Dora re-considered her arguments while putting on her bonnet, and the instant
the walking party were outside the front door, she began again. 'But, Rupert, it
would be committing murder to kill Winifred, even if she had the Fidophobia.'
'No, no, Dora,' said Rupert, 'it is your mamma and Lizzie who have the
'What can you mean?' said Helen; 'how can you frighten the child so, Rupert?'
'Do not you know, Helen,' said Elizabeth, ''tis his vocation. He is a true Knight
'Expound, most learned cousin,' said Rupert; 'you are too deep.'
'You must know,' said Elizabeth, 'that Knecht Ruprecht is the German terrifier of
naughty children, the same as the chimney-sweeper in England, or Coeur de
Lion in Palestine, or the Duke of Wellington in France.
'Baby, baby, he's a giant,
Tall and black as Rouen steeple;
And he dines and sups, 'tis said,
Every day, on naughty people.'
'I should have thought,' said Rupert, 'that considering my namesake's babe-
bolting propensities, and his great black dog, that he would have been more
likely to be held up in terrorem in England.'
'I suppose there was some old grim Sir Rupert in Germany,' said Elizabeth; 'but
my dictionary is my only authority.'
'You are taking knecht to mean a knight,' said Anne, 'contrary to your argument
last night. Knecht Ruprecht's origin is not nearly so sublime as you would make it
out. Keightley's Fairy Mythology says he is only our old friend Robin Good-fellow,
Milton's lubber fiend, the Hob Goblin. You know, Rupert, and Robert, and Hob,
are all the same name, Rudbryht, bright in speech.'
'And a hobbish fellow means a gentleman as clumsy as the lubber fiend,' said
'No doubt he wore hob-nails in his shoes,' said Rupert.