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The Hirsch-Gulden
by [?]

In Upper-Suabia still stands the walls of a castle that was once the stateliest of the surrounding country, Hohen-Zollern. It rose from the summit of a round steep mountain, from whence one had a distant and unobstructed view of the country. Farther than this castle could be seen from the encircling horizon, was the brave race of the Zollerns feared; and their name was known and honored in all German countries.

There lived several hundred years ago, in this castle, a Zollern, who was by nature a singular man. One could not say that he oppressed his subjects, or that he lived at war with his neighbors; yet no one trusted him, on account of his sullen look, his knitted brow, and his moody, crusty manner. There were few people, outside of the castle servants, who had ever heard him speak properly like other people; for when he rode through the valley, if one met him, gave him the road, and said to him with uncovered head, “Good evening, Sir Count! It is a fine day,” he would answer, “Stupid stuff,” or, “I know it already.” If, however, one had been inattentive to his wants or had neglected his charger, or if a peasant with his cart met him on a narrow road, so that the count could not pass him quickly enough, he broke out into a torrent of curses. Yet it was never said of him on these occasions that he had struck a peasant. But all through this region he was called “The Tempest of Zollern.”

The Tempest of Zollern had a wife who was a complete contrast to himself, and as mild and pleasant as a May morning. Often by her friendly words and her kind glance had she reconciled to her husband people whom he, by his rude speech, had deeply insulted. To the poor she did all the good in her power; nor could the warmest days of Summer or the most terrible snow storms of Winter prevent her from descending the steep mountain to visit poor people or sick children. If the count met her on these errands, he would say in a surly manner, “Know already–stupid stuff,” and proceed on his way.

Many ladies would have been discouraged or intimidated by such a crusty manner; one would have thought, “why should I concern myself with poor people when my husband calls it all stupid stuff?” another, through pride or sorrow, might have lost her love for so moody a husband; but not so with the Countess Hedwig of Zollern. She was constant in her affection, strove to smooth the lines on his brow with her beautiful white hand, and loved and honored him. And when after a long time Heaven bestowed upon them the gift of a son, she loved her husband none the less while conferring all the duties of a tender mother on her little boy.

Three years went by, and the Count of Zollern saw his son only on Sunday afternoons, when the child was handed to him by the nurse. He looked at him without changing a feature of his face, growled something through his beard, and gave him back to the nurse. But when the boy was able to say “father,” the count gave the nurse a gulden, but showed no pleasanter face to the boy.

On his third birthday, however, the count had his son put on the first pair of breeches and had him dressed splendidly in velvet and silk. Then he ordered his horse, and also another fine horse for his son, took the child up on his arm, and began to descend the spiral staircase. The countess was astonished as she saw this. She was not accustomed to inquire where he was going and when he would return; but this time anxiety for her child opened her lips.

“Are you going to ride out, Sir Count?” she asked. He made no reply. “For what purpose do you take the child?” continued she, “Cuno will take a walk with me.”