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One day in mid-summer, there came to Inndernfeltd a weary way-farer, whose whitened hair and wrinkled brow bore evidence that he had passed, by a full score of years, the age allotted to man. And yet there was an elasticity of step, even in his weariness, an erectness of figure, a roundness of limb and development of muscle, that belied the testimony born by white hair and wrinkled brow.
The pilgrim sought a resting place and shelter for the night, and food; and these were freely accorded him by the Christian master of Inndernfeltd, whose heart, like his home, was ever open to the necessities, whether physical or spiritual, of his fellow-men.
A day was given to the stranger pilgrim to rest and recuperate his energies; and then another, and another day went by, and the singular, whitehaired old man, showing no disposition to depart, was welcome still; but questioned in nothing—for though the Lord of Innsderlandt wondered often at the stranger's vast fund of useful and entertaining knowledge, his evident familiarity with the history and progress of the Christian religion, his acquaintanceship with mankind, and his eloquent descriptions of the power and extent of the mighty Roman Empire, the fame of which had penetrated even the giant walls that hemmed in the quiet Valley of the Inn; still his delicacy forbade his questioning his guest as to his name, country, whence he came, or whither his destination; and so, until the Christian Sabbath came he remained, as he had entered the Castle of Inndernfeltd, utterly unknown and unquestioned.
But when, in reply to the pious Landegrave's request, that he would accompany him and his household to hear the gospel of Christ preached at the church in Innspruck, the white-haired stranger tottered as if shaken with a palsy, and vehemently exclaimed:
“Nay, sir, insist not upon my going. My presence at your altar would but be a vile mockery of a faith which can never be mine. Of all men living, I am most infamous! To pollute your holy sanctuary by passing its portals were more than sacrilege! A curse from an avenging God would assuredly follow my footsteps. The condemned of Divine Justice do not enter the sanctuary with impunity; wherefore I beseech you entreat me not."
Then Eigleswalt, turning wonderingly from the strange man, went his way with the resolve that on the morrow, he would, by questioning, draw from his guest the terrible secret of the Divine displeasuro, under which, is was evident he was laboring; and if by earnest prayer and exhortation, the dark veil which hid the radiance of God's eternal glory from the darkened
of the wretched man could be rent asunder, Divine grace and the love of God should yet be his.
He had no need to question; for on the morrow, in that apartment of the tower where we had found the ponderous vellum tome, the singular man sought an interview with the pious Landegrave, and unbosomed himself to him of so much of his history as extended from the period when our Saviour died on Calvary to the date of his arrival at Inndernfeltd.
“Sir, my time is at hand; and I must go hence. But I would first give you my latter history, that, in your preaching of the Christian faith, you may present it to the unconverted and hardened of heart, as an example to them of the great danger in which they are every day living of committing the sin of which there is no repenting.
" That sin is mine. In Jerusalem it was committed, while Christ, the Son of God yet lived; and since that day, I have been as a thing accursed of Heaven.' 0! how willingly would I have bartered fame, position, power, wealth, all, every thing I possessed on earth, could I, by the sacrifice have re-called that one cowardly, infamous act. But I could not. It was registered in God's book of Divine justice, to be cancelled only by an endless eternity of torture.
“And so, in absolute despair, I fled from the sight of Calvary, where Jesus died, hoping like Cain to flee from the sight of God also; hoping in the uttermost ends of the earth to find that oblivion which should hide me from the All-Seeing eye of an outraged Deity. “Vain hope!
Every where the terrible Past rises before me like a blaak pall, my infamy emblazoned upon it in letters of living fire. For eight and forty years have I been a houseless, homeless wanderer, fleeing ever from the curse of that unpardonable sin, bearing it always in my heart, and finding it still whithersoever I turn my steps; rising before my eyes an accusing angel. When
my wearied feet carried me to the shore of the great Northern Ocean, another Calvary rose before me, up-borne by the sea, and on its summit was fixed the ignominious Cross, to which my wicked imbecility consigned the Son of God; while blazing in letters of everlasting flame, was the cowardly inscription by me written, and with this right hand nailed to the accursed tree upon which the Son of Mary suffered death-JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS.
“When I had gained the western limits of the world, and gazed abroad upon that other mighty world of waters beyond, up-springing from the gates of Hercules, there grew into reality before me, and vividly distinct, every feature of that shameful murder of the man-Christ Jesus—the hall of judgment—the cruel scourging--the galling crown of thorns—the scoffs and jeers of murderous men—the crucifixion, mortal agony,
and the death-throes of a dying God, so terrible that darkness veiled the land, the buried dead come forth from their graves, and the veil of the temple was rent asunder.
