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The Entire Short Works of George Meredith
by George Meredith
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Farina promised, in the face of all, he would proclaim and witness to his victory on Drachenfels.

'That I may not be ranked an impostor!' continued the Monk. 'And how great must be the virtue of them that encounter that dark spirit! Valour availeth nought. But if virtue be not in' ye, soon will ye be puffed to bursting with that devil's poison, self-incense. Surely, my son, thou art faithful; and for this service I can reward thee. Follow me yet again.'

On the road they met Gottlieb Groschen, hastening to the camp. Dismay rumpled the old merchant's honest jowl. Farina drew rein before him.

'Your daughter is safe, worthy Master Groschen,' said he.

'Safe?' cried Gottlieb; 'where is she, my Grete?'

Farina briefly explained. Gottlieb spread out his arms, and was going to thank the youth. He saw Father Gregory, and his whole frame narrowed with disgust.

'Are you in company with that pestilent animal, that curse of Cologne!'

'The good Monk—,' said Farina.

'You are leagued with him, then, sirrah! Expect no thanks from me. Cologne, I say, is cursed! Meddling wretches! could ye not leave Satan alone? He hurt us not. We were free of him. Cologne, I say, is cursed! The enemy of mankind is brought by you to be the deadly foe of Cologne.'

So saying, Gottlieb departed.

'Seest thou, my son,' quoth the Monk, 'they reason not!'

Farina was dejected. Willingly would he, for his part, have left the soul of Evil a loose rover for the sake of some brighter horizon to his hope.

No twinge of remorse accompanied Gottlieb. The Kaiser had allotted him an encampment and a guard of honour for his household while the foulness raged, and there Gottlieb welcomed back Margarita and Aunt Lisbeth on the noon after his meeting with Farina. The White Rose had rested at Laach, and was blooming again. She and the Goshawk came trotting in advance of the Club through the woods of Laach, startling the deer with laughter, and sending the hare with her ears laid back all across country. In vain Dietrich menaced Guy with the terrors of the Club: Aunt Lisbeth begged of Margarita not to leave her with the footmen in vain. The joyous couple galloped over the country, and sprang the ditches, and leapt the dykes, up and down the banks, glad as morning hawks, entering Andernach at a round pace; where they rested at a hostel as capable of producing good Rhine and Mosel wine then as now. Here they had mid-day's meal laid out in the garden for the angry Club, and somewhat appeased them on their arrival with bumpers of the best Scharzhofberger. After a refreshing halt, three boats were hired. On their passage to the river, they encountered a procession of monks headed by the Archbishop of Andernach, bearing a small figure of Christ carved in blackthorn and varnished: said to work miracles, and a present to the good town from two Hungarian pilgrims.

'Are ye for Cologne?' the monks inquired of them.

'Direct down stream!' they answered.

'Send, then, hither to us Gregory, the conqueror of Darkness, that he may know there is gratitude on earth and gratulation for great deeds,' said the monks.

So with genuflexions the travellers proceeded, and entered the boats by the Archbishop's White Tower. Hammerstein Castle and Rheineck they floated under; Salzig and the Ahr confluence; Rolandseck and Nonnenwerth; Drachenfels and Bonn; hills green with young vines; dells waving fresh foliage. Margarita sang as they floated. Ancient ballads she sang that made the Goshawk sigh for home, and affected the Club with delirious love for the grand old water that was speeding them onward. Aunt Lisbeth was not to be moved. She alone held down her head. She looked not Gottlieb in the face as he embraced her. Nor to any questioning would she vouchsafe reply. From that time forth, she was charity to woman; and the exuberant cheerfulness and familiarity of the men toward her soon grew kindly and respectful. The dragon in Aunt Lisbeth was destroyed. She objected no more to Margarita's cameo.

The Goshawk quickly made peace with his lord, and enjoyed the commendation of the Kaiser. Dietrich Schill thought of challenging him; but the Club had graver business: and this was to pass sentence on Berthold Schmidt for the crime of betraying the White Rose into the hands of Werner. They had found Berthold at the Eck, and there consented to let him remain until ransom was paid for his traitorous body. Berthold in his mad passion was tricked by Werner, and on his release, by payment of the ransom, submitted to the judgement of the Club, which condemned him to fight them all in turn, and then endure banishment from Rhineland; the Goshawk, for his sister's sake, interceding before a harsher tribunal.



