And he took his lantern.
“Good night, gentlemen.”
“Stop—wait for me,” cried Gideon. “I can see Fritz is sleepy; we will go down together.”
“Very gladly, Sperver; on our way we will have a word with Trumpf, the butler. He is downstairs with the rest, and Knapwurst is telling them tales.”
“All right. Good night, Fritz.”
“Good night, Gideon. Don’t forget to send for me if the count is taken worse.”
“I will do as you wish. Lieverle, come.”
They went out, and as they were crossing the platform I could hear the Nideck clock strike eleven. I was tired out and soon fell asleep.
Daylight was beginning to tinge with bluish grey the only window in my dungeon tower when I was roused out of my niche in the granite by the prolonged distant notes of a hunting horn.
There is nothing more sad and melancholy than the wail of this instrument when the day begins to struggle with the night—when not a sigh nor a sound besides comes to molest the solitary reign of silence; it is especially the last long note which spreads in widening waves over the immensity of the plain beneath, awaking the distant, far-off echoes amongst the mountains, that has in it a poetic element that stirs up the depths of the soul.
Leaning upon my elbow in my bear-skin I lay listening to the plaintive sound, which suggested something of the feudal ages. The contemplation of my chamber, the ancient den of the Wolf of Nideck, with its low, dark arch, threatening almost to come down to crush the occupant; and further on that small leaden window, just touching the ceiling, more wide than high, and deeply recessed in the wall, added to the reality of the impression.
I arose quickly and ran to open the window wide.
Then presented itself to my astonished eyes such a wondrous spectacle as no mortal tongue, no pen of man, can describe—the wide prospect that the eagle, the denizen of the high Alps, sweeps with his far reaching ken every morning at the rising of the deep purple veil that overhung the horizon by night mountains farther off! mountains far away! and yet again in the blue distance—mountains still, blending with the grey mists of the morning in the shadowy horizon!—motionless billows that sink into peace and stillness in the blue distance of the plains of Lorraine. Such is a faint idea of the mighty scenery of the Vosges, boundless forests, silver lakes, dazzling crests, ridges, and peaks projecting their clear outlines upon the steel-blue of the valleys clothed in snow. Beyond this, infinite space!
Could any enthusiasm of poet or skill of painter attain the sublime elevation of such a scene as that?
I stood mute with admiration. At every moment the details stood out more clearly in the advancing light of morning; hamlets, farm-houses, villages, seemed to rise and peep out of every undulation of the land. A little more attention brought more and more numerous objects into view.