The Castle of Ehrenstein by G P R James Page 1 of 475

EHRENSTEIN.
CHAPTER I.

It was an awfully dark and tempestuous night; the wind howled in fury through the trees, and round the towers; the large drops of rain dashed against the casements, the small lozenges of glass rattled and clattered in their leaden frames, and the thick boards of the oaken floor heaved and shivered under the force of the tempest.

From time to time a keen blue streak of lightning crossed the descending deluge, and for an instant the great black masses of the forest, and the high and broken rocks around, appeared like spectres of a gone-by world, and sank into Egyptian darkness again, almost as soon as seen; and then the roar of the thunder was added to the scream of the blast, seeming to shake the whole building to its foundation.


In the midst of this storm, and towards one o'clock in the morning, a young man, of about one-and-twenty years of age, took his way silently, and with a stealthy step, through the large old halls and long passages of the castle of Ehrenstein.

His dress was that of one moving in the higher ranks of society, but poor for his class; and though the times were unusually peaceful, he wore a heavy sword by his side, and a poniard hanging by a ring from his girdle.

Gracefully yet powerfully formed, his frame afforded the promise of great future strength, and his face, frank and handsome without being strictly beautiful, owed perhaps more to the expression than to the features. He carried a small brazen lamp in his hand, and seemed bound upon some grave and important errand, for his countenance was serious and thoughtful, his eyes generally bent down, and his step quick, although, as we have said, light and cautious.



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