcing thyself into the placetaken up for the horses of the Baron of Randelsheim."
Never in the course of his life had the English merchant more pain toretain possession of his temper than at that moment. Reflecting,however, on the discredit of quarrelling with such a man in such acause, he contented himself with placing the animal, thus repulsedfrom the stall he had chosen, into one next to that of his companion,to which no one seemed to lay claim.
The merchant then proceeded, notwithstanding the fatigue of the day,to pay all that attention to the mute companions of his journey whichthey deserve from
every traveller who has any share of prudence, tosay nothing of humanity. The unusual degree of trouble which Philipsontook to arrange his horses, although his dress, and much more hisdemeanour, seemed to place him above this species of servile labour,appeared to make an impression even upon the iron insensibility of theold ostler himself. He showed some alacrity in furnishing thetraveller, who knew the business of a groom so well, with corn, straw,and hay, though in small quantity, and at exorbitant rates, which wereinstantly to be paid; nay, he even went as far as the door of thestable, that he might point across the court to the well, from whichPhilipson was obliged to fetch water with his own hands. The duties ofthe stable being finished, the merchant concluded that he had gainedsuch an interest with the grim master of the horse, as to learn of himwhether he might leave his bales safely in the stable.
"You may leave them if you will," said the ostler; "but touching theirsafety, you will do much more wisely if you take them with you, andgive no temptation to any one by suffering them to pass from underyour own eyes."
So saying, the man of oats closed his oracular jaws, nor could he beprevailed upon to unlock them again by any inquiry which his customercould devise.
In the course of this cold and comfortless reception, Philipsonrecollected the necessity of supporting the character of a prudent andwary trader, which he had forgotten once before in the course of theday; and, imitating what he saw the others do, who had been, likehimself, engaged in taking charge of their horses, he took up hisbaggage, and removed himself and his property to the inn. Here he wassuffered to enter, rather than admitted, into the general or public_stube_, or room of entertainment, which, like the ark of thepatriarch, received all ranks without distinction, whether clean orunclean.
The _stube_, or stove, of a German inn, derived its name from thegreat hypocaust, which is always strongly heated to secure the warmthof the apartment in which it is placed. There travellers of every ageand description assembled--there their upper garments wereindiscriminately hung up around the stove to dry or to air--and theguests themselves were seen employed in various acts of ablution orpersonal arrangement, which are generally, in modern times, referredto the privacy of the dressing-room.
The more refined feelings of the Englishman were disgusted with thisscene, and he was reluctant to mingle in it. For this reason heinquired for the private retreat of the landlord himself, trustingthat, by some of the arguments powerful among his tribe, he mightobtain separate quarters from the crowd, and a morsel of food, to beeaten in private. A grey-haired Ganymede, to whom he put the questionwhere the landlord was, indicated a recess behind the huge stove,where, veiling his glory in a very dark and extremely hot corner, itpleased the great man to obscure himself from vulgar gaze. There wassomething remarkable about this person. Short, stout, bandylegged, andconsequential, he was in these respects like many brethren of theprofession in all countries. But the countenance of the man, and stillmore his manners, differed more from the merry host of France orEngland than even the experienced Philipson was prepared to expect. Heknew German customs too well to expect the suppliant and serviceablequalities of the master of a French inn, or even the more blunt andfrank manners of an English landlord. But such German innkeepers as hehad yet seen, though indeed arbitrary and peremptory in their countryfashions, yet, being humoured in these, they, like tyrants in theirhours of relaxation, dealt kindly with the guests over whom their swayextended, and mitigated, by jest and jollity, the harshness of theirabsolute power. But this man's brow was like a tragic volume, in whichyou were as unlikely to find anything of jest or amusement, as in ahermit's breviary. His answers were short, sudden, and repulsive, andthe air and manner with which they were delivered was as surly astheir tenor; which will appear from the following dialogue betwixt himand his guest:--
"Good host," said Philipson, in the mildest tone he could assume, "Iam fatigued, and far from well--May I request to have a separateapartment, a cup of wine, and a morsel of food, in my privatechamber?"
"You may," answered the landlord; but with a look strangely atvariance with the apparent acquiescence which his words naturallyimplied.
