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In The Fire of the Forge
by Georg Ebers
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The decisive hour for Eva was now at hand, and Fran Christine, eager to learn in what condition she should find her niece, had herself carried to the hospital.

Her husband and several men-servants accompanied her, for at this late hour the neighbourhood, where so many criminals were nursed for a short time, was by no means safe. Companions, friends, and relatives of the criminals were often attracted thither by sympathy, curiosity, or business affairs. Whoever had occasion to shun appearing by daylight in a place which never lacked bailiffs and city soldiers, slunk to the hospital at night.

As a heavy rain had just begun to fall, the short distance to be traversed by the magistrate and his wife was empty. Ample provision also seemed to have been made to guard the place of healing, for several armed troopers belonging to the city guard were pacing up and down before he board fence which surrounded it, and the approach of the late visitors was heralded by the deep baying of large hounds.

The magistrate was well known here, and the doorkeeper, roused from his sleep, hastened to light the way for him and his wife with a lantern. In spite of the planks which had been placed in he courtyard, the task of crossing it was by no means easy; for the night was intensely dark, and the foot passed beyond the boards, it plunged into the mire, on which they floated rather than lay.

At first the barking of the dogs had drowned very other sound, but as they approached the house thatched with straw, where the wounded men were nursed, harsh voices, interrupted at times by the angry oaths of some patient roused from sleep, or the watchman's command to keep quiet, reached them in a loud uproar.

A narrow passage dimly lighted by a lantern led to the women's quarters, where Eva had remained. The magistrate entered the men's dormitory to make an inspection, while his wife, needing no guidance, passed on to the women, meeting no one on her way except a Sister of Charity and two men-servants who, under the guidance of a sleepy Dominican monk, were bearing out the corpse of some one who had just passed away.

Sister Hildegard, who was sitting at the door of the dormitory, half asleep, started up as Frau Christine crossed the threshold.

The knight's widow, a vigorous matron, whose hair had long been grey, pointed with the rosary in her hand to the end of the long, dimly lighted apartment, and said in a low tone: "The sick woman seems to be asleep now. The prior sent the old Dominican to whom Eva is talking. He is said to be the most learned and eloquent member of the order. If I am right, he came here to appeal to your niece's conscience. At least his first question was for her, and you see how eagerly he is speaking. When yonder sick woman seemed to be drawing near her end she asked for the sacrament, which was administered by the Dominican. It was a sorrowful farewell on account of her children, but the barber thinks we may perhaps save her yet. Father Benedictus, the old Minorite, who was found on the road and brought to us, seems, on the other hand, to be dying. We will gladly keep him in the Beguines home until the angel summons him. Unfortunately, yonder poor woman's third day will end tomorrow. We are not permitted to shelter her here any longer, and if we turn her out—"

"What is the matter with the woman?" interrupted Frau Christine, but the other gazed into her face with warm sympathising affection and such tender entreaty that the magistrate's wife, before she began her reply, exclaimed: "So it is the old, pitiful story! But let her stay! Yes, even though, instead of every pound of farthings, she cost us ten times as much in gold! But we will spare what is necessary for her. I see by your face that it will not be wasted."

"Certainly not," replied Sister Hildegard gratefully. "Oh, how she came here! Now, it is true, she has more than she needs. Your dear niece—she is an angel of charity—sent her Katterle out to get what was wanted. But where is the girl?" She gazed around the spacious chamber as she spoke, but could not find Katterle.

True, a dim light pervaded the whole apartment, and Sister Hildegard, referring to it, added "The light keeps many of the patients awake, and we have a better use for the pennies which the oil and chips cost. When there are brilliant entertainments to be given, or works of mercy done which the whole world sees, the Honourables let their gold flow freely enough, but who beholds the abodes of horror? We look best in the dark, and no one will miss what we save in light."

Certainly no one present incurred any danger of seeing at this hour the pitiable spectacles visible by day; for what was occurring at the opposite end of the room could not be perceived from the door. So when it closed Eva could not distinguish who had entered.

But this was agreeable to Frau Christine; for before going to her niece she wished to inquire about the woman by whom she had been detained.

Like the others, she was lying upon the board platform which surrounded the four walls of the room, interrupted only by the door through which she had just passed. It rose in a slanting direction towards the wall, that the sufferers' heads might be higher than their feet. Instead of cushions, it was covered with a thick layer of straw, the beds of the patients who were nursed here. It seemed to be changed very rarely, for especially near the door at which the two women were still standing a damp, unpleasant odour emanated from the straw. It belonged here, however, as feathers are a part of birds, and the people who were nursed within its walls were accustomed to nothing better. When, fifteen years before, the oversight of the hospital was entrusted to Frau Christine, she had found the condition of affairs still worse, and the idea of procuring beds for the injured persons to be cured here was as far from her thoughts, or those of the rest of the world, as cushioning the stable.

That was the way things were at Schweinau. Straw of all sorts might be expected to be found here, not only on the wooden platform but on the floor, in the yard, and everywhere else, as surely as leaves upon the ground of a wood in the autumn. To leave the house without taking stalks in the hair and garments was as impossible as for any person accustomed to better conditions, who did not wish to faint from discomfort, to do without a scent bottle.

Formerly Frau Christine had endeavoured to obtain better air, but even her kind-hearted husband had laughed at the foolish idea, because such things would benefit only herself and some of the nurses. In the taverns usually frequented by the inmates of the hospital they learned to endure a different atmosphere, which was stifling to him.

After contagious diseases certain precautions were always taken. On Sunday morning it was even fumigated with juniper-berries on hot tin and boiling vinegar.

Frau Christine had introduced this disinfectant herself by the advice of Otto the leech, when all who had been brought hither with open wounds, among them vigorous young men, had died like flies. At that time the distinguished physician had even succeeded in getting the Honourable Council to defray the cost of having the walls newly white washed and fresh clay stamped on the floor. He had also directed that the old straw should be replaced by clean every Sunday morning, and now matters were better still, for the rule was that every sick person should have a fresh layer. True, it was not always fulfilled, and many a person was forced to be content with his predecessor's couch.

In the women's room, however, the change of straw was more rigidly required. The nurse herself attended to it, and Sister Hildegard gave her energetic assistance.

In difficult cases the influence of the leech Otto was called to her aid, but he had grown old and no longer came to Schweinau. Two barbers now cared for the bandaging and healing of the wounds, and if they were at a loss the younger city physician was summoned.

Sister Hildegard now pointed to the couch beside which the Dominican was talking to Eva, and said: "She is the widow of a carrier and the child of worthy people; her father was the sexton of St. Sebald's. True, he died long ago, at the same time as her mother. It was twelve years since, during the plague.

"Reicklein, yonder, had no other relatives here—her parents were from Bamberg—but she was well off, and her husband, Veit, earned enough by his travels through the country. But on St. Blaise's day, early in the month of February, during a trip to Vogtland, it was at Hof, he was overtaken by a snowstorm, and the worthy man was found frozen under a drift, with his staff and pouch. The sad news reached her just after the birth of a little boy, and there were two other mouths to feed besides. Her savings went quickly enough, and she fell into dire poverty, for she had not yet recovered her strength, and could not do housework. During Passion Week she sold her bed to pay what she had borrowed and to feed the children. It was cold, she had not a copper, nor any possibility of earning anything. Then the rest went, too, and there was no way of getting food enough for the children and herself.

"But as her father had been in the employ of the city and was an honest man, by the advice of the provost of St. Sebald's, who had been her confessor from childhood, she applied to the Honourable Council, and received the answer that old Hans Schab was by no means forgotten, and therefore, to relieve her need, she was referred to the beadle, who would give her the permit which enabled her to ask alms from those who went to St. Sebald's Church, and had already afforded many a person ample support.

"For her children's sake she crushed the pride which rebelled against it, and stood at the church door, not once, but again and again. The other mendicants, however, treated her so roughly, and the cruel enmity with which they tried to crowd her out of her place seemed so unbearable, that she could not hold out. Once, when they insulted her too much, and again thrust her back so spitefully that not even one of the many churchgoers noticed her, she, fled to her children in the little room, determined to stop this horrible begging. This happened the Saturday before Whitsuntide, and as she had gone out hoping this time to bring something back, she had promised the children food enough to satisfy their hunger. They should have some Whitsuntide cakes, too, as they did years ago. When she reached the house and little Walpurga—you'll see her presently, a pretty child six years old—ran to meet her, asking for the cakes and the bread to satisfy her hunger, while Annelein, who is somewhat older, but less bright and active, did the same, she felt as if she should die, and carrying the baby, which she had held in her arms while begging at the church door, back into the room, she told Walpurga to watch it, as she had long been in the habit of doing, until she came back with the bread.

"For the children's sake she would try begging once more, but she could not go to St. Sebald's.

"So she went from house to house, asking alms; but she was a well-formed woman, who did not show her serious illness. She kept herself tidy, too, and looked better in her poor rags than many who were better off. Had she carried her nursing infant, perhaps she might have succeeded better, but even the most compassionate housewives either turned her from their doors or offered her work at the wash-tub, or in cleaning or gardening. The weakness from which she had suffered since the birth of her child made stooping so painful that she could not do what they required.

"When she was at last obliged to turn homeward, because the baby had probably been screaming for her a long time, she had only one small copper coin, with which she went to the baker Kilian's, in the Stopfelgasse, to ask for a penny's worth of bread. The baker's wife was not there, and her spinster sister-in-law, an elderly, ill-natured woman, was serving the customers in her place.

