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THE REFUGEES OF THE BLACK those two hundred years. Few kingdoms on her FOREST.
map wear the same social or political aspect. Few CHAPTER FIRST.
cities present the same features to the traveller's It is long since the middle of the seventeenth eye. Feudal fortresses have fallen to ruins, and faccentury, and Europe has seen many changes in tories risen since then; forests have disappeared ; No. 53, 1853.
schools and churches have multiplied ; vassalage valley's eastern entrance. It was inhabited by and witchcraft are long-forgotten things, except a widow named Madame Rosa, with her son with the historian ; and, more than all, the spirit of Gueslin, her daughter Eglantine, and their ola religious intolerance, though not utterly subdued, servant Marietta. In the nearest cottage, which has ceased for the present to rule and reign among stood among vineyards overlooking the lake, dwelt the nations. It was not our generation, nor even a missionary, pastor Joseph, with his nephew, and our country, that won this victory, though Eng. three nieces called the Constants. The next was land's freedom has been built on patriot and mar- situated on a broad green slope, and belonged to tyr tombs. Men of every age and land have stood the old shepherd Gaston Renaud, and his family ; in the breach against bigotry and barbarism for us while the third, standing in the shadow of the and for the world, but none more firmly than that rocks, at the western corner, was the home of two primitive people known as the Vaudois. In the brothers, Carlo and Phillibert du Roche, who huntvalleys and ravines of the central Alps, surrounded ed the chamois together. The cottagers' cattle by principalities and powers that were but the vas grazed in the same wide pastures, their flocks were sals of papal Rome, in times whose thick darkness gathered into the same fold; their corn-fields and gave boundless scope to priestly craft and cruelty, vineyards grew on the sunny slopes without a they kept through the fires of persecution and the fence between them. In harvest work and winter peace of obscurity the faith and form of early and losses each was ready to help another, and all the uncorrupted Christianity—a simple and home- surrounding valleys knew them as the Mountain loving yet heroic people, who have bequeathed Friends. Between them and the inhabitants of their faith and fame to posterity, in spite of popes the tower a feeling of good neighbourhood had and kings. The Alpine hamlets still hold in tra- always subsisted. Each had a kindly greeting for ditional reverence many a name unknown to gene- the other when they met. They had interchanged ral history, and we would relate the story of some all manner of helps and friendly offices, but their among that cloud of witnesses.
ways, their works, and their worship were apart, In one of the loftiest peaks of the Col de Julien, the Rosas being distant branches of a noble Savoyat the height of 3000 feet above sea-level, there lies ard family, and professing the Romish creed, while a deep hollow or cleft, extending some two leagues the cottagers were Vaudois, and firm in the faith of along the mountain side, and known to the hill their fathers. people as Repos de Berger, or the Shepherd's-rest. Cottage and tower in the Shepherd's-rest were On the south-east and west a vast expanse of moor. old; moss and fern grew on their roofs and ivy on land pasture slopes up from the pine forest which their walls, though likely to stand many a winter clothes the mountain's base, and down into this yet in their rustic strength. Wanderers from the verdant valley. On the north a barrier of primeval valley hamlets had sought refuge there in times rock rises in rugged terraces to the foot of the of persecution. The men had been always first glaciers : from some of its crags, the valleys of among the Vaudois of the hills who came down to Lower and Upper Angrogna, the long vale of do battle for the Alpine homes and churches; but Lucerna, the pass of La Vacherie, and the spires of neither priest nor soldier had ever broken the La Torre, can be seen on a clear day. Streams wan- peace of their homes. No taxes had impoverished?, der down their gray sides and unite in a small lake no war had wasted the valley ; but the plague at the deepest part of the dell. There frost seldom which devastated the Waldensian country some binds the waters. Protected from the Alpine fifteen years before, found its way thither in spite storms, and open to the sun, the Shepherd's-rest of the pure mountain air, and took a heavy tribute enjoys a climate of its own, extraordinary for mild- from every household. The proprietress of the ness at that elevation. No inundation has ever tower had lost her husband and three children. come down, no avalanche fallen upon it. Wild From the old shepherd his wife and daughter hacı vines, roses, and chestnut trees yet grow along the been called away. The chamois hunters saw their base of the rocky barrier, but the guides say it is parents and two young sisters laid in the grave; long since they were planted. There is not a trace and, last of all, the summoner took the Constants' of home nor habitation now, but the long grass father and mother. They were mourned not only and wild weeds grow thick on two or three scattered in the Shepherd's-rest, but far and wide among mounds. The lark makes her nest among them, the mountain hamlets, for Jacob Constant had been and sings there ; the gray vulture builds in the a missionary pastor, laborious, fearless, and faithrocks ; the chamois descends to drink at the lake; ful. His wife Marguerite was regarded as a but a human footstep rarely breaks the solitude of “mother in Israel," and their children were scarce the Shepherd's-rest.
