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seemed to have fixed itself in his back and belly, while the spare habit of the other was copied in his lean arms, his shrunk loins, and slender legs. The hump on his shoulders was at least two inches higher than that of either of his parents ; his forehead was traversed by a thousand crossing wrinkles; his flabby cheeks were seamed with longitudinal furrows, and hung down so low on each side of his peaked chin, as to give him the appearance of having three chins at once. Two small dim gray eyes peeped from under two white shaggy brows; between them the nose seemed as if absorbed into the face, but re-appeared at a prodigious distance below; and above, a bushy shock of carotty hair stared in all directions. At an early age, Caspar had an appearance of decrepitude ; nobody who looked at him would have thought him younger than his father. Yet this singular being was not without his enjoyments. He had often heard his father speak of his noble extraction, and this idea became to him the occasion of great inward glorying, when he looked upon the earth-born plebeians around him. But it was a pleasure of a deeper and more thrilling nature, to listen to the marvellous stories doled out by a toothless old female domestic, whom his father brought with him from Germany, and who was now too old and infirm to do any thing but smoke her pipe, and tell old tales by the fire-side. She told him of fairies, who dwell by day in the chambers of the earth, and dance by night in solitary groves; of hairy wood-demons, and swart goblins of the mine, till his little eyes shone with a fixed glare, and his bushy hair looked as if it would disentangle and straighten itself with terror.
Caspar liked neither to work nor to go to school, and his parents were too kind to think of compelling him to do either; his boyish days were consequently passed under the great oak. He whiled away the still summer mornings in chucking pebbles into the brook ; in the heat of the day he slept with the dog in the shade, or climbed up to a seat among the thick boughs and leaves, and built castles in the air ; and when the cooler breezes sprung up in the afternoon, he amused himself with swinging in a long rope, the two ends of which he had tied to two strong neighbouring branches. But if the tree was thus necessary to his amusements, it was also the strengthener of his superstitions. His bed was in a kind of loft just under the eves of the house; and in the stormy autumnal nights, as he lay thinking over the legends of the old female domestic, he heard with terror the distant roar of the wind wrestling with the trees of the forest. At length he heard it fall with fury upon the oak itself, and then a storm of big rain-drops would be shaken from its boughs,
and a shower of acorns would rattle down; and the long branches would lash the roof, till it seemed to him as if all the fiends of the woodland had fastened upon the old log cabin, and were going to fly away with it.
Walter Buckel now found himself growing rich, and began to be ashamed of living in a log house at a distance from the highway, and under the shade of a great tree. He therefore imitated the example of some of his more prosperous neighbours, and built a fine, huge, yellow house, about two hundred rods from his old dwelling, close to the public road, where there was not a bough to keep the summer heat from his door, where he might be continually stifled by the dust raised by loaded wagons and herds of cattle driven to the Philadelphia market, and where the passing traveller might look in at his windows : he then quitted his pleasant little nook, and demolished his log house. An American farmer, whether a native or an emigrant, cuts down a tree with as little ceremony as he cuts down ripe corn, and the oak would have shared the fate of the cabin it sheltered, had not Caspar, who intended to swing under its boughs many an idle afternoon yet, pleaded hard in its favour.
The toothless old female domestic, who had told Caspar so many goblin stories, survived this transplantation of the family but two months. At first Caspar cared very little about her death, but in a few days he felt severely the want of that excitement from her wild tales that had become habitual to him, and he began to feel a sincere grief for her loss. It became irksome to linger about his father's great new house ; he grew sick of seeing carts, wagons, and cattle go by the door, and rambled away into the dark and still woods, like those in which the scene of most of the legends that had taken such strong hold of his mind were laid. He often remained out till the sun was down, and sometimes till the twilight was down also, and on his return expected at every step to be greeted by some gigantic mountain spirit, and peeped into many a dark thicket to see if it did not hide some dwarfish elf of the forest. To give Caspar his due, he did not seek these fearful interviews merely from a love of the wild and the terrible; his anticipations were all of good luck, and he considered the descendant of the hunch-backed German baron, as too important and too fortunate a personage to be regarded with any other feeling than good will by these powerful but capricious beings.
At length his father and mother died, both in the same year, and were decently laid in their graves. Caspar had then just come of age, and being left master of his father's estate, which
was a very comfortable one, he was unwillingly forced into contact with the world. At first his neighbours, partly from natural civility, partly from a feeling of pity, and partly also, perhaps, from a respect to his wealth, were careful to suppress the mirth occasioned by his deformity, and his uncouth aspect and manners; but when they saw the undisguised contempt with which the mishapen creature treated them, they no longer kept any measures in their ridicule. The school boys chalked his figure on the board fences, the young men quizzed him, the girls ran away from him, and it was generally allowed by all who had any dealings with him, that it was a capital joke to cheat him. All these things, however, moved him less than the scorn of the beautiful Adelaide Sippel, a German beauty, with an abundance of fair hair, a pair of roguish light blue eyes, and a neck and arms, none of the slenderest it is true, but of a milky whiteness. Caspar, after having fully considered the matter, had concluded to take a help-mate to assist him in the management of his estate, and had signified to Adelaide his intention of conferring that honour upon her, but she only laughed in his face. Soon afterwards he made a formal declaration of his passion, in a letter, the tenderest that the schoolmaster, under his special direction, could compose ; but the only notice she deigned to take of it, was to send, by way of answer, an exact likeness of his own figure, carved out of a rickety mangel-wortzel. This rebuff almost stunned poor Caspar, who thenceforward resolved to have as little as possible to do with such an ill-judging and disrespectful world. He resumed his lonely rambles in the woods, and sought relief from his mortification by indulging the wild imaginations that formerly possessed bim.
