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Never to swing his hammer more, at stithy or in
In ponderous shirt of pliant steel no more to strut or
Split like a beechen log, he fell at great King
Siegfried's feet,
To sullen, bragging hammermen, a warning very


IT was the coldest New Year's-eve remembered
by man, woman, or child, in the town of
Schlettersheim, since that memorable night when
Burgomaster Battus was found dead, frozen fast
into the kennel, after supping at the Council
House.—The frost seemed positively to put a
sting into the fiddle, flute, and bass, that played
out the old year so heartily at Mistress Drieck's.
The one or two guests of hers who did not
danceespecially Miss Sauerwein, with the red
nose and the shrill tonguesat in their cloaks,
and became impatient for twelve o'clock, the
punch-bowl, and the kissing all round.

In due time, the chimes rang midnight sharply,
and the punch was distributed, and every one
was kissed duly,— even Miss Sauerwein (by
accident, of course, on her shoulder, which was of
palatable cotton velvet),—and good wishes were
exchanged, and sad thoughts hidden, as though
they had been so many sins. The rich English
beauty had been the merriest girl at Mistress
Drieck's party: yet perhaps she had recollected
that she was without a home, and in a strange
land. Then all fell to dancing again.

Of course it was impossible for Baron
Oranienberg, who lived on tne floor below, to sleep:
and thus it would have been a pity that Mistress
Drieck stood in too great awe of him to ask him
to her party, had it been the Baron's usage to
sleep when the other Christian folk of
Schlettersheim slept. As it was, his vigil over the
brown old books he was so fond of reading was
disturbed.—He looked out into the night: over
the roofs of the houses, white as silver in the
moonlight; across to the glistening vane of the
tower which had just told of the New Year; he
listened to the Pomegranate Waltz of Strauss,
which made the roof shake, yet was not noisy
enough to drown the snore of his serving-man in
an inner chamber; and the Baron felt, very
solitary. Why should this be? Why should he
look fifty who was only thirty-five years old?
Other men before him had been mocked and
deceived by women; other men had taken for
consolation to the dreams of experiment and
the studies of science; other men had brooded
as he had brooded; time (he said within himself),
but no other, had felt such an aching
emptiness of heart as he. Why not go back to his
own court and capital, where honours and offices
were waiting for him?—as his Prince, an old
friend, had, again and again, assured him. He
remembered a masked ball there on a bygone
New Year's-eve, where other things had been
unmasked besides facesher heartlessness among
the number. "Ah, how well I know that

And he listened, rapt in a change of his
dream, until he was wakened by a third change of
sound.—The music had stopped: a merry sound
of laughter was coming out of Mistress Drieck's
door and down the stairs. The gay folk of
Schlettersheim were going home.—The whim
seized the Baron to look at them as they passed.
Now that his lamp was out, no one would be
aware of his opened door, and his dark figure in
the furred writing-robe within it.

Down they came in twos and fours joyously,
but for the little solitary screams of Miss Sauerwein,
who tried to slip, in forlorn hopes of male
assistance.—The greatest mirth clustered round
the fair English girlvery fair she looked in her
bewitching quilted hood; and she did slip without
trying;—and one of her snow-shoes came off
close by the open door, to the violent disapproval
of the spinster. No need for the Baron to step
forward and offer his services; no lack of
assiduous young officers, waisted like wasps, to set
matters right!—In another minute they were all
a story lower, and nothing was left of their
gaiety but the dying leap of the flame in the
lamp on the staircase.—He stepped out to hear
the great door close; and his eyea keen one
was caught by a spark on the landing-place. It
was a small heart-shaped diamond buckle, in the
midst of a rosette.

Something, an hour later, moved across the still
chamber of the Baron, like an air and an echo.
" Is that a charm on his pillow?"
" It is a CURSE."

When the sleeper woke, it was late for
Schlettersheim. Stiegel, his servant, had been
astir for three hours.

"God bless you, honoured sir, with many
happy new years," was his greeting, " and may
I pass them with you! If you grow as wise as
King Solomon, you will never get on without
old stupid Stiegel. Here's your coffee."

"Get me a barber get me a razor, old
fellow!" cried the master, in a tone which
scared his familiar. "I must have half of this
fleece off my chinand put me out something
decent to wear. And bring me my own book."

This was a book bound in wood, clasped in
steel, and full of the Baron's handwriting in
cypher. The leaves were alternately white and
grey. There was no lock to it, nor any visible
means of opening the clasp. I have heard that
the white leaves were records of such of the
Baron's dreams and musings as his better Angel
had inspired, and that the grey leaves were the
most bitter and less wholesome whispers of
his darker Spirit. I have not heard that when
the right person spoke the right words to it at
the right time, the book would open of itself.
That New Year's-day, however, it would not
open. Perhaps the dreamer did not speak it fair.
He threw it by neglectfully, at all events; and
after dressing himself with a care, which took
twenty years from his face and figure, to the
consternation of Stiegel, who had not bargained
to serve a master addicted to such vanities, went
forth with a new colour on his cheek and a new