beyond infancy; but they left them in faith and It was not so two hundred years ago. The hope to the mercy of God and the care of pastor goat-herd from the valleys, who climbed thus far in Joseph. search of a stray kid, or the hunter overtaken by That woe was long passed. Fifteen years had the mountain storm, was sure of rest and shelter in done their work on heart and home. Orphan any one of the four dwellings composing its scat- children had grown to maturity, and widowed tered hamlet. Three were cottages built in the partners old; and on a morning of early spring in old Swiss fashion, square and low, with tent-like the year 1654, when the young corn was rising roofs, and porches at their doors. Their walls from the soil, the vines and chestnuts bursting into were of logs from the forest, their roofs of reeds leaf, and violets clustering thick under rock and and moss; but the fourth was a square tower of tree, two processions of festive though different solid stone, with a battlemented roof, and a sculp- appearance wound up the rocky path to the tower. tured shield above the narrow door. The tower One consisted of youths and maidens from all the stood on a projecting platform of rock at the families of the Rosas' faith for leagues around, with gay looks and garments. They came to the her track. She flew homeward in breathless terror, wedding of the widow's only daughter, Eglantine, but would never have reached the cottage, for the with her noble relative, the Castellan Bazzano; famished monster gained on her every step, when the other of the Mountain Friends, young and Gueslin Rosa, who saw her danger from the front old, in their best attire, and trying to look chee- of his own house, where he had been clearing fireful as befitted the occasion. They could scarce 7 wood, seized his hatchet, and, rushing boldly on be called bridal guests. Though long and good the wolf, laid it dead at a blow. The Constants neighbours to the Rosas, the earnest Protestants made him a map of the skin, which Gueslin wore of the Alps would not countenance by their pre- long after like a trophy. By degrees he came to sence any ceremony of a corrupt creed; but Eg. attend the Vaudois meetings at their cottage, and lantine's eldest brother, Gueslin, had so strongly had solicited this token of rustic friendship to his requested pastor Joseph and his people to come in family. old mountain fashion and take leave of his sister The old tower looked gay and gallant with white before her wedding, that they could not in civility flags waving from its battlements ; green boughs refuse, though the pastor was that morning to and flowers covered the winding path which led up set out on his missionary way, escorted, as usual, the rocks to its threshold, where Madame Rosa by the three families to the foot of the mountain. and her son stood in the fashion of Alpine hospi
For more than fifty years there had now been tality to welcome all comers. The widow's neighpeace in their country. The failure of the cele- ! bours knew her to be gentle and kind, and devout brated Catholic league, and the heroic defence after the superstitious fashion of her faith. There made by their fathers in the preceding century; had not been a fairer girl in the valley of Pragella, the ravages of the plague, and the civil war which where she was born, nor a happier wife on the raged between the princes of Savoy in that of our hills ; but she had never recovered from the shock story, secured to the churches a rest from perse of her great loss, and its memory brought the cution longer than they had ever experienced since decay and feebleness of old age upon her, though the early and peaceful times. In that interval of little beyond life's noon. There were not sixteen quiet, the friendly feeling which, when rulers or years between Gueslin Rosa and his mother. He priests permitted, had always prevailed among the was twenty-three: his fair open brow was all of Alpine villagers of both creeds, grew and strength hopeful and light-hearted youth ; but his broken. ened. It was cemented by deeds of mutual charity down mother and young sister had looked to him during the visitation of the plague, by rural com- as the head of their house from boyhood, and the merce, and by the interchange of helps and hospi- feeling of responsibility thus early induced had talities. The Roman Catholics, especially in remote given a brave but serious expression to his face, hamlets, which monks or friars rarely visited, for and a manly stability, not common at those years, got that they had been taught to reckon as heretics to his character. Nevertheless, Gueslin “ lacked their honest kindly neighbours, and termed the one thing :” he had yet no real concern about