The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 5

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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Photo: Michael S. Quinton

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“‘I was lured away in pursuit of a large white wolf,’ observed my father; ‘it came to the very window of my hut, or I should not have been out at this time of night.’

“‘The creature passed by us just as we came out of the wood,’ said the female, in a silvery tone.

“‘I was nearly discharging my piece at it,’ observed the hunter; ‘but since it did us such good service, I am glad I allowed it to escape.’

“In about an hour and a half, during which my father walked at a rapid pace, the party arrived at the cottage, and, as I said before, came in.

“‘We are in good time, apparently,’ observed the dark hunter, catching the smell of the roasted meat, as he walked to the fire and surveyed my brother and sister, and myself. ‘You have young cooks here, Meinheer.’

‘I am glad that we shall not have to wait,’ replied my father. ‘Come, mistress, seat yourself by the fire; you require warmth after your cold ride.’

‘And where can I put up my horse, Meinheer?’ observed the huntsman.

‘I will take care of him,’ replied my father, going out of the cottage door.

“The female must, however, be particularly described. She was young, and apparently twenty years of age. She was dressed in a travelling-dress, deeply bordered with white fur, and wore a cap of white ermine on her head. Her features were very beautiful, at least I thought so, and so my father has since declared. Her hair was flaxen, glossy, and shining, and bright as a mirror; and her mouth, although somewhat large when it was open, showed the most brilliant teeth I have ever beheld. But there was something about her eyes, bright as they were, which made us children afraid; they were so restless, so furtive; I could not at that time tell why, but I felt as if there was cruelty in her eye; and when she beckoned us to come to her, we approached her with fear and trembling. Still she was beautiful, very beautiful. She spoke kindly to my brother and myself, patted our heads and caressed us; but Marcella would not come near her; on the contrary, she slunk away, and hid herself in the bed, and would not wait for the supper, which half an hour before she had been so anxious for.

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“My father, having put the horse into a close shed, soon returned, and supper was placed upon the table. When it was over, my father requested that the young lady would take possession of his bed, and he would remain at the fire, and sit up with her father. After some hesitation on her part, this arrangement was agreed to, and I and my brother crept into the other bed with Marcella, for we had as yet always slept together.

“But we could not sleep; there was something so unusual, not only in seeing strange people, but in having those people sleep at the cottage, that we were bewildered. As for poor little Marcella, she was quiet, but I perceived that she trembled during the whole night, and sometimes I thought that she was checking a sob. My father had brought out some spirits, which he rarely used, and he and the strange hunter remained drinking and talking before the fire. Our ears were ready to catch the slightest whisper —so much was our curiosity excited.

“‘You said you came from Transylvania?’ observed my father.

“‘Even so, Meinheer,’ replied the hunter. ‘I was a serf to the noble house of —; my master would insist upon my surrendering up my fair girl to his wishes: it ended in my giving him a few inches of my hunting-knife.’

“‘We are countrymen, and brothers in misfortune,’ replied my father, taking the huntsman’s hand, and pressing it warmly.

“‘Indeed! Are you then from that country?’

“‘Yes; and I too have fled for my life. But mine is a melancholy tale.’

“‘Your name?’ inquired the hunter.

“‘Krantz.’

“‘What! Krantz of —? I have heard your tale; you need not renew your grief by repeating it now. Welcome, most welcome, Meinheer, and, I may say, my worthy kinsman. I am your second cousin, Wilfred of Barnsdorf,’ cried the hunter, rising up and embracing my father.

“They filled their horn-mugs to the brim, and drank to one another after the German fashion. The conversation was then carried on in a low tone; all that we could collect from it was that our new relative and his daughter were to take up their abode in our cottage, at least for the present. In about an hour they both fell back in their chairs and appeared to sleep.

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 4

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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Pic: P. Tomkins

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“Perhaps I had better now relate what was only known to me many years afterwards. When my father had left the cottage, he perceived a large white wolf about thirty yards from him; as soon as the animal saw my father, it retreated slowly, growling and snarling. My father followed; the animal did not run, but always kept at some distance; and my father did not like to fire until he was pretty certain that his ball would take effect; thus they went on for some time, the wolf now leaving my father far behind, and then stopping and snarling defiance at him, and then, again, on his approach, setting off at speed.

“Anxious to shoot the animal (for the white wolf is very rare) my father continued the pursuit for several hours, during which he continually ascended the mountain.

“You must know, Philip, that there are peculiar spots on those mountains which are supposed, and, as my story will prove, truly supposed, to be inhabited by the evil influences: they are well known to the huntsmen, who invariably avoid them. Now, one of these spots, an open space in the pine forests above us, had been pointed out to my father as dangerous on that account. But, whether he disbelieved these wild stories, or whether, in his eager pursuit of the chase, he disregarded them, I know not; certain, however, it is, that he was decoyed by the white wolf to this open space, when the animal appeared to slacken her speed. My father approached, came close up to her, raised his gun to his shoulder, and was about to fire, when the wolf suddenly disappeared. He thought that the snow on the ground must have dazzled his sight, and he let down his gun to look for the beast —but she was gone; how she could have escaped over the clearance, without his seeing her, was beyond his comprehension.