"As she turned to cut the bit of bread, and all sorts of nice sweet cakes lay on the shining counters before poor Riecklein, the children seemed to stand before her, headed by Walpurga, asking for the cakes and the bread she had promised them to eat their fill; and as no one was passing in the quiet street, Satan stirred within her for the first time, and a sweet jumble slid into the little basket on her arm. Had she stopped there she might have escaped unpunished; but there were two hungry little beaks agape in the nest, and she saw a pretty lamb with a little red flag on its back. If Walpurga could only have it! And with the clumsiness due to her inexperience in such matters she seized that, too, and put it with the other.

"Meanwhile the sister-in-law had turned, and instead of enquiring at a time so near the holy feast what had induced her to commit such a crime, she shrieked, 'Stop thief!' and similar cries.

"So the widow was taken to the Hole, and as she had hitherto borne an unsullied reputation and was the child of a good man, justice allowed itself to be satisfied with having her scourged with rods privately instead of in public. So she came here. But as her poor body was too fragile to withstand all the trouble which had come upon her, she had a violent attack of fever, and a few hours ago death stretched its hand towards her."

"And the children?" asked Frau Christine, deeply moved.

"She was allowed to have the baby," answered Sister Hildegard, "but she told us about the others and their desolate condition. In the delirium of fever she saw them stealing and the constable seizing them. Then your Eva encouraged me to send for them by promising to provide their food. So they came here. The worker on cloth from whom she rented her little room had helped them, and it was from her that Sister Pauline, whom I sent there, first learned that Walpurga, for whose sake she had so sadly forgotten her duty, was not even her own child, but an adopted one whom her late husband, on one of his trips, had found abandoned on the highroad at Vierzehnheiligen, beside an image of the Virgin, and brought home with him."

Here Sister Hildegard paused, and Frau Christine also remained silent a long time.

Yet, it was horrible here, and the air was impure; but had Countess Cordula looked more closely she would probably have seen one of the beautiful flowers which often bloomed amidst all the weeds, the poisonous and parasitic vegetation.

Eva was right to pity this woman, and if her life could be saved she herself would relieve her necessities and secure her children's future. She silently made this resolve whilst the Sister led the way to the couch of the scourged thief. The unfortunate woman should learn that God often compels us to traverse the roughest and stoniest paths in the wilderness ere he leads us into the Promised Land.

Eva was so deeply absorbed in her conversation with the Dominican that she did not see her aunt until she stood before her.

They greeted each other with a silent nod, and a smile of satisfaction flitted over the girl's face as she motioned to the sleeper whose slumber she was watching.

The young mother's pretty face still glowed with the flush of fever. One arm clasped the baby, which lay amidst the white linen Katterle had just brought. He was a pretty child, who showed no traces of the poverty in which he had been reared. Beside the widow were two little girls about six years old. The one at the left was sound asleep, with her head resting on her little fat arm. The other, at the sick woman's right, pressed her fair head upon her breast. Her slumber was very light, and she often opened her large, blue eyes and gazed with touching anxiety at the sick woman. This was the adopted child, Walpurga, and never had the matron beheld amongst the poor and suffering so lovely a human flower as this little six-year-old child, struggling with sleep in her affectionate desire to render aid. The other little girl's free hand also touched her mother, and thus these four, united in poverty and sorrow, but also in love, seemed to form a single whole. What a peaceful, charming picture!

Frau Christine gazed with earnest sympathy at each member of this group. How well-formed was every one! how pure and innocent the features of the children looked! how kind and loving those of the suffering mother, who was a thief, and whose tender back had felt the scourge of the executioner!

The thought made her shudder. But when little Walpurga, half asleep, raised her tiny hand and lovingly stroked the wounded shoulder of her adopted mother, the matron, as usual when anything pleasant moved her heart, longed to have her husband at her side. How easily, since he was so near, she could afford him a sight of this touching picture! It should prove that she had been right to let Eva remain here.

Faithful to her custom of permitting no delay in the execution of a good resolution, she wanted to send Katterle to call her husband, but the girl could not be found.

Then Frau Christine went herself, beckoning to Eva to follow; but they had scarcely reached the centre of the room when a peal of shrill laughter greeted them from a couch on the left.

The person from whom it came was the barber's widow, whose attack had alarmed Eva so terribly the day before in front of the pillory. It pealed loudly and shrilly through the stillness of the night, and when the matron turned angrily to reprove the person who so inconsiderately disturbed the rest of the others, the woman clapped her hands and instantly a chorus of sharp, screaming voices rose around her. The barber's widow, who knew everybody who lived in Nuremberg, had recognised the magistrate's wife at her entrance, and secretly incited her neighbours to follow her example and, as soon as she gave the signal, demand better fare and make Frau Christine, the patroness of the hospital, feel what they thought of the cruelty of her husband, who had delivered them to the executioner.

The female thieves and swindlers-in short, all the reprobate women around Frau Ratzer, whose feet had just been tied on account of her unruly behaviour in the Countess von Montfort's presence—obeyed her signal, and the fierce voices raised in demand and invective woke those who were sleeping farther away. Weeping, wailing, and screaming they started up, clamouring to know what danger threatened them, whilst Frau Ratzer and her fellow-conspirators shrieked for beer or wine instead of water, for meat with the black bread and wretched broth and, yelling and howling, bade the patroness tell her husband that they thought him a brute and a bloodhound.

There was a hideous, confused, ear-splitting din, which threatened serious consequences, for some of the women, leaving their straw beds, hastened towards the door or surrounded Frau Christine and Eva with uplifted fists and threatening nails.

The warning voices of the matrons, to whose aid the Beguines had hastened, were drowned by the uproar, but the danger which specially threatened Eva, whom the barber's widow pointed out to her neighbour who had stolen a child to train it to beg, was soon ended, for the wild cries had reached the men's building, from which Herr Berthold Pfinzing came hurrying in, accompanied by the superintendent, his assistants, and several monks.

If the women reproached the magistrate, who in reality was a lenient judge, with being a cruel tyrant, they were now to learn that he certainly did not lack uncompromising energy. The unpleasant position in which he found his wife and his beloved godchild did not incline him to gentleness. He would have liked to have tied the hands of all these women, most of whom had forfeited the consideration due their sex. This was really done to the most unruly, while the barber's widow was carried to the prison-chamber, which the hospital did not lack.

After quiet was at last restored and Frau Christine had told her husband that she had been attacked while on her way to show him a delightful scene in the midst of all this terrible misery, he angrily exclaimed: "A magnificent picture! Balm for the eyes and ears of your own brother's virginal daughter! The saints be praised that you both escaped so easily. Can there be in the worst hell anything more horrible than what has just been witnessed here? Really, where a Countess Cordula cannot endure——"

Here Frau Christine soothingly interrupted her irate husband, and so great was her influence over him, that his tone sounded like friendly encouragement as he added: "You wanted to show me something special, but I was detained over there. Though it was late, I wanted to see the worthy fellow again. What a man he is! I mean Sir Heinz Schorlin's squire."

"Poor Biberli?" asked Eva eagerly; and there was a faint tone of reproach in her voice as she continued, "You promised to look after him."

"So I did, child," the magistrate protested. "But justice must take its course, and the rack is part of the examination by torture. He might easily have lost his tongue, and if his master doesn't return soon and another accuser should appear, who knows what will happen!"

"But that must not, shall not be!" cried Eva, the old defiance echoing imperiously in her voice. "Heinz Schorlin—you said so yourself—would not plead in vain for mercy to the Emperor; and before I will see the faithful fellow——"

"Gently, child," whispered Frau Christine to her niece, laying her hand on her arm, but the magistrate, shaking his finger at her, answered soothingly: "Jungfrau Ortlieb would rather thrust her own little feet into the Spanish boot. Be comforted! The three pairs we have are all too large to squeeze them."

Eva lowered her eyes in embarrassment, and exclaimed in a modest, beseeching tone: "But, uncle, do not you, too, feel that it would be cruel and unjust to make this honest fellow a cripple in return for his faithful services?"

"I do feel it," answered Herr Berthold, his face assuming an expression of regret; "and for that very reason I ventured to take a girl over whom I have no authority out of her service."

"Katterle?" asked Eva anxiously.

Her uncle nodded assent, adding: "First hear what interested me so quickly in the strange fellow. At the first charge, which merely accused him of having carried a message of love from his master to Jungfrau Ortlieb, I interceded for him, and yesterday the other magistrates, to whom I had explained the case, joined me. So he escaped with a sentence of exile from the city for five years. I hoped it would not be necessary to present the second accusation, for it was signed by no name, but merely bore three crosses, and for a long time most of the magistrates, following my example, have considered such things as treacherous attacks made by cowards who shun the light of day; but it was impossible to suppress it entirely, because the law commands me to withhold no complaint made to the court. So it was read aloud, and Hans Teufel's motion to let it drop without any action met with no approval, warmly as I supported it.

"We must not blame the gentlemen. They all wish to act for your benefit, and desire nothing except a clear understanding of this vexatious business. But in that indictment Biberli was charged with having forced his way into an Honourable's house at night to obtain admittance for his master. In collusion with a maid-servant he was also said to have maintained the love correspondence between Herr Ernst Ortlieb's two daughters, a Swiss knight, and Boemund Altrosen."

"Infamous!" cried Eva. "What, in the name of all the saints, have we to do with Altrosen?"

"You certainly have very little," replied Frau Christine, "but the Ortlieb mansion has all the more. To-night he will again be seen before its door, and if still later he appears with his lute under Countess Cordula's windows and is heard singing to her, it wouldn't surprise me."

