Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/188

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176
A RELIC OF THE PAST.

descend. It struck bottom and gradually burned out.

A Tramp Abroad 0188h.jpg
THE OLD WELL.

No smoke came up. The children clapped their hands and said,—

"You see! Nothing makes so much smoke as burning straw—now where did the smoke go to, if there is no subterranean outlet?"

So it seemed quite evident that the subterranean outlet indeed existed. But the finest thing within the ruin's limits was a noble linden, which the children said was four hundred years old, and no doubt it was. It had a mighty trunk and a mighty spread of limb and foliage. The limbs near the ground were nearly the thickness of a barrel.

That tree had witnessed the assaults of men in mail,—how remote such a time seems, and how ungraspable is the fact that real men ever did fight in real armor!—and it had seen the time when these broken arches and crumbling battlements were a trim and strong and stately fortress, fluttering its gay banners in the sun, and peopled with vigorous humanity,—how impossibly long ago that seems!—and here it stands yet, and possibly may still be standing here, sunning itself and dreaming its historical dreams, when to-day shall have been joined to the days called "ancient."

Well, we sat down under the tree to smoke, and the captain delivered himself of his legend:

THE LEGEND OF DILSBERG CASTLE.

It was to this effect. In the old times there was once a great company assembled at the castle, and festivity ran high. Of course there was a haunted chamber in the castle, and