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´╗┐Title: Count Ulrich of Lindburg - A Tale of the Reformation in Germany
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Count Ulrich of Lindburg, by W.H.G. Kingston.
________________________________________________________________________
The story begins in the early years of the sixteenth century.  A monk,
Martin Luther, has read the Bible and has realised that the teachings of
the Roman church are much in error.  Gradually his teachings percolate
through the land.  Count Ulrich, and also his son Eric, are very
interested in this, though Ulrich's wife and daughter remain under the
spell of their priest, Nicholas.  Eric sets off for the city where
Luther is teaching, accompanied by a personal guard called Hans.  On the
way they meet with a youngster who is being bullied, and they take him
into their charge.  Later they meet with some soldiers serving a Baron
who is an enemy of Eric's father, and are taken to the Baron's castle,
where they are imprisoned.  After a few days they are sent for by the
Baron's wife.  It turns out that the boy they had rescued on their
journey had dodged off when they were bing captured, and had made his
way to where Martin Luther could be found.  Knowing that the Baron's
wife was interested in Luther's teachings he got message to her to ask
her to intervene in the matter of Eric and Hans.  This is successful,
and the two men continue their journey.  On arriving at the University
town where Luther is teaching they hasten to his lectures, and are
re-united with the boy they had earlier rescued, who had been waiting
and watching out for them.

The story continues from this point, and does make a very good read.

________________________________________________________________________
COUNT ULRICH OF LINDBURG, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.


CHAPTER ONE.

On the banks of the river Saal, in Merseburg, forming part of Saxony, at
the time of which we speak, governed by the aged and excellent Elector
Frederick, stood the Castle of Lindburg.  It was one of those feudal
piles of the Middle Ages, impregnable to the engines of ancient warfare,
but which were destined to crumble before the iron shots with which
cannon assailed them, as the system they represented was compelled to
succumb to the light of that truth which the Gospel was then diffusing
over the greater part of Europe.

Ulrich, Count von Lindburg, or the Knight of Lindburg, as he was often
called, sat in a room in his Castle, with his arm resting on a table and
a book before him, at which, however, his eyes seldom glanced; his looks
were thoughtful and full of care.  He had engaged in much hard fighting
in his younger days, and now all he wished for was rest and quiet,
though the state of the times gave him but little hope of enjoying them.
In his own mind, too, he was troubled about many things.  Four years
before the time at which he is introduced to the reader, he had visited
Worms, during the time the Diet, summoned by the Emperor Charles the
Fifth, was sitting, and was among those who found their way into the
great hall where the Emperor and the chief princes, bishops, and nobles
of the land were sitting, when Dr Martin Luther, replied to the
chancellor of Treves, the orator of the Diet, who demanded whether he
would retract the opinions put forth in numerous books he had published
and sermons he had preached.

"Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from
me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is
this: I cannot submit my fate either to the Pope or to the councils,
because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and
contradicted each other.  Unless, therefore, I am convinced by the
testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am
persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus
render my conscience bound by the Word of God, _I cannot and will not
retract_, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his
conscience."  And then, looking round on that assembly before which he
stood, and which held his life in its hands, he said, "HERE I STAND, I
CAN DO NO OTHER.  MAY GOD HELP ME!  AMEN!"

The assembly were thunderstruck.  Many of the princes found it difficult
to conceal their admiration; even the emperor exclaimed, "This monk
speaks with an intrepid heart and unshaken courage."  Truly he did.
This is the weakness of God, which is stronger than man.  God had
brought together these kings and these prelates publicly to confound
their wisdom.  These bold words had had also a deep effect on the Knight
of Lindburg, and he kept meditating on them as he rode homeward towards
the north.  Could it, then, be possible that the lowly monk--the
peasant's son--should be right, and all those great persons, who wished
to condemn him, wrong?  Was that faith, in which he himself had been
brought up, not the true one?  Was there a purer and a better?  He must
consult Father Nicholas Keller, his confessor, and hear what he had to
say on the subject.  The Knight carried out his intention.  Father
Nicholas was puzzled; scarcely knew what answer to make.  It was a
dreadful thing to differ with the Church--to rebel against the Pope.
Dr Martin was a learned man, but he opined that he was following too
closely in the steps of John Huss, and the Knight, his patron, knew that
they led to the stake.  He had no wish that any one under his spiritual
charge should go there.  As to the Scriptures, he had read but very
small portions of them, and he could not tell how far Dr Martin's
opinions were formed from them.  The Knight was not satisfied.  He asked
Father Nicholas to explain what was the Church, and if it was not
founded on the Scriptures, on what was it founded?  Father Nicholas
replied that it was founded on Peter, and that the popes were Peter's
successors, and that therefore the Church was founded on the Pope.  The
Knight remarked that from what he had heard of Peter he must have been a
very different sort of person to Leo the Tenth, and he asked what we
knew about Peter, and indeed the other apostles, except through the
Scriptures?  Father Nicholas, shaking his head at so preposterous a
question, replied, "Through tradition."  The Knight asked, "What is
tradition?"  Father Nicholas hesitated--coughed--hemmed--and then said,
"My son, tradition--is tradition!  And now let us change the subject, it
is becoming dangerous."

The Knight was not yet satisfied, and he determined to look more
particularly into the matter.  When, therefore, his son Eric came home,
and expressed a strong desire to migrate to Wittemburg, that he might
pursue his studies under the learned professors of that University, Drs.
Martin Luther, Melancthon, Jerome Schurff, Jonas Armsdorff, Augustin
Schurff, and others, he made no objection.  Dame Margaret, his wife,
however, and Father Nicholas, loudly protested against Eric's going
among such a nest of heretics.

"He will be perverted," they exclaimed; "he will share the fate of
Huss."

"I have promised him that he shall have his will, and perhaps he will be
able to come back and tell us the meaning of tradition," answered the
Knight, with a peculiar look at Father Nicholas.  "There are, besides,
two or three other things about which I want him to gain information for
me."

Dame Margaret knew from experience that when the knight, who was an old
soldier and wont to rule in his own house, said a thing, he meant it.
She therefore held her peace, and it was finally arranged that Eric
should forthwith set off for Wittemburg.

Dame Margaret was a very well-meaning woman.  She could not prevent her
son from going to the heretical University, but she hoped by her
admonitions and warnings that she might prevent him from imbibing the
dangerous principles which she understood were taught there.  She
consulted Father Nicholas on the subject; indeed she never failed to
consult him on all subjects, temporal as well as spiritual, connected
with her family, so that the father had a good deal of influence in the
household.  He did not give her any great hopes of success.

"With all respect be it spoken of a son of yours, Eric has ever been
obstinate and dull-headed, and turned a deaf ear to all my ghostly
counsels and exhortations.  Very like his father, the knight, I regret
to say," he observed; "however, there can be no harm in warning him.
Tell him all I have told you about that heresiarch, Dr Martin, and if
he believes what you say, you may thus have the happiness of
counteracting the effects of the evil and abominable instructions he
will receive."

This was a bright idea.  Father Nicholas had been accustomed to say a
good many hard things of Dr Luther and his friends.  The plan must
succeed.  While, like a good mother as she really wished to be, Dame
Margaret was preparing Eric's shirts and hosen, a new cloak, and other
things for his journey, she sent for her son that she might talk to him.
She was alone; Eric kissed her hand affectionately, as he entered, and
stood respectfully before her--

"You are going away for a long period from your father and me, and from
our esteemed Father Nicholas, and you will be exposed to countless
perils and dangers, my son," she began.  "You have a desire to go among
those people, holding new-fangled doctrines, for the sake of the novelty
and excitement; that is but natural, so I scarcely blame you; but
beware, my son, this Dr Martin himself is, I hear, a wild, unstable
character, a roisterer and wine-bibber, who desires to overthrow our
holy Father, the Pope, for the sake of ruling, by his wicked
incantations and devices, in his stead."

"Others speak very differently of him, my mother," answered Eric,
humbly; "but I shall know more about him when I have been to Wittemburg
and heard what he and his friends have to say for themselves."

"Alas, it may be too late when you once get into his toils," sighed Dame
Margaret.  "They say that he has a compact with the Evil One, and he it
is who gives him the wonderful power he possesses over men's minds and
makes them oppose our Father, the Pope, and our holy mother Church."

"I have not heard that Dr Martin Luther has been guilty of any deeds
such as those in which the Evil One especially takes delight, and we
must judge of people by the works they perform," answered Eric, in the
gentle tone which his affectionate respect for his mother induced him to
employ.  "I know that Dr Martin is a learned man; he desires to
introduce learning and a pure literature into our fatherland, and he is
moreover an earnest seeker after the truth, and has sincerely at heart
the eternal interests of his fellow-men.  He is bold and brave because
he believes his cause to be righteous and favoured by God.  That is the
account I have heard of him; I shall know whether it is the true one
when I get to Wittemburg."

"They say that he preaches that the convents should be thrown open, and
the priests allowed to marry, because he himself wants to take a wife.
They say that the motives for all he does are very evident," continued
Dame Margaret, not listening to her son's remark.

"I should have thought that had he been plotting from the first to
oppose the power of the Pope for the sake of marrying he would have
taken a wife long ago.  There has been nothing to hinder him.  Certainly
not many `pfaffen' would have been so scrupulous.  He himself has
remained single, and is a man, several of my friends who know him assure
me, singularly abstemious; often he goes a whole day or more without
food, and his usual meals are of the simplest kind.  It is true that
when he mixes with his fellow-men his heart expands and he does not
refuse the wine cup or the generous food placed before him.  His is no
churlish spirit to turn away from the good things kind Heaven has
provided for man.  God sends us trials, but He intends us to enjoy what
He has in His loving mercy given us in this world, and never throws
temptations to sin in our way, as some foolish teachers would make us
believe.  But as to Dr Martin's mode of life, I shall be able to tell
you more about it when I have been to Wittemburg."

Dame Margaret sighed deeply, she had not yet quite said her say, that
is, what Father Nicholas had told her to say.  "My son," she continued,
"I am informed that evil people are saying many wrong things against our
Holy Father, the Pope; that he has no business to call himself head of
the Christian Church; that he is an extravagant, worldly man; that many
predecessors have been as bad as bad could be.  Indeed I cannot repeat
all the dreadful things said of him."

"But suppose, dear mother, that all the things said of him are true;
suppose that Saint Peter never was at Rome, that he did not found a
Church there, and was never Bishop of Rome; that designing men, for
their own ambitious ends, have assumed that he was, and pretended to be
his successors, and finally, finding the success of their first fraud,
have claimed the right of ruling over the whole Christian world.  But,
however, when I go to Wittemburg I shall better know the truth of these
things, and if they are calumnies, learn how to refute them."

"Oh! my son! my son! how can you even venture to utter such dreadful
heresies?" shrieked Dame Margaret, even before Eric had finished
speaking; then, hearing his last words, she added, "Of course they are
calumnies; of course you will refute them, and you will come back here,
after you have completed your studies, and be the brave opponent of this
Dr Martin and all his schismatic crew.  But, my son, one of my chief
objects in sending for you was to bestow on you a most invaluable relic,
which will prove a sure and certain charm against all the dangers, more
especially the spiritual ones, by which you may be surrounded.  Neither
Dr Martin nor even the Spirit of Evil himself will be able to prevail
against you if you firmly trust to it, Father Nicholas assures me; for
it contains not only a bit of the true cross, but a part of one of Saint
Peter's fishing-hooks, and a portion of the thumb-nail of Saint James.
Let me put it round your neck, my son, and thus armed I shall, with
confidence, see you go forth to combat with the world, the flesh and the
devil."

Dame Margaret spoke seriously; she was merely giving expression to the
common belief in relics entertained, not only by ignorant peasants but
by the highest nobility and the great mass of the population, a belief
encouraged by the priests, who thus secured a sure market for their own
manufactures.  The excellent Elector Frederick, who became one of the
great champions of the Reformation, had a short time before employed
several dignitaries of the Church to collect relics for him, and had
purchased a considerable number for very large sums.  In the war between
France and Spain, every Spanish soldier who was killed or taken prisoner
was found to have a relic round his neck with a certificate from the
priest who had sold it, that it would render his body invulnerable to
the bullets or swords of the enemy.  There is a very considerable sale
of such articles, even to the present day, in Roman Catholic countries.
Eric was therefore well aware of the value his mother would attach to
the one she desired to bestow on him, yet he had already imbibed too
large a portion of truth from the writings of Dr Luther and others, and
the portions of Scripture he had read, not to look on the imposition
with the contempt it deserved; still he was too dutiful a son to treat
his mother's offer with disrespect.  He thought a minute or more, and
then replied slowly--

"I will not take your relic, mother, for I am already provided with a
protection which will be sufficient for all the dangers I am likely to
encounter.  I will say nothing now as to the relic.  When I have been to
Wittemburg I may be able to tell you something more of its actual
value."

Nothing that Dame Margaret could say would induce him to take the
article.  On repeating the conversation with her son to Father Nicholas,
she expressed a hope that Eric was not possessed of an evil spirit,
which had induced him so pertinaciously to refuse the proffered gift.

Father Nicholas bit his lip, frowned, said he could not say, it might
possibly be an embryo one, such as had clearly entered into Dr Martin
and many other persons at that time.  It would certainly be safe to
exorcise him, but the difficulty would be to get so obstinate a young
man as Eric to submit to the operation.  He would think about it, and
try and devise some means by which the ceremony might be performed
without the patient having the power to resist.

This promise afforded a considerable amount of comfort to Dame Margaret,
who had felt very uneasy ever since the idea had seized her, for she
could not otherwise account for her son's refusing so inestimable a
gift.

