There is one of nature's spiritual ditties, that has not yet been set to words or human music: `The Invitation to the Road'; an air continually sounding in the ears of gipsies, and to whose inspiration our nomadic fathers journeyed all their days. The hour, the season, and the scene, all were in delicate accordance. The air was full of birds of passage, steering westward and northward over Grünewald, an army of specks to the up-looking eye. And below, the great practicable road was bound for the same quarter.
But to the two horsemen on the knoll this spiritual ditty was unheard. They were, indeed, in some concern of mind, scanning every fold of the subjacent forest, and betraying both anger and dismay in their impatient gestures.
`I do not see him, Kuno,' said the first huntsman, `nowhere -- not a trace, not a hair of the mare's tail! No, sir, he's off; broke cover and got away. Why, for twopence I would hunt him with the dogs!'
`Mayhap, he's gone home,' said Kuno, but without conviction.
`Home!' sneered the other. `I give him twelve days to get home. No, it's begun again; it's as it was three years ago, before he married; a disgrace! Hereditary prince, hereditary fool! There goes the government over the borders on a grey mare. What's that? No, nothing -- no, I tell you, on my word, I set more store by a good gelding or an English dog. That for your Otto!'
`He's not my Otto,' growled Kuno.
`Then I don't know whose he is,' was the retort.
`You would put your hand in the fire for him to-morrow,' said Kuno, facing round.
`Me!' cried the huntsman. `I would see him hanged! I'm a Grünewald patriot -- enrolled, and have my medal, too; and I would help a prince! I'm for liberty and Gondremark.'
`Well, it's all one,' said Kuno. `If anybody said what you said, you would have his blood, and you know it.'
`You have him on the brain,' retorted his companion. `There he goes!' he cried, the next moment.
And sure enough, about a mile down the mountain, a rider on a white horse was seen to flit rapidly across a heathy open and vanish among the trees on the farther side.
`In ten minutes he'll be over the border into Gerolstein,' said Kuno. `It's past cure.'
`Well, if he founders that mare, I'll never forgive him,' added the other, gathering his reins.
And as they turned down from the knoll to rejoin their comrades, the sun dipped and disappeared, and the woods fell instantly into the gravity and greyness of the early night.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|