"A hundred times I sought death as a refuge from my living hell. But death would no where be found of me. If I flung myself into the troublesome sea, lashed into madness by the mighty storm, its waves refused to close over me, bearing me buoyant upon their bosom, while the ravenous monsters of the great deep fled far from my presence, and I was cast, like the unfaithful prophet, unharmed upon the dry land.
“Did I fling myself upon the spears of wandering barbarians, seeking death at their hands, the points of their weapons were turned aside, and I was shunned with a shudder of instinctive terror, as though I had been an incarnate pestilence stalking abroad to destroy. When I precipitated myself from the pinnacle of that vast rock, rising there like a mighty Ephron, flanking the pillars of Hercules, I was up-borne by the opposing blast, rising perpendicular from the earth, and carried on its sustaining wings like the floating down of the Egyptian athmel.
“When I sought destruction in the haunts of the Numidian lion, the monstrous brute slunk growling from my sight, resigning his den to my occupancy, and his helpless whelps to the tender mercies of a wretch, whose hands were red with the blood of the Son of God.
“When in a garb as thin as this, and bare-foot, I traversed those far Northern regions, where rivers ten times mightier than the Inn, lay. passive and currentless, congealed into ice, I walked hither and thither, unscathed by frost. I said, Fire must assuredly destroy this hateful existence,' and was again baffled: I waded recklessly amid the surging torrents of liquid fire coursing down the sides of Vesuvius and Stromboli, and the smell of the flame passed not upon my garments.
“At Rome I forced myself before the tribunal of justice, and persistently proclaimed myself the murderer of a Roman citizen. But the lictors said, He is a madman; let him go. When the curse of an outraged Deity fell upon the wicked and licentious city of Pompeii, and its thousands of revellers perished miserably in their temples of abominations, and at their guilty carousals; I, the most guilty of them all, walked amid the blinding storm of bitter ashes and sulphureous atmosphere, unharmed.
“I could not die; and from my living hell I saw spreading on every hand the New Faith of Him who died on Calvary–Him above whose Di, vine Head, I had nailed that mocking inscription-JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS."
It was the thought of Eigleswalt, that the wanderer was one of the Roman Centurions, who had been foremost in the abuse of our Saviour, and led him forth to the summit of Calvary; for only Mark's desultory history of the Jewish murder of the Son of God, had as yet reached the Valley of the Inn.
The good Landegrave would have comforted the grief-stricken wanderer
“Sir, be ye of good cheer; for our God is a God of LOVE. If in the last hour of mortal agony, there was found pardon and Divine grace for the thief who died on Calvary beside our blessed Redeemer, there is redemption for you also, Centurion, though your sins have been many, and your hands dyed in the blood of the Son of God himself. Therefore Centurion”
"CENTURION !" wildly exclaims the greatly agitated wanderer. " Are ye so blinded by this great love and charity, born of your Christian faith, that ye cannot discern what these eight and forty years has been manifest to savages, wild beasts, and even the inanimate elements ?
"I am he, who consenting to the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, became his chief MURDERER. Would ye preach Divine pardon to me, who, releasing Barabbas, the robber, gave to His infuriated enemies, to crucify on Calvary, the Son of the Living God ?”
“ Man, I am Pontius Pilate—the accursed of Heaven!”
A mighty crash of thunder rocked the Castle to its base. The red lightnings leaped hither and thither in the ebon atmosphere. The mighty winds were loosened, and mad gusts yelled their terrible anathemas around the gray turrets of Inndernfeltd. The giant tempest had suddenly come down in its might, enveloping in its murky pall all the Valley of the Inn.
Suddenly Pilate laid hands upon the amazed and half stupefied old Landegrave, and as if endowed with the strength of a hundred mortals, bore him swiftly up the broad flight of steps leading to the summit of the tower, and placing him near the low coping on the river front, exposed to all the fury of the tempest; the Jewish ex-magistrate leaped upon the massive battlement, and glaring around him for a brief space, with all the wildness of a maniac, he gasped in a hoarse, hissing whisper, most terribly distinct
“Follower of Christ-Worshipper of God, look abroad and behold the doom of Pilate!” and the cowering Christian looked abroad and shuddered.
ehind him, rising shore from river's brink and castle's base, rose the bare, black Mountains of the Arlberg, towering in a serried wall of nature's everlasting masonry, six thousand feet above the castle's base. On the very apex of the Arlberg gleamed a vast cross of fire, bearing on its transverse beam in crimson. capitals-JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE
Five miles away, across the narrow valley, and dimly seen through the driving tempest, appeared the Julian Alps, frowning and defiant; and midway up the rocky acclivity, was depicted in an effulgence of glory, that Divine resurrection, when the crucified Christ came forth from the tomb
a very God.