The last night Eric slept at home he had a dream, at least he was not
quite certain whether he was awake or dreaming.  He opened his eyes and
saw a light in the room, and his mother and Father Nicholas, and his
sister Laneta, and his father's old henchman, Hans Bosch, who had often
carried him in his arms, when he was a child, and still looked on him in
the light of one, standing round his bed.  His mother held a basin, and
Hans a book, and the priest a censer, which he was swinging to and fro,
and muttering words, in very doggerel Latin, while ever and anon, he
sprinkled him with water from the basin.  What Laneta was about, he
could not exactly make out, but he thought that she had a box in her
hands, which she held open.  Had he not been very sleepy and tired he
would have jumped up and ascertained whether what he saw was a vision or
a reality; but, shutting his eyes, he went off soundly to sleep again,
and sometime afterwards, when he awoke, the room was in darkness and he
was alone.

His mother, the next morning, regarded him with much more contented
looks than her countenance had worn for the last day or two.

It may as well be here mentioned that Eric discovered during his journey
the precious relic, which he had declined taking, fastened into the
collar of his cloak.  He sighed and said to himself--

"Then, poor mother, let it be; should I take it out and should any
misfortune happen to me she will say it was for want of the relic; if it
remains and I receive damage I may the better prove to her the
worthlessness of the thing.  No wonder the sheep go astray when they
have so ignorant a pastor as Father Nicholas."



CHAPTER TWO.

Eric, on the morning of his departure from home, had a private
leave-taking with his father.  The Knight, though an old soldier, was a
peaceably-disposed man, yet in spite of all he could do he had foes and
troubles.  A certain Baron Schenk, of Schweinsburg, unjustly claimed
rights over a portion of the Knight's property.  It was clearly
impossible for the Knight to accede to the Count's demands, for had he
done so fresh ones would instantly have been made until the Count might
have claimed possession of Lindburg itself.  The Count had often
threatened to come and insist on his claims at the point of the sword,
but the Knight had reminded him that as two people could play at that
game he might find that he gained nothing by the move.  Still he
occasionally received a message which showed him that the Count had not
forgotten his threats, and this always troubled him, not because he
feared his enemy, but because he wished to be quiet and at peace with
all his fellow-men.  He had a long talk with his son and gave him much
good advice.  The two understood each other thoroughly.

"My son," he said, "you are going forth into the world; and will meet
with a great variety of characters.  Treat your fellow-men with a kindly
regard and do them all the good in your power, but put your whole trust
in God alone.  While you cling to Him He will never forsake you--I know
that you are honest and single-hearted.  Do that, and I have no fear for
you.  Take my blessing, Eric.  Write when you can and tell me all about
Dr Martin and his companions.  I wish that I were young enough to go to
the University with you; I would give much once more to hear that man
speak as he did at Worms."

Eric set forth not as a poor scholar, on foot, but as the son of a
Knight and a Noble of the land, on horseback, accompanied by Hans Bosch,
who led a sumpter-horse loaded with his baggage.  Both were armed, as
was necessary in those times, with swords and pistols; the latter being
somewhat large and unwieldy weapons.  Eric, as befitted his station, had
learned the use of his sword, and Hans was an old soldier who had
grasped a pike for nearly half a century.  Hans and Eric had always been
good friends.  The old soldier was not ignorant of what was going on in
the world, but he had not as yet made up his mind which side to choose.
He suspected the bias of his master, and that of his mistress was very
evident.  As yet, however, he clung to the old opinions.  Eric, though
high-spirited and manly, was thoughtful and grave above his years, and
Hans respected his opinions accordingly.  He had before been at the
University of Erfurth, but the fame of Wittemburg had reached him, and,
what had still more influence, several of the books written at
Wittemburg, and he had been seized with a strong desire to migrate
thither.

Hans could not read himself, but he was inquisitive.  He plied his young
master with questions, to which Eric very willingly made replies.

"Then you put no faith in the Pope, nor believe that he is the only
rightful ruler of the Church?" observed Hans in reply to a remark made
by his young master.

"I have been led to doubt the supremacy he claims from all I have read,"
answered Eric modestly.  "More especially do I believe that he is not a
descendant of the Apostle Peter from what I have read in my Greek
Testament.  I there find that Saint Paul, on one occasion, thus wrote of
this supposed chief of the Apostles: `When Peter was at Antioch, I
withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed,' (Galatians two
11.)  Peter was also sent especially to preach to the Jews and not to
the Gentiles.  Paul, when writing from Rome, sends no salutations from
him, which he would have done had Peter been there; indeed he never once
mentions his name.  The third or fourth Christian Bishop of Rome speaks
of Saint Paul having suffered martyrdom under the emperors; but, by the
way he speaks of Saint Peter, evidently believing that he suffered
martyrdom elsewhere in the east, and does not allude to his having been
at Rome.  If, therefore, the very foundations of the pretensions of
these august Pontiffs are defective, what can we think of the rest of
their claims?  However, when I have been some time at Wittemburg, I hope
to know more about the matter."

"But, my dear young master, if you upset the foundation of our faith,
what else have we to build on?  I, for one, as an old soldier who has
seen the world, say that we can not go on without religion," exclaimed
Hans, in a tone which showed the perturbation of his mind.

"That is right, Hans," answered Eric, "but, my old friend, we do not
destroy the real foundation of our faith, we only overthrow the false
and cunningly-devised superstructure.  The foundation of our faith is in
the sufficient sacrifice once made for man by Jesus Christ, the Son of
God, on the cross, and the complete justification of all who repent and
put faith in that sacrifice.  That is what Dr Martin Luther teaches.
He says that no man should venture to come between the sinner and God;
that Christ is the only one Mediator--the go-between, you understand--
that He is all-loving, and all-merciful, and all-kind, that by any one
else interfering He is insulted, and that all indulgences, penances,
works, are the devices of the Evil One to make man lose sight of the
full, free, and perfect redemption which Christ has wrought for us."

"That sounds like a good doctrine," observed Hans, thoughtfully, "the
`pfaffen' will not like it, because it will deprive them of their
influence and the chief portion of their gains; but how do you know that
it is the true one, my young master?"

"Because it is in the Word of God, the Bible.  And I am very certain
that God, who has done so much for us, would not have left us without a
clear statement of His will--clear rules for our guidance, and therefore
I believe that the Bible is the Word of God," observed Eric.

Hans rode on in silence.  He was meditating on his young master's
remarks.  They had not gone more than a league or two when some sharp
cries reached their ears.  They came from some person before them.  They
rode on, and arrived in sight of a big youth who was belabouring with a
thick stick, in the middle of the road, a young boy.  The boy had
something under his cloak, which the youth was insisting on his keeping
concealed.  Eric's generous feelings were at once excited.  He could
never bear to see the strong tyrannising over the weak.  He rode forward
and demanded of the big lad why he was thus ill-treating the little one.
The youth did not reply, but looked up sulkily at him.  Eric turned to
the little fellow.

"This is the reason, noble sir," answered the boy, "he is my
`bacchante,' and I am a poor little `schutz.'  We are poor scholars
seeking education at the schools.  For the protection he affords me he
insists that I shall provide him with food.  Lately his appetite has
been very great, and I have not got enough for him, and to-day he
insisted on my stealing this goose, and hiding it under my cloak, that
if it was discovered I might be punished and he escape."

"So, my master, and is this the way you afford your protection?"
exclaimed Eric, looking angrily at the big bacchante.  "What is your
name, my little schutz?" he asked of the boy.

"Thomas Platter," was the answer.  "I come from Switzerland, and have
for long been wandering about, finding it hard to live in one place for
want of food."

"Then, Thomas Platter, know that I am going to Wittemburg, where there
is a good school; and, if you desire it, you shall remain with me and
pursue your studies, and if you ever have to beg for bread, it shall be
for yourself alone.  Are you willing to accept my offer?"

"Gladly, most noble sir," answered the boy, throwing down the goose and
springing out of the way of the big bacchante, who sought to detain him.
Hans, who once had a little boy who died when he was of the age of
Thomas Platter, approved of his young master's generous offer, and
undertook to carry the lad behind him on his horse to Wittemburg.  The
bacchante grumbled and looked very angry at this, and threatened to come
after Thomas and carry him off; but Eric advised him to make no attempt
of the sort as the boy was now under his protection.  They rode on and
left him grumbling and threatening as before.  Thomas seemed highly
pleased at the change.  He was evidently a sharp, clever little fellow,
though simple-minded and ignorant of the world.  He was the son of a
poor shepherd, but the desire to gain knowledge induced him to quit his
father's cottage and to go forth in search of that education which he
could not gain at home.  He had met with all sorts of adventures, often
very nearly starving, now beaten and ill-used by his bacchante, a big
student, from whom he received a doubtful sort of protection, now
escaping from him and being taken care of by humane people, wandering
from school to school, picking up a very small amount of knowledge,
being employed chiefly in singing and begging through the towns to
obtain food.  Such was the type of a travelling student in those days.
Frequently he had companions, three or four schutzen and twice as many
bacchantes, the former performing, in fact, in rough style, the part of
fags to the older students.  The big bacchante, from whom Thomas had
escaped, was a relative who had promised to befriend him.  It was in the
unsatisfactory manner described that he had performed his part.

The next day, as Eric and his companions approached the town of Jena in
Thuringia, they overtook a solitary horseman.  From his appearance he
seemed a knight, as he had a long sword by his side, and a red cap on
his head, and was habited in hosen and jerkin, with a military cloak
over his shoulders, though he was without armour.  He exchanged
courteous salutations with the young noble, and enquired whither he was
going.  On hearing that it was Wittemburg he seemed well pleased.

"Yes, I am migrating thither from Erfurth, for I desire to study under
one whom I consider the great light of the age, Dr Martin Luther,"
answered Eric.

"Then you have never met Dr Martin," said the stranger.

"Not personally, but I know him by his works," answered Eric.  "That way
methinks we may know a man far better than those we may see every day
who have written nothing for our instruction.  Still I desire to go to
Wittemburg that I may drink at the fountain's head, and listen to the
words which fall from the Doctor's own lips."

"Young man," said the stranger, turning a pair of dark, flashing eyes
upon Eric, "be assured that if you drink at the Fountain Head--the pure
spring from which Dr Martin is wont to drink, you will do well--that
is, the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.  Of them you can never drink
too much, and yet no fountain can afford so satisfactory a draught.  But
beware how you imbibe knowledge from other sources; from the traditions
of men; from mere human learning.  It is the too common want of caution
in that respect which leads so many men astray.  Seek for the
enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and give your whole heart
and soul to the study of the Scriptures.  In that way you will most
assuredly gain the best of all knowledge."

Talking in this way, old Hans riding up close behind them, to catch the
words which fell from the stranger's mouth, they approached the town.
Before, however, they could reach it, a fearful storm, which had been
threatening for some time, burst upon them.  They pushed on as fast as
their steeds could move, to obtain, as they hoped, shelter in the town,
and now Eric perceived that the stranger, whom he had supposed to be a
knight, was no very great horseman, and more than once he feared, when a
vivid flash of lightning made the animal he bestrode spring on one side,
that he would be thrown to the ground; still he kept his seat, nor
seemed to think of danger, every now and then addressing Eric on some
subject of deep interest.

On entering the town they found every one keeping holiday, for it was
Shrovetide, and mummery and feasting, and amusements of all sorts were
going forward.  No one would attend to them, nor could they obtain
accommodation of any sort in the town, even where they could dry their
damp clothes.  At last they were advised to proceed on through the town,
where outside the gates, on the other side, they would find an hostelry,
the "Black Boar," at which they would obtain accommodation.  They were
not misled.  The landlord received them courteously, and seemed, by the
affectionate greeting he gave their companion, to be well acquainted
with him.  Eric considered that it was too early in the day to stop, and
as his and his attendant's horses were fresh, he proposed, after taking
some refreshment, to proceed on another stage or two further.  During
the repast the stranger continued the conversation which had been
interrupted by their approach to Jena.  Little Thomas Platter, who was
sitting at the table as well as Hans, listened with attentive ear to all
that was said.  When Eric rose to depart, the stranger bade him a
cordial farewell.

"I too am on my way to Wittemburg," he observed, "we may meet there, I
hope, ere long, and you will then judge whether the tales that have been
told of Dr Martin are true or false."

Eric was very much interested in the stranger, and puzzled to know who
he could be.

"He is a man of learning and a man of consequence," he observed as he
rode along.  "I would that I possessed one quarter of his learning.  How
his countenance lights up when he speaks, and how the words flow from
his lips.  He is a man to move his fellow-creatures by his eloquence, or
I mistake his looks and mode of utterance."

"What think you, my young sir, if he should prove to be Dr Martin
himself?" said Hans.

"It more than once occurred to me that such might be the case; but is
Dr Martin likely to be out in these parts, and would he be habited in
such a costume as that worn by this stranger?" asked Eric.

"It was Dr Martin notwithstanding that," exclaimed the little Platter;
"you will see, my masters, when we get to Wittemburg, you will see."

This incident added very much to the interest of the journey.  They rode
on for some leagues, when, as they were not far off from the place where
they purposed resting for the night, they saw a band of horsemen
approaching them.  It was easy to see by their dress and general
appearance that he who rode at their head was their lord, with two
companions of inferior rank, and that the rest were his retainers.  They
had a particular swaggering look which showed that they belonged to a
class of persons common in those days, who followed the fortunes of any
lawless noble who could employ them, and were ever ready to commit any
deed of violence their master might command.  Eric kept as close to one
side of the road as he could to avoid giving cause of offence.  They
eyed him narrowly as he passed, and especially looked at Hans, who wore
the livery of his house.