reliVaudois faith “ the religion of the valley”. This gion. Shaken from the faith in which he had been was particularly the case in the wild vicinity of brought up by better knowledge, he sought infor the Shepherd's-rest. Its priest, father Ambrose, mation rather than safety, and doubted without had a most extensive parish, but his pastoral duties believing. were bounded by saying mass on all holy days in There approached one who had prayed for him his chapel at La Torre, beyond which he seldom oftener than Gueslin ever did for himself. Pastor rentured, grumbling at the tithes, and giving Joseph wore the coarse cloak and lambskin bonnet absolution to all who came and paid for it. The common to the mountain shepherds. The winter missionary pastor had laboured, not without some storm and summer sun had beaten on his brow, hope of success, in that neglected field; by his ex- and left their traces ; but there was visible the calm ertions, a faint knowledge of scriptural truth had and lofty thought that had found truth through been diffused among the scattered cottagers; a few many strivings, and counted all things but loss for old and serious people stole at times to hear his the knowledge and service of his Lord. Ever sermons, generally delivered in poor huts or on the since the plague first broke out in the valleys, he mountain side, and his neighbour, the widow, had was kno' n among their churches as one of the anbeen induced to let her son and daughter attend cient ord r of barbes, or pastors, whose chosen the school which he kept at the Constants' cottage vocation it was to journey wherever their ministraon summer evenings for by such means alone tions were most required. For ages before Luther could the Rosas have learned to read. Possessing preached had these fearless and faithful missionmuch that was promising, pastor Joseph had hope aries kept the lamp of truth burning in the remote concerning that family that they would yet be corners of France, Italy, and Germany, to which brought from darkness into light, and a recent Romish persecutions had driven the Waldensian occurrence had brought the Constants still nearer brethren. By far the greater number closed their an intimacy with the inhabitants of the tower. career in martyrdom; but successors were always
One evening towards the end of the late winter, found for the work, though few so gifted or famous their youngest girl had wandered to the valley's as pastor Joseph. If he had another name, none eastern limit, in search of her pet lamb, whose but the Constants knew it. Their father had tracks she traced in the snow. There was no fear adopted him as a brother, twenty years before, in the Shepherd's-rest, wolves rarely approached, when he came a stranger to the Shepherd's-rest; but that season was severe, and one great grisly ever since the family had called him uncle. He creature had found its way thither unknown to the had laboured first with Jacob Constant, and then hunters. The young girl heard its howl on the alone as a missionary. wild moor, and the next moment the wolf was on In the order they were wont to keep when de. scending the mountains, in pastor Joseph's absence, in a breath, for both were gratified by the little to the old church of Angrogna, came his small but attention, but their greetings were scarcely uttered faithful flock-Victor and Renee Constant, a twin when the bridegroom's train appeared. Few steeds brother and sister, hand in hand as usual, leading could be trusted to climb the mountain paths, but the march. They were a year younger than Gues- the Castellan Bazzano came, as his rank required, lin Rosa, and as much alike as brother and sister on lorseback, with scarlet doublet, and mantle lined could be. Each had the same clear brown com- with miniver. Close by his side, in full canonicals, plexion, the same frank and modest look. It was and mounted on a trusty mule, rode father Bera proverb on the hills, how they toiled together in nardo, the Dominican prior, who had charge of his field and vineyard ; how they had worked and cared grandmother's conscience for the last thirty years, for their younger sisters ever since their parents' and came at her express desire to perform the death, through the long and frequent absence of ceremony. Next a mule for his bride, covered with their uncle.