"Let me have such accommodation, then, with your earliestconvenience."
"Soft!" replied the innkeeper. "I have said that you may request thesethings, but not that I would grant them. If you would insist on beingserved differently from others, it must be at another inn than mine."
"Well, then," said the traveller, "I will shift without supper for anight--nay, more, I will be content to pay for a supper which I donot eat, if you will cause me to be accommodated with a privateapartment."
"Seignor traveller," said the innkeeper, "every one here must beaccommodated as well as you, since all pay alike. Whoso comes to thishouse of entertainment must eat as others eat, drink as others drink,sit at table with the rest of my guests, and go to bed when thecompany have done drinking."
"All this," said Philipson, humbling himself where anger would havebeen ridiculous, "is highly reasonable; and I do not oppose myself toyour laws or customs. But," added he, taking his purse from hisgirdle, "sickness craves some privilege; and when the patient iswilling to pay for it, methinks the rigour of your laws may admit ofsome mitigation?"
"I keep an inn, Seignor, and not a hospital. If you remain here, youshall be served with the same attention as others,--if you are notwilling to do as others do, leave my house and seek another inn."
On receiving this decisive rebuff, Philipson gave up the contest, andretired from the _sanctum sanctorum_ of his ungracious host, to awaitthe arrival of supper, penned up like a bullock in a pound, amongstthe crowded inhabitants of the _stube_. Some of these, exhausted byfatigue, snored away the interval between their own arrival and thatof the expected repast; others conversed together on the news of thecountry, and others again played at dice, or such games as might serveto consume the time. The company were of various ranks, from those whowere apparently wealthy and well appointed, to some whose garmentsand manners indicated that they were but just beyond the grasp ofpoverty.
A begging friar, a man apparently of a gay and pleasant temper,approached Philipson, and engaged him in conversation. The Englishmanwas well enough acquainted with the world to be aware, that whateverof his character and purpose it was desirable to conceal would be besthidden under a sociable and open demeanour. He, therefore, receivedthe friar's approaches graciously, and conversed with him upon thestate of Lorraine, and the interest which the Duke of Burgundy'sattempt to seize that fief into his own hands was likely to createboth in France and Germany. On these subjects, satisfied with hearinghis fellow-traveller's sentiments, Philipson expressed no opinion ofhis own, but, after receiving such intelligence as the friar chose tocommunicate, preferred rather to talk upon the geography of thecountry, the facilities afforded to commerce, and the rules whichobstructed or favoured trade.
While he was thus engaged in the conversation which seemed most tobelong to his profession, the landlord suddenly entered the room, and,mounting on the head of an old barrel, glanced his eye slowly andsteadily round the crowded apartment, and when he had completed hissurvey, pronounced, in a decisive tone, the double command,--"Shut thegates! Spread the table!"
"The Baron St. Antonio be praised!" said the friar. "Our landlord hasgiven up hope of any more guests to-night, until which blessed time wemight have starved for want of food before he had relieved us. Ay,here comes the cloth. The old gates of the courtyard are now boltedfast enough; and when Johann Mengs has once said, 'Shut the gates,'the stranger may knock on the outside as he will, but we may restassured that it shall not be opened to him."
"Meinherr Mengs maintains strict discipline in his house," said theEnglishman.
"As absolute as the Duke of Burgundy," answered the friar. "After teno'clock, no admittance--the 'seek another inn,' which is before that aconditional hint, becomes, after the clock has struck, and thewatchmen have begun their rounds, an absolute order of exclusion. Hethat is without remains without, and he that is withi
n must, in likemanner, continue there until the gates open at break of day. Till thenthe house is almost like a beleaguered citadel, John Mengs itsseneschal"--
"And we its captives, good father," said Philipson. "Well, content amI. A wise traveller must submit to the control of the leaders of thepeople when he travels; and I hope a goodly fat potentate, like JohnMengs, will be as clement as his station and dignity admit of."
