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The Klausenburg
by [?]

[The following Gespenster-Geschichte, or Ghost Story, as Tieck himself has called it, is related to a circle of friends by a gentleman, Baron Blamberg, who was a friend of the unfortunate subject of the story. The ruins of the Klausenburg are, according to the words of the narrator, near the house where they are assembled. The story is often interrupted by the company, but their conversation has no connection with it, and has therefore been omitted.–C. A. F.]

It is about fifty years since that a rich family lived among the mountains a short distance off, in a castle, of which only the ruins are now to be seen, since it was partly destroyed by thunder and lightning, and the remainder was demolished in war. It is now only occasionally visited by huntsmen and travellers who have lost their way, and it is called the ruins of the Klausenburg. Proceeding up the solitary footpath through the pine wood, and then climbing the pathless crag, you stand facing its entrance, which is cut out of the living rock and secured by an ancient and strongly barred gate. On the outside is an iron rod with a handle apparently communicating with a bell on the inside. Having once wandered there while hunting, I pulled this handle, but received no answer to my summons from within. As this spot can only be approached with much difficulty, and it is almost impossible to climb the chasms and rocks on the other side, there are many legends and tales current among the vulgar about this singular Klausenburg the remains of which present an almost spectral appearance.

Among other stories, it is reported that more than a century ago, there resided within its walls a very wealthy, benevolent, and industrious man, who was much beloved by his friends and tenants. He had early in life retired from the state service to devote himself to the management of his estates, of which he possessed many, including mines, and glass and iron foundries which he was able to work to great advantage, having abundant fuel from his extensive forests. Although beloved by his tenants, he was yet hated and envied by many of his equals, the more reasonable of whom disliked him because he avoided them, and they readily perceived that he despised them for their want of industry; while the more foolish believed, and even openly declared, that Count Moritz was in league with Satan, and was therefore successful beyond expectation in all he undertook.

However absurd the report, it was calculated at this early period to injure the character of this persevering man; as it was not many years after the time when people were burnt at the stake for witchcraft and for being in league with the evil one. Hence it was that the count in disgust retired from the world to the solitary castle of Klausenburg, and was only happy when conversing on his affairs with intelligent miners, machine makers, and learned men. Knowing the distrust with which he was looked upon by the old priests who held the livings in his different parishes, he but rarely appeared at church, a circumstance which but little contributed to raise his reputation in the neighbourhood.

It happened once that a band of gipsies, who at that time roved about in Germany with little molestation, came to these parts. The nobles of the country as well as the government were undecided and dilatory in checking this nuisance, and the boundaries of several states meeting here, the tribe could carry on their depredations with impunity and even unnoticed. Where they did not receive any thing, they robbed; where they were resisted they came at night and burnt the barns; and in this manner the fire on one occasion rapidly spreading, two villages were burnt to the ground. Count Moritz was induced by this circumstance to unite with some resolute neighbours, and to pursue and punish, on his own authority, the lawless tribe. Imprisonment, scourging, flogging, and starvation, were awarded by him without reference to any authority, and only some who were convicted of arson were sent to the town for what was called the gipsy trial, and were then legally condemned to suffer capital punishment.