"And people," exclaimed Eva with increasing indignation, "will add another link to the chain of slander. If a Vorkler and her companions repeat the calumny, who can wonder? But that the magistrates should believe such shameful things about the brothers of their own fellow-member——"

"It was precisely because they do not believe it and wish to keep you away from the court," her uncle interrupted, "that they insisted upon the examination. They desired to show the people by their verdict and the severity of the procedures how thoroughly in earnest they were. But whilst I was compelled to absent myself an hour because the Emperor wished to inspect the new towers on the city wall, and I had to attend him in the character of showman, they sentenced the poor fellow, since his loose tongue had brought the whole rout and rabble against him, to torture so severe that I shuddered when told of it."

"And Biberli?" asked Eva, trembling with suspense.

"All honour is due the man!" cried Herr Berthold, raising his cap. "The rods scourged his fettered limbs, his thumbs were pressed in the screws, bound to the ladder, he was dragged over the larded hare—-"

"Oh, hush!" cried Fran Christine with uplifted hands, and her husband nodded understandingly. Then, with a faint sigh, he added:

"Why should I torture you with these horrors? Nothing was spared him. Yet the worthy fellow stuck to his statement that he had accompanied his master to your house in the full moonlight to take a somnambulist who had wandered out of the open door back to her friends. Sir Heinz Schorlin had met Jungfrau Ortlieb only once—at the dance in the Town Hall. Though he had sometimes appeared before her father's house, it was not on account of Herr Ernst's daughters, but—and this was an allusion to Cordula von Montfort—for the sake of another lady.

"After the lightning had killed his master's horse under him he had avoided every woman, because he wished to enter a monastery. He could prove all these statements by many witnesses. Yesterday he named them, and Count Gleichen and his retainers appeared with several others. The Minorite Benedictus was vainly sought at the Franciscans."

"He is here in the house of the Beguines," replied Frau Christine, "and weak as he is, he will have strength enough to make a deposition in the knight's favour."

The magistrate said that this might be necessary if a new charge were brought against the servitor, Katterle, and perhaps even Sir Heinz Schorlin himself. Rarely had he seen a bad cause maintained with so much obstinacy. The complainants had witnesses who testified under oath what they had heard in taverns and tap-rooms from Sir Seitz Siebenburg and those who repeated his tales. Their examination had lasted a long time, and what they alleged was as absurd as possible, yet for that very reason difficult to refute. These depositions had aided the cause of the accused, but in consequence of such numerous charges many questions of course were put to Biberli, and thus the torture had been cruelly increased and prolonged.

Here Eva interrupted the speaker with another outburst of indignation, but he only shrugged his shoulders pityingly, saying: "Gently, child! A shoemaker who recently upbraided the 'Honourables' for something similar was publicly scourged, and if cruelties have been practised here it is the fault of the law, not of the judges. But worse yet may come, if the pack is not silenced by a higher will."

"The Emperor?" asked the girl with quivering lips.

"Yes, child," was the reply, "and your old godfather had thought of bringing this evil cause before our royal master. He gladly exercises mercy, but only after carefully investigating the pros and cons. In this case there is but one person in whom he has full confidence, and who is also in a position to tell him the exact truth."

"Heinz Schorlin!" cried Eva. "He must be informed at once, without delay."

"Certainly," replied Herr Pfinzing quietly. "And since, as the uncle and godfather of Jungfrau Eva, who would have gladly undertaken the ride, I could not order her horse to be saddled, I sent some one else whose heart also will point out the way."

"Uncle!" Eva eagerly interrupted, raising her clasped hands in gratitude. "But whom can you——"

Here she hesitated, then suddenly exclaimed as if sure of her point: "Oh, I know the messenger, Countess von Montfort——"

"You've aimed too high," replied Herr Berthold smiling, "yet I think the choice was no worse. Your maid, child, the poor fellow's sweetheart."

Frau Christine and Eva, in the same breath, uttered an exclamation of surprise and assent, and both asked how the magistrate had chanced to select her.

A waggon from Schwabach, which happened opportunely to be on its way to Siebenburg, had brought Biberli to Schweinau on its homeward trip, just before the magistrate and his wife reached the hospital.

Katterle had been present when the tortured man was brought out and laid upon his couch of straw.

She did not recognise him until, with pathetic reproach, he called her by name and, horrified by the spectacle he presented, she fell upon her knees. But the couch at her side had already been prepared for him, and she did not need to rise again in order to stroke him, comfort him, and promise not to desert him, even if he should be a miserable cripple for life.

When the magistrate approached the couple, to offer Biberli his friendly aid, the latter faltered that he had only one desire—to see his beloved master once more. Besides, his case was hopeless unless the knight obtained a pardon for him from the Emperor Rudolph, for his persecutors would not cease their pursuit of him, and he could not endure the torture a second time.

Here the magistrate paused in his narrative, for he thought of an incident which he was reluctant to mention in the presence of the Dominican who had administered the sacrament to the suffering widow and now joined the group of listeners. This was, that a member of the latter's order had approached Biberli and exhorted him not to fear another examination by torture, for the Lord gave the innocent strength to maintain the truth even under the keenest suffering. A peculiar smile hovered around the lips of the poor tortured fellow, which Herr Berthold fully understood; for the brave servitor had by no means stuck to the truth during the pangs inflicted upon him.

"Oh, my dear ones," Herr Pfinzing continued, "a harder heart than mine would have been touched by what I saw and heard beside that couch of straw when I was left alone with poor Biberli and his sweetheart. If you could have seen how Katterle threw herself upon her lover after I had told her that even the most agonizing torture could not force him to confirm the charge which had been brought against her! Rarely does one mortal pour forth such a flood of ardent gratitude upon another; and when Biberli repeated that his dear master's help would be necessary to protect her and him from another examination, she offered to go in search of him at once, notwithstanding the rain and the darkness.

"Then I thought that no messenger could be found who was more familiar with the course of affairs, and at the same time inspired with more loving zeal. So, as the waggon in which Biberli had come was still waiting outside, I spoke to the carter, who had brought a load of wheat to Nuremberg, and now, on his way home, had ample room under the tilt. I knew the man, and we soon came to an agreement. From Schwabach, his brother, who knows every foot of the road, will take her to the imperial troops who are fighting with the Siebenburgs. I undertook to arrange with you for her absence. She is now rolling along in the old carter Apel's waggon towards Schwabach and Sir Heinz Schorlin."

Hitherto the magistrate had maintained his composure, but now his deep voice lost its firmness, and it was neither the loving words of appreciation whispered by his wife nor the gratitude which Eva tenderly displayed that checked his speech, but the remembrance of the parting between the man so cruelly tortured and his sweetheart.

Biberli had hoped that she would nurse him; the sight of her would have cheered his eyes and heart, yet he sent her out into darkness and danger. Gratitude and love, the consciousness that just now she could be of infinite importance to him and do much for him, bound her to his couch like so many fetters, yet she had gone, and had even assumed the appearance of doing so willingly and being confident of success.

How their faces had brightened when the magistrate told them that his wife and Eva would take charge of him, and he himself would see that he had a better bed!

Biberli murmured sadly: "Straw and I have been used to each other in many a tavern, but now a somewhat softer couch might be of service, for wherever my racked body was touched I believe there would be something out of joint."

Herr Berthold had no reason to be ashamed of his emotion, for he had learned from the barber that the poor fellow had by no means exaggerated, and, as a witness of part of the torture, he knew that even the most cruel anguish had not conquered the faithful Biberli's firm resolve to bring neither his master nor his sweetheart before the judge.

In recalling this noble act of the lowly servitor he grew eloquent, and described minutely what the poor fellow had suffered, and how, after Katterle had left him, he lay motionless, with his thin, pale face irradiated by a grateful smile.

The women, too, and the monk AEgidius, an old Minorite, who had been watching beside the aged Brother of his order, Benedictus, and had just joined them, shed tears at his story; but Eva, from the very depths of her soul, exclaimed aloud, "Happy is he who is permitted to endure such tortures for love's sake!"

The others gazed in surprise at the young girl who, with her clasped hands pressed upon her heaving bosom, and her large eyes uplifted, looked as if she beheld heaven opening before her.

The old Minorite's heart swelled at this confession and the sight of the maiden. Thus, though far less richly endowed with the divine gift of beauty, he had seen St. Clare absorbed in prayer. The words uttered by the fresh lips of this favoured girl, whom he beheld for the first time, expressed a feeling which might guide her into the path of the Holy Martyrs and, filled with pious enthusiasm, he approached, drew her clasped hands away from her breast, pressed them in his own and, remembering what the Abbess Kunigunde had told him yesterday beside the couch of Benedictus concerning her severe conflict, exclaimed:

"Whoever said that, knows the words of Holy Writ which promise the crown of eternal life to those who are faithful unto death. Obey the voice, my child, which unites you to those who are called. St. Clare herself summons you to her heavenly home."

The others listened to the old monk in silence. Eva slightly shook her head. But when the disappointed Minorite released her hands she clasped his thin one, saying modestly: "How could I be worthy of so sublime a promise? The poor servant on his straw bed, with his T and St embroidered on cap and cloak, of whom my uncle told us, has a tenfold greater claim, I think, to the crown of life, for which, as yet, I have been permitted to do so little. But I hope to win it, and the saint who calls everything that breathes and lives brothers and sisters, as children of the same exalted Father, cannot teach that the fidelity shown in the world deserves less reward than that of the chosen ones in the convent."

"That is a foolish and sacrilegious opinion," answered the Dominican sternly. "We will take care, my dear daughter, to guide your soul from pathless wandering into the right path which Holy Church has marked out for you."

He turned his back upon the group as he spoke, but the grey-haired Minorite, smiling sadly, turned to Eva, saying: "I cannot contradict him. Fidelity to those whom we love, my child, is far less meritorious than that which we show to Heaven. To you, daughter, its doors have already opened. How strong must be the pleasure felt by the children of the world in this brief earthly happiness, since they are so ready to sacrifice for it the certainty of eternal bliss! Your error will grieve the abbess and Father Benedictus."