While they were talking in this manner, the aged waiter, with many aweary sigh and many a groan, had drawn out certain boards, by which atable that stood in the midst of the _stube_ had the capacity of beingextended, so as to contain the company present, and covered it with acloth, which was neither distinguished by extreme cleanliness norfineness of texture. On this table, when it had been accommodated toreceive the necessary number of guests, a wooden trencher and spoon,together with a glass drinking-cup, were placed before each, he beingexpected to serve himself with his own knife for the other purposesof the table. As for forks, they were unknown until a much laterperiod, all the Europeans of that day making the same use of thefingers to select their morsels and transport them to the mouth whichthe Asiatics now practise.
The board was no sooner arranged than the hungry guests hastened tooccupy their seats around it; for which purpose the sleepers wereawakened, the dicers resigned their game, and the idlers andpoliticians broke off their sage debates, in order to secure theirstation at the supper-table, and be ready to perform their part in theinteresting solemnity which seemed about to take place. But there ismuch between the cup and the lip, and not less sometimes between thecovering of a table and the placing food upon it. The guests sat inorder, each with his knife drawn, already menacing the victuals whichwere still subject to the operations of the cook. They had waited,with various degrees of patience, for full half an hour, when atlength the old attendant before mentioned entered with a pitcher ofthin Moselle wine, so light and so sharp-tasted that Philipson putdown his cup with every tooth in his head set on edge by the slenderportion which he had swallowed. The landlord, John Mengs, who hadassumed a seat somewhat elevated at the head of the table, did notomit to observe this mark of insubordination, and to animadvert uponit.
"The wine likes you not, I think, my master?" said he to the Englishmerchant.
"For wine, no," answered Philipson; "but could I see anythingrequiring such sauce, I have seldom seen better vinegar."
This jest, though uttered in the most calm and composed manner, seemedto drive the innkeeper to fury.
"Who are you," he exclaimed, "for a foreign pedlar, that ventures toquarrel with my wine, which has been approved of by so many princes,dukes, reigning dukes, graves, rhinegraves, counts, barons, andknights of the Empire, whose shoes you are altogether unworthy even toclean? Was it not of this wine that the Count Palatine of Nimmersattdrank six quarts before he ever rose from the blessed chair in which Inow sit?"
"I doubt it not, mine host," said Philipson; "nor should I think ofscandalising the sobriety of your honourable guest, even if he haddrunken twice the quantity."
"Silence, thou malicious railer!" said the host; "and let instantapology be made to me, and the wine which you have calumniated, or Iwill instantly command the supper to be postponed till midnight."
Here there was a general alarm among the guests, all abjuring any partin the censures of Philipson, and most of them proposing that JohnMengs should avenge himself on the actual culprit by turning himinstantly out of doors, rather than involve so many innocent andfamished persons in the consequences of his guilt. The wine theypronounced excellent; some two or three even drank their glass out, tomake their words good; and they all offered, if not with lives andfortunes, at least with hands and feet, to support the ban of thehouse against the contumacious Englishman. While petition andremonstrance were assailing John Mengs on every side, the friar, likea wise counsellor and a trusty friend, endeavoured to end the feud byadvising Philipson to submit to the host's sovereignty.
"Humble thyself, my son," he said; "bend the stubbornness of thy heartbefore the great lord of the spigot and butt. I speak for the sake ofothers as well as my own; for Heaven alone knows how much longer theyor I can endure this extenuating fast!"
"Worthy guests," said Philipson, "I am grieved to have offended ourrespected host, and am so far from objecting to the wine that I willpay for a double flagon of it, to be served all round to thishonourable company--so, only, they do not ask me to share of it."
These last words were spoken aside; but the Englishman could not failto perceive, from the wry mouths of some of the party who werepossessed of a nicer palate, that they were as much afraid as himselfof a repetition of the acid potation.
The friar next addressed the company with a proposal that the foreignmerchant, instead of being amerced in a measure of the liquor which hehad scandalised, should be mulcted in an equal quantity of the moregenerous wines which were usually produced after the repast had beenconcluded. In this mine host, as well as the guests, found theiradvantage; and, as Philipson made no objection, the proposal wasunanimously adopted, and John Mengs gave, from his seat of dignity,the signal for supper to be served.
