Chapter 36645764

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Chapter NumberXXI
Chapter Title(Continued)
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Full Date1867-08-31
Page Number2
Word Count4613
Last Corrected2020-01-27
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (Continued from Thursday, 22nd.) (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED) CHAPTER XXI. (Continued.) How long the sable charger carried him in a wild and headlong course over hill and through valley, swimming rivers and leaping chasms, tearing with bird-like speed up the sides of the impassable mountains, and down into the depths of rocky, frightful gorges, Adamarantha did not know ; but the speed with which he flew gave an unknown enjoy- ment to his existence, and caused the current of life to flow with renewed vigor from his heart. At length the strange steed turned and entered the alluvial plain along the banks of the quiet river, and approached the Black Mountain with rapid strides. The thoughts of his rider had had time to assume a definite shape, and he found himself in- dulging in one of his usual day-dreams. He wished to see himself clothed in purple and gold, and to possess a palace where his wretched hovel stood : furnished with all conceivable splendor, with a retinue of ser- vants to attend him ; a band of musicians to lull him to sleep ; and heaps of gold and silver. As his steed bore him to the spot where his wigwam had lately been, the beams of the setting sun glittered upon an object which filled him with astonishment and de- light. It was the palace he had erected in his imagination. With a thousand gilded minarets, tier above tier of splendid colonnades ; windows arched with marble and decorated with carved pillars, surmounted by architraves of elaborate workmanship ; and a grand entrance surpassing in magnifi- cence the most brilliant conception of any architect who ever lived, it fairly dazzled and bewildered the dreamer. As his horse stopped before a flight of white marble steps which led up to the great door, a company of obsequious individuals came forth bowing low. He alighted, and his noble horse was led round to the eastern wing of the building, where another vast door opened to receive him. Adamarantha entered the palace, fol- lowed by his new attendants, and was imme- diately saluted by others bowing to him in all directions. The vast vestibule was hung with tapestry, on which were painted the most extraordinary and beautiful scenes. Without allowing his new master time to look around upon the gorgeous novelties that on all sides presented themselves to his view, the grand chamberlain led the way into an inner apartment, large, splendidly furnished, and profusely adorned with statues and pic- tures. A chair of gold and crimson velvet was here placed before a table loaded with every delicacy. Meats and fruits were in abundance, in gold and silver dishes. Costly wines sparkled in ruby goblets. Around this hall were arranged statues and vases, the former of marble and bronze, the latter of emerald and porcelain, filled to overflowing with gold and silver coin. As Adamarantha paused before a large mirror, he saw that his person was altogether changed, and as he took his seat at the refreshment table a strain of enchanting music resounded from an elevated platform, whereon a large band of musicians was stationed. Six moons had waned before the enthu- siast had completed the inspection of the various apartments and countless wonders of his new residence. To describe them is not the object of this legend. But before the seventh moon had entirely disappeared he grew weary. The grandeur of his palace ceased to charm, and the enchanting music failed to please him ; the obsequiousness of his servants grew tiresome, and he found himself longing for fresh novelties. He called for his charger, Rodamonto, and rode forth. The horse flew over the plain and across the mountains as he had done before. " Give me," cried the rider, " a park and gardens the most beautiful in the world, and give me power as well as wealth. I must have an army that will conquer the world." His ride was ended. On his return to his palace he found it surrounded by a park of unrivalled beauty—shady groves of palm and acacia overhanging delightful avenues, flowers rich beyond description, and fruits that seemed new and strange to him met his eye on all sides. But what gave him more plea- sure than all these was a compact army of ten thousand men, heavily armed and gal- lantly horsed, which he found drawn up be- fore the entrance gate. Another moon came and went, the prince spending his time most agreeably in review- ing and exercising his troops. He then set forth at their head on his expedition to the city that had been the seat of his father's rule. On the way he promised himself the sweets of vengeance, and recalled to his mind the names of those persons who had been his enemies, planning their destruction. But when he arrived before the gates of the city, and with hostile demonstrations summoned it to surrender, he was answered that the king his uncle had already died of a horrible disorder, which was now raging and carrying off hundreds of victims daily : that the late king's son and daughter, the artful Wata- longa, and the beautiful Marioncella, lay at the point of death. And the deputation urged him with tears not to enter the city as a conqueror but as a friend, and kindly use his influence to alleviate the misery that per- vaded it. When he heard these tidings his heart melted ; he internally wished that the pestilence might be stayed, and from that moment not another victim died. He now entered the city at the head of his troops amid the acclamations of assembled thousands. His claim to the crown was duly examined by the authorities and acknow- ledged. His cousin Watalonga, much to his chagrin, was set aside, and Adamarantha was crowned king with great pomp. For awhile his ambition seemed satisfied. To secure