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Mortified at the ill success of his chase, he was about to retrace his steps, when he heard the distant sound of a horn. Astonishment at such a sound —at such an hour —in such a wilderness, made him forget for the moment his disappointment, and he remained riveted to the spot. In a minute the horn was blown a second time, and at no great distance; my father stood still, and listened: a third time it was blown. I forget the term used to express it, but it was the signal which, my father well knew, implied that the party was lost in the woods. In a few minutes more my father beheld a man on horseback, with a female seated on the crupper, enter the cleared space, and ride up to him. At first, my father called to mind the strange stories which he had heard of the supernatural beings who were said to frequent these mountains; but the nearer approach of the parties satisfied him that they were mortals like himself. As soon as they came up to him, the man who guided the horse accosted him.

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“Friend Hunter, you are out late, the better fortune for us; we have ridden far, and are in fear of our lives which are eagerly sought after. These mountains have enabled us to elude our pursuers; but if we find not shelter and refreshment, that will avail us little, as we must perish from hunger and the inclemency of the night. My daughter, who rides behind me, is now more dead than alive —say, can you assist us in our difficulty?’

“‘My cottage is some few miles distant,’ replied my father, ‘but I have little to offer you besides a shelter from the weather; to the little I have you are welcome. May I ask whence you come?’

“‘Yes, friend, it is no secret now; we have escaped from Transylvania, where my daughter’s honour and my life were equally in jeopardy!’

“This information was quite enough to raise an interest in my father’s heart, he remembered his own escape; he remembered the loss of his wife’s honor, and the tragedy by which it was wound up. He immediately, and warmly, offered all the assistance which he could afford them.

“‘There is no time to be lost then, good sir,’ observed the horseman; ‘my daughter is chilled with the frost, and cannot hold out much longer against the severity of the weather.’

“‘Follow me,’ replied my father, leading the way towards his home.

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 3

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains: Part 3

by Frederick Marryat


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“One evening my father returned home rather later than usual; he had been unsuccessful, and, as the weather was very severe, and many feet of snow were upon the ground, he was not only very cold, but in a very bad humour. He had brought in wood, and we were all three gladly assisting each other in blowing on the embers to create the blaze, when he caught poor little Marcella by the arm and threw her aside; the child fell, struck her mouth, and bled very much. My brother ran to raise her up. Accustomed to ill-usage and afraid of my father, she did not dare to cry, but looked up in his face very piteously. My father drew his stool nearer to the hearth, muttered something in abuse of women, and busied himself with the fire, which both my brother and I had deserted when our sister was so unkindly treated. A cheerful blaze was soon the result of his exertions; but we did not, as usual, crowd round it. Marcella, still bleeding, retired to a corner, and my brother and I took our seats beside her, while my father hung over the fire gloomily and alone.

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Such had been our position for about half an hour, when the howl of a wolf, close under the window of the cottage, fell on our ears. My father started up, and seized his gun: the howl was repeated, he examined the priming, and then hastily left the cottage, shutting the door after him. We all waited (anxiously listening), for we thought that if he succeeded in shooting the wolf, he would return in a better humour; and, although he was harsh to all of us, and particularly so to our little sister, still we loved our father, and loved to see him cheerful and happy, for what else had we to look up to? And I may here observe, that perhaps there never were three children who were fonder of each other; we did not, like other children, fight and dispute together; and if, by chance, any disagreement did arise between my elder brother and me, little Marcella would run to us, and kissing us both, seal, through her entreaties, the peace between us. Marcella was a lovely, amiable child; I can recall her beautiful features even now —Alas! poor little Marcella.”


“She is dead, then?” observed Philip.


“Dead! yes, dead! —but how did she die? —But I must not anticipate, Philip; let me tell my story.


“We waited for some time, but the report of the gun did not reach us, and my elder brother then said, ‘Our father has followed the wolf, and will not be back for some time. Marcella, let us wash the blood from your mouth, and then we will leave this corner, and go to the fire and warm ourselves.’


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“We did so, and remained there until near midnight, every minute wondering, as it grew later, why our father did not return. We had no idea that he was in any danger, but we thought that he must have chased the wolf for a very long time. ‘I will look out and see if father is coming,’ said my brother Caesar, going to the door. ‘Take care,’ said Marcella, ‘the wolves must be about now, and we cannot kill them, brother.’ My brother opened the door very cautiously, and but a few inches: he peeped out. —’I see nothing,’ said he, after a time, and once more he joined us at the fire. ‘We have had no supper,’ said I, for my father usually cooked the meat as soon as he came home; and during his absence we had nothing but the fragments of the preceding day.

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“‘And if our father comes home after his hunt, Caesar,’ said Marcella, ‘he will be pleased to have some supper; let us cook it for him and for ourselves.’ Caesar climbed upon the stool, and reached down some meat —I forget now whether it was venison or bear’s meat; but we cut off the usual quantity, and proceeded to dress it, as we used to do under our father’s superintendence. We were all busy putting it into the platters before the fire, to await his coming, when we heard the sound of a horn. We listened —there was a noise outside, and a minute afterwards my father entered, ushering in a young female, and a large dark man in a hunter’s dress.

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