°of the two girls who followed, Clare scarlet cloth, was led on by two young pages. His was like her sister Rence; but a casual observer trumpeter, bearing the banner of his house, marched might have noted that her shining hair was ar- slowly before him, and his armed retainers, in buff ranged to the best advantage under the gay hand- coats and steel caps, brought up the rear. The kerchief which, for many a generation, had formed noble Castellan, Robert del Bazzano-so ran his the only head-dress of the mountain maids and titles—was descended, though not in the direct line, matrons, and the simple linen gown was fastened from one of the noblest and most reduced families with a knot of rose-coloured ribbon. The young in Savoy, and at the period of our story was seignest, Louisin, whom Gueslin had saved from the eur of their ancient fortalice and greatly diminished wolf, was not yet grown to womanhood—a fair, land situated on the Piedmontese frontier and in slender girl, with hair like the ripe corn, and a look the shadow of Mount Cenis. The Castellan had so wisely innocent, that one might marvel to see it strong expectations from his grandmother on the in a world of so much folly and sin: she resembled maternal side, a châtelaine in her own right, and none of the Constants, and, though much beloved, marchioness dowager of Susa. He had served the was but an adopted child. The little hamlet knew duchess Maria Christine with credit in the war she that some time before the plague a poor frozen waged with her two brothers-in-law for the regency woman, with a baby in her bosom, came one winter of Savoy, and was a soldier-like gentleman of night to Jacob Constant's door. The kind pastor Europe's rough old times, with grizzling hair, and took her in, but she only lived till morning, and nothing remarkable about him except a disquiet all they heard of her sorrows or history was what look, which came over his brow at times in the Joseph said when they laid her in the Angrogna security of his own castle and even in festive hours. churchyard, that she had been a Vaudois, and came Some said it arose from fears regarding his grandthrough strange tribulations for her faith. The mother's testament, for she was a rigid devotee, child she left was brought up in Jacob's household. while the Castellan was by no means zealous in his His children called her sister, and all the valley, religion; others whispered that he had reached his Louisin Constant.
inheritance by help of the Inquisition; but nothing Close behind her came old Gaston Renaud, the of that was known in the Shepherd's-rest. shepherd. He said the place had been named from Such, then, were the two different processions one of his ancestors who came up and rested there that had now approached the old tower. when the red-cross men wasted the Lyonese country with fire and sword; that his father had fought for the valleys against the army of Count de la Trinité, and himself remembered two persecutions. The
A TOUCH OF THE MYSTERIOUS. old man's hair was long and white as the glaciers, Or all stories that are told none have so absorbing but he looked like an oak that might weather many an influence over the human mind as a ghost story. a winter, and needed no staff to help him up the This remark, perhaps, might have been made years rock, but the arm of his second son, Humbert. Hum- ago with even greater propriety than at the prebert was a dark handsome man, but his bearing sent time, for as knowledge has become more was somewhat too stately for a shepherd s son, and generally diffused, and superstitious tales been his glance discovered a high and fiery spirit, which subjected to a closer scrutiny, much that was once at times went beyond the meekness of his faith | believed is now discredited. There is, however, and people. Next came his elder brother, Jaspar, still a disposition very hastily to attribute to with his wife Ambroisinema simple homely pair as supernatural causes such events as cannot on comtheir father and mother had been ; but the one led mon principles be explalned. As in seasons of little Jaspar, and the other little Ambroisine along danger every quailing heart takes away from the by the tiny hand. The youngest, Claude, a grave, confidence of those around, so in cases of mystery gentle youth, had devoted himself to the pastoral every one that gives in his adhesion to error office, studied in the ancient school of the barbes, becomes a traitor to the truth, and betrays the which stood deep in the Pra del Torre, and was about cause which he ought to investigate. Bu* to our to be the companion of pastor Joseph in his mis- tale. sionary wanderings. The procession was closed by We go back to a period when, with youth sparkCarlo and Phillibert du Roche, the hunter brothers, ling in our eyes, hope told us many a flattering with their earnest eyes and weather-beaten faces, tale of those years through which we have since best coats of chamois skin, and long mountain passed. We were then living in a populous town, rifles, brightly scoured, and ready to fire the wed- whose reputation for useful and ornamental manuding, salute.
