The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt.9

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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“I remained some time by his side before he recovered. ‘Where am I?’ said he, ‘what has happened? Oh! —yes, yes! I recollect now. Heaven forgive me!’

“He rose and we walked up to the grave; what again was our astonishment and horror to find that, instead of the dead body of my mother-in-law, as we expected, there was lying over the remains of my poor sister, a large white she-wolf.

“‘The white wolf!’ exclaimed my father, ‘the white wolf which decoyed me into the forest —I see it all now —I have dealt with the spirits of the Hartz Mountains.’

“For some time my father remained in silence and deep thought. He then carefully lifted up the body of my sister, replaced it in the grave, an covered it over as before, having struck the head of the dead animal with the heel of his boot, and raving like a madman. He walked back to the cottage, shut the door, and threw himself on the bed; I did the same, for I was in a stupor of amazement.

“Early in the morning we were both roused by a loud knocking at the door, and in rushed the hunter Wilfred.

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“‘My daughter —man —my daughter! —where is my daughter?’ cried he in a rage.

“‘Where the wretch, the fiend, should be, I trust,’ replied my father, starting up, and displaying equal choler; ‘where she should be —in hell! Leave this cottage, or you may fare worse.’

“‘Ha —ha!’ replied the hunter, ‘would you harm a potent spirit of the Hartz Mountains. Poor mortal, who must needs wed a werewolf.’

“‘Out, demon! I defy thee and thy power.’

“‘Yet shall you feel it; remember your oath —your solemn oath —never to raise your hand against her to harm her.’

“‘I made no compact with evil spirits.’

“‘You did, and if you failed in your vow, you were to meet the vengeance of the spirits. Your children were to perish by the vulture, the wolf—’

“‘Out, out, demon!’

“‘And their bones blanch in the wilderness. Ha! —ha!’

“My father, frantic with rage, seized his axe, and raised it over Wilfred’s head to strike.

“‘All this I swear,’ continued the huntsman, mockingly.

“The axe descended; but it passed through the form of the hunter, and my father lost his balance, and tell heavily on the floor.

“‘Mortal!’ said the hunter, striding over my father’s body, ‘we have power over those only who have committed murder. You have been guilty of a double murder: you shall pay the penalty attached to your marriage vow. Two of your children are gone, the third is yet to follow —and follow them he will, for your oath is registered. Go —it were kindness to kill thee —your punishment is, that you live!’

“With these words the spirit disappeared. My father rose from the floor, embraced me tenderly, and knelt down in prayer.

“The next morning he quitted the cottage for ever. He took me with him, and bent his steps to Holland, where we safely arrived. He had some little money with him; but he had not been many days in Amsterdam before he was seized with a brain fever, and died raving mad. I was put into the asylum, and afterwards was sent to sea before the mast. You now know all my history. The question is, whether I am to pay the penalty of my father’s oath? I am myself perfectly convinced that, in some way or another, I shall.”

>The End

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 8

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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“The spring now came on; the snow disappeared, and we were permitted to leave the cottage; but never would I quit for one moment my dear little sister, to whom since the death of my brother, I was more ardently attached than ever; indeed, I was afraid to leave her alone with my mother-in-law, who appeared to have a particular pleasure in ill-treating the child. My father was now employed upon his little farm, and I was able to render him some assistance.

“Marcella used to sit by us while we were at work, leaving my mother-in-law alone in the cottage. I ought to observe that, as the spring advanced, so did my mother-in-law decrease her nocturnal rambles, and that we never heard the growl of the wolf under the window after I had spoken of it to my father.

“One day, when my father and I were in the field, Marcella being with us, my mother-in-law came out, saying that she was going into the forest to collect some herbs my father wanted, and that Marcella must go to the cottage and watch the dinner. Marcella went; and my mother-in-law soon disappeared in the forest, taking a direction quite contrary to that in which the cottage stood, and leaving my father and I, as it were, between her and Marcella.