Down, more than a hundred feet beneath the lofty pinnacle, chafed and surged the dark, sullen waters of the rapid Inn.
Suddenly, the outcast magistrate addressed the bewildered Christian
“See ye in all these things, that sign from which the murderer of Christ may hope for Divine mercy ?”
With clasped hands and bowed head, the good old Christian Landegrave murmured in a subdued tone:
66 Alas! there is no hope.”
Pilate drew in his girdle, as if about to essay the ascent of yonder cliffs, glanced once at the gleaming cross, scanned for a moment the foaming torrent beneath his feet, and then addressed the kneeling Landegrave
“Thou hast said it. There is no hope. Then why prolong this hell of torture? Farewell
Thus I seek oblivion from remorse.” Down headlong, like a fragment of rock rent by the lightning from the lofty battlement, plunged the man who condemned to death Jesus of Nazareth. The dark waters of the rapid Inn closed above him, and the wanderings of the conscience-haunted Pilate were ended.
Such, in spirit, is the legend, which I found recorded in the mouldering volume, flung carelessly among rubbish, there in the dilapidated turret of the
gray old Castle of Inndernfeltd.
RESPECT THE AGED. Many an old person has the pain--not bodily but sharper still—of feel. ing himself in the way. Some one wants his place.- His chair in the chimney corner is grudged him. He is a burden to son or daughter. The very arm that props him is taken away from some productive labor. As he sits at the table, his own guests are too idle or too unkind to make him a sharer in their mirth. They grudge the trouble of that raised voice, which alone could make him one of them; and when he speaks, it is only to be put aside as ignorant or despised, as old-fashioned and obsolete. Oh, little do younger persons know their power of giving pain or pleasure! It is a pain for any man, still in the world, to be made to feel that he is no longer of it, to be driven in upon his own little world of conscious isolation and buried enjoyment.
BY THE EDITOR.
The killing of a ruler has, in all ages, been regarded as the highest crime. This dreadful act has been consummated in our own land. Our President has fallen at the hands of an assassin!
Never since the first days of the existence of the Republic has such a shudder of horror been felt throughout the land. It was with difficulty that the news could be communicated from one to another. It seemed as if tongues and hearts stood still. When the telegraphic wires dropped the news in cities and villages, business ceased, as if an earthquake had suddenly stunned the energies of the people. The Christian people spontaneously fled to the churches to seek covert from terror and fear under the shadow of the Almighty.
This feeling itself testifies, that regicide is no common murder—that there is an awfulness in it which can attach to no other crime. It shows, that the sense of its turpitude has been, by the Creator, inlaid with the constitution of our nature, so that the universal horror produced by its commission is the very utterance of the Divine law within
us. That this spontaneous sense and judgment of the people is a true measure and estimate of the character of the crime, will appear from several considerations.
This crime is not mere murder. We need only grade the higher crimes to enable us to see where this enormity stands in the scale of criminal depravity. The first and lowest grade is common murder, or homicide, as
one man kills another. Next above this we may place suicide, wherein man assumes the disposal of his own life. Then fratricide, wherein man destroys the life of his own brother or sister, and thus, in a sense, becomes the murderer of his own flesh and blood. Then infanticide, where the helplessness of infancy augments the crime. Next we would place paricide, wherein a man takes the life of the father that begat him—the earthly source of his own life. Because the mother bears that "softer and tenderer name," and her life belongs to the inner circle of consecrated love, we would place next in the dreadful scale the crime of matricide! After this only we reach that fearful apex of crime-regicide! So much as the State is above the family, so high above the murder of father or mother is the murder of the ruler of the land—the head of the nation—the father, for the time being, of the national family. This is the dreadful height of that crime, which has startled and stunned the nation, and caused the bells throughout the land to dole out to responding hearts their muffled tones of
The ruler of a nation is not an ordinary man. As to talents he may not be above others, but as to office, he stands apart from and above all others.