THE ENTRY INTO COLOGNE

Seven days Kaiser Heinrich remained camped outside Cologne. Six times in six successive days the Kaiser attempted to enter the city, and was foiled.

'Beard of Barbarossa!' said the Kaiser, 'this is the first stronghold that ever resisted me.'

The warrior bishops, electors, pfalzgrafs, and knights of the Empire, all swore it was no shame not to be a match for the Demon.

'If,' said the reflective Kaiser, 'we are to suffer below what poor Cologne is doomed to undergo now, let us, by all that is savoury, reform and do penance.'

The wind just then setting on them dead from Cologne made the courtiers serious. Many thought of their souls for the first time.

This is recorded to the honour of Monk Gregory.

On the seventh morning, the Kaiser announced his determination to make a last trial.

It was dawn, and a youth stood before the Kaiser's tent, praying an audience.

Conducted into the presence of the Kaiser, the youth, they say, succeeded in arousing him from his depression, for, brave as he was, Kaiser Heinrich dreaded the issue. Forthwith order was given for the cavalcade to set out according to the rescript, Kaiser Heinrich retaining the youth at his right hand. But the youth had found occasion to visit Gottlieb and Margarita, each of whom he furnished with a flash, [flask?] curiously shaped, and charged with a distillation.

As the head of the procession reached the gates of Cologne, symptoms of wavering were manifest.

Kaiser Heinrich commanded an advance, at all cost.

Pfalzgraf Nase, as the old chronicles call him in their humour, but assuredly a great noble, led the van, and pushed across the draw-bridge.

Hesitation and signs of horror were manifest in the assemblage round the Kaiser's person. The Kaiser and the youth at his right hand were cheery. Not a whit drooped they! Several of the heroic knights begged the Kaiser's permission to fall back.

'Follow Pfalzgraf Nase!' the Kaiser is reported to have said.

Great was the wonderment of the people of Cologne to behold Kaiser Heinrich riding in perfect stateliness up the main street toward the Cathedral, while right and left of him bishops and electors were dropping incapable.

The Kaiser advanced till by his side the youth rode sole.

'Thy name?' said the Kaiser.

He answered: 'A poor youth, unconquerable Kaiser! Farina I am called.'

'Thy recompense?' said the Kaiser.

He answered: 'The hand of a maiden of Cologne, most gracious Kaiser and master!'

'She is thine!' said the Kaiser.

Kaiser Heinrich looked behind him, and among a host grasping the pommels of their saddles, and reeling vanquished, were but two erect, a maiden and an old man.

'That is she, unconquerable Kaiser!' Farina continued, bowing low.

'It shall be arranged on the spot,' said the Kaiser.

A word from Kaiser Heinrich sealed Gottlieb's compliance.

Said he: 'Gracious Kaiser and master! though such a youth could of himself never have aspired to the possession of a Groschen, yet when the Kaiser pleads for him, objection is as the rock of Moses, and streams consent. Truly he has done Cologne good service, and if Margarita, my daughter, can be persuaded—'

The Kaiser addressed her with his blazing brows.

Margarita blushed a ready autumn of rosy-ripe acquiescence.

'A marriage registered yonder!' said the Kaiser, pointing upward.

'I am thine, murmured Margarita, as Farina drew near her.

'Seal it! seal it!' quoth the Kaiser, in hearty good humour; 'take no consent from man or maid without a seal.'

Farina tossed the contents of a flask in air, and saluted his beloved on the lips.

This scene took place near the charred round of earth where the Foulest descended to his kingdom below.

Men now pervaded Cologne with flasks, purifying the atmosphere. It became possible to breathe freely.

'We Germans,' said Kaiser Heinrich, when he was again surrounded by his courtiers, 'may go wrong if we always follow Pfalzgraf Nase; but this time we have been well led.' Whereat there was obsequious laughter.

The Pfalzgraf pleaded a susceptible nostril.

'Thou art, I fear, but a timid mortal,' said the Kaiser.