The long-expected meal appeared, and there was twice as much timeemployed in consuming as there had been in expecting it. The articlesof which the supper consisted, as well as the mode of serving themup, were as much calculated to try the patience of the company as thedelay which had preceded its appearance. Messes of broth andvegetables followed in succession, with platters of meat sodden androasted, of which each in its turn took a formal course around theample table, and was specially subjected to every one in rotation.Black-puddings, hung beef, dried fish, also made the circuit, withvarious condiments, called botargo, caviare, and similar names,composed of the roes of fish mixed with spices, and the likepreparations, calculated to awaken thirst and encourage deep drinking.Flagons of wine accompanied these stimulating dainties. The liquor wasso superior in flavour and strength to the ordinary wine which hadawakened so much controversy, that it might be objected to on theopposite account, being so heady, fiery, and strong, that, in spite ofthe rebuffs which his criticism had already procured, Philipsonventured to ask for some cold water to allay it.
"You are too difficult to please, sir guest," replied the landlord,again bending upon the Englishman a stern and offended brow; "if youfind the wine too strong in my house, the secret to allay its strengthis to drink the less. It is indifferent to us whether you drink ornot, so you pay the reckoning of those good fellows who do." And helaughed a gruff laugh.
Philipson was about to reply, but the friar, retaining his characterof mediator, plucked him by the cloak, and entreated him to forbear."You do not understand the ways of the place," said he; "it is nothere as in the hostelries of England and France, where each guestcalls for what he desires for his own use, and where he pays for whathe has required, and for no more. Here we proceed on a broad principleof equality and fraternity. No one asks for anything in particular;but such provisions as the host thinks sufficient are set down beforeall indiscriminately; and as with the feast, so is it with thereckoning. All pay their proportions alike, without reference to thequantity of wine which one may have swallowed more than another; andthus the sick and infirm, nay, the female and the child, pay the sameas the hungry peasant and strolling _lanzknecht_."
"It seems an unequal custom," said Philipson; "but travellers are notto judge. So that when a reckoning is called, every one, I am tounderstand, pays alike?"
"Such is the rule," said the friar,--"excepting, perhaps, some poorbrother of our own order, whom Our Lady and St. Francis send into sucha scene as this, that good Christians may bestow their alms upon him,and so make a step on their road to Heaven."
The first words of this speech were spoken in the open and independenttone in which the friar had begun the conversation; the last sentencedied away into the professional whine of mendicity proper to theconvent, and at once apprised Philipson at what price he was to payfor the friar's counsel and mediatio
n. Having thus explained thecustom of the country, good Father Gratian turned to illustrate it byhis example, and, having no objection to the new service of wine onaccount of its strength, he seemed well disposed to signalise himselfamongst some stout topers, who, by drinking deeply, appeareddetermined to have full pennyworths for their share of the reckoning.The good wine gradually did its office, and even the host relaxed hissullen and grim features, and smiled to see the kindling flame ofhilarity catch from one to another, and at length embrace almost allthe numerous guests at the table d'hote, except a few who were tootemperate to partake deeply of the wine, or too fastidious to enterinto the discussions to which it gave rise. On these the host cast,from time to time, a sullen and displeased eye.
Philipson, who was reserved and silent, both in consequence of hisabstinence from the wine-pot and his unwillingness to mix inconversation with strangers, was looked upon by the landlord as adefaulter in both particulars; and as he aroused his own sluggishnature with the fiery wine, Mengs began to throw out obscure hintsabout kill-joy, mar-company, spoil-sport, and such like epithets,which were plainly directed against the Englishman. Philipson replied,with the utmost equanimity, that he was perfectly sensible that hisspirits did not at this moment render him an agreeable member of amerry company, and that with the leave of those present he wouldwithdraw to his sleeping-apartment, and wish them all a good evening,and continuance to their mirth.
But this very reasonable proposal, as it might have elsewhere seemed,contained in it treason against the laws of German compotation.
"Who are you," said John Mengs, "who presume to leave the table beforethe reckoning is called and settled? Sapperment der teufel! we arenot men upon whom such an offence is to be put with impunity! You mayexhibit your polite pranks in Rams-Alley if you will, or in Eastcheap,or in Smithfield; but it shall not be in John Mengs's Golden Fleece,nor will I suffer one guest to go to bed to blink out of thereckoning, and so cheat me and all the rest of my company."