With these words he, too, took his leave, but Frau Christine whispered to her niece: "These monks are not the Holy Church to which we both belong as obedient daughters. To my poor mind and heart it seems as if the Saviour would deem you right."

"Amen," added the magistrate, who had heard his wife's murmured words.



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False praise, he says, weighs more heavily than disgrace



IN THE FIRE OF THE FORGE

A ROMANCE OF OLD NUREMBERG

By Georg Ebers

Volume 8.



CHAPTER XV.

Day followed day, a week elapsed, and no message had reached Schweinau from Heinz Schorlin or Katterle.

The magistrate had learned that the Siebenburg brothers, with the robber knights who had joined them, were obstinately defending their castles and making it difficult for Heinz Schorlin to perform his task. The day before news had come that the Absbach's strong mountain fortress had fallen; that the allied knights, in a sortie which merged into a miniature battle, had been defeated, and the Siebenburgs could not hold out much longer; but in the stress of his duties the knight seemed to have forgotten to make the slightest effort in behalf of his faithful servant. At least the protonotary Gottlieb, a friend of Herr Berthold, through whose hands passed all letters addressed to the Emperor, positively assured them that, though plenty of military reports had arrived, in not a single one had the young commander mentioned his servant even by a word. He, the protonotary, had taken advantage of a favourable hour to urge his royal master, as a reward for Biberli's rare fidelity, to protect him from further persecution by the citizens of Nuremberg; but the Emperor Rudolph did not even allow him to finish, because, as a matter of principle, he refrained from interference in matters whose settlement rightfully pertained to the Honourable Council.

When soon after Herr Pfinzing availed himself of a report which he had to deliver to the Emperor to intercede himself for the valiant fellow, the Hapsburg, with the ruler's strong memory, recalled the protonotary's plea and referred Herr Berthold to the answer the former had received, remarking, less graciously than usual, that the imperial magistrate ought to know that he would be the last to assail the privileges which he had himself bestowed upon the city.

Finally even Burgrave Frederick, whose sympathy had been enlisted in Biberli's behalf by Herr Berthold, fared no better.

His interests were often opposed to those of the Council and, kindly as was his disposition, disputes concerning many questions of law were constantly occurring between him and the Honourables. When he began to persuade the Emperor to prevent by a pardon the cruelty which the Council intended to practise upon a servant of Sir Heinz Schorlin, who was doing such good service in the field, the sovereign told even him, his friend and brother-in-law, who had toiled so energetically to secure him the crown, that he would not interfere, though it were in behalf of a beloved brother, with the decrees of the Council, and the noble petitioner was silenced by the reasons which he gave. The Burgrave deemed the Emperor's desire to maintain the Honourables' willingness to grant the large loan he intended to ask to fill his empty treasury still more weighty than those with which he had repulsed Herr Pfinzing.

On the other hand, the pardon granted to Ernst Ortlieb and Wolff Eysvogel could only tend to increase the good will of the Council. The former was given at once, the latter only conditionally after the First Losunger of the city, with several other Honourables, had recommended it. The Emperor thought it advisable to defer this act of clemency. A violation of the peace of the country committed under his own eyes ought not to be pardoned during his stay in the place where the bloody deed was committed. It would have cast a doubt upon the serious intent of the important measure which threatened with the severest punishment any attempt upon the lives and property of others.

So long as the Emperor held his court at Nuremberg, Wolff, against whom no accuser had yet appeared, must remain concealed. When the sovereign had left the city he might again mingle with his fellow-citizens. An imperial letter alluding to the gratitude which Rudolph owed to the soldiers of Marchfield, to whose band the evildoer belonged, and the whole good city of Nuremberg for the hospitable reception tendered to him and his household, should shield from punishment the young patrician who had only drawn his sword in self-defence, and fulfil the petition of the Council for Wolff Eysvogel's restoration to the rights which he had forfeited.

The news of this promise gave Els the first happy hour after long days of discomfort and the most arduous mental conflict. True, the measures adopted by her friends seemed to have guarded her from the attacks of the old Countess Rotterbach; but Fran Rosalinde, since she had been allowed more freedom to move about than her mother, who had been confined to the upper story, felt like a boat drifting rudderless down the stream. She needed guidance and, as Els now ruled the house, asked direction from her for even the most simple matters. Clinging to her like a child deserted by its nurse, she told her the most hostile and spiteful remarks which the countess never failed to make whenever it suited her daughter to bear her company. During the last few days the old lady had again won Rosalinde over to her side, and in consequence an enmity towards Els had sprung up, which was often very spiteful in its manifestations, and was the more difficult to bear, the more rigidly her position as daughter of the house forbade energetic resistance.

But most painful of all to the volunteer nurse was the sick man's manner; for though Herr Casper rarely regained perfect consciousness, he showed his unfriendly disposition often enough by glances, gestures, and words stammered with painful effort.

Yet the brave girl's patience seemed inexhaustible, and she resolutely performed even the most arduous tasks imposed by nursing the sufferer. Nay, the thought that Wolff owed his life to him aided her always to be kind to her father-in-law, no matter how much he wounded her, and to tend him no less carefully than she had formerly cared for her invalid mother.

So she had held out valiantly until, at the end of a long, torturing week, something occurred which destroyed her courage. On returning from an errand in the city, she was received at the door of the sick-room by her future mother-in-law with the statement that she would take charge of her husband herself, and no longer allow the intruder to keep her from the place which belonged to her alone. The old countess's power of persuasion had strengthened her courage, and the unwonted energy of the weak, more than yielding woman, exerted so startling and at the same time disheartening an effect upon the wearied, tortured young creature that she attempted no resistance. The entreaties of the leech and kind Herr Teufel, however, induced her to persist a short time longer.

But when, soon after, the same incident occurred a second time, it seemed impossible to remain in their house even another day.

Without opposing her lover's mother, she retired to her chamber and, weeping silently, spite of the earnest entreaties of the Sister of Charity, packed the few articles she had brought with her and prepared to leave the post maintained with so much difficulty. To be again with Eva under the protection of her uncle and aunt now seemed the highest goal of her longing. She did not wish to go home; for after his liberation from the tower her father had had a long conversation with Wolff and old Berthold Vorchtel, and then, at the desire of the Council, had ridden to Augsburg and Ulm to arrange the affairs of the Eysvogel firm. He had felt that he could be spared by his family, knowing that his younger daughter was safe at Schweinau, and having heard that Wolff's pardon would not be long delayed.

Eva, too, had experienced toilsome days and many an anxious night. True, Biberli and the carrier's widow, with her children, had been moved to the Beguines' house, where she could pursue her charitable work safe from the rude attacks of the criminal inmates of the hospital; but what heavy cares had burdened her concerning the two patients for whom she was battling with death! how eagerly she watched for tidings from the neighbourhood of the Siebenburgs! what hours of trouble were caused by the prior of the Dominicans and his envoys, who strove to convince her that her intention of renouncing her conventual life was treason to God, and that the boldness with which she had released herself from the former guides of her spiritual life and sought her own way would lead her to heresy and perdition! How painful, too, was the feeling that she was being examined to discover whether the Abbess Kunigunde had any share in her change of purpose!

The torture to which stronger men rarely succumbed seemed to threaten the life of the more delicate ex-schoolmaster. At first the leech Otto, who, to please Els and Fran Christine, and touched by the brave spirit of this humble man, had daily visited Biberli, believed that he could not save him. On the straw pallet, and with the incompetent nursing at the hospital, he would have died very speedily, and what would have befallen his poor mangled toes and fingers in the hands of the barbers who managed affairs there?

At the Beguines the kindly, skilful old physician had bandaged his hands and feet as carefully as if he had been the most aristocratic gentleman, and no prince could have been more tenderly and patiently watched by trained nurses; for, wonderful to relate, Eva, who had so willingly left her sick mother to her sister's care, and had often been vexed with herself because she could not even remotely equal Els beside the couch of the beloved invalid, rendered the mangled squire every service with a touch so light and firm that the old physician often watched her with glad astonishment.

Caution, the quality she most lacked, seemed to have suddenly waked from a long slumber with doubly clear, far-seeing eyes. If it was necessary to turn the sick man, she paid special heed to every aching spot in his tortured body, and invented contrivances which she arranged with patient care to save him pain.

Her own bed had been placed in the widow's chamber next to Biberli's, and from the night that her Aunt Christine had permitted her to remain in the Beguine house, she, who formerly had loved sleep and slumbered soundly, had been beside the sick woman at the least sign. On the third day she rendered her, with her own hands, every service for which she had formerly needed a Beguine's aid. She had possessed the gift of uttering words of cheer and comfort even to her invalid mother better than any one else, and often gave new courage to the suffering man when almost driven to despair by the anguish of pain assailing him in ten places at once. How kindly she taught him what comfort the sufferer finds who not only moves his lips and turns his rosary in prayer, as he had hitherto done, but commends himself and his pain to Him who endured still worse agonies on the cross! What a smile of content rested on the lips of the man who, in the ravings of fever, had so often repeated the words "steadfast and true," when she told him that he had done honour most marvellously to his favourite virtue, represented by the T and St, and might expect his master's praise and gratitude!

All these things fell from her lips more warmly the more vividly she conjured up the image of the man for whose sake the gallant fellow had endured this martyrdom, the happier it made her to help Heinz, though without his knowledge, to pay the great debt of gratitude which he owed the faithful servitor. She was not aware of it, but the strongest of all educational powers—sorrow and love—were transforming the unsocial, capricious "little saint" into a noble, self-sacrificing woman. She was training herself to be what she desired to become to her lover, and the secret power whose influence upon her whole being she distinctly felt at each success, she herself called—remembering the last words of her dying mother—"the forge fire of life."