'Never have I been found so on the German Field, Imperial Majesty!' returned the Pfalzgraf. 'I take glory to myself that this Nether reek overcomes me.'

'Even that we must combat, you see!' exclaimed Kaiser Heinrich; 'but come all to a marriage this night, and take brides as soon as you will, all of you. Increase, and give us loyal subjects in plenty. I count prosperity by the number of marriages in my empire!'

The White Rose Club were invited by Gottlieb to the wedding, and took it in vast wrath until they saw the, Kaiser, and such excellent stout German fare present, when immediately a battle raged as to who should do the event most honour, and was in dispute till dawn: Dietrich Schill being the man, he having consumed wurst the length of his arm, and wine sufficient to have floated a St. Goar salmon; which was long proudly chronicled in his family, and is now unearthed from among the ancient honourable records of Cologne.

The Goshawk was Farina's bridesman, and a very spiriting bridesman was he! Aunt Lisbeth sat in a corner, faintly smiling.

'Child!' said the little lady to Margarita when they kissed at parting, 'your courage amazes me. Do you think? Do you know? Poor, sweet bird, delivered over hand and foot!'

'I love him! I love him, aunty! that's all I know,' said Margarita: 'love, love, love him!'

'Heaven help you!' ejaculated Aunt Lisbeth.

'Pray with me,' said Margarita.

The two knelt at the foot of the bride-bed, and prayed very different prayers, but to the same end. That done, Aunt Lisbeth helped undress the White Rose, and trembled, and told a sad nuptial anecdote of the Castle, and put her little shrivelled hand on Margarita's heart, and shrieked.

'Child! it gallops!' she cried.

''Tis happiness,' said Margarita, standing in her hair.

'May it last only!' exclaimed Aunt Lisbeth.

'It will, aunty! I am humble: I am true'; and the fair girl gathered the frill of her nightgown.

'Look not in the glass,' said Lisbeth; 'not to-night! Look, if you can, to-morrow.'

She smoothed the White Rose in her bed, tucked her up, and kissed her, leaving her as a bud that waits for sunshine.



CONCLUSION

The shadow of Monk Gregory was seen no more in Cologne. He entered the Calendar, and ranks next St. Anthony. For three successive centuries the towns of Rhineland boasted his visits in the flesh, and the conqueror of Darkness caused dire Rhenish feuds.

The Tailed Infernal repeated his famous Back-blow on Farina. The youth awoke one morning and beheld warehouses the exact pattern of his own, displaying flasks shaped even as his own, and a Farina to right and left of him. In a week, they were doubled. A month quadrupled them. They increased.

'Fame and Fortune,' mused Farina, 'come from man and the world: Love is from heaven. We may be worthy, and lose the first. We lose not love unless unworthy. Would ye know the true Farina? Look for him who walks under the seal of bliss; whose darling is for ever his young sweet bride, leading him from snares, priming his soul with celestial freshness. There is no hypocrisy can ape that aspect. Least of all, the creatures of the Damned! By this I may be known.'

Seven years after, when the Goshawk came into Cologne to see old friends, and drink some of Gottlieb's oldest Rudesheimer, he was waylaid by false Farinas; and only discovered the true one at last, by chance, in the music-gardens near the Rhine, where Farina sat, having on one hand Margarita, and at his feet three boys and one girl, over whom both bent lovingly, like the parent vine fondling its grape bunches in summer light.

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

A generous enemy is a friend on the wrong side All are friends who sit at table Be what you seem, my little one Bed was a rock of refuge and fortified defence Civil tongue and rosy smiles sweeten even sour wine Dangerous things are uttered after the third glass Everywhere the badge of subjection is a poor stomach Face betokening the perpetual smack of lemon Gratitude never was a woman's gift It was harder to be near and not close Loving in this land: they all go mad, straight off Never reckon on womankind for a wise act Self-incense Sign that the evil had reached from pricks to pokes So are great deeds judged when the danger's past (as easy) Soft slumber of a strength never yet called forth Suspicion was her best witness Sweet treasure before which lies a dragon sleeping We like well whatso we have done good work for Weak reeds who are easily vanquished and never overcome Weak stomach is certainly more carnally virtuous than a full one Wins everywhere back a reflection of its own kindliness

THE END

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