"Who can those people be?" asked Eric.  "Their looks are far from
pleasant, nor did they deign to give us the usual salutation which
courtesy demands as they rode by."

"Alas!  I know them well," answered Hans.  "He who rode at their head is
no other than Baron Schenk of Schweinsburg, your father's greatest and,
I may say, only enemy.  _If_ he guesses who you are, my dear young
master, I fear that he will not let us escape unmolested; for he is a
man who delights in blood and violence, and were not our Castle a strong
one, and defended by brave hearts and willing hands, it is my belief
that he would long ago have attacked it, and carried off all he could
find of value within.  My advice, therefore, is that we put spurs to our
horses, and place as great a distance as we can as soon as possible
between him and ourselves.  Hold on, little Platter, away we go!"

"Your advice is good, Hans," said Eric, as he urged on his steed.  It
was likely to be of little avail, however, for at that instant the
clatter of horses' hoofs was heard, and looking round they saw that
half-a-dozen of the Baron's retainers were spurring after them.  This,
of course, only made Eric and his attendant more anxious than ever to
escape.  Their horses were good ones, and they might still distance
their pursuers.

"Let me drop, kind sir," exclaimed little Platter; "I am only delaying
you, and it little matters if I fall into the Baron's hands; I am not
worth killing!"

Hans laughed, and answered, "You would break your limbs if I let you go,
and your weight is but as that of a feather to my old steed Schwartz.
Hold on boy--hold on!  We have promised to protect you, and we are not
the people to cast you off at the first sign of danger."

They galloped on as fast as their steeds could put feet to the ground;
but they had already performed a good day's journey, and were somewhat
tired.  Their pursuers' horses, on the contrary, were fresh, it seemed,
and when Hans looked over his shoulder, he saw at once that they were
gaining on them.  Still he was not a man to give in without an effort.
"We'll try it on a little longer, my young master, and then face about
and show them the edges of our swords.  Maybe, like bullies in general,
they are cowards, and if we put on a bold front, they will make off."
This counsel was too good not to be followed.  Still the Baron's
retainers were gaining on them.  A wood was on either side.  They might
dash into it, and make their escape, but that was not then a mode of
proceeding to suit Eric's taste.  "Now then we'll do as you suggest,
Hans," he exclaimed.  Pulling up their steeds, they turned sharply round
and drew their swords.  This, however, did not produce the effect they
had hoped.  They now saw, indeed, that the remainder of the band were
coming up.  At this moment little Platter let himself slip from behind
Hans to the ground, saying, as he did so, "I can be of no service to you
here; but I can, maybe, if I get away."

Before the horsemen came up he had darted into the wood, where, had they
thought it worth while searching, they would have had no little
difficulty in finding him.

"There is no use fighting, I fear, my young master," said Hans,
unwillingly sheathing his sword.

"We are outnumbered, and it will only be giving our foes an excuse for
slaying us should we attempt to resist them."

Eric, seeing the wisdom of the old soldier's advice, likewise returned
his sword into the scabbard.  When the Baron's retainers came and
surrounded them, he demanded, in a firm voice, what they required.

"We are to conduct you to our lord.  He will question you as he thinks
fit," answered one of the men, seizing Eric's bridle.  Another took hold
of Hans' bridle, and, with a couple of men on either side of them, they
were conducted along the road.

They had not gone far, when they were met by the Baron.

"Ah, my young sir, you are I understand Eric von Lindburg; I have at
length got a hostage for your father's good behaviour," he exclaimed,
exultingly.  "You will find pleasant lodging in the Castle of
Schweinsburg, for the next few years or more of your life, if your
father does not yield to my demands.  I have long been looking for this
opportunity, now it has arrived.  Ha, ha, ha!"

Eric kept a dignified silence, merely saying, "I am in your power, Baron
Schweinsburg.  I cannot choose, but do what you command."

This calm reply somewhat annoyed the Baron.

"Ah, we shall find you a tongue ere long, young sir," he observed, with
a savage expression, as they rode along.

The party went on at a rapid rate till it was nearly dark, when they
stopped at an hostelry to refresh themselves, a strong guard being
placed in the room into which the prisoners were conducted.  The moon
then rising, they continued their journey, and at length, perched on a
rocky height, the grey walls of the old Castle of Schweinsburg rose
before them.  A steep pathway led them up to a bridge thrown across a
deep chasm, which almost completely surrounded the building, and had
rendered it impregnable to the assaults of foes armed only with the
engines of ancient warfare.  In the court-yard the Baron ordered them to
dismount; and four armed men conducted them up a winding staircase to a
room at the top of a high tower, from which, unless provided with wings,
there seemed but little chance of escaping.

In a short time their luggage was brought up to them, followed by a
tolerably substantial supper.

"The Baron does not intend to starve us, at all events," observed old
Hans.  "Come, my dear young master, eat and keep up your spirits.
Matters might have been much worse.  Perhaps we may ere long find some
means of escaping, let the Baron guard us ever so carefully.  At all
events, let us hope for the best."



CHAPTER THREE.

At the time our story commenced Dr Martin Luther was still residing in
the Castle of Wartburg, where he had been concealed by order of the
Elector Frederick, for nearly a year after leaving Worms, to preserve
him from the rage of his defeated enemies.  His friends, however, well
knew where he was, and he had lately been summoned back to Wittemburg,
where his presence was much required.

Several months had passed away since Eric had quitted home, when one day
a man, with a large pack on his back, presented himself at the
Castle-gate, and demanded to see the Knight.  He was admitted.

"Well, friend, what would you with me?" asked the Knight.

"I have books to sell, and will show them to you forthwith," answered
the colporteur, unslinging his pack.  "Here is one lately printed--worth
its weight in gold, and more."

The Knight took it.  It bore the simple title--"The New Testament.
German.  Wittemburg."

"That is the very book I want," exclaimed the Knight, eagerly.  "Yes, I
doubt not that it is worth its weight in gold.  By whom has it been done
into German?"

"By Dr Martin Luther," answered the colporteur.  "He began the work
when shut up in the Wartburg, and has only lately finished it with the
help of Dr Melancthon.  Here are some other works by him.  Will you
take them?"

"Yes, three--four--one copy of each.  There is payment," said the
Knight, laying down some gold pieces.

"I take but the proper price," answered the colporteur, returning most
of them to him.

"You are an honest man," said the Knight.  "If the books you sell have
made you so, they must be good."

"The books certainly are good, and I am more honest than I was.  Once I
ate the bread of idleness, indulged in sloth, and was of no use to any
one.  Now I labour for my food, and try to obey my Lord and Master,"
answered the colporteur.

"Why, what were you?" asked the Knight.

"A monk," answered the colporteur; "a lazy, idle monk.  Dr Luther's
books came among us, and we read them, and some of my more learned
brethren translated the Testament to us who were ignorant of Greek, and
we agreed that as Jesus Christ came into the world to set us an example
as well as to die for our sins, and that as He ever went about doing
good, our system of life could not be the right one.  The more we looked
into the matter, the more satisfied we became that it was altogether
opposed to the Gospel, and so we resolved forthwith to leave it.  Some
who had the gift of preaching went forth to preach the Gospel; others
have begun to learn trades that they may support themselves; and, as I
have a good broad pair of shoulders, I offered to carry throughout our
fatherland the Gospel book, and other works of Dr Luther, which had
proved so great a blessing to our souls; and though I cannot preach, I
can go about and tell people that, through God's love, Christ died for
all men; that there is but one Mediator between God and man, Jesus
Christ; and that men will be saved, not by dead works, but by a living
faith in Him, which will produce fruits unto righteousness, an earnest
desire to imitate Him, to serve Him, to spread these glad tidings among
all mankind."

"It seems to me, in my humble wisdom, that you did right," observed the
Knight.  "However, do not tell Father Nicholas this it you meet him.
Whenever you return this way, call here and bring me more books."

"Gladly; and I shall have some portions in German of the Old Testament,
in translating which Dr Luther is hard at work," said the colporteur.

"By what name shall I remember you, friend?" asked the Knight.

"John Muntz is my proper name, bookseller and labourer in Christ's
service," answered the colporteur, as he bade the Knight farewell.

Sturdy, honest John Muntz went his way throughout the land, selling
Luther's and Melancthon's books, with the New Testament and such parts
of the Old as they issued from the press, sometimes reading their
contents, sometimes telling to single persons or to small assemblies, in
simple language, of the glorious old truths thus brought once more to
light.  It may be, in the great day, that many far-famed preachers will
be surprised that humble John Muntz, and other labourers such as he, in
the Lord's vineyard, have turned more souls into the way of
righteousness than they.

The Count of Lindburg took his books into his own room and locked them
up, that he might read them at leisure.  He was not prepared just then
to enter into a controversy with Father Nicholas, and he wished for
quiet.  He knew that his good wife and his daughter Laneta would take
the part of the priest, and he had an idea that when Eric came back from
Wittemburg he would prove a valuable ally on his side.  Now and then,
however, as he read on, he felt very much inclined to rush down and
proclaim not only to his wife and the priest, but to the whole household
and neighbourhood, the wonderful truths here so clearly proved and
explained.  But though he rose from his seat with the book in his hand
and opened the door, he went back and sat down again.  Though brave as a
lion in war, and often impetuous at home, he was still timid in his own
household.  His womenkind and Father Nicholas had found out his weak
point, and knew where to assail him.

The knight had always wished to act rightly according to his
convictions, consequently when some few years before this time--that is,
a short time before he paid the visit to Worms, where he first heard Dr
Luther speak--he had been urged by Father Nicholas and his wife to allow
his youngest daughter Ava, to become, as they called it, the spouse of
Christ, or, in other words, to enter a nunnery; she raising no
objection, he consented, believing, as he had been assured, that her
eternal happiness would thus be secured, and that she would be better
provided for than becoming the wife of one of the rough, fierce,
warlike, beer-drinking knights, who alone were likely to seek her hand.
The knight, however, often sighed as he thought of his fair blooming
little Ava shut up in the monastery of Nimptsch, and wished to have her
back again to sing and talk to him and to cheer his heart with her
bright presence, but he dared not to express his feelings to any of his
family, as he knew that they would be considered rank heresy.  Often he
would have liked to write to his dear child, but, in the first place, he
was but a poor scribe, and in the second, he guessed that any epistle he
might send would be opened by the lady superior, and its contents
scanned before delivery, and adverse comments made, if it was not
withheld altogether.  So little Ava stayed on at the convent,
embroidering priests' dresses and other ornaments for churches, and
attending mass.  Whether or not she ever felt like a wild bird shut up
in a cage, wishing to be free, he could not say; he thought it possible.
She was wont once to go about the Castle singing like a bright happy
bird, not shut up in a cage then.  He wondered whether she sang now.  He
was sure that the nun's dress could not become her as the
bright-coloured bodice and skirt she wore.  He wondered, too, whether
she ever went out now, as she was accustomed to do when at home, among
the cottagers in the neighbourhood, with a basket of food and simples,
and distributed them to the sick and needy with gentle words, which won
their hearts, or whether when mendicants came to the gate she stopped
and listened to their tales of suffering, relieved them when she could,
and seldom failed to drop a tear of sympathy for their griefs, which
went like balm to the hearts of many.  He opined that the high-born
ladies of the monastery of Nimptsch would scarcely condescend thus to
employ their time.  They undoubtedly were brides of Christ, but, as the
lady abbess had once remarked, it was the business of His more humble
spouses to imitate His example in that manner.  After the Knight had
been thinking in this style, when he descended into the hall he was
invariably accused of being sullen and out of temper.  Not that he had
any fault to find with his good Frau Margaret, or with his daughter
Laneta.  They were excellent, pious women in their way.  They had
embroidered five altar-cloths, seven robes of silk for the Virgin Mary,
and three for Saint Perpetua, Saint Agatha, and Saint Anne; they had
performed several severe penances for somewhat trifling faults; not a
piece of meat had passed their lips during Lent; and they had fasted on
each Friday and other canonical days throughout the year.  Alms they
gave whenever they could get money from the Knight for the purpose, and
doles of bread to the poor with stated regularity; indeed, they felt
sure that they would richly have merited heaven, even with a less amount
of good deeds.  Still they were desirous of making security doubly
secure.

When, therefore, in the year 1517, that is, before Ava went to the
convent, Dr John Tetzel, prior of the Dominicans, apostolic commissary
and inquisitor, set up his pulpit and booth in the neighbouring village
for the sale of indulgences, they had been among the crowds who had
flocked to his market.  Near him was erected a tall red cross, with the
arms of the Pope suspended from it.

"Indulgences, dear friends," he exclaimed, when he saw a large mob
collected round him, "are the most precious and noble of God's gifts.
See this cross; it has as much efficacy as the cross of Christ.  Come,
and I will give you letters, all properly sealed, by which even the sins
which you intend to commit may be pardoned.  I would not change my
privileges for those of Saint Peter in heaven, for I have saved more
souls by my indulgences than the apostle by his sermons.  There is no
sin so great that an indulgence cannot remit; only pay, pay well, and
all will be forgiven.  Only think, for a florin you may introduce into
Paradise, not a vile coin, but an immortal soul, without its running any
risk.  But, more than this, indulgences avail not only for the living,
but for the dead.  For that repentance is not even necessary.  Priest!
noble! merchant! wife! youth! maiden! do you not hear your parents and
your other friends who are dead, and who cry from the bottom of the
abyss, `We are suffering horrible torments!  A trifling alms would
deliver us; you can give it, and you will not.'"  Then Tetzel had told
them how Saint Peter and Saint Paul's bodies were rotting at Rome
because the Pope, pious as he was, could not afford to build a proper
edifice to shelter them from the weather without their help.  "Bring--
bring--bring!" he shouted, in conclusion.