At first it had been extremely painful for Biberli to allow himself to be nursed with such devoted, loving care by the very person from whom he had earnestly endeavoured to estrange his master; but soon the warmest gratitude cast every other feeling into the shade, and when he woke from the light slumber into which he frequently fell and saw Eva beside his bed, his heart swelled and he often felt as if Heaven had sent her to him to restore the best gifts for which he was struggling—life and health. When he began to recover, the faithful fellow clung to her with the utmost devotion; but this by no means lessened his love for his master and his absent sweetheart. On the contrary, the farther his convalescence progressed the more constantly and anxiously he thought of Heinz and Katterle, the more pleasure it afforded him to talk about them and to discuss with Eva what could have befallen both.

It was impossible—Biberli believed this as firmly as his nurse—that Heinz could coldly forget his follower or Katterle neglect what she had undertaken. So both agreed in the conjecture that the messengers sent by the absent ones had been prevented from reaching their destination.

The supposition was correct. Two troopers despatched by Heinz had been captured by the Siebenburgs, and the maid's messenger had cheated her by pocketing the small fee which she paid him and performing another commission instead of going to Schweinau. Of the knight's letters which had fallen into the wrong hands, one had besought the Emperor Rudolph to pardon the loyal servant, the other had thanked Biberli, and informed him that his master remembered and was working for him.

Katterle had reached Heinz, had been required to tell him everything she knew about Eva and Biberli down to the minutest detail and had then been commissioned to repeat to the latter what had been also contained in the letter. On the way home, however, she only reached Schwabach, for the long walk in the most terrible anxiety, drenched by a pouring rain, whilst enquiring her way to Heinz, and especially the terrible excitements of the last few days, had been too much even for her vigorous constitution. Her pulse was throbbing violently and her brow was burning when she knocked at the door of Apel, the carrier, who had taken her into his waggon at Schweinau, and the good old man and his wife received and nursed her. The fever was soon broken, but weakness prevented her journeying to Schweinau on foot, and, as Apel intended to go to Nuremberg the first of the following week, she had been forced to content herself with sending the messenger who had betrayed her confidence.

How hard it was for Katterle to wait! And her impatience reached its height when, before she could leave, some of the imperial troopers stabled their horses at the carrier's and reported that Castle Siebenburg and the robber stronghold of the Absbachs were destroyed. Sir Heinz Schorlin had fought like St. George. Now he was detained only by the fortresses of the knights Hirschhorn and Oberstein, whose situation on inaccessible crags threatened long to defy the imperial power.

The thought that the strong Swiss girl might be ill never entered the mind of Biberli or Eva, but in quiet hours he asked himself which it would probably grieve him most to miss forever—his beautiful young nurse or his countrywoman and sweetheart. His heart belonged solely to Katterle, but towards Eva he obeyed the old trait inherent in his nature, and clung with the same loyalty hitherto evinced for his master to her whom he now regarded as his future mistress.

This she must and should be, because already life seemed to him no longer desirable without her voice. Never had he heard one whose pure tones penetrated the heart more deeply. And had Heinz been permitted to hear her talk with the Dominicans, he would have given up his wish to renounce the world and, instead of entering a monastery, striven with every power of his being to win this wonderful maiden, for whom his heart glowed with such ardent love. When she persisted in her refusal to take the veil because she had learned that it is possible in the world to live at peace with one's self, feel in harmony with God, and follow in love and fidelity the footsteps of the Saviour, she had heard many a kindly word of admonition, many a sharp reproof, and many a fierce threat from the Dominicans, but she did not allow herself to be led astray, and understood how to defend herself so cleverly and forcibly that his heart dilated, and he asked himself how a girl of eighteen could maintain her ground so firmly, so shrewdly, and with such thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, against devout, highly educated men—nay, the most learned and austere.

The Abbess Kunigunde had also appeared sometimes at his bedside, and Eva's conversations with her revealed to him that she had obtained her armour against the Dominicans from the Sisters of St. Clare. True, at first the former had laboured with the utmost earnestness to win her back to the convent, but two days before she had met two Dominicans, and the evident efforts of one who seemed to hold a distinguished position among his brother monks to gain Eva for his own order and withdraw her from the Sisters of St. Clare, whom he believed to be walking in paths less pleasing to God, had so angered the abbess that she lost the power, and perhaps also the will, to maintain her usual composure. Therefore, yesterday she had opposed her niece's wish to remain in the world less strongly than before; nay, on parting with her she had clasped her in her arms and, as it were, restored her freedom by admitting that various paths led to the kingdom of heaven.

This was balm to the convalescent's wounds; for he cherished no wish more ardent than to accompany his master to the marriage altar, where Eva would give her hand to Heinz Schorlin as her faithful husband, and the abbess's last visit seemed to favour this desire. Besides, he who had gazed at life with open eyes had never yet beheld a brave young warrior, soon after reaping well-earned renown, yearn for the monk's cowl. Doubt, suffering, and a miraculous escape from terrible peril had inspired the joyous-hearted Heinz with the desire to renounce the world. Now, perhaps, Heaven itself was showing him that he had not received the boon of life to bury himself in a monastery, but to be blessed with the fairest and noblest of gifts, the love of a woman who, in his opinion, had not her equal beneath the wide vault of the azure sky.

Countess Cordula was not suited for his master. During the long hours that he lay quietly on his pallet a hundred reasons strengthened this opinion. The man for whom he had steadfastly endured such severe agony, and was suffering still, was worthy of a more beautiful, devout, and calm companion-nay, the very loveliest and best—and that, in his eyes, was the girl for whom Heinz had felt so overmastering a passion just before his luckless winnings at the gaming table. This potent fire of love might doubtless be smothered with sand and ashes, but never extinguished.

Such were Biberli's thoughts as he recalled the events of the previous day. He had found Eva less equable in her tender management than usual. Some anxiety concerning something apart from her patients seemed to oppress her. True, she had not wished to reveal it, but his eyes were keen.

Soon after sunrise that morning she had carefully rebandaged his crushed thumb, which was not yet healed. Then she had gone away, as she assured him, for only a few hours. Now the sun was already high in the heavens, yet she did not return, though it was long past the time for the bandages to be renewed, and the drops to be given which sustained the life of the dying Minorite in the adjoining room. It made him uneasy, and when anxiety had once taken root in his heart it sent its shoots forward and backward, and he remembered many things in which Eva had been different the day before. Why had she whispered so long with Herr Pfinzing and then looked so sorrowfully at him, Biberli? Why had Frau Christine come not less than three times yesterday afternoon, and again in the evening? She had some secret to discuss with the surgeon Otto. Had any change taken place in his condition? and did the leech intend to amputate his thumb, or even his hand? But, no! only yesterday he had been assured that he could save all five fingers, and his sorely mangled left foot too. The widow was better, and all hope of saving the Minorite's life had been relinquished two days ago. Eva's anxiety must have some other cause, and he asked himself, in alarm, whether she could have received any bad news from his master or Katterle?

A terrible sense of uneasiness overpowered him, and the necessity of confiding it to some one took such possession of the loquacious man that he called little Walpurga from the next room. But instead of running to his bedside, she darted forward with the joyful cry, "She is coming!" towards the door and Eva.

Soon after the latter, leading the child by the hand, entered the room. Biberli felt as if the sun were rising again. How gay her greeting sounded! The expression of her blue eyes seemed to announce something pleasant. Whoever possessed this maiden would be sure to have no lack of light in his home, no matter how dark the night might be.

He must have been mistaken concerning the anxiety which had seemed to oppress her on his account. Instead of bad news, she was surely bringing good tidings. Nay, she had the best of all; for Katterle, Eva told him, would soon arrive. But his future wife had been ill too. Her cheeks had not yet regained their roundness or their bright colour.

Sharp-sighted Biberli noticed this, and exclaimed: "Then she is here already! For, my mistress, how else could you know how her cheeks look?"

Soon afterwards the maid was really standing beside her lover's couch.

Eva allowed them to enjoy the happiness of meeting undisturbed, and went to her other two patients. When she returned to the couple, Katterle had already related what she had experienced in Schwabach. It was little more than Eva had already heard from her uncle and others.

That Seitz Siebenburg, whom he bitterly hated, had fallen in a sword combat by his master's own hand, afforded Biberli the keenest delight. No portion of the narrative vexed him except the nonarrival of the messengers, and the probability that some time must yet elapse ere Heinz could sheathe his sword.

Eva's cheeks flushed with joy and pride as she heard how nobly her lover had justified the confidence of his imperial patron. But it seemed to be impossible to follow Biberli's flood of eloquence to the end. She was in haste, and he had been right concerning the cares which oppressed her.

She had stood beside his couch the day before with a heavy heart, and it required the exercise of all her strength to conceal the anxiety with which her mind was filled, for if she did not intercede for him that very day; if his pardon could not be announced early the following morning during the session of the court in the Town Hall, then the half-recovered man must be surrendered to the judges again, and Otto believed that the torture would be fatal to his enfeebled frame.

The tailor and his adherents, as Eva knew from Herr Pfinzing, were making every effort to obtain his condemnation and prove to the city that they had not censured the proceedings of the Ortlieb household as mere reckless slanderers. Eva and her sister would be again mentioned in the investigation, and were even threatened with an examination.

