A Legend of the Rhine, by William Makepeace Thackeray


The Festival.

The festival was indeed begun. Coming on horseback, or in their caroches, knights and ladies of the highest rank were assembled in the grand saloon of Godesberg, which was splendidly illuminated to receive them. Servitors, in rich liveries, (they were attired in doublets of the sky-blue broadcloth of Ypres, and hose of the richest yellow sammit — the colors of the house of Godesberg,) bore about various refreshments on trays of silver — cakes, baked in the oven, and swimming in melted butter; manchets of bread, smeared with the same delicious condiment, and carved so thin that you might have expected them to take wing and fly to the ceiling; coffee, introduced by Peter the Hermit, after his excursion into Arabia, and tea such as only Bohemia could produce, circulated amidst the festive throng, and were eagerly devoured by the guests. The Margrave’s gloom was unheeded by them — how little indeed is the smiling crowd aware of the pangs that are lurking in the breasts of those who bid them to the feast! The Margravine was pale; but woman knows how to deceive; she was more than ordinarily courteous to her friends, and laughed, though the laugh was hollow, and talked, though the talk was loathsome to her.

“The two are together,” said the Margrave, clutching his friend’s shoulder. “NOW LOOK!”

Sir Ludwig turned towards a quadrille, and there, sure enough, were Sir Hildebrandt and young Otto standing side by side in the dance. Two eggs were not more like! The reason of the Margrave’s horrid suspicion at once flashed across his friend’s mind.

“’Tis clear as the staff of a pike,” said the poor Margrave, mournfully. “Come, brother, away from the scene; let us go play a game at cribbage!” and retiring to the Margravine’s boudoir, the two warriors sat down to the game.

But though ’tis an interesting one, and though the Margrave won, yet he could not keep his attention on the cards: so agitated was his mind by the dreadful secret which weighed upon it. In the midst of their play, the obsequious Gottfried came to whisper a word in his patron’s ear, which threw the latter into such a fury, that apoplexy was apprehended by the two lookers-on. But the Margrave mastered his emotion. “AT WHAT TIME, did you say?” said he to Gottfried.

“At daybreak, at the outer gate.”

“I will be there.”

“AND SO WILL I TOO,” thought Count Ludwig, the good Knight of Hombourg.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00