A Legend of the Rhine, by William Makepeace Thackeray


The Sentence.

This singular document, illustrative of the passions of women at all times, and particularly of the manners of the early ages, struck dismay into the heart of the Margrave.

“Are her ladyship’s insinuations correct?” asked the hermit, in a severe tone. “To correct a wife with a cane is a venial, I may say a justifiable practice; but to fling a bottle at her is ruin both to the liquor and to her.”

“But she sent a carving-knife at me first,” said the heartbroken husband. “O jealousy, cursed jealousy, why, why did I ever listen to thy green and yellow tongue?”

“They quarrelled; but they loved each other sincerely,” whispered Sir Ludwig to the hermit: who began to deliver forthwith a lecture upon family discord and marital authority, which would have sent his two hearers to sleep, but for the arrival of the second messenger, whom the Margrave had despatched to Cologne for his son. This herald wore a still longer face than that of his comrade who preceded him.

“Where is my darling?” roared the agonized parent. “Have ye brought him with ye?”

“N— no,” said the man, hesitating.

“I will flog the knave soundly when he comes,” cried the father, vainly endeavoring, under an appearance of sternness, to hide his inward emotion and tenderness.

“Please, your Highness,” said the messenger, making a desperate effort, “Count Otto is not at the convent.”

“Know ye, knave, where he is?”

The swain solemnly said, “I do. He is THERE.” He pointed as he spake to the broad Rhine, that was seen from the casement, lighted up by the magnificent hues of sunset.

“THERE! How mean ye THERE?” gasped the Margrave, wrought to a pitch of nervous fury.

“Alas! my good lord, when he was in the boat which was to conduct him to the convent, he — he jumped suddenly from it, and is dr — dr — owned.”

“Carry that knave out and hang him!” said the Margrave, with a calmness more dreadful than any outburst of rage. “Let every man of the boat’s crew be blown from the mouth of the cannon on the tower — except the coxswain, and let him be —”

What was to be done with the coxswain, no one knows; for at that moment, and overcome by his emotion, the Margrave sank down lifeless on the floor.


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