Dame Margaret and her daughters were greatly moved by these appeals,
though little Ava thought the monk need not have shouted so loudly.  The
dame, who had just before persuaded her lord to give her a good sum of
money, bought a large supply of indulgences, not only for herself and
daughters, but for the Knight, who, she secretly believed, required them
far more than they did, because he never performed penances, made quick
work at confession, and regularly grumbled on fast-days; besides, she
could not tell of what sins he might have been guilty in his youth.  She
did not tell him what she had done, but she felt much more happy than
before to think that they would now all go to heaven together.  She
would even, in her zeal, have made further purchases, had not Father
Nicholas expostulated with her, observing that it would be much better
if she paid the money to enable him to say masses, which would prove
quite as efficacious; and, besides, be spent in Germany instead of going
to Rome.  She was greatly horrified, some time after this, to hear the
Knight inveigh furiously against Tetzel and his indulgences, and call
him an arch rogue and impostor.  Of course, on this, she did not tell
him how she had spent his money, lest he might make some unpleasant
reflections on the subject; besides, she suspected that he would not
appreciate the advantages she had secured for him.  But this was after
Ava had been sent away to Nimptsch.



CHAPTER FOUR.

Eric, now a close prisoner in the Castle of Schweinsburg, felt very
indignant at the treatment he had received, and apprehensive of the
consequences of his capture by his father's enemy.  Though the fierce
Baron would not have scrupled to put an ordinary man to death, he did
not think he would venture to injure him or his person further than
keeping him shut up.  It was on his father's account that he was most
anxious, as he guessed that the Baron had seized him for the sake of
enforcing his unjust claims on Count von Lindburg, and that unless these
were yielded to, he himself might be kept a prisoner for years.  Who
indeed was to say what had become of him?  The Baron and his retainers
were the only people cognisant of his capture, except little Platter,
and of course he would have run away, and must have been too frightened
to be able to give any clear account of the matter.  It would be, of
course, supposed that he and Hans had been set on by robbers, of whom
there were many prowling about the country, and been murdered in some
wood, and their bodies buried or thrown into a pond.

"Patience, my dear young master," answered Hans, when Eric had thus
expressed his apprehensions; "we are in a difficulty, of that there is
no doubt, but I have been in a worse one and escaped out of it.  Once
your honoured father and I were captured by the Saracens, and we fully
expected to lose our heads, but the very last night we thought that we
should be alive on earth we had a file conveyed to us in a loaf of bread
by a little damsel who had taken a fancy to his handsome countenance,
and we were able to let ourselves down from the window of our prison.  A
couple of fleet horses were in readiness, and we were away and in
Christian territory before the morning dawned.  I have been praying
heartily to the Holy Virgin and to the Saints, and I have no doubt that
they will help us."

"I have not the slightest hope of any such thing, my good Hans," said
Eric, who had already imbibed many Protestant opinions.  "It is God in
heaven who hears our prayers.  If He will not attend to them, no one
else will, for He loves us more than human beings can, whether they are
in this world or in another.  He often, however, works out His plans for
our good by what appear to us such small means that we fail to perceive
them.  I have read in the Greek Testament that `Not a sparrow falls to
the ground but that He knows it; and that even the very hairs of our
head are all numbered.'  Is it likely, therefore, that He would employ
any intermediate agents between Himself and man, except the one great,
well-beloved intercessor, His only Son.  Would He even allow them to
interfere if they were to offer their services?  Our Lord Himself, when,
on one occasion, His mother ventured to interfere in a work He was
about, rebuked her, though with perfect respect, with these remarkable
words, `Woman, what have I to do with thee?'  Again, when on the cross,
He recommended her to the care of His well-beloved disciple, Saint John;
he said, `Behold thy mother!'  `Woman, behold thy Son!'  O Hans, I wish
that you and all the people of our fatherland, could read the Bible
itself in our own tongue, you would than see how different is the
religion we have been taught by the `pfaffs' to that which Jesus Christ
came on earth to announce to sinful man.  It will be happy for our
country should that day ever come, because then the people will be able
to understand on what their religion is grounded, and be able to refute
the false arguments of those who oppose it.  There is a certain young
professor at Wittemburg whose works I have read with peculiar delight,
as he seems, even more than Dr Martin impressed by a sense of the love
God has for man, and His willingness to hear all who go to Him in the
name of His dear Son."

Old Hans was silent for some time.  At last he looked up, and said,
"There seems to me a good deal of truth in what you have remarked, my
young lord.  I always used to think that God is too great to trouble
himself with the affairs of us poor people, whatever He may do with
kings and princes, and so He employs the saints to look after us, and
the saints, not wishing to come out of heaven on all occasions, employ
the `pfaffs' (priests) to do their works, only it has struck me now and
then that they have made great mistakes in their agents, at all events
they have got hold of very bad ones."

This conversation took place after Eric and his attendant had been three
or four days prisoners in the Castle.  They had had a sufficiency of
food brought to them, and had altogether been treated better than they
had expected.  They were interrupted by the entrance of a young page,
who, saluting Eric respectfully, said that he had been sent by his lady,
the Baroness, who desired to see him, and that he was ready to conduct
him into her presence.

Eric was naturally surprised at this message.  He was not even aware
that there existed a Baroness Schweinsburg.  Hans, as an old soldier,
deemed it right to be cautious.  He whispered a few words into his young
master's ear.

"No, impossible!" answered Eric, giving a searching glance at the page,
"the boy is honest.  There can be no treachery intended."

"Not quite certain of that," whispered Hans.  "I should like to go with
you, my dear young master."

"Be assured that no injury will happen to me," said Eric.  "I am ready
to accompany you to your lady, my boy."

"I suppose that I may come also?" said Hans.  "It does not become a
young noble to be without his attendant."

"My orders were only to conduct the young gentleman himself into the
presence of my mistress," answered the page frankly, "nevertheless, I
can ask my mistress; she will probably not object."

"No, no, I will accompany you alone if your noble lady graciously
desires to see me," exclaimed Eric, following the page, who led the way
down the stairs of the turret.

Hans went to the door and anxiously listened, glancing round the room
for something that he might use as a weapon, should it be required in
his young master's defence.  Eric meantime followed the page without
hesitation down the steps and through several passages till they arrived
at the door of a room in the lower part of the Castle.  The page threw
it open, and, with a respectful bow, begged Eric to enter.

He did so, and found himself in the presence of a lady who, although no
longer young, was of a handsome and prepossessing appearance.  She rose
as he entered, and, presenting her hand, begged him to be seated.

"I regret to hear what has happened," she said, "and I have just
received a communication from one whom I know, and whose works have had
a great influence on me, and have had I trust, also on my good lord.  He
has heard of your capture on your way to Wittemburg, and of your
detention here, and he writes earnestly that you may be liberated
forthwith, and allowed to proceed on your journey.  My good lord is
absent so that I cannot at once, as I would wish, plead your cause with
him; but I will write to him and obtain his permission to liberate you,
and to make all the amends in my power for the inconvenience you have
suffered.  I am not ignorant of the quarrel which exists between my lord
and the Count, your father; but I consider, that you should not, in
consequence, be made to suffer.  Still, if what has happened becomes
known, it will only still further the increase the enmity which exists
between our families; and for that reason, and for the sake of the
blessed faith we hold, I would entreat you not to allow the outrage
which has been committed against you to become generally known.  When,
as it is necessary, you mention it to the Count, your father, beg him to
overlook it, and not to retaliate, as it is but natural he should do.
If you can give me this promise, I shall the better be able to plead
with my good lord, and I think and hope his mind might be changed, and
that the wounds which have so long existed may be healed."

Eric, much struck by the words spoken by the Baroness, and by her tone
and manner, without hesitation gave the promise she requested.  Who
could be the friend who had pleaded with her on his behalf, and by what
means had he been informed of his capture?  He would ask the lady.

"My informant is the most excellent and pious Dr Martin Luther," she
answered.  "He encountered you on his journey to Wittemburg, to which
place he has just returned from his long residence in the Castle of
Wartburg.  You had with you a little `schutz,' who, escaping when you
were attacked by our people, whose livery he knew, watched the direction
in which you were taken.  Immediately he set off to Wittemburg to give
information of what had become of you, and the very first person he
encountered was Dr Martin whom he at once recognised as your companion
on the road, in spite of his change of dress.  The Doctor knew well that
I could not be cognisant of what had occurred, and he hoped that my good
lord would not be insensible to a direct appeal from himself.  I feel
sure that he did not miscalculate his influence with my lord; still it
would ill become me, as a wife, to set you at liberty without his
cognisance, and I must beg that you will allow me, in the mean time, to
treat you as an honoured guest."

Some further conversation shewed Eric that the Baroness had attentively
read many of the works of Dr Luther, Melancthon, and others; and that
they had produced a great influence on her mind, and had not been
without some effect, as she supposed, on that of her husband.  It was
thus that the principles of the reformers were affecting all ranks and
conditions of men, while a still greater effect was shortly to be
produced by the wide circulation of the translation of the Holy
Scriptures made by Dr Luther in Wartburg, and at this moment being
printed in Wittemburg.

Suddenly Eric found his condition completely changed.  He had given his
word that he would not quit the Castle till the Baroness had heard from
her lord, and he was now treated by all with the greatest respect.  The
lady herself was not the only one who had imbibed the principles of the
Reformation, and Eric found several works of the Wittemburg Doctor,
parts of which, with her permission, he read aloud to her household.  At
length the Baron returned.  He had a long interview with his wife, and
not without a struggle did he yield to Dr Martin's request; but the
better spirit prevailed, he acknowledged himself in the wrong, entreated
Eric's pardon, and having given him a farewell feast, escorted him on
his way until they came in sight of Wittemburg.

"Truly, my master," observed Hans, "the Gospel, of these Wittemburg
doctors is a wonderful thing.  It has changed a fierce, boasting, hard,
grasping Baron into a mild and liberal man.  It has procured us our
liberty, who were doomed, I feared, to a long captivity.  I must ask
leave to remain with you at Wittemburg that I may learn more about it."

This permission was easily granted, and thus, as Hans did not return
home, the Count of Lindburg was not made acquainted till long afterwards
of the insult which had been put on him by the Baron of Schweinsburg,
and they had been happily reconciled in all other matters, both
professing the same glorious faith, and united in the bonds of a common
brotherhood.

Eric took up his abode with the family of Herr Schreiber Rust, to whom
he had been recommended.  The next day, as he went forth to attend the
lecture of Dr Martin Luther, he found little Platter eagerly looking
out for him.  Great was the boy's delight when he saw him.  "I knew that
my young lord would come here without delay to hear the Doctor, and so I
have been every day waiting for you," he exclaimed.  "I find too, that
it was he himself whom we rode with and talked with so long.  Ah! he is
a great man."

Eric had much for which to thank little Platter, and that he might prove
his gratitude effectually, he at once added him to his household, that
thus the boy might pursue his studies without having to beg for his
clothing and daily bread.  It was interesting to see Hans Bosch, the old
soldier, following his young master from hall to hall, and also to
church, endeavouring to comprehend the lessons he heard.  All the
important truths he did understand and imbibe gladly, and great was his
satisfaction when the little Schutz Platter undertook to teach him to
read that he might study by himself the Gospel in German, which Dr
Luther had just translated, and was, at that time, issuing from the
press.  Well might the supporters of the Papal system exclaim with
bitterness that their power and influence were gone when the common
people had thus the opportunity of examining the Bible for themselves,
by its light trying the pretensions which that system puts forth.  Would
that all professing Protestants, at the present day, studied prayerfully
the Word of God, and by its light examined the doctrines and the system
of the Church of Rome.  It would show them the importance of making a
bold stand for the principles of the Reformation, unless they would see
the ground lost which their fathers so bravely strove for and gained.



CHAPTER FIVE.

Eric at once set steadily to work to study, attending regularly the
lectures of the various professors, more especially those of Dr Luther.
That wonderful leader of the Reformation was now giving a course of
sermons on important subjects in the chief church in the town.  On all
occasions when he entered the pulpit the church was crowded with eager
and attentive listeners.  He had a difficult task to perform.  During
his absence at Wartburg various disorders occurred.  Several
enthusiasts, from various parts of the country, mostly ignorant, and
little acquainted with the Gospel, assumed the title of prophets, and
violently attacked every institution connected with Rome--the priests in
some places were assailed with abuse as they were performing the
ceremonies of their Church--and these men, at length, coming to
Wittemburg, so worked on some of the students that the churches were
entered, the altars torn up, and the images carried away and broken and
burnt.  The enthusiasts were known as the prophets of Zwickau, from the
place where they first began to preach their doctrines.  To put a stop
to these disorders, Luther had been entreated to return from the
Wartburg to Wittemburg.  The proceedings which have been described were
in direct opposition to the principles on which he, Melancthon, and
other leaders of the Reformation had been acting.  Their whole aim from
the first, was to encourage learning, to insist on the study of the
Scriptures, to do nothing violently, and to persuade and lead their
fellow-men to a knowledge of the truth.

No great movement ever advanced with more slow and dignified steps than
the Reformation.  The existence of gross abuses produced it.  Had the
Romish hierarchy been willing to consent to moderate reforms, they might
not humanly speaking, have lost their influence, and the whole of Europe
might still have groaned under their power.  But God had not thus
ordered it.  By their own blindness and obstinacy they brought about
their own discomfiture.  Luther himself was eminently conservative.  He
never altogether got rid of some of the notions he had imbibed in the
cloister.  Step by step he advanced as the light dawned on him--not
without groans and agitations of mind--yielding up point after point in
the system to which he had once adhered.