himself upon the throne he would have put Watalonga to death, if he had followed the advice of his ministers, but being averse to bloodshed he was contented with banishing him to a distance. The ambition of a man in whom love of self predominates is not easily satisfied, and so it proved with Adama- rantha. On various pretexts he picked quar- rels with the neighboring states. He went forth with his armies, always on his sable charger, and never rested until he had sub- jugated the whole country from sea to ocean under his irresistible sway. Meanwhile the passion of love was making fearful ravages in his heart. He had seen the beautiful Marioncella, and for the first time in his life he loved. He had seen her ten years before, but then she was a little child and he was too ideal to receive any per- manent impression. Now he saw her robed in the majesty of a beauty which he had considered too ethereal to belong to a crea- ture of gross flesh and blood. She was tall, her hair and eyes were black and lustrous, her skin shaded with the color of the olive, and her figure faultless. But Marioncella was as proud as she was beautiful, and gifted moreover with the qualities of a confirmed coquette. The throne was to her no mean prize, but so great was the force of habit that she determined to tantalize her royal lover, who now openly demanded her hand in marriage, before finally consenting to crown his felicity. With this object in view she sought on various pretexts to amuse him, to trifle with and keep him at a distance, and at the same time bring him to her feet as often as she pleased, without giving him any definite answer. She was mistress of many accomplishments, but above all else she prided herself upon her skill in horsemanship : conscious of being a graceful rider, she aimed at being without a rival in the art. When the King, worn out with im- patience, at length insisted upon a definite reply, her laughing answer was, " I will be thy queen on one condition—that thou givest me the horse which so often carries thee to victory." " Lady," he replied, " I could doubtless compel thee to become my queen, but although my power is great, my reputation is dear to me. Know, however, that wert thou to bring me as thy dower a thousand worlds like this in which we live I would not give thee my horse, which thou wilt do well not to covet." These words filled the haughty beauty with grief and dismay. She thought the king was jesting, but soon found she was mistaken. The idea of a refusal had not entered her mind, and it overwhelmed her with despair. But her indomitable pride came to her aid : con- fident that the charms she possessed would ultimately compel him to yield, she mentally resolved not to consent to become queen until her desire was gratified. Adamarantha having made himiself master of the island had now nothing more to per- form ; he once more became idle, gloomy, and restless. He frequently visited his palace of golden minarets under the Black Mountain, in search of fresh novelties, but he found that, though possessed of all that his fertile imagination could conceive, except a bride, the happiness he had sought for continually fled from his grasp. The more he pondered upon the reason of this the more miserable he became. He lay for whole days on his luxurious couch ; he wandered up and down his charming avenues ; sauntered amongst his pictures and statues ; stood before his vases full of gold and silver ; reviewed his idle troops ; and sailed on the waters of his lake in his silken-curtained barge—the same un- happy discontented being. Unable longer to endure the anguish of idleness, the dark thought of self-destruction came over him. But how to accomplish it was the question. Should he ascend to the top of the Black Mountain and cast himself on the pinnacles of his palace, or should he cause himself to be rowed to the middle of the lake, and then bury himself in its waters. While revolving these matters he received a message from Marioncella, requesting him to honor her with a visit. Through the influence of this maiden, her brother Watalonga had been released from captivity, and raised by gradual steps to be the first minister of the realm ; Adamaranthia having entertiained the idea of binding him to his service by the ties of love and grati- tude. Vain and hopeless idea ! His pro- motion on the contrary filled him with envy, hatred, and with schemes for his sovereign's destruction. He had discovered while in exile the residence