“About an hour afterwards we were startled by shrieks from the cottage —evidently the shrieks of little Marcella. ‘Marcella has burnt herself, father,’ said I, throwing down my spade. My father threw down his, and we both hastened to the cottage. Before we could gain the door, out darted a large white wolf, which fled with the utmost celerity. My father had no weapon; he rushed into the cottage, and there saw poor little Marcella expiring. Her body was dreadfully mangled, and the blood pouring from it had formed a large pool on the cottage floor. My father’s first intention had been to seize his gun and pursue; but he was checked by this horrid spectacle; he knelt down by his dying child, and burst into tears. Marcella could just look kindly on us for a few seconds, and then her eyes were closed in death.

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“My father and I were still hanging over my poor sister’s body, when my mother-in-law came in. At the dreadful sight she expressed much concern; but she did not appear to recoil from the sight of blood, as most women do.

“‘Poor child!’ said she, ‘it must have been that great white wolf which passed me just now, and frightened me so. She’s quite dead, Krantz.’

“‘I know it —I know it!’ cried my father, in agony.

“I thought my father would never recover from the effects of this second tragedy; he mourned bitterly over the body of his sweet child, and for several days would not consign it to its grave, although frequently requested by my mother-in-law to do so. At last he yielded, and dug a grave for her close by that of my poor brother, and took every precaution that the wolves should not violate her remains.

“I was now really miserable, as I lay alone in the bed which I had formerly shared with my brother and sister. I could not help thinking that my mother-in-law was implicated in both their deaths, although I could not account for the manner; but I no longer felt afraid of her; my little heart was full of hatred and revenge.

“The night after my sister had been buried, as I lay awake, I perceived my mother-in-law get up and go out of the cottage. I waited some time, then dressed myself, and looked out through the door, which I half opened. The moon shone bright and I could see the spot where my brother and my sister had been buried; and what was my horror when I perceived my mother-in-law busily removing the stones from Marcella’s grave!

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“She was in her white night-dress and the moon shone full upon her. She was digging with her hands, and throwing away the stones behind her with all the ferocity of a wild beast. It was some time before I could collect my senses, and decide what I should do. At last I perceived that she had arrived at the body, and raised it up to the side of the grave. I could bear it no longer, I ran to my father and awoke him.

“‘Father, father!’ cried I, ‘dress yourself, and get your gun.’

“‘What!’ cried my father, ‘the wolves are there, are they?’

“He jumped out of bed, threw on his clothes, and, in his anxiety, did not appear to perceive the absence of his wife. As soon as he was ready I opened the door; he went out, and I followed him.

“Imagine his horror, when (unprepared as he was for such a sight) he beheld, as he advanced towards the grave not a wolf, but his wife, in her night-dress, on her hands and knees, crouching by the body of my sister, and tearing off large pieces of the flesh, and devouring them with all the avidity of a wolf. She was too busy to be aware of our approach. My father dropped his gun; his hair stood on end, so did mine; he breathed heavily, and then his breath for a time stopped. I picked up the gun and put it into his hand. Suddenly he appeared as if concentrated rage had restored him to double vigor; he leveled his piece, fired, and with a loud shriek down fell the wretch whom he had fostered in his bosom.

“‘God of Heaven!’ cried my father, sinking down upon the earth in a swoon, as soon as he had discharged his gun.

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To be continued…

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 7

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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“You may imagine in what a state of suspense Marcella and I remained during his absence. After a few minutes we heard the report of a gun. It did not awaken my father; and we lay trembling with anxiety. In a minute afterwards we saw our mother-in-law enter the cottage —her dress was bloody. I put my hand to Marcella’s mouth to prevent her crying out, although I was myself in great alarm. Our mother-in-law approached my father’s bed, looked to see if he was asleep, and then went to the chimney and blew up the embers into a blaze.

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“‘Who is there?’ said my father, waking up.

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“‘Lie still, dearest,’ replied my mother-in-law; ‘it is only me; I have lighted the fire to warm some water; I am not quite well.’

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“My father turned round, and was soon asleep; but we watched our mother-in-law. She changed her linen, and threw the garments she had worn into the fire; and we then perceived that her right leg was bleeding profusely, as if from a gun-shot wound. She bandaged it up, and then dressing herself, remained before the fire until the break of day.