It was in a mild summer evening, when he had been out all day in the forest, and had thought more than usual of the scorn of Adelaide and the scoffs of the world, that he found himself under the great oak that once hung over his father's cabin. The twilight had just set in, and the frogs were piping in the marshes. 56 It is too early to go home yet,” thought he, and he sat down on one of the logs of the old building, that lay half bedded in the earth, with wild flowers nodding over it, and began to mutter over the burden of his discontent.
All at once he seemed to hear a sound as of a human voice, blended with a rustling of small boughs and leaves. He looked about him, but saw nothing. Again he heard the sound; it seemed to proceed from directly above his head. He looked up, and beheld high in the tree, and seemingly projecting from the side of the trunk next to him, a beautiful female face, and a well
turned throat. The features were moulded in the finest
symmetry—youthful—but with that look of youth which we see in Grecian statues, and may imagine to belong to beings whose lives are of a longer date than ours, and which seems as if never to pass away. On each side of the face flowed down a profusion of light brown hair, that played softly in the wind. Caspar, Caspar," said the voice. "I am here,” said Caspar, " what wouldst thou with me." “ Art thou unhappy, Caspar ?" “ Art thou a spirit, and askest that question,” replied the youth ; “ dost thou not see my deformity, and dost thou not know that all the world laugh at me, and Adelaide slights me—and yet thou inquirest if I am unhappy.” “Caspar," returned the voice, “thou did once preserve my existence, and I have not forgotten the benefit. "Wash thy hands and face in the little pool in that rivulet, and go thy way home, and thou wilt soon see that I am not ungrateful."
Caspar obeyed the direction, and returned home with a lightened heart. He went to bed, but could not sleep a wink for thinking of the adventure of the evening. When he rose in the morning, he fancied his bump was less heavy and unwieldy than the day before, and it is related that an old woman of the neighbourhood, who lived by herself in a little hut, and subsisted principally on charity, and who had come to his house to borrow or rather beg a bit of butter and a little tea, could not refrain from saying to him, La! Mr. Buckel, how well you look this morning." Certain it is, however, that from that day there was a gradual and surprising change in his personal appearance. It seemed as if the superabundant bulk of his spider-like body was travelling into his shrunken arms and legs. The bridge of his nose rose from its humble level, and bent itself into a true Roman curve; his cheeks ascended to their proper place, his wrinkles went away one by one, his eyes filled and brightened, his brows darkened, and his chestnut hair curled round the edge of a fine high forehead. In a twelvemonth the transformation was complete. His shoulders had become straight, his limbs well-proportioned, and his waist, with a little reduction, would have satisfied any fashionable coxcomb that struts Broadway in a corset. His height also had astonishingly increased. Formerly he wanted just an inch of five feet, and now he wanted but an inch of six. I myself have seen the notch where he was measured, in one of the rooms of an old house then occupied as a tavern, and I carefully ascertained its distance from the floor by means of a three-foot rattan, which I commonly carry about with me. Caspar had formerly a great aversion to looking-glasses, but
now he consulted his mirror several times a day, and whenever he approached it, he could not help bowing to the graceful stranger whom he saw there.
Caspar's neighbours would not have recognised him after this change, had he not almost from the first forgotten his misanthrophy in the delight it gave him. As soon as ever he became satisfied that it was real and progressive, he almost went mad with joy, and could not forbear hugging every body he met. The elderly ladies all declared that Mr. Buckel had a strange way with him, and the young ran shrieking from these vehement demonstrations of his good will. He mingled in the rustic sports of the young men at trainings, elections and other holidays, and thoigh a little awkward at first, he soon became a famous leaper and wrestler, and learned to throw a ball and pitch a quoit with as much dexterity as the best of them. Every body began to take a liking to a young man so handsome, good-humoured, and rich; the farmers who had daughters told him it was high time to think of getting married ; the matrons expatiated in his presence on the good temper and industry of their girls; and the buxom fair-haired German maidens never laughed so loud as when they thought him within hearing. Caspar, however, had not forgotten his first love ; and when he again proposed himself in softer phrase to Adelaide Sippel, the blushes came over her fair temples and white neck, but she did not again reject him. They were married amid such fiddling and dancing, such piles of cakes and floods of whiskey, and such a tumult and tempest of rustic rejoicings, as had never before been known in the settlement.
A man of moderate fortune, who has not acquired habits of industry and attentive management of his estate, should content himself with living idly and easily; he cannot afford to live splendidly. Caspar was not aware of the truth of this maxim : he knew that he was richer than his neighbours; but he was no arithmetician, and had never calculated what expenses he could incur without lessening his estate. He was resolved that his smiling wife should wear the finest clothes, and ride to church in the finest German wagon, drawn by the finest horses in the place. He loved society, the more, probably, for having been excluded from it in his youth ; and sat long and late at the taverns with merry, jesting, catch-singing, roaring blades, from the old countries. He attended all the horse-races he could hear of, at which he betted deeply, and was taken in by the knowing ones. He was fond of hunting, and bought a rifle and a couple of hounds, and went into the woods in pursuit of game,