Eric was present at one of the first of the important series of sermons
which the great Doctor preached on his return to Wittemburg.  The
enthusiasts had refused to be guided by the Gospel.  They had asserted
(misunderstanding the Apostle) that it mattered little how a man lived,
provided he had faith, and that they had a right to compel others by
force, if necessary, to adopt their views.

"It is with the Word we must fight," said the great Doctor, in reply to
these opinions.  "By the Word we must overthrow and destroy what has
been set up by violence.  Let us not make use of force against the
superstitious and unbelieving.  Let him who believes approach--let him
who believes not keep away.  No one must be constrained.  LIBERTY IS THE
VERY ESSENCE OF FAITH."

Entering the pulpit, he addressed the congregation in language full of
strength and gentleness, simple and noble, yet like a tender father
inquiring into the conduct of his children.

"He rejoiced," he told them, "to hear of the progress they had made in
faith," and then he added, "But, dear friends, WE NEED SOMETHING MORE
THAN FAITH, WE NEED CHARITY.  If a man carries a drawn sword in a crowd,
he should be careful to wound no man.  Look at the Sun--two things
proceed from it--light and heat.  What king so powerful as to bend aside
his rays?  They come directly to us, but heat is radiated and
communicated in every direction.  Thus faith, like light, should be
straight, RADIATE ON EVERY SIDE, AND BEND TO ALL THE WANTS OF OUR
BRETHREN.  You have abolished the mass, in conformity, you say, to
Scripture.  You were right to get rid of it.  But how did you accomplish
that work?  What order--what decency did you observe?  You should have
offered up fervent prayers to God, and obtained the sanction of the
legal authorities for what you proposed doing; then might every man have
acknowledged that the work was in accordance with God's will.

"The mass is, I own, a bad thing.  God is opposed to it, but let no one
be torn from it by force.  We must leave the matter in God's hands.  His
word must act, and not we.  We have the right to speak; we have _not_
the right to act.  LET US PREACH; THE REST BELONGS TO GOD.  Our first
object must be to win men's hearts, and to do this we must preach the
Gospel.  God does more by His word alone than by the united strength of
all the world.  God lays hold upon the heart, and when that is taken all
is gained.  See how Saint Paul acted.  Arriving at Athens, he found
altars raised to false gods.  He did not touch one; but, proceeding to
the market-place, he explained to the people that their gods were
senseless idols.  His words took possession of their hearts.  Their
idols fell without Paul having raised his hand.

"I will preach, discuss, and write, but I will constrain none, for faith
is a voluntary act.  Observe what has been done: I stood up against the
Pope, indulgences and other abominations, but without violence or
tumults.  I put forward God's Word.  I preached and wrote.  This was all
I did.  Yet while I slept or gossiped with my friends, the Word that I
had preached overthrew Popery, so that not the most powerful prince nor
emperor could have done it so much harm.  What would have been the
result had I appealed to force?  Ruin and desolation would have ensued.
The whole of Germany would have been deluged with blood.  I therefore
kept quiet and let the Word run through the world alone.  `What, think
you,' Satan says, when he sees men resorting to violence to propagate
the Gospel, as he sits calmly, with folded arms, malignant looks, and
frightful grin?  `Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game!'  But
when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field,
then he is troubled, his knees knock together, and he shudders and
faints with fear."

Speaking of the Lord's Supper, his remarks are of great importance.  "It
is not the outward manducation that makes a Christian, but the inward
and spiritual eating, which works by faith, and without which all forms
are mere show and grimace," he observed.  "Now this faith consists in a
firm belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that, having taken our
sins and iniquities upon Himself, and having borne them on the Cross, He
is Himself their sole and almighty atonement; that He stands continually
before God; that He reconciles us with the Father, and that He hath
given us the sacrament of His body to strengthen our faith in His
unspeakable mercy.  If I believe in these things, God is my defender;
although sin, death, hell, and devils attack me, they can do me no harm,
nor disturb a single hair of my head.  This spiritual bread is the
consolation of the afflicted, health to the sick, life to the dying,
food to the hungry, riches to the poor."

These sermons caused much discussion, not only in the University, but
throughout Germany.  Eric was among those who entered most eagerly into
the subjects brought forth by the Reformers.  He soon formed several
friendships with his brother students.  His most intimate friend was
Albert von Otten, who was rather older than himself, and had been some
years at the University.  He was intimate, too, with Melancthon,
Armsdorff, and others.

"Dr Philip has written on that subject," observed Albert, speaking of
the last of Dr Martin's sermons.  "Here are some remarks from
fifty-five propositions, which were published some time back."

"Just as looking at a cross," he says, "is not performing a good work,
but simply contemplating a sign that reminds us of Christ's death, just
as looking at the sun is not performing a good work, but simply
contemplating a sign that reminds us of Christ and His Gospel, so
partaking of the Lord's Supper is not performing a good work, but simply
making use of a sign that reminds us of the grace that has been given us
through Christ.

"But here is the difference, namely, that the symbols invented by men
simply remind us of what they signify, while the signs given us by God
not only remind us of the things themselves, but assure our hearts of
the will of God.

"As the sight of a cross does not justify, so the mass does not justify.

"As the sight of a cross is not a sacrifice either for our sins or for
the sins of others, so the mass is not a sacrifice.

"There is but one sacrifice--but one satisfaction--Jesus Christ.
Besides Him there is none other."  Dr Carlstadt was the first to
celebrate the Lord's Supper in accordance with Christ's institutions.
On the Sunday before Christmas-day he gave out from the pulpit that, on
the first day of the New Year, he would distribute the Eucharist in both
kinds to all who should present themselves; that he would omit all
useless forms, and wear neither cope not chasuble.  Hearing, however,
that there might be some opposition, he did not wait till the day
proposed.  On Christmas-day, 1521, he preached in the parish church on
the necessity of quitting the mass and receiving the sacrament in both
kinds.  After the sermon he went to the altar, pronounced the words of
consecration in German; then, turning to the people, without elevating
the host, he distributed the bread and wine to all, saying, "This is the
cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant."  At the
end he gave a public absolution to all, imposing no other penance than
this, "Sin no more."

No one opposed him, and in January the Council and University of
Wittemburg regulated the celebration of the Lord's Supper according to
the new ritual.

Thus fell the mass--the chief bulwark of Rome.  It, and
Transubstantiation, had for three centuries been established.  "It had
tended to the glory of man--the worship of the priest.  It was an insult
to the Son of God; it was opposed to the perfect grace of His Cross, and
the spotless glory of His everlasting Kingdom.  It lowered the Saviour,
it exalted the priest, whom it invested with the unparalleled power of
reproducing, in his hand, and at his will, the Sovereign Creator."

From the time of its establishment the Church seemed to exist not to
preach the Gospel, but simply to reproduce Christ bodily.  The Roman
Pontiff, whose humblest servants created at pleasure the body of God
Himself, sat as God in the temple of God, and claimed a spiritual
treasure, from which he issued at will indulgences for the pardon of
souls.  [Note 1.]

Luther at length agreed to have a conference with the prophets of
Zwickau.  They said that they could work miracles.  He desired them to
do so.  They became furiously enraged.  He quickly upset their
pretensions, and they, the same day, quitted Wittemburg, thoroughly
defeated.  Thus by the wisdom of one man, tranquillity was restored, and
the Reformation was able to proceed with sure and certain footsteps,
unmolested.

The work of all others with which, next to the Testament, Eric was most
delighted, was Melancthon's "Common-places of Theology," written during
the time Luther had resided in the Wartburg.

It was a body of doctrine of solid foundation and admirable proportion,
unlike any before written.  He considered that the foundation on which
the edifice of Christian theology should be raised is "a deep conviction
of the wretched state to which man is reduced by sin."

Thus the truth was promulgated through the length and breadth of the
land, while Luther, by his translation of the Bible, was preparing the
means by which all classes could imbibe it from its fountain head.  Not
only the students at the universities, but women and children, soldiers
and artisans, became acquainted with the Bible, and with that in their
hands, were able successfully to dispute with the doctors of the schools
and the priests of Rome.  Eric had been very anxious to learn more of
the early life of Dr Luther than he before knew, that he might refute
the statements Father Nicholas had been fond of making concerning him.
He could not have applied to a better person than Albert, who had been
acquainted with the family of Conrad Cotta, with whom Martin had resided
while at Eisenach, and who had ever after taken a deep interest in his
welfare and progress.

It is that Ursula, Conrad Cotta's wife, the daughter of the burgomaster
of Ilefeld, who is designated in the Eisenach chronicles as the pious
Shunamite, Martin, while singing to obtain food with which to support
himself while pursuing his studies at the school of Eisenach, and having
often been harshly repulsed by others had attracted her attention.  She
had before been struck by hearing his sweet voice in church.  She
beckoned him in, and put food before him that he might appease his
hunger.  Conrad Cotta not only approved of his wife's benevolence, but
was so greatly pleased with the lad's conversation that he from
henceforth gave him board and lodging in his house, and thus enabled him
to devote all his time and energies to study.

"John Luther, Dr Martin's father, was a miner, residing at Eisleben,
where, on the 10th of November, 1483, our Doctor was born," began
Albert.  "When he was not six months old, his parents removed to
Mansfeldt.  John Luther was a superior man, industrious and earnest.  He
brought up his children with great strictness.  Believing that Martin
had talent, he was anxious that he should study for the law, and he
obtained for him the best education in his power.  First he was sent to
Magdeburg, but finding it impossible to support himself at that place,
he moved to Eisenach.  Among the professors was the learned John
Trebonius, who, whenever he entered the schoolroom, raised his cap.  One
of his colleagues inquired why he did so?  `There are among those boys,
men of whom God will one day make burgomasters, counsellors, doctors,
and magistrates.  Although you do not see them with the badges of their
dignity, it is right that you should treat them with respect,' was the
answer.  Martin had been two years at Erfurth, and was twenty years old,
when, one day, examining the books in the public library, he found a
Latin Bible--a rare book--unknown in those days.  Till then he imagined
that the fragments selected by the Church to be read to the people
during public worship composed the whole Word of God.  From that day it
became his constant study and delight.  A severe illness, brought on by
hard study, gave him time for meditation.  He felt a strong desire to
become a monk, under the belief that by so doing he should attain to
holiness.  All this time living with the excellent Cotta family, nothing
could be more exemplary and orderly than his life.  Though animated and
lively and delighting in music, he had, from his boyhood, been
serious-minded and earnest in the extreme, and at no period did he give
way to the excesses of which his enemies accuse him.  On his recovery
from his illness, he paid a visit to his parents at Mansfeldt; but he
did not venture to express the wish he entertained of entering a
monastery, from fearing that his father would disapprove of it.  On his
return journey he was overtaken by a fearful storm, and he made a vow
that, should he escape destruction, he would devote himself to the
service or God.  His whole desire was now to attain holiness.  He
believed that he could not find it in the world.  He bade farewell to
his friends, he entered the cloister, his father's expostulations and
anger caused him grief, but he persevered.  In spite of all the penances
and severities he underwent, he could not attain to the holiness he
sought.  It was not to be found in the convent.  He found, too, a true
friend in Staupitz, the Vicar-general of the Augustines for all Germany,
a man eminent for his learning, his liberality, and true piety.  The
elector, Frederick the Wise, founded, under his direction, the
University of Wittemburg, to which, by his advice, the young doctor was
shortly appointed professor.  It is worthy of remark that, long after
Dr Martin had ceased to think of purchasing heaven by his abstinence,
so simple were his tastes, that a little bread and a small herring often
composed his only meal in the day, while often he was known to go days
together without eating or drinking.  The great movement owes much to
Staupitz.  Dr Martin opened all his heart to him, and told him of all
his fears about his own want of holiness, and the unspeakable holiness
of God.  `Do not torment yourself with these speculations,' answered the
Vicar-general.  `Look at the wounds of Jesus Christ--to the blood that
He has shed for you; it is there that the grace of God will appear to
you.  Instead of torturing yourself on account your sins, throw yourself
into your Redeemer's arms.  Trust in Him--in the righteousness of His
life--in the atonement of His death.  Do not shrink back, God is not
angry with you; it is you who are angry with God.  Listen to the Son of
God, He became man to give you the assurance of Divine favour.  He says
to you, You are my sheep, you hear my voice; no man shall pluck you out
of my hand.'  Still Dr Martin could not understand how he was to
repent, and be accepted by God.  `There is no real repentance except
that which begins with the love of God and of righteousness,' answered
the venerable Staupitz.  `In order that you may be filled with the love
of what is good, you must be filled with the love for God.  If you
desire to be converted, do not be curious about all these
mortifications, and all these tortures, Love Him who first loved you.'
A new light broke on Dr Martin's soul, and, guided by it, he began to
compare the Scriptures, looking out for all the passages which treat on
repentance and conversion.  This was his delight and consolation.  He
desired, however, to go further; Staupitz checked him.  `Do not presume
to fathom the hidden God, but confine yourself to what He has manifested
to us in Jesus Christ,' he said; `Look at Christ's wounds, and then you
will see God's counsel towards man shine brightly forth.  We cannot
understand God out of Jesus Christ.  In Him the Lord has said, You will
find what I am and what I require; nowhere else, neither in heaven nor
in earth, will you discover it.'  Again Staupitz advised him to make the
study of the Scriptures his favourite occupation, and represented to him
that it was not in vain that God exercised him in so many conflicts, for
that He would employ him as His servant for great purposes.  Truly have
the words of the good old man come true.  Yet Dr Martin was far from
enlightened.  He was to obtain full emancipation from the thraldom of
Rome in Rome itself.  He was sent there to represent seven convents of
his own order, who were at variance with the Vicar-general.  He had
always imagined Rome to be the abode of sanctity.  Ignorance, levity,
dissolute manners, a profane spirit, a contempt for all that is sacred,
a scandalous traffic in divine things.  Such was the spectacle afforded
by this unhappy city.  Even when performing their most sacred
ceremonies, the priests derided them.  Some of them boasted that when
pretending to consecrate the elements, they uttered the words `_Panis es
et panis manebis; vinum es et vinum manebis_.'  While himself performing
mass, on one occasion, the priest near him, who had finished his, cried
out, `_Passa_--_passa_--_quick_--_quick_!--have done with it at once!'
It was the fashion at the Papal Court to attack Christianity, and no
person could pass for a well-bred man unless he could satirise the
doctrines of the Church.  These, and numberless other abominations,
which he saw and heard, must greatly have shaken his faith in the
sanctity of Rome; and, at length, on a certain occasion, his eyes were
completely opened.  The Pope had promised an indulgence to all who
should ascend on their knees a staircase, which it is pretended was
brought from Pilate's Judgment-hall, and that down it our blessed Lord
had walked.  It is called `Pilate's Staircase.'  While he, with others,
desirous of obtaining the promised indulgence, was laboriously climbing
up the stair on his knees, he thought that he heard a voice of thunder
crying out, `_The just shall live by faith_.'  He rose at once,
shuddering at the depth to which superstition had plunged him, and fled
from the scene of his folly.  Yes, those words are the key-note of all
the arguments by which our glorious work must be supported," exclaimed
Albert.  "Yes, _faith without works justifies us before God_; that is
the fundamental article Dr Martin holds.  Soon after his return he was
made Doctor of Divinity, and could now devote himself to the study of
the Holy Scriptures, and, which was of the greatest importance, lecture
on them.  While thus engaged, he ever, from the first, pointed to the
Lamb of God.  The firmness with which he relied on the Holy Scriptures
imparted great authority to his teaching.  In him also every action of
his life corresponded with his words.  It is known that these discourses
do not proceed merely from his lips--they have their source in his
heart, and are practised in all his works.  Many influential men, won
over by the holiness of his life, and by the beauty of his genius, not
only have not opposed him, but have embraced the doctrine to which he
gave testimony by his works.  The more men love Christian virtues, the
more men incline to Dr Martin.  But I need say no more to refute the
calumnies which have been uttered against him.  See what instances he
has given, too, of his dauntless character.  When the plague broke out
here he refused to fly, but remained employed in translating the New
Testament.  See how boldly he nailed his theses against indulgences to
the church doors; how bravely he burnt the Pope's bull.  Although the
Elector would not allow Tetzel to enter his dominions, he got to a place
within four miles of Wittemburg, and many people purchased indulgences.
While Dr Martin was seated in the confessional, many of these poor
dupes came to him and acknowledged themselves guilty of excesses.
`Adultery, licentiousness, usury, ill-gotten gains'--still they would
not promise to abandon their crimes, but trusting to their letters of
indulgence obtained from Tetzel, showed them, and maintained their
virtue.  Dr Martin replied, `Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise
perish.'  This circumstance still further opened his eyes to the abuses
and evil system of the Church to which he belonged, but not even yet had
the idea of separating from her occurred to his mind, not indeed until
the Pope anathematised Dr Martin for speaking the truth did he
acknowledge that he was indeed Antichrist, and that no true Christians
could hold communion with him."