of a powerful magician, and communicated his discovery to his sister. She instantly determined to avail herself of this wizard's services in placing her lover under the influences of enchantment, so that he might be the more easily persuaded to yield to her the possession of his valued steed. She went herself to the sorcerer's cave and told her story. " It is a case, lady," said the magician, " fraught with danger and difficulty, but we will try to subdue this haughty king. I will place my spells upon him whilst thou shalt send for him to thy palace ; repeat thy re- quest, and if he refuses beg him at least to re- ceive a cup of wine at thy hands, and accept this jewelled riding whip as a present." Marioncella returned home and dispatched her message. She waited with trepidation till her royal lover should appear, and was charmed when she saw him leap from his magnificent charger, and hastily enter her palace gate. He advanced towards her with a smile, and said as he took her hand, " Lady, art thou yet ready ?" " Yes," she replied, " if thou wilt give me the steed I covet." " Never," said the king, " shall that horse have another master, and his temper would brook no mistress. Is there naught else I can give thee ?" " Nothing," answered Marioncella, discon- solately ; " yet, my king, deign to drink this

cup of wine, and accept this little gift as a token of my love." He drank the wine, and carelessly took into his hand the jewelled riding whip, not noticing that the hand of Marioncella trem- bled. The wine made him feel so desirous of sleep that he lay down on an embroidered couch and slept. He arose after some hours' rest, bade the princess adieu, and called for his horse. The animal was brought, but as his master approached, the steed quailed and was seized with a sudden fit of trembling. Adamarantha, struck with astonishment, looked about to see what could be the cause of the horse's uneasiness : presently his eyes rested on the whip which he held in his hand. With a gesture of impatience he broke it in two, threw it from him, vaulted into his saddle, and disappeared. Marioncella, on witnessing this scene from the window of her palace, was overcome with disappointment and confusion. She sank upon the couch on which her royal lover had so lately lain, and gave way to a passion of tears. Her attendants tried to console her, but the more they tried the more did her sighs and tears increase. A thousand times did she regret the foolish and perverse posi- tion she had taken up, but her pride forbade her to abandon it. Had it not been for her childish coquetry she might now be queen the wife of a young king for whom she had a tender regard. She raved ; she tore her beautiful hair ; she beat her breast with frantic screams ; she banished her maidens from her presence. The prize which she thought within her reach—nay, in her very grasp—had receded to an immeasurable dis- tance. She was inconsolable. When Adamarantha once more bestrode his potent charger he felt cheerfulness and love of life return to his soul. He went to his palace in the city, and was informed that his prime minister, Watalonga, was absent in the provinces dispatching important business. But this intelligence was false—devised by the cunning Watalonga himself on purpose to throw the king off his guard. He was in concealment not far off. His plan for the murder of the king was now matured, and it was settled that the royal throat should be deliberately cut that very night if he slept in his palace in the city. The king's time, how- ever, was not yet come. He visited his palace, and finding that no urgent affairs re- quired his presence, he threw the reins on his charger's neck and abandoned him to his dis- cretion. When this was done the steed knew what his master's pleasure was, and he flew with the speed of a tornado to the valley of the Black Mountain. Before he arrived at his magnificent home a sudden thought struck the king. " Let," he exclaimed, half aloud, " my enemies, those who are plotting against my life, be assembled together in the banquet- ing hall of my palace when I return." When he alighted at the palace gate his chamberlain met him with great ceremony, and informed him that his prime minister, Watalonga, along with a few of the great officers of state, awaited his presence in the banqueting hall. The king was surprised. " Is there a woman with them ?" he asked. " No, Sire." " She is innocent then," said Adamarantha to himself, " yet her wine was powerful." Without taking any notice of Watalonga or his officers he retired to his sleeping apart- ment, and reposed till morning. Then he entered the banqueting hall and looked long and sternly upon the group before him. Suddenly he turned to his prime minister and said— " If I had made thee king, Watalonga, what would have been my recompense ?" " Eternal gratitude and love," replied the minister. " Thou liest !