factures is wide as the world. A report was sud"Welcome friends !" cried the mother and son denly spread around, that in the habitation of a certain tailor the windows were broken in an which added greatly to the mystery that prevailed, unknown and most mysterious manner. Great and altogether changed its character, for it was was the sensation produced by this wondrous observed that the lead which had held the broken announcement, and we were among the first who window-panes was bent outwards, thereby exciting hastened to the spot. On arriving at the house suspicion that the mischief was done from the inwe found it a scene of confusion. Neighbours side of the house. were going in and out; strangers were arriving Before this discovery it was usually supposed from more distant localities, drawn there by the that some neighbour, who owed the tailor a strange reports which had reached them; and the grudge, had in some way cast the stones, but now tailor and his wife, seemingly half beside them- the belief gained ground that the house was hauntselves, were doing their best to satisfy the con- ed. People gravely shook their heads, and said tinual inquiries that were made. In the midst of all was not right in the tailor's dwelling: there the hurry and consternation which prevailed, every must be something wicked there, that broke his now and then there came a crash of the windows window.panes. panes, and down came the jingling glass on the The report of the tailor's house being haunted kitchen floor and the pavement in the yard. The spread rapidly ; but as some still held the opinion
house of the tailor was at the corner of the street, that the glass was broken from without, it was l' and the large window of the kitchen, which was proposed that a large sheet should be suspended
glazed with small panes, looked into the yard, outside the window-pane. This plan of proceeding beyond which stood a few low buildings, with a was adopted, but, lo and behold! the glass was brogarden adjoining. House, yard, and garden were ken just as before—the stones, in the apprehension promenaded by the much excited visitors of the of many present, passing through the sheet, and place, in the vain attempt to discover the unseen leaving no hole. Amazement and fear rose to cause of wonder.
their climax. It was now a settled thing that the Such a state of things could not long exist with house was assuredly haunted. out a great increase of excitement. From a pri- At this period, groups might be seen in different vate affair it became a public occurrence ; and every parts of the premises, whispering together, or talkhour, rumour, with her hundred tongues, called ing with suppressed voices. The bent lead had forth the curiosity of the young and the old, so done much, but the untorn sheet had done still that women and children, apprentices, working more in convincing the sceptical and confirming, men, and masters, hurried off to the habitation of the wavering in the belief that an evil agent was the tailor. There they saw the devastation which at work. Little doubt was entertained by several had taken place, and there, from time to time, that some dreadful deed had there been perpetrated.
they witnessed with their own eyes the mysterious | Had it not been so, such mysterious things would | crashing of the window-panes. Wondering they never have taken place. Many who had laughed
came, and wondering still more they went away. became grave, and not a few were thoroughly conThose who visited the house went away awed by vinced that the windows had been broken by an what they had seen, while others who had not evil spirit. been there were affected by their reports in a We are all wont, when an affair of mystery has similar manner. The affair became far too serious been explained, to smile derisively at those who to be kept uninvestigated, for the neighbourhood were impressed or puzzled by it, and to think that was in alarm. The constable and officers of we ourselves should have acted with less simplicity; police—"runners," they then called them-came but let him who has the strongest mind first hear in a body to inspect the premises; but while all of the report, that in a house said to be haunted, them were present, the windows continued to be stones were thrown through a sheet without broken as before. In vain they went up-stairs and making a hole in it, and then, hastening to the spot, down, kept their eyes in all directions, and posted find himself in the position of seeing with his own themselves in different places; it was all to no pur- eyes the jingling and broken glass falling from a pose. The mystery was yet unrevealed, and the window, while twenty people were gazing upon it devastation still continued.
from the one side, and a white sheet suspended And now a consultation, at which we were pre- over it from the other ; let him witness, too, the sent, was held, the constable, a man proverbially pale faces, the wonder, the awe, and the fear, of the shrewd, taking the lead. After many suggestions, weaker-minded around him, and we doubt not that the general opinion seemed to be that the missiles he will feel the infirmities of humanity working which did the mischief were projected from a dis within him. tance by the aid of a cross-bow, an air-gun, or We were, as we have already said, much some instrument of a like kind. It was therefore younger when the occurrence we have described agreed to set watchers on the top of the house to took place than we are now. We had not seen ascertain the direction in which the stones were what we have since witnessed, and were little cast, and to extend their search far beyond the capable of forming a correct judgment in a case of tailor's premises. This plan was at once put into mystery. No wonder that we were carried along operation, but with as little success as before. by the stream, and ready to adopt the opinions of The watchers on the house-top declared that the those older than ourselves. On went the breaking stones flew too quickly for them to see them; and of the large window in the kitchen, till not a pane the examination of the surrounding premises af- of glass remained whole, and now and then a forded no clue to unravel the mystery. In spite of square in th
chamber window was smashed the constable and police, on went the breaking of Towards night, however, visitors became few, and the windows.
at last the house was quiet ; but while the little All at once a strange occurrence came to light, girl who acted as a servant was in the cellar, brick