Eric soon became as warm an admirer of Dr Martin Luther, as was his
friend, Albert von Otten.  The Reformation movement was now proceeding,
seemingly with far more rapid strides than before.  The Bible was being
disseminated; the convents thrown open--or, at all events, their inmates
were leaving them--superstitions were being abolished; a pure form of
worship was being established in numerous places; and, what was of the
greatest importance, young men of high talent and courage were being
educated in the principles of the Reformation to spread the pure light
of the Gospel throughout all parts of Germany.

Little Thomas Platter made great progress in his studies, and bid fair
to grow up an earnest Christian and industrious man, amply paying Eric
for the care he bestowed on him.

Hans Bosch, when his young master was about to return home, begged that
he might come back with him to Wittemburg.

"I there got an abundance of substantial food for my soul, while Father
Nicholas serves us out only piecrust, filled with dry dust that is
neither meat nor drink," said the old man, as he looked up while packing
his young master's valise.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note 1.  Merle D'Aubigne's "History of the Reformation."



CHAPTER SIX.

Eric, with his friend, Albert von Otten, arrived unexpectedly one day,
to the Knight's very great satisfaction at Lindburg.  The Knight
embraced his son affectionately.

"I have a great many questions to ask, and difficulties for you to
solve, my son," he said, as he beckoned him to come to his room.

"And I, father, have very many things to say to you, so that we shall
have plenty to talk about.  Albert will, in the meantime, entertain my
mother and Laneta."

"And now, Eric, what do you think of this Dr Luther?" asked the Knight,
after he had looked along the passage which led to his room, and locked
the door.

"Think, father!  That he has brought light out of darkness--that he has
made the boldest stand that ever man has done against the power, the
tyranny, the impositions of the Pope, and the superstitions which he and
his predecessors have ever encouraged for the sake of filling their
pockets, utterly regardless of the souls they led away from Christ and
salvation," exclaimed Eric, warming as he proceeded.  "He has done, and
he is doing a glorious work, and though his foes were to burn him
to-morrow, they could not extinguish the light he has kindled.  He
teaches that man is by nature sinful and alienated from God, but that
God so loved the world that He sent His Son to become a sacrifice for
man's sins, to suffer instead of man, and thus to enable him, through
repentance and faith in that sacrifice, to be reconciled to Himself;
that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man; neither His mother
Mary, nor the Saints, have anything to do in the matter; that they
required His sacrifice as much as others, and that, therefore, fasts,
penances, invocation of saints, masses for the dead, purgatory,
indulgences, are all the inventions of the popes to put money into their
pockets, or into the pockets of the priests, their supporters, or of the
devil, to lead souls astray."

"I heartily agree with him, Eric.  See, I have read something about the
matter already," said the Knight, going to the oak chest in which he
kept his treasures, and bringing out the Testament and some of Dr
Luther's works.  "I never found myself a bit the better for fasts or
penances, whenever I thought that I ought, for my sins, to endure them;
and, as for indulgences, I felt very much inclined to kick that
scoundrel Tetzel out of the place when I heard that he had come to sell
them in this neighbourhood.  Now, tell me, does your friend, Albert von
Otten, preach?  He looks as if he had the gift of speech."

"Indeed he has," said Eric.  "He has the power of moving the hearts of
his hearers."

"Then he shall preach in our church next Sunday, and to all in this
Castle as well, in spite of what Father Nicholas may say to the
contrary!" exclaimed the Knight.  "I have long wanted you, Eric, to take
Father Nicholas in hand; you may be able to convince him, and your
mother too--she is a good woman, but bigoted and obstinate, begging her
pardon, and I should have had no peace if I had once begun, unless I had
come off the conqueror at once.  Albert von Otten will help you."

Eric gladly undertook the task.  It was the chief object he had had in
view since he had himself been converted to the truth.  He immediately
broke ground.  His mother and Laneta were very much astonished at his
doctrine, but they would not acknowledge that he was right.  Father
Nicholas had scarcely a word to say in return, so he put on the stolid
look of a schoolboy brought up unwillingly to receive a lecture.

"Young men's dreams," he muttered, "or devices of Satan to draw men from
the true Church.  Ah, the Bible is, as I always said, a dangerous book.
Little did those who wrote it dream what mischief it would cause in the
world."

The minds of the whole household were much agitated by the subjects of
which Eric and his friend spoke to them.  Still more so was the Knight
himself the next day, when the colporteur, John Muntz, presented himself
at the gate, and, demanding to see him, put into his hand a letter from
his own little daughter Ava.  He read it over and over again, and his
countenance beamed with satisfaction.  He immediately called Eric to
him, ordering refreshment to be brought in the meantime for John Muntz
in the hall, and desiring him to talk to his people and to sell any of
his books if he could.  Ava, after sending greeting to him and her
mother, and love and duty, continued:

"And now, dear father, I must tell you that I cannot longer endure this
life.  It was only while I believed that I was doing God service that I
loved it.  Now I am certain that it is directly contrary to His law.  I
have read the New Testament carefully with prayer, and I can find
nothing there to sanction it.  We are told not to bow down to images--
not to use vain repetitions in prayers; we are employed the greater part
of each day in doing these two things.  We invoke dead saints, we
worship the Virgin Mary, we fast, we perform penances to merit heaven,
and all the time the Bible tells us that there is but one Mediator
between God and man, Jesus Christ, and that by repentance and through
faith in Him can we alone become righteous and meet to enter the kingdom
or heaven.  I cannot tell you one-half of the objections I have to
remain here.  There are also eight other nuns who desire to leave, and
they have written to their parents to the same effect, though some of
them tremble as to what will be the answers; others say that there was
so much grief when they went away, that they are certain that there will
be rejoicing to get them back.  I know how sorry you and mother and
Laneta were when I left home, that I have no doubt that you will be glad
to have me return.  But how are we to get away?--there is the
difficulty.  We know that we are watched, and that every effort will be
made to detain us."

"I have no doubt that there will!" exclaimed Eric.  "Sister Ursula, as
they call their lady abbess, would move heaven and earth to detain them
if she knew that they wished to escape.  Do not write, lest the letter
should fall into the old dame's hands; but let me go with Albert, and
depend on it we shall find means before long of letting out the caged
birds."

The Knight, without saying what Albert proposed, showed Ava's letter to
Dame Margaret.  She was horrified.

"What! a professed nun break her vows?" she exclaimed.  "A bride of
Christ forsake her bridegroom!  Horrible profanity!  No.  I love Ava as
my daughter, but I can never receive one who is so utterly neglectful of
all her religious obligations.  You must write and tell her that is
impossible to comply with her request.  I am sure Father Nicholas will
agree with me."

"Dear wife," said the Knight, calmly, "When I allowed our little Ava to
become a nun, it was to secure, as I thought, her happiness in this life
and the next.  She tells us that, in one respect, our object has
signally failed, and there is a book I have been reading which convinces
me that it will not advance in one single respect our object with regard
to the other.  Therefore, let our dear Ava come home, and do you and
Laneta receive her as should her mother and sister.  I mean what I say,
Margaret, and advise Father Nicholas to hold his tongue about the
matter."

The Lady Margaret, watching her lord's eye, and being a discreet woman,
came to the conclusion that it would be wise to keep silent, but she
secretly resolved to use every exertion to prevent so terrible a scandal
taking place in her family.  The Knight, however, was an old soldier,
and suspecting what was passing in the mind of his better half,
determined to be beforehand with her.

"She will be writing to that Sister Ursula to keep the poor little dove
under double lock and key," he said to himself.  "Eric will have a
difficulty even to get a sight of her.  I must tell him what I suspect,
and leave it to him to foil the plans of his lady mother; she is a good
woman though, an excellent woman in her way, but she would have been
much the better it we had never been saddled with Father Nicholas.  I
will make him go the right-about one of these days, when he least
expects it, if he does not reform his system.  And here, Eric you will
want money.  Don't stint in the use of it.  It will accomplish many
things.  Silver keys open locks more rapidly than iron ones, and I would
give every coin I possess to get our dear little Ava back again."

Eric and his friend, meantime, were making preparations for their
journey, and as soon as their horses could be got ready they rode off.
They were, however, seen by Dame Margaret, who immediately suspected
where they were going.  Unfortunately, Father Nicholas had just then
entered the Castle.  She forthwith told him all she knew and thought,
and urged him to find a quick messenger, who would outstrip the young
men and warn the lady abbess.  Father Nicholas hurried off with a purse
which the lady put into his hand, to find a person to carry his message,
resolving to take the credit to himself of the information he was
sending.

Ava Lindburg and her companions in the monastery of Nimptsch were
eagerly awaiting the reply to the letters they had written to their
homes requesting permission to return.  They were all young, and several
of them pretty; but as they had been among the most sincere of the
sisterhood, so they had the most rigidly performed all the fasts,
penances, vigils, imposed on them, and already the bloom of youth had
departed, and the pallor or the ascetic had taken its place.

Poor girls! they had sought peace, but found none; they desired to be
holy, but they had discovered that fasts, penances, and vigils--the
daily routine of formal services--long prayers, oft repeated, had
produced no effect; that their spirits might be broken by this system,
but that it could change their hearts.

"We are shut out from the great world, certainly," wrote one of them,
"but we have one within these walls, and a poor miserable, trivial,
life-frittering, childish, querulous, useless, hopeless set of
inhabitants it contains.  This is not the house of Martha, and Mary, and
Lazarus--this is not such an abode as Jesus would desire to lodge in.
If He were to visit us, it would be to tell us to go forth into the
world to fulfil our duties as women, not, like cowards, to shrink from
them, to fight the good fight of faith, to serve Him in the stirring
world into which He came, in which He walked, in which He lived, that He
might be an example to us.  Though He has not come to our convent, He
has sent us a message full of love and compassion--His Testament, the
Gospel--and it has given us fresh life, fresh hopes, fresh aspirations;
and through its teaching we are sure of the Holy Spirit which He
promised.  Other books have been sent us to assist in opening our eyes.
We are convinced that this mode of life is not the one for which we were
born; that it is a life, not of holiness, but of sin, for it is useless,
for it is aimless, for it is against the teaching of the Gospel."

