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Lohengrin and Elsa.

From Myths and Legends of all nations
by Logan Marshall
Age Rating 8 Plus.

Start of Story

When the bark landed, the knight awoke, rose, and blew three times on a golden horn. This was the signal that he took up the challenge. Quickly he strode into the lists. "Your name and descent?" cried the herald. "My name is Lohengrin," answered the stranger, "my origin royal: more it is not necessary to tell." "Enough," broke in the king, "nobility is written on your brow." Trumpets gave the signal for the fight to begin. Telramund's strokes fell thick as hail, but suddenly the stranger knight rose and with one fearful stroke split the count's helmet and cut his head. "God has decided," cried the king. "His judgment is right; but you, noble knight, will help us in the campaign against the barbarian hordes and will be the leader of the detachment which the fair duchess will send from Brabant." Gladly Lohengrin consented, and amid cries of delight from the assembled people he rode over to Elsa, who greeted him as her deliverer. Lohengrin escorted Elsa back to Brabant, and on the way love awoke in their hearts, and they knew that they were destined for each other. In the castle of Antwerp they were pledged, and a few weeks later the marriage took place. As the bridal couple were leaving the cathedral, Lohengrin said to Elsa: "One thing I must ask of you, and that is that you never inquire concerning my origin, for in the hour that you put that question must I surely part from you."



It was not long after the ceremony that the cry to arms came from King Henry, and Elsa accompanied her husband and his troops to Cologne, where all the counts of the kingdom were assembled. Here there were many inquiries concerning Lohengrin, and when none seemed to know of his origin, some jealously claimed that he was the son of a heathen magician, and that he gained his victories by the power of black arts. Elsa, who had heard rumors of these charges, was deeply grieved; for she knew the noble heart of her husband. He had even relieved her fears for his safety by the assurance that he was under the protection of powers higher than human. But she could not banish the evil rumors from her mind, and forgetting the warning her husband had given her on the day of her marriage, she dropped to her knees and asked him concerning his birth. "Dear wife," he cried in great distress, "now will I tell to you and to the king and to all the assembled princes, what up to this time I have kept secret; but know that the time of our parting is at hand." Then the hero led his trembling wife before the king and his nobles who were assembled on the banks of the Rhine. "The son of Parsifal am I," he said, "the son of Parsifal, the keeper of the Holy Grail. Gladly would I have helped you, O King, in your fight against the barbarians, but an unavoidable fate calls me away. You will, however, be victorious, and under your descendants will Germany become a powerful nation."



When he finished speaking there was a deep silence, and then, as upon his arrival, there rose the sound of music--not joyful this time, but solemn, like a chant at the grave of the dead. It came nearer and again the swan and the boat appeared. "Farewell, dear one," Lohengrin cried, folding his wife in his arms. "Too dearly did I hold you and your pleasant land of earth; now a higher duty calls me." Weeping, Elsa clung to him; but the swan song sounded louder, like a warning. He tore himself free and stepped into the boat. Was it the ship of death and destruction, or only the ship that carried the blessed to the sacred place of the Grail? No one knew. Elsa, lonely and sad, did not live long after the separation. Her only hope was that she would be reunited to her dear husband; and she parted willingly with her own life, as other children of earth have done when they have lost all that they held most precious.

       



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