—it would have been death or a living tomb," said the king. The conspirators seeing that their plots were discovered, fell on their knees and im- plored the royal mercy. The king rang a bell, and a number of armed guards entered the hall. " Let all," he said, " but Watalonga return to their homes, and let them beware how they appear a second time in this place ; but take Watalonga to the summit of the Black Mountain and hurl him from thence. It is thus Adamarantha punishes ingra- titude." It was in vain that Watalonga implored mercy, the king was inexorable, and the guards hurried their prisoner away. At noon the next day the dreadful sentence was executed, and his mangled body lay at the foot of the mountain. When the tidings of this tragical event reached the ears of Marioncella she was seized with consternation. She imagined that the king in his wrath would seek to execute vengeance upon her as he had al- ready done upon her brother. She rose up in haste, determined upon again consulting the magician whose spells had already been so powerless. In great fear and doubt, but not without hope, she entered the cave of the magician and said— " Sorcerer, thou hast deceived me !" He turned upon her a look of pity mingled with contempt, and replied—" Lady, I have not deceived thee, but the power that worketh against thee is mightier than mine. Never- theless, we will try this obstinate king once more : if we succeed, well ; if not, thy de- struction will follow. Hast thou courage to dare thy fate ?" " Yes," replied the princess, " I will die sooner than be humbled." " Take, then, these golden spurs ; when he has drunk the wine thou wilt give him he will sleep. Buckle these on his feet with thine own hands, but mark that he sees them not, and watch the result. I will double my enchantments." She returned to her palace with renewed hope, and immediately despatched a mes- senger on a swift horse to beseech her gra- cious lord the king to condescend to visit her once more ; she was ill and almost weary of life. Such was the message. To add to

the enchantment of the magician—and insure her victory over her lover she had deter- mined to feign illness. Ere a messenger, however, arrived at the palace of the Black Mountain, Adamarantha had departed on a long journey on important business of state. Report said that he was about to withdraw his affections from his cousin Marioncella, and marry some less fastidious maiden. The messenger returned to his mistress, and told her what was whis- pered abroad. The agony of Marioncella at this intelligence was almost insupportable, but she renewed her orders to her messenger, commanding him to follow and find the king at all hazards, cost what it would. The sun had travelled over his daily track, and coolled his burning face in the depths of the distant ocean seventeen times since the departure of the messenger, when Marioncella was surprised by the sudden arrival, of the king. He came as usual on his sable steed Rodamonto, and as he alighted at the gate of the princess's palace he whispered, " I will never part with thee, my noble steed." An equery took charge of the horse and Ada- marantha sought his cousin. He found her in an apartment cooled by fountains, reclining on a couch amid the richest perfumes and brightest embroidery, surrounded by a group of sorrowing maidens. They made way for the king. " Thou art ill, my cousin," he said, bending over her. A deep sigh answered him, while with a gesture she dismissed her attendants. They were now alone, and the king's stub- born heart began to relent. He was pene- trated by the spectacle of the haughty beauty thus to all appearance humbled to the dust— " Ask what thou wilt," he said, passionately —" I will give thee my kingdom. I will build ships, go forth and conquer other kingdoms, and thou shalt be my bride." " Yes," said the princess, in feeble accents, " I now know that thou wilt give me—only say thou wilt give me—the sable charger that so often carries thee to victory." " Maiden !" he replied, " I will give thee all I possess—palace, land, and slave—but my steed I never can part with, even by an idle breath." Marioncella sank back on her couch with a profound sigh and murmured—" So perish all my hopes." After indulging in a flood of tears, while the king sat immovably at a little distance, she arose slowly and going towards a table whereon cake and wine were placed, filled a ruby cup, and presenting it to him kneeling, she said— " If for the last time, my king, my cousin, deign to accept at my hands this cup of wine —I would mingle with it my tears, for my heart is broken." Adamarantha paused for a moment, but at length he took the cup, and said— " Is this wine of the purest vintage, or how comes it, Marioncella, that I can drink wine from other goblets and not be stupefied ?" " It is," answered the princess, " of the purest vintage—it is as pure as the heavenly fluid that distils from the summit of Kimi- Balu, as I am the soul of honor." " I take thee at thy word," said the king, and he drained the goblet to the dregs. No sooner had he done so that he reeled back to the couch, and fell down at full length upon it. The trembling Marioncella waited for a while till she heard the heavy breathing which assured her he was in a deep sleep ; she then cautiously approached and buckled on the golden spurs as the magician had commanded her. . After sleeping for many hours Adamarantha awoke. The beams of the morning sun darted through the window and rested upon him as he lay. He arose hastily much dis- turbed in his mind, partook of a