Philipson looked round, to gather the sentiments of the company, butsaw no encouragement to appeal to their judgment. Indeed, many of themhad little judgment left to appeal to, and those who paid anyattention to the matter at all were some quiet old soakers, who werealready beginning to think of the reckoning, and were disposed toagree with the host in considering the English merchant as a flincher,who was determined to evade payment of what might be drunk after heleft the room; so that John Mengs received the applause of the wholecompany, when he concluded his triumphant denunciation againstPhilipson.
"Yes, sir, you may withdraw if you please; but, poz element! it shallnot be for this time to seek for another inn, but to the courtyardshall you go, and no farther, there to make your bed upon the stablelitter; and good enough for the man that will needs be the first tobreak up good company."
"It is well said, my jovial host," said a rich trader from Ratisbon;"and here are some six of us--more or less--who will stand by you tomaintain the good old customs of Germany; and the--umph--laudableand--and praiseworthy rules of the Golden Fleece."
"Nay, be not angry, sir," said Philipson; "yourself and your threecompanions, whom the good wine has multiplied into six, shall haveyour own way of ordering the matter; and since you will not permit meto go to bed, I trust that you will take no offence if I fall asleepin my chair."
"How say you? what think you, mine host?" said the citizen fromRatisbon; "may the gentleman, being drunk, as you see he is, since hecannot tell that three and one make six--I say, may he, being drunk,sleep in the elbow-chair?"
This question introduced a contradiction on the part of the host, whocontended that three and one made four, not six; and this againproduced a retort from the Ratisbon trader. Other clamours rose at thesame time, and were at length with difficulty silenced by the stanzasof a chorus song of mirth and good fellowship, which the friar, nowbecome somewhat oblivious of the rule of St. Francis, thundered forthwith better good-will than he ever sang a canticle of King David.Under cover of this tumult, Philipson drew himself a little aside, andthough he felt it impossible to sleep, as he had proposed, was yetenabled to escape the reproachful glances with which John Mengsdistinguished all those who did not call for wine loudly, and drink itlustily. His thoughts roamed far from the _stube_ of the GoldenFleece, and upon matter very different from that which was discussedaround him, when his attention was suddenly recalled by a loud andcontinued knocking on the door of the hostelry.
"What have we here?" said John Mengs, his nose reddening with veryindignation; "who the foul fiend presses on the Golden Fleece at suchan hour, as if he thundered at the door of a bordel? To the turretwindow some one--Geoffrey, knave ostler, or thou, old Timothy, tellthe rash man there is no admittance into the Golden Fleece save attimeous hours."
The men went as they were directed, and might be heard in the _stube_vying with each other in the positive denial which they gave to theill-fated guest who was pressing for admission. They returned,however, to inform their master, that they were unable to overcome theobstinacy of the stranger, who refused positively to depart until hehad an interview with Mengs himself.
Wroth was the master of the Golden Fleece at this ill-omenedpertinacity, and his indignation extended, like a fiery exhalation,from his nose, all over the adjacent regions of his cheeks and brow.He started from his chair, grasped in his hand a stout stick, whichseemed his ordinary sceptre or leading staff of command, and mutteringsomething concerning cudgels for the shoulders of fools, and pitchersof fair or foul water for the drenching of their ears, he marched offto the window which looked into the court, and left his guestsnodding, winking, and whispering to each other, in full expectation ofhearing the active demonstrations of his wrath. It happened otherwise,however; for, after the exchange of a few indistinct words, they wereastonished when they heard the noise of the unbolting and unbarring ofthe gates of the inn, and presently after the footsteps of men uponthe stairs; and the landlord entering, with an appearance of clumsycourtesy, prayed those assembled to make room for an honoured guest,who came, though late, to add to their numbers. A tall dark formfollowed, muffled in a travelling-cloak; on laying aside which,Philipson at once recognised his late fellow-traveller, the BlackPriest of St. Paul's.