At first this had startled her, but she believed her uncle's assurance that this examination would fully prove her innocence before the eyes of the whole world. For her own sake Eva surely would not have suffered herself to be so tortured by anxiety night and day, or undertaken and resolved to dare so much. The thought that the faithful follower whom her patient nursing had saved from death and to whom she had become warmly attached must now lose his life, and Heinz Schorlin be robbed of the possibility of doing anything for him, had cast every other fear in the shade, and had kept her constantly in motion the evening before and this morning.

But all that she and her Aunt Christine had attempted in behalf of the imperilled man had been futile. To apply to the Emperor again every one, including the magistrate, had declared useless, since even the Burgrave had been refused.

The members of the Council and the judges in the court had already, at Aunt Christine's solicitation, deferred the proceedings four days, but the law now forbade longer delay. Though individuals would gladly have spared the accused the torture, its application could scarcely be avoided, for how many accusers and witnesses appeared against him, and if there were weighty depositions and by no means truthful replies on the part of the prisoner, the torture could not be escaped. It legally belonged to the progress of the investigation, and how many who had by no means recovered from the last exposure to the rack were constantly obliged to enter the torture chamber? Besides, the judges would be charged with partiality by the tailor and his followers, and to show such visible tokens of favour threatened to prejudice the dignity of the court.

She had found good will everywhere, but all had withheld any positive promise. It was so easy to retreat behind the high-sounding words "justice and law," and then: who for the sake of a squire—who, moreover, was in the service of a foreign knight—would awaken the righteous indignation of the artisans, who made the tailor's cause their own.

Whatever the aunt and niece tried had failed either wholly or partially. Besides, Eva had been obliged to keep in the background in order not to expose herself to the suspicion of pleading her own cause. Many probably thought that Frau Christine herself was talking ostensibly in behalf of the servant and really for her brother's slandered daughter.

When Eva met Katterle in front of the hospital, she had passed without noticing her, so completely had sorrow, anxiety, and the effort to think of some expedient engrossed her attention.

It had been very difficult to meet Biberli with an untroubled manner, yet she had even succeeded in showing a bright face to the carrier's widow, as well as to Father Benedictus, whose hours seemed to be numbered, and who only yesterday had wounded her deeply.

When she returned from the Minorite's room to Biberli's the lovers were no longer alone. The fresh, pleasant face of a vigorous woman, who had already visited the sufferer several times, greeted her beside his couch.

When, in the exchange of salutations, her eyes met Eva's the latter suddenly found the plan of action she had vainly sought. Gertrude of Berne could help her take the chance which, in the last extremity, she meant to risk, for she was the wife of the Swiss warder in the Burgrave's castle. It certainly would not be difficult for her to procure her an interview with the Burgravine Elizabeth. If the noble lady could not aid herself, she could—her cheeks paled at the thought, yet she resolutely clung to it—present her to her brother, the Emperor.

When Eva, in a low tone, told Frau Gertrude what she hoped to accomplish at the castle, she learned that the Emperor had ridden with the Archduchess Agnes and a numerous train to the imperial forest, to show his Bohemian daughter-in-law the beekeeper's hives, and would scarcely return before sunset; but the Burgravine had remained at home on account of a slight illness.

Nevertheless Eva wished to go to the castle, and, whatever reception the noble lady bestowed upon her, she would return to Schweinau as soon as possible. Father Benedictus was so ill that she could not remain away from him long.

If the Burgravine could do nothing for Biberli, she would undertake the risk which made her tremble, because it compelled her, the young girl, to appear alone at the court with all its watchful eyes and sharp tongues. She would go to the fortress to beseech the Emperor herself for pardon.

She could act with entire freedom to-day, for her uncle had ridden to the city and, Frau Gertrude said, was one of the party who accompanied the Emperor to the beekeeper's, whilst her aunt had just gone to Nuremberg to see Els, who had besought her, in a despairing letter, to let her come to Schweinau, for her power of endurance was exhausted.

How gladly Eva would have accompanied her aunt to her sister to exhort her to take courage! What a strange transformation of affairs! Ever since she could think Els had sustained her by her superior strength and perseverance. Now she was to be the stronger, and teach her to exercise patience.

She thought she had gained the right to do so. Whilst Eva was still explaining her plan to Frau Gertrude, she herself perceived that she had taken no account of time.

It was nearly noon, and if she ordered a sedan-chair to convey her to the city and back again to Schweinau, it would be too late to approach the Emperor as a petitioner. She could fulfil her design only by riding; but the warder's wife reminded her that it would be contrary to custom—nay, scarcely possible—to appear before the Emperor, or even his sister, in a riding habit.

But the young girl speedily found a way to fulfil her ardent wish to aid. On her swift palfrey, which her uncle had sent to Schweinau long before that she might refresh herself, after her arduous duties, by a ride, she would go to the city, stop at her own home, and have her new expensive mourning clothes taken to the castle. The only doubt was whether she could change her garments in the quarters of the Swiss, and whether Frau Gertrude would help her do so.

The latter gladly assented. There was no lack of room in her apartments, nor did Frau Gertrude, who had served the Burgravine as waiting maid many years before her marriage, lack either skill or good will.

So she went directly home on her mule; but Eva, after promising her patients to return soon, hastened to her uncle's residence.

There she mounted the palfrey and reached the city gate a long time before the Swiss. The clothes she needed were soon found in the Ortlieb mansion, and she was then carried in a sedan-chair to the castle with her wardrobe, whilst the groom led her palfrey after her. Countess Cordula was not at home; she, too, had ridden to the forest with the Emperor.

The Burgravine Elizabeth willingly consented to receive the charming child whose fate had awakened her warm interest. She had just been hearing the best and most beautiful things about Eva, for the leech Otto had been called to visit her in her attack of illness, and the old man was overflowing with praises of both sisters. He indignantly mentioned the vile calumnies with which Heinz Schorlin's name was associated, and which base slander had fixed upon the innocent girls whose pure morality he would guarantee.

The great lady, who probably remembered having directed Heinz's attention to Eva at the dance, understood very clearly that they could not fail to attract each other. Of all the knights in her imperial brother's train, none seemed to the Burgravine more worthy of her favour than her gay young countryman, whose mother had been one of the friends of her youth. She would gladly have rendered him a service and, in this case, not only for his own sake but still more on account of the rare fidelity of his servant, who was also a native of her beloved Swiss mountains. Yet, notwithstanding all this, it seemed impossible to bring this matter again before the Emperor. She knew her husband, and after the rebuff he had received on account of the tortured man he would be angry if she should plead his cause with her royal brother.

But her kind heart, and the regard which both Eva and Heinz Schorlin had inspired, strengthened her desire to aid, as far as lay in her power, the brave maiden who urged her suit with such honest warmth, and the petitioner's avowal of her intention, as a last resort, of appealing to the Emperor in person showed her how to convert her kind wishes into deeds.

Let Eva's youth and beauty try to persuade the Emperor to an act of clemency which he had refused to wisdom and power.

After supper her brother received various guests, and she could present the daughter of a Nuremberg patrician whom he already knew, and whose rare charms had attracted his notice.

Though she had been compelled to forego the ride to the forest, she was well enough to appear at supper in the Emperor's residence, which was close to her own castle. When the meal was over she would take Eva herself to her royal brother.

She told her this, and the gratitude which she received was so warm and earnest that it touched her heart, and as she bade the beautiful, brave child farewell she clasped her in her arms and kissed her.



CHAPTER XVI.

Encouraged and hopeful, Eva again mounted her palfrey, and urged the swift animal outside the city to so rapid a pace that the old groom on his well-fed bay was left far behind. But the change of dress, the waiting, and the numerous questions asked by the Burgravine had consumed so much time that the poplars were already casting long shadows when she dismounted before the hospital.

Sister Hildegard received her with an embarrassment by no means usual, but which Eva thought natural when the former told her that the dying Father Benedictus had asked for her impatiently. The widow was doing well, and Biberli would hardly need her; for the wife of a Swabian knight in whose service he had formerly been was sitting by his couch with her young daughter, and their visit seemed to please him.

Eva remarked in surprise that she thought the sick man had never served any one except the Schurlins, but she was in too much haste for further questions, and entered the room where Biberli lay.

Her face was flushed by the rapid ride; her thick, fair hair, which usually fell loosely on her shoulders, had been hastily braided before she mounted her horse, but the long, heavy braids had become unfastened on the way, and now hung in tresses round her face and pliant figure.

She waved her hand gaily from the threshold to the patient for whom she had done and dared so much; but ere approaching his couch she modestly saluted the stately matron who was with Biberli, and nodded a pleasant welcome to her daughter, whose pretty, frank face attracted her. After the Swabians had cordially returned her greeting, she briefly excused herself, as an urgent duty would not permit her to yield to her desire to remain with them.

Lastly, she addressed a few hasty questions to the squire about his health, kissed little Walpurga, who had nestled to her side, bade her tell her another that she would come to her later, and entered the next room.

"Well?" Biberli asked his visitors eagerly, after the door had closed behind her.

"Oh, how beautiful she is!" cried the younger lady quickly, but her mother's voice trembled with deep emotion as she answered: "How I objected to my son's marriage with the daughter of a city family! Nay, I intended to cast all the weight of my maternal influence between Heinz and the Nuremberg maiden. Yet you did not say too much, my friend, and what your praise began Eva's own appearance has finished. She will be welcome to me as a daughter. I have scarcely ever seen anything more lovely. That she is devout and charitable and, moreover, has a clear intellect and resolute energy, can be plainly perceived in spite of the few minutes which she could spare us. If Heaven would really suffer our Heinz to win the heart of this rare creature——"

"Every fibre of it is his already," interrupted Biberli. "The rub—pardon me, noble lady!—is somewhere else. Whether he—whether Heinz can be induced to renounce the thought of the monastery, is the question."