slight re- freshment with a dissatisfied air, and called for his horse. The noble animal was brought, and, as on a former occasion, trembled when his master approached him. The king was much surprised, but having no whip in his hand now, he thought there must be some other cause unconnected with himself, and never thought of looking at his heels. He mounted and rode away, his horse exhibiting various signs of trepidation ; but as the spur had not yet touched his side, all went well. The princess watched him from her window, thinking he could not see her, but he looked up and bowed to her--as he passed. It could be difficult to tell which she admired most, the horse or his rider. She was watch- ing for favorable results, but she saw none. still she was not hopeless, for he had not thrown away the spurs. It was evening when Adamarantha ap- proached his palace, his horse trembling as usual like a bird on the wings of the tempest. The sun was setting and threw its rich golden beams on the pinnacles of the enchanted palace, which stood the most brilliant object of a charming landscape. Before it lay the sleep- ing lake, in itself an object of quiet sylvan beauty. Behind it stood the gigantic moun- tain, whose summit seemed to support the heavens and kiss the ruddy and shining clouds that nestled as it were about its neck, and reflecting from its black and polished front the azure glow concentrated upon it by the softly beautiful sky. Around it grew the stately trees, and flowers of gorgeous colors ; while the guards in brilliant armor kept watch amongst groups of marble nymphs in groves of garcinia, anonad, citron, and areca palm, and countless shrubs with ravishing perfumes. Adamarantha checked his horse on a distant eminence and surveyed the scene before him. He burst into a paroxysm of rapture and said aloud—" What if Marioncella could see this palace ; and why should I not give her my steed ? I have all I can wish for—he is no further use to me—I will give him to her, and she shall be my bride at last." As he spoke he raised himself in his saddle—the spurs touched his horse's flanks : the animal reared, plunged forward, and fell groaning to the earth. The king at this moment, seeing the fatal spurs,

cursed his treacherous mistress. He saw that his charger was dying—was dead ! In an instant a fearful typhoon swept over the plain, and a dull heavy crash louder than a thousand thunders burst upon his terrified senses. He looked for his palace, it was gone—the waters of the lake were frightfully agitated—the mountain had fallen, and had buried palace, gardens, tree, and guards under a heap of sparkling ruins. While the unhappy king stamped on the ground with rage at seeing his beautiful palace destroyed in a moment, and his in- comparable steed lying dead beside him, he became conscious of the presence of the demon or spirit of the mountain. He turned and beheld the extraordinary spectre smiling maliciously. Still burning with fury, Adamarantha dared him to do his worst. The fiend almost laughed as he replied—" Con- temptible mortal ! thou didst wish for wealth, and wouldst not work for it ; for happiness, and yet livedst for thyself alone. Return to thy poverty, and learn that happiness cannot be purchased by wealth, and that harrassing care is rarely, if ever, separated from power." The remarkable manuscript from which this legend is transcribed further informs us that the capricious maiden, Marioncella, was destroyed by her own machinations to secure the gratification of a ridiculous whim. When her attendants went to her the same evening they found her lying on her coach cold and dead. On the subject of the subsequent career of Adamarantha it merely says that he found his way back to his chief city after a painful journey on foot, assumed the reins of government, governed wisely for many years, and died at a venerable age, having never been heard to complain of the evils of idle- ness after the loss of his remarkable steed. When Edwin ceased reading Mrs. Max- well, after a short silence, said that it was an interesting story after the manner of the Arabian Nights, but had the fault, she thought, of being written in too florid a style. Mr. Maxwell had fallen asleep in his chair. Griselda thought it was better than many stories which she had seen and read in actual print, and the moral to be drawn from it very good. Charles than began to laugh, and broke out with—" Why, you don't call it an original story ! It's only a second edition of Aladdin and his wonderful lamp. I would never write such miserable twaddle." " I question very much if you could write it," said his mother, " or anything like it." Edwin said that it afforded much pleasure to a snap-dragon reviewer to get hold of some- thing upon which he could display his great talents for fault finding. As a mariner must look for tempests, so an author must expect criticism ; and he only hoped that the criticism he should receive would never be more severe than what he had experienced that evening. He then wished his friends—good night, and retired to his room. His romantic ideas were concealed by a calm and placid face, but in his heart there burned a consuming fire. What was it fair and gentle reader ? (To be continued.)