The Legend of Rheineck
Graf Ulric Von Rheineck was a very wild youth. Recklessly and without consideration did he plunge into every excess. Dissipation grew to be the habit of his life, and no sensual indulgence did he deny himself which could be procured by any means whatever. Amply provided for as he was, the revenues of his wide possessions, which comprehended Thal Rheineck, and the adjacent country, to the shore of the Rhine, and as far as the mouth of the Aar, were soon discovered to be insufficient for all his absorbing necessities. One by one his broad lands were alienated from him, piece after piece of that noble possession fell from his house, until finally he found himself without a single inch of ground which he could call his own, save the small and unproductive spot on which Rheineck stood. This he had no power to transfer, or perhaps it would have gone with the remainder. The castle had fallen sadly into disrepair, through his protracted absence from home, and his continual neglect of it,—indeed there was scarcely a habitable room within its precincts, and he now had no means to make it the fitting abode of any one, still less of a nobleman of his rank and consequence. All without, as well as all within it, was desolate and dreary to the last degree. The splendid garden, previously the pride of his ancestors, was overrun with weeds, and tangled with parasites and creepers. The stately trees, which once afforded shelter and shade, as well as fruits of the finest quality and rarest kinds, were all dying or withered, or had their growth obstructed by destroying plants. The outer walls were in a ruinous condition, the fortifications were everywhere fallen into decay, and the alcoves and summer-houses had dropped down, or were roofless, and exposed to the weather. It was a cheerless prospect to contemplate, but he could not now help himself, even if he had the will to do so. Day after day the same scene of desolation presented itself to his eyes, night after night did the same cheerless chamber present itself to his view.