There was in the circumstance itself nothing at all surprising, sinceit was natural that a landlord, however coarse and insolent toordinary guests, might yet show deference to an ecclesiastic, whetherfrom his rank in the Church or from his reputation for sanctity. Butwhat did appear surprising to Philipson was the effect produced by theentrance of this unexpected guest. He seated himself, withouthesitation, at the highest place of the board, from which John Mengshad dethroned the aforesaid trader from Ratisbon, notwithstanding hiszeal for ancient German customs, his steady adherence and loyalty tothe Golden Fleece, and his propensity to brimming goblets. The priesttook instant and unscrupulous possession of his seat of honour, aftersome negligent reply to the host's unwonted courtesy; when it seemedthat the effect of his long black vestments, in place of the slashedand flounced coat of his predecessor, as well as of the cold grey eyewith which he slowly reviewed the company, in some degree resembledthat of the fabulous Gorgon, and if it did not literally convert thosewho looked upon it into stone, there was yet something petrifying inthe steady unmoved glance with which he seemed to survey them, lookingas if desirous of reading their very inmost souls, and passing fromone to another, as if each upon whom he looked in succession wasunworthy of longer consideration.
Philipson felt, in his turn, that momentary examination, in which,however, there mingled nothing that seemed to convey recognition. Allthe courage and composure of the Englishman could not prevent anunpleasant feeling while under this mysterious man's eye, so that hefelt a relief when it passed from him and rested upon another of thecompany, who seemed in turn to acknowledge the chilling effects ofthat freezing glance. The noise of intoxicated mirth and drunkendisputation, the clamorous argument, and the still more boisterouslaugh, which had been suspended on the priest's ent
ering theeating-apartment, now, after one or two vain attempts to resume them,died away, as if the feast had been changed to a funeral, and thejovial guests had been at once converted into the lugubrious mutes whoattend on such solemnities. One little rosy-faced man, who afterwardsproved to be a tailor from Augsburg, ambitious, perhaps, of showing adegree of courage not usually supposed consistent with his effeminatetrade, made a bold effort; and yet it was with a timid and restrainedvoice that he called on the jovial friar to renew his song. Butwhether it was that he did not dare to venture on an uncanonicalpastime in presence of a brother in orders, or whether he had someother reason for declining the invitation, the merry churchman hunghis head, and shook it with such an expressive air of melancholy, thatthe tailor drew back as if he had been detected in cabbaging from acardinal's robes, or cribbing the lace of some cope or altar gown. Inshort, the revel was hushed into deep silence, and so attentive werethe company to what should arrive next, that the bells of the villagechurch, striking the first hour after midnight, made the guests startas if they heard them rung backwards, to announce an assault orconflagration. The Black Priest, who had taken some slight and hastyrepast, which the host had made no kind of objection to supplying himwith, seemed to think the bells, which announced the service of lauds,being the first after midnight, a proper signal for breaking up theparty.
"We have eaten," he said, "that we may support life, let us pray thatwe may be fit to meet death; which waits upon life as surely as nightupon day, or the shadow upon the sunbeam, though we know not when orfrom whence it is to come upon us."
The company, as if mechanically, bent their uncovered heads, while thepriest said, with his deep and solemn voice, a Latin prayer,expressing thanks to God for protection throughout the day, andentreating for its continuance during the witching hours which were topass ere the day again commenced. The hearers bowed their heads intoken of acquiescence in the holy petition; and, when they raisedthem, the Black Priest of St. Paul's had followed the host out of theapartment, probably to that which was destined for his repose. Hisabsence was no sooner perceived than signs, and nods, and evenwhispers were exchanged between the guests; but no one spoke above hisbreath, or in such connected manner, as that Philipson couldunderstand anything distinctly from them. He himself ventured to askthe friar, who sat near him, observing at the same time the under-tonewhich seemed to be fashionable for the moment, whether the worthyecclesiastic who had left them was not the Priest of St. Paul's, onthe frontier town of La Ferette.
"And if you know it is he," said the friar, with a countenance and atone from which all signs of intoxication were suddenly banished,"why do you ask of me?"
"Because," said the merchant, "I would willingly learn the spell whichso suddenly converted so many merry tipplers into men of sobermanners, and a jovial company into a convent of Carthusian friars?"
