Select the desired text size
Lohengrin and Elsa.
From Myths and Legends of all nations
Start of Story
by Logan Marshall
Age Rating 8 Plus.
The young Duchess of Brabant, Elsa the Beautiful, had gone into the
woods hunting, and becoming separated from her attendants, sat down to
rest under a wide-branching linden-tree.
She was sorely troubled, for many lords and princes were asking for
her hand in marriage. More urgent than all the others was the
invincible hero, Count Telramund, her former guardian, who since the
death of her father had ruled over the land with masterly hand. Now
the duke, her father, on his death-bed had promised Telramund that he
might have Elsa for wife, should she be willing; and Telramund was
continually reminding her of this. But Elsa blushed with shame at the
mere thought of such a union, for Telramund was a rough warrior, as
much hated for his cruelty as he was feared for his strength. To make
matters worse he was now at the court of the chosen King Henry of
Saxony, threatening her with war and even worse calamities.
In the shade of the linden Elsa thought of all this, and pitied her
own loneliness in that no brother or friend stood at her side to help
her. Then the sweet singing of birds seemed to comfort her, and she
dropped into a gentle sleep. As she dreamed it seemed to her that a
young knight stepped out of the depths of the forest. Holding up a
small silver bell, he spoke in friendly tones:
"If you should need my help, just ring this."
Elsa tried to take the trinket, but she could neither rise nor reach
the outstretched hand. Then she awoke.
Thinking over the apparition Elsa noted a falcon circling over her
head. It came nearer and finally settled on her shoulder. Around his
neck hung a bell exactly like that she had seen in the dream. She
loosened it, and as she did so the bird rose and flew away. But she
still held the little bell in her hand, and in her soul was fresh hope
When she returned to the castle she found there a message, bidding her
appear before the king in Cologne on the Rhine. Filled with confidence
in the protection of higher powers, she did not hesitate to obey. In
gorgeous costume, with many followers, she set out.
King Henry was a man who loved justice and exercised it, but his
kingdom was in constant danger from inroads by wild Huns, and for this
reason he wished to do whatever would win the favor of the powerful
Count Telramund. When, however, he saw Elsa in all her beauty and
innocence he hesitated in his purpose.
The plaintiff brought forward three men who testified that the duchess
had entered into a secret union with one of her vassals. Only two of
these men were shown to be perfidious; the testimony of the other
seemed valid, though this was not enough to condemn her.
Then Telramund seized his sword, crying out that God Himself should be
the judge, and that a duel should decide the matter. So a duel was
arranged to take place three days later.
Elsa cast her eyes around the circle of nobles, but saw no one grasp
his sword in defense of her innocence. Fear of the mighty warrior
Telramund filled them all.
Remembering the little bell, she drew it forth from her pocket and
rang it. The clear tones broke the stillness, grew louder and louder
until they reached even the distant mountains.
"My champion will appear in the contest," she said; whereupon the
count let forth such a mocking laugh that the hearts of all were
filled with intense fear.
The day of the contest was at hand. The king sat on his high throne
and watched the majestic river that sent its mighty waters through the
valley. Princes and brave knights were gathered together. Before them
stood Telramund, clad in armor, and at his side the accused Elsa,
adorned with every grace that Nature can bestow.
Three times the mighty hero challenged some one to come forward as a
champion for the accused girl, but no one stirred. Then arose from the
Rhine the sound of sweet music; something silvery gleamed in the
distance, and as it came nearer it was plain that it was a swan with
silver feathers. With a silver chain he was pulling a small ship, in
which lay sleeping a knight clad in bright armor.