He sighed faintly as he gazed into the still beautiful, strong, and yet kindly face of the Lady Wendula Schorlin, Sir Heinz's mother, for she was the older visitor.

"We ought not to doubt that," replied the matron firmly. "As the last of his ancient race, it is his duty to provide for its continuance, not solely for his own salvation. He was always a dutiful son."

"Yet," replied Biberli thoughtfully, "'Away with those who gave us life!' was the exhortation of Father Benedictus in the next room. 'Away with the service of sovereign and woman!' he cried to our knight. 'Away with everything that stands in the way of your own salvation!' And," Biberli added, "St. Francis was not the first to devise that. Our Lord and Saviour commanded His disciples to leave father and mother and to follow Him."

"Who will prevent his walking in the paths of Jesus Christ?" replied the Lady Wendula? "Yet, though he follows His footsteps, he must and can do so as a scion of a noble race, as a knight and the brave soldier and true servant of his Emperor, which he is, as a good son and, God willing, as a husband and father. He is sure of my blessing if he wields his sword as a champion of his holy faith. When my two daughters took the veil I submissively yielded. They can pray for heavenly bliss for their brother and ourselves. My only son, the last Schorlin, I neither can nor will permit to renounce the world, in which he has tasks to perform which God Himself assigned him by his birth."

"And how could Heinz part from this angel," cried Maria—to whom, next to her mother, her brother was the dearest person on earth—"if he is really sure of her love!"

She herself had not yet opened her heart to love. To wander through forest and field with the aged head of her family, assist her mother in housekeeping, and nurse the sick poor in the village, had hitherto been the joy and duty of her life. Gaily, often with a song upon her lips, she had carelessly seen one day follow another until Schorlin Castle was besieged and destroyed, and her dear uncle, the Knight Ramsweg, was slain in the defence of the fortress confided to his care. Then she and her mother were taken to the convent at Constance. Both remained there in perfect freedom, as welcome guests of the nuns, until the mounted courier brought a letter from the Knight Maier of Silenen, her cousin, who wrote from Nuremberg that Heinz, like his sisters, intended to renounce the world.

Lady Schorlin set out at once, and with an anxious heart rode to Nuremberg with her daughter as fast as possible.

They had arrived a few hours before and gone to their cousin from Silenen. From him the Lady Wendula learned what her maternal love desired to know. Biberli's fate brought her, after a brief rest, to the hospital, and how it comforted the faithful fellow's heart to see the noble lady who had confided his master to his care, and in whose house the T and St had been embroidered on his long coat and cap!

Lady Wendula had remembered these letters, and when she spoke of them he replied that since he had partially verified what the T and St had announced to people concerning his character, and to which the letters had themselves incited him, he no longer needed them.

Then he lapsed into silence, and at last, as the result of his meditations, told his mistress that there was something unusual about his insignificant self, because he earnestly desired to practise the virtues whose possession he claimed before the eyes of the people. He had usually found the worst wine in the taverns with showy signs, and when the Lady Wendula's daughter had embroidered those letters on the cloth for him, what he furnished the guests was also of very doubtful quality. On his sick bed he had been obliged to place no curb upon his proneness to reflection, and in doing so had discovered that there was no virtue which can be owned like a house or a steed, but that each must be constantly gained anew, often amidst toil and suffering. One thing, however, was now firmly established in his belief: that his favourite virtues were really the fairest of all, because—one will answer for all—man never felt happier than when he had succeeded in keeping his fidelity inviolate and maintaining his steadfastness. He had learned, too, from Fraulein Eva that the Redeemer Himself promised the crown of eternal life to those who remain faithful unto death. In this confidence he awaited the jailers, who perhaps would come very soon to lead him into the most joyless of all apartments—the Nuremberg torture chamber.

Then he told the ladies what he knew of the love which united Heinz and Eva. The four Fs which he had advised his master to heed in his wooing—Family, Figure, Favor, and Fortune—he no longer deemed the right touch-tones. Whilst he was forced to lie idly here he had found that they should rather be exchanged for four Ss—Spirituality, Steadfastness, Stimulation, and Solace—for the eyes and the heart.

All these were united in Eva and, moreover, there could be no objection to the family to which she belonged.

Thereupon he had commenced so enthusiastic a eulogy of his beloved nurse and preserver that more than once Lady Wendula, smiling, stopped him, accusing him of permitting his grateful heart to lead him to such exaggeration that the maiden he wished to serve would scarcely thank him.

Yet Eva's personal appearance had disappointed neither the experienced mother nor the easily won daughter. Nay, when Maria Schorlin gazed at her through the half-open door of the Minorite's room, because she did not want to lose sight of the girl who had already attracted her on account of her hard battle in the cause of love, and who specially charmed her because it was her Heinz whom she loved, she thought no human being could resist the spell which emanated from Eva.

With her finger on her lip she beckoned to her mother, and she, too, could not avert her eyes from the wonderful creature whom she hoped soon to call daughter, as she saw Eva standing, with eyes uplifted to heaven, beside the old man's couch, and heard her, in compliance with his wish, as she had often done before, half recite, half sing in a low voice the Song of the Sun, the finest work of St. Francis.

The words were in the Italian language, in which this song had flowed from the poet heart of the Saint of Assisi, so rich in love to God and all animate nature; for she had learned to speak Italian in the Convent of St. Clare, to which several Italians had been transferred from their own home and that of their order and its founder.

Lady Wendula and her daughter could also follow the song; for the mother had learned the beautiful language of the Saint of Assisi from the minnesingers in her youth, and in the early years of her marriage had accompanied the Emperor Frederick, with her husband, across the Alps. So she had taught Maria.

As Lady Schorlin approached the door Eva, with her large eyes uplifted, was just beginning the second verse:

"Praised by His creatures all Praised be the Lord my God By Messer Sun, my brother, above all, Who by his rays lights us and lights the day. Radiant is he, with his great splendour stored, Thy glory, Lord, confessing.

"By sister Moon and stars my Lord is praised, Where clear and fair they in the heavens are raised.

"By brother Wind, my Lord, thy praise is said, By air and clouds, and the blue sky o'erhead, By which thy creatures all are kept and fed.

"By one most humble, useful, precious, chaste, By sister Water, O my Lord, thou art praised.

"And praised is my Lord By brother Fire-he who lights up the night; Jocund, robust is he, and strong and bright.

"Praised art Thou, my Lord, by mother Earth, Thou who sustainest her and governest, And to her flowers, fruit, herbs, dost colour give and birth.

"And praised is my Lord By those who, for Thy love, can pardon give And bear the weakness and the wrongs of men.

"Blessed are those who suffer thus in peace, By Thee, the Highest, to be crowned in heaven.

"Praised by our sister Death, my Lord, art Thou, From whom no living man escapes. Who die in mortal sin have mortal woe, But blessed are they who die doing Thy will; The second death can strike at them no blow.

"Praises and thanks and blessing to my Master be! Serve ye Him all, with great humility."

How God was loved by this saint, who beheld in everything the Most High had created kindred whom he loved and held intercourse with as with brother and sister! Whatever the divine Father's love had formed—the sun, the moon and stars, the wood, water and fire, the earth and her fair children, the various flowers and plants—he made proclaim, each for itself and all in common, like a mighty chorus, the praise of God. Even death joins in the hymn, and all these sons and daughters of the same exalted Father call to the minds of men the omnipotent, beneficent rule of the Lord. They help mortals to appreciate God's majesty, fill their hearts with gratitude, and summon them to praise His sublimity and greatness. In death, whom the poet also calls his sister, he sees no cruel murderer, because she, too, comes from the Most High. "And what sister," asks the saint, "could more surely rescue the brother from sorrow and suffering?" Whoever, as a child of God, feels like the loving Saint of Assisi, will gratefully suffer death to lead him to union with the Father.

Benedictus had followed the magnificent poem with rapture. At the lines,

"But blessed are they who die doing Thy will; The second death can strike at them no blow,"

he nodded gently, as if sure that the close of his earthly pilgrimage meant nothing to him except the beginning of a new and happy life; but when Eva ended with the command to serve the Lord with great humility, he lowered his eyes to the floor hesitatingly, as if not sure of himself.

But he soon raised them again and fixed them on the young girl. They seemed to ask the question whether this noble hymn did not draw his nurse also to him who had sung it; whether, in spite of it, she still persisted, with sorrowful blindness, in her refusal to join the Sisters of St. Clare, whom the saintly singer also numbered amongst his followers. Yet he felt too feeble to appeal to her conscience now, as he had often done, and bear the replies with which this highly gifted, peculiar creature, in every conversation his increasing weakness permitted him to share with her, had pressed him hard and sometimes even silenced him.

True, they fought with unequal weapons. Pain and illness paralysed his keen intellect, and difficulty of breathing often checked the eloquent tongue, both of which had served him so readily in his intercourse with Heinz Schorlin. She contended with the most precious goal of youth before her eyes, fresh and healthy in mind and body, conscious, in the midst of the struggle, against doubt and suffering, for what she held dearest of her own vigorous energy, panoplied by the talisman of the last mandate from the lips of her dying mother.

Benedictus, during a long life devoted to the highest aims, had battled enough. He already saw Sister Death upon the threshold, and he wished to depart in peace and reap the reward for so much conflict, pain, and sacrifice. The Lord Himself had broken his weapons. The Minorite Egidius, his friend and companion in years, must carry on with Eva, Father Ignatius, the most eloquent member of the order in Nuremberg, with Heinz Schorlin, the work which he, Benedictus, had begun. Though he himself must retire from the battlefield, he was sure that his post would not remain empty.

The chant had placed him in the right mood to take leave of the Brothers, whose arrival Sister Hildegard had just announced.

