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The Wonders In The Spessart
by [?]

[This tale occurs in the novel of “Muenchhausen,” the narrator telling it to the object of his affections. It is necessary to state this to render the opening intelligible. The story is probably intended to satirize the speculative tendency of the Germans, and old Albertus Magnus seems a sort of representative of Hegel, whom Immermann openly attacks in the course of the “Muenchhausen.” To me the expression “dialectic thought,” which occurs in the Hegelian sense at p. 85, is conclusive in this respect.–J. O.]

“Did you ever, Lisbeth, on a clear sunny day, go through a beautiful wood, in which the blue sky peered through the green diadems above you, where the exhalation of the trees was like a breath of God, and when thy foot scattered a thousand glittering pearls from the pointed grass?”

“Yes, lately, Oswald dear, I went through the mountains to collect the rents. It is delightful to walk in a green fresh wood; I could ramble about one for whole days without meeting a soul, and without being in the least terrified. The turf is God’s mantle, and we are guarded by a thousand angels, whether we sit or stand upon it. Now a hill–now a rock! I ran and ran, because I always thought, ‘Behind, then, must be flying the wonderful bird with its blue and red wings, its golden crown upon its head.’ I grew hot and red with running, but not weary. One does not get weary in a wood.”

“And when you did not see the wonderful bird behind the hill in the hedge, you stood still hard-breathing, and you heard afar in the valley of oaks the sound of the axe, which is the forest clock, and tells that man’s hour is running even in such a lovely solitude.”

“Or farther, Oswald, the free prospect up the hill between the dark round beeches, and still closer, the brow of the hill crowned with lofty trunks! There red cows were feeding, and shook their bells, there the dew on the grass gave a silvery hue to the sunlit valley, and the shadows of the cows and the trees played at hide-and-seek with each other.”

“Well, then, on such a sunny morning many hundred years ago, two young men met one another in the wood. It was in the great woody ridge of mountains, called Spessart, which forms the boundary between the joyous districts of the Rhine and the fertile Fraconia. That is a wood, dear Lisbeth, which is ten leagues broad and twenty long, covering plains and mountains, clifts and valleys.

“On the great highway, which runs straight from the Rhine-land to Wuerzburg and Bamberg, these young men met each other. One came from the west, the other from the east. Their animals were as opposite as their directions. The one from the east sat upon a bay horse, which pranced merrily, and he looked right stately in his gay armour, and his cap of red velvet, from which the heron’s plume descended; the one from the west wore a black cap without any mark of distinction, a long student’s cloak of the same colour, and rode on a humble mule.

“When the young knight had approached the travelling student, he stopped his bay, saluted the other in a friendly way, and said: ‘Good friend, I was just going to alight, and to take my morning snack, but since two are required for love, gaming, and eating, if these three pleasant affairs are to go off properly, I beg leave to ask you, whether you will dismount and be my partner? A mouthfull of grass would no less suit your gray, than my bay. The day will be hot, and the beasts require some repose.’

“The travelling student was pleased with this offer. Both alighted and seated themselves by the roadside on the wild thyme and lavender, from which, as they sat down, a white cloud of perfumes ascended, and a hundred bees that were disturbed in their labours arose humming. A squire, who had followed the young knight with a heavy laden horse, took charge of the two animals, gave his master a goblet and bottle, together with bread and meat from the knapsack, unbridled the beasts, and let them graze by the roadside.