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“Poor little Marcella, her heart beat quick as she pressed me to her side —so indeed did mine. Where was our brother Caesar? How did my mother-in-law receive the wound unless from his gun? At last my father rose, and then for the first time I spoke, saying, ‘Father, where is my brother Caesar?’

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“‘Your brother!’ exclaimed he; ‘Why, where can he be?’

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“‘Merciful Heaven! I thought, as lay very restless last night,’ observed our mother-in-law, ‘that I heard somebody open the latch of the door; and, dear me, husband, what has become of your gun?’

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“My father cast his eyes up above the chimney, and perceived that his gun was missing. For a moment he looked perplexed; then, seizing a broad axe, he went out of the cottage without saying another word.

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“He did not remain away from us long; in a few minutes he returned, bearing in his arms the mangled body of my poor brother; he laid it down, and covered up his face.

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“My mother-in-law rose up, and looked at the body, while Marcella and I threw ourselves by its side, wailing and sobbing bitterly.

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“‘Go to bed again, children,’ said she, sharply. ‘Husband,’ continued she, ‘your boy must have taken the gun down, to shoot a wolf, and the animal has been too powerful for him. Poor boy! he has paid dearly for his rashness.’

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“My father made no reply. I wished to speak —to tell all —but Marcella who perceived my intention, held me by the arm, and looked at me so imploringly, that I desisted.

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“My father, therefore, was left in his error; but Marcella and I, although we could not comprehend it, were conscious that our mother-in-law was in some way connected with my brother’s death.

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“That day my father went out and dug a grave; and when he hid the body in the earth, he piled up stones over it so that the wolves should not be able to dig it up. The shock of this catastrophe was to my poor father very severe; for several days he never went to the chase, although at times he would utter bitter anathemas and vengeance against the wolves.

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“But during this time of mourning on his part, my mother-in-law’s nocturnal wanderings continued with the same regularity as before.

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“At last my father took down his gun to repair to the forest; but he soon returned, and appeared much annoyed.

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“‘Would you believe it, Christina, that the wolves —perdition to the whole race —have actually contrived to dig up the body of my poor boy, and now there is nothing left of him but his bones?’

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“‘Indeed!’ replied my mother-in-law. Marcella looked at me; and I saw in her intelligent eye all she would have uttered.

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“‘A wolf growls under our window every night, father,’ said I.

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“‘Ay, indeed! Why did you not tell me, boy? Wake me the next time you hear it.’

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“I saw my mother-in-law turn away; her eyes flashed fire, and she gnashed her teeth.

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“My father went out again, and covered up with a larger pile of stones the little remnants of my poor brother which the wolves had spared. Such was the first act of the tragedy.

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 6

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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“‘Marcella, dear, did you hear?’ said my brother, in a low tone.

“‘Yes,’ replied Marcella in a whisper, ‘I heard all. Oh! brother, I cannot bear to look upon that woman —I feel so frightened.’

“My brother made no reply, and shortly afterwards we were all three fast asleep.

“When we awoke the next morning, we found that the hunter’s daughter had risen before us. I thought she looked more beautiful than ever. She came up to little Marcella and caressed her: the child burst into tears, and sobbed as if her heart would break.

“But, not to detain you with too long a story, the huntsman and his daughter were accommodated in the cottage. My father and he went out hunting daily, leaving Christina with us. She performed all the household duties; was very kind to us children; and, gradually, the dislike even of little Marcella wore away. But a great change took place in my father; he appeared to have conquered his aversion to the sex, and was most attentive to Christina. Often, after her father and we were in bed would he sit up with her, conversing in a low tone by the fire. I ought to have mentioned that my father and the huntsman Wilfred, slept in another portion of the cottage, and that the bed which he formerly occupied, and which was in the same room as ours, had been given up to the use of Christina. These visitors had been about three weeks at the cottage, when, one night, after we children had been sent to bed, a consultation was held. My father had asked Christina in marriage, and had obtained both her own consent and that of Wilfred; after this, a conversation took place, which was, as nearly as I can recollect, as follows.

