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Saint Michael A Romance   By: (1838-1918)

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2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].






Copyright, 1886, by J. B Lippincott Company


Easter had come; the season of light and refreshment for universal nature! Winter, as he departed, had shrouded himself in a veil of gloomy mist, and spring followed close after fleeing abysmal clouds. She had sent forth the blasts, her messengers, to arouse the earth from its slumber; they roared above meadow and plain, waved their wings around the mighty summits of the mountain ranges, and stirred the sea to its depths. There was a savage conflict and turmoil in the air, whence issued, nevertheless, a note as of victory. The blasts were those of spring, and were instinct with life, they heralded a resurrection.

The mountains were still half buried in snow, and the ancient stronghold that looked down from their heights upon the valley towered above snow laden pines. It was one of those gray, rock crowning castles that were formerly the terror of the surrounding country, and are now for the most part deserted and forgotten, with naught but ruins to tell of ancient splendour. This, however, was not the case in this instance: the Counts von Steinrück carefully preserved the cradle of their race from decay, although otherwise they cared very little for the old pile, secluded as it was from the world in the depths of the mountains. In the hunting season only, when there was usually an arrival of guests, life and bustle awoke the echoes within its ancient walls.

This year was an exceptional one, however. Guests, it is true, were assembled here in the early spring, but upon a very solemn occasion. The castle's lord was to be borne to the grave, and with him the younger branch of the family was extinct in the male succession, for he left behind him only his widow and a little daughter. Count Steinrück had died at one of his other estates, his usual dwelling place, and there the grand obsequies had been held, before the corpse had been brought hither to be interred in the family vault very quietly and in presence of none save the nearest of kin.

It was one of those stormy days in March when the entire valley is filled with masses of gray clouds. The dim afternoon light penetrated to the apartment which the dead Count had been wont to occupy during his short autumnal visits to the castle. It was a long, rather low room, with a single large bow window, and its arrangement dated from the time of the castle's magnificence. The dark wainscoting, the huge oaken doors, and the gigantic chimney piece supporting the Steinrück escutcheon, and sustained by pillars, had remained unchanged for centuries, while the heavy antique furniture, and the old family portraits on the walls, alike belonged to a long vanished period of time. The fire smouldering on the hearth could scarcely give an air of comfort to the gloomy room, which, nevertheless, represented a bit of history, the history of an influential family whose fortunes had long been closely allied with those of its country.

The door opened, and two gentlemen entered, evidently relatives of the house, for the uniform of the one and the civilian's dress of the other showed each conventional signs of mourning... Continue reading book >>

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