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THE WOODEN LEG.
AN HELVETIC TALE.
ON the mountain from whence the torrent of
from the hollow rocks, and ECHO bid the vallies
OLD MAN. I like the frankness painted on thy visage. A little fresh water will be sufficient. If you will bring it me hither, you shall hear the history of this wooden leg. The young shepherd ran to the fountain, and soon return'd.
When the old man had quench'd his thirst, he said-Let young people, when they behold their fathers maimed, and cover'd o'er with scars, adore the ALMIGHTY POWER, and bless their valour; for, without that, you wou'd have bow'd your neck beneath the yoke, instead of thus basking in the sun's warmth, and making the ECHOES repeat your joyful notes. Mirth and gaiety inhabit these hills and vallies, while your songs resound from one mountain to the other. LIBERTY! Sweet LIBERTY! it is thou that pourest felicity upon this blessed land! All we see around us is our own. We cultivate our own fields with pleasure. The crops we reap are ours, and the time of harvest is with us rejoicing days.
YOUNG SHEPHERD. He does not deserve to be a freeman, who can forget that his liberty was purchased with the blood of his forefathers.
OLD MAN. But who, in their place, wou'd not have done as they did? Ever since that bloody day of NEFELS *, I come, once each year, to the top of this mountain; but I perceive that I am now come for the last time. From hence I still behold the order of the battle, where LIBERTY made us
* The battle of NEFELS, in the canton of GLARIS, in 1388.
conquerors. See, it was on that side the army of the enemy advanced. Thousands of lances glitter'd at a distance, with more than two hundred horsemen, cover'd with sumptuous armour. The plumes that shaded their helmets nodded as they march'd, and the earth resounded with their horses' hoofs. Our little troop was already broke. We were but three or four hundred men. The cries of the defeat were re-echo'd from every side, and the smoke of NEFELS, in flames, fill'd the valley, and spread with horror along the mountains. However, at the bottom of the hill where we now are, our chief had placed himself. He was there, where those two pines shoot up from the edge of that pointed rock. I think I see him now, surrounded by a small number of warriors, firm, immoveable, and calling round him the dispersed troops. I hear the rustling of the standard that he wav'd in the air; it was like the sound of the wind that precedes an hurricane. From every side they ran towards him. Dost thou see those floods rush down from the mountains? Stones, rocks, and trees o'erthrown, in vain oppose their course; they o'erleap, or bear down all before them, and meet together at the bottom, in that pool. So we ran to the cry of our general, cutting our way through the enemy. Rank'd around the hero, we made a vow, and GOD was our witness, to conquer or to die. The enemy advancing in order of battle, pour'd down impetuously upon us; we attacked them in our turn. Eleven times we return'd to the charge, but, always forced to retire to
the shelter of these hills, we there closed our ranks, and became unshaken as the rock by which we were protected. At last, enforced by thirty swiss warriors, we fell suddenly on the enemy, like the fall of a mountain, or as some mighty rock descends, rolls through the forest, and, with a horrid crush, lays waste the trees that interrupt its course. On every side, the enemy, both horse and foot, confounded in a most dreadful tumult, overthrew each other to escape our rage. Grown furious by the combat, we trod under foot the dead and dying, to extend vengeance and death still further. I was in the middle of the battle. A horseman of the enemy, in his flight, rode over me, and crush'd my leg. The soldier who fought nearest me, seeing my condition, took me on his shoulders, and ran with me out of the field of battle. A holy father was prostrate on a rock not far distant, and imploring HEAVEN to aid us!-Take care, good father, of this warrior, my deliverer cried; he has fought like a son of LIBERTY! he said, and flew back to the combat. The victory was ours--my son, it was our's! But many of us were left extended on the heaps of the enemy. Thus the weary mower reposes on the sheaves himself has made. I was carefully attended; I was cured-but never cou'd find out the man to whom I owe my life. I have sought him in vain. I have made vows and pilgrimages, that some saint of PARADISE, or some angel, wou'd reveal him to me. But, alas! all my efforts have been fruitless. I shall never, in this
life, shew him my gratitude. The young shepherd, having heard the old warrior with tears in his eyes, said-No, father: in this life you can never shew him your gratitude. The old man, surpris'd, cry'd, -Heavens! What dost thou say? Dost thou then know, my son, who my deliverer was?
YOUNG SHEPHERD. I am much deceived if it was not my father. Often he has told me the story of that battle, and often I have heard him say—I wonder if the man I carried from the field of battle be still alive?
OLD MAN. O GOD! O angels of heaven! Was that generous man thy father?
YOUNG SHEPHERD. He had a scar herepointing to his left cheek-he had been wounded with a lance; perhaps it was before he carried you from the field.
OLD MAN. His cheek was covered with blood when he bore me off. O my child! My son!
YOUNG SHEPHERD. He died two years ago, and as he was poor, I am forced, for subsistence, to keep these goats. The old man embraced him, and said-Heaven be prais'd! I can recompence thee for his generosity. Come! my son-come with me, and let some other keep thy goats.
They descended the hill together, and walk'd toward the old man's dwelling. He was rich in land and flocks, and a lovely daughter was his only heir. My child, he said to her, he that sav'd my life was the father of this young shepherd. If thou can'st love him, I shall be happy to see you united!-The