The answers came at length.  Tears flowed from the eyes of some, sobs
burst from the bosoms of others, while several turned paler even than
before, and their hands hung hopelessly by their sides.  Many of the
letters were full of kind expressions, while other parents chided their
daughters harshly for contemplating the possibility of breaking their
vows, and abandoning the life of holiness to which they were devoted;
but one and all wound up by declaring that they would not allow such a
stigma to rest on their noble families as would arise were they to
encourage a daughter to abandon her holy calling.  Little Ava received
no answer to her epistle sent by the colporteur, and she was eagerly
looking out for his return.  He had told her how eagerly her father had
bought his books, and she had still some hopes that the reply would be
favourable.  She could not, however, fail to observe the severe look
with which the lady abbess regarded her, and she was still more alarmed
when she found that her Testament, and several books by Drs.  Melancthon
and Luther, had been taken out of her cell.  In truth, the lady abbess
had received the communication sent by Father Nicholas, and was on the
watch, expecting to see the gay young student, Eric of Lindburg, and his
companion arrive, intending afterwards to commence a system of severe
punishment on the offending Ava.  The lady abbess was not aware that Ava
was only one of many whose eyes had been opened, and who desired their
freedom.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

One bright afternoon, in the month of May, 1524, a light waggon, driven
by a venerable-looking person with a long white beard, stopped before
the gate of the convent of Nimptsch, and from out of it stepped a
merchant of equally venerable and still more dignified appearance.  He
begged the portress to present his humble respects to the lady abbess,
with a request that he might be allowed to offer for sale to the noble
ladies numerous articles which they might find acceptable.  The lady
abbess, having carefully surveyed the venerable merchant and his driver
through a lattice above the gate, was satisfied that they might, without
danger, be admitted into the court-yard.  The horses were, however,
somewhat restive, and it required, evidently, all the strength the old
driver possessed to keep them quiet while his master took out his bales
and boxes, and conveyed them, with somewhat feeble steps, into the room
were strangers, such as he, were received.  An iron grating ran across
it, within which the nuns were collected; but there existed a small
window, through which articles could be handed for inspection.

The merchant evidently understood the tastes and requirements of nuns.
There were silks for embroidery and gold-thread, and beads, and pencils,
and brushes, and colours for illuminating missals, and paper and writing
materials, and various manufactures for making artificial flowers; he
had even spices and mixtures for making confectionery.  There was linen
also, coarse and fine, and all the materials of the exact hue required
by the sisters for their dresses; indeed, it would have been difficult
to say what there was not in Herr Meyer's waggon which the nuns could
possibly require.  The price, too, at which he sold his goods was
remarkably low, and the nuns of Nimptsch were not at all averse to
making good bargains.  Unfortunately, however, he discovered that he had
only brought specimens of many of the articles.  His large waggon he had
left at Torgau.  He would, therefore, take the orders with which the
holy ladies might honour him, and return next day with the goods.

The merchant, Herr Meyer, was better than his word, for he returned the
next day not only with the articles ordered, but with many other curious
things, which he had brought, he said, for the inspection and amusement
of the ladies, and the servants and attendants in the house; the good
portress especially was remembered.  There were carriages and animals
which ran along the ground by themselves, and a house in which a door
opened, when out of it came a cock which crowed, and then a small bird
came out of an upper window and sang, and then a woman looked out to
ascertain what the noise was about.  Numerous toys of a similar
character the merchant had brought, he said, from Nuremburg.

Meantime the horses in the waggon became very frisky, the merchant,
therefore, went down, with most of his boxes to help quiet them, he
said, leaving the abbess and her nuns busily engaged with the toys; the
portress, too, was still watching the cock coming out of the house and
crowing, and the bird singing, and the woman looking out to see what it
was all about.

"These horses will be doing some mischief, Karl, if they stay shut up in
this court-yard," exclaimed the merchant.  "I will open the gate, and
then if they choose to gallop off they will soon get tired, and you can
come back for me and my goods."

Suiting the action to the word, he undid the bars of the gate, and Karl
drove through, pulling up, however, directly he was outside.  The
portress ran out, for such a thing as allowing a stranger to open the
gate was against all rule.

"Stay, I have some more curious things," said the merchant.  And he
stepped into the waggon.

Just at that moment something must have startled the horses, for they
set off at full speed, the driver in no way attempting to stop them.
The lady abbess and the nuns looked out through the bars of the windows,
expecting to see Herr Meyer, after his horses had had a good gallop,
return with the other curiosities he had said he possessed.  They looked
and looked, but they looked in vain.  At last they came to the
conclusion that some accident had happened.  For this they were very
sorry, as they all agreed that a more pleasant-spoken, liberal merchant
they had never seen.  The opinions, however, of the lady abbess and some
of the elder sisters were somewhat modified, when at vespers, as all the
nuns were assembled, Sister Ava, and another young and pretty nun, her
great friend, Sister Beatrice, were missing.  They were not in their
cells.  The whole convent was searched; they were not to be found.
Never had there been such a commotion among the authorities and elder
sisters, though most of the young ones took the matter very quietly, and
did not search for what they knew well was not to be found.  Remembering
the warning she had received, the lady abbess had a strong suspicion
that Eric Lindburg was at the bottom of the matter.  This was only the
beginning of her troubles.  Somehow or other, fresh heretical books were
introduced into the convent, and the young nuns had so completely
mastered the contents of those of which they had been deprived that they
were able to discuss them and explain them to the elder sisters.  Even
the abbess herself could not answer many of their arguments which they
boldly put forth, nor indeed could the father confessor, nor the other
visiting priests.  Of the last one heartily agreed with them, and the
others boldly acknowledged that there was a great deal of truth in what
they said.  Gaining confidence, nine young ladies at last united to
support each other, and positively refused to attend mass or any
services when adoration was paid to the Virgin Mary or to the saints,
and demanded that as their vows were taken in ignorance, and that as
they were directly contrary to the Gospel, they should be released from
them, and allowed to return into the world to fulfil their duties as
virtuous women and citizens.

Those in authority were astonished and utterly confounded, and hesitated
to take any harsh measures.  Public opinion they well knew outside the
convent walls ran pretty strongly in favour of the nuns' opinions.  As
their friends would not receive them at home, the young ladies resolved
to repair in a body to some respectable place with order and decency.
Through some means their resolution was made known to two pious citizens
of Torgau, Leonard Koppe and Wolff Tomitzsch, who offered their
assistance.  "It was accepted as coming from God Himself," says an
historian of that time.  Without opposition they left the convent, and
Koppe and Tomitzsch received them in their waggon, and conveyed them to
the old Augustine convent in Wittemburg, of which Luther at that time
was the sole occupant.

"This is not my doing," said Luther, as he received them; "but would to
God that I could thus rescue all captive consciences, and empty all the
cloisters.  The breach is made."

Catharine Bora, who afterwards became his wife, found a welcome in the
family of the burgomaster of Wittemburg, and the other nuns, as soon as
their arrival was known, were gladly received in other families of
similar position.  It may here be remarked that the facts of the case
completely refute the vulgar notion, put forth by the enemies of the
Reformation, that Luther commenced the work of the Reformation for the
sake of enabling himself and other monks and priests to marry.  His mind
was long in doubt whether monks ought to marry.  Many months after he
became acquainted with the excellent Catharine, when his friends pressed
him to marry, he replied:

"God may change my heart if it is His pleasure, but I have no thought of
taking a wife.  Not that I feel no attractions in that state, but every
day I expect the death and punishment of an heretic."

Not till more than a year after Catharine Bora had escaped from the
convent did she become the wife of Martin Luther.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

The Count von Lindburg had been anxiously waiting news from Eric, but
none had arrived.  The Lady Margaret had been assured by Father Nicholas
that his message had been safely delivered to the Abbess of Nimptsch,
and that, in spite of all master Eric and his plausible friend might do,
she would take very good care her little prisoner should not escape her.

The Knight was growing anxious; he was afraid that something had gone
wrong, when, one afternoon, a light waggon, the horses which drew it
covered with foam, drove up to the gate of the Castle.  Over the
drawbridge it dashed, for the porter did not hesitate to admit it, and a
venerable-looking old gentleman, habited as a merchant, descending,
handed out two young girls in peasants' dresses.  The Knight caught
sight of the waggon, and hurrying down, one of the girls was soon in his
arms.

"My own Ava!  My pet little bird, and you have escaped from your cage!
Welcome--welcome home, and praised be God who has given me this great
blessing!" he exclaimed, again and again kissing her cheek.

His child wept as she hung on the old man's neck.  While this was taking
place, the other young lady looked about very much astonished and
frightened, though there was nothing particularly to frighten her, and
the grave merchant was doing his best to reassure her.

"Well done, Eric, my boy--well done, Albert von Otten!" exclaimed the
Knight, when he could bring himself to turn his attention for a moment
from his recovered daughter.

"Oh! thank Albert, father; it was he thought of the plan; he designed
the whole of it.  I merely acted the part he selected for me," answered
Eric.

"I thank him heartily, then; for very well done it has been, and you
have both my eternal gratitude," said the Knight.  "And this young lady,
I conclude that she helped you in the undertaking?"

"No; it was they helped me to run away, as Ava did not like to go alone,
and she promised me an asylum under your roof."

"And you shall have it, if the Pope and all the cardinals were to come
and demand you.  They shall pull the walls down before I will give you
up.  And now tell me who you are, my dear fraulein?"

"I am Beatrice von Reichenau, of Swabia.  My father, Count von
Reichenau, and my mother decline to receive me, and yet they love me, I
am sure; but, alas! they little know the horrors of the life to which
they had devoted me."

"Better times will come, my sweet fraulein!" said the Knight, who just
then saw everything in a bright light.

Meantime, Dame Margaret, Father Nicholas not being in the Castle, having
seen the waggon and the young ladies get out of it, and guessing what
had happened, and that her fine scheme had failed, went to the great
hall, accompanied by Laneta, that she might receive Ava with becoming
dignity, and reprimand her in a manner suitable to her offence.  She had
just taken her post when the Knight entered with timid little Ava
clinging to his arm, looking more sweet and lovable than ever in her
becoming peasant's dress, and not a bit like a wicked runaway nun.  As
soon as she saw her mother, she ran forward and threw herself into her
arms, half weeping and half smiling.

"Oh, mother--mother, I am so thankful to see you again!" she cried.

Dame Margaret began her speech, but it would not come out.  Nature
asserted her rights over bigotry and superstition; she burst into tears,
and, folding her daughter to her bosom, exclaimed, "And I, Ava, am glad
to have you, darling!"

"I always said that she was a good woman, and now I am convinced of it,"
said the Knight.  "Father Nicholas has done his best to spoil her, but,
thank Heaven! he has not succeeded, and his reign is pretty well over, I
suspect."

Laneta, who really in her way loved her sister, followed her mother's
lead, and embraced Ava affectionately.  The Dame Margaret was also not a
little gratified when she found that her daughter's companion in her
flight was so high-born a girl as Beatrice von Reichenau.

"If a young lady of her rank could do such a thing, it surely could not
be so very wrong," she said to herself.

Her reasoning was not very good, but it served just then to smooth
matters.

Ava and her friend were not idle in the Castle, nor did they confine
their labours to it.  Their mild, gentle, subdued manners and earnest
and zealous spirits attracted all hearts with whom they came in contact.
The glorious truths they had received into their own souls they were
anxious to impart to others, nor did they feel that any trouble, any
exertion, was too great for them to take to forward that object.  Still
it was very evident that to effect any speedy change on a large scale
among the peasantry a preacher was required.  Albert von Otten had been
made a priest in the days of his ignorance, before he went to
Wittemburg, and he remembered the Knight's offer to let him preach in
the neighbouring church.  Father Nicholas somewhat demurred, but the
Knight assured him that Albert von Otten, he was sure, would only preach
sound doctrine, and advised him to hold his tongue.  Such a sermon as
Albert preached had never been heard in that church.  He said not a word
about himself.  He held up but one object--Christ Jesus walking on
earth, Christ Jesus crucified, Christ rising again, Christ ascending
into heaven, Christ sitting on the right hand of God pleading for
sinners.  Then he added:

"Dear friends, once a man came among you to sell you what he called
indulgences; were they indulgences to commit sin, or indulgences to
obtain pardon?  What impious imposition!  Oh! dear friends--dear
friends!  God's gifts of grace are free--are priceless.  The blood of
His only Son purchased them for us once for all.  Gifts, gifts--free,
free gifts--are what God offers; no selling now, no purchasing now--that
has all been done.  Christ has paid the price for every sin that man has
committed or ever will commit, and man can by his works not add one jot,
one tittle, to that all-sufficient price.  God's offer is all of free
grace.  Man has but to look to Christ, to repent, to desire to be
healed, and he will be forgiven, he will be accepted and received into
heaven.  Dear friends, when Moses was leading the Israelites out of
Egypt, the land of persecution, of slavery, of idolatry, through the
wilderness, they were visited by a plague of venomous serpents whose
bite sent fiery pains through their bodies, which speedily terminated by
their death.  God then ordered Moses to make a brazen serpent (the
serpent being among the Egyptians the emblem of the healing power, which
was well understood by them [Note 1]).  This serpent he was to raise up
on a pole in a conspicuous part of the encampment, and all who simply
looked at it, desiring to be healed, were instantly to be healed.  Moses
asked no price, no reward; the bitten sufferers were only to exert
themselves to look to ensure being healed.  Christ Himself told His
disciples, `As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so shall
the Son of man be lifted up'--that was Himself on the cross, `that
all'--of every tongue, and kindred, and nation,--`who believe in Him'--
that is to say, look on Him as the Israelites at the brazen
serpent--`shall not perish'--shall not die of the fiery bite of
sin--`but have eternal life.'  This is Gospel--Gospel truth.  Then what
becomes of indulgences, penances, fasts, invocations to saints, to the
Virgin Mary, gifts, alms, if bestowed with the idea of purchasing aught?
All useless, vain, insulting to God's generosity, mercy, kindness.  It
is as if a great noble were to pardon a poor man who had grossly
offended him, and, moreover, to bestow a favour on him, and the poor man
were to offer him a groat as payment, saying, `No, I cannot receive your
pardon and your favour as a free gift; I must return you something;
indeed, a groat is not much, neither do I very greatly value your
pardon, because I do not think my offence was very great, nor your
favour, which, after all, is but small.'