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“‘You may take my child, Meinheer Krantz, and my blessing with her, and I shall then leave you and seek some other habitation —it matters little where.’

“‘Why not remain here, Wilfred?’

“‘No, no, I am called elsewhere; let that suffice, and ask no more questions. You have my child.’

“‘I thank you for her, and will duly value her; but there is one difficulty.’

“‘I know what you would say; there is no priest here in this wild country: true; neither is there any law to bind; still must some ceremony pass between you, to satisfy a father. Will you consent to marry her after my fashion? if so, I will marry you directly.’

“‘I will,’ replied my father.

“‘Then take her by the hand. Now, Meinheer, swear.’

“‘I swear,’ repeated my father.

“‘By all the spirits of the Hartz mountains—’

“‘Nay, why not by Heaven?’ interrupted my father.

“‘Because it is not my humour,’ rejoined Wilfred; ‘if I prefer that oath, less binding perhaps, than another, surely you will not thwart me.’

“‘Well be it so then; have your humour. Will you make me swear by that in which I do not believe?’

“‘Yet many do so, who in outward appearance are Christians,’ rejoined Wilfred; ‘say, will you be married, or shall I take my daughter away with me?’

“‘Proceed,’ replied my father, impatiently.

“‘I swear by all the spirits of the Hartz mountains, by all their power for good or for evil, that I take Christina for my wedded wife; that I will ever protect her, cherish her, and love her; that my hand shall never be raised against her to harm her.’

“My father repeated the words after Wilfred.

“‘And if I fail in this my vow, may all the vengeance of the spirits fall upon me and upon my children; may they perish by the vulture, by the wolf, or other beasts of the forest; may their flesh be torn from their limbs, and their bones blanch in the wilderness: all this I swear.’

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“My father hesitated, as he repeated the last words; little Marcella could not restrain herself, and as my father repeated the last sentence, she burst into tears. This sudden interruption appeared to discompose the party, particularly my father; he spoke harshly to the child, who controlled her sobs, burying her face under the bed-clothes.

“Such was the second marriage of my father. The next morning, the hunter Wilfred mounted his horse, and rode away.

“My father resumed his bed, which was in the same room as ours; and things went on much as before the marriage, except that our new mother-in-law did not show any kindness towards us; indeed during my father’s absence, she would often beat us, particularly little Marcella, and her eyes would flash fire, as she looked eagerly upon the fair and lovely child.

“One night, my sister awoke me and my brother.

“‘What is the matter?’ said Caesar.

“‘She has gone out,’ whispered Marcella.

“‘Gone out!’

“‘Yes, gone out at the door, in her night-clothes,’ replied the child; ‘I saw her get out of bed, look at my father to see if he slept, and then she went out at the door.’

“What could induce her to leave her bed, and all undressed to go out, in such bitter wintry weather, with the snow deep on the ground was to us incomprehensible; we lay awake, and in about an hour we heard the growl of a wolf, close under the window.

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“‘There is a wolf,’ said Caesar. ‘She will be torn to pieces.’

“‘Oh no!’ cried Marcella.

“In a few minutes afterwards our mother-in-law appeared; she was in her night-dress, as Marcella had stated. She let down the latch of the door, so as to make no noise, went to a pail of water, and washed her face and hands, and then slipped into the bed where my father lay.

“We all three trembled —we hardly knew why; but we resolved to watch the next night: we did so; and not only on the ensuing night, but on many others, and always at about the same hour, would our mother-in-law rise from her bed and leave the cottage; and after she was gone we invariably heard the growl of a wolf under our window, and always saw her, on her return, wash herself before she retired to bed. We observed also that she seldom sat down to meals, and that when she did she appeared to eat with dislike; but when the meat was taken down to be prepared for dinner, she would often furtively put a raw piece into her mouth.

“My brother Caesar was a courageous boy; he did not like to speak to my father until he knew more. He resolved that he would follow her out, and ascertain what she did. Marcella and I endeavoured to dissuade him from this project; but he would not be controlled; and the very next night he lay down in his clothes, and as soon as our mother-in-law had left the cottage he jumped up, took down my father’s gun, and followed her.

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