" I purpose now to communicate to you by word of mouth the contents of the book which I have destroyed. I will do this with good faith and without reserve, unless you yourself can be persuaded to forego your own right to such a communication." Elias paused, flattering himself as it seemed that his son would forego his right. But in this he was mistaken; Rudolph was far too eager for the disclosure, and earnestly pressed his father to proceed. Again Elias hesitated, and threw a glance of profound love and pity upon his son, - a glance that conjured him to think better, and to waive his claim, but this being at length obviously hopeless, he spoke as follows: "The book relates chiefly to yourself; it points to you as to the last of our race. You turn pale. Surely, Rudolph, it would have been better that you had resolved to trouble yourself no further about it?" "No," said Rudolph, recovering his self-possession. " No; for it still remains a question whether this prophecy be true." "It does so; it does, no doubt." "' And is this all that the book says in regard to me?" " No, it is not all; there is something more. But possibly you will only laugh when you hear it; for at this day nobody believes in such strange stories. However, be that as it may, the book goes on to say plainly and positively, that the Evil One (Heaven protect us!) will make you an offer tending greatly to your worldly advantage." Rudolph laughed outright, an.d replied, that, judging by the grave exterior of the book, he had looked to hear of more serious contents. "Well, well, my son," said the old man, "I know not that I myself am disposed to place much confidence in these tales of contracts with the devil. But, true or not, we ought not to laugh at them. Enough for me that under any circumstances I am satisfied you have so much natural piety, that you would reject all worldly good fortune that could meet you upon unhallowed paths." Here Elias would have broken off, but Rudolph said, "One thing more I wish to know: what is to be the nature of the good fortune offered to me? and did the book say whether I should accept it or not?" "Upon the nature of the good fortune the writer has not explained himself; all that he says is, that by a discreet use of it, it is in your power to become a very great man. Whether you will accept it —but God preserve thee, my child, from any thought so criminal -upon this question there is a profound silence. Nay, it seems even as if this trader in black arts had at that very point been overtaken by death, for he had broken off in the very middle of the word. The Lord have mercy upon his soul! " Little as Rudolph's faith was in the possibility of such a proposal, yet he was uneasy at his father's communication and visibly disturbed; so that the latter said to him, "' Had it not been better, Rudolph, that you had left the mystery to be buried with me in the grave?" Rudolph said, "No:" but his restless eye and his agitated air too evidently approved the accuracy of his father's solicitude. The deep impression upon Rudolph's mind from this conversation the last he was ever to hold with his father- was rendered still deeper by the solemn event which followed. About the middle of that same night he was awakened suddenly by a summons to his father's bedside; his father was dying, and earnestly asking for him. "3My son!" he exclaimed with an expression of the bitterest anguish; stretched out both his arms in supplication towards him; and in the anguish of the effort he expired. The levity of youthful spirits soon dispersed the gloom which at first hung over Rudolph's mind. Surrounded by jovial companions at the university which he now visited, he found no room left in his bosom for sorrow or care: and his heaviest affliction was the refusal of his guardian at times to comply with his too frequent importunities for money. After a residence of one year at the university, some youthful irregularities in which Rudolph was concerned subjected him, jointly with three others, to expulsion. Just at that time the Seven Years' War happened to break out; two of the party, named Theiler and Werl, entered the military service together with Rudolph; the last very much against the will of a young woman to whom he was engaged. Charlotte herself, however, became reconciled to this arrangement, when she saw that her objections availed nothing against Rudolph's resolution, and heard her lover describe in the most flattering colors his own return to her arms in the uniform of an officer; for that his distinguished courage must carry him in the very first campaign to the rank of lieutenant, was as evident to his own mind as that he could not possibly fall on the field of battle. The three friends were fortunate enough to be placed in the same company. But, in the first battle, Werl and Theiler were stretched lifeless by Rudolph's side; Werl by a musket-ball through his heart, and Theiler by a cannon-shot which took off his head. Soon after this event, Rudolph himself returned home; but how? Not, as he had fondly anticipated, in the brilliant decorations of a distinguished officer, but as a prisoner in close custody: in a transport of youthful anger he had been guilty, in company with two others, of insubordination and mutiny. The court-martial sentenced them to death. The judges, however, were so favorably impressed by their good conduct while under confinement, that they would certainly have recommended them unconditionally to the royal mercy, if it had not been deemed necessary to make an example. However, the sentence was so far mitigated, that only one of the three was to be shot. And which was he? That point was reserved in suspense until the day of execution, when it was to be decided by the cast of the dice. As the fatal day drew near, a tempest of passionate grief assailed the three prisoners. One of them was agitated by the tears of his father; the second, by the sad situation of a sickly wife and two children. The third, Rudolph, in case the lot fell upon him, would be summoned to part not only with his life, but also with a young and blooming bride, that lay nearer to his heart than anything else in the world. "AAh!" said he on the evening before the day of final decision, "Ah! if but this once I could secure a lucky throw of the dice!" And scarce was the wish uttered, when his comrade Werl, whom he had seen fall by his side in the field of battle, stepped into his cell. "So, brother Schroll, I suppose you didn't much expect to see me?" "No, indeed, did I not," exclaimed Rudolph in consternation; for, in fact, on the next day after the battle he had seen with his own eyes this very Werl committed to the grave. "Ay, ay, it's strange enough, I allow; but there are not many such surgeons as he is that belongs to our regir,24,- J''d m- ~dat-mp amp; &c uiW Ong ff e rctniofra? aggf'r, I'11 assure you. One would think the man was a conjurer. Indeed, there are many things he can do which I defy any man to explain; and to say the truth, I'm convinced he can execute impossibilities." "Well, so let him, for aught that I care; all his art will scarcely do me any good."
Schroll was agitated by the picture, which called up and reanimated in his memory, with the power of a mighty tormentor, all his honorable plans and prospects from that innocent period of his life. At this moment the dice cracked for the first time; and Schroll turned his face towards the flames. A second time the smoke stifled the light in order to reveal a second picture. He saw himself on the day before the scene of the sand-hill, sitting in his dungeon. The clergyman was with him. From the expression of his countenance, he appeared to be just saying: "'Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." Rudolph thought of the disposition in which he then was, of the hopes which the clergyman had raised in him, and of the feeling which he then had, that he was still worthy to be reunited to his father, or had become worthy by bitter penitence. The next fracture of the die disturbed the scene, -but to substitute one that was not at all more consolatory. For now appeared a den of thieves, in which the unhappy widow of Weber was cursing her children, who - left without support, without counsel, without protection - had taken to evil courses. In the background stood the bleeding father of these ruined children, one hand stretched out towards Schroll with a menacing gesture, and the other lifted towards heaven with a record of impeachment against him. At the third splitting of the dice, out of the bosom of the smoke arose the figure of his murdered wife, who seemed to chase him from one corner of the room to another, until at length she came and took a seat at the fire-place; by the side of which, as Rudolph now observed with horror, his buried father and the unhappy Weber had stretched themselves; and they carried on together a low and noiseless whispering and moaning, that agitated him with a mysterious horror.