Since yesterday he had seen the Saviour constantly before his mental vision. Sometimes he imagined that he beheld Him beckoning to him; sometimes that He extended His arms to him; sometimes he even fancied that he heard His voice, or that of St. Francis, and both invited him to approach.

To-day-the leech had admitted it, and he himself felt it by his fevered brow, the failing pulsations of the heart, and the chill in the cold feet, perhaps already dead—he might expect to leave the dust of the world and behold those for whom he longed face to face in a purer light.

He wished to await the end surrounded only by the Brothers, who were fighting the same battle, reminded by nothing of the world, as if in the outer court of heaven.

Eva, the beautiful yet perverse woman, was one of the last persons whom he would have desired to have near him when he took the step into the other world.

Speech was difficult. A brief admonition to renounce her earthly love in order to share the divine one whose rich joys he hoped to taste that very day was the farewell greeting he vouchsafed Eva. When she tried to kiss his hand he withdrew it as quickly as his weakness permitted.

Then she retired, and Father AEgidius led the Brothers of the order in Nuremberg into the room. Meanwhile it had grown dark, and the Beguine Paulina brought in a two-branched candelabrum with burning candles. Eva took it from her hand and placed it so that the light should not dazzle her patient; but he saw her and, by pointing with a frowning brow to the door, commanded her to leave the room.

She gladly obeyed. When she had passed the Brothers, however, she paused on the threshold before going into the entry and again gazed at the old man's noble, pallid features illumined by the candlelight.

She had never seen him look so. He was gazing, radiant with joy, at the monks, who were to give him the benediction at his departure. Then he raised his dark eyes as if transfigured; he was thanking Heaven for so much mercy, but the other Minorites fell on their knees beside the bed and prayed with him.

How lovingly the old man looked into each face! He had never favoured her with such a glance. Yet no other nursing had been so difficult and often so painful. At first he had shown a positive enmity to her, and even asked Sister Hildegard for another nurse; but no suitable substitute for Eva could be found. Then he had earnestly desired to be removed to the Franciscan monastery in Nuremberg; this, however, could not be done because it would have hastened his death. So he was forced to remain, and Eva felt that her presence was not the least thing which rendered the hospital distasteful.

Yet, as his aged eyes refused their service and he liked to have someone read aloud from the gospels which he carried with him, or from notes written by his own hand, which also comprised some of the poems of St. Francis, and no one else in the house was capable of performing this office, he at last explicitly desired to keep her for his nurse.

To anoint and bandage, according to the physician's prescription, his sore feet and the deep scars made on his back by severe scourging, which had reopened, became more difficult the more plainly he showed his aversion to her touch, because she—he had told her so himself—was a woman. She certainly had not found it easy to keep awake and wear a pleasant expression when, after a toilsome day, he woke her at midnight and forced her to read aloud until the grey dawn of morning. But hardest of all for Eva to bear were the bitter words with which he wounded her, and which sounded specially sharp and hostile when he reproached her for standing between Heinz Schorlin and the eternal salvation for which the knight so eagerly longed. He seemed to bear her a grudge like that which the artist feels towards the culprit who has destroyed one of his masterpieces.

Often, too, a chance word betrayed that he blamed Heaven for having denied him victory in the battle for the soul of Heinz. Schorlin which he had begun to wage in its name. True, such murmuring was always followed by deep repentance. But in every mood he still strove to persuade Eva to renounce the world.

When she confessed what withheld her from doing so, he at first tried to convince her by opposing reasons, but usually strength to continue the interchange of thought soon failed him. Then he confined himself to condemning with harsh words her perverse spirit and worldly nature, and threatening her with the vengeance of Heaven.

Once, after repeating the Song of the Sun, as she had done just now, he asked whether she, too, felt that nothing save the peace of the cloister would afford the possibility of feeling the greatness and love of the Most High as warmly and fully as this majestic song commands us to do.

Then, summoning her courage, she assured him of the contrary. Though but a simple girl, she, who had often been the guest of the abbess, felt the grandeur and glory of God as much more deeply in the world and during the fulfilment of the hardest duties which life imposed than with the Sisters of St. Clare, as the forests and fields were wider than the little convent garden.

The old man, in a rage, upbraided her with being a blinded fool, and asked her whether she did not know that the world was finite and limited, whilst what the convent contained was eternal and boundless.

Another time he had wounded her so deeply by his severity that she had found it impossible to restrain her tears. But he had scarcely perceived this ere he repented his harshness. Nothing but love ought to move his heart on the eve of a union with Him whom he had just called Love itself, and with earnest and tender entreaties he besought Eva to forgive him for the censure which was also a work of love. Throughout the day he had treated her with affectionate, almost humble, kindness.

All these things returned to Eva's thoughts as she left her grey-haired patient.

He was standing on the threshold of the other world, and it was easy for her to think of him kindly, deeply as he had often wounded her. Nay, her heart swelled with grateful joy because she had been so patient and suffered nothing to divert her from the arduous duty which she had undertaken in nursing the old man, who regarded her with such disfavour.

A light had been brought into Biberli's room too. When Eva entered with glowing cheeks she found the Swabians still sitting beside his couch. The door leading into the chamber of the dying man had been closed long before, yet the notes of pious litanies came from the adjoining room. Lady Schorlin noticed her deep emotion with sympathy, and asked her to sit down by her side. Maria offered her own low stool, but Eva declined its use, because she would soon be obliged to ride back to the city. She pressed her hand upon her burning brow, sighing, "Now, now—after such an hour, at court!"

Lady Wendula urged her with such kindly maternal solicitude to take a little rest that the young girl yielded.

The matron's remark that she, too, was invited to the reception at the imperial residence that evening brought an earnest entreaty from Eva to accept the invitation for her sake, and the Swabian promised to gratify her if nothing occurred to prevent. At any rate, they would ride to the city together.

Biberli's astonished enquiry concerning the cause of Eva's visit to the fortress was answered evasively, and she was glad when the singing in the next room led the Swabian to ask whether it was true that the master of her suffering friend on the couch, who intended to devote himself to a monastic life, meant to enter the order of the Minorite whom she had just left and become a mendicant friar. When Eva assented, the lady remarked that members of this brotherhood had rarely come to her castle; but Biberli said that they were quiet, devout men who, content with the alms they begged, preached, and performed other religious duties. They were recruited more from the people than from the aristocratic classes. Many, however, joined them in order to live an idle life, supported by the gifts of others.

Eva eagerly opposed this view, maintaining that true piety could be most surely found in the order of St. Francis. Then, with warm enthusiasm, she praised its founder, asserting that, on the contrary, the Saint of Assisi had enjoined labour upon his followers. For instance, one of his favourite disciples was willing to shake the nuts from the rotten branches of a nut tree which no one dared to climb if he might have half the harvest. This was granted, but he made a sack of his wide brown cowl, filled it with the nuts, and distributed them amongst his poor.

This pleased the mother and daughter; yet when the former remarked that work of this kind seemed to her too easy for a young, noble, and powerful knight, Eva agreed, but added that the saint also required an activity in which the hands, it is true, remained idle, but which heavily taxed even the strongest soul. St. Francis himself had set the example of performing this toil cheerfully and gladly.

Whilst giving this information she had again risen. Sister Hildegard had announced that her palfrey and the horses of the guests had been led up.

Finally Eva promised to mount at the same time as the Swabians, bade farewell to Biberli, who looked after her with surprise, yet silently conjectured that this errand to the Emperor was in his behalf, and then went into the entry, where Sister Hildegard told her that Father Benedictus had just died.

The monks were still chanting beside his deathbed. Brother AEgidius, the friend and comrade of the dead man, however, had left them and approached Eva.

Deeply agitated, he struggled to repress his sobs as he told her that the old man's longing was fulfilled and his Saviour had summoned him. To die thus, richly outweighed the many sacrifices he had so willingly made here below during a long life. If Eva had witnessed his death she would have perceived the aptness of the saying that a monk's life is bitter, but his death is sweet. Such an end was granted only to those who cast the world aside. Let her consider this once more, ere she renounced the eternal bliss for which formerly she had so devoutly yearned.

Eva's only answer was the expression of her grief for his friend's decease. But whilst passing out into the darkness she thought: the holy Brother certainly had a beautiful and happy death, yet how gently, trusting in the mercy of her Redeemer, my mother also passed away, though during her life and on her deathbed she remained in the world. And then—whilst Father Benedictus was closing his eyes—what concern did he probably have for aught save his own salvation, but my mother forgot herself and thought only of others, of those whom she loved, whilst the Saviour summoned her to Himself. Her eyes were already dim and her tongue faltered when she uttered the words which had guided her daughter until now. The forge fire of life burns fiercely, yet to it my gratitude is due if the resolutions I formed in the forest after I had gathered the flowers for her and saw Heinz kneeling in prayer have not been vain, but have changed the capricious, selfish child into a woman who can render some service to others.

If Heinz comes now and seeks me, I think I can say trustingly, "Here I am!" We have both striven for the divine Love and recognised its glorious beauty. If later, hand in hand, we can interweave it with the earthly one, why should it not be acceptable to the Saviour? If Heinz offers me his affection I will greet it as "Sister Love," and it will certainly summon me with no lower voice to praise the Father from whom it comes and who has bestowed it upon me, as do the sun, the moon and stars, the fire and water.

Whilst speaking she went out, and after learning that Frau Christine and her husband had not yet returned, she rode with the Swabians towards the city.

In order not to pass through the whole length of Nuremberg, Eva guided her friends around the fortifications. Their destination was almost the same, and they chose to enter at the Thiergartnerthor, which was in the northwestern part of the city, under the hill crowned by the castle, whilst the road to Schweinau usually led through the Spitalthor.

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