"Friend," said the friar, "thy discourse savoureth mightily of askingafter what thou knowest right well. But I am no such silly duck as tobe taken by a decoy. If thou knowest the Black Priest, thou canst notbe ignorant of the terrors which attend his presence, and that it weresafer to pass a broad jest in the holy House of Loretto than where heshows himself."
So saying, and as if desirous of avoiding further discourse, hewithdrew to a distance from Philipson.
At the same moment the landlord again appeared, and, with more of theusual manners of a publican than he had hitherto exhibited, commandedhis waiter, Geoffrey, to hand round to the company a sleeping-drink,or pillow-cup of distilled water, mingled with spices, which wasindeed as good as Philipson himself had ever tasted. John Mengs, inthe meanwhile, with somewhat of more deference, expressed to hisguests a hope that his entertainment had given satisfaction; but thiswas in so careless a manner, and he seemed so conscious of deservingthe affirmative which was expressed on all hands, that it becameobvious there was very little humility in proposing the question. Theold man, Timothy, was in the meantime mustering the guests, andmarking with chalk on the bottom of a trencher the reckoning, theparticulars of which were indicated by certain conventionalhieroglyphics, while he showed on another the division of the sumtotal among the company, and proceeded to collect an equal share of itfrom each. When the fatal trencher, in which each man paid down hismoney, approached the jolly friar, his countenance seemed to besomewhat changed. He cast a piteous look towards Philipson, as theperson from whom he had the most hope of relief; and our merchant,though displeased with the manner in which he had held back from hisconfidence, yet not unwilling in a strange country to incur a littleexpense, in the hope of making a useful acquaintance, discharged themendicant's score as well as his own. The poor friar paid his thanksin many a blessing in good German and bad Latin, but the host cut themshort; for, approaching Philipson with a candle in his hand, heoffered his own services to show him where he might sleep, and evenhad the condescension to carry his mail, or portmanteau, with his ownlandlordly hands.
"You take too much trouble, mine host," said the merchant, somewhatsurprised at the change in the manner of John Mengs, who had hithertocontradicted him at every word.
"I cannot take too much pains for a guest," was the reply, "whom myvenerable friend, the Priest of St. Paul's, hath especiallyrecommended to my charge."
He then opened the door of a small bedroom, prepared for theoccupation of a guest, and said to Philipson,--"Here you may rest tillto-morrow at what hour you will, and for as many days more as youincline. The key will secure your wares against theft or pillage ofany kind. I do not this for every one; for, if my guests were everyone to have a bed to himself, the next thing they would demand mightbe a separate table; and then there would be an end of the good oldGerman customs, and we should be as foppish and frivolous as ourneighbours."
He placed the portmanteau on the floor, and seemed about to leave theapartment, when, turning about, he began a sort of apology for therudeness of his former behaviour.
"I trust there is no misunderstanding between us, my worthy guest. Youmight as well expect to see one of our bears come aloft and do trickslike a jackanapes, as one of us stubborn old Germans play the feats ofa French or an Italian host. Yet I pray you to note, that if ourbehaviour is rude our charges are honest, and our articles what theyprofess to be. We do not expect to make Moselle pass for Rhenish, bydint of a bow and a grin, nor will we sauce your mess with poison,like the wily Italian, and call you all the time Illustrissimo andMagnifico."
He seemed in these words to have exhausted his rhetoric, for, whenthey were spoken, he turned abruptly and left the apartment.
Philipson was thus deprived of another opportunity to inquire who orwhat this ecclesiastic could be, that had exercised such influence onall who approached him. He felt, indeed, no desire to prolong aconference with John Mengs, though he had laid aside in such aconsiderable degree his rude and repulsive manners; yet he longed toknow who this man could be, who had power with a word to turn asidethe daggers of Alsatian banditti, habituated as they were, like mostborderers, to robbery and pillage, and to change into civility theproverbial rudeness of a German innkeeper. Such were the reflectionsof Philipson, as he doffed his clothes to take his much-needed repose,after a day of fatigue, danger, and difficulty, on the pallet affordedby the hospitality of the Golden Fleece, in the Rhein-Thal.