"`Foolish man,' the lord would say, `I bestowed that pardon and that
favour on you in my beneficence.  I require nothing in return but your
gratitude and your obedience, and that you should speak of my name and
fame among my other vassals, and live in amity with them, doing them all
the service in your power.  Say, foolish man, what else can a poor,
helpless, decrepit, broken-down creature like yourself do for me?'  What
should you say, dear friends, if this poor wretched man were to answer,
`No, but there are a set of people in your dominions, who assume to be
your ministers, though to be sure they make a mockery of your name and
love to send people over to serve your enemies,' I can buy of them what
they call indulgences, which they say are much better than your free
pardon; besides, I may offend as often as I please, and you will be
compelled to forgive me because I have paid them; and if it were not for
these indulgences, I could fast, I could beat myself, and perform
numberless other penances; I could mumble petitions to you, not thinking
of what I was saying; indeed, I have no fear but what I can make ample
amends to you for this gift which you have bestowed, for this pardon
which you have offered.  Dear friends, you will say what a weak,
conceited, foolish, impudent wretch is that man of whom you speak; and
yet what are you doing when you perform penances, and fasts, and
such-like works?  What did you do when you purchased that mountebank
impostor Tetzel's indulgences?  Confess--confess that he swindled you
out of your money, but O do not, by trusting to them, which you might as
well do as a sinking man to a feather or a straw in the raging ocean,
allow the arch-deceiver Satan to swindle you out of your souls."

This address, of which many similar were delivered at that time
throughout Germany and Switzerland, produced a great effect in the
village.  No one heard it more eagerly, or with greater delight, than
Ava and her companion.  It brought out clearly so much of what they had
read in the convent.

"God's free grace!  God's free grace!" they repeated to each other.
"Oh, what a loving, merciful God he must be!"

It made Father Nicholas very uncomfortable.  Had he, then, all his life
been encouraging a system of imposture?  It was a question he would have
to answer somehow.  Dame Margaret also went back to the Castle sorely
troubled in mind.  She thought that she had by purchasing Tetzel's
indulgences, secured the salvation of herself and all her family.  She
was fond of a bargain, and she thought that really she had made a good
one by the expenditure or a few gold ducats, considering the advantage
to be gained.  And now she was afraid that she, and her husband, and
children were no nearer heaven than they were before she had bought the
indulgences; and from the description Tetzel gave of it, purgatory must
be a very disagreeable place, but she comforted herself by thinking that
Tetzel might have imposed on his hearers in that matter also.

As, however, there was no lack of Testaments in simple, clear German,
and parts of the Bible also, and Albert, and Eric, and Ava, and Beatrice
too, able and anxious to explain it, gradually both Dame Margaret's and
Laneta's eyes were opened, and their faith in the system to which they
had before clung was greatly shaken.  Father Nicholas, however, could
not be so easily turned from his old notions, and now came that terrible
convulsion caused by the outbreak of the peasantry and the sad
blood-shedding which followed.

"Ah," he exclaimed, triumphantly, "see the work which Luther and his
followers have produced!"

"No such thing," answered the Knight, indignantly; "you ought to know
that these attempts were commenced long before Dr Luther was heard of.
Discontent has been fermenting among them for many years.  They have
some reason and a great deal of folly on their side.  They have done
their work like foolish savages as they are, and they will suffer the
fate of fools, though, in the meantime, they may do a great deal of
mischief."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note 1.  An interpolation of the author's, this fact probably not being
known in Luther's days.



CHAPTER NINE.

It was at the eventful period described in the last chapter that the
Count von Lindburg was first introduced to the reader, leaning on his
elbow, with a book before him, in his turret-chamber.  He had great
cause for thoughtfulness.  Eric and Albert had gone to Wittemburg.  Ava
and Beatrice had continued earnestly labouring among the surrounding
peasantry, and the minds of the poor people had been awakened by
Albert's sermons with great success; Dame Margaret and Laneta continued
wavering; and Father Nicholas, though he did not openly oppose the
Gospel, persevered in all his old practices, and remained ready to take
the winning side.  Public events were one cause of the Knight's anxiety,
and, besides, it was rumoured that insurgents were appearing in his
neighbourhood, threatening to attack his, among other surrounding
castles.  It would be wrong to deny that the Reformation was not in a
certain degree connected with the rebellion of the peasants, but in this
manner: the liberty which the Gospel demands for all men when the spirit
of that Gospel is received into their hearts, makes them ready to submit
to rulers and endure persecutions patiently; but when, though men know
its truths, their hearts have not been regenerated, they being aware of
their rights as men appeal to the sword to obtain them.

Certain fanatics, also, had appeared, who, though professing to found
their doctrines on the Bible, were greatly opposed to the principles of
the Gospel.  The most notorious of these was Thomas Munzer, pastor of
Alstadt, in Thuringia; another was John Muller, of Bulgenbach, in the
Black Forest, the inhabitants of which he rallied round him, and raised
the standard of rebellion.  Here the insurrection began.  On the 19th of
July, 1524, some Thurgovian peasants rose against the Abbot of
Reichenau, who would not accord them an evangelical preacher.  Ere long
thousands were collected round the small town of Tengen, to liberate an
ecclesiastic who was there imprisoned.  The revolt spread rapidly, from
Swabia as far as the Rhenish Provinces, Franconia, Thuringia, and
Saxony.  At Weinsberg, Count Louis, of Holfenstein, and seventy men
under his orders, were condemned to death by the rebels.  A body of
peasants drew up with their pikes lowered, whilst others drove the Count
and his soldiers against this wall of steel.  At the approach of the
peasants, the cities that were unable to resist them opened their gates
and joined them.  Wherever they appeared they pulled down the images and
broke the crucifixes.  Many nobles, some through fear and others from
ambition, joined them.

In vain Luther wrote to them, "Rebellion never produces the amelioration
we desire, and God condemns it.  What is it to rebel if it be not to
avenge one's self?  The devil is striving to excite to revolt those who
embrace the Gospel, in order to cover it with opprobrium; but those who
have rightly understood my doctrine do not revolt."

At length the princes threw off their lethargy; the imperial forces
marched to encounter the peasants, and defeated them in every direction.
The nobles were soon victorious, and retaliated with most terrible
severity on the misguided men.  The peasants were hung up by hundreds at
the roadside, the eyes of numbers were put out, and some were burnt
alive, and in all parts of the country the Romish style of worship was
re-established.  Still the rebellion was far from being stamped out, and
large bodies of insurgents were in arms in different parts of the
country besides those in the neighbourhood of the Castle of Lindburg.
The Knight had done his best to put his Castle in a state of defence,
and his own tenantry promised to come in and fight to the last gasp
should it be attacked.  Ava and Beatrice, notwithstanding the state of
things, went about the country as before, fearless of danger.  "We are
doing our duty," they answered, when Dame Margaret expostulated with
them; "we are carrying out the work to which we devoted our lives, in
helping our suffering fellow-creatures, in making known the love of God
through His dear Son, and He will protect us."

The Knight, as I have said, having done all that a man could do, sat
down in his study, to quiet his mind by reading.  He found it, however,
a difficult task.  Even when he managed to keep his eyes on the page,
his mind let them labour alone, and refused to take in the matter they
attempted to convey.  It was a positive relief when he heard a horse's
hoofs clattering into the court-yard.  He hurried down to hear the news
brought by the horseman.  It was truly alarming.  The scout who had been
sent out by the Knight to gain information, stated that a body of some
thousand men were advancing, threatening to destroy all the Castles in
the district, and that Lindburg was the first on their line of march.
Not a moment was to be lost.  He instantly sent out messengers, some to
summon his retainers, and others to bring in provisions.  The drawbridge
was raised, the gates secured.  Dame Margaret and Laneta were greatly
alarmed.  Father Nicholas, who had arrived with all the ornaments of the
Church, and as much as his mule could carry, urged the ladies, and all
he could get to listen to him, to invoke the protection of the saints.
"These new-fangled doctrines brought about all these disorders; ergo,
you must go back to the old system to avert them, if it is not already
too late."

The Knight advised him to talk sense or keep silence, but the time was
opportune, he thought.

"Religion must be supported," he answered, meaning the Romish system,
"or we shall be undone."

From the top of the watch-tower a cloud of dust was seen rising.  It was
caused by the insurgent peasants, horse and foot, approaching.

"Poor people, they have many real causes of complaint.  I wish they had
remained quiet, for their own sake, and allowed the law to right them,"
observed the Knight.

"Let us pray for them that their hearts may be changed, and that they
may see their folly and wickedness," said Ava; and Beatrice repeated the
sentiment.

Just then three horsemen were seen approaching the Castle at full speed.
The Knight soon recognised his son and Albert von Otten; the other was
a stranger.

"Ah, they come to bring us the aid of their swords," exclaimed the
Knight.  "Three gentlemen will be a host in themselves when opposed to
those unhappy serfs."

The drawbridge was lowered to admit them.  Eric directed that it should
be left down, as they were going again to sally forth immediately.  He
embraced his father and mother and sisters, and he might have said a few
words to Beatrice, as certainly Albert did to Ava, and Eric introduced
the stranger as Frederick Myconius, professor of divinity.

"Welcome, gentlemen; but I thought, I confess, that you were fighting
men come to aid in defence of the Castle.  I was counting on your good
swords."

"Our good swords you shall have, father," answered Eric, taking off the
belt to which hung the scabbard of his weapon.  "But we ourselves cannot
wield them.  We go forth with other weapons than those of steel, and
trusting to other strength than an arm of flesh to quell these misguided
men.  Dr Myconius will address them, as Dr Martin Luther has already
addressed thousands, and turned them aside from their purpose of
vengeance.  We have, though, no time to lose."

"Go forth, my son--go forth, my friends; I feel sure that God, who sees
all our actions, will protect you with His Almighty arm in so noble and
pious an object," exclaimed the Knight, holding the sword which had been
given to him.

The three brave young men rode forth from the Castle unarmed, and
hastened towards the rebel host.  They well knew the danger, humanly
speaking, to which they were exposing themselves, but not for a moment
did they hesitate doing what they knew to be right.  They were soon face
to face with the insurgent band, led on by a man in a red cloak and hat
and white plume.  They were a wild savage set of beings in appearance.
Many a bold man might have hesitated to encounter them.  Those who now
advanced to meet them trusted not in their own strength to deliver them.
Dr Myconius rode first.  As he drew close to the insurgents, he lifted
up his arm and said, "Bear with me, dear friends, while I address a few
words to you, and ask you what you seek? what are you about to do? what
object do you desire to gain?  Is it one well-pleasing to God, or is it
not rather one He abhors?  Is it revenge?  The Gospel of Jesus Christ
will not permit its indulgence.  Is it to overthrow principalities and
powers?  The Gospel orders us to obey them.  Is it to oppose the power
of the Papacy?  The light of truth can alone do that.  Is it lust,
rapine, murder, you desire to commit?  Those who do such things can
never inherit the kingdom of heaven.  Listen, dear friends, to those who
love you, who feel for you, who know that you have souls to be saved--
precious souls above all price in God's sight, for them He sent down His
Son on earth to suffer far more wrongs than you have ever suffered.
Endanger not these precious souls by the acts you contemplate.  Turn
aside from your purpose, fall on your knees, and pray to God to
enlighten your minds, to give you patience above all things to bear your
sufferings here for a short time, that, trusting in the merits of Christ
Jesus, who once suffered for you, and now reigns and pleads for you, you
maybe raised up to dwell with Him, to reign with Him in happiness
unspeakable for ever and ever."

Such was the style of eloquence with which one of the great leaders of
the Reformation addressed the lately infuriated insurgents.  It went to
their hearts; they acknowledged its truth, the power from which it
flowed, and yielded to its influence.  Peaceably they divided into small
parties; thus they returned to their villages, to their separate homes,
speaking as they went of the love of Christ, and the sufferings He had
endured for their sakes, and praying that they too might endure any
sufferings it might please their heavenly Father to call on them to bear
with patience for His sake, that thus the Christian character might be
exalted in the eyes of the world.

The three friends returned to the Castle.  The success of their
undertaking was heard of with astonishment.  The Knight went to his
Testament, and came back exclaiming, "I see, I see, it was the right way
to do it.  It was the way Jesus Christ would have acted, and I doubt not
He was with you to counsel and guide you."

Dame Margaret and Laneta, and even Father Nicholas, confessed that the
mode they had employed with Dr Martin Luther and others, to put down
the insurrection, was far more satisfactory and sensible than that which
the Roman Catholic nobles and knights had pursued with cannon-balls,
bullets, and sharp swords.  The two ladies at length, through the gentle
influence of Ava and Beatrice, completely abandoned the errors of Rome,
and embraced the truths of evangelical religion.  Father Nicholas, still
clinging to the idolatry to which he had been accustomed, was compelled
to give up his cure, and thankfully accepted a small pension from the
Knight, on condition that he should keep silence till he had learned the
truth.  Albert von Otten, notwithstanding his rank, gladly became the
humble pastor of Lindburg, and little Ava as gladly became his most
efficient helpmate, while Beatrice von Reichenau married Eric.  The
Knight arrived at a green old age, and though there was little peace in
the world, he found it in his home and in his heart, and saw his
grandchildren grow up pious Christians and sound brave Protestants.





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